Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nikola Pekovic Will be A Timberwolves Fan Favorite

Pekovic is one of the newest Timberwolves, and his size, combined with a pretty intimidating look and quotes that sound like they were written by Ivan Drago ([on coming to the NBA]):  "This is the only time I want to come, some time when I am man and all this.")   His power around the basket, and his physical style of play got the Timberwolves scouts excited, but now that practices have started, and Pekovic is showing what he's got in scrimmages, his teammates are talking too.  The Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda has the relevant quotes.  You gotta love a player who kind of scares his own teammates.

"I'm making him my new best friend," Wolves guard Wayne Ellington said. To hear assistant general manager Tony Ronzone tell it, Pekovic's 6-10, 290-pound body is made as much from tungsten carbide as bone and flesh.
"I don't think nobody has the guts to challenge Pek to a fight, nobody," forward Michael Beasley said. "Pek is 300 pounds, he's 6-10 and he's from Serbia. I don't think nobody wants to challenge him."
"He wants to make friends with us before he knocks a few teeth out," teammate Kevin Love said. "We're just hoping it's the other team and not us."

If there's one thing--or rather, one of the several things--the Timberwolves have needed is a guy who will get grubby and nasty down in the paint.  Too often, and for too long, they've had big men who are actually too short to dominate in the paint, even though they were playing the 4 or 5.  Or they've had tall men whose game was really suited for banging under the basket.  If Pekovic is who folks seems to think he is, The Wolves will have a guy that fans will love, and other teams will absolutely hate.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

IDYFT NFL Pick'em: Week Four

Those big and little shoes have proven hard to fill. For every step forward there is a squishy step to the side. But enough about me.

After this week, the 2010 NFL regular season will be one quarter finished. It will be time for an analysis of certain teams as well as some aggressive grief therapy for others. You know, with snakes and stuff. Lowenstein ... Lowenstein ...

There were no schadenfreude bonuses from last week. This week, no one was able to predict that the Pats and Buffaloaf would rack up the most combined points.

1. MuMuMan: 10 pts (this week +2)
2. Ryan: 9 pts (this week +2)
3. Big BM: 8 pts (this week +1)
4. Jess: 7 pts (this week +1)
5. Greg A: 6 pts (this week +6)
Miwacar: 6 pts (this week +2)
6. Garwood: 4 pts
7. Adw: 2 pts
8. Barnyard: 1 pt (this week +1)
9. Josh: 0 pts

Week Four
1. Your Big Shoe-In? (+2/-4)

2. Your Little Shoe-In? (+1/-2)

3. Surprise! This week's underdog list: (+3)
Carolina, Jacksonville, Arizona

4. Your Favorite Team Wins/Most Disliked Team Loses? (+1)

5. Clash of The Titans (+/-2): Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Bonus Question
6. Which combined game score will be the lowest? +2

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We'll Miss You Max

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Hugging the Panda" reaches mainstream

I spied the photo in Yahoos MLB blog "Big League Stew". See, remember that chewing gum cut and packaged to resemble chewing tobacco and sold to minors called "Big League Chew"? It's totally a funny play on that! I digress, the photo:

It is elegantly photo shopped to have Javier Vazquez, who hit three consecutive batters, huggin, or perhaps ____ing the panda. Quite nice, BLS.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Wish I Wrote That: Fire Joe Morgan Destroys Mitch Albom

I rarely, if ever link to Deadspin, because my understanding is that if you are here at this site, you have already read everything Deadspin had to offer today.

But Ken Tremendous, formerly of Fire Joe Morgan (a fine site, almost 2 years in the grave now) simply crushes a horribly stupid piece written by that dirty midbrow slinger of pablum, Mitch Albom (who also writes about tax policy, which he doesn't understand at all).

I hate shitty writers who win awards, and Mitch Albom has been the King-shit of that Fuck Mountain for quite awhile.  So, please, if you enjoy lengthy angry discourses about craptacular articles about how fantasy baseball is ruining baseball, click here and enjoy.

Old School Thursday: 3rd Bass

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

King of Kong

If you haven't seen the documentary about competitive video gamers King of Kong do yourself a favor. It is absolutely brilliant. Explosively funny, bizarrely compelling and surprisingly moving.

I rewatched King of Kong tonight (instant Netflix you are my best friend). I loved it as much as the first time. This flick is seriously one of my all-time favorites. It centers on the bitter rivalry between Billy Mitchell, the King of the video games since the early 80's, and the against-all-odds upstart Steve Wiebe. You won't believe the intrigue ...

In a complete coincidence, I just learned that Steve Wiebe has reclaimed his Donkey Kong high score. Congratulations, Steve.

While this is certainly not sports related, I felt compelled to chime in. If it leads to some of you freaks watching this film, my work is done. Note: definitely watch the special features and check out controversial Missile Command champ Mr. Awesome. Fucking sui generis.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thanks for Nothing

Washington cut RB Larry Johnson after two games. He lasted longer than another previous All-Pro, Willie Parker. But that isn't saying much.

These signings didn't impress anyone, and for once we were all correct. Big BM, who predicted that Larry Johnson would be in Washington last November, should be relieved that this bad-attitude man is long gone.

Oh, except that I predicted that LJ would take over the starting position by mid-season. He probably could have though. Washington hasn't been able to run the football whatsoever. The new blocking scheme is clearly not in place and the results have been pitiful. With a 17 point lead, Washington was incapable of taking any time off the clock. Clinton is banged up.

The reason that Larry Johnson was cut is that, in the 4th quarter and desperate to grind out a few first downs and ice the victory, he went into the game. On 1st down they ran a zone left to the short side of the field. There was no seam and Larry ran to the sideline (bad) and then ran backwards (worse) and then tried to cut back across the field (vomit). Net result: a ten yard loss, followed shortly by a punt. Gross result: a loss in overtime to a good team.

Washington picked up a Buffaloaf castoff who contributes on special teams to be #3 and promoted RB Williams to be Clinton's backup. While Clinton is already getting dinged up, it really hardly matters who the running backs are. There are no holes to run through.

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 IDYFT NFL Pick'em: Week Three

Rock of ages ... the helmets keep flying off people's head, like an epidemic of Indian-giving. In case you're keeping score at home, that's racist versus whitey. Just because those whitefolks gave things to the Indians and then, y'know, took them back. Check your OED, bitches.

Or better yet, check out that hot weekend of football! My personal time was deadened by an OT loss to the Texans, but the season rolls on. Football concluded on a clutch game-winning field goal by your NFL defending champions the New Orleans Saints.

Regarding last week's Clash of the Titans, every single body picked the Ravens to beat the Bengals. The Bengals beat the Ravens at their own game. But they'll need to continue to do more to win the respect of this tough crowd.

Regarding the bonus question, I realize now that IR won't be determined by the time I finish this post. So any bonus points regarding the Schadenfreude Bonus will be awarded next week.

Standings & [bonus Q's]
1. MuMan: 8 pts (+4 this week) & [never, SF]
2. Ryan: 7 pts & [wk 8, Jets]
Big BM: 7 pts & [wk 9, Dallas]
3. Jess: 6 pts (+2 this week) & [never, Vikes]
4. Miwacar: 4 pts & (+4 this week) [never, Cinci]
Garwood: 4 pts & (+4 this week) [wk 16, DC]
5. Adw: 2 pts & (+2 this week) [never, Dallas]
6. Leftnut: 1 pt & (+1 this week) [wk 9, GB]
7. Barnyard: 0 pts & [wk 8, NE]
Greg A: 0 pts & [never, Seattle]
Josh: 0 pts & [wk 8, Chi]

Week Three
1. Your Big Shoe-In? (+2/-4)

2. Your Little Shoe-In? (+1/-2)

3. Surprise! This week's underdog list: (+3)
Detroit, Buffaloaf, Cleveland

4. Your Favorite Team Wins/Most Disliked Team Loses? (+1)

5. Clash of The Titans (+/-2): Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans

Bonus Question
6. Which combined game score will be the highest? +2

Friday, September 17, 2010

All That Implies...A Mini NFL Rant

I read ProFootballTalk a lot.  I check in daily.  I learned about Ryan Grant's season ending injury before just about everyone else in my office thanks to PFT.  It was the first place I read about Chris Cooley ripping Philly for trading McNabb.  As a guy in about half-a-dozen fantasy leagues, I rely upon it.

But, Jesus Christ, there are times, especially in the context of the continuing labor strife brewing under the surface, that they are ridiculous pains in the asses.

Most recently, among reports that the TV ratings for the NFL's opening weekend this past weekend is the best one they've had since the strike-shortened year in 1987, PFT lead writer Mike Florio wrote:

And perhaps the NFL and the NFLPA should take note of that fact.  It's taken 23 years since the last work stoppage to come close to the total Week One viewership enjoyed in the last Week One before football went away for a while.  So maybe the two sides should work toward preventing another work stoppage.

In another post, Florio writes about the possibility of a lockout by owners in this way:  "The mere fact that the possibility of taking our NFL football away is being used as leverage to help one side or the other get rich even faster should be enough to get us riled up.  If that possibility ever becomes reality, we all should be prepared to make our displeasure known.  Loudly."

If you've ever read "Dean" David Broder's political writing in the Washington Post, you may see a similarity here--a wise sage, this Mike Florio, who thinks that the problem with the two sides who have borderline intractable differences is that they don't understand that they should be working together.  "Holy shit," DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell presumably exclaim in unison.  "We never thought of that!"

Let's be clear here about who the bad actors are.  It is the owners who are trying to take money back from their players, even as the nature of their traumatic brain injuries become more and more clear.  It is the ownership of the Super Bowl hopefuls in San Diego that decided they'll punish the 7,000 folks who decided not to buy overpriced nosebleed seats for the home opener by making sure the game is blacked out in their local market.  Ask the Jet fans who find themselves assigned to nosebleed season tickets, after generations of great seats.  It's the "doctors" who decided to let Stewart Bradley back into the game after he came off the field like this (they stop boxing bouts after activity like that):

Did I mention that Florio said that the NFL had to "tweak" concussion procedures after that?  Tweak!

Florio gets worse when he attempts to delve into the politics of the labor issue.  The NFLPA, wisely by anyone who knows even a little about the power of labor solidarity, has enlisted other unions to their side.  Florio, because he understands politics so well, presumes that the NFLPA banding together with other unions is the equivalent of endorsing Nancy Pelosi:  "Even if the red/blue split among football fans is 50-50, the union's decision to openly recruit unions like the AFL-CIO and FOP could alienate half of the fan base.  And with the ever-swinging pendulum of voter discontent poised to push plenty of Republicans into Congress on November 2, the decision of the union to behave like a traditional union could end up being a huge mistake come 2011."

Get that?  Unions are exclusively the realm of liberals.  That's fucking hilarious!  Yes, the AFL-CIO has a tendency to vote Democratic, mainly because the Democrats don't actively campaign on fucking them over.  However, the idea that the fan base of the NFL would think less of the NFLPA for getting labor solidarity is comically stupid.  I'm guessing most Americans have a pretty good opinion of the Fraternal Order of Police, regardless of whether they voted Democrat or Republican in their last local election.

I wonder if Florio has spent time on a work site with say, the United Brothers of Carpenters--those crazy fucking liberals!  Why to hear them talk--it's far past time for DADT to be repealed, and why hasn't Obama gotten a 2-State Solution worked out in Palestine already!?  Union membership doesn't automatically equal "Blue" in our current political parlance, and anyone who doesn't get that really shouldn't be opining on labor issues at all.  Stick to injury reports and funny videos from training camp.

The idea that this is millionaires vs. billionaires is true, but not helpful.  What side should any sane person be on?  As Dave Zirin said, "You root for the player...because nobody ever paid $80 for a ticket to watch Jerry Jones run down the sideline."

Just cover the facts, ProFootballTalk.  You kind of suck at everything else.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Old School Thursday: Bell Biv DeVoe

I need a bodybag!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2010 IDYFT NFL Pick'em: Week Two

Skull-cracking good first week, no? There were genuine upsets, triumphs of substance over style, and evidence of bad-assitude.

There were also more empty helmets flying around the field than I've ever seen. I was watching the red zone channel for most of Sunday, and I saw helmets popping off in every game. I know it's more comfortable to only single-buckle the chin strap, but I saw a fully-snapped helmet tumble as well. What gives?

The NFL, concerned over concussions, has mandated new helmets. Are they the cause? The league had to have noticed that four players received concussions over the weekend. That's a lot, but may owe its numbers to a higher awareness of concussions, rather than more concussions actually taking place. Only a year ago, some of those injuries wouldn't have been treated as such.

1. Big BM: 7 points (bonus: Ravens/GB & Colts win)
Ryan: 7 points (bonus: Indy/GB & GB wins)
2. MMMan: 4 points (bonus: SD/GB & Saints win)
Jess: 4 points (bonus: Ravens/Dallas & GB wins)
3. Adw: 0 points (bonus: Jets/Saints & Jets win)
Miwacar: 0 points (bonus: Ravens/Vikes & Vikes win)
Barnyard: 0 points (bonus: Ravens/GB & GB wins)
Garwood: 0 points (bonus: Colts/Giants & Vikes win)
Leftnut: 0 points (bonus: Ravens/Saints & Houston wins)

Remember, this was only the opening drive of the game. This pick'em remains open to all readers of this site, and the winner will receive a valuable literary prize. Note that Leftnut, who picks Houston with his long bomb, nailed this question last year and came in only one point out of first place for the playoff pick'em. Keep an eye on that, true believers.

Week Two
1. Your Big Shoe-In? (+2/-4)

2. Your Little Shoe-In? (+1/-2)

3. Surprise! This week's underdog list: (+3)
Buffaloaf, Jacksonville, Chicago

4. Your Favorite Team Wins/Most Disliked Team Loses? (+1)

5. Clash of The Titans (+/-2): Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Bonus Questions

6. In which week will Brett Favre finally miss a regular season start? "Never misses" is an acceptable answer. +5

7. Schadenfreude Bonus: pick an NFL team which will suffer an injury that puts a player on IR this week. Watch out for the karma, bitches! +3

IDYFT CUP Bonus Coverage

The consistent love & hate on this site is centered in the NFC North and the Washington football team. The IDYFT cup will be awarded to the team with the best head-to-head record. If you'd like your team included in this contest, check the schedule to make sure they play at least two of these teams and I'll include them. Green Bay won this, last time out.

1. Chicago Bears = +1

2. Green Bay, Vikes, Washington = 0

3. Detroit = -1 (and what a screwjob that was!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stealing Beauty

While Washington's offense only put up meager points against a good, fast Dallas D, they found occasional rhythm. McNabb showed escapability and a connection with Moss and Cooley. Forcing the ball to Armstrong didn't impress. Overall the line played well, but weren't able to blast any holes in the running game. Rookie OT Williams had his hands full but turned in a solid game. Portis continues to pick up the blitz very well. The offense is clearly still in development.

Special Teams had ups and one down. Blowing a snap on that field goal could have been disastrous. Coverage was good. Devin Thomas showed a great burst straight up the field on kick returns; I like his chances to take one all the way.

Defense won the game. Player of the Game CB DeAngelo Hall was strong in coverage, solid in run support and turned in the game winning forced fumble-fumble recovery-return TD trifecta with no time left in the half. It was an outstanding effort. The defense made Dallas work hard for every yard. Although they had some blown coverages -- get Reed Doughty out of there! -- and were torched by Miles Austin, the defense made the play that mattered most and frustrated Dallas all game long.

Special recognition has to go to the fine job Dallas did of committing penalties all game long. Any time they had a nice play, they bonered themselves with a hold. They also bailed out Washington's offense on a number of occasions. Classy detail: Dallas finally got rid of the second-most penalized player in the NFL and picked up the most penalized player in the NFL, RT Alex Barron. The last play of the game was yet another clothesline hold by Barron on LB Orakpo. A fitting end to a sweet game.

The Shanahan era is off to a good start, no doubt here. Every phase of this team is still developing. But I like blasting open the Superbowl pretenders on opening night. Hail to DC Skins!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bonus Vikings-Saints Coverage

Big Blue Monkey offered his analysis [keep scrolling down], which was mainly the confirmation of his predictions about the game. But I am here, friends, to offer some therapy to both winner and loser.

The main thing to remember is that it was the first game of the season.

Rhythm of the Saints
The Saints rhythm was very impressive in their opening drives of the first and third quarter. But once they got out of their scripted openings, the offense was stumpy until they remembered that they have a rushing attack. When things went wrong, they were close but not quite. When things went right, the Saints looked sharp. This is likely to be their lowest output of the season.

Bringing Favre Along Slowly
As I expected, the Vikings didn't expose Favre to many hits. Until the impressive half-ending drive (beating the blitz down the seam), the only passes were screens in expectation of blitzes. This was modestly effective, as was the run game.

But as Big BM pointed out, the Vikings felt the pressure to spazz out with passes even though they were only down 8 points. Favre has a ways to go before he looks good in this offense again. He was tired in the fourth quarter, going 4 for 8 and 48 yards. Not practicing will do that to a player. Peterson was running fairly well, yet had zero rushes in the fourth quarter.

Tit for Tat
The Saints kicker "Pat" Garrett Hartley missed two field goals. Last year he had some problems, but a fine post-season. He better get himself straight in a hurry.

Do you credit the Saints rush or blame the Vikings line for the extra-point block? I firmly believe that an extra point should never, never be blocked. That is some weak sauce, Vikings. Your punter looked good but you must take care of the details.

For the Saints, Gregg Williams's defense blitzed a lot for modest results. But blitzing against the Vike's hurry-up allowed a TD. All the blitzing forced LBs into coverage, and Favre-to-Shiancoe did some damage. The Saints will play teams that aren't this depleted and rusty. They need to calm down before they blitz the game away.

Vikings fans must be starting to get frustrated with Childress. The Vikings committed terrible penalties on offense at the worst possible times, repeatedly killing momentum. That's bad coaching.

In the second half, Childress made a stupid, emotional challenge that lost a timeout. He made the situation worse by punting from the Saints' 44 yard line with 5:30 in the game.

I know that it was 4th and long, I know that your punter was placing the ball very well. But you're losing and punting to the defending champions. Did you really think you'd get the ball back? Punting only moved the ball 32 yards. That's a give-up play, and the Vikes heeded their coach's message.

The Saints pounded the ball right at the highly-vaunted Vikings' front seven. The Vikings never touched the ball again. I've seen Childress do this time and time again, including the NFC Championship. I am not impressed.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Old School Thursday: Heavy D & the Boyz

"Ladies and Gentlemen, direct from my sister's house..."

Well, Hey, the Football Season Started

If you listen carefully, you can hear all the people who took the Saints to cover a 5 point spread quietly wishing for Garrett Hartley a painful death.  His two missed field goals made this game seem much closer than the final score suggests, and made what should have been an easy cover into a push.  On a positive note, most of my predictions bore fruit.

Here's what I think people (and Skip Bayliss) will be talking about tomorrow.

1.  Favre out of sync with his receivers.  After a decent, if somewhat Matt Leinartian first half, Favre and his receivers completely lost the plot in the second half.  He finished with numbers that wouldn't impress the Arizona Cardinals--a completion percentage barely over 50%, less than 175 yards, one TD, and one old-school Favre INT (and several balls that were just horribly thrown).  On one incompletion, Cris Collinsworth said, "Favre just doesn't know what Harvin is going to do out there, and that's on Harvin."  Ummmm...No, one of those guys missed training camp because of a death in the family and migraines so painful that he collapsed onto the practice field in a pool of his vomit.  The other guy delayed needed ankle surgery, dicked around with the team, and showed up in time to barely play at all in the pre-season.  If WR-QB communications are an issue for the Vikings, that problem rests squarely on Favre's shoulders.

2.  The "surprisingly stout" New Orleans defense.  I'm not sure I'll buy into this one yet, at least in part for the reason above (and talking point #3 below (TEASER!)).  But they held a theoretically great offense to just nine points.  I think the Vikings problems on offense will become more revealed, as they play some defenses that I think are much tougher to crack than the Saints'.  But this will be a talking point, until someone else comes along and hangs 35 on the Saints (probably whilst losing 35-38).

3.  The running game in the 4th quarter.  The Saint barely ran the ball in the first half, but came back in the second half and ran it a respectable amount, and put the game away using the running game to set up some pretty easy play-action passes to run clock.  Pierre Thomas had, I think, one rush in the first half; he finished with 19 carries and 71 yards, and I don't think there's much doubt that if the Saints had 4 more minutes of clock to run off, they could have.  Meanwhile, early in the 4th quarter, with the difference in the game all of 5 points, it felt as if Minnesota completely abandoned the running game.

I'm pretty sure, looking at the stats on the drives of the 4th quarter, that Adrian Peterson didn't get the ball handed to him once in the fourth quarter.  That's crazy.  And Stupid.  Crazy/Stupid, if you will.  The whole idea of Adrian Peterson is that he wears out defenses, and he was doing so against the Saints (19 carries, for 87 yds, an average just north of 4.5 yd/carry).  The Vikings handed him the ball to end the 3rd quarter, and never gave him the ball again.  (Unless you count a pass that lost 3 yards.  I wouldn't count that).  With 10 minutes left to play, after the Vikings had dodged a bullet that would have put the Saints up 8, they needed a good drive to win the game, and they never handed the ball off to Peterson.  Imagine that!  If that's not a major talking point tomorrow morning, the talking heads aren't doing their job.  Equally amazing--Cris Collinsworth seemed more concerned about where Greg Camarillo was than where Peterson was.

4.  The lack of disruption from Jared Allen.  Annoyingly, this will almost certainly become a light-hearted jab at how his mullet held his power, and how he needs to grow it out, etc.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Let's Talk the First NFL Game of the Season

First off, for degenerate gamblers, we posit this:  Vegas' 5 point spread is a gift.  Take it and run.  On which team?  Ha!  We've baited you, and now you have to stick around and find out what we think!

Let me get my biases out there right now.  I hate the fucking Vikings.  As Vikings fans may read this blog, and may ask themselves "Why would anyone hate the Vikings?", my answer is "Because of you, Vikings fans."  I don't have a lot of love in my heart for the Saints, either.  But I'd be lying to you and to myself if I pretended that the Vikings don't occupy a special part in my personal Hall of Hatred.

So that said, let me tell you why I think the Saints will easily beat the 5 point spread that Vegas has given the Vikings.

1. The Saints didn't lose at home until Week 15 last year (when they were 13-0) and had already clinched everything they needed to clinch.  Meanwhile, the Vikings lost four games on the road--to the Steelers, Cardinals, Panthers, and the Bears.  The best team they beat on the road was the Packers.  That's the only playoff team they beat on the road.  (Though they did beat both Detroit and Cleveland and St. Louis--all of them on the road! to start the year).  Home Field means a lot in this match-up, especially given the way the last game these two played.

2.  Favre's lack of snaps.  Favre has played even less this pre-season than he did last year.  He's been hit pretty hard in his few appearances this season.  Will the Saints blitz him?  Yes they will.  Will they get punished the way they were last year, when Favre put up a ton of yardage through 3 1/2 quarters?  Probably not.  Expecting Favre to be as sharp as he was in the NFC Championship is asking an awful lot, seeing as he's barely played.  And is another year older.  And a grandpa.  And coming off of ankle surgery, yet again.

3.  The Viking's lack of secondary.  The Vikings can play well against a ton of teams with their 3 healthy corners, with the best of them being Antione Winfield--who hasn't covered all that well for the past couple of years (but he tackles well!).  There are a lot of teams against which the Vikings could rely upon their Front Seven, and make sure their secondary doesn't get exposed too much.  They do, without a doubt, have one of the best Front Sevens in the NFL.  Not enough here, though.  The Saints regularly trot out 4-5 receivers, and that's before you count great pass catching RB's like Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush.  Expect a flip of the yardage from last year's NFC Championship in this game.  The Saints have too many weapons for the Vikings defense to cover, and I don't think blitzing will fix that gap of talent. And just to be clear--the Vikings have one of the worst secondaries of supposed Super Bowl contenders out there.

4.  Vikings lack of receivers.  A lot of commentators (Skip Bayliss, for example) argue that Sidney Rice didn't help Brett Favre; Brett Favre made Sidney Rice.  That's retarded.  Sidney Rice suffered for two years with Tavaris Jackson as his QB.  Put Sidney Rice on a team with a real QB, and he'll shine; it didn't, and doesn't need to be Brett Favre.  The idea that Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo can step in and fill Sidney Rice's shoes is incredibly stupid, and is a symptom of the league's observers giving too much weight to the QB.  Nothing fills in for a big, tall, fast receiver with good hands, especially short, slow guys with great hands (Camarillo) and short, fast guys with questionable hands (Berrian).  The Vikings will miss Sidney Rice,end of story.  My guess is that the Saints will feel pretty good locking those guys up one on one, and spy very carefully on Percy Harvin, who is the one dangerous element left in the Vikings passing game.

5.  Running Game questions.  A lot of commentators expect the Vikings to return to the power rushing game of Adrian Peterson, and relieve Brett Favre of the work he had to put in last year.  But the Saints (I'm betting) will feature blitzes that either force Peterson to bounce outside before he wants to or force Peterson to pick up pass protection, which is one of the few things that Peterson doesn't do particularly well.

6.  Coaching.  Sean Payton > Brad Childress, yeah?

Saints by 5 in New Orleans?  I'd take the Saints to cover if the spread were twice that.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sorry, Bert Blyleven, You Can't Be Vice President

During the Twins game against the Royals, currently still going on as I write, a fan sign declared their wish for Bert Blyleven to be President.  Blyleven admitted that he could not be President, because he was born in Holland.  But then he said that he could be Vice-President.

Sorry, Bert.  The same standard applies to the Vice President.  It's right in the 12th Amendment:  "But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States."

Seeing as Bert was going to make a Flat-Tax part of his platform, it's probably for the best that he's not eligible.

Les Carpenter Realizes He Hasn't Written About Tim Tebow in a Month

Back in April, I had a great time with the totally over-the-top reaction Yahoo Sports scribe Les Carpenter to the Hunk of Burning Awesomeness that is Tim Tebow.  Or as Les put it, "A man whose life is filled with stories of a goodness so rare and pure in an athlete it is hard to imagine that he could be for real."   That's a real quote, ladies and gents.  

In August, in dedicating an entire column to what ended up being a very minor injury, Carpenter wrote, "There is something hypnotic about Tim Tebow that makes otherwise sensible football people grow weak.  He stands poised, shaking hands with palms that could break granite. He smiles, never using first names. It’s always “Mister” and “Ma’am.” It makes them want to believe."

It seemed at that point that one of those sensible football people could well indeed include the author himself.

It continued today, with an article entitled, "Tebow Draws Fans Like No Other In NFL".   I can't think of the last time a non-starting quarterback who has never taken a snap in a real NFL game had this much ink spilled over him, and it is ridiculous.   Carpenter is hardly the only offender, but he's producing some of the most effusive material; to the point where it almost seems like very subtle satire.

And the fans he interviews--well, I've been sitting here reading it again and again, and I don't know whether Carpenter is picking up people specifically for my derision and/or pity, or whether he really finds these stories redeeming in some way.

There's the woman who apparently sums up the rest of the NFL as full of "gunfights and murders and dogfights."  Hey lady, Kyle Orton is the starting QB, and he's never done any of that shit.  He's been known to drink some booze, but so was Jesus!

There's the guy who apparently met some folks from Colorado while hiking, and decided that was a sign from God to fly to Denver and get a job working at Tim Tebow's foundation.  He doesn't have the job yet, but somehow this is held up as not completely insane behavior.  But it totally is.  

My favorite quote is about the big tent of fandom that Tebow is creating:  "But Tebow’s fan base goes beyond those who share his faith. “I’m Catholic and he’s Christian. We couldn’t be farther apart,” said Don Tehan of Denver."  

Couldn't be further apart?  I can come up with a few hundred million Hindus who might disagree with that sentiment.  And again, the quote is just offered up as if it is obviously true and not at all strange.  I honestly can't tell whether Les Carpenter agrees with me that these stories are ridiculous, and he's just passing them on with a straight face, or whether he believes as this woeful collection of folks seem to--that there's something just that special about Tim Tebow.  As far as I can tell, he's the Sarah Palin of the NFL.  Les Carpenter might think that is a compliment, but I'll be clear--I don't mean it as such. 

Dr. Badcock's Meltdown Fudgefest Prediction

No team is headed for a bigger disaster than the Seattle Seahawks. While they've certainly been one of the worst teams in the league these last few seasons, this is one fudgefest that's about to get a whole lot meltier.

It all starts with Coach Pete Carroll, a cheater and liar who brings his boyish lack of honor to a professional team which has been abandoned more times than a cross-eyed orphan. Coach Carroll, back for a third attempt at pro coaching, jumped from USC a moment before the subpoenas came raining down.

Seattle's offseason has been a miserable slog of meaningless roster splatters. But this team is about to implode like an infinitely dense fudgefest.

On the eve of the regular season, they've given away their #1 WR, their starting FB, a starting CB while demoting their starting RB in favor of a vegan bean wrap. They also added six brand new players, castoffs all. Hope they can learn the playbook by Sunday.

Their first-round draft pick (don't worry, plenty more coming) LT Russell Okung is out with a bad ankle and his third-string replacement has been with the team less than two weeks. No one is more relieved to get away from Seattle than recently-released QB J.P. Loserman.

Most damning perhaps was the sudden retirement of offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who jumped off this doomed vessel without coaching a single game. This is known as prescience.

Pete Carroll is blithely glib about this massive turnover during Kickoff Weekend:
"This doesn't have anything to do with the game plan though, as far as I'm concerned. We've been working on this game plan for months. We're all over it, so it doesn't affect it."

Sounds like some versatile, nimble coaching. Pete Carroll has a poor character. Combine that with a cast of boners and you've got the 2010 Meltdown Fudgefest of the year.

Watch it burn from a safe distance.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

2010 IDYFT NFL Pick'em: Week One

On Thursday, the 2010 NFL season kicks off. Despite what the pundits propound, nobody knows what's going to happen. Or do you?

Every week, ALL READERS of this site are encouraged to select their picks. The winner at the conclusion of the regular season will receive a Fabulous Literary Prize: an autographed copy of my novel To The Last Drop (or, if you already have my book, I'll send you a few fresh chapters from my new novel-in-progress, The Object: a love story).

Last year Miwacar won the regular season and Jess won the playoffs. One of these years, it would be nice if I could win. Just saying.

These will be the categories every week, with an occasional bonus question:

The Big Shoe-In
Pick one team that will definitely win. Lace it up for +2 points or step in elephant poo for -4 points.

The Little Shoe-In
Pick one team that will probably win. It's worth +1 point, or -2 if you step in #2.

Pick the longshot underdog of the week, drawing from a weekly Underdog List. Surprise the world for +3 points.

I Dislike Your Favorite Team
Each week you may either pick your favorite team to win or you may pick your most disliked team to lose. Your favorite and least favorite can't change during the season.

Exempli gratia, my favorite team will always be the DC Skins, while the Dallas Cowpucky will always be my most disliked team. This scores +1 point.

The Original Clash of the Titans
Get back to basics. A different featured Game Of The Week, every week, for seventeen weeks for +/- 2 points.

Week One
1. Your Big Shoe-In? (+2/-4)

2. Your Little Shoe-In? (+1/-2)

3. Surprise! This week's underdog list: (+3)
Seattle, Rams, Kansas Shitty, Oakland

4. Your Favorite Team Wins/Most Disliked Team Loses? (+1)

5. Clash of The Titans (+/-2): Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

6. Bonus Clash of The Titans (+/-1): Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets

Bonus Questions:

7. At the end of the regular season, who will be the #1 seeds in the AFC & NFC? (+7 each)

8. The Long Bomb: your Superbowl winner? (+17 points in playoff round)


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Minnesota Vikings Really Believe in Favre and Tavaris

Is there any other way to read the trade of Sage Rosenfels?  
I can not pretend to be a big Sage Rosenfels fan.  Like many folks, my most vivid Sage Rosenfels memory is when he led the
Houston Texans from sure victory to a ridiculous loss against the Colts. But I remember him in Miami; I remember him in DC.  At no point does Sage Rosenfels fill you with confidence; at no point in your 16 game quest to the playoffs do you, as a NFL GM say, "God Damn It!  If only we had Sage Rosenfels!"

But he's put up some solid numbers.  And he's definitely out-performed every QB wearing Purple in 2010, including Favre (who the Vikings have been so careful with, you start to wonder just how healthy he is).  

Conventional wisdom says that you don't keep Four Quarterbacks.  Is it crazy to suggest that the conventional wisdom doesn't take into account that you're banking your post-season run on a 41 year old QB?  If any team should have four quarterbacks, it should be the Minnesota Vikings.  But the Vikings say three is enough.

One is the aforementioned 41 year old grandpa Brett Favre; one is Tavaris Jackson, who, if he were cut by the Vikings, probably would not get picked up by any other NFL team (a bad sign, in my mind) and rookie Joe Webb.  There's no room for Sage Rosenfels on that roster?

Apparently, the Vikings think that a 5th Round Pick in 2011 is more valuable than a competent veteran QB. There's no way that will bite them in the ass this year.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dave Zirin Spitting Truth on MSNBC

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Old School Thursday: Poor Righteous Teachers

Danny Valencia, Almost a Rookie of The Year Candidate

After last night's heroics, and the fact that he's hitting .432 at Target Field, you'll be forgiven for starting to ponder whether Twins 3rd Baseman Danny Valencia has a shot at the AL Rookie of the Year.

The totally awesome broadcasting crew of Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven discussed that briefly during tonight's game.  And the feeling is that he just won't get enough games to catch up with the more established rookies who have been in the majors for a longer stretch this season.  For example, Detroit Tiger Austin Jackson has appeared in twice as many games and has almost 300 more at-bats this season.  Jackson's also hitting over .300 on a floundering team.  And playing occasional spectacular defense as well.

It may be typical at this point for fans to lament the slow steady way in which the Twins bring up prospects, especially with the glaring hole in the offense that was the platoon of Nick Punto and Brendan Harris that played third base through the first half of the year.

But the Twins weren't just being cautious--Valencia's numbers in Triple-A didn't justify bringing him up.  Consider:  he has eight more doubles (23) in the major leagues than he did in Triple-A this year (he has had an extra 30 at-bats to get there)  It took a boatload of injuries to bring Danny Valencia from interesting prospect to a guy just outside the running of Rookie of the Year.  It's hard to fault the Twin's caution, but all Twin's fans can be glad that their hand was forced.

Michael Silver is Ranking NFL Owners

And the best part is going to be the beginning.  Obviously, we can all hear about how great the Top 5 owners are, and we will, later on in the series.  But the real fun is the bottom half of this shitty barrel of slimy owners, and Silver has great fun putting together the list.

You won't be surprised by Al Davis at #32--at least I'm assuming you aren't surprised.  You've heard of the NFL, right?  But Bud Adams somehow gets all the way up to #24,  Dan Snyder is not in the bottom half at all,  which means there are more bad owners out there than I realized.

Silver tends to focus his critique from a how well-run and organized a franchise is perspective, but even with that caveat, a lot of the quick descriptions Silver whips up shows what the NFLPA is up against in trying to get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement done--a bunch of old, rich, "eccentric" cheapskates whose default expectation is to get things their way.  And seem to be some owners who do not care about their team, or care just enough to get involved, but not enough to actually learn anything from their mistakes.  Fun.

Regardless--enjoyable, insightful looks at owners who you probably don't know much about here.  Enjoy.
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