Friday, January 30, 2009

Cheers and Jeers: Mage's Fire

Ingredients:

A few days before the big Super Bowl Day. The media has long since run out of topics that are semi-relevant to discuss, the players know their roles, and the only thing left to do is get the giant pizza, fill up on beer and assume the position on the couch. HOWEVER before so here's a few burning questions that C&J is still wondering about....

1. Super Bowl Advertising

Now that took creativity

I know its totally non-sports related but the Super Bowl is far more than a sporting event its a cultural mega-event. Everyone tunes into the Super Bowl because well everyone tunes into the Super Bowl. This cycle produces the biggest Ads, the movie previews we should all be aware, and a new zeitgeist to discuss around the water cooler (do people really have water coolers?). Unfortunately with the recession on I fear a lot of commercials will be subpar (including Miller's fabled 1 second commercials). We'll see....


2. Kurt Warner's Read and React



Dude Look up!

The best and only way to avoid the feared Yinzer exotic blitzing scheme is quick reads and reacting. There are no 5 step drops. No college pockets were you have time to knit a wool hat. Warner needs to be completely aware of surroundings or he (and the Cardinals) are going to regret it.


3. Handle the Pressure (Act like you've been there before)

No caption needed

In possibly the worst Super Bowl I can remember, Ben Roethlisberger stunk it up versus Seattle not too long ago. I mean if Seattle hadn't equally sucked everyone would remember Roethlisberger as a choker as opposed to a guy with a Super Bowl ring. Can Roethlisberger handle the pressure this time? Will he at least act like he belongs there?



4. The New Kings?
ESPN mad cuz we're flagarant

Can anyone imagine if the hullaballoo if it was Dallas going for an NFL record 6th title? There would be daily polls on why the Cowboys were the greatest franchise ever in the NFL. There would be questions on what was more dominating the Cowboys in the NFL or the Roman Empire in the Middle East. And yet instead we have simple, small Pittsburgh poised to be Kings of the NFL. How will that factoid be handled in the press? Will it trickle into more coverage? Respect? I wouldn't bet on it but it could be an interesting question.

Anyway a little Cheering and Jeering....

Jeers: To the lack of decaf coffee in the afternoon. Why do people drink decaf in the morning? Isnt the point to wake up? I don't understand. Then again I need the caffeine to avoid any hint of weakness. Cause in those moments the clowns will attack.

Cheers To the Dookies going down to Wake Forest. Not only does Duke lose (always a good thing) but this is now the third straight week of the #1 team losing. C&J is going to keep saying it until it comes true. The Madness will be out of control this year...


Jeers: To 25 years of David Stern. Once upon a time maybe David Stern was normal, rational and not a raging dictatorial jerk. We'll probably need a team of historians working around the clock to realize when that exact point was before he started blowing goats. Hmm the legal department says I need to add the word allegedly. Fair enough.

Cheers: The NBA Rookie v. Sophomore challenge. Look at the names on the list. Pretty impressive. Certainly more so than Allan Iverson in the regular All-Star Game (Free Mo Williams!)


And your C&J gal of the week....Naomi Cruz, who was on the short list for Middle East peace envoy but was ultimately passed over for George Mitchell. For which I will never forgive this administration.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Super Bowl Preview - Nobody Beats the Whiz!

Let's at least get some facts straight about this year's Super Bowl:
1) Coach Mike Tomlin, contrary to published reports, was actually named Pittsburgh head coach AFTER Ken Whisenhunt already decided to leave Pittsburgh for Arizona.
2) Also, just to be clear, Mike Tomlin came over from Tampa where he was secondary coach, and then was the Vikings defensive coordinator for only one season.

What do these facts mean?
Answer: My initial plans to tout Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Tomlin as sitcom brothers who are competitive with each other does not really work... I was going to say Mike Tomlin was Gary Coleman and Ken Whisenhunt was his older brother Willis from Diff'rent Strokes, who had something to prove (i.e. that he's not addicted to drugs or the Whizzantor, and that he can win a Super Bowl).

Instead, this Super Bowl is more like the situation where Ken Whisenhunt thinks he's going to inherit a fortune and instead, upon realizing it's not going to happen, ends up going elsewhere to pursue his dreams and get his Super Bowl championship.

Game Analysis:
We all know Pittsburgh has a great defense, and Arizona has a great offense. The question on my mind is what was the closest game to this for each team?
Pittsburgh played the Houston Texans the first week of the season and the Texans didn't score until the 4th quarter in a 38-17 drubbing. The Steelers played the Colts high-flying offense in Week 9 and lost 24-20 while giving up 240 passing yards, 3 TDs and a 95.8 QB rating, but Roethlisberger also had 3 INTs. The Steelers played the Chargers in week 10 at home, but the weather was awful, so it's not a relevant game. The Steelers beat up on the Patriots in Week 13, but the weather wasn't great either, but the 33-10 victory w/ 5 turnovers is still impressive. The Steelers beat up the Chargers in the divisional round of the playoffs, forcing 2 turnovers, getting a punt return TD, to beat the Chargers 35-24, though Rivers had a 105.4 QB rating.

Conclusion: 2 smackdowns (Texans, Patriots); 2 games where the Steelers were susceptible to the passing attack (Colts, Chargers)

Arizona played the Eagles 3rd ranked pass defense twice, Dallas' 5th ranked pass defense, and the Patriots 8th overall defense.
The Cards got destroyed by the Eagles in the regular season, as Warner had a 65.7 passer rating and threw 3 INTs. The Cards beat the Cowboys, as Warner had a 104.3 rating w/ 2TDs and 1 INT. The Cards played the Pats in a blizzard where I don't think the game was indicative of anything. Of course, Warner played much better against the Eagles in the playoffs, posting an absurd 4 TDs and a 145.7 rating.

Conclusion: 1 weather-related bad game (Patriots), 1 awful game (Eagles - reg season), and 2 superb games (Cowboys, NFC Championship game).

There is Hope for the Cardinals
This analysis gives me hope. One other thing gives me hope: the 2007 regular season meeting of Pittsburgh at Arizona!
The Cardinals used two different QBs in the game due to injury, but both were effective. Larry Fitzgerald had 11 catches for 123 yards, and that was when Anquan Boldin was injured and not even playing and the Cardinals also have Steve Breaston whom they can rely on now as a WR (though Breaston had a punt return TD in the game). The Cards also held Willie Parker to 37 yards on 18 carries. Hines Ward also was injured and did not play in the game though.

Miscellaneous known fact:
Only 6 NFL teams have ever had THREE 1,000 yard receivers on the same team.
2008 Arizona Cardinals (Fitzgerald, Boldin, Breaston)
2004 Indianapolis Colts (Wayne, Harrison, Stokley)
1995 Atlanta Falcons (Metcalf, Emanuel, Mathis)
1989 Washington Redskins (Monk, Sanders, Clark)
1981 San Diego Chargers (Joiner, Chandler, Winslow) *but Chandler played for the Saints also
1980 San Diego Chargers (Jefferson, Winslow, Joiner)

Final Prediction
So, with all of the analysis in front of us, it seems that there is hope for the Cardinals to get some offense against the top defense in the league. The bigger question will be what kind of adjustments are made from that 2007 game? Also, will Kurt Warner be able to avoid any INTs and put up enough points? I will be rooting for the Cardinals, but in the end, I can't bring myself to also predict them as victors, though I'm expecting a closer battle than many are forecasting. So... final prediction: Nobody beats the Whizz... except on Super Bowl Sunday!

Pick: Pittsburgh 24, Arizona 21

Last week: 2-0 (Hooray! It took me all season, but I did something right finally!)
Playoffs: 4-6 (Still pretty shitty.)

Out of curiosity, here's how I've done in past years in the playoffs:
2004 - 7-4 (correctly picked Pats over Eagles)
2005 - 8-3 (correctly picked Steelers over Seahawks)
2006 - 5-6 (correctly picked Colts over Bears)
2007 - 6-5 (did not foresee the Giants winning)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

MMBSD: Sport Hiatus

Of all the weeks in the sporting calendar possibly the biggest hiatus is between the NFL championship games and the Super Bowl. Not because of the dearth of possible sport watching but after the constant barrage of football anything less than too much seems well empty. So there's really not that much to discuss from the past week but


Beli-Clones
With a number of Belichek offspring now inhabiting the NFL landscape an unfortunate outgrowth will probably be an expanded Belichek war on the media. Mumbles has long been known for his disdain for sharing information, talking with people, natural light, and garlic. While RAC and Weis may not have shared that hatred of "social interaction" it appears the next generation via Pioli, Mangini, etc. share that trait. Pioli has already spread the word to descend the iron curtain while Mangini has quickly installed Fortress Mangoldfinger. While in their own right coaches have might have a desire to keep these plans secret, lack of transparency and lack of information tends to fans into apathy mode (certainly not in line with an owner's or the NFL's bottom line). While Belichek can keep fan interest with multiple championships its a shame in the copy cat league that coaches and GMs that seem to take pride in their disdain of fans are controlling more and more jobs.

All-Star Fixation
In one of those odd news notes Gary Bettman (he's the head of the NHL which apparently plays hockey still) suspended a number of Detroit Red Wings for not playing in the all-star game. Meanwhile in the NFL land the 2010 Pro Bowl apparently will be played before the Super Bowl (one can only assume that the best players from the Super Bowl teams won't play). What is with the odd fixation of commissioners and all-star games? Does it potentially really bring in that much revenue or is just some bizarre re-arranging chairs fetish?

Top Heavy NBA
While we've reached the official halfway point for the NBA. The one thing I think we can safely conclude is that there is the top tier and then everyone else. I was ready to annoit Orlando as the favorite but the Celtics absolutely annihiliated them. Meanwhile I was expecting the Cavs to stumble without 2 starters. While they are not playing as well as they were, they continue to win. Meanwhile Andrew Bynum is starting to put together serious numbers for the Lakers. So there's Orlando, Cleveland, Boston and the Lakers. Its more than apparent that the NBA Champ will come from this quartet but its certainly unclear which one it will be. Should be a fun 2nd half of the season...

Half Way MVP: Lebron (Duh)
Half Way Coach of the Year: Stan Van Gundy (The Man has to get some props for meshing all the parts together)
Halfway Rookie of the Year: Co-Rookies OJ Mayo (19.1 points per game) and Derrick Rose (16.7 pts 6 assists) This is easily the toughest award to give out. Not only as these two having great years but so is Russel Westbrook, Brook Lopez, Greg Oden , Marc Gasul, etc. In fact I fully expect for the first time in a long time the Rookies to defeat the Sophmores at the All Star Game. Ultimately the award will go to the rookie that improves instead of hitting the fabled wall but at this point Mayo and Rose are in front of the others.


The Times They are Changing
National Signing Day (Feb 5th) when everyone can send a new set of wacky rankings that are based on crap. Feb (11th) UNC v. Dook. The Tar Heels Blue Devils matchup typically is the signal that College Basketball season is heading into the homestretch before the madness. NBA trade deadline (Feb 19th) the biggest name out there is the Cavs' Wally's World as his contract might reshape the NBA Championship race. Pitchers-Catchers report (Feb 20th) I leave the baseball folks to discuss if the normal excitement of spring training is improved or lessened with the World Baseball Classic (March 5th) or if the excitement over the WBC more than enough to compensate from the normal Spring Dreams routine.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Irony or Hypocrisy? Both?

I'm divided on which this story falls in. The NCAA is considering shrinking the time window for underclassmen to declare the draft. In effect make the students' lives harder to make paid coaches life easier when it comes to recruiting as they would have more time to pick up players if someone leaves early. Nevermind that the biggest career decision of a players life has to be made at break neck speed what about those poor big time coaches and university. In particular this proposed change is being pushed by the ACC who submitted its own proposal to force students hands. As Seth Davis correctly put it

Perhaps the ultimate irony in all of this is that, when the NCAA's Division I Legislative Council was asked last week to vote yea or nay on this proposal , they elected to put off their decision for another two months so they could gather more information. That's understandable. After all, these folks have a big choice to make here. Who can blame them if they don't want to be rushed?

Hmm probably both...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Craphonso Craptastic

After discussing various world records with MJ, I decided to look up something rather disgusting but very funny. We were both wondering what the world's longest poop was. I am sorry if I offend anyone who does not enjoy the greatness of poop and poop jokes. I know most of the people on the blog, and understand that of you would enjoy a great poop joke.

Without further ado, go this website http://www.lovelikelightning.com/2008/03/world-record-longest-poop.html

This woman let out a 26 foot log that she had to measure on the bowling alley (the sports related part of this blog). I am sorry but this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

From Bad To Worse

As if ESPN’s televised baseball content wasn’t bad enough, USA Today is reporting that Steve Phillips will be joining the Jon Miller/Joe Morgan broadcast booth, making it a trio of boobs instead of just a twosome:

“One of the longest-running acts in TV sports is getting a new cast member. ESPN will formally announce Wednesday that Steve Phillips will join Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, who’ve called ESPN’s Sunday night baseball for 19 years.

The move, freeing up ESPN’s Peter Gammons for Sunday night studio work rather than reporting from ESPN’s Sunday games, comes as ESPN is beefing up its Major League Baseball coverage for an obvious reason.”

The story also notes that this “frees” Peter Gammons to return to the studio instead of being his inane self as a sideline reporter. Oh joy! Biased and idiotic utterances stuttered side-mouthed from inside a studio instead of from the bleachers. Yes, that’ll add much more value to ESPN’s broadcasts.

I’d pause to ask why ESPN picked Steve Phillips but I guess I already know the answer: if a network has a stable of dim-witted mules, what difference does it make which mule you pick to trot out in the field and which ones get to stay home? They’re all idiots anyway...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1/20

Its not often that BSD gets to comment on truly historical days but today is a marker for 2 very important reasons

1) Our long national nightmare is over.... BYE BYE Mr. Cranky Pants

and

2) Inauguration of the new President Spiderman Barak Obama. Whatever I voted for Spidey.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MMBSD: Black Sunday



And so this Sunday or in Cleveland fandom Black Sunday as we'll probably be referring to it, came to pass. The two teams that I've grown to hate more than any other in the entire universe. The dreaded, hated and yes feared Yinzers. Awful scum of the Earth that have dirty hits and play Santana when an opposing any players is carted off the field. And they were hosting the Ratthugs. You know the team that idiolizes Stabby Mcstabber. The city that laughed when it stole the Brownies. Plus its fucking Baltimore. The city that even makes its murder rate boring. And so on January 18th, 2009 I sat and considered how did things come to this? Had the universe truly conspired against me? How could I change the alignment of things?

My first thought was to handle things old school...human sacrifice for the football gods


Mighty Mike on Saturday Afternoon

However apparantly Bush decided against executive order #2508 which would have made any Biblical or Ancient Sumerian Act legal. So I had to come up with a new plan. If I couldn't change the game maybe I could drug myself to make it bearable. What in the world could make me happy enough to stand the game?



Mighty's Workstation

Yeah that's good but I need something bigger.....


Ok that did it. Crisis averted on Black Sunday. Thanks Selma Hayek. Without you I couldn't have watched the game.



Jesus Makes Sure Warner Wins Stops Pass Interference Call
On the other end of the highly succesful extreme has been the Nomadic Cardinals. Cursed for reasons lost to history, the Cardinals were doomed to wander the Earth without home and without victories. At least until Warner, Wisenhunt and apparently Jesus set up shop. Maybe Jesus needed to work on his golf game. I dunno. I'm not a religious expert. But according to Warner he drew up some fancy trick plays, transformed Larry Fitzgerald into one part ballerina one part terminator, and stopped a pass interference call late in the fourth quarter. Or something like that. I'd have to be awfully cynical not to smile a little bit for Adrian Wilson who's stuck around the Cardinals for this moment.


Other Random Stuff
  • For those following College Basketball an outstanding weekend. The depth this year in college basketball is truly amazing. The number of quality teams and quality games is certainly the highest level in years. At the top of the pyramid (at least according to me) is Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons boast right now my player of the year (Jeff Teague) at least 2 other true NBA prospects and are still undefeated after defeating previously unbeaten Clemson at Clemson
  • The other big win was Duke over Georgetown. In an attempt to transfer over College Football a burning question is who is better ACC or Big East. Similiar to college football this matters for bids. Duke handling of Georgetown could play dividends for the non-Big East
  • I realize I've been beating the Orlando drum for awhile now but after sweeping a West Coast trip including a win at the Forum Orlando is now looking like the best team in the NBA. My sense is that fact will be suddenly "discovered" after they beat Boston on Thursday and the Cavs struggle without West and Z.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Our Thoughts From The Beginning of the Season on the Arizona Cardinals

I thought it would be fun to sample some of our views of the Cardinals from August and September, just when the season was getting under way... enjoy!

Mighty: included Arizona in his "NFC Crazy" Playoff predictions and reiterated, "I said crazy dammit"

Even better is Mighty's views from August on the Cardinals: "I swear every year might be THE year that the Cardinals get into the playoffs. And every year they disappoint. Perpetual teases (much like Autumn Reeser) Last year they got close at 8-8 but as always fell short."

MJ commented on the article and said: "Arizona has a guy that came from a good coaching school (Sgt. Slaughter) but, come on, it's Arizona. They're still deciding between Matt Leinert and Brenda Warner's husband."

Gutsy: In my preview, I said only: "Kurt Warner... he's back! [say it like the girl in Poltergeist]" and predicted they would be in 2nd place and out of the playoffs.

Gutsy: In my week 2 prediction of the Miami vs. Arizona game, I said: "The Kurt Warner career kind of reminds me of ska music. It was wildly successful for a small amount of time, but it now seems like a novelty whenever you hear ska music, or whenever you see Kurt Warner play."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Big 10: Early 2009 thoughts

In probably one of the last thoughts for awhile on college football so I figured I'd breakdown next years Big 10. Or at least as well as one can before recruiting and spring practice come to pass. While everyone I think here knows my feelings on the structural hindrances the Big 10 faces (as one can see by the breakdown by state in 2008 for recruiting) but that doesn't necessarily affect year to year differences. That said at first glance next year looks for the Big 10 to regain quality in the middle ranks but hardily any team looking to win at the elite (read BCS) level. I'm sorry to say another cold Fall and Bowl season of Big 10 bashing could be in store.

The Elite
Over the past4 years the Big 10 has frankly been dominated by Ohio State and Penn State. No other team has won a share of the Big 10 Championship since 2004. Hence elite category

Penn State:
Good Points: Of the top teams in the Big 10 only Penn State returns its entire backfield. Evan Royster will be one of the top backs and Darryl Evans will probably be the top QB (again)

Bad Points: Penn State is losing its 4 of 5 OL, top 3 receivers, top 3 DEs and their entire secondary

Outlook: Worse

Ohio State
Good Points: Another year under the belt of Terrel Pryor. IF he can take a step forward the offense will be better. The DL loses only one and might be the best its been since 2002.

Bad Points: Losing arguably the top corner, running back and linebacker in this years draft is hard to immediately overcome.

Outlook: Uncertain (guess status quo). Part of the problem for tOSU this year was a horrific offensive line. There will be 3 new starters. How well the new tackles play will influence Pryor's development as well as how much Beanie Wells is missed.


The Second Tier

Iowa

For those that don't remember/were unaware before the recent Penn State/Ohio State run Iowa won portions of 2 of 3 Big 10 titles between 2002-2004. They were the only Big 10 team to win a bowl game and the only Big 10 team to beat Penn State. The biggest (and really only) loss this year for Iowa will be star running back Shonne Green (the Big 10s most productive back this year). If Iowa can find something to replace his production there's no reason to think Iowa won't challenge for a Big 10 title

Outlook: Status Quo/Better

Michigan State
Michigan State took Wisconsin's role this year as that team that can beat everyone in the Big 10 but the top teams. Unfortunately it loses its entire backfield most notably Javon Ringer (who they don't really have a backup for). On the plus side a defense, that was demolished in big games, gets everyone back. Wait is that good?

Outlook: Worse unless an uberfreshman can replace Ringer

Northwestern
Northwestern finished tied for 3rd in the Big 10 this year at 9-4 and nearly beat Missouri (before choking). That said they lose their QB, top 2 RBs, top 3 WRs and 3 DL. Yes depth might be problem for the men of Purple next year.

Outlook: Worse

Minnesota
Minnesota (7-6) improved dramatically from its horrendous 2007 campaign. However the team petered out towards the end as it lost its last 5. That said all the key cogs on offense return and the defense can only get better. In theory. It will will have a young secondary which could be trouble.

Outlook: Better

The Disappointments

Wisconsin
While debatable I don't think any team was as disappointing as Wisconsin this past year. A giant losing streak, a coach underfire, and a blowout loss to Florida State all for a team that many predicted would win the Big 10. I don't think anyone is certain what entirely went wrong as so many aspects from coaching, to defense to QBing was crap. Wisconsin will break in a new QB (although its very unclear who that'll be at this point)

Outlook: Better but not much (for how many teams does uncertainty at QB end up turning out well the next year?)

Illinois
Similiar to Wisconsin its uncertain exactly why Illinois was so bad. Although as opposed to Wisconsin its not a lack of explanations as much as too many: inability to replace Mendenhall, too many turnovers, horrific secondary, bad coaching, etc. Illinois has the talent to be better in theory but that requires Juice Williams to finally turn that corner

Outlook: Better but not by much

Michigan
I'll try to put my biases aside for a second here. While Michigan was expected to suffer a little bit during its transition its hard to argue it should have resulted in the worse year in Michigan football history. In particular the defense simply sucked as exemplified by the "firing" of RichRod's handpicked defensive coordinator. Michigan should be better as more players for the particular system are brought in but by how much? Tate Forcier will be an improvement at QB, but a freshman QB won't mean elite status. Neither will replacing 3 of 4 quality defensivelinemen

Outlook: Better but notby much

The Rest
Purdue
Gets a new QB and a new coach next year. Any bets on how well that'll work?

Indiana
Without a bowl bid, Indiana will be looking for a new coach.


Anyway that's my very early (and as always pessimistic) outlook

Who is Bill Belichick?

Jeopardy knows Bill Belichick! He's a big baby!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cheers and Jeers: Random College Predictions

Pre-Pre season college football ranking (e.g., ESPN , CNNSI ) are becoming old hat at this point. As we all know where you're ranked going into the season does matter a great deal for jockeying and positioning and thats based on Spring practice rankings which is based on recruiting deadline ranking which is based on horrible gross projections. And why should idiots (see above) have all the fun? So here's my ranking of teams based on the probability I think of them getting to the Mythical Championship game (not necessarily how good or bad they are)

1. Florida
Plus: Defending Champs, Entire Defense Back, Tebow's ballsweat cures Lepropsy
Minus: No Percy Harvin. Possibility of Tebow transmuting into pure energy given his awesomeness (can anyone explain why someone who spends time converting "the heathens" in the Phillipines is considered a hero as we don't live in the 19th century anymore?)

2. Texas
Plus: Returning Heisman contending QB. Big BCS bowl win. Mack Brown is willing to do things for votes that a porn star would balk at.
Minus: Loss of key d-linemen. Would you trust something led by a guy named Colt?

3. USC
Plus: Possible Big 12 backlash. Pete Carroll uses his extra 5 star recruits to re-enact various Civil War battles without missing them on the field. Most of the offense is back
Minus: Losing nearly entire defense, starting QB , both coordinators, and neighborhood joke shop.

4. Oklahoma
Plus: Returning Heisman, returning defense, experiments of turning velociraptors into tight ends coming along
Minus: Lose o-line, at some point Stoops face plant in BCS games (5 straight losses) has to catch up

In all likelihood we'll be looking down at OU next year

5. LSU
Plus: Early season non-conference game of year v. V-Tech will give it momentum, best recruiting class in country, finally figured out QB in Jordan Jefferson.
Minus: I totally lied about figuring out QB. He played well v. G-Tech. That's it.

Others: Ole Miss, Oregon, V-Tech, Alabama, tOSU

For those wondering about the Big 10 I'll discuss its issues on Monday.


Cheers: Laz. I have been remiss in congratulating one of our own, Laz, who earlier this month got engaged to wonderful woman who is clearly superior to him in well every way. Congrats Laz

Cheers/Jeers: West Coast Trips. The Cavs starting to look like the NBA favorites have a perilous West Coast trip including playing the Lakers. If they can somehow navigate the pitfalls then I think going into the all-star break the Cavs will be considered top dog.


I don't see any downside to unicycles and meathooks together at last

Cheers: To coaching NFL changes winding down. The interesting angle I think will be the KC -Denver -Cleveland -New England connections. Josh Mcdaniel (now Denver ex-Pats) almost was coach in Cleveland/KC. KC gets Pioli (ex NE) who almost went to Cleveland. Mangini (scourge of NE) gets Belicheks old job over Pioli and Mcdaniels and brings in all ex-New England assistants.Which brings us back to Belichek who now has to figure out NE without any of those previous cogs. Umm, got it?

That in no way shape or form was simple

Jeers: Cold Weather. Obviously this cold weather is simply a ploy by the squirrel army to begin its invasion under orders from the Clown - Saucer People -RAND Corporation alliance.

And your C&J gal of the week....Kate Hudson - who likes long hikes, staying clean, and my free style beat boxing.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Khan!

RIP Ricardo Montalban. I'll always remember him as one of my all-time favorite arch-villains... Khan Noonien Singh

Lebron pulls an MJ

Ok not really it's for a Nike commercial but t I often wonder how the ridiculously gifted Lebron would have done if he had selected his other sport....football. For those that were unaware Lebron played WR and CB in his pre-NBA days.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HOF

I was listening to Mike and Mike this morning, and they had Bert Blyleven on the show, who talked about getting snubbed by the baseball HOF voters for the 12th straight year. Also, Mike Schmidt sent an email to the show basically saying the voters were idiots and Bert deserves to be in there. After that, both Mikes debated on how to make a better voting system, but they really couldn't think of one. But.....I did:
I think there is definite validity to the idea that the baseball writers should have a say, but it shouldn't only be them. I think that the HOF committee should add current hall of famers and broadcasters to the pool of voters. Although, not in one big pool entirely. I think there should be 3 voting blocks: 1. writers, 2. broadcasters, 3. current hall of famers. All three should be able to vote as they do now. Now, i dont think every broadcaster and every current hall of famer should get a vote, i think there should be a rotating committee who gets to vote. All three blocks vote. If player X (let's call him A. Dawson, no, thats too obvious, let's call him Andre D.), get 75% of the vote, he's in. Just like now. However, let's say Andre D. gets 66% from the writers, but gets 86% from the broadasters, and 88% from the players, then he should be allowed in.
The rule should be that 75% total, you are in, but if you get 85% from 2 of the blocks AND 65% from the third block, you are in also. This allows a player who the writers might hate to have a safety net. However, if a guy get less than 65% from any of these three blocks, he cant get in.
Obviously, I'm flexible on the exact percentages, but you see my point.
I'm curious as to the Back Seat feedback.
Laz

The NFL's Final Four

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh - As any long-time reader knows, I am from Cleveland and I cannot stop hating the Baltimore Ravens. The hatred blinds my judgment to the point that I have pretty much failed to analyze the Ravens in any constructive way, though in my NFL preview this year, I pointed out that Coach Harbaugh is clearly Serpentor, since he has succeeded the former coach, Cobra Commander, aka Brian Billick. [For those needing a brief history of why any of us referred to the old coach, Brian Billick, as Cobra Commander, it all started back in a comment on a post in November 2005 - "Brian Billick is Cobra Commander. He has all these wonderful plans, but forgets to do major things (like actually kill a GI Joe), or in Billick's case, actually score points." MJ proceeded to post pictures of 70s Billick and Cobra Commander, and the rest is history]

Needless to say, I think that analyzing the rise and fall of Serpentor in the animated series is the only way to analyze the weakness of Serpentor and the Baltimore Ravens, who have no business being in the AFC Championship game:

1) In the animated series, Serpentor was supposedly created due to a dissatisfaction with Cobra Commander's leadership abilities (i.e. he never actually wins!). This is just like the Baltimore Ravens - they created Coach Serpentor (Harbaugh) due to Billick's lack of winning since the year 2000 Super Bowl.
2) Serpentor, in the cartoon, was created by extracting DNA from: Napoleon in Paris, a General in Egypt, The Crypt of Vlad Tempe aka Dracula, Sun Zu, Ghangis Khan, Montezuma, Alexander the Great, and Ivan the Terrible, as well as later using some DNA from... Sgt Slaughter (Bill Cowher)!
3) Apparently, in part 5 of the 5-part animated show, Serpentor falls for "General Hawk and the Joes posing for the President and other officials surrendering to Cobra. This allows the Joes to get close enough to mount an attack."

Lesson learned from the fall of Serpentor: Use trick plays! Flea-flickers, decoys, pump fakes, end-arounds, statue of liberty plays, wildcat formations, and any other gimmick play you can think of. This is how one will beat the Ravens, because Serpentor falls for cheap tricks. I also assume you can make Serpentor believe there are pennies behind his ears, so I would also hire extra grandpas for this week's game just to make sure Harbaugh is distracted before the game and during the game.
Pick: Pittsburgh

Philadelphia @ Arizona - There's no other way to describe this game other than by reminding yourself that this is clearly, without a doubt, the most unexpected NFC Championship game in history. Anyways, I was trying to make sense of the insanity that was the 2008 Playoffs. Perhaps the 2008 playoffs can actually be defined as the winning team having the better QB in each game. In the AFC, it actually doesn't work out that well (is Flacco better than Pennington and Kerry Collins? Is Roethlisberger better than Rivers? Is Rivers better than Peyton?) But in the NFC, it actually works out rather conveniently: Kurt Warner is better than rookie Matt Ryan and Kurt Warner is better than Jake Delhomme. Donovan McNabb is better than Tarvaris Jackson and McNabb is better than Eli Manning. Those weren't really groundbreaking conclusions. The tougher decision is whether Kurt Warner is better than Donovan McNabb... in 2008, not the year 2001, when they last met in the playoffs. I want to say Kurt Warner... so I'm doing the unthinkable thing... I'm going with the Cardinals.
Also, it gives me a chance to say something I haven't said in weeks: Nobody beats the Whiz! (that's Coach Whisenhunt for the new readers out there)
Pick: Arizona

Last week: 1-3 (ouch! only got Pittsburgh)
Playoffs: 2-6 (I just puked).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cooperstown Bound

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090112&content_id=3740171&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Congrats to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice. It's funny, it's been 20 years since a left fielder has been elected to the hall of fame (Yaz) and this year, two left fielders get into Cooperstown. I personally felt that Rice deserved this from the start, but his standoffish nature with the media made him wait on the sidelines for 15 years. Good for him.
Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven will have to wait another year, and fell short, but not by much.
I'm not going to weigh in right now on the "closer debate" and the "juicer debate" whose casualties this year are Lee Smith and McGwire, respectively, because I want to focus on the celebration for Henderson and Rice.

Enjoy a happy day.
Laz

MMBSD: By the Numbers

In some ways its been an odd season with coaches experimenting with weird collegiate inspired wildcat formations. Good the NFL be evolving to the huck and chuck outcomes of college? Well the playoffs in the biggest of rounds a resounding no has echoed. It was a by the numbers division round. The team that controlled the point of attack, avoided costly turnovers and had the football injury gods smile on them won.

Delhomme's interception down 14-7 caused the Panthers to smash the panic button, abandon the run and sink further into the mire. Tennessee repeated Plaxico's (shooting oneself in the leg) coupled with Flash Johnson's injury meant Baltimore kept going. Tomlinson's injury and Pittsburgh holding the ball for the entire 3rd quarter (wow) ended San Diego's hopes. Obviously MJ couldn't summon enough hatred of the Giants to will them to victory (ok that one did follow the regular season pattern). While this year the hot team beat the home team 3 out 4 times but otherwise it was NFL playoff football by the numbers.


College Basketball
I realize most people don't start following college basketball until conference tourney time but with college football over and NFL nearly complete its time to fill that sports hole with quality stuff. The season started with the usual ESPN hype machine "This team (insert) has the chance to be on the best ever". In this case it was UNC who started off uber-hot not winning by less than 15 before its recent slump. Bad defense, poor shot selection and an injured Marcus Ginyard are hindering them.

The contenders at this point include Wake Forest (led by Jeff Teague an outstanding scorer), Pitt (who looks to finally get beyond the sweet 16), UConn (elder big man Thabeet learns offense), G-Town (best young player in Monroe), and a host of others. The Big 10 seems to be equivalent of ACC football - at least half dozen above average teams with sweet 16 potential but none with championship possibilities. The best player in the country remains Blake Griffin of OU although Stephen Curry and Jeff Teague might push him for the award.

I'll have more on college football after all the players announce for the draft....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mediocrity Reigns

The NFC Championship Game will be contested between a team (Arizona Cardinals) that went 9-7 in the worst division in the NFL and a team (Philadelphia Eagles) that went 9-6-1 in a good division but was nevertheless one of the most erratic and perplexing teams in recent NFL memory.

I can't think of too many other sports where two truly mediocre teams -- teams that would otherwise not have made the playoffs if records were the only thing that counted -- can be playing in a semifinal game for the right to play for the league championship.

I love Tom Coughlin but he lost control of this game. Then again, it's pretty hard to be a successful head coach in the NFL when your starting QB is without question the most overrated player in the NFL. Eli Manning sucks. I welcome anyone who wishes to argue this point with me. Come on, I dare you to step up.

The 2007 Giants were a miracle. The 2008 Giants were overrated. The 2009 Giants will finish in last place in their division and draft in the top 15 next year. Eli Manning is the worst thing to happen to my favorite NFL franchise and I'm terrified of how many more years it will take before the Giants realize that Eli has been killing them since he took over the team in 2005.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

NBA Mid-Season Report

The Return of the Eastern Conference
Last night, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Cavs-Celtics game and watch the Cavs put the smack-down on the Celtics. Even bigger than the game though, is the fact that the biggest change in the NBA is not that the Eastern Conference has more than one or two good teams... but the fact that the Orlando Magic ARE NOW A HALF GAME AHEAD of Boston! It's a 3-horse race... with some other teams also involved. The Pistons have been playing great and Atlanta has been very tough as well (just a half game behind the Pistons). It should be an interesting 2nd half to say the least.

Surprise Teams:

Denver Nuggets - When the Nuggets dumped expiring contract Allen Iverson for PG Chauncey Billups (just weeks after dumping Marcus Camby)... I was confused. Did they assume Billups was washed up? No... actually, the Nuggets knew exactly what they were doing, they were getting one of the best PGs in the league! They are 11-3 in November, 9-6 in December, and 4-0 in January. The other reason the Nuggets are so good is that both Nene and Kenyon Martin are healthy and providing solid minutes.

New Jersey Nets - You are probably wondering why I'm selecting a team that is questionable for even making the playoffs. The reason is simple: this team is winning with PG Devin Harris, the ridiculous contract of SG Vince Carter (making $15-$17 million each year until 2011, w/ a team option for 2011-2012) and a whole bunch of 22-year olds or younger (led by Center Brook Lopez). That wasn't supposed to happen! Suddenly, the Nets may have cap space AND a competitive team in 2010. Maybe they won't get LeBron, but this team will entice other free agents.

Disappointing team:
Toronto Raptors - It's possible they can still make a run for the postseason, but they have been just awful. They already fired their coach and they just don't seem to be focused each night. PG Jose Calderon has been battling hamstring problems which I'm sure is not helping the cause.

Intriguing team:
Atlanta Hawks - they may only have a 6 or 7-man rotation, but it is one frightening rotation! First off, they are athletic, like to run, but then they have 3 of the best young big-men in the league in Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Al Horford. Josh Smith is still only 23 years old (he came right from high school). Josh Smith is having a "down" year - and only getting 1.7 blocks per game as opposed to almost 3 like the last three seasons. Guard-play? They still have a capable Mike Bibby and a very dangerous Joe Johnson. Would anyone actually want to play them in the playoffs?

Breakout players:
Paul Millsap, PF, Utah - Boozer has only played in 12 games for the Jazz this season. The main reason the Jazz are still in good shape? It's because of Paul Millsap! He's averaging 15.5 ppg, 9.6 rebounds, and shooting a silly 55.8% FG%, meaning he's very efficient. If you look at his game log, he actually hasn't had less than 10 rebounds since November 22nd!
Chris Duhon, PG, NY - Apparently, if anyone plays fantasy basketball, taking Coach Mike D'Antoni's PG is a fantastic strategy. Duhon benefits this year with 12.0 ppg, 8.3assists, and only 3.0 turnovers
Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando - I'm happy for the guy that he finally started playing well. 16.3 ppg, 5.0 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 50.6% FG%

Rookies to watch (there are a lot!)
OJ Mayo, SG, Memphis - living up to the hype! - 19.9ppg, 45% FG%
Russell Westbrook, PG?, Ok City - not shooting great, but was recently promoted to the starting lineup and has started to play better. He's really fast. If you haven't seen him play, check out this video - between 0:50 and 1:00. He uses his speed to break down the defense and just dunks it at will!
Brook Lopez , C, NJ - Solid start at 10.3ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 2.0 blocks per game
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis - 11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 52.3% FG%
Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago - 16.9 ppg, 46.8% FG%, 6.1Assists, 2.7 Turnovers

Friday, January 09, 2009

Cheers and Jeers: Raging Bull Edition

Ingredients: And so we have reached the nadir of college football. 3 straight years of SEC dominance. 2 out 3 years of Mullet country being champion. The only hope on the horizon of dethroning them lies in the University of Spoiled Children. The Big 10 reduced to Big Least status . Heck even here in Columbus fans steeled themselves on with a "moral victory" in the Fiesta Bowl. "Moral Victory"? Really? Perhaps my structural explanations are over done. Perhaps decades of population and wealth loss don't have any effect on a process thats based on population and wealth. Perhaps simply the Big 10 and Big 12 being ruled by the coaching equivalents of Marty Schottheimers (Tressel and Stoops) is the bigger difference as the votes and wins accrue to the college overlords of Meyers, Saban and Carroll. But until perceptions are changed on the field (somehow) prepare for a long and cold dark winter of discontent to those in the non-South.

Uncertain Jeers: To the Browns hiring Mangini. C&J was initially unambiguously undecided in our stance on the hire. Mangini's tenure with the Jets was mixed, Mangini's qualifications relative to other possible candidates available was mixed and the local fan reception was mixed. However at the end of the day unhappiness over process won the day. Why the rush? Why not hire a President/GM first? The Lerners have a record of failure only surpassed by the Fords in pro football since returning 1999. If the Browns said it was raining my initial reaction would be to assume that we were in the middle of drought (when he talks generally the Cheney effect of assuming whatever he says is full of shit is called into play). So now the Browns by hiring the coach first have basically tied their hands as to who the GM will be and consequently right drafting, right free agency and more generally an organization will probably be short changed. Perhaps its doom and gloom but the evidence so far is that if the decision is made by the Browns owner is the wrong one.
Hire the GM first? Uhh no Dude, that had no occurred to us



Cheers: To Big Games. Celtics v. Cavs tonight for an early season giant showdown. Our man on the scene Gutsy will be attending the game and will provide feedback. While sometimes playoff seeding is over-rated matchups are not. At some point I think the basketball world will realize that Orlando is no mirage. Dwight Howard is a beast and the team has surrounded him with an array of quality outside shooters (its like a modern version of the Olajuawan's Rockets). The Cavs in particular do not matchup well with Orlando (given their collapse D mentality). In any event of 3 big Eastern Conference teams only one will avoid a tough second round matchup.

Cheers: Great Cartoon Intros of the 1990s

Jeers: C&J does not approve of smash and grab doll orgies

And your C&J gal of the week......Abigail Clancy

Florida Champs Again



Congrats Florida on beating an over-rated OU team. I believe I speak for the entire non-Sotuh when I say I hope you all go and fornicate yourself with wooden sticks

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Divisional Playoffs in the Unexpected Season

I am officially calling this the "Unexpected NFL Season." As proof of this, and to show how far we've come this season, I will publish the ESPN SportsNation picks from before the season began, where the poll was originally posted on July 18 (which was before Favre joined the Jets):


What's great about this list is that it shows how the Eagles, Titans, Panthers, Cardinals, and Ravens were not expected to be in the final 8. That's 5 out of 8! What's even more impressive about this list is how the Falcons and Dolphins - the 2 teams that were supposed to not have a chance in hell, ended up making the playoffs.

On to the games:

4-Chargers @ 2-Steelers - This is far and away the game I'm most excited about. The Chargers are no ordinary 8-8 team, simply because they lost a number of bizarre games this season. I think this should be a great game, but in the end, I have to assume Roethlisberger is healthy enough to lead the Steelers.
Pick: Steelers

6-Ravens @ 1-Titans - I just keep having awful flashbacks to the year 2000, when the top-seeded Titans looked invincible all season and got beat by a defensively-focused Ravens team. I am just praying history doesn't repeat itself.
Pick: Titans

4-Cardinals @ 2-Panthers - This is a slightly interesting game, but in the end, I can't believe the Cardinals have 2 miracles in them.
Pick: Panthers

6-Eagles @ 1-Giants - This is a shitty situation for the Giants. Playing a division rival that you split with during the season is not a very good reward for homefield advantage. Anything can happen, but I'm guessing the Giants and Eli can pull this one off. The Eagles will probably either win or lose by 20.
Pick: Giants

Last week: 1-3 (ouch! I only hit the Chargers over the Colts. That was kind of weird, because it seemed like that was my "crazy pick.")

Monday, January 05, 2009

Euroleague Update

I am currently watching the Ohio State Buckeyes play the Texas Longhorns. As most of you know, these games can last around 4 hours with all of the commercials because it's a BCS game. I decided to be productive and retrieve facts and stats on random notable basketball players playing overseas. It looks like each of these links should be good throughout the season. Enjoy!

Players in the Euroleague (a competition among the top teams from various leagues across Europe)
carlos arroyo - 13.7 ppg, 4.4 assists (7 games) - Remember, 3 european assists = approximately 5.5 american assists. Thus, 4.4 assists is very good.

josh childress - 10.1 ppg, 5.0 rebounds ( 8 games) -

Sarunas Jasikevicius - 7.6 ppg, 2.6 assists (8 games)

Brandon Jennings -8.4 ppg, 1.7 rebounds (supposed to be a lottery pick; first famous 18-year old to skip college and go to Europe; original coach got fired already for not playing him enough)

Trajan Langdon - 11.4 ppg, 50% 3p%, 0.9 steals (8 games)

Juan Carlos Navarro - 13.3 ppg, 3.9 assists, 32.4% 3P% (8 games)

Allan Ray (the "other" guy from 'Nova!, not named Randy Foye) - 6.8 ppg, 2.3 assists, 23% FG% (6 games)

Tiago Splitter - 14.9 ppg, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 70.4% FG% (7 games) - no joke. He really has been shooting 70.4% from the field! He is 6'11" and his draft rights are owned by San Antonio but no one knows when or if he'll ever come to the NBA. He's only 24 years old still, so he could still get to the NBA and make an impact.

Bracey Wright - 12.0 ppg, 22.7% 3p% (7 games) - former Indiana Hoosiers' ballhog.
note: Jannero Pargo is not in the Euroleague, but instead is on some Russian team that isn't involved in the Euroleague.

Vassilis Spanoulis (V-Span!) - 9.6 ppg, 54.2% FG%, 3.4 Assists (5 games) - the Greek point guard was instrumental in helping Greece beat the US at the 2006 World Championships. He still hasn't been playing well either here in the NBA or back in Europe.

Non-Euroleague players (meaning their clubs are hoping to get back to the Euroleague next season. This works the same way as soccer, where "Champion's League" is the top competition, but teams that didn't fare as well in their league standings play in other competitions versus other teams from across Europe). All of the following players, except Earl Boykins, I found on the "EuroCup" website, the 2nd-tier competition after the Euroleague. Thus, each player has only played 4 games in the Eurocup, but most likely has played a lot more games in their own domestic league.

Earl Boykins - 16.3 PPG, 45.2% 3P%. Boykins is averaging 5.5 Assists per game for his team in the "FIBA EuroChallenge," which apparently is the 3rd-tier competition, below even the EuroCup. He is leading Italian league in scoring at least!

Jannero Pargo - 10.5 ppg, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 58.3% FG% (4 games) - He's already contemplating returning to the NBA, though who knows if it will actually happen.

Carlos Delfino - 12.3 ppg, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists (4 games ) - He's playing in Italy alongside Jorge Garbajosa

Jorge Garbajosa - 10 ppg, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists (4 games) - He's playing in Italy alongside Carlos Deflino

Khalid El-Amin - 18.3 ppg, 5.3 assists, 48.6% FG% (4 games ) - I can't believe El-Amin still plays... and is extremely effective! Remember, they only have 40 minute games in Europe (like college).

Matt Walsh - 12 ppg, 47.4% 3P%, 66.7 FG% (4 games ) - I swear that his team's logo, Spirou Basket, looks like it's Peppermint Patty dunking a basketball!

Darryl Strawberry - 18 ppg, 51.3 FG%, 2.8 rebounds (4 games) -

Qyntel Woods - 13.5 ppg, 44.4% FG%, 3 rebs (2 games) - I guess this is where high schoolers go who don't make it in the NBA... or so I hope!

Luke Recker - 7 ppg, 40% FG%, 2.3 rebounds (4 games) - The man who once played at Indiana and at Iowa, and never went to the NBA is still making some money out in Europe apparently! He's having a down year through 4 games, but he's played well each of the last 5 seasons, if you scroll down and look at his career stats.

MMBSD: Playoffs and Bowls Oh My!


Well a 2 score+ bowl games and Wild Card weekend is in the books. That's a lot of football. Luckily the couch was up to handling myself, the otter and a case of bud. So what did we learn?

NFL
Surprise - Of all the playoff games this year the one that surprised me the most was Arizona's win over Atlanta. Yes in hindsight we should have considered rookie QB and team that went too far too fast but Arizona had struggled against anyone not in the NFC West (3-7) and certainly anyone with a rushing attack. Arizona showed a toughness that Wisenhunt had last seen in the Steel City in crushing turner and battering Ryan. Not going to say the Cardinals will go any further but a playoff home win in Arizona? First time for everything...

Unsaid Stories - A lot could be said about the San Diego v. Indy game (reffing, Manning v. Rivers, Manning v. 3-4 Ds, Rivera taking over the D, etc, etc) but one of the unsaid stories is depth. San Diego last year lost the leagues best running back backup (Turner) and nearly immediately lost Tomlinson. Yet Sproles not only held his own but was the star. It truly is an impressive feat for San Diego's draft acumen to have such depth on the team. With a half strength Addai Indy's rushing game just never seemed to show and that as much as anything killed the Colts

College Bowl Games

Outside of Charity Hodges (who does I believe sideline NASCAR reporting or something) I still can't figure out why they have sideline reporters. Its like you could have a magic eight ball of trite coach sayings instead of those painful halftime interviews.

Bowl games are odd entities as I've mentioned and as such gleaming truths from then might be near excercises in futility but a few storylines and truisms seem to be leaking out. While the Midwest conferences (MAC/Big 10) have barely escaped a zero win I would just chalk it up to the structural and inevitable collapse of that entire region than to anything serious like bad coaching.

The West via the Pac 10 and MWC were appeared to be under-rated while the Big 12s superiority (most notably Texas Tech's, Ok State's and Mizzou's stinkers) seems to be over-rated. While glorified exhibitions these games are important for recruiting and pre-season rankings (which are far more important for determining the national championship and big bowls than is typically acknowledged) .

Anyway predictions for the final BCS bowls
Texas 34 OSU 17

Florida 40 Oklahoma 21