Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ronald Reagan vs. Ted Baxter

Time for another installment of the Ronald Reagan vs. Ted Baxter betting NFL football contest.

The conservative theory of NFL betting is to take a home team getting 3 or fewer points. Who is more conservative than Ronald Reagan? Note - this theory does not include games which are a "pick". The Ted Baxter theory of football betting says to take the NFL teams getting 10 or more points under the idea that both teams are professionals and how much difference could there be between two groups of professionals? Ted Baxter used this method to soundly whip Lou Grant betting football games.

Week 4 NFL Picks

Ronald Reagan - so far the Ronald Reagan theory has been 3-0 for the season. There were no games that fit the theory last week but this week there are a bunch. The Falcons are getting 2.5 against the visiting Texans. The Lions are getting 3 against the visiting Bears and their new QB Brian Griese. The Vikings are getting 1.5 against Brett Farve and the Packers. The 49ers are getting 2 against the Seahawks. Finally tonight the home Giants will be getting 3 against the visiting Eagles. Honestly none of the home teams appeal to me personally but these 5 games should be a good test for the Ronald Reagan theory.

Ted Baxter - last week the Ted Baxter theory went 0-2 as both the Patriots and Steelers easily covered (although a friend of mine says the Steelers game shouldn't count because he had 9 points as the spread at game-time). Going with the 0-2 mark for last week - that puts the Ted Baxter theory at .500 for the season (3-3). I would like to point out that the three losses were due to either the Patriots or Steelers (maybe they should be the exceptions to the betting rule). This week there are three games that fit the theory. The home Cowboys are giving 13 to the surprisingly inept Rams. The home Chargers are giving 11.5 to the inept and badly coached Chiefs. Finally the line on the Indy / Denver game has crept up to 10 points at the time of writing from the 9 points its been at most of the week. I am going to include the Indy game as an official pick for Ted Baxter.
College Football Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous college football thoughts and observations.

Most people will focus on Auburn freshman kicker Wes Byrum's kick(s) in the final seconds to beat Florida as the key moment in the Auburn victory over Florida. I think the key moment of the game was the running into the punter penalty on Auburn's first drive. Florida had stuffed Auburn's offense and would have had both great field position and great momentum to start the game. Instead Auburn was able to turn that running into the punter penalty into a drive that made it 7-0 and changed the complexion of the game completely... Last week people were wondering what was going to happen when the season ended with 3 or 4 unbeaten teams. This week we don't have to wonder that anymore... I'd hate to be Washington State next week. My guess is that Oregon takes out all their frustration for losing yesterday on the Cougars... Colorado coach Dan Hawkins was telling his players all week that they were going to beat Oklahoma. He could have saved me (and many other people) a lot of money if he told me too... It didn't take too long for the Big East to start looking shaky. First Louisville loses to Syracuse, then West Virginia loses to Southern Florida and now Rutgers loses to a Maryland team that is considered to be a lower tier ACC team. The Big East could easily be won by either the University of Southern Florida or Cincinnati. Who could have seen that coming?... Notre Dame and Clemson should both make recruiting a top kicker their highest priority... With Texas and Oklahoma both losing - that makes Kansas and the vastly underrated Missouri the only two undefeated teams in the Big 12... Six of the teams ranked above #12 Boston College in the AP Top 25 poll lost. That should put the 5-0 Eagles in the top 8 in most rankings. Within two weeks they should be in the top 5. I love Boston College but this is all the evidence people should need that the poll system doesn't work. Boston College is not among the top 5 teams in the country yet if they go undefeated they could get into the Championship game. It is not beyond the realm of possibility. Also if Boston College does go undefeated and is not invited to the Championship game then just as big a stink could be made. If the goal of the system is to crown the true champion then it clearly doesn't work. If the goal of the system is to generate as much controversy as possible then I guess its working just fine... Yale is going to run all over Harvard when they play the big game... Ohio State handled Washington much easier than USC did. If LSU didn't have so many first half problems against Tulane then this could have been the week USC was knocked from the top spot... I'm old enough to remember when Syracuse used to play close games but lose to the University of Miami (FL). Now they are playing close games but losing to the University of Miami (OH). The alumni must be pumped...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ryan Zimmerman vs. Bob Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan)

Yesterday was Washington Nationals 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman's 23rd birthday. Zimmerman was last year's NL Rookie of the Year runner up. Combine those two facts and I started to wonder how Zimmerman did in the supposed sophomore slump second year. Give me another second to think about it and I start to wonder how Ryan Zimmerman's second season compared against Bob Zimmerman's (aka Bob Dylan) second season.

This year Ryan Zimmerman's numbers are pretty much down across the board with the exceptions of scoring more runs and hitting 4 more home runs than last year. If Ryan Zimmerman was a recording star - the name of his second album (season) probably would be Down Twenty as he has 20 fewer RBI and his batting average and OBP are also down 20 points.

Even with being slightly down this year vs last - Ryan Zimmerman is still the biggest star on the Nationals and is easily one of the top 10 3rd basemen in all of baseball.

Bob Zimmerman's (aka Bob Dylan) first album Bob Dylan was not memorable at all. If there was new folk singer of the year voting - then Dylan would have been lucky to fall into the "also receiving votes" category. The album only sold 5,000 copies. Bob Dylan's breakthrough came with his second album (season) The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. This album included all-time classics such as Blowing in the Wind, A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall and Masters of War.

Ryan Zimmerman may have had the advantage with his rookie season but Bob Dylan clearly took the lead with his sophomore effort.

If a Ryan Zimmerman / Bob Zimmerman parallel career comes to fruition then that's great news for Nationals fans. It means that Ryan Zimmerman will have a long career with at least his three best seasons yet to come (I'd rank Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks as superior to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan).

It's not all rosy though. If the comparison holds up then that means that Ryan Zimmerman may do something to infuriate his early fans the way Bob Dylan did by going to electric guitars. Maybe leaving Washington as a free agent would do it. Late in his career Ryan Zimmerman may also convert to Judaism.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Curt Schilling

Just a thought but did you realize that Curt Schilling is arguably the best starting pitcher who will be available via free agency this winter?

You could argue Paul Byrd (15-8 and 4.59 ERA). Maybe you like Kenny Rogers (soon to be 43-years old and only 10 starts this year due to injuries). I could accept Randy Wolf having the potential to be the top starter (though I think by now everyone knows he's made of China).

When you look at what's available - you have to think that Schilling is hands down the best available starting pitcher. This is another reason why I think he'll get a John Smoltz-like deal (one year for $13 million plus an option). This also points out how thin the free-agent market will be this off-season for top starters. Matt Clement or Kris Benson may be the best deals available.
Heh Heh - Product Placements Gone Wild

Something Awful has a pretty amusing Photoshop Phriday up.

This was another favorite.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Have you seen that public service commercial that goes something like, "You taught your kid how to hit a baseball, how to hit a three-pointer but have you taught him what not to hit?" It is sponsored by a group against violence against women. The commercial rubs me the wrong way. First off - I was taught that any man who would hit a woman is a coward who is the lowest of the low. I didn't need a sit down talk to get that message through to me. It was learned by the example of how the other men in my life viewed anyone who would strike a woman. This commercial just puzzles me. Who is it aimed at? Fathers who act with respect towards women are already teaching their sons "what not to hit" by example? Actions speak way louder than words... With the baseball playoffs looming I would like to note that Angels ace John Lackey is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA against the Red Sox so far this year and that their number 2 starter Kelvim Escobar has a 10.19 ERA in 4 September starts. That bodes well for the Red Sox... I'm not sure if Jonathan "The Impaler" Sharkey is the craziest person to ever run for President but he has to be up there. I found this bit to be of interest; "The Vampires, Witches, and Pagans Party was founded by Sharkey in 2005. It is officially recognized by United States Federal Election Committee [14], although there is little evidence of any membership or activity other than two persons." I bet if I founded the Sports Bettors and Beer Drinkers Party that I could get way more than 2 members... Tonight's West Virginia vs Southern Florida college football game is going to be a good one. The Mountaineers are favored by 7 points but what puzzles me is the fact that I've seen written that the early action is supposed to be going to West Virginia because of the revenge factor (USF beat West Virginia 24-19 last year to dash West Virginia's BCS hopes) - yet the line hasn't moved from 7 points. I may tease West Virginia with the under (55) points because I think this will be a close game that the Mountaineers win...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Top 5 - Thoughts on Mike Gundy's Outburst

I've been meaning to comment on Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy's outburst last Saturday. Here are five observations.

1. The story by Jenni Carlson was poorly written. She starts one of her paragraphs with "Word is..." Whose word Jenni? Word on the street? Word to your mother? The bitchy moaning from the other sportswriters in the press box? Last night my wife made chicken cordon-bleu. Does that mean she fed me chicken? What deep psychological meaning about me can you gleen from that Jenni? Sloppy and amateurish are the words that best describe this "effort" by Jenni Carlson.

2. I think the fact that this story was a front page story in The Oklahoman speaks volumes about that newspaper. What amounts to a hit story on a 21-year old amateur athlete makes the front page? Really? Not the front page of the sports section mind you - the front page of the paper. What crime did the 21-year old commit to warrant such front page treatment? Oh - he was replaced as starting QB? And newspaper people wonder why increasingly people are getting their news and opinion (since this was an opinion piece) from the Internet. It is actually disgusting when you stop and think about it.

3. I don't think Mike Gundy's outburst was premeditated. I think this was a pet peeve issue to Gundy and that when he saw the front page hit job then he went off. I also think that if he lost then maybe the outburst doesn't happen. Gundy does seem like a stand-up guy (and I have no first hand knowledge). I think if his team lost then Gundy would have been up there taking the blame for the loss even though the column would have been eating at him. The victory freed him to speak (or I guess shout) his opinion on the matter.

4. Looking at the remaining schedule for Oklahoma State - I think the team finishes 5-7. Finishing .500 at 6-6 will be a real accomplishment. Mike Gundy's record won't be anything to crow about but his outburst has cemented his reputation as a stand-up guy who cares about his players and that's probably worth a couple of wins this season as far as his job security is concerned. Everyone I've spoken to about this is firmly in the coach's corner and "pumped" about Gundy's defense of one of his players.

5. This is a defining moment for all involved. Mike Gundy will be the coach in the orange shirt who went off to defend a player. Jenni Carlson will forever be a hack who writes poorly written hit pieces in the minds of anyone who remembers her a week from now. Unfortunately Bobby Reid will not be remembered for leading his team to a victory over Alabama in a bowl game - he'll now be the soft player whose momma fed him chicken. Nobody covered themselves in glory in this case.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 2

Sorry I missed the last update to move the magic number to 3. I was all set to do a Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch rift too. Anyway - with the win over the A's the Red Sox magic number to win the AL East is now just a duece.

The number two can be seen to represent the dichotomy that exists in Red Sox fans concerning facing the Yankees in the playoffs. On one hand - the Yankees are the team the Red Sox fans fear the most - so there is a desire to see the Yankees lose in the first round so that Boston doesn't have to face them. On the other hand - it will be somewhat of an empty victory of the Red Sox win the World Series without having to beat the Yankees. In 2004, for example, the comeback victory over the Yankees was almost as sweet as the sweep of the Cardinals in the World Series.

This is of course making the assumption that the Red Sox can get out of the first round of the playoffs (which in no way should be considered a foregone conclusion).

As of tonight the answer to the Austin Powers question "Who does number 2 work for?" - well at least for today the answer is the Red Sox.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Notre Dame

I've been meaning to comment on Notre Dame for some time now. When Charlie Weis first got the job as head coach for the Fighting Irish - I wrote that Weis would be a success but I also wrote that he'd have to accomplish 3 things to get that success. Weis is probably failing at the 3rd criteria I listed:
3. The third thing Weis has to do may be the most difficult. He has to develop a media friendly personality.

Who knows - maybe Weis is a natural media darling. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell from his time in New England because head coach Bill Belichick always kept his assistants under media blackout. If Weis has problems with the media - he better start working on improving his communication skills now because if truth be told - Ty Willingham's brusque way with the media probably sealed his fate.
Yes Notre Dame has been a complete failure on offense this season. They rank dead last in total offense among the 119 Division 1-A teams. Powerhouses like Eastern Michigan, Rice and Temple have all averaged more than double the total yards per game than Notre Dame has managed. As Mike Huguenin of has noted - "The Irish offense is rancid."

Notre Dame won't be good this year and much of the problems with the offense can be solved by Charlie Weis just acknowledging this and going with a basic offense that allows Jimmy Clausen and the other young players on the offense a chance to learn on the job without trying to do to much in terms of trick plays and complicated schemes. Right now Charlie Weis has been making the offensive woes worse by trying to be too cute with his playcalling and game planning.

Much of the offensive problems could be solved and will be solved as the young players mature but the problems Weis has exhibited in dealing with the media could prove to be his fatal flaw.

Notre Dame has had 2 straight seasons with final rankings in the top 15. Those two seasons of glory in the sun should have allowed Weis to stockpile lots of goodwill that could be used during the trying times they are now experiencing. Why is it that some people have trouble being nice when on top?

As Jeff Carroll pointed out - Weis' problem is hubris. Saying things like Michigan State would never beat one of his teams is a good example. Al Sweragen said that the easiest way to make God laugh is to announce your plans. Michigan State beat Notre Dame 31-14 last Saturday. God wasn't the only one laughing. Notre Dame has become a joke. However, instead of good natured ribbing the laughter is almost mean-spirited. People are enjoying the plight of the Irish and Charlie Weis getting his comeuppance.

Weis is the first Notre Dame grad to coach the football team since Hugh Devore and Weis is also be the first Fighting Irish coach to lose 5 straight games since Hugh Devore too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 5

With the Yankees losing this afternoon - the magic number to clinch the AL East can now be counted on one hand.

A couple things about the number 5.

- In Boston the number 5 used to mean Nomar Garciappara. In baseball the third baseman is designated by the number 5 when scoring. If Mike Lowell is not resigned by the Red Sox I wonder if the Red Sox would look to get Nomar back to wear his number 5 while playing the number 5? I hope Lowell comes back but the Nomar possibility would make for an interesting hot stove conversation.

- In Boston Nomar used to be THE number 5 but I think that changed the day Kevin Garnett was traded to the Celtics and he picked the number 5 for his uniform number.

- I'm not sure because I haven't looked it up but I think in the NFL Rex Grossman's QB rating is actually 5.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ronald Reagan vs. Ted Baxter

Today I thought I'd start a new feature - the Ronald Reagan vs. Ted Baxter betting NFL football contest.

The conservative theory of NFL betting is to take a home team getting 3 or fewer points. Who is more conservative than Ronald Reagan? Note - this theory does not include games which are a "pick". The Ted Baxter theory of football betting says to take the NFL teams getting 10 or more points under the idea that both teams are professionals and how much difference could there be between two groups of professionals? Ted Baxter used this method to soundly whip Lou Grant betting football games.

Week 3 NFL Picks

Ronald Reagan - there are no home teams getting 3 or less points this week. This theory went 2-0 week one with Buffalo and Green Bay getting the wins. It went 1-0 in week 2 with Arizona successfully defending home turf. That's 3-0 for the season.

Ted Baxter - there are two game that qualify this week - the Bills are getting 17 points against the Patriots and the 49ers are getting 10 points against the Steelers (this line has been jumping between 9 and 10 points but its at 10 currently). There were no teams getting 10 or more points in week 1 but the theory went 3-1 in week 2 (Steelers covered while Baltimore, Chicago and Jacksonville did not). That's 3-1 for the season.
College Football Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous college football thoughts and observations.

Louisville losing to Syracuse 38-35 felt a lot like the Cincinnati Bengals losing to the Cleveland Browns. The Cardinals have a great offense built around a franchise QB but no defense at all. Just like the Bengals... Alabama may have lost the game against Georgia last night but is there any question that the Tide is back as an elite program? Nick Saban is not just a great recruiter - he's obviously a great motivator too. No way Alabama makes this game close last year. Oh and speaking of Georgia - Knowshon Moreno looks like he'd make a great pro running back. I found myself wishing that the Patriots end up drafting him while watching the game (hey it worked when I watched Maroney play at Minnesota)... #10 Penn State lost, #12 South Carolina lost, and coming up #13 Oregon has to play #6 Cal (not to mention #4 Oklahoma playing #7 Texas). The countdown to Boston College cracking the top 10 is on baby!... I think you HAVE to add Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph to the Walter Payton Award watch list (the award given to the top 1-AA player) . Yesterday Randolph led Holy Cross to a 55-0 win over Georgetown throwing for 302 yards on 22-33 passing with 2 TD's. Randolph is only a junior and I'm telling you that this is a kid who has the skills to play at the next level. I predicted that Ryan Fitzpatrick would make it as an NFL QB back when Fitzpatrick was at Harvard and I'm telling you that Randolph is as good or better than Fitzpatrick... Maybe the biggest upset of the day was #24 Wofford beating #1 Appalachian State 42-31... Harvard has lights! Harvard Stadium is 104-years old but last night it good a new look - lights! Oh and Harvard beat Brown 24-17...
Red Sox Magic Number - 6

The Red Sox clinched a playoff berth last night and reduced their magic number to win the AL East to 6 games.

In Boston the number 6 means Bill Russell who is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Playing a team sport is all about winning championships and Russell won 11 in his 13 years with the Celtics. He also won 2 National college basketball championships at the University of San Francisco (1955 and 1956) plus an Olympic Gold Medal at the 1956 Olympics. The only team that might have been able to win without him was the Olympic team.

The Red Sox two big offseason acquisitions continue to be enigmas.

JD Drew is hitting .309 with a .992 OPS and 3 HR plus 10 RBI in September. Is this the real JD Drew or is Drew just feeling relaxed now that Mike Lowell has laid claim to the 5-spot in the batting order? Meanwhile Daisuke Matsuzaka is 1-1 with an 11.20 ERA in 3 September starts. It is worrisome that after Josh Beckett - the Red Sox have no sure thing in their starting pitching right now. Jon Lester is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 4 September starts. Could the Red Sox possibly replace Dice-K with Lester in the short 3-man (probably) playoff pitching rotation?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Smoot-Hawley and the Iraq War

At the beginning of the Depression in 1930 the Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley tariff act and President Hoover signed it into law even though 1,028 economists wrote that the act would be a disaster for the country. The experts were right of course and Smoot-Hawley just made things exponentially worse.

I can't help but see a parallel to today and the War on Terror. Some people may not want to acknowledge it but the fight against Radical Islamics is only just beginning. We still have a long way to go yet some in Congress argue for the almost immediate removal of our troops from Iraq. Almost every military expert says that such a move will just make things worse. Yet there are still those in Congress (and some running for President) that argue for just such a move. I can only imagine that these people either think they know better than the experts (like how Hoover and Congress in 1930 thought they knew better than all those economists) or they are plain pandering to the fringes of the Democratic Party (don't taser me bro).

Just a random observation to toss out there on a Saturday while I wait for the college football games to start.
Red Sox Magic Number - 7

With the Red Sox win and the Yankees' loss - the Red Sox new magic number is now 7.

For a while last night the magic number was 8 which to Red Sox fans means Carl Yastrzemski. The number 8 is also the atomic number for oxygen. That's relevant because if the Red Sox lost last night oxygen would have been in great demand as Red Sox fans across New England seemingly all forget to breathe at the same time.

The number 7 is currently worn by JD Drew. To some Sox fans the number 7 is synonymous with Trot Nixon. To me the number 7 with the Red Sox will always mean the Rooster - Rick Burleson.

The number 7 is pretty cool. A ladybug usually has 7 spots (which is why they are considered lucky). Rome is famous for having 7 hills (Worcester also slightly less famously has 7 hills). There are 7 deadly sins and also 7 dwarfs who live with Snow White. I've also heard that Seven would make a good name for a baby. Steven Covey says that highly effective people have seven habits.

I guess that means that Josh Beckett has seven habits because he has been highly effective this season. Last night he went 6 innings, struck out 8 and allowed just 1 run to win his 20th game of the year. Beckett also lowered his ERA to 3.14 and should be this year's AL Cy Young Award winner.

Friday, September 21, 2007

J Edgar Hoover on Spygate

A Large Regular was very lucky in landing an exclusive interview with former FBI Director J Edgar Hoover. To be upfront - the interview was granted on the premise that all questions would be about Bill Belichick and "Spygate" and no questions would be made about Hoover's private life.

ALR: First off, thank you so much Mr. Director for agreeing to this interview. I understand it is the first interview you have granted since May of 1972.

JEH: Glad to be here Chris.

ALR: Can you give us your impressions on Bill Belichick and Spygate?

JEH: I admire Bill Belichick and his organizational skills greatly. Most people don't realize it but my first real job was at the Library of Congress as a cataloger. I know it is very important for people at the top of their professions to keep detailed records of their employees and especially their opponents. Being a detailed oriented person myself - I cannot help but applaud Belichick and the Patriots for their attention to any detail they think will help them be successful. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who has more appreciation of the value of a well cataloged file on enemies than me. Oh did I say enemies? I meant opponents.

ALR: So do you think Bill Belichick did something wrong?

JEH: Of course he did something wrong - he got caught. And may I add that he did it at the worst possible time - just at the beginning of a new administration. Boy I know that feeling. Belichick had the poor judgment to get caught at the beginning of Roger Goodell's tenure as Commissioner. It was just like when I was FBI Director and those Kennedy boys swept into office. Do you think they never cheated? They really wanted to get their hands on my files but I kept my head down and outlasted them. Then LBJ and Nixon came into office and those guys knew how to play ball - besides I had files on those two going way back. Belichick couldn't keep his head down and now Goodell's got all his files and tapes. I feel bad for him but it was his own fault getting caught.

ALR: So you are OK with him taping opponents signals. Its the sloppiness of getting caught that bothers you?

JEH: Listen - for the longest time the FBI had the public stance that the Mafia was a myth. Privately everyone in the FBI knew they existed and we were working to combat them. Then the Kennedy administration sweeps in and suddenly the Mafia becomes public and a priority. You have to be pretty naive to not acknowledge that almost every team in the NFL keeps secret files on signal calling by their opponents. Those that don't usually end up every year with high draft picks if you get my drift.

ALR: So you don't like the fact that Belichick got caught and that the NFL's "dirty little secret" was aired publicly? Is that correct? Is there any other aspect that bothers you?

JEH: Now that you mention it there is one other thing to comment on. Many of the same reporters who are crucifying Belichick are the same guys who love to make football as war analogies. Football is not war but if you are going to make those comparisons - what would you say about a general who did not try to do get us much intelligence information on the enemy as possible? Every general from George Washington to George Patton used spies. Of course back in my day the reporters used to root for our generals. Today they seem more inclined to do their damnedest to drag them down.

ALR: What about Eric Mangini and his role in this affair?

JEH: Mangini's a rat. You can't trust rats. Mangini got a kick out of being on that Soprano's show but to me he'll always be Big Pussy to Belichick's Tony Soprano.

ALR: Thank you so much for your time.

JEH: You're welcome Chris. Hey did anyone every tell you that you're a pretty handsome guy?
Giving New Meaning to the Phrase "For Entertainment Purposes Only"

I just read the "picks" from both major Boston papers and while entertaining - the results could be better if the games were picked by stoned armadillos.

Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe - on the season 13-16-2 in his picks.

Jim Lazar of the Boston Herald - Overall he's 17-12-3 but last week he was 6-9-1. To put that in perspective - if you bet $100 on each game he picked then you would be up $380 for the season (with the vig accounted for). However, you would have won big in week one and maybe spent some of that money on a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant or on a snazzy shirt (and yes I did just use the word "snazzy" - I also still say dungarees). Last week you would have lost $390 - so chances are in real dollars you'd be lucky to be even right now.

"Double D" of the Boston Herald
- he's 13-16-3 for the season.

IM Bettor of the Boston Herald - he only picks a couple of games per week but for the season he's just 2-2 and minus a mythical $150.

Combined these guys are 45-46-8. How can anyone take these guys seriously? If they are going to treat their picks as a joke and just try to crack wise - then either paper would be much better off just paying the money to get Norman Chad's syndicated column. Although to be fair - Jim Lazar's results so far aren't half bad.
Just Disgusting

I'm not sure what is more disgusting - that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to visit Ground Zero or that New York Mayor Bloomberg was originally going to let him.

Make no mistake Ahmadinejad is an enemy of the United States and is directly responsible for the deaths of US servicemen in Iraq through his providing of IED's, weapons and troops. This guy wants to wipe Israel off the map. Yet Bloomberg was concerned about making Ahmadinejad feel welcome. Maybe if someone showed Bloomberg a picture of Ahmadinejad smoking a cigarette - maybe then Bloomberg would despise him?

As it has been pointed out elsewhere - Columbia University won't allow ROTC or military recruiters on campus because of "don't ask - don't tell" but they saw fit to extend an invitation to Ahmadinejad who calls for the death of all homosexuals.

In the fantasy world of the Left a fictional President like Jeb Bartlett from the hit show The West Wing would have Ahmadinejad's plane shot down on his return trip home. In the real world of the left - they crawl over each other to kiss his feet.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Good for Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien won his lawsuit against Ohio State and will be getting $2.4 million.

O'Brien was fired for giving Aleksandar Radojević $6,000. My understanding is that O'Brien gave the money to Radojević's mother to help out with family difficulties and because O'Brien had been made aware that Aleksandar Radojević had already played professionally and thus was no longer a potential recruit to the college.

I've always considered Jim O'Brien a good guy and I'm still upset with Boston College for letting him go so soon after the death of O'Brien's wife.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jim Thome for the Hall of Fame? Take II

SI's Tom Verducci has a very well thought out article on whether Jim Thome is Hall of Fame worthy. Verducci says "no".

I agree 100% with Verducci's reasoning and argument. However, I also agree with his disclaimer:
Thome, 37, may play three more seasons and finish his career with about 575 home runs and 1,600 RBIs. He's the kind of player, like the pre-steroid tested Palmeiro, whose greatness is an accumulated one, rather than one that is defined by a fabulous peak. Thome's power, even with the other limitations, ultimately may be too prolific to ignore.
Eric Gagne

Right now Eric Gagne is a squirt gun that shoots jelly. He's a cowboy who rides an ostrich. He's a misfit reliever.

Last night he cost the Red Sox yet another game. Opponents are hitting .356 against him since he joined Boston. Only Magglio Ordonez has a higher batting average than that number in all of the American League. Gagne is turning any batter he faces into a contender for the batting title.

Last night he had absolutely no control and yet Terry Francona left him in the game. No control whatsoever. Varitek would set up inside and the pitch would be two feet outside. Varitek sets up outside and the batter has to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. Everyone who watched the game saw that. Why was he left in the game?

Players keep saying that they will need Gagne for the playoffs. No you don't. Manny Delcarman is twice the pitcher Gagne is right now. You also have Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon. I don't even want Gagne on the postseason roster.

I am very frustrated with Eric Gagne and I'm not alone. If he needs to work out his control issues - let him do it in blow-out games or the bullpen.

EDIT: Lyford has great detail on the 4 games that Eric Gagne has cost the Red Sox since joining the team. In 4 games out of 14 Gagne has kept the Red Sox from closing the deal on a win. He is the baseball equivalent of the cockblocking buddy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why Was Kerry at the University of Florida in the First Place?

You've probably read about or seen the guy who got tasered at a John Kerry speaking engagement at the University of Florida yesterday. The question I have is why was John Kerry there in the first place? John Kerry is not running for national office and Congress is back in session. Why wasn't he at his job?

John Kerry has the worst attendance record on either side of the aisle. As a Massachusetts resident I'm pretty upset at his cavalier attitude to showing up for work. Why would he schedule a speaking engagement when he knew he was supposed to be in Washington DC?

Did taxpayers pay for his transportation? Did he receive a payment for his appearance? What is it about Kerry that always leaves you questioning his behavior and his judgment?

Where is Darrell Crate and his Veterans for Working Senators when you need them?
Top 5 - Music Stars Who Choked to Death on Their Own Vomit

On this day in 1970 - rock legend Jimi Hendrix was found dead after choking on his own vomit. Hendrix headlines a list of musicians who choked to death on their own vomit.

1. Jimi Hendrix - guitar god
2. Bonn Scott - original lead singer for AC/DC
3. John Bohnam - drummer Led Zepplin
4. Tommy Dorsey - bandleader and brother of Jimmy Dorsey
5. Mamma Cass - rock myth has her choking on a ham sandwich which technically isn't vomit but since she really died of a heart attack anyway - I thought I'd toss her in at #5 just to round off the list.

Even though everyone knows how Bonn Scott died - his death certificate actually says "death by misadventure". Maybe that's because it was unclear if he choked on his own vomit. You can't dust for vomit you know.
Matt Ryan

I'm a Boston College fan but the talk of putting Matt Ryan into the Heisman shortlist may be premature. Ryan is 8th in the country in passing with 985 yards after 3 games. Every player who has more passing yards than Ryan also has a better QB rating. For examples - Brian Brohm of Louisville has 1,142 yards and a rating of 193 while Colt Brennan of Hawaii has 1,262 yards and a rating of 165. Matt Ryan has a QB rating of 136.

Matt Ryan will have to lead BC to either an undefeated season or one loss season to get real consideration for the award.
Student Tasered Because He Asked John Kerry a Question

Holy crap! Quiet down or we'll taser you. That's quite a bit different from John Kerry's "bring it on" (alleged) attitude from the Democratic Convention in 2004.

It's pretty disturbing video. The kid probably has no clue when it comes to manners but he is a student and it was a student event. He didn't swear or act violent yet violence was used against him to quiet him down. It may be just me but in my head I heard "vere are your papers" when they were asking for ID (after they tasered him). The application of common sense and common courtesy on both sides easily could have diffused this situation.

This never would have happened in John Ashcroft's America.

"Quiet Down or We'll Taser You" - the new slogan for the Democratic Party?
Dwight Eisenhower

I'm currently reading Eisenhower's autobiography, At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends, and I wanted to remark on some things.

When Eisenhower went to high school in Abilene, KS - the town paid for the schooling (with language requirements of either Latin or German) but not for athletics. The students took it upon themselves to pay for sports through an association with $.25 dues per athlete. Contrast that to today where athletics are assumed to be part of the curriculum (albeit a luxury that is the first to be threatened with cuts when budgets get tight).

I think sports are the best thing for a kid in high school and that it should be part of the curriculum. I also think that if the common sense people from Abilene saw some of the courses kids take today as electives that they would shake their head and wonder why people are spending time and money on such fluff and nonsense.

It should also be noted that after high school graduation Eisenhower went to work. He ended up working at the ice house of a creamery working 84-hour weeks (12 hours a day - seven days a week) for $90 per month. That money went to help pay for the college education of his older brother Ed who was enrolled at Michigan. The job also probably taught him the value of his future college education and what kind of life would be there for him if he didn't study. I'm all for kids taking a year or two off after high school to work or just mature before heading off to college.

One final note about the young Eisenhower - he really wanted to go to Annapolis but was too old by just a couple of months to enroll (he would have been 21 during his freshman year and they had a cut off of 20). Good thing for him (and for us) that the entrance exam he took was for both service academies. Can you imagine how history could have been vastly different if Eisenhower got into his first choice of college instead of going to West Point?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jim Thome - Hall of Famer?

Jim Thome just hit his 500th HR and now people are asking if Thome is a Hall of Fame player. Last February I looked at which active players should be considered as potential Hall of Fame players. Here's what I said about Thome:
Jim Thome - he'll probably finish in the top 25 in HR and the top 75 in RBI but I don't think that will be enough. Thome never even finished higher than 4th place in MVP voting. Nice guy but so was Andre Dawson.
I still stand by that assessment.

Yes Jim Thome is both an excellent hitter and just as good a person. However, as good as Thome is as a hitter consider that he only has one Silver Slugger award to his credit (given to the best hitter at each position). And that one Silver Slugger Thome won was for 3rd base in 1996! That means that for the past 10-years that the managers and coaches who vote for the Silver Slugger may have thought that though Thome was good he wasn't better than some other player. Each and every year since 1996.

Thome was a true "three outcome" hitter. When he got to the plate he usually either walked, hit a home run or struck out. In fact besides now being in the 500 HR club - Thome is 3rd on all-time strikeout list with 2,031 and counting and over 58% of the time he got an AB he either had one of those three outcomes. Three times Thome led the league in walks and three time he led the league in strikeouts. Maybe if he does get in the Hall of Fame his plaque should read, "He was a selective hitter who swung from his ass."
Top 5 - Baseball Players from South Dakota

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from South Dakota.

1. Keith Foulke - 190 career saves and a hero of the 2004 World Series
2. Terry Forster - 127 career saves, a regular season ERA of 3.23 and a post-season ERA (almost 8 innings) of 0.00 - Forster became "famous" when David Letterman referred to him as a "fat tub of goo" but perhaps the most interesting thing about Forrester is the fact that he hit .397 in his career (78 AB) - that means if Forster had one more hit he would have had a career batting average over .400 (.410)
3. Mark Ellis - 2nd baseman for the A's - all-time leader in HR by a South Dakota born player with 57 and counting
4. Dave Collins - a good field, no-hit outfielder who is in 70th place on the all-time list when it comes to steals with 395.
5. (tie) Terry Francona - just because I'm a Red Sox fan (tie) Jim Scott - twice won more than 20 games in a season plus he was born in Deadwood in 1888 just after the time portrayed in the TV series

Pretty slim pickings for South Dakota who must be happy that at least they are not North Dakota. You may have assumed that Roger Maris would be on the list but if you made that assumption then you forgot that Maris was actually born in Hibbing, MN (home of Boston Celtics great Kevin McHale).
NFL Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous NFL thoughts and observations.

I had a friend at the Patriots game last night and he said everyone went into the stadium with a big chip on their shoulder about the cheating brouhaha. The Patriots certainly played like a team with a chip on their shoulder and the big ovation Bill Belichick got at the end of the game as he walked off the field I think shows how most New England fans think about this whole thing... Once again the Ted Knight Theory of Betting prevails. In the old Mary Tyler Moore Show Ted Baxter flummoxes Lou Grant by knowing nothing about sports but still managing to successful pick NFL games against the spread. Ted's system was to simply choose the teams getting 10 or more points under the rationalization that both teams were professional and how much difference could there be between two professional teams? Well what my friend calls the Ted Knight Theory of Betting would have been 3-4 in picking games yesterday with the only big favorite covering the spread being Pittsburgh... I remember the guys at ESPN joking about making sure you benched all your fantasy players who play for the Browns yesterday morning. 51 points later that "expert" advice sure looks stupid now. I doubt that there's a league anywhere where a guy hasn't made a waiver claim on Brown's QB Derek Anderson last night or this morning after Anderson threw for 328 yards and 5 TD's... Some people will wonder what kind of number Randy Moss could have posted in his career if he always had a QB like Brady to throw to him. I wonder what kind of ungodly numbers Brady would have had if he was able to throw to receivers like Moss his whole career instead of trying to make stars of of hardworking marginally talented players. People would be comparing Montana to Brady and not the other way around...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Boston College Eagles

The BC Eagles ran their record to 3-0 with a win over 15th ranked Georgia Tech last night. Pre-season I said that if BC could get by Georgia Tech that they would go 7-0 to start the season. The Eagles next 4 games are against Army, UMass, Bowling Green and Notre Dame. Of the 4 - Bowling Green looks like the biggest challenge (but that's not saying much).

BC went into the week ranked 21st in the AP poll but they should move up to probably 16th this week since Arkansas, Louisville, Nebraska, UCLA and of course Georgia Tech all lost. It is entirely possible that by the time BC meets Virginia Tech on Thursday October 25th that the Eagles will not just be undefeated at 7-0 but also in the top 10 in the rankings.

When I made my prediction that BC would start the season 7-0 - I made the assumption that the highly regarded Virginia Tech team would put an end to their winning streak but now I'm not so sure. The Hokies were crushed by LSU and they barely got by Eastern Carolina. Yesterday it was 7-7 late into the 3rd quarter against lightly regarded Ohio before Virginia Tech was able to pull away with 21 unanswered points. If the game was tomorrow - the Hokies would be a slight favorite based only on the fact that the game will be in Blacksburg.

In fact, with the BC team gaining experience and confidence with each game - there is a slight chance that they could finish the season undefeated.

There - I said it.

After Va Tech - the Eagles play Florida State at home. Has anyone been overly impressed with the Seminoles this season? Next comes a game at Maryland who will have played both Wake Forrest and Georgia Tech by the time BC has to play the Terrapins. That insight should allow the BC coaching staff to have an effective game plan in place to beat Maryland on the road.

The next to the last game at Clemson will be the toughest test for Boston College. Under Tom O'Brien this would be the type of game that the Eagles would choke on. They would get right to the edge of greatness but then shrink right back into second tier status. This year feels different and Matt Ryan seems poised for a truly special season.

The last game of the year will be against Miami at home in Chestnut Hill.

It is almost a certainty that BC will be going to a bowl game in January but there is starting to look like there is a good chance the Eagles could put the BC in BCS.

That's not to say that BC will be national champions (unless they lay a BYU in 1984 like claim to the crown). I'm not delusional (yes you are - you retort). I'd fully expect BC to get steamrolled by USC, LSU, Florida and maybe Oklahoma in any bowl game. Against everyone else - I think I'd take my chances with the Eagles (plus the points).
Red Sox Magic Number - 9

The Red Sox beat the Yankees yesterday by 9 runs and 9 also happens to be their current magic number.

It was notable that Kevin Youkilis was once again hit by a pitch. It seems like everyone is always singling out Kevin Youkilis to throw at but if you check the numbers you find that Youkilis has only been hit by a pitch 14 times this year which is the same as Derek Jeter and 6 less times than A-Rod has been plunked. I was surprised by this. Like I said - it seems Youkilis is always getting hit.

Going back to the number 9 - there happens to be 9 Justices on the Supreme Court and you would think that those 9 were being called in to mete out punishment to Bill Belichick and the Patriots the way that story is being covered. Luckily by 9 o'clock that hype should be replaced with actual football action as tonight the Patriots play San Diego (which in German means of course a whale's vagina).

In Boston the number 9 means just one thing and one person - Ted Williams. John Updike immortalized Williams final at bat in which he famously hit his final home run in the essay "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu". I prefer the history of Williams' first HR as a professional which was hit at an exhibition game at Holy Cross. The picture at the top is from that game.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

James Fenimore Cooper

Today would have been James Fenimore Cooper's 218th birthday. He is best remembered today for his excellent The Last of the Mohicans. When the movie of the same name was released in 1992 - I decided to read the book. I liked the book so much I decided to read some more of Cooper's works. Unfortunelately, everything else I picked up by Cooper I found completely unreadable. Just awful stuff.

It s possible that I just picked up the wrong books but something tells me that Cooper caught lightning in a bottle with The Last of the Mohicans. The thing is, if you read about Cooper, you find that he was considered perhaps the preeminent American writer of his age. I think that just goes to show how little in the literary world is timeless.

By the way - Cooperstown in New York (home to the Baseball Hall of Fame) is named after James Fenimore Cooper's father.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

The Red Sox blew that game last night against the Yankees. There's no other way to put it. Hideki Okajima and Papelbon have been so good this season - it is tough to begrudge them a poor outing (although it sucks that they both chose the same night to have it)... Last season David Ortiz hit 54 HR and had an OPS of 1.049. This season Ortiz has 31 HR and an OPS of 1.035. However, his OPS+ (which takes into account league year over year averages - 100 is league average for any given year) is higher this year (168) than last (164). This is mainly due to power being down league wide this year versus last year... JD Drew is such a tease. He's hitting .353 so far in September. On the flip side - Drew has just 8 HR this season for the Red Sox. Wily Mo Pena has hit 8 home runs since being traded to the Nationals... Kevin Youkilis has yet to commit an error at 1st base this season. Even though Youk has been literally perfect at 1st this year - the Gold Glove will probably go to someone else... The Blue Jays loss last night dropped them under .500 for the season. I think people expected more out of Toronto this season. Do you think JP Riccardi is wishing he traded Troy Glaus at the trade deadline?... Miguel Tejada hs been making noise about wanting to be traded away from the Orioles. Who does he think he is? What market does he think exists for a 31-year old shortstop whose power has been decreasing every year he's been in Baltimore and who was named as a steroids user by Jose Canseco in Canseco's book? Tejada should just shut the hell up.... Since the All-Star break Tom Glavine has been 6-0 with a 3.5 ERA. I can see why he'd want to come back for another year...
Patriots Cheating

I haven't written much about the Patriots cheating "scandal" because of time issues on my end and also because I think this is an overblown issue. I've seen two posts that pretty much mirror how I feel about the subject:

- The Cold Hard Football Facts called it pigskin jaywalking

- Lyford had a good post on the subject (although I'm not a fan of the phrase "Lynch mob")

Friday, September 14, 2007

Greg Oden

There was much gnashing of teeth when the Boston Celtics did not get one of the top two draft picks this year. Boston fans were counting on either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant wearing Celtics green. When Boston got the fifth pick everyone talked about some sort of curse.

Now with Greg Oden out for the year and the Celtics having re-tooled with both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett - it is very possible that the best thing that could have happened to the Celtics was not getting that top pick.

I wish Greg Oden the best with his recovery.
Hybrid Cabs

I was in New York City the past couple of days and I learned an interesting little factoid from one of the cab drivers. Cab drivers have to pay for the gas used during their shift. This is normally about $45 per shift but with a hybrid vehicle the cost to the cabbie is only about $15 per shift. Is it any wonder that all the cabbies want to drive the hybrids?

Just doing some back of the envelope math - say there are just two shifts per day and the cost savings per shift is $30. That means $60 per day is saved in fuel costs. A cab company could just about pay for a hybrid cab with just the fuel savings in just one year.
Red Sox Magic Number - 11

With the Yankees losing to Toronto last night - the new magic number for the Red Sox is 11.

The number 11 in Boston sports is not one the generates a whole lot of confidence. In baseball it is probably remembered most as the number of a guy who is best known for what he did not do instead of what he did do. Dave Stapleton wore number 11 and he's remembered most for the fact that he did not come in as a defensive replacement for Bill Buckner in game 6 of the 1986 World Series than for anything else.

In football - Drew Bledsoe wore number 11. While Bledsoe was a very good QB he was not good enough to get the team over the hump needed to win championships. Bledsoe was no Tom Brady.

The Yankees come into town for a 3-game set starting tonight. That means that there probably won't be a magic number 10 (and hopefully no need for a magic number 8 or 6 either). If the Red Sox sweep - then the magic number Monday morning would be 5.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Nebraska

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Nebraska.

1. Grover Cleveland Alexander - 373 wins - 6 times led the NL in wins
2. Sam Crawford - Hall of Fame outfielder - all-time leader in triples with 309
3. Bob Gibson - Hall of Fame pitcher - in 1968 he won both the NL Cy Young and MVP Awards
4. Wade Boggs - even 3,010 hits couldn't keep him from going bald or being a jerk.
5. Richie Ashburn - Hall of Fame outfielder

That's a pretty good showing for the state of Nebraska. Five Hall of Famers.

Nebraska also had one of the players with the most interesting name - Mysterious Walker. I tried to find out how Frederick Walker got his nickname but alas - its a mystery.

Speaking of interesting names - Joba Chamberlain is also from Nebraska. If you haven't already read this article on Joba's father Harlan - do yourself and read it. One of the best written pieces I've seen this year.
Red Sox Magic Number - 13

With the big come from behind win against the Devil Rays last night - the Red Sox magic number is now 13.

The number 13 is considered an unlucky number. I always heard that is because of Judas Iscariot. The thinking was (I guess) Jesus would have been much better off with just 12 Apostles but instead with Judas he had 13.

Baseball players are a pretty superstitious bunch. No Red Sox player in history (with the exception of Eldon Auker in 1939) wore the number 13 until Reid Nichols took the number in 1985. Since Nichols broke the taboo - there have been 8 players to wear the number 13 with Alex Cora currently wearing it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patriots Cheating?
NFL security confiscated a video camera and its tape from a New England Patriots employee on the team's sideline during Sunday's game against the Jets in a suspected spying incident, sources said.
When I first heard this news - I two reactions;

1. Why would the Patriots need to cheat against the Jets and

2. Tape? Who uses tape in video cameras anymore? The Patriots are one of the most technically advanced organizations in any sport. Why would they have a video camera that uses tape?

Eric McErlain wanted to know my reaction to this story and so as to not disappoint - I did some digging. In fact I unearthed a picture of the "camera" man in question (on the left) speaking with a Patriots coach. I understand that the "camera" man got his start in football having something to do with audio and high school football.
Never Forget.

American Airlines Flight 11

American Airlines Flight 77

United Airlines Flight 175

United Airlines Flight 93

The Pentagon

The World Trade Center

Let’s Roll

Monday, September 10, 2007

A New call for Human Shields

I read this quote over at Instapundit:
"'No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,' noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. 'The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.'"
After thinking about it for a few minutes - I had to chuckle.

Before the Iraq War (actually the continuation of Operation Desert Storm to be technically correct) organizations like Code Pink made pleas for people to go to Iraq and act as human shields. In theory this was to prevent attacks by the US military. Now some Democratic senators want organizations like Code Pink to attack the military and in doing so act in essence as human PR shields for the senators.

I know the Machiavellian craven levels on display are not funny but sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 14

With the 3-2 victory over the Orioles - the Red Sox magic number is now just 14.

To scientists the number 14 probably brings to mind the atomic number of silicon. To Red Sox fans - the number 14 means Jim Rice. The Red Sox have not issued the number 14 to any other player since Jim Rice retired. I'm hoping that Jim Rice finally gets his due as a player who put up great power numbers without the shadow of steroids hanging over him.
Random Baseball Stat of the Day

Jacoby Ellsbury has only been up with the Red Sox for 15 games and yet he has exactly half the number of Win Shares (4 for Ellsbury and 8 for Drew) as JD Drew who has played 124 games this season for Boston.

I'm assuming that since Win Shares were "invented" by Bill James as the best way to gauge a player's value and since Bill James works for the Red Sox that this fact has not been lost on the front office or manager Tito Francona.

Yes - this means the last guy on the JD Drew bandwagon has officially given up hope. I want to see Ellsbury in the lineup once Manny Ramirez comes back from his injury. JD Drew is slugging just .383 that's a worse slugging percentage than Coco Crisp (.387).
College Football Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous college football thoughts and observations.

Once again the Michigan Wolverines were clubbed. This time Oregon whipped 'em 39-7. Last week Michigan was famously upset by Appalachian State. That loss dropped Michigan from 5th in the AP poll to out of the top 25. In fact if you look at the vote totals - Michigan was dropped out of the top 30 (they had 39 votes to place them in 32nd place). Last week the question following their loss was whether they would drop out of the top 25. This week the question is whether they will receive a single vote in the polls.... If you had West Virginia Tech and 86 points - you lost!.... I think Georgia coach Mark Richt lost the game yesterday for the Bulldogs. He thought too much. South Carolina is a team you can run on but instead of a steady diet of off-tackle and up the gut runs - Richt's offense called for 45 passes to just 31 runs. I know many of those passes came late in the game when Georgia was in desperation mode but if they had focused on the run in the first 3 quarters - they wouldn't have been in a desperate position. If Richt had stuck to a simple game plan instead of getting cute then Georgia would be 2-0 today.... How bad is Syracuse? Iowa beat them 35-0. The Orangemen may not get their first win until October 20th when Buffalo comes to the Carrier Dome. And judging by how Buffalo handled Temple 42-7 yesterday - I wouldn't put that game in the win column just yet. I'm pretty sure 1-AA UMass could beat Syracuse right now and even Holy Cross would be a close game... The real National Championship may just be October 6th when Florida visits LSU who looked great beating Virginia Tech. Two observations here - if LSU is as good as it looked last night then USC better put a king size whipping on Nebraska next week if they want to keep that top spot in the rankings. I'm sure that fact is not lost on Pete Carrol and his staff. USC should be a good pick next week. My second thought is that Virginia Tech is probably grateful to Michigan this week because the collapse of the Wolverine program is obscuring the fact that Virginia Tech really isn't that good right now. They just squeaked by East Carolina and got pummeled by LSU. They will probably win the next three weeks to continue the charade but to my eyes this isn't close to being an elite team...
NFL - Music by Yanni?

The above new Nike commercial really caught my eye or I should say my ear. The background music is the theme song to the movie The Last of the Mohicans. I love that song. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Michael Mann directed both The Last of the Mohicans and this Nike commercial. What I find amusing is the fact that there is an orchestral version of that music and a version that was done by Yanni. The music from the commercial sounds like the Yanni version.

I just find the idea of somehow combining Yanni with the NFL in any fashion funny.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Kansas

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Kansas.

1. Walter Johnson - perhaps the greatest pitcher in baseball history
2. Joe Tinker - sorry but in my mind one of the least deserving members of the Hall of Fame
3. Johnny Damon - his two All-Star appearances don't give the story to his true value
4. Tony Clark - at 241 and counting - the most HR in MLB history by a Kansas born player
5. (tie) Mike "F'n" Torrez (tie) Bill Russell

Kansas has perhaps the biggest drop-off from their top player to the next best player from the state. Joe Tinker gets the nod for the second slot purely on his being in the Hall of Fame. It pained me to put Mike "the original embedded Yankee" Torrez on this list.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 15

The Red Sox magic number is now 15.

James Buchanan was our 15th President. He was awful. He was so bad that he made Jimmy Carter look like George Washington. If the recently fired Pirates GM Dave Littlefield was a US President - he'd be James Buchanan.

There's not much exciting about the number 15. Sorry.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Dave Littlefield

The Pirates finally fired Dave Littlefield. Finally! Inept - thy name is Littlefield.

It looks like Littlefield may have had the last laugh on the Pirates though. Not only is he under contract for 2008 (good thing because who in their right mind would ever hire him after what he did in Pittsburgh the past 7 years) but he has also basically screwed the pooch for whoever replaces him for 2008.

The Pirates had a payroll of about $38.5 million this year and next year that number should not go up very much. However, next year they will have 4 players under contract who will take up $25.5 million (which would be 64% of a $40 million budget). The players are:

Matt Morris $9.5 million
Jack Wilson $6.5 million
Jason Bay $5.75 million
Salomon Torres $3.75 million

Only Jason Bay is a player who you'd really want on your roster - never mind taking up most of the available salary space. The screw job on next year's budget is so bad you have to wonder if Littlefield did it on purpose as some sort of twisted revenge.

Even with being off the hook on any more payments on the Jason Kendall contract - the next GM may have to put together a Jason Bay and Matt Morris trade package (with teams having to take Morris to get Bay) to get any sort of workable budget room. If the next GM is good - then Bay may net them a Hanley Ramirez type player in exchange.
Roger Clemens

Not to toot my own horn (but if I don't....) - I think I predicted Clemens' season pretty well on the day he signed with the Yankees.

I predicted that he would have 19 starts (he currently has 16) and that his ERA would be 4.50 (its currently 4.45).
Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon died four years ago today.

Here's an appreciation I wrote about him a few days after his death.

I still say that a tribute CD with various artists singing Warren's lyrics would be a huge hit.
Three Golden Rules for Betting Football

1. Never bet against your favorite team. Spoiling your non-monetary rooting interest is never worth it.

2. Any home team getting 3 points or less is always worth the risk.

3. Never talk yourself into a bet or make a bet just so that you can have some action going. If it doesn’t seem like a good thing to your gut right off – hold off making the bet.
Red Sox Magic Number - 16

With the Red Sox victory over the Orioles last night - the magic number to clinch the AL East is now 16.

The number 16 brings to mind a number of things such as the number of Boston Celtics NBA championships, the uniform number of Bruins Derek Sanderson and Rick Middleton. It is also the uniform number of retired NFL great Joe Montana who is the player I think most resembles Patriots great Tom Brady.

Speaking of the NFL - 16 is also the number of regular season games each team plays. The regular season for the NFL started last night with the Saints getting muckled by the Colts 41-10 (missing the over by a field goal). Since last night was opening night for the NFL - I didn't see much of the Red Sox game after the 5th inning.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Orange Zima - RIP

I got bad news the other day - it seems like Coors has decided to pull Orange Zima off the market. Not only are they no longer stocking Orange Zima - they completely pulled it out of the bars and package stores that were stocking it. (As an aside - a package store is what others outside of New England probably call a liquor store.)

I've always been comfortable enough in my own manhood to drink Zima and Orange Zima was my favorite. I found it very refreshing (and my breath didn't smell like beer when I went home to my wife - who I sleep with).

It's too bad that Coors didn't consult with me when they put Orange Zima on the market in the first place. I bet a large number of you weren't even aware there was an Orange Zima. I would have pitched Coors a marketing campaign where manly men drink Orange Zima at a bar after work before they go home to their wives (who they would sleep with - maybe the bar would be a strip club just to emphasize that Zima isn't the Subaru of beverages). The manly men would talk about how Orange Zima not only has a refreshing taste - it also has more alcohol than beer and it doesn't leave you with beer-breath for when they go home to their wives (who they sleep with).

Maybe the commercial could show four guys drinking at the bar. Two guys would be drinking beer and two guys would be drinking Orange Zima. The commercial would show the beer drinkers going home to angry shrew wives and they would end up sleeping on the couch because their beer breath gave them away. The Orange Zima guys would go home to hot wives (who they sleep with) who can't keep their hands off their Orange Zima drinking husbands. Oh and the Orange Zima guys would have lots of kids because everyone knows Orange Zima makes you more potent.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players From Oklahoma

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Oklahoma.

1. Johnny Bench - arguably the best all-around catcher in history
2. Mickey Mantle - people name their children 7 in his honor
3. Willie Stargell - Hall of Fame 1st baseman
4. Paul Waner - Hall of Fame outfielder - career .333 hitter who won 3 batting titles
5. Lloyd Waner - Hall of Fame outfielder and brother of Paul.

You could flip #1 and #2 on this list and I wouldn't argue.
Bob Newhart

Happy 78th birthday to one of the funniest guys who ever lived.
Colts vs. Saints

The NFL regular season opens up tomorrow night with the New Orleans Saints at the Indianapolis Colts and for many people that will mean the first bet of the season.

The line this morning stands at Colts -6.5 and the over under is set at 53.5 (after opening the week at 51). According to - 78% of the money is being bet on the Colts and 80% of the over/under money bet is going towards the over. This makes me a little nervous because I too like Indy and the over but I don't want to be a sheep and just follow the crowd.

I like the over because I don't think either team has the defense needed to stop the high powered offenses they will find on the other side of the ball. I don't expect many punts in this game. However, at 53.5 even a score like 31-21 goes under. What to do?

I think Indy will win the game but it could be the type of high scoring game that goes to overtime and is settled by a field goal. What to do?

Maye the best advice is to go with your first gut instinct - so I may just stick with my original pick of Indy plus the over (unless the lines keep going up).
Red Sox Magic Number - 17

With Josh Beckett out-dueling Roy Halladay last night - the Red Sox new magic number is 17. The win was Beckett's 17th of the season - so his 17th win made the magic number 17. Serendipity.

In Boston the number 17 means John Havlicek who remains one of the most under-rated athletes in history. Havlicek could score, pass, rebound and defend. Most importantly he could run the guts out of any defender who tried to keep up with him.

Today for the Red Sox - the number 17 is worn by Manny Delcarmen. At the trade deadline the White Sox were supposedly asking for Delcarmen and prospect pitcher Craig Hansen in exchange for slugger Jermaine Dye. With the emergence of fan favorite Jacoby Ellsbury - you don't hear anyone whining about how the Red Sox should have made the deal for Dye.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Texas

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from Texas.

1. Rogers Hornsby - in 1922 he hit 42 HR and still hit over .400 (.401). Career batting average of .359 is second only to Ty Cobb's .364
2. Joe Morgan - perhaps the best 2nd baseman the game has ever seen (still a lousy announcer though)
3. Tris Speaker - Bill James has Tris Speaker ranked ahead of Joe DiMaggio in terms of all-time centerfielders. That speaks volumes.
4. Greg Maddux - 344 wins and counting
5. (tie) Frank Robinson - won the MVP in both the NL and in the AL (tie) Ernie Banks - Mr. Cub - 2 time MVP and 14 time All-Star (tie) Eddie Mathews - 12 time All-Star who finished his career with 512 HR (tie) Nolan Ryan - the all-time strikeout king

An embarrassment of riches for Texas. This was the hardest state to rank the players because they are all so great. If you had to pick a single player for 5th place - who do you go with? In case you are wondering - Roger Clemens is not on the list because he was born in Ohio.
Rodney Harrison

I just wanted to share my thoughts on Rodney Harrison of the Patriots getting a 4 game suspension for using the NFL banned substance HGH (human growth hormone). Let me first start off by saying I've never used steroids or any performance enhancing drugs. That said - I really don't blame Rodney Harrison for taking HGH. Let me explain.

Rodney Harrison is at the end of his career. He's no longer a young man. Taking HGH gave him the ability to heal at the rate of a young man and if Rodney was to come back from his torn ACL in time to play - he needed a little help.

People are always saying that the NFL is a business and Rodney Harrison's only product in that business is his body. He cut some corners by taking HGH and like any business - when you are found cutting corners your reputation takes a hit. Well Rodney Harrison's reputation has taken a big hit. Lucky for Harrison that he still has a loyal customer for his business in the Patriots.

Let me make three observations:

1. Harrison wanted to be a referee when his playing days are over. I'm thinking that this 4 game suspension pretty much puts a damper on those plans. Taking steroids is akin to cheating in many people's eyes and if you are the NFL you don't want to mix the words "cheater" and "referee" in any context.

2. My understanding is that Harrison got caught because he used his own name and address. Hello - fake name and PO Box at a Mailbox Etc. next time (or at least get a friend or relative to place the order).

3. I've never had an interest or a need for Viagra but I imagine there might come a time that I am. So too HGH. Say I turn 50 and want to remain as active as a 35-year old - I would like HGH to be medically available as an option for me. All the bad publicity on HGH may be harming what in proper usage may be a boon to an aging generation. Seriously.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 18

With the Yankees losing to the Mariners and the Red Sox beating Toronto - the Red Sox magic number is now 18.

When I was a kid we had an electric organ (the precursor to the electric keyboard) and I learned to play two songs on it. The two songs were Amazing Grace and Alice Cooper's I'm Eighteen. Just thought I'd toss that out there. I also should mention the fact that Alice Cooper released the song I'm Eighteen in 1971 when Cooper was 23-years old.

Daisuke Matsuzaka got the win against the Blue Jays to improve to 14-11 with a 4.11 ERA on the season. Dice-K also happens to wear the uniform number 18. There's a little bit of serendipity there. However, Dice-K isn't the Red Sox number 18 I wanted to say something about. I wanted to mention Ken Brett.

Ken Brett is mostly remembered today as the brother of Hall of Famer George Brett but it should be remembered that he was as highly anticipated a player as Dice-K when he was drafted with the 4th overall pick in the 1966 baseball draft. Brett was just 18 at the time he made his debut with the Sox (there's that number again). When the Red Sox drafted him - there was some debate as to whether they should make Brett a pitcher or an outfielder. It is very possible that the Red Sox made the wrong choice.

Ken Brett finished his career with an ERA+ of 93 - which means he was slightly below average as a pitcher (average being 100). As a hitter Brett had an OPS+ of 94 - which means he was slightly below average for a hitter but his OPS+ was better than his ERA+. Brett also averaged a HR every 34.7 at bats. His power and overall batting was excellent for a pitcher and would have been even better if he concentrated on it full time like his brother George.

Ken Brett died 4 years ago of brain cancer. He was 53.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Arkansas

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Arkansas.

1. Brooks Robinson - perhaps the best defensive 3rd baseman in the history of baseball - 18 All-Star games and 16 Gold Gloves
2. Lou Brock - people remember that he retired as the all-time leader in steals (since passed by Rickey Henderson) but people forget that Brock also had more than 3,000 hits (3,023)
3. Arky Vaughn - Hall of Fame shortstop - 9-time All-Star who retired with a career .318 batting average. Real first name was Joe.
4. Dizzy Dean - Hall of Fame pitcher whose career was cut short by injury. I would argue that if Dean is in the HoF then Smokey Joe Wood should be in too.
5. George Kell - Hall of Fame 3rd baseman - 10-time all star

You can flip the top 2 spots and I would not argue. Just missing the cut was Travis Jackson - a Hall of Fame shortstop although I could see nothing special about him and so left him off. Torii Hunter is also from Arkansas.
Red Sox Magic Number - 20

With the Red Sox beating the Orioles and the Yankees losing to the Devil Rays - the Red Sox magic number is now 20 or as Abraham Lincoln would say "a score".

The number 20 is currently worn by 1st baseman Kevin Youkilis. Preseason and even during the season there was much talk that the Red Sox would shift Youkilis back to 3rd base because of a trade for the Rockies' Todd Helton which would have sent Mike Lowell to Colorado (along with Julian Tavarez). Its a good thing for the Red Sox that trade was never made. Never mind the huge contract the Red Sox would have been taking on with Helton (even though Colorado would be paying a large share) - take a look at the production.

Lowell - .329 BA / 63 R / 17 HR / 95 RBI / .891 OPS
Youkilis - .291 BA / 78 R / 15 HR / 75 RBI / .856 OPS
Helton - .306 BA / 66 R / 12 HR / 70 RBI / .888 OPS

There would not have been any appreciable upgrade at the plate and as far as defense is concerned - Kevin Youkilis has not made a single error at 1st this season. How could you improve on that?

I like Todd Helton but I'm liking Mike Lowell better and I really hope the Red Sox re-sign Lowell for another year or two.

Just as an aside on Kevin Youkilis - some people wanted to nickname him "Jelly" because his initials are K-Y but that nickname did not stick. Maybe they should call him "Ribbed (for the Pitcher's Pleasure)" for the way he's always getting hit by a pitch.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

As God as My Witness...

For some reason I thought of this tonight and thought I'd share.
College Football

Yesterday I spent the first half of my day at the Holy Cross / UMass game in Amherst. It was a beautiful day for college football and the Crusader / Minuteman game turned out much closer than expected.

In the first half UMass outscored Holy Cross 30-9. The score was in large part because Crusader receivers seemed to drop every pass that hit them in their hands and because the kickoff coverage team for Holy Cross allowed the first UMass kickoff return for a TD since before I even went to college.

HC coach Tom Gilmore scheduled the game to teach to his players that they could play with anyone and with Holy Cross outscoring the 3rd ranked Minutemen 21-10 in the second half - the lesson was learned. The adjustments HC made at half also bode well for the rest of their season. As I said when he was hired - I'd look for a Division 1 school to gobble up coach Gilmore fairly soon (within 2 seasons).

The big news in college football yesterday was of course Appalachian State beating Michigan. That was also the big news as I sat in the stands at McGuirk Stadium. Every time a score was announced -a big cheer would go up in the stands.

In a couple of weeks UMass plays Boston College at Chestnut Hills and I'm sure a number of scribes will make comparisons to the Appalachian State game. Trust me when I say that there will be no repeat for BC of what happened to Michigan. UMass is very susceptible to the pass and BC has one of the best passing attacks in the country. HC had open receivers all day and their second half comeback is evidence of the Minutemen's weakness in the secondary. If I can find a line on that game - I will be taking BC big because they will put a drubbing on UMass (which is no slight to UMass but BC is just in a different weight class).
Ode to Larry Craig

Here I sit
Broken hearted
Spent a dime
And only ruined my reputation, became a national joke and lost my job as a US Senator
Red Sox Magic Number - 22

With Clay Buchholz's masterpiece no-hit performance yesterday - the Red Sox magic number is now 22.

There's not much to add about Buchholz's no-no that you haven't already read or heard. Gordon Edes does a good job summing everything up here. The only thing I'll pass along is an observation the bartender where I watched the game kept mentioning - Clay Buchholz does look a lot like Hillary Swank.

Roger Clemens wears the number 22 and I should have given kudos to the Rocket and the other Yankee starters for their fine performances in the last series where they took all three games from the Red Sox. It is something to take with a grain of salt, however. They Yankees play better at home but the only way they will be making the playoffs is as the wildcard. That means that their opponent will have home field advantage. The Yankees have a losing record on the road (31-35) and Chien-Ming Wang's ERA is about 2 runs higher on the road and Roger Clemens's is more than 3 runs higher on the road. Only Andy Pettitte of the three potential playoff starters has a better road ERA than home ERA (which makes sense since Yankee Stadium isn't friendly to lefty pitchers). The Yankees with their offense isn't a team you want to face in the playoffs but then again - what team that is good enough to make the playoffs is a team you want to face?

In New England - the number 22 immediately brings to mind Doug Flutie. Boston College looked good yesterday and I'll post something about the day in college football a little later.

I didn't have a chance to post yesterday when the magic number was 23. What I was going to mention is that the letter "W" is the 23rd letter in the alphabet and interestingly enough - the letter has 2 points pointing down and 3 points pointing up. That's just like the Red Sox.

The 2 pionts down for the Red Sox are the recent injury bug that has hit the team (Manny, Wakefield, Drew, Kielty, etc.) and the inconsistency of the offense (which is exacerbated when Manny or Ortiz is out of the line-up). The three points up for the Red Sox are (A) the starting pitching - I still say the Red Sox have the best rotation in baseball and now they add Buchholz to the mix (B) the bullpen - even with Gagne's early troubles with the Red Sox - it s still a very formidable bullpen and (C) team depth - with the exception of a lack of power - the team is two deep at each position. The positives far outweigh the negatives which again brings us to the letter "W". In baseball "W" stands for wins and no team in baseball has more wins than the Red Sox.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

World Famous Detective

I have a soft spot for the movie Murder on the Orient Express. It was on last night and once again I watched it. Even though it was like the 20th time I've seen the movie - a new thought struck me while watching the film.

In the movie - when people first hear the name Hercule Poirot - the reaction is the same. They all ask "The world famous detective?" That got me thinking. Is there such a thing as a world famous detective? I racked my brain and I cannot think of a single one - not past or present.

Maybe its just me but the realization had never struck me before that vampires were closer to reality than characters like Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes.