Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Legend Passes While a Dynasty Roars Back

This weekend brought the passing of the greatest Boston Celtic of them all, Red Auerbach. While Red never suited up for a single game for the Boston Celtics, his reign over the team brought them to 16 World Titles, 13 Hall of Famers and countless imitators. He revolutionized the game. Not because he made it in vogue to smoke cigars on the sidelines or the locker room, or because he was the first to draft an African American player, but because of his simple yet powerful concept of "team". If Red Auerbach was anything, he was a man that could recognize talent when he saw it. More than that, he was a man that could convince a player that he needed to play a certain way, not because it was best for him, but because it was the best way he could help the team. That's why the Celtics didn't stop winning when Red left the bench. He passed his thinking down to Bill Russell, Tommy Heinson and K.C Jones, who all brought home more titles as head coaches of the Celts. Just think about it in modern day perspective. There was a time when the NBA had given out 40 championships, and Red and his Celtics had captured 16 of them. Simply amazing. But like is always said about true greats, Red probably has meant more off the court than on. His presence at any Celtics game never goes unnoticed. And the fact that he's had a statue of his likeness on a bench in Quincy Market for as long as I can remember, speaks to in what high regard the city of Boston holds him. The man was a true innovator of the game, it's greatest ambassador, and a truly one of a kind personality. The world was a better place for having Red Auerbach in it, and he will be sorely missed.

P.S. The worst part of Auerbach passing is actually that it makes me remember a time when the Celtics were good, when basketball meant something in this state. And it reminds me that I'm stuck watching Danny Ainge trying to breast feed a bunch of 12 year olds while the fans wait for the decade long "rebuilding" effort to take place.

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England 31 Minnesota 7
Record: 6-1

Next Week vs Indianapolis Colts (7-0)

*One week you're considered a "soft" and "untested" 5-1 team, the next week you are kings of the world! That's what happens when you go on the road, into a "hostile" environment, and go up and down the field on one of the best defenses the NFC has to offer. Not to mention you do it all on national TV, in front of one of the largest cable TV viewing audiences in history. That will often change the perception of your team. But nevermind what the national media has to say about them. How good did the Pats receivers look last night? Tom Brady spread the ball around to 10 different targets, and got big performances from newcomers like Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel. I guess all that talk can end about Tom getting comfortable with the new guys huh? And all of a sudden, I hear Tom Terrific's name being mentioned as a first half MVP! Hey, nobody knows how valuable Tom is more than I do, but just a week ago this guy was sitting at his lowest completion percentage of his career and leading a team that everyone thought was at best the 3rd team in the AFC (Indy, Denver). Again, what a difference a game makes. What's more impressive if you ask me though, was the play of the Pats D-line. The talk all week was how the "Big Money" left side of the Vikings O-line (LG Hutchinson and LT McKinnie make a combined $98 million over the next 6 years) was going to swallow up the Patriots, especially without the full services of Richard Seymour. Well, just the opposite happened. While Seymour played, it was the outstanding pressure by Jarvis Green, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Tully Banta-Cain that forced Brad Johnson into 3 picks and held Chester Taylor to only 22 yards on 10 carries. Now all the focus shifts to next Sunday night and the battle with the 7-0 Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri is returning to Gillette, Manning is trying to finally beat the Pats in Foxboro (even though he actually won there last year), and the Pats are trying to cement themselves as the favorites in the AFC from this point on. Stay tuned for that one, because wow is it going to be spicy....

NFL News and Notes
*Remember when I sat here last week and told you the Steelers were probably going to lose to the Raiders? Remember that right after you read that you got a good laugh at my expense? Well who's laughing now punk? I'll admit that I didn't really think the Raiders would win, but that's why you make outrageous predictions isn't it? Now I can bask in the fact that the Steelers are 2-5 and looking way up at all the AFC playoff teams. And I don't want to hear how they went on a run last year and became the only #6 seed to win the Super Bowl, this team is finished. Big Ben sucks, Bill Cowher sucks, and all their weapons from a year ago are either retired, on another team, or playing like ass. It's a good day when Steeler fans are using their terrible towels to clean their beat up pick up trucks rather than waiving them obnoxiously on national TV. And hopefully, thanks to their God awful start to this season, we've seen them on national TV for the last time. Thank you flexible scheduling.

*Apparently the joke is on Drew Bledsoe. After all the talk in Dallas centered around whether Tony Romo should start or not, the youngster went out and made the conversation all but pointless. Romo brought the Boys back from the dead and led them to 25 unanswered 4th quarter points and a win over the surging Carolina Panthers. Now, if you're Bledsoe, you have to wonder if maybe your career really is over. He should also be wondering if he's some sort of good luck charm for backup QB's. It's only been one game for Romo, but Tom Brady sure did like replacing Drew, so maybe this is the effect he has on his backups (hey Trent Green is just glad that people aren't saying the same thing about him. I mean it's not like Kurt Warner or Damon Huard did anything right?). Maybe not though, because look at J.P Losman. He backed up Bledsoe during his time with the Bills, and J.P is still garbage. And yes, it will take a few more weeks before I stop calling him Tony Homo. I'm that childish.

*One week the Eagles are victims of bad luck, the next week they are sputtering out of control. Well, which one is it? Seeing as I hold nothing but contempt for the city of Philadelphia and its fans, I will have to vote for the latter. There is a reason I picked the Eagles to finish 3rd in the East behind the Giants and Cowboys, and it has to due with their lack of big time players. Sure McNabb and Westbrook are two of the best at their positions in the entire league, but that's not enough over the course of a 16 game season. They can't seem to make big catches or make big stops on defense when they really need them either. The good news for them is they have their bye coming up this week, followed by a home game with the Deadskins, so that should keep Andy Reid off the hot seat until about Thanksgiving. But make no mistake, it is Reid that is taking all the blame for this. If he can take credit for all the success the team has had the past 5+ years, then he should be in the front of the line when his plays, players and schemes keep falling short week after week. Maybe it wasn't T.O or injuries that held them back last year. It's looking more like they just weren't that good to begin with. And a note to Andy. Giving a team that you yourself said "wasn't prepared" the enitire bye week off, might not be the best strategy. Just a thought.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 3-3-0

Overall: 26-18-5 (.591)

*Just a bad week for me all around I must say. My record here might not look all that bad, but it gets worse the deeper you dig. Not only did I manage just a 2-3 record on my regular picks (the Pats saved me on Monday, thanks boys), but I went 1-3 in me debut making picks on Gresh and Zo for "Locks and Shocks". I can't say I'm surprised, but I would have liked being able to walk into the studio after pulling off a 3-1 or 4-0 week. Maybe next time. And the good news is, the guy I was picking for, had gone 0-4 the week before, so at least I improved on that right?....right???...Damn

*Figures, the one time I instill any sort of confidence in Pete Carroll and his boys, they go out and lose to lowly Oregon St. Figures. Other than that blunder, all was quiet for the most part on the top 10 front. That figures to change this Thursday though as the undefeated West Virginia Mountaineers travel to Kentucky to take on the likewise undefeated Louisville Cardinals. This has got to be one of the biggest games of the year besides maybe Ohio St./Texas and Florida/ Auburn, and it's two teams that people barely know anything about. Well that's bound to change. Get used to it folks, there's a good chance either West Virginia or Louisville could sneak into the national title game. And you know what that means. Plenty of shots on TV of cousins kissing, people walking their pet pigs to the game, and a bunch of drunken townies playing "find yer tooth" in a pile of Tic Tacs...*

College Football Top 10
1. Ohio St. (9-0) 1
2. Michigan (9-0) 2
3. West Virginia (7-0) 3
4. Auburn (8-1) 5
5. Florida (7-1) 6
6. Texas (8-1) 7
7. Notre Dame (7-1) 8
8. Tennessee (7-1) 9
9. USC (6-1) 4
10. Arkansas (7-1) 10

just missed: Louisville, Boston College, California, Wisconsin, Boise St.
dropped: none

Games to Watch This Week
West Virginia @ Louisville
*I'm not so sure how I feel about a game with National Championship implications being played in a place called Papa John's Stadium, but I guess I will have to deal with it. Fact is, this game has all the implications that the Ohio St./Michigan game has, just without all the sex appeal. But either way, expect the winner of this one to take a firm grasp on the #2 spot in the BCS rankings, with the OSU/Michigan winner claiming the #1 spot. Mark it down, November 19th. That's when the BCS argument will start getting really interesting.

LSU @ Tennessee
*It's been the toughest conference all season long without question, and now one of these teams will have to take it's place firmly in the back seat. LSU can kiss any major bowl good bye if they tank this one, seeing as it would be their third loss. But this one means a little more to the Vols. With only one loss, and still a shot to make the SEC title game, Eric Ainge and company need this win bad to keep any chance of a major bowl and a national title alive. Lucky for them they got this one at home, and then only one real test (@ Arkansas 11/11) before the postseason. Unlucky for them is that they sit two wins behind the Gators in the win column in the SEC East.

Boston College @ Wake Forest
*If I told you that the biggest ACC regular season game would be played in week 10 and would involve these two squads, you would probably have had me institutionalized. And I can't say I would have blamed you. Fact is, Boston College has arrived on the national stage as an ACC power this year, and Wake has taken advantage of the down years had by traditional conference powers like Miami, FSU, Georgia and Virginia Tech, Virginia and Clemson. The key to this game will be BC QB Matt Ryan (thats him over there). He's proven himself this year to be a viable early round pick in the draft when he comes out, and his leadership has kept this team focused despite having to face adversity and critics telling them they can't do it all season long.

Oklahoma @ Texas A&M
*Wow has the Big XII fallen on hard times recently. Well, everyone but the Texas Longhorns that is. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that teams like Oklahoma, A&M, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma St were all in and out of the top 25 on a weekly basis? Now the Big XII is lucky to get 3 teams in each week, and the sad thing is one of them is usually Missouri. Oh well. Just for one week we can pretend things are like they used to be, as both Oklahoma and Texas A&M battle it out in a "throwback" top 25 Big XII power matchup.
If a World Series Champ is Crowned and Nobody Is Watching.....
Does it Make a Sound?
To answer my own question...NO. If it weren't for some of the locals that for whatever reason jumped all over the Detroit Tiger bandwagon, I think I may have actually forgotten that the World Series was even being played. And no I'm not exaggerating for effect. The most exciting story from the Fall Classic was "Dirt Gate", and that blew over faster than Kate Moss after a strong sneeze. Face it, this matchup never had any national appeal, and there really weren't any tight, exciting games to make people tune in. The only reason I can guess that people around here were rooting for the Tigers, is that they had been so bad that it was cool to want them to win. You know, like cheering for the Clippers or maybe even the Lions (funny I didn't even try to pick another historically awful team from Detroit it just seemed to happen). I'm all for cheering for the underdog, but in this case the St. Louis Cardinals were actually the underdogs. In fact, with their pitiful 83 regular season wins, they became basically the worst team to ever take home a World Series. Sounds about right. The most boring World Series, brought forth the most unworthy champ. And just to kill any speculation, yes I have been very interested in plenty of World Series that don't involve the Red Sox. I mean seriously, could I have stayed a baseball fan this long if I refused to watch the sport's biggest games just because my home team wasn't in them? But anyway, at least this thing is over and we can start looking forward to next year. My only hope is that we don't somehow end up with a Pirates/Royals matchup next year, because then I actually might have to stop watching baseball altogether. And that would make for a long summer of Seinfeld re-runs....Keith Hernandez anyone?

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Money Train 86 Open Back Door 64
Record: 3-5-0, 10th place

Next Week vs I Got Warrants (7-1-0)

*Well the up and down roller coaster continued this week for my squad. While Michael Vick has continued to prove that he's a legit fantasy QB, the rest of my team decided to take another week off from scoring touchdowns. That just seems to happen too often this season. Now I'm officially 2 games out of a playoff spot and basically need to go at least 4-1 the rest of the regular season to even have a snowball's chance in hell of making it. I suppose the "good" news is that I play 4 out of my last 5 against teams ahead of me in the standings, meaning I control my own destiny a little bit. One thing is for sure, I promise not to get my hopes up until I'm either at .500 again, or within a game of a playoff spot.

*Next week....NBA predictions, Heisman Update and the Pats/Colts recap!


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