September 15, 2007

Official Battering Ram of ECB

I am proud to present the first nomination for Official Mascot of ECB. The rules are that he must have a great name, and some degree of talent. My nominee is:

blhblah #30 RB - Jehuu Caulcrick - Michigan St.

Jehuu, a 6-0 255lb. senior, qualifies through an impressive record as a four-year starter for the Spartans. With only 334 career carries (coming into today), Jehuu has racked up 1669 yards (for a healthy 4.99 ypc) and 23 touchdowns. Sounds like a season for Larry Johnson, right? He also has displayed some hands, hauling in 22 passes for 203 yards, an average of 9.23 yards.

Jehuu's family fled Nigeria when he was a child. His name is pronounced JAY-who CALL-crick (Northern) JAY-who COAL-creek (Southern).

September 13, 2007

Week 2 - NFL Against the Spread Picks

After one week, the standings are as follows:

J-Red (4-1-0)
Jeremy (3-1-1)
Magic 8 Ball (2-2-1)
Brien (2-3-0)
Russ (1-4-0)

I think we're all in agreement that Week 2 is the hardest week to pick against the spread of the entire season. In Week 1, we don't know anything, so we stick to tried and true measures of how good a team should be. In Week 2, we THINK we know something, but really we only know the relative differences between two teams that we still don't really know anything about. What if the Redskins and Miami are both really good? What if the Ravens and Bengals are both really bad?

Obviously, this week's picks will be presented in order of the overall leaders, so you don't have to waste your time reading all the way to Russell's. (In all fairness, Russell is 4-2-0 in NCAA picks).

(Again, Sheridan's Odds are used, current as Saturday at 3:30p ET)

DETROIT (-3.5) over Minnesota - I know Houston is the hot pick for surprise team, but I still like Detroit to have a nice season.

Cincinnati (-6.5) over CLEVELAND - They traded their Week 1 starter. The Derek Anderson/Ken Dorsey experience should be just like last week.

New Orleans (-3) over TAMPA BAY - Many teams will be taking their frustrations out on TB this year.

TENNESSEE (+7) over Indianapolis - Tennessee played Indy tight twice last year. I can't figure it out either, but Vince keeps putting the VY in VictorY.

Green Bay (+2) over NY GIANTS - I liked the Chicago -12 KC, and I liked the Houston +6.5 Carolina, but I realized that I didn't learn anything about three of those four teams last week. If it's Lorenzen, GB's strong DL will tee off on him all day.

Jeremy (and Magic 8 Ball)
[Remember that the Magic 8 Ball is asked "Will the [fill in home team] beat the spread?"]

Washington (+7) over PHILADELPHIA - I think Philly will win, but I don't see them winning by a touchdown, especially given their not-exactly-prolific offense against the Pack. Very worried about the Jansen injury though.
Magic 8-Ball Pick: Philadelphia (-7). "My signs point to yes. [Philadelphia beating spread]"

CHICAGO (-12) over Kansas City - Kansas City is now on the clock for the 2008 NFL Draft… this is a very large spread, but there's a very realistic chance the Chiefs will go 1-15 and now they have to go play a pissed off Chicago team in the Bears' home opener.
Magic 8-Ball Pick: Kansas City (+12). "My answer is no. [Chicago beating spread]"

ARIZONA (+3) over Seattle - Arizona to win outright. They beat the 49ers for 59 minutes and I'm just not sold on Seattle 's offense.
Magic 8-Ball Pick: Seattle (-3). "No. [Arizona beating spread]"

New Orleans (-3) over TAMPA BAY - The Saints walked into a buzzsaw in the RCA Dome with the unveiling of the banner and the Colts home opener, and I'm convinced the offensive drought we saw was the combination of an aberration and of the Colts' incredible defense.
Magic 8-Ball Pick: Tampa Bay (+3). "My signs point to yes. [Tampa beating spread]"

Dallas (-4) over MIAMI - They have a scary offense, will not be affected by the Florida heat nor the Dolphins defense, and will win by at least a touchdown.
Magic 8-Ball Pick: Dallas. "Don't count on it. [Miami beating spread]"

Looks like one of us will have a good week, and one of us will have a bad week, unless there are lots of pushes.

Cincinnati (-6.5) over CLEVELAND - Look for Brady Quinn in the second half.

New Orleans (-3) over TAMPA BAY - A big loss to Indy doesn't mean they're a bad team.

DENVER (-9.5) over Oakland - Don't read too much into Oakland's decent showing last week. They're still Oakland and it's still Mile High.

Atlanta (+10) over JAX - I'll give the Falcons one more chance.

Houston (+6.5) over CAROLINA - Houston's going to be the surprise team of the year. Take the the money line in this one.

After an disappointing week 1, I feel the need to redeem myself and at least catch up to the Magic 8 Ball...

So here are a few more road favorites:

Cincinnati (-6.5) over CLEVELAND - The one pick I got right last week was Cleveland losing. Now they've traded their starting QB.

Green Bay (+2) over NY GIANTS - The Pack smothers an injured Giants team.

New Orleans (-3) over TAMPA BAY - Lock of the week. Garcia and Cadillac were both knocked out of last week's game. You think the O line might have something to do with why Simms ruptured his spleen? This line is a gift.

Dallas (-4) over MIAMI - Look for Dallas to win a lower scoring game than last week.

And a home team for variety,

DETROIT (-3.5) over Minnesota - The statement remains "Tarvaris who?"

Jeremy - ARI, CHI, DAL, NO, WAS
8-Ball - DAL, KC, PHI, SEA, TB
Brien - ATL, CIN, DEN, HOU, NO
Russell - CIN, DAL, DET, GB, NO

(Bolded picks are consensus picks - 3 of 4 humans agree. There was no dissention, except for the Magic 8 Ball)

September 12, 2007

Things Worse Than Burning a Good Porterhouse

This is sports related, eventually.

Rarely, I know I'm going to have a bad week at work. When I am tipped off, I move my pride and joy from the freezer to the fridge - a 20oz. porterhouse.

See, I know broiling steaks almost as well as I know women. I calculate the thickness of the meat, the bone to flesh ratio, the proper margin between the meat and the heat, how much I need to pound it out, and the amount of time I'll need to get it juicy without drying it out or toughening it up. This time, it all went wrong.

Everything started well. I dusted the optimal flame surface (the side with less marbling) with a fine deposit of black pepper, Old Bay, and a couple drops of Tabasco. I preheated the gas broiler, without the pan of course, and was ready to go. The first side, I'd calculated, would need 5 minutes to color, just enough time to let the exiting juices adhere to the base spices. It was perfect. The steak lifted off the foil and flipped perfectly, exposing a bright pink underbelly to complement the seared now-bottom.
Having gotten the sear time correct, I knew I needed exactly 8 minutes on the other side to get a perfect medium rare. I set the timer, and walked away triumphantly.

Except this is a new oven (to me). The timer gives off the weakest beep, like a smoke alarm on the battery's last gasp. I got caught up in, [gulp], Judge Judy, and lost track of time. That's fine though, because the smell of cooked meat is an infallible backup plan...unless you live in a house without central air and the air conditioning units aren't turned on because it's a beautiful 80-degree day. Without the timer, without the smell of succulent porterhouse, and without my own sense of timing due to a riveting eviction case on Judge Judy, the meat was lost.

I did not cry, though I should have. I never anticipated the highlight of my meal would be the Green Giant Broccoli and Cauliflower in low-fat cheese sauce. (That, by the way, is very good and only 150 calories for a whole frozen box.) I couldn't have wasted $20 faster if I had scalped Nats-Mets tickets behind home plate.

Without further adieu, the following things are worse than burning a $20 porterhouse:

  • Being a national title contender and losing to Appalachian State
  • Bill Buckner
  • Being a Browns fan
That's it; the only three things that will make you feel worse than burning a good steak. To quote Don Imus, "I wish I hadn't done that". The real injustice is that Al Sharpton will not force me to be fired. No one will stage rallies. No one will publish biographies. This is a personal hell I must endure alone, at least until I go back to the local Super Giant.

Week 3 CFB Picks

After an interesting week, the new week brings with it a number of intriguing cross-country matchups along with some conference openers. Certain games just scream danger like Michigan-ND, but a few other look a little juicier.

West Virginia (-16) over MARYLAND: I might as well start with the Thursday night matchup. I hate to pick against the Terps, and I am notoriously cynical about my own teams. However, West Virginia covered last week in spite of a very game effort by Marshall. Also, Maryland has had a very short week to prepare for West Virginia's unconventional offense. Maryland will play hard, but I don't think it will be enough.

WASHINGTON (+4) over Ohio St.: Upset pick of the week. I have no idea how Washington is the underdog here. Washington beat Boise St. 24-10 last week, while Ohio St. was 3-2 at the half with Akron at home. This will be a big victory for the Pac 10.

UNC (-3) over Virginia: Virginia's weak efforts against Wyoming and Duke are a recipe for disaster against an improving UNC team under Butch Davis. Believe it or not, last week's loss to ECU wasn't that bad. Just check the ECU-VT score when VT was really amped up.

Arkansas (+3.5) over ALABAMA: Nick Saban's first home SEC game doesn't quite go according to plan. A rested Arkansas team will test John Parker in ways Vanderbilt couldn't dream of. Arkansas won't make the SEC Championship game again this year, but that's not because they're significantly worse.

Southern Cal (-9.5) over NEBRASKA: Big game of the week! I know it's on the road and Nebraska's "good", but did you see how open that Wake receiver was down the field? Not once but twice? USC's receivers are faster and won't drop the ball. Also, Wake's defense shut down the Nebraska running game. What do you think USC's will do?

Last Week: (3-2-0)
Season: (4-2-0)

Stadium Review: Complejo Deportivo Frane Figaroa

So in an ECB first, we will review an international sports stadium. I think that we will all find that this is a safer means of reviewing stadiums, as my review of Michigan State's Spartan Stadium seemed to draw every delusional and pissed off Spartan fan to our blog with flaming pitchforks. First off, I apologize in an earlier post for identifying this as Aruba's National Sports Stadium. It turns out that this stadium, in the city of Noord, is a smaller stadium than Aruba's National Stadium (Complejo Deportivo Guillermo Trinidad), and is used for "minor league" soccer matches, as well as under-23 matches like the big match this past weekend between Aruba and Barbados (Aruba lost 2-0 but none of their players punched any judges).

Complejo Deportivo Frane Figaroa seats 5,000 people. As you can see in the picture, the seats are very small, and are painted in alternating rows of red and yellow which makes it really look like a McDonalds restaurant. No cupholders though for your McFlurries. Also look in this picture for the signs of hooliganism that even pervades the laid back island culture. This heavy-duty fence walls off the visiting fan section from the home team section. It's hard to tell but it's actually a double-fence and makes it virtually impossible to throw anything through. Not impossible to spit through though.

Here is a good look at the barbed wire that surrounds the field. Ahh... hooliganism... good times! Always a good sign when the pitch looks like something out of The Longest Yard or Shawshank Redemption.

More thoughts on Frane Figaroa...
1) For 5,000 people, the stadium has no concession stands.
2) The stadium is located directly next to a police station. Not quite a novel idea, as the Vet which preceded Frane Figaroa actually streamlined things and put the jail inside the stadium
3) Frane Figaroa has one mens room and one womens room for 5,000 seats, which proves that there actually is a stadium in the world with less per capita seat to bathroom ratio than Cole Field House! In even more detail, let's make the safe assumption that 80% of the attendees at the stadium are male, so 4,000 males at a soccer match at Frane Figaroa. Well the one mens room to serve these 4,000 men contains exactly four urinals and four stalls. Either there are very long lines at Halftime, or people are pissing in the sinks.
Lindsay Lohan's tits
There you have it sports fans... Complejo Deportivo Frane Figaroa in Noord, Aruba. Book your tickets today!

Helllllloooo everyone!

So I'm back from the Happy Island of Aruba. No success on the Natalee Holloway front. Much success in the swim-up bar at the pool at the Hyatt having CBS on satellite last Sunday and the Jets-Pats game that was the national/satellite CBS game ending just in time for the 'Skins-Dolphins game to start overtime. As if the ending of the 'Skins game wasn't already good enough... watching it with my feet in the pool, sipping a Balashi beer (Aruba's national brand that surprisingly didn't taste like piss), and being about 50 yards from the ocean just was the icing on top. But I have much concern about the 'Skins season given how anemic our offense was. Granted, I know that the 'Fins defense is good. But we had no business going to overtime against them.

So let's see, what else is there... I made it to Aruba's "national stadium," stadium review and pictures to follow. Because all of Aruba reads this blog, I'm sure we'll get lots of comments from angry Arubans after the upcoming review, just like we got from insane Spartan fans after I had the audacity to say that the 60 year-old Michigan State stadium was somewhat decrepit. But let's just say that a "national stadium" on an island with 100,000 permanent residents that is the size of DC is not as grand as you might think. In fact, it looks somewhat like the Terps soccer field. Only with less amenities. And seats painted McDonalds red and gold.

But being 1872 miles from home didn't prevent me from keeping tabs on all the NCAA and NFL action. Nope... because when ESPN went out on the satellite TV of our hotel midway through the trip, ESPN Deportes came to the rescue! ESPN Deportes is incredibly weird... it's like Spanish commercials with Bumblebee Man in between segments of Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen doing the same Sportscenter show you see in the States. However, the ticker at the bottom has everything in Spanish. My high school Spanish allowed me to smile when I saw that Eli Manning had an "hombro dislocado" and that Eli "no puede jugar por un mes." I also watched the first half of the Bengals-Ravens game on ESPN Deportes. Again, commentary all in English, but all graphics on the screen including penalties, down and yardage, and stats, are in Spanish. I can now tell you how to say "holding," "personal foul," and "ocho cinco" in Spanish. Alas, it would have been fun to hear somebody dubbing over Ron Jaworski. Also, ESPN Deportes does have their own NFL Preview show. It features two total unknowns, with commentary provided by the third member of the crew, none other than Raul Allegre, who any Tecmo Bowl fan will remember was the kicker for the Giants in the mid-80s.

But let's take a moment, and in our ECB sour grapes way, snicker at Michigan and Notre Dame. Specifically Michigan, because nobody saw this coming. I think one of my groomsmen who reads this blog may never speak to me again over this Michigan comment. But wow... this particular groomsman thought it was inappropriate to fire Lloyd Carr because of what he's done for the team over the years after the Michigan-Appalachian State game. Well I could make numerous arguments that the Oregon debacle was way worse than what happened the previous weekend. Carr's time is up. He's done at season's end. I know that this groomsman tried to compare the goodwill Lloyd Carr has built up with the goodwill Gary Williams has earned to say that Carr, like Williams, could always go out on his own terms. I'm telling you though... if Maryland basketbal lost to Coastal Carolina at home, then followed it up by getting beat at home by 45 (about the NCAA basketball equivalent of the Oregon-Michigan defeat) by a middling Big 10 team like, say Purdue, Gary would be in the very real danger of being fired. Especially when Mike Hart says "We're going to win next week. There's no question in my mind. I guarantee we will win next week. I'm going to get this team ready. Guaranteed." So Mike Hart feels that it is HIS job to get the team ready? I'm reading between the lines and saying not only is that senior leadership, but that is someone who is speaking and has lost total confidence in their coaching staff to adequately prepare the team for a win. In the end though, neither Lloyd Carr, nor Gary, would be fired unceremoniously midseason.

So sorry for the rambling post... I've had five hours of sleep in the last 30 and I now have to drive to bumfuck Virginia to pick up my bag with my and the wife's passports because my sleep-deprived ass left it in the car that picked us up from the airport last night. I'll conclude by saying that on behalf of the Magic 8 Ball and myself, we are both very proud of the weeks we had.

Official Rebuttal - East Coast Is Better for Sports Viewing

Red is single women. Blue is single men.

September 11, 2007

Week 1 Survivor Pool Results

I had grand plans to create a blogger survivor pool for the NFL season this year. What I didn't count on was the fact that every schmuck blogger in the country had a similar idea. I think every sports blog in my RSS reader had either a fantasy league, a picks challenge, or a survivor pool. We went forward with the idea anyway, and it ended up being a clear failure.

First, only 5 of the entrants made a pick for week 1. Three of those were ECB contributors.

Second, I was the only one to get knocked out in the first week.

Here are the results:

100% Injury RatePIT

Stay tuned next week to see how the final four make out.

Special thanks to Nation of Islam Sportsblog, 100% Injury Rate, and Ladies... (who would have made a pick, but TSW forgot their password) for humoring us by playing along. You guys (and girls) are the best.

September 10, 2007

Week 1 Against the Spread Picks Results

J-Red (4-1-0)
Winners: SD -6, Sea -6, Dal -5.5, Det +2
Loser: Atl +3

Jeremy (3-1-1)
Winners: Det +2, Hou -3, Indy -6
Push: Was -3
Loser: NYG +5.5

Magic 8 Ball (2-2-1) (.500, as expected)
Winners: Hou -3, Det +2
Push: Mia +3
Losers: NO +6, Giants +5.5 (road underdogs are bad m'kay? Seeing a trend yet?)

Brien (2-3-0)
Winners: Indy -6, Detroit +2
Losers: Philly -3, Atl +3, Ravens +2.5

Russell (1-4-0)
Winner: Pitt -4.5
Losers: Atl +3, Denver -3, KC +3, Philly -3

Two above .500, two below .500, and one right at it. And we all paid juice. Vegas is smiling.

Guest Post - The Pacific Time Zone Is God's Gift to Sports Fans

[Given tonight's Monday Night Football doubleheader, ECB West Coast Correspondent Michael was given the opportunity to put the theory that he has been pestering me about for five years into writing: namely that the West Coast is ideal for sports viewing. Enjoy, and come up with some counterarguments.]

There has long since been the debate of East vs West. This has been the case all the way back to the 1840s when “Go West, young man” was the moniker for people heading to California in search of gold. And for more than a century and a half (Sunday was California’s 157th birthday) people have continued to go west and stay there. Maybe for the beaches, maybe for the lifestyle, maybe for the weather. But for West coast sports fans, possibly the best thing about living out here is God’s Gift to Sports Fans: The Pacific Time Zone.

With 75% of this country’s 300 million people living in either the Eastern or Pacific Time Zones, it is tough for leagues to televise events where everyone can watch the entire game. If they start them at 7:00 in the East, people in the West won’t even get home from work until the second half. Likewise, if they start it at 7:00 in the West, people in the East would be falling asleep in the second quarter. It is a tough balance, and logically enough, they compromise by starting most games at 8:30 or 9:00 Eastern, and I maintain that the West coast is by far the better option of the two.

Baltimore, 1979. Marty Bass is attacked after Orioles-Pirates World Series coverage runs into the third shift at Bethlehem Steel.

Answer yourself this question: would you rather miss the first quarter, or the fourth quarter? Usually, the end of the game is the most important part to watch. Before DVR’s, that was the option that you had: if you live in the East, you may fall asleep before the end of the game, and in the West, you may not be home from work for the start. DVR’s have since negated even that issue. Simply start it recording, when you get home start watching from the beginning, and you will be caught up by the third quarter…giving you the option of being able to watch some of it delayed and skip commercials, or just to miss the beginning. In the East, your only option is whether or not you want enough sleep to work the next day. Living in Santa Barbara and having no traffic, I don’t even need this DVR option, but for those that live in cities with legendary traffic problems like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle, the DVR will be your best friend, and ensure you never miss a minute of a great sporting event if you don’t want to. Another thing that helps with that is that people work earlier hours on the West coast, partially because most companies are headquartered in the East. I know more people that work from 7-4 than who work from 8-5, and I don’t know anyone who is even allowed to show up at work later than 8am. But you work earlier, you get home earlier, and you are on time for the early kickoffs and start times which happen right after you get home, and not after an excruciating three hour wait.
blahblahhahb lah California, circa 3,000,000 B.C. to present

Some East coast fans also scoff at the notion of college football games kicking off at 9am on Saturday, and NFL games at 10am on Sunday. While 9am on Saturday is a bit early, it typically is an ESPN Big-10 game, which probably isn’t even worth watching. And for NFL Sunday’s, I couldn’t think of a better time than 10am. Many Sundays during football season, I wake up, roll over, turn on the TV to see kickoff. Or for when I am more ambitious, many bars out here offer bloody mary specials and $1 breakfast burritos. It is quite a sight to see a bar overflowing at 10am. And this year they took the best games and put them on Sunday night. Last nights Giants/Cowboys game ended around 8:30, instead of starting around the same time, still allotting me a full hour of Family Guy to watch afterwards.

To close this article and further prove my point, I will give a few examples of times all of you wished lived in the Pacific Time Zone. The first one is one that J-Red reminded me of, Jack Morris’ 10-inning no-hitter in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. At the time, I was a 7th grade kid living in Connecticut, and only saw the few three innings of this game which started at 8:30 on a Sunday night…only reading about the end in the next day’s paper, and watching it on tape after school that day. Then you have Derek Jeter becoming “Mr. November” with his game winning home run well after midnight on a Halloween Wednesday night in the 2001 World Series. In the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the two best series (Mavs-Warriors and Suns-Spurs) both had most of their games top off at 10:45 Eastern Time, 7:45 Pacific. And then you have the best game from the 2006 NCAA Tournament, and one of the great comebacks in tournament history: UCLA vs Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Not only because it was two west coast teams but also because of the tip-off time (10:40 Eastern, due to a long first game that night), very few people actually saw UCLA score the final 11 points in the last two minutes to win 73-71, in a game that ended around 1:00am (Eastern) late on a Thursday night.

The proof is in the pudding. People have been saying it since the 1840s, and it could never be more true to this day: “Go west, young man.” It really is a rough life, but someone has got to live it.

September 9, 2007

Say It Ain't So!!!!

Baltimore Oriole Jay Gibbons the latest person tied to Signature Pharmacy, according to CNNSI. Seriously? I had no idea. He didn't suddenly get powerful, then turn to absolute, injury-prone horsepiss after testing began in earnest.