Friday, September 25, 2009

3FL Week 2: She's Got the Biggest Johnson of All

First off, since Amanda has yet to publicly do it...this one's for you, Timmy.

Chris Johnson rolled up more points on one PLAY last week than Clinton Portis has all season.

Week 2 Results:
Kirbdogs def. Mooby Mafia 112.81-107.52
PopRocks def. Gutter's Tools 119.91-91.68
Salsa Shark def. Valhalla 104.88-98.40
Carpet Munchers def. Lady Shark 140.91-65.42
God'sRightHand def. Mules 83.09-75.98
Suicide Squad def. Blue Rookie Monsters 125.78-113.50

Amazing parenting by the two fathers this week, both losing to their newlywed offspring. And here, all I gave them was a book. Some people seriously go all out on a gift, eh?

Once again, Amanda's players (namely, her Superman quarterback and gift-wrapped RB) figure in the All-3FL team...but this week, a different team brought more noise than hers did.

QB: Drew Brees (28.84 for Suicide Squad)
WR: Andre Johnson (32.90 for Salsa Shark)
WR: Marques Colston (25.80 for Carpet Munchers)
RB: Chris Johnson (51.90 for Suicide Squad)
WR/TE: Dallas Clark (28.80 for Carpet Munchers)
WR/RB: Frank Gore (40.10 for Carpet Munchers)
K: Nate Kaeding (14.00 for Gutter's Tools)
DEF: New York Giants (17.44 for God'sRightHand)

Once again, one team could have won its game with only two players. Not bad for a team that, coming out of the draft, looked like it might only HAVE two players. Now, if we can just get Bill to stop hoarding TE's. (Dustin Keller, Heath Miller, and Vernon Davis all warm his bench right now.)

Now for the unlucky bastards (sorry, bastard...singular) who had potential All-3FL talent parked on the bench:

QB Matt Schaub (39.68 on Valhalla's bench)
WR Mario Manningham (27.00 on Valhalla's bench)

In all fairness, though, who would have thought that the Titans' three-Pro-Bowler secondary would have rolled over and let Schaub play catch with Andre all day? And show me someone who started Manningham and I'll show you someone who sleeps in a Harry Carson jersey and wears Eli Manning Underoos. (Dammit, Bill, pull your pants up.)

Ahem...moving on.


Vegas would have lost I'm-suddenly-homeless amounts of money on the 3FL this week, as only one favorite covered their spread. (Strangely, it's the guy who's notorious for giving people a spread of a different kind. You don't wanna know.) Hell, we only had one favorite even WIN.

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

Mooby Mafia favored over Kirbdogs (PS=5.36, AS=-5.29, Diff.=-10.65)
Lady Shark over Carpet Munchers (PS=1.48, AS=-75.49, Diff.=-76.97)
Gutter's Tools over PopTarts (PS=22.72, AS=-28.23, Diff.=-50.95)
Mules over God'sRightHand (PS=10.57, AS=-7.11, Diff.=-17.68)
Salsa Shark over Valhalla (PS=3.82, AS=6.48, Diff.=2.66)
BRM over Suicide Squad (PS=0.68, AS=-12.28, Diff.=-12.96)

The spread for my bout with Kirby was almost dead on...unfortunately, the wrong team won. Of course, I kinda knew I was screwed about...oh...12 seconds into the Monday Night game. Meanwhile, Yahoo didn't misfire on Mireya quite as bad as they did on Jason last week, but it still got really ugly. Mas tequila after that one, for sure.


No one got really hot on the Swami Award standings this week, but when underdogs are getting 40- and 50-point performances, who can tell?

For the week:
Steve and Kirby went 4-2.
Amanda, Jason, Justin, Bill, and me were all 3-3.
Dave and Tim came in at 2-4.
Adam was too busy practicing his "Yes, dears."
Jon can barely find his keyboard through all the hallucinogens that have him predicting 15-1 for the Skins. (As I told him on Facebook, he completely misspelled 5-11.)
Mireya was busy searching for any more available Titans.

For the season:
Amanda, Jason, Justin and Steve tie at 8-4.
Dave and Kirby 7-5.
Tim and me 6-6.
Mireya 4-2.
Bill 3-3.


Three teams have cracked ten points in the Falcon Award standings...and two of us are starting to slide the other way, into potential oblivion. (Yes, I said us. Shoot me now.)

Mooby Mafia 5 votes, Kirbdogs 4 (Winner: Kirbdogs)
Carpet Munchers 7, Lady Shark 2 (Winner: Carpet Munchers)
Gutter's Tools 8, Pop Idols 1 (Winner: Pop-a Chubby)
Mules 6, GRH 3 (Winner: GRH)
Salsa Shark 7, Valhalla 2 (Winner: Da Shark)
Suicide Squad 5, BRM 4 (Winner: Suicide Squad)

For the season:
Bill: 16 points
Amanda: 14
Justin: 12
Jon: 7
Adam: 6
Steve: 4
Kirby: 3
Dave: 2
Tim: -1
Mireya: -3
Scott: -9
Jason: -11

Look at it this way, Jay...eventually, people may just stop voting for us. Meh.


On to the Good and Bad of Week 2, and some people just had an embarrassment of riches both in their lineups AND on their benches.

The only real Good Sit of the week had to be Amanda dropping Lance Moore and his 0.00 production to the bench in favor of Nate Burleson, of all people. Sure, Moore was coming in a little limited. But, at this point, it looks like Brees could tell the waterboy and two cheerleaders to go long and he'd still account for 250 and two scores. Burleson didn't do much, but it beats a doughnut any day.

Double-edged sword, though, as a guy Amanda passed over for Burleson, Terrell Owens, probably qualifies as a Bad Sit this week. TO caught his first Buffalo TD, which pushed him to 14 points for the week. Better than Burleson and Reggie Wayne put together...but who the hell's gonna bench Reggie Wayne?
--As stated above...who would have thought that Matt Schaub would have been able to torch Tennessee as badly as he did? Jason did a little virtual crying on the league message board, knowing that there was no way in hell Kyle Orton was going to match 39.68. Orton wasn't terrible, but losing out on Schaub this week was an absolute game-changer, especially since Justin was taking the payoff from everything Andre caught. I'd have started Schaub just on the off-chance that he'd get points for everything Andre did.
--Another true game-changer was Steve's deactivating of DeSean Jackson. Joe Flacco going wild in Week 1 has deluded people into thinking that Derrick Mason's a worthwhile non-bye-week play. Mason equaled 4.6 points, while Jackson produced 20.8. But, again, Steve may have tanked one for his little girl as a wedding gift. Amanda's starting to fall behind on the thank-you cards here, seriously.
--And while we're cracking on the blushing bride, can't leave out the glowering groom. Sure, Adam won, and he got 17.65 out of his new bestest buddy, Mr. Flacco. But honestly, Philip Rivers' 29.64 would have looked even better. This falls under the "don't use anyone who's playing Baltimore" scenario, but Rivers is nearing that point that you don't bench him...ever. Especially without LT available.

But, again, I will go all double-edged here and give credit for Joe Flacco being a Good Start. I'd be more concerned about starting a QB against Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie than against anyone on the Ravens' secondary these days, but it did work. Unfortunately for me, as I could have used a few more sacks and picks out of the Charger D.
--Speaking of me losing, I have to give a little dap to Kirby for deploying Percy Harvin. I would have started Ted Ginn, who, in truth, had a better game than Harvin, 17.3 to 17.16. But, me being a greedy SOB, I'd have been annoyed that Ginn dropped a couple of touchdown passes that could have run up the score a bit...then I would have said, "Wait, if he caught one, the Colts would have lost." Fantasy football's age-old dichotomy written large...but I would have still sworn at Ginn under my breath.

The Bad Starts both occupy the same position for the same team. As said above, if Steve uses DeSean instead of Derrick Mason, he wins. And Mireya's options weren't all that good, but I would have thought long and hard about using Isaac Bruce or Kevin Curtis ahead of Mark Clayton. Remember, folks, we're talking about the Ravens. Three running backs and a stiff defense. Granted, neither Bruce nor Curtis broke six, and in a 75-point loss, it's like putting up an umbrella in a tsunami, but still. Ravens receivers...blecch.

Looking ahead to Week 3, and speaking of Ravens receivers, we'll see if Todd Heap manages to injure something now that Kirby's been hornswoggled into picking him up. We'll also see another domestic dispute as the Shark family goes at it, and the dueling dads face each other after losing to their kids. Me? I'm off to stick pins in an Adrian Peterson voodoo doll, write a five-page English paper, and then head to my first day of the new job, working a Predators hockey game tomorrow night. I leave you with something of a new in-joke amongst the league, to be found at about the 1:28 mark below.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

3FL Week 1: Blown Away on the Brees

Not a hot first week for me personally in the 3FL, but we did have one team looking biblically good and another looking historically bad. (Biblically > historically, for those who don't follow the order of these things.)

Salsa Shark def. Mooby Mafia 121.53-78.26
Gutter's Tools def. Kirbdogs 104.29-92.85
Carpet Munchers def. Valhalla 120.92-51.50
Mules def. Lady Shark 100.06-91.23
Suicide Squad def. God'sRightHand 167.96-71.67
Blue Rookie Monsters def. PopNFresh 100.98-84.88

Judging by those scores, one would gather that Amanda (Suicide Squad) had some hellacious producers this week. One would be correct, judging from this week's All-3FL team. The All-3FL team spotlights the highest ACTIVE (as in, in the starting lineup) players at each of our eight positions.

QB: Drew Brees (49.32 for Suicide Squad)
WR: Reggie Wayne (28.2 for Suicide Squad)
WR: Santonio Holmes (24.6 for Carpet Munchers)
RB: Adrian Peterson (39.3 for Gutter's Tools)
WR/TE: Greg Jennings (22.6 for Mules)
WR/RB: Thomas Jones (23.7 for Suicide Squad)
K: Nick Folk (12 for Blue Rookie Monsters)
DEF: Philadelphia (41.04 for Suicide Squad)

Just those top two fellas would have been enough for Amanda to beat her husband-to-be this week, but she started six other people just to stand on his nuts that much harder. Practice for being a wife, you see.

A few other guys who would have been All-3FL if they had found their way into someone's starting lineup:

WR Patrick Crayton (23.12, was a FA)
TE John Carlson (24.5, was on Suicide Squad's bench)
TE Ben Watson (22.7, was a FA)

Go back a couple of posts and make note of the fact that, yes, I did big up Amanda's selection of John Carlson. Now, ask me why I didn't select him myself.


This is me moving on without having an answer.


Moving on, I listened to a discussion on the Dan Patrick Show this morning about how the injury report is merely a thinly veiled aid for Vegas so that the bookmakers can set a more accurate point spread. (I agree, BTW.) Not that we in the 3FL condone this sort of activity, but we like tracking some Point Spreads ourselves. Yahoo projects the scores, and we like to see just how retardedly far off said projections can be.

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

Salsa Shark was favored over Mooby Mafia (PS=6.24, AS=43.27, Diff.=37.03)
Mules over Lady Shark (PS=8.1, AS=8.83, Diff.=0.73)
Kirbdogs over Gutter's Tools (PS=1.3, AS=-11.44, Diff.=-12.74) (UNDERDOG WIN)
Suicide Squad over God'sRightHand (PS=7.6, AS=96.29, Diff.=88.69)
Valhalla over Carpet Munchers (PS=14.35, AS=-69.42, Diff.=-83.77) (UNDERDOG WIN...AND THEN SOME)
Blue Rookie Monsters over Other Monsters (PS=6.11, AS=16.1, Diff.=9.99)

Yahoo nearly nailed the Mules/Lady Shark game dead on, but you know, the sun even shines on a dog's ass some days. Most of the time, the projections are wildly off (see SS and Valhalla), and it's sort of fun to just point and laugh at where these numbers might actually come from.


We enjoy taking advantage of the chance to vote on each week's matchups, primarily because it serves as another chance to point and laugh at Bill and Jon. In this year's edition of the Swami Award, we check to see who called the most winners.

Amanda, Dave, Jason, and Justin all stand at 5-1, their only loss being in that EVERYONE voted for Valhalla.
Mireya, Steve, and Tim stand at 4-2.
Kirby and myself stand at 3-3.
Jon, Adam, and Bill were too busy getting pedicures.


Also, I'll be tracking a little thing I call the Falcon Award, after one of the teams that was supposed to suck last year, but ended up in the playoffs.
--Winners who got majority votes get a point for every other owner that voted for them. --Winners who were underdogs get a point for every owner that voted AGAINST them.
--Losers lose a point for every owner that voted for them, no matter what.
(SPOILER: Bill's likely to win, because his team probably won't draw many votes.)

Salsa Shark 5 votes, Mooby Mafia 4 (Winner: Salsa Shark)
Mules 8, Lady Shark 1 (Winner: Mules)
Gutter's Tools 7, Kirbdogs 2 (Winner: Gutter's Tools)
Suicide Squad 9, GRH 0 (Winner: SS)
Valhalla 9, Carpet Munchers 0 (Winner: CM)
Blue Rookies 8, PopTops 1 (Winner: BRM)

Current points:
Amanda and Bill: 9 each
Dave and Steve: 8 each
Tim: 7
Justin: 5
Adam: 0
Mireya and Jon: -1
Scott: -4
Jason: -9


Finally, just a little commentary on the Good and Bad of Week 1. These are purely subjective judgments on my part as to who I would have started or sat if I were given each other owner's roster. We have Good and Bad Starts (guys who I would have sat), as well as Good and Bad Sits (guys who I would have started).

The only Good Sit of the week goes to Steve for keeping Anquan Boldin chained to the bench. I would have easily started him ahead of Joseph Addai. It's a little easier decision to make, though, when you have the Jackson Two, Vincent and DeSean, to fall back on.

There are a few Bad Sits, but most of them have qualifying circumstances. First off, I have to staple my own sack to my leg for not following my impulse to start Darren Sproles. His 22.3 wouldn't quite have won me the game, but dammit, it's a lot better than the DNP that Steve Breaston recorded. More on him later.
--I have to give Steve a little stick here for not using Fred Jackson. Let me just say that Fred Jackson is my boy. He and Ced Benson were the guys I was relying on at RB during last year's playoffs. And while he's got three games of the backfield to himself, he's looking good to produce. He rolled for 22.5, a surprising amount of that from receptions. If he's gonna keep catching and running like that, Marshawn Lynch may not have much of a job to come back to.
--Justin will get some love in a moment, but first, I have to mention that given his roster to play with, I would have started Devin Hester. He actually recorded more points (18.64) than the guy Justin did start, but the other guy (who I'll get to soon) wasn't a stiff, either.
--And finally, back to Amanda and her afterthought pick of the draft, John Carlson. 24.5 points from a guy who half our league freely admitted they hadn't heard of on draft night. I would have to ask myself, "Self, would you have really benched TO or Lance Moore to start Carlson?" Dunno if I would, but still. It's 24.5.

On to the Good Starts:
--Bill rose up to smite Jason righteously, and a big part of that was due to Matt Hasselbeck. Anybody that's paid attention to my football discussion the past few years (a number which I could probably count on one hand) knows that I'm a Hasselbeck mark. He would have been a fine selection for my backup QB spot, but Bill jumping into the sixth round for him put the screws to that idea. Still, I dunno if I would have benched Eli for him, as I'd rather see Hasselbeck prove that he's got it back. Apparently he does. 25.46 points later, Bill's got a win and I've got a loss. Meh.
--Bill gets some more love, just from a smaller spoon this time, for his use of Tim Hightower. Hightower looked like the second coming of Larry Centers this week. Useless in the running game, but catching everything flying when he got into open space. In the interest of full disclosure, however, Bill's only other option would have been New England RB #31154, Fred Taylor. Me, I'd have dug for a WR...oh, wait, Bill didn't have any because he was carrying four TE's. Hmm.
--Finally, more props for Justin in using Jeremy Shockey. I was telling anyone who would listen (both of them) before and after the draft that I thought there were 15 TE's worth drafting. That number did NOT include Shockey, who I consider to be a bigger waste of skin than TO and Chad Rojocaliente combined. There still would have been more points in my choice, Devin Hester, but Shockey recorded a very nice 17.1, including a flat-on-his-ass TD that will still be getting SportsCenter time at season's end.

Finally, only one Bad Start this week, and I'll own up to it. By the time I had heard that Steve Breaston was inactive, the Cardinals' game was in its second quarter. Thanks to Anthony Gonzalez going down like he'd been sniped from the rafters and Bernard Berrian being hobbled worse than his walker-bound QB, I wasn't the only owner to have a player take a donut. But still, it's a little different when you're not in position to catch a guy recording a DNP. That shit hurts.

Looking ahead to Week 2, apparently Kirby thinks I'm next to God. Seriously. How's that for an ego stroke, eh? We'll try this again next week and see what shakes out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Attack of the "We" People: What Did McKelvin's Lawn Do To You?

I created a post a few months back and sent it to Bleacher Report, and it got very little attention either place. With the vandalism of Buffalo Bills CB Leodis McKelvin's lawn after his game-changing fumble Monday night, I need to revisit it.

I refer to people who identify a little too closely with their favorite teams as "we" people, after their annoying habit of lumping themselves in with the players as part of the organization. My personal philosophy states that if you use the terms "we," "us," or "our" when discussing your team, you need to be able to provide some video evidence that you were, in fact, on the field at some time. (As an active participant, not a streaker, you degenerates.)

Otherwise, you're discounting your own opinion as hopelessly biased and made discussing sports with you completely worthless, since you've now made it personal. I am now afraid to tell you that your team sucks, for fear that you will turn and crack me in the teeth...or worse.

I have very little doubt that the people who painted the game's final score on McKelvin's lawn, along with what has been nebulously referred to as an "obscenity," are the kind of people who take that kind of pathological interest in the results of the Bills' games. Living and dying with your team's wins and losses is much like fat, drunk, and stupid. Neither is much of a way to go through life, son.

And I use the term "living and dying" for a very good reason. I produced another piece a few weeks ago, attempting to illustrate why NFL players were in no hurry to challenge ye olde Seconde Amendmente. As far as these guys are concerned, they now need to be packing at all times. If people are going to start taking it to the next level and bringing it onto their front lawns while they're on road trips, the players might just start having their wives packing, to boot.

Some have said that Kawika Mitchell exacerbated the problem when he Tweeted this...

"Its def not a game to b playin. W/ all the safety issues n the NFL its not funny at all. We have Fam at our homes to protect. If u show ur face on my prop Ill make sure I do everythin to keep my Fam safe."

...and this...

"So dont come around thinkin, oh we'll just leave a message on his lawn or wall, b/c Im goin to take it as a threat. Its my job to protect my home as it is the job of all home owners."

But I don't view this as a threat so much as a reminder that paying your ticket price does not entitle you to complete dominion over these players and the rest of the team's employees.

You want to show up to the stadium and boo McKelvin for putting the ball on the turf and costing "us" the game? Fine. Your ticket gives you that right.

You want to make a phone call the next morning and get bent with your local sports jock about how "we" had the Patriots on the ropes? No problem. The amendment right before #2 above grants you that privilege.

Showing up on another person's property, however? That will get you shot, and justifiably so.

Visions of Sean Taylor still dance in players' heads, and any unknown person on their property in the dead of night will be assumed to have bad intentions. The next step past vandalizing the lawn may be executing a player's (or coach's) dog.

I shouldn't have to outline what would come after that.

I understand the frustration of watching a difficult loss. After all, I stayed up a little later than I should have just to watch the Bears forget how to cover Greg Jennings, then see Jay Cutler toss pick #4. The fan now has to take out mortgages at 18% to be able to afford a family trip to a game. Sometimes, it's difficult to justify this loyalty, especially when the only reward teams offer in return is a ticket price increase (or a lawsuit, in the extreme cases).

Note that "game" is bolded above. When the columns are totaled, a game is what we're talking about. Your team lost. Everyone's team loses at some point. But it takes a special breed of jackhole to decide that he's going to say it with Krylon all over a player's lawn.

These are the people who make it personal. These are the people who make me sad to be a sports fan. And I'll bet every damn one that overreacts this way refers to his team as "we."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Name of the Game: 3FL Kickoff Part 2

Last post, we saw the teams that 3FL owners voted as least likely to make the playoffs. Now, we tackle the ones who got credit for having a clue...relatively speaking, anyway.

8. Valhalla
Owner: Jason
(Jon's brother; famous for being an Eagles fanboy, albeit one who is constantly pissed about the team's failings rather than seeking excuses. Also pissed on my dog once. Yes, alcohol was involved. I hope.)
R1, P6. WR Larry Fitzgerald
R2, P7. WR Steve Smith
R3, P6. RB Reggie Bush
R4, P7. QB Matt Schaub
R5, P6. WR Anthony Gonzalez
R6, P7. RB Darren McFadden
R7, P6. WR Donnie Avery
R8, P7. QB Kyle Orton
R9, P6. WR Michael Crabtree
R10, P7. RB Willis McGahee
R11, P6. Ravens D
R12, P7. RB LeSean McCoy
R13, P6. WR Jeremy Maclin
R14, P7. WR Miles Austin
R15, P6. RB Michael Bush
R16, P7. K Jason Elam

Finally, someone who understands that WR's can produce in our format. Well, ones that have signed contracts, anyway. The receivers make up for Jay rolling the dice hard on his RB's and praying that Schaub stays on the field. Considering he's usually the one who ends up with Donovan McNabb, he knows something about injured QB's, at least. And in case you're wondering why anyone would want Bush (especially in R3), we do have a 0.5-PPR system, which means Bush would be better off being WR-eligible. And Jason's ready to fly to Arizona and personally wrap Larry Fitz in bubble wrap after seeing what happened to Troy Polamalu in the opener.

7. Mooby Mafia
Owner: Yours Truly
(Famous for founding this league, recruiting most everyone in it, starting this blog...I could go on for ages. Oh, and I'm the defending champion.)
R1, P12. RB Steve Slaton
R2, P1. WR Randy Moss
R3, P12. WR Roddy White
R4, P1. QB Matt Ryan
R5, P12. RB Felix Jones
R6, P1. WR Lee Evans
R7, P12. TE Greg Olsen
R8, P1. WR Steve Breaston
R9, P12. RB Darren Sproles
R10, P1. RB Cedric Benson
R11, P12. WR Josh Morgan
R12, P1. QB Shaun Hill
R13, P12. WR Chris Henry
R14, P1. RB Jamaal Charles
R15, P12. Chargers D
R16, P1. K David Akers

Most people had only one glaring problem with my team: the QB position. They don't share my optimism that the Falcons will actually use Tony Gonzalez to his full potential in the passing game. Eh, if they don't, I may be somewhat screwed. But, in my own defense, I do feel like I got a group of RB's who'll get the ball any which way but loose. Sproles and Jones may roll up 10-12 points a game while averaging a similar number of rushing yards. In addition, I see Greg Olsen and Jay Cutler as this year's Jason Witten and Tony Romo. Book it now. I'm also keeping an eye on Charles having the Chiefs' starting job when (not if) Larry Johnson does something stupid, hoping that Ced Benson still has his head out of his ass, and wondering if Shaun Hill really can do something with that SF offense.

6. Kirbdogs
Owner: Kirby
(Famous for puking at a Smokin' Grooves concert after sampling some laced weed that was being passed around our section. Also famous for being a damn dirty stinking liberal. Half the league's words, not mine.)
R1, P9. QB Peyton Manning
R2, P4. RB LaDainian Tomlinson
R3, P9. RB Marion Barber
R4, P4. WR T.J. Houshmandzedeh
R5, P9. WR Ted Ginn Jr.
R6, P4. TE Tony Gonzalez
R7, P9. RB Willie Parker
R8, P4. RB Jamal Lewis
R9, P9. Jets D
R10, P4. QB Marc Bulger
R11, P9. WR Percy Harvin
R12, P4. WR Earl Bennett
R13, P9. WR Devery Henderson
R14, P4. K Robbie Gould
R15, P9. RB Sammy Morris
R16, P4. TE Anthony Fasano

So, we'll get this out of the way now. The league's based in Indiana, but Peyton's not strictly a fanboy pick. We set passing TD's at six points rather than four, meaning as the only guys that are likely to account for 3+ TD's in a game, QB's score higher. Simple. (Besides, Kirby's a Bears fanboy, anyway.) Outside of Peyton, LT, who I think is coming back strong this season, and Gonzalez, there are a lot of question marks here, especially with his RB's. How much will returning to the "closer" role impact Barber's scoring? He did well for me last year until he got hurt, but can he score in the kind of volume that made LunchDale White relevant? Upside with the WR's, but still room for some spectacular failures. And God help him if anything happens to Peyton.

5. Gutter's Tools
Owner: Tim
(Famous for his major nipple fetish and his explosive emissions when he ignores his gluten allergy. Also the 3FL's inaugural champion.)
R1, P1. RB Adrian Peterson
R2, P12. RB Clinton Portis
R3, P1. QB Kurt Warner
R4, P12. WR Antonio Bryant
R5, P1. WR Roy Williams
R6, P12. TE Antonio Gates
R7, P1. WR Kevin Walter
R8, P12. QB Matt Cassel
R9, P1. WR Muhsin Muhammad
R10, P12. RB Larry Johnson
R11, P1. WR Michael Jenkins
R12, P12. Dolphins D
R13, P1. TE Visanthe Shiancoe
R14, P12. TE Zach Miller
R15, P1. RB Ladell Betts
R16, P12. K Nate Kaeding

Most people loved Tim's team, making me feel a bit of a Scrooge for voting him ninth. The hard part for me was his WR group. I love Kevin Walter this year, but I'm iffy on Roy Williams and wouldn't have touched Antonio Bryant with a ten-foot pole. A possible one-year wonder with a mediocre group of QB's = yuckburger with an extra side of yuck sauce. Now, if it was possible for us to start multiple TE's, he'd be golden. Gates is always strong, I love Miller as the only warm body for Big Pussy Russell to throw to, and Shiancock is going to make large points with Old Man River getting him the ball. There will be a lot of points sitting on Gutter's bench, barring the trade market. And Portis would have been a fine pick...if he hadn't left Chris Johnson on the table in the process.

4. God's Right Hand
Owner: Adam
(Famous for being that rare white boy who can pull off the bald look. Helps that he's built like a right tackle. Oh, and he's getting married next week.)
R1, P8. RB Matt Forte
R2, P5. RB Brandon Jacobs
R3, P8. QB Philip Rivers
R4, P5. WR Dwayne Bowe
R5, P8. WR Bernard Berrian
R6, P5. WR Jerricho Crotchrot
R7, P8. RB Derrick Ward
R8, P5. RB Julius Jones
R9, P8. Giants D
R10, P5. QB Joe Flacco
R11, P8. RB Beanie Wells
R12, P5. K Stephen Gostkowski
R13, P8. WR Nate Washington
R14, P5. RB Ricky Williams
R15, P8. QB Jake Delhomme
R16, P5. Patriots D

First off, Matt Forte falling to #8 was a complete fucking outrage. I would have seriously considered him if I'd had #1. That said, Adam's got the RB's, and Rivers should get to produce big this year. The receivers are iffy, until Berrian gets to Week 8 or 9. That's when I expect Brett Favre to start chucking it 40 times a game and leave All Day wondering "WTF, mate?" Berrian will start looking like Jerry Rice at that point...or at least Sterling Sharpe. Adam started getting plagued by some technical difficulties around Round 12, with Yahoo auto-drafting him even as he searched for players. But, if you're gonna have a kicker forced on you, who better than Gostkowski?

3. Blue Rookie Monsters
Owner: Steve
(Adam's future father-in-law, famous for...well, nothing yet. We don't have any dirt on him. At future drafts, we'll need to get his wife drunk and dig for information.)
R1, P5. RB Michael Turner
R2, P8. QB Aaron Rodgers
R3, P5. WR Anquan Boldin
R4, P8. WR Vincent Jackson
R5, P5. WR Eddie Royal
R6, P8. WR DeSean Jackson
R7, P5. QB Carson Palmer
R8, P8. RB Joseph Addai
R9, P5. WR Derrick Mason
R10, P8. Packers D
R11, P5. RB Leon Washington
R12, P8. RB Ahmad Bradshaw
R13, P5. WR Dominik Hixon
R14, P8. RB Fred Jackson
R15, P5. K Nick Folk
R16, P8. RB Shonn Greene

Steve's a bastard. Nothing personal, Steve, it's just that his first six picks all had me saying "BASTARD!" And as we all know, when someone swears at you during a draft, it's a very good thing. Means you just snagged someone they had their eye on, and Steve's team may well have been drafted right off my watch list. Those first six picks were similar to what I had hoped my team might look like. He took a couple of rounds off from being a bastard, but then started right up again with Washington, Bradshaw, and Jackson. And he covered his Washington bet nicely with Greene. I voted him to win the whole thing. Not bad for a rookie. Bastard.

2. Mules
Owner: Dave
(Adam's dad, famous for hosting this draft and several other kick-ass parties over the past decade or so.)
R1, P3. RB Maurice Jones-Drew
R2, P10. RB Steven Jackson
R3, P3. WR Greg Jennings
R4, P10. QB Jay Cutler
R5, P3. WR Hines Ward
R6, P10. WR Brandon Marshall
R7, P3. Steelers D
R8, P10. WR Torry Holt
R9, P3. QB Ben Roethlisberger
R10, P10. RB Donald Brown
R11, P3. TE Owen Daniels
R12, P10. QB David Garrard
R13, P3. WR Sidney Rice
R14, P10. WR Brian Robiskie
R15, P3. WR Mark Bradley
R16, P10. K John Kasay

Dave definitely came strong on the WR's, possibly snagging a huge steal if Brandon Marshall can get his shit together and play like he's capable. There's a strong Steeler influence here, but we'll now have to see how the D looks without Polamalu. Big Ben might step up large, if he can keep from getting sacked six times per game. (And yes, in our scoring system, that does cost points.) Dave's QB situation is strong overall. MJD and Jackson could be a great-looking tandem...or they could end up on IR. He'll need to hope for big things poppin' from Donald Brown. I didn't feel Dave's team nearly as much as everyone else did, but I'll admit he could be very strong. But if the RB's have issues, he could also end up 3-11.

1. Suicide Squad
Owner: Amanda
(Steve's daughter and Adam's intended...famous for being the true brains of Adam's team before she became an active competitor. I still remember the famous Amani Toomer Dispute.)
R1, P4. QB Drew Brees
R2, P9. WR Reggie Wayne
R3, P4. RB Chris Johnson
R4, P9. WR Terrell Owens
R5, P4. RB Thomas Jones
R6, P9. WR Lance Moore
R7, P4. RB Jonathan Stewart
R8, P9. WR Laveranues Coles
R9, P4. QB Trent Edwards
R10, P9. RB Knowshon Moreno
R11, P4. WR Deion Branch
R12, P9. Eagles D
R13, P4. WR Nate Burleson
R14, P9. RB Earnest Graham
R15, P4. TE John Carlson
R16, P9. K Mason Crosby

No one voted Amanda into the bottom half of the league. I voted her second, behind her dad. I was highly iffy on the T.O. pick, as it's only a matter of time before he bitches his way out of the league, but Moore and Coles constitute wonderful coverage for the inevitable meltdown. The first three picks look quite solid, and if Brees is anywhere near the man he was last season, she's spotted a 25-to-30-point head start each week. Other than Johnson (a steal in R3 for which she needs to send Tim a thank-you card), her RB corps could be dicey, with no one knowing how much of the load Jones or Moreno will get, and if Stewart will ever be able to quit injuring himself. However, John Carlson in the 15th could be huge, as he might be a frequent target for the returning Matt Hasselbeck. A Brees-Johnson-Wayne-Moore-T.O.-Carlson/Coles lineup looks quite solid to me. Amanda does need to be praying hard for Brees's continued health, though, as all bets are off if something happens to him. Oh, and look for some couples' counseling next week, after someone wins the Adam-Amanda showdown. Now taking bets on who throws the first plate.

More shit gets talked in this league than any other I've ever seen, and it illustrates why you need to get into leagues with people you know and love, rather than just some random Internet fuckwads. We can talk shit all week long, tell each other how badly their teams suck, and then when we take a loss, toast a beer and say "Good game." This makes football even more fun than it already is, and it'll be a pleasure defeating this fine group of competitors and retaining my trophy this season.

See? Told ya. As I said in a previous on, motherfuckers.

Amateurs Go Home: The 3FL Kicks Off

In its fourth official season, the 3FL will stand against anyone as one of the most competitive fantasy football leagues on the entire Web. Whether bragging rights are earned or not, they are certainly exercised. With the beer flowing, the barbecue coming off the grill in waves, and banter flying faster than the ball through the air at a Saints-Cardinals game, this league is war from the first pick of the draft. And Starr*Rated will be your tour guide through the season as a league of voracious football addicts put blood and marriage vows aside and get nuts in the name of football primacy.

Any hot league needs to kick off with a wild and woolly draft, and this one did not disappoint. Controversy swirled from pick #2. After the draft, we take a vote on whose teams are strongest and weakest, and I'm here to present those teams in reverse order, with a little salient commentary on each.

Owner: Jon (Famous for being a hardcore Redskin fanboy, choking out an unruly drunk at a bachelor party, and also for the "Lawnmower" story. You most likely don't want to know.)
R1, P7. RB DeAngelo Williams
R2, P6. QB Donovan McNabb
R3, P7. RB Ronnie Brown
R4, P6. WR Chad Buenazapata
R5, P7. WR Braylon Edwards
R6, P6. TE Chris Cooley
R7, P7. WR Donald Driver
R8, P6. RB Ray Rice
R9, P7. QB Jason Campbell
R10, P6. QB Brady Quinn
R11, P7. RB Le'Ron McClain
R12, P6. RB Jerious Norwood
R13, P7. Dallas D
R14, P6. QB Chad Pennington
R15, P7. K Kris Brown
R16, P6. Carolina D

Jon punked out after round 7 or so and let Yahoo autopick for him, which would probably explain the four QB's, two defenses, and only three WR's. Bear in mind that our league allows owners to go with four WR's if they see fit, so depth at that position can easily cover for sketchy RB coverage. The only ones of Jon's picks that had anyone nodding their heads in agreement were the selections of Rice in the 8th and Norwood in the 12th. Other than that, this collection of talent had all but one owner picking this team to finish dead last this season. I don't mind his starters so much, but he is banking on a ton of bouncebacks (see Edwards and Fritobandito), lightning striking twice (see Williams), and Donovan McNabb making through a second season healthy. Good luck with all that, Jon.

#11--Carpet Munchers
Owner: Bill (Famous for always, always, ALWAYS having at least one Colt on his team...and also for being eternally haunted by the number 311. You probably don't want to know.)
R1, P10. RB Frank Gore
R2, P3. WR Marques Colston
R3, P10. QB Eli Manning (Close. His brother's a Colt.)
R4, P3. RB Pierre Thomas
R5, P10. WR Santonio Holmes
R6, P3. QB Matt Hasselbeck
R7, P10. TE Dustin Keller
R8, P3. Chicago D
R9, P10. RB Tim Hightower
R10, P3. TE Dallas Clark (See? Told you.)
R11, P10. RB Fred Taylor
R12, P3. WR Chris Chambers
R13, P10. K Adam Vinatieri (Yep, Colt.)
R14, P3. TE Heath Miller
R15, P10. RB Dominic Rhodes (Former Colt, FYI.)
R16, P3. K Matt Prater

Once again, in a league whose lineup rules allow an owner to go four-wide (a technique which has proven successful in the past), an owner ends up with three WR's on his entire team. Our rules also allow for an owner to go completely without a TE, and this team has three. (Can't complain too much, though...Dallas in the 10th? Shit, that even had me thinking twice.) And two kickers. And two RB's on teams who pass 75% of the time. And a second-string RB. AND A THIRD-STRING RB. And an aging defense. The scary part is, one owner actually thought this was the league's best team. But, even this team's owner only ranked himself 8th. Someone's out of touch with reality, we just need the season to tell us who.

#10--Lady Shark
Owner: Mireya (Famous for selecting a defense in the THIRD ROUND two years ago. Minnesota's, in case you were wondering.)
R1, P2. RB Brian Westbrook
R2, P11. QB Tony Romo
R3, P2. WR Calvin Johnson
R4, P11. WR Santana Moss
R5, P2. Tennessee D
R6, P11. TE Jason Witten
R7, P2. QB Brett Favre
R8, P11. RB LenDale White
R9, P2. K Rob Bironas
R10, P11. RB Chester Taylor
R11, P2. WR Isaac Bruce
R12, P11. WR Mark Clayton
R13, P2. WR Kevin Curtis
R14, P11. RB Justin Fargas
R15, P2. TE Tony Scheffler
R16, P11. RB Maurice Morris

The first four picks on this team seem fine, if presented in a slightly different order. Westbrook at #2 MIGHT have been acceptable if not for his offseason injury issues. Calvin Johnson in round 3 is a total robbery. Likewise with Jason Witten at 6 and Brett Favre as a backup to Romo. But when the receivers (and the Titans) go on bye, this team could seriously struggle. Mireya also had Line of the Night from the draft. After one pick, she said, "I needed a WR, and I couldn't decide." With that pick, she had chosen...Rob Bironas. Eh, we've all been there, right?

#9--Salsa Shark
Owner: Justin (Mireya's husband. Famous for crazed drunkenness and the largest pair ever. Seriously, you REALLY don't wanna know.)
R1, P11. QB Tom Brady
R2, P2. WR Andre Johnson
R3, P11. WR Wes Welker
R4, P2. RB Ryan Grant
R5, P11. RB Kevin Smith
R6, P2. WR Devin Hester
R7, P11. RB Marshawn Lynch
R8, P2. Minnesota D
R9, P11. QB Mark Sanchez
R10, P2. RB Correll Buckhalter
R11, P11. K Ryan Longwell
R12, P2. RB Rashard Mendenhall
R13, P11. QB Michael Vick
R14, P2. TE Kellen Winslow
R15, P11. RB Laurence Maroney
R16, P2. TE Jeremy Shockey

For about nine picks, this team looked like dynamite in a can. From then on, it's like throwing darts in a hurricane. First off, he's not a Patriot fanboy, but between this and another league, one might not know it. In that other league, Justin actually scored Brady, Moss, and Welker as his first three picks. Here, he came one selection away from doing it again. Lynch is a fine pick, as long as you have other arrangements for the first three weeks, which Grant and Smith certainly constitute. Sanchez may become a perfectly serviceable QB by season's end. But picking a Denver RB who will contribute large is like picking some random Kenyan to win the Boston Marathon. When there's 1000 or so of them, who can decide? And who can say whether Michael Vick will get rushing, passing, or receiving numbers this year...or even if he'll get any at all? I love his starting lineup, but one injury will have him shopping hard at WaiverMart.

Tomorrow, the projected playoff teams...including a getting-married-next-week couple who get to play each other Week 1. The cat might have to enter Witness Protection.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Five Starr* Weekly: Basketball Hall of Fame Edition

The Basketball Hall of Fame is welcoming a truly transcendent class this season. You have one of the most versatile centers of all time, one of the game's most creative point guards, a rugged forward who became an even more rugged coach, a woman who helped guide women's college basketball out of its 300-fan-per-game obscurity and into a game that, at some schools, rivals the men's game in popularity...and then there's that guy that used to do commercials with Mars Blackmon. A few observations about the ceremony and the Hall of Fame itself:

1. Why Now?
It seems like a very odd time for basketball to be holding its Hall of Fame inductions. College football is getting truly ramped up, the NFL is opening, baseball is barreling down the stretch, and some people are still focused on the US Open. Exactly what relevance does September have to the NBA, anyway?

The NFL's inductions serve as the symbolic kickoff to each preseason. MLB's inductions come right in midseason, sure, but what better time to honor the best of the "boys of summer?"

Springfield needs to take a note and move these inductions to one of two times of year.

Option #1 is to do it on All-Star Friday, the day before the NBA stops to show off the skills and swagger that have become synonymous with the game.

Option #2 is to do it right before the NBA Finals, when the game is garnering its most attention. Many Hall of Famers have great Finals moments in their highlight reels, so this would be a complete natural.

Either way, if Michael Jordan wasn't getting inducted, this year's ceremony would be completely drowned out by USC/Ohio State and Troy Polamalu getting bitten by the Madden Curse. Move it. Now.

2. The Three-Man Weave From Hell
Seriously, if you wanted to pick a three-on-three team from anyone in the Hall of Fame, you couldn't do a whole lot better than David Robinson, John Stockton, and Michael Jordan. Compare these guys to any other class, and they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all of them.

Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West in 1980 is the only class I'd put against these three with any confidence. MAYBE Dan Issel, Julius Erving, and Calvin Murphy from 1993. Note the big maybe.

Adrian Dantley, Patrick Ewing, and Hakeem Olajuwon from last year would overwhelm with size, but Dantley would get routinely victimized trying to bring the ball up against Stockton and Jordan.

3. A Woman In Full
C. Vivian Stringer doesn't have the championship hardware that her more celebrated peers (and now Hall of Fame compatriots), Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma, have. She's the only women's coach to take three women's teams to the Final Four, which is in itself an accomplishment.

But Summitt and Auriemma, through the force of their own personalities and the occasional childish ego trip, often threaten to overshadow their players and the game they play.

Stringer, whose emotional speech traced a journey that would leave movie audiences misty, has left a different legacy. She's conducted herself with grace over the length of her career, and has done her best to ensure that that is also instilled in her players.

Her Rutgers team's measured and collected response to Don Imus's "nappy-headed hos" remarks two years ago serves as a fitting case in point. Someone who's dealt with the kinds of emotional blows that Stringer has seen is able to understand that the game is just a game, but sometimes the game can be one's greatest salvation.

4. The Original Bull Falls Behind the Ultimate Bull...Again
Jerry Sloan just can't get away from Michael Jordan. Jerry was one of the Bulls' most beloved players, until Jordan came along and took the team to heights unprecedented in their history. With the Jazz, Sloan got two shots at the Bulls in the Finals, coming up with two losses. Now, Jerry gets called to the Hall of Fame, and here's Jordan, ensuring that no one else gets a whole lot of ink.

Much like Vivian Stringer, Sloan has everything you want in your Hall of Fame coaches, except that championship ring. His teams have always played hard, and have usually played smart. His 1136 wins say he should have gotten in a long time ago...and if it wasn't for a fortuitous push on Bryon Russell, Sloan might have had the ring to get him in the door sooner.

5. The Last of Number 23?
The Chicago Sun-Times made note of a commentary from Rick Reilly on this morning's SportsCenter opining that Michael Jordan's number 23 should be retired league-wide. I love me some Mike and all,

Jackie Robinson changed the entire landscape of baseball and heralded an enormous change in society at large. For that, his number's league-wide retirement was highly deserved.

Wayne Gretzky's #99 was retired not only due to his transcendent skills, but also the fact that it was a highly unusual number to which no one else would ever be able to do further justice. Gretzky is also still the only hockey player who Joe from Nebraska would be able to name, and this is over a decade after his retirement. Middle America doesn't know about Gordie Howe or Mario Lemieux or Patrick Roy, but they know about Wayne Gretzky. Kind of like how all they know of soccer is Pele.

Michael Jordan played the game at a level above anyone he shared the court with, and was probably the greatest offensive force not named Chamberlain. His marketing clout made him the most recognizable athlete in the world.

But did he CHANGE the world, like Jackie did? No. In fact, Michael has actively avoided any greater statements aside from "Buy Wheaties and wear Hanes."

Is he still the only face of his game, like Gretzky? No. The world knows Wilt and Dr. J and Magic and Larry, and now Kobe and LeBron. Michael made it possible for LeBron to try to take over the world today, but that pales in comparison with carrying an entire sport on one's shoulders, let alone one's entire race.

Springfield may not have the aura of Canton or Cooperstown, but for this year, the Hall of Fame welcomed some fresh Air. It'll be hard to top this class next year, but with the possibility of Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone in 2010, it'll at least seem somewhat familiar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Murphy's Not Just the First Baseman

Familiar with Murphy's Law? You know, the one that states that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong?

Nobody's epitomized it more than the New York Mets this season. $88 million in talent on the disabled list for a total of almost 1200 days. A season that was supposed to end with them slugging it out with the Phillies for the NL East is instead ending with them closer to the "Natinals."

And now this.

According to the New York Post, Citi Field is being jokingly referred to as (I'm guessing this is the uncensored name) "Shitty Field" as a series of apparent contractor mistakes are being reported.

  • A water leak is causing mold in several $250-500K luxury suites, including one rented by Jerry Seinfeld. Removing the mold from the suite will be almost as difficult as removing the mold from Seinfeld's comedy.
  • An elevator is trying to kill 70-something owner Fred Wilpon by taking a day off and forcing him to climb four flights to his office. Omar Minaya has scheduled a press conference claiming that the elevator is trying to take his job.
  • Electrical shorts in a kitchen above the ticket booths have caused water leaks and refrigerator failures. The Mets are owning up to this one, blaming the spoiled food for the entire fanbase's season-long nausea.
  • Only one electrical outlet was installed in the laundry room, meaning that surge strips have had to be used to plug in all the washers. Unfortunately, the one that washes the jockstraps is routinely left unplugged so the injured players can keep their iPods charged.
  • The maintenance crew's locker room hasn't had working AC and heating since day 1. This, however, sounds like a minor concern since the crew obviously doesn't have time to spend in there anyway.
And, there's a few other complaints afoot, but you get the hint. The last time a construction job of this magnitude turned into such a clusterfuck, an insurgent group blew it up with the help of some three-foot-tall walking teddy bears.

Mets VP Dave Howard says, "When you open a building with 1.2 million square feet, you're going to have issues like this." Yankee Stadium has just that much in retail space, and the Post isn't telling us that there isn't any hot water in Hank's showers or that Jeter and Damon are having to hook an Evinrude up to the whirlpool.

As far as contracting jobs go, the Mets got badly violated. Dave Howard can put his hands over his ears and chant la-la-la all he likes, but hopefully he doesn't end up in the same boat as this kid.

J. Starr's Forced Media Embargo

So, I've finished my first week back at college in nine years. Yay me. Unfortunately, there's some collateral damage. Namely, my sports media "research" opportunities have dwindled pitifully.

I had a nice routine happening, shows that I found worthwhile and others not so much. Now that my days are spent enjoying a class on American Media and Cultural Institutions (Dr. Bob Pondillo is a pimp among professors, straight up) and being forced to endure ones on biology and "The Experience of Literature," (fuck off, I've been ordered to read "A Rose for Emily" FOUR TIMES NOW, find some new material) it's made me a bit nostalgic for the old media blitz. So, if I may, a brief discussion of the drill.

7:05 AM--"Mike and Mike in the Morning"
After seeing the wife off to work, it'd be onto the computer to look for work and write whilst Mike and Mike provided background. Honestly, I find these guys pleasant enough, even if they are the typical "fat guy/skinny guy" caricatures that are usually prevalent in our sporting discourse.

The funny thing is that, for a skinny metrosexual, Mike Greenberg is almost always portrayed as a guy with very remedial social skills who can't understand why people get up in arms when he does stupid shit. A recent discussion on cell-phone etiquette served as a prime example.

Greeny and another Little League parent were showing each other pictures of their children, and he simply takes it upon himself to begin rifling through the rest of the pics on her phone. And he was aghast that anyone would take offense to this.


I don't take pictures with my phone. (I barely have enough people willing to talk to me to bother MAKING CALLS with my phone, but that's another story.) If I did, however, I think I'd be making it very clear if I was allowing someone unfettered access to look at whatever they wanted. You'd think that it'd be the "fat oaf," Golic, who'd be this socially retarded, but no. Golic seems to have a little bit of a clue on how to deal with people.

You may be asking, what does this have to do with sports? The answer is, not much, and that's the big downfall of this show. Lots of times, discussions like this drag on for half an hour and recur throughout the show, especially on slow news days (which, these days at ESPN, are code for "Brett Favre hasn't taken his morning dump yet").

I used to listen to Mike and Mike until their signoff at 9 Central, until I found something else to enjoy starting at 8.

8:00 AM--The Dan Patrick Show

What really kicked off my interest in posting on this today was a phone call to 104.5 The Zone, the local sports station here in the Nashville area. The caller was telling Mark and Kevin, two of the three morning hosts (along with ex-Titan TE Frank Wycheck...more on him in a moment), that the Zone needed to dump Dan Patrick, whose show airs on a one-hour delay right after the Wakeup Zone. The caller called Dan "self-absorbed," which he may very well be. Never met him, can't testify.

But, honestly, Dan's show is exactly the kind of show I would love to do for a living. It's an ensemble piece. It's much more of a discussion between Dan and his staff (or the "Dan-ettes," as they're called by the boss). Three hours of one schmuck airing his opinions and rants gets boring really fast, especially if he wants to rehash the old stuff for people just tuning in. The back-and-forth between Dan, Seton, Paulie, Fritzy, and McLovin is occasionally thought-provoking and frequently funny.

That's the fun part about sports talk, being able to cut up with friends and co-workers and air divergent opinions without anyone taking it as a personal affront. Radio seems like a much easier medium on which to do that than the Internet, which serves as a haven for angry trolls emboldened by the anonymity of the keyboard. EWB and Bleacher Report, the other places on which I've talked sports, are essentially worthless, because most have hard-ons for their specific teams, and Lord help anyone with dissenting opinions.

And if you have DirecTV, by all means, get on The 101 and check out the new TV simulcast, especially during a commercial break. The recent day where Brooklyn Decker was in studio with the guys was well worth the price of admission, both for her sheer hotness and the obvious nervousness of the Dan-ettes.

(Oh, and back to Wycheck for a second. Great player...veeeeeeeeeeery iffy broadcaster. I heard him try to read a promo yesterday, and I seriously had to ask if he was drunk, he was stuttering so damn much. And today, not on the show. Hmmmm....)

12:00 PM--The Jim Rome Show
Usually, I'd only catch Rome if I was driving around and was listening to the Zone. And occasionally, he'd drive me to put on a CD.

I've discussed Rome before, and he's the guy I meant when I said that one guy talking to himself for three hours gets boring. His show is to radio what "Night at the Roxbury" and "The Ladies' Man" were to movies. A few minutes' worth of good material streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetched out to multiple hours.

And if Patrick is some of what is good about talk radio, Rome is a lot of what's bad about it. Much of the show is him reading e-mails and fielding phone calls from people who only want to complain. Ripping on players, coaches, other fans, other Rome callers and e-mailers, it's all fair game, and Rome won't let you on if you don't have something to bitch about. If you think sports talk radio is totally populated by angry trolls who'd rather kill the opposing team's quarterback than put their kids through college, you won't find much to refute that claim here.

Just today, Rome spent a good fifteen minutes reacting to an e-mail from an angry Detroiter who wanted to call Steve Perry (yes, Steve Perry of Journey) a "jackhole" for using the term "South Detroit" in the song "Don't Stop Believin'." Apparently, no one in "the D" uses the term "South Detroit," unless they're talking about Windsor, Ontario.

Granted, I agree with Rome for defending Perry, who's got one of the most bad-ass voices in music history. Detroit was getting big-upped in song, get over it. I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and the closest we ever got to being name-checked was when my fellow Lafayette native Axl Rose compared the town to Auschwitz in an interview. Besides, Detroit's been relevant for two things in the last century: Motown and cars. Berry Gordy yanked Motown to L.A. in 1972, and the auto industry's on welfare. Just sayin'.

These are the kinds of people who get time in "The Jungle." These are Rome's people. Scary.

3:30 PM--Jim Rome is Burning, ESPN

If Rome's radio show is the "Ladies' Man" movie, his TV show is the original skit. Tight, focused, to the point, and still opinionated without being hateful.

Rome's not going as full-frontal snark on people as he once did to one Jim Everett (see picture above), and his interviewing, both on radio and TV, is better for it. Here, he lets the guests have as much say as they can in the time available. He usually has commentators on The Forum who have interesting takes (and also entertaining loons like Vincent Thomas), and during his Burns, he says what he needs to say and gets out, without feeling the need to fill three hours repeating everything at least thrice.

4:00 PM--Around the Horn, ESPN

I want Tony Reali's job. Seriously.

He gets paid to be a douche to a bunch of pompous sportswriters. Now, if someone would please remind Woody Paige that he is, in fact, not Gallagher, the show would be even more watchable.

From some articles I've read, it seems that back in its early Max Kellerman-hosted days, ATH had a bit more in the way of "intellectual" discussion, or what passes for it in the sports realm. I could dig that, but somehow I doubt ESPN will let many programs veer that way anymore. Well, unless they're hosted by Jeremy Schaap or Bob Ley.

4:30 PM--Pardon the Interruption
I love PTI's format. Covers a lot of topics, and doesn't linger on any one long enough to run it into the ground. When Mike and Tony are on together (which seems to happen about 23 times per year lately), you get a great rapport between the two.

The one nag that I have is that their ever-more-frequent guest hosts veer toward the older-than-Kornheiser demographic (Bob Ryan) or the terminally buffoonish (Dan LeRetard). Are there no sportswriters under the age of 50 who can put opinions together without seeming like they're auditioning for a sitcom?

Actually, that's a serious question. Sometimes it seems like ATH could use some too. Well, except Kevin Blackistone. He's the man.

Classes eat my morning, actual studying eats my afternoons. But, as I post this, maybe I can go catch ATH and see if Plaschke's on there to big up everything Los Angeles. Excuse me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Five Starr* Weekly: Heisman Favorites

We're a day away from the first college football game of 2009 as I write this, and while we wait to see if Florida can actually cover a 73-point spread, if Rich Rodriguez pausing to (pretend to) cry gains the same kind of press conference infamy as "I'M A MAN! I'M FORTY!", and if Tim Tebow can turn the Gatorade into wine...what better place to start a discussion than Heisman candidates?

It's the award that turns good players into great ones, great ones into legends, and most everyone into an NFL flop. Still, getting to heft the 25-pound Golden Stiffarm goes into the record books and becomes the defining highlight of any player's career.

I'm borrowing the list-of-five format from my friend Razor over at Kick-Out Wrestling and his weekly Five Count. I'm well aware he borrowed it from other people before him, but I'm crediting him with giving me the idea. Now, this is the second time I've pimped Razor here, and he's yet to do the same for me. How about a little reciprocation, boss?

Anyway, the Top 5 preseason Heisman candidates according to Starr* Rated:

5. QB Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
The "random" small-school selection. LeFevour could be considered a "poor man's Tim Tebow" for his all-around running and passing game. Me? I prefer to consider Tebow a "casual football fan's Dan LeFevour."

When Tebow took the Heisman in 2007 with his EA Sports-type numbers of 4181 total yards and 55 touchdowns, Thunder Dan toiled in relative obscurity, unless you're a mid-major fetishist. But LeFevour actually rolled up almost 600 yards MORE than Tebow, while recording a very respectable 46 touchdowns himself. Then, I got an eyeful of LeFevour, watching him torch my Purdue Boilermakers for 406 total yards and six TD's in a 51-48 war.

Last season, an ankle injury reduced LeFevour to "merely" 3376 total yards (only 43 fewer than Tebow) and 27 TD' ELEVEN games, not 14.

CMU returns a lot of major contributors from last season, and the schedule makers have given Dan early opportunities to get on the board, as CMU opens with games at Arizona and Michigan State. Winning either would get him a momentary big-up on GameDay. Winning both should get him on everybody's watch list...not just the mid-major fetishists.

4. QB Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State
Robinson's got a tough row to hoe simply based on the schedule he must play. His candidacy lies in whether or not he can dominate all season AND lead the Cowboys to wins over Oklahoma and Texas. If he can't do even one of the above, his chances will be torpedoed instantly.

But as far as his playing style, he's a total "BCW" guy. As in "Bathroom Can Wait." He's a big, athletic quarterback (wait, he's white...shouldn't I be praising his "intangibles" and "fundamentals?" Ahem...) who was one of only two BCS conference QB's to run for 800 yards and pass for 2800. The other one was Jesus in Cleats himself down in Gainesville. If you do go to the can, don't be surprised if you get back to your seat and hear about how he broke a run and made three guys miss or connected on a long bomb to his All-American favorite target, Dez Bryant.

Actually, maybe Bryant should be #4 and Robinson should be #5, since a receiver's chances aren't necessarily hurt by his team's win-loss performance. All Dez will have to do is put up numbers. But, I'm one who subscribes to the "QB makes the receiver" philosophy, so Robinson's getting his picture up here.

3. RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
Yes, he plays in an option offense. Yes, there are about 27 other running backs on the roster who are going to get carries. Yes, Tech may actually have a passing game, unlike most of Paul Johnson's Navy teams.

BUT...Dwyer was one of only nine players last season to top seven yards per carry. He did it while only getting about 15 carries per game. And quite a few of those carries were YouTube moments...just ask Anthony Reddick or half the Georgia defense. If Johnson decides that it might be advantageous to throw a little more weight behind one particular Heisman candidate, Dwyer's workload could go up, including his underutilized skills catching the ball in space (209 yards and a TD on only eight catches) All he needs is one opening to produce another highlight, and a healthy highlight reel is any Heisman hopeful's best friend.

2. RB Jahvid Best, California
Remember the nine guys who broke seven yards per carry last season? Well, only two of them broke eight YPC, and this is one of them.

1580 yards is a total that can be achieved on a team with a struggling passing game. However, it usually involves three-and-four-yard chunks of turf, not eight. He had 19 runs of 20+ yards, seven of at least 60, and three that went more than 80. That's damned hard to do with nine guys in the box staring at you.

If quarterback Kevin Riley can actually play well enough to keep his job all season, Best should see a lot more honest defenses. Best will also have to prove he can get out of the blocks fast after a toe injury slowed his preseason work, plus he has the psychological, hurdle of opening against Maryland, the team that held him to 25 yards last year and literally beat the puke out of him.

1. QB Colt McCoy, Texas
McCoy had to sit back and watch as archrival Oklahoma's Sam Bradford took home the big trophy last year. It was sort of a "What more can I do?" moment, as McCoy had only completed SEVENTY-SIX POINT SEVEN percent of his passes over the season, accounting for 4420 total yards and 45 touchdowns against only eight picks. Bradford's equally videogame-ish 50 passing touchdowns carried the day, however.

Finishing second in the Heisman race, not to mention the Horns getting shafted out of the Big XII South title, can accomplish two very positive things for McCoy this year.

One, they serve as motivators. Can he complete seven of every nine this season? I doubt it, but with a potential All-America target in Jordan Shipley, he's got someone who can go get any passes that would otherwise end up on the turf or worse.

Two, they establish him as a sentimental favorite this year. He's wrapping up a four-year career that most any other player would kill for, and voters may be inclined to reward him for it this year. Add to that the fact that Bradford and Tebow already have their hardware, and McCoy can actually benefit from voters who don't want the last two winners getting greedy.

I can hear some people now..."Wait? That's it? Where's Bradford? Where's Tebow? WTF, man?" Unfortunately, they get lumped into the "Did Not Place" category. Since you asked, let's discuss why.

DNP. QB Tim Tebow, Florida
DNP. QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

Yes, these two get lumped together, and for a very good reason. They're already linked by virtue of being the only two former Heisman winners to still be collegiate competitors in the same season. I'm linking them, however, for another reason:

Neither one is actually going to win again.

They'll be getting mad votes, sure, unless one or both have their arms torn off. BUT, as was said in the Colt McCoy entry, these guys have already gotten theirs. And there's a certain amount of ennui that may set in with Heisman voters, who will likely want these guys to do what they haven't done before.

Tebow may have to account for 70 TD's by himself. Bradford may have to throw 70. But even duplicating their past feats is just that...duplicating. We've seen it before. If these two aren't improving on past performance, why honor them over some guy who may well be?

The Tebow/Bradford commentary is bonus content that the guys on Bleacher Report have to come here to see. As a(nother) bonus, I offer the Games That I'd Watch If I Wasn't Getting Up For Class Or Traveling To A Bachelor Party This Weekend:

Thursday: Give me Boise State and Oregon. Any game that shows me that surreal blue turf, I'm all for. Never mind the fact that it's two Top-20 schools getting it on to see who's more for real.

Friday: Tulsa-Tulane? Eh, don't care.

Saturday: Since even ESPN360 won't touch Toledo/Purdue, I guess I'd try Navy/Ohio State, Middle Tennessee State/Clemson (since I can't big up the old school, guess I'll do so for the new one), then possibly waiting for Central Michigan/Arizona to see if LeFevour can make me look the genius. At least, I would be if I wasn't getting drunk on a lake somewhere. If this is my last post, know that I quite possibly may have drowned happy.

Peace and be wild...and game on, motherfuckers.