Friday, September 23, 2011

The Best of The Serious Tip Now Available on Amazon

For over three years, this website was my home on the web. Here is where I learned how to blog and how to write for an audience. I covered a lot here, from sports to music to politics to almost everything in between. I was serious, creative, analytical, and satirical.

Now the best of this site is available for purchase, both in paperback and for Kindle, if you are the technologically advanced sort.

I am really excited to make this available as it is my first solo book and my first self-publishing venture.

So please support an aspiring writer and order your copy today!

This super special anthology includes:

  • The story of when I tried out for the Atlanta Braves!
  • Interviews with a pornstar, a comedian, a singer, and a Playboy model!
  • An analysis of Super Bowl contenders and their effect on the stock market!
  • How statistics can be used in pro wrestling!

And many more!

Only $9.25 in book form and $1.99 in e-book form!

Buy yours today!

Book: The Best of The Serious Tip

Kindle: The Best of The Serious Tip

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated: The Serious Tip

Dearly Beloved,

Today we lay to rest this blog. Three years is a long time to write for one web site. Especially one as varied, unpredictable, and as one reader put it "mixed bag" as this one. And so it is with a heavy heart and just a wee bit of melancholy that I am closing down The Serious Tip and moving to

What exactly was The Serious Tip, anyway? Originally, this blog was going to be called "The Not So Serious Tip" - sort of a tribute to the old HBO show "Not Necessarily the News". But I figured the name was a little long and I didn't have a clue what I was going to write. I just had a name.

(For a lack of a prequel, consider this the start of my blogging history. I think I already told the story about how I read Jenn Sterger's blog and thought to myself, if she can do it, so can I. So I am not going to re-tell that part.)

So after I decided on The Serious Tip, I started writing. After a brief introduction, I actually began this blog as a humorous commentary on headlines and news events. That lasted all of one blog post. Then I started writing about sports. As a matter of fact, only four posts out of 36 during the rest of 2006 were on non-sports subjects. Writing about sports came easy, it was well-rewarded (many of my early posts were linked to on Deadspin and The Big Lead), and I always wanted to write sports commentary.

Throughout 2007 and 2008 I made a bit of a reputation for myself as a sports blogger. I cameo'ed on nearly a dozen other sites - from the small (If I Ran ...) to the successful and influential (Deadspin). I also made regular appearances at YaySportsNBA,, Pomp Culture, and Thunder Matt's Saloon. I met quite a few fellow sports bloggers, from the always verbose MC Bias to Cork Gaines of RaysIndex. I talked possibly freelance gigs and books with Jay Busbee and the possibility of interviewing the top of the NBA with Mike Tillery. I emailed back and forth with Will Leitch, Henry Abbott, Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel, and countless others. I was part of the sports blog community.

Then 2009 happened.

If you haven't noticed, I have blogged less and less about sports this year. I don't know if my disinterest was because of the disintegration of the sports blog community or just a coincidence. I may be wrong, but it seemed that when Will Leitch left Deadspin and the new powers that be stopped reaching out to the little blogs, linking to their stories, and giving them a little shine, the air quickly left the sports blogging community. Gone were the links, the comments, and the love. Many sports bloggers around the country began scrambling to fill full time gigs at any half-brained website. Some made it to AOL, ESPN, Yahoo!, and the like, but most just faded into Mike Tyson's Bolivia. I was one of those.

But it wasn't only because the community was falling apart. I stopped writing about sports because I was getting bored. I am not a beat reporter, and I never have been. I am not an expert on economics, behavioral science, or race relations, and I am definitely not a statistician or medical expert. I had no angle to keep me in it. I was just a fan who got most of his sports from the very blogging community he was contributing to. I grew tired of looking for some niche, some angle, or some interesting perspective. Sometimes there was none. Other times I just didn't want to write, and that is the worst thing a writer can say. I didn't want to write.

Fortunately, right as my interest level fell to an all-time low, my company sent me on an overseas trip. That gave me time to think and play off the sudden drop in posts with the excuse that "I didn't have time" or "Sorry, I didn't have an internet connection". Both of which, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, are not true in the least.

So for the last few weeks I've pulled out an old standby, the Eulogy for the Eliminated series. What was a fun and creative series last year, thinking up witty eulogies for eliminated baseball teams, became a drag on a site that became a burden. Or a burden on a site that became a drag. Either way, I was going through the motions.

And that brings us to today. Three years, two months, 555 posts, and probably close to a million (maybe?) words later, and we have finally reached the end of the tip. But all is of course not lost. I'll still be writing, still blogging, and still creating, just over at my new site, You can expect the same amount of irreverence, the same half-witted dry humor, the same attempts at satire, and the same random discussions on my varied tastes.

For my long term fans, however, I should warn you. I do intend on making two minor changes to my writing. My first goal is to make a bit more Tampa-centric. That means stories about my explorations and discoveries throughout the city I call home. My second change is I intend to write a bit more about me. I've always wanted to write about me more. To write about the people, places, and things in my life without reservation. Who knows, I might even slip in a post about my dating life, or lack there of. But don't bet on it.

Anyway, if you have enjoyed reading, perusing, or even belittling The Serious Tip over the last three years, I hope you follow me over to

In closing, before I say good-bye to this not-so-serious-yet-appropriately-named website, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to all the bloggers and writers who gave me advice and encouragement. Thank you to all the commentors - you folks made my day with your snide comments, put-downs, and occasional words of encouragement. And thank you, most of all, to the you, the reader. Although I would have still written without you, you made it worth while. Knowing that I averaged roughly 150 of you a day and that over the course of three-plus years over 250,000 of you from all over the world visited the site makes me quite proud.

And now, without further adieu, I present to you The Website. May you forever read and enjoy. And for The Serious Tip, may you, dear web site, Rest in Peace.

I'm out.

(Image created on request by Brian Spaeth of and the new web movie Who Shot Mamba?.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated 2009: Part 7

Dearly Beloved,

Today we lay to rest our final soul. Like in the epic film The Highlander, there can be only one. And from the land of liberty and cheesesteaks comes our latest, a loser in the battle of recent versus historical glory. Defenders of a crown, descendants of champions, they fell woefully short to a machine funded by dollars and led by the beasts of ancient Greece and modern Japan. Done in by the steady beating of Godzilla and a Minotaur.

To the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies:

You started off with a bang
A new acquisition accused of cheating
That slowly faded away
But yet you kept on leading
Out from the shadows came another source of power
Found worth hitting stride at the right time
Then came two aces from above
Bearers of the title of best
One the southpaw hurler from the land of Cleve
The other an ancient wizard wishing for old magic
They brought you to precipice of greatness
But alas when you need it the most, you got the least
For that, dear soul, despite your valiant try
I must say, May You Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated 2009: Part 6

Dearly Beloved,

Today we lay to rest two of the best from the west. Whereas they were shown California love by many, the westside connection was not enough to save them from the 2pacalypse. They took a fantastic journey from the gangsta's paradise to the land of the mouse, yet came up too short, ruining everyone's good day.

To the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers:

Deep in the valley you toiled, your dreams of a Hollywood ending foiled.
Year two of the dredded savior, his absence from a past behavior.
The youngest gun shot wild for a record, his pinpoint control became untethered.
Still you treaded with the guidance of legend, just falling short in the end.
So is to you we say good-bye, another year has ceased.
And along with the ancient voice from the booth, we say may you rest in peace.

To the 2009 California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels:

Tragedy struck, and you lived for an angel on the mound.
Your closeness turned to a family that tried to be glory-bound.
Tis now tradition among generations to follow the path,
And battle for gold until the last.
But alas toppled by the billion dollar team
In their new palace where everything gleams
And now sit at the precipice
That you can keep one of two is your wish
The awkwardly named and a steady-armed ace
Could both leave pie in your face
As in the future you offer the best of families
Today we say, May You Rest In Peace.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated 2009: Part 5

Dearly Beloved,

This week we are presented with four more souls. Souls who led solid, if not underperforming lives. In honor of these souls, we are following in the footsteps of the ancients, those dreamers, philosophizers, and creative minded geniuses who gave us the blessings of beautiful verbosity. We will eulogize our weekly departed in poem, as they did so many millennium ago for their departed warriors. May these words reflect the lives of these souls honestly, correctly, and with valor.

To the 2009 Red Sox:

Like ancient Rome, the nation is slowly decaying
Your legions of faithful at home praying
Yearning for the glory days of yesteryear
Learning of drugs made you shed a tear
Heroes with dreads prove embarrassing
As you grow as old as the song you sing
Now the future is in doubt
Of a former Empire losing its clout
Will the future be marred by a curse born of a lease?
We will see. But for now, may you rest in peace.

To the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals:

On the shoulders of a legend you rode
The grandest assembled in your abode
Summer in the city of the greatest fan
Two aces lead you across the land
Alas it was not enough
And those bleeding blue called your bluff
Now the son of an ancient with the greatest voice
and he whose CD is nothing but noise
shall be all that your followers have to hold
as the fall months turn to cold
Then again they will root for a bird to be a beast
While for now they hope you rest in peace.

To the 2009 Minnesota Twins:

In the last year of your humble home
They cheered and danced and waved fingers of foam
You caught the cat who could not close the deal
And a bit of magic is what you would feel
Eras of yesteryear flew in your head
And the ghosts of legends long since dead
But with hankie in hand and Hubert's name on their tongue
You thought for a second you might have it won
But alas you ran into the quarter billion dollar machine
And the twin cities had to live with the belief
that you and your home would have to rest in peace.

To the 2009 Colorado Rockies:

In the light air of the ancient peaks
You took a journey for months and weeks
Only to come up a few victories short
Unable to throw rocks from a snow fort
Pieces unknown outside your neighborhood
Brought you close to glory, but not gold, you got wood
And the fire you were on you tried to use to stay warm
But it was not be enough to weather the cheesesteak storm
Fortunately, there is hope for future generations
Those who will also rely on refrigerations
May they soar over rocky points like a flock of geese
While you, I dare say, must rest in peace.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated 2009: Part 4

Dearly Beloved,

It has been too long since we gathered. This is both a good thing and a bad. On one side, we look to life, those living long fruitful lives with much to celebrate. They were the bearers of smiles for many over an extended time. Then came the end and the stark reality of death. The smiles quickly turned to frowns as sorrow soaked the land. For the beloved were gone, and with them the optimism that life will be forever bountiful.

Today we lay to rest two who lived long, only to come up woefully short during their time of reckoning. Two who played out the string of success only to be left hanging. They are the last of the middle class, so close to the elite, yet closer in spirit to the downtrodden and pathetic.

To the 2009 Detroit Tigers: Amidst gloom and doom, recession and depression, we were to be the shining light, a beacon of optimism where hope grew dim. Then, in a flash, you were extinguished, collapsing more rapidly than the pillars that held up your city. Now all that is left in the rubble, the dirt, and the four-bit homes is the memories and your disappointing rotting carcass. May the Great Creator Doubleday forgive you for yoking the emotions of your loved ones and may you rest in peace.

Our other burial du jour is of the lone star hero who came up two spurs short of a saddle. To the 2009 Texas Rangers, despite the strong-armed wisdom of a legendary cowboy, you failed to round 'em up and bring 'em in. Although you rode high, you fell woefully short of a perfect jaunt into the sunset, like the tattooed martyr among you. Now you leave behind a ranchful of promise, of youthful riders, and a gaggle of even younger gunslingers. But can future generations usurp the focus of your city from the majesty of a megalomaniac and his billion-dollar barrio? Will the stars at night shine big and bright for your kind again? We may soon find out. But as for you, may you rest in peace.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Measuring the true worth of a pro wrestler

By now it should come to no surprise that I am a bit of a pro wrestling fan. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. I go to shows, hang out with other wrestling fans, and even have gotten to know some of the performers and a little about the business. I am by no means saying I am the second coming of Vince McMahon (who I have a growing respect for by the way), I am just saying I think I might know a bit more than the average fan who occasionally watches Monday Night Raw.

With this new found (or newly acknowledged) fandom in mind, I've started to put my deeply analytical and often out-of-the-box mind at work thinking about pro wrestling. Sort of in the same way sabermetric folks think about baseball or a growing number of people are thinking about basketball. Since I've always been amazed by the way the "stathead" fanbase flips and bounces the numbers, I wondered if someone could take the same magnifying glass to pro wrestling. That is, to dig into pro wrestling and see if there are any patterns, trends, or coincidences worth noting.

Ah, I can hear it now, "Baseball is real. Wrestling is fake. You can't compare them or think about them the same way. That's not only ridiculous, it is a waste of time. Why am I reading this?"

Well, if you are still with me, thank you. Because I am about to do the impossible, at least I think it is, I am going to introduce statistical analysis to the untamed wilderness of professional wrestling.

Here is a little college entrance exam analogy for you:

Wins is to Baseball like _____ is to Pro Wrestling

I am going to go with "Money". The quest for money is the lifeblood of pro wrestling like the quest for wins is to other sports. Not that money isn't in some way related to baseball and basketball, but financial gain is only a positive byproduct of the team's daily results. In pro wrestling however, the results of the contest not matter. It is an athletic show, similar to Circus De Soleil. But Circus De Soleil is not promoted like a sport like pro wrestling is. Therefore, I am combining the results of Circus De Soleil with the analysis of sports - accurately maintaining the standard of "sports entertainment".

Ok, now that I have (somewhat) established that money is the goal of a pro wrestling event, then what is it about pro wrestling that brings in money? My answer to that is "entertainment". Any pro wrestling promotion can make money the first time, but to be successful an organization has to entertain. That is, it has to provide a level of excitement to the fan base over that of competing venues of similar costs. That's cost-benefit and simple economics 101.

So where does the burden of entertainment in pro wrestling lay? Who is primarily responsible for ensuring the fans reach a level of entertainment that will best lead to a return visit? The answer to this question, to the chagrin of self-promoting owners, is with the wrestlers. They are the meat and potatoes of pro wrestling. They are as important as touching first base is to scoring in baseball. Without touching first, you cannot score. And without wrestlers, you cannot have a pro wrestling show.

(Note: some promoters and other in-ring personalities do have some entertainment value. But the majority of the burden of entertaining is on the wrestlers.)

If entertainment equals money, how do you measure entertainment? The best way I can figure to measure entertainment is through response. Unlike watching chess, watching pro wrestling should be an activity unto itself. Fans should cheer or boo or clap or root for their favorite. Wrestlers use these reactions to judge whether they are "getting over", i.e. their act is being bought by the crowd. So therefore, the best way to measure if the fans are entertained is the same way we should judge if a wrestler is "over" - by the amount of noise a crowd creates. To date, no promoter, at least that I know of, measures crowd engagement or crowd noise.

Using a generic noise level scale, the average conversation is at 60 decibels (dB). A loud crowd is somewhere between 100 dB and 120 dB (the equivalent to a riding lawn mower). So the average crowd noise should be somewhere just below that, say 90 dB. Of course, there might be a slight difference in the dB level of booing, as most people can't quite boo at the volume they can cheer. With this standard in mind, any wrestler that can't reach 90 dB could be referred to as Jabroni level (JL). Anything above 90 dBs could be called Value Above Jabroni (VAJ).

(Below JL would be the cursed BBL, or bathroom break level. If a wrestler can't crack BBL then they probably need to go back to training because they are not connecting with the crowd.)

So how could a wrestler get a crowd from Jabroni Level to above-Jabroni level? In my opinion, the first thing a wrestler can do to attach him or herself to the fans is have a catchy name. Like police dogs, most wrestlers go with short names, with most being at least two to four syllables (see "Hulk Hogan", "William Regal", etc). Either that or they have a memorable nickname, such as "The Butcher" or "The Dragon". The bottom line is that the name needs a good Chantability Factor (CF). If fans can chant it, they can make it heard.

As the name infers, CF is the ability of a name to be chanted. "Rocky" for example, has a great CF. Two syllables, rhythmic, and begins with hard consonants. You could even add two syllables in the chant and go with a "Let's go, Rocky." See, no more than four. On the other hand, Engelbert Humperdinck has a CF of zero. You can't do anything with a name like that.

Admittedly CF is a bit vague, but my next group of stats is precisely measurable. Again, the key is decibel level.

In wrestling, the antagonist character is called a "heel". The heel attracts the boos, the jeers, and negative feelings. His negative actions are what draw heat, or response. Some heels are better at drawing heat than others. Promoters obviously want the heel able to draw the most heat in the prominent matches. If an average heel musters a 90 dB response (Heat rating, or HR), then a good heel should, on average, draw more heat. Simply put, he or she draws Heat Over Average Heel (HOAH).

If a heel doesn't draw have a high enough heat rating, he or she might be paired with a manager. The difference between the heel's average heat rating and his heat rating with the manager could be called simply Manager Assisted Heat (MAH). A good heel manager should be able to draw heat to any wrestler, no matter how high or low the wrestler's initial heat rating. Of course, if a heel has a high enough heat rating, he or she wouldn't need a manager to begin with.

During the match, performers try to keep the crowd involved, whether cheering or booing. A good match will have a high Crowd Momentum (CM), meaning the crowd is well into the match and vocalizing their enthusiasm. This is easily measurable by the duration of a certain dB level during the match. The main event should probably have the highest CM of the show.

Wrestlers don't want the CM to be too high, however, or else the fans will have reached their peak prior to the climax of the match. During most matches, the climax occurs during one of the wrestlers' "end move" or "finisher". A finisher should rank high on the Crowd Popping End Move Scale (CPEM Scale), measurable by the difference between the crowd's dB level prior to, during, and after the move. A headlock, for example, would likely have a low CPEM score, as it is doubtful the crowd response would be that different. A chokeslam, on the other hand, has more suspense and drama to it, hence a probable higher CPEM score.

I'll admit, I seriously doubt promoters will start measuring dB levels and other measurements of crowd enjoyment anytime soon. (Although here is a dB meter for only a few hundred bucks.) If pro wrestling is one thing, it's traditional.

Then again, who would have though baseball, the most traditionalist of all sports, would lead the way with statistical analysis? Maybe, once again, I am just ahead of my time.