Houston (-5.5) over Cleveland
This looks to be the major pillow fight of the week and with the Ron Dayne experience in full effect, no less, I feel good about Houston. That good feeling is basesd primarily on the utter ineptitude of Cleveland. We should have known about Romeo. It's just not a football coach name. The great coaches were named Vince or Mike or John, not Romeo or Cassanova.
New Orleans (+2) over Carolina
How do you pick games in week 17? I am totally clueless so I'm sticking to the one team I've loved all year in the Saints. Plus they are getting points against a Carolina team that I have absolutely not been impressed with all season. I saw them in person this year and still they left me clueless. Go Drew (swoon).
Oakland (+11) over NY Jets
Betting on the Radiers? Yes I've lost my mind. They have nothing to play for and the Jets are sitting on a "win and you're in" situation. But this is what I'm calling the "fuck with Gage" game of the week. As you surely know, most likely way for Cincinnati to make the playoffs is if the Jets lose and the Bengals win. So, I expect New York to string Oakland along just long enough to get my hopes up and and then quickly dash them into a million pieces at the end. Sigh.... Thus, Oakland covers.
Seattle (+3) over Tampa Bay
Again, a good team getting points against a worse team. I know Seattle already is in and has nothing to play for, but neither does Tampa. What's that? Pride? Are they all out of that in the pacific northwest these days? And a heavenly light shown down upon Shaun Alexander's ankle and said "let the Seahawks win".
Tennessee (-3) over New England
Vince Young has made a lot of people a lot of money in the past few weeks. Finally he gets a little credit this week but I'm going to stay on the bandwagon, just because I'm a sucker and that's what I do. Later this week I'm going to invest in some high risk stocks because surely the stock market is predictable and could never crash.
Have a good New Years Rockin' Eve. Reguar posting by yours truly will resume this week. Go Bengals!
I'd probably agree with you on all those counts. But looking at college football by itself, I'd argue that nothing -- nothing -- can be discerned from bowl game performances because in the end, you guessed it, there is no playoff system. I'm not arguing that the players don't care about playing in a bowl game four weeks after their last regular season game, but at some level every single one of those guys must realize that their bowl game is essentially meaningless. Yeah, they're playing for pride, personal and for their school. And no, I don't want to take anything away from Rutgers who won their first bowl game in school history (and probably deserved a tougher opponent). Yeah, Purdue was embarrassed by Maryland, but is anyone going to give a shit next season? Why are college teams judged on a game played a month after their normal season is done? If that affects recruiting, then that's just idiotic. One game in December or January against a nearly random opponent does not a program make.
If I was a player, I'd just as soon be with my family and friends over the holidays rather than playing in the Champs Sports Bowl. Maybe that's just me, but this whole bowl system is so fucked up--from the way teams are selected from major conferences (perennially snubbing mid-major teams) to the lack of a playoff system--I find it hard to understand why any fan gives half a shit about a game other than the National Championship game, regardless of whether or not their team is playing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Iowa lost a close game tonight to Texas, Minnesota blew the biggest lead ever in a bowl game to lose to Texas Tech, and Purdue lost an utterly unremarkable game to Maryland. But all three of those schools made their money for a bowl appearance and everyone's happy. That's what it's all about, right?
Drew Brees plus three points = extra dreamy Drew Brees. I dunno about this one. But, I'm going to count on Eli breaking some hearts and continuing to choke in big games. As always, get em Drew!
Baltimore (+3.5) over Pittsburgh
The Ravens are just the better team here. I'm sure the fans in western Pennsylvainia are really excited about some miniscule/virtually-impossible chance of making the playoffs. Let's go ahead and shoot them down this week. I'd really really prefer that they have nothing to play for when they come to Cincy on New Years Eve.
San Fransisco (-4) over Arizona
As it turns out 'Frisco is actually playing for something. Well, holy Nolan! Arizona has shown streaks ans beat a really up and down Seattle team a couple weeks ago, but really they have no reason to give a damn. Thus, San Fran pulls it out.
Seattle (+4.5) over San Diego
This one is for Trout. He thinks Alexander's divine ankle will run all over the Chargers, so why not? Does either team have much to play for? Not really. Of course this pick makes me look stupid when I'm remeinded that San Diego is the best team in the NFL. Oh well.
Philly (+7) over Dallas
I keep harping on this, but I'd say Philly has a whole lot more to play for than Dallas. Plus, this Jeff Garcia thing might just be catching on. And, how self-loathing can Philly fans get over this whole thing? Seriously, they go from McNabb and sucking ass to quasi-gay Garcia and winning games. That's rough.
What's striking to me is how dedicated Kenny Williams and Reinsdorf are to their philosophy of running the club. They're setting up for the future in a financially responsible way, and that means we'll be lucky to see just one man of the current rotation stay over the next three years. I've got mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it puts the Sox in a great position to be competitive for years to come--more in the style of the Oakland A's or the Minnesota Twins than, say, the Yanks or Red Sox. On the other hand, Kenny's making it awfully hard to get attached to any of these players. You can never tell who's going to be traded next. Take a look at how many players are already gone from the 2005 champs:
Yeah, we're better off without most of those guys, and most of them weren't integral pieces of the champions. But damn, just typing out that list floored me. Such is professional sports, I guess... you'd probably find much the same thing with any major-league team. And if Kenny builds a winner here again in the next year or two, I can almost guarantee I won't be so nostalgic about the 2005 squad. But right now I miss that team. A lot.
It also means that I felt a compulsion to write a post that could do the heavy lifting of the 3 posts I usually manage to shit out in a week. So, lucky you, here you have it: Trout's rundown of games to watch this next week while you're tuning out your family, drinking Jagerbombs with those people you see once or twice a year, or just bored the fuck out of your mind. And just because I care, I picked a game for every damn day.
Friday, December 22- 8 PM, Men's College Hoops, Indiana at IUPUI. This one's probably got the boys over at The Rock frothing at the mouth. What more could you want than an intra-SCHOOL rivalry? Well, maybe something. I can think of a lot of things, actually. But IUPUI, being the Jag-yars that they are, should be getting some handjobs in their backseats. Or something.
Saturday, December 23- 4 PM, Men's College Hoops, #3 Ohio State and #4 Florida. Ya gotta hate the U-Fuckjob Gators. I know Spurrier didn't ever coach men's basketball but his disgusting presence still lingers over the entirety of that school. Also, The Ohio State has that Greg Oden guy. I've still never seen Oden play, so that could be fun... I always see his stats on ESPN's bottom line, and invariably he goes 7-8 from the field with 12 boards. Incredible.
Sunday, December 24- With apologies to Cincinnati/Denver and New Orleans/NY Giants, the Christmas Eve game to watch is San Diego at Seattle, 4 PM. Seattle perplexes me. What the hell is their deal? I don't know how many points they're getting this week against the Diego, but I'm picking them straight up. It just feels right, especially for my fantasy team that needs Shaun "Jesus Loves Me" Alexander and Matt "My Sister-in-law is Foxy Yet Disgustingly Conservative" Hasselbeck to score about 3 TDs apiece. That's not too much to ask for Christmas, is it?
Monday, December 25- You probably thought I was going to pick Philly/Dallas, but, really, who wants to watch Tony Romo and Jeff Garcia in a mediocre NFC battle with playoff implications? Not I. LA Lakers at Miami Heat, 2:30. I watch maybe a half of an NBA game per year, and this may be it. You know, aside from that whole rape thing, Kobe seems like a nice guy.
Tuesday, December 26- English Premiership, Bolton vs. Newcastle. Do I know when the game is? No. Can you watch it even if you wanted to? Probably not. Do I know anything about either of these teams? No. What I do know is that I like to drink Newcastle and Michael Bolton is a no-talent ass clown.
Wednesday, December 27- Emerald Bowl: Florida State vs. UCLA. Why this game? Because emeralds are pretty. And I hope Florida State gets their asses handed to them. Oh, how the once-mighty have fallen.
Thursday, December 28- 7:05 PM, Men's College Hoops, Purdue at Indiana State. David Teague regains the promise that has long since dimmed and drops 25 on the Larry Legends. That, and as Gage has so astutely alluded to, Carl Landry's already freakish hairline seems to have receded another inch. Good god.
Friday, December 29- Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: Clemson vs. Kentucky. What the fuck are Gaylord Hotels? Are we talking Holiday Inn level or more like Motel 6? Count me confused. I'm excited for Gage that Kentucky is in a bowl, though. Even if he doesn't care. Go Cats!
With a second long-time member of the Reds front office leaving after being unable to work amicably with GM Wayne Krivsky, you'd think they would need to settle some of the grumbling. Unfortunately all that's left now is the leftovers. That's right; the cold, fatty pieces. Let's take a look at a few free agents the Reds could potentially go after. And by "go after" I mean "take when nobody else wants them."
Barry Zito - Hahahahaha.... just for fun: not only can they not afford him, he would hate the small ballpark and the conservative city. It's hard to date celebrities in the 'Nati.
Jeff Suppan - Well, if the rumors are to be believed, Suppan being wooed by both the Brewers and Pirates (among others) meaning his price tag can't possibly be that high. Suppan is no ace, and do I really want to see the Reds give him $8-9 million/year? Probably not, but It wold really warm my heart to see them actually in the discussion. This seems like the type of player right in their wheelhouse. A veteran who will pitch his share of innings and hasn't shown any signs of being injury prone. At least test the waters.
Jeff Weaver - Ugh. Did you know that Jeff Weaver made over $8 million last year? Don't forget that he was DFA at the end of June. This seems like a move the Reds would make. They seem to have a long history of taking mediocre to bad players from other teams and believing they can "fix" them. Raise your hand if you think a 30 year old Weaver is fixable. Plus, he looks like that guy who hits on your girlfriend even though he knows you're standing right there. Pass.
Preson Wilson - He's done enough to utterly confound me in fantasy leagues that he might as well do the same to my real life favorite team. Somehow, he's only 32 years old (I could have sworn he was at least 35). They need a right handed bat somewhere on the team, and he could platoon. Now, he does play left field where Adam Dunn is going nowhere (particularly when the sun is in his eyes), but I'm sure he could play right some and left when Dunner needs a day off. Plus, I'd say you could get him at a greatly slashed price than his $4 million from last year.
Dan Kolb - Wait, didn't he used to be "Danny"? Or did I just imagine that? I realize it's not 2004, but he did just have 39 saves two years ago. And, he's only 31. For a team that's about to hand the closer role to 37 year old David Weathers "Makes My Bad Knee Act Up" and 40 year old Mike "Get Off My Lawn, You Damn Kids" Stanton, early thirties is sounding pretty good right about now. I like the idea of this one.
Aubrey Huff - He hit .267 last year with 21 dingers. Uninspiring, but not terrible. His upside is that he can play third, first and in the outfield. His downside is that he would be another lefthanded bat and he made a ridiculous amount of money last year ($7m). The sad thing here is that I would probably be very excited and send out some emails with the subject line "Aubrey Huff! Hell Yeah!" if we got him, and not even sarcastically. What an offseason.
Jerome Williams, Mike Wood, Chris Reitsma - Some occasionally shaky but cheapish bullpen help that isn't over the hill might be nice to get. Reitsma would be welcomed back by fans who remember trading him but can't remember who Jim Bowden got in return (aka me). Side note: how come nobody mentioned the fact that Washington neglected to trade Soriano last year for prospects? Now he's gone and you've got nothing to show for it. Way to do dickweed. Sorry for the name calling but Old Leatherpants always gets to me.
Alex Gomez, Damon Hollins, Aaron Boone - Similarly some reasonably priced bats that could fill spots on the bench and start occasionally. I think Boone would be welcomed back as well. His pappy was a crummy manager, but nobody held that against him. Plus, when healthy, he was about as solid as it got with the glove. Can you say "late inning replacement," Edwin?
I don't know what else to say except that things are a little bleak. Luckily the Enquirer online had this picture of Reds' owner Bob Castellini today and I realized why I liked it so much. He looks exactly how Santa would look if you shaved him! He won't bring you Barry Zito, but he might get you that new bike. Enjoy!
But I do not fucking fuck fuck fuck fucking know why Urban fucking Meyer gets a $150,000 bonus for being the better cocksucker and getting his team into a deeply, deeply flawed national championship. Fuck, if I was Urban Meyer, I would have paid 50 AP poll voters $1000 apiece to put Florida #2 ahead of Michigan on their ballots. Then I would have paid Gary Danielson $10 grand to fellate Florida on the air in the SEC Championship game. Oh wait, maybe this did happen. At least Urban has $90,000 left over to take a bath of gold coins in.
I know this is a skewed and bias way to compare things, but fuck it, I'm doing it anyway. I present you with the head coach and president salaries of BCS Championship game participants Florida and Ohio State:
Florida's head coach, Urban Meyer, whose "base salary" is $231,750, actually makes a "total package" which annually amounts to about $2.1 million. $2.1 million. Holy fuck. The University of Florida's president, Bernard Machen, who I think is polishing Urban Meyer's car (and by car I mean cock) right now, makes $730,676 annually.
Ohio State's Jim Tressel makes a "base salary" of $450,000 with a "total package" of about $1.6 million annually. Karen Holbrook, OSU's president, makes about $562 grand annually.
Oh, and I should mention that Oklahoma's coach, Bob Stoops, makes $3.45 million a season. Yeah. So does football run the college or does college run the football? Is it any surprise that education for these major football programs is a joke? Yet another reason to hate market capitalism, folks.
And that's your Tuesday afternoon rant, brought to you in an effort to bring the holiday cheer to the Goat.
Jim Bowden confuses me. Maybe he's just a crazy alcoholic, but he traded away Jose Vidro for essentially nothing, in an effort to cut payroll. This is not what confuses me. What confuses me is that Vidro was the guy that the Nationals just couldn't displace in order for Soriano to play second. And now Washington essentially cuts him. Fucking stupid.
And last but not least, the issue nearest and dearest my heart. Phil Rogers is an idiot. After describing the huge free agent contracts handed out by the Cubs this offseason, he writes "No team figures to feel the impact of these contracts more than the White Sox." Ummm... no. The impact of these contracts will be felt most by the Cubs, particularly in 2008 and beyond when their strapped with expensive contracts for Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Ramirez, and Soriano. What is Phil Rogers smoking? Because the Cubs are dropping money on shitty starters like Lilly and Marquis, the White Sox are supposed to crap their pants in fear and inadequacy? Give me a break. Also, Phil, I curse you for sharing a name with a potter, rendering it impossible to find a picture of you through a Google image search. In protest, I post a picture of Kenny Rogers instead.
I'm wrong because... hell, any win over Louisville is great, especially now that they've got their chests puffed out over their football team. Plus, as the guys at KSR point out they won by 12 with the leading scorer (and only consistent big man) scoring only two points. One can only imagine what Pitino is thinking today. I think you could see his shoulders droop even under his Armani suit's shoulderpads.
I know... Purdue really had a chance to win against Butler, but just didn't seem to have that extra intangible to get them over the top. Gordon Watt has the size and nasty attitude to really be a good player, but David Teague is worthless. I also know that Butler doesn't have the horses at the end of the season but should make a nice tournament run for two reasons: they are the best free-throw shooting team in the nation and this kid Graves is a serious player. He's one of those pure shooters who doesn't miss an open three and makes you hate him as an opponent because some scrawny white kid is dropping 25 and 10 on you.
I'm wrong because... quite honestly, Purdue never had a chance to take control of the game. It took some nice runs to get back in the game and by that time they were out of gas. Plus, Carl Landry was in foul trouble. Hard to mount a comeback with your best player riding the pine. However, I'm still optimistic about this season. Fun team of underdogs to watch. Even Teague is fun when he gets hot and starts beating his chest all Tarzan-y.
I know... that Trout is writing a post declaring that the Colts will win just to get under my skin. Well it worked. Happy? It's a big game where the Bengals have a chance to solidify their place in the Wild Card race. If this game is half as fun to watch as last year's shootout it will be the most entertaining game of the MNF season of snoozefests, and we all win (as long as the Bengals win too).
I'm wrong because... Trout does occasionally have a thought that is not formed solely for the purpose of contradicting me, he just keeps those to himself. Well check out this post homie, because I'm beating you to the punch. Go back to working on your thesis "101 Reasons Gage is a Moron".
I know... what it takes for me to have a MNF gathering tonight: booze and food. The quantities of each depend on your friends. With my friends, we're generally talking booze: lots, food: fuck yeah. Oh and the bigscreen HDTV doesn't hurt either (six years of debt, totally worth it until I saw John Madden in HD, yikes). Getting all liquored up and then not having to find a ride home, also nice.
I'm wrong because... it's becoming increasingly evident that my friends are becoming old men. Sure, we've got a few who work odd hours and can drink all night on a Monday, but most of us have these "real jobs" which tend to completely stifle weeknight drinking (practically a crime) and make people go to bed early. You know what though, I'm coming to work tomorrow hungover just out of principle. That's how much I care.
The only answer you really need is in the linked article. Here is the list of backup catchers the White Sox have had in the past couple years: Sandy Alomar Jr., Chris Widger and Ben Davis. But surely the Sox have a catcher down on the farm that could do the job, you say. Nay. Chris Stewart, the heir apparent to the job, batted a robust .265 in Charlotte and hasn't exactly played in the big leagues so much. Toby Hall, on the other hand, is a pretty damn good hitter against lefties, as South Side Sox points out. So while Toby Hall is mashing lefties every fourth or fifth day, Gil Fucking Meche and Ted Fucking Lilly will be giving up 4 earned runs and 8 hits in 5 and 2/3. Give me Toby! And look at that picture--he's pensive and thoughtful... probably have himself a little conversation with God right there! Who doesn't want that in a backup catcher?
And that's really all the Sox need--to spell AJ against lefties. Because of the woeful catcher situation last year, AJ was forced to play 140 games. And if you doubt that took its toll, AJ batted .320 in the first half and .262 in the second. Kenny has done another good job at shoring up a weak area for next year. Good job, Kenny. You are the recipient of my meaningless approval.
Exhibit A: Cincy has the worst passing defense in the league. Indy, if you haven't heard, has those guys Peyton, Reggie, and Marvin. And now that grandpa Ricky Proehl is in the fold, this shit is foolproof.
Exhibit B: Indy is playing at home. Feel the wrath of the hayseed dome, Bungles! While Cincinnati's hayseed stench is allowed to escape in the open air of Poop Brown Stadium, Ocho Cinco and TJ will surely be overwhelmed by HOOOOOOSIER stench.
Exhibit 3: Indy's league-worst run defense. Don't be fooled: this will be nothing more than a gigantic Bungle mindfuck. Marvin Lewis will decide to hand Rudi (don't call me Huxtable) Johnson the ball approximately 60 times, even inexplicably when the Bengals are down by 17 early in the 4th. Unfortunately Rudi fumbles about 4 times, 2 for Colts TDs. "But they can't defend the run," Marvin whimpers to a mildly upset Ol' Brittle Knees.
Exhibit 4: My Bengals-Colts Madden simulation, played on All-Madden mind you, was a 14 point Colts victory. Adam Vinatieri didn't even have to get his ass up off the bench for a field goal. I just penetrated and scored in the Bungles red zone at will. Like the Bungles were a 2-bit whore.
Exhibit 4A: Pictured above, Jen's nickname is "Pocket"! I'll let you fill in the joke.
Exhibit E: It seems everyone at ESPN and in the national media is all of the sudden on the Bungles bandwagon and jumping off the Colts' sinking ship. This is a sure sign that things are, in fact, exactly the opposite of what douches like Tony Kornheiser and Sterling Sharpe think.
No matter what happens, though, it's almost sure to be better than the rest of the shitty games yesterday. So sit back, relax, and strap it down. Get ready for Theismann to drop some knowledge on your asses tonight.
Minnesota (-3.5) over NY Jets
Ew, I fucking hate this pick. But, I'm sticking to the stystem until it lets me down. Seriously though, how is Minny giving up three and a half just for being at home? Is there anybody who thinks they are a better team than the Jets? My only consolation here: Chad Pennington on the road.
Tennessee (+3.5) over Jacksonville
Okay, now here's one to get a little more excited about. The Vince Young show is sweeping the nation. They may not be in the hunt this year, but Vince is putting on a show and everybody is taking notice. Home underdog too. Maybe the most fun thing about the new era of VY: Colts fans have to get a little more frightened every time he takes over the fourth quarter of a game. He may single handedly kill their streak of dominating the AFC South.
Arizona (+2.5) over Denver
San Diego (-8) over Kansas City
Denver and KC are getting easier and easier to pick against every week. Fun group of young QB's out west in these games in Rivers, Leinart and Cutler. I can't wait for Berman to start making jokes about "gunslingers" and the "wild west." Has he already? Did I mis it?
Cincinnati (+3) over Indianapolis
All personal bias aside, thank the football gods for a fun Monday night game (or at least potentially fun). I will now go beg for forgiveness from those same gods for gambling with my team in a big game. Please don't break my heart football Zeus. I'll slaughter a goat or whatever.
Last Week: 4-1
Season Total: 34-32-3
And now Kenny has made another minor move, trading Ross "Choad" Gload to Kansas City for 6' 10" (6' 10"!) lefty reliever Andy Sisco.
First off, Kenny traded a guy in Gload who could never, ever find enough playing time. Gload seemed like a nice guy and all, taking his benchwarming status in stride, and he certainly produced when he was called upon (during three years with the White Sox, playing in about 200 games, he hit around .300). And Lord knows I couldn't get enough of yelping "Ross Choad!" every time I saw DJ run down the day's lineup card (I'm sure my fiancee will miss this dearly). But he was one of those spare parts lying around that you can just never find a use for. I hope he gets the playing time he deserves in KC, although it looks like he's cursed to another backup role.
Second, when the Sox ditched Cotts, they opened up a hole in the bullpen for a lefty. Now, gaining Sisco, we can let Boooooooooone Logan and Sisco battle it out for that spot. I don't remember much about Sisco, but I do remember thinking "Holy shit, that guy is tall and throws hard." So, basically, he's a 23-year-old Randy Johnson waiting for Don Cooper to give him the key to pitching excellence. Sisco sucked the past year in KC, where I guess maybe they gave up on him, but I like this deal because Kenny dealt from a point of strength (bench depth) for a point of weakness (bullpen). As South Side Sox points out, this potentially gives the White Sox a bunch of hard throwers down in the pen: Jenks, Thornton, MacDougal (who the Sox locked up to a 3-year contract a week ago), Aardsma, and now Sisco. I like it. A lot.
Anyway, back to sports. If I was Zumaya, I'd be embarrassed to injure myself playing a fake guitar to "Stairway to Heaven," and only slightly less so than if I had pulled a quad playing Dance Dance Revolution or slipped a disc during a particularly involved version of "Baby One More Time" on Karaoke Revolution. Of course Zumaya isn't the only pitcher with a technologically-related injury lately. Carlos Zambrano's apparent internet porn habits resulted in an arm injury a couple years ago. (This was refuted, in part, but I still like to think of Zambrano as a porn fiend). At least he had the balls to injure himself looking at porn instead of playing a fake guitar, I suppose.
With all these huge contracts being tossed around, I think it's high time teams start adding clauses about DDR, Guitar Hero, and the like, instead of just Roethlisberger-style motorcycling. I hear Soriano has gotten so into SingStar Rocks that he's skipping his off-season conditioning routine.
Orlllllaaannnnndoooo "Tubby" Smith vs. Matt Painter provides a pretty stark contrast. Tubby is now in his ninth year and inspires a really striking array of sentiments throughout the state while second-year head coach Painter is probably too new to inspire much emotion either way (with the exception of a certain nameless co-blogger who once told me that he needed to "get a new face"). There are a people out there who absolutely hate Tubby and some who adore the man. Realistically, he ought to fall somewhere in the middle. Tubby's recruiting has been suspect (let's just say another hapless 7-footer might drive some people over the edge) while Painter was apparently out kissing a lot of babies in the past couple years because they might just have the best recruiting class coming in next year since the Big Dog. Edge: PUSH - Too different to compare.
The Wildcats were supposed to have Ramel "Smoove" Bradley running the point with Joe "What's a First Step?" Crawford playing two-guard. Unfortunately, however, Smoove proved yet again that he really loved AAU ball and forgets how to "pass" in crunch time. Whoops. What this means is that freshman Derek Jasper has been playing the point as the Cats turn to the three guard "we can't recruit big men" lineup. The Purdue backcourt features Chris Lutz who seems like a genuinely good kid who plays hard next to point guard Terrance Crump who doesn't exactly inspire a feel-good story. He's the same kid who got drunk and drove over a fellow student last fall. Much bigger whoops. They have the pleasure of playing next to David Teague, a streaky shoot-first guard if there ever was one. Much like our dear old friend Willie Dean, I have a feeling nothing makes Teague happier than hearing Jim's Son scream "Shoot it!" as he fires up another airball from beyond the arc. I feel like the team rebounding numbers wouuld skyrocket if somebody positioned themself for the airball every time he shot. Edge: Kentucky - the whole Crump situation was really fucked up.
Now we come to the strength of both teams. Purdue has Carl Landry, who has my dad's hairline but is firmly cementing himself as one of the best players in the country who nobody knows about. 20 points, 8 rebounds per game people. Pay attention. Next to him is Gordon Watt who transferred from Boston College and seems to be a reasonably talented player, but all I really know about him is that he has two brothers, Marcus and Michael, and two sisters, Angela and Ashley. Sounds like a lovely family. Down in Lexington, the saga of NBA free agent Randolph Morris continues. Truth be told, he's finally living up to his potential but you'd never know it since he has the same array of facial expressions as Eeyore. He really ought to be averaging more than his 17 points a game, but he's got to deal with Bradley firing up fade away threes. Of course, he could get offered five million dollars and be off to the NBA any day, but surely that couldn't happen, right? Anyway, next to him is the deadly combo of Bobby Perry (senior leader, always convinces us he's better than he is) and Sheray Thomas (played 18 minutes one game this season without taking a single shot). Edge: Purdue - the Wildcats get negative points for Sheray Thomas.
Who uses a center anymore? This is the new skool!
Season So Far
Kentucky: 6-3, Marquee Win: IU last Saturday. Ugh, this is not making the Wildcat faithful proud. Of course, they could be 9-0 and people would complain that they hadn't won by thirty points. They do have the talent to be a good (not great) team, but we'll see if they get there.
Purdue: 8-1, Marquee Win: Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. How nice is it not to be the whipping boy in the challenge for once? Just as a reminder for those of you who've managed to block it out of your memory, the Boilermakers only won nine games last year. Nine! And they have eight already this year before Xmas. Of course, they haven't had to play a road game yet this season (Maui not withstanding), so we've still got a lot to prove. Edge: Purdue - Eight wins! Fucking A.
Overall Edge: Purdue
Sorry 'Cats, but I promise I'll still be here after another second round loss to UAB.
Granted there are some integral injuries right now--Corey Simon, Bob Sanders, Dallas Clark, Brandon Stokley, to name just a few. But fundamentally this is the same team that doubled up Philly a few weeks ago. Yeah, Philly doesn't have McNabb, but they did have Westbrook for that game, and that didn't stop the Colts from winning. People also seem to forget that the Colts had been playing--and winning--close games all season: 26-21 over the Giants, 31-28 over the Jets, 14-13 over the Titans, 34-31 over the Broncos, 17-16 over Buffalo. Before the wheels fell off last Sunday, they happened to lose a couple of close games: 21-14 to Dallas and 20-17 to Tennessee on a last second field goal. And now they find themselves at 10-3. Ten and three, for Christ's sake, and people are falling over themselves to write this Colts team off. Dipshit Bob Kravitz was on PTI tonight arguing that if the Colts lose to the Bengals Monday night, they're "doomed." He said this with a straight face. I kid you not: "doomed." Doomed to 10-4 and another Division championship on the horizon, maybe.
Here's all I'm saying: the Colts have essentially the same damn team they've had for the past several years. Are they going to the Super Bowl this year? Maybe, but probably not. Losing 3 out of 4 has nothing to do with that, though. Just ask Bengals fans--they were writing the season off after losing 5 of 6 before winning their last 4. Crazy shit just happens in the NFL from week to week. So get over it. And stop inundating me with all-too-typical half-brained doomsday sports analysis. Wait until the playoffs roll around and then talk to me about how the Colts suck.
Picks To Help Cincy Get the WC:
Baltimore (+3) over KC
Ew, rooting for the Ravens. But, they should win this game easily. If you recall KC lost to Cleveland last week. I refuse to accept home field advantage arguments when playing a team that's 3-9 coming in. Really, I feel good about this one no matter who wins. If the Bengals and Chefs end up tied, Cincy holds the tiebreaker with a win in week 1. And they're only two games back of the Ravens. Don't hold your breath, but it could happen.
Indy (pick) over Jacksonville
Have you seen the Jaguars play this year? They are completely unpredictable. But, Indy needs to get back on the horse after last week, and remember I'm just betting the way I want things to go. This just feels right.
Buffalo (+4) over NY Jets
Do I really think Buffalo can go into NYC and get a win? Not really. But that's the same logic that's been fucking me all season. Losman to Evans, TD! Hell I dunno.
San Diego (-7.5) over Denver
This line seems extraordinarily high but I guess you get 3 points for being at home and 4.5 points for playing against the Jay Cutler experience. Go Lightning Bolts!
Picks To Feed My Mancrush:
New Orleans (+7.5) over Dallas
Romo, Brees, It's the NFC Championship! Snooze. Give the ball to Reggie Bush plenty just for the highlights, please.
Um... yeah. So, unless Bud Selig has been calling up the GMs for the Cubs, Orioles, Red Sox, Angels, Royals, Rangers, Dodgers, and any other team that has been making asinine deals this winter and voicing his displeasure, as the Astros I tell Bud to go smoke some pole. Yeah, 6 years at $16 million per is a bit excessive for Carlos, but this is a guy who has consistently hit 30 homers, driven in 100 runs over the past four years (plus, his nickname is El Caballo. El Caballo! God bless you, Hawk). And he just turned 30. Compare it to the Soriano, Lilly, Meche, Matthews, Drew, whoever the fuck deals, and it's more reasonable if you ask me.
Selig's retirement can't come soon enough.
Two things we know from this trade:
1. Brandon McCarthy is the Sox's new #5, so it's time to realize all this so-called potential or flame out and destroy our season 2004 style, when we couldn't get a decent body to throw every 5th day.
2. Kenny Williams apparently decided he fucked up trading Gio Gonzalez in the first place (he went to the Phillies in the Rowand-Thome trade last winter) or he never really wanted to part with him in the first place. Something always makes me uncomfortable when you trade to get a guy like that back, though.
Sigh... I guess we at least have one less pitcher who automatically turns singles into doubles for any hitter with a tiny bit of speed...
Now, Hawk seems to be nearly universally reviled in the blog world and amongst people who know anything about baseball, even inspiring a HeavetheHawk website in the spirit of various and sundry other fire-this-coach-we-hate websites. But I'll tell you what, as a blogger, as someone who knows a little about baseball, and as a White Sox fan, I love me some Hawk Harrelson. Almost as much Hawk loves that goddamned Aflac trivia duck (I'm still perplexed as to why that is, but I'll let it slide).
People rag on Hawk for being a homer announcer (he almost has an aneurysm twice a season for what he perceives to be bullshit umpiring against the Sox, and I'd guess he falls completely silent, fuming for an entire inning about 80-odd times a year when the Sox are playing like shit). He gets shit for using stock phrases ("You can put it on the board!" "He gone!" "Chopper Two Hopper" "Duck snort" ... fill in the blank). People hate him telling inane stories ("I remember a time when I was in Baltimore and I came out for my third at-bat, but couldn't concentrate because I had a giant erection and Brooks Robinson was licking his lips"). People accuse him of just generally being a dumbass (see the Aflac duck). And let me tell you, Hawk is most certainly all of these things.
But let me ask you this: would you rather have Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, or Hawk Harrelson calling your team's games? If I've got to hear someone call 162 games a year, I actually want to hear a homer using the same catchphrases and recounting the same inane stories. Perhaps that makes me a fucking dumbass, but I think there's something refreshingly familiar and endearing about it. I'm probably just a sucker for Hawk because he's been the voice of the Sox ever since I've followed them, though.
Regardless, you have to respect a man that invented the batting glove, puts up with Darrin Jackson, and, most importantly, hates Jay "hiney bird" Mariotti to the very core of his being, no?
At 2:45 today (ESPN2), Barcelona (Spain) plays Werder Bremen (Germany). This is a super tough group also featuring Chelsea who managed to get four points out of two matches with defending champions Barca. Werder Bremen is tied for the lead in the German Bundesliga right now so they are no joke. Barcelona is two points behind both clubs and their only chance to get through to the knockout stage is to get a win today. You've gotta expect some fireworks from Ronaldinho today in a desperate effort. I'm looking for an up-tempo agressive game, and how can that not be fun to watch?
Tomorrow at 2:30 pm (ESPN2) Manchester United (England) plays Benficia (Portugal) who is another tough team, but luckily for them it just happens to be home at Old Trafford. With Celtic (Scottish Premiere League) coming out of the gates hot and getting a huge win over ManU, they are likely to make the knockout round having only to play bottom feeders FC Copenhagen tomorrow. However, Benficia is going to look to come out agressive against the Red Devils with their only salvation being a win and three points. Look for another fun one with a little bit of drama when Christiano Ronaldo goes up against his countrymen in this clash. If he takes a phantom penalty in the box, could he possibly be hated by both English and Portugese fans? Let's hope so.
Elsewhere, French team Lille needs a win over AC Milan (Italy) to have any shot, while Arsenal (EPL) and FC Porto (Portugal) could play for a draw and both advance. But, I'm guessing both teams would like to win the group for seeding purposes, so let's hope for a couple of agressive sides in that one as well. Also, note that Liverpool already has thirteen points and nothing to worry about in their tie with Galatasaray. Eat that ManU and Arsenal.
College football needs a change. While I believe the BCS system has enhanced college football, a simple playoff system would increase its popularity and fairness. First, what has the BCS done right? The BCS allows the number 1 and number 2 ranked teams to play each other for the national championship. This was a very important step for college football and took a great deal of work. A playoff system is the next step in the evolution of college football.
We will start with a little history. In 1990 and 1991 college football saw co-national champions. Because we don’t like ties, for the 1992 season the Bowl Coalition was formed. This system tried to improve upon the system of conference tie-ins to bowl games by allowing the top two teams to play for the national championship. The problem was that the Rose Bowl would not break its tie-ins so the Pac 10 and Big Ten were excluded from the arrangement. In 1995 this system became the Bowl Alliance which changed a few things but still did not include the Pac-10 and Big Ten. Only in 1998 were these two conferences included to create the BCS. The BCS tweaks its formula each year, but in 2006 has automatic bids for the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10, and SEC conferences. On top of that, four other schools can earn bids through a number of detailed rules. Finally, if Notre Dame wins more games than it loses and Charlie Weis tells the media he deserves to be in a BCS bowl, Notre Dame goes to a BCS bowl.
In order to make a playoff work, it has to improve upon the BCS, but stay within a number of ground rules.
Players are student athletes and a playoff should not increase the number of games. This is a major argument against a playoff. To think that major conferences and FOX really care about the education of the football player is a stretch. Why would you introduce a twelfth game if you’re worried about the education of the youth? Because of this rule, a playoff system can only contain two or three rounds.
Don’t kill the regular season with a playoff. Any playoff system needs to ensure teams can’t coast at the end of the season. It also has to keep the interest of the lower tier schools.
College football has peculiar institutions that add to its appeal. College Football has unique systems like polls and bowls that should be a part of any playoff. Any system that allows Boomer Esiason and Anthony Munoz to vote has to be kept in order to keep the support of the Bengals fans.
Respect the conferences. Conferences and conference rivalries are huge in college football. A playoff system should respect the major conferences by giving automatic bids to conference champions.
Money Money Money Any system needs to make boat loads of money because that’s what its all about these days, right?
With these rules I propose my plan which has probably been proposed by 500 other people. I’m sorry. I’m too lazy to read what other people wrote unless it was put on The Goat.
I propose an 8 team playoff to decide the national championship. The eight teams would come from automatic bids from the six major conferences and two at-large bids. The two at-large bids would come from the two highest ranked teams which are not conference champions. The polling could use the current system or some other alternative as long as Boomer and The Rocket still have a voice. All other bowls should be kept and this system will not detract from them anymore then the BCS does now
An eight team playoff would require three weeks. By subtracting the twelfth game (Should teams really be able to go to a bowl with a .500 record?) this would be in line with the current system. Only two teams would play a fourteenth game. Just this year, Purdue will play fourteen games so the academic argument is void. The first round of the playoffs would be played the week after the final week of the season. The top four teams would play home games to give them an advantage. This keeps the regular season competitive. Teams will need to compete to win their conference and will also have to win to stay in the top 4 because of the importance of home field advantage. It also adds a second tier of interest for the schools competing for the two at-large spots. Those schools will add the spoiler element that makes college basketball so enjoyable.
After the first week the winning teams would play each other and the losing teams would play each other in the traditional bowl games. The winner and loser bowls would rotate with a loser bowl always hosting the national championship game. This is how the money comes into play. The first week will add a lot of TV revenue and the second week will keep or exceed the current BCS revenue. Finally, the national championship game would pit the two top teams against each other a week after the bowl games just like the current system.
The proposed playoff system is an easy architecture to implement to advance the current BCS system. The system does not increase the number of games. It keeps the regular season competitive. It keeps the bowls, the polls and the importance of the conferences. I know people will argue that this system will have its own controversies and its own problems. This is true. The system will not be perfect, but it will improve upon the system that we have today. In 1992 people argued about the Bowl Coalition because it crowned mythical national champions. They cried in 1995 when the Bowl Alliance did nothing to fix the problems. Today we still argue about the BCS. Many of us relish the days of the 10-10 tie or think about the replay implications of the Stanford band entering the field or the personal four for running over the trombone player, but those days are over. College football is big-business, and if that’s the way it has to be then lets at least continue the trend of improving the crowning of a champion by implementing a playoff system.
(I’m sorry this is so boring. I write technical papers for the government. Passive voice is my life. Think about it: Jeanne Zelasko as a sideline reporter.)
In the shit-tacular NFC, there's going to be a couple of ridiculously mediocre teams that make the playoffs. This week the Vikings look up and find themselves with a chance to win that distinction. I think they just want this one more than the Bears, who will be looking to bounce back, but nine goddamned points?
Washington (-1.5) over Atlanta
It just seems like a good time to pick against Atlanta. Finger-gate continues as Vick has to go on the road. Good time for a complete freefall. Maybe the Jason Campbell experience works out and Washington finally has a quarterback.
Miami (pick) over Jacksonville
Dolphins - a team on the rise. Jaguars - slumping. That said, Jacksonville is utterly unpredictable, but at least they're on the road. And just in case you're keeping track, I just bet on Joey Harrington.
Oakland (-3) over Houston
Gage's Law pick. That's right, go Raiders! We're demoting coordinators as Art Shell considers waking up from his coma any day now. And I'm betting on them. This is why I continue to lose.
Dallas (-3) over NY Giants
It's Romo-rific! Strahan's head explodes under the pressure of knowing he hurt someone's feelings. Seriously, is anybody betting against Romo at this point?
To summarize, this week I'm betting on one crummy team, two rookie quarterbacks, Joey Harrington and the Radiers. I'm an idiot.
Last Week: 4-1
Season Total: 30-27-2
It's getting to be a lonely club; those of us who don't hate the Bowl Championship Series. Now in its ninth year, the system that was supposed to cure the ills of college football's ranking system has become the most convenient whipping boy (with the possible exception of Pete Rose) in all of sports. Of course what people often neglect to mention is that there's only been one split championship (Auburn and USC in 2004) and a lot griping from teams who feel slighted. But surely the entire system can't be dismantled simply due to a bunch of whining, can it? Wouldn't that just be encouraging Jay Mariotti?
Let's get it out of the way: no system is perfect. Whether you favor a four team or eight team (or even the clinically insane 16 team) playoff there still will be unavoidable controversy. There are a lot of people who love the NCAA basketball tournament and have managed to convince themselves that it's the perfect system. Guess what, it's not (more on this later). While the idea of striving for perfection is noble, the BCS has accomplished what everybody wanted and expected. It created a Super Bowl of college football. And, nobody misses that game (except for my mom, but she's more of a pro football fan). The matchups have been complelling and entertaining, and generally more fun to watch than the Super Bowl. Sounds like a system that's working to me.
So, why are people completely obsessed with the concept of a playoff? Best I can tell, we have a playoff in every other American sports league and people don't know any other way. But, hasn't anybody noticed how we've completely undervalued the regular season? The Steelers won the championship from a Wild Card and the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs in the middle of an almost-epic backslide with a barely better than .500 record. I probably don't even need to mention the NBA, but let me remind you that over half the teams make the postseason. In the NCAA basketball tourney, fourth and fifth place teams from some conferences get in every year.
We've created an atmosphere where it's not the team who plays great all season who is lauded as the best team, but rather the team who gets hot at the right time. I, for one, like the idea of that early fall game between Notre Dame and Michigan having the potential to make or break a season. This is why it's so goddamned exciting. Plus, there's the argument that in the Ohio State and Michigan game this year, both teams would have already qualified for a playoff and thus could have rested players and not had to give 100%. How sad would that be for a game with so much tradition? I kind of like the idea of every game being for all the marbles.
Then, of course there's the money. You've probably heard it all, but basically the current bowl system is insanely profitable for the NCAA, the host cities and particular the participating schools. Fans seem to travel regardless of the status of their team's bowl (for example the Champs Sports Bowl in tropical Orlando, Florida). Everybody is fat and happy right now. Do I think that a playoff could potentially make everybody just as much money? Probably. It's like your one buddy who's been at the same job even though he's had other opportunites that could probably make him more successful. You keep asking him about it and he just shrugs and says "yeah, but I'd have to learn a whole new job and I might even have to move." Hard to argue with, really.
Finally, at the end of the day everybody controls their own fate. Think you deserve to be in the big game, Michigan? Maybe you should have won that game in Columbus. And, there's still the reasonable subjective qualities of the coaches' poll in play. Living in SEC country I get force-fed a lot of Florida games. And, realistically, anybody who has watched the Gators barely edge out South Carolina and a crummy Florida State team in recent weeks cannot reasonably think that they are the second best team in the country. Beat FSU by four touchdowns and then we'll talk. What I'm trying to say here is: if you want to be considered in the top two teams in the country, go out and play like it.
In the end, I'd like to think the designers of the BCS had two (at least somewhat) noble priorities in mind when designing the stystem. One, have one game to determine the national championship. And two, do so without completely dismantling the current system. I'd say they accomplished said goals. Now let's not ruin it Fox by letting Joe Buck announce the game.
Yeah I know this one already happened but you'll just have to take my word that I bet it. If someone out there was waiting for my picks to influence their Thanksgiving gambling, I'm sorry but you are a fool. Basically I took the home team vs a struggling quarterback. Boom, that one worked out.
NY Jets (-4.5) over Houston
Did someone say the Jets have an outside shot at the playoffs? Wow. This will be a nice little run for Jets fans where they finish 9-7 and give Chad Pennington a ridiculous contract extention. Anyway, in order to do that they have to beat shitty teams like Houston.
NY Giants (-3) over Tennessee
Bounce back game for the Giants. I hate picking road favorites, but I just can't see Tennessee hanging with the Giants. And, I'm banking on Eli being able to handle the crowd in Nashville. Maybe I should change this one. Aw, fuck it.
Buffalo (+3) over Jacksonville
It's cold in Buffalo this time of year. I keep thinking the Bills have a lot more talent than they're letting on, and they showed a little of that last week. Plus, you know how I love home underdogs. Of course, the Jaguars looked awesome while trouncing the Giants last week which makes me look stupid. But, I'm going to say this is a letdown game. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Baltimore (-3) over Pittsburgh
The Steelers have shown some signs of life of late, but one more loss will make seven and they are officially finished (if not already). Meanwhile Baltimore is looking to get that number two seed in the playoffs and can legitimately start thinking about home field advantage. I'm taking the home team with something to play for.
Anyway, on to the White Sox. Constructing a free agent wish list is pretty much completely a waste of time in the case of the White Sox, since their acquisitions will almost certainly come by way of trade, particularly of a starting pitcher (I'd rather see Contreras go first, followed by Garcia, Buehrle, Vazquez, and Garland... and most of that has to do with age... Contreras is about 45 now, right?). Anyway, since a free agent wish list is a complete waste of time, it seemed perfect fodder for a blog post.
As I (and virtually all the White Sox blogs I read) see it, the Sox could most benefit by upgrading in the outfield (I'm looking at you Podsednik--I'm giving BA a free pass for last year and I hope Ozzie and Kenny do too), the bullpen, and backup catcher. So now that a bunch of overpaid outfielders are already off the board (oooh, Soriano would have looked good in left and leading off... for the next 4 years, not the next 8), who's left?
JD Drew -- I do NOT want JD Drew on my team. Luckily, there's virtually zero chance of that because Kenny's not gonna throw the kind of money and years at Drew that he's going to get from some idiotic team (here's looking at you, BoSox).
Aubrey Huff -- I'm not thrilled about Huff; he's 30 and he hasn't really been that good since 2004. He may be over the hill, and if he replaces Podsednik there's no one to leadoff. Sorry, Aubrey, you have a girls name anyway.
Raul Mondesi -- Hahaha. I'm just bullshittin'. But that was fun, no? (aside: I hate Raul Mondesi for ruining the value of his Upper Deck die cut platinum plus baseball card that I so coveted when I was 13 years old. I should have sold that fucker when I had the chance).
Kenny Lofton -- Kenny fits the prototype for who the Sox would need to kick Podsednik to the curb. Yeah, he's ancient (he'll turn 40 next season!), but he last year he hit .301 with an OBP of .360 and stole 32 bags, only getting caught 5 times. Compare this to Podsednik, who hit .261 with an OBP of .330, stealing 40 bags and getting caught 19 times (19!!! That floored me; I knew he was bad, but that number is astronomical). Kenny'd also be a relatively cheap, short-term contract. Plus, I like Kenny. He has a pretty smile. And he's from East Chicago.
Dave Roberts -- He's got the edge of 5 years of youth on Kenny, but he'd come at a higher price and a longer-term deal. Last year was pretty much a career year for Roberts, hitting .293 with an OBP of .360, stealing 49 and getting caught 6 times. Red Sox fans can verify that Roberts is capable of coming up with a clutch steal, too. I don't think there's a wrong answer between Roberts and Lofton--we just desperately need to replace Podsednik (I love you for your 2005 early season stealing and postseason homers, Scott, but you just flat out suck ass now. Sorry.)
Well, I think that pretty much does it. I could toss out names for bullpen and catching help, but rest assured that they'd pretty much just be random names that I happened to recognize, without any real concept of if they'd amount to shit or not. This is why I'm not a GM. That said, please sign Dave Roberts or Kenny Lofton, Kenny. Please...
This is Cincinnati, where we strive not so much to be the Yankees, or even the Cardinals. Think Minnesota Twins. Heck, we even hired our GM from them. Over a decade of lowered expectations should make your stay in the Queen City a pleasant one. Sure, people will call into talk radio shows to complain after miring in fourth place in the division all year, but really their passion will be tempered by realistic expectations. Breakout your new clubhouse slippers and practice your bubble gum and sunflower seed skills. One bit of advice, though: be sure to load up your iPod, I hear Adam Dunn likes to really blast the country music.
Alex, I have to admit I was a little concerned when I read about your pickup. You could easily have been that other Alex Gonzalez. Admittedly, I would like to shake the hand of that guy for how he completely screwed the Cubs and made it look like an accident. But, I'm not sure I want him playing for my team. I have to also confess that I was slightly wary of your less than .300 OBP last season, just me being picky I guess. But those fears were dashed when I was told that you are a fantastic defensive shortstop. Congratulations on your one tool, sir. Surely that is worth the almost $5 million that you will be paid next year. Certainly the Reds could not find a AAA shortshop to not get on base, play solid defense and make the minimum salary. You just might be the final piece to the puzzle.
The final piece, if not for you, Mike Stanton. Checking in at a young 40 years of age (only as old as you feel, right grandpa?) you'll bring that much needed veteran experience and maturity we haven't gotten from Kent Mercker, David Weathers and Chris Hammond in the past few years. Can't get enough good clubhouse guys. And, from what I understand you might just be our opening day closer by default. Way to go champ! Am I worried that you haven't pitched over 80 1/3 innings in your entire career? Of course not. Welcome to the bullpen, help yourself to some geritol and icy-hot. We're stocked up. It's gonna be a big year!
They've committed over $200 million in the past week, and their lineup is fast becoming one of the scariest in the NL. The combination of Soriano, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez is about as good as any in all of baseball. And with Houston apparently close to signing Carlos Lee (according to Buster Olney), the NL central is looking tougher by the day. Too bad, Reds fans.
But who's going to pitch on this offense-oriented Cubs team? Maybe they're just hoping to make it to the playoffs on a janky pitching staff, crossing their fingers that an overworked Zambrano-Prior tandem can stay healthy through October. Foolproof!