October 26, 2007

KSK - God Declares Billick's Playcalling to Be Bullshit

KSK has made the connection that has been just escaping me. When Ray Lewis, God's chosen man in the NFL (according to SI and Ray Lewis) questions Billick's play-calling, he is just God's herald.


If you're shopping early for a Christmas gift for J-Red...

Look no further:

Buy it

Courtesy firstandteninches.com

October 25, 2007


Sometimes something isn't very funny when it's released. Then, over time, circumstances make it funny. This is a good example.

Sadly, OJ does a really good job. Looks like he always has been a Ford man too.

Week 8 NFL Against the Spread Pick-Off

We're nearing the halfway mark of the season, with all the human pickers foundering at or below .500. Hopefully, we've started to figure enough of this season out to right the ship as we move forward.

Jeremy and Magic 8 Ball (16-14-5) and (18-12-5)

Jeremy's Picks:

It's pretty incredible that I'm still in the lead amongst humans after yet another losing week. It's been quite some time since I put up some good numbers. And a lot of crapshoots out there this week don't exactly help. On to the picks...

Indianapolis (-6.5) over CAROLINA - Even at home, giving Carolina and David Carr anything less than a touchdown against the undefeated Colts with Marvin Harrison healthy is a sin.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over CINCINNATI - Well the Steelers blew it for all five of us on MNF against the Broncos, but the Steelers didn't play badly against Denver... I just worry if they'll keep pace with the Bengals offense.

ST. LOUIS (+3) over Cleveland - With Stephen Jackson back, this is the week that St. Louis gets off the schneid.

Philadelphia (-1) over MINNESOTA - Donovan McNabb LOVES domes... the Vikings D is good, but McNabb will seize this game. Finally...

Washington (+16) over NEW ENGLAND - I should have put in my bet on Monday when the line was still 17, but I'll be the sucker who takes this line simply because the 'Skins will run the hell out of the ball to limit Patriots possessions to the point where they'll have to score on a ridiculous percentage of possessions to beat this spread. The 'Skins have kicked my ass all season long in these picks though.

Magic 8 Ball Picks:

Indianapolis (-6.5) over CAROLINA - "Don't count on it." [Panthers beating the spread]

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over CINCINNATI - "My answer is no." [Bengals won't beat the spread]

Cleveland (-3) over ST. LOUIS - "No." [Rams won't beat the spread]

MINNESOTA (+1) over Philadelphia - "Signs point to yes." [Vikings will beat the spread]

NEW ENGLAND (-16) over Washington - "Yes." [Patriots will beat the spread]

Brien (16-18-1)

Two weeks ago, I made only contrarian picks and went 1-4. Last week, I went with conventional wisdom and went 2-3. This week I'm not even going to look at the betting trends. We'll see how that goes.

Indianapolis (-6.5) over CAROLINA - Dungy is too good of a coach to let the Colts overlook this game.

Jacksonville (+4) over TAMPA BAY - I like the Bucs, but there is no way the Jags should be getting points in this game.

TENNESSEE (-7.5) over Oakland - The Raiders just aren't that good, and Vince Young looks healthy enough to keep the Titans well out in front.

Washington (+16) over NEW ENGLAND - I know gamblers are supposed to ride hot streaks until they end, but I like the Redskins to keep this closer than two touchdowns. The Patriots may be looking ahead to next week enough that they forget to run up the score.

New Orleans (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO - Two teams headed in different directions.

J-Red (15-18-2)

Time to get back to or above .500 this week.

New Orleans (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO - New Orleans looks like they've found their footing. The Niners are counting on Arnaz Battle. That shouldn't end well.

N.Y. Giants (-9) over MIAMI - I like the Giants this year. Coughlin lucked into a pretty good running back rotation after he was forced to give Derrick Ward a look when Jacobs went down. This Miami team is reeling (and poorly coached).

NEW ENGLAND (-16) over Washington - This is not a good defensive matchup for the Skins. My only concern is that Santana matches Randy in the battle of the jumpball kings.

Detroit (+5) over CHICAGO - If they keep giving me underdog lines for the Lions against crappy NFC North teams, I'm going to keep cashing in on them.

Jacksonville (+4) over TAMPA BAY - I know David Garrard is out. Fred Taylor and MJD are playing, though, right?

Russell (14-20-1)

I'm going out on a limb and picking some mediocre teams to win. It should be interesting.

Cleveland (-3) over ST LOUIS - Cleveland is still not getting the respect they deserve.

CHICAGO (-5) over Detroit - Griese is sharp, the D is healthy, and it's on grass, none of which were true at Detroit.

SAN FRANCISCO (+2.5) over New Orleans - The SF defense is pretty good, and even Trent Dilfer can exploit the Saints secondary.

MINNESOTA (+1) over Philadelphia - Adrian Peterson, and the Minny D is as good as the Bears D.

TAMPA BAY (-4) over Jacksonville - Even if Garrard and Jones-Drew are healthy, Tampa is better.

Recap and Standings

Magic 8 (18-12-5) - .585
Jeremy (16-14-5) - .529
Brien (16-18-1) - .471
J-Red (15-18-2) - .457
Russell (14-20-1) - .414

Brien - IND, JAX, NO, TEN, WAS
Jeremy - IND, PHI, PIT, STL, WAS
Russell - CHI, CLE, MIN, SF, TB
Magic 8 - CLE, IND, MIN, NE, PIT

(Italics indicate dissent, which there is a lot of this week.)

NCAA: Graduate or Die, But Once You Do.......

The always insightful Ivan Maisel, of ESPN.com, brought something to my attention today. Boston College has TWELVE starters who have already graduated. That means they have 12 guys, including Matt Ryan, who are totally free to be full-time football players during the day, provided they are enrolled in three night graduate classes per semester.

This dovetails nicely with our discussion about graduation rate and NCAA basketball. I argued that kids should be able to use their scholarships however they wished, considering that students whose parents pay are not ridiculed for failing to finish. This is just the opposite situation. The guys are being given an opportunity to play college football WITHOUT having to pretend to strive for a degree. They got one. They're not student athletes anymore, but rather college graduates who are taking sham classes in order to continue to showcase their skills.

blblahhbahblahblah Matt Ryan is seven degrees short of ECB.

Not surprisingly, people get up in arms when urban black athlete plays basketball for two years and then leaves for the pros. No one gets upset when suburban white athlete graduates in the typical four years and then uses his college to get exposure for professional football in his fifth year.

(The racial distinction is merely stereotypical, as Maryland basketball's Obinna Ekezie obtained two engineering degrees in his five years. EJ Henderson, now LB for the Vikes, also played as a graduate student his senior year. Friedgen always let the graduate students eat before anyone else, including coaches.)

What's my point? Both are the same thing. One gets Billy Packer's anus tight, and the other gets Brent Musberger creaming the mike, but both athletes are abusing the NCAA system for their own gain. The athlete who leaves early for the pros used the NCAA for fame and fortune. The athlete who stayed after he graduates used the NCAA for one last shot at the pros and free grad school. Or, really, to improve his draft status. Isn't that what Carmelo Anthony did?

October 23, 2007

Quick Hitters

1) The Red Sox dropped Tim Wakefield from their World Series roster, yet Eric Gagne is still with the team? I understand Wakefield's shoulder requires a lot of healing time between starts now, but who is more valuable? Wakefield for seven innings out of the bullpen if a starter gets rocked/injured, or Gagne in mop-up duty in a game so out of hand that the Red Sox don't care if he allows seven runs in an inning.

2) Atlanta has waived starting DT Grady Jackson. Let the bidding begin, right after we verify that he didn't just fail a substance abuse test. Sixth-round Division II rookie Trey Lewis will take over. Coming off the suspension of Vick and DeAngelo Hall, Petrino is definitely sending a message that he wants to be the next NFL commissioner.

3) This blog had a lot of Sopranos traffic back when the final season was wrapping up. Now, David Chase has commented on the finale. I'll save you some pretentious BS, which the interview drips with, and let you know that the ending basically meant "life goes on", as many people supposed.

bljljblahblahblahblah I see room for a "For Rent" sign

4) The K.C./Philly/Oakland Athletics are moving to Fremont, CA. At the very leasy, they're done in Oakland. As the owner, Lew Wolff, said, "We're not moving to Timbuktu. We're just moving down the street." Wouldn't Timbuktu also be preferable to Oakland?

5) Apparently, the Rockies sold their World Series tickets online. The first go-round didn't work, as ticket brokers used computers that generated random codes to try to beat the "human proof" aspect of the ticket website. Wait a second, your team, with one of the smallest fan bases in baseball, is playing the Red Sox, with the second-largest. Let's sell the tickets online to anyone in the country! Brilliant! In the future, make them camp out. Does "Let's Go Red Sox!" carry further in thin air too?

6) It's late October, and that can only mean one thing. No, not cleavage- (top and rear) exposing Halloween costumes, though I'm for that too. Breeders' Cup is coming up this weekend! Lawyer Ron v. Street Sense in the Classic should be a good race. If you're wagering, know that the Breeders' Cup has traditionally been VERY chalk-heavy.

7) Let the pandering begin! Rudy Giuliani told a Boston-area crowd he is backing the Red Sox over the Rockies, despite his well-known Yankees allegiance. He whipped out the old "root for my league" argument. Yeah, that's why ECB pulls so hard for Duke in the NCAAs. Moron.

8) Maryland AD Debbie Yow's sister, NC State womens' basketball coach Kay Yow is resuming chemo to fight her once-dormant breast cancer. Get better. Partly because she's extended family, and partly because Maryland, Duke, and UNC need to feel good about stomping their conference victims.

Yes, there are black NHL players...

Too bad that they are relegated (except for a few) to being their team's designated goons. Not to say this isn't a fantastic hockey fight. Plus Donald Brashear of the Caps wins.

Week 9 CFB Picks

Last week was a good recovery week for me after the preceding debacle. This week presents a good number of what I consider elimination games, especially in the Pac-10 where the top four teams square off in what might as well be a playoff for the conference title, and maybe a national title shot. Gotta love the balanced conference schedule.

Pack it in 10

California (+3.5) over ARIZONA STATE - Cal won on the road at Oregon, and will bounce back behind a healthy Longshore. Arizona State hasn't played anyone and has no big game experience.

OREGON (-2.5) over Usc - Oregon is the better team and the home field advantage will help. USC hasn't impressed since beating Nebraska, and the Huskers have since given up 35+ to Ball St, Missouri, and Texas A&M. That 42-10 whooping isn't as impressive any more.

National championship hopes?

Ohio State (-3.5) over PENN STATE - I keep underestimating Penn St on the wrong weeks, but I really don't think they have enough offense to get on the board in this one. Purdue's offense is much better than PSU's, and they got 7.

VIRGINIA TECH (-3.5) over Boston College - Never bet against VT in a big night game at home. They find a way to win, even without an offense. BC won't be able to run, and maybe Matt Ryan cracks a little under pressure.

TEXAS A&M (+2) over Kansas - The dream ends here, as Javorski Lane hits Kansas in the mouth.

SEC Eliminators

TENNESSEE (-3) over South Carolina - The old ball coach has an overrated team, and this game will look similar to the UGA at Tenn matchup.

Florida (-9.5) over Georgia - Florida can match Georgia's physical strength, and UGA doesn't have the skill players to win the cocktail party in Jacksonville.

Random Big East and ACC

South Florida (-5.5) over UCONN - USF beat Auburn on the road. I don't think UConn has enough, and their undefeated conference record will be spoiled by the better team.

West Virginia (-6.5) over RUTGERS - WVA has flown under the radar since losing at USF, but just crushed a physically tough Miss St team. Rutgers will have the same fate, especially if Teel looks like he did against USF. WVa will watch for all the fakes.

MARYLAND (+3.5) over Clemson - Pure prayer here. At least Clemson plays soft on the road sometimes.

Virginia (-3) over NC STATE - I know UVa likes to win close games, but NCSt won't be able to keep this one close.

Last week: 7-3
Season: 26-29-1

Local Police Steal Idea from Simpsons Episode

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Forty people promised a tax refund of more than $500 were arrested on criminal warrants when they appeared at a state office building to collect the refund, authorities said. The Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Office sent letters to 500 people with outstanding warrants in October, saying that a computer error meant there was a $572.26 check for them that could be picked up in person. Once they arrived on Saturday and their identities were confirmed, deputies arrested them. "By having them come to us, we did in eight hours what it would take 40 hours to do," Sheriff Ron Bateman said. "No one got hurt, and no one resisted arrest. It was just some broken hearts." Indeed. "You mean there's no check?" one disappointed person asked. Another wondered, "Do you validate parking?" Facing a backlog of more than 10,000 unserved warrants in Anne Arundel Bateman, who took office in December, decided to have the targets come to him. The 500 represented the most recent criminal warrants, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. The letters were sent Oct. 5, telling the subjects that a computer error had been detected in the "tax break indicators" used to determine their tax rates. The comptroller's office, the letters said, had found during an audit that they had overpaid their taxes by $572.26, and they could pick up a refund check at the Treasury Building in Annapolis Saturday. Deputies posing as receptionists had the people escorted down a hallway by plainclothes enforcement officers from the comptroller's office. They were then arrested by uniformed deputies in a secluded area. Forty people were arrested on 54 outstanding warrants. Many were wanted for failure to appear in traffic court, but other charges included fraud, violation of probation, assault, drug possession and auto theft. Joseph Shapiro, a spokesman for the comptroller's office, said the agency was "happy to help."

REACT: Immediate flashback to one of the funniest Simpsons episode beginnings ever, where they cut to the family in the car on the way to the police station, Homer wearing a sailor's cap, and talking about how he can't wait to pick up his sailboat. As soon as he enters the police station proudly proclaiming "I'm here to pick up my sailboat," they brutalize him over unpaid parking tickets. He pays his $40 and still not realizing it's a gimmick, says, "Now, where's my sailboat???" Next scene is him muttering angrily to himself in the car as Bart asks "Dad, where's the sailboat?"

Week 7 NFL Against the Spread Recap and Standings

Mediocre weeks all the way around. We all got burned by at least one AFC North team, and three of us were hurt by both the Ravens and Steelers.

Brien (2-3-0) BAL, IND, KC, PIT, TB
Jeremy (2-3-0) ATL, BAL, IND, PIT, WAS
J-Red (3-2-0) BAL, DAL, DET, NE, PIT
Russell (3-2-0) CHI, CIN, NO, NYG, PIT
Magic 8 (1-4-0) ARI, BAL, JAX, NO, PIT

Magic 8 (18-12-5) - .585
Jeremy (16-14-5) - .529
Brien (16-18-1) - .471
J-Red (15-18-2) - .457
Russell (14-20-1) - .414

October 22, 2007

Pats Better than Colts?

Consider this fact: The Patriots' opponents are a combined 17-28 (or 11-27 if you exclude Dallas), while the Colts' opponents are 20-18. In addition, the Colts have beaten every team in their division (widely claimed to be the toughest in football) on the road. Any questions about the Colts rushing defense after beating Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Denver (3rd, 5th, and 9th rushing offenses)? Indy's defense is very quietly in the top 5 overall in yards per game and points allowed, a deadly combination with Peyton running the offense.

Of course the Patriots lead pretty much every offensive category and have scored at least 34 points in every game.

Matchup of the year in the AFC regular season on Nov. 4th: Pats at Colts. The big question for the Colts is their pass defense, as they haven't faced a passing team yet. Can their 2nd ranked pass defense stop the Pats #1 passing offense? While all the talk is about the Pats, the Colts are just as capable of an undefeated season. They are just as good as they were (or better) when they started 13-0 a couple years ago.

Thinking a little more about the potential undefeated season? After the Pats, the Colts play at San Diego. After that, there's no one good outside their division. On the other hand, the Pats' only tough games would be Pittsburgh and @NYG. Don Shula is getting nervous...

Maryland Steals VA Tech Basketball Recruit

Gus Gilchrist a 6-10 center from Temple Hills, MD committed to Maryland after withdrawing his original commitment to Virginia Tech. Scout.com has him rated 4 stars. He pulled his letter of intent after the shootings at VT, and had looked hard at Georgetown before his surprise signing to Maryland. He'll start classes and practice next semester, but may wait until fall to play in games.

It's awesome to have a highly rated center commit, and it's even better to take him away from a conference rival. The icing on the cake is that GTown thought they had it in the bag. I'm always happy when we stick it to one of the lesser local programs.

I am a bit worried about how he'll fare in College Park if he's scared off by one isolated shooting incident. What happens the first time he gets one of those campus-wide emails about an armed robbery near the metro station? Is he going to transfer? Temple Hills isn't a great area, so hopefully he's used to that kind of thing.

So Georgetown fans (and Mason, and GW), you may think that your success over the past couple of years means you're back at the top of DC basketball, or at least on par with Maryland. But you're not. Even with a few off years, Maryland basketball is still tops in the area, and that's not going to change any time soon.

The Spot

So it shouldn't have come down to this if Maryland had actually been coached well and played to their abilities, but courtesy of The Baltimore Sun, here is a picture of Simpson on the infamous 4th down play that was upheld as a first down because there was no conclusive video evidence (because ESPN2 apparently can't afford a sideline camera like every other network):

So this picture shows me that Simpson clearly did not have the first down. His knee is clearly out of bounds. He stretched after his knee went out of bounds with the ball. It's questionable whether even with this stretch the ball was beyond the first down marker (that piece of plastic is about a foot wide and it's a pretty inexact science as to where on that piece of plastic the actual yard to gain is). But what is not questionable is that the stretch should not have counted in the first place, because he was already out of bounds when he stretched by virtue of his knee being down. And if you look, it's not even close really... his knee isn't half on the line and half off the line. His knee is clearly in the white area which designates the out-of-bounds line.

So, as I said, this should not have cost us the game. And I hate doing this because this is purely loser talk. But, quite simply, the blown call cost the Terps the game. It should've been first down Maryland on their own 10-yard line with under a minute to go. Instead, UVA scores moments later (a questionable call unto it's own right, but one that I think was ultimately the correct call).

Red Sox Nation

Congratulations Boston Red Sox. You have become the New York Yankees of this decade. Your fans are the most annoying in all of baseball. You freely overspend and price other teams out of players because you can. Every single person who went to college for at least one month in Boston or has at least one great grandparent who was born in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, or Connecticut, claims to be a lifelong Red Sox fan and member of Red Sox nation. For my money, it's about the most ironic thing I've ever witnessed in sports. And the funniest is to see how a member of Red Sox nation completely flips out if you make this seemingly rational argument to them. Call it "The Curse of the Overexposed."

And while we're on the topic of Game 7, nice to see that Joel Skinner (Indians third base coach) is employed by Rachel Phelps (and if you don't get this reference, why are you reading this blog?) Now she'll get to move that team to sunny Florida after all. Oh, wait... talk about a plot line that didn't exactly stand the test of time.

And one more topic... since when did baseball playoffs become like The Stanley Cup Playoffs? I've seen more baseball players this postseason who have grown beards out for the duration of the playoffs than I'd ever seen. Come on... that's only cool in a sport where mullets have not yet gone out of style. Even J-Red sensibly shaved his mini-goatee/beard a few years ago.

Halloween Has Come Early

Tim Burton and Wes Craven cannot conjure the horrors experienced by the average Baltimore-area fan this weekend.

First, Maryland blew a 17-10 homecoming lead to Virginia, largely in part to ESPN2 not having good camera angles and the Terps inexplicably calling a 1st and 10 play that required the quarterback to retreat seven yards into the end zone. The safety provided the margin of victory, and shifted the momentum away from the Terps in the game, and, essentially, the season.

Then the Ravens proved many experts right by laying another egg up in Buffalo. The Ravens, though 4-3, are 1-3 against the AFC and 0-3 against the AFC on the road. They're also 0-2 in division, and after the bye they face Pittsburgh twice, Seattle, and San Diego, New England and Indy in back-to-back-to-back weeks. They certainly can't count on wins against Cincy, Cleveland or Miami based on their current level of play. I need to start paying a lot more attention to cornerback play in the NCAA. The prospect of a top-10 pick is very real.

Minutes later, the hated Redskins survived Arizona. Due to a blocked XP earlier, Arizona needed a two-point conversion to tie. They failed on a play where Anquin Bolden played QB, rolled right and weakly underthrew a relatively open receiver with about 21 seconds left. Arizona recovered the most poorly covered expected onsides kick in the history of football at any level, drove down against an inexplicably soft prevent, and set up a Neil Rackers 54-yard game winning field goal, only to watch despondently as the kick hooked left.

Then I went out to dinner and a movie. The Nightmare Before Christmas in Disney Digital 3-D is pretty cool, but the technology behind stop-action animation has not aged well in the era of Pixar. Still entertaining.

I got home just in time to see Dustin Pedroia put the game away for the most annoying franchise in all of sports. There's nothing more exciting than seeing executives in business suits jumping up and down in the front rows during an ALCS Game Seven. Seriously guys, it's a Sunday. Because you're in the front row, we know you're loaded. Can you at least cut it back to polo and Dockers?

Every time I hear about renewed interest in the immigration debate, I'm hoping it's Maryland closing its borders to Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. If I see a cute girl in a pink Red Sox cap, I'm punching her in the ovaries. As soon as the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, we saw a rise in two phenomena: cute girls associated in some way with Boston, and Red Sox fans who could speak comprehensible English.


blahblahblbluluablahblah Where do I slide da dollah?

I'm returning the favor to the world. I went shopping for my Halloween apparel today. Let's just say the shorts I'm wearing are so short that I bought low-rise briefs for the first time in my life and I waxed my bikini line. For all the hell I've been put through this weekend, I'm going to make this Halloween season that scary for the rest of the world.

October 21, 2007

The Iceman Cometh

Kimi Raikonnen, aka "The Iceman", won the Brazilian GP and also the F1 Championship today, leaving pretty boy Lewis Hamilton and 2-time defending champ Alonso in the dust. It's just too bad that after McLaren stole Ferrari's blueprints, they weren't able to get the driver's championship. Since the penalty excluded McLaren from the constructors' championship, Ferrari easily claimed that too. So maybe Ferrari won't be missing Michael Schumacher as much as some thought... Raikonnen won 3 of the last 4 races and had some help from Hamilton and Alonso to complete an incredible comeback, coming from 3rd in the points today to edge Hamilton and Alonso by one point each. What a comeback by Ferrari and Raikonnen!

In other international news, South Africa's Springboks nipped England 15-6 in the Rugby World Cup final.