Why is brick-and-mortar struggling? I have a hypothesis…

We needed some masking tape, so I went to Staples.com, placed an order, and planned on going to the store the next day to pick up in person. When I double-checked my receipt, I realized there was a problem – the pickup date was in 60 DAYS. This isn’t going to work for the modern economy.


College Football Playoff rankings have been released; should you be worried?

The vaunted College Football Playoff rankings were released for the first time today. I wondered, is it time to start freaking out?

These things always seem to take care of themselves. Most of the top programs are still alive

When it comes to college football, there is always controversy, however, things seem to take care of themselves.

Remember in 2o07, when the chaos of the BCS was still reigning? Going into the final week of the season, here were the rankings:

Week 7

And then teams 1, 2, 4, and 6 lost. The 7th and 8th team didn’t have much of an argument to be in the final game, given they had 2 losses already.

Week 8

Things took care of themselves. The same thing will happen this time around.

Here are my predictions for the CFP:

1. The SEC Champion is in no matter what. It’s still mathematically possible that the SEC winner has 3 losses.

2. Florida State is in, unless they lose the ACC Championship Game (and predictions 3-7 still have only 1 loss, see below…)

3. Oregon is in if they run the table in the Pac 12, including the Championship Game. I believe they will do this.

4. Notre Dame is in if they run the table on their season. This includes beating Arizona State, Louisville, and USC. I don’t think they can do this, but it’s certainly possible.

5. If 2-4 somehow disqualify themselves, the next team in is the Big 12 Champion if they only have 1 loss. Since it’s possible that 2 of TCU, Baylor. and Kansas St. make it through with only 1 loss, my prediction is that the winner of the head-to-head between these two teams will make it.

6. The B1G Winner with only 1 loss

7. A 1-loss team from the SEC: either a team that doesn’t qualify for the championship game, or the loser of the championship game with only 1 loss. I would have completely ignored a 2nd team from the SEC if it wasn’t for 2011, when the SEC had both representatives in the National Championship Game.

There are a couple key considerations that go into these predictions. I just finished reading Thinking Fast and Slow, and there are so many biases I believe the committee will fall prey to. A human committee is more susceptible to biases than a hybrid system:

  1. For example, the Availability Bias: Recent losses will weigh more heavily in this system than in the BCS. A loss in the last week could doom a team
  2. Another bias that will be prevalent is the Anchoring Bias. The rankings that came out this week really matter. The relatively lower ranking of the Big Ten will be difficult to overcome. The fact that Oregon and Notre Dame ended up where the did mean that winning-out is an easy path to the playoff. If all teams win, these rankings will largely persist despite very different win quality. I would prefer a system that didn’t do interim check-ins, and rated the teams only at the end of the season (similar to the NCAA basketball tournament).

“Over the years VT doesn’t tend to lose by more than 10 unless the other qb is a senior”

Ohio State and Virginia Tech meet for the first time on Saturday night. Having lived in Virginia for many years, the stakes are high (at least for me, personally).

My buddy JMorg, a true Hokie fan, posited an interesting opinion via twitter: “Over the years VT doesn’t tend to lose by more than 10 unless the other qb is a senior.” I wondered, is this true?



I pulled data from the past 10 years to see how many games Virginia Tech lost by more than 10, and who was the opposing QB. I was surprised by 2 insights.

Insight #1: JMorg’s observation appears to be false. 40% of VTs losses over the past 10 years have been by >10 points. Of those, 50% were against quarterbacks who were true-juniors-or-younger.

VT Losses

Insight #2: The Non-Sr. QBs that VT has lost to have been TREMENDOUS QBs. It takes a stellar non-Sr. QB to beat this team. Here is the list, in order, of the non-Sr. QBs that have beat the Hokies. You’ll notice some familiar names:

  • Brett Hundley
  • Stephen Morris
  • Taj Boyd (twice, doesn’t count his 3rd >10-pt win as a redshirt Jr)
  • Andrew Luck
  • Matt Ryan
  • Kyle Wright

Key Takeaway for me: I had picked Ohio State to win 28-13. While I do think VT is beatable by >10 points by non-SR. QBs, I wouldn’t put Ohio State J.T. Barrett in the category of the QBs listed above. I’m going to revise down my projection to a 10-point win, Ohio State 23-13. Great observations, JMorg!

Has the end of the steroid era impacted hitting?

From Sports Illustrated: Batting average of pull-hitting lefties.

BA = batting average

BABIP = Batting average on balls in play – basically BA – home runs



Which baseball fans show up after Opening Day

Opening day is awesome. There is a buzz in the air. There is a new hope. The baseball season is just beginning, and there’s no reason THIS YEAR isn’t the year.

However, by day 2 of the baseball season, reality sets in. Only 10 teams will make the playoffs. Fans go on with their lives.

I wondered: Which teams have the smallest and largest drop-off in attendance between opening day and “Day 2?”

I looked at the % of attendance for each home team on the 2nd home game vs. the 1st home game: The higher the %, the more fans return to the stands in the 2nd home game.

Day 2 Attendance

Not surprisingly, most teams sell out on opening day. However, Day 2 is more revealing. In 2014, the Angels, Giants, and Red Sox all had the smallest drop-off in attendance in Day 2 vs. Day 1 (virtually no drop-off.) This may be correlated to the recent successes and high potential/expectations for 2014 these teams have.

Interestingly, those teams don’t have the largest stadiums, and were out-drawn on Opening Day. Teams like the Dodgers and Rockies have larger stadiums, however, weren’t able to retain the same crowd on day 2.

The lowest-retaining teams were Cleveland and Chicago White Sox, both teams with harsh, cold conditions on Day 2. Tampa, the #3 worst-performing team, doesn’t have the same excuse, playing in a dome. Tampa Bay had the lowest attendance on Opening Day and the worst “warm weather city” in crowd retention.

Does W/L record on Opening day have an impact on fan retention on Day 2?

You would think baseball fans would not be so short sighted as to bail on their team if they lost the home opener. The data confirms this – teams that lost on opening day actually retained more fans in home game #2 than winning clubs.


win loss attendance mlb

Finally, I wondered if a team gets a lift from hosting true opening day, and if attendance wanes if the team starts on the road

I grouped MLB teams into 3 categories:

  1. Those that start the season at home.
  2. Those that start on the road, but have their first home game in the first weekend of the season.
  3. Those that go 2 weeks before opening at home

There doesn’t appear to be correlation of higher attendance in home game 2 and when the game occurs.

first weekend mlb

Pinterest visits level off


Great article in the WSJ about Pinterest, visitors, and sales.

  • Customers referred by Pinterest spent 2X per order ($140-$180) than those coming from Facebook, and 3X per order than those coming from Twitter. Source: RichRelevance
  • Unique visitors to Pinterest via desktop machines has leveled-off in the past year. This does not take into account mobile visits. Source: comScore

Very interesting implications: Pinterest could be a very lucrative site to advertise for retailers, as their monetization strategy ramps-up. However, the scale may be much smaller than Facebook and Twitter, and growth may be leveling-off.

NY Giants QBs

2 QBs have started for the New York Giants since 2004. Name them. Answer in the comments.

We at Pacific Northwest-Coast Bias approve of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby’s name: North West


Peer-to-Peer Lending and Community Banks

Check out my recent post over at Peer Lending Advisors on Peer-to-Peer Lending and what Lending Club’s partnership with community banks means for P2P Lending and banking in general.


Dwight Howard has missed more free throws this season than Steve Nash has his entire career

I was stunned by USA Today’s stat: Dwight Howard has missed more free throws this season than Steve Nash has in his career. Surely, this can’t be true – the mainstream media must be mistaken. I dug into the data.

Dwight Howard is an abysmal free throw shooter

Dwight Howard is shooting 48.6% this season. Absolutely terrible. He has the distinction of missing 14 in a game this season, and 2 games each missing 12, 11, and 10 free throws.

In fact, he’s a full 9 percentage points worse than the worst free throw shooting teams in the NCAA.

Dwight Howard 1

Nash really has missed fewer in his career than Howard this season

Nash is fantastic. He has hit a full 90.4% of his free throws, and has indeed only missed 322 shots EVER.

Here’s the plot of Nash’s career (blue) vs. Howard this season (orange).

howard nash


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