Friday, September 28, 2012

Week 4 NFL Picks! Hail Hochuli!

"Yes, you are not worthy of me or my guns."
Are we having fun yet? What a chaotic week for the NFL. So it turns out the Monday Night debacle/fiasco/circus/atrocity may have actually been a good thing for everyone (except Green Bay, sorry guys), because it was the last nail in the coffin on the grand replacement ref experiment of 2012. As far as "grand experiments" go it was slightly better than the last few years of Joe Paterno's reign, but definitely worse than New Coke and the new taco-flavored Doritos. And I'm still mad about it. Now the old refs are back and we can start hating them again as soon as they make their first terrible call, which won't take long, I guarantee it.

Fifty years from now, that last Seahawks drive will still be remembered as the gold standard of refereeing incompetence. I'm not going to say it was fixed....I'm going to shout it..."IT WAS F#$#$ING FIXED!!!" Okay, I feel better. To believe it wasn't fixed is to believe that our fellow man can be so stupid and utterly cowardly in the face of adversity. I'd prefer to just think them crooked. I could easily see one of these refs accepting a huge cash payout from a shady hoodlum at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle on Tuesday morning. TRUST NO ONE.

Just so we have it down for posterity, let's review the three mind-numbingly horrible calls in the last 2 minutes.

Play 1: Possibly the worst roughing the passer penalty ever called that did not involve Tom Brady: Russell Wilson rolls right out of the pocket before uncorking an interception that mostly likely ends the game right there considering the field position the Pack would have had and the time remaining. Once a QB leaves the pocket like that, he's no longer under his invisible shield of protection that I like to call the "Brady Don't Even Touch My Hair Zone." Regardless, the hit was clean and it wasn't late. Watching the replay, a flabbergasted Jon Gruden states, "I just don't see these...". Watch how the ref drops the flag there, too. He's like, "ehhh, what the hell." Then he skulks away like he's leaving a crime scene. WHICH HE IS.

Play 2: This play is actually the worst of all, but is overshadowed by the play to follow. Sydney Rice basically assaults Sam Shields down the sideline on a go route. Shields covers the play as good and as clean as a cornerback can cover it. He gets inside position, looks backs towards the ball and makes a play on it. Textbook. Meanwhile, he's basically being felt up and violated by a very randy Rice and his busy hands. Rice even pulls Shields' facemask in the process. At least buy him dinner next time, Sydney.

Play 3: This travesty of a play has been replayed and evaluated ad nauseum by now, and obviously, the offensive PI if called makes everything that happens after it moot. But one thing to remember about "simultaneous" catches: Per the rule, if one player has initial possession, it doesn't become simultaneous possession after the fact. You can't slap an index finger on there and say, "I've got it." Catching the ball is a process, from getting your hands on it initially, to gathering it in and bringing it to your chest. Golden Tate never does any of this.

There is actually a faction of people out there (like Seattle coach/cheerleader Pete Carroll) who believe this was a catch. To those people I say, you are THE WORST and you should be trapped in a room with Sydney Rice, so he can give you the business. Golden Tate's comments at the end there are really fantastic, I wish he was hooked up to a polygraph. And if he failed the polygraph, he would be electro-shocked.

Okay, let's just pretend this all never happened, and get on to the picks:

New England -4 over Buffalo
Minnesota +4.5 over Detroit
Atlanta - 7.5 over Carolina
49ers -4.5 over Jets (lock of the week)
Tennessee +12.5 over Houston
San Diego -1.5 over K.C.
St. Louis +3 over Seattle
Denver -7 over Oakland
Cincinnati -2 over Jacksonville
N. Orleans +7.5 over Green Bay
Chicago +3.5 over Dallas
Philly -1.5 over NYG
Washington +3 over Tampa
Miami +6 over Arizona

Season Record: 17-28-2 (the comeback!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 3 NFL Picks!

It's a whole new Jay Cutler this year!
Everyone is freaking out about these terrible replacement refs. They've been abysmal, but it hasn’t altered my enjoyment of the games too much just yet. It seems to me they’re calling more penalties than normal, which is a dumb move. Better to just let everything go. You’ll catch more flak over the calls you make and screw up, then the calls you don’t. And that’s one to grow on. On to the games!
Chicago -7.5 vs. St. Louis
Well, the Bears came crashing back down to earth in delightful fashion against the Packers, complete with the classic Cutler meltdown face. Everyone was saying “The Bears are Back!” while forgetting they were playing the Colts in week 1. Meanwhile Danny Amandola-oblongata or whatever his name is caught about 25 passes last week for the Rams. Sure, it was only for like 50 yards, but he provides VOLUME. If it’s 2nd down and 8, he’ll get you to 3rdand 6. If it’s 4th down and 3, he’ll get you to 5th down and 1. With these refs, there could be a 5th down, you never know! The Rams are feisty enough to hang around in this one. Bears 20 Rams 16

San Fran -7 at MinnesotaThe Niners seem to be heading towards becoming the Super Bowl favorite, and for some reason I just don’t like them. I think it’s their tan pants. Unless you’re golfing or on safari, tan just isn’t a good sporting look. 49ers 27 Vikings 10
Johnson explodes for a no yard gain.

K.C. +9 at New Orleans
New Orleans is getting served a hot steaming bowl of gumbo flavored comeuppance thus far. They need to realize Pierre Thomas is clearly better than Ingram, and not just because he’s on my fantasy team. Well, mostly because of that. Also, did you know Marques Colston is a seventh round pick from Hofstra? They only say it every damn time he catches a pass. Saints 38 Chiefs 31

NYJ -3 at Miami 
Reggie Bush is good again, guys. He’s so good, USC should give him another house. I think I’ve figured this Jets team out. They will beat the bad teams and lose to every good team, it’s that easy. Ok, they may also lose to some bad teams, but not this week. Someone please put an APB out on Stephen Hill. Jets 24 Miami 17

Tampa +8 at Dallas 
One thing these replacement refs are missing is remembering to stop the clock when a guy gets tackled out of bounds. A guy can be tackled into the gatorade cooler, and these jackasses are still waving their arms around for the clock to run. It's like they have a tee time to catch or something. Cowboys 30 Bucs 16

Philly -3.5 at Arizona
I’m not sure Arizona has a 1st down yet this season, but they’re 2-0. Eagles 27 Cards 20 (Lock of the 
San Diego motorists: beware this
man on Sunday night.

San Diego -3 vs. Atlanta
Tough one to call here. Atlanta has zero run game but can throw the bejeesus out of the ball. Michael Turner is so bad, he’s now hitting the bottle. Maybe the beer muscles will give him the courage to break a tackle this week! Hopefully, the beer goggles also make him hit on Matt Ryan in the huddle, that’d be funny. San Diego has beaten no one of substance (Oak and Tenn), but have looked good doing it. When in doubt, go against Norv Turner. Falcons 34 Chargers 28

Cincinnati +3 at Washington 
The Rams really pushed around RG3 last weekend and he looked like a different QB, but definitely more like a typical Redskin QB. Skins 26 Cincy 21 

Houston -2 at Denver
Uh-oh, looks like Peyton Manning may have the ol’ noodle arm Nancy syndrome. As a one-time fan of Chad Pennington, I can tell you this will not end well. It ends with wide receivers getting knocked into next week while awaiting fluttering, paper airplane-like passes from their QB. Houston 28 Denver 23

Pittsburgh -4.5 at Oak
Al Davis must be spinning in his grave. Admittedly, that joke was funnier to say when he was alive. I still say he should be propped up on the sidelines, Weekend at Bernie's style. It would boost ticket sales, and I'm sure Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman are available to hang out with him. Pitt 21 Oak 9

Detroit -3.5 at Tennessee
One of the few things I’ve been right about this year is that the Titans are terrible. Not sure why this line is -3.5 when Chris Johnson is averaging 1.1 yards per carry. 1.1! I’m pretty sure I could average 1.1 yards per carry in the NFL. Sure, I’d be dead or comatose by carry #3, but I would fall forward and average 1.5 yards, dammit. And then there’d be a 30 for 30 documentary questioning why I was ever allowed on the field, and how the Jets need to pay for allowing me to run the ball to my death. I love imagining impossible scenarios. Lions 31 Titans 20
Cleveland +3 vs. Buffalo
Do not mess with Jim Brown, AKA Fireball. 
Hold off that funeral for Brandon Weeden's career for at least a couple more weeks. Speaking of a couple weeks, what a fortnight it's been for C.J. Spiller. The last running back to average 10+ yards per carry over the first two weeks in a season (min. 25 carries) was Jim Brown. When your name gets mentioned in the same sentence as Jim Brown, you've done something special. Just don't throw your girlfriend out a window, C.J. Let Jim Brown be alone in that sentence. Cleveland 17-Buffalo 16
Jacksonville +3.5 at Indy
Ahh, the AFC South, where dreams go to die. This game may or may not contain a football-like substance. If Siciliano cuts to this game for even 1 play on the Red Zone Channel, I'm driving to Culver City and pinning his ears to the wall. Or writing a strongly worded letter. Probably the second one. Colts 16 Jags 12 

Green Bay -3.5 at Seattle 
Time for my pet peeve of the week: Neighbors who must mow their lawn at 7:30 a.m. every damn weekend. Why, why, why? How bout you vacuum inside your house with the windows shut instead, you anal, short-grass obsessed monster! Packers 23 Seahawks 17 

New England +3 at Baltimore
It was nice to see Belichick morph into Norv Turner last week. 1st down with a minute left on the 25 yard line and he curls up like a ball and waits for his kicker to miss. Glorious. Apparently, the Patriots are no longer enamored with Wes Welker, and he's been riding the pine in favor of Julian Edelman. They are rabid anti-trollites. That's racist. Ravens 24 Pats 13

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pinky Higgins: Obscure Baseball Player of the Week, Plus Week 2 NFL Picks

Looks a little like Johnny Damon doesn't he?


Our critically acclaimed Obscure Baseball Player series returns! This week we focus on Pinky Higgins. You just don't find many better names than this. Michael Franklin "Pinky" Higgins was born in a shotgun shack in Red Oak, Texas in 1909. When his dad first saw him throw a baseball at age 3, he said, "well looky, looky, looky here-ahh, I say, I say, I say this little whippah-snappah can throw that spheroid!" Interestingly, his dad would later become the inspiration for Looney Tunes' Foghorn Leghorn character.
There are differing reports on how Higgins earned the nickname that would haunt him for all his days. Some say it was because as a boy "Pinky" was his imaginary friend. Others say it was because his left pinkey toe was mangled in a tractor accident. Still others say it was because someone else in town already had the nickname "stinkey", and Red Oak was a town that liked themselves some rhymes.
What is known is that if you called him Pinky to his face, he would give you a deathly stare and challenge you to immediate fistacuffs.
Pinky was actually a very solid player for most of his career. In his rookie year of 1933 he batted .313 with 13 homers and 99 RBIs for the Philadelphia A's. In 1937 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a bucket of balls, some tomato soup cans and a pack of smokes. It was an insulting trade, but not uncommon in the Depression era.
Here's Pinky in a
happy moment.
For a couple of glorious days in June of 1938 he was  arguably the greatest player in the world. He recorded hits in 12  straight at bats, a record that still stands today. He appeared in three All Star Games and unlike most of his contemporary glory-hungry patriots, he didn't go off to World War 2 until 1945. He obviously wanted to make sure we were winning first.
Later he became a manager for the Boston Red Sox and was known as very easy-going. He rarely visited the mound to talk to his pitchers, saying "You can't tell 'em anything new." Surprisingly, his teams never won the World Series with that ground-breaking "who gives a crap" approach. But, for overcoming his unfortunate nickname, Dave's Deep Dish salutes Pinky Higgins.
Giants -7 vs. Tampa - Giants 31-Tampa 16
Arizona +13.5 at NE - New England 34-Arizona 14
Indy +1.5 vs. Minn - Vikings 24 - Colts 21
New Orleans -2.5 at Carona- Saints 27 - Carolina 24
Buffalo -3.5 vs. K.C. - Bills 23 - Chiefs 17
Jets +6.5 at Pitt - Steelers 21 - Jets 20
Philly -2 vs. Balt. - Ravens 26 Eagles 16
Cincy -7 vs. Cleveland - Bengals 20 Cleve. 6
Oak -2.5 at Miami - Oakland 14 Miami 10
San Diego -6 vs. Tenn - San Diego 28 Tennessee 17
Detroit +6.5 at S.F. - Lions 24 Niners 23
Dallas -3 at Seattle - Cowboys 20 Seahawks 14
Wash -3 at St. Louis - Rams 31 Skins 30
Houston -7.5 at Jax - Texans 35 Jags 21
Atlanta -3 vs. Denver - Falcons 28 Broncos 27
Last week's record: 6-10 (just awful)
this week: 1-0  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Shutdown of Stephen Strasburg

Strasburg's done for the year much to the delight
of every other team in baseball.
Unless you've been living under a rock or have a case of election fever and spend your time talking to empty chairs, you may have heard by now that the Washington Nationals decided to shutdown Stephen Strasburg for the remainder of the season.

As you can tell from that link, I don't really agree with this decision. He's one of the most dominant pitchers in the game right now, and he'll be taking the postseason off because Nats GM Mike Rizzo is a frightened little mouse of a man who's protecting his job. Sure, he's said say he's acting in Strasburg's best interests here, but don't be fooled. He's worried about what Strasburg means to his long-term job security.

Strasburg is healthy enough to pitch and wants to pitch. That should be all that matters. The Nats could also could've handled this situation much better, by simply resting Strasburg more throughout the season. I've never met a Washington Nationals fan, but if they exist, I'm sure they're pretty angry about this situation.

Thursday night NFL Pick: 
Packers -5.5 vs. Bears
Woo-hoo, Thursday Night football all season long! I'm taking the Packers tonight, I don't see them losing two straight at home. I'm also not at all confident in this pick, so buyer beware.
Packers 30 Bears 20

Friday, September 7, 2012

Week 1 NFL Picks - Unleash Your Wildcat!

These replacement refs mean business.

Watching the Giants-Cowboys game the other night I realized something odd. The Cowboys had the ball in Giants territory midway thru the 4th quarter with the lead, but then committed about 18 penalties in a row. Even though the clock stops when a flag is thrown, it doesn't stop for that long (in the last few minutes it's stops, but not throughout the game, or in the first 10 minutes of the 4th). The clock stops for only about 15 seconds and then, tick, tick, tick.

So, since the Cowboys had the lead, they were actually improving their chances of winning by committing penalty after penalty. Sure, they were going backwards, but the clock was ticking, and the down remains the same. To this I say....THAT's NOT RIGHT! It's clearly a glitch in the matrix. Somebody get on this immediately.

On to the games!

Tebow QB tip #10: it's always good to cross your feet like a pretzel
before throwing the ball.
Jets -3 vs. Bills
Well, we finally get to see that ultra-secret Tim Tebow Wildcat package....yippee! What a glorious day for us all. Blessed are we, for wildcatting shall be done! Wait here, while I get my saucer of milk...okay, go! There should be a long drum roll the first time Tebow enters this week's game. And then this sound after the ensuing 5-yard loss. When you're offensive hopes rest on Tony Sporano, it's not a good thing. Sporano looks like the guy at the OTB who just lost his paycheck (not that I've ever been to an OTB, haha!). But one of the few things the Jets have been able to count on in recent years is that they can always beat Buffalo by running the ball down their throats. Buffalo's defense is usually tiny and emaciated, like they're auditioning for spots on America's Next Top Model. But, now Buffalo's brought in some high priced players like Mario Williams, who is sure to spend more time on top of Sanchez than an 18-old NYU girl. If the Jets lose this game, load up the bus and call it a season. I say they squeak by, because Revis, Revis, Revis.
Jets 16 Buffalo 14
Saints -8 vs. Washington
RGIII is going to be good, but this a rookie QB making his debut in a hostile environment. Not a good matchup. Who is the Redskins running back. Does anyone know? Is it Roy Helu? Rickey Ervins? Earnest Byner? Freaking Shanahan. He knows that we know he can never choose a running back and he loves it. He's trolling the fantasy community and it delights him more than his tanning machine. One thing is for sure with the Skins - Santana Moss will be playing for this team in 2042 and look exactly the same. He might be a vampire. Saints 27 Skins 17
Green Bay -5 vs. San Francisco
Game of the week here, which means Joe Buck and Aikman, so remember to hit mute. Several questions will be answered. Who is more insufferable - Packers fans or Niner fans? Will Kyle Williams be allowed near a punted ball? Is Alex Smith ever going to be better than average? Is Jordy Nelson the greatest white wide receiver since Steve Largent? Is that last question racist? The answer key: It's a tie, no way in hell, Ha!, yes, very possibly. Green Bay 27 San Fran 24
Houston -13 vs. Miami
The Dolphins gambled on their
4th round pick this year.
Houston finally won a playoff game last year, now we can all breath a sigh of sweet relief. Those crazy Dolphins are going with another rookie QB that is clearly not ready. Ryan Tannehill sounds like a character on "Gossip Girl." And no, I've not watched that show, how dare you. I'm more of a "Revenge" guy.
Texans 34 Dolphins 16
Indy +10 at Chicago
The Andrew Luck era begins. We are all witnesses. This week, witness him cover his first of many underdog spreads.
Bears 20 Colts 12
Jacksonville +4 at Minnesota
It's only Week 1, but I'm already bored by this game. Believe it or not, this is my lock of the week, mainly because it's Blaine Gabbert on the road and they're still unfreezing Jones-Drew.
Minnesota 26 Jacksonville 10
Atlanta -2.5 at K.C.
Falcons seem like an easy choice, but the Chiefs are a classic H.U.F.F. (home underdog, foreign field) bet this week, so beware. Also, it's a homecoming for Tony Gonzalez, so get out your Kleenex, Dick Vermeil. Here's a question: Who will drop more passes this year, Dwayne Bowe or Stevie Johnson? It's really a Sophie's Choice.
Chiefs 23 Falcons 20
Seattle -2.5 at Arizona
This is a funny line, because it reveals that Russel-mania is out of control. Yes, Russell Wilson, a Wisconsin QB making his first start is favored on the road. You know who the last good QB to come out of Wisconsin was? Nobody Jones, that's who. Sure it's only Arizona, and Red Skelton is their QB, but they are feisty at home. I don't like it, and they shouldn't be selling it. 
Cardinals 27 Seahawks 20  
Little known fact: Brandon Weeden played high school football
with Larry King.
Philly -8.5 at Cleveland
Cleveland finally has a great running back and a highly touted college QB. Look out! Trent Richardson should be awesome...wait, what's that you say? He's already had 2 knee surgeries? And their "rookie" QB is 28 years old? Is he Mormon or something? Ok, I'm getting off the Browns bandwagon, you don't even have to stop it, I'll just jump and roll.  
Eagles 35 Browns 10
St. Louis +7.5 at Detroit
Not much to say on this one, Lions should win easy. So here's a random thought: How come the word "war" doesn't really rhyme with "bar" or "car" or "star"? I bet this pisses off the poet community to no end. Lions 31 Rams 17
Carolina -2.5 at Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers lost their last 10 games last year by an average of 94 points. It's true. I'm not taking them till they prove they can lose with some dignity. Panthers 28 Bucs 9
Pittsburgh +2 at Denver
Ahh, the return of Peyton. In all seriousness, I'm happy he's back. His enormous five-head has been missed. I do wonder how he will perform not playing in a dome every other week. The Steelers should be motivated, thanks to last year's embarrassing playoff defeat, but I still don't see them getting it done. No one is happier this season than the Broncos' wide receivers.   
Broncos 24 Steelers 20
Oakland +1 vs. San Diego
One other thing to love about Week 1: Two Monday night games! The Chargers live in a "Groundhog Day" type of world. Every year they have talent, every year they fail miserably, and every year Norv Turner miraculously remains. Raiders 24 Chargers 23.
"Look guys, I don't know why I'm still here either."
Cincy + 6.5 at Baltimore
It feels like these teams play each other 12 times a year. Maybe they do, who knows? I'm not a political fact-checker, get off my back. Expect a punt-a-palooza in this one.
Ravens 14 Bengals 10
New England -6 at Tennessee
The only thing interesting about the Titans is Kenny Britt. What random arrest will he come up with next. For the October sweeps, I'm thinking human trafficking. Plus, he's got a wealth of DUI experience to teach to the team's rookies. Then there's Chris Johnson, who just mailed in a horrific performance last year that scarred many a fantasy team owner for years to come. I'm not ready to forgive yet, Chris. I'm purposely not mentioning the Boston team.
Patsies 38 Titans 27
Enjoy the games!!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The NFL Is Back Y'all!

Sweet baby Jesus in a manger the NFL IS BACK! God bless us all. The season kicks off tonight with the Giants and Cowboys. Notice it's a Wednesday night. Why Wednesday? Because the NFL does whatever the hell it wants and ASKS QUESTIONS LATER. Each year brings us ever closer to 7-days a week of NFL action. It will happen. Roger Goodell will not rest until we have an 82-game schedule and robot referees. He may be a pompous, power-hungry jerk, but you have to respect his willingness to endanger every player in the league for our entertainment.

This offseason featured a lot of coaching and player changes that should affect how I pick the week 1 games (if I'd been paying much attention, which I have not). Here's all you really need to know about the NFL's biggest offseason storylines:

1) OMG, Peyton Manning is back and his neck almost works again and he will lead the Broncos to the promised land!
2) Andrew Luck is the finest rookie QB of all time. In his part time he's an architect (and city planner) and will lead the Colts to the Super Bowl! Colts fans do not deserve this good fortune at all.
3) The Jets traded two draft picks for Tim Tebow, who will run a Wildcat offense that went out of style two years ago when the league figured out how to stop it....yes, two draft picks.
4) Aaron Rodgers is back and angry and he is going to discount double-check your ass.
5) The 49ers are great, but still have Alex Smith, so they are not great.
6) The New Orleans Saints have been very, very bad boys, but now have a chip on their shoulder (and a new bounty on the Commish) and are back, even though they never left.
7) The Seahawks signed QB Matt Flynn for $20 million and aren't going to start him because Pete Carroll is "smart" and Russell Wilson played well against some third string scrubs during the preseason.
8) Tom Brady found a new stylist and simply cannot stop talking about him. He's to die for!
9) The Chicago Bears have decided to reunite the legendary Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall tandem that won 7 games one year. No one's been this excited since Air Supply got back together.
10) In a story that defies all logic and reason and is perhaps a crime against all that is good and decent in the world, Norv Turner is still the coach of the San Diego Chargers.
"Dude, we're almost holding hands."
"I know and who dimmed the lights?" 
Of course, player safety also remains a big issue, and there are some new rules that the NFL has wisely implemented. But, I think many of you may not be aware how strange they are. Here's a brief rundown of some of them:

1) To avoid heavy collisions on kick-off returns, teams can now kick off from the opponent's 9 yard line. There should be even more touchbacks this year.
2) When a player makes a tackle, he's required to say to the opposing player, "I'm so sorry about this."
3) Teams are no longer allowed to sack Tom Brady. Ever. If defenders get within 3 feet, Brady is allowed to lie in the fetal position, and they must then caress his hair lovingly and whisper sweet nothings to him.
4) On punt returns, the punt returner can say "Invisible Force Field!" and no one is allowed to touch him for 44 seconds.
5) If a defensive player launches himself into a defenseless receiver, he will not only receive a 15-yard penalty and be ejected from the game - he'll also be launched from the stadium grounds via catapult.

After just reading them again, I think these rules could use some tweaking.

On to the first game.... as a reminder I went a pretty, pretty, pretty good 107-78-9 against the spread last year. That was light years better than some supposed experts (ahem, Bill Simmons, Peter King, etc.). I also did a fine job on my playoff picks and my Super Bowl prop bets. What I'm trying to say is...YOU'RE WELCOME. This year I vow to surpass those numbers, even if it means I have to lie about them.

This play went just as planned.
NY Giants -4 vs. Dallas These kick-off games are won by the defending champ every year in convincing fashion. The average score of these games is 49-3 (FACT). Something about being declared champs of the world and getting presented with a shiny ring makes players really care for one week of the regular season. Who among us doesn't like free bling? This year should be no different, except that Tony Romo will play really well, but then still find a way to make a boneheaded play that ruins a close game. Also, Miles Austin's hamstring will fly off his body at some point grossing everyone out. Giants 30 - Cowboyz 23

Enjoy the game...more picks to come Friday!