Friday, January 26, 2007

If It Wasn't Lit, You Must Acquit!

Let me just come out and say it. When Tom Brady threw that interception to Marlin Jackson to seal the Patriots fate in the AFC title game, it felt as if all of my internal organs puked inside my body. It's not just that the Pats lost in the playoffs (hell I had to go through that last year at Denver) , or even that they lost to the Colts (something they have now done in 3 straight), but it was the way in which they let this one slip away. We were all comfortable when they went up 21-3, but at least for this guy, that comfort lasted a little less than a whole quarter. You got the sense that when the Colts managed to cut the deficit to 2 scores before half, they had enough momentum to hang around. And hang around they did. Peyton Manning and friends marched up and down the field all throughout the second half, outscoring the Pats 32-13 and claiming their first AFC title under the current regime. And while it was Brady that fell short in the end, it was really the Pats vaunted defense that let them down. Whether in the air or on the ground, the Colts could do no wrong. I'm not going to relive it again, just suffice to say I wasn't happy watching it. I'll have a full recap of the Pats season and much of the work ahead of them this off season, but you'll have to wait for next week. For now, it's onto some other madness...

NFL News and Notes
*OK I lied. Back to some Patriot news. It seems no later than the final whistle that Pats fans have begun tripping over themselves trying to determine the future of free agent corner Asante Samuel. Well wonder no longer friends. No, that doesn't mean he;s close to a deal, it just means I've already taken all the guess work out of it and figured what he's going to do. Well, at least I've narrowed it down to two very likely scenarios. Scenario #1: Seeing as Samuel's play has more than likely priced him out of the Patriots thrifty price range, placing the franchise tag on him is the first viable option. For those of you not in the know (or those just wanting a refresher course), here is what franchising means. To "franchise" a player means that you give them a guaranteed one year deal worth either a) the average of the top 5 salaried players at their position for that season or b) 120% of their current salary, whichever happens to be more. In this case, it's the former for Asante. The only problem with the franchise tag, is that players hate it. While the loot is guaranteed for that year, there is no long term security. Good news for the Pats though, is that if Samuel decides to hold out after being franchised, New England can receive compensation for his departure. Scenario #2: Asante Samuel walks away from the New England Patriots and takes a multi-year multi-million dollar deal from somebody else. Fact is, there is at least one team out there with both the cap room and the need at DB that will offer the talented play maker a package close to the 7 years and $63 mil that Champ Bailey has with the Denver Broncos. So, say your goodbye's now Patriot fans, because unless things take a drastic turn, you've more than likely seen the last of Asante Samuel in a New England uniform. Although, I must have said that about a 6 times about Manny Ramirez, so for now let's just file this one under "wait and see". Lord knows we won't be getting any updates from the Hooded Menace and the boys at Gillette.

*Of course, just because my boys didn't make the big game, doesn't mean I'm not going to preview it. It just so happens that seeing as there is a week+ to go before the game is actually played, that preview won't be this week. Tune it next week for all the Super Bowl news. Hey, just because the NFL forces the extra week down your throat, doesn't mean I have to oblige and cover the damn thing for two weeks. Take that Nation Football League! That's what you get for paying the refs to get your man Peyton into the big game! ( seriously I am)

*I know what you're thinkin'. I should apologize to Mikey Vick since he is no longer facing any charges in his incident with the "black particulate" found in his stash/fake water bottle. But you know, somehow I just don't feel like I accused him of anything he didn't do. You know why the charges were dropped? Because it was more than likely a bunch of resin and roach clip remnants in that bottle, and the authorities knew it wasn't worth their time and energy to even bother trying to prosecute. I mean it smelled like weed didn't it? That was in the original report wasn't it? What? All of a sudden it doesn't smell like weed anymore? Right, cuz that makes a ton of sense. Hey, if you want to believe that the toy cops at the airport made a mistake, then go right ahead. But this guy ain't buying it. Listen, I'm not saying Vick should be bound in shackles and thrown in a clock tower for the rest of eternity, but please don't lie to my face about this and tell me it didn't happen just because there are no charges! On the bright side, I guess it saves us from 24/7 Court TV coverage of the Michael Vick trial which would inevitably give us the line...."If it wasn't lit, you must acquit".

*Good news Pete Carroll. Just when you thought the Reggie Bush taking gifts in college scandal was all but over, is reporting that tapes exist that would put the heat right back on the Heisman winner and his university. Apparently, there are tapes in which Bush, and his parents, are heard talking about and accepting cash in return for promises for future endorsements. This could be bad news for USC, but not so much for Bush. Sure, Reg might have to give back his Heisman trophy if it's found he took the loot, but the repercussions would be much worse for Petey and the boys in SoCal. Not only would the university face sanctions in the form of lost scholarships and fines, but they would more than likely be forced to forfeit all championships (both Pac 10 and National) and remove all notion of them from all on-campus monuments, recruiting tapes and game programs. Could be rough waters ahead for the country's model college program over the past half decade, and I can't say I'm surprised. I could get into the debate that college kids deserve to get paid, but I won't even, because this has nothing to do with that. Rules say, you can't take money, and Reggie (and I'm sure he's not alone) did just that. What's more puzzling to me though, is that seems to be the only media outlet covering the story. When it broke that Bush's family was living in a house they didn't pay for, it was Yahoo! that was there first, and now this. Is it me, or does that seem a little odd? I can't decide whether to give the reporters there credit for working hard and digging up a story nobody can get, or despise them for needlessly trying to drag someones name through the mud. Better yet. Maybe this renegade reporting is uncovering a national media conspiracy that has let college boosters pay stars for years without any penalties! On second thought, it's way too early in the morning for me to be going Oliver Stone on ya..

2006-2007 Picks

Last Week: 0-2-0

Playoffs: 5-5-0

'06-'07 Season:
52-38-7 (.572)

*Only one game left, and I'm truly undecided on which way I'm leaning. Super Bowl's with two week layoffs usually aren't close, but who is gonna blow who out? I'll mull it over for a week or so and prolly change my mind 25 times in the last minute. It's a big one though, no not because it's the Super Bowl, but I'm right at .500 for the post season and this could push me over the top.

There have been a number of coaching changes in the NFL, and I gotta say I don't understand most of the hirings. But then again, what do I know? I mean, I understand that there aren't just great coaches with NFL experience lying around somewhere looking for work, but some of these choices really make me scratch my head. And I'm all for giving younger guys a shot, but some of these leaps of faith seem absurd to me. Just because Eric Mangina had one decent season after being a coordinator for less than a year, that means everyone needs to rush out and hire the youngest and most inexperienced young go-getter they can find? Doesn't seem like a winning strategy to me, but like I said, what do I know.

New NFL Head Coaches
Ken Wisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals was Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator
*Here's the first example of a hiring that I don't quite understand. While Wisenhunt has served his due in the league, what have any of his offensives in Pittsburgh done that's been so special? OK, so he drew up a couple of nice trick plays with Antwan Randle El, and it seemed like he was guiding Ben Rothelisberger along nicely, but that makes him deserving of his own job? Personally, I don't see how he even kept his own job in Pittsburgh this season. If I were Arizona, I would have gone out and signed the biggest defensive name I could have. That offensive talent in the desert should be good enough on it's own for the next 5 years or so barring they can get a few decent lineman. It's the D that's going to make or break them. Maybe they just subscribe to the theory that "Nobody beats the Whiz"? Well I'm pretty sure somebody can beat the Whiz, and it's going to be most of the offenses playing against him next season. Lucky for him he coaches in the NFC West. But make no mistake, expectations are no longer low in Tempe, and if he doesn't deliver he'll have to wait for Cowher to come out of retirement and hire his ass again.

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers was Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator
*When certain guys succeed, their staffs get raided for talent (i.e Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennell and Eric Mangini). Other times, when a coach succeeds, some of his coaching offspring from around the league are plucked. That's the deal with Tomlin. While he's only been D-coordinator for a season in Minnesota, he happens to be a member of the Tony Dungy coaching fraternity. Pretty big gamble, especially for a franchise that has only had 2 head coaches (Noll, Cowher) in like a million years. You know the Rooney family will give him time to succeed, and if they tolerated Cowher choking year after year in the playoffs, I'm sure Tomlin won't have too tough a time of providing them with the decent mediocrity they've grown used to in the Steel City.

Lane Kiffin, Oakland Radiers was USC Offensive Coordinator
*I may not have helped guide the merger between the NFL and the AFL, but at this point I'm fairly confident I could run a professional football team more successfully than Raiders owner Al Davis. And no, it's not because he looks like a constipated version of that freak that used to dance in the 6 Flags ads. (yea you thought that guy was out of your life didn't you?) He just hired a guy in Lane Kiffin that is younger than 9 of the current players on the Oakland roster. But this is Al's style. He likes to have a coach that he can control, a guy he can influence to make things the way Al really wants them. Funny thing is, this can only work out for Kiffin, not Oakland. Best case scenario is that Kiffin becomes such a hot young coach that he gets wooed away a la John Gruden. Worst case scenario is that Randy Moss and Warren Sapp haze their new coach until he either a) grows facial hair or b) loses so many games that Al has no choice but to yet again hire Art Shell. Seriously though, I get that owners want younger guys to relate to players in "today's NFL", but at what cost?

Kam Cameron, Miami Dolphins was San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator
*This is the perfect example of players getting a coach paid. I mean I'm sure Cameron works hard and knows the game very well, but don't sit there and tell me that LT, Gates, Rivers and Brees didn't get this guy his job. Those guys won't be able to help him in Miami, and don't think Wayne Huizenga won't be quick to toss him out on his ass if he can't deliver the Phins to the playoffs in the next 2 seasons. No small task, especially in a division where the Pats have things on lock, and the Jets and Bills have both taken massive strides over the past few seasons.

Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons was Louisville Head Coach
*Talk about waltzin' into a shit storm. No sooner is Petrino off the plane in the ATL when news hits about Mike Vick's magic water bottle. Not only that, but he has to deal with a fan base that is split between Vick and backup (and restricted free agent) Matt Schaub. Bobby has said he will open up the pre season with a battle for QB, but his job is tied to how well he can coach Michael Vick. His offense in Louisville was originally based around scrambling lefty Stefan Lefores, so he has experience with this type of player, but Vick is a totally different animal. Unless he can convince the Mike Vick Experience to hang in the pocket a little longer, then both he an Vick will probably be bolting Atlanta faster than Hawks season ticket holders.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator was Miami Dolphins QB Coach
*This is a strange one, even for the never ending melodrama that is the Dallas Cowboys. After Bill Parcells resigned, all the talk was that there were no big name candidates left to fill such a high profile position. So, instead of searching for the "next big thing" as far as assistants go, Jerry Jones has decided to hire back guys that have already been through Dallas. Garrett is the first in this line. He was a backup in Big D behind Troy Aikman, and has spent the last 2 seasons as the Dolphin QB coach. I think that last statement speaks as to why he should have been fired by Miami, and not hired at a higher position. Uh...I mean...Didn't he do a great job coaching Culpepper, Harrington and Miss Cleo Lemon? This thing will only get uglier if Jones decides to stop looking for a new head coach and decides to promote Garrett right away, before he calls a single game as the OC. Not to mention, it's just weird when teams bring in a coordinator before they hire a head coach. So bizarre...
And this my good people, is why I have the pimpest and most commonsensical poll in all the land. (Note: the following is just me being the man, not me being stubborn....yeah I know sometimes it's hard to differentiate) Last week I had the Kansas Jayhawks at #1, and after beating Missouri (12-6) on the road they lost @ a surging Texas Tech (15-5) on the road. They shouldn't be #1 anymore right? Wrong my simple minded friends. My poll is there to say who I think would win the NCAA tourney if it started today. And last time I checked, all the tourney games are played on a neural court right? Exactly. So while the Jayhawks lost by 5 (69-64) in Lubbock, I still think they have the best squad to make a run in March. So they stay at the top. Now that housekeeping is out of the way, it's on to some actual games. Marquette has quickly emerged as the top candidate for the "team the media wrote off entirely too early in the season" award. Sure they had a slip up to North Dakota St. at home, but they also have wins on the road against Duke, Louisville, UCONN and Pitt. Rather impressive road resume if you ask me. Add to that, 2 of their four losses have come to Wisconsin and @ Providence College. Not exactly inexcusable. Keep an eye on the Golden Eagles as they will probably be boosted too high in the polls rather soon, only to suffer another downfall that you and I will refer to as "normal Big East conference play". And what has happened to my poor Wichita St. Shockers? I was the first to curse the national polls for leaving them out of the top 25 despite their nice tourney run last year, and now I'll be the first to say WOW. While their early play vaulted them back into the mix with wins @ 'Cuse and @ LSU, they've only won 4 of their last 12, and currently sit 3 games the Missouri Valley Conference standings! I mean I know that conference is improved, but come on. Maybe Shocker head man Mark Turgeon is wishing he took one of those high profile job offers this off-season. Oh well, maybe they can turn it around it time to make a sweet run through the MVC tourney and march into the field of 64 again with a vengance. As for my top 10, while I said I'm keeping Kansas on top, with their loss the gap has closed considerably between them and Wisconsin/Florida, who are right on their heels. And if you're mad at me for not giving the Dukies any love, shut your mouth. They've lost twice at home (which they never do), and their "big wins" are against Gonzaga and Georgetown (who since have dropped from the top 25) and at home against Clemson (possibly the most overhyped team this side of Air Force). Talk to me in March after you've actually played some decent ACC teams, and beaten them....

College Hoops Top 10
1. Kansas (17-3) 1
2. Florida (18-2) 2
3. Wisconsin (20-1) 3
4. UCLA (18-1) 4
5. Ohio St. (17-3) 6
6. Pittsburgh (18-3) 5
7. North Carolina (18-2) 8
8. Nevada (18-2) 7
9. Memphis (16-3) NR
10. Butler (18-2) NR

just missed: Marquette, Oregon, Oklahoma St., Duke
dropped: (9) Oklahoma St., (10) Alabama

Nancy Drew Pens Final Notes

Word on the street, is that the long dreaded, and previously thought to be finished, signing of JD Drew has been completed. Despite agreeing in principle on a 5 year $70 million deal on December 5th, the two sides had yet to agree on a clause in the contract that would allow the Sox to opt out of guaranteed money in the later years in case Drew's right shoulder flares up, until now. At least all the drama over his signing is over, but I want to say this one more time for effect. WE ARE GROSSLY OVERPAYING FOR THIS INJURY PRONE WUS!! In what was considered a "good year" for Drew last season, here were his numbers. .283 20 HR 100 RBI. Let's compare that to the seasonal averages for the recently departed Trot Nixon: .278 22 HR 86 RBI. Nixon was making $7.5 mil a season in Beantown, and JD is making $14 mil. Theo claims he's paying for protection in the 5 hole for Manny and Big Papi. Well Theo, for your sake, I hope he provides more protection for them than he has for his body over the course of his career. Don't worry Sox fans. You may miss Trot Nixon's hustle and grit in the Fenway outfield, but you won't be able to shake the fact that you're pretty sure you still see a #7 playing well below his contract value and sitting out more than his fair share of games. I'm beginning to think Drew's parents dubbed him JD (despite his name being David Jonathan) because he frustrated them so much that they were constantly finding themselves having to take shots of JD just to stand his presence. Well, if I look at it that way, this may not be a bad signing yet! Everybody drink!!

Danny and Doc Make Push for Oden, Durant....

The Celtics are doing the best possible thing right now, losing. And just when I thought they would ruin their lottery chances by beating the equally as awful Atlanta Hawks, they actually managed to blow an 18 point lead and lose their 9th straight! I guess Danny and Doc have finally figured out what they're good at....losing! But look out boys, last time the C's tried to tank a season to land a franchise center in the draft, the balls bounced the wrong way, and Tim Duncan landed in San Antonio. But lottery chances aside, I just don't get all the optimism in this town lately about all the young players on this team. Sure it's great that these guys are finally getting playing time, and yea I like what I've been seeing out of Al Jefferson, Rajon Rondo and Delonte West, but those guys are just pieces. Even if the Celt's do manage to land Ohio St. center Greg Oden or Texas forward Kevin Durant in the draft, they will still be 3-4 years away from being a serious contender. And that's just in the Eastern Conference. Face it Celtic fans, this thing should have been blown up years ago (and no by "this thing" I don't mean Danny Ainge's house with his family inside), and the longer they wait, the longer it's going to take to rebuild....Again

No Joke, NHL Held All-Star Game this Week
I ask Again. If a game is held on a network that nobody can find, does it make a sound? And again, the answer is NO. Here's a free tip for my Eurotrash friends in the National Hockey League. When your sport is coming off a labor stoppage and needs a bump in publicity do not do any of the following when it comes to your All-Star game: 1) hold it in the middle of the week, 2) hold it in Dallas, Texas or 3) give it about as much publicity as the straight to DVD release of the latest "Ernest Goes To" movie. Or do all three of those things. What the heck...Maybe that's why it got fewer viewers than the "Dick in a Box" video on YouTube. Which is funny, because that's what they call it in hockey whenever someone from the Boston Bruins gets a penalty! Mullett sportin' fools...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pats Set to Invade Peyton's Place

The time for fun and games has come to an end my friends, and it's time to get down to business. Good thing the Patriots are in the business of kicking Peyton Manning's hick ASS. And boy let me tell ya.....Business Is Good! This is it for Manning. No more excuses about the weather, or not having the more talented team, or having a "liquored up idiot kicker". If he can't beat Bill and Tom in this one, it just ain't gonna happen...

New England Patriots (+3) @ Indianapolis Colts
*Wooooo Eeeeeee. Excuse me if I'm salivating, but there could NOT be a better match up for this year's AFC title game. And, while it may seem like a no brainer that I pick my boys this week, I have been saying the last few weeks that the Colts were prime to win the Super Bowl this year. Yeah, you caught me. The analyst in me was pretty sure the Pats were going to lose to the Chargers. So sue me! Fact is, I picked the Pats, and they won! So I'm picking them again! Screw the fact that I still think this is the Colts best shot at getting Peyton his ring. I also don't care that Indy is 9-0 at home this year. I mean isn't Tom Brady still playing for the Patriots? And isn't Bill Belichick still dancing around in Peyton Manning's dome? That's what I thought. And is Colts DB Nick Harper insane? Why on earth would he give New England bulletin board material by saying the Colts D thinks they may be in Brady's head? What an idiot. The only thing in Brady's head is how a 4th ring will look on his finger, and probably nude images of his new chick, supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Seriously though, the game within a game that will be fun to watch will be the battle of the Sanders'. If safety Bob Sanders cant step up like he did in the meeting earlier in the season, then the Colts have a great shot. He's been the spark plug for this defensive unit, more so helping to stop the run than the pass, and since he's been back they've only allowed a total of 127 rush yards in their two playoff games. For the Pats, if James "Colonel" Sanders and Artrell Hawkins can step up, then I really like their chances (it also wouldn't hurt if Rodney Harrison manages to make it back for this one, even though he remains doubtful). They have looked really slow at times this year, and this is the wrong receiving corps to be taking bad angles on. Either way, you know this thing is coming down to a game winning field goal. The question is, who is going to be taking it? Well here you go. (Note: If you don't want to know exactly what's going to happen at the end of the game, don't read any further) While it's usually the Pats driving down the field for a game winner, this one's going to unfold a little differently. Let me set the stage. After scoring to take a 24-23 lead, the Pats leave about 90 seconds on the clock for Peyton and crew to work their way for a winning score. Instead of choking, Peyton actually manages to remember that he plays football better than he acts (wait is that even true?) and leads his boys into field goal range despite having only one timeout to work with. Then, in comes the savior, Adam Vinatieri (who has yet to miss a kick in the dome this year), to attempt a 42 yard game-winner that would send Indy to their long awaited Super Bowl. But this one ends the same way so many Vinatieri games have ended in the past....Pats Win!...Pats Win!...
Prediction: New England Patriots 24 Indianapolis Colts 23

New Orleans Saints (+3) @ Chicago Bears
*Don't get it twisted. I'm not picking the Saints because their home is under water, because they have Reggie Bush or because they have the reigning coach of the year in Sean Payton. I'm picking them because they are getting points, and because the other team happens to have a QB that goes by the name of Rex Grossman. That's what it all comes down to for me in this one. The Saints are the better team, but the Bears are at home, hence the 3 point spread. That's Las Vegas's way of saying that if this game were played on a neutral site, it would be a tie. And I can't say I disagree. Any way you slice it, this game will be won by whichever team shows up and makes the most big plays. Unlike the AFC title tilt, where it should be a tight battle throughout, this one will be based completely on the big play. If the Bears D and punt return master Devin Hester make the plays, the Bears will win. If it's Reggie Bush, Marques Colston or the Saints D/Rex making the big plays, the Saints will move on. It's really that simple. Speaking of simple. Let's just break the game down this way. The Bears have the NFL's #1 ranked defense and the Saints have the #1 ranked offense. Last time I checked, defense wins championships right? And isn't this a championship game? Right?...Right? I have this one being a one-point game also, but look for it to play more like a "come from ahead" game for the Bears as opposed to the back and forth battle in the AFC.
Prediction: Chicago Bears 27 New Orleans Saints 26

2006-2007 Picks
Last Week: 2-2-0

Playoffs: 5-3-0 (.625)

'06-'07 Season: 52-36-7 (.584)

*My 2-2 record last week is really misleading. I predicted all 4 winners correctly (7-1 picking winners in the postseason, better than everyone at ESPN not named Merril Hoge), and I basically nailed how all of the games would play out with exception of the Bears/Seahawks. Straight cash homie. Only 3 games left to pick this year, and hopefully the Pats will be in 2 of them. So' now I've beat Vegas 2 years in a row. Dare I start actually putting money down on these babies next year?

News and Notes
*I'm not sure where Mikey Vick gets his buds from, but from the sound of it, they must have more crystals than Diddy's iPod. Vick was stopped at the Miami International Airport on Wednesday at a routine security checkpoint and asked to hand over a bottle of water. He was very reluctant to give it to them, but eventually did. After it was disposed of, authorities wondered why he wouldn't hand it over, so they gave it a second look. That's when they discovered the bottle happened to contain a secret compartment that allegedly contained s black substance that looked and smelled like Mary Jane! You know the type of water bottle I'm talkin' about. It's one of those that you're "supposed" to hide valuables in when you are afraid that someone is going to rob you. They are NOT for the NFL's all-time single season rushing leader at QB to stash buds in! Come on Mikey. They don't let anyone on planes anymore with liquid bro. And even if for some reason you were under a rock and didn't know that, when they ask you to get rid of it, DO IT! You can always buy another one of those bottles man, and you can definitely always buy more weed. At the very least, I'm sure his brother Marcus could sell him a zip or two. But honestly Mike, you need to learn to use slightly better judgment. First you get caught spreadin' herps (no that's not a typo that's how I say and spell it) and using the name Ron Mexico. Then you flip the bird to the home fans. Now this? Dude, you're set to make $130 mil over the next decade. Buy you're own freaking plane! Note: If you own the vehicle, you can hot box it all you want. Keep that in mind. My favorite part of this story though is that local officials in Miami have said it may take a few weeks to determine if they are going to press any charges. Funny, it doesn't seem to take that long when they catch a few high school kids cruisin' around in their sea-foam whips. Not that I'd know anything about that...

*Apparently Marty Schottenheimer's job is safe as head coach of the San Deigo Chargers. While it had been rumored that Marty would be run out of town despite his 14-2 record this year, team owner Dean Spanos made it clear that Marty was here to stay. Spanos even went as far as to offer the coach a one year extension reportedly worth $4.5 mil with a million dollar buyout. And I understand that Marty turned it down because if he does happen to win next year he will be worth much more, but I'd like to go back to what I said last week about Tom Coughlin. Sure the Charger players may love Marty now, but if they start to lose next year at any point, he could lose control of his team. Why respect a guy that's probably not even coming back next season? Other than that, this is a great move by the Chargers, at least from my point of view. Now that he's there at least one more year, it means the most talented team in the AFC will never be able to make it to the Super Bowl. Mmmmm I can smell another ring already.

*Barry Bonds thinks that Pete Rose and Mark McGwire should both be in the baseball Hall of Fame. Nice. What's next? Maurice Clarett is going to come out and say he thinks it should be legal to drive around with vodka and guns? Nate Newton is going to say he thinks Cheech and Chong should oppose Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008? Or better yet, maybe Shawne Merriman will openly petition for Bill Romanowski as the leader of the World Anti Doping Agency. Come on Barroid, be serious here. We all know you're just trying to pave the way for your own scandalous candidacy for the Hall in 6 years. You can't fool us! And by "us" I obviously don't mean Bud Selig. Even if you think those guys should be in the Hall, is it in Barry's best interest to throw support behind two of the most tarnished reputations in the sport? He's not looking good as is, nevermind now that he's openly lobbying for cheaters to get in. God I hope his deal with the Giants falls through and the rest of the league just refuses to sign him. I don't care if it is illegal to do that. Aren't roids illegal too? Justice baby! Justice!

*As much as I'd like to give you some more embarrassing news about former NFL head coach Dennis Green, this next story actually makes him look pretty smart. After spurning attempts by Al Davis and the Raiders for an interview for their vacant head coaching spot, Green is apparently in talks for his own TV show. No, he wouldn't be talking football, nor would he be forced to live in a house with 7 strangers. No, Denny Green would be hosting...wait for it...his own fishing show! That's right kids. Feel free to insert your best "...and we let them off the hook!" joke here.

*Jose Contreras's father is tired of his age being a source of laughter among NBA commentators. And of course by that I mean, Dikembe Mutombo is pissed. Despite being made fun of for the fact that he has looked 50 since he was 18, Dikembe Mutombo and his family have had enough. The 40 year old has even gone as far as to ask commissioner David Stern if there's any way he can ask the boys in Bristol and at TNT to stop mocking the fact that he looks about 80. Sorry Dikembe. When you come from a continent that's birth records are about as reliable as an AIDS vaccine from a Tijuana free clinic, this is the treatment you can expect to get. Hell, Danny Almonte and Julio Franco think that there are issues with your birth certificate. Besides, if I were you I'd be more worried about making a fool out of myself on the court. I'm all for Mutombo doing his patented "finger wag" after he blocks a shot, buy not when the ball is still in play! Whether you're 40 or 60, it doesn't matter to me, you still look like an old fool.

*Oh yeah. Don't think I was going to go all week without commenting on LT and the rest of those sore losers in San Diego. When LaDanian Tomlinson said the Patriots had "no class" after they mocked Shawne Merriman's "lights out" dance on the Charger logo, I cut him some slack. After all, he had just come of an emotional loss, and sometimes after a loss like that even classy guys like LT can let the moment get the best of them. But to continue talking about the Pats lack of class well into the next week? Come on now. If your roided out teammate is going to do a dance every time he sack the QB (or even when he almost does, which happened in that game), then expect other teams to do it right back. After all, isn't it a sign of disrespect when Merriman or anyone else celebrates after a big play? Of course it is. You trying to tell me that when a quarterback is lying on his back and looks up and sees Merriman doing his little dance that resembles a lawn sprinkler they feel good? Hell no, they feel disrespected, or upstaged. If you want to dish it out, you need to be able to take it. And right now, the Chargers are the ones who look classless, not the Patriots that were celebrating on their logo. Sure, I would have rather the players hadn't done that, but there was nothing wrong with it. Grow up LT....oh I just can't resist..."Go Fuck Yourself San Diego" - Ron Burgandy

Nothing says FRAUD like losing by 22 points at home. That's right Clemson. I don't care how many times you beat up on Wofford, Monmouth and Appalachian St. if you cant even hang with the Tar Heels in your own building. I'm not saying they had to win, but coming off a close loss @ #25 Maryland it would have been nice to at least make it a game in front of fans that spent the night before staked outside the arena in anticipation. Expect these fools to drop out of the top 25 just as quickly as they arrived. That being said, two teams that proved this week that they aren't posers were the Oklahoma St. Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. Was that the best game you've seen this year or what? Triple OT game that features one of the best players in the country (Texas F Kevin Durant), one of the coolest names in the country (OK. St. F JamesOn Curry), and the greatest half-court out-of-bounds saving shot this side of Rex Chapman. That victory alone was enough to bump the Boys into my top 10 this week. Other than that there wasn't much movement, but I let my stubbornness get the best of me and bumped the Heels back into my top 10. I'm funny like that. When you beat a ranked team in their building by 20+ I tend to give you some love. No matter how awful that home team may have been...

College Hoops Top 10
1. Kansas (16-2) 1
2. Florida (16-2) 2
3. Wisconsin (18-1) 3
4. UCLA (16-1) 4
5. Pittsburgh (17-2) 5
6. Ohio St. (15-3) 6
7. Nevada (17-1) 8
8. North Carolina (16-2) NR
9. Oklahoma St. (16-2) NR
10. Alabama (14-3) 7

just missed: Oregon, Arizona, Butler, Memphis
dropped: (9) Arizona, (10) Texas A&M

Just like to thank everyone that distracts themselves from work by reading my blog each week. This was my 100th posting, and with any luck, maybe I will get through 100 more before I'm through. Thanks for readin' peeps. You are all true gangsters in my book. And yes, I do have a book where I keep track of those things...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Playoff Picks and Salisbury's Steak!

Like a fine wine, I'm just getting better with time. And like a delicious cream, I am rising to the top. Last week I went 3-1 in the wild card games and had the balls to pick the Gators, making me 4-1 for the week. I know, that was impressive math. Well let me tell ya, if you thought that was good, wait till you see what I pull out this week. No, I haven' changed my method of picking games (pretty much I'm a few steps above a pretty smart monkey throwing darts), but when you're 10-4-0 over the last 2 weeks, you can start to talk like you're an actual pimp. As opposed to one of those pimps that really lives with their parents...Wait a minute...

New England Patriots (+5)
@ San Diego Chargers
*Talk about a snow ball effect. At first the talk was that the Pats should be able to hang in the game because of Belichick, Brady and their past postseason success vs first timer Philip Rivers (not to mention Marty Schottenheimer's 5-12 career playoff mark). Now, you have to struggle to find anyone that's picking the 14-2 and #1 seeded Chargers. Hell, at this point even I want to pick them simply because of the disrespect they have been getting. But I won't. Especially since they won't let anyone outside of So-Cal buy a ticket. That's right. If you dont have a southern California zip code, Ticketmaster reserves the right to cancel your purchase at any time! What's the deal with that? Prejudiced bastards. Just because half your fans don't care, and the other half are Mexicans, doesn't mean you can just prevent Patriot Nation for invading your turf. You know what you get when you go out of your way to be a tool like this? BAD KARMA. It wasn't enough that they already had a convicted Roid shooter in Shawne Merriman, a young QB with no playoff experience and a choke artists coach? They had to go and bring this on themselves. That's just bad form. I know LT is the man, but even he can't save them from all this negative energy. So, despite the fact that home teams are 51-13 in the divisional round of the playoffs since the bye was created, I'm taking my boys in this one. We got the Karma, we got the hooded wife stealer (that's Bill Belichick for those of you not in the gossip loop!) and we got Tom Terrific. WE GOT THE POWER! And oh yea, for all of you out there worried about my boy Steven Gostkowski missing a crucial field goal? Chew on this bitches. Not only is Gostkowski 3/3 in his brief playoff career, but the last time the Chargers were in the playoffs, it was their man Nate Keading that missed a winning kick in OT that would have brought them victory against the J-E-T-S. At home no less. Hmmmmmm
Prediction: New England Patriots 27 San Diego Chargers 24

Indianapolis Colts (+3.5) @ Baltimore Ravens
*Chalk this one down in the "well, they are my new pick to win the Super Bowl so I'm picking them even if I think they are outmatched" column. The one thing I do think I have going in my favor, is that Baltimore right tackle, and resident man-beast, Jonathan Ogden is still a game time decision. So while I have nothing but confidence in the Ravens tenacious D (ha!), I just see Dwight Freeney flying in early and breaking both of Steve McNair's 75 year old knees. In comes Kyle Boller, and there goes the season. Ray Lewis and Bart Scott have been flappin' their gums all week about how they are going to punish Colts' rookie RB Joseph Addai. And while they probably will, I don't think that will be enough to derail Peyton and crew this season. I see this game as being really slow in developing, but Reggie Wayne and Starvin' Marvin' will help pour it on in the second half and send the Colts home to host the AFC Championship against the...dun dun dun....New England Patriots!
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 20 Baltimore Ravens 16

Chicago Bears (-8.5) vs Seattle Seahawks
*Chicago has the best defense in the NFL. They also happen to have Rex Grossman. Hmmmm. Too tough to call for this guy, so we're goin' straight to the numbers. Fact is, since the inception of the 12 team playoff system, the NFC #1 seed is 18-0. Are the Bears really bad enough to snap that streak? Nah. The Seahawks just aren't a good enough team. I said it before and I'll say it again. Ever since G Steve Hutchinson bolted for the Vikings, Shaun Alexander hasn't been the same. As he goes, so go the Hawks. Look for the Bears to score at least one TD on defense and don't be shocked to see rookie returner extraordinaire Devin Hester to be doin' a little dance in the end zone. The Bears are still fatally flawed, but the Seahawks just aren't good enough to expose them. To beat Chicago you need to force Rex Grossman into some mistakes, but when you're 22nd against the run like Seattle is, you might not force Lovie Smith to even consider calling a passing play. "We're gonna take the ball and we're gonan score!" I don't think so Hasselbeck. Just be thankful McNabb went down for the year and handed you that Campbell's soup campaign. That's about the closest to a "bowl" that you're gonna get this year. Zing!
Prediction: Chicago Bears 31 Seattle Seahawks 14

New Orleans Saints (-5) vs Philadelphia Eagles
*If you barely beat the Giants at home, excuse me if I don't pick you as a road dog. Besides, I still think the Saints are the best team in the NFC. Sure the Eagles might be the hottest, but again, they barely beat the freaking Giants! The Saints have had trouble putting teams away lately, but they just have two many weapons for an Eagle secondary that will be without Lito Sheppard. Even with Joe Horn possibly out due to injury, Drew Brees still has Marques Colston, Terrence Copper, Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister to spread the pill around too. As much as I repsect Brian Westbrook, he won't be enough to win this one. And I just can't envision Jeff Garcia leading any team to the NFC Championship game. I mean I know the NFC sucks, but come on. The Saints may have an awful playoff history, but as the resident "feel good" story of the '06-'07 season, they just reak of good Karma. How can I resist that? The score is going to look a lot closer than the game will actually be. My gut tells me that Reggie takes a kickoff or punt back early on and the crowd never lets Philly in it. Overlooked match up in this one has to be two of the best play callers in the game Saints head coach Sean Payton on offense and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson on defense.
Prediction: New Orleans Saints 28 Philadelphia Eagles 20

2006-2007 Picks
Last Week: 4-1-0

Playoffs: 3-1-0

'06-'07 Season: 50-34-7 (.588)

*I learned this week that in order to "beat" Vegas, or any bookie for that matter, you need to pick at better than 52.4% consistently. Normally, I'd take this opportunity to gloat, but I've been having such good Karma with my picks lately, I won't even risk it.

News and Notes
*Barry Bonds testified to the grand jury that while he may have been taking steroids while in business with BALCO, he did so unwillingly. Now, after it's been revealed that he tested positive for amphetamines during last season, he's saying it's because of something he took for teammate Mark Sweeney's locker. Of course, Barroid has already come out and said he never mentioned Sweeney's name, but come on man! Is this guy for real? Let's say for the sake of argument (AKA let's lie) that Barry did unwillingly use beef roids from BALCO. Why on earth would he ever again even think of putting something in his body that he wasn't 100% sure was completely legal? That's the thing though. This guy just doesn't care. In my honest opinion, I actually think Barroid was using a weight loss supplement and was just too lazy to check and see if it was even legal. Can you blame him? I mean the guy is so used to having everything under the sun pumped into his body, that he probably didn't even think twice. And throwing a nobody like Mark Sweeney under the bus? That's just another day in the life of the most hated man in the game. You think there's been good debate with Big Mac getting shunned by the Hall? Just wait 6 years when the All-Time home run king is up for induction. Assuming he lives that long...

*I love cell phone cameras as much as the next guy. And by "the next guy" I do NOT mean ESPN football analyst and former pro QB Sean Salisbury. Word leaked out of Bristol earlier this week that Salisbury had been suspended for 4 days earlier this year after a female employee at the network reported that he came up to her and....well for lack of a better term....whipped it out. His phone that is. And on it? Well it was none other than a picture of his man meat. Yea that's right. The same big man on the ESPN campus that loves to criticize guys like T.O for his lack of character, was docked 4 days pay for flailing his peen around on his Blackberry. Nice. What I don't get though, is how they totally bury this story on the back pages, but yet when Harold Reynolds hits on a few chicks when he's liquored up he is immediately fired. And I'd try to play the race card, but they didn't seem in a hurry to fire Michael Irvin when he was caught with crack again/was saving his cousin from drug use. I can only imagine that Harold must have said something really vulgar about where he'd like to put Stuart Scott's fake eye to Chris Berman's wife.

*It seems like it happened months ago (probably because we waited two months to see it), but it was only a few days ago that the Florida Gators smacked the Ohio St. Suckeyes right in the package. It truly looked like OSU was plump with In & Out burgers and some Pink's hot dogs, because they were just thrown around by Urban Meyer and his crew of athletes. The SEC is the best conference in the country. Period. The way Ohio St. and Michigan played in their bowl games, you could argue that Auburn, LSU and Arkansas would have won the Big 11 this year. At least Jim Tressel knows he can always beat Lloyd Carr. But seriously, who loses the National Championship game 41-14? Wow. At least there's buzz about the BCS "re-tooling" it's formula again to include either a "+1 game" (two best teams after tradtional BCS games play each other) or god forbid a National semifinal with the 4 best teams in a playoff. Now there's an original idea!

*First, Tomy Romo botches the snap that costs the Cowboys their season. Second, he cried about it in the locker room like a huge puss. You're thinking it can't get much worse for this guy right? Guess again. Despite the fact that there's plenty of other media hot topics in the Big D this off season (the futures of Bill Parcells and a certain wide receiver for instance), all people want to know is "Is this guy really our quarter back of the future?" Geez. A few weeks ago everyone in Texas wanted their son to be him, and their big breasted blond daughters to marry him, but all of a sudden he's a no-talent bum? Though harsh, the reality is that Cowboy fans are finally accepting what the rest of the country has known all along. Tony Romo just ain't that good ya'll. Hope he has a good time in Hawaii, because if he starts next season like he finished this one (2-4), the only other time he might be back on that island is when he finally lands a job as the Hawaii Rainbows QB coach in 2025. To quote legendary Sportscenter anchor Larry Biel, "Aloha means goodbye!". God I miss Larry Biel.

*Never fear Giant fans. I don't blame you for wondering why the Giants extended Tom Coughlin's contract through 2008 instead of firing him. But don't sweat it. The move is only to help give Coughlin some security. AKA So Shockey can't be in camp next year saying "you're out the door anyway man why we gonna listen to you". Oh yea, I see this situation getting a lot better. Good thing Eli can't read, or he would be pretty upset about the things being written about his team this year.

*I have two things to say about David Beckham signing with the LA Galaxy of the MLS for a reported $250 million ($51 mil in salary) over 5 years. 1) Despite the fact that I still refuse to believe that soccer will ever catch on in this country as a big money spectator sport, people that have $250 million to spend, usually know what they're doing when it comes to investments. AND 2) Soccer Sucks. That might really only be one thing, but I'm pretty sure the second is a true statement nonetheless. Fact is, most of the money for "Becks" is coming from Adidas because they are set to not only stay connected to Beckham, which they have been for years, but they will become the major sponsor for the LA based MLS franchise. So they should be able to make that loot back and then some, like I said they aren't dumb. But if Pele couldn't get soccer to stick in this country, I doubt some washed up Brit can make it happen. And why the hell is the movie "Bend It Like Beckham" about an Indian chick and Keira Kinghtley? Don't get me wrong, Keira's hot and all (especially if you shadily like older chicks that look 15.....not that I know any guys like that), but what's with the Indian chick? Those Fags (it means cigs or sticks in England) across the pond are a whacky lot!
*One last shot here. Apparently former Stone Temple Pilot and current Velvet Revolver lead singer Scott Weiland wrote a letter to Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis asking him to please stay on as head coach. I'm not saying the guy can't be a football fan, but that has to be one of the weirder things I've ever heard. A man most noted for shooting more smack than, well anyone, pleading to the head football coach of a Catholic university. Never has the term, "I'll have whatever that guy is on" held more water. Lay off the needle man!!
It's been nearly a month since I've come out with my college hoops rankings, and in that time span Greg Oden has somehow managed to age 6 years. Oh! I'll be here all week, don't forget to try the prime rib and tip your waiter! But seriously folks, it's back to basics for my college poll. I don't even want to look at what I had teams at several weeks ago. I'm starting fresh. And remember, my poll is a reflection of which teams have the best shot (as of today) to win the NCAA tournament. So, they might not be the most talented team, they are just the team I think is best equipped right now to make the 6-game run to destiny!

College Hoops Top 10
1. Kansas (14-2)
2. Florida (15-2)
3. Wisconsin (16-1)
4. UCLA (14-1)
5. Pittsburgh (15-2)
6. Ohio St. (13-3)
7. Alabama (14-2)
8. Nevada (15-1)
9. Arizona (13-2)
10. Texas A&M (14-2)

just missed: Butler, Clemson, Oklahoma St., LSU

Make sure to check back next week for my AFC and NFC Championship picks to go along with my thoughts on the Hall of Fame classes of 2007 in both the MLB and the NFL.

And just one final note. If you happen to be a healthy male between the ages of 18 and 35, then please submit your resume to Boston Celtic head coach Glen Rivers. The Celts only have 9 healthy players on their roster right now, and the coach himself was forced to suit up and practice this week. Tony Allen was the latest to go down when he tore both his ACL and his MCL when he went up for a thunderous dunk after the whistle (the dumbest thing he's done since "his boys" shot a guy when he was with them at a club in Chicago). So the question "how could this season get any worse?" has finally been answered. See you at the lottery selection Danny! Don't forget your four leaf clover! Shmuck.