November 24, 2007

Crazy SEC Games

I haven't watched a whole lot of college football this year, but this weekend I've managed to see two incredible finishes in the SEC.

First, I saw the end of the Arkansas-LSU game last night, with the Razorbacks knocking off the #1 team in the country in the third OT. I don't think we'll ever see another two-loss college football team that lost both games in triple overtime.

Then tonight I caught the end of the Kentucky-Tennessee game. In the second overtime, Kentucky intercepted Ainge, so they only needed a field goal to win it. I think coaches play too conservatively in this situation all the time, and Kentucky was no exception. They ended up trying a 35 yard field goal and had it blocked. Tennessee almost ran the kick all the way back (to win the game), but a Kentucky player tackled the ball carrier by his facemask. Apparently, by rule, penalties after a chance of possession in overtime are disregarded. I guess that rule makes sense, but it seems like it would make more sense to give the Vols an untimed down from where the player was tackled (after assessing the 15 yard penalty). In this case, it would have been close enough to allow Tennessee to kick a game winning field goal. I doubt the NCAA will review that rule (since it's such an odd situation, and an untimed down would be a bit complicated), but I think the untimed down makes more sense.

Regardless of what rule would make more sense, it was an incredibly heads up play by the tackler. Even if he didn't know the rule about penalties after a possession change in OT, he clearly knew that he needed to get the ball carrier down to the ground at any cost.

In the next overtime, Kentucky scored a touchdown and went for two (it was the third overtime, so they had no choice). Kentucky fumbled, it was recovered by Tennessee, then fumbled again into the end zone. A Vols player knocked the ball out of bounds at about the 1 yard line. If I'm not mistaken in my interpretation of obscure football rules (and if the NCAA rule is the same as the NFL), that was very nearly a 1 pt. safety. If the ball had gone out of bounds in the end zone (or hit the pylon, which it nearly did), Kentucky would have been awarded a 1 point safety. As it turned out that would have won the game for the Wildcats, since Tennessee failed to make the two point conversion after they scored the touchdown.

Instead, the game went to a fourth overtime, where both teams scored touchdowns, but Tennessee got the two point conversion, and Kentucky didn't (they actually fumbled on the conversion attempt again).

Let's hope the Iron Bowl tonight lives up to the standard set by the last two SEC games I watched.

Welcome Emerald Bowl Committee

The Terps are now bowl-eligible, coming off an inspiring beatdown of NC State today. It really looked like the guys were playing to impress a bowl committee somewhere.

This is off-topic, but I just wanted to say how beautiful San Francisco is this time of year. I've never been able to justify going, unfortunately, but I can think of nothing better than spending a week in late December in the City by the Bay. I'd also like to see the AT&T Park there, which I hear is beautiful and can seat large numbers of relatively well-heeled Maryland alumni. I also considered going to Boise or Charlotte, but I've been to the NCAA Regionals and ACC Tournament in those cities, and I just don't feel the need to get back right away.

Excuse me if I am slow in typing this post, but I am enjoying some delicious Emerald almonds right now. Nothing goes better with a Terps victory than Emerald Nuts. The new ergonomic Emerald containers are great for snacking on the go, and fit perfectly in both my car's cupholders and my hands. This holiday season, when I want the best in quality nuts, I reach for Emerald Nuts.

Speaking of nuts, they are great for vegetarians. They are rich in protein and healthy fats, providing great nutritional benefits. In 1996, the Iowa Women's Healthy Study found that women who ate nuts >4 times a week were 40% less likely to die of heart disease. They are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. Nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 - the good fats) which have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.

November 22, 2007

What I'm Thankful For...

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm going to post something that I am thankful for... that coaches will NEVER FAIL to once a year give us an outburst that never, ever gets old to watch. 2006, we had Dennis Green. 2007, we have Mike Gundy. But we have to respect Coach Gundy because HE'S A MAN. HE'S FORTY!!!! So Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and we can all prognosticate as to which coach will give us much to be thankful for in 2008.

November 21, 2007

Mystery Illness Revealed

After a month or more of speculation, Ravens CB Samari Rolle revealed that epilepsy has caused him to miss a few weeks this season.

When initial reports were that Rolle was "unsteady" as a result of medication, the official doctor of ECB, Ralph Lebron, M.D., and J-Red conferred and decided that an anti-seizure medication was the most likely culprit. The most commonly prescribed of these medications, Dilantin, must be titrated and can lead to feelings of vertigo until the proper dose is achieved.

Turns out we were right. Kudos to the organization and to the Baltimore Sun for knowing the identity of the illness and refusing to disclose it out of respect to Samari.

I Just Can't Take It

This is usually one of my favorite times of year, but I just don't know if I can take it anymore. Has any other fan had to deal year after year with the crap I'm put through?

  • My team supposedly has playmakers, but no offense, especially when the ball is near the goal
  • My team plays solid energetic defense, but gives up big plays deep and wears down just from having to defend for so much of the game
  • My team never seems to get the bounces
  • My team has no real leader on one side of the ball
  • My team gets hit with silly fouls over and over
  • Don't even get me started on the crushing turnovers
  • They play down to their competition, but stick around with better teams just long enough to get me interested

What? The Ravens? No, I'm talking about Maryland basketball. At least we have Gary Williams and not some schlub like Brian Billick running the show.

Week 12 NFL Against the Spread Picks

It's Week 12 and the human standings are finally tightening up. This week marks the beginning of Thursday games, with a three-game Thanksgiving slate. Thanks to NFL Network, that means there will be a game each week you probably can't watch. Enjoy that.

Brien (26-27-2 for .491)

Green Bay (-3.5) over DETROIT - The Packers are 8-1-1 ATS, and the Lions are coming off two straight losses. It's time to reassess just how good we think Detroit really is (answer: not that good).

CLEVELAND (-3.5) over Houston - This is probably your last chance to get the Browns at a bargain basement number like this.

TAMPA BAY (-3.5) over Washington - I know the Redskins looked good last week, but they always play their best against the Cowboys.

SAN DIEGO (-9.5) over Baltimore

NEW ENGLAND (-21) over Philadelphia
So far this year, there have been two "sure thing" bets every week. The one everyone knows about is that New England has covered every week except one. The lesser known sure thing bet is that the Ravens will fail to cover. Baltimore is 1-9 ATS this season. Interestingly, the only time I've picked the Patriots is the one time they failed to cover. Also, the one time I picked against the Ravens is the one time they did cover. This week I'm going to ride the sure things and try not to jinx it again.

Jeremy and Magic 8 (27-22-6 for .545, 32-17-6 for .636)

Jeremy's Picks:

Jason thinks he's going to catch up to me. It's going to kill him if I finish with an above .500 record, let alone if I finish ahead of him. Plus he's already bitter because he's no longer single. AND he grows another year older next week. That truckload of antidepressants can just roll to his place in Essex. [J-Red's Note: I live in Halethorpe, not Essex. Asshat. Plus, I'm younger than you. Plus, I'm not married. Now about those antidepressants...] On to the picks, with some very non-traditional matchups and odd lines this week...

Green Bay (-3.5) over DETROIT - The Packers are positively on fire, and despite the Lions playing well at home and being used to the Thanksgiving schedule, I think the Pack covers this spread.

Oakland (+6) over KANSAS CITY - The Chiefs homefield advantage will be strong for this rivalry game, but the Raiders D will be tough for the Chief's third string RB, and Brodie Croyle isn't who you want to limit your offense to. Did you see Hard Knocks?

CLEVELAND (-3.5) over Houston - Schaub to Johnson is a very viable offensive combination (better than Boller to Darling), but I see Cleveland taking another step towards making their season even more improbable.

GIANTS (-7) over Minnesota - If you don't think the Giants will be rushing seven or eight every play, you're insane. I'd love to see an over/under on their sack total.

And finally, what I swore I would not do...

Washington (+3.5) over TAMPA BAY - The Garcia to Galloway threat isn't going to pose as much of a problem for the 'Skins depleted secondary, and if Jason Campbell plays this Sunday the way he did last Sunday, 'Skins should win straight up.

BONUS PICK!!! It's the Grey Cup. The GREY CUP!!! I wonder how many people are going to find themselves having earned a free triop to Toronto for this game because when they entered a sweepstakes for "the Big Football Game" assuming it was the Super Bowl because the NFL Promo people won't let that term be used.

Winnipeg (+11) over Saskatchewan - Eveyone knows that it's an easier trip from Manitoba to Ontario than it is from Saskatchewan to Ontario. Look for the Rogers Centre to be taken over by Blue Bombers fans.

Magic 8 Ball Picks:
Is now the appropriate time for me to let you all know that this is really Brandon Lang from Two for the Money making these picks?

DETROIT (-3.5) over Green Bay - "My sources say yes." [Lions beat spread]

Oakland (+6) over KANSAS CITY - "No." [Chiefs won't beat spread]

CLEVELAND (-3.5) over Houston - "Signs point to yes." [Browns beat spread]

GIANTS (-7) over Minnesota - "My sources say yes." [Giants beat spread]

TAMPA BAY (-3.5) over Washington - "Signs point to yes." [Bucs beat spread]

J-Red (26-26-3 for .500)

I'm off the Detroit bandwagon. Even at home on Thanksgiving, I can't trust a team that can't put points on the Giants or Cardinals. I'm also not touching the Ravens @ SD without the extra half point to bump it to 10, though I think the Ravens might win the battle of the worst playcallers. Picks time:

Denver (+2.5) over CHICAGO - This is my new bandwagon. I watched the Donks Sunday night, and Cutler looks like he finally gets it. Does that mean he'll throw in a second-year QB road clunker? Probably, but we're talking about Rex Grossman on the other side.

DALLAS (-14) over NY Jets - I still love Dallas. They seem to like to punish people and it's national TV for TO.

JACKSONVILLE (-7.5) over Buffalo - Jacksonville and Tennessee are the two teams that just keep winning. I don't know if that's testament to Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio or what, but I'm done questioning it.

TAMPA BAY (-3.5) over Washington - I can't explain TB either.

Wow, these lines are bad. I guess I'll take...

NEW ENGLAND (-21) over Philadelphia - If it weren't for the fact that Philly is 5-5 (and thus in 3rd in the NFC East), I'd say they were a throw-in-the-towel candidate. In fact, Philly and Washington are about equal, so I'll use that as my guide.

And my Grey Cup pick is Saskatchewan (-11) over Winnipeg. Saskatchewan has former UNC QB Darian Durant and a Tulane player I've never heard of. Winnipeg has no one I've ever heard of.

Russell (24-29-2 for .454)

This week's spreads are just ugly, with 5 of 10 pts or more. "Parity" is clearly abundant, or more realistically, the bad teams this year are really, really bad.

DETROIT (+3.5) over Green Bay - I'm not getting off the Lions bandwagon when I just got on. The Lions secondary has lots of picks and who better to throw some in a dome than Brett? Also, I think the short week benefits the Lions with the Mike Martz offense.

Indianapolis (-11.5) over ATLANTA - I don't care how bad the Colts have looked, the Falcons can make anyone healthy. Plus Peyton is due.

PITTSBURGH (-16) over Miami - Huge spread, but after losing to the Jets, the Steelers will be fired up for MNF at home.

KANSAS CITY (-6) over Oakland - Don't look now, but KC's pretty good. Oakland can't stop the run.

Buffalo (+7.5) over JAX - The Jags don't blow people out, and other than the Pats debacle, the Bills have been playing really well.


Brien - CLE, GB, NE, SD, TB
Jeremy - CLE, GB, NYG, OAK, WAS
Russell - BUF, DET, KC, IND, PIT
Magic 8 - CLE, DET, NYG, OAK, TB


Magic 8 (32-17-6 for .636)
Jeremy (27-22-6 for .545)
J-Red (26-26-3 for .500)
Brien (26-27-2 for .491)
Russell (24-29-2 for .454)

November 20, 2007

Holliday, Rockies Get Screwed by Voters

In one of the closest races for NL MVP, Jimmy Rollins literally stole the award from Matt Holliday. I love the East Coast as much as anyone, but this is ridiculous. Story here.

Rollins was 1st in the NL in Runs, Triples, AB, and Games, and 2nd in Hits and Extra-Base Hits. I applaud him for playing all 162 games, but doesn't leading off and playing every game on a high-scoring team automatically mean you should lead the league in AB's and Hits? Also, he probably had so many AB's because he hardly walks at all. His .294 batting average and .344 OBP do not impress at all, even though a leadoff man should pride himself on those.

Holliday, on the other hand, hit .340 (1st) and had a .406 OBP (2nd), even though he's a power hitter. He hit more HR's (4th, 36), more XBH's, and more doubles (50, 1st), scored a very respectable 120 runs (3rd), knocked in 137 (1st), and walked more than Jimmy. Only the third player since 1967 to lead the league in both BA and RBI's, he led the NL in hits (with way fewer at-bats than Jimmy), total bases, and doubles. And I don't want to hear any crap about Coors Field. Citizens Bank is just as homer happy, opponents had a higher slugging % there than at Coors this year.

The Rockies as a team also got screwed because they received 0 Gold Gloves, in spite of leading the league in fielding percentage, and Clint Hurdle did not win NL Manager of the Year (Melvin was deserving too, but anyone who takes Colorado to the playoffs on that kind of streak...). Troy Tulowitzski also got edged for the NL Rookie of the Year.

I know the games are on late, and the Rockies were almost never on TV on the East Coast (or the West Coast when I was in Seattle), but they deserved more credit than this for a great year and a great run at the end.

Funny Link

If you missed this on CNNSI's Hot Clicks, check out the interview between Ahmad Rashad and the Pats' punter from The Sports Hernia.

November 19, 2007

NFL History

Glenn Martinez, the Broncos KR/PR, tonight became the first "Martinez" to ever score a TD in an NFL game. He's also the first Martinez to PLAY in the NFL. There have been 34 Martinez's to play Major League Baseball.

And you wonder why the league is trying so hard to market the game to Hispanics.

Week 11 NFL Against the Spread Recap

I was the only one to have a losing week this week, so maybe we are getting somewhat better at this. At least Magic 8 continues to roll on. Jeremy now leads by 2 games over J-Red and 2.5 over Brien. Russell is still within a prayer, at 5 back.


Brien (3-2-0) - ARI, MIN, SD, TB, TEN
Jeremy (3-1-1) - ARI, CLE, KC, SD, STL
J-Red (2-3-0) - DET, JAX, NO, PIT, TB
Russell (2-2-1) - CLE, DET, OAK, STL, TB
Magic 8 (4-0-1) - ARI, BAL, JAX, KC, STL


Magic 8 (32-17-6 for .636)
Jeremy (27-22-6 for .545)
J-Red (26-26-3 for .500)
Brien (26-27-2 for .491)
Russell (24-29-2 for .454)

More on GoalpostGate and The Sun

According to The Sun, the Ravens have begun the formal protest procedure with the NFL. The allegation is not that the call was wrong, but that the officials broke rules in deciding to reverse the call. To wit, Stan White of 98 Rock was close enough to hear the officials conference, and he is certain that the replay official told Pete Morelli that the kick was good, though no images were transmitted.

In other Sunpaper news, I asked columnist/beat reporter Heather Dinich why she had written a Big Ten article when she had been hired for the ACC beat at She told me that not all of the BCS beats had been filled, but she would be on the ACC once they have been.

Week 13 CFB Picks

Rivalry week is finally here along with a slew of crucial conference matchups to decide BCS berths. Here are my early picks for you to chew on in anticipation of the best weekend of college football every year.

PAC-10 on Thursday (a little Turkey-Day dessert instead of Colts at Falcons)

ARIZONA STATE (+3.5) over Southern Cal - I haven't been impressed with USC at all in the second half, and I think Arizona State is the more complete football team right now. The coaching matchup between Pete and Dennis will be very intriguing.

Big 12

Missouri (+1.5) over KANSAS - The Curse of #2 Continues! The Tigers' early schedule included road wins over Illinois and Ole Miss, while the Jayhawks' best out-of-conference opponent was Toledo (5-6 in the MAC). Both teams have to play 3 teams from the South: Missouri got OU, TT, and A&M, while KU got Baylor, A&M, and OSU. Add in a little senior leadership from Chase Daniel and that's a Tigers victory. The only ranked team KU has played all year was #24 K St after they beat Texas. The Missouri loss at #6 OU should not make you think KU is better.

TEXAS A&M (+6) over Texas - The Aggies pulled a huge stunner last year, and they might be playing for Francione's job this year. Texas has really struggled to get their W's lately, and this will be no exception.

Oklahoma State (+14) over OKLAHOMA - Bradford is woozy and Murray is out for OU. OSU has gotten much better at the end of the year, and this game always seems to be close. This year should be no exception.


Maryland (pk) over NC STATE - Blind homer pick in the battle for the right to be snubbed by the Emerald Nuts Bowl.

Virginia Tech (-3.5) over VIRGINIA - If the rivalry's not enough motivation, getting back to play BC again should be.


AUBURN (-6) over Alabama - So when Bama hired Saban, they had to be thinking "Thank God we'll never lose to Miss St again..." At least Shula never lost to UL Monroe. Further, after losing to Auburn and in a bowl, they'll have the same record they did last year, 6-7. Ouch.

KENTUCKY (-2) over Tennessee - Senior day for Andre Woodson against a team he's never beaten.

SEC East vs. (over) ACC

Georgia (-3.5) over GEORGIA TECH - The best team in a brutal SEC East against a thoroughly mediocre, middle-of-the-pack ACC team? If you had attended any of the Yellow Jackets' games this year, you would not doubt this assessment.

SOUTH CAROLINA (+2.5) over Clemson - Clemson is falling apart and just had a heartbreaking loss. South Carolina had a bye. The difference in strength of schedule is incredible, and now the Cocks are rested.

VANDERBILT (+2) over Wake Forest - Vandy is playing to be bowl eligible for the first time in forever. Wake's not very good.

Last Week: 1-1
Season: 35-47-5

November 18, 2007

Conspiracy Theories

There's a lot to say about today's Ravens game, but I just want to make one quick point. Imagine if the game had involved the Patriots. There were two extremely odd plays in the game, both of which went against the Ravens. First, there was a Browns catch that was challenged by the Ravens, but upheld due to "malfunctions" in the review equipment. Second was the field goal attempt at the end of regulation that was ruled no good, then reversed 5 minutes later without actually being "reviewed" (at least according to the announcers).

Leave aside for a minute the fact that both of the plays were eventually called correctly. Imagine the conspiracy theories that would be bandied about if the game had involved the Patriots. If the calls had gone against the Patriots, Bill Simmons would already have a column up about how the NFL doesn't want New England to go 19-0. If the calls had gone for the Patriots, we'd be calling the paramedics to Gregg Easterbrook's house right now.

It's important to remember that sometimes strange things happen in the NFL, and it's not always the product of a vast conspiracy.

J-Red's Response

As the only Ravens fan who contributes, I'd like to feel screwed by the officials. The reality is that the kick is good no matter how you look at it. As discussed here previously, the uprights and crossbar are in bounds on field goal attempts (though out of bounds on punts and all other plays, including kickoffs). The "support" bar, on the other hand, is out of bounds. The Dawson kick struck an upright (in bounds), and then the support bar (out of bounds). The correct ruling is that the ball is dead upon striking something out of bounds, just as if the ball had hit the net or one of the net supports. When the ball touched something out of bounds, it had totally passed through the plane of the goal posts, and thus was a successful kick.

Most Ravens fans seem to accept this, but I was particularly troubled by the fans who believed the Ravens got screwed because field goal tries are not reviewable (And they aren't, because the two officials standing under the goal posts have simultaneous access to two critical pieces of information - when the ball passes the "plane" and whether the ball passed inside, outside, or over the upright. No camera angle would provide both.) Referee Peter Morelli was clear when he explained that that he was not going to review the play, but rather discuss it. I suspect both officials under the goal post saw the ball hit the support bar, but did not know immediately what that actually meant. There is nothing in the NFL Digest of Rules on point, but the officials use a huge and immaculately detailed interpretations guide as well, which is not easily available to the public. I suspect the officials discussed their impression of what the rule would be, and Morelli might have even checked upstairs to make sure the replay official (who is the 8th official) did not know of the rule on point.

This was Morelli's dilemma: the call hinged on a rules interpretation. If he ruled that the ball hit the support bar, but came to rest in bounds and thus was not a FG, Cleveland would have immediately protested the decision. If the league ruled that the field goal was good, Cleveland would have had to return to Baltimore at some later date (or even later on Sunday) to play overtime. By ruling that the kick was good, Morelli gave Baltimore the opportunity to play under protest. Assuming they followed protest procedures, if the league determines that the kick should have been disallowed, the Ravens will be credited with a victory and the overtime will be expunged. That won't happen, but it's the equivalent of calling something a fumble when in doubt - a bad fumble call can be repaired, but a bad down-by-contact cannot be.

I suspect this was Morelli's logic. If he screwed it up, it could be fixed. If he upheld the no-good call, the error could not be fixed or could only be fixed in an embarassing manner.

Also, if anyone knows replay it's Peter Morelli. He was the official who overturned Steeler Troy Polamalu's INT in the 2005 playoffs against Indy despite no evidence to support the decision. In a stunning and uncharacteristic move, the league publically announced that Morelli blew the call. That's the equivalent of an appellate court overturning a trial court's decision for "abuse of discretion". Not only is it rare, it requires the higher-ups to explicitly say the lower arbiter made a totally unsupportable error.

West Coast Guest Post

One can never complain enough about the byzantine NFL television rules. This comes from Michael Prodanovich in Santa Barbara, CA:

So today on the beautiful central coast of California we had a Fox doubleheader (Carolina at Green Bay at 10am PST, followed by Washington at Dallas at 1:15 PST)...and our CBS game was San Diego at Jacksonville at 10am in the early slot. Well, the SD/Jax game was a pretty good one, and ended shortly before 1pm. At that point, CBS immediately shuttled us off to bonus coverage of the final drive of the Oakland/Minnesota game, and after that promptly to the end of the Cleveland/Baltimore game, which picked up with about 3:00 remaining. Well, when the Browns and Ravens hit the 2 minute warning, they came back from commercial not to the game, but to the CBS studios. Since it was a Fox Double-header week, CBS is prohibited from even showing bonus coverage past 1:15pm, or the kickoff time for the designated Fox game in that time slot. CBS could only show the end of the Ravens game if that was our originally designated game (which, here, was SD/Jax). So instead of being able to actually SEE how the miraculous last two minutes (and OT) unfolded, we had a close-up of Dan Marino's facial expressions as he told us what happened, followed by a replay about 10 seconds after the fact. How ridiculous. Not only does the NFL only allow DirecTV customers to get NFL ticket and choose the games to see (and making the price for it 8 times higher in the process), and not only to they restrict viewers from being able to watch two games in each time slot...but they go as far as to restrict bonus covered from the end of a great and exciting game ON ANOTHER NETWORK from the one designated to broadcast the local game in that time slot. Absolutely unbelievable. And if I were to move a couple hours down to Ensenada, Mexico, I could see all of any game I want for just a few Pesos on my local cable carrier.