Friday, November 30, 2007

Lifestyle vs Deathstyle

In the early hours of Monday morning, November 26th, someone busted into Washington Redskin's Sean Taylor's Miami home, and fatally shot him. Police are calling it a burglary gone awry, yet nothing was stolen. The media at large is saying that this is a result of the "crowd" that Taylor ran with. His coaches and teammates will tell you that since the birth of his daughter almost two years ago, Taylor has cleaned up is act and isn't the same person that pistol whipped a man that he thought had stolen his SUV, or spit in the face of another player as he did to Tampa's Michael Pittman. And then there's his former Miami Hurricane teammate, Antrel Rolle, who says he knows for a fact that Taylor has been living in fear for his life for the past 3 years. Whoa, that's a lot to digest, right? Well, lemme try to break it all down for ya.

First and foremost, no matter what caused this event to take place, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, deserves to be shot in their own home while they are sleeping. OK. May-be OJ. But you get my point. So I don't care if Sean Taylor ran with a bunch of gun toting thugs. Unless you can prove to me that Taylor himself had direct involvement with an actual murder, then there's no way he deserved this end to his life. Now, just because he didn't deserve it doesn't mean he was smart in making sure it didn't happen. For one, that same home was broken into only 8 days before, yet Taylor had taken no precautions to make sure it didn't happen again. Not even that, but what was this guy even doing in Miami to begin with? If he had cleaned up his act, and he did fear for his life, then why stay in the place that is most likely to cause you most harm? I understand it's tough to leave your friends, but the fact that he has a family, and was trying to set a good example for them, should have been enough motivation for him to move on. Unless, of course, he was in a gang stemming back to his childhood, and couldn't leave. Which in that case, his untimely death would probably have been punishment from the gang for him making it big, and then leaving them behind. I'm not saying he was in a gang, but it's a theory I've heard floated out there, and racist or not, I'm not quick to dismiss it. It's sure as hell better than the theory the cops are feeding us right now...

I'm no criminal, but when people break into a house (and possibly for the 2nd time in 8 days), shouldn't they be stealin' shit? I mean, isn't that the whole point? And don't try to sell me on the fact they got flustered when they shot Taylor so plans changed, because then there should be an orgy of evidence left behind from the hasty getaway. From all the accounts I've heard, from Taylors girlfriend to number of investigators, it sounds like these guys were there to murder Sean Taylor, plain and simple. Then again, would they have left him with just a groin wound, which they could not have known was fatal, if they were strictly there to kill him? Maybe, maybe not. I think what it comes down to, is I'm more willing to believe that the shooter wasn't that bright (or a good shot), more than I'm gonna believe that these people intended to steal shit, and then just decided against it. Thanks, but no thanks.

Now I don't want to make it sound like Taylor got what he deserved, because Lord knows I've been rough on him in the past. Like I've already said, no matter what his past discretion's, nobody deserves this, but when something like this "isn't a surprise," is it really any different? We're talking about Sean Taylor. Best known for pistol whipping a guy, getting his SUV shot up with an AK while he wasn't in it, cheap-shotting a punter in the Pro Bowl, and spitting in a guys face during a playoff game. And that doesn't even begin to account for all the trouble he got into while a member of the Miami Hurricanes (who oh, by the way, have had 11 of their players die due to off the field incidents since 1992). When you can't separate your boys from the grabbers on, and you can't tear yourself away from all your bad habits, you're gonna have a tougher time getting by than the rest of us. Sean Talyor's daughter doesn't deserve to grow up without a father, and Sean Taylor didn't deserve to meet his end at only 24 years old, but sometimes, you just are who you are, for better or for worse. And in the end, it seems that Sean Taylor didn't "reap what he sowed" as much as his Lifestyle came to determine, his Deathstyle. It's a far too frequent tale of tragedy, and if more people in sports and in life don't start looking at their life more seriously, it's only going to continue in a vicious cycle for the rest of time...

R.I.P Sean Taylor (1983-2007)

Freaky stat of the year: Marquise Hill, Darrent Williams and Sean Taylor were all victims of either murder or accidental death this year. All were 24 years old when they passed away. I know a lot of you reading this are 24, or at least close too it. Kinda scary, isn't it?

Much like the Redskins this week, we all have to accept that this tragedy occurred, and move on. After all, it is the most therapeutic thing to do, and if I'm one thing, it's therapeutically correct. So it's on to the games that are sure to make you sound like a pimp, and possibly even dress like one too...

First up, I'm flippin' the script. For most of the season, the Indianapolis Colts have been a lock to cover as a favorite, but since the injury bug has hit them harder than an 8-ball of Meth they just haven't been the same and now can't be trusted. They are at home, and they might pull this one out, but the Jags always play them tough, and I'll take my chances with a reinvigorated Jacksonville offense to go along with that stout defense (17.7 ppg allowed). David Garrard has been playing real solid QB since his return, and Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are as potent a combo as ever. With Reggie Williams finally stepping up as the #1 WR, this is beginning to look like the only team that will have a feasible shot at knocking off the Patriots come playoff time. Make sure and take note that I said "feasible shot," which can also be translated to "still no real chance in Hell." The Indy defense just isn't the same without Freeney, and the offense isn't the same without Starvin' Marvin Harrison. Take the Jags, and the points, and begin polishing your best Peyton Manning impression so you can mock him throughout the entire game. Dang!...

Next on the docket is what I feel is my biggest reach of the week, and that's the San Diego Chargers over the Kansas City Chiefs. The only thing I really have to hang my hat on, is that the Chargers are "hot," winning 5 of their last 7 and coming off an 18 point win against the Ravens. Other than that, everything is telling me KC should be a solid cover here. Their at home, they have a great pass rush, they have great corners, and they already beat the Chargers by 14 in San Diego about 2 months ago. Maybe it's just my disdain for KC coach, Herm Edwards (who cost his Chiefs the game last week when he decided against kicking a 35 yard field goal that would have tied the game late in the 4th), or maybe it's the fact that I feel the Chargers are turning it around, but I'm goin' with the Bolts. Oh, I know what it might be. My good friend, Sean Philipps, just got a powder blue "Shaun Phillips" San Diego Chargers jersey! If that's not karma, then I really have no clue what good karma might be. Look for Merriman and Shaun P to be in the backfield enough to make life difficult for the KC offense, and look for LT play-action to open up some major seams for Philly Rivers to connect with Gates, Chambers and Vincent Jackson all day long. It might already feel like a loss, but I just gotta go with my gut on this one...

If you thought that was a bit of a reach, then you're really gonna think I've lost it with this next pick. Fresh off his 3 TD performance, I like Chad Johnson, Carson Palmer and the Bengals to roll into Pittsburgh and flat out beat the Steelers. Just weeks removed from being one of the Patriots biggest competitors, the Steelers have fallen off the map with a loss to the Jets and a near loss to the Dolphins in the Monday Night Monsoon. Maybe they started reading their own press clippings, or perhaps they haven't been getting their daily dose of Humble Pie, but whatever it is, they just haven't been that good lately. Now they come up against a Bengal team that put a 29 point smackdown on Vince Young and the Titans last week, and at 4-7, are in must win mode from here on out. Obviously they shouldn't have realistic expectations to make the playoffs at this point, but they also have to know that any hope goes right out the window with their next loss. The Steelers are good, don't get me wrong, and they're probably a better team than the Bengals, just not this week. If you're lookin' for a solid money line, take Cincy for the win, but if you want the safe play, then take Ocho Cinco and lay the 7 puntos....por favorrrrrr....

For my fourth selection, I've chosen to go with a game that the only people watching will have chains around their tires, snow shoes in their garage, and a love for all things having to do with hunting, fishing, and Canada. We venture to the Great North, where we find the Detroit Lions in town to face the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes are winners of 2 straight and fresh off a pasting of Eli and the Giants, while Detroit has dropped 3 in a row and lost those by an average of 10 points a piece. Minnesota is great at controlling the line of scrimmage on offense, while the Lions lead the league in sacks allowed. So, to cut to the chase. Minnesota will be able to run all day long and control the clock, while Jon Kitna will be scrambling for his life the entire day while his team tries to play catchup. The Detroit defense feeds off turnovers, so as long as Minny can keep from coughing up the pill, they should have no problems pulling this one out. And hey, Jon Kitna. To get those 10 wins you guaranteed before the season, you're gonna have to lead your boys to a 4-1 finish my friend. Sounds like it's time to make a deal with the devil, and tell Jesus to beat it...

For my final game, I went into the division where all sure things go to die, the NFC South. This division constantly burns me whenever I try to pick one of it's teams, and especially when I pick a "divisional" game. Eh, screw it. I'm going to play devil's advocate to...well...myself, and go with who I don't think should win this game, the Tampa Bay Bucs. I know this sounds wicked retahded, but trust me, when it comes to NFC South match ups, it's always Bizarro World Central, or BWC if you like to sound cool like all the cool kids and their leather jackets. So, while the Saints have been relatively hot, seem to have things clicking, and are at home, I'm taking the Bucs to not only cover, but to win this sucker outright. A reach? Maybe. Flawed logic? Certainly. I'm just tellin' ya, these games never turn out like they should, and if you're crazy enough to play that trend, then I think you can cash in.

Week 13 Picks
Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) @ Indianapolis Colts
San Diego Chargers (-5.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals (+7.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) vs Detroit Lions
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) @ New Orleans Saints

Monday Night
New England Patriots (-20) @ Baltimore Ravens

*OK, so now the Pat's have burned me twice this year. Even so, they're still 9-2 against the spread, and their playing a Ravens team that makes the wishbone look like a revolutionary passing attack. Their defense seems to be aging in front of our eyes (no matter how much Bill Belichick gushes about Ed Reed), and they simply don't have any answers for the barrage of weapons the Pats bring on both sides of the ball. As I said before, the only team I fear now, is possibly Jacksonville in the playoffs, so consider the Ravens just another speed bump on the way to 16-0. The Eagles may have provided the "Blueprint", but after this one I don't think there will be any "Reasonable Doubt" that New England is the best team in the league. Catch that Jay-Z reference in there did ya? I used to sell snow flakes by the O-Z!! I can see it now. Hova and the Hoodie LIVE from Carnegie cameras allowed...

Last Week: 4-2-0

Overall: 42-29-4 (.587)

News and Notes
*Everyone in Red Sox Nation has Johan Santana fever, baby! Reports surfaced early Thursday that the Twins had made an offer to the Sox in which Boston gives up Coco Crisp, Jon Lester and minor leaguers Jed Lowrie (SS) and Justin Masterson (P) in return for Santana, the two time Cy Young Award winner. Lowrie, is a big time prospect that projects to be a power hitting short stop at the Major League level in just a few years time, and Masterson is a 6'6 sinker baller that could very well be ready to go in the bigs as soon as the end of the '08 season. Notice that the two names not included in the deal were Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz. I say, screw Buchholz, if you can get the deal done without trading Ellsbury, then it's on like Donkey Kong. Hell, even if it takes Ellsbury to get Sanatan here, I think I'm doing that deal too. Having Johan Santana on your team, and just as importantly keeping him from the Yankees, will ensure a killer rotation for years to come, and can certainly overcome any offense and defense that Ellsbury might bring to the table. Not only would the Sox be adding Johan, a guy that has gone 70-32 over the last 4 seasons, but it's just as important that they are keeping the game's best left hander away from the pitching starved Evil Empire. Granted, it's going to take a real big extension after Santana arrives (he's demanding 6 years and $150 mil before he waives his no trade clause), but while the Sox have been reluctant to give long contracts in the past, I think the Minnesota ace is one of the few in the game for who they might make an exception. The guy is a once in a generation type player, and if Boston has the chance to land him, then Theo Epstein and friends would be best served to get the deal done.

*In other news, Bobby Knight shot some guy with his shotgun while on a hunting trip, Isiah Thomas continues to be the world's worst employee, and Rodney King (yes that Rodney King) got shot in the face with a shotgun, but not by Bobby Knight. There's way too much to get too, and I have way too little time. Sorry to tease you like that, but I'm movin' on and I just had to throw those thoughts out there...OK fine. Here's the video of Cardinal's coach Tony LaRussa sauced off his can. Don't drink and drive kids!
Now the only thing better than random guys getting blasted in the face, or attempting to drink their face "off", is college hoops baby! It's freekin' awesome!

College Hoops Top 10
1. Memphis (6-0) 1
2. North Carolina (6-0) 2
3. Kansas (6-0) 3
4. Washington St. (6-0) 4
5. UCLA (7-0) 6
6. Georgetown (4-0) 10
7. Southern Illinois (3-1) 8
8. Indiana (5-1) 9
9. Butler (6-0) NR
10. USC (6-1) NR

just missed: Texas A&M, Oregon, Gonzaga, Kansas St.

dropped: (5) Louisville; (7) Tennessee

*Unlike the real pollsters, I'll be honest and tell you that I've yet to see all of these teams play. Even more, I haven't really seen enough of any team to make a real sound judgment on them. Now that doesn't stop me from putting out a poll, but just keep in mind that in the coming weeks, as I watch more and more of the great game we call college hoops, my opinions of certain teams may change quite drastically. More so than any other sport, college basketball is a living and breathing game that's constantly in a fluid state of motion. That's why the games are so fun to watch and why the tournament is so great. Well, that and all the office pools, of course. So, with all that in mind, here are a few observations I have made through the start of the season...

-This year's crop of freshmen is stacked. Keep your eyes out for Michael Beasley (Kansas St.), Donte Greene and Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Kevin Love (UCLA), OJ Mayo (USC), Eric Gordon (Indiana) and Kyle Singler (Duke). These kids can flat out ball, and don't be surprised if a few of them hang around longer than some of their one and done predecessors.

-Butler is quickly emerging as the Gonzaga of the East. The Bulldogs already have wins over Michigan, @ Virginia Tech and @ Texas Tech to open their season, and they showdown with Ohio St. on Saturday. Adam Graves (18.5 ppg) is back from the team that went to the Sweet 16 last year, and they've proven they are just as tough this year, bursting out of the gate at 6-0 with some impressive non conference road W's...

-I hate to say it, but watching Duke play the other night really convinced me. Not only are the Dukies real good again, but they are super athletic this time around. Not since the days of Corey Maggette, Elton Brand and William Avery did Coach K have guys that can fly around like Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler, and senior leader Demarcus Nelson. OH, and you know they can shoot 3's like a mother, and they bust their ass on defense. Greg Paulus is still a dirty punk from the dirty 'Cuse, but it's only a matter of time before one of the UNC blue chipper's tries to take some of his teeth out...

-As for my Syracuse Orange, I might have been a little hasty putting them just outside my top 10, but I still love the talent and potential this team has. And I'm talking about this year too. The loss against Ohio St. wasn't a bad one for such a young team, and while giving up 107 to UMASS in the Carrier Dome isn't exactly awe inspiring, it doesn't really worry me either. I saw how a young team, led by Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara came together as the season progressed, and I can see a lot of the same happening this season. Donte Greene (20.5 ppg / 8.5 rpg) and Johnny Flynn (12.5 ppg / 6.8 apg) are probably the best freshman tandem in the nation, and coupled together with soph Paul Harris and junior thug Eric Devendorf, should make for a tough guard based team to deal with come tourney time. That is if they don't get snubbed again this year...

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Make It Reign! 55 Payroll Bitches 70

Overall: 8-3-1, 4th place

*The good news is that I clinched a playoff spot. The bad news is I don't trust my team any further than I can throw any of them. I loaded my roster with big name guys that are known for scoring touchdowns, and I'm watching them consistently not score touchdowns, with the exception of TO and Brian Westbrook. If I'm gonna make any sort of run in the post season, Torry Holt and LaDainian Tomlinson are gonna need to step it up, Dallas Clark will need to return to pre-concussed form, and I, as the, GM will have to make the right call each week between David Garrard, Jason Campbell and the now shaky idiot hick, Elisha Manning. Too bad these games aren't played on paper, or I'd really like my chances, instead of sitting here expecting my team to underachieve, yet again.


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