Friday, September 28, 2007

Rambling Away On a Sleepless Night

It's 4:15 and I still haven't fallen asleep yet. That would be fine if I were in a Vegas casino right now, but unfortunately, I'm just sitting on the couch watching ESPNews. For about the 12th time, I've seen Hope Solo throw Brianna Scurry under the bus and a forlorn Willie Randolph at a loss to explain the Mets untimely collapse; and the whole time, my mind has chosen this as the soundtrack for those stories:

Sorry, I know that clip has nothing to do with sports, but Brandi McClain (the blonde) was a memorable part of puberty for me way back in 1989, and I thought it would be nice to see this vid when I wake up in a couple hours.

In a tepid effort to make this seem like an actual sports post, here is a quick trip in the wayback machine to the state of baseball in 1989, the year "Free Fallin'" was made:

The Mets finished 2nd in the NL East to the Chicago Cubs behind the bats of cork lover Howard Johnson, coke lover Darryl Strawberry, and chick magnet Lenny Dystrka. (Dykstra had been heard to meet women at a bar and greet them with this line: "I'm Lenny Dykstra. Want to suck my c*ck?"). Also top prospect and baseball card collection killer Gregg Jefferies finished the season with a batting average of .258.

The Royals were a legitimate baseball team, finishing in 2nd place in the AL West with 92 wins, thanks to guys like Brett Saberhagen, Bo Jackson, Danny Tartabull, and George Brett. That was their last 90+ win season.

The A's swept the Giants in the World Series; however, the series is better remembered for the earthquake which severely damaged the Bay Bridge and among other things, caused a 10 day delay in between games. Here's one interesting tidbit, courtesy of Armchair GM, from the day of the quake:
"Joe the time working as a special guest analyst for ESPN...was given the task of playing roving reporter (interviewing players such as Rickey Henderson and Dave Parker) immediately following the earthquake. Torre was with Chris Berman in the upper deck section when the earthquake hit. Torre had to convince Berman about three times to walk down the steps for safety." I won't mock Berman for being shaken in an earthquake because I've been through plenty and seen people emotionally scarred by them, but I do find it telling that Joe Torre was level-headed and focused during a time of turmoil.

The Yankees, managed by Dallas Green and Bucky Dent, finished 13 games under .500. Fire Joe Morgan favorite Mike Pagliarulo hit .197 that year. Interestingly, Pags played alongside Bob Geren, who is now the manager of the Oakland A's as well as a longtime friend of GM Billy Beane. Beane is oftentimes a target of derision on Mike Pagliarulo's website. A more enterprising writer might look into that sometime.

A 24 year-old Barry Bonds looked like this:

It was a long time ago indeed.


This Column Is Not Approved by Brian Cook

As I wander through life, I've come to realize that there are a few vices (quite a few actually) that will always have a hold on me no matter how much I'd like to pretend otherwise. Whether it's a double deck game of 21, a 20 year-old tawny port, or a 19 year-old, redheaded stripper, I know that ultimately, resistance is futile. Also making the list is my affinity for betting on the road team in college football, even though it's probably the one sport where home field advantage has the greatest significance. This week, I'm totally succumbing to my weaknesses and taking all road teams. But I don't have any trips planned for Vegas or the Spearmint Rhino this weekend, so at least I've got that going for me.

West Virginia -7 at South Florida
South Florida is a great story, a trendy sleeper pick, and Jim Leavitt is a helluva coach. Unfortunately for the Bulls, all the coaching and preparation in the world doesn't mean much if the opposition is faster than you, and West Virginia has a wealth of team speed. I learned that the hard way last week when I took ECU. I won't make the same mistake twice. I'll make an entirely different mistake instead.

Alabama +2 at Florida State
The way I see it, there's no way Nick Saban loses this game. He's ticked about the loss to Georgia, he's ticked that there's a picture of his niece (reportedly) circulating on the net, and he's ticked that Mike Patrick cares more about Britney Spears' self-destruction than his own rebuilding efforts. My guess is that he hasn't left his office yet this week preparing for this game. Much like Saban's niece, this game might not be pretty, but it will do its part to enhance Saban's image as an arrogant, controlling, bombastic coach who has to impress his will on others at all costs. That might be bad for humanity, but it's great for gamblers.

UCLA +2 at Oregon State, Under 54.5
As Bruins Nation has already detailed extensively, Mike Riley is the perfect coach for UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker to scheme against. He runs a straightforward, pro-style offense with an immobile quarterback. Until Sean Canfield gets more accurate in the passing game, Yvenson Bernard will be the team's only weapon. The Bruins showed last week versus Washington that their defense does fine when there's only one player to key on. It won't be an impressive victory- because, well, it's Karl Dorrell afterall- but a victory nonetheless.

Oklahoma -23 at Colorado and USC -21 at Washington
Same story on both of these games. OU and Southern Cal are absolutely dominating teams, and until someone shows that they can slow them down, I'm not thinking about betting against them. By the way, I know it's early, but right now a final four of USC, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and the Florida/LSU winner sure does look appealing. I can't wait for those playoffs to start. Oh wait...

YTD: 16-11

(Oh, and to decipher the headline, check out the latest blogger interview that is part of the great series Zach has featured in The Big Picture.)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Nightcap

Tonight's Nightcap is being dedicated to San Diego fans, because the only way anyone could possibly enjoy watching the Padres right now is with a very heavy buzz...

The Padres did somehow manage to rally in the 9th inning on a Brian Giles home run to beat the Giants and remain a game ahead in the wild card race. I don't know why they are torturing fans like this. I'm pretty sure at this point, not even Padres fans want to see the Pads make the playoffs. With the offense falling apart, injuries everywhere, and Chris Young still feeling the effects of a bad back, there's no way this team is winning more than one game in the playoffs. I hope they do all baseball
fans a favor and bow out of the race so that a team with a fighting chance- the Phillies or Rockies- can get a shot at postseason glory...

Personally, I'm rooting for Colorado if for no other reason than to challenge Tim McCarver to learn the names of the players on the Rockies roster. Troy Tulowitzki might be a career ender...

The Dodgers were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their loss to Colorado, putting manager Grady Little in a reflective mood:

"When we came out of that series over in Colorado, that took every bit of the air out of our balloon that was possibly in there," manager Grady Little said. "It's tough for everyone to swallow. We feel terrible about it. We feel worse than anyone. There's a lot going through my mind. It's been a long year, but I'm proud of the boys for putting together the season they did to get this deep - facing all the adversity we faced this year."

a) Yes, balloons are tough to swallow. You shouldn't try it- it's dangerous. That's why only a select few impoverished women are chosen as mules to bring drugs into this land of opportunity.
b) I hope by "all the adversity," Little meant "all the crappy signings Ned Colletti made in the offseason." Jason Schmidt? Juan Pierre? Luis Gonzalez? Nomar Garciaparra? Those guys would have given the Indians a heckuva run in the 1997 World Series, but unfortunately for the Blue Crew, my calendar reads 2007. But hey, good luck with Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds next year...

Well Bears fans, the good news is that Rex Grossman isn't your quarterback anymore. The bad news is that Brian Griese is. Nice contingency plan. Bears' fans have to be the first in history to wonder to each other, "If only we had signed Jeff Garcia in the offseason..."

Just when it seemed like things couldn't get any worse for the Saints, Deuce McAllister is out for the year with a torn ACL. But there still is a glimmer of hope for New Orleans. General Manager Mickey Loomis should get on the phone with the Dolphins right now and work out a trade for Ricky Williams. (Just don't give up all of next year's draft to get him.) Williams is eligible for reinstatement October 1, and the Dolphins have shown no interest in putting him on the roster- so why not ship him where he could do some good? It would be a poetic ending to his career if the player who was supposed to be the franchise's savior in 1999 was able to redeem himself in New Orleans. And if it turns out he can't run anymore, at least he could light up a few bowls, fill the Superdome with smoke, and the hometown fans wouldn't really care that their team wasn't any good this year...

There seems to be a pretty even divide in the response to Mike Gundy's tirade. Half think that college athletes on scholarship are fair targets for the mainstream media, while others think they should be left alone. UCLA head football coach Karl Dorrell thinks both groups are correct. He believes his players should only be mentioned by name when discussing losses, but in all other circumstances, the media should give all credit to the coach...

I would, however, like to thank Mike Gundy for letting the world know that it's ok for me to act like a kid since I haven't hit my 40th birthday. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm getting hungry, and mom says the chicken is almost ready...


Surrey County DA Finally Realizes That Maybe Michael Vick Was Up To No Good

I'm tired of this story. You're tired of this story. But just to wrap things up for a bit- if anyone was wondering what it was going to take for the Surrey County DA to actually press charges against hometown hero Michael Vick, it turns out that a confession and an apology finally did the trick. Barely.

I don't really understand why Vick isn't offered double jeopardy protection from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. But then again, all of my legal education is from ESPN, so why should I know anything? There's speculation that if the charges are allowed to proceed, then Vick will plea this out and try to get concurrent sentences. That seems like the smart thing to do. Personally, I think it would be far more entertaining if he were to try to prove his innocence despite having a confession on the record. Crazy thing is: in a Virginia trial by jury, he might actually get away with it. After seeing this video, I can see how easy it is to be persuaded by Ookie's charm and am now convinced of his innocence:

I just hope someday, Vick is able to use his resources to find the real kingpin.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mike Patrick Is Losing His Mind

At one point in the Georgia-Alabama game, the Crimson Tide was called for defensive pass interference on a slant pattern inside their own 20. ESPN showed a slow motion shot from the end zone in which you could clearly see the Georgia receiver's jersey being stretched out by the Alabama corner who was tugging at it to slow him down. It was an obvious pass interference. Immediately, after the replay, Mike Patrick announced decisively, "I didn't like that call." I thought to myself that at Patrick's age, he might be losing his eyesight. Little did I know, he was actually losing his mind.

The game was very tightly contested throughout and ended up going into overtime. Alabama got the ball first and ended up kicking a field goal. As Georgia prepared to take the field for their key possession in what was a huge game for both teams, there were a few questions to ponder. What would Georgia's approach be? Would they take a shot for the win with the passing game or knowing that the only way they could likely lose would be with a turnover, go with a more conservative approach? Would Georgia be able to trust their kicker after he'd just missed one that would have won the game at the end of regulation? Mike Patrick, however, had a more pressing question for Todd Blackledge:

Maybe this is the result of spending a career working with Paul Maguire, Joe Theismann and Dick Vitale, but as Patrick himself would say, Ho-lee Cow!

Labels: ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Spread Em Where I Can See Em

There aren't many compelling games on the college football schedule this weekend. If you're in need of earning some points with your significant other, this Saturday is an ideal time to sacrifice some football viewing for the greater good. On the other hand, there's a very easy remedy that makes any game more exciting- gamble on it! This week's picks:

Michigan State -11.5 at Notre Dame
The next touchdown that Notre Dame's offense scores this season will be their first. Last week, I made the mistake of thinking Notre Dame was at least as good as Troy. That won't happen again. The Spartans get to exorcise some demons from their 4th qtr collapse in last season's matchup.

Washington +6.5 at UCLA
While both teams are coming off of losses, the defeats had two very different feels to them. Washington hung tough with a tradition-rich school, Ohio State, and established that they could play with the big boys. Optimism for the Jake Locker era should be very high in Seattle. Meanwhile, UCLA was humiliated against a mediocre Utah team and flat-out gave up in the second half. If the Bruins face any adversity against Washington- and they will- there's no reason to believe the team will respond well. Add to the equation that UCLA comes into the game with a ton of injuries at key positions, and forget about covering the spread- it's hard to imagine UCLA even winning the game.

Cal -14 vs Arizona
Lost amongst all of the criticism directed towards Lloyd Carr, Charlie Weis, and Karl Dorrell is the fact that the seat is getting awfully hot for Mike Stoops. He was brought in to turnaround the program, but instead they're just spinning their wheels. Since beating UCLA 52-14 in 2005 in what was thought to be a watershed victory for Arizona, the Wildcats have only 7 wins against 10 losses. It can't help that ASU is looking pretty potent on offense this year and might actually become Pac-10 contenders in the near future. Things are just going to get hotter for Stoops this weekend as Cal's firepower will just be too much to handle.

East Carolina +25 at West Virginia
Nobody stops West Virginia's rushing attack, but ECU has done a good job of at least slowing them down in the past. That should be enough to stay within 3 tds and figgie.

Oregon -17.5 at Stanford
Oregon should rush for 300 yards in this game. It's just a shame this isn't at Autzen stadium, because it would be quite a joy to have Oregon cheerleader shots after every TD the Ducks are going to score.

Utah State -3 vs San Jose State
This game might determine who is the worst Div I-A team west of the Mississippi. San Jose State must really miss James Jones as they've been outscored 116-17 through three games. Utah State isn't much better, losing their three games by a combined score of 109-37. This is San Jose State's fourth consecutive game on the road; although having visited San Jose a few times, I can't say that I blame the team for wanting to leave the armpit of the peninsula as often as possible...even for Logan, Utah.

Michigan +3
vs Penn State
Every factor is pointing in Penn State's favor, except one. Each Thursday, during halftime of the ESPN game, Lou Holtz gives a "pep talk" to a team playing that weekend. I have to admit, as hokie as they are, I actually enjoy them, Sylvester the Cat delivery and all. Unfortunately, they haven't been too effective for the team involved. First, it was a pep talk for Michigan as they went on to face Oregon. Oops. Then, it was a pep talk for Nebraska as they prepared for USC. Uh oh. This week, he's in Penn State's locker room:

Poor, Nittany Lions. They won't know what hit them.

(YTD: 12-8)


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

McNabb Needs To Play Every Week Like It's Shark Week

This is not a fun time to be Donovan McNabb. It must be unsettling when he lines up behind center and realizes that Kevin Curtis and Jason Avant are the only guys that can save him from being replaced by Kevin Kolb as the Eagles QB next season. He might think there will be greener pastures on other rosters, but considering that right now, Daunte Culpepper can't beat out Josh McCown in Oakland and Byron Leftwich is auditioning to see if he can take snaps away from Joey Harrington, life on the waiver wire doesn't seem to be full of opportunity. In hindsight, I'm sure McNabb wishes he'd treated Terrell Owens differently. Sure Owens is crazy and a megalomaniac, but at least he got open down the field. If T.O. is the Tracy Jordan of the league, then McNabb should have been his DotCom. (McNabb, after Owens drops a pass: "Wow, T.O., I can't believe you almost caught that, what with the crazy spin I put on the ball. Sorry, man. I'll do better next time.") At least then, McNabb would have some job security and maybe a few more wins (McNabb is 9-13 in his starts since the Super Bowl.)

Maybe McNabb should learn to kick a football between two goalposts. Apparently, you can play forever if you can do that consistently. The Falcons just signed 47 year-old kicker Morten Andersen after rookie Matt Prater went 1 for 4 to start the year. Andersen was drafted in 1982. To get a perspective on how much his career has outlived its generation, here are some other players from that '82 draft class: Jim McMahon, Darrin Nelson, Marcus Allen, Bubba Paris, and Mark Duper. When Morten Andersen entered the league, Jim Brown was still the all-time rushing leader (he's now 8th), Phoebe Cates was taking off her bikini top on the big screen, and Valerie Bertinelli was still thin. It was a long time ago. Now, Andersen just needs to stay in the league one more season and for the second consecutive year, one of George Blanda's records will be broken, this time for oldest player ever to suit up for a game. (The other record is the career INT record which Brett Favre will break shortly.)

It would also heighten Donovan McNabb's legacy if he were to take up placekicking. I'm pretty sure once he made his first field goal, he would immediately become the 2nd greatest black kicker of all-time. The best, of course, is the legendary Donald Igwebuike, who incidentally, is younger than Morten Andersen. It might not seem like much, but it's gotta be better than backing up Matt Schaub in Houston next season.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gambling: It's Not Just For Kids Anymore

Sorry for the lack of updates this week. The last few days have been a bit rough for me and I just haven't had the energy for any updates. Hopefully I can turn it around next week. What better way to start some momentum than with a little (hypothetical) gambling? Here are some picks for this weekend, which you should summarily dismiss:

USC -10
at Nebraska
USC is coming off of a bye week. One in which I'm sure Pete Carroll told his players that people are doubting them after their lackluster performance versus Idaho. I'm sure he also mentioned that LSU is nipping at their heels in the polls. This is a statement game for the Trojans, and Sam Keller, Bill Callahan and Marlon Lucky will be powerless to stop them. This one could be ugly.

Florida -8 vs Tennessee
Maybe I'm oversimplifying things on this one, but...if Cal and Florida were to play on a neutral field, I would have to think that Florida would be favored by at least six points. Given what Cal did to Tennessee earlier this year, I think Florida should be able to make this a two touchdown game.

Notre Dame +9.5 at Michigan
Notre Dame is awful, no doubt about it. Historically awful, even. They have negative rushing yards on the season, and have resorted to starting a true freshman quarterback. So why am I picking them? Because at this point, Michigan shouldn't be favored by 9.5 over anyone. Just imagine that Michigan is playing someone like Troy, or Army, or Middle Tennessee State instead of ND, and it should be easier to rationalize going with the underdog.

Fresno State at Oregon UNDER 64
Oregon will do their part to put up points, but going from losing a triple overtime game in College Station and then traveling to Autzen Stadium is just going to be too much for the Bulldogs.

UCLA at Utah OVER 44.5
UCLA's defense hasn't played a complete game yet, having lapses in the first half against Stanford and the second half against BYU. It's unlikely that they'll be interested enough against the Utes to put it all together this week either. That should suffice to give Utah around 17 points, which combined with UCLA's 30 will be enough to cover the over.

Colorado +4.5 vs Florida State
While ND/Michigan deservedly gets a lot of publicity, this is Hot Seat Bowl II. Dan Hawkins really needs a signature win to show that his hiring wasn't a mistake. Beating FSU might not be as impressive as it would have been a few years ago, but the name recognition alone would be enough to buy Hawkins some more time in his rebuilding process.

Enjoy your weekend. Good luck to all*.

*unless you're betting opposite my picks, in which case, screw you, man.

(YTD: 9-5)


Monday, September 10, 2007

Half the League's Fans Can Go Ahead and Give Up Hope Now

The NFL has to be happy that the Giants-Cowboys shootout was the last impression left on football fans Sunday. Hopefully the scoring bonanza will help erase the memory that up to that point, the games were noteworthy mostly for their pathetic offense. Over half (15) of the teams that have played thus far in week 1 have scored no more than one offensive touchdown, including six offenses that never reached the end zone. The Seattle Mariners outscored 10 teams today. The one silver lining to all of this offensive ineptitude is that maybe Fantasy Football will lose some of its popularity, and people will turn their focus on purer reasons to watch football games, such as gambling...

Today's games lacked continuity and direction, and so shall this post. A few observations:

Vince Young has thrown for under 100 yards in four of his career starts. Amazingly, he is 3-1 in those games...

More random stats: Marc Bulger averaged 3.97 yards per passing attempt. LaDanian Tomlinson averaged 1.47 yards per carry. LaDanian Tomlinson has more TD passes than Brett Favre. Mario Williams has more TDs than Reggie Bush...

Bigger upset over the weekend: South Florida over Auburn, South Carolina over Georgia, or Bonnie Bernstein looking better than Erin Andrews? Bonnie looks like she spent the offseason hitting the gym with Eddie "Guns" Hochuli. Meanwhile, even Jenna Jameson thinks Erin needs to eat something...

If you put together the rosters of the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Buccaneers, would you be able to produce a team that was capable of winning half of its games?

Brandon Jacobs set a goal for himself of 1500 yards rushing this season. If his injury is as bad as it looked, he's going to end up just 1,474 yards short of that goal...

Other impactful injuries: Orlando Pace, possibly gone for the year; Jason Ferguson, out for the year; Jon Jansen, likely out for the year; Lito Sheppard, sprained knee- MRI scheduled; Eli Manning, bruised labia.

In a few years, we will be wondering how Adrian Peterson slipped down to #7 overall in the 2007 draft in the same way that we now look at LaDanian Tomlinson slipping to #5 in the 2001 draft. Interestingly, in both years, Cleveland and Arizona had the opportunity to select the difference-making backs, but chose linemen instead. Maybe that's why they're picking in the top 10 every year...

Top 5 rookie performances Sunday:
1. Adrian Peterson: 19 carries, 103 yards; 1 catch, 60 yards, 1 TD: 1 KR, 22 yds.
2. Marshawn Lynch: 19 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches, 9 yards.
3. Mason Crosby: 3/3 FG, including 53 yds and GW FG.
4. Reggie Nelson: 7 Tackles, 1 sack, 1 Forced Fumble.
5. Calvin Johnson: 4 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD.

So that's what Randy Moss can do on the field when he isn't stoned? Impressive. Definitely worth a 4th pick...

Romeo Crennel has not yet announced who will be his starting quarterback in week 2. He needs to find a three-sided coin before he can make his decision.

Hopefully teams are just shaking off some rust, and the quality of play will improve within the next few weeks. If not, someone should get on the phone with Troy Glaus or Rick Ankiel or Barry Bonds or Jay Gibbons to see if they have any pointers.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Let the Poll Dancing Begin

The problem with preseason polls is that too many voters use them as a template for their ensuing polls. This makes it virtually impossible for a team that starts out low in the polls to ever get a sniff at #1, regardless of what they do in the regular season. (Just ask Boise State from last year or Auburn a few years prior.) Ideally, there wouldn't be any official polls until at least after the first month of the season so that voters could actually see all the teams play some legitimate competition before ordering their rankings.

But since all polls are meaningless at this point anyway, I might as well have one too. Here are my top 10 after two weeks.

1. LSU (2-0)
After the way Virginia Tech and Miami were destroyed this weekend, maybe it was the ACC, not the Pac-10, that Les Miles meant to call soft. LSU should be able to cruise through September, giving their young offense time to mature before their October 6 showdown with Florida.

2. Oklahoma (2-0)
Michael Irvin had to double his order of blow this week to numb the pain of the 51-13 whoopin' Oklahoma put on "Tha U." Oklahoma went 7th floor on his Hurricanes.

3. USC (1-0)
USC might be the most talented team in the country, but they haven't played anyone yet. Next week, they get a chance to prove themselves at Nebraska. John David Booty is going to have to play a lot better vs Nebraska than he did against Idaho if he plans on getting any more women to create ass billboards in his honor.

4. Florida (2-0)
Giving up 31 points to Troy is worrisome, but that's actually adequate as long as their offense continues to average 54 points per game. Tim Tebow is like a bigger, stronger, more accurate and more mobile version of Rex Grossman. In other words, he's nothing like Rex Grossman.

5. West Virginia (2-0)
The Mountaineers looked in danger of possibly losing to Marshall until the Thundering Herd let WVa know that they had no intention of trying to pull of the win by foregoing a shot at the endzone towards the end of the 1st half, and setting up for a field goal instead. From that point on, West Virginia caught fire like a Morgantown couch on gameday. Running back Noel Devine looks like the latest "next Reggie Bush" to hit the college scene, tho he'll likely have to wait until 2008 for his hype machine to get in gear.

6. South Carolina (2-0)
They earned the spot by shutting down Georgia. But I have a feeling the Cocks won't be staying up all that long.

7. Oregon (2-0)
The timing and touch on the passes Dennis Dixon threw Saturday would have been impressive if he was just making them on an empty field with nobody around but he and his receivers. Actually, with Michigan's defense, it's practically the same thing.

8. Texas (2-0)
We can cross TCU's name off the list of candidates for "This year's Boise State." We can cross Boise State off of it too.

9. Louisville (2-0)
I'm crossing my fingers for a Louisville vs Hawaii BCS bowl game in January. It might be the first time that Vegas has set an over/under in the triple digits.

10. Penn State (2-0)
The Nittany Lions might be the best team in Big 10, which this season is kind of like being the best new comedy on Fox.

On the outside, looking in: The other 109 teams in Division I football.

That's just one drunken man's opinion. What's yours?


Friday, September 07, 2007

Time To Do That Gambling Thing Again...Just For Pretend, Of Course

If you check out the ads for various pointspread services, they'll often say something sensational along the lines of: "If you can win 60% of your games, you can win $100,000 in a month." Well, after one week, I'm right at 50% exactly. So if 60% means rich in a month, then 50% just means it will take a little bit longer, right?

Here are the college picks for this weekend.

Alabama -3.5 at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt is an improving team, and Chris Nickson to Earl Bennett is a potent combination, but this isn't the day that Vandy ends its 22 game losing streak to the Crimson Tide. Besides, there's a bigger story at work here, which is just beginning to play itself out. Alabama is going to start the year out strong- possibly beating Arkansas and/or Georgia early- and Bama fans will revel in their genius of luring Nick Saban to Tuscaloosa. Then, just as the bandwagon is picking up steam, it will veer off course, crashing and burning with big losses to LSU and Auburn- only to save face in their bowl game and start the love-hate cycle anew. But if you want real numbers, there's this: Vanderbilt gave up 149 yards rushing to the Richmond Spiders. Alabama rushed for 313 in their first game, and should have no problem controlling this one.
Alabama 31 Vanderbilt 20.

Washington State -13.5 vs San Diego State
The Cougars hung tough with Wisconsin last week before eventually wearing down and losing by 3 tds. Nevertheless, I always like to bet on a team when they return home after an early test on the road, so long as they were respectable in that road game. Wazzu should be looking to reestablish some confidence and the Aztecs are usually more than accomodating.
Washington State 45 San Diego State 21.

Boise State -3 at Washington.
Jake Locker looked real good for the Huskies against Syracuse, and Washington fans have to be encouraged with the improvement in their offense. They should be able to put up a few points against Boise State. But Boise State's offense is a machine. Boise State has won 14 straight, during which they've only been held under 36 points twice. I think Washington will hang in early with help from the crowd, but Ian Johnson will wear down the defense and Boise State will pull away in the second half.
Boise State 41 Washington 24

BYU at UCLA under 47
It wasn't all that long ago that just one of these teams could surpass the 47 point total if these two were to match up. But these days, the Bruins and Cougars win with defense. Last week, BYU held Arizona to 7 points while the Bruins held Stanford to 17. Additionally, UCLA is a bit shaky at placekicker, making points a bit tougher to come by.
UCLA 21, BYU 16.

Oregon +7.5 at Michigan
One of two things will happen. One scenario is that Michigan will come out fired up, Mike Hart will break off a big run early, and the Wolverines will steamroll the Ducks. The other is that Chad Henne will turn the ball over early, leading to an Oregon score; and Michigan will tighten up, expecting bad things to happen. Anytime I'm faced with two choices and one includes a Henne turnover, I'm picking that one. By the way, Michigan still hasn't won since Bo Schembechler died. Maybe a seance is in order.
Oregon 19, Michigan 17

Florida -26.5 vs Troy
This might be a BCS championship game preview...sorta. It could be Gators-Trojans, tho it will be a different group calling themselves the Men of Troy. Last week, Florida beat Western Kentucky 49-3, and afterwards, Urban Meyer was actually disappointed with the way his defense played. I think Meyer will challenge his D, and they'll rise to the occasion. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Florida's defense outscored Troy's offense. Of course when Florida has the ball, they've got some guy named Tim Tebow that's supposed to be pretty good. This one will be ugly
Florida 52, Troy 10.

Best o' luck. Feel free to call me an idiot either before or after these games are resolved.

(Year to date: 4-4)

The Softer Side of Juice Deuce

Andy Katz has a nice piece on the debut of USC freshman OJ Mayo at an exhibition in Mazatlan. The article is noteworthy not so much for the stories he relates, but rather for the possibilities they present.

For one, perhaps there is another side to OJ Mayo than the one that has been presented in the mainstream media and blogs (including this one), and he's actually a misunderstood, industrious kid just trying to do what's best for his future.

More importantly, if USC was accompanied by any members of their spirit squad, then on some digital camera somewhere, there have to be pictures of SC song girls frolicking on the beaches of Mazatlan.

Oh. Sweet. Jesus.

Labels: ,

Shoot Me Up A Winner, Bobby

The New York Daily News is reporting that in 2004, Cardinals catalyst and one of the rare feel-good stories of the summer, Rick Ankiel, received a 12-month supply of human growth hormone from a Florida pharmacy. For Cards fans, this has to feel like they were just shown an alternate version of The Natural in which Roy Hobbs' pain becomes so severe that he has to shoot up with morphine before each game; and eventually, he robs a drifter for a fix, beats him to death with the Savoy Special, and finds himself sentenced to life in prison. (Actually, I think I'd watch that movie.) I wouldn't be surprised at all tomorrow to tune into Deadspin and see that its creator and ardent Cardinals fan, Will Leitch, has mimicked MGoBlog's response after the Wolverines lost to Appalachian State and replaced the entire site with pictures of kittens.

Of course, Ankiel will either deny the allegations or more likely, give some version of "I can't comment at this time, but I look forward to clearing my name." Meanwhile, Cardinals fans will rally around Ankiel as long he continues to hit homers. Even those who acknowledge his guilt will likely point out that this all occurred before major league baseball had banned HGH. If that excuse sounds familiar, it's because it's exactly what Giants fans will tell you if you bring up the name Barry Lamar Bonds. Of course, the difference between the two is that Bonds was actually a good player before he started using performance enhancers- tho neither one of them was able to hit home plate with a throw when it counted in the playoffs.

Fortunately for Rick Ankiel, even if he is proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have received this shipment, a figure from another sport has provided a unique rationalization for such a purchase. You may recall that the NFL recently suspended former Bears assistant coach and current Cowboys quarterback coach Wade Wilson for five games after they learned that he too had received a shipment of HGH. Thursday, Wade Wilson revealed that while he was using the drug as a performance enhancer, it was for a much different type of performance than its typical use. Wilson was experimenting with HGH to treat impotence that was brought on by his diabetes and is not treatable by conventional methods. He purchased the substances from a "Florida rejuvenation clinic" for between $3,000 and $4,000. Wow- that is one expensive erection. If only he had seen the private pictures of Vanessa Hudgens- he would have been able to save a few bucks.

So maybe that was the case with Rick Ankiel. Maybe he had a little trouble lifting his bat and called on the fix-all hormone of champions. I know Rafael Palmeiro is wishing he'd thought of it.

By the way, while searching for a corresponding photo for this post, I came across this image, which I had to include because while not quite fitting, it made me think of the following exchange:

-I can't inject you with window cleaner.

-I don't mind. Hey, what does it do anyway?

-It causes your brain to die last.

-I don't mind.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Affairs of State Must Take Precedence Over Affairs of State

I'm out for the day, so there won't be an update until tonight. Enjoy the debut of the NFL tonight. Should be an exciting game, unless you're a fan of punting, in which case you might want to pass this one up.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Touchdown Jesus and Ann Arbor Got Worked Over At the Football Orgy

Now that the hangover has lifted and the dust has settled, it's time to take a quick look back at what was a very entertaining opening weekend of college football:

While Lloyd Carr will deservedly be on the hot seat after the Wolverines' historic loss, it was actually poor coaching by Appalachian State that provided viewers with such a frenetic finish. Trailing 32-32 with no timeouts remaining, App State drove down to the Michigan five yard line for a first down with 30 seconds remaining in the game, at which time Michigan called timeout. Even tho App State didn't have a timeout to rely on, 30 seconds would have been plenty of time for the Mountaineers to run a play up the middle (or more conservatively, take a knee), then line-up and wait to spike the ball with little time remaining so that the field goal attempt would be the last play of the game. Or at the very least, force Michigan to burn one more timeout before kicking the field goal. Instead, coach Jerry Moore elected to kick the field goal on 1st down and left 26 seconds on the clock for Michigan to respond. Then with 15 seconds left and Michigan at their own 34 and needing to go deep, App State called a defense that somehow allowed Mario Manningham to be single covered running down the sideline for a 46 yard bomb that put Michigan in field goal range. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, their kick block team was able to salvage the upset victory; however they never would have been put in that position in the first place if it weren't for some very shoddy coaching decisions...

If you're a Wolverines fan still mourning this weekend's loss, perhaps you can find solace in this glass-half-full stat: Never has a top 25 team that lost to a I-AA team not won the national championship in that same year. So see? There's still hope.

The person most disappointed by Michigan's early loss is Jim Harbaugh, who undoubtedly believed that he had a few years to make an impression at Stanford in order to get consideration to be Carr's successor at Michigan. Now it appears that Carr has to be given the boot sooner rather than later, and I doubt that's enough time for Harbaugh to establish himself. However despite a 45-17 loss, Jim Harbaugh's debut has to be considered a success if for no other reason than that unlike his predecessor, Walt Harris, Harbaugh actually appeared to be aware that there was a football game being played on the field; and the object was to score points while preventing the other team from doing the same. In Palo Alto, that's progress...

The best development to come out the UCLA-Stanford game for Bruins fans may have been that Kai Forbath, UCLA's kicker, missed two field goal attempts. Perhaps now, whenever the Bruins get inside an opponent's 30 yard line, Karl Dorrell may have to actually focus on getting the ball in the end zone instead of being satisfied with just reaching field goal range...

I'd like to apologize to Brady Quinn for all the times when I suggested that he was just a product of Charlie Weis's system at Notre Dame. As we all saw Saturday, the system really isn't all that great...

I'd also like to apologize for dreaming of a 0-8 start for the Irish. I was selling their ninth opponent, Air Force, short. The Falcons certainly have enough talent to keep the Irish winless through nine...

Notre Dame fans are really wishing that Darius Walker had returned for his senior year. For that matter, Darius Walker really wishes that Darius Walker had returned for his senior year. I don't know just how good of a year the Irish could have had with Walker on the team, but for Darius it would have had to have been a better year than sitting on the practice squad for the Houston Texans will be...

"Everyone just go deep" stat of the day: Tim Tebow threw for 300 yards. On only 13 completions...

There have only been two wide receivers to ever win the Heisman trophy award, and both of them also returned punts (Tim Brown 1987, Desmond Howard 1991). It's a longshot, but with his performance against Tennessee on national tv, DeSean Jackson just put his name in contention to become the third.

Colin Cowherd is now part of one of ESPN's announcing teams, and while I'll admit that I was rooting against him, I also must admit that as far as ESPN talking heads being put in the booth go, Cowherd is vastly superior to his NFL counterpart, Tony Kornheiser. Cowherd chose to work the game as a straight-forward analyst, and while I don't think his qualifications in that arena are any stronger than those of anyone reading this site, I'd still rather hear someone with that approach as opposed to someone just looking for moments to squeeze in the one-liners they wrote down the night before...

Finally, you might think that there isn't a food in existence that corpulent Kansas head coach Mark Mangino doesn't enjoy. But as it turns out, he isn't the biggest fan of hot dogs (audio, NSFW but quite entertaining...Hat tip: Every Day Should Be Saturday):


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Upset Picks Are Hot, Hot, Hot

Gritty Squirrels of the Sports Flow is the Oracle. He actually called Appalachian State's upset victory over Michigan.

Congrats, man. It's a fine line between genius and insanity.