Sunday, April 30, 2006

Back Seat Driver: NFL Draft

A big hearty cheer for the Back Seat Driver. What better usage of back seat driving than the NFL draft? Does anyone really know how their team did? You can throw wild accusations but like monkey's throwing poo, sometimes what you throw sticks and sometimes it doesn't. Here are a few impressions I have of NFL Draft 2006.

Mel v. Jaws v. Titans- In the battle of the gurus each of the three bet on which of the three QBS will ultimately be the best. Saint Mel Kiper of Hairspray had Matt "Hollywood" Leinart as the top QB. Ron Jaworski claimed to have broken the tapes down and stated emphatically that Jay Cutler would be the best pro (he then proceeded in stabbing Merrill Hodge with a salad fork). The Titans brain trust (read the owner who's a Longhorn fan) felt Vince Young was the way to go. These three gunslingers will forever be linked as well will their sponsors. Personally I think Leinart will be the worst of the three.

Chicago's GM is Steve Smith - Now The Chicago Bears Presented by Bank One had two problems last year: the offensive side of the ball and Steve Smith. Steve Smith torched the secondary. Of course the Bears offense could be described as lifeless but thats an insult to the undead. Nonetheless in the draft the Bears primarily decided to address their Steve Smith problem (and defense in general) by drafting 5 straight defensive players. Odd move to say the least.

Plugging Holes for the USS Steamer - Alleged draft guru Phil Savage was faced with quandry....the Browns have more problems than draft picks. Savage addressed the linebacker problem (better known as they have no pass rush, speed, coverage, etc) and added a little depth to positions that were thin (3rd down running back, receiver, cornerback, guard). I liked the linebacker picks up, given the need for a pass rush and premium on a linebacker(s) that could cover tight ends. That said the defensive line got minimal help and for a team that doesn't have a defensive end that seems to strike me as a problem. I'm decidedly neutral on their draft.

Chris Berman Made a Funny - Albeit at the Giants expense. The pickup of Mathias Kiwanuka requires more explanation than Berman's observation that Giants will be a good position to win the player name scrabble competition. Giants had strength at defensive end/pash rush. Drafting Kiwanuka didn't seem to fill a need and given that his stock fell due to the fact that he was dominated during the senor bowl seems doubly confusing.

Things that I liked - Jets (sigh) played it safe and drafted the offensive line of the future. Mangini doesn't fall far from the Belichek tree. Andy Reid and the Eagles continue to draft the line and hope wide receivers are a dime a dozen. Hey its worked so far. Green Bay got at least 4 starters from the first two rounds. I was really suprised how articulate William Henderson was. Who would expect a fullback to be so insightful?

Things I disliked - Pittsburgh taking players I (and Gutsy) like. Why must they pollute the MAC and steal OSU players? How much hype USC gets. OSU (9 players) and FSU (8) were in the same ballpark as the supposed greatest draft class ever(USC). Anytime Michael Irvin is on tv. He should be forced to cover the Juneau 5 K turkey trot. NBA ref's calling playoff games so tight so that they aren't even fun to watch. But thats a seperate issue. Anway the floor is open....

Friday, April 28, 2006

Happy Weekend and Enjoy

Cheers and Jeers: Mel Kiper Drinking Game Edition

Hey it's almost NFL Draft Day. Draft day is one of the best hyped and most emblematic sportstainment days of the year. I mean millions of people tune in to watch highlights for basically eights hours. Its voyeuristic, it's passive and has lots of sound and fury ultimately signifying nothing. The center of the tangled web of the draft information zone is the old wise Guru better known as Saint Mel Kiper of Assi. (or was that Francis) In any event to make the draft go faster I will recommend the Mel Kiper Jr. drinking game.

Rule 1: Every time Mel says this guy has a lot of upside potential take a drink. This is easily the silliest comment since all college players have upside potential.

Rule 2: Take a drink anytime an Eagles or Jets fans boo. You should be drunk/vomiting/Boris Yeltsin by the fifth pick.

Rule 3: Anytime someone mentions how Mel Kiper predicted that Trev Alberts would suck, finish your beer. This prediction launched Mel into the current guru gig but heck I say Trev Alberts sucks on a daily basis and you don't see me landing some plum job.

Rule 4: If Merril Hodge is able to read the teleprompter take a drink. I wouldn't worry, Hodge can't do this. Besides the producers only turn to Hodge when Mel is in his bio-regenerative pod (which he must return to every three hours to protect his hair).

Rule 5: Throw a beer can through your tv if you’re here the phrase "The U" in reference to University of Miami. It's self-explanatory but too much exposure to slurping of any Hurricane player or Michael Irvin will result in paralysis.

Now for some quick cheering and jeering…

Cheers: To the NFL draft. By the end of Sunday, every local paper will be stating how their team is playoff bound now.

Jeers: To seven game NBA series. I understand the monetary reasons but the drama just doesn't seem there. Chicago upset Miami last night…but eh. I really can't pay attention for at least two more games.

Cheers: Colorado Rockies. I seem to have a soft spot for these guys. Maybe because I hate the Marlins and Diamondback and the Rockies never seemed to have the success the other new franchises have had (note there isn't a team in Tampa, that’s just a common myth like the Yeti or cheap gas). Anyway the young Rockies seem to be putting up a fight in the NL West. Hey as long as its not San Fran winning the division I'll be happy.

Cheers: To the World Cup. We here at the Back Seat Drivers have hired a star reporter to cover the World Cup live. Hopefully we'll get reports and not drunken e-mails like that time we hired Publius to cover Octoberfest.

The Worst NFL Draft Pick EVER

Surfing ESPN, I noticed this piece.

Although it has all sports, what is the WORST NFL DRAFT PICK?

My vote:
L. Phillips-- The Rams selected him in 1996. Why was this a problem? A) he sucks b) he is from Nebraska c) I don't like Nebraska football.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mock Draft II: Wrath of Kahn

Top 15 Picks courtesy of Mighty Mike's imagination

1. Houston Texans - Reggie Bush. Anything else you here is just leverage for the contract.
Alternative: Mario Williams

2. New Orleans Saints - Mario Williams. They have a fever and the only cure is Mario (or cowbell)
Alternatives: Trade, AJ Hawk

3. Tennesse Titans -Matt Leinart. I think the buzz right now is to keep other teams from trading up and stealing Leinart.
Alternatives - Vince Young

4. NY Jets - D'Brickshaw Ferguson - Oh to have an offensiveline.
Alternatives - Leinart, Mario, Tickets to see Mama Mia

5. Green Bay Packers- AJ Hawk. Safest pick in the draft. Downside get to see more of Brady Quinn's sister.
Alternatives - Mario Williams

6. San Fran 49ers - Vernon Davis. A tight end that runs a 4.3
Alternatives - Michael Huff

7. Oakland Raiders- Vince Young. Cali is where he gets his mac on.
Alternatives -QBs Leinart or Cutler.

8. Buffalo Bills - Winston Justice OT. Bills need help on the line. Any line (offensive, defensive, thin red)
Alternatives- Broderick Bunkley DT

9. Detroit - Its Millen so anything is possible. My guess is Michael Huff since he's the best defensive player left.
Alternatives - Jay Cutler (detroit needs a real QB), Ernie Sims (has drawn comparisons to Derrick Brooks)

10. Arizona - Ernie Sims. Time to work on the defense.
Alternatives - Jay Cutler. Anyone else that I've listed that drops.

11. Saint Louis - They lost two DTs in the off-season so Broderick Bunkley makes sense.
Alternatives : Any cornerback (Tye Hill). Outside possibility of Jay Cutler. Finally could go for 10 pounds of Ted Drewe's frozen custard with choice of fixins.

12. Cleveland Browns - Halati Nagati. The Dog Pound salivates if they get the massive run stopper.
Alternatives - Bunkley, Wimbley (DE). It will be one of these players I'm willing to bet 100 bucks of Hart's money with anyone.

13. Baltimore Ravens - Jimmy Williams (cornerback). Their corners are old and smelly and nobody likes them.
Alternatives - There's like 5 corners and they are basically interchangable so really any one of them will do. Billick might also draft himself in a fiendish plot to get a signing bonus.

14. Philadelphia - My guess is they trade down.
Alternatives - They choose not to select anyone. Other Possibilities also include Chad Greenway or some other weak side linebacker.

15. Denver - Santonio Holmes- Denver is drafting a WR. Lelie is out the door and Methusulah isn't getting any younger
Alternatives - Chad Jackson

Devil's Advocate

In the interest of sparking debate/conversation, I’m throwing out some topics:

1. Should the Texans draft Reggie Bush over Mario Williams? If the Texans have their biggest problems on both sides of the line and they have a chance to draft a player that some people think is the next Julius Peppers, would Williams not address a greater need and provide a bigger impact on the Texans’ fortunes next season? Also, how will Bush be used? Will he be used as a traditional 20-carry RB? Will he be used as a hybrid cross between Dante Hall, Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle-El and Barry Sanders? Can the conservative head coaching styles of the NFL find a proper use for Bush’s talents or will he become Michael Vick-ified where the proverbial square peg/round hole scenario erupts?

2. Is Steve Nash really worthy of the MVP over Kobe Bryant or LeBron James? While I understand that seven players all achieved their highest scoring averages while playing with Nash this year, did Nash really do more for the Suns than Bryant or James did for their respective teams? Both Bryant and James carried their teams to the playoffs without that sidekick that makes good teams great in the NBA. To use Bill Simmons’ MVP-analyzing methodology for a moment, could the Suns not have made the playoffs with another PG running the show there? Shawn Marion is a tremendous talent in his own right. Kobe Bryant’s best sidekick was Lamar Odom and, good grief, don’t even ask about the sort of cruddy players LeBron has to put up with (Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes don’t exactly qualify as NBA sidekick material). I just don’t know if Nash was worthy of this back-to-back MVP.

3. Since we’re on the subject of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, it has to be said that Kobe’s dunk “over” Nash last night is one of the most overrated dunks I’ve seen in quite some time. I woke up and turned on “Mike & Mike” on ESPN2 and both were raving about how Kobe hurdled Nash and how it was the best dunk they’d seen. I quickly flipped the channel to ESPNNews to see a replay. Not only did Kobe not hurdle Nash, he didn’t even jump over him. Nash was called for a blocking foul. He landed on his behind several feet in front of where Kobe landed. By definition, then, Kobe didn’t hurdle Nash. Vince Carter’s dunk over Frenchman Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics was textbook hurdling. Kobe’s dunk was an impressive feat of elevation over a stationary object that does not defend the ball even in the best of circumstances. Let’s not hype something that didn’t happen, OK?

4. Finally, onto baseball. There is a debate in the so-called Red Sox Nation about what Jon Papelbon’s future role should be. Some want to convert him into a starter immediately. Others want to convert him into a starter next year. Still others believe he should remain a closer. I know my own feelings on the subject – Papelbon should be left in as Boston’s closer for the next 10 years – but I’m curious to spark the debate. In my view, despite the complete worthlessness of the save statistic, there is unquestionable value in having a reliable pitcher closing out games. As teams like the Braves, Astros, Mets and Phillies have found out, the lack of a true closer can spell doom for a World Series contender. It is so rare to find someone both comfortable and capable in the role of closer. The Red Sox have found a gem and should leave him there untouched.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mock Draft 2006 - The Final Frontier

Considering I know hardly anything about the different players available this year, I feel this makes me just about as qualified as most of the other people who create mock drafts.

I first just wanted to state how I think it is so hysterically funny when all the pundits talk about all the QB busts that occur in the 1st round and then they advocate waiting until the later rounds to find a Tom Brady. What’s so funny, is that while the 1st round remains about a 50-50 proposition (for every Manning there’s a Ryan Leaf), the later rounds are an even LARGER crap shoot! I mean, there might be 12 later round QBs chosen each year, and of those, if 3 pan out and become regular starters, that would be considered a good draft (I haven't done the research, I'm trying to be generous). So in the end, you really have a lower chance of picking a quality player in the later rounds, but its just at a lower level of commitment/risk because the player doesn’t get a huge contract.

Anyways, onto the draft… I’m going to attempt the...

Fine Fifteen

1. Houston Texans – Reggie Bush RB – USC
So now that we all know that Reggie’s parents were living the good life for the last year, I wonder how long it will be until other violations are found. This stuff is rampant at all of the schools, I mean we've all seen the movie "Blue Chips." Anyways, I think Houston is stuck drafting this guy just to keep the fans happy.
Side bet: Does Houston RB Dominack Davis get traded? If so, what does he go for? I’ll guess a 3rd-round pick.

2. New York Jets (by trade) – Matt Leinart QB – USC
In the end, the Jets can’t avoid making a huge splash to keep up with the Giants who recently traded up for Eli Manning. I realize the Jets will have 3 QBs if this trade happens, but honestly, Chad Pennington’s arm isn’t capable of competing in a Pee-Wee league, so really, this is about a guy tutoring behind new NY Jets QB Patrick Ramsey.

3. Tennessee Titans – Vince Young, QB- Texas
This is probably way too high for Young, but I believe the Titans will enjoy grooming Young behind another guy, Steve McNair, who also started out as an athletic QB who needed some grooming.

4. New Orleans (by trade from Jets) – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT Virginia
The Saints successfully trade down, enabling them to still grab the man with a very marketable name, “D’Brickashaw.” Brick-house, Brick-street, there are many names this guy can go by which can only mean that he will be very successful.

5. Green Bay Pakcers – Mario Williams, DE NC St.
Who wants to fill out a Mad-lib?!?!?!!:
Now that Vince Young went early, the ________ (adjective) Packers are _________(verb) to be able to draft a D-lineman for their team. Of course, the selection must be ___________ (verb) by the man who __________(verb) the franchise, Brett Favre. Here’s to another year of the ___________ (adjective) Peter King telling us how Brett Favre may be having his last game in ___________ (noun, place). I am also __________(verb) of Peter King’s columns on _____________(noun). Brett Favre is the best _____________ (noun) in the NFL at ______________ (noun).

6. San Francisco 49ers – AJ Hawk, LB Ohio St.
Everyone else in America has Vernon Davis at this spot, but with AJ Hawk available, I believe the 49ers would be smarter just picking a defensive talent.

7. Oakland Raiders – Huff, DB Texas
I just don’t think the Raiders ever draft QBs, because they enjoy taking them from other teams, after they’ve already been developed. Not a bad strategy, but its unknown what Aaron Brooks will do. I will say this though, Randy Moss makes any QB with a strong arm look good.

8. Buffalo – Vernon Davis, TE Maryland
This would be a great pick, and would be able to take away some of the focus off of WR Lee Evans on the outside.

9. Detroit – Santonio Holmes WR Ohio State
I’m just kidding. But that would be the funniest thing ever if they decided to draft another receiver just for “Tradition.” Real pick: Justice, OT USC – what better way to build a team then with actual lineman? I know, it makes too much sense.

10. Arizona - Bunkley DT Florida State
I have no idea, this is just a name I saw on the internet.

11. St. Louis – Lawson LB/DE NC St.
The Rams never have any defense.

12. Cleveland – Greenway LB, Iowa
I feel like Cleveland will grab the highest LB on the board. Maybe a DT, but definitely one of those two positions.

13. Baltimore – Cutler, QB Vanderbilt
There’s no way Coack Brian “the Brains” Billick would pass on a top-tier QB who falls this far. Especially considering that the Kyle Boller experiment has to be coming to an end at some point soon.

14. Philly - Ngata, DT Oregon
Sure, why not.

15. Denver – Santonio Holmes, WR Ohio State
It’s too bad Tagliabue can’t joke around with the Lions pick. Seriously, this would be a good fit for Holmes and Denver. Denver will take a WR no matter what, considering that Rod Smith is an elder statesman at this point.

MAC Players:
I’m expecting QB Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green, to go in the 4th round. What’s scary is that when you compare Jacobs to recent MAC-grad, Charlie Frye. Frye put up a 3500 yard, 22 TD, 9 INT season followed by a 2600 yard, 18 TD, 8 INT season. In 2004, Jacobs put up a 4000 yard, 45 TD, 4 INT season. Last season, Jacobs “disappointed” everyone because he put up a 2600 yard, 26TD, 7 INT season in an injury-plagued season (he only played 8 complete games). So basically, Omar was stuck on a bad team, and he put up comparable stats to Frye. I’m intrigued to say the least to follow his career.

I’m expecting WR Martin Nance from Miami-Ohio to go in the 5th round. I was trying to find some predictions on him, but it was tough. He’s listed as the 11th best receiver on one site. Anyways, Martin Nance is a tall target with speed, but he tore his ACL once (in 2004), so his stock is probably lower than it would have been otherwise.

We Just Can't Get Rid Of This Guy...

Brett Favre is coming back for the 2006 season. In my mind, it was never in doubt. Athletes are usually very decisive when they’re retiring and all the hemming and hawing is usually reserved for those who can’t quite look forward to the next phase of their lives.

Past experience dictates that the NFL is an unpredictable league where last year’s 4-12 last place finisher could be this year’s surprise division winner. While I certainly don’t see that kind of talent on the Packers – their offensive line is non-existent and they have a rookie coach whose credentials and track record are less than inspiring – the thing with the NFL is that you never know. The Lions and Vikings could be improved next year with better coaching on both sides of the ball. The Bears, despite having a spotty QB situation, have a defense that should keep them in most games. But the Packers might catch lightning in a bottle with their last-place schedule and their top-5 draft pick this weekend. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

So what I’m saying is that despite the appearance of another lost season, who knows, the Pack might actually be happy to have their arrogant drunken slob of a QB back in the mix. Even with his 29 INT’s, a case could be made that he was the most talented QB in the division (man, is that sad or what?). And hell, for the rest of us, we now have something to root for: Brian Urlacher or another NFC North defender pile-driving Favre into the turf and out of the league for good. We can only hope…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Quick Dose of Schadenfreude

In light of this, it gives me great pleasure to report this

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Sunday Times: Week in Review

Well time for the biggest spin session on the week that was and the week that will be this side of the Potomac. I'm trying to think of a more jam packed week of sports during the year and I'm coming up blanks. NBA and NHL playoffs, MLB regular season, NFL draft and spring football for colleges (and for those that discount intra-team scrimmages I advise you to come to Columbus where nearly 70,000 showed up for the spring scrimmage). Heck even the Canadian Midget Bowling Classic throws out the first dwarf of the year this weekend. Seriously, is there a deeper batch of sports related thoughts at any other time in the year?

NBA Playoffs

The high point of the week was Lebron's triple-double. Somebody check to make sure Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan didn't put on disguises to play for the Cavs. First playoff game, 21 years of problem for the Boy Wonder. Dropping points, rebounds, assists and funny one-liners Lebron dominated the Wizards and lead to the Cavs to their first playoff victory since 1998 (incidentally Johnny Carson did the same thing for the Seattle Supersonics that year). For his next act Lebron will aim for a quadriple-double while holding a Ford Pinto in one arm.

MLB Baseball
Well in many this season seems to be a redux of last season. Yankees are struggling in the early going, ChiSox beginning red hot (yes they've won 7 in a row now), Reds slugging the ball but getting slugged just as bad and the Pirates being described as slightly less fun to watch than the Best of Colonoscopies 3. There are a few trends that are different. The Mets are certainly red hot and while I expect their record to come down to earth a little bit its important to think about the effects of having large leads in the standing in the early months. Often times trades are made depending on how far out a team is from the leader and regardless of what the pythag predictions are, a team like Atlanta or Philly might choose rebuilding rather than contesting if they get too far behind. The other trend is the lack of hitting coming out of Saint Louis. The Cards have been at the top of the heap known as the NL in large part because of their hitting. Right now the Cards are batting a pedestrian .250 and ranked 10th in the NL in runs scored. Given that Pujols is batting at a phenomenal rate at the moment, the rest of the team better start hitting soon or the Cards lock hold on the Central may fade.

NFL Draft
A few random things I'm looking at for the draft. Which school gets more first round picks, USC or OSU? USC has a lock of three first rounders and potentially six by the end of round two. OSU has two locks in the first round with potentially six by the end of round one (let alone two). Given both of the team's performances in their respective bowl games its no surprise. However draft picks do effect future recruiting so stay tuned. I think Leinart will turn out to be the worst of the pro quarterbacks picked (versus Young and Cutler with the caveat of which team selects them). If you're going to tune in for a moment outside of who your team selects I recommend tuning in for New Orleans and Tennesse's selections. If New Orlean trades the whole first round could change and depending on which QB Tennessee picks, that too could determine a lot of positioning the rest of the way.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ruminations: Friday

As I’ve written many times, baseball is a funny sport. For one thing, it’s the only sport I can think of where even the least talented guy on the team has his moment in the sun. In the NFL or NBA, dogs don’t usually have their day; in the majors, even a loser will have a special moment. Case in point: Mets infielder Kazuo Matsui.

The Mets spent a lot of money bringing “Little” Matsui in from the Japanese league, where he was regarded as one of the top players. For whatever reason, his skills have not translated in the majors and, after two years as a starter, the Mets decided that AAA was the best spot for him this year. Despite this, Kaz Matsui can stake claim to a seriously cool feat – no other player in major league history has hit a homer in his first at bat in three successive seasons. Matsui hit homers on opening day in 2004 and 2005 and last night he hit an inside the park homer in his first at bat after being called up. Strange stuff

Another funny thing about baseball is the fragility of the players. Throwing a baseball 90 mph is a taxing and damaging thing to do to one’s body. But beyond that, I don’t think there’s much that ballplayers do that is really terribly injurious. Football and hockey players spend at least half their time dodging other players flying in at maximum speed, looking to make impact. Basketball players spend a lot of time running and jumping up and down the court, and the battles under the basket are a lot more physical than might appear on TV. But baseball players have no excuse for the frequency and variety of their injuries.

In watching the replay of Derrek Lee and Rafael Furcal’s collision, the result of which was Derrek Lee breaking two bones in his wrist, I am stupefied that the injury could’ve turned out so bad for Lee. At 195 lbs., Furcal isn’t a small guy. And yes, he was running down the first base line at full speed. But it didn’t look like Lee’s arm was extended, exposing the wrist to trauma. Instead, it looked like Lee’s arms were close to his torso, as if he expected the collision and was bracing himself. In football, tight ends routinely run into linebackers and safeties in just such a manner and nothing happens to either player. In hockey, defenders use their sticks to spear and slash the arms of their opponents, again with no negative result. I’m not picking on Lee but, man, baseball players are such weaklings. How on earth does a 245 lb. man’s wrist break that badly from a collision like that? I continue to be amazed at how fragile players in the majors are.

Finally, to football. Brett Favre blasted the Tennessee Titans yesterday for his perception of how that franchise as treated QB Steve McNair. As he put it, “[A]ll of the things he has done for that team, he really has been the face of that team for the last 10 or 11 years, the one bright spot really. To be treated that way I think is really unfair. He doesn’t deserve it. It is not right.”

For one thing, why does Brett feel the need to comment on EVERYTHING that happens in the NFL? As if it wasn’t enough that he comments on the contract negotiations of his teammates (an unwritten no-no among players), he now feels the need to voice his opinion on the private dealings of other franchises? What makes it more ridiculous is that he speaks out about fairness but forgets that by hemming and hawing on his own plans for 2006, he has treated his own franchise unfairly. And for all the things he’s done for the Packers, the Packers have bent over backwards for him too.

Brett, don’t you think it’s time you got some help? It’s obvious you’re drinking again. Lashing out at people makes you look pathetic. I’m asking for the last time – please just retire and go away. We’re all just so sick of you already.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oh Canada!!

Since I am sure that no one else is going to preview the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, I figured I would give it a shot. I still think that the Stanley Cup is one of the most grueling heart wrenching playoffs know to man. Where else would you have players go out with torn ACL, MCL, PCL, and whatever and play for what seems like 2 months straight. The Stanley Cup has gotta be the best trophy of any sport as well. You can't bring the Lombardi trophy to your hometown and drink bootlegged Swedish vodka out of it. Although I haven't really been paying attention to hockey this year, I will give my run down of what I feel will happen in the playoffs.


DET/EDM-Even if Chris Chelios is playing at 55 years old and Steve Yzerman has more hardware in him than Robocop, this team still has it and will easily brush by the Oilers (who farmed out their Oilfields to the Inuits)

DAL/COL-I hate Texas, Mike Modano and now live in Denver so I have to go with the hometown favorite, the Avs. I have had Avalanche beer and it is quite tasty...still looking forward to being in an avalanche next year while snowboarding.

CAL/ANA - Always loved the Flames and never understood why grown men would wear a uniform that had Emilio Estevez as the coach. Now if Emilio was actually coaching them, then perhaps they could win

NAS/SAN - Since a Shark is a Predator, the Sharks win...and who names their team the Predators...if Jesse the Body gets cut in half by their mascot at intermission, then I think they would win


NJD/NYR-The Rangers haven't really made it that far in the playoffs since Messier was playing there...oh wait isn't he still playing. Still like the Devils

TAM/OTT-Honkey should never have been in Dixie land...or maybe it should because of the lack of minorities in it. I still like the Canadians representing here.

CAR/MON-Gotta love Car...go Car go!

PHI/BUF-Wait, Buffalo has been the laughing stock of the NHL for years...they are in the playoffs. Still it snows alot up there, which is hockey weather and I hate the town/streets of Philadelphia, so go Sabs.

Later Rounds:

DET/COL: DET, without Claude Lemieux the Wings will be fine
CAL/SAN: Still like the Canadians

OTT/BUFF Oh Canada

Conference Finals: DET over CAL, because Konstantinov will be taking over for Chelios

Stanley Cup: Lord Stanley will be coming home to the Motor City again...and it will be taken to Russia so that Communism will collapse around the cup

NBA Playoff Preview - The Final Countdown

The NBA season has ended. For those who don’t know, this season was extra special. Apparently, the NBA organized a fantasy celebrity league that included Bernie Mac, Samuel Jackson, Pamela Anderson, Diana Taurasi, TNT Analyst Kenny Smith, and none other than Bill Simmons. As expected, Bill Simmons won the league further solidified his status as one of the best fans in the league. Interestingly, Kenny Smith somehow finished 1-22. Bill Simmons said one of the funniest things:

“And it's been even more disappointing that the TNT guys, who normally are all over stuff like this (especially the producers), keep refusing to bring up during "Inside the NBA" that Kenny finished in last place in a Celebrity League that featured Star Jones and Pamela Anderson. And he's getting paid to analyze basketball for them every night?!?!? How does this not get brought up every 10 minutes? Every time he opens his mouth now, I can't take him seriously - it's like listening to someone on MSNBC give stock advice after finding out that they recommended 50 different dot-com stocks in 2001 that all went under.”

Anyways, the NBA playoff matchups have just been set. Lets take a look at where the dust has settled on some interesting matchups.

Eastern Conference-
Detroit vs. Milwaukee – The good news for the Bucks was that with the return of TJ Ford, the signing of Bobby Simmons, and a capable rookie in Andrew Bogut, they were able to quickly return to the playoffs. The bad news is they drew the Pistons! The Bucks will definitely be one of the contenders in the upcoming years, just not this year.
Pick: Detroit

Cleveland vs. Washington– Larry Hughes gets his wish and gets to play against his old team, the Wizards. As ESPN and every other sports outlet has been shouting, the Wizards had a 3-1 record against the Cavs this year. I still believe the Cavs can go the distance and take the Wizards out. It won’t be easy, but I’d imagine that Hughes should be able to at least slow down Gilbert Arenas. The biggest problem is that the Cavs don’t’ have anyone to matchup against Jamison. Obviously, Lebron has to dig deep to get the Cavs through.
Pick: Cleveland

New Jersey vs. Indiana – I know New Jersey is an overwhelming favorite, but I think this series will be closer than people expect. Indiana is CAPABLE of playing at a much higher level than their 2nd half slump demonstrates. I really respect Indiana’s coach, and I’d expect for him to find a way to steal some victories. Indiana’s point guard situation is pretty poor though, and in the end, that will probably be a major factor with Jason Kidd slicing and dicing his way through the defense.
Pick: New Jersey

Miami vs. Chicago- I feel like the Heat got real lucky. I just don’t see how the Bulls can give them many problems when it is unclear how the Bulls would be able to guard either Dwayne Wade or Shaq (granted, most teams have that problem). Ben Gordon went 9 for 9 from 3-point land last week to tie an NBA record. He would have to do that for multiple games for the Bulls to have any chance. Maybe Bulls coach Scott Skiles could suit up and help guard Wade, because that would help. And then Bulls GM Bill Cartwright could come down to help guard Shaq and Mourning. If only.
Pick: Miami

Western Conference
San Antonio vs. Sacramento – This could actually be a tough matchup or the Spurs. The Kings have Ron Artest who will be able to shut down Ginobili. At that point, Bibby may be able to neutralize Tony Parker. Which makes everything come down to Duncan and whether he’s healthy. The Spurs should advance, but it could get ugly. Warning to Spurs fans – even if it gets ugly, please don’t throw any paper cups in Artest’s direction.
Pick: San Antonio

Dallas vs. Memphis – Memphis has never even won a playoff game! Its quite dubious when you realize they have already been in the playoffs the last 2 years! Odds are, they will find a way to steal one game and then they can throw a parade. Honestly, no Grizzly will be able to stop the Mavs multi-prong attack in the 1st round. This playoff matchup also has to set the record for “the shortest coaches in an NBA matchup” – Avery Johnson vs. the 5’4” Mike Fratello. If only they could get involved in a halftime show where they could really duke it out in some of those gigantic sumo suits to determine the “Toughest-Little-Coach” in the NBA. The TLC Championship! I’d watch, and you know you would to.
Pick: Dallas

Denver vs. LA Clippers – Oh yeah! Not only are the Clippers in the playoffs, but they are in a very winnable matchup with Denver. This series probably will go the distance. In the end, it still doesn’t seem possible that a team like Denver, with ze-ro (say it like they did on Family Feud) chance of hitting the 3-pointer. It makes devising a defensive strategy that much easier. Throw in a home crowd of the Clippers that contains “celebrities” like Bill Simmons, and it seems like Elton Brand and company should be able to survive.
Pick: Clippers

Phoenix vs. LA Lakers – I would love to see LA vs. LA in the 2nd round of the playoffs. But short of Kobe scoring 45 points per game and hitting 80% of his shots, I just don’t see it happening. The Suns have TONS of weapons, even if Steve Nash is resting on the bench. Between Marion, Boris Diaw (best “export” from France since French Fries), and even Nash’s backup Brazilian, Leandro Barbosa, there is just no way Smush Parker and the rest of the bumbling idiots on the Lakers are going to be able to do to stop the Lakers. I did find a good quote from ealier in the season though, when Phil Jackson was asked about the play of Kwame Brown, and Jackson just said “He is a pussy.”
Pick: Phoenix

Later rounds
Here are the rest of my predictions, just so I have a record of it. Not sure whether that will be something I’m proud of, or something I laugh at, but only time will tell.

2nd round
Detroit over Cleveland – It’s too much to expect Conference Finals from Lebron at this point. Plus I’m convinced that Detroit’s starting 5 might be one of the best of all-time.
Miami over New Jersey – It won’t even be close.
Conf. Finals
Detroit over Miami – rematch from last year’s conference finals, except this time Wade is healthy. Same result though!

Dallas over San Antonio – I just don’t believe Duncan is in great shape. This series will be like a media circus. I bet Michael Finley also pulls a big game against Dallas.
Phoenix over Clippers – I’m so tempted to pick the Clippers, but that would just be too emotional. Ultimately, Phoenix’s coaching staff is superior, and with the personnel of the Suns, they will find a way to neutralize Elton Brand.
Conf. Finals
Dallas over Phoenix – As if last year’s 7-game series wasn’t good enough, this one should be a run-n-gun for the ages!

NBA Finals
Detroit over Dallas – I think Detroit will take home a 2nd championship in 3 years. It will be pretty sad for Dallas though, who has taken a long time to get to this point. Then, to make Mark Cuban even more furious, everyone will be asking the “what if the Pistons played the Spurs???” This series will still be close and it will all come down to a Desagna Diop turnover.

NBA Playoff Wish List

Right around the time the Knicks traded away Patrick Ewing for Glen Rice, Luc Longley, Travis Knight, Vernon “Mad” Maxwell, Lazaro Borrell and Vladimir Stepania, I traded in my NBA fan-for-life membership card and downgraded myself to casual fan status. For that reason, I’m giving you my NBA Playoff Wish List, where I list my preferred outcomes, regardless of any realistic chances of those actually happening. In short, I think the NBA has sucked for about a decade now and I’d like to see a more exciting playoff season than the ones of recent memory…

Eastern Conference

Detroit (1) vs. Milwaukee (8): I’d love to see the Bucks pull off the upset. I have a lot of respect for the Pistons and I think they’re a generally humble and professional bunch but I’m just kind of tired of them already. I’ve never liked Flip Saunders and he’s always been the master of the first round exit so I’m hoping that Michael Redd catches fire and that Andrew Bogut gets nasty with Ben Wallace. Hope – Bucks in 7. Reality – Pistons in 4.

Miami (2) vs. Chicago (7): This is just a bad place for me to be. I absolutely loathe Pat Riley and Shaquille O’Neal. The former is a snake who would sell out his mother and the latter is a fat piece of crap who long ago gave up on the idea that, you know, for $20M a year, he actually had to be in shape. Plus, I always thought he got a pass from the national press in the whole Kobe/Shaq/Phil Lakers-breakup thing. I do like Dwayne Wade, however, so I look forward to him shining as he’s done all season. Opposing the Heat are the Chicago Bulls, another team I just can’t root for. I hate Jerry Reinsdorf and I’m no fan of the Bulls’ wretchedly boring style of play. Hope – Bulls in 6. Reality – Heat in 5.

New Jersey (3) vs. Indiana (6): This one’s a no-brainer for me. I love Jason Kidd’s style of play. I find Rick Carlisle to be a joyless man and his team has taken on their coach’s personality. Peja Stojakovic plays no D but the Pacers need him on the floor to open up the inside for Jermaine O’Neal. I think Richard Jefferson’s strength and quickness will be enough to keep Peja contained. Hope – Nets in 4. Reality – Nets in 6.

Cleveland (4) vs. Washington (5): Life is unfair. If I had my way, this would be the matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals. I love Gilbert Arenas, I love coach Eddie Jordan’s up-and-down style and I love his interpretation of the Princeton offense. All of that is trumped by my love of all things James. LeBron James is the only thing keeping me interested in the NBA these days. Having seen him in person a few weeks ago at Madison Square Garden, I am completely smitten by his talent. I love the kid and I hope it all works out for him in Cleveland. Hope – Cavaliers in 6. Reality – Cavaliers in 7.

Western Conference

San Antonio (1) vs. Sacramento (8): Another matchup in the same vein as Detroit/Milwaukee. I have nothing against Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker but I have major Spurs fatigue. The Spurs are about as boring as the NBA gets these days. I don’t have much love for the Kings but for the sake of change, I’d love to see the Spurs go down. Hope – Kings in 5. Reality – Spurs in 5.

Phoenix (2) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (7): Another no-brainer for me. Phoenix plays the most TV-friendly game I’ve ever seen. They get up and down the court and keep the game fast-paced and exciting. Although I admit that Kobe Bryant’s singular dominance is fun to watch, he’s impossible to root for. Hope – Suns in 5. Reality – Suns in 5.

Denver (3) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (6): I’m very torn here. Both teams are fairly likeable and easy to root for. Carmelo Anthony is a star and fun to watch with the game on the line. The Clippers are so new to this playoff thing that I’m finding it hard to stay off the bandwagon. Plus, guys like Sam Cassell and Chris Kaman are such characters. Hope – Clippers in 6. Reality – Nuggets in 6.

Dallas (4) vs. Memphis (5): I hate the city of Dallas. I hate Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. I hate Mavericks GM (and former coach) Don Nelson. I absolutely detest Dirk Nowitzki and the way he screams at his teammates like a petulant brat. Not that Memphis is terribly interesting to me, but I gotta go with who I hate least here. Hope – Grizzlies in 5. Reality – Mavericks in 5.

Hopeful Eastern Conference Finals – Nets vs. Cavaliers; Cavaliers in 6.
Realistic Eastern Conference Finals – Pistons vs. Heat; Pistons in 6.

Hopeful Western Conference Finals – Suns vs. Clippers; Suns in 5.
Realistic Western Conference Finals – Spurs vs. Suns, Spurs in 5.

Hopeful NBA Finals – Suns vs. Cavaliers, Cavaliers in 7.
Realistic NBA Finals – Spurs vs. Pistons; Pistons in 7.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Baseball Tidbits...

Courtesy of another blog, I bring you definitive proof that Barry Bonds used steroids. Here, you will see him as he appeared on his rookie baseball card...

So, is that proof enough for you?

Also, I plucked this from Dan Shanoff’s Daily Quickie. Pretty funny factoid…

“Weird Stat of Day: 44 years later, the Astros finally return to a .500 franchise record (3,507-3,507). The last time they were .500 was 6-6 in ‘62.”

I honestly had no idea that the defending National League Champions were a sub-.500 franchise. Funny stuff.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Weekend Thoughts and Note from the Editors

Well the weekend is nearing the end so I thought I'd add a few of thoughts.

1. After conferring with my co-editor, we would both like to reiterate our plea to avoid personal attacks. While what is appropriate and what is not ultimately falls into the "I know it when I see it" judgment category, I think we can all agree that attacks on fans, individuals and other personal attacks are not ok. We can debate the merits of the quality of Brewers pitching but debating the worthiness of people from Wisconsin is not ok (they are actually decent people). We all have our own biases about the teams/fans that are own team's rivals and on a different forum your more than welcome to expand on them but here that just falls out of the bounds of what is acceptable. If you want to dissect public figures (e.g. government officials, sports figures, writers, reporters, etc) go right ahead given that none of us fall into that category. We are fans of some team and as such that would fall into the grounds of personal attacks. We, the editors, retain the right the remove posts given the above criteria. The goal is to have institutionalized conflict. Polarization for the sake of polarization is not.

2. Interesting article by Klosterman on the subject of Barry Bonds. I think his quote

"We just sort of watched it happen, and then we watched it get out of control, and then we expressed shock without feeling a grain of surprise, and then we tried to figure out how we were supposed to reconcile an alien reality we unconsciously understood all along."

is particularly interesting when it comes to reporting or sports commentary (never mind some parallels to news reporting in general) let alone the Commissioner's office. No different than Captain Renault's line "I'm shocked" both institutions were enablers for steroids and outrage of shock is nothing more than feigned. To turn around now and somehow say the steroid era is over or how could X let this happen is rank hypocrisy. They (or I suppose we) are all culpable.

3. Continuing with the baseball theme Buster Olney raises the question of if Paplebon should switch from closer to third starter. While typically a starter is worth more than anyone in the bullpen is that still the case for the Red Sox. Given Paplebon's success so far (and let us assume continued success) is the risk of switching him to a third starter worth it, especially given the huge holes in Boston's bullpen? What about during the playoffs?

4. I think the most interesting draft day story has to with trading into the Number 2 spot (New Orleans). Both Tennessee and the Jets are rumored to be offering various goodies for the privilege of getting Leinart. How much is worth it, especially given the availability of other quality QBs? In the case of the Saints they had better hope Drew Brees pans out (unless their goal is to lose which is also possible). I for one wouldn't give that much given that the difference between Leinart, Young and possibly Cutler is not worth the loss of draft picks (especially for two teams that have QBs that can man the helm for at least a season).

Fidel Castro Roots for the Redbirds

Why else would my last post, excoriating Cardinals fans for not filling the seats in the new Busch Stadium over the first weekend of baseball there, have been removed?

Viva La Revolucion!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The LA Clippers Return to the Playoffs!

I was originally going to write this great article about the return to the playoffs by the Clippers. Then, I discovered that Bill Simmons already wrote one this week that obviously trumps anything I could have written, as its funny and actually informative to some limited extent.

So instead, I’m going to debate the strangest thing of all. Why the early 1990s Clippers never won any playoff series! This team actually had Danny Manning, and a backcourt of Mark Jackson and Ron Harper when all 3 of them were in their primes. If you were to ask me before this season, I never would have believed the Clippers could get a top 5 or 6 seed with an aging Sam Cassell, an average Cuttino Mobley, and an Elton Brand. Obviously, Elton Brand might be better than Danny Manning ever was. The difference between this Clippers team and the early 1990s Clippers team is the bench and the starting center. Chris Kaman has really blossomed into a “capable” if not above-average center. This makes a huge difference when you actually have someone to place on the other team’s 7-footer, and when on some nights he is actually able to dominate.

Just to take a look, here are the 1993 Clippers (lost to Houston, in the 1st round of the playoffs in a decisive Game 5, by only 4 points); it was the only appearance in the playoffs w/ Manning, Harper, and Mark Jackson. The 1992 team had Doc Rivers at the point. (I looked all that up).
PF – Manning
SF – Loy Vaught
C- Stanley Roberts
SG – Harper
PG – M. Jackson
6 – Ken Norman
7- Gary Grant

2006 Clippers
PF – Brand
SF - Magette
C – Kaman
SG – Mobley
PG – Cassell

Odds are the Clippers are stuck playing the Mavs in the 1st round. Its too bad, because the Clippers could have definitely handled the Grizzlies. David Stern better change his idioitic playoff seeding so that teams are seeded based on records, as opposed to winning their divisions, otherwise, I’m going to continue sending hate-mail. Assuming the Clippers lose in the 1st round to the Mavs, the greater question becomes – who would win a playoff series between the 1993 Clippers and the 2006 Clippers??? I think Stanley Roberts could eat Sam Cassell, so I’m going with the 1993 Clippers.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Cheers and Jeers: Potato Vodka Edition

Well the Adkins holiday known as Passover has hit Cheers and Jeers. Its that time of year when all the Jews get really cranky by not eating leavened foods to symbolize what life was like in the desert. Its sucks, there is sand everywhere, and it takes forty years apparently for the Children of Israel to reach the Promised land (which I think is just a fancy way of saying they were really really constipated). Nonetheless Cheers and Jeers was smart enough to store away one of the few tasty beveridges allowed during this time of year: potato vodka. Its a strong drink, it'll clear you out and leave you hollow inside as Lt. Frank Drebin would say.

Cheers: To The Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them. No, not Donald Rumseld (well him too) but NFL executives during the last two weeks before the draft. In fake outs that make the flea-flicker look like child's play, NFL teams pay thousands of dollars to fly in people they have no intention drafting. Then they call John Clayton and say they are really going to do X (I assume X is typically leave a flaming bag of poop on Al Davis' front porch). Don't believe the lies. Seriously if I even believed half of what ESPN prints I'd think that the Dolphins are currently interested in signing every free agent remaining.

Cheers: Apparently federal investigators are checking out Barry Bonds for perjury. Honestly it might the simplest way for Baseball to get rid of their Barry problem (i.e. using the federales as the hatchet man). George Mitchell isn't bringing down Barry and pretty soon Barry will update his venom regiment to resemble Bane (see upper right corner for current picture of Barry) which just won't be good for anyone.

Jeers: The CNNSI curse. Well the Cleveland Indians finally moved to the number one spot on the cnnsi rankings and as soon they did the team drops two straight. The bullpen (which I've been worried about) is handing out walks left and right. Pitching staffs should be like Vegas (no free passes and you have to pay extra to leave with a smile).

Jeers: To the NBA playoffs first round. Has anyone seen the games expected to be played in the first round for the Eastern Conference? There will be at least 3 teams with below .500 records. Thats worse than the NHL level of crap teams in the playoffs. There should be official laws against teams below .500 making the playoffs in any sport. There should also be laws stipulating that I get access to quality frozen custard every 6 months.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Municipal Extortion

David Stern gave his “State of the NBA union” speech regarding the future of the Seattle, Portland and New Orleans/Oklahoma City franchises and it wasn’t pretty. Obviously everything being said is posturing and negotiation tactics but just once I’d like an owner and/or a league to recognize that it’s really not that much of a privilege to having a team call a city its home. Should the taxpayers of Seattle really feel obliged to pay for a stadium that will generate more revenue for the chairman of Starbucks? My girlfriend drinks three $5 cups of coffee a day from Starbucks – that’s $105 a week and $5,460 a year. If Howard Schultz can’t figure out a way to come up with a more equitable public-private financing for any new facility, well, maybe Seattle shouldn’t have a team. And I don’t think the folks in the Emerald City would really care that much. After all, the NBA’s going the way of the NHL and no one seems to miss hockey that much these days…

A Complete And Utter Disgrace

Here’s the latest from the newest member of the NFL’s “Despicable Prima Donna Club”:

“I haven't talked to him; I've just listened to him. It sounds like he may be setting himself up to be traded.” -John Madden

If the thought of playing for a team with crummy prospects in 2006 bothers him so much, Brett Favre should retire. But to put his franchise through the ringer because he can’t come to a decision flies in the face of all the times he chastised his own teammates for being selfish when they missed training camp or argued about their contracts or playing time. To manipulate a trade would be a shameful act on his part.

I know that several athletes have done this (ARod and Big Unit among them) but Favre transcends most athletes. He IS Green Bay Packers football. He’s more important than Paul Hornung and Max McGee. He’s on the same level as Bart Starr. He’s the most famous and relevant player in that franchise’s history in 30 years and he’s only a hair below Vince Lombardi.

Brett Favre is a complete and utter disgrace. It’s only too bad that the franchise is bending over backwards for him. They should refuse to trade him and force him to retire. If he signs elsewhere after retiring, it’ll be Favre’s, and not Green Bay’s legacy that will be tarnished.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Are The Rules?

One of the many goals I have in my life is to say that I’ve been to all 30 major league ballparks. As of April 9th, 2006, I had been to 10 of the 30 (in the following order):

Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY)
Shea Stadium (Queens, NY)
Busch Stadium (St. Louis, MO)
US Cellular Field (Chicago, IL)
Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)
Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore, MD)
Citizens Bank Ballpark (Philadelphia, PA)
RFK Stadium (Washington, DC)
Rogers Centre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Coors Field (Denver, CO)

Now that there is a new Busch Stadium, now that there are new homes in the works for the Yankees, Mets, and Nationals, will I be able to count those among the parks I've visited? Have I only been to nine ballparks instead of 10? Will that list drop down to six by 2010? Did the 20 or so games that I attended at the old ballpark in St. Louis ever happen? What about the nearly 100 that I've attended in my own hometown?

Someone please tell me what proper etiquette is on this matter.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Week that Was....

Well today's wonderful column will take a look at some of the trends going on, where they are going and how we got there? If your me, its typically via bus and hopefully not downtown because you'd never figure out how to get back.

Anyway here we go:

Chicago White Sox v. Law of Averages - Last year the Dirty Sox caught the lucky bounce every time and had an outstanding record in one run games. This year they're already 0-2 in one run games. Obviously its one week in but perhaps the law of averages are catching up to Chicago. On the plus side Thome seems to be destroying the ball (both by hitting homers and running them over with his pickup truck). If Thome can stay healthy the DirtySox have a lot more offense this time around.

Boston finds a closer - Keith Faulk has no arm anymore. Sure they might say that he's rehabbing or not quite there or as soon as the planets realign he'll return to form. Well its not happening. Papelbon fills the role anyway. If he can pitch the way he did this past week for the rest of the year, Boston's bullpen looks a lot more solid and hence the rest of the country have to deal with Boston Red Sox fans (or more so)...Sigh

Tim Duncan Just Ain't Right - Ever seen that South Park were everyone becomes a zombie? Sure Johnson looks the same and talks the same but he moves all hurky-jerky and he tends to feast on brains. Well I haven't seen Duncan feast on any brains but his movements remind me of a zombie or at least posessed by an alien. His movements are slow, his energy is low and he got bodied out of the box by Desagna Diop. Maybe Duncan has been storing his energy waiting for the playoffs to strike but if the current Duncan is the one that shows up come playoff time, San Antonio isn't escaping the West.

Free Agents - Remember when Lavar Arrington paid millions of dollars to get out of his current contract to go beat up Joe Gibbs? Yeah well, funny story, he's still not signed anywhere. Lavar is holding out, hope against hope that millions of dollars come raining down from the sky for his award winning personality and acumene in how to safely invest in Latin America. Best of luck buddy but if your not signed by draft day, the money you earn will be less than the 4 million you spent to get free of your contract.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ruminations: Friday

1. Another mulligan on my baseball picks (although my NL picks are unofficial)…With Eric Gagne undergoing another round of elbow surgery, I don’t see the Dodgers as possessing a deep enough bullpen to adequately get them through 2006. For that reason, I think the NL West is the division of the great unknown. While we can comfortably rule out Arizona and Colorado, the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants all have reasons why they could win their division and enough reasons as to why they can’t. As they say in combat, “Welcome to the suck.” And that’s exactly what the NL West is…

2. The 2006 NFL schedule was released yesterday and something on the Giants schedule caught my eye. The G-Men will have a bye week in Week 4 of the season. Is there no way that the NFL can re-think the timing of bye weeks? Can’t bye weeks begin a little later and include more teams? What on earth is the purpose of giving four teams a week off after only three games? The end of September hardly seems like a good time to just take a week off and interrupt the flow of the season. It seems to me that a league full of smart guys can come up with a plan that doesn’t include vacation with 81% of the season left to play.

3. The Mets are joining the Yankees in new-stadium heaven. The new stadium certainly won’t be called Shea but it will pay homage to Ebbets Field, the old home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. While the architectural renderings look great, two problems will plague Mets Stadium 2.0: (1) it’s still sited right near LaGuardia Airport which means jet engines roaring overhead every few minutes and (2) it’s in Queens. No matter how you cut it, the stadium will not be overlooking a city skyline (Pittsburgh), a beautiful bay (San Francisco), splendid mountain views (Colorado), or a quaint little neighborhood (Chicago). This stadium is still facing Flushing Meadows and the industrial warehouse wasteland that currently surrounds Shea Stadium.

4. William Rhoden, a longtime sports columnist for the New York Times, wrote a piece comparing Barry Bonds to Jack Johnson, the turn of the century heavyweight boxer who was the first African-American to win the heavyweight title. While I agree with Rhoden that the witch hunt being conducted in baseball against Bonds greatly resembles the government’s creation and targeted enforcement of the Mann Act (a shameful federal pogrom perpetrated on Johnson), I simply refuse to accept Rhoden’s argument that the Mitchell Investigation is racially motivated. This investigation is the half-baked idea of Bud Selig, who is fearful that members of Congress might do some pleasure reading during their summer vacation and will react harshly after reading the lurid details of steroid use in baseball. I just don’t see the racist motive in play here. Nice try at race baiting, though, Willy.

I’d post the link to the article but has gone the way of and has made access to columnist articles a subscriber-only service.

* * * * *

Now that the cat’s out of the bag (read below), I’d like to wish my good buddy and verbal sparring partner my heartiest congratulations. Hitman, you’re one of my closest friends and I’m really happy for you. Congrats on your engagement. Hopefully our Texo-Canadian friend will make an honest man out of you…or at least get you to realize that you’re just a wacky Chicagoan rooting for crap teams. Either way, cheers to you!

Cheers and Jeers: Canadian Rum Punch

Canadian Rum Punch
1 part Lemon juice
2 parts Sugar
3 parts Rum
4 parts Water or lemonade

A long time ago, in a place far far away a young Hitman thought it was a good idea for college kids (allow whom were over 21) to mix their own drinks. The end result of Lemon Drop Night was the equivalent of dropping Chuck Norris into a Ninja party (i.e no survivors). However our little Hitman grew up and found a wonderful Canadian addition to his life and as such in celebration Cheers and Jeers is throwing out a shout out to the groom to be.

Cheers: First weekend of baseball. Sure opening day is nice but that first weekend of baseball where bleacherbums are getting ripped at 2 in the afternoon and sunburns appear by the 7th inning stretch is truly the signal for the start of baseball. Already the baseball world is flooded with what ifs (What if Schilling and Beckett stay healthy?, What if Chicago loses all of the one run games that it won last year?, What if I could learn how to spell?).

Jeers: Robert Sarver. The owner of Phoenix just hasn't been ripped enough. Sarver because his Hollywood/Kobe sized ego has pushed GM Bryan Colangelo out the door and into the arms of the Toronto Raptors. Colangelo built the Suns into champion contenders last year, rebuilt it this year and continues to amaze me in his ability to spot talent that works for the system. When he goes, Sarver is going to be stuck holding the bag when the Suns go down the toilet.

Cheers: Ryan Howard. The young Phillies slugger. One of the cool thing about baseball is watching as young players slowly grow into the role of superstars. Now I don't know if Howard is the next big thing but its an enjoyable experience to see as he adapts and others adapt to him.

Jeers: To The Wait till the NFL draft. Just draft already. Enough of the suspense. Interesting questions as this years draft is far more unsettled than typical. Trades are a distinct possibility. Luckily Jets fans will give some sembelance of continuity as they will boo whoever the Jets draft.

Mega-Cheers: To the winner of the second annual NCAA Tournament Challenge. After tallying the final results the winner is: Mighty Mike *

* and some other dude....

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yanks & Knicks

Well, all of the optimism and hope I had for the 2006 season went down the toilet. I will take a mulligan on my AL predictions and amend them to reflect the Red Sox winning the AL East and the Oakland A’s winning the Wildcard. At the end of the day, the Yanks have learned nothing from their mistakes (as I pointed out yesterday) and they are still playing the same lazy and unfocused brand of baseball that led to their dismal 11-17 start last April.

The defensive lapses made in yesterday’s 9-4 loss to Oakland reflect the kind of apathetic approach to baseball that only comes from multimillionaire players and their well-paid coaches who take a hands-off approach to the game. Joe Torre mismanaged the bullpen for the second consecutive night and the vaunted Yankee lineup refuses to work counts and exhibit patience.

Doom and gloom returns to New York and it only took three games...

In other news, I went to the Knicks/Cavs game last night hoping to see LeBron put on a show. It took him 36 minutes to get warmed up but he finally showed up in the fourth quarter and single-handedly cut an 18-point deficit in the final minutes of the game. Alas, the Knicks ended up winning (I lost $20 on a Cavs @ -6.5 bet) but it was nice to see the man they call King James up close and personal.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ruminations: Wednesday

1. According to this article, there are 409 players earning a salary of $1M or more. That’s 54.5% of major leaguers. Equally interesting is that the average salary in MLB is $2.87M. Can we just get rid of the players union now? Can we dispense with the charade that this union is protecting the interests of some oppressed underclass? When half of the rank and file members of a union are millionaires, when the average salary of a union constituency is just a shade under $3M, we’ve got to pull the curtain back on this ridiculous notion that management is beating down on labor. Come on, I mean the minimum salary in baseball is $300K. That’s a little less than three times what lawyers and MBA’s make in their first year out of school. Enough is enough. Donald Fehr and Bud Selig have both outlived their usefulness.

2. I’ve been meaning to post about this for some time now. Brett Favre has simply got to go. And by go, I mean trotted out to a quiet field and shot like an injured racehorse. Who is he to say “what are they going to do, cut me?” What sort of arrogant stance is that? The Packers need to know if Brett Favre will be their QB in 2006. It’s a fair question to ask of the fat drunken slob that threw 29 INT’s and had a big hand in the Packers lost season in 2005. My vote is for the Packers to cut him. You can’t hold a team hostage even if you’re a three-time NFL MVP.

3. The Yanks lost a bad game to Oakland last night that has left me wondering if human beings are ever truly capable of learning from mistakes or if the saying “learn from your mistakes” is just a saying that we humans use to rationalize our inability to do so. Case in point, Joe Torre mismanaged his bullpen last night for what seems like the umpteenth time this century. With the score tied at 3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Clueless Joe replaced setup man Kyle Farnsworth (0.2 IP, 0 baserunners allowed) in favor of Scott Proctor who, among other things, had just flown to California after spending a few days in a Florida hospital with his infant daughter.

Proctor’s preoccupation with his daughter’s illness wasn’t the problem; the problem is that Proctor is simply not a good pitcher. Why bring him in? He’s 12th on the depth chart and only made the team out of spring training when Carl Pavano went back on the DL with bruised buttocks (not kidding). Joe could’ve chosen Mariano Rivera, Tanyon Sturtze, Ron Villone, or Jaret Wright or he could’ve simply kept Farnsworth in the game to start the inning. Instead he went with his worst pitcher.

When I think back to the 2004 ALCS and the 2005 season (including playoffs), I can count off about 15 games that the Yanks could’ve won had Torre not strategically flubbed the game away. It’s only the second game of the season so I’m not about to get all bent out of shape but it’s worth noting that with four former managers on Torre’s coaching staff (Lee Mazilli, Tony Pena, Joe Kerrigan, Larry Bowa) these types of mistakes shouldn’t happen.

4. A hearty “F-You” to Ken Griffey Jr. for passing Mickey Mantle on the all-time HR list. Mickey cheated on his wife, beat her senseless on numerous occasions, drank his internal organs into oblivion, had only the slimmest of relationships with his four sons, and died young. Despite all that, he’s a better human being and baseball player than the man they call Junior Griffey. Griffey’s a sullen, ungrateful baby. You may have taken Mick’s spot on the homer list but you’ll never be in his league you spoiled piece of crap.

5. It hurts me to see that Doc Gooden will be spending the next year of his life in a Florida state prison for violation of his probation. I have yet to realize why the American justice system views crimes of self-destruction (such as cocaine abuse) as punishable by time spent in the penal system. Do we really think that a year in jail will clean up a hopeless addict? Because there are no drugs in prison, right? Because, theoretically, a year away from his support network of family and friends will make him realize how foolish he’s been? I mean, there’s no chance that the opposite might happen, right? There’s no chance that depriving him of his dignity will send him further into his coke habit? I’m all for state-mandated treatment on the taxpayer’s dime. Hell, Floridians are paying for Gooden’s stay in jail so why not put the money to good use and put him in a rigorous drug treatment facility? What’s locking him up in a cage with violent criminals going to accomplish?

6. Just a quick point about the Duke men's lacrosse sexual assault scandal. Irrespective of whether or not the allegations are real, one thing remains certain – Duke University’s administration clearly doesn’t care as much about its lacrosse team as it does about its basketball team. If this happened to the men’s hoops team, you can be sure that it would’ve been swept under the rug. Coach K would’ve put his rat-like mug on the air, assuring us that he has a zero-tolerance policy on these types of things and that everyone was barking up the wrong tree. ESPN would’ve had a hastily-produced reality series focusing on the type of classy humanitarians that Blue Devils basketball players are and everything would’ve been hunky dory.

Let that be a lesson to all strippers in the Raleigh-Durham area: when choosing parties, the basketball party is a no-go; they’ll never believe you if something like this happens.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

TV Review: Bonds on Bonds

I couldn’t help myself. I had to watch the cleverly titled special called “Bonds on Bonds”, which aired on ESPN2 on Tuesday night. Needless to say, I was expecting something like “Gumbel to Gumbel” from the Family Guy show, where the Gumbel brothers end up solving a hodgepodge of crimes and interview interesting people. Unfortunately, “Bonds on Bonds” doesn’t involve Bonds asking himself questions. He still does talk in the third person sometimes though, like when he said, “The reason people always hate Barry Bonds, is that this is about Barry Bonds and the records.” This episode basically tried to explain how benevolent Barry is, and basically interviewed all of his top supporters: Dusty Baker, a radio guy, and some guy on the street who thinks Barry is Michael Jordan; and then they added some criticisms to explain the burden that Barry carries and how his life is tough. Call it a hunch, but I’m under the assumption that Bonds has final say on what airs.

My favorite quote of the night was at the beginning though, when he said, “It’s un-American to charge someone who’s not guilty.” Actually, I think they can charge whoever they damn will please (within reason), and then you are presumed innocent. Under the Barry Bonds version of law, you’d somehow have to completely prove someone’s guilt before charging them and then you really wouldn’t even have to go to court! Ah… if only Barry could rewrite American law.

The most shocking part of the portions I saw was when “Bonds on Bonds” had a commercial stating that this was a WEEKLY show (every Tuesday at 8PM on ESPN2). I have absolutely no idea what will happen on this show EACH WEEK. This episode went through every Barry issue in the timeline (Pirates, Giants, playoff losses, he's not jealous of Mark McGwire, death threats, his dad dying, his knee injury). I really have no idea what Barry wants to do next week. Are they going to recap the games? Are they going to show his kids having temper tantrums, and then show Barry uping the ante by teaching them to throw larger temper tantrums by punching holes in the walls? Is the WEEKLY show going to become evidence that he no longer takes steroids as he slowly becomes smaller each week? Is it going to evolve into a reality show like Hulk Hogan's???

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day – Baseball 2006

With an intro like that, I must step to the plate and do my best as the American League Baseball Fellow of the Buck O’Neil Institute for Baseball Excellence.

I fully intended to break my predictions down by division but I never had the time to give it the comprehensive treatment it deserved. For that reason, I’ll give my quick picks. After all, it’s not like I’ll have a shortage of opinions or things to say during the season.

AL East: 1. New York Yankees. 2. Boston Red Sox. 3. Toronto Blue Jays. 4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays. 5. Baltimore Orioles.

AL Central: 1. Chicago White Sox. 2. Cleveland Indians. 3. Minnesota Twins/Detroit Tigers (tie). 5. Kansas City Royals.

AL West: 1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 2. Oakland A’s. 3. Seattle Mariners. 4. Texas Rangers.

AL Wildcard: Boston Red Sox

ALDS: Yankees over White Sox/Red Sox over Angels

ALCS: Yankees over Red Sox

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez

AL Cy Young: Rich Harden

AL Rookie of the Year: Francisco Liriano

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Rain Delay

While the Indians game is in rain delay I would just like to throw out my predictions for the baseball season...I'll leave it to the esteemed fellowes to explain why. If they can get it together...

AL East: NY Yanks (line-up)
AL Central: ChiSox (evil seems to be doing well this decade)
AL West: Oakland (pitching)
AL Wild Card: Angels (why not?)
AL MVP: A-Rod (best lineup ever)
AL Most Likely to get a Chuck Norris Roundhouse kick to the head: Ozzie Guillen

NL East: Atlanta (I'm picking them until they actually lose)
NL Central: Cards (still good enough)
NL West: San Fran (Barry will use wrong steriods and destroy other cities and Mothra)
NL Wild Card: NYMets (its them or Houston and I'm messing with Texas)
NL Most Likely to Win 12 Games: Florida

World Series: Yanks over Cards (like I said evil is doing well this decade)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

News of Note for April 1

Before baseball starts up tommorow (DirtySox v. the Tribe) I thought I'd scour through the internet and just post a few stories that caught my eye.

1. Apparently ex-Browns coach, Butch Davis, was devoured by wild animals over the weekend. As is widely known most of forms of life did despise the coach and a combination of grizzley bears and mountain lions "hated and ate his guts". By all reports he was delicious.

2. As part of a new policy to determine which baseball players are more suspectiable than others at "accidently" taking steriods, all personnel of MLB were given wonderlic tests. The idea was that if individuals scored low enough, or what is commonly referred to as Texas Longhorn territory, the individual would be closely monitored to make sure the player/employee did not injest steriods instead of flax seed oil or or run while carrying scissors. However not surprisingly the individual with the lowest score was Bud Selig. After reports surfaced of his score of 2, he was immediately offered a position as new Chief of Staff for the White House, which he accepted.

3. As reported earlier by the onion, the NFL is moving all 32 NFL teams to Los Angeles. Finally fufilling the goal of returning football to Southern California, Tagliabue announced that by having all teams in the Greater Los Angeles area that "the intricate L.A. highway system will cut team travel time by almost 25 percent".

4. Rather than wait for the players to mature and be traded for absolutely nothing, the New York Mets bought the Florida Marlins and officially incorporated it into its minor league system. Omar Manaya was quoted as saying "Instead of going throught the sham of giving away nothing in exchange high quality players we have decided to option the Florida Marlins to AAA status".

5. In a completely and totally unexpected move "Hitman" Hart praised New York City. "You know it really is the best place. I can totally see myself living there. I mean it does have the best pizza." Not to be outdone, MJ added to the outpouring of praise by saying "Hitman is always welcome here. Hopefully he can enjoy rooting for the best run organization of all time: the New York Knicks".

Happy April Fools!