September 12, 2009

The State of University of Virginia Football

Yup, in a nutshell, this about sums it up....

It's also one of the funniest mascot moments in the history of college football.

September 10, 2009

College Football Picks - Week 2

GEORGIA TECH (-5.5) over Clemson - This spread is almost too good to be true. Clemson is bringing a rookie QB to Atlanta for his first nationally televised game and his first road game. The Tigers have only had a couple days to prepare for the option after both teams played on Saturday, and GT won this game last year with a large number of injuries.

Dwyer is an unstoppable beast. (Photo: Michael Schneider)

OREGON (-12)
over Purdue - This is a team that wants to show it's better than what we all saw last Thursday. Purdue's not good enough to stop them.

Tcu (-11) over VIRGINIA - The Cavs have been awful early the last few years, including a bad loss to William & Mary this year. TCU is an elite team from the Mtn West and will pound Virginia.

Notre Dame (-3.5) over MICHIGAN - Both teams are decidedly better than last year, but it's hard to gauge which will win. I think the experience and newly-found accuracy of Jimmy Claussen will lead the Irish in this game, while the inexperience of Michigan's quarterbacks will make a difference as well.

Miami OH (+36.5) over BOISE ST - I'm certainly not predicting upset here, but even the slightest letdown by Boise after their huge game last week will result in them not covering. Miami OH may not be world-beaters, but they're not the Little Sisters of the Poor either. For reference, Florida's spread vs Troy is 36.

Usc (-6.5) over OHIO ST - I don't think the Buckeyes' trend of losing to elite opponents is over yet. Their offensive struggles against Navy are not a good sign with mighty USC coming to town. Both teams lost a lot of players to the draft, but I look for the freshman QB Barkley to look sharp and do the little things right to lead USC to victory.

Late addition:
South Carolina (+7) over GEORGIA - If you can still get this spread, take it. UGA will be starting a backup QB against the Gamecocks' smothering D.

Last Week: 4-4

September 9, 2009

NFL Picks Week 1

Welcome back to ECB's continuing coverage of degenerate gambling and the National Football League. Each week of the season for the past two years we've each offered five against-the-spread picks. Jeremy's Magic 8 Ball competes against his picks, determining whether or not the home team will beat the spread. All spreads are taken from Sheridan's Odds in USA Today.

In 2008, Jeremy was the winner. In 2007, much to the embarrassment of all of us here at ECB, Magic 8 Ball won the competition.

Off we go - onto Week 1 of the 2009 season... where nobody really knows much of anything.

Brien (0-0-0)
The rule in week 1 is to go against the grain. There's tons of conventional wisdom about which teams will improve this year and which will take a few steps back. We know from past experience that the conventional wisdom is probably wrong, but the lines won't figure that out for a few weeks.

CAROLINA +1 over Philadelphia - The Eagles are a sexy Super Bowl pick for some reason, and everyone's writing off Jake Delhomme based on one bad game.

Denver +4.5 over CINCINNATI - Everyone agrees the Broncos will suck this year, which is enough to make me take the points.

Miami +4 over ATLANTA - Conventional wisdom says the Dolphins were a fluke last year.

CLEVELAND +4 over Minnesota - I know Brett Favre isn't supposed to tank until December, but I don't think the Vikes will be as good as people think.

St. Louis +8.5 over SEATTLE - The Rams will probably suck, but the Seahawks shouldn't be giving more than a touchdown to anyone yet.

Jason (0-0-0)

BALTIMORE (-13) over Kansas City - The Ravens tend to do well in these "blood in the water" home games. How is K.C. going to score?

NY GIANTS (-6.5) over Washington - How are the Redskins going to score?

HOUSTON (-5) over New York Jets - DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams would like to meet you Mr. Sanchez.

Denver (+4) over CINCINNATI - Denver has been demolished in the media after they basically imploded the team. This might be their out-of-division win for the year.

ATLANTA (-4) over Miami - I still think last year was a fluke for Miami, but not for Matt Ryan and Roddy White.

Jeremy (0-0-0)

CINCINNATI (-4) over Denver - Kyle Orton... child please. A healthy Carson Palmer spells doom for the Broncos.

Chicago (+3.5) over GREEN BAY - The flip side of the coin is Jay Cutler with the Bears... I'm predicting a breakout year for Devin Hester with somebody to finally get him the ball.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-6.5) over Washington - This line is a little big and scares me. Not to mention I'm not sure who Eli will throw the ball to. That said, the Giants' DL will absolutely blow up the 'Skins' OL.

HOUSTON (-4.5) over New York Jets - Rookie QB on the road in his NFL debut... I'm going to take the Texans.

Minnesota (-4) over CLEVELAND - I'll take Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre with a possible cracked rib any day on the road over Jamal Lewis and Brady Quinn.

Magic 8 Ball (0-0-0)

CINCINNATI (-4) over Denver - "My sources say yes." (Bengals will beat spread)
GREEN BAY (-3.5) over Chicago - "My sources say yes." (Packers will beat spread)
Washington (+6.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS - "No." (Giants won't beat spread)
HOUSTON (-4.5) over New York Jets - "Yes." (Texans will beat spread)
CLEVELAND (+4) over Minnesota - "My sources say yes." (Browns will beat spread)

Russell (0-0-0)

San Diego (-9.5) over OAKLAND - New year, same Raiders.

BALTIMORE (-13) over Kansas City - The Ravens D against an inept offense. I like my chances.

Minnesota (-4) over CLEVELAND - The Vikings will be really, really good, even if Favre isn't perfect. Just the threat is enough.

HOUSTON (-5) over NY Jets - The Texans get it done with Schaub healthy (kind of) and the Jets working the kinks out.

Dallas (-6) over TAMPA BAY - New OC, new QB, big problems.

Russell: SD, BAL, MIN, HOU, DAL

The WNBA - We Got Next (Unless Giant Animatronic Dinosaurs are Booked in our Home Arena)

Today's latest story, care of the Washington Post as to why the WNBA, as a league, is only slightly more relevant than the latest reincarnation of women's professional soccer, and still remains less relevant than the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, PGA, PBA (Professional Bowling Tour for those who don't know), NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, the professional Bass Fishing Tournament, the NCAA, and the Montgomery County Bar Association Summer Softball League, among other competitive sports ventures:
Dinosaurs May Force Mystics Out of Verizon

Because of a scheduling conflict at Verizon Center, which will be hosting a BBC production called "Walking With Dinosaurs," if the Mystics make the playoffs they will play their first round series at Comcast Center in College Park.

This of course assumes that the Mystics, who sit in fifth place and out of the playoff picture in the WNBA's Eastern Conference, make the playoffs. Washington has two games remaining, home on Saturday against Atlanta and away at New York on Sunday.

Here's what Chief Operating Officer Greg Bibb had to say in a news release yesterday.

"While it is unfortunate we will not be able to play a first round game at our home arena, Verizon Center, we are fortunate to have a terrific facility located in close proximity in the Comcast Center," Bibb said. "I appreciate the support and cooperation of the University of Maryland athletic department in providing their facility and look forward to the potential homecoming of sorts for former Terrapins and current Mystics stars Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman."



So let me get this straight... in the unlikely event that you hurdle two teams and make the playoffs, you won't be able to play in your home arena because of an animatronic dinosaurs show billed as follows:

"The arena is laid out with a proscenium stage at one end and the entire arena floor is our performing surface. Because the dinosaurs are the size they were in real life, the only venues large enough to accommodate them are arenas. We use both live and recorded video to enhance the scenes in the show; and the cinematic scope, dramatic lighting and symphonic sound used in the performance bring the creatures into three-dimensional reality as they walk around the arena floor. A team of master puppeteers operates each of the Dinosaurs via the use of new and special technologies invented just to bring them to life. The sights, sounds and subtleties of movement will make you feel that you are looking at real dinosaurs - alive and spontaneous to everything, even the audience. During the show, you cannot actually touch the Dinosaurs, but don’t worry, the experience will be 'real' and 'live.' Our producer Carmen Pavlovic says, 'It is the closest you’ll ever get to experiencing what it was like when they walked and ruled the earth.'"

Lest we forget, this is a league that in its 13-year history, has already had five teams fold and two teams relocate. A league where the highlight of its most recent all star game was having all the other players on the floor clear the paint and giving a player known for her ability to... wait for it... DUNK... two chances to dunk a basketball. She needed the second chance after she clanged it off the rim in her first attempt. Notably, that first attempt is not included in this video. All those uncontested layups made her dunking skills rusty.

Come to think about it, that dinosaur show doesn't look half bad.

September 8, 2009

Weekly TMQ Rejoinder - NFL Preview

Fair warning: while TMQ annoys me every week, the haiku preview column especially infuriates me.

Gregg Easterbrook Who thinks a haiku

Is funny? No one but this

Pretentious asshat

Coaching Experience

Easterbrook likes to throw around half-arguments at the beginning of the column with the assumption that readers will take them at face value. This week, it’s a criticism of teams for hiring coaches with no head coaching experience (Spagnuolo, Ryan, Morris, McDaniels, and Haley). What’s the track record of NCAA coaches coming to the NFL lately? It sucks, right? So the problem with these guys is that they started as college assistants instead of high school head coaches 15 years ago? That’s the brilliant assertion you’re going to use to lead off your column? Do I have to keep asking rhetorical questions to get my point across?


Every year TMQ does an all-haiku preview of the NFL. He writes a haiku for every team in the league.

Haiku were funny in high school lit class when the reaction was “Wait, that counts as poetry?” For an NFL column, you could maybe get away with using a haiku as a comedic device once or twice, but after 5 years and 30+ haiku a year, it’s worn a bit thin at this point.

You have to wonder about the thought process that leads Easterbrook to continue this lame “tradition” year after year. Combined with the repetition throughout all his columns, one can only conclude that the man doesn’t believe any joke ever gets old. Unfortunately, he’s sorely mistaken.

I’m not even going to bother explaining why none of the haiku are funny at all.

NFL Lottery Tickets

Do you really care so little about your name and prestige that you will sell your image to organizations which engage in socially damaging activities?

So now Easterbrook isn’t just getting all high-and-mighty about sports gambling, he has an issue with scratch-offs. Why am I not surprised. Eight paragraphs of bleeding heart self-righteousness.

Minimum Wage

Ugh, I’d rather not get into political arguments, but let’s just say this one struck me as unfair. Easterbrook’s claim is that a higher minimum wage won’t hurt employment. To test his hypothesis, he says that the minimum wage rose $7.25 in July, so unemployment will go down in the following 12 months.

You may have heard some news about a bit of economic trouble the country is having, what with unemployment at 9.5% and all. So if unemployment falls from a historic high, TMQ is proven correct.

This is emblematic of all the arguments he makes. Easterbrook always manipulates the statistics cynically to suit his purposes, and then poses as a humble sports columnist speaking truth to power. It’s dishonest and he should stick to sports (and sci-fi).

Stylistic hat-tip: Drew Magary and FJM

September 6, 2009

Silver Lining in Cal Blowout of Maryland

Man, a blowout like that is enough to make you want to throw up all over the field. At least that didn't happen (this year).