All That and a Bag of Mail

BERLIN, GERMANY – MAY 08: A wax figure of the actor Mark Hamill as the Star Wars character Luke Skywalker is displayed on the occasion of Madame Tussauds Berlin Presents New Star Wars Wax Figures at Madame Tussauds on May 8, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images) Clemens Bilan Getty Images Europe

The Titans are back, baby!

I’m still in love with Marcus Mariota and I’m writing this mailbag on a couple of hours sleep since I got back late from the Titans game, woke up at 4:01 am to knock out the morning Outkick the Coverage radio show and am now sitting here grinding away on the mailbag and trying to finish before our live Facebook and Periscope gambling special. 

Hate to brag, but I’m definitely the hardest working person in sports media. 

Happy Halloween to all of you, Tweet me the best costumes you see and I’ll RT them. Also, don’t be pussies and get offended by any costume you see. 

Here we go with the mailbag:

Tom writes:

“I know I’m a bit late but I just recently finished watching the new Star Wars movie. After finishing it I proposed a question to my roommates that has led to some heated debates; who would win in a light saber battle, Jon Snow or Luke Skywalker?

The main stipulation is that Luke is not allowed to use the force. This means he can’t move objects, do triple sow cows in the air, or mind fuck Jon during the fight.

My money would be on Jon in this since he would physically dominate and he is very experienced with sword fighting. Luke is probably 160 lbs soaking wet and I think ultimately Jon would wear him out. But Luke has the advantage of familiarity with the light saber and I think he would be a bit quicker and more agile, so it would close. My buddies and I can’t decide so who better to settle this than a gay, racist, Muslim?”

What you’re really debating here is just basic sword fighting skills. Given the fact that there aren’t very many sword fighters in Star Wars, it’s pretty hard to assess Luke’s fighting ability relative to other sword fighters. Whereas everyone in Jon’s world can use a sword. Given that Jon seems to stand out as an expert swordsman even when everyone is fighting, I think Jon’s sword fighting ability is likely better than Luke’s. 

As for height and weight, both of these guys are pretty short, probably right at 5’7″ and neither weighs more than 150 pounds. 

In fact, this picture of Jon Snow standing next to Sansa and Lady Brienne has rocked my entire universe. How can “Game of Thrones” even allow a photo like this to be taken? I’m totally fine with Jon Snow coming back from the dead and slaying people left and right, but you can’t be the biggest badass on the planet if you’re this short.

I mean, if I got my picture taken with Kit Harrington, I’m 6 feet tall, and just towered over him, wouldn’t you be like, “I can’t believe that pussy Clay Travis could beat Jon Snow’s ass?” 

Just unacceptable to allow this photo to be taken. I was so stunned by it that I didn’t even notice Lady Brienne’s nipple is visible. 

Anyway, Snow is obviously much younger than Luke Skywalker is right now, but I think you have to put them at the same age for the combat, Luke in the Return of the Jedi years and Snow now. And while I think both of them fighting with light sabers is interesting — and a total nerd question — I’ve got an even nerdier question for you: which is more deadly of a weapon, the light saber or Valyrian steel, and does that impact the combat at all? 

So, after all of this thought, I’m going with Jon Snow as the better swordsman, and hence the more likely to win a battle to the death. 

Alex writes:

“Clay,

I’ve done about ten minutes of research and I think I may be on to something. Consider the following scenario:

Team A is lining up for a crucial field goal in crunch time of a close game. As the ball is snapped, Team B throws a midget over the offensive line. The midget lands a few feet away from the holder, quickly regains his feet, and dives on top of the ball, blocking it just as the kicker kicks it. Team B wins and a wild celebration ensues.

I’ve done a few minutes of research, and there are some rules outlawing similar ideas. For example, the offense cannot throw a ballcarrier forward. This is probably a good rule, because if it didn’t exist, teams could simply tape a baby to the ball and throw it as far as they could for positive yardage. This would be bad for both the game and babies, I imagine. But aside from this rule, I cannot find anything outlawing throwing a player.  

Writing this has really got the wheels turning and I thought of another possible idea: Have another 2 or 3 regular-sized players by the goalpost with another midget. If the midget-throw-over-the-line technique fails, they launch midget #2 into the air cheerleader-style to bat the ball out of the air as it approaches.  

These strategies open up a whole new can of worms, however: increased vulnerability to the fake field goal. Having 2 midgets on the field means you are basically going 9 on 11 if there is a fake. The 2 or 3 players required to throw midget #2 are so out of position that you’ve basically got 6 or 7 on 11, depending on how many you use to throw.  

So lets say a team is using the both-midget strategy. This means they’ve only got 6 guys on the line contesting the field goal. Not only are they almost certainly more vulnerable to a fake, but the offense could conceivably employ a midget strategy of their own. The need for less blockers could allow them to throw their own “counter-midget” to “shoot down” the defensive midget as he is thrown over the line. The use of these kind of strategies could result in quite a bit of cat and mouse between offense and defense, and really liven up what is typically a pretty dull play in football.

Anyway, just some ideas to improve the game while also making the game more inclusive to the small-statured among us. I mean, imagine Tyrion Lannister blocking a field goal to win the game, and then being hoisted upon the shoulders of his victorious teammates. This is a realistic scenario if my idea is utilized. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.”

I love my readers, amazing email. 

Is there any doubt that Bill Belichick has considered deploying this strategy at some point in time?

Okay, let me analyze this. 

Throwing the midget over the line of scrimmage and hoping he got up in time to block the kick wouldn’t work because it takes too much time. So if you wanted to deploy that strategy you’d have to aim at the point where the ball is being snapped and try and have your player arrive at the kicking point before the kicker did. (You’d also have to worry about roughing the kicker here since a midget hitting the kicker without touching the ball would be a personal foul. Side note, how funny is the roughing the kicker rule from this perspective? If you hit the ball with a single fingernail you can fucking destroy the kicker and no one cares. But if you don’t touch the ball at all the kicker is protected because of the extreme danger he’s under during the kicking process. This rule just makes no logical sense. If the kicker is in extreme danger during the kicking process shouldn’t you never be able to touch him?)

Anyway, the second idea you have is launching the midget to try and hit the ball as it clears the line of scrimmage. I actually think this makes some sense, but you’d have to launch the midget pretty high in the air and I would imagine that his landing would, frequently, result in injury.

So I’m not sure how you practice this. Do you have two dudes throwing the midget in practice and have a soft landing zone all around the midget at practice to avoid injury? Does your kicker get pissed that you keep blocking his kick with midgets — and, given how mentally fragile kickers can be, potentially get too rattled to consistently kick well? Do you bring in a special kicker whose job is just to get his kicks blocked by midgets in practice?

Most hysterically of all, can you imagine reading the opinion pieces demanding the NFL outlaw midget field goal blocking? The PC Bromani community would lose its mind over this play. I’m just picturing all the indignant columns being written ripping Roger Goodell here. #midgetlivesmatter 

John writes:

“Clay,

Like yourself, I like to put down the occasional (or constant) college football wager. I use a local guy who nonetheless has a good-sized operation, so he has an online website and mobile app.  Since he’s based in Nashville, a huge percentage of his client base is made up of UT fans.  As a result he takes an inordinate amount of bets each week backing UT.  Because line moves are a reaction to betting coming in heavy one side or another, I can almost always get a line against the Vols that is 1.5-2 points better than the national consensus.  This saved me in both the Georgia game (got UGA plus-4.5, where most places had plus-3) and the Texas A&M game (had Aggies minus-5.5 instead of most places giving at least 7).  Essentially, I probably get the best numbers in the country betting against UT, because I use a guy who takes a ton of Vols bets.

It finally occurred to me this year how to take advantage of this.  One of my best college buddies has a similar situation, only he lives in Tampa, and his local bookie’s lines are always off on Florida and FSU.  So now whenever I want to bet against one of those teams, I do it through him, and allow him to bet against UT through me.  We have a standing arrangement that if the extra arbitrage points win or push the bet, we’ll give the other one 10% of the bet.  This is way cheaper than buying extra points on a national site.

My question is this – with pervasive social connection, doesn’t there have to be some sort of way to create an SEC-wide network of people with local access to get the best spread betting against each SEC team?  Or really any big college team with an avid local following?  I realize it couldn’t be too public, given our country’s asinine sports gambling laws, but it would definitely create a meaningful advantage.  I knew majoring in Econ would become useful one day…”

Brilliant move on your part. 

Here’s the thing I want to do as Outkick continues to grow and, eventually, gambling becomes legalized. I want to set up our own gambling network, where you guys can all bet against each other with a tiny vig and it’s all peer-to-peer wagering.

I know many sites are already starting to allow this, but I’m convinced it’s the next business for Outkick to get involved in, why not facilitate you guys betting — we have fans of pretty much every team reading the site — and allow your bets to be directly placed against each other instead of needing a bookie to take the action.

Effectively, we’d eliminate the middle man.

And then gambling lines would trade online like stock prices.

Dare to dream.  

Hugh writes:

“A friend of mine and I made a sizable bet two years ago that the Cubs would not win the World Series in the next 5 years. If they don’t win by 2019, I win a good amount of money. If they do, I lose.

I took them not winning thinking that I had 29 teams and 108 years on my side.

And here I am.

If the Cubs beat the Indians to win the World Series, should I get a pass on the bet because who in God’s name would have thought the freaking Indians would have been the AL team to face the Cubs in the series? In a more serious question, how should I repay the amount of money? In quarters? In dollar bills? Do I take him to opening day at Wrigley Field next year all expenses paid? Do I double down on them not winning the next 5 years?”

You just pay your bet off like a man, no cheap tricks. 

Your friend took the opposite side of a 108 year old bet and you thought past precedent governed the future. We’ll see if you were wrong. 

Also, don’t you have to hedge here? If you lose a lot of money on the Cubs World Series win, I would have taken them to win the World Series once the playoff started to try and limit my losses. Or at least have taken them when they were down 2-1 to the Dodgers or 1-0 to the Indians. 

Good luck paying off the loss. 

Leslie writes:

“My parents live in Alabama, and bug me every year around the holidays to come visit as parents do. It’s not an expensive or long trip (from Missouri), but they live in rural Alabama far from the conveniences of civilization. I told my dad I would only come this Thanksgiving if we made it worthwhile, and get tickets to one of the college football games. (It sounds harsh when I put it in writing, but did I mention they live on a farm and I basically do manual labor for a week when I visit? Don’t judge me, but I prefer a much lazier holiday.) Shockingly my Mom is the one that thinks this is an excellent idea, and has convinced him to do it. She must love me…thanks Mom!

The question: Do we buy some cheap tickets for decent seats at a game on the 19th, or fork over the cash for some nose bleed seats at the Alabama/Auburn game on the 26th? I have no skin in any of these games (note:I have a horrible feeling that my Dad has become an Alabama fan). so I’m in it for the thrill of the game (and maybe the people watching pre-game). In your infinite wisdom, what’s the better investment here? Mind you I’m footing this bill – since I can only assume there’s zero chance of me finding an eligible bachelor (read: sugar daddy) while I’m there, with my dad in tow.”

There is zero doubt here — you get worse seats for the bigger game. 

The environment for Auburn at Alabama will dwarf the experience you’d have sitting in better seats for Chattanooga-Alabama.

When in doubt, always pick the bigger game and the worse seats.  

Jeremy writes:

“I am a Kentucky fan born and raised in Louisville. As you can imagine the city is all in with Louisville Football and Lamar Jackson right now while Kentucky continues to struggle just to make a bowl game every few years. The only positive this season was getting an ESPN program other than Outside the Lines back on Louisville’s campus. 

Anyway, now just over halfway through the season, Kentucky’s 3-2 int the SEC and the next two games are at Missouri and Georgia. Kentucky is even with Tennessee in the loss column with two losses. Missouri and Georgia are two winnable games. Florida’s in first place with road games left at Arkansas and LSU, plus the Cocktail Party with Georgia on a neutral field and could realistically lose 2 of those games. 

Is it just the frustration with Louisville’s success that I am seeing a legitimate opportunity for Kentucky to be playing Tennessee for a chance to win the East, or is this something that Kentucky fans could actually see a meaningful football game by the time basketball season has started?  

Would love to hear your response! Thanks!”

Kentucky is a 4.5 point underdog on the road at Missouri. Given the fact that Georgia was around a touchdown favorite at Missouri, this suggests that Kentucky at home against Georgia will be around a six point underdog. Then the Wildcats would be a double digit underdog at Tennessee. 

A team that is a 4.5 point underdog loses 67.3% of the time

A team that is a 6 point underdog loses 70.3% of the time. 

A team that is a 10 point underdog — and that spread might be generous to UK — loses 83.6% of the time. 

So Kentucky’s chances of winning all three of those games are, if my math is right on this, 1.5%. 

Put another way, there is a 98.5% chance that Kentucky doesn’t finish 6-2 in the SEC.

That squares with ESPN’s FPI projection as well, which finds that Kentucky has a 1% chance of winning the SEC East. 

So it’s highly, highly unlikely that it happens. But if it makes you feel any better, there is a 10% chance that you could be 5-2 in the SEC headed to Knoxville. Which would make the loss to Tennessee a bit less painful. 

Hope y’all have great weekends. 

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

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