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.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Real Life Alert: No Mo' Owe

The five or six people who actually bother to read what I put down here know this as a sports blog, and little more. Today, however, real life has to intrude. So, whenever you see a post with "Real Life Alert" as part of the title, you can be assured that that post is primarily not about sports.

A lot of times, "real life intruding" takes on a very negative connotation, symbolizing something that takes time away from more important things or impinges on one's freedom to spend their time the way they choose. In this case, however, I allow real life to intrude on my sports banter to share some happy news, the kind that GRANTS freedom, not take it away.

My wife and I have recently become debt-free, paying off every entity that claims we owe them X amount of money. And for the knowledge and motivation to do so, we offer one more debt, that of gratitude, to the slightly crazy-looking fellow above with the frighteningly large pair of scissors.

That's Dave Ramsey. This link goes to his website. If you're puzzled about personal finance, go there. I would say, "I'll wait," but you could be there a while, so wait until I'm done.

There's no get-rich-quick BS there, so if you think getting out from under American Distress and Your-Owner-and-MasterCard is something you can do in a week, you'll be disappointed. Basically, you need a LARGE dose of self-discipline to be able to handle your budget. Self-discipline to immediately stop using the credit cards and live on real money. Self-discipline to understand that food, shelter, transportation, clothing, and utilities are the only real NEEDS in life, and that a new video game or DVD doesn't fall into any of those categories. Self-discipline to be able to tell yourself, "No, that's not in the budget."

And that's the lion's share of what getting debt-free is about. Budgeting. It can be a long, slow process under the best of circumstances, especially if your income doesn't seem to be up to par. We're talking years here, kids, not weeks. The payoff, however, is immense, both financially and emotionally.

If you're married, the entire budgeting and bill-paying process can bring you closer together if it's done right. So, what's doing it right, you ask? There are a lot of ways to do it, but doing it as a team is absolutely essential. If you're the spouse who says, "I dunno how to balance a checkbook, so my husband/wife does it all," you're best off sitting down and learning. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the family budget.

Think of it this way. Which is easier, having one person drag a couch through the house while the other sits ON the couch, just going along for the ride; or each getting at one end and carrying the weight equally? Well, okay, that's an easy ride for one of you, but it's hardly fair, is it? Handling your money is similar. One person being in charge of every financial decision can end in a lot of unnecessary distress.

If you don't know how much is in the bank and you go out to buy something fun, like that new high-def TV you've been eyeing, what happens when your eyes get bigger than the wallet? A fight, that's what.

If you don't know how much is in the bank, but you try to be good just to be safe, while your spouse is treating him/herself to whatever they want, what's likely to happen? Simmering resentment at best, and at worst...yeah, you guessed it, another fight.

Money fights are the number-one cause of divorces in America. Just saying.

Many couples are comprised of opposite financial personalities, according to Dave. There will often be a "free spirit," or a spender. Opposite them will often be a "nerd," or saver. Which one are you? Over the course of my marriage, I've evolved into much more of the "nerd" than I was when I was single. It happens. Neither side of the coin is a bad place to be, but a little bit of both is needed to keep each other in check.

No matter your personality, it's essential to get on the same page with the spouse and agree on how to manage the budget. Right after we got home from our honeymoon, my wife sat down at the computer and slapped together an Excel spreadsheet that we still use to this day. Every week, she makes the checkbook entries and calls them out for me to verify that they've cleared the bank. Then, I enter our incomes and expenditures into said spreadsheet, which we usually extend through the rest of the year. It gives us a long-term forecast that can tell us when we risk running short, even weeks or months in the future. We like that kind of foresight, others might not. So it goes.

See, it's called "personal finance" for a reason. What worked for us might not exactly work for others. But all I can say is this: while working on our "debt snowball," as Dave calls it, we could see the balances drop...and paying bills became FUN. Seriously. It's among the highlights of my week.

Sick, isn't it?

But doesn't finding something like that fun sound much more pleasant than building it up to be worse than the dentist's chair? Seeing those balances drop is a thrill we have to say goodbye to now, but we're replacing it with the even greater thrill of seeing various savings balances grow.

This is what budgeting does. It gives you a goal to watch for. Just "paying bills" is equivalent to "treading water." Working a budget and using it to make real dents in one's debts is like swimming. It's more strenuous work, but at the end of the day, you've actually gotten somewhere.

Getting debt-free isn't THE goal, but it is A goal. Once you're done forking it out, what happens? You've got a pile of coin that no longer has someone else's name on it, which means it now has YOUR name on it. And as we all know, there's no shortage of things that we can save for...a general emergency fund, in case the economy takes a bite out of someone's employer...the kids' future education...the 401(k) or whatever retirement accounts you may have...that new HDTV...whatever. As long as you're paying your own cold cash and not letting BastardCard sink its claws back into you, you can have a much greater measure of freedom.

And yeah, the snippet of Mel Gibson as William Wallace screaming "FREEDOM!" gets played every time one of Dave's callers yells out, "WE'RE DEBT FREE!" True story, and it's awesome.

I've given a copy of Dave's book "The Total Money Makeover" to both of my parents and my recently married friends Adam and Amanda, of 3FL fame. As far as I know, they're all glorified doorstops right now. But, that and this are all I can do. I can't force anyone to make themselves happy. As Dave has said, "We only make changes when the pain of staying the same becomes worse than the pain of change." If you'd like to make some changes, talk to Dave.

If not, try not to complain, because you're being offered the tools.

Find Dave on the radio in your area:

Dave on Fox Business Network:

Friday, October 2, 2009

3FL Week 3: Down to Earth

The mighty stumbled this week, as Amanda dropped the first game in which she didn't have a player pushing 50 points. Bit of a dangerous game, relying on that kind of scoring each week.

In other news, Justin showed Mireya who wore the pants on Sunday, striking back for husbands everywhere after Amanda's Week 1 whipping of Adam. (Although, I hear he liked it so much that...never mind.)

Also, the league's two oldest players had the league's tightest game. 911 was on speed dial, I'm sure.

Week 3 Results:
Mooby Mafia (1-2) def. Gutter's Tools (1-2) 91.7-87.16
Kirbdogs (2-1) def. Valhalla (0-3) 106.3-102.62
Salsa Shark (3-0) def. Lady Shark (0-3) 115.76-96.72
God'sRightHand (2-1) def. Carpet Munchers (2-1) 119.26-79.46
Blue Rookie Monsters (2-1) def. Mules (1-2) 129.46-128.89
Popcorn Farts (2-1) def. Suicide Squad (2-1) 107.84-65.44

Unlike last week, only one player was able to field two All-3FL performers. Like last week, one player cost himself a game by leaving two heavy producers on the bench.

QB: Peyton Manning (38.06 for Kirbdogs)
WR: Santana Moss (29.8 for Lady Shark)
WR: DeSean Jackson (24.9 for BRM)
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew (35.7 for Mules)
WR/RB: Reggie Wayne (23.1 for Suicide Squad)
WR/TE: Jerricho Cotchery (22.48 for God'sRightHand)
K: Stephen Gostkowski (14 for GRH)
DEF: Cowboys (22.24 for Pop Lock 'n' Drop It)

Reggie joins Brees as only the second player to make All-3FL for the second time. Small consolation, though, considering she got blown out by the league's consensus doormat.

And the Inglourious Basterds who produced big games for naught:
RB Pierre Thomas (25.6 on Carpet Munchers' bench)
TE Vernon Davis (25.1 on Carpet Munchers' bench)

So, there's Vernon Davis's one hot game for the year. The trade market is now open, I'm sure. While Bill wonders why no one's calling and checks to make sure the ringer works on that phone, the rest of us will move on.


The Point Spread action was pretty lopsided this week, as the favorites covered small and the underdogs won large. And we had our first favorite win, but fail to cover.

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

Mooby Mafia favored over Gutter's Tools (PS=2.09; AS=4.54; Diff.=2.45)
Carpet Munchers over GRH (PS=11.2; AS=-39.8; Diff.=-51)
Valhalla over Kirbdogs (PS=28.64; AS=-3.68; Diff.=-32.32)
BRM over Mules (PS=5.32; AS=0.57; Diff.=-4.75...but dammit, a win's a win, eh, Steve?)
Salsa Shark over Lady Shark (PS=14.59; AS=19.04; Diff.=4.45)
Suicide Squad over Pop Goes the Weasel (PS=14.37; AS=-42.4; Diff.=-56.77)

Jay's loss to Kirby is the new leader for Largest Projected Spread Overcome...but once again, one player could have swung the whole thing the other way. More on him later.


The Swami picks were pretty miserable overall, as once again, the meek are inheriting the earth here.

For the week:
Jason, Justin, Steve: 3-3
Amanda, Dave, Tim, Scott, Mireya: 2-4
Bill: 1-5
Kirby: 1-0 (no points for guessing which matchup he voted on)
Jon was trying to decide between hanging or dropping the toaster in the bathtub as his Redskins became THAT team...and yes, you all know which team I'm talking about.
Adam was too busy rubbing his hands with mad scientist glee as he prepared to unleash his secret weapon...more on him later.

For the season:
Jason, Justin, Steve: 11-7
Amanda, Dave: 10-8
Kirby: 8-5
Scott, Tim: 8-10
Mireya: 6-6
Bill: 4-8


I'm happy to say that I'm finally showing signs of life in the F-U Award standings. (And yes, the name did change. Considering it's all about getting points for people who voted against you, the name should be much more self-explanatory than Falcon Award.) A leader is beginning to assert himself, while another man begins to drift out onto his own island.

Mooby Mafia 6 votes, Gutter's Tools 3 (Winner: Mafia)
Carpet Munchers 7, GRH 2 (Winner: GRH)
Valhalla 8, Kirbdogs 2 (Winner: Peyton, Kirbdogs)
Mules 6, BRM 3 (Winner: BRM)
Salsa Shark 8, Lady Shark 1 (Winner: The One With Balls)
Suicide Squad 8, Poppyseeds 1 (Winner: Pop-a Smurf)

For the season:
Justin: 20 points
Jon: 15
Adam: 13
Kirby: 11
Steve: 10
Bill: 9
Amanda: 6
Scott: -3
Dave, Mireya, Tim: -4
Jason: -19

Soon, Jay's only friend will be a volleyball.


Kind of a slow week on the Goods and Bads, as I couldn't find a lot to really quibble with about the way people set up their lineups.

I have to give Kirby a Good Sit for T.J. Howsyermama, who sleepwalked through the Seachickens' game with the Bears to the tune of 3.5 points. Granted, he chose to start Devery Henderson and his 5.5 instead, and Henderson's only good for one long-bomb TD every season just so people will be desperate enough to draft him the following year. Still, I'd have started Housh easily. And then been split down the middle again, wanting him to do well, but the Bears to win. Thankfully, Olindo Mare would have still been willing to accomodate me.

About the only way I call my own number here seems to be in the Bad columns, and here I am, back in the Bad Sits neighborhood. Cedric Benson looked like he should have been dead in the water, going up against the Steelers. Then he rambled for that TD, tallied 14.6 for the game, and cinched a win for the Bungles (although I did call that result, by the way). Luckily for me, this week, he's got what looks like a foolproof matchup this week against the Brownstains. If he's really legit, he'll go for 200 against what is EASILY the worst team in the NFL. Luckily for Jon, the Skins don't play Cleveland this year, because they'd probably find a way to lose to them, too.
--And now, Rant Mode. (DAMMIT ALL TO HELL, JASON, WHAT THE HELL KIND OF EAGLES FANBOY ARE YOU?!?!?!?!?!!!!?!?!!?!?!?1111111!!1!11!OMGWTFBBQ?!??!?! FUCKING HELL, MAN, IT'S THE #&$#*%$^&$&#&@^#@ CHEFS!!!) End Rant Mode. But seriously, if there was ever an opponent who would have been good to test out a touted rookie running back against, it'd be Kansas City. LeSean McCoy had that droolworthy matchup, and ample opportunity with Brian Westbrook in the shop. Hell, yes, he'd be in my lineup ahead of Reggie (I Handle Kim's Ass Better Than I Handle the Football) Bush. Sure, Reggie actually did something of note (10.28 points' worth, at least) but McCoy recorded 15.8, including his first career TD. And if McCoy starts...Jay wins. Bad Eagle fanboy. No Super Bowl for you.

For the Good Starts, I give you one name: Jacoby F'n Jones. There's a link to his profile, because you may need to look him up. Adam didn't. He and the missus have both had hard-ons for this guy for two years now. I think one of them may have drafted him his rookie season. As a punt returner, guy's an ace. As a receiver, he's usually seen about as often as Mitch Frerotte. Click the Frerotte link, and you'll note that he was a guard. Well, after scoring a TD in his second straight game this week, Jones has now tied Frerotte on the all-time TD catch list. I repeat, Frerotte was a guard. Jason is now expecting 15.9 out of Andre Caldwell next week.

Only one Bad Start this week, and we keep it in the family. Amanda rolled the dice on Thomas Jones against the Titans and crapped out. While I commend the Titans for being such gentlemen and handing the AFC South back to its rightful owners so graciously, they're not being very gracious to opposing running backs. Meanwhile, Knowshon Moreno was getting a chance to roll against the Raiders. Granted, it's Denver, otherwise known as RB Hell, but's the Raiders. They gave up 173 to the Chiefs. Adam or Tim could probably run for 70 and a score against the Raiders. Even Justin could, if his gun was declared legal. Jones had 2.7, Moreno had 15, including TD #1. I'm a TJ fan, but damn.

And before I go, I have to send a "Thank You" on my own behalf.

This one's for Kirby, after he helped me score a few points on my Biology exam today. I had to remember the order of classification for living things, which goes: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. So, I made up a sentence to remember it by: Kirby Puked Crap Over Freaky Green Smoked. From the now-infamous Smokin' Grooves concert, you know. I will now remember the classification of living things as long as I live. Thanks, Kirb.

Next week, we all start getting hammered by bye weeks. My team will be led by Shaun Hill, of all people, against Jon, who's already won all the games we gave him credit for pre-season. Mireya will try to get off the pot against Kirby's one-man band. Jason will try to do the same against Tim, who may have no choice but to sit in agony as Favre tries to put the screws to his old team by only letting Peterson have 11 carries.

Oh, and the new job's pretty cool, thanks for asking. Maybe my next time there, I'll be able to leave before 2 AM.