Friday, September 29, 2006

Objective: Selling Out to National Media Mob

I just read in Simmons' post on Page 2 (I'll admit I still like his Friday posts, although he's definitely jumped the stingray by allowing his wife to be his co-columnist) that his editor, Kevin Jackson, has adopted my SuperBowl curse reversal theory with the Seahawks and Steelers. In the event that KJ is one of my 20 loyal readers, I'd like to say welcome- and when Simmons finally gets his wish and stops writing his column, I'll be more than happy to join the Page 2 family. Unfortunately, I've never seen an episode of The O.C. or White Shadow, but somehow I've still been able to write the occasional article despite that handicap. What I can offer, however, is a degenerate gambling addiction that goes well beyond whining about someone taking the dealer's bust card or a hold 'em player beating me on the river; and a photo catalog of cheerleaders and random college chicks that would put Greg Easterbrook to shame.

Think about it.

On the Lam...I Mean, Road.

I'm heading out for the weekend and I'm uncertain if I'll be able to post or not. Before I take off, here are some quick picks to make you rich (by betting the opposite, of course). You'll note that I am once again foolishly overestimating road teams. One day I'll learn. Unfortunately, by the time that day comes, I'll probably be on the corner begging for change for some Popov vodka and a parlay card.


Virginia -5 at Duke. This game will test just how much devastation Al Groh has wrought on the Virginia football program.

Boise St +4.5
at Utah. Broncos should wear blue tinted visors so they'll feel like they're playing at home.

Georgia Tech +10 at Virginia Tech. Hokies' secondary is vulnerable, which is not a desirable attribute when Calvin Johnson is in town. (Holy crap, I'm betting on Al Groh and Chan Gailey in the same week. This could get ugly.)

Oregon +1.5 at Arizona St. Sun Devils haven't looked like a cohesive team ever since they sent Sam Keller packing.


Cleveland -2.5 at Oakland. The Browns haven't won, but they have at least been scoring points. Raiders can't say the same.

St. Louis -5 vs Detroit. Roy Williams doesn't understand why the Lions aren't favored by 14 in this game.

San Francisco +7 at KC. Frank Gore owes me after that bankroll killing fumble last week. This looks like a low scoring game to me. I'll take the points.

Good luck to you with your picks. At this point, my goal is just to finish the weekend without any broken/severed digits.

YTD: 17-23-1

Thursday, September 28, 2006

God Has Got His Popcorn Ready

I've always been amused whenever an athlete thanks God for a victory at the end of a game. I know it's supposed to be an act of humility and reverence to direct praise to the Creator, but it's always struck me as obscenely arrogant. It's as if the athlete believes he is really so important and special that God is willing to take time out from directing rain to the deserts of Africa in order to make sure that Ray Lewis has the strength to render a ball-jarring hit. But after reviewing the past few days of sports, I may have to reconsider my position. Maybe God really does care about who wins the Super Bowl and the World Series. Witness these recent acts of Divine Benevolence:

Sunday: Tired of watching Mark Brunell, a devoted member of his flock, struggle at the end of his career, God, in his infinite wisdom appoints the Texans (who He earlier in the year convinced to draft Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush) to be the Redskins' opponent. He then guides Brunell's left arm to 22 straight completions, giving him one last moment of glory during a year in which his team will be plagued to finish last as punishment for their association with Tom Cruise.

Monday night: The re-opening of the Superdome in New Orleans. As a way of saying, "my bad for that whole hurricane thing (he only meant to drown the gays)," God parts the Atlanta offensive line to create a blocked punt which gives the Saints an early lead and all the momentum to carry the team to victory. Note that this is a dual apology from the Almighty, as he also owed Drew Brees a solid on account of tearing the quarterback's labrum last December as part of His grand plan.

Tuesday: Because God was so busy helping Brunell out on Sunday, there were no footprints in the turf alongside devout Christian Kurt Warner when he faced the Rams. As a result of being left to his own abilities, Warner threw 3 interceptions and lost a fumble, single-handedly losing the game for the Cardinals. His performance was so bad that the following day, head coach Dennis Green was reportedly going to bench Warner in favor of the Paris Hilton-dating, bastard-raising rookie, Matt Leinart. Furious that such a morally bereft sinner such as Leinart would be the face of the team, God appeared to Denny Green in a dream in which he guided the coach to recant on his decision. The next morning, it was announced that Kurt Warner would still be the team's leader on the battlefield.

Tuesday/Wednesday: Earlier in the week, Shaun Alexander learned that he had a fracture of his foot. He then did what any athlete would do to rehabilitate himself- he orchestrated a nationwide prayer group to ask God to heal his foot. By Wednesday, Alexander was already feeling frisky and felt ready to play- all thanks to the power of prayer. Unfortunately, when doctors performed another CT scan, the film revealed that Alexander still had a small crack in the bone in his left foot, along with a note that said, "Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet." So while it isn't in God's plan for Alexander to face the Bears, he should be on the field by the time Seattle plays Satan's team, the Oakland Raiders.

Tuesday/Wednesday: God-knows-what happened to Terrell Owens in his home with his publicist, his pastor, and his vials of supplements and painkillers. What we do know is that when Owens had his press conference hours after spending the night in the emergency room, his first words were to thank God for still being here on earth. God, whose only previous evidence of his love for T.O. was blessing him with Jesus-abs, obviously saved T.O.'s life because he has great things in store for him. My guess is that T.O.'s calling is to sacrifice himself for the salvation of others and drive Bill Parcells out of the league. NFL without the tuna? Maybe God's interest in football is a good thing afterall.

(It turns out that God's got the MLB Extra Innings package to go along with Sunday Ticket. Today when the Astros' Luke Scott drove in the tying run with two outs in the 9th, he was seen pointing to the sky and saying, "Thank you Jesus." Strange team for Jesus to help out. Doesn't he know that the Astros have Roger Clemens?)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Nightcap

Tonight's Nightcap is brought to you BJ's Jeremiah Red Ale. After sampling a few this evening, I'd agree with the readers at Beer Advocate. It's a medium bodied ale with a sweet, malty flavor and hints of burnt caramel, dried apricots and.....oh, who am I kidding? If you drink enough of it, you'll catch a nice buzz. Works for me.

(Note: the Terrell Owens jokes have been removed from this post because the story just turned out to be little more serious than previously thought.)

Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was arrested Tuesday on drug-related charges according to ESPN. According to the sources, Kiel was charged with possession, possession for sale, and transportation of a controlled substance. But hold out hope, Chargers fans- this report comes from Chris Mortensen, the first and only journalist to break the story of Kurt Warner's benching, and we know how that turned out. So rather than being arrested by the police for drug charges, it's possible that Kiel was actually just seen talking to a mall security guard while buying vitamins at GNC...

The Astros are making a historic run (7 straight wins) at the NL Central which is coinciding with the Cardinals historic collapse (7 straight losses). Houston still has a game and a half to make up in the standings, but all of the momentum is obviously on their side. If the Astros do actually make the playoffs, it will mark the greatest deficit a team has ever rallied from within the last two weeks of the season. It also will mean a few more weeks of tributes to Roger Clemens in what may or may not be his last appearances in baseball. Because if ESPN knows their viewers, they know that we just can't get enough wall to wall coverage of the Rocket!

There is, however, a chance that one more story could develop if the Astros make it into the playoffs. That story would be Craig Biggio's Jerome Bettis-like run for the Hall of Fame. Like Bettis, Biggio has had a long, steady-but-unspectacular career in which he's accumulated nice stats, but thus far has no rings to show for them. Also like Bettis, Biggio is considered by those that follow him to be an all-around good guy and a rather entertaining player to interview. If somehow the Astros were to make it all the way to the World Series, the odds-on favorite to be their opponent is the New York Yankees. And check this out: Craig Biggio is from New York! A veteran player vying for a world championship in his home state. Has this ever happened before?!?! Now all Biggio needs to do in order to complete the Bettis Pathway to Success is to put on 100 pounds and make a crucial error in the top of the 9th inning of the NLDS only to be bailed out by his teammates (or maybe a Billy Wagner wild pitch?) and the Hall of Fame will be his for the taking!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Committment to Slightly Above Averageness

After unceremoniously rejecting an offer from Pink Taco for the naming rights to their new stadium, the Arizona Cardinals have reached a 20 year agreement with the University of Phoenix, the nations largest university franchise (over 200,000 served!). Brian Mueller, president of the UoP's parent company said it is all part of a new branding campaign that will "lend more credibility to the students who earn degrees from here." Yes, because when I think of companies that buy the rights to stadiums- Enron, Adelphia- credibility and integrity are the first things that come to my mind.

Personally, I think buying stadium rights makes the University of Phoenix less like Princeton and more like Papa John's. Nevertheless, it is a very appropriate name for the stadium that houses the Arizona Cardinals. After listening to all suitors, they found the one organization that embodies everything the Cards stand for- mediocrity, false hope, and empty promises. Much like a student goes to the University of Phoenix thinking one day they'll be a veterinarian only to find themselves three years later working as a groomer at PetSmart, the Arizona Cardinals are annually everyone's team to watch out for in the preseason and then within 3 games their QB has fumbled 8 times and the team opts to let a rookie lead them. It's a match made in heaven.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back to the Bayou

I hope I'm the first of the 125,000 people who will make these jokes.

"Atlanta calls tails. It is tails. George H. Bush does not care about the New Orleans Saints!"

In lieu of a bodyguard, G.H. Bush just asked that Ed Hochuli be the head official for the coin toss.

In all seriousness, I think they were pumping in canned cheering for Bush the father over the PA system. The cheering noises I heard were less convincing than the laughter on a 70s sitcom.

To think that a little over a year ago, this field was covered by homeless refugees, and today it's filled with dozens of millionaires. What a country!

Remembering the uproar a year ago when it was discovered that there was no food or water in the Superdome, stadium officials have made certain that everyone in the building can get a hot dog, fries, and a beer...all for less than 20 dollars!

Crossing the line from playful cynic to genuine asshole, looking at the New Orleans fans in the's hard to believe that anyone here was ever starving.

I bet against a home dog on Monday Night Football coming off of a 17 game road swing after a natural disaster. Man, I'm an idiot. But you already knew that.

A personal pet-peeve. A hand-off to a wide receiver is known as an end around. If the ball is then handed to an offensive player going in the opposite direction, that is a reverse. It must be handed once more to someone going in the direction of the original play to be a double reverse. Please forward this message to Tony Kornheiser and Stuart Scott.

As was pointed out by Zach from The Big Picture, Spike Lee was disappointingly soft and politically correct in his visit to the ABC booth. He was right about one thing- it's amazing how much concern we have for international issues all while neglecting our own American citizens. But I was hoping Spike would step a lil more and be the man, instead of just a struggling black man trying to keep his d*ck hard in a cruel and harsh world.

You aren't going to believe this, but Chris Berman started the halftime show by quoting lyrics from a 70's song.

They decided to provide aerial coverage for the game, even tho all of the players are running around inside of a dome. Aerial coverage of New Orleans was provided by a blimp. Goodyear? No, the worst.

Wrap It Up

Tying up some loose ends from Sunday's action...

What was with that shouting match between Joey Porter and Chad Johnson before the Bengals/Steelers game? There was a definite orchestrated, WWE vibe going on there. All that was missing was for Vince McMahon to announce that in place of football, the game would be decided by a no holds barred, steel cage match with special guest referee Ricky Williams. I just don't think anyone was buying that tete-a-tete was legit. What do they think we are...Fatheads?

The Houston Texans need to change their nickname. I don't think all Texans want to be identified with a team that makes horrible, dim-witted decisions and has very little reason for hope. More fitting would be the Houston Samaritans. Any time a team is having troubles, all they need to do is play Houston, and they'll be made well. Heck, the Samaritans might even be so generous, they'll allow an aging quarterback to set an all-time passing record!...

The Philadelphia Eagles have been involved in back-to-back games where the inability of a team to effectively run the ball had devastating consequences. Last week against the Giants, the Eagles were unable to run out the clock and protect their 17 point lead. The game ended up going into overtime, during which they lost Jevon Kearse for the season. Yesterday it was the Eagles' opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, who were affected by troubles in the running game. In the 3rd quarter, the Niners had 1st and goal at the Eagles one yard line. First play- handoff to Gore for no gain. 2nd down- hand off to Gore for no gain. Then on 3rd down, they stubbornly handed the ball to Gore again, where he was once again stoned and made matters worse by coughing up the ball. The Eagles Mike Patterson picked up the ball, stood up from the pile, and ran 98 yards for the touchdown. On the play, Gore strained his abdominal muscles and Vernon Davis' fibula went "crick-crack" and now he's out for four weeks. That was a very painful goal line stand for the Niners.

Davis was injured while trying to chase down Patterson on his fumble return. But it's questionable if Patterson should have been allowed to return the ball at all. The fumble occurred in a pileup on the goal line and when Patterson grabbed the ball, it appeared to everyone (other than the officials) that Patterson was down by contact and the play was over. The Niners challenged the return, and replays seemed to confirm that Patterson did have a knee on the ground and was in contact with opposing players when he grabbed the ball. However, for some reason, the replay booth refused to overturn the play. My only guess is that to save money, the league is using Pac-10 officials in the replay booth...

Once again, I must beg for NBC to end the Andrea Kramer experiment on the sidelines. It would be one thing if her years (and years and years) of experience gave Kramer the wherewithal to get fresh, unique information for the viewers. But all she provides is the same bland quotes and generic injury reports that any warm body could deliver. NBC needs to return to the time honored tradition established by Melissa Stark and Erin Andrews whereby the sideline reporter is basically a nookie girl with a microphone. (Although as Lisa Guerrero revealed, the ability to speak two sentences without the aid of notecards is also a must.) Aside from the fact that the viewing audience is predominantly male, there is a practical use to having a hot sideline reporter. When there's an injury during the game, and teams are trying to reveal as little information as possible, the network can send their hot reporter out to sweet-talk the geeky trainer's assistant into giving up the goods. Now rather than only complain, I'll be solutions oriented- I think I have the answer to NBC's problems. Replacing Andrea Kramer should be...Stacy Keibler. She has a large male following from WWE and women recognize her from Dancing With Stars. She's cute, but not so gorgeous that women will hate her. While she's never been a news reporter, she does have enough television experience from wrestling and ABC to be comfortable in front of the camera. The only adjustment NBC would have to make is adopting the direction ESPN employs when Erin Andrews is working, and utilize more wide, full body shots that showcase Keibler's legs rather than the tight, neck-up shots that they have been using. Trust me on this one NBC. We already have to look at Jerome Bettis and Peter King during Football Night in America....throw us a bone here...

ESPN on ESPN's coverage of MNF will begin in a few hours. The Superdome will be amped up, but I expect the Falcons to come out running the wishbone offense and interrupt the Saints fairy-tale season, at least for a week, covering the four point spread.
Atlanta 24, New Orleans 10.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Well...That Sure Did Suck

This post is going to be short because I'm still dealing with the UCLA loss. And by "dealing with," I of course mean drinking heavily. The Bruins were coming off a bye week, and yet they still didn't have a pass play deeper than 5 yards in the playbook. The Huskies tried to help the Bruins out by seemingly playing 8 on 11 for the first 25 minutes of the game, but thanks to some very timid playcalling and poor execution in the redzone, UCLA was only able to build a 16-0 lead. Once the Huskies established a little momentum on a 3rd and 18 conversion (and a terrible decision to go for the INT by Rodney Van), I got that sinking feeling that the Bruins were going to regret not putting the game away when they had the chance. Sure enough, the Huskies started moving the ball on offense and stuffing up all the short zones on defense. UCLA's coaching staff never made any adjustments and Ben Olson was staring down receivers and throwing into double coverage. Bad combination. Bad result, and a long year ahead.

After the game, I turned over to Notre Dame/Michigan State and was pleased to see the Spartans up 17 in the 2nd half. At least I had that bet in the bag to ease the pain. Wait...what??

Dammit all. Oh well, nothing to do now but drink some more beer and place some more bets. Tomorrow I like:

SF +6 vs Philly
Cincy +1.5 at Pit
Chicago -4 at Min
Carolina -3 at Tampa Bay
Denver at New England UNDER 38.5

Now it's time to slip into a lil' mini-coma....

Today: 3-2
Year to Date: 15-19-1

Friday, September 22, 2006

It Can't Get Worse

I hope I've posted these picks with enough time for my readers to go opposite my choices and win a bundle. Had readers done an 'opposite day' last Saturday, they would have gone undefeated. Good luck.

UCLA -3 at Washington. The Bruins have won 5 in a row against Washington and 8 of their last 9. UCLA running backs have really enjoyed playing against the Huskies lately. In 2001, DeShaun Foster ran for 301 yards setting the all-time UCLA single-game rushing mark. That record lasted for three years. When the Bruins visited the Huskies in 2004, Maurice Drew bested Foster's mark by rushing for 322 yards and 5 TDs. However this season through 3 games, the Huskies are giving up a respectable 129 rushing yards per game and 3.84 yards per carry, so don't expect Chris Markey to surpass the triple century mark for the Bruins this time around. Nonetheless, the Bruins have a very balanced attack on offense and have also been experimenting with actually playing defense this year. They lead the conference in rushing defense early in the season. Granted it was against Utah and Rice, but that wouldn't have mattered too much in the past. I expect UCLA to do a fair job containing the Huskies rushing attack, and the game should be relatively low scoring. That being said, I also like the UNDER (52). UCLA 24, Washington 17.

Michigan St +2.5 vs Notre Dame. Ok, Irish. You got me. After the route of Penn State two weeks ago, I actually believed you were for real. I don't know how I got sucked in by the hype, but I definitely paid for it against Michigan. Teams have realized that you can beat the Irish by repeatedly going deep on them. (Why did Ga. Tech stop doing that with Calvin Johnson? Oh right, Chan Gailey is the coach.) Michigan State should attack the Irish early and often; and this game could actually propel Drew Stanton ahead of Brady Quinn on draft boards. Spartans win this one going away. Charlie Weis will get his revenge tho by eating two East Lansing buffets out of business. Michigan State 38, Notre Dame 17.

Ohio State -17 vs Penn State. The message I should have learned when ND routed Penn State is that the Lions aren't any good without Michael Robinson. Penn State has never won in Columbus since joining the Big 10 in 1993. Combine that with the fact that Ohio State wants to avenge last year's 17-10 loss in Happy Valley, and the Buckeyes will really be looking to pile on the points. It doesn't hurt matters that The Ohio State University has the best team in the land. If Jim Tressel is willing to run up the score against his old coach at Cincinnati, imagine what he'll do against the team that deprived him of an outright conference title last year. Ohio State 42, Penn State 13.

Army +11.5 at Baylor. Baylor is only averaging 11 points per game against division 1-A competition. Bobby Ross will have Army's defense ready for this game. Baylor 10, Army 9.

(I went w/ a smaller pic here to try to keep anyone from getting fired. But if you're at home, feel free to click the pic for a larger image. Or here for another one. The Army really might want to look into these kinds of images to increase recruitment.)

YTD: 12-17-1

Delay of Game

Sorry about the site being down...again. I'm pretty pissed w/ Dreamhost. They've been really unreliable the last few months. Unfortunately, I'm locked into a contract w/ them, but I think I'm willing to eat the $ and move on to someone else.

If anyone has a hosting company that they'd recommend, please let me know in the comments section.


The Nightcap

Tonight's Nightcap is brought to you by the Colorado Bulldog. I know it's a bit of a chick drink, but I had the ingredients in my fridge, so I figured what the hell? Maybe I could float some grenadine in there and call it a Pittsburgh Pitbull? Then I could place it on a Terrible Towel napkin and sell it to Steelers fans for 10 bux. Tho I have to wonder, are there any Steelers fans who actually have 10 dollars???

The students at Duke University are still feeling the aftereffects of the lacrosse team's rape scandal. Prompted by those events, the university has banned strippers from the campus. The ban should be readily enforced since it is easy to identify a stripper at the university, as she would be the only attractive chick on campus. While they are unable to perform on campus, strippers are fortunately still permitted to dance in local clubs while telling patrons that they are really college students paying their way through school...

The SF Chronicle writers have been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for failing to reveal their source of leaked grand jury testimony in the Balco case. Outside the courthouse, a group of sports reporters gathered and staged a rally in support of their brethren. Toss up question- which rally would have the least attractive participants: sportswriters or anti-abortionists? I don't know what the answer is, but it's a safe bet that neither group is getting laid...

The USA Womens' basketball team has proven that they can in fact do anything that the men can do, as they lost to Russia in the FIBA world championships, 75-68. In the written recap of the game, the writer explains that:
Russia took advantage of poor shooting and sloppy ball-handling by the U.S. to take a 58-38 lead after three quarters.
Poor shooting and sloppy ball-handling? Isn't that every women's basketball game?? Now the US women must play host Brazil for the bronze medal before they can return home and enjoy their normal lives of being ignored by everyone in America except David Stern and ESPN anchors...

Finally, in baseball news, an MRI revealed that Jason Giambi has a torn ligament in his left wrist. It's believed that the tear occurred when he was bitch slapping Alex Rodriguez in front of the media. While Giambi will sit out a few games, this injury is not expected to affect his training regimen, as he performs all of his injections with his right hand.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Krispy Kremes and Ho-Hos

Thanks again to JSon for the find:

From a story on Zach Randolph acquittal on sexual assault charges: (If you don't know, Randolph was charged with getting a stripper/prostitute drunk during a private show, trying to have anal sex with her after she passed out, and then having non-consensual vaginal sex with her once she was awake. The charges were dropped after the investigation revealed conflicting testimony, the admission that the alleged victim was drunk out of her mind, and the revelation that she did have consensual sex with one of Zach Randolph's friends at the party. But the tipping point in the acquittal may have come much earlier after a move so cunning and bold, it could only have come from the Blazers' front office:

Early in the investigation, the Blazers delivered 15 dozen doughnuts to Portland police at the bureau's precincts. The team's mascot dropped off a special basketball-shaped doughnut for Chief Rosie Sizer.

Nothing engenders a police officer’s trust like a box of doughnuts. Their first option was to delivery them sizzling bacon for breakfast with a note: “Here ya go, ya fat-ass pigs!”. But instead, they thought a guy in a cuddly cat outfit with some assorted pastries would convince the police to overlook testimony and Zach’s criminal history. I guess it worked. I like the rationale – “what do you mean forced sodomy and solicitation of a prostitute – look at the kitty. Pretty pretty kitty. Are you in a better mood now? Cool. Here’s a coupon for half off your next purchase of nachos at the Rose Garden.”

If only Maurice Clarett had been travelling with some Dunkin's and getting his glaze on instead of his Goose on, maybe he'd be a free man today.

"He's a Little Loopy"

(Thanks to The Mighty MJD and AOL Sports Blog for unearthing the vid clip)

In his Monday Morning Quarterback column, Peter King snidely wrote of the Bengals #85:
"I tried to interview Chad Johnson after the game but was told by the crack p.r. man of the Bengals, Jack Brennan, that Johnson was in no mental shape to talk to me. He'd better be in mental shape for Steelers-Bengals this week."

Well, judging by this very brief postgame interview session, it appears that "in no mental shape" was a pretty apt way to describe Johnson (Carson Palmer described him as "a little loopy") after getting blown up by Cleveland safety Brian Russell:

As Tom Jackson would say...Chad Johnson you got JACKED UP...and now you're retarded.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pac 10 Officials Are Stupid DoodieHeads

Things are tough these days in Oklahoma. The sheep don't look as fetching and the calf fries don't taste as sweet ever since their beloved Sooners lost a game in part because of two blown calls by Pac-10 officials. Fortunately, the good people of Oklahoma can count on the leaders of the football program, head coach Bob Stoops and President David Boren, to rise above all of the bitterness and restore order to their community.

Or maybe not.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren wants the game to be stricken from the record books. Meanwhile, Coach Stoops is threatening to take his ball and go home. Tuesday, he said that if the Pac-10 is going to continue to insist on using their own officials for intersectional home games, then Oklahoma would consider cancelling it's 2008 visit to Washington. Huskies fans must be breathing a huge sigh of relief on that one. Given the start Ty Willingham has had in rebuilding the program, the Huskies couldn't beat the Sooners if they had WWE officials working the game. Regardless, Stoops' behavior in the aftermath of the loss has been incendiary and immature. Tho if you ask Stoops, he has a different opinion:

"I've said all this in this way because I feel the right to stand up for my football players," he said. "I'm not sitting up here, me babying or whining about it."

Actually, babying and whining is exactly what he's doing. Maybe with how soft the Big 12 is this year, Stoops had delusions of a National Championship run. But even if OU does make it through the Big 12 undefeated, Sooners fans should be thankful that the officials botched these calls and saved them from an embarassing matchup with Ohio State that would have been reminiscent of the 2005 Orange Bowl (USC 55, Oklahoma 19). It's much better that the Sooners have an early loss here, win the Big 12, and then get a BCS bowl game with an overrated, overmatched team that gets a BCS bid on reputation and fan base- Notre Dame.

The NCAA may take the time to re-examine the way that instant replay is used in games, but does anyone have any confidence that the NCAA can actually fix anything? I think rather than tinkering with the officiating, the NCAA should just name David Stern as their president. He would have responded to all of this nonsense by fining Oklahoma a hundred grand for questioning the officiating and warned Stoops that any further criticisms could warrant a lifetime ban from the game, and that would have been the end of that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reno 911

A few quick notes just to let any friends reading this that I did come back alive from Reno.

-If you're ever in a dark, musty, run-down, poorly circulated casino at 3 am, and you decide to order the egg, sausage, and bacon breakfast for 99 cents, your next move should be to buy a long book, because you'll be spending the rest of the day on the can.

-Even considering the breakfast incident, my worst decision that weekend was getting to the casino early enough Saturday to get my college picks in. If anyone read my picks for the week, they'll notice that I went 0-6 on college. That was a first. That's so god-awful, I almost have no choice but to be proud of my achievement in idiocy.

-I'd like to send out a little F-you to Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel for trotting out the field goal team for a 52 yarder with two minutes to go and a 27 point lead. I was sure that they were just going to direct snap it to the kicker who would pooch it down to the goal-line. Nope. The ball went to the holder, and the kicker boomed it through the uprights to cover the spread. Thanks a lot, asshole.

-Which reminds me, my favorite thing about Al Michaels is that he'll always mention the betting line when it's relevant to the score of the game. Last night, as Washington was driving down to try to score a token TD in a 17 point loss, Michaels mentioned that a lot of heartbeats were racing right now, as the 27-10 score was good enough for the "under" bet, but another score would have given the "over" bettors a winner.

-Also in the Sunday Night game, who's idea was it to start a five minute videoconference with Cris Collinsworth (or anyone for that matter) during the 4th qtr of a game? Dallas and Washington have a pretty big fan base, Dallas is driving for the game clinching score, and instead of being allowed to get engrossed in the action, viewers have to hear Collinsworth espouse his opinion on the Giants/Eagles game..a game which he didn't even watch! Brilliant.

-However, the Collinsworth segment did produce this gem. His first comment about the Redskins game was that he was surprised that the Redskins didn't blitz more to put pressure on Bledsoe. Then just two questions later, he said that the Redskins couldn't take the chance to blitz because they didn't trust their corners in isolation on the Dallas' receivers. Congratulations Cris, I'm pretty sure you broke the announcing record for quickest self-contradiction in a sport commentary.

-Andrea Kramer makes Bonnie Bernstein look like a young Cindy Crawford. I walked into the room, saw Kramer in the pregame, and I wasn't sure if I was about to watch a football game or an episode of Tales from the Crypt.

-Everyone put down the Nick Saban kool-aid! It's going to kill you! Put it down now! We're also checking the Charlie Weis punch for signs of contaminants.

-Who has less of a clue what they're doing with their team right now- Art Shell and the Raiders or Jeff Fisher and the Titans? I'll take arguments from both sides, as I'm just baffled by just how hopeless both teams are after two games.

-Lastly, big thanks to Anthony, blackjack dealer at Reno Harrah's. There was a lot of good karma at your table that helped me recover from the sportsbook losses. I just wish I'd opted to stay at your table rather than go take advantage of that "great breakfast deal" across the street.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Nightcap

Tonight's Nightcap is brought to you by Fashion House star Natalie Martinez. When she's on the tv, no alcohol is required to catch a little buzz...

Reggie Bush may not have had an opportunity to display a touchdown celebration yet, but he has already shown that he can make an All-Pro press release that says nothing while denying everything. When asked to respond to the latest allegations that his family received over 100k in benefits while he was at USC, Bush unleased this barrage of cliches:
"It is what it is. People are going to say what they gotta say. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. It's a free country. So um, ya know, it is what it is. I'm focused on football now. I'm not worried about any of these allegations, because I know what the truth is. Once the smoke clears, everybody's going to see we did nothing wrong."

Of course, it would help clear the smoke if Bush were to actually provide some of the clarity himself. But what Bush really wants is for the smoke to linger long enough that people lose interest in the underlying scene and move on to something else. It's possible he'll get his wish. The Mighty MJD has already moved on. MSNBC's Michael Ventre, however, tells Reggie that he has broken his heart.

The reality is that while Bush's benefits may have been on a bigger scale than most, they likely aren't all that uncommon amongst all of the high profile college football programs. The NCAA might be able to administer the occasional sanction to try to make a statement, but really, they're powerless to stop these transactions from taking place. The only ones with the ability to put an end to agents and marketing reps offering gifts, cash, etc. to college athletes is federal legislators who could make it a criminal act to make such gestures- akin to a bribe. Perhaps if a few agents found themselves in jail for a few years, the rest of the leeches would pause before giving a player free use of a corporate credit card...

In a related story, Victor Conte has now reportedly admitted that Barry Bonds had very detailed knowledge of exactly what Balco products he was putting in his body. This should just add more fuel to the rivalry between Northern and Southern California residents as Giants fans and USC fans compete to see who can entrench themselves in the deepest denial regarding the misdeeds of their local idol...

40 year-old Greg Maddux and 43 year-old David Wells were involved in a good old fashioned pitchers' duel Friday night. Maddux even had a no-hitter going into the 7th inning until 46 year-old Tony Gwynn broke it up with an opposite field single. The Dodgers however got the last laugh when Steve Garvey drove in Davey Lopes for the winning run...

I doubt anyone other than Toledo alums and myself watched tonight's game against Kansas in which it seemed like nobody wanted to win. The final possessions in a 31-31 game went like this: 3 and out, 3 and out, end of regulation, turn over on downs (on a 4th and goal from the 25 in which the Toledo coach inexplicably went for it rather than try a 42 yd FG), fumble, INT, and finally a TD. This game couldn't have been any sloppier if they'd elected to decide the game with an eating contest between rotund coaches Mark Mangino and Tom Amstutz.
(By the way, this is by far the biggest contrast I've ever had between two pics in one post.)

Ever since Esteban Loaiza decided to have a drink or two or ten and go racing on the freeway, the A's have banned beer from the postgame spread in both clubhouses. It turns out this has actually been a successful bit of psychological warfare as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was livid that he couldn't have a beer after his team lost to the A's Friday night. I don't know if he's upset that he can't drink to forget that his team might not make the playoffs a year after winning the Series, or if it's just that he won't have the built in excuse of having thrown back a few if he gets the urge to call a beat reporter a fag, which- and many people don't know this- in Venezuela means any guy who stands between you and your beer.

Hey, that last comment had derogatory epithets, references to alcohol troubles, and had minor cultural and racial undertones. I think that means I'm ready for Reno! Next post will come sometime Sunday. Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cocktails and Parlay Cards

I'm continuing my tour of crappy sportsbooks with week 2 of the football season. Last week, I found myself in San Diego, just a few turnstiles away from the Caliente sportbook in Tijuana. Now this weekend, I'll be flying out to Reno for a bachelor party. Why Reno instead of Vegas? I can only assume that the bachelor has a fetish for gap-toothed, 40 year-old prostitutes. If my football picks go well this season, I might even be able to get him one with her real hair.

Notre Dame -4.5 vs Michigan. This is a huge game for Michigan. They've been in Ohio State's shadow for a few years now and are in danger of falling even further behind OSU and Notre Dame in the midwest recruiting wars. So the pressure is on. Unfortunately, we've seen how Chad Henne performs under pressure, and it isn't pretty. Michigan will rely on Mike Hart early, but once ND puts a few TDs on the board, it will be up to Henne to keep Michigan in the game. That's not where I want to put my money. Really, the Wolverines only chance is that Brady Quinn starts to realize that he's on a path towards becoming the #1 overall pick for the Raiders, so he starts tanking games to avoid wearing the silver and black.

Miami +4 at Louisville. Miami is involved in the exact same situation as Michigan. They need this game, or they'll be relegated to second class citizens in the national picture. Much like Lloyd Carr's job may be in jeopardy, so is Larry Coker if the Hurricanes lose at Papa John's Stadium. Unlike Carr, I think Larry Coker's team will actually rally around him. The Hurricanes can't win a shootout, so their defense will have to step it up against a Louisville offense that looked great against Kentucky, Temple, and Northeast Lexington Community College, or whoever the other soft competition is the Cards have faced leading up to this game.

Cincinnati +29 at Ohio State. There should be a little bit of a let down for Ohio State after beating Texas last week. The Buckeyes will be in cruise control all game, and while they'll still win easily, it won't be that big of a route. Cincinnati is coached by Mark Dantonio, who was an assistant with Jim Tressel when the Buckeyes beat Miami to win the National Championship. Tressel won't want to humiliate his old coach, so he'll call off the dogs before things get out of hand.

Fresno State -3 at Washington. Somewhere down the road, the Huskies will be good again. But those days won't come while Isaiah Stanbeck is their quarterback. The Bulldogs hung tough with the Oregon Ducks so they are well seasoned for this game. Dwayne Wright had 154 yards rushing against the Ducks defense. He'll get 20+ carries against Washington and should find enough room to move the chains.

Texas Tech at TCU OVER 54.5. I'm a little reluctant to take the over until college teams start adapting to the new clock rules, but if anyone can still put points on the board, it's the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Jeff Ballard and the spread offense will be good for at least 5 TDs, so it will be up to TCU to keep up. I also like Texas Tech -1.5 to win by at least a TD. Predicted score: Texas Tech 38, TCU 28.

...As for the NFL, whatever happened to the parity throughout the league? It used to be that at the start of the season, there was reason for optimism in all cities. It's only week 2, and there are five double digit spreads on the board this week.

New York Giants +3 at Philly. I've never seen people jump on the bandwagon as quickly as they did when the Eagles beat the Houston Texans. The Houston freaking Texans?? Unfortunately for Philly fans, the Eagles are facing some actual competition this week. The Giants front four has a bit more impact than Mario Williams and co., and will make it a lot tougher on McNabb. Also unlike the Texans D, I don't expect the Giants DBs to bite on as many run fakes from a team that throws the ball 60% of the time. Also complicating matters for Philly is Brian Westbrook is dinged up this week. He'll play, but I'd expect him to be limited in his effectiveness.

Baltimore -12.5 vs Oakland. If the Ravens score 2 tds, that might be enough to cover. It's been one week, and the Raiders already look like a team that's just playing out the season. Steve McNair should lead the offense for a couple scores, and the Ravens D might be good for another. If there is any source of optimism for the Raiders it's that Sebastian Janikowski might be able to end the Raiders scoreless streak. Baltimore 24, Oakland 3.

New Orleans at Green Bay UNDER 38. Brett, I need you to do me a favor and only throw your INTs in New Orleans territory. I know it's asking a lot, but I think you can do it. Just remember: when in doubt, throw it deep.

Detroit +9 at Chicago. I think the Lions defense is for real. If nothing else, they showed they can stop the run; and the Bears are a run-first team. I think both coaches will have a conservative game plan and the resulting final score will be low and close.

Dallas -6.5 vs Washington. I was going to stay away from this game, but now that Portis has been ruled out, I just don't see anyway the Redskins stay close. Well, other than another Bledsoe implosion and the Cowboys forgetting to cover Chris Cooley again. Ok, so maybe that isn't all that far-fetched. Still, I think the Cowboys just have too many weapons and will be able to control all 4 quarters this time around.

Minnesota Pk vs Carolina. Another injury-related game. Without a healthy Steve Smith, the Panthers are a very average team. Cornerbacks aren't going to be worried about Keyshawn Johnson and Drew Carter getting away from them, so stopping DeShaun Foster will be the primary focus for the Minn D which acquitted themselves well against Washington. As for the Vikings offense, expect the same deliberate, run-first style with the occasional bomb to Troy Williamson. If Williamson can just learn to catch the freakin' ball, then Minn should be a winner.

YTD: 8-9-1


I don't know what Reggie Bush did to piss off Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sports, but he'd better apologize. As I'm sure you're aware, Yahoo just published another expose' on the alleged benefits Bush's family received from marketing agents while he was at USC. If accurate, the story details over $100,000 in various loans and gifts given to the Bush household while Reggie was enrolled at USC. While I'm still amazed that anyone trying to buy the Bush's services would get them a house in Spring Valley (I used to live just a couple blocks from their rent-free digs) instead of La Jolla or Mission Hills, I'm even more amazed that it's Yahoo that keeps breaking these stories. Yahoo can't even keep my email running for a full day, but they somehow have more ardent investigative reporters than ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or the LA Times? Then again, ESPN and the LA Times have their own vested interest in portraying USC and Reggie Bush in a positive light...

For the record, I'm a huge Reggie Bush fan; and while these allegations don't look good, I hope they don't have too much of an effect on his career going forward. Seeing as how other players have been able to overcome incidents like drunken driving, spousal abuse, or vicodin addiction and still create an overall positive image in the media, I think Bush will be fine. However his (and his family's) actions still must have repercussions, and it will most likely be USC and Pete Carroll that ultimately pay the price. In a worst-case scenario, USC could be forced to forfeit their 2004 National Championship, as there are claims that Bush had already begun receiving benefits at that point.

To think that just this past January, there was talk of USC's football team going for a threepeat. Now there is the possibility that when the dust settles, all that remains is the split championship with LSU. Maybe the marketing folks over at 'SC can salvage things and get a trademark on the phrase "half-peat???"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Colin Cowherd Wants to Nail His Secretary and Kill His Neighbor

For those who are lucky enough not to know, Colin Cowherd is a radio personality who has a morning sports show on ESPN. Wednesday morning he was talking about the ESPN Full Circle coverage of the Florida St/Miami game; and how regardless of the viewer response, it was a good move for ESPN. His logic was that the incessant coverage was a good "branding" strategy for the network. He then went on a rant about the impact that promotion and branding can have, and well, it was a bit surprising where it led.

Perhaps Cowherd is on to something. At the very least, maybe I could invoke this as my defense if I ever have the opportunity to kill Chris Berman- or worse yet, get drunk and have sex with Linda Cohn.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You Can Be My Wingman Anytime

With the NFL underway, I had forgotten about baseball for a little bit. But with only 18 games remaining in the season, there are quite a few races that will go down to the wire - the NL West, NL Wild Card, AL Central, and AL Wild Card are still up for grabs. Among the individual awards, the most compelling right now is the AL MVP. The competition for AL MVP right now is so tight, it will likely be the final team standings that determine who wins the award. While I did send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the MLB offices requesting a vote for the MVP, I have not yet received my ballot. If I were to receive one in the mail and had to make my vote today, I think it would go like this:

1) Derek Jeter. The Yankees season started with Randy Johnson struggling and people wondering if he had completely lost his stuff. Then Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui went down with long-term injuries. A-Rod has struggled by his own statistical standards, and has not been dependable in clutch situations. The one constant throughout the season has been Derek Jeter. He's been a leader on and off the field, played his best baseball during the pivotal five game sweep of the Red Sox, and has crawled deep inside David Ortiz head. His stats may not be that gaudy, but he could very well win the batting title and a gold glove to add to his resume. If Jeter wins, it will be comparable to win Kirk Gibson won in 1988 despite other players having better numbers.

2) Johan Santana. Normally, I'm of the mindset that a pitcher shouldn't be an MVP candidate since they only play once every five games. But Santana is just having a special season that can't be ignored. Anytime Santana pitches, you can chalk up a W for the Twins...literally. Santana HASN'T LOST since the All-Star break, and the Twins are 22-0 at home with Santana on the hill since August of last year. That's just incomprehendably dominant. Consider this: since Santana guarantees them a win when he starts, the Twins only need to be a .500 team in all of the other games in which he isn't pitching, and they would be a .600 team overall. That takes a lot of pressure off the team. And that's quite valuable. Now that Francisco Liriano is out for the season, Santana's stock goes up even further if he's able to carry the Twins into the playoffs.

3) Jermaine Dye. In any other season, Dye would be a no-brainer lock for the MVP by sheer numbers alone. Using just the conventional stats, he's posting .322/41/112. It may be a fluke, but it's freakin' incredible. Unfortunately, the White Sox are on the outside looking in right now, and that really hurts Dye's chances. If the White Sox are able to make one last push and pass either Minnesota or Detroit, then Dye has a chance to leapfrog Santana and Jeter.

4) David Ortiz. His numbers are great, but he loses any chance of a vote for the way he sold out his teammates this week when trying to campaign for the MVP award. I kept waiting for him to say that he was misquoted or his words were taken out of context, but either I missed it, or the report is accurate. (Ortiz, sorta cleared the air today, but not really.) Sorry, Papi- you've had a great year, and the Red Sox would probably be sub-.500 without you. But the Red Sox have a $150+ million payroll and aren't going to sniff the playoffs. There's no way he's winning it.

5) Justin Morneau. .324/33/120. Morneau has been the best hitter in the Twins lineup this season, but I've never really seen a time when it felt like he was carrying the team. This has always been a collaborative hitting team buoyed by great pitching. Morneau's a very good player, and any team would be glad to have him; but an MVP isn't in the cards for him this year.

Also receiving votes: Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, Jason Giambi.

It's going to be a great final three weeks of the season..if anyone is able to pull away from the 7 days a week football coverage, that is.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You Are Not a Beautiful and Unique Snowflake

Thanks to T.O. playing football, the Yankees back in first place, and Barbaro eating grass, the Duke lacrosse scandal has been moved to the back pages of the sports section. But that doesn't mean that it hasn't still had an effect on the athletes at Duke. Volleyball player Jenny Shull explains:

"There have been tough moments because it was always, 'Wow, you go to Duke University. They're known for their academics and for their great athletics and for overall excellence.' You were looked at almost as a perfect school, and this thing in the media showed us as not 100 percent perfect, and it was kind of rough."

Damn that media. Actually having the nerve to suggest that Duke isn't 100% perfect. That's unprecedented, and yeah, I guess it would be rough. Fortunately, Coach K, Grant Hill, and other members of the Duke athletic community were there to help. The athletic department held a rally in Cameron Indoor Stadium yesterday to help unite the athletes and remind them what Duke University is all about. Coach K was the keynote speaker and later told reporters that, "Tonight was about saying to the rest of the student-athletes, 'Hey, y'all are good. Have a great year. Let's keep pursuing excellence."

Well said, coach. And I think it was a damn fine choice of words over what you probably really wanted to say, which was, "If one of you kids that plays a peripheral sport that noone gives a damn about f*cks up my chance to sign a rich, white kid with a nice jumper, it will be your ass!" Better to just reinforce the mindset that they are perfect because they go to Duke. That will arm them for life.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Love the Action

I've been having server problems all weekend, so let me just post my picks while it's still up...

Tampa Bay -3 vs Baltimore. The fact that everyone is touting how significant a move the signing of Steve McNair was for the Ravens just underscores how putrid Baltimore's offense had become over the last few years. McNair is not the same multi-dimensional threat that led the Titans to the Super Bowl. He's more of a dink and dunk QB in the mold of Brad Johnson, but with poorer decision making. As for the Bucs, Cadillac Williams is fresh, and a fresh, healthy Cadillac can run through any defense. The Bucs have the better offense and the better defense in this game- plus they're playing at home. What's not to like?

Indianapolis -3 at NY Giants. The Colts running game is unsettled, which means Peyton will be shuffling along the line and checking to pass plays three out of four plays. Peyton might not be able to win a meaningful playoff game, but I'm sure he can still lay the smack down on his little brother. He'll throw for 350 yards, 3 TDs, and the Colts will cruise.

Dallas at Jacksonville UNDER 36.5. I'd consider buying a half point here, because 20-17 is a possible final score in what should be a showcase of two outstanding defenses. Even with Marcus Stroud questionable, the Jacksonville front four should have a huge edge on a below average Cowboys' offensive line and will feast on the immobile Bledsoe.

Cincinnati +1.5 at Kansas City. I know it's foolish to bet against the Chiefs in their home opener, but it's an even greater mistake to bet on Herm Edwards under any circumstance. The Bengals will give up a few big plays to Larry Johnson, but their offensive firepower will be more than enough to overcome those scores. I think the Bengals will make a statement that they're a team on a Super Bowl mission and win by two TDs.

Cleveland -3 vs New Orleans. How bad is the Saints defense? So bad, even Charlie Frye will be able to move the ball. By the way, if you have Charlie Frye on your fantasy team, after this week will be a perfect time to trade him in a 'sell high' scenario.

San Diego -3 at Oakland. As long as Aaron Brooks is starting for the Raiders, I won't be picking them vs anyone. Not against, Niners. Not against the Texans. Not against the Jets. Who am I kidding? There's no way Brooks is still starting by the time the Raiders play the Jets in week 17.

Minnesota +4.5 at Washington. Let's see. The Redskins' first team offense didn't put any points on the board in the preseason, Clinton Portis won't be getting all that much playing time, and the Redskins are somehow favored? I don't get it. My only guess is that bookmakers are predicting that Bryant McKinnie and company might be too distracted by the Redskins' smokin' cheerleaders. Actually, they might be on to something.

Reversal of Fortune

I'm on the road in San Diego. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble uploading pics. I probably won't have time to work on it Saturday as I'll be heading down to Tijuana to make some legal bets at the Caliente sportsbook. Hopefully I'll improve upon my 2-5 record, or else I might have to earn a few extra bucks taking a couple shifts in the donkey show. So I should be focused- but instead, I'm having a knee-jerk reaction to last week's losses, and I'm just going to bet against all Pac-10 teams on the road.

LSU -15 vs Arizona. Arizona has improved from the 2 win team they were last season, but they still aren't ready to go on the road to Louisiana and stay in a game.

San Jose St +9.5 vs Stanford. The Spartans hung with Washington last week. Stanford is still licking their wounds from getting killed by Oregon. This is Stanford's home stadium-opener, so the Tree will have brand new turf to puke on.

Oklahoma -17 vs Washington. This is the game that puts Adrian Peterson's name back on the Heisman watch lists.

Fresno State +3 vs Oregon. Actually, I don't like this bet at all; but I'm sticking with the program.

As for the big game, I like Ohio State. But they're, ya know, on the I guess I have to avoid the game.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mullen Hates X-Rays and SATs

When Golden State chose two game wonder Patrick O'Bryant with their first pick in the 2006 NBA draft, the reaction was less than positive amongst the dozen or so NBA fans in the bay area. O'Bryant isn't off to a very good start in proving his critics wrong. The Warriors revealed today that O'Bryant has a broken bone in his right foot and will miss 4 to 6 weeks. Only 20 years old and the 7 footer already has foot/ankle problems. This is not going to end well.

For his part, vice president Chris Mullen seemed prepared for this eventuality. Either that or he's illiterate. In the statement in which the injury was revealed, Mullen said:

"We're optimistic that this injury will not preclude Patrick from missing a large amount of time.''

I don't think you need to worry about that one, Chris. Nothing will preclude Patrick from missing a large amount of time.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Cooler

Damn...went 0-2 today to push my record to a depressing 2-5. Not a good way to start off with the bankroll.

Tomorrow's a new day. Look for more picks then. Then bet the exact opposite.

My Obligation

I've been informed that if I don't make any Super Bowl predictions, I am no longer allowed to have a sport's blog. So here's a brief forecast:

Many people have pointed out the curse of the Super Bowl loser (this century, no loser of the Super Bowl has followed up the next season with more than 8 wins), hence dooming the Seahawks to mediocrity. But fear not, Seattle fans, for your team has found a loophole. The Seahawks, you see, don't know that they lost the Super Bowl last year. They've granted themselves some sort of delusional title, which they are now trying to defend. And defend it they shall. In turn, if the Seahawks are the imaginary winner, than the Steelers must have been the loser. It's the boys from Pittsburgh, therefore that will have fewer than 9 wins and miss the playoffs...

AFC West:
Denver: 12-4
San Diego: 8-8
Kansas City: 7-9
Oakland: 4-12

AFC North:
Cincinnati: 12-4
Pittsburgh: 8-8
Baltimore: 8-8
Cleveland: 6-10

AFC South:
Indianapolis: 13-3
Jacksonville: 9-7
Houston: 4-12
Tennessee: 3-13

AFC East:
Miami: 12-4
New England: 11-5
NY Jets: 4-12
Buffalo: 3-13

NFC West:
Seattle: 12-4
St. Louis: 9-7
Arizona: 6-10
San Francisco: 5-11

NFC North:
Minnesota: 10-6
Chicago: 9-7
Detroit: 7-9
Green Bay: 4-12

NFC South:
Tampa Bay: 11-5
Carolina: 10-6
Atlanta: 9-7
New Orleans: 4-12

NFC East:
NY Giants: 10-6
Dallas: 10-6
Philadelphia: 9-7
Washington: 7-9

Wild Card: Den over Jax, Cin over NE, Car over NYG, Dal over Min
Divisional round: Cin over Ind, Den over Miami, Sea over Car, Dal over TB
Conference Games: Cincinnati over Denver; Seattle over Dallas
Super Bowl XLI: Seattle over Cincinnati
-The Seahawks are your back to back champs...Deion Branch is MVP!

...For the record, my confidence level in these picks hovers around 5%. Of course this won't stop me from putting some cash on a few futures bets. (Cincy to win AFC at 11-1 looks awfully appealing....Well at least something in Cincy is looking really appealing right about now. The pictured Bengals cheerleader is Tiffany. In her bio, she lists Anchorman as her favorite movie, which should make her an immediate Deadspin favorite. Later, she is asked: "Person I would most like to meet and why." Her answer is Kelly Ripa.)

Jack Kerouac Was a Lousy Gambler

Early into the season, I've made five picks against the spread on this site; and each time I've gone with the road team. I'm an uninspiring 2-3 in those five games. There are two games on the slate for tonight and once again, I'm going with both the road teams! Even lab rats learn faster than I do.

Miami +1 at Pittsburgh. I'm not that sold on the Dolphins this season, and yes, there will be Terrible Towels waving in the crowd; but I just can't allow myself to bet on Charlie Batch under any circumstances. The Dolphins will gameplan to neutralize Willie Parker and force the Steelers to move the ball through the air, which means Batch + an injured Hines Ward. Yikes. With Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers, and Randy McMichael, the Dolphins should have enough firepower to get into the endzone at least twice. That should be enough to win the game.
Miami 20, Pittsburgh 10.

Oregon State +7.5 at Boise State. I know the Broncos are pretty tough to beat on the blue turf, but that was back in the Dan Hawkins days; and he's now moved on to destroying the program at Colorado. Boise State does still have senior QB Jared Zabransky, who will definitely put points on the board. Oregon State has the 2nd ranked offense in the nation (granted it's after playing E. Washington) and is more than happy playing a shootout. Yvenson Bernard wants redemption after an embarassing 19 point loss to Boise State two years ago. This one will be high scoring and close. I think the Beavers will win outright, but even if they lose, they should be able to stay within a TD.
Oregon State 35 Boise St. 31.

Gratuitous 2 am post

I was bored tonight, so I decided to look at some of my viewer logs to try to get a better grasp of my audience here at the lounge. Yesterday, I had visitors who arrived at this site after making these google searches:

"Sterger September 2006"
"TCU coed bikini"
"Erin Andrews"

So welcome, horny sports fans. I hope you found your stay here comfortable. Please come on back soon. You may not find exactly what you're looking for. But hopefully you'll see something you like.
(And yes, you can get larger versions of most pics if you click them)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Defending the Naked Bootleg

With two-a-days and meaningless preseason games, training camp certainly must be a draining process. But it doesn't just wear on the players. Coaches get bored too. For example, let's say you're the defensive line coach for an NFL squad. How many times can you really run a bull rush or shoulder club drill before your eyes glaze over? I'm sure as soon as practice ends, you'd have to do something to get away from it all. Maybe you'd go catch a movie? Perhaps even a trip to a gentleman's club? Or maybe, just maybe, you'd take off all of your clothes, hop in your car, and drive around town naked?

That's what Detroit Lions defensive line coach Joe Cullen decided to do. Detroit police have had the duty of arresting Cullen twice in the past two weeks. Once for drunken driving (he blew a .12), and once for indecent and obscene contact. The report on the indecency charge states that Cullen was “driving on public street without any clothes on. (NUDE).”

I've been trying to think of more commentary on this, but all I ever come up with is, "What the f*ck?!" How does this even become a consideration in someone's mind? What was his ultimate plan? Was he going to a McDonald's drive-thru to order a Big Mac and Mr. Happy Meal? Or maybe he was just driving with the windows down, felt the wind blowing through his hair, and he wondered how it might feel on his pubic hair? And aren't there some major chafing considerations with the lap belt?

Cullen however has shown contrition. In a released staement, he said:
“I would like to apologize to the Detroit Lions organization, our fans, my family and friends for any embarrassment these incidents have caused. These incidents represent a mistake in judgment on my part. I deeply regret them and have learned a valuable lesson. It won’t happen again.’’

Whew, I'm glad he's learned his lesson. I was under the assumption that most people just inately knew that it wasn't a good idea to go cruising in the buff; but apparantly, some people need that reality taught to them. Hopefully this story will prove to be a cautionary tale for those other individuals who might be unaware of notions such as common decency and self-respect.

Cullen, by the way, was previously fired from his job as an assistant at Ole Miss when he was arrested for public drunkeness. However noone from the Detroit Lions ever contacted the Ole Miss staff for a reference prior to hiring him. Boy, that Matt Millen sure knows how to pick 'em. I guess he was bored with just screwing up the Lions' roster with bad first round picks, so he moved on to the coaching staff. Mission accomplished.

You'll Get Nothing and Like It

Congrats to Annibal Sanchez for throwing the first no-hitter in MLB since Randy Johnson's perfect game in 2004. Of course, since the game was being played in Florida, the no-no was witnessed by about 2,500 fans (despite the fact that the Marlins are only 3 out in the Wild Card). Seriously, can't we relocate this franchise to a city that gives a damn about baseball?

As a reminder, Annibal Sanchez was acquired, along with Hanley Ramirez, from the Red Sox in the trade for Josh Beckett. That fire sale isn't looking so bad, afterall.

Monday, September 04, 2006

All is Forgiven

On College Gameday, Lou Holtz said the most impressive player this weekend was UCLA QB Ben Olson (25-33 318 yds, 3TDs, 0 Int). Nice pick, Lou. You now get a free pass on any stupid things you say for the rest of the season.

Mark May, however, is beyond redemption.

Unfortunately, I have horrible, horrible news to report. It looks like rain in Miami, which means the coeds in the stands will likely be heavily, heavily bundled. Tho there is about a 1% chance that a wet tshirt contest could break out. Hmmm..maybe this ESPN Full Circle isn't such a bad idea afterall.

Too Many Games, Too Few TVs

I sent my "Sports Gal" out for hot wings last night, and she never came back. I guess she feels I was watching a lil too much football this weekend. (I think the TCU-Baylor game was the last straw.) But she'll be back. Dancing with the Stars premieres in a week, and I'm sure she wouldn't want me to accidentally remove it from our Tivo Season Pass. Oh well, I'll worry about that later. For now, here are my reactions to the first weekend of college football:

-More embarassing than the 1-3 record I posted in my picks this weekend is the fact that it didn't occur to me until the BYU/Arizona game that the real impact of this season's new rules changes was that betting the "under" on point totals was a goldmine. Week 1 was a real opportunity for gamblers to build their bankroll by watching that clock run with no opportunity for points to be scored. Unfortunately, I expect sportsbooks to adjust by next weekend. I do apologize for missing that one. Congrats if you were able to connect the dots faster than I was. You're a smarter bettor than me. But I'm sure you knew that already...

-I'd like to send out a personal note of thanks to FSU alum Jenn Sterger. Not for the comforting reassurance in her SI advice column about my inner dork, but rather for the trend she started by wearing a bikini with her slutty friends to FSU home games. Now every coed with a halfway decent body is showing up to football games exposing as much skin as possible with the hopes of being discovered for a few minutes of fame. So, thank you, Jenn. You may be played out, but you truly are a pioneer...

-Calvin Johnson looked pretty much unstoppable. Barring injury, he's bound to be the first WR taken in the 2007 draft. I haven't a seen a wide receiver dominate a Notre Dame defense like that since Charles Rogers with Michigan State. Make sure you get a nice signing bonus, Calvin!

-I sure hope Louisville can get a refund whatever deposits they put down for any 'Michael Bush for Heisman' billboards that they were planning on putting up. With Bush out for the year, it's becoming increasingly likely that West Virginia will run up an undefeated season and make it to the BCS Championship Game...where they'll be routed by three touchdowns by either Ohio State, Texas, or USC. Given the Betty Crocker-like quality of WVA's schedule, the only real thing stopping the Mountaineers from an undefeated season would be if half their team gets arrested over the course of the season. So really, the odds are 50-50 of a title run...

-Just when I thought I was finally free of Paul Maguire, ESPN somehow found space for him in a college football booth. In case you were wondering if his ability to bring zero insight into the game translated to the college booth, his pregame key for the Cal Bears' defense was "Don't give up big plays." Thanks, Paul. Really helpful...

-I don't who was the bigger idiot in the Cal/Tennessee game. Paul Maguire for...well anything that came out of his mouth, or me for actually believing that Cal was a legit top 10 team this season. Way to represent the Pac-10, Bears...

-One of the things that makes me prefer the college game over the NFL is that in college, defenses are still allowed to hit the quarterback. Unless, of course, that quarterback is Brady Quinn...

-USC's offense took all of one quarter to find itself. But for that one quarter, it sure was nice thinking that the Pac 10 might be wide open this year. Three quarters and 47 points later, it became clear that the Trojans are still the team to beat. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted...

-One UCLA note: going into the season, I thought the running game was going to have to carry the offense until Ben Olson shook the rust off from a long layoff. After one game, it looks like I had that backwards. The running game looked horrible, but Ben Olson looks like a bona fide star in the making. Granted this is a premature overreaction to one game against a Mountain West team, but 2007 might be the year for UCLA to start their own Heisman campaign. Maybe they can use some of that Onepeat money to put up their own billboard.

-Ok, two UCLA notes: Not to go all Joe Theismann on ya, but I really like the job new defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker did against Utah. Unlike previous UCLA coordinators, he wasn't completely predictable in any situation. Instead they actually varied the blitz packages and coverages on passing downs. I know that sounds like an obvious thing to do, but for a UCLA fan, it's a breath of fresh air. Walker obviously brought some defensive prowess with him from the Washington Redskins, where he was their secondary coach. Now he's got the Bruins playing Redskins-style defense. With just a little more study, cornerbacks should be spitting in the faces of the opposition in no time:

Obviously spitting is a stupid thing to do, but the "U" could use some of that Sean Taylor, 7th floor fire tonight when they matchup against Florida State. The books have the Hurricanes as a 3.5 point favorite. I think the Seminoles' D will shut down Miami and tighten the noose on Larry Coker's coaching tenure.
My prediction: Florida St 17, Miami 13.

Given my track record, that means one thing for you- bet the house on Miami!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tick Tock

In an effort to shorten the length of college football games, the NCAA made a few rules changes during the summer that have been glossed over by analysts thus far. On kickoffs this season, the clock will start when the ball is kicked rather than when the ball is received. Secondly, and more significantly, on all changes of possession, the clock will start as soon as the ball is signalled ready for play rather than when it is snapped.

These new rules won't have a major impact during the general course of the game, however where they will rear their ugly heads is during the last two minutes when a team is trying to rally from behind. Those magical moments of a team in a two minute drill working for that miracle win are going to be fewer and farther between because there are going to be too many opportunities for a leading team to drain the clock without even snapping the ball. Even if a trailing team has its full complement of timeouts, it won't have the option of kicking away after a score in the last minute, because the new clock rules provide the leading team with four chances to run the clock before punting. It won't be long (perhaps today) when the game clinchng play will be taking a delay of game after a kickoff or punt. Feel the excitement!

There's an easy fix to this rule, and the NCAA needs only to look to the NFL to find the solution. A few years ago, the NFL was concerned about the increasing length of games and decided that if a player goes out of bounds, the clock will stop momentarily, but would resume as soon as the ball was ready for play. The NFL however had foresight that the NCAA lacked, and so they stipulated that this timing rule would not be in effect during the last five minutes of each half. This rule has had its desired effect- games have shortened, however there's been minimal impact on the integrity of the game.

I don't know if there has ever been a rule changed midseason, but if there ever was one deserving of immediate change, it's this one. College can start running the clock on a change of possession for 50 of the 60 minutes. but the last five minutes of a half is not the time to eliminate plays. Unfortunately, I don't see the Powers That Be taking any action until after the season. Well, unless the rule somehow stymies a late rally by Notre Dame, in which case there will be an emergency meeting by the NCAA to make sure such a travesty never happens again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Next Question

This will probably be played on the NFL Network approximately 4,562 times over the weekend, but just in case you haven't seen it yet, it looks like the King has let all those gamebreaking plays get to his head:

Fun on the Net

It looks like Bill Simmons has finally come to terms with the fact that he's stuck in a bit of a rut. Today's article should have just had this intro: "Listen, I'm dry on ideas right now, and I know I haven't been entertaining since the NBA season ended; but look, here are some websites that actually are enjoyable. So check these out, give me a break, and maybe when I can start writing about NFL spreads in a week, I'll be worth reading again."

Ya know, Sports Guy, I actually appreciated this post. I would much rather see your column as a portal to other forms of entertainment than read an article about how this USA basketball team would be better with Larry Legend lacing it up. And hey, I've been in those writing ruts too. Heck, I'm kinda in one now. Of course, the difference is that you get paid six figures for your column and I have to beg for Amazon and Google clicks. And let's be honest, you always knew that you were a glorified blogger- not that there's anything wrong with that. However the last year or so, you seem to be ashamed of that fact. I on the other hand, have neither glory nor shame. So here are my web recommendations for the day:

The Hater Nation. NFL Adam has taken it to another level over the last few months. Whenever I'm about to write a post, I always have to check his site first to see if he's already come up with the idea- which he usually has, only his post was funnier than mine would have been. (He's even starting to post more pics of hot women too. That bastard! Now I've got to post two gratuitous pics today just to give people a reason to come back.)

The Big Picture. Pac 10 football is about to begin. The Big Picture should be all over least until Washington is out of the running. Which is to say, make sure you read the Big Picture within the next three weeks!

Paul Phillips' Blog on LiveJournal. Still the best blog by a poker player, mainly because it's not a blog that's only about poker. In fact these days, it's rarely about poker. Really good commentary on world affairs, technology, and well, scrabble tournaments.

Wicked Chops Poker
. Great poker blog that's actually about poker.

Mean Gene. Last poker blog recommendation, at least for today.

Anytime Bruce Feldman blogs about college football betting lines (insider membership required.) Very much like my picks each week, except accurate.

Hot Bellas Venezolanas
(NSFW). Hot Venezuelan women. What more do you need? (Just turn off the radio as soon as it launches.)

Man, that was fun sharing my bookmarks. Think Page 2 will hire me??

Are You Ready for Some Gamble?

Yesterday, I said goodbye to my family. Football season has begun, so I won't be seeing them again for another five months. I thought perhaps this year my addiction wouldn't be as bad as it has in the past. But considering that yesterday I watched portions of the Boston College/Central Michigan, South Carolina/Mississippi St, Northwestern/Miami (OH), Eastern Washington/Oregon St, Northern Arizona/Arizona St, and UTEP/SDSU games, it's probably fair to say that I've got a ways to go towards recovery. So as long as I'm admitting the problem, I might as well embrace it and spice things up with some sportsbook action. Here are my (for entertainment purposes only, of course) picks for this weekend:

Cal -2 at Tennessee. The fact that Cal just decided a week ago who their starting QB would be makes me nervous. But as long as Nate Longshore's main job is to hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, then Cal should be able to go on the road and beat a Tennessee team that still has a lot to prove. Tennessee QB Eric Ainge completed only 45% of his passes last season. He should continue to struggle again to start out this season...even against a Pac 10 defense. Cal 20, Tenn 17.

Notre Dame -6.5 at Georgia Tech. Charlie Weis has taken a page out of Lou Holtz' book and is saying all the right things about Ga Tech being a dangerous team that will be fired up to take down the Irish. The Yellow Jackets do have a dangerous weapon in WR Calvin Johnson, and the Notre Dame defense isn't exactly stalwart, but the last time I checked, Georgia Tech was still coached by Chan Gailey, and he's still running the same plays that didn't work when he was with the Cowboys. The Jackets will score some points, but it won't be enough to match Brady Quinn and Co. Notre Dame 38, Ga Tech 21.

San Jose St +19.5
at Washington. Seemingly every year, a big conference school overlooks San Jose State and finds themselves in a dogfight. Combine that with the fact that the Huskies are coming off one of their worst seasons ever and probably shouldn't be favored over anyone by almost three TDs, and I see no choice but to pick the Spartans. Ty Willingham should get a win in this game, but it's going to be a battle. Washington 30, SJSU 20.

Utah +3 at UCLA. I hope I'm wrong about this one, but I think Utah wins this game outright. Last season, UCLA's m.o. was to fall behind by two touchdowns in the first half and then rally with Drew Olson and Maurice Drew. Well, those two guys are gone now, and while Ben Olson may eventually become an elite QB, there are going to be some growing pains. Utah will be starting Brett Ratliff, who last year led the team to wins over BYU and Georgia Tech, putting up close to 40 points a game. The scoreboard operator will be busy, but in the end, Karl Dorrell will have a grim look on his face. Actually, Dorrell will have a grim look even if UCLA wins. Utah 38, UCLA 31.'s opening weekend of the college football season, and I just picked 4 road teams. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Did I mention these picks were for entertainment purposes only?