Tuesday, September 30, 2008

C'mon Hating Al Davis is Just Too Easy

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all the Jews out there. No I didn't forget to post because I was attending services, I was busy basking in the glow of that Cowboys defeat this past Sunday. That Jim Zorn, he might be onto something. Don't look now, but even if the Skins lose to the Eagles next week, they've got upcoming games against Jim Haslett's soul (they are officially back to being called the lambs by the way), Braylon Edwards rotting corpse (that's just some fantasy bitterness coming out, I still love Braylon), and the perpetual football coma that is the Detroit Lions. If I was a betting man, I'd put the Skins at 6-2. All that said, the Philly game looks awfully winnable, especially if Brian Westbrook isn't playing.

But enough about the Skins. They don't need the press right now. I'm actually terrified this winning might go to their heads, so let's switch topics to someone else who at some points in times terrifies me and at other times keeps me alive with laughter.

As you all probably will know by the time you read this, Al Davis finally ended the "Will he fire boy wonder Lane Kiffin or continue to let him hang out to dry" saga with a bang. The Raiders owner went out and just lambasted the guy publicly, calling him a liar and then had the audacity to bring up Chris Mortenson. Seriously, every time he would go back to Chris Mortenson's story during that press conference, he'd make sure to mention just whose story it was. As if it were Mortenson's fault all this happened, you crazy old kook.

The hiring

It's not all hate for Al Davis here. I gotta admit, it was kind of refreshing to hear the owner shoot off at the mouth in public. The guy had something to say, and no matter how crazy he looked in that weird looking sweater vest, he was going to say it. Although I kept getting the image as Davis's head and specifically turkey-like neck kept twitching about as if he hadn't seen the light of day in awhile. It was as if he knew the presser was going on too long and the early bird special was running about down the street.

But unlike the rest of the sporting world that hides behind its cliches and inner circle rights when it comes to speaking with the media, Al Davis said what he felt, despite the questions of sanity all of it raised. What I'm trying to say, is I learned a lot about and from Al Davis and I'd like to share some of that enlightenment with you:

1) There is still a need for mailmen
In trying to prove that the all the media reports about Kiffin's frosty relationship with ownership and his imminent firing were false, Al Davis decided to show the press a letter that Davis sent to Kiffin after the Raiders' opening season loss to the Broncos.

Mind you the contents of said letter, which lest we forget was fedexed to to really get the point across, contained pointed criticism about the way Kiffin was handling the team and warning that his job was in jeopardy. Oh yeah, and since the reports were off about that deteriorating/non existant relationship, the letter was absolutely necessary. Oh wait, Al Davis works in the same office as Kiffin, at the very least has assistants who know how to send an email, and confirmed today that he indeed had Kiffin's phone number since he used it to fire Kiffin.

2)This might be the beginning of some epic firings
This is about as public and bad a firing I can remember. It's probably just an anomaly considering we're just off the nicest firing of all time with Ned Yost and the Brewers (I'm still in shock the GM sent Yost an email saying thanks for all the hard work. You fired the guy two weeks ago. I'm trying to think of a good analogy but the only thing I keep thinking of is someone handing another person some brownies, promptly kicking them in the nuts, only to give them the brownies back. What was the point if you were on such hearty terms).

But in all seriousness, I just happened to be watching Back to the Future II right after Al's press conference ended and couldn't help but watch with delighted anticipation as Michael J. Fox's character gets fired by a boss who shows up on a big screen yelling You're Fired in a stereotypical Asian accent while fax announcements of the news come streaming in from every direction. That's our future, and I like thinking about the future meltdowns that could ensue. If Christopher Lloyd and the DeLorean say it's going to happen, I think we can mark it down as fact.

3) Lastly, but most importantly, Al Davis's pockets are definitely straight
What can you really say about the guy? We were expecting crazy out of Al Davis and the man delivered with flying colors. You can hate him, but I love him. He's like Mr. Wilbur on Dennis the Menace except cracked out, older, and more vindictive. Then you've got little Lane Kiffin running through his garden (or I guess in this case football team) making a mess. Al decided enough with the shenanigans and put the kid in his place and let us all know: I'm rich, I like me some dysfunction, and I'm not selling the team.


So sit back and enjoy the bashing Al Davis is going to take over the next couple of days. But c'mon, you can't tell me that old bastard wasn't entertaining. When Al Davis speaks, I listen with a sarcastic grin on my face.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekend Viewing Guide

Alright enough about the economy. No matter the doom and gloom on Wall Street, sports are still around to create a helpful diversion. With college football in full swing now thanks to USC's upset loss to Oregon State last night, the NFL season starting to hit its stride in week four, and baseball playoff spots still up for grabs in the final weekend ... this should be a pretty, pretty good week for sports and television.

Friday Night
Cubs at Brewers, 8 pm ESPN
So this whole "who's going to win the NL East and NL wild card spot" thing is actually going to come down to the last day. As of Friday afternoon, the Mets are a game back of the Phillies in the East and all tied up with the Brewers in the wild card race. The Mets finish up with three against the Marlins, while the Phillies have three with the bottom of the barrel Nats (Oh and by the way, the Nats fan in me jumped for joy when I read this. Finally the cavalry is here to help right this sinking Nationals ship.) But back to the race, which really could go any direction for all three teams. Since this stretch run will essentially be an early start to the playoffs for whoever makes it to October, pitching will likely be the big deciding point.

The Mets throw out Pelfrey on Friday and Santana on Sunday. They haven't decided on Saturday's pitcher. You've got to believe if the Mets can win on either Fri or Sat., odds are Santana will clean things up on Sunday. The Phillies have Joe Blanton Friday, Jamie Moyer Saturday, and if necessary I'm guessing Cole Hamels on Sunday. And we can't forget the opponent is the Nats. Meanwhile, the Brewers have Jeff Suppan going against a 16-win Ryan Dempster of the Cubs, a just coming back from an elbow injury Benn Sheets on Saturday and a going on three days' rest for the second-straight start C.C. Sabathia. In essence, new manager Dave Sveum is taking a lot of risk going for that ultimate reward.

In theory, based on the starting pitching, the pick should be the Phillies winning the NL East with the Mets taking the wild card. But how can you say that with any certainly considering how atrocious the bullpen at Shea has been all year. It's certainly going to be interesting to watch the drama unfold through the weekend.

Maryland at Clemson, Noon RAYCOM Sports
Virginia at Duke, Noon ESPNU
North Carolina at Miami, Noon ESPN2
Michigan State at Indiana, Noon ESPN

I know the ACC isn't the cream of the crop in terms of football conferences, but me being in DC has definitely influenced my viewing habits. In the paper I work for this week, I picked Maryland to go into Death Valley and escape with a win just like it did two years ago. I like the way Freidgen and his gang have played the past two weeks when their backs were against the wall. My question is will the pass defense hold up? ... Virginia and Duke will have my eye solely because I'm curious what David Cutcliffe is up to with a 2-1 team in Durham. ... And I have a weird feeling the Blue Devils will win, while Carolina will crumble against in Coral Gables against Miami a week after pure and simply blowing a win over Virginia Tech ... Oh yeah, I'll grab a look at Little Brother. The Spartans beating Notre Dame last week does not change my belief that Michigan will win at the Big House later this year.

Wisconsin at Michigan, 3:30 pm ESPN
Tennessee at Auburn, 3:30 pm CBS
Nationals at Phillies, 3:55 pm FOX

Speaking of the Wolverines, they have a game against Wisconsin this week at the Big House. And for me, I say thank goodness. That Notre Dame loss has had far too much time to linger. The bottom line is that Michigan lost six fumbles in that game (Matt I said seven, but I was wrong) and losing six fumbles in a game just doesn't happen more than once a season. I'm willing to bet a lot of money on that. In that game against the Fighting Irish, Michigan out gained them on offense, while Sam McGuffie and Steven Threet looked impressive (or at least something resembling impressive for all you pessimists out there).

All that said, I don't like the Wolverines odds in this one. Something tells me it's a close game that comes down to the wire before Michigan shows its youth. Next week against Ilinois, well I've been thinking that would Rich Rod's break through for awhile now. More on that later, though. ... The Auburn offense was better last week against LSU, but the Tigers still lost. This article about the Tony Franklin offense (see last week's Weekend Viewing Guide for more) comes out next week, and my gut tells me this is the week Auburn explodes against the reincarnation of Lloyd Carr aka Philip Fulmer. ... And like I said, I'm keeping an eye on that playoff race and the Phillies.

Alabama at Georgia, 7:45 ESPN
Illinois at Penn State, 8 pm ABC
Virginia Tech at Nebraska, 8 pm ABC

I would have put the Illinois/Penn State on top because that's the game I really wanted to watch. But being in DC means ACC all the time, and therefore we are getting the Va. Tech/Nebraska battle. See, after watching that Oregon State/USC game last night, you couldn't help but get the feeling Penn State is better than we all thought. That being said, I think the Fighting Illini are a flawed team, that like I said earlier, will lose to Michigan. They barely beat Louisiana-Lafayetee a week ago and combined with the overwhelming home field advantage, I expect the Nittany Lions to come out on top. This is Penn State's chance to prove it actually means business this year. ... The Bama/Georgia game is just another example of how tough the SEC is this year. All this talk of an undefeated team making it all the way has to be thrown out the window now that the Trojans have a loss. I just don't see it happening. Remember, just last season, one team in the BCS Title game lost its second-to-last game (Ohio State) and the other lost its last regular-season game (LSU).

Falcons at Panthers, 1pm FOX
Vikings at Titans, 1pm FOX
Packers at Bucs, 1pm FOX
Marlins at Mets, 1pm TBS

The NFC South takes center stage for me with three teams locked in at 2-1. The surprising Falcons should get a reality check against my Panthers, especially in Charlotte. You gotta admit, though, the Matt Ryan/Michael Turner era in the Dirty Dirty rolls off the tongue a lot more easily than it did a few weeks ago. ... 60 some odd passes aside, I'm certainly not sold on Fiji alum Brian Griese as an answer at quarterback for the Bucs. I think Aaron Rodgers gets back on track this week for the Packers, who might (I say might with extreme hesitation) face a challenge from the Bears this year ... Because like I said last week, Gus is not going to the playoffs with the Vikings. Especially when it looks like the Titans defense may make them a replica of the 2000 Ravens that somehow won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer. ... And yes, the Mets game will get some minutes from me considering a playoff spot is almost certainly going to be hanging in the balance.

Redskins at Cowboys, 4 pm FOX

Everyone is pumping up the Cowboys and rightfully so, considering the way they've looked going 3-0 this year. But if it's one thing I've learned over the years about these Dallas games, it's that this is the one rivalry that levels the competition field in the NFL. You see it a lot in college, but not nearly as much in football, and especially this series. Because no matter how good or how bad either team is, this game more often than not is fought tooth and nail and real close.

It's definitely concerning that Jason Taylor won't be playing, because getting pressure on Tony Romo is the key to stopping the Cowboy attack. There's a lot of weapons to deal with, though, and from what I've read the Skins plan to give the Cowboys as many five or six yard gains that they want in order to combat the consequences of giving up big plays. I bet TO has a touchdown, but Shawn Springs does a solid job on him. Jason Witten has a shot at a big game.

We'll certainly learn a whole lot about the Jim Zorn era this week and the following week, when the Skins face the Eagles. It's definitely been refreshing to see the Skins dominate fourth quarters the past two weeks. A win in Dallas puts the Skins on a fast track to a playoff run, but a loss isn't the end of the world (it is a division road game after all). That being said, I think if the Skins want to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel confidence about their status within the NFC, they need to pick off either the 'Boys or the Eagles on the road in the next two weeks.

I think with all the attention on Santana now, Cooley is due for a big game. These Skins can win, it's a question of will they.

Have No Fear a Recession is Here

Well as we move along in this financial crisis, there seems to be new developments by the minute. A couple hours ago it was Jp Morgan becoming the largest bank in the world thanks to its purchase of Washington Mutual. And right now it's Harry Reid, Christopher Dodd and the rest of the powers that be on the finance committee of the Senate criticizing interference on the passing of the Paulson bailout plan. Basically the world is coming to an end according the men running our country.

Now, it may bore some that I'm paying so much attention to this thing, but it's kind of cool that we're going through something that will be remembered for a long, long time. I'm talkin an entire chapter of a text book important.

My quick, knee jerk reaction is that the government is moving way too fast on this this bailout. It seems to me it's merely a "plugging the hole in a rotting dam" solution to this crisis. It addresses the fallout, but doesn't get at the root of the issues. At least that's acccording to the experts:

But almost 200 academic economists -- who aren't paid by the institutions that could directly benefit from the plan but who also may not have recent practical experience in the markets -- have signed a petition organized by a University of Chicago professor objecting to the plan on the grounds that it could create perverse incentives, that it is too vague and that its long-run effects are unclear. ...

"There is a kind of suggestion in the Paulson proposal that if only we provide enough money to financial markets, this problem will disappear," said Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist. "But that does nothing to address the fundamental problem of bleeding foreclosures and the holes in the balance sheets of banks."

Henry Paulson, you worry me.

The feeling I get is that this plan is the quick fix answer, and more time is needed to thoroughly plan out just how we're going to recover. And frankly, it appears to me as if it's getting rushed simply because people are fearful of an economic downturn. Well, guess what people, we're in the midst of a full fledged downturn. Why is everyone afraid to embrace it. Everyone seems so fearful of acknowledging the word "recession", even though it's a natural occurence in the system we call capitalism.

Instead though, the powers that be within this country feel the answer is to nationalize everything when a disaster strikes this country. I read an interesting piece, from of all people, the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford. He cites the examples of Hurricane Katrina, when the federal government took on roles normally reserved for state and local governments. and 9/11, when the government created a shoe removal/security service by the name of The Transportation Security Agency. And wouldn't you know, my guy Sanford elaborates even more:

For 200 years, the "business model" in our country has rested on a simple fact: that while one may reap rewards from taking risks, one should also be prepared to face the consequences of those risks. Some of the proposed actions with regard to the credit market turn that business model on its head -- absolving those who took too much risk, or bought too much house, from the weight of their own choices. If Congress passes the proposed bailout, we will be destined to have far greater problems in time, leaving those who are prudent in their finances to foot the bill for those who are not.

See, capitalism relies on recessions. Japan went through one the entire 1990s. Just open up your minds to the concept of it. It's happening. So let's take the time to allow the experts to create fundamentally sound and real solutions to this crisis.

And frankly, it bothers me that one of our Presidential candidates went from saying the fundamentals of our economy are sound a week ago to feeling the need to call off his campaign because the financial situation was so dire seemingly a few days later. John McCain, you've been warned.

John McCain becoming more and more frightening.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

These Days Everyone Has a Blog

Seriously, it's absolutely fascinating the amount of athletes that have decided to write down their semi-coherent, yet not very thought provoking ideas on the computer screen. Everyone sort of knows about the big time ones that occasionally pop up on the national news like Curt Schilling's blog or Gilbert Arenas' blog, which of course I read regularly.

But it's a national phenomenon in the athlete world now. Today I discovered Mike Hart's blog, where I learned that he will be on campus in Ann Arbor this weekend for the Wisconsin game alongside his former teammates, Jake Long and Mario Manningham. Also, Hart's fellow Colts teammate and former Wisco QB, Jim Sorgi, is coming as well.

Once I stumbled into Hart's blog, I decided it was time to start googling anyone I could think of and attaching the word "blog" to the end. Here's what I learned:

1) Michael Phelps used to have a blog. I guess now he's too big time for that. Instead he likes to drink corona out of a can on national television.

2) David Wright used to have one, too. I particularly liked how he spent an entire section of one post explaining why he sticks his tongue out on the baseball field a la Michael Jordan. For the record he only does it when he's "really concentrating or trying hard." How cute.

3) Dontrelle Willis has a blog that he started on December 5, 2007, two days after he was traded from the Marlins to the Tigers. Funny thing is, D (which what he calls himself on the blog) stopped posting on March 6, 2008. I guess it makes sense, since that's about the time D probably realized he's no longer a Major League caliber pitcher. But the banner when you actually go to the site still says "Dontrelle Willis: Pitcher for the Detroit Tigers". I wonder if there's anyway we can go in there and change it to "Dontrelle Willis: High Leg Kickin' It in Class A Lakeland". Other issues I had were that he listed his favorite city as Oakland (I know he's from there, but c'mon, OAKLAND!), his favorite player as Juan Pierre, and one of his favorite movies is Mr. 3000 starring the deceased Bernie Mac.

4) Carmelo has one, too, but it hasn't been updated since May. Be prepared to try and read the number '2' used as a word and the letter 'u' as a word. I guess Melo texts these bad boys in, rather than actually write them.

5) Donovan McNabb's blog was probably the best I read. Too bad it's almost all Philly sports. Oh yeah, and McNabb writes it. Ugh.

6) I take what i said about Donovan's blog back. Baron Davis easily has the most entertaining blog this side of Gilbert Arenas. It's not just vanilla bullshit about games. Baron actually shares some real world views. For example, the Baron addressing Gilbert on the Presidential election:

(I know he said he's gonna raise the taxes on the top income bracket, Gil, but if he uses that money to improve our schools then you won't have to worry about some kids trying to sell pictures of your pool online cause they couldn't get a better job.) LOL

Oh and to top it all off, Baron refers to himself as BoomDizzle throughout and starts posts with phrases like "Yessirr!!! Boom back in the Yard", "Ybbbbbb, what's good. Its your boy Boom", and "What up YB, your boy BoomDizzle stopping through the yard". I think that makes it official, one of this blog's favorite players, Baron Davis, will from here on out be called Boom Dizzle. I think this whole blog search just confirmed Boom Dizzle as my favorite player not wearing a Wizards jersey.

Also, look who figured out how to use video. I highly recommend watching this if you'd like to become an even bigger BoomDizzle fan

I just put this post up and then discovered Boom Dizzle actually made some headlines today. He's now endorsing Jenny Craig. Yes, the same haven for fat women we all associate with the name Jenny Craig.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Let Them Drink The Beer

I'm no longer in the Midwest, but it hasn't stopped me from noticing all that's going on in the Chicagoland baseball scene. Both the White Sox and Cubs should be in the playoffs this year (although my guess is neither make the World Series) and apparently the people of Chicago are happy — really happy.

So happy that Chicago mayor Richard Daley has issued this decree:

Mayor Richard Daley said today the city will ask bars near Chicago's baseball stadiums to voluntarily cut off alcohol sales after the seventh inning of home games where the Cubs or White Sox could clinch a playoff series.

While other city officials cautioned that they had yet to discuss the plan with bar owners, the mayor said it was a no-brainer.

"What we're asking is common sense. You can drink as much beer for seven innings as you want," Daley said. "Give me a break. This is common sense, that's all it is. We're asking for the cooperation of everyone."

Asked what he would tell business owners who fear a loss of business, Daley replied, "I'll have somebody buy their place tomorrow ... If you've been drinking for five hours and you're laying on the floor, don't give that person another beer.

"I mean, give me a break ... It's not going to cost them any business. They made enough money all year, I'm sorry. We're just talking about common sense."

I know we all look towards out politicians for help and guidance in tough economic times since we all care about our incomes so much, especially during the past few months. But this Daley fellow might cost himself re-election with this little stunt. I may have just turned 21 a short while ago, but I know there's only one thing people like more than money ... ALCOHOL!

RIP Modern Era Yankees

I'd been saving this post for the day the Yankees were officially eliminated from playoff contention, and of course when that day came yesterday I forgot to post about it altogether. But here we go, the unofficial eulogy of the modern era Yankees.

I feel like we've all had a vested interest in this team soley because this was the dominant baseball team for my precocious youngster years. They kept going to the playoffs, and making deep runs once they got there (especially before 2001), that even if you hated them, you were familiar with names like Jeter, Pettite, Posada, Rivera, Tino, etc. But as we all know that started drying up once the Yanks' brass decided to go for broke every year in free agency and in the process completely alter their (to that point) minor league development machine. Buster Olney of ESPN, who used to cover the Yanks for the New York Times back in the day, explains it better than I do:

The Yankees' thirst for yearly success at the big league level has hurt the team's efforts to regenerate the organization's player development, of course. ...

The Yankees, who already had become a middle-aged team during the dynasty, began relying almost solely on free-agent spending to augment the team, to paper over weaknesses, and the Yankees sacrificed draft picks along the way. From the fall of 2001 through 2005, the Yankees sacrificed nine high draft picks to sign free agents Jason Giambi, Steve Karsay, Rondell White, Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth and Johnny Damon. In addition, the Yankees' consistent high finishes in the standings -- propped up by the free-agent signings -- naturally hurt their draft position.

Basicallt the desire to be this World Series contender every single year hurt them in the long run. Now the mighty Yanks are starting to feel the heat because even the limited amount of proven home grown talent like Jeter, Pettite and Posada are on the down turn, while supposed up-and-comers like Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano have on various levels shown themselves unworthy of being considered future stars just yet.

Which brings me to my next point: this upcoming offseason. We are all expecting the Yankees to be the Yankees of old now that they're about to have close to $90 million in payroll wiped off the slate. That means C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, maybe A.J. Burnett, and who knows what else the team may have up its sleeve.

Their days as Yankee stars are (or at least could) be numbered.

And while Brian Cashman has put a newfound emphasis on organizational strength (i.e. having a good minor league system and good drafting), the team still seriously lags behind the Red Sox and now the Rays in terms of developing its own players. And the way the AL East played out this year, I think the addition of Sabathia and Teixeira, while nice pickups, would still leave the Yanks on the outside looking in when the playoffs come around. And frankly, my opinion is that any team based around the talents of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez is likely to have a short shelf life. There's just no way a championship team consists of Jeter and ARod as focal points in the future. Jeter isn't the player he once was and it's only a matter of time before ARod, now 33 years old, starts to see some major slippage in his game.

If I'm Yankees management I go pick one or the other — Sabathia or Teixeira — sign him to one of those ridiculously large Yankee deals and then see if you can't just develop a second star. Build the team around either Sabathia or Teixeira, not build it with them and some other big money free agents. It may mean taking some lumps for a season or two, but the quality draft picks they might get from a season or two like this year could pay off in the long run. Look at the Rays, they sucked for years and years, subsequently some great picks in the top five of various MLB drafts, and now they have a juggernaut that could be a team to be reckoned with for the next decade.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dave Letterman clears up the economy issues?

So I've got Verizon Fios at home here in Maryland, and up until today it hadn't really caused me any major issues. In fact, I get more channels for a cheaper price than Comcast. But yesterday, Verizon decided to switch up the channels on me, moving all of them in seemingly incomprehensible directions. And since I threw away the channel guide, I was SOL last night maneuvering through the television.

That's why I stumbled upon the Late Show with David Letterman last night. See, the basic channels like NBC, FOX, and CBS remained unchanged. Apparently this week is premiere week for the late night talk show circuit, so they all try to pack in as many big time guests as possible. Dave had Bill Clinton and Chris Rock last night.

Let me tell you, after hearing Bill speak last night, I'm completely convinced this entire financial fiasco the world is going through would not have occurred had Bill gone FDR on our butts and been in the White House for 16 years. While the entire world seems to be completely flummoxed by this situation (notice the ridiculously volatile oil prices right now), Bill calmly explained to Letterman in layman's terms what the problem was and how he/Hillary proposes to fix it.

Basically he said the Bush administration failed in the beginning of this decade by just handing out tax breaks to the rich instead of giving money/tax breaks/incentives for said rich people to invest in new industries revolving around energy initiatives like alternative fuels and the like. This would create new jobs for the American people (a huge need given all the outsourcing in every industry these days), and also prevent the rich folk from simply re-investing and leveraging in the real estate market. Clinton said all this concisely and re-assured people that everything is going to be alright. Basically what he was saying is that if you're going to allow rich people to get richer it's fine, but make sure they have to make concessions to help the rest of the country in process. Therefore, it turns into a win for everyone.

Who knows if he's right, but I think Americans need to stop playing the blame game in this whole economy mess. Everyone screwed this one up: the federal government, Wall Street, the Main Streets of America, and the really rich barons. Whether it was not providing enough oversight and letting the rich get breaks they didn't deserve (the federal gov't), spending money they didn't have in order to get huge, ridiculosly large bonuses (Wall St.), taking on mortgages people couldn't afford (Main Street America), or just being greedy old farts with no concern for the well being of anyone but themselves (rich barons) ... shit has hit the fan and it's time to regroup.

But what made Clinton's appearance on letterman even more remarkable was Chris Rock following him. The dude was on fire and on point, especially when he criticized Clinton for talking too much about Hillary and not enough about Barack. Here's some highlights:

Rock, out promoting the latest HBO standup special, isn't used to having the secondary slot on a talk show, but allowed it Monday to make way for Clinton, who was asked about the economy and campaign by the host

"I hope you don't expect me to be that smart, Dave. I got nothing," Rock said. "I thought I was watching Charlie Rose."

One observation Rock made was "Is it me, or did he not want to say the words 'Barack Obama?"

Clinton had mentioned his wife quite a bit, he noted. "Hilary ain't running! One of those guys needs to tell him. I love Hillary but she lost. She got a lot of votes she lost. The Patriots got a lot of points too, but they lost to the Giants. "Hillary Clinton didn't lose because of sexism, Rock said. "She lost to a black guy nobody had ever heard of."

As for Sarah Palin, Rock said, "Have you been to Alaska Dave? It's like 'Road Warrior' with snow." He marveled at all those pictures of Palin alongside a moose she had killed. "She's there holding a moose and Michael Vick is like: 'Why am I in jail?'

I think the most important part of that interview was Rock establishing that it's officially no longer too soon to make a pro-Michael Vick joke. I'm looking forward to more because, well, like Rock said the woman who could potentially be our vice president (and holy shit, maybe our President at some point) killed a moose.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weekend Viewing Guide

Not nearly as packed a weekend for sports watching as it was a week ago, but there's still some quality out there. No Michigan, which judging from the Notre Dame debacle, is probably the best thing at this point in the Rich Rod era. But you can't help but smile seeing how much West Virginia is struggling without its old coach. Seriously, I watched parts of last week's East Carolina-West Virginia game and then watched most of last night's Mountaineer-Colorado game, and I couldn't get over how atrocious the clock management and play calling were.

Onto the games to watch:

Friday Night
Quince Orchard High School vs. Damascus High School, 630 p.m.
Westfield High School vs. Chantilly High School, 730 p.m.

Being the sports editor (yes that is my official title here in Virginia and I have the business card to prove it) I had to include a couple high school games ... even though I'm not attending either and there's no chance any one can even watch them on television (If you can, let me know what channel). But these are the two biggest regular season games in the DC area this year, and they both happen to fall on the same weekend. Damascus beat QO for the state title a year ago, but QO now has a team with something like five or six guys who are going to play D-1 football, including a couple top100 players in the nation. Westfield is the defending state champion in Virginia (which is saying something), but appear weaker than last season. Can Chantilly (a perennial power) knock them off? Apparently there's supposed to be close to 10,000 people going to that game later tonight.

East Carolina at NC State, Noon ESPN
Will the Pirates keep their undefeated streak alive. Something tells me this is the game they trip up in. I have no real reason for supporting this, though. It's just a hunch.

Virginia Tech at UNC, 330 p.m. ABC
Florida at Tennessee, 330 p.m. CBS
Notre Dame at Michigan State, 330 p.m. ESPN

UNC was mighty impressive in that win over Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights look like trash this season. I want evidence that the Butch Davis era is for real. A home game against a suspect Va. Tech team will do a lot to validate the Tar Heels as a potential ACC champion ... The Florida-Tenn. game meant a whole lot more back in the days of the Ol' Ball Coach, Spurrier, when this game would ultimately decide the SEC East. Hell, the Vols can't even seem to fill their own stadium these days thanks to the administration actually making students pay for tickets (Gasp!). I would say the Gators win this one in a landslide, but you never know what can happen in an SEC road game. ... And last and least, the matchup between my two least favorite teams in all the college football world. Is there a way both teams can lose or maybe at least tie or something? The only reason I might want a ND win is that it would officially signal the end of all this "Mark Dantonio is really onto something there in East Lansing" business.

Apparently the game against UAB didn't inspire this type of attendance.

LSU at Auburn, 745 p.m. ESPN
Georgia at Arizona State, 8 p.m. ABC

I've been working on this story for a couple weeks here in Virginia. It's about these three high school football teams I cover that all switched over to this system called "The Tony Franklin Offense". Who is Tony Franklin, you ask? Well he was the offensive coordinator at Troy until getting the same such job at Auburn this past off season. He has this unique scheme that is apparently really easy to implement and even has an 800 number for coaches to call when they have questions. Well, I want this story to come off as if I've discovered the next big thing. The only problem is Auburn has blown on offense thus far. And by terrible offense, I mean really terrible, as in they beat Mississippi State 3-2 last week. For my sake, I need everyone to root for this LSU game to be the Tigers (the Auburn version) coming out party offensively. ... As for the Georgia game, the only reason it is of consequence is that if the Bulldogs struggle in this one, we can make it official that this whole BCS thing is a two-team race between USC and the winner of the Big 12 this season.

Cardinals at Redskins, 1 p.m. FOX
Raiders at Bills, 1 p.m. CBS
Panthers at Vikings, 1 p.m. FOX

As I stated earlier this week, the Skins looked good, real good against the Saints. It won't mean much, though, if they don't beat the upstart Cards. Especially with two road games at Dallas and Philly looming in the two ensuing games. Even with a full complement of secondary players (Springs, Smoot, Rogers) and the addition of a talented rookie (Chris Horton), the Skins will struggle with the likes of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. But here's the thing about Kurt Warner: he doesn't handle pressure well. If the Skins can get past that offensive line, especially without having to blitz, I don't think the Cards do all that much. But that's obviously easier said than done, because if Warner has time he'll pick this defense apart. As for the offense, I think CPort should be plenty motivated considering his shenanigans the past week. I'm looking forward to hearing Brian Mitchell on the Skins pregame show (it only airs in the DC area). I'm curious to see how the wideouts respond after a brilliant game a week ago. Is that the standard for the season or was last week an anomaly against a weakened Saints secondary? Plus with the injuries to Malcolm Kelly and James Thrash, does Devin Thomas do anything this week? All that being said, let's remember these are still the Cards and the last time that franchise started a season 3-0 was 1974.

You get to grow up quickly this weekend young Devin.

As for the other games, I promised I would pay attention to the Bills if they went to Jacksonville and won. Now they get to feast on the Raiders and Lane Kiffin's dying coaching corpse. Seriously, look at Buffalo's schedule, its next three games are Oakland, at St. Louis, and at Arizona. It's not out of the realm of possibility to see them at 5-0 heading into the bye week. But I've got a weird feeling the Bills might just choke this week (or at least make the score way too close to comfort) because I'm not ready to accept a 5-0 Buffalo team as part of the NFL landscape. ... Panthers and Vikes is on here solely for the return of Gus Frerotte to relevance. It seems like just yesterday I was chanting "We Want Gus" at my first football game at RFK as Heath Shuler sucked a nut on the field. The fact that Gus still has a job somewhere indicates to me just how easy it is to be solely a quarterback that can form complete thoughts. Because that's all Gus really brings to the table. he certainly won't be leading some obscene playoff run out of nowhere.

Saints at Broncos, 4 p.m. FOX
Jaguars at Colts, 4 p.m. CBS
Steelers at Eagles, 4 p.m. CBS

Gutsy call by Mike Shanahan last week, which I liked a whole lot. But it turns out, according to Tuesday Morning Quarterback's Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com, it was the right call if you go by the percentages:

The invaluable Pro Football Prospectus reports that since 2003, deuce attempts have succeeded about 55 percent of the time, which sounds better than trotting on to overtime. True, in the past 15 years, teams that have gone for two to win in the final minute won three times and lost three times. That's still no worse than proceeding to overtime -- and tells you how rare going for two in this situation is. TMQ suspects that if coaches went for the win in this situation more often, they'd do better than 50/50.

My thoughts on the battery charges for Brandon Marshall? One man's battery is another man's way of teaching someone a good lesson.

Was a 3-0 Bronco team part of preseason prediction of a playoff berth? No, but the more wins the merrier. ... If the Jags lose this week, I think they might have next to no shot at winning the AFC South. I'm not the type that panic too much over 0-2 starts, but a third loss against a division rival would be devastating. I guess this is a perfect example of what happens to teams not used to being hyped ... Big Ben vs. Donovan might be the matchup of the week. It's scary to think the Eagles could be 1-2 after this week considering how impressive they have looked so far. Man, I hate it when Philly is good.

Cowboys at Packers, 8 p.m. NBC
Orioles at Yankees, 8 p.m. ESPN

The Boys look like the team to beat in the NFL, but Aaron Rodgers can officially get the Brett Favre monkey off his back if he has another impressive game in this one. Remember, the Cowboys-Pack game a year ago was the one Rodgers came in to relieve Favre after a hand injury, so he shouldn't be too intimidated by the situation ... And the last game ever played at Yankee Stadium. It also might serve as the last game for the modern era Yankees as we know them because this team needs (and is likely going to get) a gigantic makeover this offseason.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gilbert is becoming the girl next door

This Gilbert Arenas news hit me hard. I've had just about enough of this injury stuff. I barely remember watching the Wizards play with their full complement of players completely healthy. Every moment it seems you can reach out and touch this team, the glass shatters right on your hand. There was the beginning of last season when Gilbert came back, hit a buzzer beater to send the season opener against Indiana into overtime, only to have the team lose the game and Gilbert four games later. There was the playoff comeback last season, where Gilbert hits a decisive bank shot with 20 seconds left in game four against the Cavs, only to watch LeBron win it and Gilbert shut it down again before game five.

Seriously, just the other day as I was driving into work, listening to the Sports Junkies (who are still around and definitely still wildly entertaining). They had Antawn Jamison on for an interview, and the leader made it clear the Wiz wanted another piece of the Cavs. Loved the attitude and it got me all amped up. Now we've got this. It's just been a perpetual excitement followed by bitter disappointment and subsequent questioning of the excitement to begin with. No matter what way the Wiz or Gilbert want to spin this, it can't be good when your best player, whose main asset on the court is his raw explosiveness, has had three knee surgeries in 17 months.

Stop teasing me.

Now that I've gotten that doom and gloom out of the way, let's look deeper at this. I realize it's an injury the team somehow managed to get through most of last year and the procedure yesterday was something Gilbert downplayed in interviews, but it's definitely a blow to this team. Even if Gilbert comes back at the beginning of Decemeber, it's going to take at least three weeks, and probably more like a month, to get going again. I still think the Wizards will be good enough to make the playoffs without Gilbert 100 percent for a quarter of the season, but with how much the Eastern Conference has improved, it's going to be awful tough to get a high seed.

Everyone around the DC area is saying this will hurt even more now that Roger Mason isn't around to pick up the slack. I look at it as a perfect opportunity for Nick Young to step up and show more than just glimpses of that flair he displayed last season. He can either embrace it and become (what I hope/think) is a less quick, plays more above the rim version of Monta Ellis OR he can crumble under the pressure, stunting whatever potential people have seen in him thus far.

Because you've been given the privelege of making millions to play basketball, you are not entitled to long for your childhood like everyone else. You must grow up. NOW!

And simply relying on the old guard (Butler, Jamison, Daniels, Stevenson, Haywood) to step up might be asking too much with the way the Eastern Conference changed over the offseason. Philly, Toronto, and Miami are going to make noise, Atlanta has more confidence than ever after last year's playoffs, and the Celtics, Pistons, Magic, and Cavs are all bringing back the same nucleus that made them so good a season ago. All that being said, the Wiz have shown themselves

It's a perfect time for grad school

I couldn't not address what is becoming the biggest financial crisis in a generation, despite the fact that I’m no longer in New York. Obviously, this situation is affecting all of us. Seriously, that title is dead serious. It' about the worst time to be looking for a job these days, and the way things have been it's going to stay that way for awhile.

Whether it’s Lehman Brothers going to hell, Merrill Lynch selling its soul to Bank of America, AIG getting $800 plus in government handouts, or the various other mergers that are going to be necessary for certain companies to get out of a hole, one thing is certain: Shit has hit the fan.

I’m pretty terrified about my industry. The Sun is about to cave in. Other major newspaper conglomerates are going through huge cutbacks. And this is all before they feel the wrath of these latest Wall Street debacles. I’m counting my lucky stars that I get paid very little, so if anything I might benefit from this whole thing because companies are going to replace higher paid, older folks with relatively inexperienced cheap up and comers like myself. Still, though, it doesn’t make it cool.

But I think the best way to approach what can only be called a disaster is with a little bit of humor. That’s why I was watching the Daily Show the other day when Jon Stewart decided to make fun of the situation (which is definitely healthy). Stewart showed clips of all these financial heads describing how huge of a financial crisis we are in, and followed it up with our great President, George W. Bush, downplaying the ordeal as casual “adjustments” of the financial system.

Now, like I said above this situation is pretty serious. But I tend to side more towards the Bush point of view (although it’s clear this is more than just adjustments). I hear accounts of what went down last weekend when the powers that be within the Treasury Department, the Fed, and the SEC met with the 20 most powerful financial CEOs in the country and couldn’t help but laugh and think about one of my favorite movies, The Godfather.

At about 6 p.m., in a large conference room just off the lobby on the ground floor of the New York Federal Reserve, Paulson sat at a long oval table with Securities and Exchange Commissioner Christopher Cox by his side. New York Fed Chairman Timothy F. Geithner sat directly opposite.

The meeting was open to chief executives only, and about 20 of these finance titans sat quietly around the table. The New York City subway, located below the room, periodically sent screeches and rumbles into the meeting.

That’s got to be a joke. You gotta love the subway reference because the author clearly wants to make this seem as if it’s the equivalent of signing the Declaration of Independence of something, but c’mon that just comes off as silly. It would be like me saying, “As I was write this post, I heard the birds chirping and the sun emerging from the clouds, signaling a new day on Wall Street. Basically, it’s flowery bullshit.

It does make this thing seem like a movie, though. In Godfather terms, this was like the meeting of the five families. One of those dudes is going to turn into the Michael Corleone of the bunch. So far we’ve got Lehman Brothers as the Fredo of the bunch, with the way they refused help even though they were so far in over their heads, they no longer knew what was best for them. I see Bank of America as the Sonny Corleone. Just like Bank of America came out of nowhere (or Charlotte, whatever you wanna call it) to become this sizable conglomerate, Sonny eclipsed anyone’s expectations and took over the family after the death of Don Vito (Marlon Brando). But ultimately, Sonny — like Bank of America — will also fail. That leaves you with Michael Corleone — or in this case, well, I don’t know, I’m no expert. My best guess is Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan (or maybe even a competent President) pulling America’s finances back together.

But remember in the Godfather, when Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, promises to work together with all the five families, and then ends up killing all of the bastards and moving to Las Vegas for Godfather Part II. Well, they’ve all promised to work together as evidenced by the Bank of America merger and the AIG handout.

But with the way things have gone lately, I’m waiting for the mass murder.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Brutal NFC Outlook

Just when I thought the talk of the town would center around my least favorite referee, Ed Hochuli, and his bogus whistle on an apparent fumble to give the Broncos and upset win over the Chargers, the Eagles and Cowboys had to go out and play an instant classic, cementing both team's reputations as title contenders. By the way, I hate to say I told you so, but check out that Hochuli link of a post I did almost a year ago. Don't say i didn't warn the world about the terror that is Ed Hochuli.

It was a scary realization for any Redskins fan even with the ginormously huge win over New Orleans this past weekend. The Cowboys both looked as good as advertised, most especially the offense. Now, I don't want to put too much into one game at the beginning of the season (because any semi functional NFL fans knows how much things change over the course of a football season), but as much as this pains me to say, if I'm an Eagles fan, I'm feeling pretty good. Everyone knew that Cowboy offense was prolific, but nobody knew what to think of the Eagles shaky receiving group.

Fumble aside, Desean Jackson looks awesome. But I'm not sold on him staying healthy for an entire season. He could never really do it at Cal.

But two weeks in, it's pretty clear Philly is chock full of weapons, and they're only going to get better when Kevin Curtis returns from injury. The defense should be concerning —and it certainly doesn't look as good as some thought it might be — but it can't play much worse than it did in the first half last night.

It was a big wake up call to the rest of the league that the NFC East is likely to be the best division in football. My huge dilemma coming out of all this is that the Saints game showed me that the Skins are capable of being a top six team in the NFC. The only problem is Zorn's gang looks like the worst team in its division. That would make it impossible to make the playoffs.

Combine that with the play of the Packers in the NFC North, the Panthers in the South, and the automatic bid given to whichever mediocre team that comes out of the West, and it's going to take a 10-6 or maybe even 11-5 record to make it to the postseason as a wild card.

As for the Redskins, they looked impressive against the Saints. Jason Campbell played the best game of his career down the stretch. The first half looked eerily similar to Campbell 2007 when he would move the team up and down the field between the 20s, only to stall in the red zone. I'm hoping that second half, where the Skins rallied from down nine, will serve as a breakthrough to more touchdown drives. And everyone is talking about that deep bomb to Santana to win the game (great throw and escape from the pocket), but the key plays of the game happened a drive earlier after Campbell was sacked, putting the Redskins against inside the 10 yard line.

On second and 22, Campbell delivered a 23-yard strike to Chris "my balls were on the world wide web" Cooley, and followed that up with an escape from thew pocket strike to Antwaan Randle-El. On a drive that Clinton Portis finished off with a touchdown run to draw the Skins within two points, Campbell was 5-for-5 for 82 yards. That confidence set up the throw to Moss that will be highlighted a ton this week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend Viewing Guide

Alright I'm going to try and make this a weekly segment on the blog now that I have oodles of time every weekend to watch sports again. I already kind of do this subconsciously anyways. I pick up the Friday Washington Post, grab the sports section, turn to the what's on TV column, and go through what exactly I'm going to watch over the next 48 hours.

Since I don't have NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Gameplan, or MLB Extra Innings, I'll have to include some of the big games (especially NFL-related) that I won't get to watch fully, unless i hit up a sports bar or something. But enough chit chat, here's my thoughts on the weekend.

Friday Night
Rays at Yankees 7p.m. ESPN
No. 12 Kansas at No.18 South Florida 8 p.m. ESPN2
I still can't believe it's September 12th and we're having a legitimate conversation about the Rays representing the American League in the World Series. For me, it has been the most surprising storyline in a long time, especially when you consider what I wrote after seeing the team at last year's Spring Training:

In talking with the DRays management they all have this notion that with the core they have set up right now, they should be contending for the World Series by next season. From looking at their roster, I think they are morons. Yes, their outfield is great with Baldelli, Delmon Young, and Carl Crawford, but baseball is all about pitching. And the DRays have a bunch of guys who they think could be good, but most baseball people think won't be that good. They have Scott Kazmir and a bunch of average pitchers. With how good the yanks and Bosox should be over the next few years, the DRays are not going to reach their goal of a playoff berth anytime soon.

That paragraph is a good indication of why I should not be running a baseball team. On the other hand, you've got the Yanks are in death march mode and I'm curious to see what they do after the year is over. It's time to play the kids and see what they're capable of. It's funny, I remember being in New York a few weeks ago and people were pointing to this series as the Yanks' make-or-break series of the season.

And before I forget, a Friday night football game involving teams outside of the WAC? I'm liking this whole "colleges want to get more primetime attention so they're willing to play any day of the week" thing. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss a good chunk of this one since I'll be covering a huge Yorktown High/West Potomac High football game (notice the sarcasm). If South Florida loses this one, though, I think there's a fair argument to be made over whether the Big East deserves a BCS bowl bid this year. Did anyone watch that Rutgers debacle last night? I'm counting my lucky stars, Michigan didn't hire Greg Schiano.

Cal at Maryland Noon ESPN
Here's a good summation of the feelings Maryland fans have towards this game following last weekend's loss to Middle Tennessee State. I was invited to the tailgate of some Terrapin grads. I declined, citing my desire to catch all of the Michigan-ND game at 330. Their response after a good 20 seconds of laughter: We're not going to the game, just tailgating. Ah, the state of Ralph Friedgen football. By the way, if he's not calling the plays anymore (since they got a new offensive coordinator this season), what exactly does the Fridge do these days? Are we witnessing the development of the 450-pound ACC version of Joe Paterno?

Michigan at Notre Dame 3:30 p.m. NBC
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech 3:30 p.m. ABC
Georgia at South Carolina 3:30 p.m. CBS
UCLA at BYU 3:30 p.m. Versus

There are a bunch of Michigan bars throughout the DC area, and people have asked me to go to them for Michigan games so far this year. But am I alone in saying that if the game is on national television to begin with, it's much preferable to watch the game with the comforts of home. Unless I'm going to literally go see a game live, is there much of a point in going to a bar to spend money on a game I can watch for free? Maybe it's just me, I guess. As for the game itself, this one isn't going to be pretty. It should be a close, defensive battle, though. If Notre Dame doesn't put nine men in the box on defense, Charlie Weis should be fired immediately because anybody who has watched footage of Michigan's two games so far this season knows Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan have no idea what they're doing in the passing game. I bet you can count on one hand the amount of completions they've had that weren't rinky dink bubble screens to a wide receiver or running back. If Michigan doesn't win this one, the Wolverines could be staring dead on at a 1-4 record with games against Wisconsin and Illinois coming up.

As for what else I'll have my eye on ... I want to see if Georgia Tech's triple option will be successful against Virginia Tech. I think the 2-0 Yellow Jackets may be on to something with new coach Paul Johnson, who was the wizard of the triple option at Navy the past five or six seasons. ... I'm assuming a Georgia win, but I'm curious to see if the Ol' Ball Coach can make this one close (By the way, remember when Steve Spurrier was the biggest celeb in all the SEC and his Florida teams would almost always win the conference? Sure seems like a long time ago now). And lastly, a matchup of teams that shouldn't have won their first games of the season. After an atrocious first half against Tennessee, can UCLA show its second half was the real deal? Or will BYU continue the luck of the Mormon after being gift wrapped a win against Washington last week?

Atlanta Braves at New York Mets 3:50 p.m. FOX
The Mets are up on the Phillies by 3.5 games with 17 to go. A year ago they were 7 up with 17 to go. I don't think there's more fun than watching impending doom, and that's what I have a feeling is going to happen with Luis Ayala somehow closing games right now.

No. 5 Ohio State at No. 1 USC 8 p.m. ABC
Ah, the big kahuna of the weekend college football matchups. The Trojans looked damn good debacalizing (yes, I realize this isn't a word) Virginia a couple weeks ago, and the national spotlight on this game means they probably haven't gotten fat and happy with their week off. If Beanie Wells doesn't play, I don't see how this will be competitive. But I also think people are putting way too much stock into Ohio State looking bad last week. I hear prognosticators wondering if they overlooked Ohio in anticipation of this game. Ummm, of course they were! It was friggin' Ohio the week before the team goes to Hollywood to face the No. 1 team in all the land.

Saints at Redskins 1 p.m. FOX
Bears at Panthers 1 p.m. FOX
Bills at Jaguars 1 p.m. CBS
Colts at Vikings 1 p.m. CBS
All I can really say about this Skins game is Thank the good lord Marques Colston isn't playing. That offense has enough weapons, especially now that Reggie Bush appears to be going through a Britney Spears-esque revitalization. The Saints are a legitimate contender in the NFC, and it's going to take a significantly better performance by the Skins offense to win this one. As much as Zorn wants to throw the ball, with the way the receivers and Campbell have performed so far, I'd much prefer the offense center around CPort. This game could make or break this season, because an 0-2 start could produce the type of bad karma that dooms teams.

As for the other games, Bears-Panthers features a set of teams that looked a whole lot better in week one than most predicted in the preseason. As far fetched as this may sound, I think this could be a playoff preview of some kind. That's how impressive both were. The Bears D looks as good, if not better than it has been in the past, and Matt Forte emerged as a legit weapon. If I'm the Panthers, I dare Kyle Orton to try and win this one. ... Graham keeps hounding me about the Bills, but I refuse to listen. If they look as good as they did in week one against the Jags this week, I might have to take notice. It doesn't hurt that the team's star player is named Roscoe. It just rolls off the tongue so well ... The Colts and Vikings both need to rebound after week one. But I expect Minny to be in full-on "I think Gus Frerotte might be better than Tavaris Jackson" mode after starting the season 0-2.

Broncos at Chargers 4:15 CBS
Patriots at Jets 4:15 CBS
Although it stinks that parts of Texas could be under water by the end of the weekend, I'm thrilled Hurricane Ike has forced the NFL to move the Texans-Ravens game to Monday night. In all likelihood, that would have been the 4 o'clock game on CBS here in Maryland. Now I bet we get Favre vs. the Patriots. I'm totally in agreement that Brady's injury knocks the Pats out of Super Bowl talk, but like my man, Randy Moss said earlier this week, the Pats are still the team to beat in the AFC East. They'll prove it this weekend. ... As for my Broncos, they looked mighty impressive last week, but it was against Jamarcus Russell (who plays eerily similar to Byron Leftwich, by the way). I think the Chargers are going to want this one real bad, because opening the season with two home losses would be less than ideal. But I'm not losing all hope, Norv Turner is still in charge (haha get the pun).

Steelers at Browns 8:00 NBC
I don't understand how after one week, everyone has these grand visions of the Steelers making the Super Bowl out of the AFC. Seriously, they were playing the Texans. I don't see how that is a litmus test for the Super Bowl. That being said, I expect them to win this game because the Browns are vastly overrated. Like I said last week, I don't think Derek Anderson will ever be ready for prime time.

Eagles at Cowboys
This is probably the game of the week if you ask me. Philly is pretty much the only team in the league that can legitimately say they match up well with the Cowboys' offensive weapons. This game is the primary reason why the Eagles brought in Assante Samuel for so much money this off season. The Eagles need to be able to blitz Tony Romo, and therefore leave Samuel in man-to-man coverage against Terrell Owens. I still don't think it will be enough, though. There are just too many weapons to keep track of on Dallas. Also, if she's at the game, I'm setting the over/under on number of times the camera flashes to Jessica Simpson at 25. I'll take the over.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So Much Qb Talk

Everywhere I look these days I can't stop hearing about quarterbacks. Everyone is just fascinated with them right now.

There's people talking about Tom Brady, his injured knee, and his replacement, Matt Cassel. Let's not forget the talk about Brady's supposed replacement on top of the AFC East mountain, Brett Favre. There's the whole "Vince Young may have gone off the deep end so quickly that we have to take a look at Chris Simms" thing. And I'm in DC and all I hear about is what a bad mismatch Jason Campbell is for this Jim Zorn west coast offense.

But you know when you really know the shit has hit the fan in the NFL? When writers start heaping ridiculous praise on people like Kurt Warner:

Warner is one of the best passers in pro football history and, even though it's later in his career, one of the best in the game today. He's better than Matt Hasselbeck or Jeff Garcia, and probably better than Donovan McNabb, or even Tom Brady — which is to say that given the same blockers and receivers, his career numbers would be better than theirs. That's a pretty safe bet, since Warner has been playing with bad-to-mediocre talent for much of his career, and his numbers are still better than theirs.

So this guy is overlooking Warner's penchant for holding onto the ball too long and therefore becoming a turnover machine in favor of the he had no talent around him card. Ummm...what? What do you call Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce (in his prime), Marshall Faulk (in his prime), and Mike Martz as an offensive coordinator (in his prime). Or what about his one-season stint with the Giants playing with a young Jeremy Shockey, Tiki Barber, and Amani Toomer (in his prime). And it's obvious he's devoid of talent now that he plays for the Cardinals alongside Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin.

Oh. but of course this writer has other reasons for making such outlandish claims:

As he starts the 2008 season, Warner is the third-highest-rated quarterback ever at 93.2, behind Steve Young and Peyton Manning, but you could watch him play all season without hearing anyone mention it. Brady, who has played behind the league's best offensive line, is fourth at 92.9. It's no stretch to imagine that if Warner and Brady switched teams, Warner would have at least three Super Bowl rings.

This brings me to my next point. How meaningless Qb rating is in the grand scheme of football things. It may be the most overused individual stat in the game today. If anything, the QB rating is a judgement of team performance more so than accurately analyzing quarterback play. I'll let a commenter to this story explain:

There is no more meaningless stat than the quarterback rating. Milt Plum has a higher quarterback rating that Johnny Unitas. The quarterback rating measures four things- completion percentage, yards gained, interceptions, and touchdown passes- in a formula.If the quarterback throws a screen pass, in the air for two yards, to a running back who breaks six tackles and goes 60 yards for a touchdown, the QB gets credit for a completion, 60 yards passing, and a TD pass, even though he threw the ball two yards in the air. Conversely, the QB can drop back, make the correct read and a perfect pass 50 yards downfield, where the receiver drops it. This will go as an incompletion and against his quarterback rating. The QB rating is almost meaningless.

Which brings me back to my point. Why so much focus on the quarterbacks all of a sudden. Vince Young's heart might be as fragile as a 14-year old girl after getting dumped in a middle school hallway, but let's not forget his team beat the Jags. He couldn't have been that bad of a quarterback. Same goes for Cassel. His team' talent is absurd to the point that a backup who hadn't played a meaningful minute of football in 12 years could go out and go 13-for-17.

And Campbell, well, I think he can be a successful quarterback in this system. But when a scheme relies extensively on a young quarterback making lightning quick reads in front of an aging offensive line in order to complete passes to a group of overrated wide receivers (yes, I am officially calling out Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle-El), I wouldn't necessarily affix the attention exclusively on Jason Campbell.

Are the two men on the left are worth a combined $62 million. The Skins think so. I tend to disagree.

So please people, let's keep in mind that there is life beyond the super awesome-o quarterback. Remember, just two years ago Sexy Rexy led (or more like dragged) the Bears into a Super Bowl. Guys like Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, Doug Williams (bless his heart) and Jim McMahon have won Super Bowls. Hell, the "most underrated quarterback of all time", Kurt Warner won one, too.

And seriously, let's not glorify him any more than we actually need to.

Monday, September 08, 2008

This scenario could have caused the Apocalypse

The first NFL weekend has come and gone, so let's not beat around the bush and talk about the major injuries that occurred. Seriously, the rash of injuries that hit the league this past weekend borders on absurd. Some may say the bigger story is all the teams that lost (Colts, Chargers, Jags, Browns), the teams that surprisingly won (Bears, Panthers, Titans, Packers), or even the mini-sagas that developed (the Colts getting old, the emotional roller coaster that is Vince Young, would the Raiders lose to USC right now).

But nothing altered the landscape of this NFL season more than the rash of injuries, particularly season-ending ones, that went down this past weekend. Think about all the storylines that have come about because of the loss of so many crucial pieces.

Seriously, look at this injured list: Tom Brady, Shawne Merriman, Nate Burleson, Vince Young. That's all in the first week of the season!

It's got people talking crazy, too. As we all know, Vince Young's relatives apparently think he's so depressed that the authorities must be on the lookout. I don't mean to make fun of the situation, but c'mon this is football. Isn't this the same guy photographed as such:

Even my man Peter King is going off the deep end a little bit. In his latest Monday Morning Qb column on SI.com, King does what no fan wants done to them after a summer full of Live from Kiln, Mississippi and other such rinky dink towns in Mississippi special reports courtesy of fine standing journalists at various outlets. King, bless his heart because I live for his column every Monday, takes Tom Brady's injury and decides to turn it around into another examination of the Favre saga:

But my very, very strong opinion is that had Favre stayed retired, and if Brady got hurt, and if the Patriots came calling (which they most certainly would have), Favre would be in Foxboro today.

Seriously, this Favre story gives me the same feeling I get thinking about this ridiculous New Kids on the Block Reunion. What I'm trying to say is whoever thought that either of these two things (continuing to take about Favre and NKOB embracing the past) were good ideas should be fired ... immediately!

At least what King wrote about was hypothetical. These injuries are the real deal. I think it's pretty reasonable to say the AFC is wide open. I don't think any team can say with a straight face that they're a favorite right now. Also, before I get going, congratulations to the two new teams I'm paying attention to: the Broncos and Panthers. Both have made me look good so far. I hope it continues.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

My two surprise NFL teams

Well the opening game has come and gone now, and I can't say I was excited about the debut of the Jim Zorn era. The offense looked rudimentary (which is a nice way of saying bad and sloppy) and the defense decided not to show up for the first half. But I'll have more on the ways to fix the Skins (and it has a lot to do with the play of Jason Campbell) later.

For now, I wanted to get it on record my two surprise teams for this NFL season since any good sports writer has to make outlandish preseason predictions only to see them go horribly wrong to the point that said sports writer must pen something else to defend themselves. But with the NFL the way it is today, and parity reigning supreme, there's going to be two or three teams that come out of nowhere to make the playoffs. Last year, it was the Packers, Bucs, and Redskins (to a lesser extent) making the big playoff leap from obscurity in the NFC. And I'd say the only playoff team in the AFC who could qualify as somewhat of a surprise were the Titans, but everyone was predicting big things from Vince Young all last preseason. Little did they know, Vince Young would almost throw Tennessee out of the playoffs, only to get the biggest saving grace ever when the Colts decided to play a pee wee football team instead of their starters in the regular season's final game.

But back to the surprise teams. I have an inexact science to picking these types of things. I say inexact because from past experiences, it's clear my predictions are in no way, shape or form to be taken as anything remotely resembling fact. For me, a surprise team always has to come from a weak division, because surprise team generally get freebie wins against their mediocre divisional counterparts. They also have to have what I deem a relatively easy schedule to begin the season since a fast start is paramount to make the playoffs in the NFL. I can handle tougher games later on because once a team realizes it has potential to be more than a .500 club, magical things somehow happen.

So when I began thinking about this post I had an original group of seven in my head when I began pondering this prediction. In the NFC, I had the Bears, Panthers, and Cardinals. In the AFC, I had the Jets, Dolphins, Texans, and Broncos. Now, obviously that is far too many teams to have as surprises considering there are only 12 playoff teams total.

So if we go with my first parameter for being a surprise team (easy division), you can right away wipe out three AFC teams. The Fins and Jets will most definitely be improved but with Favre in New York coupled with all their free agent acquisitions, I just can't consider their emergence as surprising anymore. I also think the Fins will be much improved with Pennington running the show, but now with the Pats and Jets poised to make runs, in addition to a Bills team that Graham thinks is being vastly underrated (even though their starting QB went 1-11 as a senior in college), that division is much too tough for Miami. And since I'm peniciling in four losses for the Texans since they have to play Jacksonville and Indy twice each, I'd have to say they're out of the question as well.

That leaves me with the Jay Cutler All Stars ... errr ... I mean the Broncos. According to my thought process, they fit the bill so to speak. The NFC West is hardly a juggernaut considering the Raiders and Chiefs are fetuses when compared with the manly NFL. And Denver's first four games are at Oakland, home games against the Chargers and Saints, followed by a road game against Kansas City. If they can win one of those tough home games, I don't think it's out of the question for them to start 3-1.

If you take a look at the rest of the Bronco schedule, I don't think 10 wins a wild card spot are out of the question. In addition to the three wins I've already mentioned, I'm confident in wins at home against the Bucs, Fins, and then beating the Chiefs and Raiders when they come to Invesco. Then all they need to do is win three out of this batch of games: at Atlanta, at Cleveland (who will collapse once it realizes just how mediocre derek Anderson was the second half of last season and reminds me so much of old school Dan Snyder in the way they've spent money, it's scary), at Jets, at Carolina. I'm penciling denver in for auto losses against New England, San Diego on the road, and Jacksonville at home.

Obviously, this brash prediction is contingent on the Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall connection producing once Marshall serves a one-game suspension in week one, the Broncos' running game remaining solid with Selvin Young, and the addition of DeWayne Robertson on the defensive line providing Denver's D with enough of a pass rush for corners Champ Bailey and Dre Bly.

As for the NFC, I'm eliminating the Bears because they are the Bears (and they have a pretty stiff schedule to start the season with Indy, Carolina, and Philly in the first four weeks). Oh yeah Da Bears also have a guy named Kyle Orton, who couldn't beat out Rex Grossman a year ago, at quarterback. I just don't see a drastic turnaround, weak division or not. I wanted to say the Cardinals, but like the Bears, I'm fighting that urge because of the Cards history of failing to live up to any expectations ever given to them. I just can't see a Kurt Warner-led team making the playoffs, especially because they aren't going to win their division over the Seahawks.

That leaves us with Carolina, a team I was so impressed with when it demolished the Skins in the preseason. The Panthers have Jake Delhomme back and healthy with a new elbow. And let's not forget, this is a make or break year for Jon Fox. Chances are if he doesn't make the playoffs this season, his reign as Carolina coach is likely over. The NFC South may look strong on the surface with Tampa and New Orleans, but I think the Bucs will take a large step back this season with aging veterans Jeff Garcia and Joey Galloway. And the early schedule is more than manageable with games against the Bears, Falcons, and Chiefs in the first five weeks. They may lose their opener to San Diego, but the Panthers have a real opportunity to get on a roll, especially once Steve Smith comes back from his "knockout punch" suspension. Lest I forget, there's also this fellow by the name of Julius Peppers who I fully expect to bounce back from an injury-riddled season a year ago and post some monster numbers.

So there you have it, Carolina and Denver will make the playoffs this season. Remember where you heard it first.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Skins in a nutshell

It really feels like yesterday that the Giants pulled off that stunning upset in the Super Bowl last February. I can't believe Thursday night the Skins return to the gridiron for some meaningful football. It's the most exciting time of the year, when every team in the NFL has a shot at doing something special.

Now, being a die hard Redskins fan, I think it's natural for me to think optimistically about the season. I want to believe they have what it takes to make another playoff run. But I'm no fool, I realize most others think differently.

Look at the trash 'stache on our star tight end.

Here's my logic: In one train of thought, the new Seattle Seahawks-inspired West Coast scheme that Jim Zorn brings over should rejuvenate an offense that still has some playmakers. When healthy, guys like Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis, and Santana Moss have all proven effective. Hell, Cooley is coming off a Pro Bowl season and Portis finished with the third-most yards from scrimmage in the NFL last year. And the defense returns pretty much everyone expect Sean Taylor, and has some continuity with Greg Blatche naturally transitioning into Gregg Williams' old role as de facto defensive coordinator.

But there's a lot of ifs all over the place. Like the Skins will be a playoff team if Jason Campbell learns how to finish off drives with touchdowns and take the next step in his development. Or the Skins will be a playoff team if Clinton Portis and Santana Moss stay healthy for an entire season (a big if). And don't forget the Redskins will be a playoff team if the offensive line remains mostly intact, something it hasn't done in over three years. All this assuming the defense remains a support for the team to lean on. Not exactly a guarantee with formally good veterans like London Fletcher, Shawn Springs, Jason Taylor, and Marcus Washington fast approaching or smack dab in front of the old man wall that kills careers in their tracks.

So yeah, I'd agree I've recently been having bad thoughts grudgingly creep into my mind about this year's Skins team. Anxious is probably the best way to describe my thoughts heading into a season in which I believe the Skins could finish as well as 11-5 (if everything goes perfect) or as poorly as 6-10. A betting man would probably presume an 8-8 season with those thoughts in mind. But I'm a blind, optimistic Skins fan so I'm going with 10-6, skating into that wild card position once again.

Some Other Thoughts For Faith If You're a Skins Fan

-I haven't seen anything suggesting Chris Cooley has plateaued. Zorn as said he will split him out wide this year, meaning even more opportunities for catches.

-The last two preseason games aside, I fully expect Jason Campbell to be a solid NFL quarterback this season. He's not going to single-handedly win games just yet, but I don't envision him being a crutch to this team's success.

-While I accept one player on the D will be exposed as over the hill this year (my best guess is Marcus Washington or London Fletcher), there's just too much talent returning for this unit to be anything worse than solid.

-I lambasted the Skins for keeping Ladell Betts instead of trading him for a good draft pick a couple off seasons ago. But in retrospect, he has proved huge in keeping Clinton Portis motivated. I have a feeling Betts strong finish to 2006 is always in the back of C Port's mind. I'm expecting another big year, especially without as many play calls that involve him ramming full speed into the offensive line.

-Jim Zorn can certainly talk the talk as head coach. The media around here loves the guy.

-Rock Cartwright and Mike Sellers are still on the squad. Gotta have those glue guys.

Mike Sellers in a nutshell: Made the Skins as a young pup out of Walla Walla JC, cashed in during free agency with the Browns, got arrested for felony coke and pot possession charges, then ressurrected his career with the Gibbs regime as a badass battering ram fullback.

Some More Thoughts of Doom

-Santana Moss hasn't had a fully healthy and productive season since 2005. With the rookie wideouts not close to playing in games, he's being counted on to be a primary playmaker. I'm not sold on him doing that. Oh yeah, James Thrash — yes that James Thrash — is currently listed as the No. 3 wide receiver. Is it just me or does it seem weird that a team that plans to switch gears and rely heavily on the passing game has James Thrash as their No. 3 wide receiver?

-Jon Jansen was so bad in pass protection, the Skins benched him in favor of Stephon Heyer, a second-year from Maryland. Randy Thomas is nicely being described as "still rounding into form from another knee surgery", which to me means hasn't shown he's back yet. So basically the right side of the line is in more flux than was expected.

-It seems awfully soon for Carlos Rogers to be 100% healthy from tearing his ACL and MCL last October. Coupled with LaRon Landry missing the entire preseason (although sometimes the rest pays dividends down the road), there are legitimate concerns with the secondary — an area that was supposed to be one of the team's strengths.

-And last but not least on the Richter scale of possibly signaling doom: the men who, despite a relatively decent off season, I would still never entrust my favorite fast food franchise to. Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato are still making the decisions for the Washington Redskins, and judging from recent history that is something to always worry about.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

David Duchovny Dilemma Solved

I've got to admit, there has been a dilemma running through my mind ever since the show Californication started airing on Showtime last fall. See, I really dig the show, especially the scenes where star David Duchovny is a badass sexaholic. But every time I saw Duchovny hitting on women or a woman simply approach him with overt displays of sexual attraction, I couldn't help thinking about who the real Duchovny is?

He pulls off the womanizing sex fiend very well on Showtime, but I'm willing to guess most of America still sees him as Agent Mulder from X Files. And frankly, the X Files was a closet weirdo show that was watched by people who believe aliens killed JFK.

Well to my happiness, Mr. Duchovny might just be playing himself on Californication:

In an unfortunate case of life imitating art, Californication star David Duchovny has been admitted to a rehab clinic for sex addiction.

The married American actor, who plays a sex-obsessed womaniser on the racy Showtime series, today confirmed through his lawyer that he was receiving treatment.

Sounds to me Duchovny went to rehab for being awesome. I've never heard of too much sex. But as always, there's more background to this story:

Discussing his marriage in an earlier interview, he likened women to drugs. “It was a turning point in my life. A conjunction of timing, maturity, luck and attraction. All the pieces fell into place. When you’re married you have to deal with yourself. You can’t sublimate your pain with drugs and other women. Or should that be women and other drugs?”

Duchovny also said he did not enjoy filming the program’s many sex scenes.

“The sex scenes are especially unsexy. They’re just awkward, you know. Some people might be turned on by awkwardness. I’m not one of those guys. There are ten sweaty guys hanging lights over you while you…”

There is still a controversy here. Duchovny is married to Tea Leoni of Deep Impact and Spanglish fame. Here's a picture to confirm her relative hotness — at least from a 40-year-old MILF perspective.

I know David Duchovny is a stud because of his recent success due to Californication but he's still David Duchovny. How much tail could he really be pulling? Well, I've dug a little deeper and apparently all that tail is internet-based:

According to Fox News, Duchovny's dependency stemmed from an obsession with online porn - of which Leoni is allegedly aware of and has been supportive, says a source.

Final Thoughts: While this is probably a little embarrassing for Duchovny (and more so for his family), you've got to admit it's giving Duchovny's show some solid publicity for when it comes back with new episodes in a couple weeks. I'm just wondering what his friends send to him while he's in rehab. Is a get well soon card appropriate? Maybe something like "Get well soon" with a picture of Rosie O'Donnell accompanying it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back in the saddle

Alright things are sort of back to normal here in DC and I should be posting on a more regular basis from now on. However, as I'm posting now, the sky is bright blue on this beautiful day of labor and I don't really want to spend all that much time posting. But this was a big weekend for football, and I actually spent all of Saturday in front of a television watching football, so I'll give five quick thoughts on what went down:

1) Obviously, I'm a little bummed out about what went down at the Big House this past Saturday. Yes, the offense looked atrocious and Michigan had no business being in the game (thank you Utah penalties for making us look at least a bit respectable), but I think you would be wrong to draw too many conclusions after just one loss. As I watched Rich Rod play two different quarterbacks, give carries to four running backs, and play God knows how many wide receivers, I couldn't help but think back to the beginning days of the John Beilein era last season.

See, Beilein had no clue what some of the little-used players on last year's Michigan basketball team could do in game situations, and it was a season-long process to develop any sort of playing rotation. From watching this past weekend, I think it's pretty obvious Rich Rod isn't really sure what a lot of these players are capable of, so he's playing a whole bunch of them. It's going to take until midseason for this team to really hit any kind of stride. Expect some onerous growing pains in the coming weeks. I'm not calling for any doomsdays scenarios just yet since I'm looking forward to see the progress this team makes over the course of the season.

And frankly, I think Utah could go down as the second- or third- best team on Michigan's 2008 roster when everything is said and done.

2) The ACC blows and is top to bottom the worst BCS conference again this season. Va. Tech lost to ECU, Clemson blew chunks against Bama, Virginia got embarassed by USC, NC State made a mockery of the sport getting shut out by South Carolina, and Maryland barely squeeked by 1-AA Delaware. I think the conference should be particularly worried about Clemson, who was predicted to be a national power this season. Kirk Herbstreit spent much of the Saturday night broadcast praising Alabama, and they deserve some credit for demolishing the Tigers, but I was really shocked by how poor Clemson played. I've been reading about these playmakers C.J. Spiller and James Davis for three seasons now, and other than the occassional speed burst they haven't been able to produce on a consistent basis.

3) I think this weekend also proved just how much potential injuries could change the college football landscape. I'm sure most heard about Beanie Wells of Ohio State, Knowshon Moreno of Georgia, and jeremy Maclin of Missouri going down with what turned out to be relatively minor injuries. But it was a reminder to me how much things can change with one snap. I hate to say it, but I think we're going to see some injuries in the next week or two that completely alters the complexion of some teams.

4) I know it's only one game, but I think Penn State has a shot to be the second-best team in the Big Ten. They destroyed Coastal Carolina this weekend, 66-3. The Nittany Lions are back to the running quarterback thing aftet two years trying to fit the square Anthony Morelli into a round hole. If the defense holds, I'm expecting some big things (and that's not just because my brother began his freshman year there. Trust me, I normally hate this school).

5) having been a Duke basketball fan for so long, this just made me laugh:

Duke officials were a bit surprised when, at 6 p.m. Saturday, about an hour before the scheduled kickoff of their game against James Madison, two men parachuted into Wallace Wade Stadium and landed with a game ball. Problem was, the Blue Devils -- who were warming up on the field along with their guests from Virginia -- weren't expecting it. ...

North Carolina was scheduled to receive the game ball for its contest against McNeese State via an aerial team at about that time in Chapel Hill. According to UNC assistant athletic director for promotions Michael Beale, the plane was in the air but the jumpers from Virginia-based Aerial Adventures opted to cancel the leap into Kenan Stadium because of weather. Evidently, when the clouds eventually opened, the pilot thought they were over the correct stadium, and the skydivers jumped -- realizing only when they landed in Wallace Wade that they were in the wrong place.