Thursday, April 29, 2010
Most likely by the time you read this sentence, I will be halfway down the Commonwealth of Virginia on I-95, ready to enjoy four consecutive days of golf, male bonding, and beer.
The 2010 edition of The Malcolm McLeod Memorial golf tournament returns to the glorious “National” in Southern Pines.
This will be the 9th edition of this event. I do not take such a feat lightly. These kind of excursions are susceptible to all kinds of forces that can/do bring them to a halt.
Hell, remember how much I bitched and moaned about these guys last year?
Well, time heals all wounds, and the passion of the moment fades. I could hardly imagine myself intentionally killing an event I both began from a mere seedling, and is growing into such a fine and sturdy specimen.
The excitement in the voices and emails from this group as the magical day approaches, is palpable. How could I ever take that away from all of us?
We have jobs. We have wives (most of us). We have kids. We have bills.
But for these glorious 3 days in early May, we are truly free. Set out among the tall pines and sandy soil of Pinehurst, NC, unsupervised, and on our own recognizance. Our only prime directives: a) When is my tee time? b) Where did my ball go? c) Who has a beer?
I take pride in the wide range of ages, characters, and personalities in the group. In fact, I have been asked more than once by those who meet us in clubhouses, “so, how do you know each other?”
My answer is simple. Golf. The greatest game ever for unifying men of diverse backrounds.
There's Dave, the 40 year old B.A.S.E. Jumper (yes, the insane daredevils who parachute from Buildings Airplanes Structures and Earth, i.e. cliffs!). He's unmarried, un-divorced, no kids. Or as the rest of us like to say: he's “un-defeated and holds all the belts.” Dates 27 year olds. Must be rough.
There's Jimmy J. A retired 60-something government worker who plays to a single digit handicap. Nicest guy you'll ever meet, doesn't drink a drop of alcohol, despite all of the boozers around him on the trip. Blew our minds one year on the trip, when he told us he was a former cocaine addict on a fast track to the grave until he got it together.
There's Bob, aka: the “Screamin' Eagle” who designs classified weapons systems on computers for the department of defense. Hilarious side note: I once had a full military officer come to my house for an in-home visit, and an interview. The Eagle apparently needed a higher security clearance, and used me as a reference! Should told that dude I once saw Eagle move his ball in the rough.
There's McGowan, an easygoing, beer loving, deadpan comment delivering machine. Mike's passion for the game is remarkable, given the fact that he fully comprehends golf's total impossibility. Still, he spends no less than 20 plus hours every year, devising new and exotic potential formats for the event.
His buddy, Fixie, defies accurate summary. It's impossible. Period. The guy can compute numbers like a supercomputer during the day, running a huge hedge fund in a suit. And yet if you meet him on this golf trip you'd swear he worked on a construction crew. Waddles up to the 1st tee wearing the same shirt as he did last night, sopped in bbq sauce. He invades your personal space when drunkenly recounting a particular bogey. He's the master of the innocently inappropriate comment, and has golf swing that looks like a loosely organized flinch. He's my favorite.
We even have a token black guy, even though he's hardly a token. Hatcher is a funnier incarnation of Rod Tidwell from Jerry Maguire. Actually played wide receiver at Cincinnati years ago. Loves golf so much, he'll tolerate hanging with 19 other honkies for 3 days.
And that's just a sampling of the wide swath of humanity that this little get together has accumulated like a snowball rolling downhill. I can't even totally sort out how, exactly, one guy after another got mixed into the group. A friend of a friend, a guy somebody knows at the club, a co-worker, here, an ex-frat brother there, and before you know it, you have this group.
A group that defies all friendship logic.
Yet put together in the pines every spring, and it's like we're all little schoolboys out on a field trip.
I am sure my golf trip, is not un-like your golf trip. Or maybe another “guy” trip involving something suitably manly. Fishing, hunting, bowling. Well, okay, not bowling. Nobody leaves town to bowl.
I think most women get this about guys, our need to bond. Our need to be unsupervised for a while. To be un-admonished for bad behavior, free to employ crude language, and actually proud of our noxious bodily odors.
I often say that women should do more “trips” themselves. I know I urge my wife to get organized, and just go. But for all of womankind's gifts, the gift of “female bonding” is one that seems to elude them.
Perhaps its just a guy thing. We tend to run in packs, and when confronted with the necessary domestication of raising a family and paying the bills, these kind of weekends really scratch something deep in our DNA.
The caliber of golf is mediocre by almost everyone's expectations. We all wish we would play better, but few of us ever drive home satisfied. For me, I have come to find the existential beauty of a cold beer in the cart, set against the warm glow of some late afternoon Carolina sunshine.
Forecast is for temps soaring into the low 90s. Beauty. All the heat of summer, without yet the stickiness or rampant bugs.
If there are any good stories to bring back here on Monday in this space, I'll be happy to share. Otherwise, what happens at the National, stays at the National.
Monday, April 26, 2010
“Tebow's intangibles are off the charts.”
-Yahoo Sports' “Shutdown Corner” post-draft analysis
Someday, I'd love to see how you “chart” intangibles.
Does “heroic tendencies” go on the X axis? Is “dedicated humility” on the Y axis?
Okay, so that was a stupid sportswriter cliché, right? Well, I could swear I've heard somebody else say that about Timmy Rah Rah (Nickname hat tip: Colin Cowherd). Somebody who is a supposedly “smart” NFL talent evaluator, or former coach.
All they can rave about with Tebow, is the “intangibles.”
Or in other words, things that really won't help him play his position in the pros.
The following things are known – repeat KNOWN – issues with Tebow as a pro quarterback.
He locks onto single receivers.
Feels pressure poorly.
Looks to run too quickly.
Bad delivery motion.
Holds the ball too low.
Played in a system not suited to the pros.
Big, but not elusive.
These are the kind of things you pay actual money to “scouts” to tell you about prospects. And every college player is just a prospect. A maybe. A guy who you better make full due diligence on if you decide to draft him.
Especially in the first round.
Yet, here's the narrative on Tebow to the Broncos: Josh McDaniels fell in love with him.
Fell... in.... love.
For chrissakes. Why even have scouts if that's how you are going to acquire talent?
A young punk coach, with no background whatsoever in talent evaluation... “fell in love.”
Maybe true love will prevail. Maybe they'll fix all of Timmy's faults and he'll be super motivationally awesome in the NFL.
But that is no way to spend 1st round picks. If you or I had pulled a move like this in fantasy football, we'd be the ridiculed butt of everybody's jokes. But I suppose if it's McDaniels, you call it “aggressive” or a “hunch.”
Now, where's my graph paper. I need to go back and re-chart some intangibles.
Or, I am a careless, horrible driver.
So let's now tally up how my 2005 Acura TL has treated me since I've owned it.
First of all, I have loved the car. Great, great car. Love it. Rides nice. Lots of near luxury features for the dollar, Honda engineering.
Problem is, I have now hit the following.
Deer (Fall '08) - KILLED
Deer (Winter '09) - Charging foul, deer lived.
Beltway Divider Wall (Winter '09)*
Door (Spring '09) - Cut down one tire. Only 5 mins late to work.
Deer (Spring '10) - KILLED (pics below)
* The beltway inner wall I hit after doing a full 360 in a snowstorm. Pretty scary, but miraculously didn't do anything more than scrape the right rear bumper and missed all other cars. Didn't even need a tow truck. Just gently slid back onto the road and went to work.
Now, here's the latest damage to the sled.
I need your help, oh readers.
a. Sell the damn thing, it's jinxed!
b. Get remedial driving lessons
c. Ride it until I land in "the big one".
d. Just hose off those guts and pretend nothing happened.
Thanks for your support, people. I am sure the comments below will be merciless.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
You are going to have a hard time convincing me that Charlie Whitehurst is a better starting NFL quarterback than Jason Campbell.
Now, or ever.
And yet here's the tale of the trade tape.
The Chargers got a 2011 3rd round pick, and moved up 20 spots in the 2nd round for Whitehurst - a 3rd stringer who had never started a game.
The Redskins got a lone 4th round pick for Campbell.
This is what happens when you paint yourself into an obvious corner of trade weakness. Mike Shanahan isn't so much worried about cleaning up after Joe Gibbs mistakes. He just wants to bury them and move on.
Hold on to your hats, people, but the Raiders just made the steal of the off-season.
And I say this as a guy who had become convinced that Campbell was never going to be a franchise player. I say this as a guy who thinks the McNabb trade was a sensible upgrade.
Still. A fourth? That's it??
As I went to tally up the relevant numbers for this Campbell farewell, it started to dawn on me that there's a 30% chance this becomes the most debaculous trade in Redskins history.
Campbell was coached entirely by doofuses here in D.C. The systems he was in, were constantly changing. Gibbs made him entirely too timid. There was never a proper #1 WR weapon, much less a good #2.
And the Danny-Vinny dynamic at the head of the organizational depth chart made any true leadership from Campbell almost impossible.
Gibbs saw a lot in Campbell. Enough to trade an extra 3rd and 4th to jump back into the first round and get him with a second #1 pick they didn't have at the time. Why then did he let him fester for almost two seasons as Mark Brunnel slowly decayed?
His offense was a joke. He wouldn't even use the shotgun formation his first year back from retirement. Laveranues Coles had 90 catches for LESS than 1,000 yards and just 1 TD in 2004, the first year under Hall of Fame Joe.
This was after a 82-1204-6 season the year before under Spurrier.
Yet they thought it was Coles' fault, and so they swapped him for Santana Moss!
Coles caught 90 balls, and I would bet 83 of them were 4 yard hitches outside the numbers because either a) Gibbs was too scared to throw anywhere else or b) Brunell couldn't get it anywhere else consistently.
So by the time it was simply too painful to ignore, Gibbs was forced to bring in Al Saunders to look over his shoulder, changing the offense again!
All the while, Campbell persevered with dignity and diligence.
For the last two years, Campbell tried his best to make a ham sandwich of Jim Zorn's version of the “West Coast” offense. I say we don't appreciate how hard that actually was.
Zorn was a tool. His offense blew transvestite monkey dick. One of his supposedly “innovative” ways to coach was to throw blocking cushions at Campbell to simulate dodging rushers.
I am not making this up.
We all know about the bamboo-shoots-under-fingernail painfulness of watching of Zorn's scheme. That's why the clown above him, Vinny, brought in Sherm Lewis from the bingo hall. (Note: Worked great, just like we knew it would. Thanks for asking...)
So now that Campbell is gone, for nothing much more than the next weakside linebacker from Utah State in the 2012 fourth round (live on ESPN 9 in primetime!!) here is what Raider fans need to know.
You are getting a quarterback who would be working on his 52nd straight start if not for Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson blowing up his knee on Sunday night a few years ago.
Campbell's accuracy has gone 60-62-64% the last three years.
Campbell's touchdowns have gone 12-13-20 the last three years.
Campbell's passer rating has gone 77-84-86 the last three years.
Noticing any trends?
He's 29 years old, and oak tree strong. Depsite that knee injury in 2006, he took what looked for sure like a season-ending, 4-ligament, direct nuclear shot from Brett Keisel of the Steelers in the same pre-season. Shook it off and didn't miss a start. Amazing.
He's earnest, hard working, humble. Smart. Not the kind of guy to end up in Milledgeville.
He's everything Jamarcus Russell is not. The only things they have in common, are that they are both about 6-5, black, and come from the SEC.
Perhaps he's too quiet. Perhaps not emotional enough. Perhaps not enough of a leader.
But again, it's hard to tell. You can't lead any team that has a clown car of personalities like Snyder, Cerrato and Zorn calling the shots. Especially not when Clinton Portis is given a doggie door to practice so he can come and go as he pleases.
Now that it's over, I must admit that I wish we could have seen Campbell with an offense that fit HIM, not a timing scheme that kept his deep ball arm in the garage on most plays. I wish we could have seen Campbell with a sound coach and GM above him, with team rules applied evenly and sensibly.
Call me a hypocrite, but I am now wishing we could have just seen one more year of Campbell here under Shanahan.
Go back and look at those numbers again. He doesn't suck. The right scheme and good coaching might have made a world of difference.
And yet this is how the game works. A new coach doesn't give a shit about the 1st, the 3rd and the 4th round picks we surrendered for Campbell 6 years ago. He's not even concerned about maximizing value for the asset now. All he knows, is, “that's not MY guy. That's somebody else's guy.” So we put him on the curb like a lawnmower that might just need an engine tuneup.
The slim 4th rounder feels like a coupon for small fries.
Even if Campbell never once replicates his production here in D.C., you can rest assured Raider Nation that you have not been ripped off. But then again, he's no Charlie Whitehurst.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I'll admit that I groaned and rolled my eyes when the NFL decided to stretch out the Draft to three days. It seemed, at the time, as another crass commercial act of stretching the NFL product taffy too thin.
But after thinking about it, and now getting to watch it live in primetime, I must say: Kudos, league. Well played.
For those of us married/responsible/familymen out there, we never had Saturday at NOON - in late April, no less! - as an option to plop our fat middle aged asses on the couch to watch paint dry for 6 hours.
Soccer games, lawn mowing, honey-do lists, and the like always took priority over the draft. Few men I know in this spot, would brave the daggers of the Missus if you said: "Not today, sweetie. Gotta get my Mel Kiper on!"
So now the draft is placed more conveniently in the evening, and I will likely watch more this year than ever. Which should push the rating for the ol' NFL choose-em-up into record territory.
Last year, when you combine the ESPN coverage with the NFL Network numbers, the draft drew a 6.0+ rating!
Paint drying, people! Plus a few highlights!
Of course, you would think that the NBA and NHL would merely scoff at Lord Football daring to step into a white-hot cauldron of playoff games in prime time. You would think they would simply say: "Good luck, NFL. But we're gonna crush you!"
Um, no. Actually, the opposite!
Mark Cuban led the charge of the whiner brigade this week by saying: "I just don't think the NFL is playing themselves out to be a good partner," Cuban said, You can't operate professional sports in a vacuum."
Somebody cue D-X: "I've got two words for you, Cuban!"
Oh, I almost forgot. What's with the box of styrofoam peanuts?
Well, it represents what I think of the NFL draft. It's like that box of styrofoam peanuts that you would occasionally get as a kid when you parents ordered something in the mail.
You would get all hyped up and excited, jump in the box, splash around, throw the peanuts, have a giddy ol' time. This would last for an hour or so, and then you would lose interest.
Sorta like the NFL draft. Good harmless, cheap fun. But at the end of the day, it's just an empty box of foam peanuts.
Big Ben Roethlisberger's night in Milledgeville went down exactly as the accuser and police report describe it.
This is quite a leap, remember, because the one account of said night we have yet to put officially on the record, is that of the accused, Big Ben himself.
But let's go ahead and consider it all gospel, but with one small twist.
Instead of the woman claiming she might have been raped in that bathroom in a near blackout condition, let's say she was happy to have "bagged" an NFL star, and was desperately hoping she'd become a Big Ben Baby Momma.
And she posted absurdly embarassing photos of the encounter all over her Facebook page.
Big Ben's ugly junk, an NFL QB hunched over a crapper with his pants down, a 20 year old college student with slot machine eyes sprawled half naked on the dirty floor of a bar bathroom.
On the internet. Forever.
Wow. Embarassing, eh? I guess Roger Goodell would have to rush in and "defend the shield" as the saying is now fashionable.
“I recognize that the allegations in Georgia were disputed and that they did not result in criminal charges being filed against you. My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans.”
That statement from Goodell is equally applicable to a retracted claim of rape, or the hypothetical Baby-Momma-Facebook drama I outlined above.
So in essence, the Commissioner of the #1 sports league in the world is now going to start suspending players based on the NFL's lofty - yet undefined - "league values."
Back when Fred Smoot led a dozen or so fellow Vikings on the sex boat cruise that went horribly, morally wrong, was that something "admirable, responsible or consistent with the values of the league?"
There were no suspensions. Only a single docked game check for Smoot and Bryant McKinnie.
I know, times are a changin'. Thank you, Pac Man Jones, Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress et al. But Goodell has stepped out onto creaky limb that simply cannot hold the weight of his ego.
Many black players, and black pundits in the sports media sphere had been implying or outright crying "racism" for years on the NFL's amorphous "conduct policy." Never mind that there never was a clear cut "White Pac Man" that somehow escaped suspension because of skin color.
There was just a clamor to bag a prominent white player with a significant suspension.
Well, they got it. But I'm afraid it'll only hurt future NFL miscreants, the majority of whom have been black. Thanks in large part, to the inescapable fact that the league is 65% black.
This is not profiling. This is math.
I don't so much pity Big Ben, but the poor bastard who is the NEXT NFL player to get slightly crooked with the law. The bar of evidence has now been set so low, I can't imagine how the league's next Leonard Little or Dante Stallworth will survive a lifetime ban.
Most chilling yet, is the league stepping in to mandate that Ben undergo a "personal evaluation." Lester Munson, the sharpest knife in all of sports media law these days, says the union will likely not sit well with that.
"The union will challenge the six-game suspension, but its real challenge will be to the demand for a behavioral evaluation, likely to be a degrading requirement for Roethlisberger. It is a new form of punishment, and the union will want to send a signal that it is not happy with this level of invasion into the life of one of its players. Roethlisberger obviously will be put into the NFL's substance abuse program with its weekly and even daily alcohol checks, but the total evaluation requirement takes this a step beyond the alcohol program. My expectation is that the union will file a grievance and demand an arbitration. Only if Roethlisberger objects to the grievance will the union drop it. He might want to avoid further examination of the incident and show some level of contrition by waiving the grievance."
Look, my personal opinion is that Big Ben is a dopey, stubborn loser, with a severe drinking problem. I'd prefer if he just stepped up and said:
"Look, give me the full six game suspension, and keep your counseling. I've got a drinking problem, and I am going to stop. I'll be checking into AA immediately, and I'll deal with this on my own. As a man. My side of the story that night in Georgia is very different from what has been said and reported so far, but you know what, that doesn't matter apparently, so I'm gonna keep it to myself. Lesson learned. I'm a big boy, I'll take my punishment. Have a good day."
Meanwhile, Playmakers The Reality Show continues, even though the league shut down the scripted version on ESPN all those many years ago.
Roger Goodell is now fully invested into "doin' good." And as we know from the movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales:" "Doin' good, 'aint got no end."
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So I've been getting more and more comments in my email in-box about this video, and I wondered: "Hmmmm. I posted this sucker well over a year ago!" But then it dawned on me. Draft coming up. Message board people posting links. Hilarious spoof of my boy Mel. Equals ratings/download gold!
So in case you missed it, or forgot, enjoy.
Courtesy of Bodog, www.Bodog.com, you can actually wager on the following Tiger "Divorce Props."
Seems kinda wrong on the surface and all. But then again, if Tiger's gonna lose $300 million either way, then we all should at least be able to make $100 or so laying a wager on it.
You can kinda see where this is going, and it's not going well. I would say Tiger's statement about "maybe" playing golf again this year at his presser, and then "whoops, I think I'll play the Masters in 3 weeks" thing rankled Elin.
That and the un-ending cavalcade of skanks.
So here we go...
Will Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren
file for divorce before the 2010 US Open?
What will be the monetary amount of the divorce
settlement awarded to Elin Nordegren if she and Tiger Woods divorce?
Over/Under 300 million dollars
Will Elin Nordegren publicly announce her
support for Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup?
Elin's next boyfriend will be...
Athlete other than a golfer 25/1
Professional Musician 30/1
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This one is g-damn funny! However, let it be noted, I would NEVER leave an overtime game early, especially not in the playoffs. I stayed for the Caps OT loss in Game 1. Violated my own "ALE Theory." Got kicked in the nuts for it. Thanks, sports!
Monday, April 19, 2010
The depressing news regarding the NCAA tournament just keeps getting worse.
Now that ESPN has offered up a mega-sized check for an expanded field of 96, CBS and corporate cable partner Turner has countered with an even bigger check to keep the tournament. Sadly, that offer too, is predicated on marching ahead with expansion.
But wait, how’s this for sucks?
“If CBS and Turner do get the rights to the tournament, the games would be shown on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV, with CBS and Turner alternating rights to the Final Four.”
How’s THAT for an express train to sports irrelevance?
Coming up here on TruTV, following “Scariest Police Chases 9”, it’s Louisiana Tech vs. Iona!
I’m sure NCAA executives will be told by the TV people that “of course, everybody knows what channel TNT and TBS are!” They’ll be spun the idea that cable vs. network is a non-factor in today’s 500+ channel FIOS/Satellite/Digital cable world.
I firmly believe they are wrong on that front. I believe that the NCAA tournament enjoys such popularity because of its mainstream nature. It is accessible to all, the pool sheets fit on a single page, and you don’t need to go hunting for “where-the-*&%#-is-TruTV!” or ask your buddy at work “is this year a Turner Final Four, or CBS?”
Given the lesser of two poisons, I would rather it be on ESPN, despite the annoyance of one Richard Vitale. At least ESPN cross-promotes and flogs the living hell out of their own play-by-play properties. Giving over your tournament to the CBS/Turner bid, would be like throwing it through a woodchipper and scattering it to the wind.
But hey, the checks will start cashing right away, and that’s apparently all they care about.
I had this argument with Maryland color analyst on radio Chris Knoche. I said crabbily: “Well, I hope you and your people are happy. You’ve ruined the greatest sporting event on earth.”
He testily replied that funding the multitude of NCAA championships was the most important part of this expansion.
To which I asked the impertinent question: “Do ALL sports NEED an actual national championship sanctioned and paid for by the NCAA?”
I also asked: “Before CBS started writing such huge checks for March Madness, how did some of these lesser championships get funded?”
Answer: they weren’t.
Me: Good, then maybe if they can’t self-fund, they should go back to not happening.
Cruel? Hardass? Insensitive?
Maybe. Whatever. I don’t care.
Someday, the NCAA will wake up to the realization that an expanded super tournament has drained all the juice the thing once had. It will fully understand the devastation it has wreaked on regular season meaning. It will be shocked at how quickly it falls from the mountaintop of fan passion, to the gutter of just another over-leveraged commercial monstrosity.
We know this: the fans don’t want it. And the fans are the customers. Is anybody listening? Apparently not. The NCAA suits know best. Or so they think.
Here’s a nugget to chew on from the polling firm “Public Opinion Strategies.”
In a survey released yesterday by Public Opinion Strategies, a solid majority (59%) of basketball fans oppose expanding the NCAA tournament from a 64 team tournament to a 96 team tournament. Just 29% of college basketball fans support expansion and ten percent are undecided.
The survey was conducted April 11-13 among 800 likely 2010 voters and 40% of those interviewed identified themselves as college basketball fans.
Among all voters, the results are 20% total favor/46% total oppose. College basketball fans feel strongly about the proposal because intensity is twice is high among opponents (38% strongly oppose) than supporters (16% strongly favor), which will hopefully serve as a warning sign for NCAA officials.
So I'm not sure if this the coolest thing ever, or the wankiest.
Yes, this is really Phil Mickelson, really driving his kids in the van/car through the drive through at Dunkin Donuts on the Monday after the Masters on his way out of Augusta.
I'm leaning toward: really cool.
But I can understand those who might think it wanky. He just HAD to wear the jacket, eh? He probably BEGGED the guy in the drive through to take his photo. He probably said "hey, email me that, so I can make sure it gets onto the internet."
Now, if only Tiger wins the Green Jacket again, and we get a leaked TwitPic of a hot-ass Vegas cocktail waitress wearing NOTHING BUT the green jacket as she exits the hotel bathroom with her hair all a tussled.
Can you even imagine: a green jacket, smelling like the scent of a woman and her perfume. Wow.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
God, somedays I just want to curl up in a ball under my covers and cry over the fact I can't think or write stuff as funny as the guys in the Onion.
But then, I realize that this is ALL THEY DO for a living, and there are long stretches of days where they don't really write anything remotely funny.
But hey, we all have our batting averages in life, right?
I am just glad that The Onion does produce periodic gems like this one.
All Sports To Cease So Skip Bayless Has Nothing To Talk About
Here's a money graph, but please cruise by the Onion website to give them some traffic love on the web counter, and perhaps some encouragement to keep it comin'.
NEW YORK—Expressing regret that joyless, wrongheaded ESPN commentator and attack journalist Skip Bayless could not be dealt with otherwise, commissioners from every major professional sporting league, top officials of amateur athletic associations, and representatives of player unions reached an agreement Wednesday to end the practice of competitive sports in order to forever deprive Bayless of any subject matter.
Only, I am afraid even THAT would not stop the scourge of Skip Bayless.
His existence on ESPN has always bothered me in a profound way. It is not that I find myself disagreeing with him alot. It is that his opinions are wafer thin on substance or originality, and delivered in a way that makes you just want to punch him.
I believe that the very currency of a TV sports pundit is the quality of his opinions. The quality, of them. Not the quantity, or volume.
His opinion currency is as fake as a wad of pink bills from a monopoly game.
Look, I'm not perfect in this regard myself. I have offered half-baked ideas, thinly sourced theories, and horribly biased rants.
But I at least strive to present some original thinking, when possible. I strive to buttress what I think, with a decent framework of logic. I'll even dig hard to find some numbers to back it all up.
And I always try to deliver such opinions with a very healthy dose of self-effacement and humor.
I also admit when I am wrong. (See ALT. E. Andrews Theory)
Skip Bayless is an empty conduit for ESPN show producers to pour the prevailing "counter" opinion on any given argument. And he seems more than happy to let it come spurting out of his mouth.
Hey, it's a living. What else is gonna do now that he's out of the newspaper business?
Surely, many of the things Bayless says, cannot be what he truly feels. They just can't.
I contrast Bayless with a guy like Jason Whitlock. I can pretty much count on vehemently disagreeing with him 50% of the time. But respect that Whitlock's opinions are purely his own.
And he comes at issues from obtuse angles that actually make me think, most of the time. And he surely doesn't give a crap about being PC or making friends.
All of which, is exactly why he and ESPN had their falling out years ago, and will likely never be in business together again.
But yeah, I would like to see all sports shut 'er down for a day or two, just to see what Bayless would say then.
Something tells, me, he would still be able to ramble on about how this is a "good thing" for sports, and that it could be the "wave of the future."
Friday, April 16, 2010
Of all the wonderful things about the "interwebs" (gambling, nudie girlie pics, YouTube) I just love it when you randomly stumble upon a very good article you would have no idea exists.
For example, I was frantically googling Caddyshack quotes to recall how exactly the "Caddy Scholarship" became open once again (Carl Lipbaum died, duh. How could I forget that?) and I came upon this expose on the endangered species known as the Country Club Caddy.
Good photos, interesting details, clean PDF format. Free. Yeah, internet!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Masters Sunday is a sacred day for all of us golfers, and luckily I was able to make it home in order to watch in front of my glorious 226 inches of high definition screen real estate.
This wasn't exactly the case on Saturday, when I was up in Collegeville, PA visiting my brother and sister in law for their son's 1st Holy Communion.
Now, suffice to say, by watching this little clip below, taken on my iPhone, it wasn't the ideal venue. These little monsters were loud! Once upon a time, I might have stormed out of the house and retreated to a local watering hole all miffed. But, nah.
But I've mellowed over the years, so I was actually pretty happy. Alone in the basement with these animalsGod's children, I blissfully tuned out the ruckus, and watched on my bro-in-law's plenty sufficient HDTV.
By Sunday, I was firmly back on home soil, and until you have watched the Masters Triplecast like I can on my array of sets, you just haven't lived.
Nobody tell DirecTV that most of us would actually PAY for the extra "Amen Corner" and "15/16" coverage like we do for Sunday Ticket and Mega March Madness.
Let's just have them keep giving us free stuff!
So anyway, for those of you who have asked or wondered what the "Dome" must look like, here's your little sample.
Someday, if I ever get off my lazy ass, I will do a full write up of the Dome, with costs, specs, tech notes, and all the things I would do differently if I had the chance.
For now, though. Sit back, and get jealous.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
In case you missed it, the inventor of the trampoline died last week.
George Nissen, 96, who as a teenage gymnast was inspired to invent the modern trampoline after watching trapeze artists bounce off a safety net, died April 7 at a hospital in La Jolla, Calif. He had complications from pneumonia.
He "was a true sports pioneer," Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, the sport's national governing body, said in a statement. "His vision, innovations and passion sowed the seeds for trampoline's worldwide popularity.
More than 60 years after Mr. Nissen tested his first workable prototype, trampoline debuted as a medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
An early prototype crafted from canvas and junkyard scraps gave way to his first usable model, developed in 1934 from strips of inner-tube rubber while he was a University of Iowa student.
While listening to Tony Kornheiser's radio show on Tuesday, Kevin Sheehan brought this story up, because Tony and the fellas at PTI have played a classic trampoline clip for years on that show bumping out to break.
For no other reason, than it is hilarious.
And that clip, is simply "Bear Falls on Trampoline."
A snarky emailer said: "I'd imagine a bear will show up at Mr. Nissen's funeral and say a few nice words."
A trampoline saved this bear's life.
Which got me to thinking....
"What YouTube classics, that can be described in 4 words or less, are absolute Hall of Fame worthy?"
Here's a short list. You may add your favorites to the list.
Boom Goes the Dynomite!
Boo, Ben Konop
Dog Picks Up Fireworks
Charlie Bit My Finger
Leroy Jenkins, World of Warcraft (okay, 5 words, sue me!)
Don't Taze Me Bro!
TV Reporter Goes Ghetto
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
"Golf is not, on the whole, a game for realists. By its exactitudes of measurement it invites the attention of perfectionists."
-Heywood Hale Broun
Sunday, April 11, 2010
How’s that for class?
Phil Mickelson, with the hammer-close, to be greeted by his recovering cancer stricken wife and impossibly perfect children fringeside for green jacket #3.
I’ve taken my shots at Phil over the years. Phoney. Choker. Nippleson.
I’m gonna have to retire all that now, because no matter what he might do in the future to make me roll my eyes and say: “That’s it, I’m off the Phil wagon!” I’m going to have to come back to this week and remind myself what a beast he is.
On the course, and off.
Let’s be honest. We’re all jealous of Phil. We want his game, his smile, his money, his private jet, his family.
Jealousy is an ugly thing. Let’s appreciate him instead.
He’s the real deal, in every way.
He flat out dominated #’s 12, 13, 15 and 18. And to think he missed two makeable eagles in that stretch to boot.
For years, people ripped Phil for taking idiotic chances. Justifiably so. But on 13, his 6-iron from the straw was the stuff of pure champions. It was the kind of shot, full of risk and balls out with everything on the table, that will now become legend.
But had Phil lost it all on that play, or on the following holes, you know he would have lost with class. Its something that Tiger, er, Cheetah’s rehab stint has apparently failed to teach.
I just love how the entire CBS announce crew – minus Faldo, who appears to be the only rational thinker on the roster – tried to drag Cheetah’s disheveled game across the finish line on Sunday.
The hushed tones and excuses came early, as Woods bogeyed 3 of his first 6 holes.
“He’s not used to the new wedge grooves!”
“He’s exhausted from all the attention this week!”
“He’s rusty from not playing a warm up tournament!”
Funny, because these were nowhere to be found after Friday. Then, the meme was “He’s Just As Awesome As Ever!”
Then, miracle of miracles, he holes out for eagle on #7 and “zzzzziiiiiippppp!” there goes Peter Kostis’ pants!
When he birdied a stretch making the turn, you could hear the syrup in Nantz’s voice start to warm up like it was ready for the pancakes.
Then the idiotic flubbed 2-footer on #14 essentially excused anybody who needed to leave the set for supper.
Even after Cheetah’s eagle on #15, David Feherty couldn’t quite muster once again the nerve to imply that he was now again, “back in it.”
From the first nuclear snap-pull on #1 Sunday, through every pop up, chunker, yip and tree-clang, it was pretty clear that Woods was nowhere near in form to win the tournament. Forget how many shots he was behind at any moment, it was the multitude of world class players between him and the top of the leaderboard that mattered.
They weren’t all going to choke.
(SIDE NOTE: I don’t know what the “rules” are regarding how to list golfers who are TIED for a score on a television leaderboard, but when was the last time Tiger ever was tied with several golfers, but was NOT floated to the top of that list? Ever? I didn’t see that happen ONCE on CBS all weekend.)
But CBS made sure to play up the Tiger Is The Terminator angle because they know it keeps the extra 40% of non-golf-playing viewers stuck to the set.
Which made it alternately amusing or annoying for those of us who actually have hit a large bucket of stripers in our life and know when a guy is not going to win.
The shame was how it sucked the life out of every other story line, and denied a more proper focus on the final group of Mickelson and Westwood.
Had Cheetah somehow done what only Kostis and Co. go to sleep dreaming about and charged to victory on the back nine, it would have been the most disgraceful major winning performance ever.
Woods was a surly, whiny lot the entire way around.
To think he could finish as high as he did – with a duct taped swing, and body language that reminded parents of their 6 year old after getting denied at the supermarket checkout – only underscores how mentally unprepared he was to play this week.
Any decent golf coach would have scolded their player for acting like Woods did, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the profanities – although those were egregious as well.
When you “pop up” a drive like on #2, but it still goes 300 yards, don’t piss and moan like another mistress just came out and gave an exclusive to the Enquirer.
Stomp ahead, and bear down. Negative thoughts, breed negative emotions, which turn into negative body language and ultimately chumped sand shots.
Who the hell would want to cheer for a guy like that?
Where was the fierce dignity, the quiet determination, the lazer like focus, and the humble acceptance that this tournament might not be one in which he played his best?
Where, oh where, was Buddha?
And where was the television analyst with the balls to say what was obvious. His physical game is a long way from being right, but his mental game is even worse!
Could you imagine how Woods would have reacted to that “rogue stamen” that flew in from Decatur on a wind zephyr to land impossibly in Phil’s line on #2? My god, he would have exploded. Phil just shrugged and moved on.
Tiger’s post-round chat with Kostis pretty much sealed the deal. “People are making way too much of this” Cheetah explained when asked if he let his emotions sink his round.
Wrong answer. The question was did your tantrums hurt your performance, not “do you agree with what they are saying about you in the press?”
How much could Woods have re-habbed his image if he had just screwed on a pair of pursed lips and said afterward: “My swing is a wreck, but it was just great to be back out there in contention. I’m lucky to do this for a living, and I can’t wait for my next event. I’ll get it fixed, but all things considered, it was a helluva week.”
He’s the same guy.
Only Tiger’s image was totaled in that car crash. The guy who plays golf in the swoosh hat was largely unscathed.
He’s a total dick. Now we can drop any pretense.
If you like that kind of thing, then you can root for him all the way to Jack’s record. The rest of us will enjoy players with less talent, but far more class, step up to wax his ass like they did on Sunday.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
See that little white ball in the fairway of "marital scumbag?"
That's Tiger's ball. 306, down the middle.
Now here's Tiki Barber.
His ball just flew Tiger by about 20 yards, and is bounding up toward the green.
In case you didn't know, Tiki has decided to ditch his wife and kids for a 23 year old NBC intern.
Oh, did I mention, Tiki's wife is 8 months pregnant?
Oh, and the intern? Former family babysitter.
Oh, one more. Tiki once ripped his own father for doing the EXACT SAME THING when he and Ronde were kids.
Scummy, heartless, cheesy, AND hypocritical. Well played, jerk.
And yet, when I offered that Tiger had just been blown away by Tiki on the wrong-o-meter, my co-host Andy and many callers on the radio said I actually had it backward. That Tiger's volume of bimbos, trumped the fact that he was at least trying to save the marriage and keep the kids.
I don't get the logic.
Yes, both are bad. But Tiki is far worse.
Not only has he walked out, but he did so on a relationship that is just about guaranteed not to last much longer than a pair of sneakers.
Plus, an intern? Can you get more cliched, Tiki? Anybody who is rich and famous can bang the interns. You don't cash in your marriage for them.
Some argued that "hey, you don't know when the Barbers' marriage became hopelessly broken."
I said: "Well, it was apparently okay 8 months ago."
I would say that it's a pretty fair bet that NBC's Today Show is going to can his ass before the year is out, if not sooner.
Because not only is Tiki NOT a sensational reporter of any kind, but the show isn't really even using him any more.
I just never got why NBC thought he was such a "catch." Sure, clean shaved head, nice big smile, well spoken intelligent black athlete with New York City name recognition.
But beyond that, what?
How long was that "hook" going to hold a viewer's "why-do-I-give-a-fuck" attention? Not to mention that fact that - at a minimum - the rest of the NFC East viewers to the Today show hated his guts to begin with.
So Tiki is now going to carve half his financial empire in half, and fork over half of all future earnings to support four kids and an insanely vindictive ex-wife for the next 21 years.
He will lose his current gravy-train TV job, leaving him free to do, what exactly?
He's forever branded as a totally insensitive asswipe, and may not get much custody or visitation with his kids.
"So, Johnny, show Tiki what he has won behind Door #2!"
"It's a piece of flighty, stupid, 23 year old ass!"
What a deal.
This comes on the heels of another epically bad decision - the decision to end his football career when he was heading into unrestricted free agency following a monster statistical year.
At the time, Tiki was praised as a "smarter-than-your-average-football-jock" guy who was going to seamlessly begin a new high profile career while saving his knees.
You know how football players always lament that they don't want to retire so broken and bruised that they can't even "play catch with their kids?"
Well, looks like that won't be a problem for Tiki.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Essentially, the Eagles and Redskins have made a bet.
The Eagles have said: "Go ahead, have McNabb. He's not that good."
The Redskins have said: "You are f'ing crazy! We'll take him. You're on!"
Now, we wait and find out who is right.
It's possible, that both sides "win" this bet. The Eagles may indeed go forth with new vigor under Kevin Kolb and win more, or even win it all. Or at the very least, win the same as they did under McNabb.
While at the same time, McNabb may have plenty left in the tank, to make the Redskins suddenly quite good, for a healthy 3-4 years going forward.
From my standpoint, this is a blockbuster move that I am strongly in favor of, yet I have limited expectations of the results.
No, not really.
I look at it this way.
McNabb at 33 is NOT past his prime. He's IN his prime. Late prime, yes. But prime. He is poised - barring injury, of course - for a Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Brad Johnson, Rich Gannon golden age of experience and sub-40 health.
McNabb instantly brings leadership to a squad that has been desperate for it from that position for years. Nothing against Jason Campbell as a person, but he never managed to swell up to the role that starting QB demands when it comes to leadership. You can say a good part of that is the dysfunction around him. True. But McNabb is an instant upgrade.
If McNabb plays well for 3 years, it'll be worth it. Period. He doesn't even need to raise his numbers significantly, just be in that 60+% completion range, with 2-to-1 TDs to INTs. Every year after that, is gravy. Three years is a long time.
Now that the Redskins have made a gamble with a 2nd round pick and a 3rd/4th that the QB position is SET for 3 years, they can go about fixing all the other things currently wrong with the team.
Three years from now, with a hopefully better team re-built underneath McNabb, if his production is slipping, you can pivot into the next option at QB. Or, if he's as good as ever, you make a Super Bowl run at age 37.
The Eagles have much more to lose.
In effect, McNabb's legacy is in Kolb's hands. If he plays great, then nobody weeps for #5. If he's a Scott Mitchell like flash in the pan, then they'll regret this for decades.
We once took Sonny Jurgensen off the Eagles hands. I hope this is a repeat.
But for the relative cost (we once paid two mid-round picks for the likes of TJ Duckett and Brandon Lloyd) it was a bet we just had to make.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Had this shot by Gordon Hayward gone down, it would have been the greatest shot in March Madness history.
Move over Lorenzo Charles. Slide down Christian Laettner. Sorry, Keith Smart.
This would have trumped them all.
In part, because of two other factors - aside from the half-court Cinderella miracle it would have been on it's own.
Factor 1: Duke's decision to intentionally miss the second FT.
Factor 2: The horrible non-call on a blatant and vicious moving screen.
First things first.
Hayward is a helluva player. Even though Singler did a great job to shut him down for most of the night, he's a quick, instinctive, silky-long two-way threat who is only going to get better.
The first game winner with 6 seconds to go was an amazing look, that was dead on-line. A driving, jab-step-and-stop fade away over a lunging 7-footer in Zubek.
That one, SHOULD have been Hayward's one-way-ticket to immortal Bobby Plumpdom.
The half-court bank-job that almost went, was nearly Coach K's biggest blunder since letting Trajon Langdon dribble the ball off his foot with the title on the line against UConn. While there are theoretical merits to making Butler collect an intentional miss, and then advance it to halfcourt for a last ditch shot, what you give up is too extreme.
Coach K willingly forfeited what I call "Dagger Insurance."
Had the dagger sunk, it would have been a grave companion like loss for K and the Dukies.
Now, let's talk about the screen. What a horrible no-call. Just because an entire season, an entire tournament, is about to expire, doesn't abdicate the refs from calling correct calls.
That play looked like a KICK RETURN in football. I said to myself: "Holy, shit! Who just got de-cleated!"
Howard was moving forward, flared his arms, and did not give the screen-ee the requisite space to avoid contact.
Which, gets me to a larger point. I hate it when refs "let 'em play."
This is not pick up ball. We pay the refs for a reason. When there are fouls, they should be called. Once you establish early on, that, YES, we will be calling fouls tonite, players adjust and the game takes on a totally different tempo.
When the refs "let 'em play" then it becomes ugly trench warfare.
Like, say, 61-59.
Hayward was for some reason getting the Jordan treatment when it comes to fouls. I counted at least four times he should have been called for an easy whistle.
He banged Lance Thomas on a point blank layup from behind, no call.
He double fisted shoved Zoubek under the basket for a rebound. No call.
He side body slammed Thomas to jar loose easy rebound. No call. (Kellogg comments: Might have been a foul there.)
He got juked into the air on Thomas jumper, lands on him, should be an easy call. No foul.
Afterward, Nantz and Kellogg, flush with the moment, declared this one of the greatest Finals games ever.
Better than Kansas and Memphis last year? Better than Hakeem Warrick blocking a game-winning three for Syracuse?
Look, I know and respect that both Butler and Duke play great defense. But when one team shoots 34% and the other 44% - and SUPRISE! - nobody fouls out of the game, what does that tell you?
That it's alot easier to play "great defense" when you are raking arms on threes that don't get called, and banging bodies on lay-ins that get ignored.
To me, there's no way in a title game somebody shouldn't get fouled out. At least one.
But hey, Butler is going to be sick next year. They return everybody, and are no doubt thirsty to finally close the deal.
If they are back in the Final Four next April, then no, they will NOT be a Cinderella.
FINAL FOUR NOTES
Are the officials now reviewing everything on tape? It's a joke. Anybody can "ref" a game watching replays. It is out of hand, and needs to be reeled in.
If the game looked funny to you on TV, there was a reason. Because in dome settings the camera positions are set so far back from the sidelines off the court, the long focal length of the shot tends to squish objects closer together in the 3rd dimension, or Z axis. Thus, whenever players would cut into traffic, make entry passes into the paint, or otherwise operate in a crowd, it looked like "holy crap, there's NO ROOM TO OPERATE!" CBS did a decent job of mixing in overhead wire-cam shots, and 3/4 shots, which did a better job of showing spacing. I would have preferred to watch the entire game that way, but I'm guessing I'm in the minority.
The superiority of a "down the line" camera angle, however, is indisputable in my mind. Think about it.
In tennis, where is the camera? Behind one endline.
In baseball where, is the camera? Behind center field.
In golf, where is the camera. Behind the golfer, looking at the hole.
In hockey football and basketball the networks obsessively stick to the side-view camera angle.
I often wonder why. Seeing each of these sports from a "down the line" perspective, is much better. It allows you to see the spacing of the game, and the patterns of movement that dictate who gets open, and why. The sideview, offers a largely worthless perspective.
I remember reading articles 20 years ago that said we would someday be able to choose our own camera angles from the couch.
Hmmm. I guess that's on hold. Instead, we get shows like "Minute to Win It."
Monday, April 5, 2010
So you are an adviser to the President. You know he is going to throw out the first pitch at the Nationals' home opener. You know it is custom to don the colors and hat of the home town team.
Yet, POTUS wants to rep his supposedly beloved hometown Chicago White Sox hat.
What do you tell him?
"Yeah, boss, that'll go over well! It'll show that... um.... that, you are, ummm... something."
A dick, that's what you are.
Like, where exactly is the political benefit of doing something lame like that? So you can hold the all-important White Sox vote in 2012?
The downside is clear. You wear that mismatched hat, and you send a lot of negative signals. For one, it makes more headlines. "President Acts Like A Dick On Opening Day." (Story, Page D1).
It also reminds people that you throw like a girl. Actually, worse. Next time, have Hillary throw that bitch out on opening day in her frumpy tan pantskirt. She'll whomp it in there, and then spit on her own shoes.
It is one thing for pandering politicians to don whatever cap is expedient during election season. But at least they can claim they need every single vote possible. But he's already in office. Just wear the fucking hat and jacket. This team has lost over 200 games the last two seasons. Christ.
From a fan purity standpoint, he was already wearing a Nats jacket. If he thinks he's being a "true fan" by insisting on wearing that Sox hat, then how do you explain away the jacket?
If wearing another team's colors is so wrong, then you can't just split the difference and go half and half.
But then again, this guy wore his Bulls gear when he visited a Wizards game this past winter. My colleague Andy was actually - I do mean, actually - more upset about this than he was the entirety of ObamaCare's passage.
Got it, Barry. You are an old school sports fan. You fill out brackets, play hoops, rep the South Side gear. Hard core.
Now get some throwing lessons.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I don’t know about you, but I watched the Final Four Saturday under a lingering cloud of depression.
The realization that this most awesome of sporting events is about to be ruined – and that this was the very last pure Final Four I would watch – just left me in a funk.
I could hardly enjoy seeing Butler – again, F’ING BUTLER! – crash the Championship game despite shooting a lousy 31% against Tom Izzo’s bruisers. Normally, I would absorb the magnitude of this Cinderella story, instead I just kept wondering about how stupid and messed up next year’s “bracket” is going to be with 96 teams.
Sorry for swearing, but if I don’t, I’m gonna lose my mind.
That’s a joke. Ninety-six of the FINEST basketball teams in the land! Har. Sure. My god, we gotta get Dayton and a lousy, under-achieving, mail-it-in UNC into this puppy next year.
To quote a favorite line from Opie and Anthony: “Go screw!”
As sports fans, we have affirmed over and over our love for March Madness. We have said how perfect it is. We have obsessed, we have gambled, filled out brackets, formed pools, organized trips to Vegas – all around this beautiful, breathing monster of sporting month!
Nobody was asking for more of it. It was perfect. But here it comes, sports fans.
Open wide, because we’re gonna shove it down your throat. And Dick Vitale will be calling the Final Four.
Yep. That’s gonna happen. You can bank on it.
“Heyyyyyyy bayyyybeeeeee! This is awesommmmeeeee, I’m at the Final Fourrrrrrrr baybeee!”
Oh, but don’t worry, the even Bigger Dance is gonna be BETTER! Or, not much different than it is now. Or it’ll be whatever spin the NCAA overlords put out that particular day. They’ll say because it’s on ESPN’s Gatling-gun of different channels, you can watch more games. They’ll say it’ll help more mid-majors make the field. They’ll say they had no choice, economically. They’ll say it makes mathematical sense. They’ll say it won’t hurt the integrity of the regular season.
They’ll say, they’ll say, they’ll say….
Truth is, they will be lying out of their asses on half the claims, and the other half they really won’t know what is gonna happen next. Neither do we.
Chances are, things won’t be better. There will be un-intended consequences. Nasty surprises. Opposite reactions to what they had thought would happen.
Up until last week, however, I had consoled myself by thinking: “Okay. Whatever. I’ll just jump in when they get down to 64. The extra weekend on the front end, would just be a way to essentially “play the bubble.”
Oh, but wait. We found out there won’t be an extra weekend. They are going to jam this larger shovel of shit into the same 3 week sized bag.
In short, I see the following.
An all-cable, all-ESPN mega-tournament will peel off even more of the casual college fan. It’ll un-mainstream it, just like what happened when the NBA fled for cable. It won’t help more St. Mary’s make the dance. It’ll help more Mississippi States and Texas A&M’s. It won’t give coaches more job security, it’ll get more of them fired.
TV ratings will not go up.
Making the tournament won’t be special. Winning a game in it won’t be special. Waiting to see the brackets on TV that Sunday night won’t be special. Filling out your mega-pool-sheet won’t be special.
One Shining Moment will now be Is It Finally Over Already?
I’m gonna start drinking now.
Friday, April 2, 2010
While everybody is licking their chops over the Final Four, let's take a quick moment to get my legendary season-long over/under guru on baseball - the nefarious and infamous "Mr. X." - to issue his pre-season report.
As always, these predictions from Mr. X are based on excellent and passionate baseball knowledge, a lifetime of wagering, melded together with a healthy dollop of cynicism, not wide-eyed fandom.
Also note, you MAY NOT be able to find these exact numbers at your local "shop." As Mr. X told me this spring, the numbers have been ALL OVER THE PLACE this year, more than he's ever seen. He's glad he got in on some picks early. But remember, there is NO such thing as a "bad" line move, it is just an opportunity to hedge your bets in another direction.
So without further adieu, I present Mr. X's pre-season report. Enjoy, and be safe.
Or, as "X" would say: "Only bet as much as you can afford............ to WIN!"
Mr. X Baseball, 2010
First, the gloat:
Ah, the streak goes on. Last year, my two “locks” got home easy. In May I got lots of “negative feedback” on the BlueJays UNDER pick when they were atop the Al East.
But in the end, were right where I said they’d be. The schedule was unbalanced, so their 2nd half was brutal, and they do play them all. Dodgers over was the other lock of 09. WWCD.
2009 marked the 10th year of making picks for Zabe and his “documenting”. After jumping out to an 11-1 start the first 2 seasons (91%), of course there was nowhere to go but down. But last year’s 2-0 allowed me to finish the decade 47-15, (76% clip). Works for me!
Rules of the road: If you look at your picks, and don’t see about as many UNDERS as overs, go back and start over. Every “over” player will moan about injuries and “off years”. Duh – that’s what makes unders. If you need everything to break right to go over, then skip it.
On to 2010
If you are getting this late in the game, well, I can’t help it. I can’t recall line moves like this in 15 or so years since the off shore movement began. The last time I recall this was in ’02 (I think) when I won both sides of the Astros, when they went from 82 to 87.5. Played over early, played under late. Came home on 87 I think it was. Rarely will you see moves of totals, (just odds). Let’s look back to last year. Both my “early locks” moved to very high juice. La/Tor both ended up at -200. But, the totals didn’t move. Nobody makes a living laying -200, but I convinced everyone last year to do it, because “a win is a win”, so take it. This year, the totals are moving. But, here’s the two I grabbed early:
1. Nationals over 67.
Easy winner. You can actually recognize their bench now. It used to look like the Indians in Major League. They have a solid player at all 5 infield positions (except for Dunn’s defense). They have speed in the outfield with Morgan, Tavares, Maxwell, and decent vet in Willingham. Young pitching is not something you want to count on, but with vets like Marquis and Hernandez to eat up innings, their youngsters won’t have to be overworked. You don’t even need Strasburg to win this play, but he is huge upside wildcard. (Number now closer to 70.5, but still a play, just downgraded from “lock” to “winner”.)
2. Colorado over 81.5.
I know, this one has moved up recently too (84 now), couple that with the public loving them, and I can’t give a strong play to it.
Others if 2-0 isn’t good enough:
3. Angels under 84.
This team is finally ready to collapse. I don’t see them getting to .500 in a suddenly balance AL West. You can make a case that A’s over 78 is good play, but I don’t want both. With a balanced AL West, the edge shifts back to Beane, who has been without horses for a couple years. I’m a believer.
4. Royals over 71.5.
First one to .500 wins the Central and Twins are overrated. With such parity – or mediocrity in Central, they can all end up in high 70’s, so I’m on the one with the low number. It’s almost like a play against Cle, Min and Det.
5. Cubs under 83.
Why Piniella is thought so highly of, I’ll never understand. His last real accomplishment was the Reds team that won the Series in 1990. That one year wonder after 3 disappointing seasons with the Yanks. What, he gets a lifetime pass for one winner? I think 12 guys have managed a WS winner SINCE him. Are they all geniuses too? He had Griffy, A.Rod and R.Johnson in their prime and won 3 division titles in 10 years (in a 4 team division!) Grand total of one playoff series win. He managed a young talented TB team for 3 years and couldn’t get over 70. Cubs have had most talent in NL for his 3 years there, and have steadily declined. Fine, perhaps you can’t blame him for everything, but a grand total of 1 pennant and 1 WS isn’t a lot for a 22 year career! Sounds more like Gene Shue to me. (22 years and about as much success as Lou.)
6. Astros over 74.
See Royals writeup. Only Cards are good in that division. Most likely to sneak close to .500 is the Astros.
Leans: I didn’t pull the trigger on these, but was close.
7. White Sox over 80.5.
Simple really, Peavy. This team is as good as the Twins, and Peavy is a big upside. I also am impressed that this organization shows no hesitation to “go for it”, if close. While the Peavy deal last year didn’t pan out, the move still shows the organizations ability to pull the trigger if at all close. That gets them over .500 and a likely division crown. With an unbalanced schedule, just take the best team in division over .500 and stop there.
8. Dodgers under 86.5.
On paper, this one is a little too close. However, all I have to say is: Manny Ramirez. If this team doesn’t start fast, look out. The front office is poised to sell, and ever seen Manny perform when it “doesn’t matter”? He can carry this team – but I’m betting he won’t. Will Dodgers be forced to sell, like the Sox? Most likely. You just can’t put up with him if you aren’t about to win it. Lots of things could go wrong on this team, and that division is much better.
9. SD under 72, lock it up after Gonzalez is dealt.
Division Winners (at values):
Boston at +180
White Sox +140
A’s at +700 (I’m not sold on any of the other 3, so I’ll take the big dog here).
Philly wins at -175 (but that number is not playable) Cards win, but I can’t lay -250. With my $, I’d rather take shot on 7-1 Reds.
Rockies at +260 (felt a lot better about this last month, before the world jumped on them).
WC is Yanks and Cards.
Both of them are nice odds “WC winner” plays, if you can find that. Example, you get a better price on “Yanks WC” than you would on RedSox to win division and it essentially is the same play!
No “AL/NL” champs picks are worth the shot this year. It will be a “chalk year”, and no reason to lock in now as no price advantage. (Unlike my 2003 Marlins to win it all @500-1! But, reality is I took them to “win the NL, at 200-1”, not WS. Yes, Czabe, I had to get the reminder back in!)