Friday, October 31, 2008
NCAA Basketball: Real Polls
Speaking of Throwing Bags of Poop
Rest in Peace, Studs Terkel
Fuck You, You Stupid Neighborhood Children
I, For One, Welcome Our New Google Overlords
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thank Heavens the 28 Year Drought is Over!
Alas, there is relative quiet in the house of Miwacar, even as the Phillies' players themselves stumble home after 20 hours of partying. Through both playoff series and then the World Series, there was nothing but turmoil under my roof. My lady friend is a rabid Phillies fan and has been on a constant ride of upward swings and downward spirals, and I have been exhausted by it. I too followed and rooted for the Fightin’ Phils, how could I not? Yet, my fandom compared to hers was not unlike the difference between an occasional church going Universalist and a Dominican nun who has taken a vow of silence, not to mention ALL of the other vows.
It was not uncommon to spend the morning talking her down from the ledge of anxiety, even though her team won the previous night’s game, only to find myself wanting to smother her with a pillow at bedtime following a game, in an attempt to stop the rambling. Don’t get me wrong, I love the woman, but Jesus wept! In the real world my Lovey is a very positive minded person, but come crunch time she is Chicken Little on meth. So, I found myself suddenly the beacon of positivism, a role unbecoming my Swedish-American nature. I would spout all of the right, comforting things as she laid in a fidgety ball rebuking me like Linda Blair’s Regan did Jesus. At a point of super saturation I would try to cast out her demons and then I usually cast myself out the window.
I am so happy that the Phillies persevered in the game 5 fiasco. All of the above mentioned horrors of my household were magnified a hundred fold these past two and a half days. I found myself rooting harder for a team than I have since the Twins won the 1987 World Series, just so it could all be over. I like the Phillies a lot and I enjoyed the tremendous performances of Hollywood Hamels, Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz, Geoff Jenkins and all of the rest, but I must admit now that I wanted them to win mostly to quell the storm in my home.
I expect that I will get about a month’s peace, after the celebration dies off, before it all begins again with the common refrain of “No body is picking the Phils, they never get the respect…“ I will offer a positive statement and then I will promptly be booed out of my own home.
Happy Halloween and three cheers for the Phillies!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
2008 Washington Redfiends: Mid-Season Special Teams
The Redfiends lead the NFL in FG attempts (21) due to the offense's red zone/third down troubles. K Suisham has been a consistent player on special teams and I'll take 85% from 40-49 yards. His kickoffs are short and he has been known to boot the ball out of bounds at critical times. But hey, at least he ain't no Grammatica.
Our Kickoff Coverage is 5th in the NFL. They have done a good job of running their lanes and arriving en masse.
Our Punt Coverage is another story, dead last in punt yards and return average. We're dumping punters as fast as we can sign them. This is a major problem. Punt coverage doesn't receive much publicity unless TDs are the result: the Redfiends have already let two go by.
The Kickoff Return is 4th in the NFL. Rather than a homerun threat, Rock Cartwright (5-8, 220) is a straight-ahead bowling ball.
Before Santana Moss's recent heroics, Punt Return was woeful. As it remains, nominal PR Antwaan Randle El is ranked 45th in the league. As opposed to Cartwright, Randle El's first move is always sideways. I'd rather give Cartwright the chance to return punts than expose Moss to injury.
There is no question that the Redfiends must devote more time, not just personnel, to its punting units. In these close games the Redfiends have been playing all year, they are #2 in punt return attempts and top ten in punt attempts. Special Teams are very important, true believers.
Argentina's New Coach--Maradona!
Maradona! Miwacar informed me of the news.
In all seriousness, this is a Charter Member in the Hall of Fame of Bad Ideas. Maradona was on death's door 2 years ago. He's been regularly hospitalized for his various cocaine wagon falls. Maradona was one of the best players South America has ever produced. Doesn't mean he can coach for shit.
2008 Washington Redfiends: Midseason Defense
The defense under first-year coordinator Greg Blache is an improvement on last-year's solid unit (8th in yards, 11th in scoring). Despite significant injuries, this proud D has been physically imposing, especially on the goal line and in the 4th quarter. It starts with the D Line, who stack up against the run and allow the LBs to make the tackle: 5th run D and only 4 rush TDs allowed.
S Laron Landry has been solid in run and pass defense, and has cut down on penalties. CB Carlos Rogers is having his best year despite offseason knee surgery; if CB Springs can get on the field that duo is enough to cover any offense in the league. This unit still has a tendency to drop INTs, resulting in only 5 picks thusfar.
With injuries to a backfield that was thin at the start of the season, they've had some coverage breakdowns. They've also discovered exciting rookie S Chris Horton, drafted in the 7th round and leading the team in takeaways.
MLB London Fletcher is the heart and soul of this Redfiends defense. Observe him sealing the game with this 4th down snot-rocker. He leads the team in tackles:
They have generated no pass rush without blitzing and haven't made many big plays. Still, this is a hard-hitting, bend-don't-break defense that gives the Redfiends all 60 minutes.
2008 Washington Redfiends: Mid-Season Offense
"The running game and defense will remain unchanged, and should remain in the neighborhood of the top ten in the NFL ... At first glance, the Redskins have too many question marks to get off to a fast start and will need another year in Zorn’s system to be competitive in a cruel division."
The running attack and defense have indeed been excellent. To my delight, the Redfiends ripped their way through their difficult opening schedule to reach 6-2 at mid-season, their best record since 2000. That year, the Redskins finished 3-5 to miss the playoffs. How bad did it get? Jeff George was the QB.
The 2008 Redfiends are 2-1 in the NFC East, and face all three beasts at home for the back 8 games. Washington has shown a tendency to play to the level of their opponent. Hidden stat: the Redfiends have outscored their opponents by 2.5 points per game.
Offense (7th in yards, 23rd in scoring) Grade: B+, improving
As hoped, the running game is strong with NFL leading rusher Clinton Portis churning out 944 tough yards. He, and his offensive line, have been getting it done late in the game. One key to the Redfiends success: Portis is averaging over seventy yards in the second half, at six yards per carry. FB Sellers is a big, mad, mean lead-blocker. The backup RBs will need to give Portis help as the season wears on; thusfar they haven't contributed much.
QB Jason Campbell has been outstanding. His potential is being realized as the weeks progress. He is smart, strong and poised.
Campbell hasn't thrown an INT this season while significantly boosting his yards per catch (7.6) and completion percentage (66%) as well as command of the offense. He currently enjoys a 100.5 QB rating, 5th in the NFL. Though he has been sacked sixteen times, he's only lost one fumble (down from eight in thirteen games last year).
WR is still the domain of the little guys. Santana Moss is one of the most dangerous players in the league and is having one of the best years of his career. He commands a double-team, which cripples an opposing D's ability to blitz. Randle El and Cooley have contributed to many first downs but haven't found the endzone often. Rookie Thomas is raw but at least he's earned some playing time.
O Line ain't quite the hogs but they're playing pretty well. Portis and his linemen are in sync, with holes shearing open at the moment of his cut upfield. Pass protection is not as impressive. They have given up sixteen sacks and numerous hits which would have brought down a QB besides Campbell. The season started with RT & Captain Jon Jansen losing his position battle to sophomore Stephen Heyer. Heyer's injury allowed Jansen to reclaim his position and now Heyer fill be filling in for LT Chris Samuels, slowed by a bad knee. This unit is capable but their chemistry must, uhm, precipitate.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
IDYFT NFL Pick 'Em: The Big Bite
Fella, did you see the size of that victory burger? To reiterate, your Shoe-In pick gives you +3 if you're right but -7 if you're wrong. Weekly Upset is +7 if you're right, only -3 if you're wrong. Your IDYFT Pick is your favorite team to win or most disliked team to lose for +/- 3. And the Clash of the Titans is +/- 7.
Garwood, I'll absolve you of your twenty point loss if publicly admit that your eyes were bigger than your stomach. You see, I'd rather like to keep you in the game and watch you wither slowly, in agony.
NEW FEATURE: *BONUS* on the weekly upset if you correctly pick the winless Lions or Bengals to get their first win: +10.
1. Adw: 33 (this week +10)
2. Big BM: 24 (this week +10)
3. Jess: 19 (this week -4)
4. Miwacar: 8 (this week +4)
5. MMMan: -16 (this week +4)
6. Garwood: -34 (this week - 20 unless you pucker up, buttercup)
This Week's Picks
1. Your Shoe-In?
2. This Week's Sarah Pallin Underdog List:
winless Lions*, winless Bengals*, Chiefs, Cowboys (!)
3. Your Favorite/Disliked Team?
4. Clash of the Titans: the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Washington Football Team
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Fox's Broadway Musical Lovingest Trio explains: Who's on top in the Garcia/Romo relationship?
Daryl Johnson: "It's got to be the other way around, just because of age."
Tony Siragusa: (offscreen, furiously masturbating) "yeah... yeah... yeah... YEAH. UNGHHH!"
Rest In Peace: Dee Dee Warwick
There exists no such talent gap between the Warwick sisters, and if anything (like I suggested above) Dee Dee was the more talented of the two. Certainly she sang with more emotion, more heart. And was never in a position to make a joke of herself in her later life career path.
And she's passed away. I would have never known had commentor Ms. Rhode not mentioned it in the comments of Levi Stubb's passing. Christ, a lot of talent is dying on us. I had a friend back in high school who loved old blues and jazz, and he used to complain that someone super awesome died on him every week. As a fan of 60's soul, I am beginning to get what he was talking about. Two legends, whose names escape the vast majority of even casual soul fans, pass in the same week, and no one remarks upon it?
Dee Dee Warwick could interpret a fucking song, ya'll, and you could do worse than buying her Greatest Hits. Fare thee well, Dee Dee. I hope Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt.
Here's Dee Dee, lip-syncing my absolute favorite song of hers, "We're Doing Fine":
Friday, October 24, 2008
I Know Who You Are, Joe Maddon
That's a silly idea, but one I bought into. Look at the glasses! Look at the ironic Tampa Bay Baseball Cap! Who, outside of Rivers Cuomo, would wear both of those things together?
But the truth, the real truth, the actual truth, is much more insidious.
Joe Maddon is a time traveler, and his name isn't Joe Maddon.
Consider the facts, my friends:
1. "Maddon" isn't a real name. It is spelled Madden. Duh.
2. Tampa Bay traded with Minnesota, a hotbed of National Public Radio.
s3. Joseph Maddon is almost an anagram for something else.
4. If you give Joseph Maddon a weird middle name, like Aloysius, or Ebenezer, it gives you a lot more letters to make an anagram with.
5. Joseph Aloysius Maddon is almost an anagram for "Past National Radio Host"
6. No one has given me a copy of "Joe Maddon's" Birth Certificate; therefore it does not exist.
Conclusion: Joe Maddon is not a real live person in the here and now. He is a time traveler from the future. We know him in our present as NPR Host, Ira Glass.
"Joe Maddon" or, Ira Glass + 30 years.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
NCAA Hoops: Top 10 Discussion
OK? I've said my piece. Let the Phillies Fans on this blog discuss how awesome their team is. I want to talk Preseason Hoops, which is much more fun, in that it is much less predictable.
A little bit ago, we discussed the HoopsAddict's Top 10. We now have another preseason ranking, from CBS's Gary Parrish--friend of (and former vendetta target of) this here blog. So we can now compare two different professional experts on NCAA and see whether they agree with us, or whether they are wrong. Fun Times!
#1. UNC. Clear consensus. Both Gary and HoopsAddict (from here on in, referred to in some abbreviation, because HoopsAddict is a pain in the ass to type) both agree, and so do I. UNC is clearly #1. They return a shocking number of starters from last year's Runner Up, including Everybody's Favorite Hardworking White Boy, Tyler Hansborough. But also: Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, and a couple of badass freshmen. I say this, absolutely hating this team. I hate UNC. I hate, hate them. I had their rat-faced coach, I hate their overachieving honky. hate hate hate. But they are #1.
#2. Louisville. Clear consensus, amongst the experts. I have issues that Gary and HA don't have. Like them, I loved the play of Earl Clark and Terrence Williams. Unlike HA, I'm not sold on Edgar Sosa, after what feels like five years of waiting for the guy to mature. I'm not sold by Gary's assertion that Earl Clark is a bona fide NBA'er either. He reminds me of Kato out of Iowa State--rangy, aggressive on defense, and occasionally a superstar near the basket. Will he be consistent? Does he really fit Pitino's run and gun? I like this team--just not as much as everyone else, I guess. I'd put them below UConn, for sure.
#3 Consensus! I really like this UConn team, in part because bad ass Thabeet is another year older, and thus a bit less sporadic in his bad-assery. There is no reason this monster of a kid shouldn't dominate the paint in the Big East like a Hibbert did, or even Ewing or Mutumbo, or even Seikaly did. He has the chance to be the next great Big East center. Book it. UConn will be as good as Thabeet wants them to be.
#4. Hoops has Notre Dame; Parrish has Duke. Both are crazy wrong. Notre Dame is a solid, well-coached team, no doubt, with solid players. Is the Big East so fucking good that their 3rd best team is the 4th team in the country? No. The Pac-10 was the best conference last year, and they haven't lost everybody, nor have they lost their ability to recruit. The Big 10 and Big 12 still exist. This is just silly. So is the Duke pick. Parrish has a hilarious line here: "every relevant player from that flawed team is back except DeMarcus Nelson." That's like saying, "I have all of my relevant organs, except for my brain." I'll take a PAC-10 team here--let's say UCLA, who are returning only the best point guard in the country in Darren Collinson, because brains count.
#5. Hoops has Duke; Parrish has Notre Dame. Both are again crazy wrong. I'll take a team from the Big 12. I don't know who--Texas--they lost DJ Augustin, and little else.
#6--First appearances for premier conferences for both Preseason polls--for HoopsA, it's UCLA of the PAC-10; for GP, it is the Boilermakers of Purdue of the Big 10. I'm a little shocked by the appearance of the Boilermakers this high up in the poll, but Gary does a good, if brief, job of reminding us that Big 10 champions are, as often as not, made up of unflashy players that know their roles, and that Purdue has that in spades. Hard to argue with. This seems high for Purdue for me, though. I think #6 is a fine spot for the Top Big 10 team--I just have a feeling it won't be Purdue. Who do I think it will be? I won't say, because you'll accuse me of insane homerism if I did, even though I don't support the team at all.
#7--Gonzaga is showing up here--#7 in HA, and #8 in GP's list. I'm not buying Gonzaga this year. They've got talent, they've got spirit; they've got a roster that is one and done, which is the exact opposite of what has made Gonzaga great. They will cruise through their conference, and win it easily (though, they didn't really do that last year). But I don't see them as Top 10. If I were hunting for midconference badasses, I'd be hunting in the Missouri Valley, or maybe the Horizon, or maybe the Big South. This is the year that Gonzaga is a victim of their own success. This is the year they go from talented upperclassmen to talented underclassmen, and that's a fight they just don't win. I'll take any of the following over Gonzaga: SIU, Butler, or Winthrop. Call me crazy, but I just don't feel Gonzaga this year.
#8--It took this long for HA to mention a Big 12 team in Texas. Gary is following much in line. I'd say to watch out for Oklahoma State here--making it my 2nd Big 12 team. (please note that no one--including Gary, HA, or myself have defending National Champions Kansas in the top 10 (Gary doesn't have them in his Top 25, which he has taken a huge amount of shit for). I think these #7 and #8 picks are just off here. I'd push down Gonzaga down. I'd push Texas up. So, who knows?
#9--Gary and HA have Pitt in their Top 10--HA at #9, Gary at #10. It should be noted that both rankings are predicated on Levance Fields being just fine after two knee surgeries. That seems like a dubious supposition to me. I'll put Pitt towards the bottom of the Top 25. I'm a Georgetown guy, and I am prone to dismiss other Big East teams, but I am not wrong when I say Pittsburgh has a lot of issues, and I wouldn't be surprised if the following thus far unmentioned teams finish ahead of them in the Big East: Syracuse, Villanova, Marquette, West Virginia, Georgetown. I'm not sold on Pitt, clearly. They are one injury away (an injury that has already happened) from being perfectly average in a really, really tough conference.
#10--HA picks Memphis, which is crazy stupid. Gary picked Pitt at #10, which we already discussed; he likes Michigan State at #9. I'll side with Gary, who is a complete Memphis homer, on his reasoning that no one coaches and recruits in the Big 10 like Michigan State's Izzo does. Gary asks rhetorically, "Does it not seem like the Drew Neitzel era lasted forever?" Yes it did, Gary, yes it did. Props to Gary for picking one Big 10 team, something HA never did, which is stupid. The Big 10 is always undervalued (I do it every year) and they always get a team in the Elite 8, at least.
Those are your Top 12-15 teams figuring for the Pre-Season Top 10. What do you think, my pretty bitches?
How Evolutionary Revolutions Begin
Sunday, October 19, 2008
IDYFT NFL Pick 'Em: Crunch
1. Jess: 23 (this week 0, again)
2. Adw: 20 (this week +10)
3. Big BM: 14 (this week -4)
4. Miwacar: 4 (this week -10)
5. Garwood: -14 (this week -14)
6. MMMan: -20 (this week -10)
This Week's Picks
1. Your Shoe-in?
2. This week's Ron Paul Underdog List:
winless Detroit, winless Chiefs, winless Cincy, Oakland
3. Your Favorite Teams Wins/Most Disliked Team Loses
4. Clash of the Titans: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Skins Barely Beats The Cleveland Poo
The entire first half could generously be described as a battle of field position. Every offensive series ended in a punt (good thing the Skins signed a new punter) until the last play of the half, a missed 36-yard FG (bad thing the new punter is the holder).
The entire game was a poo pudding of penalties. The Skins 12th man contributed to a delay of game by the Cleveland Poo which resulted in the QB and FB fighting with each other. The defense pitched a goal line stand that would have won the game except stalwart RB Clinton Portis coughed up the ball. Coach Zorn made an emotionally-driven challenge to the fumble and the Skins gave up a TD and a 2 point conversion. It looked bleak and the Skins went three and out at the 2 minute warning. A missed FG preserved the 14-11 win.
The injury-ravaged secondary played very, very well. CB Carlos Rogers was excellent. They held the team that lit up the Giants to 136 yards passing. The Skins stuck with the run to win the game, and despite Portis's tragic fumble, it was running the ball that won the game. The Skins were wise to stick with Portis (27 for 175, TD); the Giants ran for 180 yards against the Poo but lost because they stopped running when they needed to win. The Skins didn't make that mistake and won an ugly one.
Next week, the Skins take down the Lions. That's the end of the easy cheez for the season, so I'm expecting a big win in the Fudgedome. Go Washington Skins Go!
Long Time Coming Product Review
Now some of you cynical bastards might think that I would purposefully review anything I received positively, just to stay on the good sides of the folks at SoccerPro, and thus (hopefully) guarantee that I continue to get free stuff.
Ah, but I've outwitted you there--I've taken so long to write a review, any review, positive or negative, that the lads of SoccerPro probably won't be sending me anything ever again. Honestly, I received my choice of product so long ago, that now that I have gotten around to reviewing it, I'm not 100% sure it is still available. We'll find out together.
The product in question is a Diadora Serie A soccer ball. For those of you who don't know shit about the world's finest game, "Serie A" is the Italian Top-Flight league. Diadora is a top-flight company that makes shoes, balls, etc.
(If I may digress, somewhat--when I was a young, young soccer player--ages 10-13, or thereabouts, I would be able to practice in any old shoe, but something about the 90 minutes of a real game made my achilles tendons (in both feet) tighten to the point of pain. I could barely walk. It was commonly regarded to be the fault of my shoes, and I went through shoe after shoe looking for one that didn't hurt. Patricks did the job for awhile, but the shoe that I finally fell in love with, and wore for about 10 straight years were Diadoras. (Not the same pair, mind you.)
So I'm biased towards Diadora. I'm somewhat biased towards the supplier of the Serie A. Something tells me Diadora covets the endorsement of Italy over my own. Which is bullshit. I can deliver asses in the seats, Diadora.
The thing about a ball is that it doesn't need to pass that many requirements, really--a great ball isn't going to exceptionally enhance the performance of some one isn't very good at the game. You can give me the most expensive ball in the world, and you can give Lionel Messi a mylar balloon full of rocks and angry bees, and he'll be able to do more with his Bee n' Rock Balloon Ball than I will with the Most Expensive Ball in the World.
So kids, don't go apeshit over the idea that a ball will make you better--it won't--not much, at least. But this Diadora ball in a high-quality, long-lasting type of spherical object, and I do recommend it. At first, it did seem a bit undersized, but I've done the palming the ball tests I used to do on Size 5, and I can't quite palm this thing, which means it's about the right size. In a world of ugly colors on the pitch gone mad (Red Shoes, Yellow Shoes, EVEN WHITE SHOES) the Diadora has a nice classic look to it--all white panels, with minimal decoration. It feels right on the boot, and it travels pure in the air.
And it does hit the price range in about the right place. A twenty dollar ball is basically bullshit, and you should stay away from it. But very few people really, truly need the $100 balls that exist (and in truth, go up from there). This ball is about $60, it's made by Diadora, and that's all you really need to know. 2 Big Toes Up for the Diadora Serie A ball. Feel free to handle your own balls (purchasing) here:
Diadora soccer balls
All Soccer balls
Friday, October 17, 2008
Rest In Peace: Levi Stubbs
The second time I heard his name, it was from a great Billy Bragg album, and my favorite song on that great album ("Talking With the Taxman About Poetry"), was "Levi Stubb's Tears". It happens to be one of the most affecting songs about spousal abuse written by a man I've ever heard. Billy Bragg is also awesome.
But we are talking about great Motown singers, not great English songwriters. And Levi Stubbs was one of the best. Members of the Temptations and The Four Tops never became household names. The lead singer of the Temptations tried, and actually put out a pretty good solo record or two. It didn't take long for the Miracles to become Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (and for good reason). Levi Stubbs never tried to go solo, despite the fact that he was one of the classic voices of the Motown 60's song. He could have. He choose to be a Four Top for as long as he could (almost 45 years, according to the LA Times).
Fare thee well, Levi Stubbs. I hope Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt. It seems unlikely though--you can't sing like he does here without real emotion behind it. Listen to the man! It is classic Motown sound, but the blatant panicked desperation of this song--Smokey could have sung this song, but I don't think it would have sounded so...visceral.
Regardless, it feels weird. Or in hipster, pseudo-literate speak, "What a surrealistic nightmare of almost Kafkaesque proportions!"
I've been labeled a robot spammer by a robot fighting on behalf of Google/Blogger. So my Google Account has been locked up and held hostage by Blogger Robots. It's been a few days now, so I'm assuming my virtual identity is now succumbing to the first stages of Virtual Stockholm Syndrome. Poor little virtual blue monkey; all scared and wanting a banana, probably.
Our blog entries now have one of those annoying little Word Verification boxes, to make us prove that we are humans typing this.
I'm not a computer! I am a human being! I think! I feel! I occasionally poop! Of course, a robot could type that up as well as I just did. Probably better. Maybe I am a robot, or perhaps just a good computer program. Stupid Blogger, making me question my objective reality.
Hopefully, every will be back to normal soon. Sorry for the inconvience. Said inconvience is mainly hampering me, actually. That sentence was dripping with way more self-pity than would be obvious, if I weren't such an honest broker and pointing it out for you. You are welcome.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
To The Last Drop: Book Trailer
NFL IDYFT Pick 'Em: Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
Professor Badcock's Negative Scoring Capability is keeping this race tight. Anyone can join in. To remind you of what you're fighting for, it's a To The Last Drop t-shirt:
1. Jess: 23 (this week 0, she that is last shall later be first)
2. Big BM: 18 (this week +4)
3. Miwacar: 14 (this week -10)
4. Adw: 10 (this week -20, Darkplace)
5. MMMan: -10 (this week -4)
This Week's Picks
1. Your Shoe-in?
2. This week's Ron Paul upset:
Cincy, 49ers, Detroit, Seattle
3. Your favorite/disliked team?
4. Clash of the Titans: San Diego Chargers at Buffalo Bills
Washington Redmeat Fall to the Rams
They were unfocused and seemed to be waiting for the Rams to give up. Winless or not, St. Louis is a professional football team and they wanted to win for their new coach. They had two weeks to prepare for this game and they wanted it more. That's why they won.
I was worried about this scenario -- young team flushed with early success loses focus -- but hoped that Coach Zorn would keep them on an even keel. He needs to do a better job and I think he can, but the Redmeat came out of halftime exactly as flat as they had started.
The turnover dam broke, as it was bound to do at some point. The offensive line, while opening holes for the NFL's leading rusher Clinton Portis, was terrible in pass protection. They gave up four sacks to a team which had only generated seven in four games, and only thirty-one last year. Campbell looked uncomfortable in the pocket even when he had time -- he had the bad footwork that we saw in the Giants game.
The defense played relatively well but were unable to stop the Rams at the start of the third quarter and, most critically, on a long 3rd down with seconds remaining. They simply do not have a pass rush unless they blitz -- the only sacks were a coverage sack by DT Montgomery and a blitz by CB Springs. This, against a Rams team that had given up 13 sacks to lousy teams. The Redmeat's eight sacks ranks them below the Lions.
The offense was out-of-sync, with dropped balls and penalties. Nevertheless, they engineered a great 4th quarter drive to take the lead. Which brings me to the main point: as I have been warning all year, Special Teams will lose a game for this team. That is what happened against the Rams.
To cap one of the worst games they've played (giving up insane return yardage, generating no returns, kickoffs out of bounds), the Redmeat had a 17-16 lead with under 4 minutes when they gave up another return to set up the Rams' game winning drive.
As the Buddha said, "When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
I expect a much better game against the Browns, who incidentally kicked the crap out of the Giants last week. With Dallas losing to the Cardinals (that was awesome!), the NFC East is still tight. Stop listening to sportsjacks about the toughest division, playoff aspirations and Coach of The Year honors. One game at a time, like the poet wrote.
Backup RB Betts injured his knee so the Redmeat picked up 2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexnder. He's a good runner and should be fresh wheels but he hasn't been the best teammate throughout his career and might chafe as the backup. He should know that Washington will probably be his last stop and he will cement his legacy here. Our entire defensive backfield is injured, facing a Browns team that lit up the champs on Monday. There are no easy games.
Go Washington Redmeat Go!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
As Predicted, Flyers Fans Deliver
"Delightful! Wave to the Booing, Angry Crowd, Everybody!" (In truth, she's probably trying to figure out why the crowd is booing her former Flyer escort.)
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Philadelphia Flyers Fans Get a Chance to Boo Someone Important
I don't know why anyone thinks that Philly fans are the people to do this for. These fuckers booed Santa Claus. I can't imagine they'll react well to the Queen of the Harpies.
Here's the story: "After appearing at a Republican fund-raiser at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue on Saturday afternoon, the Alaska governor is to drop the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers' regular-season opener at the Wachovia Center.
"We are very excited she has accepted our offer and we are very proud of the publicity she is generating for hockey moms and the sport of hockey," said Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider, who runs the Flyers."
Wisconsin Justice is Mighty (Silly)
Here's the latest--a judge's ruling that sounds like the sort of thing a lazy sit-com writer might hit upon for quirky fun: Making a convicted drunk driver stand by the scene of his accident holding a sign that read, "I Was Stupid."
I love you, Wacky Wisconsin.
NFC Offensive Player of the Week: Clinton Portis
His 145 rushing yards, 13 receiving yards and 1 TD are statistically strong, but voters must have been watching the game and not just voting by statistics. Clinton's running in the 3rd and 4th quarters are what earned him this award.
In the 3rd quarter, Portis ran for 88 yards on 12 carries. In the 4th quarter he scored a touchdown and muscled his way for 3 tough yards on 4th and 2 against the (alleged) best run defense in the league. Both the TD and the critical first down should be considered "game winners."
This is the second Washington player to be thus honored. FS Horton was the player of the week for his heroics against the Saints. Horton was also named the defensive rookie of September and Coach Zorn received the coaching award for the month.
But all them awards don't stack up to anything unless we kick the crap out of the Rams on Sunday. I wouldn't mind giving Ladell Betts a chance to get in a rhythm. There's no reason for Portis to run the ball 29 times against the Rams, who have the 28th worst run & pass defense and are tied with the Lions for worst scoring defense.
I'd like to see Ladell get 100 yards this game as we cruise by three touchdowns.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
IDYFT Convention Coverage
IDYFT Debate Coverage
Presumably, those issues are being saved for the last debate.
Monday, October 06, 2008
IDYFT NFL Pick 'Em: Upsets & Comebacks
One of the problems with the emphasis on individual "fantasy" stats is that we lose sense of a team's identity. There are some interesting storylines brewing in the NFL as we move into the meat of the season.
For example, Miami has defeated the two best teams (of 2007) in the AFC. Can they keep up their plucky wildcat upset frenzy? Does a whacky comeback against the Texans mean the Colts are rising again, like Jesus or bread or souffle? Does the NFC North really have to send a team to the playoffs? Is it possible for a mediocre team (Saints) to beat another mediocre team (Vikings) while producing nearly as many turnovers (4) as scoring drives (5)? Well, we learned the answer to that at least. Bon-bons to A. Winfield again.
The race for the grand prize, a To The Last Drop t-shirt in your size, is getting thick and heavy. Nevertheless, all are still welcome to join the contest. It's free, fun and easy. Although I can only guarantee the free & easy aspect.
1. Adw: 30 (this week +20 max)
2. Miwacar: 24 (this week +10)
3. Jess: 23 (this week +20 max)
4. Big BM: 14 (this week +10)
5. LButler36: 2
6. MMMan: -6 (this week +14 don't call it a comeback!)
This Week's Picks
1. Your Shoe-In?
2. This week's Ron Paul Upset:
Rams, Browns, Cincy, Arizona, Lions
3. Your Favorite/Disliked Team?
4. Clash of the "Titans": Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Washington Redtails Eat the Eagles' Lunch
Every sportsjack is thunderstruck (though sadly, not rendered speechless) that Washington is more comfortable in its offense than in the season opener against the defending Superbowl Champs, moments after the champs received their rings in front of a rabid home crowd. The improvement has been on a steep curve and suddenly they are the NFL's hottest team. Expect the even-keeled Coach Zorn to keep the Redtails hunting even as the bandwagon loads up.
The defense was dominant even without starters CB Springs, DE Taylor and LB Washington. They smothered Westbrook at 2.8 yards and limited him in the passing game to fifty yards, an area where he is elite. Despite not getting a pass rush they intimidated the Eagles WRs and held the vaunted passing attack to under 200 yards, looking particularly good on third down (5 for 12). Starting rookie FS Chris Horton led the team with eight tackles. The defensive line is stout and the LBs are making their tackles and the defensive backfield is covering well and hitting hard. The goal line stand in the 4th quarter was bad-fuckin-ass.
The offensive line won this game, and that is just the way it needs to be. The Eagles D Line, one of the best in the league (#1 vs. run), got rocked for 200 yards rushing and generated no sacks (though Dawkins got one on a blitz). QB Jason Campbell was tested early and often, winning with poise and another thrilling run on third down to move the sticks when they had to have it.
The line picked up the Eagles blitzes and enabled Campbell to zip the leather around, particularly to TE Chris Cooley whose career-best 8 catches for 109 yards included the go-ahead score on a pass on an end-around from WR Randle El. The Eagles doubled WR Moss, who finished without a catch but opened up the field for everyone else.
The game ball, without reserve, goes to RB Clinton Portis who turned in another game-winning effort. His admitted fondness for his mama's pork chops sweetens my heart, as did his 145-yard, 4th quarter TD performance. He had an absolutely explosive run and the highlight is worth seeing; it's 40 seconds in. In the play, Portis runs into a hole clogged with two Philly fatties and blows them out the other side.
Special Teams ... ah, yes. A bad punt & coverage gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead. If this team loses, I reckon it will be because of this unit. Randle El had one decent return in this game, but his return instincts are bad. His first move with the ball is always, always lateral. He's got a QB's instincts which can be useful, and he's a nifty player but I don't want him returning punts any more. K Shaun Squeeze-em nailed a 50 yarder. It seems apparent that the best way to deal with the punting problem is to keep getting first downs.
Zorn outcoached Obese-American Andy Reid with a better gameplan and in-game adjustments. Reid, perhaps intimidated by the felonious Philly fans, challenged the Randle El to Cooley TD. This emotionally-driven decision flushed away a timeout they probably would have liked later. When Reid's team were stymied on the six yard line with 7:18 to go, the Walrus sent in the FG team and I proclaimed, "Game Over!" I was right. The Eagles never touched the ball again. The Redtails were back on their heels and even if the TD failed, Washington would have started with the ball very deep in a very loud stadium. They would have been very conservative and the Eagles would have gotten the ball back with good field position. But Reid wussed out.
Coach Zorn, on the hand, plays to win. That's why no one was surprised that the Redtails went for it on 4th and 2 to win the game. Everyone knew it would be to Portis but the Eagles couldn't stop it. However, the playcall itself didn't come from Zorn.
According to the Washington Times, Coach Zorn claims that Portis called the draw: "I'm telling you, it was all Clinton Portis. He called the play. And as we ran the play, he willed his way to a first down. I had a great view of his grit. ... He called it, he ran it, and he got it. It was a huge, huge play in the football game."
Coach Zorn team is still young and there were some mistakes out there. We're still attempting too many FGs. Yet again I repeat, Special T must raise its game. However, the two minute offense is improving and the defense is very tough. Hidden stat: in the fourth quarter, the Redskins have only allowed 10 points over five games-- that's a two point average.
Go Washington Redtails Go!
Norv Turner's Plans To Crush San Diego...
Historic Meltdown from Sage Rosenfels
U Wisconsin Band--Suspended
Here's the barely contained glee from the Mankato News.
For those of you who missed it, here's what the fucking band was accused of doing, 2 years ago:
- Female members being forced to kiss each other to gain entry to bus bathrooms.
- Women being forced to draw pornographic pictures for more senior band members and read explicit accounts of their sexual preferences composed by others.
- A female member told to suck on a sex toy as part of a hazing incident.
Dirty, dirty badgers.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Jim Souhan Has His Crabby Pants On Today
Updated With More Digging Into It Commences...NOW:
Souhan's column is just a mess of fuzzy-thinking, half-assed hindsight, and the kind of sniping that I thought might happen after the play-in game loss to the White Sox. He makes a couple of sweeping generalizations, with the assumption that everyone would agree (despite the fact that they are, at the very least, debatable, if not obviously wrong).
Let's start with this graf: "The Delmon Young trade -- essentially, Young and Brendan Harris for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett -- was a disaster. Bartlett is better than Harris. More important, Garza is better than Young. If the Twins had kept Garza and found themselves with a surplus of young pitching, they might have been able to make a trade-deadline deal that would have sent them to the playoffs."
Let's break these into points. First, the Harris vs. Bartlett statement. Yes, there are some stats in which Bartlett outperformed Harris. Bartlett hit 30 points higher for average; Bartlett struck out 30 times less in two fewer games. But there are also important ways in which Harris obviously outplayed Bartlett. Harris had 12 more RBI; 10 more doubles; 6 more homeruns. Harris isn't going to be mistaken for Hank Aaron anytime soon, but it is clear that he delivers more power in a lineup that was desperate for it. Also, how about the fact that Harris had 3 less errors in the field than Bartlett, despite logging significant time at three different positions? I'm not arguing the Harris was clearly better than Bartlett. I'm just arguing that the position Souhan took is pretty much without merit, once one actually looks at the numbers--something that Souhan was presumably too busy to do, seeing as he's a Professional Sportswriter and all.
The Garza and Young argument is silly. Comparing a hitter who was 22 years old for about 98% of the season to a pitcher who turns 25 in a month should be, and is, borderline impossible. Garza stats for the Tampa Bay Devils are pretty good, but the only thing that really changed in his numbers from last year are his W-L records. His ERA actually went up a fraction of a percentage. So it isn't like the Twins traded away a guy who became great; they traded away a damn good pitcher in the hopes of getting a deal on a young guy they think will become great. To suggest that we know the value on that part of the trade is just arrogantly stupid. Or stupidly arrogant. Stupagant?
I wish Souhan were done, but he isn't: "Keeping Santana might have been the way to go. He would have pitched the Twins into the playoffs this season, and the two draft picks might have yielded as many quality players as the Mets trade did."
Keeping Santana is an easy suggestion to make, once the Twins fail to make the playoffs by one game. But no one was expecting them to be one game out of the playoffs when the season started, including Jim Souhan. It's so fucking easy to say that now. But at the time of the trade, Jim Souhan was one of the few people at the various local papers who seemed rather level-headed about the whole thing. I know, because I praised him at the time.
And the point I made at the time still stands--we don't know the value of the folks we got from the Mets, because they are all insanely young and are called Prospects for a reason. Gomez played his way into the starting lineup, but he's super super young. He's still a prospect. The idea that the picks we would have gotten in the MLB's tanglethorn free agent system is without merit. Souhan, at the time, pointed out that propects may not look like much, but in the long run, they can pay big dividends.
And yes, almost certainly, if Santana had been on this team, they would have made the playoffs. But they would have not won even a Divisional League Series, so who cares? What's the difference between making the playoffs and getting swept in 3 in the playoffs? One game at home. That's it. Who cares? The team was built for 2009, or maybe even 2010 in mind. The fact they competed as well as they did in 2008 should be seen as a great sign of things to come, not something to belittle and criticize. If those Mets prospects don't flower by then, and if Delmon Young is a light-hitting, below-average fielder in 2010, then we can start complaining about these moves.
I agree with this week's version of Souhan on two things--this winter the Twins should pursue another right-hander in the bullpen, and should aggressively go for Adrian Beltre. This team is one good hitter away from being pretty bad-ass.
Sarah Palin Delivers the Gettysburg Address
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or also any nation so maverickily conceived and so dedicated to those, you know, families, can long endure. We, and I am one of those who are part of the we, you know, are met on a great battle-field of that war. That war. That war. It is important. Also, we have come to dedicate a portion of that field, which may or may not have natural gas underneath it, as a final resting place for those who here, you know, gave their lives that also that some nation might live. Clearly, also, though Senator Biden and Senator Obama don’t think so, also, it is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this thing that John McCain has always believed in.
But, you know, my fellow normal Americans, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground, because to do so would suggest that some folks were wrong about this war, and that’s looking to the past. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, and were looking to the future, you know? Also, it. Also, it is far above our poor power to add or detract. Also, those people who live outside here, if you want, I guess, you could call it the world, will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. Darn right, you know? It is for us real Americans who know about the thing and the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work (though, you know, it should be noted that you know, also, “unfinished” suggests that are work is not finished, when it really is) which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, even though that is looking to the past, yet again, don’t you know? that from these honored dead, who are totally honored, even though if Senator Obama wished they were dead without honor, which you know, he totally does; also, we take increased maverick devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, but talking about that cause and their devotion would be you know, uncomfortable and also -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under our Awesome Maverick God and Jesus and the Dinosaurs that we killed in God’s name (and you know, I love Jews) way back in 4000 BC, you know, also, shall have a new birth of freedom –as an outsider, I’m not sure that the government is ready for this idea, you know, but also, and that government of the small town people, by you small town people, for the small town people, shall not perish from the earth. And it won’t, if you give me more powers. I need more powers,
Who hears a Horton?
In two starts, this seventh-rounder from UCLA has recorded ten tackles, three INTs, one fumble recovery, three special teams tackles and three passes defended (they called it "defensed" but that ain't fucking English, chumps). What's more, his plays always seem to come at critical times. But then, that's why a free safety is on the field.
Meet Chris Horton, New Orleans native and your starting free safety for the Washington Professional Football Team. The NFL is pretty tight with their clips, so you'll have to link to this Anatomy of a Play about his Dallas INT. I highly recommend doing so: in two minutes you get a sense of his humility, how very far he still has to go and the unteachable "It" factor this young player possesses.
Just stay hungry kid. Follow in the footsteps of the ancients, seek what they sought. You're my favorite player.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Too Soon to Talk NCAA Hoops?
Hoops Addict agrees. They have their Top 10 out this week. On the other hand, they call Tyler Hansborough NBA talent, which is laughable. He's next year's draft's Josh McRoberts (another dominant undersized whitey from a premier program in the ACC). But the idea that UNC is the definition of a Preseason #1? Hard to argue with. Let's look at the rest of their Top 10.
They have Louisville at #2, which I have to say, doesn't smell right. I love the history of smooth dressin' Dorian Gray like coach Rick Pitino. But he's not done what you would expect Rick Pitino to do--specifically--take 3 or 4 years to restore Louisville to dominance. Pitino has gotten them to respectability. But they always have some big losses that keep them from a #1 or #2 seed. Maybe their new recruits will change that; but I think at the end of the year, Louisville will be in the top 25, but not the top 5.
UConn at #3 sounds right. Notre Dame at #4 is stupid and laughable. No way. No way in hell. You can move every other team mentioned in the Top 10 past Notre Dame.
Duke, UCLA (who should be in the top 3, really. Success begets success, after all. And that team knows how to recruit--you can safely assume that if their freshman don't blow you away, it is because they were looking for below the radar players.) Gonzaga at #7 is overrated.
Hoopsaddict, in general, seems slow to respond to trends. I'd put Davidson ahead of Gonzaga.
Hell, the more I look at this list, the sillier it becomes. HoopsAddict has put together a Top 10 team that has Zero Big Ten Teams (really? The entire Big 10 is that bad? No Wisconsin, No Indiana, No Illinois, No sneaky Minnesota pick?); only One Big-12 team in Texas? 2 Big East teams, and neither one Georgetown? That's a mistake, too. UCLA is the only PAC-10 team the year after their scary dominance? Hmpf. It's a bad a list, ya'll.
The idea of a Preseason Top Ten is admirable. The execution, however, is awful.
Cubs 0-2 in Wrigley
With the White Sox losing to Evan Longoria, the Chicago teams are now 0-3. That should end the discussion of the all-Chicago World Series talk, which was stupid from the beginning. And I like Kazmir to beat the surprisingly enigmatic Buerle in the next game. How will Chicago react to their teams being 0-4? Poorly, but with a dollop of the fatalistic.
Looking at just this first couple of games, it may be a total cop-out, but I don't see any reason for the World Series not to be Phillies vs. the Red Sox. Or maybe, Phillies vs. The Angels. That ALCS will be spectacular.
Poor CC Sabathea, by the way--over 300 pitches in the last 12 days.
Can we just briefly mention all the former Twins in these games? J.C. Romero, Grant Balfour, Jason Bartlett, stupid AJ Pierzinski. We'll see Garza later on.
"Clinton Portis has mentioned before he wants to be President so we speculated what ticket might be like. Stay tuned next week as we release another Palin and Clinton debate video and stay tuned for our Dem and Repub. league - see who is better at making fanatsy football picks."
Now, obviously, they are hawking their own site. We don't mind, because it makes it look like everyone even tangentially involved in politics is singing the praises of Clinton Portis. We dig that.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Star Tribune Gets Some Good Analysis on Twins
Here's Joe, reminding us that it wasn't just Santana or Torii "Gates of Shinto" Hunter that were breaking banks:
"It would be easy for the Twins to get complacent, considering their current contract structure. Joe Mauer is under contract through 2010, Nathan 2011, and Morneau 2013.
Of their pending free agents, the Twins' biggest decision is whether to retain Nick Punto, and it sounds as if they will. They have only two players who are arbitration-eligible -- Jason Kubel and Matt Guerrier -- and neither will break the bank.
Meanwhile, the Twins have staged an absolute coup with their starting pitching.
At a time when former Twins pitchers Kyle Lohse ($41 million) and Carlos Silva ($48 million) are swimming in money, their current starting five could return for next season at less than $500,000 apiece."
This will be the last, or maybe second-to-last time I discuss the Twins until the end of the baseball postseason.
In other news, Jayson Stark is attempting to prove the old saw about a stopped clock being right twice a day. For the second year in a row, he's predicting The Chicago Cubs (the very definition of a stopped clock) to win the World Series. I'll predict that they won't win the NLDS, if they even make it to that game. I'll make the Phillies my NL representative in the World Series.
Jayson, as long as you keep picking the Cubs, I'm sure at some point in the next 80 years, you will be close to being right. (For those of you wondering: biggest problems for the Cubs--I'll give three--1. They are The Cubs. Generational Infamy counts for something. 2) Their Starting Pitching, when healthy, is good to great. It ain't healthy, and hasn't been in 5 years. 3) Alfonso Soriano is the most overrated leadoff man in the league, and for all the runs the Cubs offense produces, I don't really see a position in which they have a clear advantage over the Phils.