Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pats & Sox Strive For Perfection

That MLB playoffs are finally here, and it's about damn time if you ask me. Feels like months ago that the playoffs were a forgone conclusion for the Sox, and while they certainly had their fair of bumps in the road, they were able to hold on to both the AL East crown and the best record in the American League. If you think the first division title in 12 years is enough for the Sox, though, you better think again. It's playoff time! Time to grab that ring, fellas! Here's a look at the match ups in the first round of the playoffs...

Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Mexico

*These two teams sat atop the AL standings for basically the entire season, and their clash of styles should make for a very interesting series. The Sox like to play the classic AL style of get a few guys on base and wait for the big hit, while LA manager Mike Scosia likes to play an NL style of ball, moving runners over, utilizing the hit and run and depending more on good pitching and good defense than your average AL squad. The difference in this one, should be the Sox pitching. If inconsistent starters like Dice K and Schill can turn into virtuoso like performances, than the Sox should be good to go. If, however, the starters struggle a bit in the early going, then the momentum could swing in favor of the Halos. Should be a close series, but naturally, I'm goin' with the Sox. They've owned the Angels in the playoffs in the past, and I expect the dominance to continue here in '07.
Prediction: Sox in 4

Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees

*My inner Red Sox fan is telling me to pick the Indians, my un bias journalistic side is telling to to pick the Yankees and my ravenous sports fan is tellin' me that I want, I need and I crave another Sox/Yanks ALCS. That being said, this should be far from a walkover for the Pin Stripers. They have to deal with probably the best 1-2 punch in the playoffs this season in CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, and they have to do it all on the road. What they do have going in their favor, however, is a dynamic offense and a one two punch in the bully with Joba and Mo that should help drive them into the AL championship series. They might be the Wild Card Yanks this time around, but as long as their starters can get them 6 innings on a nightly basis, it's going to be tough for the Tribe to match them run for run.
Prediction: Yanks in 4

Arizona Diamondbacks vs Chicago Cubs

*In one corner, we have the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have managed to make the playoffs despite not having a single player on their roster with a batting average above .300, and despite being outscored as a team by 20 runs on the season. In the other corner, we have the lovable loser Cubs, who despite a tumultuous season, managed to hold down the NL Central and emerge as the probable NL favorite to reach the big dance. This one's a pretty easy decision for me. The Cubs gave up the second fewest runs in the NL, and the D-Backs scored the fewest runs in the NL. I got the Zona boys winning the first game that Brandon Webb pitches, and that's prolly it....
Prediction: Cubs in 4

Philadelphia Phillies vs Colorado Rockies

*The comeback the Rockies made on Monday night, coming back from 2 down in the bottom of the 13th against the majors all time saves leader, makes the epic comeback by the Phillies in the NL East seem like a distant memory. Combined, the teams have won 16 of their last 20 games en route to their amazing comebacks, but sadly, one of them will be going home after merely one round. Now, it's tough to pick from two such hot teams, but since the Phillies have home field, and just a little more pitching, I'm gonna go with them in a hard fought and long series. I know, I know. I should know better than to pick a Philadelphia team, but trust me, they'll get theirs in round #2.
Prediction: Philly in 5

Patriots Update

Last Week: Super Bowl Champs 34 Cincinnati Bengals 13

Overall: 4-0

Next Week vs Cleveland Browns (2-2)


Is it me, or are Patriots games almost becoming predictably boring? Don't get me wrong, I love the exciting Randy Moss catches as much as the next guy (and how ill was that first TD catch?), but from minute one of the game last night against the Bengals, it seemed it was just a countdown until the game was going to end, rather than a battle for the win. Tom Brady has been the best QB in the league, Randy Moss the best receiver, and both the offensive and defensive lines have been as dominant as ever. I mean, I don't want to sound like a spoiled brat of a fan, but seriously, are there any teams out there ready to give the Pats a challenge. The Chargers and Bengals were supposed to be the early season measuring sticks for the new dynamic squad, but both were easily disposed. So, is there any team out there worthy of the challenge? Well, despite the match up this weekend against the surprisingly potent 2-2 Browns, everyone is looking forward to the possible match up of undefeateds in week 6, when the Pats head to Irving to take on Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Personally, I think the Dallas pass rush and secondary are way too vulnerable to handle the myriad of Patriot offensive weapons, but at least it's a supposed "challenge" before the meeting with the Colts in week 9. Oh well, until then I guess I'll just have to deal with all the blowout wins, highlight reel grabs and the talk of a 19-0 season. Yawwwwwwwwwn. Just another day in New England, boys and girls, just another day. Guess I should just be lucky that my team is actually living up to expectations, which is a lot more than I can say for a few other squads....

Tackle Box
*Dude, what is up with the San Diego Chargers? Is it the departure of Marty Schottenheimer and Cam Kameron? Is it all Norv Turner's fault? Or maybe, could it be that everyone is just prepared better for the Chargers this year? Nah. You want the real reason for the Chargers 1-3 start, then there's no need to look any further than 3rd year QB, Philip Rivers. His numbers are average at best (64% completion, 5 TDs, 6 INTs, 886 yards), and that doesn't even begin to tell the story. Watch this guy play for one series, and you can tell that something is different. He's missing wide open targets, he's rushing his throws and he just doesn't look comfortable in the pocket. Sure, a lot of that can be chalked up to shaky o-line play, or the lack of viable receivers, but if this guy is truly the QB they thought he was, then he should at least be able to compensate for those things a little bit, right? Apparently not. All I know is, it's lucky for Rivers that former Charger, Drew Brees, is doing equally as shitty in New Orleans right now, or he would really be feeling the heat from the San Diego faithful. Oh, and simply because I can't resist. Hey River's, you're playing like a whale's vagina!......and stay classy.....

*To keep that ball rolling, what's the deal in Philly and St. Louis to boot? OK, so the Rams have a lot of injuries, fine, but what about the Eagles? Might as well throw those fools on the scrap heap next to the New Orleans 'Aints. Did Donovan McNabb really get sacked 12 times? I mean maybe everyone was wrong about the Giant defense after the first 2 weeks, but 12 freaking times? It looked like an expansion team offensive line out there for crying out loud. Which reminds me. I actually got a call from Tim Couch about halfway through that Eagles-Giants game that went a little something like this....

Me: Hello?

Tim: Rooch, it's Tim. I need more needles, and another Mexican ID to buy more "candy"....wink, wink.

Me: Did you just say "wink, wink" and "candy" to me in the same sentence?

Tim: Come on man, quit fuckin' with me, I got the itches over here.

Me: Fine, fine. Is that the only reason you called?

Tim: Yeah, why?

Me: Well, I thought maybe you were gonna make some crack about how the Eagle o-line was makin' the one you played behind in Cleveland look like a brick wall.

Tim: Oh....I sold my TV for one of those Skoal bar lights to hang in my window....of my car....well you know, my mom's car....hello?.....Rooch?.....We still on for that make your own "cold medicine" in your bath tub convention this weekend buddy?.....hello?

Fine, none of that really happened, but that's really not the point. The point is, what the hell happened to the Eagles? I know Brian Westbrook is their man and all, but to go from scoring 56 points one week, to looking offensively inept the next? Maybe they just aren't as good as we all thought when the season started, or maybe head coach Andy Reid has been dippin' into his son's heroin stash before makin' up the game plan this week. Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm pretty sure the Phillie faithful didn't imagine their team going into thier bye week 1-3 with a dinged up franchise runner. Could be rough waters ahead, but it seems that fans in the city of brotherly love wouldn't want it any other way.

*And while we're talking about draft busts and not being able to stay out of trouble, there's the sudden re-emergence of former Heisman winner, Ricky Williams. You remember him. Smoked buds, had dreds, strangely retired and flunked a bunch of drug tests? It's ringin' some bells up there, right? Well, he may be back in the limelight. That's right, sources are saying that Ricky has been staying at an in-patient treatment program in the Boston area, and has finally come to terms with his addiction problems. Now, the Holistic healer himself plans to appeal to to Marshall Goodell to let him play ball again, now that his suspension for failing a drug test is over. If you ask me, this is one of the tougher situations Gooddell has had to deal with thus far in his tenure as commish. He's had no problems punishing guys like Pacman, Vick, Tank and Belichick that have blatantly broken rules, but how is he going to deal with a guy that's already served his time? If anything, this decision could serve as a precursor to what he might do when some of the aforementioned guys return from their suspensions. Does Ricky deserve another shot? I think so. If it were up to me, he'd be let back in the league and forced to enter a league treatment or monitoring program for at least his first full season. I understand that Sticky Ricky has been a serial rule breaker, but if head stompers like Albert Haynesworth are let back on the field, how does it speak to deny a guy that's just been blazin' a little chron? When all else fails, I say the good rule of thumb is this: If it's worse in the court of law, then it should be worse in the NFL.

Now, I'm no lawyer, bot last time I checked, trying to remove some one's eye with your shoe usually warrants a larger punishment than rollin up some hippie grass and bumpin' the Grateful Dead. C'mon Commish! Weed is from da earf! FREE RICKY!!!!
(And what's the deal with Pacman Jones, anyway? Is it me, or did the Titans just change the name on the back of his jersey to "Griffin" and still allow him to play? You be the judge. And no, this does not mean I'm on the record as saying "shit, they all look alike")

*By the way, if you want to know the real problem with the QB's in Chicago, I have your answer. Sure, both Rex Grossman and Brian Greise are awful, but the real issue here, is the hair of 3rd stringer, Kyle Orton. I think they know he's the best of the three, but Lovie Smith just can't bring himself to let the guy onto the field. It's like he was cutting his hair with a Flowbie, and someone ran into him with a weed whacker. Dear Lord man, get a mirror...

(OK, so I couldn't find a recent photo of the guy, so you'll have to imagine it. It's like if a long haired woman turned into an ugly hick, but decided to keep her hair....but not wash it...and start cutting it with safty scissors.....damn you google images!!!)

My Picks
Last Week: 3-3-0

Overall: 10-12-2 (.460)

*New rule taking effect as of right now. If I lose with a team one week, I'm not allowed to pick them for a full 3 weeks. I know what you're sayin'. "Oh Rooch, you'll be out of teams in like 3 weeks". Listen here, you jackasses, that's just not true, and you know it! All I need, is a system that will help me get out of my funk. See, I've recognized my problem, and it's picking teams that I really don't have a complete feel for yet, this early in the season. I figure, if I'm wrong about a team one week, I'll give myself a few weeks to figure them out before I try my luck with them again. We'll see if it works, but I like the thought process behind it, so I'm gonna give it my best effort.

Oh, and if I do run out of teams, don't think that means I'm gonna stop makin' picks rat bastards...

College Picks
Last Week: 9-13-0

Overall: 58-44-1 (.568)

*Well excuse me for not predicting the biggest upset weekend in the history of college football. I thought I was on the right track with picks like South Florida, Cal, Kansas St. and Illinois, but there were just too many to keep up with. Add to that, a few of my other cute spoilers like San Diego St. and Idaho didn't come through, and so my record suffers. Never fear, though my good friends, never fear. That was probably the worst week for gamblers all throughout college sports, so for me to almost break even, I'll take that as a good sign of things to come. After all, I'm still in first in my college picks pool, so how badly could I have really done compared to everyone else, right?

News and Notes
*"How come the US has no trouble winning the President's Cup, but they can never win the Ryder Cup?" Seriously, I must have heard that 50 times over the past few days after the US disposed of the International squad over the weekend. Well, I have the oh-so simple answer to all you numskull pundits out there....

A: The President's Cup is the US against all countries not in Europe. The Ryder Cup, is against European players. The Europeans are better at golf (or at least match play golf) than we are, so they beat us. The International players aren't as good, so they lose.

Done and done. I know people wanna say "well they are both match play events", but that doesn't fly with me. That's like saying, "Oh the Patriots beat the Jets, so why do they always have trouble with the Broncos?" Same playing format there, right? IT'S A DIFFERENT TEAM, people. Simple as that.

*I'm not exactly sure how or why her parents decided it was chill to give her this name, but US Women's soccer goalie, Hope Solo, is pretty much the cats pa-jay-jay's. In case you missed it, here is the rant she went on after being replaced in the World Cup semifinals, after leading team US through group play and the quarterfinals.

Now, I know the "company line" is something like "we win as a team, and we lose as a team", but if what Solo says is true, then I'm totally in her camp. Most of the time, I am totally against such statements, but in this case it actually seemed appropriate. Granted, airing her grievances to the media wasn't the smartest move, but I feel her frustration. From an outsiders view, she was winning and the team was winning, so why mess with chemistry, right? Maybe some people "in the know" think that going to veteran goal keeper, Briana Scurry, was the right way to go, but I just don't see how it made any sense at all. I mean, either way, it is still just woman's soccer, so there's no real need to get up in arms over it, but it is fun to watch! You go, Hope, and who cares if you're no longer on the US National team. There's plenty of other things for a scorned soccer goalie to do, right? Hmmmm.....on second thought, maybe you should have kept your minivan ridin' mouth, shut...

*Poor Mikey Vick. He's fallen so far off the NFL map that he's ended up in News and Notes. Hell, even Sticky Icky Ricky made it into the Tackle Box! And it just keeps getting worse for Vick. About a week after the Virginia district attorney announced he too would pursue dog fighting charges against Vick on a state level, a report surfaced that Vick tested positive for marijuana while still in the NFL. This all seems like a little much for me. I'm now saying people should ever be let off the hook when it comes to legal matters, but doesn't this seem like giving a death row inmate a retroactive fine for jaywalking before he was incarcerated? Like, what's next? Health code violations for Jeffrey Dahmer? Vick is a criminal, people, he commits crimes. Piling on him to better your own career as a litigator may seem like a good idea, but it just makes you look like an opportunistic jackass. Where's Duke LAX prosecutor Mike Nifong when you need him anyway?

*And since we're talkin' gavels and jail cells, I wanna end my News and Notes with the verdict on the Isiah Thomas lawsuit. Earlier today (Tuesday), a jury found both Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden are responsible for the sexual harassment of Anucha Brown Sanders, but only MSG is liable. So, to recap. The jury found that Thomas did sexually harass Sanders, but he himself won't have to pay her a penny. In case you don't recognize this jury, it's obviously the same group of knuckle draggers that awarded one Orenthal James Simpson his freedom. I guess I just don't understand the legal system. Then again, I've been to jury duty. And if I don't understand the legal system, then Lord knows all the idiots not smart enough to get out of jury duty don't have a freakin' clue. Oh well, they did determine that Isiah was a skeavy perv, and I guess that's enough justice for me.
Fantasy Update
Last Week: Make It Reign! 65 Sloppy Africans 40
Overall: 3-1-0, 3rd place

Next Week vs Syzmanksi's Jetski (2-2-0)

*Boy was I lucky to get away with a win this week! Despite playing without Brian Westbrook, and getting no production from virtually the rest of my roster, I was able to snag a win, and continue to march towards the playoffs. While I wasn't totally thrilled with my win, it's weeks like this that are the difference between a winning fantasy season, and one where you're stuck in the traditional back-and-forth middle of the pack. The key, is to score the most points when you need them, and to have your team have an "off" week, the same week that you're playing a lesser team. Sounds easy, but seeing as it's totally out of my control, it's nice when it actually works out. This week coming up, I'm going to need all the big guns I can muster as I play KB, who is at 2-2, but is 3rd in the league in points, one ahead of me. A win here, and I'll be able to see the playoffs off in the future. A loss, and I'll be thrown back to the wolves and really put on the spot again in week 6. Shit's gettin' serious, folks!


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