Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is a joke, right?

Meat Loaf
Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose

I honestly thought this was from The Onion, or some such site. Is he serious? Yet another follow-up to the monumentally overrated, overplayed hit album from 30 years ago? Will we see Bat Out OF Hell IV: The Horse, She Is Flogged in 2021?

Up next, Steve Miller presents Further Tales From The Book Of Dreams, while Bob Seger rolls out Night Moves II: Finished Already?

Please stop.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 8

I've been wallowing in mediocrity since the Perfect Week, going .500. That's about to change.

There now exists a class of teams in this league which defy reason. Teams which look awesome one week, then crap the bed the next, or vice versa. Teams like Houston, Jacksonville, Atlanta, and my beloved Kansas City. Predicting how these teams will fare each week is an exercise in futility, and know that each time I do so I'm basically flipping a coin. Such is life in the modern NFL.

On to the choices for Week 8, the first week where thoughts aren't distracted by baseball.

KANSAS CITY over Seattle
Huard might not play, but have you seen the starting backfiled for the defending NFC Champs? QB Seneca Wallace, welcome to Arrowhead. Think about it, when the schedule came out, you're looking at this one and thinking.."Hmm, Trent Green/Larry Johnson matching up with Matt Hasselbeck/Shaun Alexander, should be a great matchup". Well, since only LJ is still on the field from that foursome, I'm taking the Chiefs.
Kansas City 22 Seattle 13

CHICAGO over San Francisco

Whatever the spread is here, it isn't high enough. Bears, fresh off bye week, are simply too much for upstart Niners. The Bear offense should even find the end zone once or twice.
Chicago 31 San Francisco 6

NEW ORLEANS over Baltimore
Sticking with what has worked, picking the Saints at home until someone knocks them off. I seriously doubt it will be the Ravens, who, surprise, have offensive problems. Wasn't Brian Billick an "offensive genius" when Modell hired him? Has any one unit on one team been consistently bad for so long?
New Orleans 21 Baltimore 10

Houston over TENNESSEE
Two teams I can't understand, and have stopped trying to. Magic 8 Ball says.......Texans. Whatever.
Houston 27 Tennessee 20

GREEN BAY over Arizona
Eww, another craptacular. Cardinals seem to have gone in the tank following collapse in the Bear game. Packers are a little more fiesty at home, and can grab one here to give more false hope to their fan base.
Green Bay 26 Arizona 17

N.Y. GIANTS over Tampa Bay
G-Men are playing best ball of the season right now, and should be able to contain suddenly frisky Bucs. Swirling winds in Giants Stadium will make sure there are no late 62 yard miracle kicks as well. Mr. Gradkowsi, meet Mr. Strahan.
N.Y. Giants 20 Tampa Bay 6

CINCINNATI over Atlanta
Bengals grabbed huge win at home last week versus Carolina, and I'm picking them here despite the injury woes. Falcons won't be tossing the ball all over the joint this week, but even their stout rushing attack won't be enough here. Hunch says Cincy...
Cincinnati 24 Atlanta 20

PHILADELPHIA over Jacksonville
Eagles glad to be home, and are catching struggling Jags at just the right time. Some think Jacksonville is better off with David Garrard at QB, and that may be true, but Philly is coming off two tough road losses, and will be well served with some home cookin'.
Philadelphia 27 Jacksonville 13

SAN DIEGO over St. Louis
Bolts bounce back after last week's late comeback failed in KC. Rams record is nice, but they haven't faced a team this tough on the road, and the defense will be tested. So long as the Chargers don't commit early, costly turnovers, they should coast.
San Diego 33 St. Louis 17

Pittsburgh over OAKLAND
Steelers, even with Batch at QB, have more than enough weapons to smoke the Raiders, who are playing better of late. Can't see Cowher's team suffering a letdown, coming off last week's defensive disaster in Atlanta.
Pittsburgh 23 Oakland 9

DENVER over Indianapolis
Game of the Week? On paper, certainly. Broncos defense has been lights out all year, and faces it's biggest test with Peyton and Co in town. The key to this game will be what the Denver offense can do, however. If they can grind it out, kill the clock and keep Manning off the field, that will be a recipe for success. I see Shanahan keeping the game plan simple to avoid letting Jake Plummer make foolish mistakes, as is his custom.
Denver 16 Indianapolis 14

N.Y. Jets over CLEVELAND
Jets, keeping up the pace in the AFC based on their soft schedule, should have enough to get by the Brownies in the Dawg Pound. Unlike previous opponents, Cleveland doesn't have the firepower to come back from the defecit the Jets will impose.
N.Y. Jets 23 Cleveland 10

CAROLINA over Dallas
After watching the effort last Monday against the Giants, it's really hard to see why there were folks in Dallas clamoring for Romo to be the starting QB. He looked jittery and indecisive, throwing some very ugly picks. Panthers, back home, will keep the Big D downward slide going. Parcells watch, anyone?
Carolina 24 Dallas 10

New England over MINNESOTA
Ordinarily teams would get trapped here, but Bellichek will not allow that. Pats seem to be hitting their stride now, and though it might not be pretty, will do enough things right to escape the Dome with a W. I'm thinking a close game here, with a late Brady TD to make it...
New England 24 Minnesota 13

Last Week: 6-7
Overall: 66-34 (66%)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Something To Think About On November 7th

I’ve had a column in my head for the past few months regarding the situation in Iraq, but have never been able to fully articulate exactly how I felt. Then I came across this letter posted on truthdig.com, written by Kevin Tillman. You might be familiar with Kevin’s brother Pat, the NFL player who retired to join the Army Rangers in 2002, then was killed in 2004. His death was at first attributed to the enemy, but was later revealed to be the result of friendly fire. Kevin was discharged in 2005.

There is really nothing I can add to Kevin's words to increase the impact, so I present them herewith.

After Pat’s Birthday

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.
Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,
Kevin Tillman

Kenny Rogers Cheats - LaRussa Does Nothing?

Let me see if I understand this: Kenny Rogers, who is suddenly the Greatest Pitcher Who Ever Lived, is stupid enough to smear pine tar on his pitching hand during the post-season. The Post-Season, when Tommy LaSorda implores all of us to watch even though our teams have been knocked out, when FOX has 75 cameras, in such places as under the pitchers balls, up the batters nose, and uses shots so tight you can quickly determine if that mole on the players face is pre-cancerous.

The cameras catch it, the announcers talk about it, and, as expected, word reaches the clubhouses. Tony LaRussa even hears his own players coming back to the dugout muttering that the ball was "moving funny". Surely he, The Genius, will react accordingly, have the umpires check out Rogers and eject him, which would result in a huge edge for the Cardinals, right? Getting Kenny tossed in the 2nd inning would be huge for the Redbirds, and could help them steal Game 2 to take a 2-0 edge. There is no possible downside here.

Wrong. he did nothing. Rogers washed his hand, then pitched seven more lights out innings to help Detroit even the Series. It's obvious that Mr. Roaster ("the wood makes it good") must have the pine tar in other places, in addition to his smudged hand, right?

This can only mean one thing - LaRussa didn't want to rock the boat. What would be his rationale for doing nothing, you ask? Simple - one of his guys must be doing something as well. I'm guessing Jeff Suppan. As a Met fan, this theory makes even more sense. How did this guy suddenly become so unhittable, much like Rogers?

I can't wait to see FOX CrotchCam (tm) during Game 4, to see what Suppan has up his sleeve...or under his cap...or under his belt.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 7

Reality check last week, as it took the ridiculous collapse by Arizona, or the amazing comeback by Chicago, depending on your take, to salvage a 7-6 week. This week sees some truly nasty matchups (Arizona-Oakland, for instance), as well as a few potential upsets. On to the selections:

KANSAS CITY over San Diego
At first glance, this looks ot be a complete mismatch. The Chiefs are coming home after being throroughly dismantled in Pittsburgh last week, while the Bolts put up 48 points at San Fran. KC will rebound, at home, and slip past Schottenheimer’s gang. I have no reason to say so, just a hunch.
Kansas City 26 San Diego 24

Jacksonville over HOUSTON
Jags defense will set the tone, and the ball control offense will keep the game in check. Texans will not be able to keep pace, and Jacksonville should take this one rather easily.
Jacksonville 27 Houston 7

Carolina over CINCINNATI
Mild upset here, and the Panthers have proven time and time again they can win on the road against good teams. Bengals are a little vulnerable, and with some problems protecting Carson Palmer, could be in for a tough afternoon.
Carolina 20 Cincinnati 14

NY JETS over Detroit
Jets have a disturbing habit of letting teams back into games after grabbing nice leads, but it has yet to cost them. Lions defense is just not getting it done so far, and I can’t see them slowing down the Jet rushing game, which will lead to good playu action opportunities for Chad Pennington.
NY Jets 31 Detroit 19

MIAMI over Green Bay
An extra week of preparation for Joey Harrington, plus a decent defensive effort, should be enough for the disappointing Fins to get past the woeful Pack. Aaron Rodgers countdown underway yet?
Miami 23 Green Bay 10

New England over BUFFALO
Pats too tough to look past Bills, who had NE beat in Week One, only to falter late. Pats should put together one of their trademark grind-it-out games, and prevail, albeit unimpressively.
New England 19 Buffalo 6

TAMPA BAY over Philadelphia
Upset special. Bucs have shown some spark in recent weeks, with Bruce Gradkowski leading the way. Eagles travel to another tough venue after being in New Orleans last week, and I mentioned in this space last week how the defense seems to surrender a good amount of points.
Tampa Bay 27 Philadelphia 20

ATLANTA over Pittsburgh
Picking Atlanta is a total crapshoot. Which team will show up – the one that averaged over 200 yards rushing over the first few weeks, or the inepot bunch which couldn’t do squat against the Saints? The guess here says this week, Jim Mora’s bunch puts together a solid effort at home, and has enough to get by the Steelers. Despite impressive win last week over KC, there is still something a little off about Pittsburgh, and I can see them falling here.
Atlanta 23 Pittsburgh 17

CLEVELAND over Denver
Okay, this is the real Upset Special. Denver defense has been phenomenal, but the offense has been borderline inept. Dawg Pound will be in full force, and Romeo Crennel is savvy enough to have his defense fired up to shut down Jake Plummer. The pick here says that the Brownies find a way to score just enough to escape with a W.
Cleveland 12 Denver 10

Arizona over OAKLAND
Cardinals can go one of two ways after the Monday Night Meltdown: 1.) Get so angry and focused, they destroy the hapless Raiders, or 2.) Wallow in self pity and self doubt, and get knocked silly by a crappy team. I’m going with number 1 – the Arizona defense should have more than enough to shutdown the Raiders, and the Oakland fans can get a good up-close look at the player they should have taken in the first round, Matt Leinart.
Arizona 23 Oakland 3

SEATTLE over Minnesota
Gutsy win last week by Seattle, and now they’re back home. Despite lack of running game, the Hawks should be able to skate by the Vikings, who have struggled all year to be consistent on offense. This is not the week they’ll hit their stride.
Seattle 30 Minnesota 17

INDIANAPOLIS over Washington
The only way the Skins can keep this close is by taking the air out of the ball, and trying to exploit Indy’s weak rushing defense, also keeping Peyton and Co. on the sidelines. I can still see the Colts pulling it out, since Manning can exploit the injured Washington secondary. This one could be one of the best games of the week.
Indianapolis 20 Washington 17

DALLAS over NY Giants
Cowboys are a much better team at home, and the G-Men are coming off two sold defensive efforts. Dallas should have enough in the tank to sneak past Big Blue in the Monday Nighter. I’m not sure how the Tiki Barber news will affect this team, as the timing of it seems very peculiar. Why now, Tiki? The team is finally playing well, and seems to have rebounded nicely from the debacle in Seattle, and you throw this out there? Is it a contract ploy? Weird.
Dallas 20 NY Giants 17

Last week: 7-6
Overall: 60-27 (68.9%)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 6

Hey all, I’m riding high after last week’s heretofore unprecedented 14-0 week. That’s right, dear readers, your boy went undefeated in Week 5. I’m not going to gloat (too much), but that was pretty darned impressive, don’t you think? Admittedly, some of the analysis was way off the mark, and I needed some late miracles (thanks for screwing it up late, Lions, Titans, Cardinals and Cowboys!), but hey, 14-0 is 14-0, and I won’t argue with the bottom line.

A little background into the process I use when making my selections. I look at the ESPN Pigskin Pick ‘Em pool of which I am a member, the Deadspin Pants Party, each Thursday. I then look at the matchup, and go with my first instinct, despite conventional wisdom, and play those choices. The only exception is if a significant injury occurs at some point before game time, where I adjust accordingly. This week, I will take the foolish step of throwing in a final score prediction, just for the hell of it. If you play the spreads, adjust accordingly.

Obviously it’s been working pretty well so far, so let’s move on to the picks for Week 6:

DALLAS over Houston
Cowboys still reeling after late collapse in Philly last week. Texan QB David Carr can put up decent numbers if he stays upright, but Dallas has a big talent edge and should coast. Maybe they’ll even throw a ball or two to He Who Shall Not Be Named, but deep down I hope not. Seeing this team in turmoil is immensely entertaining, and the countdown for Parcells strangling a reporter is now underway. HWSNBN (now known in this space as “Me-O”) is doing a great job screaming at coaches and dissing his QB in the media, but maybe it would behoove both him and the team if he didn’t stand there like a statue when a pass isn’t aimed directly at his numbers. Even St. Troy (Aikman) called his act “tired” during the broadcast last week. When you’ve lost St. Troy, you’ve lost Dallas.
Dallas 31 Houston 16

NEW ORLEANS over Philadelphia
Despite big press clippings, Eagle D sure seems to allow lots of points. There is some serious mojo in the Superdome this year, and I’m reluctant to pick against the Saints at home until someone steps up and beats them. Besdides, Philly is due to have a slight letdown after the Dallas game last week, and each week of success brings more confidence to Drew Brees and Co. This could be the real coming out party for Reggie Bush, and I look to see him deployed all over the place to keep the Iggles off balance.
New Orleans 27 Philadelphia 23

ST. LOUIS over Seattle
Just a hunch, but this is my Upset of the Week. Rams dying to prove they’re for real despite 4-1 record, and there is no better way to prove it then by knocking off the defending conference champs. Hawks are still a bit banged up and just might struggle enough in this dome to take an L.
St. Louis 21 Seattle 19

ATLANTA over N.Y. Giants
Falcs tough at home, and I’m still not sold on the G-Men defense despite last week’s domination of Washington. John Abraham is back, and Giants have shown a severe vulnerability to a solid pass rush. Atlanta ground game gets back on track in front of home crowd, and paces the way to victory.
Atlanta 24 NY Giants 16

WASHINGTON over Tennessee
Titans should have won last week in Indy, but couldn’t hang on for sixty minutes and finish the job. Ground game looked strong, but Skins D is tougher, despite some nagging injuries. Washington was thoroughly dominated on offense last week, and should be able to take out any lingering frustrations against Tennessee.
Washington 34 Tennessee 13

Buffalo over DETROIT
Lions have to win one of these weeks, right? They were in total control last week before coughing it up twice late, leading to two defensive TD’s by the Vikings in a 26-17 loss. Bills were obliterated in Chicago, and aren’t that bad. I look for J.P. Losman to bounce back this week. Detroit fans are so preoccupied with the success of the Tigers they won’t even realize how bad their football team is until November. For goodness sake, can we just Fire Millen already?
Buffalo 30 Detroit 20

Carolina over BALTIMORE
Ravens still don’t impress, though the defense remains solid. It’s basically the same as it ever was in Baltimore, despite all the pre-season hype surrounding the arrival of Steve McNair, which was supposed to rejuvenate the offense. Panthers aren’t winning pretty either, but they’re winning, and should be able to escape with a road win.
Carolina 19 Baltimore 9

Cincinnati over TAMPA BAY
Many are picking the Bucs this week, and I just do not understand why. This is a seriously flawed and bruised team, and with the Bengals coming off a bye week after being smoked at home by the Pats, this smells like a blowout. Carson Palmer has had an extra week to study the defense, and Marvin Lewis has had an extra week to prepare for Bruce Gradowski. ‘Nuff said.
Cincinnati 34 Tampa Bay 13

San Diego over SAN FRANCISCO
Bolts are very tough on both sides of the ball, and should be able to dominate the Niners. Philip Rivers seems to be gaining confidence each week, and Schottenheimer will make sure his team isn’t caught looking ahead to division matchup with KC next week. Niners are much improved, and Alex Smith looks like the real deal, but the Chargers have just too much firepower. San Fran makes it respectable with a few late scores, so….
San Diego 37 San Francisco 20

Kansas City over PITTSBURGH
Conventional Wisdom says this is the week the Stillers finally get it together and display the form exhibited during the amazing late season run last year. Reality tells me that Ben Roethlisberger is simply not the same QB he was then, whether from the multiple injuries he’s sustained or the fact that the rest of the league has figured him out. Apparently the loss of Jerome Bettis looms larger than most people thought. KC QB Damon Huard has done nothing but manage games effectively, not turn the ball over, and put the Chiefs in position to win each week, going 2-1 in his three starts. My boys can steal one in Steeltown, and Cowher’s jaw juts out just a little more.
Kansas City 23 Pittsburgh 17

N.Y. JETS over Miami
Speaking of overrated teams, how about the Dolphins? Picked by more than one national pundit to reach the Super Bowl, they’ve looked like a team is disarray all year. The offensive line has been very offensive, and now coach Nick Saban has alienated his high priced free agent signing, Daunte Culpepper, and has put the ship in the hands of Joey Harrington. Yikes. J-E-T-S are not nearly as bad as they looked in Jacksonville last week, and have enough to keep Miami reeling.
N.Y. Jets 22 Miami 14

DENVER over Oakland
Are you kidding? I know Oakland traditionally plays the Broncos tough in the Mile High City, but this is probably one of the worst teams they’ve ever fielded. Denver offense has not been good, but the defense has been dominating, especially at home, and all signs point to this one getting really ugly, really quickly. Al Davis must be spinning in his grave over this. Wait, what?
Denver 31 Oakland 0

Chicago over ARIZONA
Bear train shows no signs of derailing yet, and can make another statement on national TV this week. Chicago has been scary dominant all year, and the Cards are no match. Matt Leinart had better have his scrambling shoes on, because he’s going to see some serious pressure. By the way, what the heck has gotten into Rex Grossman? Somebody needs to check his urine, stat.
Chicago 38 Arizona 10

Last week: 14-0 (100%, as you may have heard)
Season: 53-21 (71.6%)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Admit it: You screwed up, GOP

Watching the entire Foley scandal unfold this week has been amazing. It provides a textbook example of how not to handle a crisis or sudden revelation. Consider the steps taken by the Republican leadership, Foley himself, and the associated right wing mainstream media lackeys in the wake of this scandal being broken:

* Deny any prior knowledge
* Michael Savage: doubt the validity of the entire story (um, Foley didn’t resign for no reason, there Mikey)
* Blame the victims (damn those cute, tight butted young pages and their baiting those weak-willed gay Congressmen!)
* Foley: I’m an alcoholic! (Okay…….but so is/was Ted Kennedy)
* Drudge: It was all a prank by those rascally pages!
* Foley: Um…a priest molested me! Yep, that’s why I’m gay too.
* Bring up the 1983 Gerry Studds scandal as an example of how the Democrats did nothing, and are politicizing Foleygate. (Hmm…Foley was censured, but got reelected anyway. The point is, it was acknowledged by the leadership.)
* Somehow tie this to Bill Clinton (note: this applies to everything)
* Question the timing of the relevations, coming so close to the mid-term elections. (Obviously a devious act by the Liberal Media ™ )
* Show a graphic (on Fox) listing Foley as (D-FL) – ooops, our “mistake”!
* Denny Hastert: accept full responsibility…while blaming the Democrats and the Liberal Media ™

As is the case with most scandals, the act itself is never nearly as serious as the eventual cover-up. The funniest thing is they never seem to learn this simple fact. It’s been brought to light that the Republican leadership has been aware of this for quite some time, and did nothing about it. That is the issue here, not the fact that Foley is gay, not the fact that he is Republican. It’s the simple fact that many were aware of what was going on, and did absolutely nothing to stop it. The only one with any honor here is Foley himself, ironically, who quickly resigned once the scandal came to light rather than trying to defend what happened and keep his seat. Looking the other way to maintain power is an abuse of that power, and inevitably raises more questions. For example, if they were covering this up, what else might they be hiding? With this crowd, one can never be too sure.

The old saw that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is invoked so often because it has never ceased to be true. With one party control, it becomes all about maintaining that power and getting reelected more than serving your constituents with honor and dignity. There is no denying that the Democrats can use this to political advantage, but so far they’ve been able to basically sit back and watch the Republicans self destruct in vain attempts to defend and deflect the issue. How this ultimately affects the election remains to be seen, but my gut tells me that this issue will not play well to the base, particularly the religious right which they covet. Karl Rove is always capable of pulling an “October Surprise” out of his ass in the coming weeks, so nobody should count their electoral chickens just yet. (“Hey, lookie here, we just found Osama!”)

Plenty of humor has come out during this scandal as well, particularly ABC News reporter Brian Ross reading the lurid instant messages on the air in a dull monotone, as shown in this clip form The Daily Show:

Grab some popcorn kiddies, I don’t think this one has been fully milked yet.

Friday, October 06, 2006

NFL Picks - Week 5

Back to my lofty heights last week, with a 10-4 outing. This week, I'm leaning heavily on home cookin', picking only two road teams.

This past week got me to thinkning.....in real life, if you intentionally stepped on someones face while they were on the ground, what would your penalty be? Jail time, at least? A hefty fine and some community service, perhaps? Not in the National. Football. League! Five games, which I guess amounts to a hefty fine, is your penance. I want to work in a place where I can do things which would break the law and my only penalty would be to not get paid for a predetermined period. Punch your co-worker in the jaw? Two Weeks. Throw a stapler at the receptionist? Ten days!

On to the selections....

St. Louis over GREEN BAY
Rams might be the uglist 3-1 team ever, but the Pack is truly wack, despite hanging tough for a half against Philly last week. This could be the week the St' Louis offense punches in a few TD's, instead of setling for yet another Jeff Wilkins FG.

NEW ORLEANS over Tampa Bay
Saints looking good, especially in the dome. Bucs are in a downward spiral, and Gradowski is not the guy to pull them out of it. Don't feel to bad, Johnny Gruden, you could have stayed with the Raiders and been really miserable.

INDIANAPOLIS over Tennessee
Another easy W for the Colts. Can't see them scoring less that 30 here, and Titans are in full blown rebuilding mode now.

MINNESOTA over Detroit
Hmm...Vikes having trouble scoring, while Lions having trouble stopping anyone. I smell a breakout week for Brad Johnson and Co. Could be a wild one, since Martz has the Detroit offense clicking a little bit.

N.Y. GIANTS over Washington
Giants can't be this bad, can they? I have to think they will be ready after having two weeks to stew over the Seattle debacle. 'Skins offense finally found their stride over the past two weeks, so maybe we'll see a 37-34 here.

CAROLINA over Cleveland
Browns looking better, and Panthers have clawed back to 2-2. Still think Carolina is too tough, and should win, even if it is ugly.

NEW ENGLAND over Miami
Pats showed the world they are still tough by smoking Bengals last week. Miami looks completely lost right now, and Culpepper might not play. I can't see Joey Harrington rescuing them here. Big days for the multitude of Tight Ends employed by the Pats, and they'll win easily in front of crowd whihc doesn't have to worry about how the Red Sox are doing.

SAN FRANCISCO over Oakland
Bay Area Stink Bowl. Niners are still a much better team, despite getting pasted in KC last week. Raiders don't even utilize best weapon, Randy Moss, anymore. how much longer can Al Davis endure in a league that has completely passed him by?

Kansas City over ARIZONA
Astute observers will note that I pick the Chiefs every week, no matter what. Despite offensive line issues, I see them taking this one. New and improved defense should harass rookie Matt Leinart and Co., and this one could be shockingly low scoring.

Jags are banged up, and Jets are still pissed about last second loss to Indy. I can see them staying close here, but Jacksonville gets a tough win at home. Jets wil be a scary team in the second half as they gain more confidence, and start pulling out these tight games.

TO sideshow aside, this could be the game of the week. Eagles are hurting at some key offensive spots, but defense will be charged up at home and ready to give Drew Bledsoe fits. Both teams need this one, but when presses I'll go with Philly in fromnt of their crazy ass fans.

SAN DIEGO over Pittsburgh
Can't figure out the Steelers at all - is this what a post-Super Bowl hangover looks like? Shawn Merriman can make Roethlisberger's life hell, and the Bolts will prevail.

DENVER over Baltimore
Broncos have one of the biggest home field advantages in the league, at least during the regular season. Still not fully sold on the Ravens, despite solid defense. Denver D is just as tough, and I can see McNair taking a pounding. As usual, a key factor will be the play of Jake Plummer - if he doesn't turn it over, Broncs will win.

Last week: 10-4
Season: 39-21 (65.0%)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Daily Show Takes on Carl Monday

You may recall the earlier post, inspired by an item on Deadspin, regarding Cleveland’s Investigative Reporter, Carl Monday, and his diligent efforts to keep the city safe from the likes of Mike Cooper. Deadspin got a ton of mileage out of this story, and by the time Monday did his follow up as Cooper went to court, some were moved to being sympathetic toward him. Monday was that much of an ass.

The Daily Show chipped in, brilliantly, and attempted to give Monday a small taste of his own medicine. Check it out below:

Mets – Now What?

As a Met fan, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season. The boys from Flushing grabbed hold of the Eastern division early, then ran away and hid from everyone else. Clinching the title, earlier than any other team is baseball, was merely a formality, confirming what was inevitable since well before the All-Star break.

Right after the clinching, their play slipped a bit, which was completely understandable. The lethargic play continued as we headed into the season’s final week, right when you would hope they could build a little momentum heading into the first round. A series in Atlanta would be the perfect place to get the ball rolling again, poetically stomping over their biggest rival whom they had finally vanquished.

Game 1, a 12-0 loss. Ugh. No worries, Game 2 was the one all Met fans were pointing toward – the final tuneup for Pedro Martinez. Pedro had been erratic since his return from the disabled list, and this start was looked at as the chance to prove once and for all he was ready to go, thus take the ball in Game 1 of the NLDS.

He never made it out of the 3rd inning, leaving balls up in the zone and not really fooling anyone. It was painfully obvious he was not back in form, despite his apparent clean bill of health. Pedro himself said that manager Willie Randolph’s decision would be an easy one now, and Martinez was looking at starting Game 3. The Mets were again bombed and lost 13-1.

Shortly before the third game on Thursday, the news came down that Martinez’ calf muscle (the “good” one, no less) was torn, and he would miss the entire post-season, regardless of how far the Mets advanced. The pitching staff, already thin as far as reliable starters went, took another hit. Hearing this made me personally doubt the Mets would be able to advance through the playoffs, and forced me to think this brilliant season would be wasted with a quick playoff exit. The news that Pedro will now be sidelined until mid-2007 was a little more sobering, but fully explained his recvent ineffectiveness.

Funny thing, though. The players responded that evening with a 7-4 victory, playing one of their best games since the clinching. As the news spread through the media, intruiging stats were thrown out into the vapor. The most jarring one mentioned how the Mets actually had a losing record in games started by Martinez in 2006. Granted, he suffered through a stretch in May where he pitched brilliantly but received no run support, but since July 1st his numbers looked like this:

2 W 4 L 31 IP 27 ER 26 K 11 BB 7.84 ERA

After the initial reaction of “God we’re totally screwed”, it dawned on me that they had been without a fully functioning Pedro for a large portion of the season, and were in fact 21 games over .500 when Pedro was unavailable. Obviously, the playoffs are a different animal, but it stands to reason that given decent, not outstanding, starting pitching from El Duque, Glavine, Trachsel and Maine, they should be able to slog through the battles regardless of the opponent. The bullpen has been solid all season, and will continue to play a huge role in the playoffs. I see no reason why they will not continue to shut down opposing bats in the late innings.

Facing the Dodgers in the first round should prove to be a challenge, but one this team should be able to overcome. LA's staff is a little dinged up, and have proven to be the most hot-and-cold team in the league. Once they get past the NLDS, I forsee them taking out the winner of the St. Louis/San Diego matchup as well.

So, despite an initial reaction of fear and dread at the news of Pedro’s unavailability, I am, like the players seem to be, confident that there will be at least one New York team in the World Series, and that team will be the Mets. Will the Yankees join them? I don’t really care – I would like nothing better than to see them get smacked in the opening round by Detroit (not likely), or in the ALCS by Minnesota (more than possible) or Oakland (doubtful). Beating the Yankees in the Series would be awesome, but it really makes no difference what path the Mets take to get a championship.

Let’s go, Mets.