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!

Friday, October 27, 2006

NFL Week 8 Picks

*At least all those dumb Monday night football commercials that air everyday telling me how long till the next game have the Patriots in them this week. But the inevitable truth is, eventually they will go back to just pissing me off. The good news is, one of my favorite aspects of the NFL came back in full force this week. After being muzzled by his coach, and limping out to his worst start in recent memory (30 catches / 373 yards / 1 TD), Bengals WR Chad Johnson announced that "I'm back", and better than ever. Not only did Johnson guarantee that he would score more than once against Falcons DB DeAngelo "Falls" (the two are good friends), he even offered to pay for T.J Housmandzadeh's fine after the two celebrate together in the aftermath. Topping that, Johnson asked that the press refer to him from now on as "Ocho Cinco" in order to properly celebrate the NFL's Spanish heritage month. And just to finish up, he asked reporters if they had seen the new dollar bills, because according to him, they now have his picture on them. Oh man. I tell ya, I never get sick of this guy and I hope he does come back and start scoring and dancing again. So long as I'm not playing against him in fantasy that given week. But now onto the more pressing matter, my picks for week 8. I couldn't help but notice that I picked 3 out of the 4 NFC South teams to win this week (and the Colts are the lone AFC team I picked minus Monday night). I'll admit it's one of my favorite divisions, but believe me, picking 3 of them this week wasn't intentional. However, I picked that conference as the strongest before the season began (narrowly ahead of the NFC East), so maybe they will reward me by covering all 3 matchups I picked and guaranteeing me a winning week. And of course here's to hoping my Pat's don't let me down on Monday night in what I've dubbed the "Bethel Johnson Bowl"...*

Week 8 Picks

Atlanta Falcons (+3.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
New Orleans Saints (-1.5) vs Baltimore Ravens
St. Louis Rams (+9.5) @ San Diego Chargers
Indianapolis Colts (+3) @ Denver Broncos
Carolina Panthers (-4.5) vs Dallas Cowboys

Monday Night
New England Patriots (-1.5) @ Minnesota Vikings

Last Week: 4-1-1

2006 Season: 23-15-5 (.605)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

NFL Players Use Steroids?!?!

These days, if you're talking steroids, you're usually talking about major league baseball. Even more to the point, you're usually talking about Barry Bonds and BALCO. Well, this week, there's a whole new steroid buzz coming from the golden state, and this time, it's in the NFL. A week after suspending two lesser known players for steroid infractions, the NFL handed down a 4 game suspension to last years defensive rookie of the year, and by some accounts this years leader for defensive player of the year, Shawne "Lights Out" Merriman of the San Diego Chargers. According to reports, both Merriman's A and B samples tested positive over week ago, and the only reason his name wasn't announced with the others was that he appealed his failed test. So now what? At least Merriman has issued an apology to everyone right? Yeah right. The fact is, we should expect more players to start testing positive in the near future, and I expect most of them to be these hybrid freaks just like Merriman. If you seriously think about it, how else can a man that's 6'5" and 270 pounds get around so fast and hit so hard without using roids? The human body isn't meant to be used like that. Of course I see the advantage of using HGH and steroids in baseball, but it makes even more sense in the NFL. These guys already talk about how short their shelf life in the league is, and so why not take a few extra risks with your health to make the big dollar in the short window of opportunity that have. I can't say I blame anyone that doesn't get caught for trying to get an edge, but when you test positive for a substance like an anabolic steroid, you deserve what you get. I'm not saying cheating is a good thing, but at least don't throw it in our faces. Hasn't Barroid taught you guys anything? As long as you keep using drugs that can't be tested for, all we can do is speculate! But now, Merriman and the Chargers have serious issues. For San Diego, now both of their first round picks in the 2005 draft (DT Luis Castillo) have tested positive for illegal steroids in their careers, and they are left without their best defensive player for at least 4 games. For Shawne, the fall out should be even worse. Forget the fact that he's been labeled a cheater and will have a cloud of doubt cast over him the rest of his career, but now if he regresses at all upon his return, all his past success will be contributed to roiding up. Hey, he brought it all upon himself, so I don't feel sorry for him, but it's never good to see such a great player called out and proven to be a cheater. Sad thing is, there's no way we've seen the end of players testing positive, and the NFL could be headed to a baseball-like steroid scandal for sure. Maybe not as big, but trust me, players you admire, or have grown up rooting for, will be exposed in the weeks and maybe seasons to come. As the tests get harder, the frauds will be exposed. Consider Merriman a domino in a game that could knock down some of the games biggest stars.

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England 28 Buffalo 3
Record: 5-1

Next Week vs Minnesota Vikings (4-2) on Monday Night!

*It's hard to find negative things to say when your team just routed a divisional foe 28-3 on the road, but I'm going to try anyway. After all, the Pats aren't going to be playing the Bills in the playoffs now are they? So, in order for me to feel more comfortable about the Pats chances to continue building their dynasty, they are going to have to pass protect better. I don't know about you, but the next time Tom Brady has to appear on "jacked up" is going to be one time too many. The truth is, the Pats are 5-1 with Tom Brady still having a sub par year for him. If the O-line can give him more time, then maybe the passing game can catch up to the running game and the offense can truly be balanced. This week should be a good test against the Vikes. It's a tough atmosphere, but it's Monday night. The bigger the stage, the better Tom Brady always performs. Plus, since it's on the road, the spread should be nice. So when the Pats win, maybe you can celebrate and win some loots too. Always a good thing. The one thing I would be worried about is having to sit Richard Seymour due to an injury. It's even possible that Seymour may be out up to six weeks, but for now that's just a rumor so let's not get ahead of ourselves. However, it might be the worst possible matchup to have him missing. One of the best O-lines in football, and if the Pats can't get pressure on Brad Johnson, that building will get noisy. And the noisier the dome gets, the harder it's going to be for the offense to operate.

NFL News and Notes
*I can safely say I have seen 2 of the 3 longest kicks in history live on TV, and both could have gone further. And that's what bugs me. Matt Bryant kicked a 62 yard game winner this Sunday to put the Bucs over the Eagles, but the ball still could have gone probably another 4-6 yards! That brings me to ask the question: Why aren't these longer field goals ever attempted? I'm not dumb enough to think that just because Bryant made this one that all kickers can do it, or even that all these kicks will be made, but you gotta try! How many times has your team had a 60+ yard FG attempt but decided instead to bomb it into the endzone or try a multi-lateral play? Right, probably not a ton of times, but you get my point. We all hate on kickers the majority of the time, but the fact is, those long kicks are about as exciting as any other play the game has to offer. Seeing more of those attempted wouldn't be a bad thing. And who knows, maybe one day we could be sitting here talking about the first ever 70 yard field goal. It could be reality, if only Janikowski would lay off the sauce.

*It's times like this that I'm glad I have nothing but pure unabashed hatred for all things to do with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their season is sinking faster than Jerome Bettis in the kiddie pool, and it doesn't look like there's much they can do about it. Big Ben is dinged up yet again, and this time it actually happened on the football field, how rare. It wasn't a motorcycle or an appendix, it was an actual hit. So now what for the defending champs? Their main man on offense is funked up, as is Joey Porter on D, and Willie Parker is having much more trouble running the ball than any anticipated, averaging nearly a yard less per carry than last season. The good news, is that they get to play Oakland next week. The bad news, I'm not sure they will be able to beat the Raiders in Oakland! You heard me, the Steelers are shot. One for the thumb? Well I got an idea where they can put that thumb after they are sitting at 2-5 with no hope of a playoff spot.

*Apparently Dennis Green was more sure about who the Chicago Bears were than he was about who the winless Oakland Raiders were. But really, who didn't see this coming? After blowing a lead of epic proportions on Monday night, Denny Green and his boys promptly came out and got run by the team that at the time held the title of "Worst Team in the League". Well, not anymore. Move over Oakland, cuz Denny's boys apparently want to take a run at your throne. This season started in the desert with a new stadium, the hope of a new prodigy at QB, and again renewed confidence that the team could make a strong push for the playoffs. WRONG! The Cardinals are still who they have always been, LOSERS. And to make matters worse, the buzz around town is that they will make a strong push to pick up Pete Carroll from USC this off-season. HAHAHA Excuse me if I don't fall over laughing. I mean, ummm, sure that's a great strategy. Pick up a guy who has twice been run out of the league, simply because he's had great success in college. What's the matter? Steve Spurrier and Dennis Erickson aren't available? There's a reason franchises like this are always awful, and that's because they constantly make bad decisions. So, bring on Pete Carroll, and bring on another losing decade for the Arizona Cardinals.

*I'm not going to go as far as to say that the Monday night game lived up to all it's hype, but it was a good watch none the less. Despite the 500 interviews they made us watch with Tiki Barber looking like a fruit cocktail, or the zillion T.O vs Parcells segments that kept popping up, the game still provided some thrills. No story line was as good as Bill Parcells switching QBs halfway through the game though. I usually defend Parcells, not because we always agree, but because I respect him as a coach. But I have to disagree with him on this one. I don't get what Bledsoe did to be taken out of that game. Sure he moves about as well as "the actual statue of liberty" to quote Tony Kornheiser, but was this something the Cowboys just realized last night? They knew what they had in Bledsoe. He can't move, but if you give him time he can be one of the best passers in the league. But there in lies the problem. "IF" you give him time. I've always said, Drew Bledsoe is the perfect QB for the Cowboys. That is, the Cowboys of the early 90's that had the best offensive line in football history. That's the only line that could maybe come close to giving this guy enough time. But to hand the reigns over to Tony Romo halfway through a season defining Monday night game? Is there a more pressure spot to put a person in? And to make matters worse, Tuna had a chance to bring Drew back after Romo through a pick on his first attempt, but decided against it. To me, this is just a sign that Bill Parcells has had enough. He might not be throwing in the towel, but that move reeked of desperation. One thing is for sure. there's a certain wide receiver who might not take too kindly to any QB controversy that might keep him from getting his touchdowns. I can't remember his name right now, but I'm sure you know who he is. Hint: He dropped a critical 4th down pass last night.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 4-1-1

Overall: 23-15-5 (.605)

*Another solid week in the books as I continue my climb further and further north of .500. The funny thing is, if I had done any sort of statistical research before doing my picks, I would have likely gone 4-0-1 for Sunday games. Turns out, after another loss this week, the San Diego Chargers are only 3-14 in their last 17 trips to Arrowhead Stadium. To quote Adam Sandler, that's information that could have been brought to my attention yesterday!

The Roaster's Secret Recipe?
Leave it to Kenny Rogers to spice up what would otherwise be one of the most boring World Series matchups in recent memory. That's not a knock against the Tigers, who are one of the best turn around stories ever, or the Cards, who are in their second World Series in 3 years and represent possibly the best baseball town in the country, but let's face it, not many of us were paying much attention to the Fall classic. That is until now. During the beginning stages of game 2, it became evident to most of you (I say you because I choose not to watch this garbage) watching at home that Kenny had some "foreign substance" on his pitching hand. Now the hot rumor is that it was pine tar, which would enable The Roaster to get a better grip on the ball in the cold weather and give his old arm the ability to put a little extra spin on the bean. Tony LaRussa says he talked to the umps about it, but Rogers insists he noticed the dirt and washed it off himself between the first and second innings. How about this. He cheated, we all know he was cheating, he got caught cheating and he should have been punished. And the fact that LaRussa let it go as easily as he did, should piss off his players and all St. Louis Cardinal fans. If Kenny Rogers wants me to believe that he had this junk on his hand for an entire inning and didn't realize, then he thinks I must be a sucker. And I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a sucker. The guy must have looked down at his left hand a couple dozen times in the first inning alone, and you're telling me he didn't notice a brown stain the size of chicken wing on it? If you buy that one, I got a chest of ice in Alaska I'd like to sell ya. Fact is, Kenny Rogers has never done anything to give him the benefit of the doubt in the public eye, and the fact that this coincides with his 23 inning post-season scoreless streak isn't helping his cause. The game should have been stopped, Rogers' hand should have been inspected by the umpires in full view of both coaches, and it should have been dealt with. That way there would be no debate. Instead, this cloud will hang over the Tigers and the '06 World Series. We have the technology to the point where millions of people on TV around the world saw that this guy was cheating, so why not take advantage of this? Everyone wants to complain about umpires missing ball and strike calls, but it appears that's the least of their problems. It's one thing when they can't stop cheating behind the scenes, but it's totally another when it happens in plane sight and nothing is done. Tony LaRussa should be embarrassed, the umpires should be embarrassed and most importantly Kenny Rogers should be ashamed. All this proves is that major league baseball is still a mess, and even when they try to get things right they can't seem to get out of their own way. Kenny Rogers cheated, other guys still cheat, and MLB is helpless to stop them, even when the evidence is right in front of their face. Just ask Barry.

*Unlike those losers in the AP and coaches poll, I'm not too stubborn to drop a team in the rankings even if they win. Two examples of that this week come from the Big East, as I sent Louisville out of the top 10 and dropped West Virginia from the #2 spot that they've held for more than a month. Truth is, I just haven't been impressed with the way those teams have dispatched with the losers within their own conference. The only story in college football continues to be Michigan and Ohio St. steamrolling towards what is sure to be an instant classic on November 18th. Until one of them loses, or that game comes, all the other teams are playing for third place. That's right, as of now, I think that even after that battle, those two teams should meet again for the BCS title. I know there's a lot of other talented teams out there, especially in the SEC, but prove me wrong boys. Prove me wrong.*

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

just missed: Boston College, Clemson, Boise St., Louisville, California
dropped: (9) Louisville, (10) Georgia Tech

Games to Watch this Week
Clemson @ Virginia Tech
*I'm not going to lie. Even after a convincing victory over Georgia Tech in Death Valley last weekend, there's still something I don't like about the Clemson Tigers. Maybe it's the fact that they have a Bowden as a head coach, I just don't know. But I do know this, no matter what I think, if C.J Spiller and James Davis combine for another 332 yards on 37 carries this week coach Beemer might be calling to ask Marcus Vick if he can borrow one of his shotguns.

Tennessee @ South Carolina
*Phil Fulmer has got to be licking his chops. For once, in his matchups against Steve Spurrier, he has the higher ranked team, more talent, and a great shot at an SEC title. If you are expecting some bad news to follow, other than the fact that the Vols have to travel to Columbia for this one, I just don't see any. The Ole Ball coach may like his QB Syvelle Newton, but he looks more like Mark Brunell than he does Rex Grossman or Danny Wuerffel.

Georgia vs Florida (in Jacksonville, Florida)
*The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Need I say more? Probably, but I don't have time to explain everything to you losers.

Oklahoma @ Missouri
*This is the first real test for the Sooners following the Adrian Peterson injury. For the Tigers, this, combined with their next game against Nebraska, will determine whether or not they play for the Big XII title and a BCS spot in Dallas. Safe to say motivation shouldn't be a problem for either squad.

Miami @ Georgia Tech
*Hmmm. Let's call this one, the beginning of the end for Larry Coker. Of course the Canes beat Duke last week, even with half their starters out, but now comes a real test. The U has to travel to Atlanta to take on a G-Tech squad reeling from their recent bomb out of the top 10 at the hands of the Clemson Tigers. If Coker wins, his job may be safe, but if he loses, he can start searching the want ads for jobs in 1-AA.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Open Back Door 64 Bird Squad 60
Record: 3-4-0, 10th place

Next Week vs The Money Train (5-2)

*I don't have any delusions about my team. Matter of fact, the way they have screwed me time and time again this season, I would be surprised if I ended up making the playoffs. But, the good news is, I won. Had I lost this game, my season would have been over barring a remarkable run. Instead, now I'm right back in it, at least for another week. Just a little stat in case you plan on betting on my fantasy matchup this week: Open Back Door is 1-1 in games when they can get to .500. I'd really like to beat The Money Train, but no more than I'd want to beat anyone else I suppose. But then again, it's always nice to take down a fellow trash talker.

Friday, October 20, 2006

NFL Week 7 Picks

*For once, the talk all week wasn't about T.O. Well, at least not all of it. Most of the talk this week centered around Giants RB and all-time leading rusher Tiki Barber, who is saying that he will likely retire at season's end. I can't say I see why he wants to walk away now, seeing as he's coming off a career season in which he ran for 1,860 yards, 9 TDs and 2,390 yards from scrimmage, the second most in NFL history(Marshall Faulk had 2,429 in 1999). Not to mention, he currently ranks 21st all-time in rushing yards (3rd active leader) and should pass the 10,000 yeard mark later this season. Sure, there's a lot to be said for walking away at the top of your game like Jim Brown or Barry Sanders (or even more recently Vikings RB Robert Smith), but I think there's more to be said for finishing what you started. After years of playing on mediocre teams, the Giants are entering a period where stars like Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey are coming into their prime, so why walk away now? Not to mention, Tiki would be leaving more than $8 mil on the table and would more than likely end up a top 10 all-time rusher. Seems like enough reasons to stay for me, but what do I know. Barber is saying that he's intrigued by outside projects like television and working with children. I mean come on, he's acting like if he played a few more seasons he would be too old to do these things. He's only 31! Well, if he does choose to retire, this may be one of the last times you get to see him on a national stage. So make sure to tune in Monday night, because I'm sure the Giants will continue to screw me, as they are 1-3-0 against the spread when I pick them this season.*

Week 7 Picks
San Diego Chargers (-5.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Carolina Panthers (+3) @ Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts (-9) vs Washington Redskins
Atlanta Falcons (+3) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots (-5.5) @ Buffalo Bills

Monday Night
New York Giants (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys

Last Week:

2006 Season:
19-14-4 (.578)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Detroit Rocks, Chicago Shocks

I'm not going to lie and say I saw this coming. Nor am I going to lie and say I can remember the last time the Detroit Tigers were in the World Series, even though I was technically alive. To say that this World Series run by the Detroit Tigers is surprising just doesn't do it justice, and something tells me they aren't done quite yet. From a team that lost 119 games in 2003 and 91 a year ago, to one that nearly blew their chances at the playoffs down the stretch this year, to American League champs. The Tigers absolutely blew by the Oakland A's, sweeping them in impressive fashion, and capping it all off with a walk off LCS homer by Magglio Ordonez. That makes 7 straight win for Detroit and a long rest before having to battle either New York or St. Louis. And at this point, it's looking like whoever the Tigers do face is going to have more than their hands full. Detroit out pitched and out hit both the Yankees and A's in a league that has been considered the stronger of the two all season long. There's no reason to think they can't do the same to either the Mets or Cards, especially with the rest. They can set their rotation any way they want it, while the other two teams are having trouble deciding who they are going to send to the mound on any given night, even with the aid of 2 rain cancellations.

*In the other LCS, the Cardinals are giving the Mets all they can handle and then some. After the rain cancelled two games, Albert Pujols backed up his earlier smack talk on Tom Glavine with a HR that helped the Cards grab a 3-2 series lead heading back to New York. To be completely honest, for whatever reason I have lost all interest in this series. I want to say there is no real story line to grab the average fans attention, but that's not entirely true seeing as neither team has won a World Series in quite some time. But regardless, the series doesn't really interest me, so I will hold off on any further comment until the World Series is set.

Patriots Update
Last Week: Bye
Record: 4-1

Next Week @ Buffalo Bills (2-4)

*Even with the Patriots off this week, they still managed to make some news. The first was in a positive way, with the signing of free agent WR Jabaar Gaffney. I can't say that Gaffney will bring any help to the Pats passing game, but I guess adding another body couldn't hurt. Then again, there are reasons why guys get cut by the Texans and spend most of the first half of the season watching games with their wife. But moving on. The more pressing issue in New England these days seems to be the condition of the field. Anyone that has seen a Pats game this year has uttered the same phrase: "What the hell is up with the middle of the field?!" Well I still really don't have an answer to that question, and for that matter, neither do the Patriots. But the NFL has a solution. After watching numerous players slip on the slop down the center of Gillette Stadium, the NFL is ordering the Patriots fix their field. Apparently, sod will be flown in from Delaware for the next home game, and after that new Field Turf will be installed. You know, the stuff that sends little rubber pellets flying from it every time someone slides on it. The real question has been, did the Patriots keep their field in a sloppy state on purpose? And why didn't they take the initiative to change it instead of waiting for the league to tell them to do so? Well my conspiracy loving friends, I got some bad news for ya. I'm pretty sure the only reason the Pats hadn't changed their field is because they don't have the time. Between all the concerts and soccer games going on at the stadium, it just hasn't been feasible to put down new turf. An while I realize that in the past Bill Belichick has been known to keep his field in a certain state in order to gain a homefield advantage, (example: growing the grass longer to slow down faster teams) this just doesn't make sense. The Pats biggest strengths are their running game and their defensive line, both of which require good footing to perform properly. Hopefully the change will be soon, if only for the fact that we won't have to stare at that ugly strip down the middle of the field for another week.

Can't Bear To Watch
It was all set. The Cardinals were at home, on Monday Night Football, with a 23-3 lead in the second half against the 5-0 Chicago Bears, and your prized free agent RB who was brought in to run out the clock to protect leads. They had it in the bag! Problem is, the "bag" that they had it in, was actually a strainer, and they let the game slip through it faster than Dennis Green's sanity left him right after the game. After all, that became the real story. Nevermind that the Cardinals had a season defining, check that, franchise defining win well within their grasp. Green straight flipped out in his press conference following the game, ranting and raving Jim Mora style about how the media was "crowning their (Bears) asses" and that Chicago was "who we thought they were!!". Now, I'm no press conference expert, but if I was on the Cardinal's and I saw my head coach do that, I'd have to think he was pretty insane. Luckily for them, I have a solution to the whole problem...FIRE DENNIS GREEN! I'm not saying it's his fault that Arizona is 1-5, or the reason they lost on Monday without giving up an offensive touchdown, but there has never been a better time for them to start over. They have a young QB, a strong running back, a trio of WRs that can't be beat anywhere in the NFL and a brand new stadium. To top that off, they have drafted some of the best young defenders in the past few yearsin the form of DT Darnell Dockett, LB Carlos Dansby and DB Antrelle Rolle. So why can't they win? They have no offensive line and they can't coach. So, bring in a new coach, and spend all your off season money and all of your draft picks on offensive lineman. Hell, I couldn't coach football for the life of me, but if you put me in Arizona, that's what I would do. And you know what? I guarantee a 10 win season. So get Dennis Green out of there ASAP, and do everyone a favor. Besides, how tired did he look even the day after the Monday night fiasco? Maybe tired is the wrong word, because he looked like he had been hittin' the pipe for about 4 days in a row without sleep.

NFL News and Notes
*It's a miracle what 3 touchdown receptions will do for a person's state of mind isn't it? Last week, all we heard coming out of Dallas was how T.O was set to blow this team up if he didn't start getting the ball. Now, after a rout of the lowly Houston Texans, all the talk is about T.O destroying America's Team has subsided. But have we heard the last from him? We would all be silly to think it's that simple. Matter of fact, I think his performance this week may be actually hurting his relationship with the guy that matters most in Big D, the Big Tuna. Just like he split the locker rooms in San Fran and Philly with his antics, he is poised to do the same in Dallas. Tuna made it more than clear he never wanted Owens in the first place. After T.O pissed people off over the last few weeks, maybe it looked like Parcells had reason to not want him, but now the story has changed. With T.O producing this past week, there will be plenty of support for him both in and out of the locker room, not a good thing for the Tuna. How can he discipline Owens now for any bad moves he makes? Answer: He can't. Truth is, the next time the two of them get into it, for any reason, will be the last. T.O will complain, some players will back him and other Parcells, and we will be fully engulfed in WW III, T.O style.

*More bad news out of the great Northwest for both the Seattle Seahawks and fantasy owners alike. It seems that Seattle star RB and last season's MVP, Shaun Alexander, will miss an additional 2 weeks with his foot injury. And while it may look on the surface like Seattle is still cruising along at the top of the NFC West, you better look again. The refs gift wrapped a victory against the Rams this past weekend, and who can forget the smackdown laid on them by the Bears on national TV? There's trouble in Seattle, and it goes beyond Alexander that's for sure.

*I'm not sure if this has ever happened before, but leave it to Herm Edwards to make the impossible reality. It was only 2 weeks ago that the Kansas City Chiefs laid a 41-0 smackdown on the San Francisco 49ers. But this week, Herm and friends were throttled themselves at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, 45-7. I mean I know the NFL is full of parity these days, but that's pretty impressive. Maybe Herm needs to hire someone to make sure they don't lose by too much, because it seems he has someone on his staff to take care of everything else. And what's the deal with losing anyway Herm? I thought you played to win the games?

My NFL Picks
Last Week:

Overall: 19-14-4 (.578)

*As any gambler will tell you, anytime you break even for a week it's not a bad thing. I'd like to pat myself on the back for taking the Bucs, while at the same time scold myself for getting mixed up in the Falcons/Giants game. Oh well, a .500 week never hurt anyone, so I'm gonna keep my head up, and continue marching on.
*Well, the BCS standings are officially out, so let the nit-picking begin! Personally, while everyone basically calls me foolish for doing so, I'm sticking with West Virginia at #2, despite their being nowhere close to that in the BCS. Honestly, like many of you I think the BCS is totally over rated anyway. But, it's the system that the NCAA is using now, so I guess we will have to live with it until they break their totally money hungry ways and do a playoff. So moving on, the season is looking more and more like it's going to come down between Michigan and Ohio St. Even thought one of them is bound to lose to the other when they meet in November, as long as they have no other losses on their resume I can't see any way for them not to meet for the BCS title. While i have contended, and still believe, that the SEC is the best conference, it's looking more and more improbable that any team will be able to run that gauntlet with fewer than 2 losses, which will make it impossible for them to be a National champ. It's a perfect example of why there really needs to be a playoff, but again, that's just fantasy for now. So, before I get too caught up in how the BCS sucks, here's a look at the new top 10...*

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

just missed: Tennessee, California, Boise St., Arkansas, Boston College
dropped: none

Putting the U in UGLY
Everyone loves a good brawl. We get to watch our favorite professional athletes just let loose and lose control like we often do. It's often refreshing actually to see such human emotions from people you hold in high esteem. And don't tell me you don't turn the channel when you hear there's a brawl on, or even look for the clips online or on Sportscenter so you can show your friends or simply watch it again and again, because I know you do. It's what happens after, however, that usually gets more pub, and that's the suspensions. Everyone wants to deal with the brawlers in a different way. Some want to kick them out for good, some want to suspend the university's involved, while others see a simple slap on the wrist as an appropriate punishment. Personally, while I can't directly point the finger at the head coaches, ultimately they are the ones responsible. Especially at Miami where they have made a living the past couple decades basically bragging about how tough and arrogant they are. Whether it's Michael Irvin flapping his gums on ESPN about "the U", or the various arrests of prominent Miami stars like Ray Lewis or Sean Taylor, Miami has built this reputation of being the tough, arrogant bully. Now it's time to clip their wings. Larry Coker has got to go. Their athletic director, has got to go. It might even be time to put that program back on probation and have them start from scratch. It's one thing to have confidence, but it's another when your team is brawling on the field and an alum calling the game on TV (Lamar Thomas) is saying how he wishes he was down there so he could show the boys how they should really be fighting. News flash to "the U". When you're winning, a lot of your stupid actions get overlooked, but when you aren't, you don't look confident, you look stupid. Swinging helmets at other players? Stomping on them in the middle of a scrum? Please. We are all sick of your act. I'm calling for former coach Butch Davis to be brought back. He cleaned that place up once, and last time I checked, he's not too busy to start doing it again. Come on 'Canes. We love to watch your speed and athleticism and Lord knows you've supplied the NFL with some great talent over the years, but we've had enough. Get back to me when you start living the mantra of your former coach, Jimmy Johnson. It's time to walk that walk, instead of constantly running your mouth and trying to live up to a "bad ass" reputation.

Games to Watch this Week
Iowa @ Michigan
*This game may have looked bigger a few weeks ago before Iowa got blown out by Ohio St., but every game from here on out is huge for the Wolverines. With Mario Manningham still out, Chad Henne and Mike Hart will have to step up and lead the team to another tough conference victory. Should Michigan lose, their only shot at a National title will come when they play the Buckeyes, and you don't want to put all of your eggs in that basket that's for sure.

Texas @ Nebraska
*The Big XII has lost a lot of clout over the past few years. Despite the continued success of both Texas and Oklahoma, perennial powers like Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M have fallen off considerably. While this win would be big for either team, a victory for the Huskers could help them restore a sense of worthiness in the Big XII and help balance the conference out. That being said, Texas could care less about the strength of the conference these days and is just hoping to stay in the National title picture and stay a step ahead of the slew of one-loss teams in their midst.

Alabama @ Tennessee
*Every game in the SEC is a big one these days. Tennessee has been a real sleeper in this whole race behind Florida and Auburn, but a win over the Tide would go a long way towards making it a 3 horse race in the SEC for a National Championship spot.

Georgia Tech @ Clemson
*The ACC has been a mystery so far this season, but this game should go a long way towards helping to solve it. Both Georgia Tech and Clemson are in the top 15 this week, and both are potentially dangerous teams with only one loss. The winner, takes the lead as the highest ranked team in the ACC, the loser, will be forced to scramble for a major bowl spot.

Boston College @ Florida St.
*Another ACC "heavyweight" matchup, but is either of these teams for real? I'm not sure, but I will leave that judgment up to Bird and Sco, who will be attending the game this weekend. I expect a detailed report upon their return, but more than likely all I will get is drunken tales that may or may not involve farm animals and/or one of them in the street naked.

Fantasy Update
Week 6:
Open Back Door 65 Steaming Pile of Shit 66
Record: 2-4-0

Next Week vs Bird Squad (2-4-0)

*Going into Monday Night, all I needed was 3 points to tie and 4 points to win. Well, much like the Arizona Cardinals, I had trouble closing the deal. Bernard Berrian managed only 2 points in the offensive disaster for the Bears, leaving me at 2-4 after 6 games. It's truly go time now. Hopefully I can string together a few wins soon and put up a respectful record. After all, it is my league and I don't think it's too much to ask that I at least get a sniff of the playoffs.

Friday, October 13, 2006

NFL Week 6 Picks

*Well, it took 5 weeks, but I finally had a big week with my picks going 4-0-1 last week and nailing the Monday night game as well. Last week, I rode a strategy that I described as picking "big favorites" (which is ironic seeing as I didn't take the biggest favorite of the week, which was Indy at -19). Every team I picked last week was at least a 3 point favorite, with the highest being the Bears at -10, and all but one covered. So, common sense would say I should stick with that strategy right? Wrong. Instead, I've decided the only way to beat the betting trends, is to just go out and guess what they are going to be. If I stick with the same technique every time, eventually Vegas will catch on to me, I and will be defeated. This way, by switching it up, I will always be one step ahead. For this week, my new trend is, well, to just go back to my old ways. I'm all over the map this week with everything from a 5.5 point (0-4) home dog to a (1-3) team that's almost a touchdwon favorite. Hopefully, this new trend will give me as much success as the last one, but seeing as this trend really isn't one, who knows what will happen. I know a lot of Patriot fans are a little down this week because of the bye, but never fear. There are plenty of games to watch this week like St. Louis vs Seattle, Carolina vs Baltimore and the game of the week, Giants @ Atlanta. So hang in there, the Pats will be back, and so will I...*

Week 6 Picks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5) vs Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills (-1) @ Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5) vs Kansas City Chiefs
Atlanta Falcons (-3) vs New York Giants

Monday Night
Chicago Bears (-10.5) @ Arizona Cardinals

Last Week: 4-0-1
Monday Night: 1-0-0

2006 Season: 16-11-4 (.592)

Monday, October 09, 2006

T.O, Yanks Pull Classic Choke Jobs

T.O A No-Show

Terrell Owens may have been the centerpiece to the hype leading up to the Cowboys/Eagles game this weekend, but he sure wasn't the centerpiece during it, catching only 3 balls for 45 yards. Instead of doing his thing on the field, Owens was seen at times marching up and down the sidelines either trying to fire his team up, or ranting about how he wasn't getting the ball. One thing was for certain though, and that's the fact that if the offensive line can't protect Drew Bledsoe better, and Drew can't stop himself from making ill advised throws, then having T.O won't make a bit of difference in Big D. Make no mistake about it, T.O's lack of production isn't the reason the Eagles won that game, but it certainly gave them a morale boost to see that they were shutting up the mouth that split their franchise down the middle last season. I don't think I've heard cheers so loud as when T.O dropped a pass over the middle early in the 2nd half. I'd say that Dallas has much larger problems than T.O not getting the ball (especially their pass protection), but if he's not getting the ball enough, he will make it their biggest problem. If you couldn't see this coming before the season then I'm afraid you're blind. Everyone knew that once the Cowboys started losing, T.O would start pointing the finger square at Bill Parcells and more so Drew Bledsoe. So now the fun begins. Now we get to see all the finger pointing in the clubhouse. Will Owens complain enough to get backup QB Tony Romo into the lineup? Will he instead throw his whole team under the bus and claim that if they threw him the ball more they wouldn't have any problems? Either way, I don't expect Owens to go quietly at all after this embarrassment in Philly. It was T.O's mission to make somebody pay this week, and since he couldn't do it to the Eagles, look for him to take it out on his own team. After all, T.O doesn't stand for Team Obliterator for no reason.

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England Patriots 20 Miami Dolphins 10
Record: 4-1

Next Week: Bye

*Outside of last week @ Cincy, I wouldn't say I've been all that pleased with any of the Patriots games so far this season. Yeah I know it's stupid for me to be cynical while they are out to a 4-1 start and already seem to have the division sewn up, but I can't help but looking at the bigger picture. Tom Brady's numbers have been well below average this season with a career worst 54.3 completion percentage, more than 5 pts below his previous season low. He also is posting a career low in QB rating at 82.6. Now, it's been great this year that the running game has been able to pick him up, but this offense can only go as far as Tom Brady can take them. Doug Gabriel and Reche Caldwell were brought in and now Jabaar Gaffney has been added, and it's said that it's taking time for Tom to get acclimated with them. Sorry, but I'm just not really buying that as an excuse. Daniel Graham and Ben Watson have both played with Brady before, and the two of them have combined for just 25 catches and about 300 yards in 5 games with only one touchdown. And how about new WR's like Javon Walker in Denver and Donte Stallworth in Philly? They don't seem to need half a season to catch on with their new offenses, so why does it take the guys here so long? Is our scheme really that difficult? Nah, I think there's something wrong with Tom. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to take cheap shots at Tom Brady, but I think he's injured. Think about it. He appears on the injury report every week doesn't he? Well hopefully the bye week will give him some time to heal up if that is the case, but it will at least give them an extra week to get everyone on the same page....finally.

NFL News and Notes
*There is officially a QB controversy in Miami. After Daunte Culpepper went down this week in practice, Joey Harrington emerged to lead a respectable Dolphins passing attack against the New England Patriots. Sure, Harrington's numbers weren't spectacular (26-41, 232 yards 2 INT), but his ability to move the ball up and down the field with some consistency was something that Daunte has yet to offer this season. The two interceptions weren't really his fault, while the reason he couldn't reach the end zone had less to do with him, and more to do with a Patriot defense that held the Dolphin's running game in check to the tune of only 62 yards on 21 carries. Harrington may have been a bum in Detroit, but Nick Saban seems content with sticking with him for now. The trouble is, with a second quality start against the Jets next week, what will Saban do when Daunte comes back healthy? Well, the good thing, it's not that big a problem when you're team is 1-4 and has already all but assured another postseason of watching TV and playing golf.

*The Chicago Bears are far and away the best team in the NFL right now. This isn't some knee jerk reaction to their 41-7 blowout of the Bills this weekend, but more so just respect for what they are able to do week in and week out. Everyone already knows about their defense. They already have a +10 turnover ratio, thanks to the pressure put on the inside by DT Tommie Harris and DE's Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye, who have combined for 9 1/2 sacks so far this season, and pressure from the their ball-hawking secondary which already has 7 interceptions on the season. But the real story has been their offense. Sure, their defense was going to win them a lot of games anyway, but the emergence of Rex Grossman and his big play threat Bernard Berrian has complimented the smash mouth running game of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson quite nicely. Grossman has a 10/3 TD/interception ratio already, and Berrian is averaging 21.7 yards per catch with 4 TDs. And don't expect this team to slip up either. They have a bye coming up this week, but games against Arizona, San Fran and Miami should have the Bears 8-0 before a matchup with the Giants at the Meadowlands on November 12th. The new Monsters of the Midway may still lack that crucial post season experience, but right now that's looking like the only thing that could keep them from at least an NFC title game appearance.

*As high as the Bears are riding, I'm not sure there's a team that's feeling the hurt anymore than the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a team that has had nothing but let-downs since winning their first Super Bowl last January under longtime coach Bill Cowher. First, Jerome Bettis, the fan favorite and face of the franchise, retires. Then, prodigal QB Ben Roethlisberger injures himself in a motorcycle accident, only to recover and miss the season opener after an emergency appendectomy. Now, four games into the season, the Steelers are 1-3 and Big Ben has 7 interceptions to go along with zero touchdowns. Not only that, but the only win the defending champs do have, came on opening night, against a vastly disappointing Dolphins team, with Charlie Batch at QB! To sum it up, their offense is flat without Bettis and Randle El, and while their defense is fine, opposing defenses are bringing it more and more each week because of the target on the champs back. Now, with their backs against the wall, we can see what this team is really made of. Nevermind having playoff wins handed to them last year by Indy and Denver, now it's time to show if they are real champions. My guess is they aren't, and the should stumble the rest of the way to maybe a 8-8 finish. The real questions will be after the season if Big Ben continues to struggle. And hopefully one bad season will be enough to push Cowher completely out the door. Although I should be careful what I ask for because I'm sure he'll end up on some pre-game show and I will have to see his stupid chin every week. It's times like this I'm glad I don't have HD TV.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 5-0-1


*Around here we like to act like we expected to win. So instead of celebrating, I'm just going to plan on doing the same thing next week. You gotta love that's gangsta.
To say there is trouble in Yankee land would be a vast understatement. Fact of the matter is, the New York Yankees are in for what might be their most tumultuous off-season in their storied history. With the latest 3-1 series loss in the ALDS to the Detroit Tigers after winning game one, the heads of both Alex Rodriguez and Joe Torre appear to be on the chopping block. A-Rod pulled out another vintage playoff performance, going 1-14 or something like that while Torre moved him from 6th all the way down to 8th in the lineup. Yea Joe, great idea, give a guy with confidence issues more reason to doubt himself. Don't get me wrong, I believe A-Rod is one of the biggest chokers in modern sports playoff history, but after having a very solid September (.358, 8 HR, 25 RBI) Torre decided history was too much and decided Rodriguez would cost them games if he remained high in the lineup. And that's part of the reason Joe is getting fired, at least reportedly fired. Torre, along with his captain Derek Jeter, never once tried to pick A-Rod up. Never did you hear them say something like "he's our guy, we will work through it", or "he's a Yankee, we are 100% behind him". No. They just sat their and let the media rip the guy until his confidence was all but gone. So now what? Well now George Steinbrenner has to sit there for the 6th straight season without a World Series, and the second straight year where the highest payroll in baseball failed to make the ALCS. Changes have to be made, and I agree. As great of a manager as Joe Torre has been for the Yanks the past decade, it's time for a change. When Joe came in, it was to calm everyone down and start getting them to focus on every game one at a time. Now, with all the superstars in the lineup, it's become less about the team and more about individuals. That's really not Torre's thing and it's starting to show. The clubhouse is way too laid back, not the laid back of the past with an air of confidence, but more like the laid back attitude a millionaire has when he knows that nobody can tell him what to do. And that's a problem. Steinbrenner has wanted to fire Torre for years, but his beloved status has kept him just out of reach. Now, even some of the fans are starting to see things Georgie's way, so Joe might be out. Who should replace him? Well Lou Piniella has been mentioned, but I don't know about that. The Boss may think what his team needs is someone to fire them up, which Lou would certainly do, but what he really needs is just another Torre, a different Torre. Someone too fiery could hurt the clubhouse, what they need is someone to help them refocus and start playing up to their potential. As far as A-Rod goes, the rumor is the Yanks want him out ASAP, but to where and for what price? I don't have those answers, but like I said, these issues should set the table for an off-season of fireworks in the Bronx, and I for one can't wait to see what happens.

League Championship Series Preview
Oakland A's vs Detroit Tigers
*OK, so maybe I predicted that this would be the Yankees and Twins, so sue me. But both Oakland and Detroit took care of business in the first round and will now battle it out in what I'm sure MLB is hoping will be a ratings extravaganza. I'm sure Detroit has a lot of fans, but I don't know how many Oakland A's fans will be watching, considering they still have trouble filling their stadium on a nightly basis. No matter who is actually watching, it should still be an exciting series. Both teams proved in the first round that they have plenty of pitching and clutch hitting to survive in the playoffs, but now the question becomes who can do it over a 7 game series. Neither of these teams has any experience in this round of the playoffs, so the first one to blink might be the first one to lose. But if the first round is any indicator, both will have enough to stretch this thing to the full seven games, meaning we should be in for an entertaining ALCS, even if we don't care who actually wins.
prediction: Detroit in 7

St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Mets
*I may have also picked against both of these teams last week, but if you look back before the season started this was the matchup I predicted. So give it up for me, or don't. Basically, both of these teams stayed atop the NL for the entire season, and both rolled over their weaker NL West foes in the first round. So, now onto the serious business. Neither team had to prove that much in the first round, and that could come back to haunt them here. The Mets were able to scrape by with so-so pitching, so I have to give the edge to St. Louis. New York may have the better lineup by far top to bottom, but we all know it's pitching that gets it done in October. But do the Cardinals have enough of it either? Aces Marquis and Carpenter really struggled down the stretch, and their young bullpen has essentially no experience in the postseason. Look for this series to be an unusually high scoring one for the NLCS, in which case you have to like the Mets with Delgado, Wright, Reyes and Beltran pounding out the hits. The Mets have been the best team in baseball for most of the season, so anything short of a World Series appearance would be a huge disappointment, and look for them to get there on the strength of their lineup. Basically, both of the pitching staff's are sub-par at best, so the Mets should prevail in a slug-fest.
prediction: Mets in 6
*Surprise, surprise. The Florida Gators may have emerged as National title contenders after their victory this week over LSU, but they will need to keep up the strong effort this week as they travel to Auburn. There success has been in no small part to the addition of freshmen QB Tim Tebow, who relieves Chris Leak for 10-15 snaps a game. The best part is, every play Tebow is in for, the Gators basically use him to pound the ball down the opposing team's throat, and it's been working beautifully. On the other side of the National title hunt, Michigan and Ohio St. remain on a crash course to meet up on November 18th for a monster game. I know these two have a storied rivalry, but should they both continue their winning ways, that game could be on of the most intense in recent memory, even for their standards. As for the rest of the country, there are still a lot of mystery teams out there. Is USC as good as their pedigree and undefeated record or are they prime to be knocked off in the Pac 10? And what's the story with Louisville and West Virginia? Everyone is talking about Florida, OSU and Michigan, but if one of them loses, the Big East champ is going to have a big say in the BCS picture. As usual, these things tend to sort themselves out, but it's always fun to watch it happen, so let's keep on watchin'...*

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

just missed: Tennessee, California, Iowa, Boise St.
dropped: (7) Georgia; (9) LSU

Games to Watch this Week
Florida @ Auburn
*These two teams essentially swapped places since last week with Florida beating up on LSU and Auburn falling to Arkansas. Now we get to see which team is the real beast of the SEC. If the Gators can win, pencil them in for a spot in the National Title game with Ohio St. barring a major setback for either squad.

Michigan @ Penn St.
*Rumor has it that Michigan stud WR Mario Manningham may be out for this one, which could make things interesting. Michigan wants to continue to steamroll before their inevitable matchup with Ohio St., which no doubt will have major BCS ramifications. Chad Henne, Mike Hart and CO. need to stay focused and make sure they roll the Lions in Happy Valley.

Virginia Tech @ Boston College
*The ACC seems to be full of surprises this season, so don't count out Boston College. Virginia Tech looked dreadful against Georgia Tech on national television, so maybe they still have a bruised ego. A win here by either squad will keep them right in the hunt for an ACC conference title, the loser will have some serious ground to make up.

Missouri @ Texas A&M
*The Aggies can't afford another conference loss if they want a shot at the Big XII South, and the Tigers look to remain undefeated. A&M has had serious challenges both from Texas Tech and Kansas, so Mizzou looks to have the edge, but just one slip up on the road could cost them their top 25 ranking.

NHL Season Opens With Whimper
In case you didn't notice, the NHL season started this week. And when I said "in case you didn't notice", what I really meant was "hey obviously you didn't notice because hockey does such a piss poor job of marketing itself". I mean when baseball, basketball, or football season begins, you know about it weeks in advance with all kinds of promotional events and commercials every three minutes. With hockey, between the staggered starts for most teams, and the poor national TV coverage, it's going to be the All-Star break before most of the free world remembers that they aren't still in the middle of a lock out. It's blatantly obvious now that the NHL doesn't need rule changes to help bring fans back to their game, they need to let the fans know that their sport has already started and it's actually on TV! I mean for crying out loud, the season already appears lost from a media standpoint, so why even bother playing it out? Expect this to be my last words on the NHL for quite some time, unless another betting scandal turns up, or maybe a drug scandal. That at least would give more entertainment value than a bunch of Europeans nobody knows playing on a bunch of networks that nobody can find on their TV dial.

Fantasy Update
Week 5: Open Back Door 45 HeHateMe 58
Record: 2-3-0, 9th place

Next Week vs Hay 4 Sale (1-4-0)

*The bye for Mike Vick and Warrick Dunn really cost me this week. Even with low points from them, they still would have done better than the -4 points and 0 points that Steve McNair and Doug Gabriel respectively got in their place. Hey, I was hoping that McNair could pull it out on Monday Night, but I was also realistic that Denver's defense would be tough. Once I saw that it was raining and cold, I essentially gave up all hope. Oh well, next week it is, and I can still see a playoff spot in my sights so the news isn't all bad.

Friday, October 06, 2006

NFL Week 5 Picks

*As expected, all the talk this week has been about T.O's return to Philadelphia. Many have asked the question, will the no-class Philly fans cross the line in attempts to bring down Owens and get into his head? Probably. I'm sure you will see a smattering of signs in the stands that read something like "Try Again" or "Too Bad You Didn't Succeed", eluding of course to his much publicized "attempted suicide". But for once I could care less. I will watch the game if it's on, but since I have Terry Glenn on my fantasy team I am actually hoping the Eagles spend extra effort trying to shut down Owens, leaving my main man wide open for a few TDs. Other than that, there are a lot of other good games this week. Coming off of a 2-3 week, I am taking an unusual strategy of taking 4 favorites, 2 by 10 or more points, and 4 of them at home. In my experience doing this will either give me a 4-1 week or better, or see me fall flat on my face to the tune of 1-4 or 0-5. But you know what. That's how I roll. My only fear is that I go 4-1 and my only loss is the Patriots game. But since they are going to toss the Phins all around Gillette, I'm not all that worried. Hopefully another big week from the Pats WR corps will silence all the trade speculation about Randy Moss coming to New England. Either way it's not going to happen, so don't worry, but the sooner this story can disappear in the local media, the better. Straight Cash Homie!*

Week 5 Picks
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5) vs Detroit Lions
St. Louis Rams (-3) @ Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots (-9.5) vs Miami Dolphins
San Diego Chargers (-3) vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Chicago Bears (-10) vs Buffalo Bills

Monday Night
Denver Broncos (-4) vs Baltimore Ravens

Last Week: 2-3-0
Monday Night: 1-0-0

2006 Season: 11-11-3

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pats, Haynesworth Lay Smack Down

Time for everyone to jump back on the New England bandwagon. Fresh off a 17-7 loss at home to the Broncos that had everyone pointing the finger at the inexperienced WR's, the management that didn't want to re-sign Deion Branch and Tom Brady's body language, the Pats laid the 3 Time Super Bowl Smack Down on the hapless Cincinnati Bengals 38-13. Now the entire world has flip-flopped from burying the Patriots dynasty to giving them a legit shot at winning a 4th Super Bowl title. One of the reasons for the quick turnaround is the play of rookie RB Laurence Maroney. With Corey Dillon a bit dinged up, Maroney stepped forward and ripped through the Bengal defense for 125 yards and 2 scores in an impressive coming out party. Maroney had been solid the first three weeks, but with his latest effort he's gone from Dillon's replacement next year to a viable #1 RB right now. I'm not saying I'm, ready to start carving his bust in Canton, but anytime a guy possesses his speed and strength, you're bound to start getting excited about his potential. But Maroney didn't do it alone this week. The Patriot defense got to Carson Palmer 4 times (3 by DE Jarvis Green) and held the Bengals to only 71 yards on the ground. Tom Brady, on the other hand, was never sacked and was back to his usual self completing 15 passes to 7 different receivers. Newcomer Doug Gabriel may have emerged as Brady's weapon of choice in the passing game, hauling in a team high 4 catches, 57 yards and a TD in his first full game since coming over from Oakland. This game seemed to answer a lot of questions for both the Pats and their critics. Their rushing attack continues to be one of the best in the entire NFL, and the more comfortable Tom Brady becomes with his receivers, the more dangerous the Pats will be. Next week the face a Dolphin team that looked bad in a 17-15 loss to the Texans. I don't want to call it an easy game, because Saban and the Phins always play the Pats tough, but if New England puts together another outing like this week in Cincy, then Daunte Culpepper and Co. will be "gettin' their roll on" back to Miami with their flippers tucked between their legs.

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England Patriots 38 Who Dey? 13
Record: 3-1

NFL News and Notes
*A lot of people in the media have spent the first few weeks of the NFL season doing what they do best, jumping on and off bandwagons. Carolina was awful at 0-2, but now they are a Super Bowl contender again at 2-2. The Jaguars were king of the world after their Monday Night win made them 2-0, but now they are mortal again after dropping two straight. I had the Redskins buried after looking offensively anemic early on, and...oh wait, I still think they are garbage. But you get my point. Feel free to make all the predictions you want from week to week, but like I've always said, it's pointless to try and peg a team this early on in the season. That's what makes picking winners each week so hard and this league so great. There is so much balance that from week to week the power structure seems to go through a decent sized shift. Next week I'm sure there will be a new group of teams that either continue to rise from the dead or fall into Bolivia.

*Apparently where Albert Haynesworth comes from, it's chill to stomp on somebodydies skull with metal spikes. That's really the only reasoning I can think of as to why else he would have done that. I'd have to guess that where he comes from, cutting someone's face with the bottom of your feet is equivalent to slapping a guy a high five. Otherwise, he's just an idiot. Did he really somehow think he was going to get away with that? There are so many cameras out there these days that ESPN aired a college game using 3 different TV channels, and he thinks someone won't see him trying to pop a guys eye out with his size 15? So, a day after his action the NFL handed down a 5 game suspension to the big fella. I feel the punishment fits the crime. I mean Haynesworth doesn't have a history of doing stuff like this, and he seemed apologetic in his remarks, so I think we chalk this one up to incredibly bad judgment in the heat of the moment. What's interesting is that Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he would make sure Albert got an appropriate punishment if he didn't feel the NFL dealt with it properly. Kinda easy to say that when your team has no chance of making the playoffs, but let's see if Fisher decides to make a move.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 3-3-0


*Eh, another less than stellar week, but hey I still haven't slipped below .500 which is always a good sign. Plus, I started out worse than this last season and ended up the a great record, so I'm keeping the faith. Once I start winning there is no turning back baby! Until, that is, I inevitably go 1-5 or 0-6, then feel free to call me out when you see me.
*The Red Sox might be gathering their irons and woods together right about now, but that doesn't mean (contrary to popular belief) that baseball season is over. It just so happens, while most of Red Sox Nation has been tuned out of baseball for about 2 months, some pretty exciting things have happened. This weekend in fact, both the Twins and Astros had the chance to come basically from the dead and capture a playoff spot. While the Astros fell short of coming back from 8 down with 12 to go, the Twins continued their romp (going 71-33 over their last 104 games) not only making the playoffs, but capturing the division title over the Tigers who had been in first since April. So now the playoffs are set to begin, and while I can't say I'm nearly as interested as I normally would be if the Sox were still in, I am taking notice of the interesting matchups that these playoffs will bring.

Detroit Tigers vs New York Yankees
*You wouldn't have thought this way for most of the season, but the Yankees must be thrilled to be seeing the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the AL playoffs. Detroit has been sort of stuck in neutral for the last month or so, while the Yankees haven't let up since sweeping the Red Sox in 5 straight and have since cruised to the best record in the AL. The difference in this series should simply be experience. The young Tigers have plenty of talent, but in a playoff series where every at-bat is crucial, you have to give the edge to the veteran Yankee squad. Sure it may not be as loaded with experience as Yankee teams past, but these guys know how to handle playoff pressure, (we all know the one $25 million a year Yankee this doesn't apply to) especially the guy on the right. Combine that with homefield advantage and even without Randy Johnson I still like the Yanks in this one. Look for the Tigers to go out with a whimper after a great run during the regular season. Their only hope is that their young pitching can revert back to mid-season form and silence the Yankee lineup, but that just seems like too much to ask. The real issues for the Yanks should start in round 2.
prediction: Yankees in 4

Minnesota Twins vs Oakland A's
*Minnesota is by far and away the hottest team coming into the AL playoffs, and the Oakland A's are a team that has been labeled a squad that can never win the postseason. Oh so nice, nothing has to give here. The Twins can just steamroll through Oakland and send Bill Beane back to the drawing board right? Well, essentially, yeah. A five game series means Oakland has to go up twice against Johan Santana unless they sweep, and that right there should be enough. Don't get me wrong, Oakland has a lot of good hitters, and they can pitch alright as well, but overcoming the fact that you know you probably won't win 2 of the 5 games before they start might be a little too much to ask.
prediction: Twins in 4

St. Louis Cardinals vs San Diego Padres
*Well you can't start the playoffs with any less momentum than the St. Louis Cardinals. The Padres may not be a powerhouse, and the Cardinals may have more talent, but the way St. Louis has played the last few weeks has to have taken a toll on them. After almost blowing their huge division lead in the season's final days, the Cardinals now have to flip the switch and get ready for the playoffs. Easier said than done. Like I said, if this one's played out on paper, you give the edge to St. Louis every time, but seeing how badly they have played lately I don't like their chances against anyone right now. San Diego should be able to play well enough to survive this matchup, but no matter who crawls out of here, they can't like their chances much in the NLCS.
prediction: Padres in 5

Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Mets
*This series is the only real head scratcher for me out of the first round matchups. I picked the Mets before the season started to make it the World Series, but with Pedro injured now I'm not so sure. I guess El Duke and Tom Glavine might be enough to get them out of the first round, but even if they can what are they supposed to do in the NLCS? Personally, I like my chances better with D. Lowe, Brad Penny and Greg Maddux taking the hill and that's why I give the Dodgers the edge. Combine that with their ability to go on 8-10 game winning streaks on a regular basis and you have to like their chances to run the table in the weak NL. Of course I probably should just stick with my pre-season prediction right? I mean I sweated out 6 months to now pick against my team? Well I've done dumber things in the past and will probably continue to do so in the future.
prediction: Dodgers in 5

2006 MLB Awards
AL MVP: Derek Jeter (.333 BA/14 HR/97 RBI/214 H/118 R/34 SB/39 2B)
*Pretty simple for me. Best player on the best team in the league. It doesn't hurt that he is at the top of the league in hits, batting average, runs, doubles and steals either. Let's face it, especially with all their injuries this year, the Yankees wouldn't have been the Yankees without Jeter. I know they have the highest payroll and their lineup is stacked, but it takes a special type of player to play in a city like New York, and Jeter is still able to lead and perform at the highest level night in and night out.

AL Cy Young:
Johan Santana (19-6/2.77 ERA/245 K/ 233.2 IP)
*This one was even easier. Santana led the league in wins and Ks yet again, and has proven that he is almost impossible to beat after the All-Star break. Add all that in with the Twins performance this year, and it's tough to make a case for anyone else.

AL Rookie of the Year:
Jonathan Papelbon (4-2/35 Saves/.92 ERA/75 K/68.1 IP)
*I might have picked Papelbon because I got to watch him play so much this year, but I feel his numbers are compelling enough to make my case. When he was healthy, he was the rock at the end of Boston's bullpen. In a year where they again suffered with bullpen injuries and ineffectiveness, this rookie stepped forward and provided the lift that had the Sox in first place after the All-Star break.

AL Manager of the Year:
Ron Gardenhire (96-66, .593/Central Division Champions)
*Could have easily given this to the Tiger's Jim Leyland, but the run the Twins put together at the end of the season really showed how great of a motivator Gardenhire must be. He always has his teams in contention, even when you look up and down the roster and see not a single name you recognize. Well they might be poised to change that with a deep playoff run.

Ryan Howard (.313 BA/58 HR/149 RBI/104 R/25 2B)
*Best player in the NL? I don't even know if Howard would be in my top 5. But as far as MVP, he takes it. While his Phillies didn't make the playoffs, his numbers down the stretch are just too overwhelming to ignore. In other years his numbers may have been good enough for a run at the triple crown, and you always have to respect that, even if the guy plays for the worst sports city in the country.

NL Cy Young:
Brandon Webb (16-8/3.10 ERA/178 K/50 BB/235 IP)
*Nobody was really spectacular this year in the NL, so I decided to pick the guy with the most dazzling stuff from a pack of 16-8 and 15-9 guys. Maybe the Diamondbacks didn't contend and Webb didn't have amazing complete game or strikeout numbers, but he's the best of what was out there. Had he been healthy all year I think he would have won it anyway in a cake walk. A delicious cake walk.

NL Rookie of the Year:
Hanley Ramirez (.292 BA/17 HR/59 RBI/46 2B/51 SB/119 R)
*There are a lot of ways I could have gone with this one. Most people would have picked Ramirez's teammate Dan Uggla, but the explosiveness that Hanley brings with his speed and surging power gave him the edge. And it didn't hurt that he was one of the best players in my upsidedown fantasy league this year.

NL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi (78-81, .481)
*On the verge of being fired, Girardi nearly led a team with a payroll lower than 4 players on the Yankees and an average age close to 23 to a playoff berth. You think he's going to get hired again? For his sake I hope it's not the Cubs, but I guess if anyone can start to turn that situation around he can.

Rocket Fuel?
Unfortunately, right in with all the talk of the 2006 chase for the World Series, comes more steroid allegations. And just like before, the reports are leaked government documents, and the person at the center is a rat, someone naming names because they got caught red handed. This time though, it's not Rafael Palmeiroid, it's Jason Grimsley. Sure, you remember him from such media incidents as "getting kicked out of the league for juicing" or "suing the Diamondbacks after he got caught juicing for the rest of his salary". According to a federal affidavit, Grimsley told investigators that he personally knew that Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts had or still used steroids/human growth hormone. Does he have any proof? Who knows. Did he even say those things? Well Grimsley is claiming to his friends that investigators put words in his mouth and he never called out these players, and his lawyer has stated that the story was inaccurate. Whatever his intention, the names are out there now, and it's not the first time for either Clemens of Tejada. Tejada was called out by both Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro, while Clemens has always been under slight suspicion. And while I have no proof or real hatred toward the Rocket, I have always said privately that if I were starting a steroid investigation, he would be one of the first pitchers I went to. Whether right or wrong, when I look at Clemens, not only do I see possibly the greatest right handed pitcher of all time, I see a guy that has constantly defied the odds. Despite being one of the oldest starters in the game, Roger appears to have the largest and strongest legs in the history of the world. We all want to look at guys arms and shoulders when we talk about steroids, but a pitcher like Clemens gets all his power from his push off the mound, hence the Starr Jones sized thighs. Like I said, I'm not accusing Clemens of anything, because I have no proof, but is he above being thrown into the conversation? Definitely not. How about the theory that he sat out the entire first half of this season on a "secret MLB steroid suspension"? That probably doesn't hold any weight. But imagine the reaction if it does surface that MLB knew about Clemens. All this time they were all over Bonds, letting him be the media black sheep, while they let their golden boy tip toe through the minefield with no real consequences. I'm sure that wouldn't spark any major controversy. No matter the truth, I doubt this is the last time players names are going to be thrown about like this by others that have been caught. It's unfortunate if you are named and you didn't do anything, but why don't these guys speak out? Instead of denying claims or refusing to acknowledge the reports, speak up and fight back! I know if someone called me out like that I wouldn't be sitting back and taking it lightly. Sometimes saying nothing is just as bad as admitting you're guilty, at least to the public. This really sucks for Roger if it's all just a lie, but if it's true even in the slightest bit, it would totally taint all of baseball from the late 80's up until the present.

*Ohio St. more than took care of business this week with their 38-17 dismantling of #13 Iowa, keeping them safe at the top for another week. The only real stumble this week came from the Virginia Tech Hokies, who were blasted from the top 10 by a 38-27 loss at home to Georgia Tech. Big conference teams like OSU, Auburn, Florida, West Virginia, USC, Georgia, Oregon and Michigan still have to feel they have a legit chance to play for the National title so every week is crucial for them. With so many top contenders still undefeated, it makes life even tougher for teams like LSU, Texas , Oklahoma and now Virginia Tech who already have one loss. But things tend to sort themselves out more often than not, so expect in 3-4 weeks the log jam at the top will be more or less sorted out. In news outside the top 25, Illinois won a conference road game for the first time since 2002 and their first conference game period since 2004 with a win this weekend over Michigan St. First, John L. Smith and his Spartans blew a 16 point 4th quarter lead to lose to Notre Dame, and now they have lost at home to an Illinois team that has only one win this year over Eastern Illinois. The Illinois players even went through the trouble of planting their flag at midfield, much like Michigan St. did last year when they won at Notre Dame. Ain't irony a bitch? John L. Smith might as well start packing his bags. They should have Steve Mariucci in there by the start of next season, I'd be shocked otherwise. And finally, I am going to apologize to Greg Robinson and his Syracuse Orange. I'm not admitting to liking this team, or the coach for that matter, but seeing as I like to rip on them so much, I thought I'd at least mention them a little when they start to win. They have actually put together three straight wins, and this is after blowing a chance to beat Iowa. Next up, though, is a brutal stretch against Pitt, Louisville and West Virginia, so I would expect this streak to end. But hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, and if the Orange can grab any one of those 3 games, I might have to start giving Greg Robinson his due.*

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

just missed: Oregon, Louisville, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia Tech
dropped: (6) Virginia Tech

Games to Watch this Week
LSU @ Florida
*This is a real put up or shut up game for both Florida and LSU. People want to talk about how Florida isn't nearly as good as their record, but if they beat the Tigers they will still be controlling their own destiny in national championship run. As for LSU, if they lose to Florida after already losing to Auburn, they will be lucky to call themselves one of the top 5 teams in the conference period. The SEC is so deep this year, that every game has the chance to totally break your season, and this is one of them.

Texas @ Oklahoma
*Another year, another Red River Shootout where both the Sooners and Longhorns are both ranked in the top 25. It may not be the all hyped matchup that it's been the past two years, but that's because for once they aren't both ranked in the top 10. This game still means a good deal for both squads. Aside from being a conference game, Oklahoma wants to show it's completely rebounded from that Oregon debacle, and Texas QB Colt McCoy and crew want to get their first signature win in the post Vince Young era.

Tennessee @ Georgia
*Two top 25 teams meeting and it's barely the second best game in the conference this week. Georgia has looked about as bad as a 5-0 team can look the past 2 weeks, barely beating a 1-3 Ole Miss team and squeaking past an 0-5 Colorado team 14-13. The Volunteers have already proven they can hang with good teams with a win over Cal and a 21-20 loss to the Gators, and they want to prove they are the consensus #3 team in the SEC behind Auburn and Florida. A loss here for Georgia could expose them as frauds, while a win will continue to legitimize them as a top 10 team and a major BCS bowl contender.

Oregon @ California
*The Oregon Ducks are still looking for respect. Weeks after that whole mess against Oklahoma, Oregon is still undefeated. And if they get by the Bears this weekend, should have smooth sailing until a matchup with USC on 11/11. It also would be great for their confidence, as I'm sure a bunch of them still feel maybe they got lucky and shouldn't have won that Oklahoma game. Cal, meanwhile, has been more impressive each week since being embarrassed by Tennessee on opening night, and wouldn't mind adding to their streak of 20+ point victories which currently stands at 4.

Missouri @ Texas Tech
*Missouri crept into the top 25 this week and immediately have to go on the road and play a Texas Tech team fresh off beating the undefeated A&M Aggies. Missouri is undefeated at 5-0, but it's possible the best team they have faced so far is the 0-5 Colorado Buffaloes last week. I mean with cream puffs like Ohio and Murray St. on the schedule, almost anyone could crack the top 25. This is by far and away their biggest test of the season. Tech on the other hand has had only one loss, a 12-3 decision @ TCU, and should look to build their resume with a home win this week over a ranked opponent.

Fantasy Update
Week 4: Open Back Door 87 Grundle Ni**er AIDS 47
Record: 2-2-0, 7th place

Next Week vs HeHateMe (0-3-1)

*The difference this week, was touchdowns. Stephen Jackson and Willis McGahee had their lowest rushing yard games of the season, but scored season highs in points because of? Touchdowns. It also didn't hurt that my new look WR corps of Bernard Berrian, Jericho Cotchery and Terry Glenn combined for 227 yards and 4 TDs. This week, Whitey stands in my way of climbing over .500 and into the playoff picture for the first time all season, but I'll have to do it without Mike Vick and Warrick Dunn. While they didn't do much this week, they've been two of my more reliable scorers. Hopefully new pickup Doug Gabriel and backup Jake "if I score negative points again Rooch might fly to Denver and kill me" Plummer can get the job done just enough to squeak it out.