Thursday, October 28, 2010

5 for Sunday

Starting to show signs of life with the pro games - who would have thought, two entire weeks in a row above .500! Home teams in CAPS.

Miami (+1.5) over CINCINNATI
The Dolphins are 3-0 on the road so far and got jobbed last week against Pittsburgh. The Bengals are back to being the Bungles, dropping 3 straight by a field goal each. Whether they are playing up or down to their opponent, the Bengals have been doing just enough to lose. Pacman Jones is headed to IR, leaving Leon Hall to try to cover Brandon Marshall, which may create mismatches with linebackers or safeties against Dolphins slot receiver Davone Bess, one of the more exciting offensive players in the league that doesn't get enough press.

DETROIT (-2.5) over Washington
I have to be out of my mind laying points with the Lions, but like I said a few weeks back, the Redskins have yet to win a game that wasn't put on a platter for them by their opponent's miscues. Last week they needed four INT's from Jay Cutler to DeAngelo Hall (each one worse than the next) as well as a deplorable blown call/non-challenge at the goal line to overcome Donovan McNabb's putrid game and beat the Bears 17-14. What's worse is that the Redskins own ineptitude saved the game for them, as a pick-six by the Bears was negated by a Washington delay of game penalty. Detroit has been in every game this year and is coming off a bye, so what the heck.

NEW ENGLAND (-5) over Minnesota
Now that I finally got a Patriots game right last week, I'll try for two in a row. Hmm, a 5-1 team at home giving less than a touchdown to an opponent whose quarterback options include Tarvaris Jackson and Brett "aging faster than Robin Williams in the movie Jack" Favre on a fractured ankle? Where do I sign?

SAN DIEGO (-3.5) over Tennessee
I've gone on record in regards to my opinion of the Chargers, but I can't shake my gut feeling about this one. Their offense woke up in the 4th quarter against New England last week and has already gotten their 7th round draft pick's worth from Patrick Crayton. Watching Tennessee against the Eagles last week, it was clear that their offense was basically "let Chris Johnson dance around and then throw it high and far to Kenny Britt," the latter of which was unstoppable in the second half. The unfortunate part for the Titans is that Vince Young is likely to return, which means that many of those bombs to Britt will be 3-4 yards off target.

Pittsburgh (+1) over NEW ORLEANS
Not that I want this to happen, but the Steelers can seemingly do no wrong this year. They are flying around on defense and getting the benefit of borderline calls when needed, as well as showcasing the ability to strike downfield if you try too hard to stop Rashard Mendenhall. Meanwhile, the Saints can't keep a running back healthy and have the Bayou wondering how long the honeymoon is. I refuse to overreact to the egg the Saints laid against the Browns last week, but the Steelers have that close-game quality about them thus far and I think they take it 24-21 or so.

Last Week: 3-2-0
Season: 14-19-2

Cinq Pour Samedi

Kind of scraping for five quality games this week, but as the conference and BCS pictures come into clearer focus, every game starts to carry more weight. Home teams, as always, in CAPS.

Michigan State (+6.5) over IOWA
I may be kicking myself because usually when a line jumps out at me I go the other way, but I don't get why this isn't a 3-point spread, especially with Iowa coming off a loss last week and Michigan State entering 8-0. I know the Spartans created an undue amount of work for themselves with Northwestern, but like Kevin said, it seems that everyone is ignoring the fact that Iowa allowed Wisconsin to trick them out of a game in which they had control. If I'm Michigan State, I'd start smelling blood this week, because if they can escape Iowa with a W then a perfect regular season is well within reason.

Oklahoma State (-5) over KANSAS STATE
It's no secret that Kansas State should try to run all day, seeing that they are #24 in the nation in rushing and would like to bleed the clock as much as possible to keep Oklahoma State and its 3rd-ranked passing attack at bay. Also not going the Cowboys' way is wide receiver Justin Blackmon likely being out after getting a DUI this week. However, Oklahoma State can run it too (179.7 yards/game), so just because they may not throw 40 up on the board doesn't mean they can't beat K-State by a touchdown.

Missouri (+7.5) over NEBRASKA
The Tigers became the latest to knock off #1 last week with their 36-27 conquest of Oklahoma, and some may say they're due for a letdown. From what I saw, it was a game that Missouri was prepared to win, not lucky to win. Nebraska, on the other hand, solidified themselves with a road win over Oklahoma State and returns home this week, where in an odd trend they have not covered a spread this year (0-3-1 ATS). Missouri's defense will face a tall task in containing Taylor Martinez, but an offense that hinges too much on one player becomes more predictable as the game goes on and stays close - provided the defense in question has the talent to cover its gaps, which Missouri does. The winner of this game will go a long way in securing itself a spot in the Big 12 title game. I'll take the points and have my popcorn ready.

Michigan (-3) over PENN STATE
As Kevin said, he and I will be in attendance for this one, and since my write-up on this game would never hold a candle to his, just read his entry for anything you'd want to know. We all know how I don't like Penn State, and I hope I enjoy my day as a Michigan fan at their expense. Hail to the Victors.

Oregon (-6.5) over USC
There has been a lot of chatter this week about the emergence of Matt Barkley, how USC is a quiet 5-2, and how this will be the Trojans' "bowl game" this year since the program is bowl-ineligible. Those are all fair points, but how can you go against an Oregon team that seems to start the game with 35 points already on the board?

Last Week: 2-3-0
Season: 22-15-3

5 for Saturday

2-3 Last Week makes me 20-19-1 for the season. This ends the record discussion as the pressure of blowing a huge lead (over .500) has gotten to me.

Florida State @ N.C. State (+3.5) 7:30 ESPN Thursday
N.C. State has been fairly good, but inconsistent this year.  They always get up for this game though and the environment in Raleigh will be the best of the season.

Missouri (+7) @ Nebraska 3:30 ESPN

The line seems to be saying take Nebraska but Idk.  Nebraska is capable of shutting down Missouri but can you rely on Nebraska's offense?  I'll admit I have no clue what is going to happen.  I can see a shootout, I can see Nebraska's offense stalling and relying on their defense.

Florida vs. Georgia (-3) (@Jacksonville) 3:30 CBS

Georgia can turn the corner this weekend after a brutal start to the season.  Florida has been awful on offense but gets back  Chris "Time to Die, Bitch" Rainey this weekend which instantly improves the options for the Gators.  Simply put, Georgia is playing better football right now, and needs this more.

Michigan State (+6.5) @ Iowa  3:30 ABC

The line is telling you to take Iowa because Vegas doesn't believe in Michigan State.  Why they like Iowa still is beyond me.  Neither of these teams belong in the elite, but this should be a good football game.  Will CB Chris L. Rucker play despite being in prison since the Michigan game?  He got out this week and I bet Dantonio picked him up from jail.  The game will be close so I'll take State with the points and Iowa to win on a late field goal.

Michigan (-2) @ Penn State 8 ESPN

The major storyline in the national media is whether Robert Bolden will play for Penn State.  Joe Pa, says he is doubtful.  Jay Pa, says he is probable.  Reading the PSU blogs I'm not sure they care.  Bolden, a true freshman was recruited but never offered by Michigan.  His backup Kevin Newsome, was a Michigan Decommit and is part of the reason Tate Foricer and Denard Robinson are at Michigan.  Allow me to thank Kevin Newsome again.  Point being is that Michigan knows each QB well, and should be more prepared to face them.  Finally, the man who saw the majority of the snaps when Bolden went out last week was former Walk-on Matt McGloin.  He was said to be impressive last week, but I'm guessing it was more in a way that fans didn't expect anything.

The biggest concerns for the Wolverines are the health of the two most important players on the team. Neither of them is Denard Robinson, although he says he's 100%.  NT Mike Martin was the victim of a cheap shot against Michigan State and only played a series against Iowa.  He is probable and if his ankle is 50% on Saturday Michigan should stick with him. C David Molk was limited last week as well not playing much more than Martin, and he is clearly Michigan's best offensive lineman.  He is also listed as probable with an ankle injury, but has a little more depth behind him. 

Penn State still has their defensive banged up but not nearly as bad as a couple weeks ago against Illinois.  They should field an average Big Ten defense this weekend. If Michigan can avoid a -2 turnover margin or worse they should win this football game. Penn State will have a hard time stopping the Wolverines from moving the football, but Michigan will need to put the ball in the end zone with their Special Ed kicking game.

Lou and I will be there Saturday night under the bright lights of Beaver Stadium listening to the awful piped in music that Penn State loves so much.  Here's to hoping it will be a great night to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Putting The Headset On: Down 15 Points

I'd like to start a new segment that should spark some discussion on this site among the readers.  In this new segment called "Putting The Headset On" you are placed in the position of head coach and you have a decision to make.

The first scenario is you are down 15 points with 4 minutes to play.  You score a touchdown to cut the lead to 9 points.  Do you...

A. Kick the extra point
B. Go for 2

Conventional wisdom will say go for the extra point and extend the game.  You will be down 8 points and it will still be a one score game.  The problem is that you are leaving the two point conversion try for later in the game.  At this point it will more than likely be your last gasp. 

There is no decision to make here.  I go for the two point conversion everytime in this situation for the following reasons.  You eventually have to go for two anyways and you mine as well be operating with the best information possible.  If you go for the two point conversion and fail you are down 9 points.  Being down 9 points you are going for an onside kick no matter what you timeout situation is.  If you don't go for two and choose to stay down 8 points you leave your are almost definitely kicking it deep and hoping to get the ball back.  Should your team get the ball back you need the two point point conversion to tie the game.  If you make it, great your going to overtime.  If you miss it, well here comes the onside kick and the desperate attempt to get down the field in a hurry.

To conclude: It may feel nice to say you are only down one score if you postpone going for two, but if you miss it you were really down two scores – just like if you missed it after the first TD. The only difference is that you are pretty much doomed if you were playing as if you were only down one score. If you miss after the first TD, there is more time left to try to get the necessary extra score and you can plan accordingly.

If you make it, it doesn’t matter when you went for it.  When playing the game of football you want to know what your up against and you want to give yourself the most information to make a decision from as possible.  Go for two here every time. 

I'll hang up and hope for you to explain to me why I'm wrong.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 for Sunday

It worked! 2-1-2 in Week 6 using the George Costanza Opposite approach. Good to know that option is always there when you need a rebound week.

KANSAS CITY (-9.5) over Jacksonville
The Chiefs, with the exception of the 4th quarter last week against Houston (which included one of the most bogus pass interference calls you will ever see), have played very good defense this year. Jacksonville just got drubbed at home by Tennessee in front of 27 fans and lost David Garrard to injury, leaving Todd Bouman, who hasn't appeared in an NFL game since 2005, to start. That's all I have to say about that.

BALTIMORE (-13) over Buffalo
The Ravens have emerged 4-2 from a tough first 6 weeks that contained road games at the Jets, Steelers, and Patriots. They should be able to wail away on the poor Bills and head into their bye week. Ed Reed returns off the PUP list for Baltimore and will make Ryan Fitzpatrick's day even more eventful.

Arizona (+6.5) over SEATTLE
Beats me why this line is so high. Both teams are 3-2 in the craptastic NFC West, with Arizona coming off a bye. Seattle has played two very good games at home this year and outweighs Arizona in the most of the stat categories, which may explain how this line opened at 3.5 and has been bet up to 6.5 to this point - but that doesn't mean I have to believe it. I'll take my chances with the Cardinals and hope Larry Fitzgerald gets behind the Seahawk secondary once or twice now that he might have an actual quarterback to play with.

New England (+3) over SAN DIEGO
The Chargers are the Cowboys West. They have a clueless head coach who was born to be a coordinator, a potent offense and very good defense, but are 2-4 because they don't do little things right, turn the ball over, and look past opponents that they are better than. Philip Rivers could throw for 425 yards in this game and somehow the team will manage to score only 17 points. Of course, the questionable status of Antonio Gates and the loss of Malcom Floyd don't help either. By the way, has any team busted more survivor pools in one season than the 2010 Chargers (and we're only in Week 7)?

Oakland (+8) over DENVER
The Broncos played a good game against a good team last week and wound up with a 24-20 loss to the Jets to show for it. They are averaging 311 passing yards per game but a paltry 67 on the ground, while the Raiders give up a respectable 196 passing per game but an embarrassing 149 rushing. In other words, something's got to give, and I'll wager that Kyle Orton continues to come back down to earth after completing just 41% of his passes last week - and having Nnamdi Asomugha control at least a third of the field should help continue that trend. In other news, the Raiders are the leader in the clubhouse for this year's "team I seem to take all the time but am not exactly sure why."

Last Week: 2-1-2
Season: 11-17-2

Cinq Pour Samedi

My ability to keep my head well above water with the NCAA picks just goes to show that sometimes the more you know, the worse off you can be, and vice versa. You know the drill. All games are on Saturday, and home teams are in CAPS.

WEST VIRGINIA (-13.5) over Syracuse

While the 'Cuse has shown signs of life this year, they've lost to West Virginia eight straight years
(and only one of those games was decided by single digits) and should not have an easy time in Morgantown against a Mountaineer team with 9 days of rest. WVU does not run many scores up so I'm a bit cautious about laying 13.5 here, but they play too well at home for me to go any other way.

IOWA (-6) over Wisconsin
What I like about this game (besides the fact that it features two good teams) is that you can't play the tired "this team is coming off a big win last week" card, since it applies to both teams. Wisconsin won in typical Wisconsin fashion last week against Ohio State, by running for over 180 yards and completing 13 of just 16 passes. Iowa is going to try to beat the Badgers at their own game this week, but when push comes to shove the Hawkeyes have the more well-rounded offense and can put this one out of reach late, something like 24-14.

OKLAHOMA STATE (+6) over Nebraska
Shame on me for chugging the Nebraska Kool-Aid last week. OK State plays a wide-open brand of football that has them averaging 49.5 points a game (granted, much of the Big 12 has an NBA All-Star Game approach to defense, but still), and faces possibly the stiffest test it will have all season against the Cornhuskers. We'll see just how good Oklahoma State is here, but I think they can put enough points on the board to stay close at least. And hell, at least one football team named the Cowboys has to be able to put together a good game.

AUBURN (-5.5) over LSU
I still don't totally buy LSU even though I made the bonehead pick a few weeks ago when they faced a Florida team that was playing on one leg. Auburn is a much stronger 7-0 than LSU right now and has Cameron Newton in the middle of the still-too-soon Heisman talk. Less than a touchdown isn't too many points to give here.

Alabama (-16.5) over TENNESSEE
This smells like a classic "get healthy" game for Nick Saban and Alabama after losing two weeks ago to South Carolina and playing a tighter game than expected last week against Ole Miss. The Tide have the fortune of timing their loss fairly well, in that Ohio State coughed up the #1 ranking immediately after they did - meaning that if Oregon ever loses it would put a one-loss Alabama team right back in the BCS and AP mix. Tennessee has already gotten its doors blown off at home this year, and judging by its 41-14 loss to Georgia two weeks ago, has not been able to build on the 59 minutes of solid football they played at LSU.

Last Week: 2-3-0
Season: 20-12-3

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NFL Announces Rule Changes

From NAGAYT wire reports

The NFL has announced they will bar any tackling from future NFL games.  Instead the NFL has decided to use "two hand touch" in future games effective immediately.  The NFL cited recent studies on the effects of concussions as the reason for making the change.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell commented on the new rule.  "This move will allow us to protect are players and ensure they have lives after football"  No longer will we have a bunch of whiny old players complaining about their health and demanding medical care after they are done football.  We think the change solves lingering issues and will allow us to improve the product for our fans going forward."  The NFL has instructed the referees to make sure the "two hand touches" are firm but not rough.  "Rough touch is not going to be allowed.  There is no reason to knock a player down in two hand touch, any player who tackles or rough touches a player will be penalized 15 yards and be subject to suspension." League officials were split over whether or not to allow one hand touch but ultimately went to two.

Fans were split over the new changes to the NFL. 

Tom Perki, 32 said "The NFL has become so soft that Soccer is a rougher sport.  If that's not a sign of the end of the world I don't know what is." 

Jen Soccermom, 35 said "I had never allowed my kids to play football because they are made of glass.  I'm happy the NFL has finally come to their senses.  I will wait to see what Pop Warner decides to do but maybe I will let my son play football in the future.

College coaches weighed in on the issue as well.

Head Coach of Michigan, Rich Rodriguez was excited about the change and hoped the NCAA would follow suit. "I think its a great idea.  If we don't have to tackle anybody, maybe we can finally win some games. This or flag football and I think we can compete for the National Title today."

The NFL said it will review the possibility of going to a 32 game schedule starting next year.  "The players will be taking less hits so I say let's play two games a week.  18 game schedule be dammed, let's double profits."  The NFLPA released a statement saying they would be open to the possibility of an increased schedule if the money is right.

5 for Saturday

18-16-1 on the season after 1-4 last week.  Need to turn things around this week.

UCLA (+21.5) @ Oregon Thursday 8 PM ESPN

Call this conservative but I have been struggling so I'll take the points here and hope the UCLA that bashed Texas shows up.  If Oregon is held under 42 points I'd feel like I'm in good shape here.

All other games are Saturday.

LSU @ Auburn (-6.5) 3:30 CBS

One of these paper tiger unbeatens will fall this week.  LSU has a defense and no offense, Auburn has an offense and no defense.  I think Auburn is the better overall team, LSU has been lucky and their luck may finally run out this weekend.

Wisconsin (+5) @ Iowa 3:30 ABC

This is suddenly an enormous game in the Big Ten.  The winner is in great shape to challenge for the title.  I still believe Wisconsin is a slightly better football team.  Wisconsin has a deeper stable of backs and should be able to run the ball better and work off play action.

Nebraska @ Oklahoma State (+9.5) 3:30 ESPN Gameplan

I got burned with Nebraska last week giving 9.5, I'll go the other way here.  While I don't think Oklahoma State is as good as their undefeated record shows, I think they deserve a little bit more respect here.

Oklahoma (-3) @ Missouri  8 PM ABC

Suddenly this game is interesting.  Neither team exudes National Title contender at the moment and one will be eliminated from contention after this weekend.  Oklahoma has historically dominted Mizzou and I don't see that changing here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When is it OK to Boo?

This year, both League Championship Series feature prominent players squaring off against their old teams - Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira vs. the Rangers, and Pat Burrell vs. the Phillies. As expected, each player has been on the receiving end of some hearty booing from the opposing fans. Not that I'm opposed to booing the away team's players, but the games of the past few days have had me thinking about when is it or is it not appropriate to boo an opponent, especially if he used to play for your team.

We'll deal with Burrell first. The Citizens Bank Park crowd didn't boo him mercilessly, but the booing definitely outweighed any "welcome back" golf clapping. Did he deserve it? Yes, I think he did, in light of the manner in which he left the team after 2008. Pat the Bat made it abundantly clear that he was going to take his pull-happy swing and no-play-is-routine defensive skills elsewhere. Nevertheless, Burrell was a consistent producer and did a great deal to help the team up off the mat after the Terry Francona days. Let's also not forget that he was taken with the draft choice given back to the team after J.D. Drew refused to sign in 1997. All in all, Burrell got a fair reception in Game 1. When you willingly spurn your original team for money, especially as a free agent leaving a fairly well-heeled team like the Phillies, the booing is justified. There are exceptions, but generally it's a good rule of thumb.

On the matters of Tex, I have a major issue with the Rangers fans. Maybe I'm just a huge Yankee homer, but I'd like to remind the Dallas-Fort Worth area that Mark Teixeira did not leave the Rangers of his own volition - he was traded away to Atlanta at the 2007 deadline. Not only has Teixeira never said anything negative about the Rangers organization (although friction between him and Bubbles - wait, I mean Ron Washington - is acknowledged), please take a look at what that trade netted them. If you scroll down to the "Transactions" section of this page, you'll see that the Rangers owe their starting shortstop and flamethrowing closer to the Teixeira trade. Fans of the Angels have a something of right to boo Tex because he left them in free agency, but even then he was only in Anaheim for 3 months. The Rangers fans, however, should be thanking their lucky lone stars that Teixeira's time in Texas ended the way it did, for their team would likely not be nearly as complete otherwise.

And now, we move on to A-Rod. Of course he's going to get booed everywhere, because he's A-Rod. There's no issue with that. However (and this is reason #2 why the Dallas area sports fans are on my shit list right now, reason #1 is coming in a future post about my trip down there), the "You did steroids!" chant while A-Rod is at the plate is utterly stupid. Yes, he took PEDs. And you know what team he was playing for during the time that his steroid use was proven? That's right, the Texas Rangers! How can you do a steroids chant at a guy who did them while he was playing for YOUR TEAM? I'll bet the few fans that even paid mind to the Rangers in those days sure didn't have such a beef with A-Rod when he was averaging 52 homers and 132 RBI a year for them. Not to mention, he also left the team via a trade, a trade that greatly helped the Rangers escape the financial hole that his $252MM contract put them in and begin using their money to build an entire team. I've written on this topic before, but it's not Alex Rodriguez's fault that the Rangers jumped in way over their heads when they signed him in 2001.

So when is it OK to boo a player coming back with a different team? Well, first and foremost, if the guy sucked when he played for your team, then boo the hell out of him. If he was an irresponsible douche who couldn't stay off the DL, then boo him with everything you've got. If he bad-mouthed the city, the fans, the organization, or any of the above during his time there, then you're fine to boo. If he caused internal problems on the team leading to his ultimate departure, it's fair game. On the other hand, use discretion if the guy helped your team win a championship, if honest injuries derailed his tenure, or if he was traded away without demanding so. There are more examples, unwritten rules, and exceptions out there, so feel free to add anything in the comments section.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

5 for Sunday

We've reached that point. Like I said last week, another bad week and I'd be forced to go the George Costanza route and do the opposite of every instinct I have. Like Jerry told him - if every instinct I've had is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right. Fortunately, since I've been able to muster at least one win each week I'll go opposite on four and stick to my guns on one. Home teams in CAPS.

Detroit (+10) over NY GIANTS
The Giants have beat the hell out of Houston and Chicago the last two weeks and now come home against a Detroit team is trying to shed its doormat label. The blowout win against the Rams was a nice step, but I don't know if Shaun Hill and the Lions have a better game in them, especially on the road in windy conditions. The Giants defense is playing like it did during its Super Bowl run three years ago, which makes me like the Giants very much in this game. So, that being said, give me the Lions plus the 10 points.

Cleveland (+13.5) over PITTSBURGH
Ben Roethlisberger, he of Excite Bikes and Surprise Sex, makes his return from suspension in this game, and you couldn't have a more gift-wrapped day for him. The Steelers are coming off their bye and have been able to keep their defense's difference-maker Troy Polamalu healthy this far. Meanwhile, the Browns are starting Colt McCoy at quarterback, and a road game at Pittsburgh is likely the last place on the list of settings where you'd want to make your first NFL start. This may be the most popular Survivor pool pick of the week. I really don't think the Browns will crack 7 points. So....give me Cleveland.

Baltimore (+3) over NEW ENGLAND
I'm a big believer in addition by subtraction, and the Randy Moss trade lines the Pats up for some nice Ewing Theory karma. Not to mention, they are also coming off their bye and you have a feeling there will be some wrinkles in store to confuse the Baltimore defense, which will be the first to see the Patriots offense in its new sans-Moss approach. The special teams play from New England in their Monday Night rout of the Dolphins in Week 4 was a reminder that this a superbly coached football team. So.....I'll take the Ravens +3.

SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) over Oakland
The Raiders took a defensive nap for two quarters and still managed to sneak up on San Diego last week, thanks to two blocked punts in the 1st quarter and a fumble return TD in the 4th quarter. San Francisco, on the other hand. once again demonstrated their prowess at finding ways to lose games last week against the Eagles. The Raiders have been in every game besides their opener at Tennessee and are a Sebastian Janikowski chip shot against Arizona from being 3-2. Even with Jason Campbell having to start again for Oakland, there's hardly anything that could make me side with the 49ers in this game. But that is the power of the Opposite. San Fran minus the points, as I keep myself from dry-heaving.

Indianapolis (-3) over WASHINGTON
Peyton Manning in a nationally televised night game. Peyton Manning in a nationally televised night game. Peyton Manning in a nationally televised night game. Peyton Manning in a nationally televised night game. Peyton Manning in a nationally televised night game. Peyton Manning in a nationally televised night game. So there's that, plus I want to see the Redskins win a game that isn't given away to them before I ever buy them. Can't go against the instinct on this one - Manning outweighs the Opposite.

Last Week: 1-4-0
Season: 9-16-0

Friday, October 15, 2010

Trapped In the Closet with Bad Music

Sometime back in high school someone was explaining a radio stunt to me.  The radio station had a contest to see who won a trailer.  The person who statyed in the trailer the longest would be the winner.  The catch was that that song "Eye of the Tiger" would be blaring on repeat the whole time.  It was a novel concept and and an interesting twist to a radio contest.  I present to you 5 songs I couldn't not listen to on repeat without purposely destroying me eardrums.  If you really hate yourself today watch and listen to every song.

Gwen Stefani "Hollaback Girl" 
This song is incrediably painful and seems like a teenage version of a kindergarten song.  Really your going to spell out B-A-N-A-N-A-S?  Gwen Stefini became snatch non grata after this song because it is so unbearable.  Why do singers became more annoying when they break away from a band and start a singles career?

Missy Elliot  "Work It"
I have no idea what she is saying in the chorus of this song. It's more obscure then ebonics and gibberish.  It's like she could rhyme or come up with anything good so she fumbled her words on purpose.

Black Eyed Peas "Pump It"

You could put anything they have ever done in here and you would be right.  However, this one seems like it would be the worse on repeat.  Just imagine the sheer terror of hearing Pump It....Pump It over and over again.  That is the definition of hell.

On second thought, this is probably worse on repeat.

Yea that is definitely worse.  This is your weekly reminder not to associate yourself with people who like the Black Eyed Peas.  If we have any dangerous space missions, I volunteer them.

Kelis "Milkshake"
I had no idea who even sung this song, but no I know who exactly to hate.  This girl isn't even mildy attractive, and yet she is signing a sexual song.  What gives?  The lyrics in this song are preposterous under any cirmcustances and really reminds me why I refused to listen to pop music for so many years.

Train "Soul Sister"

I know this will strike a chord with a few readers who like this song but I can't stand it.  The guy singing just comes off like such a pansy I can't take it.  I won't rip on all sappy love songs, but man is this one I can't get behind.  I think it's even on a few commericals which makes it worse.

If I were trapped inside the trailer listening to these songs and others I'm certainly blessed to be forgetting at the moment, something tells me I would be acting like this.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: The Wave

Enough. Enough enough enough enough enough. A large group of people standing up and sitting down sequentially can look kind of cool if it is kept up for a decent amount of time. We get it. But why does this heinous crime against legitimate sports fandom continue to be committed? My only conceivable answer is that more and more, people in the crowd at a sporting event have some sort of desire to make themselves part of the show.

Let me make one thing clear. Fans can and should make the most of their opportunity to have an impact on the game. But the wave is not how that is done. You want to make a difference from the stands? It's done by standing and getting loud on 3rd down or a 2-strike count, by chanting "Who's Your Daddy" at Pedro Martinez or "OVER-RATED" if you're at a basketball game rooting against someone like Duke or the Miami Heat.

Has a team ever gotten extra fired up because the crowd behind them has the place rocking, or has a visiting team seen its play adversely affected by a crowd going 100% against them? Of course. But I dare you to find any instance where fans doing the wave had any positive impact on the game they were watching. You can say that most of the times the wave gets itself going are during a lopsided or meaningless game, and that's probably accurate. However, why would you ever choose to be oblivious to a game that you've paid solid money to witness in person?

Even if it's 10-2 in the 7th inning or 28-6 with 5 minutes left, that doesn't mean there is nothing more you can take from being at the game. It's a great chance to pick up on some of the small nuances that you don't get to see on TV, like the way a shortstop picks up his catcher's signs and cheats a half step depending on which pitch is coming, or how a backside post runs the free safety off of a play, or even the general layout of a stadium and how it compliments the playing field itself. If you have the mental capacity to grip things like that, it makes you a much better sports fan than any orchestrated chain-reaction crowd motion can.

A popular response at Yankee games to any attempt at the Wave is "keep the Wave at Shea!" meaning that if you want to screw around, go root for the Mets. Now that Shea Stadium is no more, it's even more fitting. It's getting late so I'm not quite as sharp on my analogies, so whatever the figurative equivalent of turning the Wave into a parking lot is, that is the choice of a more intelligent sports-watching America.

Cinq Pour Samedi

Well, after a solid month of not being able to watch much college football on Saturdays thanks to being out of town, or at prior engagements, or playing golf, or immersed in playoff baseball, the smoke-and-mirrors act finally caught up to me in the form of my first sub-.500 week of the NCAA season. Not to mention, I haven't written a legit post in about 3 weeks. I'd like to use this forum to properly apologize.

To the readers and everybody in NotAsGoodAsYouThink nation, I'm sorry. I'm extremely sorry. I was hoping for an exclusively profitable season, something no one has ever done here. I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any pseudo-writer in the entire country pick games as hard as I will pick them the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the blog as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a blog make picks and write posts better than we will the rest of the season. God Bless.

So now that that's out of the way, all games are Saturday because I got home from work too late to make my pick on the WVU/South Florida Thursday night game (Mountaineers -10, but we play by the rules here). Home teams in CAPS.

GEORGIA (-14.5) over Vanderbilt
I usually wouldn't pick a game like this, but Georgia's latest in its line of bulldog mascots, Uga VIII, is making his debut, and I'm not passing up the opportunity to link to a picture of a handsome devil like this.

MICHIGAN STATE (-7) over Illinois
Team with momentum, say hello to team with even more momentum. Illinois ruined Penn State's homecoming in a big way last week and gave Ohio State a run the week before. However, the Spartans are 6-0 and have some people talking about a special season (or at least delaying the point in time where the basketball team takes over the forefront).

Arkansas (+4) over AUBURN
I hope people avoid the "well, Auburn beat South Carolina, South Carolina beat Alabama, Alabama beat Arkansas" routine to try to make a selection on this game. This game will be a question of who is going to take bigger advantage of the opportunity in the SEC provided by Alabama's loss. We should look forward to points galore in this one, so give me Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks plus more than a field goal in a fairly even matchup.

NEBRASKA (-9.5) over Texas
A rematch of last year's Big 12 title game and the incomplete pass that was-then wasn't-then was, which allowed Texas the one second it needed to kick the game winning field goal. Texas enters this one on a two-game losing streak, while Nebraska hasn't lost since that night in Dallas last December. If the Big 12 is indeed turning back toward the Cornhuskers' favor, then this game is the day it will be known.

Ohio State (-3.5) over WISCONSIN
I really don't want this to happen, but I think the Buckeyes may be starting to turn a corner on their "Big Ten Bully" status of the past several years and won't be so quick to choke on their new #1 ranking. Terrelle Pryor has grown into a real quarterback and more than just a guy with speed and an arm. I agree with Kevin about how this should be a classic and that it should come down to one possession, but I think it'll be 6-8 points instead of 3.

Last Week: 1-3-1
Season: 18-9-3

Bedtime Stories with Chris Wheeler

Hi kids! The kids collectively groan, not yet smart enough to realize Chris Wheeler (better known as Wheels) shouldn't be in their room to begin with.  Would you like me to tell you a bedtime story?  The kids are puzzled and say "but we were asleep already Mr. Wheeler."  Wheeler convinces the kids it will be fun and they reluctantly agree.

There once was an evil man with wagon spoke (Alfonso Soriano) and he hit alot of home runs.  "Mr Wheeler we don't like baseball."  Kid I don't know any other stories my life revolves around baseball, trust me it will be good.

The man with the wagon spoke would swing at just about every pitch and with his big bat he had an unfair advantage against pitchers. When the ball came into his happy zone he would do bad things. "Mr. Wheeler, where is the happy zone?" It's about belt high middle in.  The kid points to his waist where his belt normally goes when he attends church.  "Right here?" Actually its a little lower than that, here let me show you.

The door flies open and the kids mother walks into the room as Chris Wheeler ahem adjusts himself and heads for the window.

Stay tuned for more exciting stories of Chris Wheeler's life outside of the booth.

The Gameplan After Hooking Up

First off all let me straighten something out.  Hooking up means making out, it does not mean having sex, please stop making this mistake in the future.  Moving on here is your playcard after making out with someone and your steps to following up.

Met at the bar and made out there
Don't count on much progressing from this if you actually dig the girl.  This is something I have done in the past but don't plan on doing again.  Everyone sees what your doing and it makes you look bad unless the girl is really hot.  You can give people the wrong idea about what your all about.  Anyways, if you get here number try to follow up but this is likely let it be and move on. No phone number exchange is required here.

Met at the bar made out at either or your places
Girls love to just make out but it can be boring if it doesn't progress after awhile.  If nothing progresses its best to part ways on the night unless you are kinda stuck without a way home.  Sometimes its okay to tread softly and build slowly.  Personally I will always follow up in this case if I ask for the girls number.  Phone number exchange probable.

Met at the bar, stayed the night
You seem more committed at this point.  You hung out all night and woke up next to each other.  It's kind of hard to not have any follow up her from either side.  On paper this should lead to seeing each other again so long as you are not saying what did I do?

Your Friend of Friend and Will See Each Other Again
This is a tricky one and hopefully you thought this one out before you proceeded.  If your not interested and got with them once communicate it to her and come clean.  If its an ongoing thing that's casual make sure you two are on the same page.  You should always be considering your surrounding friends in these cases. If you are really into the girl, then still tread carefully and slowly it will be more rewarding in the end.

Who asked for who's number?  This is one of the few times I will defend the opposite sex.  Generally speaking if a guy wants your number he will ask for it.  If he knows he is going to see you again though it might be in his best interest to wait it out.  When girls offer the number first it can shift the balance of power to the guy.  I won't say it makes you look desperate because it doesn't.  However, it tends to make you seem like the one more interested.  But thanks for taking the pressure off.  When I ask for the girls number, I call or text.  If you stick it into my phone or force me to take your number and force me to say I will call,  your asking to sign a contract under duress.  If I want the number I will ask and if I voluntarily say I will call or text I mean it and most people probably do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

5 for Saturday

17-12-1 on the year after a dismal 1-4 last weekend.  Slowing we are returning back to earth.

All games are Saurday.

Arkansas (+3) @ Auburn 3:30 CBS

This should be a really fun game to watch with the 2 best QBs in the SEC. Both teams are still alive in the SEC West with a chance to oust Bama.  Maybe Auburn finally loses.  Either way they should have their chance to beat Bama at the end of the season and go to the SEC Title game.

Iowa @ Michigan (+3.5) 3:30 ABC

An odd choice for a homecoming game for Michigan but its kinda out of there hands.  Michigan needs this one bad to avoid the comparisons to 2009 and I think they are capable.  Last year a young Denard Robinson was brought on late in Iowa City and lead one touchdown drive late to get Michigan back into it only to throw a terriable pick to end what could have been a game winning drive. Iowa is coming off a bye and have the defense capable of slowing down Denard.  Offensively though Iowa is average and that may not be good enough. If you are betting Michigan here the play is straight up. Bonus: The soothing sounds of Ron Franklin should be music to your ears. 

Texas @ Nebraska (-9.5)  3:30 ESPN

The rematch of last years Big 12 Championship game that Texas survived by the skin of their teeth.  You think Nebraska wants this one.  They made a video in the offseason dedicated to beating Texas and then removed it because they are not Michigan State.  I feel like this is alot of points here but I can't pick Texas here. Expect the Corrnhuskers to win the turnover margin and win by double digits.

South Carolina (-5.5) @ Kentucky 6 ESPN2

Ok so this is a game you can probably skip but it should be decent if your not watching baseball.  Perhaps a let down?  Kentucky is not a bad team despite starting SEC play 0-3.  I have been riding South Carolina all year though and will continue to do so.

Ohio State @ Wisconsin (+4) 7 ESPN

You are looking Live! This one should be a dandy.  Thanks Brent that's about all your good for anymore.  Newly annointed #1 OSU travels to Madison for a night game.  This on paper is the toughest test the Buckeyes have all year.  I'll take Wisconsin here to cover this spread.  As Corso says, closer than the experts think, Buckeyes by a field goal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where Wallace Is At

Hey D,  I found Wallace.  He has turned out ok after all.  He is off the drugs and doing commercials for Adidas.  Wallace appears to be in good shape now that he is clean and lifting weights.

Adidas is debuting new jerseys this weekend in what appears to be a far less offense way than the Nike Pro Combat Elite jerseys.  The jerseys appear to be similar to regular ones and do not uneccessarily change the colors teams are used to wearing.  An Oregon jersey freak show this is not. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Roll Tide! My Trip to Bama vs. Florida

I flew into Birmingham from Tampa on Southwest on Friday.  85% of my flight was going to the game and probably 40% were Alabama fans.  It made for an interesting atmosphere on the short 1 hour 15 minute flight.  Friday we spent in Birmingham where I saw the campus of UAB and that was about as interesting as it sounds. Saturday was the event though and it didn't disappoint.

It's important to note that I attended the game with people knowledgeable about Alabama and one of them still attended school there.  We headed to the stadium at 11 AM for the 7 PM local kickoff.  Birmingham is one hour from Tuscaloosa and fortunately we didn't hit traffic but it must be noted that there are Bama gameday detour signs at several exist where apparently they have routes mapped out to alleviate traffic.  If there was a general parking area, I didn't see it.  We parked on someone's lawn for $20 which was the cheapest we saw. 

The tailgating scene seemed to take place in apartments and bars as well as the quad.  We started our tailgate at an apartment that some family friends had purchased specifically for game days.  They were Bama boosters with a huge deck and catered food.  We left with the plan to return later after we had met up with the other members of our party and I had purchased a game day t-shirt.  I was pretty against purchasing a strictly Bama t-shirt so I went for some old fashion hate.

The shirt was more of a hit then it had any right to be.  I had people taking pictures with me or coming up to me to tell me how much they loved the shirt including Florida fans, even John Brantley's father, more on that later. We headed to the bars on University Boulevard where we had some "Rammer Jammers" which I think had Lemonade, Gin, Rum, and who knows what else.  Then we headed to a place called the "Locker Room" where you could purchase higher end Alabama apparel.  Now we went there because they have a free keg in the store.  Wrap your head around that a free keg in a clothing store for gamedays. Truly impressive and as it turns out not really free because I think my polo shirt was left there. 

People definitely dress differently for gamedays in the south.  The polo guy on a Ralph Lauren shirt has been replaced an the Alabama Elephant which several people wore.  Fraternity guys wear suit jackets and khakis. No one wears hair gel in Alabama.  The look to go for is a 35 year old Dad.  Somewhat messy hair with shorts above the knee and a polo or button down shirt.  Do not forget the old man shoes either.  If you dress like this in Philly you get your ass kicked but in Bama you fit in.

Girls are not the t-shirt and jeans type either.  Most class it up a bit and wear some type of dress or classy top. Girls like to wear crimson red or black as a tribute to Paul "Bear" Bryant.  I saw quite a few Bear Bryant hats and even Bear Bryant earnings.  The girls in generally are classier than I am used too which is good for all things except gameday. 

Later we returned to our original high brow tailgate to find the father of John Brantley (QB of Florida).  In my brief conversation with him and his buddies I learned that he wasn't too fond of Urban Myer and he really liked my t-shirt.  Fans were nice to each other, which surprised me after reading about so much hate.  I was pleasantly surprised to see opposing fans getting along and I hardly witnessed an incident.  For all the passion for college football in the south it was nice to see southern hospitality win out in this instance. 

The game itself wasn't not as exciting as it could off been because Florida is not a good football team.  I had the opportunity to sit in the student section for $180 with some friends which was a bonus. A frat guy told us we couldn't sit where we were sitting because of fraternity block seating, but my friend and I blew him off and he later apologized.  The crowd was into the game and may have been even louder if the game were tight but it does not stand out as the loudest crowd I've been in.  When Sweet Home Alabama plays, fans sing Roll Tide Roll in between "where the skies are so blue" which was cool.

After an Alabama victory this awesome chant is song.  It's called Rammer Jammer.

All in all the trip was definitely worth it and I had a great time.  I would recommend going to an SEC game if you haven't been because its a different experience. Does different mean better?  No, it was a similar overall experience as to most major programs.  The after party was better, the stadium can't compare to Michigan's though and I even like Nebraska's better but the team entrance into the stadium and friendliness in the area is refreshing.  The stadium feels like a pro stadium much like Penn State's does.  However,  it was really cool to see all the bronze statues of coaches that have won National Championships and Nick Saban's plot already laid out waiting for a statue. The tradition of Rammer Jammer is not quite in line with southern hospitality but it gets sheer points for awesomeness.

Friday, October 8, 2010

5 For Sunday

After an abysmal Week 4, I'm one more bad week away from adopting the George Costanza "opposite" approach. The good news is, the Patriots have a bye this week so I can't manage to pick their game the incorrect way as I've already done 3 times so far. Home teams in CAPS, spreads via

Jacksonville (PK) over BUFFALO
It's a slight cop-out, but picking against Buffalo is too good a proposition. Here's hoping David Garrard doesn't revert back to the Byron Leftwich impression he'd been doing in the Jaguars' two losses. Let MJD run like LaDainian Tomlinson ran last week, and go home.

HOUSTON (-3) over NY Giants
The Giants' defense played an impressive game last week, albeit against a Bears team starting two backup tackles. Houston escaped Oakland (still a tough place to play) with a W last week and has scored 30+ in three out of four games. In the Texans' one loss, Dallas held them in check largely because they got away from running Arian Foster off tackle, where he'd only been getting about 8 yards a carry. Andre Johnson is nowhere near 100%, but because of that maybe the Texans don't feel obligated to throw the ball 40 yards downfield every third play. The ground game is where you can attack the Giants. Run the ball at their suspect linebackers, win the game by 7-10 points.

Green Bay (-2.5) over WASHINGTON
The Redskins are not a good team. They came out like gangbusters against the Eagles last week, running the ball up and down the field in scoring 14 points before you could blink, and then only scored 3 points the rest of the way. Green Bay, on the other hand, is slightly undervalued after a game they gave away to the Bears and a too-close-for-comfort game against the Lions. The Packers still can't run the ball, but Washington can be had down the field anyway. Interesting note - the Redskins could be 0-4 if it weren't for two final-play miscues by their opponents (Dallas' holding nullifying the winning touchdown, and Jason Avant dropping the ball in the end zone for the Eagles).

DALLAS (-6.5) over Tennessee
I don't love this game and I'd never touch it if it were more than a touchdown. Since it's less than a touchdown, I'll roll the dice on Dallas being fresh off their bye week and maybe, just maybe, using their running backs the right way and dictating the game offensively like they have the ability to do. Chris Johnson can provide instant strikes for an otherwise lame offense, so the best defense is a good offense against the Titans. Although having DeMarcus Ware get in Vince Young's face two or three times won't hurt either. Dallas covers downfield very well, and would love to force Tennessee into passing situations.

SAN FRANCISCO (-3) over Philadelphia
I admit I'm banging my head against the wall about this one. How can I possibly take an 0-4 team and give points? Well, I thought the 49ers were in an impossible spot last week at Atlanta and they pretty much controlled the game before giving it away late. Is that mark of a poorly coached team? Probably. However, the Eagles consistently have trouble covering tight ends, and Vernon Davis could have a field day here. Kevin Kolb gets the start in place of Michael Vick, which, as anyone who saw the second half against Washington last week, is a scenario that cuts the Eagles' playbook in half.

Last Week: 1-4-0
Season: 8-12-0

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cinq Pour Samedi

Lost some ground to Kevin last week but remained profitable at 3-2. Not the greatest set of games this week, but it'll do.

MICHIGAN (-4.5) over Michigan State
I really like the way Michigan has played at home this year. They've had games against UMass and Indiana that were closer than they should have been but in the end, Shoelace has always been the difference. Michigan State has played a few thrillers already (Notre Dame, Wisconsin) but in order to win this one, it's going to be a matter of containing a player that no one else has figured out how to contain yet.

FLORIDA (-6.5) over Louisiana State
The Gators still have a lot going for them, the sizable loss at Alabama last week notwithstanding. LSU, however, is coming off two straight underwhelming performances at home against West Virginia and Tennessee. This game has been taken off the board at several Vegas books in light of QB John Brantley's questionable status, but it's more likely than not that he will play. My first instinct says to still go with Florida at home, not to mention that putting money behind LSU right now is a very shaky proposal.

NOTRE DAME (-6) over Pittsburgh
At this point in the season, a team's identity starts to come into focus. The Irish are (as expected) up-again and down-again. Pitt, on the other hand, is likely facing the reality of a rebuilding year, although a win in South Bend can keep them breathing in the mediocre Big East. I have a feeling that Notre Dame, at least on this day, finds the right way to use its offensive weapons and wins this by at least 8.

Florida State (+6.5) over MIAMI
Every time I see this matchup on the schedule I get wistful for the 1990s and early-2000s glory days. Be that as it may, this is actually a fairly interesting game again. This line seems two points too high, however, when you consider that the Hurricanes don't have nearly the home-field advantage at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin/Landshark/Dolphins/Sun Life Stadium that they did at the old Orange Bowl and the crowd has a good chance to be bipartisan. Jacory Harris isn't 100%, and the Miami offense does everything through him, so I like the points here. Plus, it's got to end on a missed field goal one way or the other, right?

STANFORD (-9.5) over Southern California
This is a season of change in the Pac-10, and this game figures to be another testament to that. Stanford is probably a year ahead of its time and that showed toward the end of the shootout against Oregon last week, but USC is not USC anymore. I seem to pick their game every week, but the washed up quarterback in me really likes the combination of Andrew Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh. It should be a fun time on the Stanford campus this Saturday as they gear up for the first big home test of the year.

Last Week: 3-2-0
Season: 17-6-2

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

5 for Saturday

The Bama post is coming when I have more time.  4-1 last week.  16-8-1 for the season.  All games are Saturday.

Michigan State @ Michigan (-5)  3:30 ABC

Kinda wish I was going to this but I need to save up for @ PSU (If any reader has tickets they are selling, let me know) and @ OSU later in the year.  Anyways both teams are undefeated taking this in state rivarly game up a notch.  Alot can happen in this one and it feels like a toss up but on a coin flip I'll go with Michigan at home to beat Sparty and avoid losing three straight to them. 

Alabama @ South Carolina (+7.5) 3:30 CBS

Bama staked their claim as #1 team last week, but that was last week.  South Carolina was off last week and had more time to prepare.  They also need this one really bad if they are going to get to SEC title game.  South Carolina has a puncher's chance if they can get going offensively because the defense should be able to contain Bama.  I'll take the Gamecocks to cover in a game that I would be surprised if either team reached 30 points.  This feels like a late touchdown or field goal escape for Bama.

 LSU @ Florida (-7) 7:30 ESPN

I don't think either of these teams are worthy of being in the top 15.  You could make a case that this could be a dogfight but I think LSU's luck has run out after last week.

USC @ Stanford (-8) 8 PM ABC/ Gameplan /FSN

Who thinks the post game handshake is going to akward?  Harbaugh will go for 2 if he has to in order to cover the spread.  

Florida State @ Miami (-6.5) 8 PM ABC/ Gameplan

The only prediction I have is a sloppy game.  These two have played close ones with each other but its been awhile since either were great. Tickets are still available.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

5 for Sunday

Sometimes the less you think, the better off you are. So here are my snap judgment selections for Week 4. Home teams in CAPS, spreads via

ATLANTA (-8) over San Francisco
The 49ers canned their offensive coordinator this week and if they wanted to do it with style they should have waited until Sunday morning to tell him, as an homage to how much trouble he had just getting the plays in under the play clock. Atlanta thus far has continued the NFC South tradition of up-again, down-again teams, this year being an "up" year. San Francisco looks lost and playing a 1pm East Coast game after playing in Kansas City last week doesn't help matters.

PITTSBURGH (-1.5) over Baltimore
I tried to stay away from this game, but you can't not admire the way the Steelers are playing right now. Ray Rice is banged up for this one, a game where Baltimore will need every ounce of him. On a personal note, I'd love for the Steelers to go 4-0 without Big Ben, have him come back, lose 3 out of 4, and have everyone clamoring to get rid of him. The last 6 meetings between these teams have been decided by a total of 29 points, so count on a close one. I think the home field advantage at the Big Ketchup Bottle will make the difference for Pittsburgh.

Indianapolis (-7) over JACKSONVILLE
I'd lay up to 10 or 11 here. Indy is very good, Jacksonville is very bad. Sometimes it is that simple. The Jaguars looked slow and out of position on defense against the Eagles last week, and if their offense were more pedestrian they'd be accompanied by crossing guards. Here's hoping Austin Collie, white receiver extraordinaire, extends his TD streak to four games.

SAN DIEGO (-8) over Arizona
The Chargers are inconsistent but play well at home. The Cardinals are consistent in that they don't play especially well at home or on the road. General betting rules of thumb say to be wary of San Diego in September in October and then put the farm on them after Thanksgiving, but at home against a team as out-of-joint as Arizona I'm willing to ignore that for this week. The Cardinals have lost a lot more than Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin; their defense really seems to miss Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle. They'll sure have some fun trying to cover Antonio Gates and the emerging Malcom Floyd.

MIAMI (+1) over New England (Monday Night)
This is a sneaky one because New England still has superior offensive talent, but has cracks on their offensive line and a defense that has surrendered 58 points (minus a kickoff return) to the Jets and Bills over the past two weeks. Brandon Marshall should have a 100-yard day without much problem against the Pats' secondary. Like I always say with the Dolphins, you can expect this to go down to the wire, in which case I'll play the Monday Night Home Dog rule, which is 3 for 3 thus far.

Last Week: 2-3-0
Season: 7-8-0

Friday, October 1, 2010

Move This Team

I visited Tropicana Field Tuesday night for the Rays playoff clinching win against the Orioles.  Fortunately David Price was on and there were no pitching changes during innings and the game finished in 2:04.  Quite a fast baseball game.   The experience was certainly unlike any other Major League Baseball game I have ever been at. 

We arrived at the ballpark and paid $5 to park and we were set to scalp tickets at below face value.  This actually proved somewhat difficult because we had 4 people and 10 minutes to game time scalpers had sold almost all seats of four together (the only offer was $80 for 4 outfield seats).  This is what happens when people are non committal about going and you can't jump all over 4 seats together for $20 total on stubhub.  Not to worry we would just walk up and grab $13 seats and move down.  The strange night began when we saw walk up ticket sales had 500 people in line.  This was unprecendented for me but we weren't in a rush to get inside. 

The night before, David Price and Evan Longoria called out the fans for not filling up the ballpark (12K to a playoff clinching games).  A coworker of mine joked that if the players hadn't called out the fans we wouldn't be waiting in this line.  The Rays fan noticed that my coworker was wearing a Phillies shirt and quipped well you only had 16K show up to your clincher, failing to realize the Phils clinched in DC on a weeknight and many of those were Phillies fans.  There were several ways he attempted to defend the fan support...

1. Transplants- You grew up rooting for other teams

This is certainly a good point and I agree to an extent.  However it doesn't defend a reason for having a team in Tampa.  I would also argue that even if you are a baseball fan you would go to a few games a season or at the very least go see your team play when in town.  Lou attends a few Phillies games a year and follows the team because he's a baseball fan.  I attended the game on Tuesday because hey it's something to do, I like baseball, and frankly Tampa is boring as hell.

2. Poor Stadium

The stadium is awful and probably the worst I have been too and I have been to about 20 parks.  Its a dome and a poor one at that.  They are special rules for the catwalks, its not a real stadium but it only holds 36K.  This is probably costing them between 5 and 10 K per night.  However, for those that hated the Vet it would sell out if the Phils were in playoff contention late in the year.

3. Poor Location

It lacks quality public transportation but I would argue that the traffic was mild and most people who take public transportation everywhere can't afford a car and therefore can't afford a ticket.

4. Economy

My ticket cost $13 dollars and would have been cheaper if purchased in advance.  I was able to sit lower level down the first base side.  I am tired of you bitching about the economy.  It sucks deal with it.

All of his arguments were reasonable for low attendance but they didn't leave me feeling confident that Florida should have multiple baseball teams.  It won't happen but I would love to hear the only good thought Selig ever had come back...contraction.
The fans at the game were irritating because they snuck in Vuvuzellas (World Cup buzzing) and cow bells.  It felt like a minor league game with fans more interested in promotions and eating rather than the actual game.  To be fair the 17K Rays fans that were there made noise late whenever there was 2 strikes on an Orioles hitter. Its more than I expected.  The following night the Rays were giving away 20K free tickets.  If you made a $3 donation at the game you should get a free ticket and a chance to win the shirts off the players backs.  Not surprisingly, I did not see many takers.

For the playoffs, The Rays are offering exclusive playoff ticket access for $100 a person.  So for $200 upfront you can get guaranteed playoff ticket access throughout the playoffs.  The ability to purchase 2 tickets to ever playoff game for as low as $30 a ticket.  Not bad at all.  Can you imagine what the going rate would be in Philadelphia? In New York? In Boston? O wait never mind.

5 for Saturday

Apologies for the lack of content this week,  I'm trying to get a Rays post up at the airport today. 

2-3 last week marked the first losing week of the season.  12-7-1 for the season is very good but Lou has been stellar so far.  I was going to pick last nights game but it doesn't really matter because it would have been a draw.

Wisconsin (-1) @ Michigan State 3:30 ABC/ ESPN

Old school Big Ten football.  Both teams get a good test this week and the winner becomes a conference dark horse (does anybody see the Bucks losing the Big Ten right now?).   The last visit was a strange one where a coaching error but Bilema cost Wisconsin a chance at a last second field goal ( Pam Ward thought it was 3rd down and they could spike).  I think right now Wisconsin is a touchdown better on a neutral field so I think they prevail.

Texas vs. Oklahoma (-3.5) 3:30 ESPN/ ABC Dallas

Gun to my head I'd rather watch the game above.  This game loses some significance with Texas getting spanked by UCLA and Oklahoma looking Jekyll & Hyde.  Still I'll take Oklahoma to win and bury Texas's chances of winning the Big 12. 

Penn State @ Iowa (-7) 8 ABC

Battle of the two most overrated teams in the Big Ten at the beginning of the season.  I'll take Iowa at home here laying the points.  Penn State will need to open things up on offense a little bit to give themselves a chance.

Stanford @ Oregon (-7) 8 ESPN 2

I really like both these teams right now and its a matter of time before Oregon plays for the title.  The winner of this game should win the Pac 10.  I think it will be high scoring and that's why I like Oregon to cover here but we should see a great game.

Florida @ Alabama (-8) 8 CBS

Probably one of the few times you should watch an CBS night game but I won't blame you for watching the Pac 10 clash.  I will be in attendance thanks to one of readers who is putting me up for the weekend.  I plan on making a full report in these pages on my first SEC game.  For many of the same reason Lou mentioned I like Bama here.  Florida hadn't shown any offense until last week and something tells me them will be in trouble this week.  To beat Bama you need a QB who can pick apart the secondary and I don't think Brantley is ready.  Bama by 10.