Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How to get PPE to Hospitals

Since the start of the pandemic here in the United States, we have all heard the calls for PPE. Now, PPE is not a term I have ever heard outside of my warehouse employment, particularly Amazon (CMH2, DCM1 AMZL). PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment.


PPE items are running out or are out at hospitals all across the country. In particular masks, but other basic items that you see healthcare professionals wearing during this event. I'm not terribly concerned with the exact type or model numbers of what is needed here, just the logistics of getting it to the people that desperately need it.

The current set up (if you can call it a set up at all) is not working.


Everyone orders online. That's basically it. If it can't be delivered then we get the modern "OMG WE ARE OUT." I see this from a lot of younger nurses and doctors - which then gets picked up by the news. The result is that if it isn't available on Amazon or Walmart then there is a global shortage because that's all most people know now.

The truth of the matter is that online shops are not vetting who gets important materials/items and who doesn't. So, it just disappears quickly when it's posted that there is inventory - it is a free for all. This is a problem because the people that need it most don't have time to park themselves on Amazon.

Before the advent of online shopping, we had to call ahead and load up in a car and drive to find it. That's was a giant pain, yes, but (the positive was) stores could easily control who got things and who did not. We are seeing a version of this already with specific hours for seniors.


The US can use physical stores as mini storage centers.

Work with CVS and Walgreens. Supply their physical stores. The government should direct this activity and work directly with the big box stores to stock the areas in most need. Employees at the physical stores (preferably pharmacists) can work directly with the local network of hospitals in the area.

We don't have time to set up some sort of goddamn ERP inventory system before we get this going. Simple phone calls, barcodes, and spreadsheets worked for generations and they will work here.

CVS and Walgreens get a warehousing %. Amazon Delivery, UPS, FedEx, USPS can deliver to the stores, depending on the origin of the items.

CVS and Walgreens vet the buyer before selling the item, ensuring that it goes to where it is most needed.

Between the two stores, there are almost 20,000 locations in the United States.


Inserting an extra layer of governmental control is not something I particularly like, but it's necessary here to ensure PPE and any other items get to the people that need them most. We have the manufacturing capacity in this country to meet demand, especially on paper products. It just requires a little extra admin.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Top Rated Crew Performances

Last week I covered the only perfect "10.0" for Crew players since WhoScored started recording it in 2013, so today I'm just going to list the top 20 Columbus Crew performances since WS started tracking.

20171210.00Justin Meram
201536-P9.91Kei Kamara
201669.86Justin Meram
2018349.74Gyasi Zardes
201699.62Kei Kamara
2015339.62Federico Higuain
2016129.53Ola Kamara
2016289.50Ola Kamara
2014339.40Aaron Schoenfeld
2015249.39Kei Kamara
2013249.33Federico Higuain
201579.28Ethan Finlay
201835-P9.24Federico Higuain
2013299.20Chad Marshall
201735-P9.20Zack Steffen
2017189.17Federico Higuain
2013279.15Justin Meram
2019169.15Pedro Santos
201529.13Justin Meram

This is out of 3,553 tracked game performances. That's the top 0.5% listed above. Justin Meram and Federico Higuain are tied at 4 each in the top 20.

Coronavirus and Columbus

Children's Medicine
I reckon a post about what's going on in and around Columbus, Ohio during the Coronavirus pandemic is something I might regret not posting down the road.

CLOSED (and Open)

Restaurants, bars, sporting events, K-12 schools, universities, standing within 6 feet of each other, etc are all closed or canceled. Citizens have been ordered by the governor to stay home. But that's a nice to have. Amazon, Walmart, Target, grocery stores, coffee shops (take out only) are still operational. With the big box stores, their distribution networks are still functional. As a matter of fact, they are growing. That means employees at those cavernous warehouses, delivery drivers, truck drivers, EVERYTHING is still going.

If you travel on the roads you might not notice any difference in traffic at first. It kinda looks like it does when school lets out for the summer. But if look at IT a little closer, especially at peak rush hour times, you can tell it's less. My estimate is about 30-50% fewer cars and trucks on the road.


This probably deserves its own post, but I'll never get to it (if I'm being honest with myself). COLUMBUS IS A SUV CITY. Meaning, huge growth in this town has run alongside the modern sport utility vehicle. What this means is that new roads, city and town planning, EVERYTHING is built around large cars.

Walmart - TP and Paper Towels
Delivering for Amazon really opened my eyes to this. If you haven't been here, Columbus is not so much a "city" as it is a massive collection of suburbs. The go on for seemingly ever. In older suburbs, you see the classic layout with smaller roads and culdesacs. Outside of the smaller houses, one way to tell it's an older community is the number of cars. They are everywhere. Why? The kids you had when you moved in 20 years ago are now teens and you gave them cars.

Newer communities are enormously wide streets that wind safely around. Included are even spots for the giant SUV's that resemble yachts to turn around. I favored these as a delivery driver, but it is incredibly wasteful.

Regardless, Car City Columbus roads are now only about half full and I've noticed a slight change in the weather towards the cooler side.

Weatherman and women are almost always correct these days. They might miss on how long it will rain or the temp by a degree or two, but that's about it. But when I was working a job in 2018 that required me to travel out to Perry County, Ohio a lot I noticed that without fail, it was about 5-8 degrees cooler. This area is only about 30 miles away. That shift in temp might not seem like much but it is. 82 degrees in Columbus was 75 degrees in towns a little East. Or 36 degrees and rain in Columbus was 28 and snowy in New Lexington. It made a difference, and I saw it.

With the weather in Columbus this last week, it was about 5 degrees cooler than the weather people forecasted each day. What that meant is that last Sunday they were saying the week was going to be in the 50's and then by Friday get to 70. Instead, it was 40's Monday to Wednesday with frosty mornings and 50's Thursday. Yesterday (Friday) was correct, but we got a hellish storm that nobody saw coming.

I believe this is because there are fewer cars on the roads. I've always believed that car traffic and impact local weather a great deal and Columbus is a perfect example. Not just the pollution, but the heat coming off the asphalt. Like firing up an oven to heat the house.


As for our little family of my wife and our 3-year-old, we are doing well. A long-planned trip back (for me) to Virginia is about to happen this coming week. Yesterday was our daughter's last day in daycare (still open) as we start to prep our move.

We spend most of our time in the house "social distancing" with occasional trips to the store. I'll post some pictures of grocery shelves so we don't forget the panic buying that's going on.

Video games, a few movies, writing, soccer analysis, taxes (yay!), and watching government officials on TV is the daily routine.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Meram's Perfect 10.0

WhoScored (WS) has been rating MLS players using Opta data since the beginning of the 2013 season. Nearly 40 different player activities are tracked and recorded for every game, every player. WS assigns a final player rating based on these actions.

In the 250+ games and 3,500 individual performances, there has only been one 10.0 awarded to a Columbus Crew player.

Justin Meram. Back in May of 2017, he recorded a hattrick playing the Impact up in Montreal. His final goal was a game-winner in added time.

Justin owns two of the top 5 WS ratings for Crew players.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

MLS: An Altered Future

The last week has reshaped our world in ways that we quite possibly never imagined. Here in Ohio, they seem to know that the Coronavirus is much more widespread than the official number of confirmed cases (50 as of this writing) because they have now closed just about everything in the state, including schools, for an indefinite amount of time.

MLS, like all the other professional leagues across the globe, have closed their doors, but curiously added a timeframe of 30 days. Given the news at the time, and especially now, 30 days is not in any way a realistic number. The NBA is very open about plans to restart the season and they are not expecting to restart until at least June. And that is without fans.

There are pressures on MLS that might not be on other leagues.

MLS was only able to play two rounds of games. That's only 6% of the regular season. Include the playoffs and it shrinks even further. NBA, NHL, College Basketball conferences all almost made it to their playoffs. If the season is truncated (which I think is likely), they will take an incredible hit. Not just on the TV side, but also on the game-day revenue side. Games will likely have to be canceled.

MLS also doesn't own all the facilities where they play, so a long stoppage will start bumping up against everyone and everything trying to squeeze in their event like concerts, conventions, NFL and College gridiron games, etc. MLS also does not have the resources to pay employees wages during the work stoppage like the other "big four" leagues in the United States.

MLS just doesn't think this will blow over in 30 days. They NEED it to blow over in 30 days. If this lasts longer, MLS investors will have to start getting very creative in how to hold things together until they can start training and playing again.

Best estimates have that happening in June or July. That only gives MLS a few months to cram in as much as they can. I don't see that as an option at this point. So, now what.


If my hunch is correct, MLS is looking at flipping the calendar. The MLS 2020 Season will become the 2020/21 MLS Season with the season starting in August or September and going to late spring, early summer.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Lines up transfer windows. 
Primary and secondary windows in Europe see completely different amounts of money being spent. Right now MLS is starting their season in the "secondary" window, where the biggest spenders are only looking for a couple players. If MLS wants to join the party they have to switch.

2. LigaMX is merging with MLS.
MLS and LigaMX have made it clear that they want more games vs. each other. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. MLS provides some stability (bottomless pits of money) and some added structure. LigaMX brings passion, fans, and better soccer. Currently, LigaMX plays a Fall - Winter / Winter - Summer schedule. The two leagues already face off during the CCL, various friendlies, and a new summer tournament. Switching the calendar greases the rails for advancing the merger objective.

3. Hot Weather Ruins Games.
Baseball is the perfect summer sport. Soccer is the furthest thing from it. Midfield players can run around 6-8 miles during a match. No timeouts, foul shots, or quarter breaks to give you a blow or reset the players mentality. The league is increasingly moving south. To continue to play games in the summer not only slows the game down to a crawl, but it's also dangerous for players. With a short winter break that lines up with team retooling during the secondary transfer window couldn't fit more perfectly. More games in reasonable weather, including the playoffs and league final, is a no brainer that easily offsets a few December and February inconveniences. With more teams in warm/moderate weather, they can be scheduled around, anyway.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

MLS Suspends Season

I'll have more thoughts on this soon, but this should get it's own post. MLS is suspending the season for 30 days. It's interesting that they put a timeframe on it, but anyhow:


Major League Soccer has suspended all games, effective immediately, for 30 days, the league announced Thursday as it continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 (the coronavirus).

Read the full statement:
Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials. 
At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events. 
“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”
The MLS announcement comes in the wake of the NBA suspending its season on Wednesday night. Prior to the suspension of the MLS season, two MLS matches scheduled for March 21 had already been postponed in Seattle and San Jose as measures are taken to contain COVID-19, which to date has seen over 1,000 confirmed cases in the U.S.

Earlier this week, eMLS Cup, which was scheduled to take place on March 21 in Austin, was postponed following the cancelation of South by Southwest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Crew are Playing - Don't Go

Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington, is expected to announce today that he will be banning events that have gatherings of more than 250 people. This includes sporting events.

Now, a governor "banning" gatherings is a pretty big deal in the United States. Many US citizens believe that they can make their own decisions on what they attend and what they don't. There are others that might take a more legally minded approach to it and say that it is outright illegal to make such a ban.

As much as it might make some sense to ban events in favor of "social distancing," I do not think this is something a governor can enforce. Yesterday, here in Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made suggestions and recommendations. Perhaps that's the way to go? I'm not sure.

That said: With all the information available to us, I do not think it is a good idea to be going to sporting events (or any large gatherings). Young and old. This includes the Crew home game this weekend.

You, dear reader, are young and strong and can fight off any super-duper virus that you get. I'm sure of it. But, in a few week's time I will be in Virginia with my 80+-year-old father. I am going to be taking as few risks as possible over the next few weeks to reduce the chances of getting the Coronavirus. Not because I think I'll get ill, but because I know that it is possible that I could make someone else gravely ill.

MLS will not make decisions to postpone games or otherwise do anything that will hurt revenue. You have to do that yourself.

It would be wonderful if Dr. Pete Edwards, part Operator of the Columbus Crew and someone I'm sure knows better, came out and recommended to MLS the game be postponed to later in the year.

The data out there tells us that reducing the "spike" in cases is the best thing we can do. That means it might be a little uncomfortable for a few weeks via social distancing, but ultimately, it will get under control and minimize the impact on communities.

The Crew are already the last team to have played in Seattle before a serious lockdown on events. That's a bit scary in and of itself. If MLS doesn't do anything this weekend, I would say as a red-blooded make your own decisions American...

...do not go.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

COVID-19: Crew Still Open for Business

Last night the San Jose Earthquakes found out that Santa Clara County officials do not want gatherings of more than 1,000 people until early next month. What this means is that at least one home MLS game will be either played in front of no fans or postponed to a later date.

At this time - No other MLS team is under mass gathering restrictions nor have any taken it upon themselves to take important measures similar to events in Santa Clara County to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus.

That said, just today, the Columbus Crew issued a statement as to what is happening this weekend. The game is being played as normal. There are no major changes to the game except for adding hand sanitizer and removing "non-essential pre-match, halftime and post-match activations (whatever that means).

The timing of this Crew statement is likely because Ohio State University has decided to keep students out of classrooms for the next few weeks.

The loss of game-day revenue for MLS over a number of weeks would be devastating. They will continue to have games in front of fans for as long as they can. As of this post, both Italy and Spain have decided to play closed-door matches.

Below is the full statement from the Columbus Crew:

COLUMBUS — Columbus Crew SC announced today that Saturday’s home match against Real Salt Lake (5:00 p.m. ET) remains scheduled to be played as planned.

Columbus Crew SC, along with Major League Soccer and its other member clubs, have been closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will continue to do so. Major League Soccer’s task force has been regularly communicating with MLS clubs regarding appropriate measures to take as the situation continues to evolve.

The health and safety of the players, staff and supporters are of utmost importance. Crew SC and MAPFRE Stadium, through their dedicated task force, will continue to work with relevant governmental agencies and Major League Soccer to monitor the situation and react as necessary throughout the week.

MAPFRE Stadium undergoes a detailed cleaning procedure before and after every match or event. Many parts of the stadium, including high-traffic areas, will receive extra cleaning prior to and during Saturday's match.

Additionally, Crew SC will have the following protocols in place for the match:

- Hand sanitizers available in restrooms, guest services and first-aid locations.
- Attendants in both the men's and women's restrooms to regularly clean surfaces.
- Non-essential pre-match, halftime and post-match activations will be temporarily postponed.

Additional information on COVID-19, including health tips, news updates and other resources, is available via the Ohio Department of Health. Guests attending Saturday's match are encouraged to frequently wash their hands and avoid contact with their eyes, nose and mouth.

Should they choose to do so, Crew SC Season Ticket Members can take advantage of the Club's ticket-exchange program by contacting their Account Services Representative prior to the upcoming match.

For additional updates, please continue to monitor www.ColumbusCrewSC.com and all team social media accounts at @ColumbusCrewSC.

As I mentioned before the last game the Crew played away in Seattle: THIS GAME SHOULD NOT HAVE FANS ATTENDING. The best thing to do is postpone it. Postpone them all until at least the beginning of April.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Crew Rd 2, Couldn't See It - Order of Star Wars

I couldn't watch the game. I cut my sports package from ATT U-verse, ESPN+ blacked it out and it wasn't available on Youtube. I did a quick search for an illegal stream and found nothing. I kept up with live updates in the usual places, but that's about it. I do have a couple of observations, I'll put them at the bottom. On to more important things:


With that, instead of being able to evaluate play I'm going to list out the order of which my 3.5 year old has watched Star Wars. Is that too young? I'm not sure! My wife had never seen the original series and was curious. We fired it up and our daughter was interested, so we let her watch (well, as much as a 3 yo. watches things).

We did it over the course of a couple days. Sometimes it was background noise, but most of the time it got our undivided attention (all these on Disney+).

1. Rogue One
2. Star Wars (A New Hope)
3. Empire Strikes Back
4. Return of the Jedi

I feel this is the "correct way" to watch given the way things fall now. Rogue One refreshingly ties directly into A New Hope.

This had me thinking of the way I saw Star Wars. And honestly, I can't remember exactly. I grew up in the country, far from any movie screen. Here is my best guess.

1. Empire Strikes Back (home video, mid-80s)
1a. [parts of A New Hope] (TV/home video, mid-80s)
2. Return of the Jedi (home video?, late 80s)
3. A New Hope (all the way through, home video, late 80s)

It's weird that I can't remember ever really sitting though one until probably Jedi. I was around 10 at that time so I was the right age. Thinking back, Star Wars seemed ever-present. Like, you absorbed everything instead of experience it. Also, I saw it as "my older brother's thing." He is 7 years older than me. Star Wars seemed "70s." I was more into GIJOE, He-Man, Gummie Bears, etc. It wasn't until the released a 3 VHS set in the early 90s that I really watched them.


Notable: Caleb Porter was pretty fired up after the game saying things like "this proves we can play with anyone" type things. He's not wrong, but man is he burning hot 2 weeks into the season. A stark contrast to Berhalter. Pace yourself Caleb. Long season ahead, that might include managing an epidemic.

Stats Check-in: Seattle seemed to control the game. 10 shots on frame to 4 for the Crew. The also had over 100 more passing attempts (which is how possession is calculated). Seattle had 37!?! crosses. Which is nuts. Try something else maybe?

Gyasi Zardes was the highest-rated WhoScored player. His 7.70 is tied for 782 best individual Crew score since 2014.

That's it, hope I can watch the next one! Who knows!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

COVID-19: Crew Shouldn't Play Tonight

A stadium employee that worked the February 22 XFL game at CenturyLink Field (where the Columbus Crew are playing tonight) tested positive this week for the Coronavirus.

Before we go further: The likelihood of anyone contracting the virus is low and even if they do contract it, the effects the virus carries are apparently similar to the common flu.

That is not the issue, however. If the timing of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ohio happens to be next week, most will only remember that it came after a sports team visited the stadium where an employee had it. That impacts everything from team brand to ticket sales (no way my wife and 3 year old are going to a game right now, as it is).

The hysteria building around this virus is already impacting just about everything around us. From airports emptying to empty shelves of hand sanitizer. The actual effects of the virus or the likelihood of getting it do not matter, it's the fear. 

Much of the fear is being stoked by mass media (social media as well). Local news here in Columbus leads with it. The national news on CBS, NBC, ABC lead with it. Fear of a virus is a story that pops up any time we enter a slow news part of the calendar. The fact that they have one now that is new and trackable (modern technology!) is making this a hysteria that will only build in the coming weeks and even months.

In a warehouse environment, you do risk assessments all the time. Especially when implementing new processes. If the result of risk is devastating (ie. DEATH or Putting the company out of business) to the company and it is more than 0.0% chance of happening - you do not do it (and come up with something else).

The Columbus Crew simply cannot withstand what would happen if a player or staff member got the virus while in Seattle at CenturyLink. That risk is too great, even if the chances of it happening are very small.

Any dip in attendance, which impacts brand penetration, which destroys just about all revenue - is very, very bad for the team (and MLS).


My personal opinion is the game should not be played, but they will play it because this is AMERICA DAMNIT. And that's fine. I good solution would be to move the game to another venue tonight or just postpone it till later this year.


As far as official statements, King County (Seattle, WA) leaders are "in continuous dialogue with regional health authorities and Major League Soccer, in addition to our network of medical experts. Because of this, we are proceeding with Saturday's match, and Sounders FC is following the updated guidelines that were released on Wednesday by Public Health — Seattle & King County."


An interactive map that shows where the Coronavirus is currently: Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

Monday, March 2, 2020

Quick Note: Zelarayán's WS Performance

Looking at all the Columbus Crew games from the start of 2018 till now (72 games), Lucas Zelarayán's performance was tied for 10th best performance as rated by WhoScored.

Rating : Name, Year - Round
9.74 : Gyasi Zardes, 2018 - 34
9.24 : Federico Higuaín, 2018 - 35 (playoffs)
9.15 : Pedro Santos, 2019 - 16
8.90 : Gyasi Zardes, 2018 - 12
8.69 : Pedro Santos, 2019 - 24
8.60 : Federico Higuaín, 2018 - 12
8.57 : Gyasi Zardes, 2019 - 29
8.44 : Zack Steffen, 2019 - 2
8.43 : Federico Higuaín, 2019 - 12
8.41 : Lalas Abubakar, 2018 - 13
8.41 : Lucas Zelarayán, 2020 - 1

Generally speaking, anything over 8.00 is an outstanding night.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Crew Win '20 Opener, 3 Things (+1)

Opening weekend is here for the 2020 MLS season and much has changed across the entire league (again). More teams, brand new venues, changed rules, a new CBA, a Mexican initiative, the list goes on. But! Let us not carry that weight into what is finally here. Another Crew season filled with hopes and dreams of the forever optimistic Ohio Sports fan faithful.


At the bottom of this post will be some site housekeeping notes about coverage but for now... Let's get right to it. MY THREE THINGS

1. Jordan Angeli
Let's start with the booth. It's selfish of me, but as a long-suffering vet of MLS broadcasts this one is important. The former U20 USWNT standout and NWSL player was great. More than great, really. She read the game. She corrected Neil Sika, she genuinely got excited about skillful play OTHER than goals. She noted key moments in action that happened a few passes or tackles previous to positive action. She gets it. She was comfortable. Both Dwight Burgess (who she replaced) and Sika (who is paired with her now) were "Crew people" more than announcers. The game sometimes seemed to be a distraction from picking favorite players, selling the next game ticket package or rattling off Wiki notes on each player on the opposing team. Too comfortable. Too stale. Angeli is a breath of fresh air. If you were at that game and still haven't heard her, you are in for a treat.

2. Early Reds Ruin Games
The Red Card handed out in the 4th minute threw a wet blanket on things. Anytime this happens you know that you have already read the script of what's to come. To the letter of the law, yeah. It was a red. But in the first game of the season, within 5 minutes? Ahh, let it go. Let's have 11v11. That said, NYCFC looked good and organized in their role and the Crew looked pretty impressive in working the ball around, trying to get a good shot. Pedro Santos probably should have had one there early on. It would have put this game to bed in the first 30 minutes. Later, Luis Diaz missed a sitter. All in all, for the 1st game of the season, both teams should be alright with how it went down.

3. Crew Player Callouts
Lucas Zelarayan looked great. He plays with joy. He's also crafty in that he seems to know what the opponent in front of him will do, even if it isn't obvious. It happened on the goal when he took the touch towards goal and also another time when he won the ball from behind a CB in the 18. Milton Valenzuela. Wow. The knee injury has done nothing to slow him down. He looked fantastic in attack and defense. He was always where he should be. Artur and Nagbe looked fine in the first Crew game without Wil Trapp on the roster since October 2012.


With way too much MLS watched this weekend it's easy to say Columbus looked like one of the good teams. Organized, motivated, not arguing with each other, in shape. But, it could be argued, that came against a 10 man team for 85 minutes. Still though. LOTS of bad teams in MLS this year. Crew were among them last year. It doesn't appear that way this year.


We here at Helltown have tried different things over the years as far as covering the games. My personal favorite was when I wrote a graph or two about each half and then summed things up. I may try that again this year. We'll see. For now It'll just be a 3 things, uh, thing.

As I have since 2010, I will continue tracking player scores on my own rating system as well as keeping tabs on advanced stats and what's going on over at WhoScored.

Thanks for reading. Looking forward to a great season. My 11th writing about the Crew here at Helltown.