Sunday, April 28, 2019

Scottish Football: Three To Go

I have updated my crude simulation after this weekend's games. The new probabilities are:
  1. Celtic 99.6% Rangers 0.4%
  2. Rangers 99.6% Celtic 0.4%
  3. Aberdeen 67.4% Kilmarnock 30.9% Hibs 1.8%
  4. Kilmarnock 59.1% Aberdeen 31.1% Hibs 9.6% Hearts 0.2%
  5. Hibs 76.1% Hearts 12.7% Kilmarnock 9.7% Aberdeen 1.5%
  6. Hearts 87.1% Hibs 12.6% Kilmarnock 0.3%
In words, Celtic failed to clinch the title, but is almost certain to. Rangers clinched no worse than 2nd (and a European place). The race for 3rd and 4th is still basically Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, with Aberdeen 2-1 favorites to nab 3rd, and Hibs having an 11% chance of sneaking in there. The difference between 3rd and 4th will matter if Hearts shocks Celtic for the Cup.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Scottish Football: Four Matches To Go

I will once again use my crude simulation to update the top half of the Scottish Premiership as each set of matches goes by.

  1. Celtic 98.8% Rangers 1.2%
  2. Rangers 97.4% Celtic 1.2% Aberdeen 1.2% Kilmarnock 0.2%
  3. Aberdeen 64.1% Kilmarnock 33.0% Hibs 1.5% Rangers 4.1% Hearts 0.01%
  4. Kilmarnock 58.8% Aberdeen 32.9% Hibs 7.9% Hearts 0.4% Rangers 0.03%
  5. Hibs 71.6% Hearts 18.7% Kilmarnock 7.9% Aberdeen 1.8%
  6. Hearts 80.8% Hibs 19.0% Kilmarnock 0.1% Aberdeen 0.003%

So, in words. Celtic failed to clinch, thus opening up the chances they won't win. (Although if this simulation were weighted by team rating, the chance would be almost zero.) Rangers came very, very close to clinching a European place. If a 1-in-3700 sequence of events happens in the league, and Hearts wins the Cup, they're left out. Aberdeen's defeat of Kilmarnock put them in the driver's seat for the 3rd slot and guaranteed Europe. Hibs' draw left them slipping out of the European places, and Hearts loss means that the Cup is almost certainly the only way they get into Europe.

[This post was updated after I discovered a coding error that made slight changes in the probabilities.]

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Scottish Football: More European Speculation

Recently I posted some subjective odds for which Scottish clubs would represent the country in next year's European tournaments. As I did last year, I will provide something more objective.

I will use the same criteria as last year.
  • All teams have equal chances
  • Each match (except the Scottish Cup final) has a 1/3 chance of ending in a draw.
  • All non-draws have a goal differential of 1.
  • If two teams are tied on points and goal differential, the team that is currently ahead will stay ahead.
If I wanted better odds, I would bother to program in the odds from Fivethirtyeight for all upcoming matches. But I think this is close enough.

Since the Scottish Cup final is Celtic-Hearts, we have the following situation. If Celtic wins, the top 4 in the league make it to Europe. If Hearts win, it's the top 3, plus Hearts...unless Hearts also finishes third, in which case the 4th place team makes it too. That is exceedingly unlikely, but I had to program for it.

  • Chance of being Champions League representative: 99.5%
  • Chance of being Europa League representative: 0.5%
  • Chance of missing out on Europe: 0%
  • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0.5%
  • Chance of being Europa League representative: 99.4%
  • Chance of missing out on Europe: 0.1%
  • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
  • Chance of being Europa League representative: 71.5%
  • Chance of missing out on Europe: 29.5%
  • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
  • Chance of being Europa League representative: 67.0%
  • Chance of missing out on Europe: 33.0%
  • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
  • Chance of being Europa League representative: 10.1%
  • Chance of missing out on Europe: 89.9%
  • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
  • Chance of being Europa League representative: 51.6%
  • Chance of missing out on Europe: 48.4% 
In words, if Celtic wins the Scottish Cup, it will probably be Celtic, Rangers, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen. If Hearts wins, it will probably be Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and whichever one of Kilmarnock and Aberdeen takes 3rd place. Hibernian has an outside chance of taking a spot away from Kilmarnock or Aberdeen.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Geocaching: Slow Winter 2019

I, uh, found six caches in Winter 2019. So not much to report.

On January 7, I was First-to-Find (FTF) on a geocache near me. I've been advised to take a picture of the log in case there is a dispute about who found it first, so there it is above. That's my 19th FTF, and my 12th different FTF Difficulty/Terrain (D/T) combo. January 2019 is the 182th month a geocache was hidden in that I found a cache.

On February 17, I found four caches. They were in Stafford County (County 88), Fredericksburg (County-equivalent 89) and Spotsylvania County (County 90). Above, you can see me at one of the virtual caches. That was one of two I found that day hidden in June 2001 (Month 183).

On February 19, I had another FTF (#20). It was my 13th FTF D/T Combo, and February 2019 was my 184th hidden month.

Here is my chart of hidden months. (I find this helpful to refer back to next time to see which ones got added.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019 European Speculation

The final four of the Scottish Cup is set, so I will give my subjective outlook on which sides I expect to end up in Europe next season. There are 3 more matches before the split (where the top-half sides only play top-half sides). At the split, I will get more quantitative.


Chance of playing in Europe: 99.99%
Path to Europe: Not have a complete collapse in the league, or have a complete collapse and not have the teams below them have a spectacular rise, or win the Scottish Cup. Basically, they can still mathematically finish as low as sixth, but that's not going to happen. Fivethirtyeight gives them a 96% chance to win the league again, and being passed by three or four other clubs is almost out of the question.
How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Very. If Rangers pulls off the 4% upset, they might add enough quality for the Champions League, but Celtic is clearly the class of the nation still.
Managerial Outlook: Last year I said, "'s not unrealistic to see Brendan Rogers being lured away." He was! But Neil Lennon is also very good. Hopefully they keep him, but 


Chance of playing in Europe: 95%
Path to Europe: Not have a collapse in the league. They're second and have been playing well. It would be a disappointment to end up third, a big disappointment to end up fourth, and even that would be enough depending on who wins the Cup.
How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Very. They are the only side other than Celtic I can see making it into the knockout stages.
Managerial Outlook: It doesn't seem time for Brendan Rogers to be lured away yet.


Chance of playing in Europe: 90%
Path to Europe: Hold on in third, win the Cup, or drop to fourth and have Celtic win the Cup. (Or drop to fourth and have Hearts move up to third and win the Cup.)
How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Quite. They have consistently had decent European results, stopped only by running up against an EPL side (who they almost beat).
Managerial Outlook: If Derek McInnes didn't leave for Rangers, I think he's there for a while. He would like to hoist a trophy or two.


Chance of playing in Europe: 40%
Path to Europe: Stay in fourth and have Celtic and Aberdeen win the Cup, or move up.
How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Not. They are a classic Scottish side who overachieves domestically, but doesn't have the funds to compete in Europe.
Managerial Outlook: Clarke seems like a great manager; maybe he will take over a bigger Scottish club.


Chance of playing in Europe: 55%
Path to Europe: Win the Cup, move up to fourth and have Celtic or Aberdeen win the Cup, or move up to third. They have had some nice results, so moving up to fourth or winning the Cup can't be ruled out.
How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Somewhat. They have the resources and they may be willing to spend a little with their stadium renovations done.
Managerial Outlook: Good. Levein is doing a good job, and doesn't seem to have ambitions elsewhere.

Everybody Else

Chance of playing in Europe: 25%
Path to Europe: Hibs, Motherwell, St. Johnstone and Livingston are all alive for the sixth spot at the split. Then they could mathematically make it into the top three or four. Maybe 25% is high, but Hibs could make some noise. Inverness CT doesn't have much chance to win the Cup out of the second tier, but it has happened before.
How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Not, except maybe Hibs.
Managerial Outlook: Mixed.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Knockout-Round Review

Well, the knockout rounds aren't over, but they are for Scotland. Celtic got swept in the Europa League Round-of-32, so that's that. A sad end to a really excellent campaign.

I mean, 20th! That's not nothing! And look at those 6.75 points from this year's campaign. That's the most in 11 years. It's the 10th-best in Europe this year (though 4 countries below them still have teams active). Anyway, 20th will put them in decent shape for the 2020/21 campaign, but more importantly, it positions them well for next year's climb up the charts (which, I remind you, affects the 2021/22 campaign).

So in 2020/21, Scotland won't be in the embarrassing spot that they will be in 2019/20, with a first-round entry for all their teams. But they haven't climbed up enough to make any sort of improvement. Yet.

Before we start looking ahead, let's look back one last time. How did Scotland get 6.75 points? Well, they got 2.875 from Celtic, actually a little worse than last year. But Rangers produced 2.75, Hibs contributed 1, and poor Aberdeen chipped in a measly 0.125.

I think sustained runs from the Old Firm are a possibility every year now. Aberdeen will probably be back and could get a friendlier draw, and the fourth team (probably not Hibs) may or may not be able to contribute a point again.

Scotland starts out the next campaign still in 20th. It actually looks harder to climb up than to fall down, but another solid performance would do it.

Looking ahead to 2020/21 (where we are setting the ranking for 2022/23) is where the Scottish surge could really come into play.

Two years like the last, and Scotland could see two Champions League representatives again...four years from now.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Nebula Update: The Falling Woman

I read a Nebula Best Novel winner for the first time in several years. I also let a couple of years go by without reading that year's winner. Of the six finalists this year, I have read one of them. Guess which one I'm rooting for!

This leaves me with

  1. 1966: Flowers for Algernon (tie)
  2. 1966: Babel-17 (tie)
  3. 1968: Rite of Passage
  4. 1976: Man Plus
  5. 1978: Dreamsnake
  6. 1981: The Claw of the Conciliator
  7. 2017: All the Birds in the Sky
  8. 2018: The Stone Sky
Below is my Goodreads review of The Falling Woman.

The Falling WomanThe Falling Woman by Pat Murphy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this in my quest to read all of the Nebula Best Novel winners. This one was a slog. That is partially on me. I prefer more traditional forms of fantasy rather than a real-world story with some mystical elements layered on.

It’s partially on the novel, though. The best novels draw me in, regardless of genre. This one didn’t, and it wasn’t helped by the at-times clunky prose.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 07, 2019

2018 Stay-At-Home Bowl Preview

It is playoff time in the NFL, which means that as a Redskins fan, I turn my attention to something other than following my team.

Yes, it's the Stay-At-Home Bowl, the honor I bestow upon a team that has beaten both Super Bowl participants. With the final eight teams decided, there are five out of the sixteen possible Super Bowls that will cause the honor to be bestowed.

  • New England-Dallas: Tennessee would win.
  • New England-Philadelphia: Tennessee would also win.
  • Kansas City-Dallas: Seattle would win.
  • Indianapolis-Rams: Philadelphia would win.
  • Indianapolis-Dallas: Houston would win.
I guess what I am saying is that the NFC East wasn't very good, so their playoff teams lost to a lot of teams, so in the unlikely event that one of them ends up in the playoffs (dear God, no), there's a decent chance you have a winner.

Last year's winner, Kansas City is doing pretty well this year, continuing the trend of winners having a good next season.