Simply- A Red Sox Win

While I was quick to criticize the Red Sox earlier this week for their haphazard negotiating style with regards to Daisuke Matsuzaka, I will also just as promptly commend their signing of said player, and all but retract my comments from the other day.

Why the sudden turn around you ask? Well, first and foremost, this is East Coast Bias, so it is my right, nay- my duty- to exude such haste and flip-flopping. However, for practical reasons as well as RSN loyalty, I must admit one simple, clear truth...

The Red Sox called Scott Boras' bluff.

While everyone here was bemoaning the complete lack of urgency we all felt Mrs. Henry, Lucchino, and Epstein were expressing, the simple truth is, they were in the driver's seat. They did not panic because, simply, they did not have to.

Credit Larry Lucchino for this one. Here's why:

Back when the bidding for Matsuzaka took place and before the Red Sox knew they were going to sign him, Larry took a little trip to Japan to observe, first hand, the "lay of the land".

The Red Sox have left no stone unturned in this negotiation, and Larry's trip overseas was the first step toward, what they knew, was inevitable- Daisuke was coming. Now, Lucchino did not go overseas simply because it was what any MLB team official would do in following due diligence with such an investment. He went with a simple goal in mind outside of the general, "what's Matsuzaka worth?"

What the Red Sox did on that trip to the Far East was determine officially what was suspected by some (and feared in the end by Scott Boras- Matsuzaka's agent).

Daisuke simply couldn't go back.

It was simply capitalism at its best. And Scott Boras was beaten at his own game. The Seibu Lions wanted the Red Sox' money and not the player. In hindsight, it is funny how everyone thought the Red Sox overspent on the bid. But quite prophetically, they knew this was a $100 million dollar deal no matter how it was sliced. (I wonder, if the wining bid had been lower, would they have traded the difference in salary and still equal a 100 million dollar deal?) What the Red Sox did with Boras this time that others have not was simply control the card game. Here's the "Quickie-style" order of events that led to the signing:
  • They "overpaid" ($51.1 million) on the bid to ensure the exclusive negotiating position with Matsuzaka
  • They made a prompt offer which they knew Boras would decline.
  • They waited.
  • And waited.
  • And waited some more.
  • Then Boras cracked.
  • He met with the media.
  • The Red Sox then knew it was time to make a trip to California, uninvited of course.
  • They made a second offer with 2 days to go without a counteroffer from Boras on the first. Most thought this was strange, but they did it proactively because
  • They low-balled the second offer too! $8 million for 6 years.
  • Then on Tuesday they imposed a deadline of Wednesday mid-day, when John Henry's plane was taking off to return to Boston. Everyone thought they were crazy given that they had until midnight Thursday to strike a deal.
  • That's where Boras lost because all he had was a pair of Deuces to the Sox' Full House.
Daisuke could not go back, the Red Sox made the clock tick, and Boras had to, gasp, give in. It was as simple as that. And all because Larry Lucchino and the Sox did their homework better than Scott Boras. No one truly suspected the Red Sox would not land the pitcher. It was simply a matter of how much it would cost. Simply a matter of who would blink first. Simply a matter of the Red Sox having a game plan and sticking to it. Simply genius.

Welcome to Boston Mr. Matsuzaka.


Best. NHL. Line. Ever?

You gotta try this.

It let's you pick the NHL's top 4 forward lines (Left Wing, Center, Right Wing) of all time out of a pool of 50 forwards. So cool. Makes you appreciate the talent level that has been maintained over the decades in the NHL. Being a HUGE hockey fan- I grew up playing and I play to this day- it was very hard for me to only make 4 top lines with the players given. But I narrowed my criteria down to several eligibility factors:

  • Was the player dominant in his era?
  • Did the player have a linemate that made him a better player? Call it the "Glenn Anderson Rule". (No, not the "Jari Kurri Rule"- Jari was great his entire career, even without Gretz.)
    • If yes, then is that player among the Top 50 listed?
      • If yes, then you need to keep at least 2 of those on the line together.
  • The player needs to play a position he played frequently- i.e., a Center has to be chosen at Center, but if he played Wing extensively too (eg., Sergei Federov) he can be chosen at either position. But Wingers are simply Wingers (i.e., LW and RW are interchangeable).
  • The final category is simply my feeling, knowing the background/reputation of most of the players pretty well, I leave tiebreakers up to my overall subjectivity- call it the "Going with Your Gut" Rule. Heck, this is East Coast Bias, after all.
So, all that being said and without further adieu, my top 4 lines of all time are (in order of LW, C, RW):

Line 1: Kurri, Gretzsky, Howe
Line 2: Bossy, Lemieux, Messier
Line 3: LaFleur, Yzerman, Jagr
Line 4: Richard, Dionne, Clarke

"Honorable Mention Line": Bobby Hull, Federov, Brett Hull.
Explanation- I couldn't pick 1 Hull without including the other among the Top 4 lines- it would have been a disservice to both. And Federov in his prime defined the transition to European hockey in the NHL. There is no better representative of the early 1990's NHL (but Kurri gets the international player nod in the Top 4 lines).


UPDATE: Red Sox Flying High?

Strange how my blog post ridiculing Red Sox management came about and then within an hour reports came out the Sox brass were on John Henry's plane headed back to Boston... with Matsuzaka and Boras on board.

Apparently a deal has been struck, in principle, and they are headed to Beantown for a physical. The parameters and final wording is being/has been (if the flight has landed) worked out in route.

Now, while I do not think I had any part in this turn of events, I would reason that my POV was prbably the overriding theme among RSN and maybe our combined kinetic energy shifted the aggregate brain cramping of the involved parties long enough to produce a positive result.

OK, I'm stretching, but it was a cool coincidence.

I just had to say it...

The Red Sox are the joke of MLB.

And I say that as a faithful member of Red Sox Nation.

Here's what I don't get about the Red Sox:
Apparently they are offering 6 years @ $8 mil per. Boras wants $11 mil per.

The 6 years is agreed upon.

Everyone and their mother (RS Nation, Gammons, Olney, et al.) knew when the bid went to the Red Sox that this would be a $100 mil plus endeavor. And in fact, it's been pretty much known from Day 1 the price tag for Matsuzaka would be at least $10 mil per year.

Heck, the Sox coughed $10 mil a season up to Beckett- who by the way would be the #3 man (by skill, not by pay) in the rotation behind Schilling and Daisuke.

Right now, at a $3 mil per year gap between the RS and Boras, the Sox can split the difference (i.e., add $1.5 mil per year) and still be under the market for this kid at $9.5 mil per year long-term for 6 years.

That makes the deal $108,111,111.11 if you include the bid price. When you are talking Monopoly money like this, does a difference of $9 mil (the $51.1 mil bid + the Sox' $8 mil x 6yrs offer) really make or break this negotiation?

The Red Sox brass has become a laughing stock, and that 2004 World Series looks more and more like a fluke than sound planning based on their ongoing ineptitude since. Not re-signing Pedro, the Clemens begging/groveling, the Arroyo trade, no trades at last year's deadline, even the Beckett/Lowell trade- really what have they done right in the last 3 years? (Other than extending Big papi's contract.)


This is why I like AI...

He may not be the penultimate role model. He does not have the squeaky clean image that moms love and politicians line up to have photo shoots with. But for my money, I would take Allen Iverson's personal character over 99% of celebrities- nay, people- out there.

You could count his jingoism lobbying to play for Team USA in this year's World Championships (and not being selected despite being the defacto leader of Team "US" and best playmaker in the 2004 Olympics, and would have been again in this year's Worlds.

You could count his, er... his mom's investment/altruism/philanthropy in minor league basketball (yes, the ABA) in an underexposed, underfunded region like Richmond, VA- which is a great college sports town, but not so much a pro city.

Count the last 2 seasons of scrutiny and trade rumors AI has dealt with in Philly because the team should rebuild while it's not going anywhere. And that's not AI's fault- he's just their biggest bargaining chip- still an above average scorer and playmaker with good (not great) defensive skills, which many playoff-aspiring teams need (hello Bulls and Mavs).

Even if you count his "rap" albums against him, not because it's rap music, but because they were bad.

Allen Iverson is a character guy. And this article proves it.

In the 1990's, the big fixation was "the shoes". Everyone knew them as Air Jordans. And I recall SI even did a huge cover story back in the day about violent crime and celebrity-endorsed apparel. Specifically geared toward the desire for those less fortunate to pursue criminal acts to obtain the much sought after footwear, the article portrayed the horrific reality of inner city youth trying to survive on the street- not because of drugs or gang influence, but because what shoes a kid wore might get him killed.

And here we are, over a decade later and this type of tragedy can still touch us. A young man, Kevin Johnson, died Tuesday after being shot and paralyzed 3 years ago; afflicted by complications to the ventilator he used due to his paralysis- a condition inflicted on him because he was shot in the neck for refusing to give up his AI jersey 3 years ago.

In steps AI. He is paying for young Mr. Johnson's funeral expenses. For an event that happened 3 years ago. Because the kid wore his jersey. Because no one should be harmed, let alone die because they are simply, a fan. That's what this came down to. A fan was killed because he showed his allegiance to his team (and AI) in the form of a jersey. And some other punk kids wanted said jersey. Never mind you can probably buy an AI jersey on Ebay for next to nothing. An idea that elementary does not occur to violent criminals- even young ones who grew up around computers instead of a basketball court (my trivial reference to the now age-old argument of kids in my day actually playing outside versus kids today playing
virtually, if at all).

Iverson felt responsible. And no, he was not actually responsible. He knows that, we know that, Mrs. Johnson- Kevin's mom- knows that. But AI did something very few celebrity's would do. He stepped up and made a statement about his influence over youth. And this circumstance highlights both the good and evil of that influence. A good kid loved and respected AI's game and had something positive in his life on which to focus (a team, a player succeeding, winning attitude, etc.). Another kid, this one bad, consciously decided another person's life was worth a $35 dollar tank top.

It's a vicious contrast- a dichotomy that spans all time in so many different communities, cultures, studies, and disciplines. Good and evil exist and they are constantly at war.

Iverson is definitely one of the good guys. Kevin Johnson was one of the good guys. And the bad guys won a round. But AI made a gesture that at lease erases some of the residue from that evil. He even said himself, he alone cannot change things, but he can help.

Only a character guy would even try.


His Name is "Dice-Kay"

The rationale this AM I heard on Boston radio is that the Red Sox are now in the driver's seat. Boras does not have any more leverage with Matsuzaka, in theory, because he can't pit teams against each other (a la "Bowling for Zito"). Therefore the Sox can set a price- maybe even below market. Matsuzaka made "only" $3 million last season for Seibu. Even if the Sox double his salary, they get a relative bargain. And word is Daisuke does NOT want to go back to Japan next season (he would dishonor himself after indirectly declaring his desire for better competition in MLB).

I say the final number ends up splitting the difference between the $12mil per Mussina signed for and the $6 mil that would double Matsuzaka's salary from Japan.

Call it an even $9 million per over 4 years. Maybe 5 if the Sox want to commit that long... heck, he's only 26 now- he'd still be just 31.


NFL Week 9 Here and Gone

Wow, and gone it went, faster than I expected. Forgot to add this in this week...
Detroit 30, Atlanta 14
Baltimore 26, Cincinnati 20
Washington 22, Dallas 19
Buffalo 24, Green Bay 10
N.Y. Giants 14, Houston 10
Kansas City 31, St. Louis 17
Miami 31, Chicago 13
New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 14
Jacksonville 37, Tennessee 7
San Francisco 9, Minnesota 3
San Diego 32, Cleveland 25
Denver 31, Pittsburgh 20
Indianapolis 27, New England 20
Seattle 16, Oakland 0

Week 9: 8-6
Overall: 80-48

Week 10 predictions will be retro'd (as has become my custom) into the Here and Gone next week.


This is why we love John Daly. The guy is just about every guy's alter ego fantasy. Observe this assumed daily schedule for J.D.:

Get up.
Scratch and sniff.
Place bets with bookie.
Drink. Smoke.
Get a limo to the airport.
Drink. Smoke 1 last one before the flight.
Get on the plane.
Show up at a PGA Tour event.
Drink. Gamble in the clubhouse.
Play golf badly, but because you have all the natural ability in the world, you don't look like you suck.
Drink. Get paid sponsorship money for showing up.
Drink. Smoke.
Drink. Smoke. Eat some fast food (hey, every guy's gotta throw down a few burritos or KFC to keep going- and to look like J.D.'s physique)
Board flight for Las Vegas.
Drink. Smoke. Gamble all night.


NFL Week 8 Here and Gone

I should have quit while I was ahead. Maybe I got cocky. Maybe I just regressed to the mean. Maybe I pulled a Philadelphia Eagles and just simply cannot explain why all this talent is being wasted these last 2 weeks. Whatever the reason, I had my second straight poor showing in the picks department. But alas, that's why they play the games. My predicted picks from last week are in bold.

Green Bay 31, Arizona 14
Atlanta 29, Cincinnati 27
Baltimore 35, New Orleans 22
Tennessee 28, Houston 22
Jacksonville 13, Philadelphia 6
Kansas City 35, Seattle 28
Chicago 41, San Francisco 10
N.Y. Giants 17, Tampa Bay 3
San Diego 38, St. Louis 24
Indianapolis 34, Denver 31
Cleveland 20, N.Y. Jets 13
Oakland 20, Pittsburgh 13
Dallas 35, Carolina 14
New England 31, Minnesota 7

Last Week: 7-7
Overall: 72-42


Week 8 NF Pre-stink-tions.

If last week is any indication, my powers of predictability that led me to 3 straight double digit win weeks, have left me. Call me Jimmy the Greek at this point because any game I pick is bound to be as accurate as a Drew Bledsoe pass on a T.O. out pattern to the sidelines (and just as ugly). But here goes:

Arizona at Green Bay- Maybe this is the home game the Packers have been waiting to win this season. The Cards are (again) a sinking ship.

Atlanta at Cincinnati- Good win last week should translate into another quality win against another NFC south opponent. Although the Falcons' 42 points last week scares me against a weaker defense in Cincy than the one Atlanta faced last week versus Pittsburgh.

Baltimore at New Orleans- It doesn't matter who calls the offensive plays for Baltimore, the Ravens can't run the ball. But the key here is how hurt is Deuce McAllister (career-best 4.9 YPC this season)? If he plays, the Saints win.

Houston at Tennessee- Houston is coming off a big win. I smell hangover of an NCAA nature.

Jacksonville at Philadelphia- 2 teams that lost last week and should be angry. I'll take the home team and the leadership McNabb provides.

Seattle at Kansas City- I'm not a fan of Seneca Wallace. But if you looked to the other side of the ball and you saw Brody Croyle lining up behind center as the starting QB (in only his 7th professional tilt and 1st start), you would take the lesser of 2 evils too.

San Francisco at Chicago- Ah, coming off the bye week. Sorry Niners fans, the Bears are going to be a little hungrier than usual.

Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants- Tiki Barber can say whatever he wants as far as I'm concerned. The NFL's leading rusher at least backs up his talk.

St. Louis at San Diego- Did the Merriman factor hurt in KC last week? My guess is the Chargers are finally over it.

Indianapolis at Denver- Denver can't score. But, that "D"! They can't score. But that home field! Read my lips... THEY CAN'T SCORE.

N.Y. Jets at Cleveland- Playing well and matched up with one of the league's worst. Not a bad way to put yourself into playoff contention at 5-3 halfway through the season. Well done Jets.

Pittsburgh at Oakland- I'm guessing Cowher won't need to remind his team how horrible they played (especially on defense) last week. This is a veteran group on both sides of the ball.

Dallas at Carolina- Do you think Keyshawn misses Dallas? Neither do I.

New England at Minnesota- That thud you here is the sound of a very good Pats' D-line colliding with a HUGE Vikings' O-line. Pats will do what they do best, bend and not break.


NBA Preview

And probably the only post I'll have about the NBA until next season's preview- unless the Celtics get on a roll, then I'll be a happy fairweather B-ball fan.

Seriously, I used to be a big NBA guy back when the NBA was IT. I'll date myself here, but I was a fan produced of the 80's Celtics and inaugural Dream Team. I can't stand the watered down, teen millionaire, thug-lifestyle, IQ dampening swill it is today. I used to hate HATE college hoops, but now because the NBA is what it is, I am all for "Midnight Madness" way before I am for "It's FAN-tastic".

That all being said, I am a sports fan and I do keep my eye on all things athletic and competitive. So here's my oh-so-short-and-sweet NBA predictions that I had posted in a separate blog. (See, that's how uniterested I am with the NBA; I simply just plagiarized myself- if that's possible.)

Dirk. Takes the leap while LeBron and Kobe fall back.

Coach of the Year-
Scott Skiles- most improved team (both natural growth and via FA a la Wallace)

Team on the Rise-
Bulls (same reasons)

Team on the Decline-
Spurs- getting older and not better.
Breakout Player (The "Diaw Award")- I'll go with Dan's new fad- Nazr Mohammed

Rookie to Watch (not necessarily "best")-
Rondo- call me a homer, but the kid is sneaky fast and a gifted passer which the Celts need.

Storyline We'll Be Talking About in January-
Telfair was the shooter.

Western Playoff Seeding/Conf. Champs (Who over who?)
#1 Mavs over #4 Suns Dirk/Johnson player/coach tandem best in league.

Eastern Playoff Seeding/Conf. Champs (Who over who?)
#2 Bulls over #1 Pistons. You just gotta have this happen!

NBA Champs
Mavs over Bulls- playoff experience from last year is the difference.

World Series Game 3.

The biggest question before Game 3 should be, are the Cardinals players over the fact their manager ceremoniously, albeit inadvertently, threw them under the proverbial bus by declaring, in hindsight, Kenny Rogers cheated. Though Tony LaRussa never actually applied the Scarlet Letter to Rogers' chest, the "it wasn't dirt." pretty much is the "A" we all wanted to see. But really, who is the bigger "A" in this?

My boy Shanoff rightfully says, it's Tony.

What manager in their right mind backtracks and makes an accusation like this? As the victim for crying out loud!! If you're going to make the call, make it when it counts- in the 1st inning of Game 2. Any effort (let's not even rank the hollowness of the actions) since then is completely and utterly useless.

What's worse is, by not calling a spade a spade in Game 2, LaRussa has directly put his team in a 2 games to 1 hole before they even play Game 3. Why? Because if you were a Cardinals player (not counting perennial LaRussa-hater Scott Rolen) wouldn't you be just a little miffed (and subsequently off your game tonight) if you knew your manager didn't have your back? I mean, come on- you and your team had a built-in excuse (and rally cry for Game 3) to chalk up a Game 2 loss to cheating, instead you took the high road, then took the low road and metaphorically castrated your HFA gained after a Game 1 win because everyone now feels cheated because they didn't have a chance to say they had been cheated.

Do you see the absolute conundrum here for Cardinals players (and fans)? Tonight is lose/lose. If you win, you know you got cheated out of a 3-0 WS lead and near-lock for the title in perhaps the greatest upset (to steal a Shanoff phrase) "of the ESPN Era". Better than the Red Sox '04 ALCS 0-3 comeback? Maybe not, but as I said in a previous post, all the "experts" virtually condemned the Tigers when the Detroit sweep talk was conceived before the WS started. At the time I said Murphy's Law will step in and the Cards would win in 7. But maybe it's worse than even that classic scenario. Maybe the Cardinals reel off the next 3 wins (at home), win the title 4 games to 1 and they get the time-tested, MLB-approved * in the history books.

2006 World Series: Cardinals 4 games Tigers 1 game*

* Should have been a sweep (and greatest upset of all time contender) if LaRussa had just rallied his troops before the Game 2 loss became apparent).

Sure, that may be 1 long footnote, but in this day and age of all things media, just winning is not enough anymore. Sure, no one remembers the events 10 years from now (I'd argue, by the start of next Spring Training more likely), but that's what asterisks are for- to remind us what should have happened.

If the Cards lose (more likely), they just handed Detroit back the HFA, are legitimately down 2-1 and have begun a 2-game losing streak with a demoralized team psyche- all thanks to Tony "a spade's not a spade... oh wait, yeah it is" LaRussa's fence hopping. It's this type of decision-making that will make LaRussa 1-4 for his career in World Series matchups.

Don't hate the playa, hate the manage-a.


NFL Week 7 Here and Gone

I know we still have MNF tonight, but let's get a jump on this weekend's results (and my prediction results- in bold)...

Cincinnati 17, Carolina 14 - Here: The swagger of a division leader in Cincy. Gone: DeShaun Foster, weak run defense exploiter.

N.Y. Jets 31, Detroit 24- Here: The Jets win total from last season (in only 7 games). Gone: The mockery of hiring the youngest Head Coach in NFL history.

Green Bay 34, Miami 24- Here: Joey Harrington, Fantasy League stud. Gone: Miami Defense, Fantasy League dud.

Houston 27, Jacksonville 7- Here: Texans' pride (and posibly a bright future). Gone: Jacksonville's eyes on the division crown (3 GB of Indy already).

New England 28, Buffalo 6- Here: The Pats as AFC's favorites. Gone: The Pats as AFC's most overrated.

Tampa Bay 23, Philadelphia 21- Here: The Gradkowski Era. Gone: The Simms Era.

Atlanta 41, Pittsburgh 38 (OT)- Here: Michael Vick, TD throwing machine. Gone Michael Vick, TD running machine.

Kansas City 30, San Diego 27- Here: Larry Johnson's Fantasy League promise fulfilled. Gone: San Diego's defensive impregnability (thanks Mrs. Kiel and Merriman).

Denver 17, Cleveland 7 Here: The Over on Denver's 13 point run. Gone: The hope that Jay Cutler will play soon (hint: not if they keep winning, even by low scores).

Oakland 22, Arizona 9- Here: The Black Hole. Gone: Dennis Green.

Minnesota 31, Seattle 13 Here: Quality road win for the Vikings. Gone: The Seahawks' HFA in the playoffs- Hasselbeck's injury insures that. As I noted in my Week 7 predictions, this team is now a pass 1st offense, but now without a quality passer for a month.

Indianapolis 36, Washington 22- Here: Washington's off-season come early. Gone: "Peyton is soft" critics after get bent like Gumby in a meat grinder.

I'll update this after tonight's MNF result.
And here it is...

NY Giants 36, Dallas 22- Here: The last season of Coach Parcells Gone: The NFC East as "most competitive division" this season. (It's only a 2-horse race.)


NFL Week 7 Preview

Carolina at Cincinnati- DeShaun Foster plays well against weak run defenses. The Bengals rank #24 against the run. DeShaun likes Cincy.

Detroit at N.Y. Jets- The jets have surprised with their 3-3 record. The Lions lackluster 1-5 record may be slightly misleading, but at home, the Jets should be able to contain the Lions' offense.

Green Bay at Miami- Somebody has to win this game, right? Harrington looks more comfortable than Culpepper did in this offense. And Green Bay's "O" line will get pounded by Miami's "D".

at Houston- Poor Gary Kubiak. No running game for the former RB mastermind.

New England
at Buffalo- Belichick always finds a compliment for even the weakest teams. This week? He says the Bills are dangerous and could go 6-wideouts on offense, they're that deep. Oh Bill. You're such a kidder.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay- Bruce Gradkowski may not be a top-10 QB (heck it's only his second start), but he sure makes the Bucs feel more confident they can win than Chris Simms ever did.

Pittsburgh at Atlanta- Sure the Steelers ran it up on the Chiefs last week. But Atlanta has been preaching defense a lot longer than K.C. And the Steelers are not fast enough on defense to contain Mike Vick.

San Diego
at Kansas City- Phillip Rivers is legit. So is the Bolts' "D". As long as Martyball doesn't come into play, this game should be over by the half.

at Cleveland- Another game, another 13 points for Denver. And again, 13 points will be enough to win- this time against a pathetic Browns team who, unlike Denver, is impotent on both offense and defense.

Arizona at Oakland- The negative P.R. this week prior to the deadline may actually give the Raiders some energy. Arizona's only hope is Matt Leinart's decision-making. Unfortunately his O-line won't give him the 2-3 seconds he needs to make the right one against a decent Raiders defense.

Minnesota at Seattle- With or without Alexander, this team now relies on its compliment of WRs and Matt Hasselbeck getting them the ball.

Washington at Indianapolis- Must-win for the 'Skins is at worst possible time... Indy off of a bye.

N.Y. Giants at Dallas- The most important stat will not be how many balls come T.O.'s way in the first half, but how many times the Cowboys rush the ball against the Giants run "D" which yields nearly 70% more rushing yards per game than Dallas.

Better Late Than Never

It's been a busy week and not much time for blogging the usual reports and such. SO, here's a quick review of Week 6 (which I am just getting to now):

Here- My picks yielded an 8-5 record. I'm 60-27 overall.
Gone- Any chance to review these picks due to the fact it's already Friday.

OK, that's it. On to a Week 7 NFL preview in my next post.

P.S. The Cards beat the Mets to win the NCLS 4 games to 3. Are the Mets the MOST. OVERRATED. TEAM. EVER.? Quite possibly. Though there has to be at least 1 Atlanta Braves division winner since their string of titles starting in 1991 that can top the Metropolitans' playoff dud of '06.

At any rate, all you need to know about the World Series is what most prognasticators (including my boy Dan Shanoff) are predicting. Tigers in 4. Which means I'll put money on the Cards in a 7-game classic. Seriously, you know it's Murphy's Law at work when every "expert" (and novice) pick a team to absolutely destroy their opponent that the exact opposite will become reality.

But looking at reality, I too am taking the Tigers, but I have to give a little consideration to St. Louis. Afterall, they do have 2005 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter and 2x NLCS hero/ace Jeff Suppan pitching for them. Figure they get 3 starts between them in the WS and they should at least get 1 win out of it. Too bad the Tigers can match them pitcher for pitcher with Robertson, Rogers, Verlander, and Bonderman lined up in the rotation (and a deadly bullpen), the Tigers can certainly make the case for the sweep.

But give the Cards some credit for: a) getting here and 2) having WS experience to toughen them to the critics calling for the brooms.

I say: Tigers in 5. (Hey, call me a rebel.)


Here and Gone- Week 5 NFL Wrap-Up

As always, my predicted winners for the week are in bold. I had my third straight double-digit win week. Of course, if I did this for money, I'd be 3-11, but that's why the blog is here. I get the picks right and save my money at the same time. Here we go:

40, Buffalo 7- Here: the Chicago offense- to stay. Gone: The notion the Bills were this close to turning the corner under J.P.

Carolina 20, Cleveland 12- Here: 3-game win streak by the Panthers. Gone: Romeo Crennel? (Maybe too early a prediction, but give it time to fester by Week 17 when the Brownies are 2-13.)

Indianapolis 14, Tennessee 13- Here: VY's 1st TD (rushing) Gone: The Colts mythos- I mean c'mon, this was the Texans they nearly lost to.

N.Y. Giants 19, Washington 3 Here: Giants' souring playoff hopes rebirth! Gone: Joe Gibbs- NASCAR is so much more relaxing than this.

Kansas City 23, Arizona 20 Here: Damon Huard, season savior. Gone: Larry Fitzgerald, at least 2 weeks on the sidelines.

Jacksonville 41, N.Y. Jets 0 Here: Jags' winning ways Gone: Jets' winning ways.

San Francisco 34, Oakland 20 Here: 49ers as the most improved team from a year ago. Gone: The Raiders motivation to win any game.

Philadelphia 38, Dallas 24 Here: Eagles as toast of the NFC East. Gone: Drew Bledsoe after this season (and possibly never to return again?).

San Diego 23, Pittsburgh 13 Here: Home rebound after Martyball road gaffe. Gone: Steelers' playoff aspirations (with Cincy and Baltimore in the same division, a 2nd WC in the AFC North has about 0% probability).

Denver 13, Baltimore 3 Here: Denver the pretender. They always play well on MNF at home. Gone: The notion Steve McNair is the answer to Baltimore's QB struggles. 3 INTs? Unacceptable.

Record this week: 11-3
Overall: 52-22


The FIRST College Poll results for Week 6.

Saturday is not even over, and I am daring to throw up an NCAA Top 10 D-1 Football rankings . Heck the "real" polls aren't worth the computer they are crunched on, so why shouldn't mine be taken seriously?

1. Ohio State- to be the best you gotta beat the best.
2. Florida- Thank LSU for this one.
3. USC- Struggled, but still won.
4. Michigan- Michigan State was a decent win, but not enough for the 3rd spot.
5. WVA- Only because they're undefeated.
6. Georgia- Until the SEC attrition hits them too, they are now the favorite to survive this nasty conference.
6. Texas- No movement up the charts, but doing it with a freshman QB is eye opening.
7. Notre Dame- They lost to Michigan who is a BCS championship contender- other than that they've played better every week.
8. Louisville- Until they lose, keep them in the picture.
9. Tennessee- HUGE win at Georgia- both the score and the implicaitons to the SEC (and Fullmer's job).
10. Cal- Beating the Ducks tonight vaults them into Top 10 territory.

LDS Hangover

I feel like one of those mediums in the early part of their careers. You know the point in time where you sense the future, but it's still all fuzzy so your predictions are somewhat... off. But the clues were there. You just interpret them wrong. Observe, my predictions for the ALDS and NLDS and how I was this close to getting it right.

Tigers over Yanks:
  • "While the Yankees on paper have a distinct advantage in the batting order now that Sheffield and Matsui are healthy to compliment, Jeter, Cano, Damon, and Giambi, they can't pitch their team to wins like the Tigers." Looks like I was right. Too bad I didn't stop there...
  • "If the Tigers steal Game 1, an inconsistent Mussina and an aged, aching Johnson give the Tigers potential for a sweep, let alone taking this series while in Detroit in Game 4 (if necessary)." Well, the striped cats didn't take Game 1. Instead they just took an extra day to gather themselves before Game 2 (thank you rain delay) and went on a post-rainout sweep of the next 3 games to make my 'Tigers in 4' vision a reality. Doh.
  • "My Pick: Yankees in 4. Detroit's 1st foray into the post season after such a long layoff just doesn't bode well for Leyland & Co." Um, yeah, I should have listen to the voices instead.
A's over Twins
  • "Matchup to watch
    The closers. Which young closer shows he's got the stuff to be the next Mariano?" OK, I picked the best matchup correctly.
  • "Meanwhile, Huston Street hasn't been to the post-season and, in fact, is only in his second season, AND he's only 23 years old! Closing out the 9th inning, when the game is on the line in a deciding Game 5 is a lot to ask a 23 year old kid." It still is a lot too ask. Which is why he came up big in Games 1 and 2 instead to put the Twins in an 0-2 hole- and those saves were on the road, giving the A's an all but certain finale at home.
Fortunately for me, I still have 2 series to blow before I can officially declare my powers worthy of my own TV show 5 years from now once I hone this skill. More to come at the conclusion of Padres/Cards and Mets/Dodgers series.


NLDS Preview, Continued

Mets vs. Dodgers
On paper, this matchup should be all Mets. But the recent loss of Pedro Martinez, the injury to El Duque and the unknown durability of elders Steve Trachsel and Tom Glavine this far into the season- and their careers- puts the Mets' starting pitching in a precarious position, not to mention their bullpen. The brightside is, this Mets club has enough firepower to play football score-type games against the Dodgers- who by the way do not exactly have the '95 Braves as their starting staff (despite the presence of Greg Maddux).

Matchup to watch
1-2-3-4-5 versus 1-2-3-4-5. Because the starting pitching in this series is "flip-a-coin" scary, the key will be the tablesetters and the run producers. Here's the top-5 of the lineup comparison. My edge is in bold.

Furcal versus Reyes
Lofton versus LoDuca
Garciaparra versus Beltran
Kent versus Delgado
Drew versus Wright

If you take the score, you get 3-2 Mets. And that's about the best way to sum up the series.

My Pick: Mets in 5. The starting pitching is a wash, so figure someone has to take a loss anyway. and take a loss these pitchers will. But if Carlos Beltran "Playoff Monster" returns from 2 years ago, and he's backed up by Delgado and Wright in the 4-5 spots, this team should bash their way to the NLCS.


NLDS Preview

Like yesterday's ALDS quick view and predictions, I'm back today for the NLDS. One series starts today (Cards/Pads) and one tomorrow (Dodgers/Metropolitans). Here's the former and later we'll visit the latter.

Padres vs. Cardinals
A year or 2 ago, this matchup would have been a lot different. But this is 2006, and the Padres have home field advantage against the Central Division champs who stumbled and bumbled their way to a playoff berth only because the Astros could not continue their torrid September to the end. But the interesting part here is that maybe the Cardinals need to be the underdog. What have they done as the favorite? Sure, they made the World Series in 2004 versus the Red Sox, but they never had enough of anything- pitching, hitting, fielding- in that series. And they still don't. Chris Carpenter is a 1-man show when the Cards really need 3 Carpenters. The Padres will counter with aces Jake Peavy and Chris Young back-to-back and follow it up with playoff veteran David Wells (pending his latest aches and pains). Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver are not the answer in games 2 and 3.

Matchup to watch
This series will come down to execution. The Cardinals have the big bats that can turn games in a single inning. Led by Pujols, Edmonds, and Rolen, it seems like the Cards are always a HR away from turning the tide. But the Padres have youth and a deeper lineup top to bottom. The question is can they overcome the jitters and play the way they've played all season? Or do the vets from St. Louis prove their poise is the solution? I think the Padres, while young, have enough veteran calm in the dugout, like Piazza and Wells, mixed in to turn away any Cardinals rally in the late innings.

My Pick: Padres in 4.
Trevor Hoffman (this year's NL Cy Young winner?) is a much more solid closer than the Card's Braden Looper who's filling in for an inconsistent and injured Jason Isringhausen. You've got to ask yourself, if Looper was the guy why did St. Louis stick it out with "Tater Ball" Izzy for so long this year?

NFL Week 4 Wrap-up Revisited

So I had to get a comment in about the MNF game and it ties up my weekend NFL summary nicely, puts me at 10-4 for the second straight week, and leads me into the latest (and greatest) issue surrounding the NFL.

31 Green Bay 9- Here: The Eagles w/o T.O. Maybe they are better than the Eagles with T.O.? Gone: The Brett Favre era. Take this latest shot to the chops as a sign Brett.

So, Brett Favre did what Brett Favre does best at this stage of his career. He throws the ball downfield with wild abandon and doesn’t care who catches the ball, even if it's the other team. His second interception of the night (versus 0 TDs) was the prime example. Favre motioned to his right- the primary receiver in the play. Seeing it covered, he checked down to his left on a swing pass to his RB. It was open for the safe play, would have gained 5 yards due to blockers being there, but instead, the ageless one decided to check down the field and saw what he thought was a wide open receiver down the middle.

Unfortunately, the Eagles were baiting Favre, sat on the route, and picked off an off-balance throw that was about 5 yards short of the wideout anyway. I mean, it wasn't even close- like the DB Lewis needed to make a instinctive reactionary grab for the ball. He literally just sat and waited.

But this should surprise no one. It is what Brett Favre does. Sure he had 2 straight games with 340 yards and 3 TDs apiece. But as I said in my Week 4 predictions, wait until Favre plays a good team. I don't even mean a great team. And the Eagles are somewhere in between good and great for this season (final opinion withheld until the season ends).

I am sure it does not help that the opposing coach is Andy Reid who knows Favre as well as anyone- Reid being one of the dozen or so coaches who's genesis was the championship Packers coaching staff of the early and mid-90's that also produced guys like Mariucci, Gruden, and last year's NFC champion coach, Mike Holmgren.

But that aside, Favre is now his own biggest obstacle (as well as the Packers). He cannot get out of his own way on the field... or rather his own poor decision-making. How many more interceptions will it take to accept this as fact? It's over. Let the end of the game last night signify the beginning of the Aaron Rodgers era. Use the hit towards the end of the game as the excuse if you want, so it does not look like he is bowing out, but rather to put an end to his record games started streak as a medical precaution. Call it "lingering symptoms of post-concussive syndrome" or whatever you want. Just do Brett and the team a favor. The Packers should call the best audible of Favre's career for him at a time when this team needs it most.


MLB- Let the Playoffs Commence.

So here it is, October, the month of baseball madness. 162 games have boiled it down to 8 teams. If you're a betting man or woman, take a Wild Card team as your World Series winner. But if you're like me, well, good luck with those hair patches after pulling your hair out trying to decide on a deserving World Series prediction. So let's get to the Wild Card round predictions- I still have some hair left to pull out before offering up my LCS and WS picks. Today, the ALDS.

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers
Is that sound you hear Jimmy Leyland screaming into a pillow at the fact his team: a) spit the bit down the stretch and lost the divisional title b) gave up HFA in the ALDS c) now has to play the hottest team in baseball or d) all of the above?

While it's true the Tigers did not do themselves any favors giving up the A's for the Yanks, the fact of the matter is the Tigers MADE THE PLAYOFFS. Take the gate revenue from the extra game(s) and run! But this team has a chance. First, they are the AL Wild Card, and if they can pull a 2004 Red Sox or a 2002 Angels, they'll be fine.

Matchup to Watch
This whole series comes down to pitching. While the Yankees on paper have a distinct advantage in the batting order now that Sheffield and Matsui are healthy to compliment, Jeter, Cano, Damon, and Giambi, they can't pitch their team to wins like the Tigers. The Tigers starters (and team overall) boasted the best team ERA in MLB, which helped TIGERS' starters post the most wins of any rotation (1 ahead of the Yankees) and is complimented by the 6th best batting average against in all of MLB (2nd best in the AL). Here's the matchups:

Game 1: Robertson vs. Wang
Game 2: Verlander vs. Mussina
Game 3: Rogers vs. Johnson

The fact that the Tigers worst starter of its top 3 is pitching the 1st game against, arguably, the Yankees best pitcher this year, may decide this whole series. If the Tigers steal Game 1, an inconsistent Mussina and an aged, aching Johnson give the Tigers potential for a sweep, let alone taking this series while in Detroit in Game 4 (if necessary).

My Pick:
Yankees in 4. Detroit's 1st foray into the post season after such a long layoff just doesn't bode well for Leyland & Co. If they come back to make the post season again next year, I may change my mind.

Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland A's

One thing can be said about all 4 teams in the ALDS, there is no shortage of pitching. The Yanks and Tigers may be good for the AARP (Johnson/Mussina) versus Cub Scouts (Verlander/Bonderman), but I'll stake my money on this series being the best pitching matchup in any of the 4 LDS matchups. IMAGINE what this would be like if Francisco Liriano could pitch? Instead, we're treated to #1 vs. #1 in Johan vs. Zito, and Bonzer vs. Loiaza, 2 guys who have been overlooked in the second half of the season as anchors to rotations that didn't have much after the #1's for a good strech post All-Star break. In the end though, the best pitching will come routinely after the 6th or 7th inning when both bullpens step in.

Matchup to watch
The closers. Which young closer shows he's got the stuff to be the next Mariano? The Twins' Joe Nathan has really be groomed for this spot in his career, while Huston Street of the A's is still that filthy raw and careless flame thrower who makes batters step back in the batter's box and extra 1/2 step. So which has more pressure? I say Nathan- he's been a top closer longer, his team has been to the playoffs in 4 of the last 5 seasons, but he's only 0-1 with 1 save and a 9.00 ERA, pitching 5 innings in relief for the Twins. Meanwhile, Huston Street hasn't been to the post-season and, in fact, is only in his second season, AND he's only 23 years old! Closing out the 9th inning, when the game is on the line in a deciding Game 5 is a lot to ask a 23 year old kid. Because of this, I say...

My Pick:
Twins in 5. It's going to take a return trip to the Metrodome, but the Twinkies home record in 2006 (the best in baseball at 54-27) is no joke. Team defense and the sick relief pitching, anchored by Nathan, win it.

Tomorrow ... my NLDS picks.

Here and Gone- NFL Week 4 Wrap-up

It's time for a new segment called "Here and Gone" which will review the results from the slate of NFL games from the weekend. My picks for the Week are in bold. You'll understand pretty quick what the objective of this theme is...

Week 4
Atlanta 32, Arizona 10- Here: The NFC South's most dominant team. Gone: The 2006/2007 playoff hopes of the Cardinals (and possibly with it, Dennis Green's tenure as head coach).

45, Tennessee 14 Here: Drew Bledsoe as Cowboy's QB. Gone: The Romo bandwagon.

31, N.Y. Jets 28- Here: Peyton with 2 minutes left. Gone: Mangini magic versus the Colts. Note: as DC of New England, he was the victim of a beatdown in Foxboro by the Colts last year too.

17, Miami 15- Here: The 1st win of the Texans season. Gone: The warm fuzzies Miami fans had from the Culpepper signing.

17, Minnesota 12- Here: The Bills as playoffs contenders 1/4th of the way through the season. Gone: The Vikings as NFC North title challenger to the Bears.

21, New Orleans 18- Here: The Panthers 2-game win streak. Gone: The goodwill from the Superdome last Monday night.

Baltimore 16, San Diego 13 Here: Baltimore as legitimate SB hopeful. Gone: Any notion the Chargers are as good as people thought pre-Bye Week.

Kansas City 41, San Francisco 0- Here: Damon Huard. Gone: Trent Green.

St. Louis 41, Detroit 34- Here: The simplified offensive terminology for Marc Bulger & Co. (instituted for this week). Gone: The anemic offense the Rams had under the previous terminolgy.

24, Oakland 21 Here:
The Raiders moniker as the "worst team in the league". Gone: The Browns moniker as the "worst team in the league".

Washington 36, Jacksonville 30 (OT) Here: Washington's 700-page offensive playbook, now good for 2 straight weeks. Gone: The confidence that the Jags' youngsters will breakthrough this year. These road losses are cause for concern because you know they are going to be on the road (in the WC round) to open this season's playoffs.

New England 38, Cincinnati 13 Here: A sigh of relief from Patriots Nation. Gone: Cincy's claim to best in the AFC.

37, Seattle 6 Here: Chicago's offense... to stay. Gone: Seattle's ground game- on the gurny with Alexander.

So far this week 9-4. A win by Philly tonight, and I'll have back-to-back 10-4 weeks. I'll take double digit correct picks each week.


NFL Week 4 Picks

Well, after last week's retro picks, I was tempted to go back to the well that netted me a respectable 10-4 record, but I could not bring myself to stoop so low again. So I ponied up and put my money on the table ahead of time. My picks are in bold.

Arizona at Atlanta - So, when do we see the playoff-caliber Cardinals? Not this week anyway. Dennis Green may wrestle away my top spot for "
first coach to be fired " from Tom Coughlin.

at Tennessee- T.O. or no T.O., he doesn't have a hold of this locker room and Parcells will keep the 'Boys focused. Tennessee is the early frontrunner for 2007 #1 Overall Draft Pick.

at N.Y. Jets- Something tells me Mangini may bring some ol' New England v. Indy magic with him, but I don't think his team has enough talent to stop Peyton & Co.

Miami at Houston- Houston has to get a win sometime, and what would be better than Miami starting 1-3 in what was promised to be a "sleeper" playoff team.

Minnesota at Buffalo- The sting of last week's home loss is still fresh and the Bills won't do it again. Losman is coming into his own.

New Orleans at Carolina- There simply HAS to be a hangover from Monday night in New Orleans. This is like one of those college games for a team who just played spoiler on national TV against a Top 10 team one week and then lays an egg the next week against mediocre competition.

San Diego
at Baltimore- Baltimore will witness 1st hand how far it's offense needs to go to catch up to its defense. San Diego is Baltimore from 2000 with an All-Pro offense to boot.

San Francisco
at Kansas City- The Niners have played pretty well and the Chiefs have, well... the Chiefs at least attend the game. Who picked Week 4 as the start of the "Fire Herm" campaign?

Detroit at St. Louis- Mike Martz sees what he's lost... and weeps.

at Oakland- Somebody has to win. Of course, it could go into an OT tie, but I'll play the odds.

at Washington- Bitter? No. Angry? Maybe. Motivated? Definitely. Jacksonville knows they let one slip through their fingers in Indy, but Del Rio has a quickly maturing (and improving team) who have confidence that they can win on the road against good competition.

New England at Cincinnati- New England's secondary is fast becoming a M.A.S.H. unit again. And with that, they'll become fodder for conference opponents outside their division.

Seattle at Chicago- I don't like it when 2 elite teams play each other and 1 team is not at 100%. The Seahawks without Alexander are not the defending NFC champs. That doesn't mean the Bears will take pity on them.

Green Bay at Philadelphia - I don't know which will be worse: a) the beating McNabb lays down on a porous Packers defense, or b) the nationally televised horror that shows everyone what Brett Favre has become against good teams.


The Matrix- Welcome, to the Real World.

Call it the true Matrix Redux. It's that black hole between reality and subconscious/fantasy that more and more athletes are finding themselves. Unfortunately, unlike the original film "The Matrix" this stuff is not made up AND it's typically constituted of the sports celeb's own volition. And it is, more often than not, self destructive.

Terrell Owens alleged suicide attempt- nay, publicity stunt- is the latest (and to date greatest) testament to what the rest of us outside of a professional football field, baseball diamond, basketball court, soccer pitch, and hockey rink already know. You need to be responsible. Period. End of story. Personal responsibility for your self being, your deeds, and your world (both individually and communally).

No one says it is easy. But what have so many of the rest of us learned that athletes have not? Sure the argument can be made that 20-something year-olds and millions of dollars are a recipe for disaster. (
I won't even address that absolute absurd notion of teenage millionaires. That's just a given level of tradegy not needed to be addressed here.) But really, why should we let that be their excuse. I know when I was 20 years old, sure, I may have done some stupid things, but I was a fun-loving college kid who was enjoying a wonderful college experience. And the reason I could do so was because I had been brought up with scruples by my family to love and respect myself and those around me. And more importantly I was taught that I alone was responsible for my actions.

T.O. is 32 years old. Yes, he was the 20-year old millionaire once upon a decade ago. But has he learned nothing since his youth? With all the B.S. he has experienced (most by his own hand) in San Fran, Philly, and even now Dallas, does he not stop to think about his self-destructive behavior? OK, so maybe he is clinically depressed, and yes, that requires legitimate medical attention. Fair enough. Get help, so we can talk about the demons.

But what about Chris Henry (and half the Bengals),
Odell Thurman (suspended 1 yr for substance abuse), Terrence Kiel (shipping Rxs), Sam Brandon (bond and restraining order violations) Fred Smoot (ahoy Cap'n), et al.? The disturbing trend of substance abuse and extreme off-field behavior in the NFL is getting a bit over the top (good luck Mr. Goodell). T.O.'s situation is downright bizarre, and actually does NOT really reflect the irresponsible behavior of his contemporaries as much as it just adds to the drama that T.O. needs in his life to be thrust into the spotlight.

When you enter the NFL, you enter "The Matrix". That place between all life's desires naively fulfilled and being (gasp) normal- at least having the freedom to struggle for normalcy. And maybe, these guys are spending a little too much effort trying to escape their illusionary prison and public expectations. The pressure to perform is great. The pressure to be a mature individual should be greater.



The Arizona Cardinals did the fastest backpedalling of this young NFL season and renegged on the earlier reports that Matt Leinart would be their starting QB.

Reported via ESPN.com, Dennis Green of the Cardinals had this to say, "Generally talking about the starting lineup is not something we do. However, given the speculation that was out there we want to make it clear. We're disappointed after last week, but we still expect to be a playoff football team and we fully expect Kurt Warner to be the quarterback that leads us. That has not changed."

Other team sources suggest there was concern of putting too much pressure on Leinart, the 10th overal pick in this year's draft.

Based on Leinart's pedigree (pro-style college offense, Heisman winner, national champion, etc.), his long holdout from training camp, AND the amount of money he's making I say the Cardinals are simply fooling themselves if they think the kid isn't already the pinnacle of this year's high expectations class; Especially given the foregone conclusion in everyone's minds that Kurt Warner was as good as done before the year was out. Who had Week 4 in the Over/Under pool for Warner's demise as a starter in the desert? Anyone? Anyone?

All this means is Arizona tipped their hand before they wanted the naysayers to know. Leinart is not the future, Leinart is the here and now. The Cardinals brass just does not have the brass to pull the trigger given their new stadium opening (see: season ticket windfall) and now-eternal high expectations year in and year out. Seriously, when did the Caridnals become the annual "Sleeper Pick". It seems like every year the Cardinals promise bigger and bigger things and keep hitting the pavement with a lound SPLAT. The drafting of Fitzgerald started it. Followed by the bust-out campaiugn 3 years ago by Boldin. Last year they got Denny Green to save the franchise from their perpetual coaching revolving door. Now they have the "Edge" (James) and the "Pedigree" (Leinart) to open up things for their talented WRs.

What no one seems to advocate is their lack of push on both sides of the line where all good plays start and end. But hey, keep hoping Cards' fans. Maybe Leinart WILL start in Week 5 after yet another Warner INT. Then again, maybe the Cards will be backpedalling next week too. Sort of like their annual expectations.

NFL Week 3 Retro Predictions and Results

As I mentioned, I have to do my Week 3 predictions retroactively. So my original picks are in bold. Analysis, obviously, is based on results, so it's a good way to critique myself.

Carolina 26, Tampa Bay 24- OK, not the way to start off a Sunday, but losing Chris Simms (sternectomy) was not exactly what anyone had in mind either.

Chicago 19, Minnesota 16- Say what you want, Rex Grossman might just be the right QB for this team.
Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 20- Who Dey? They da new power in da AFC North.
Green Bay 31, Detroit 24- Brett Favre never does well in a Dome, right? Right?!!
Indianapolis 21, Jacksonville 14- So much for a new sheriff in town.
N.Y. Jets 28, Buffalo 20- Is it me, or is the mediocrity in the AFC East depressing?
Miami 13, Tennessee 10- Not as depressing as the Titans offense.
Washington 31, Houston 15- Mark Brunell's record-setting 22 consective completions feels a little like Roger Clemens striking out 20 against the Mariners in 1986. A nice stat line, but you have to wonder how padded it is playing versus a defacto minor league team.
Baltimore 15, Cleveland 14- If the Pats' were last week's 2-0 imposters, the Ravens staked their claim this week to the weakest 3-0 team this season.
Seattle 42, N.Y. Giants 30- That 27 points in the 4th quarter by the Giants was still too little too late. Is Coughlin the first coach fired in 2006?
Philadelphia 38, San Francisco 24- Sure, the Eagles were supposed to win, but San Fran still threw up 24 points on a good defense. Take the positive Niners fans.
St. Louis 16, Arizona 14- Kurt Warner cost his team this game. Marc Bulger didn't.
Denver 17, New England 7- Denver is the Pats' version of the Madden Curse. No matter how many times you think you'll exorcise the demon, it comes back to haunt you. Call it the Curse of Shanahan.

Week 3: 10-4
Overall: 31-15

About Time

I think the concept of a blog is a nice idea. However, I think, at least at the present time, I have to resign myself to the fact that my own blogging is going to be somewhat restricted given my schedule. Sporadic interuption is the new daily blogging.

On that note. I watched "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" last night. Caught the premier a week ago too. It's good, if only for the fact that it makes me realize how much nothing is on the rest of television. I'll admit, it's not heavy, but also not contrived. What it is is a brief commentary/satire about how shallow hollywood is- both as individuals in the industry as well as the aggregate- not to mention what that aggregate spews across our screens. This is not a call for more PBS or documentaries. It is simply a recognition that my taste for commercialism is now more objective than it used to be.

And I think Amanda Peet has been good for a while (see: "The Whole Nine Yards" or "Something's Gotta Give"), but no one has known her. Glad she caught a break as a lead in a high profile show.

Next post, Week 3 in the NFL retro-style- seeing as I missed my Week 3 predictions, I'll give them anyway with the actual results. (Hint: I actually faired well so I won't edit my picks retroactively.)



Final thoughts this week...
Is it safe to say that Bill Simmons' dislike for Art Shell now goes beyond "teenage crush" (think "AC Slater" in his prime) and has morphed into "The Crush" (movie with a teenage Alicia Silverstone jonesing for family man Carey Elwes)? Next step Bill? Flava Flav and Bridgette Nielson territory. Eeewwww.

Get well soon to:
Jonathan Papelbon, we hardly knew ya. See you next spring.

Manny. You're too often criticized and not appreciated enough.

Frankie Liriano. Kudos to your bosses shutting you down. But your fantasy value took a hit with this setback.

Trent Green. Underrated QB. Overrated team needs him.

Hannu Toivonen. Ask the Sports Guy, only a matter of time before he lands on this list anyway.

My NFL Week 2 picks (winner in bold):
Buffalo at Miami - Who you want... Daunte Culpepper or J.P. Losman? Not so easy after Week 1 is it?
Carolina at Minnesota- Even without Steve SMith, Panthers offense will be better- the Vikings D can't pressure.
Cleveland at Cincinnati- Rivalry? Yes. Team parity? No.
Detroit at Chicago- Poor Mike Martz. Not the team to showcase your genius against.
Houston at Indianapolis- At a glance, Houston's roster talent mirrors Indy's. Then you get to the QB position.
New Orleans at Green Bay- Say hello to Reggie Bush's 150 all-purpose yards Green Bay fans.
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia- You're about to see Philly stake its claim early for the NFC East title.
Oakland at Baltimore- 13 point favorite. Heck, I'd double it + 1 to last week's final score in Tampa (27-0).
Tampa Bay at Atlanta - Michael Vick is not improving as fast as their D.
Arizona at Seattle- No Deion Branch yet? The Cards thank you.
St. Louis at San Francisco- The Rams are in good hands with... Jeff Wilkins.
Kansas City at Denver- though I don't think a win slows the Cutler bandwagon.
New England at N.Y. Jets - the Jets defensive front shows less pressure than being a finalist on Project Runway.
Tennessee at San Diego- They are good, but starting off with Oakland and Tennessee is a great confidence booster before playing Baltimore and Pittsburgh after the Bye Week.
Washington at Dallas- Take my quote from the Denver game. Substitute "Cutler" with "Romo".
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville- Sorry Shanoff. The Jags are not black and gold yet.

Bush League

Reggie Bush being compensated $100,000 is not the eye popping, "I can't believe he did that!" headline news that people are making it out to be (I mean, didn't we just see this story coming out of Oklahoma?). Sure, Reggie Bush is a higher profile name than little man Bomar, but that doesn't make the story any more sensational. No, the real story here, and larger issue the NCAA has always sidestepped, is compensating college athletes for their participation in a school's athletic program.

I would argue that in Division 1 sports- make that revenue-generating Division 1 sports (like football)- a player's participation is not simply participation. It is contribution to the bottom line. And in a HUGE program like USC football, players are contributing toward the success of a multi-million dollar revenue and profit machine. And it's not just multi-million as in 5 or 6 million. We are talking 100's of millions (dare I say a billion?) of dollars.

So the question is, if a player helps the program, and school, turn a profit, why shouldn't he be compensated? The argument that a player's scholarship is his "payment" is bogus. Sure, an out-of-state matriculating student in today's colleges pays as much as $35,000 per year in tuition and board and fees, but is that really fair compensation? Equal pay for equal work? Do you think Reggie Bush only generated $35,000 worth of revenue for his school? Heck, even $35,000 in profit? Still not enough, given the fact that other students receive academic scholarships for the full boat and all they generate for the school is, um, well... what do they generate?

And I will not buy the whole better institution-wide acadmic outcomes assisted by these acadmic scholars make the school more desirable, hence, driving up tuiton and status arguments. These schools (USC,Oklahoma, etc.) are HUGE. And they are that way because of their sports progams and subsequent alumni (who are the real "marketing firms" here).

Yes, Reggie Bush should not have been compensated under current NCAA rules. And he should be punished. And even if the rules were different, he should not be allowed to take monies and benefits from outside influences like "marketing firms". But that does not evaporate the black cloud over the NCAA machine that is it's total lack of regard and care for its moving parts (the revenue generating players).


2 Cents Worth...

Branching out? More Like Breaching Out.
Deion Branch is all that is wrong between the NFLPA and the NFL's new CBA. In 2 words... unguaranteed contracts. More on this later.

The new iTunes 7 is out.
Pretty cool thus far. I do like the idea of the "Cover View" (where you can scroll through the cover art like a jukebox), but I find my colleciton has a lot of holes. Even though iTunes says it will even update songs/albums you imprted via CD, I find a lot of my CDs are not getting their art attached in iTunes (yet).

I was thinking about this yesterday and I decided that there will no longer be the traditional audio/video system setup people are used to having as their entertainment stations... you know, Receiver/Tuner with DVD, VCR, CD Player, TV, Speakers, etc. stacked neatly in an obnoxious and unstylish shelf rack with wires in all directions out of the back. Instead, the new entertainment setup is: Digital Cable Box w/DVR, Apple's new iTV (concept name) media player, wall mounted Plasma HDTV with a
mini tower computer and Slingbox in your office/computer room, away from the action. Heck, even have a server run in the basement as a stand alone. That's it. No more need for a tuner or receiver to route components. No more wires (yuck), and no more ugly rack as pseudo furniture. It's all through the computer and digital cable box. All you need is a sweet entertainment armoire or low top TV stand with shelves. "Be discrete" is the new "look at my rack". If you can see wires, as Hedi Klum would say, "you, are OUT."

From Russia with Love
Top Russian central banker shot to death... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14826889/
And it happened outside of a Moscow sports stadium after the guy was leaving an employee soccer match. Classic! Makes you think twice about joining that office co-ed softball team next year.

Allegedly it appears like a Russian mob hit. It just goes to show you that crime doesn't pay... so shoot the banker.


To "D" or not to "D"...

So here's the first real post in this blog. Might as well start with the obvious... Week 1 in the NFL. Here's my first thought- This year will be feast or famine for offenses. That is not to say games will be blowouts. It simply means, all teams are going to pull a booky's worst nightmare and either a) post more points than they would be expected to score times N to the 22nd power, or b) look like the 2005 Chicago Bears and barely crack the scoreboard. (And this does NOT include the 2006 edition of said Monsters of the Midway who, despite being given the Green Bay Pack-it-ins for Week 1, showed their "O" is not the "o" (note the case change) from last year.

  • Pittsburgh 28, Miami 17- wasn't this supposed to be 2 Top 10 defenses?
  • Atlanta 20, Carolina 6- So Keyshawn isn't Steve Smith? Duh.
  • Baltimore 27, Tampa Bay 0- If "da Bears" were suprise "O" #1, then the Ravens were #1A.
  • New England 19, Buffalo 17- the anomoly of the day. Consider after this preseason the Pats' 17 offensive points (-2 for the safety) a decisive disappointment.
  • Cincinnati 23, Kansas City 10- K.C. the impotent, not K.C. the omnipotent.
  • St. Louis 18, Denver 10- Defense replaces offense out West.
  • New Orleans 19, Cleveland 14 - ok, sure, there's always outliers on any curve.
  • N.Y. Jets 23, Tennessee 16 - Given the QB situation of both teams, 39 points is A LOT.
  • Philadelphia 24, Houston 10- About as predictable as any game in Week 1.
  • Seattle 9, Detroit 6- *blink blink* Huh? *blink blink*
  • Chicago 26, Green Bay 0- Now starting at QB for the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers.
  • Jacksonville 24, Dallas 17- So much for the "D" being back in Bid D. Thank Mr. Bledsoe (3 picks) more than fault the defense though.
  • Arizona 34, San Francisco 27- Sure, Arizona's offense was expected, but San Fran's? And if they have next year's #1 pick to go defense (say, defensive lineman Adam Carriker of Nebraska)... woa.
  • Indianapolis 26, N.Y. Giants 21 Personally, I say this was a dud given the gene pool lining up behind both centers. But 47 total points is still respectable with 2 respectable defenses.

If Week 1 was any indication, Week 2 should shock us (predictions later this week).