Thursday, December 24, 2009

So, Lemme Get This Straight: Threats Against Officials > Driving In Circles?

What we have here is a real conundrum of our collective sporting priorities. This week saw the announcements of the Associated Press's Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Jimmie Johnson won the guys' award, and Serena Williams beat out a distinguished (?) field that included...two horses (?!?!?) for the women's award.

I have a problem with neither of those announcements, particularly Jimmie...and to be fair, I am very, very far from a NASCAR fan.

What I find amusing is the assorted cyber-hysteria that's been launched on both sides. For every post crying about how Serena's going Chernobyl on a lineswoman is just the culmination of a career full of racist calls against her and her sister Venus, there's one going, "WTF? How is a race car driver an athlete?"

Let's address Serena first. Did she have a great year? Damn right, she did. Two major titles, a semifinal in a third, and the WTA Tour Championship is not too shabby for one year. But do an informal survey, and ask how many people heard about her winning the Australian and Wimbledon. Then ask how many heard about her threatening to shove a tennis ball down a lineswoman's throat. Uh-huh. Thought so.

Still, with that, we're in a non-Olympic year, so there's no gymnast, figure skater, or swimmer to come along and make the world feel warm and fuzzy. It pretty much means that we're stuck with a tennis player or a golfer as our Female Athlete of the Year, Candace Parker's welcome upset last year notwithstanding.

Considering tennis's staid, prim and proper image, which many of the surly bastards who play it seem to be dying to be rid of, Serena's outburst at Arthur Ashe Stadium is that game's version of Ron Artest diving into the crowd in Detroit. There wasn't much of a groundswell of Athlete-of-the-Year support for him that year, was there?

It could be supposed that the AP was merely rewarding someone who actually, for the first time in a few years, simply showed up and did her job all season long. Serena's been diversifying the portfolio for a while, with photo shoots, fashion lines, TV and music video work. Hell, she and Venus even bought into the Miami Dolphins this year. For a while, it looked like she was simply going to lapse into retirement, as tennis requires a lot more hard work than simply being fabulous.

To be fair, much of her offcourt stuff coincided with her attempt to rehab a knee injury. Still, tennis is pretty unique in that a player can essentially set his or her own schedule, and for a while, some were nervous that Serena wasn't coming back at all.

Now, she's all the way back, and winning major awards left and right. Good for her...but she would not have gotten my vote. And, no, I wouldn't be putting in a ballot for a horse, either.

Give me the national women's college basketball Player of the Year, Maya Moore of the UNDEFEATED UConn Lady Huskies. Tennis is becoming a game dominated by tantrums anyway, why continue rewarding them?


Now, back to Mr. Jimmie. People can debate all they like about whether or not Serena's a role model, that's all personal preference.

For a good ol' semantic argument, we can get into the whole school of thought that says "Racing ain't no sport! Hell, I can go get in my car and turn left a thousand times, don't make me no athlete!" Even better are the idiots who've firmly convinced themselves that they could put down the clicker, haul their fat asses out of the La-Z-Boy, go down to the track, and trade paint with Tony Stewart, all because they have a couple of speeding tickets from doing a blazing 30 through a school zone in their Corolla.

Driving in NASCAR is pretty damn far from your morning commute, I don't care what kind of idiots populate the driving public in your metropolitan area. Have someone shove a catheter in you, put you in a snowsuit and helmet, go sit in a sauna for four hours, and have said sauna whipped around like a NASA space capsule simulator until you're feeling two G's for four hours, then tell me you'd like to go back and try it 36 times in 42 weeks, to say nothing of extra time that you might need to practice. Over-under on you vomiting up a kidney: three minutes, 18 seconds.

"Hell, I drive 500 miles at a stretch all the time!" Do you do so without bothering to stop (or even slow down) to relieve yourself? Do you do so with no A/C in a building whose ground level temperature can often reach 120 degrees? Do you do so with 42 other yobbos slamming into you from all sides, doing things that, if done on the Interstate, would get you locked up for attempted vehicular homicide?

If you answered yes to any of those, let me know where you live so I can make sure to never move to or even drive through that state or any that border it, please and thank you.

The days of pudgy guys and rednecks who live on beer and cigarettes in between races being top race car drivers is pretty much over. Now, guys like Carl Edwards are here to make all us armchair commentators feel completely inadequate. That's the guy who does a backflip out of the car after driving that speed, in that heat, with all those other guys surrounding him, for four hours straight. Tell him he's not an athlete.

Anyone who wants to advance the theory that "the machine does all the work"...well, I have to wonder if they've ever even driven a car, hell, even ridden a bicycle. Whatever vehicle you're piloting, it goes where YOU MAKE IT GO. A stock car doesn't have power steering like your car and mine, so it takes some tremendous upper-body strength to wrestle those fuckers through turns and maintain a line that doesn't send you careening into someone else's path, potentially leading to a flying crash with shrapnel spraying everywhere.

Usain Bolt is a phenomenal athlete, but his work is done ten seconds at a, sorry, 9.5. Roger Federer is an awesome athlete who works for four or five hours at a time (even if the matches are only that long at four tournaments a year), but he gets to wander around between points, sit down every second game, and sit down longer between sets.

It takes some serious endurance to sit in those kinds of temperatures, hour after hour, week after week, all summer long, primarily in the baking heat of the southern region of the country, keeping your mind right every minute. You and I zone out while we drive, just thinking about errands we need to run after work, getting lost in a song on the radio, or just staring blankly at the world going by. These guys can't do that for even a split second, because if they stop to think, "Oh, are we out of milk?" then boom, they could die.

Racing is one of the few sports (bullfighting is about the closest parallel) where the competitors walk into the arena saying to themselves, "Self, there's a really good chance we could die today." Any of you who think you could do that week after week, year after year, and be the very best at it four years running, go do it. Haul your fat ass away from the keyboard, go down to the track, climb in a car, and start trading paint with someone (even better, 42 someones) at 180 miles per hour or more. You wouldn't last two laps...and neither would I.

Are race-car drivers athletes? You're goddamn right they are, and anyone who's trying to argue otherwise has no fucking clue what the word athlete even means. Bravo to Mr. Jimmie.

And to all the people who have no problem honoring Serena the Mad, Smiter of Lineswomen, but can't acknowledge that Jimmie Johnson has done something they could never do, and done it better than anyone else in the free world for four years are all so retardedly clueless.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vikings' Ship Taking on Water?

There are some NFL coaches who can summon enough fire and brimstone to keep even their future Hall of Fame players in line.

Brad Childress is apparently not one of them.

His players are apparently calling his halftime tirades "laughable" after his (or should it be Brett Favre's?) offense managed only seven points against the (then) 5-8 Carolina Panthers.

He can't get Favre to come out of the game. And this isn't just a one-time discussion. It happened against Green Bay (see next paragraph) and also against Detroit.

He can't even get Favre to stop changing from running plays to taking masturbatory heaves downfield with a 10-point lead, 3:27 left in the game, and an opponent who's out of time-outs. Clock Management 101, meet Trying to Stick It In My Old Team's Eye.

Apparently, Chilly can't even keep Brett from running his yap after the game, letting loose comments that provoke the chuckleworthy visual of Childress screaming at his assistant coaches clad only in a towel.

Even after all of this, Childress is running around like a madman, trying to stick gum in the cracks of the dam. He wants to let everyone know that he would NEVER consider pulling Brett, it was just an idea. Is he trying to convince the media, himself...or Brett? Bottom line is, you don't come to a player, ANY player, with the idea that "Hey, it's only a one-point game, but I think I need to take you out." Like anyone's gonna take that well?

If you're gonna pull somebody, pull them. Don't ask their permission, even if the guy is all over the league record books. Otherwise, it tells us something that we already knew:

It's not Adrian Peterson's team. It's not even Brad Childress's team. It's Brett Favre's team, and everyone else is just supporting cast. Favre made that perfectly clear when he brought the entire situation to light post-game.

I have one Favre-slurping friend (hint: he's in the 3FL and got married a few months ago) who, on the 3FL league message board, tried to give me grief about my preseason predictions for the Vikes. At the time, the Vikings were still strolling down the Cupcake Alley that passed for their early-season schedule. I will admit that I misfired on the record and the part about missing the playoffs.

However, note the stats from the losses to Arizona and Carolina. In those two games, Adrian Peterson had a total of 25 carries for 54 yards. Meanwhile, Favre threw 72 passes, only two for touchdowns and three getting picked. That part, I called.

I also called Childress having to make a separate set of rules for one player and losing control of the team in the process. Next time he wants to bench Bryant McKinnie (especially for something that Brad will take the bullet for anyway) who's to say that Bryant's going to listen? If Brett can overrule the coach on whether he plays or not, why can't McKinnie? In total, this has the potential to really get ugly for Chilly.

Last night, the New York Giants showed they weren't dead yet, and they play the Vikings in Week 17. Next week, the Vikings have the Bears, and the only hope for Bears fans is that Jay Cutler can actually step his game up to Matt Moore levels. (Yeah, that was an odd sentence.)

The point of looking ahead is that the Vikings are now only one game up on an Eagles team that is scoring on everyone. If they finish tied, the Eagles will take the bye based on conference record. That will stick Favre's 40-year-old carcass out there against playoff-level comp (possibly the Packers again, to the frenzied salivation of the Worldwide Leader) with no extra week off. That he may need rest at some point should be self-evident to anyone who's not an ego-driven, aging quarterback.

All that said, Favre's not the one most wrong here. If the coach is just "throwing out ideas" that you should come out of the game, you have every right to say that you think it's a stupid idea. If the coach doesn't have the pigskins to say "Sit your ass down," that's his problem. But if Favre gets hammered some more by the Bears or Giants and the offense is forced to change directions permanently, that's also Brad Childress's problem.

All because his "stream of consciousness" started running down his leg.

All Dirk Wants for Christmas is Landry's Front Teeth

Never let it be said that football corners the market on tough SOB's. Purdue alumnus Carl Landry had a rougher night than you on Friday. Witness:

The final carnage: Dirk had to spend 30 minutes getting the gash on his elbow cleaned and having PIECES OF TEETH pulled from his elbow. (I smell EBay auction.) Dirk ended up missing a game on Sunday. Landry underwent SIX HOURS of dental surgery and right now, is only expected to miss the game that took place immediately after said surgery.

The quotes from Ol' Gaptooth himself when asked if he'd play tonight against the Clippers:

"Why not? I'm all right, it's not going to stop me...It wasn't life-threatening or anything. It was a little bit of pain. We all go through things in life where it's kind of painful. You fall, but you get back up again, and that's what I did."

People call football a "contact" sport. It's not. Basketball is a "contact" sport, football is a "collision" sport. You have to be tough to play football, even as a placekicker (Mental toughness, think you could boot a Super Bowl-winning FG from 41 yards?)...okay, maybe not a punter, but still.

Basketball players, though, get a bit of a bad rap. There are tough bastards in the NBA, and a guy like Landry, through getting his features rearranged, moves way to the front of the line. The only thing that would have made the story better would be if Carl had gone back and played on Saturday still under the influence of pain-killers. Would make taking a charge that much easier, eh?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Big-Ass 3FL Playoff Preview

Wait...who the hell's this schmuck in the college uniform? Patience, all will be explained later.

Somehow, despite a first-round pick who couldn't hold onto the ball, a quarterback who got a boo-boo on his wittle toe and took a month off, and a stud WR who's being accused of taking some games off, the Mooby Mafia has once again reached the 3FL playoffs and has a chance of defending its title. (Looks like that might be more than we'll be able to say for the Steelers.)

Usually, in this league, we have one clearly dominant team and everybody else is scraping to find that one waiver-wire pickup that'll spend the last three games getting hot, usually off the really shit teams. Worked for me last year, when I was able to ride the likes of Cedric Benson, Fred Jackson, and Johnnie Lee Higgins to a title.

This year, though, we have three teams that were just either beautifully drafted or lucky to dodge injuries, and as a result, there are three legitimate bad-ass teams that I just didn't want to play. Thankfully, I worked up to the #5 seed, and I don't have to play one of them in the first. Excellent.

But first, a moment of silence for our fallen comrades who'll have to catch the playoffs from the couch:

12. Valhalla (0-14)--Our first ever winless team, Jason's boys didn't go down without a fight, as six of those losses were by less than eight points. Waiver pickups like Mario Manningham and Andre Caldwell helped, and Matt Schaub and Larry Fitz were dominant, but it couldn't make up for the fact that Steve Smith (Carolina version) decided to take the season off and Willis McGahee got his job ripped from his grasp. Only three of Jay's opponents failed to break 100 points, and it's hard to pick up wins when that happens.

11. Lady Shark (4-10)--Mireya had a great QB duo with Romo and Favre. Unfortunately, when Calvin Johnson started having injury issues and her #2 overall pick, Brian Westbrook, got his squash rattled against the Redskins, she didn't quite have enough big scorers to fall back on. She did start a three-game winning streak before ending the season being crushed by her hubby.

10. God'sRightHand (6-8)--Adam looked like he was going to roll heavy behind the duo of Jacobs and Forte, but neither one of them ever got on track. His 14th-round pick of the Doobie Warrior, Ricky Williams, turned out to be absolute genius. And luck, as it often seems to do, carried him quite a long way, as he had five games where his opponents failed to break 80. Only one other team had more than three such games, and it was one of the teams who needed it the least. More on that later.

9. Gutter's Tools (6-8)--It looked like Tim was in, as I was up by only 12 points in Week 14 with him having Kurt Warner and me having VD (that's Vernon Davis, not some kind of infection...perverts) left to play on Monday Night. Only when Warner and the Cardinals went paws-up was I able to relax and enjoy a playoff berth. Contrary to my preseason speculation, Adrian Peterson didn't get completely ignored this season, and Tim rode him, Warner, and Antonio Gates to some solid wins. However, I was right on when I called Clinton Portis over Chris Johnson as a shaky pick. Little did I know that Fumbleupagus Slaton would be just as bad.

And, that leads us to our playoff matchups:

#1 Salsa Shark (11-3) v. #8 Kirbdogs (7-7)--Drafting Peyton Manning is a dangerous game. You know that he'll be crunching fat points all season...until playoff time. By then, the Colts usually have at least a division title in the bag, and you're casting that anxious eye to the sideline, praying that Jim Sorgi isn't warming up. Good news for Kirby is that he doesn't have to worry about that this season...since Sorgi's on IR. Now it's Curtis Painter that he's got to watch out for. It's tempting to write Kirby off as a one-man band, but he's gotten production out of Percy (DUDE, NOT SO LOUD!...get it? He has migraines? Ahem) Harvin, Tony Gonzalez, and his big waiver score Rashard Mendenhall. He's even gotten good production out of Marion Barber at the right time, as his two TD's last night and Peyton's four on Thursday have staked Kirby to a big lead early.

Justin's been both lucky and good this season. He had the highest-scoring team in the league, plus being that team I mentioned earlier with six opponents failing to break 80. Tom Brady, Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, and Ryan Grant have all come up large for him, as well as the GOOD Steve Smith. It's good for him that injuries haven't been a big issue, because the bench has featured the likes of Correll Suckhalter and Ol' Dirty Sanchez. Of course, no sooner do we observe this point than Kevin Smith gets stuck on injured reserve.

If Belichick takes his foot off Brady's throttle and decides to rely more on Laurence Maroney against Buffalo's weak-sauce run D, Justin might have to sweat. But, I'd be sort of surprised if that's what happens. That game will also be interesting for the way the Bills use Marshawn Lynch, as Justin may be forced to use him for the first time in a month. Last time, Lynch exploded for...-0.2.

Shark: Brady-Welker-Johnson-Grant-S. Smith (NYG)-Lynch-Longwell-Vikings
Dogs: Manning-Knox-Nicks-Barber-Gonzalez-Mendenhall-Tynes-Cardinals
PREDICTION: Shark by 12, much closer than one might expect.

#2 Blue Rookie Monsters (10-4) v. #7 PopNLochNessMonsters (7-7)--Steve's BRM's were every bit as good as predicted, as his only shaky pick this season now appears to be Michael Turner. Normally, a first-round pick racking inactives at playoff time is the kiss of death, but in a league where one can go 4-WR, there aren't too many better crews to assemble than Anquan Boldin, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, and the waiver-wire success story of the year, Miles Austin. Fred Jackson's kept his RB position from being a total black hole, and the Rodgers-Palmer duo has been surprisingly sturdy. Even Derrick Mason started becoming relevant, as the Ravens remembered that, oh, yeah, we can throw this thing more than 12 times per game.

Jon's universally-panned draft actually paid some dividends. Jason Campbell steered Jon through Donovan McNabb's early-season injury woes, Donald Driver and Chad GrandeChalupa scored more than expected, Ray Rice became the Sleeper From Hell, and he scored big with a late-season grab for Robert Meachem. Losses of Ronnie Brown and Chris Cooley left a 6-2 start circling the drain, and only his accumulated early points kept him from having to seriously sweat Week 14.

Both these teams were able to score points, as Steve only had three sub-100 games and Jon had five. Even during his 1-5 finish, Jon still broke 100 four of six games. There are some deceptive matchups this week that might play into Jon's favor, too. With Donald Driver going against the suddenly-catatonic Steelers and Ray Rice lining up against the Bears, big points might be there. Bummer for Jon that Rodgers will get Steve a piece of any Driver production. With Miles Austin already banking 24.4 for Steve, though, and Meachem only going for 6.8, there's a hill to climb. The key might be whether or not Detroit can make Anquan Boldin as miserable as the 49ers did. (I can't even type that with a straight face.)

BRM's: Rodgers-Boldin-Austin-F. Jackson-D. Jackson-V. Jackson-Crosby-Packers
Pops: McNabb-Driver-TamaleVerde-Rice-Meachem-Williams-Graham-Redskins
PREDICTION: BRM's by 30...Jon needs to pull hard for his RB's to dominate, but DeAngelo against the Vikings will be some rough sledding.

#3 Mules (9-5) v. #6 SuicideSquad (7-7)--How does one go 7-7 with two of the four highest scorers in the league? Amanda took most teams' best shots this season, having only one game (Week 1 v. her hubster) where her opponent failed to score 80 and only five where the opponent fell short of 100. Sitting on three solid reserve RB's when you can't count on production from any WR's other than Reggie Wayne (and even he only scored 22 points total from Weeks 12-14) certainly didn't help. Thomas Jones nearly broke 200 for the season, Knowshon Moreno's come up solid for a rookie, and Jonathan Stewart's recorded some occasionally strong (albeit maddeningly inconsistent) production. Any one of them could have brought a solid WR in a league that only saw two (TWO?!?!?) trades made all season. That is, if anyone ever bothered to respond to trade offers...but maybe I'm the only one who had that problem.

In the preseason, I mentioned that a lot of Dave's hopes rode on his RB's, Steven Jackson and MoJo Drew. They produced strongly, with MJD currently standing sixth among all scorers, albeit with an extra game in hand. Brandon Marshall certainly got his head out of his ass, setting records and generally going back to being a beast. And Dave's big waiver score was the Jags' Mike Sims-Walker, who kept looking like he'd come out last year before getting hurt. Dave knew when to make a move, even benching Hines Ward last week against Cleveland when anyone else would have banked hard on a turnaround. Ward's 4.1 instead of the 14.9 he got from Brent Celek would have cost him the win and dropped him to #4. Of course, he'd be playing my banged-up outfit instead of Amanda's stud-laden group, which he's actually admitted he'd prefer. Can't say as I blame him.

Lots of guys have already played in this matchup, with Dave's two Jags, Brees, and Wayne already being in the books. Dave has a slight lead, and with Chris Johnson and Thomas Jones running into fairly tough matchups, he's got a reasonable chance to keep it. His downfall may be if Hines Ward lays another egg, since his WR/TE spot has already been filled by Sims-Walker, and there's no sliding Brent Celek in this week. The defenses could also tell a story, as Amanda has the Eagles against San Francisco, while Dave's gambling on the Texans. Although, maybe it's not such a gamble, since Houston's playing the Lambs.

Mules: Roethlisberger-Marshall-Ward-MJD-MSW-Wells-Gostkowski-Texans
Squad: Brees-Wayne-Owens-Johnson-Cribbs-Jones-Hartley-Eagles
PREDICTION: Mules by 20...seriously, I think the 12 of us could line up and stop the Rams, and that's with a free safety who goes a buck-oh-five soaking wet and a strong safety who's four months preggo.

#4 Carpet Munchers (9-5) v. #5 Mooby Mafia (8-6)--In the preseason, I was discussing how there were 10 or 12 TE's with the potential to be worth something, and Bill was certainly listening, as he drafted three. The best of the bunch, he got as a result of the entire league having a colossal brain-fart and letting Dallas Clark nose-dive into the 10th round. The second-best of the bunch, no one even drafted and Bill was able to score off waivers...and it may have saved my season when he traded Vernon Davis to me. Bill got a nice dose of good karma, as only four of his opponents broke 100 (three of those ending in losses), but his team was deceptively strong. Eli Manning is our league's #13 scorer, and Dallas clocks in at #25 for now. He got strong seasons from Frank Gore and Marques Colston, plus quietly solid work from Pierre Thomas and Tim Hightower. His waiver-wire score, since it seems we all had one, was Sidney Rice.

My problems have been sort of documented already, as I rode the roller coaster that was Steve Slaton's season and lived and died with the Falcons' passing game. Ced Benson helped me out for the second straight year, and my best draft pick may have also been my best waiver score, as I picked Jamaal Charles in Round 14, dropped him, then raced to get him again once Larry Johnson officially ran himself out of Kansas City. Four of Charles' last five games, he's broken 20, even as the Chiefs continue to suck harder than Sasha Grey. Bill helped out tremendously in our midseason trade, sending me three guys who I'm starting this week (Matt Hasselbeck, Santonio Holmes, and Vernon Davis). I sent him Greg Olsen, Shaun Hill, and Steve Breaston. It seemed fair at the time. To quote David Byrne in the Talking Heads' classic "Once In A Lifetime," "How did I get here?" As of last week, I'd had more points scored against me than anyone except Jason, and how I'm over .500 at all is beyond me. I have only one 200-point scorer, that being Randy (There's a Difference Between Hot Doggin' and Just Doggin') Moss.

This week, I'm rolling dice bigger than Indiana Jones' favorite boulder. I've got Roddy White getting thrown to by a backup QB AND being covered by the Human Force Field that is Darrelle Revis. Santonio Holmes is as big a wild-card as the rest of the Steelers, and Cedric Benson is iffy on a grieving Bengals team going against the playoff-motivated Chargers. Enter Arian Foster, the guy pictured at the top of this post. He's had so little NFL work that Google only had pictures of him in college at Tennessee. But now, he's apparently going to be The New Man in Houston. If he's ever going to have a big game, it HAS to be against St. Louis.

More than half of Bill's lineup has already played, and once Dallas hauled in his second TD catch on Thursday, I was fully expecting to be screwed. However, with five of his eight players done, I'm only down 57-0, which is a pleasant surprise. If the Redskins hold down Eli like they've done a lot of other teams this season, the Eagles jump out fast against the Niners, and Sidney Rice stays queasy, I might have a very good shot at this one. However, I need Foster to prove he deserves a job, and Moss to decide he wants to do his.

Munchers: E. Manning-Rice-Colston-Gore-Clark-Thomas-Stover-Saints
Mafia: Hasselbeck-Holmes-Moss-Charles-Davis-Foster-Carpenter-Titans
PREDICTION: Mafia by I said, after Thursday, I thought I was screwed. Now, it's doable...and even though my head says I'll likely be conceding this one, expressing my glee at playing Bill instead of "one of the three good teams" (my exact words) would really seem hypocritical if I didn't pick myself.

Next week, I'll dig back in and check out some of the season's interesting statistical nuggets while I prepare for another playoff game. Hopefully, I'll still be playing for first instead of fifth.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The 12 Days of Sportsmas

Being married to a woman who just about drools holiday spirit when she sleeps, it's hard to resist the siren call of Christmas festivity, and I've done well so far.

Until now.

I have a free-floating anger complex that's provoked whenever I hear Christmas music, primarily due to having it crammed down my ears throughout every December of a 10-year retail career. And so, what do I do to combat this uncontrollable, blinding rage?

Um...I spoof a Christmas song with sports-oriented lyrics? Yeah, this'll end well.

All that aside, 2009's been a busy year, both for me personally and for ye olde sports industry. And while I'd love to bore everyone senseless with a tune about my year of job-hopping, college-starting, and braces-buying, it might be a bit more fun to bore my readers (both of them) with a song about the year in sports.

So, I offer this: "The 12 Days of Sportsmas." Enjoy. Or don't. Whichever.

*blows tuning note on harmonica* Oh, by the way, we're going straight to Day 12, because I'm sure no one wants to read me repeating Days 1-11 multiple times to get to the end. Lord knows I'm not interested in typing all of it over and over again. Ahem...

*blows another tuning note on harmonica*

On the Twelfth Day of Sportsmas, ESPN (say it like "Espen") gave to me...

12 Nets a-losing: The New Jersey Nets broke a record by starting the season 0-18. Since then, they've "improved" to 2-24. At the rate they're both going, Kobe Bryant will end the season with more game-winning buzzer-beaters than the Nets will total wins. Anyone want to take that wager?

11 CJ touchdowns: I made fun of Tim in the 3FL for passing on Chris Johnson to take Clinton Portis. Meanwhile, my first pick was Steve "Fumbleupagus" Slaton. Yeah, Tim's the kettle and I'm the pot. He's not in the playoffs, and I might not be for long. Oh, yeah, and CJ's sort of the truth.

10 weeks a holdout: Al Davis wasn't even content to screw up business for his own team, he had to go and jack things up for his Bay Area neighbors, the 49ers. Davis taking Darrius ("1 Second of 40 Time for Every Reception") Heyward-Bey instead of Michael ("Whaddaya Mean Mel Kiper Doesn't Sign My Paycheck?") Crabtree launched the biggest NFL rookie soap-opera since...well, since Al's last retarded high draft pick.

9 trades for Q-Rich: Okay, so Quentin Richardson wasn't traded nine times this year, per se...but over the course of his career (and the three years preceding it), either he or the pick with which he was eventually selected have been traded NINE TIMES. (Give it your best Ed Rooney from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" voice.) Note that four of those trades came this offseason, and within a SIX-WEEK span. His luggage didn't even have time to get re-routed to some of his destinations before he was dealt again. Next time you feel unwanted at work, just think about this poor bastard.

8 golfer's bimbos: Oh, yeah, Tiger Woods made a lot of "friends" over the last decade or so. (Allegedly.) Take a little quiz and see how Tiger's harem stack up to other famed historical mistresses. And if you're so inclined, listen to a very complimentary porn star who had a good time at his bachelor party. (Allegedly.)

7 points a-missing: Oh, but for one more touchdown (okay, and PAT) per game, Purdue could have been playing on New Year's Eve Eve or something. Hopefully, the football team's used up enough bad karma that the basketball team can cruise to Indy in April.

6 coaches circling: There are six NFL coaches who may or may not want to get back into the league, and they've got the bling to ensure that any owner with half a working brain (and maybe even Al Davis and Dan Snyder, too) will want to have them on speed dial. Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, and Tony Dungy will keep hearing questions about their futures as long as they want to, because they're all sure to be getting plenty of offers. Apparently, some already have. (Okay, one of those is a serious reach.)


Last time I saw a hand fondle a ball so blatantly, it was Al Bundy sticking his hand down his trousers for the last time on "Married With Children."

4-team trades: And this isn't including the three or four other moneybags teams that were supposed to be banging on the Toronto Blue Jays' door with signs that said, "Rape me." If Roy Halladay blows out his elbow in May, Philadelphia will burn. Especially if Kyle Drabek turns out to be better than his dad.

3 shafted schools: TCU and Boise State scared the BCS Mafia so badly that they essentially got shoved into the closet against each other and told, "Don't come out until one of you is dead...or until the Big Ten picks its 12th team." Don't cry to Cincinnati, though...the Mafia's already helping Notre Dame get back into their guaranteed seat by shafting the Bearcats out of a shot at the national title, and thereby their coach. Even UC can't complain TOO much, though...this is the second time Cincy's poached its replacement from Central Michigan.

2 perfect teams: I would mortgage all three of my fantasy football leagues (and may have done so in one, after Dallas Clark caught two scores last night) AND Adam and Amanda's unborn child Roman (just something Adam's been kicking around the office) to see the 16-0 Colts against the 16-0 Saints (led by Purdue's Finest himself) in Super Bowl XLIV. And for the perfect halftime show, the remaining members of the '72 Dolphins (including the last Purdue QB to win a Super Bowl, Mr. Taco himself) can line up at the 50-yard line and shoot themselves.


Thanks for the overcompensation, Jerry. Nobody wants to watch Tony Romo screw up in regular definition...especially since they're paying $95 just to be in the very upper-right pixel of this photo. By God, we should be able to see Tony's mascara running as he cries all the way to whatever blonde he's hooked up with that month.

So, to summarize...and feel free to sing along:

On the 12th Day of Sportsmas, ESPN gave to me:
12 Nets a-losing,

11 CJ touchdowns,
10 weeks a holdout,
9 trades for Q-Rich,
8 golfer's bimbos,

7 points a-missing,

6 coaches circling,
4-team trades,
3 shafted schools,
2 perfect teams,


(Come on, that was way better than those weak-sauce Best Buy ads.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

UGH-A: A Robot Mascot? WTF?

Nice lookin' pooch there, huh? If the domestic terrorists at PETA have their way, that'll be the new mascot at the University of Georgia.

Following the untimely passing of Uga VII, PETA has asked the university to stop using live English bulldogs as their mascot, instead requesting the use of "animatronics" (read: robots like at left) or sticking exclusively to their guy-in-a-costume, Hairy Dawg.

For me, tradition is usually a code word for "We're too lazy or cheap to make any sort of change to anything ever," but the animal attractions that add value to a college football ticket are a huge part of the fun for me.

Bevo the steer at Texas.

Ralphie the buffalo at Colorado.

Mike the tiger at LSU.

Spirit the Malamute at Washington.

Seriously, there are many live animal mascots who embody the fun of a college football Saturday (or even a basketball evening, in some cases) the way no costumed dancing schmuck ever could. Check out a few here.

I can't vouch for the way all of these animals are treated, but I'd gather they're handled with some requisite respect, since few of them have been sued out of existence, even in this hyper-litigious Internet age, where everybody's a private dick...except for the ones who are also dicks in public. (Ahem.)

The Ugas, however, are well-known to be treated like royalty in Athens. The university maintains memorials for all the past Ugas. The current ones reside in an air-conditioned doghouse and sit on blocks of ice during games, as bulldogs are prone to heatstroke.

Bulldog breeding has, over the generations, become progressively more difficult thanks to the breed's narrow hips and large heads, which mean females often have to give birth via C-section. I get that. I'm not convinced PETA's meddling just for the sake of publicity, as I suspect they were with the BatManu case over Halloween.

But still, where else are you going to get a picture like the one here, with Uga and Matt Stafford? These dogs, and, I expect, many other animal mascots, have pretty sweet existences. Lots of affection, well-fed, highly cared for...most people don't live this well. Uga's a part of life at UGA, and if the line ever ceased, I certainly hope to God it wouldn't be in favor of a damn robot. Would you replace Ralphie with a robot buffalo?


Actually, a robot buffalo might be sort of cool. Scary, but cool.

RIP Uga VI's Loran's Best (aka Uga VII)
Deceased November 19, 2009

Notre Dame Is A Mid-Major Program...Time For Them to Start Acting Like It

On the daily now, we're assaulted by the spectacle of Charlie Weis being ridden to slaughter like a broken-down horse. The breathless speculation on his successor as Notre Dame football coach by the Herbstreits and Schads of the world is sort of compelling, but in much the same way as the results of Afghanistan's election. Neither is a job that any sane person really wants right now, and being the Afghan president might actually be safer than being Notre Dame's quarterback. More on that later.

Notre Dame bagmen, er, boosters want AD Jack Swarbrick to nag Urban Meyer relentlessly until he finally remembers that Notre Dame is his "dream job" and that he's nothing until he's coached there. Because, you know, those two national championships in three years were just an audition for a program that's won two national championships in THIRTY-three years.

Cincinnati's Brian Kelly is considered the front-runner to replace Weis, as he's a bit more of a realistic hire. A guy at a program that's just arriving is a lot easier to pry away than a coach who's already brought back a storied team and has the hardware to prove it.

And if Meyer leaves Florida, a state that recruits itself, or Kelly leaves Cincinnati, a program that may be on the verge of big-boy things, one thing is certain:

That man is an idiot.

I grew up in Indiana. Lafayette, to be exact, which sits 150 miles southwest of South Bend. And you know what? Winters in Lafayette suck. Never spent one in South Bend, but I'm sure they're even worse. I spent three years in Gainesville, Florida, and winters there? Quite nice. The wife and I went to the beach for Christmas one year. Any man who leaves the tropics for the arctic is an idiot.

Paul "Bear" Bryant once said that Florida was a hard place to win football games because, with all the pretty little things running around in their suntans, it was hard to make football the most important thing in a young man's life. Steve Spurrier did a fine job of it. Bobby Bowden did a fine job of it, before the Alzheimer's set in. Jimmy Johnson did a fine job of it. And now, Urban Meyer appears to have elevated it to an art form.

The point of all this is that Notre Dame needs to step back and seriously...SERIOUSLY...evaluate itself. Notre Dame is a mid-major program with a major-league opinion of itself. Tradition is all well and good, but face it. High school players don't care about what Ara Parseghian, Knute Rockne, and Dan Devine accomplished. Most of them would be hard-pressed to tell you who those guys were. Hell, they only know Lou Holtz as that goofy lisping fruit on ESPN. The players care about, "Can I get to the NFL?" That gets done in two ways: play on TV and play in IMPORTANT games on TV.

Thanks to N(D)BC, Notre Dame can certainly deliver on one of those scores. And, to be fair, the Irish players who do show out do still get drafted...somewhat. From 1999 to 2006, the Irish had 37 players drafted...unfortunately, less than a third of those players are still in the league. The total fell to four in 2008, and only ONE in 2009. By contrast, mighty Abilene Christian had two players drafted this year, and both Johnny Knox and Bernard Scott appear to have some NFL game.

Then there's the academic standards. One of the big factors in Urban Meyer not chasing his "dream job" was his understanding that Notre Dame's higher academic standards would chase off some talented athletes who were indifferent toward their studies. Is it a failure to keep the "student" prefix in the term "student-athlete"? Absolutely. However, athletes have been failing to remind themselves to be students for generations, it's only now that we have media in every corner trying to complain about it. Why should a player go somewhere where he has to work even harder in the classroom just to go out and freeze his tail off on gameday when he can do just enough to get by and play in sunny Florida, where the women are scantily clad ten months out of the year instead of six?

In Gainesville, UF players are absolute rock stars, as I suspect they are in college towns across America when the team is doing well. In South Bend...the quarterback's getting popped in the eye coming out of a restaurant with his girlfriend and parents. This is a fan base passing denial and barreling straight into the anger phase. I fear for wives all over South Bend if the Irish finish it off by tanking against Stanford. Why? Read this.

Face it, folks, no matter how many shoutouts Notre Dame gets from Regis Philbin every morning, Irish football stopped mattering the moment Lou Holtz walked out that door.

Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis combined to lose 66 games in 13 years, an average of five per year. Parseghian and Holtz lost 47 games in 22 years, an average of just over two per year. Players can go anywhere in the Internet era. Recruiting is much easier for the mid-major conferences and smaller programs. Notre Dame's name doesn't sell itself anymore. NBC helps, but what will also help is getting coaches whose credentials haven't been puffed all to hell, like Captain Schematic Advantage up there.

Get someone quiet and unassuming who's willing to come in and work hard. At the same time, try somebody who has a vested interest in returning the program to the success of the Holtz era, perhaps someone who has a legacy of his own staring over his shoulder.

When Lou Holtz took over the Irish, his career record stood at 116-65-5, a winning percentage of .637. He was 6-4-2 in bowl games at the time. There's a coach at a mid-major program right now who has a record of 67-44, a .604 winning percentage. Only 1-2 in bowl games, but considering where his program was when he arrived, getting to bowl games is a pretty good job. And his name's still rather familiar to Irish fans.

Jack, forget paying $8 million per year to Urban Meyer. Just call Skip Holtz. He can't be any worse than Moby Weis. And if he is, maybe NDBC will put every basketball game on the air.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Writin' Dirty: When Football Does (and Doesn't) Go Too Far

Hines Ward and Ric Flair now have something in common. Namely, the title of "Dirtiest Player in the Game." Different games, but one thing is the same: in both wrestling and football, calling someone dirty is essentially thinly veiled whining.

Sports Illustrated recently gave us a poll where almost 300 NFL players voted on who they felt was the dirtiest player in football. Ward got 11.6 percent of the vote, almost twice what runners-up Albert Haynesworth and Joey Porter received. Remember, that's the same Albert Haynesworth that tried to give Andre Gurode some free plastic surgery.

You'd think that, a decade into his career, people would be used to Hines Ward by now. The guy's a linebacker who runs pass patterns, and he has no qualms about lowering the boom on somebody. If the other guy's not looking (as Keith Rivers apparently wasn't when Hines broke his jaw), that's the other guy's problem.

The "Dirtiest Player" poll is essentially little more than an excuse for players to whine about people that have historically made them look bad. Is it a coincidence that the top ten vote-getters here have a combined 30 Pro Bowls between them?

Jared Allen (2 Pro Bowls), Troy Polamalu (5), Harvey Dahl (0), Richie Incognito (0), Cortland Finnegan (1), Kevin Mawae (7), Roy L. Williams (5), Joey Porter (4), Albert Haynesworth (2), and Ward (4) were your Top 10.

No defensive player likes the idea of getting put on his ass by a wide receiver, most of whom are the most likely players to come out of a game because "OMFG, I SO broke a nail!" Especially when that wide receiver played QUARTERBACK in college. Ward's not supposed to be anywhere near heavy contact, and yet he's often the one seeking it. That damages the ego of a defensive player, who must instantly call the contact "dirty" to make his own psychic boo-boo feel better.

For my money, Haynesworth's head stomp to Gurode is one he'll likely never live down, and Williams' popularizing the horse-collar tackle led to one of those rare safety rules that I can totally get behind.

Likewise, griping about offensive linemen like Mawae, Incognito, and Dahl is pointless, as just about anything can happen when the lines collide. In there, it's pretty much anything long as you're not attacking the eyes and the testes. More on that in a moment.

Hines Ward is a tough bastard. If you think otherwise, it's probably because your team's defense is filled with pussies who just got stuck in the dirt by a QB-turned-WR who forgot he's supposed to be a little priss.

Far as I'm concerned (and I'm fairly far from a Steelers fan), Hines can keep doing what he does all the way to Canton.

Now, back to the eyes and testicles.

Specifically, the eyes of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey being nearly introduced to the fingers of Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes.

You want dirty? There it is, kids.

There's no way to sell that as an accident.

Spikes claimed it was retaliation for similar treatment earlier in the game. Possible, but still...the best way to retaliate in a football game is still to stick your shoulder pad in a back's chest, separate him from the ball, and then lay on top of him and talk about how he just hocked up his manhood when your team recovers the fumble.

Brock Lesnar and Georges St. Pierre, two leading practitioners of what John McCain once called "human cockfighting," aren't allowed to go for the eyes. There's no call for Brandon Spikes to be doing it, either.

And Urban Meyer doesn't get a pass on this one, either. I'm a bit of a Meyer fan, but ye gods, what the hell do you gain by suspending someone for a half? By halftime against Vanderbilt, most of the starters wouldn't be in anyway, so what's the point?

Spikes has now "suspended himself" for the entire game, and it seems like a nice gesture. To whom, I'm not sure, but still. I highly doubt that it was Spikes' idea. Urb's probably gotten a whiff of the whole teapot tempest that his limp-wristed "punishment" started and needed a way to cover himself without LOOKING like he was covering himself. This way, Spikes looks like a "responsible young man" seeking atonement for his actions, and the Gators get a few extra bonus points for "overcoming distractions" and beating Vanderbilt shorthanded.

Since, you know, Vanderbilt's 2-7 record is pretty intimidating and all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Can't Spell "Man Up" Without Manu

Yes, boys and girls, that is Manu Ginobili swatting a bat out of mid-air on Halloween night. Yeah, doesn't seem like a coincidence to me, either. More on that momentarily. While others were undoubtedly practicing their "EEEEK"s and diving under seats, Manu simply said, "Hey, we got a game to play here," and took the matter into his own hand.

This morning on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Mark Howard seemed like he was reprimanding Manu for taking down a helpless, defenseless little bat. While I'd expect it from a card-carrying member of everyone's favorite domestic terrorist organization (hint: their acronym could just as easily stand for Pushy, Egotistical, Terroristic Assholes), hearing it from a card-carrying member of the sporting media was a bit disappointing.

Aren't we usually of the mindset that "the game must go on"? Why stand around and allow a game to be held hostage by some jackhole who decided that letting a bat loose at a basketball game on Halloween would get a few laughs? And yes, I'm fully convinced someone smuggled the poor creature in. No way it's a coincidence that a bat invades a game on Halloween night. All arenas hosting Easter games need to be on the lookout for canaries. While we're at it, why not check people for turtle doves...or French hens...or calling birds...or geese a-laying...or swans a-swimming on Christmas? They should be easy to spot, as it's pretty hard to hide seven swans on one's person.

Unless it's in San Antonio, since the Spurs' arena security staff is obviously riddled with EPIKPHAIL.

PETA's response to the "Bat-Manu" incident, which you can read by clicking the above link, tells us that "bats always try to avoid contact with humans." So, isn't a person bringing a bat into the arena (most likely under a jacket) doing more to torture its fragile little psyche than a guy trying to defend himself? We don't know what kinds of diseases the bat might be carrying. So swatting it out of the air before the arena staff comes with a net to REALLY antagonize it might have been the best course of action.

When people start chasing after me with a net (I call it Tuesday), I get tempted to fight back. And so it may have been with the bat. If the bat had bitten someone and given them rabies, I'm sure PETA would still be objecting to its destruction...since, after all, they're the only ones allowed to play God with the animal kingdom.

And speaking of rabies, Manu's going through shots as a result of his daring swipe. From all accounts that I've ever heard, rabies shots are a whole metric ton of not fun. It takes a real man to voluntarily put himself in that kind of situation for the potential well-being of others, and by God, Manu Ginobili clanks when he walks, if you catch my drift.

Besides, the usher to whom Manu handed the beast claims that it did, in fact, fly away once outside. If the bat's not dead, and the game got played, and Manu's smiling through the pain of his shots...then I guess all that's left to say is this:

PETA can officially kiss my ass.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Third-Degree Burns and Paper Cuts

The New York Times best-seller list may get a couple of new entries from the sports world in the next couple of weeks. Jackie MacMullan's When the Game Was Ours once again joins Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as the faces of the NBA in the 1980's.

Then, a couple of weeks from now, we'll be treated to Andre Agassi's Open. That one's already generating huge buzz over Andre's "I used crystal meth" admission. More on that later.

First, Bird and Magic. They started out as two guys who would just as soon gouge each other's eyes out as have to look at each other, and now they seem buddies. Magic and Isiah Thomas, however, seem to have gone the opposite direction.

Almost immediately after Magic was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, rumors flew about how he contracted it. Many reports prior to this have painted Isiah as the architect of the one that had Magic being gay, and according to TrueHoop's Henry Abbott, those reports were already somewhat public in 1992.

No one seems to be doubting that Magic knew of Isiah's role in the rumors from Day why has he sat on it for eighteen years? Why has he still greeted Isiah warmly when they meet, taken friendly pictures with him, etc.? Why the hell did he recommend Isiah to the Knicks (allegedly), unless it was a diabolical conspiracy to completely trash New York basketball? (If it was, at least that mission was accomplished.)

It's pretty fucking weak to smile in a guy's face and mutter curses at his back, but it seems like that's the approach Magic has taken. Although, maybe it should be a bit more understandable. After all, Magic being angry at anyone kind of goes against the happy-go-lucky, never-met-a-stranger persona that The Smile has cultivated for him all these years. We as humans find it quite easy to smile in the face of unpleasant people when our money might be at stake. Just go to work tomorrow and look at your boss. Point proven.

People that tell others where they can get off usually don't get endorsement deals. Unless you're Chuck Barkley. This is why you can never get Michael "Republicans Wear Nikes, Too" Jordan to admit that he has any personal beliefs aside from "Being a shoe-and-underwear-shilling robot is a pretty sweet gig." So, obviously, while he was trying to get his various businesses off the ground, Magic wasn't about to commit such an egregious breach of decorum as slamming Zeke for telling everyone he caught the most fatal disease of the 1980's by playing the wrong skin flute.

Now, here we are, almost two decades later. Magic's a full-fledged entrepreneur, feel-good survival story, and the all-around embodiment of the American dream. Isiah's run two teams and AN ENTIRE LEAGUE into the ground, been sued for sexual harassment, been placed on suicide watch, and now starts over with his basketball legacy, becoming head coach of a fourth-rate basketball program at a university whose provost didn't even know his name.

Seems like a good time to smack Isiah with one more piece of character Kryptonite, doesn't it? Forget kicking a guy when he's down, this is kicking a guy after he's been shot with a cannon, run over by a train, had his entrails pulled out his nose and fed to a pack of coyotes, set on fire, and watched a four-year-old kid come over and piss on what's left.

And what about that reboot, Isiah 2.0, if you will? How does a story like this play in high school basketball stars' living rooms? Would you like your son to play ball for a guy who allegedly spent the 1990's endeavoring to dig up dirt on his best friend's sex life, especially when said guy has failed out of the NBA in spectacular fashion?

Forget HIV, Magic may have just given Isiah a real disease to worry about. It's hard as hell to make Isiah Thomas into a sympathetic figure, but honestly, I kinda do feel for Zeke right now. Even with that said, I'll be surprised if, Thomas isn't the biggest leper in college basketball come recruiting season.

And now, back to Mr. Agassi.

The fact that Agassi used any kind of substance is not, in and of itself, surprising. After all, this is a guy who once thought that wearing a muskrat pelt on one's head (see left) was a good look. (Appears he's also got some kind of furry animal poking out of his shirt collar, but that's beside the point.)

Seriously, no sober person I know would wear something like that.

What is most surprising to me is the kind of message that Andre's sending when he describes the results of the "spiked soda" that he used as a scapegoat when he failed a drug test shortly thereafter:

"There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I've never felt so alive, so hopeful - and I've never felt such energy. I'm seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds."
Dude, seriously, knock that shit off. You've probably just done every bonehead mixing toxic and explosive chemicals in the back of his garage an enormous favor. If this was a symptom for everyone who used meth, my wife (and probably millions of others like her) would be bringing me crystal by the truckload and shoveling it into my cereal.

I know people who've done crystal. Oddly, none of them were great housekeepers.


As a bonus service provided only here at Starr*Rated, a few pitches for potential sports best-sellers of the future:

The Athlete's Guide to Parenting by Shawn Kemp and Travis Henry
--Who better to give advice on raising children than two guys who have 18* children between them? (*-number is conservative estimate, as we all seem to have lost count) Henry's half of the profits will go directly to the Travis Henry Legal Defense Fund...since it likely wouldn't be enough to cover Christmas gifts for all the kids. Kemp's half, judging by the 300-plus pounds he was lugging in Orlando, will likely go to his local Golden Corral.

Left Behind by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
--A novel. Doug Earhart II loses his father in an auto accident, and descends down a slippery psychological slope resulting in a deathly fear of right turns. The most harrowing passage is a minute-by-minute account of a downtown excursion that covers three five hours.

Nice, Huh? by Derek Jeter
--The Captain presents a coffee-table book of all the fine tail he's partaken of during his career (allegedly). The Internet masturbation crowd will, sadly, pan the book, saying "I can seez pix of half these bicthes NAEKD!!~!~!!!!`111111~1~1!1!!"

On the Line by Serena Williams
--What? This one's already been written? Well, bummer. All I can say is that I'd only be buying this version.

Next week, I fully anticipate being able to chuckle over another Vikings game featuring 50+ passes and the complete ostracizing of Adrian Peterson.

Until then, peace and be wild.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

3FL Week 6: Patriot Games

For those wondering why I didn't post an action shot of Mr. at the picture again. Me personally, I'd rather look at "action shots" of Mrs. Brady, but as far as we know, none exist. No disgruntled staff in that house, apparently.

Week 6 was quite nerve-wracking for me, as my surviving my second straight week of potential Redskinning came down to whether Matt Prater could outkick Nate Kaeding...AND Tony Scheffler. Elsewhere, a brotherly battle had one throwing up his hands and threatening quitting.

Mooby Mafia (3-3) def. Lady Shark (0-6) 136.24-135.15
Poptropica (4-2) def. Valhalla (0-6) 119.88-117.76
Blue Rookie Monsters (3-3) def. Kirbdogs (4-2) 116.77-68.43
Gutter's Tools (4-2) def. God'sRightHand (2-4) 117.66-83.65
Salsa Shark (6-0) def. SuicideSquad (2-4) 142.74-127.28
Mules (4-2) def. Carpet Munchers (4-2) 136.67-110.67

If it's any consolation, Jay, I was pulling for ya. It'd be poetic justice for the Redskin fan to be the one to end someone's long losing streak. In the even bigger story, Da Shark has now opened up a two-game lead on the field, but I'm not 100% sure that the regular-season winner has ever carried it all the way to the championship. Someone's gonna have to verify me on that one.

This week's All-3FL team...well, no points for guessing which NFL team dominated. Especially since they inspired the title of this post.

QB: Tom Brady (51.7 for Salsa Shark)
WR: Randy Moss (35.9 for Mooby Mafia)
WR: Wes Welker (33 for Salsa Shark)
RB: Ray Rice (37.4 for PopaCapInYoAss)
WR/RB: Maurice Jones-Drew (37.3 for Mules)
WR/TE: Marques Colston (27.6 for Carpet Munchers)
K: Ryan Longwell (16 for Salsa Shark)
DEF: Broncos (29.12 for Gutter's Tools)

Amazingly, for the first week this season, there was no one on anyone's bench or the FA wire who would have put up All-3FL scores. Yes, there's no one floating about in the middle of nowhere who could roll up 150 rushing yards and 3 TD's. We're that good.

Justin's tied Amanda with 8 All-3FL performers, and just like her, his are coming in spurts. She had six in the first two weeks, he's had six in the last two. Hopefully for him, this doesn't mean that he's due for a four-game losing streak.


Yahoo's Point Spreads had three of the games looking close this week, and two of them actually delivered. Both of those actually featured favorites failing to cover the spread.

PS=Projected Spread
AS=Actual Spread
Diff.=Difference (If the difference is positive, then the winner covered the spread.)

Mooby Mafia favored over Lady Shark (PS=1.53, AS=1.09, Diff.=-0.44)
Pop-Up Campers over Valhalla (PS=4.21, AS=2.12, Diff.=-2.09)
BRM over Kirbdogs (PS=31.28, AS=48.34, Diff.=17.06)
SuicideSquad over Salsa Shark (PS=1.6, AS=-15.46, Diff.=-17.06) (Whoa...see the Diff in the above line. Damn, that's trippy.)
Gutter's Tools over GRH (PS=15.24, AS=34.01, Diff.=18.77)
Mules over Carpet Munchers (PS=20.54, AS=26, Diff.=5.46)

Jon was finally favored for the first time, and nearly coughed it up. Meanwhile, Steve keeps bringing gaudy projections, and backing them up exactly 50% of the time. He and Amanda are fifth and fourth in the league in scoring, but combine for a 5-7 record. Kirby's ninth in scoring, and sits 4-2. Sometimes, there's no justice.


I may have officially waved the white flag vis a vis the Swami award this week, as I totally brainfarted the voting process. I blame the sightseeing train the wife and I took on Saturday. Eight hours of looking at fall foliage in bright sunshine can be fun...looking at it on a dreary-ass, overcast, intermittently rainy day can turn your brains to tapioca faster than TV.

That commercial's still seriously fucking disturbing. Everyone else made it look like a pretty predictable week.

For the week:
Kirby: 5-1
Justin, Dave, Steve, Tim, Mireya, Jason, Bill: 4-2
Amanda: 3-3

For the season:
Justin: 22-14
Dave, Steve, Tim: 20-16
Kirby: 19-12
Mireya: 18-12
Jason: 18-18
Amanda: 17-19
Bill: 16-14
Scott: 14-16


Being in the rare position of voting underdog can only help Justin pull away in the F-U Award standings. As I said last week, it's hard to vote against him right now, unless someone wishbones Tom Brady again and he has to turn to Mark "Dirty" Sanchez. Funny enough, he voted against HIMSELF this week. For some reason, I suspect the loss of some alcohol-induced wager, because that's just not typical.

Mooby Mafia 7 votes, Lady Shark 2 (Winner: La Mafia)
Poptopia 5, Valhalla 4 (Winner: I'm Running Out of Goofy Pop Names)
BRM 7, Kirbdogs 2 (Winner: BRM)
SuicideSquad 6, Salsa Shark 3 (Winner: Shark Steak)
Gutter's Tools 8, GRH 1 (Winner: Gutter's Tools)
Mules 6, Carpet Munchers 3 (Winner: Mules)

Justin 39
Jon 27
Kirby 24
Bill 18
Tim 17
Dave 16
Steve 8
Adam 5
Scott 4
Amanda -11
Mireya -14
Jason -36


And with that, I jet once again. Just in time for Week 7's games to start. This week, I get to see how much punch God has in his Right Hand, Dave takes the next shot at slowing Justin's roll...and barring an absolute miracle, we're going to be down to one winless team next week, as Jason and Mireya face off. If there's a tie, get to the bomb shelter, because the Apocalypse is coming.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

3FL Week 5: White-Out

Yeah, I'm late. Sue me. Four midterms and a job that keeps you until 2 AM most nights can put you behind on some things. Luckily, one place I wasn't behind in Week 5 was on the scoreboard.

Mooby Mafia (2-3) def. Valhalla (0-5) 112.24-105.88
Salsa Shark (5-0) def. Blue Rookies (2-3) 141.71-74.23
Kirbdogs (4-1) def. God'sRightHand (2-3) 97.18-72.82
Carpet Munchers (4-1) def. SuicideSquad (2-3) 90.21-85.18
Gutter's Tools (3-2) def. Lady Shark (0-5) 97.05-76.24
Mules (3-2) def. Poppin' Fresh (3-2) 127.31-77.51

After owning all of our souls in the first two weeks behind dominant Drew Brees performances, Amanda's crashed back to earth with scores of 65, 79, and 85 in a three-game skid. Meanwhile, Jason's broken 98 in three of his first five games and still can't beg, borrow, or steal a win. As for who's broken 100 in each of their first five games...that list is as short as the list of undefeated teams, and has the same name on it. Justin's low game so far has been 104.88.

The All-3FL team is finally made major by a massive member of the Mafia, and for the second week in a row, a RB play that looked like a gamble paid off large.

QB: Matt Hasselbeck (35.69 for Carpet Munchers)
WR: Roddy White (38 for the Mafia)
WR: Andre Johnson (27.1 for Salsa Shark)
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw (30 for BRM)
WR/RB: Nate Burleson (25.08 for SuicideSquad)
WR/TE: Kellen Winslow (27.7 for Salsa Shark)
K: Lawrence Tynes (14 for Mules)
DEF: Vikings (21.56 for Salsa Shark)

This makes four straight weeks that our All-3FL kicker has carded exactly 14 points. Doesn't mean shit, but it's a hella coincidence. Andre becomes the third All-3FL repeater, and the first who wasn't representing SuicideSquad.

And, once again, there's quite a list of people who could have been contendas:

WR Miles Austin (43.96 as FA)
WR Jeremy Maclin (30.2 as FA)
RB Michael Turner (27.7 on BRM's bench)
WR Austin Collie (25.7 on Lady Shark's bench)
Seahawks DEF (26.28 as FA)

Once again, these people benching their #1 picks. Oy vey, I may be getting all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.


Yahoo expected a tight game between Justin and Steve...and in return, they got the week's biggest keg of whoop-ass. Other than that, nothing was expected to be close, although a couple of games got fairly tight.

PS=Projected Spread
AS=Actual Spread
Diff.=Difference (If the difference is positive, then the winner covered the spread.)

Valhalla favored over Mooby Mafia (PS=17.17, AS=-6.36, Diff.=-23.53)
BRM over Salsa Shark (PS=0.5, AS=-67.48, Diff.=-67.98)
Kirbdogs over GRH (PS=12.33, AS=24.36, Diff.=12.03)
SuicideSquad over Carpet Munchers (PS=16.48, AS=-5.03, Diff.=-21.51)
Gutter's Tools over Lady Shark (PS=13.48, AS=20.81, Diff.=7.33)
Mules over Pop Rocks & Coke (PS=25.28, AS=49.8, Diff.=24.52)

Adam and Jon haven't gotten much love from Yahoo's prognostication program, having both been underdogs each week so far. And, as was mentioned in Week 4's recap, Steve is still perfect after being favored to beat Justin this week. If only Yahoo wasn't completely full of it, eh?


In seasons past, Justin would routinely put some posts on the league message board depicting him doing depraved shit to Chris Berman. Seriously, I think Justin may need to hire a lawyer, because I think the writers of the Saw movies have been biting his material for the last few sequels. This season, though, he's contented himself with merely being a better Swami than Berman's ever been. Thankfully for Berman's entrails.

For the week:
Tim, Mireya: 4-2
Justin, Dave, Kirby, Scott: 3-3
Steve, Amanda, Jason: 2-4
Jon was busy crying into his pillow, "Lord, why does my team's QB suck?" after he kept Donovan McNabb's 264 yards and 3 TD's on the bench in favor of Jason "More Sacks than a Supermarket" Campbell. Between McNabb and Ray Rice, he'd have had enough points to win...somehow...again.
Adam was also crying into his pillow, wondering why mean old defenses had to go and start covering Jacoby Jones.

For the season:
Justin: 18-12
Dave, Steve, Tim: 16-14
Mireya: 14-10
Kirby: 14-11
Amanda, Jason, Scott: 14-16
Bill: 12-12


As if Justin wasn't owning the rest of us hard enough already, he's also pulling even further away in the F-U Award standings. We're reaching the point where voting against him is sheer lunacy, especially now with Marshawn Lynch returning to back up Ryan Grant and Kevin Smith. Not to mention that he's our winner of the "Holy Shit, I Gotta Go Get the OTHER Steve Smith" sweepstakes. Every league's got one.

Valhalla 9 votes, Mooby Mafia 1 (Winner: Mafia) (And no, I wasn't the one who voted for me. Heh.)
Salsa Shark 6, BRM 4 (Winner: Picante Clownfish)
Kirbdogs 6, GRH 4 (Winner: Kirbdogs)
SuicideSquad 7, CM 3 (Winner: CM)
Gutter's Tools 7, Lady Shark 3 (Winner: Gutter)
Mules 8, Lil' Poppa 2 (Winner: Mules)

For the season:

Justin 33
Jon 22
Kirby 22
Bill 21
Dave 10
Tim 9
Adam 6
Steve 1
Scott -3
Amanda -5
Mireya -12
Jason -32

Amanda, welcome to Negative Island. The next ferry leaves with Week 6's games.


No Goods and Bads this week, since I'm behind enough already, and I had enough fun poking at Jon's wasted 50 points.

Week 6 has already passed, but I'll keep this one spoiler-free and run it like this: I had to face yet another winless team, and the standings got pretty congested. I'll cover that tomorrow...before I start on a 5-page history paper. Bleh.

I'll spare everyone the pity party...but that doesn't mean Big & Rich will.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3FL Week 4: Upside Down

At the 3FL's first-quarter intermission, our standings appear somewhat inverted. Of the top four teams in the league, three of them were projected to miss the playoffs when we conducted our post-draft vote. Justin stands alone as the lone 4-0 owner, with Bill, Kirby, and Jon nipping at his heels.

Jalapeno Poppers (3-1) def. Mooby Mafia (1-3) 109.33-98.18
Kirbdogs (3-1) def. Lady Shark (0-4) 115.12-89.76
Gutter's Tools (2-2) def. Valhalla (0-4) 114.28-60.76
Salsa Shark (4-0) def. God'sRightHand (2-2) 106.49-80.42
Carpet Munchers (3-1) def. Blue Rookie Monsters (2-2) 122.41-97.10
Mules (2-2) def. Suicide Squad (2-2) 102.48-79.32

And Jon got every last possible point out of his lineup, becoming the first owner to score his or her optimal amount this season. Of course, that'll happen when your bench is all byes, cripples and scrubs...they all combined to TOTAL 4.2 points. This after he missed perfection by 0.4 in Week 2. More on optimals next week.

Despite slumping to her fourth straight defeat, Mireya was one of this week's THREE All-3FL double dippers, placing her ancient QB and young freak WR on this week's team. Now, if only she could get more than five points out of any Kirby did on his seemingly desperate start of Rashard Mendenhall.

QB: Brett Favre (28.6 for Lady Shark)
WR: NYG's Steve Smith (31.9 for Salsa Shark)
WR: Calvin Johnson (19.5 for Lady Shark)
RB: Rashard Mendenhall (33.1 for Kirbdogs)
WR/RB: Ronnie Brown (24.5 for Popstains)
WR/TE: Antonio Gates (29.9 for Gutter's Tools)
K: Robbie Gould (14 for Kirbdogs)
DEF: Saints (29.92 for Gutter's Tools)

And this week, we saw a pretty long list of guys who were in the wrong place at the right time, highlighted by a pack of Jaguars...since when did they grow an offense?

QB David Garrard (33.22 on Mules' bench)
WR Mike Sims-Walker (24.6 on Mules' bench)
WR Mohamed Massaquoi (19.8 as FA)
K Josh Scobee (15 as FA)
49ers' defense (40.12 as FA)
Texans' defense (33.56 as FA)

Everyone so far as posted at least two All-3FL performers, with Amanda having an impressive seven. Okay, maybe not EVERYONE...Jason and I still have none. Jay just needs to start the right people and I...well, I guess I need to actually go find the right people.

This is me hoping that Mohamed Massaquoi is this year's Eddie Royal.


Four weeks in, and the Point Spreads statistics have reconfirmed the long-held belief that Yahoo's projections are absolutely full of shit. Of our 24 games thus far, the "underdog" has won 13 of them. Of those 13 "upsets," seven have been by more than 25 points.

PS=Projected Spread
AS=Actual Spread
Diff.=Difference (If the difference is positive, then the winner covered the spread.)

Mooby Mafia favored over Pop Secrets (PS=5.2; AS=-11.15; Diff.=-16.35)
Salsa Shark over GRH (PS=0.13; AS=-26.07; Diff.=-26.2)
Kirbdogs over Lady Shark (PS=10.83; AS=25.36; Diff.=14.53)
BRM over Carpet Munchers (PS=7.88; AS=-25.31; Diff.=-33.19)
Gutter's Tools over Valhalla (PS=7.36; AS=53.52; Diff.=46.16)
Mules over Suicide Squad (PS=12.59; AS=23.16; Diff.=10.57)

Justin and Steve are the only two who've been favored every week so far. Justin's results are very consistent, Steve's not so much.


Our Swami picks were mostly decent this week. Probably only a matter of time before Jay stops voting, though, in the search for SOMETHING that might help his team score a win. If skipping voting doesn't work, he may have to resort to animal sacrifice. Everyone pray for his dog.

For the week:
Justin, Tim, Mireya: 4-2
Steve, Dave, Kirby, Scott, Bill: 3-3
Amanda: 2-4
Jason: 1-5
Jon was too busy conducting voodoo rituals to get Jason Campbell out of negative figures, where the bastard should have stayed.
Adam was too busy penning love notes to his new mancrush, Joe Flacco. Unfortunately, the rest of his team seem to be getting jealous and are refusing to produce...well, except for his benched first-round pick. More on that later.

For the season:
Justin: 15-9
Steve: 14-10
Dave: 13-11
Amanda, Jason, Tim: 12-12
Kirby: 11-8
Scott: 11-13
Mireya: 10-8
Bill: 7-11 (at least it's not 3-11, eh, Bill?)


Reports of my resurrection in any sort of standings this season were tremendously premature. The F-U Award rankings continue to separate out, as Jon continues his streak of drawing only one vote, which has happened every week this season. That streak should get snapped shortly, as he prepares for the return of Donovan McNabb from his preseason rib injury. Yes, I said preseason. Screw the Panthers, McNabb got tore all to hell right here:

Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed have nothing on that waitress. God help the customer who leaves a shitty tip.

Mooby Mafia 9 votes, Popeye's Chicken and Pussy 1 (Winner: Popgun Offense)
Salsa Shark 7, GRH 3 (Winner: Da Shark)
Kirbdogs 5, Lady Shark 5 (Winner: Kirbdogs)
Carpet Munchers 5, BRM 5 (Winner: Carpet Munchers)
Gutter's Tools 6, Valhalla 4 (Winner: Gutter's Tools)
Mules 6, Suicide Squad 4 (Winner: Mules)

For the season:
Justin: 27 points
Jon: 24
Kirby: 16
Bill: 14
Adam: 10
Steve: 5
Amanda, Dave, Tim: 2
Mireya: -9
Scott: -12
Jason: -23

Jay, I got the volleyball...Mireya's got the tequila.


No time to do the Goods and Bads this week, and no one leaves comments here, agreeing or complaining, to indicate they read them anyway...but there was one that screams for comment.

Adam benched his first-round pick, Matt Forte, against the Lions, choosing instead to keep riding the runaway train that was...Julius Jones. This officially confirms that he's having a lot of great newlywed sex, as a move like that only gets made by someone whose brains have been officially fucked out. Thankfully, Forte will also be on the bench this week...yannow, since the Bears are on bye and stuff.

This weekend, Jay will probably get off the schneid against me, as Matt Ryan and Roddy White have to play that suddenly destructive 49er defense. Mireya will be hoping Minnesota's up by 40 at the half, so they'll rest AP and run Chester's legs off; and Amanda tries to do with Trent Edwards what she couldn't do the last two weeks with Drew Brees. Finally, Justin tries to stay unbeaten with Steve Smith being matched up with Nnamdi Asomugha...luckily, he's facing Steve, who has to start Carson Palmer against a pissed-off Ravens defense. Which matchup is from a more southern part of Hell? We'll have to wait until Sunday night to find out.