Sunday, October 29, 2006

Top Three Shocking Things About NFL Week 8

1. The Parcells Smooch-Fest - Someone must have dropped a few pills in the Fat Man's drinking water because by game's surprising end, a victory over the Carolina Panthers on the road, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells was kissing everyone in sight. And when he was done kissing half of his own team, he sought out Keyshawn Johnson and gave him a big sloppy one too. Even John Madden was struck "almost" speechless. But give it up for the SNF crew who stitched together a quick montage of the Joey Porter to Bill Cowher kiss along with Parcells' kiss to his own player and looped it a few times. Slow night with Carolina's disappointing self-destruction which they now have two weeks to consider. I just hope this fat auld white coaches kissing young black athletes is not a new trend. Bill Parcells kissing anybody is just not an image I want to have to carry around in my head.

2. Steelers Lose To Raiders

Not kissing anybody this week but anger management class can't be far behind

Maybe we should have suspected something when this wasn't a double-digit line before the game. Consecutive wins for the Raiders for the first time since October 2005. And the World Champs who are now darkhorses to even make the playoffs? Four turnovers, four personal fouls and allowing five sacks.

But not so fast - it's not like these Raiders discovered an offence. The Raiders managed just 98 yards, giving up six sacks and failing to score an offensive touchdown.

"The offense played terrible," said quarterback Andrew Walter, displaying a remarkable penchant for the little-used Art of Self-Trash Talking. Walter was 5-for-14 for 51 yards in his crusade to make Roethisberger look good by comparison. Roethlisberger, recovering from another concussion, the last one not self-inflicted, three four interceptions, two of them on the first three series of downs for the Steelers and the other two when the Steelers were driving for scores to try and bring sanity back to the game. "Personally, it was ridiculous. We can enjoy the win I guess, but personally it was pretty pathetic the way we played on offense." Walter continued on, into the deep night.

And they still beat the defending World Champs.

3. Bears' Pumpkin Jerseys

You know the undefeated Bears are relaxed when they dare approach the field in the pumpkin-coloured jerseys in celebration of Halloween. Of course, they were only facing the 49ers so there wasn't much to take seriously but take a guess, with the Dolphins up next and the Bears still undefeated how many references there will be to the 1985 season when the Dolphins were the only smudge on an otherwise perfect season.

*****Other Random Thoughts*****

Yes, we know the Indianapolis Colts are still undefeated as well given a somewhat surprising offensive display against the previously respected Broncos defence. More telling was that the Broncos enfeebled offence managed to score 31 points on the Colts.

We know the Bears haven't faced anyone of consequence during this undefeated spell, unless beating the Vikings on the road or Seattle at home counts. November 12th through December 17th they will play in order, at NY Giants, v NY Jets, at New England, v Minnesota, at St Louis and v Tampa Bay. At least one if not two or three of those will end up being losses. It's a vicious schedule in part, to make up for the powderpuff opponents in their own division.

The Colts, on the other hand, have beaten the Giants, Jets and now Broncos on the road. They've still got New England and Dallas on the road but otherwise, they've got a better chance, considering the remaining schedule of doing the unwise and unthinkable, running the table. Of course, having nearly done so last season and having floundered miserably in the postseason, it means absolutely nothing. Wonder if they'll remember that this season.

The Jets was robbed this week. The ridiculous ruling that Chris Baker's brilliant one-hand grab was going to end up out of bounds in the endzone regardless of the fact that he was forcefully shoved out of bounds will stick in the craw all week because clearly, after a brilliant comeback, this was the Jets' game to win. If only the zebras had agreed.

Goonight to the Iggles? My preseason pick for the Super Bowl are fading fast with only the hope that a week off to reconsider will stimulate them back into a hunt.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


So the clocks were set back last night ending Daylight Savings Time and it's time to see after seven weeks which teams will benefit from the extra hour's sleep.

Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.

Arizona (except some Indian Reservations), Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have chosen not to observe Daylight Saving Time. This choice does make sense for the areas closer to the equator because the days are more consistent in length throughout the year.

GREEN BAY (-3) vs. Arizona - On paper, the Cardinals would appear to be the new Laughingstocks of the NFL. Two weeks ago the squandered a 23-3 lead by allowing two fumble returns and one punt return for touchdowns in the final 16 minutes of a loss to the Bears and last week, they failed to score a touchdown against the winless Raiders thereby handing the Raiders their first win of the season and spoiling the fun for all those Al Davis haters who were looking for the Raiders to go 0-16. This seems like one of the those "on any given Sunday" games wherein the logical choice is the illogical one, up is down and black is white but we are going with the Pack anyway, eager to see a few weeks of pointless resurgence and insubstantiated hope breathed back into the early autumn Wisconsin air. Pick: Green Bay

CINCINNATI (-4½) vs. Atlanta - Rookie wide receiver Reggie McNeal, the Bengals’ third quarterback the past few weeks is playing the role of Michael Vick in practice to get their defence accustomed to an uncontrollable force running in, out and around the pocket. The Falcons brought in a pack of hyenas to this week's practices to imitate the sound of an approaching Chad Johnson. Pick: Atlanta

NEW ORLEANS (-2) vs. Baltimore - The last time the Baltimore Ravens came to New Orleans, it was two days before Hurricane Katrina blew apart the Superdome's roof. Pick: New Orleans

TENNESSEE (-3) vs. Houston - Texans also indicated they are more optimistic about the future of the country than Americans in general a Houston Chronicle-KHOU-TV poll shows. Of course, they also think the Texans are going to the Super Bowl. Pick: Tennessee.

PHILADELPHIA (-6) vs. Jacksonville - The Iggles have blown two games in a row on the road on the last play of the game. Earning them the nickname The Can't Finish Kids. In fact, every game they've lost this season has been on the last play of the game. Fortunately for them, David Garrard, whose biggest claim to fame to date is having Crohn's Disease, will be starting for the Jags and making up a 40 point deficit can't be done on the game's last play. Pick: Philly.

KANSAS CITY (-3) vs. Seattle: The Seahawks will play this game without Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, All-Pro running back Shaun Alexander, productive wide receiver Bobby Engram and now right tackle Sean Locklear -- who was suspended for a game Friday for violating the NFL's "personal-conduct policy". Locklear was arrested hours after a playoff game in downtown Seattle last January on a charge of assaulting his girlfriend at a night spot, and spent the rest of the holiday weekend in jail. Pick: K.C.

CHICAGO (-17) vs. San Francisco: Chicago has held nine consecutive opponents to single-digit points at home, the longest streak in the NFL since the Chicago Cardinals did in 1933-36, according to Stats LLC. Pick: Bears

N.Y. GIANTS (-7½) vs. Tampa Bay: According to Giant's coach Tom Coughlin being on time means being early. On his Tuesday night Sirius Satellite Radio show The Barber Shop, Tiki Barber, who hosts the show with his twin brother (and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive back) Ronde, called ESPN analysts Michae Irvin and Tom Jackson "idiots" for publicly criticizing him during the Giants' Monday night victory vs. the Cowboys. Pick: Tampa Bay

SAN DIEGO (-9½) vs. St. Louis - Shawne Merriman's positive test marked the fifth off-field incident involving Charger players since April. Linebacker Steve Foley was shot Sept. 3 by an off-duty police officer, last month, safety Terrence Kiel was arrested on five felony drug counts, earlier this month, cornerback Markus Curry, who had been assigned to the practice squad, was released just hours after an arrest on suspicion of committing domestic violence and in April, in incidents a week apart, Foley and linebacker Shaun Phillips were each arrested in scuffles with San Diego police officers. Pick: St Louis.

DENVER (-3) vs. Indianapolis - Simple questions - which is better the Bronco defence or the Colts' offence and which is worse, Broncos offence or Colts defence? How much longer will Broncos fans have to wait for Jay Cutler Only one other team in NFL history in history has gotten off to a 7-0 start in consecutive seasons. With win over Denver today, Colts would become second. Only one was Green Bay, which did it three straight years (1929-31). Pick: Colts.

CLEVELAND (-1½) vs. N.Y. Jets - "We've got to plant the seeds, water them and let them grow," Browns GM Phil Savage said about meagre Brown draft picks. "The problem with the Browns since 1999 is that every time the seeds are planted, they get washed away before they can take hold and grow." Pick: Jets.

Pittsburgh (-9) vs. OAKLAND - The Steelers and Raiders met for five consecutive post-seasons from 1972 through 1976 with three of those games being for the AFC championship. The Raiders have won just 14 games since playing in the 2003 Super Bowl. Call it the Barret Robbins Curse. Pick: Pittsburgh.

CAROLINA (-3) vs. Dallas - Asked last week to name his favorite receiver, new starting Cowboy QB Tony Romo said it was little-known linebacker-turned-fullback Oliver Hoyte. Reporters also wanted to know why Romo gets along so well with Terrell Owens. Romo smiled and said, "I tell him how many pills to take." Good to have a sense of humour this week as well. Pick: Carolina.

Monday night

New England (-3) vs. MINNESOTA - The Vikings have the NFL's number one ranked rushing defence. Patriot rookie running back Laurence Maroney is returning to the auld HH Dome, scene of a his collegiate home career at the University of Minnesota. Pick: New England.

Last week: 7-6-0
Season: 47-48-4
Suspect Series Ends With No Suspense

So now that the 2006 World Series has ended, tell the truth - did you even care?

Two teams that collapsed near the end of the season, one who lost their division title that they'd led at one point by a double digit margin and the other who nearly lost their division and an appearance in the postseason with a nose dive that, bar their unlikely entry into the World Series, would have been called one of the biggest chokes of all-time.

That's right, the Tigers against the Cardinals as a World Series produced all that one would suspect for two teams that received deservedly little respect going in; a half-hearted, stumbling but hardly surprising outcome watched by record low television audiences, one poor team beating another poorer team whilst the poorer team came apart at the seams.

That the new World Champion Cardinals won a mere 83 games this regular season is hardly news. Fewest ever by a World Series champion. They won 11 more when it counted and they are the "World" Champions (even though they won't face the WBC Champion Japan) hardly makes them immortal although certainly Tony La Russa deserves mention now in the All-Time pantheon of baseball managers. Oddly enough, La Russa was the winning manager for another anticlimactic World Series, the A's v Giants after the big earthquake in 86.

There was no great earthquake to interrupt the 2006 World Series, just a one-game rain out but if there had been it's likely that few people outside of Detroit and St Louis would have bothered watching the end once it resumed.

Yes, sour grapes for New York fans, one of whom was knocked out by the AL Champ and the other by the NL Champ.

But you have to admit, a bad team beating a worse team is hardly the stuff of immortality.

Time to put the 2006 season, immemorable as it has been, in the back of the closet and hope that 2007 will be more interesting.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Top Three Shocking Things About NFL Sunday

Everyone's Got A Win. Finally.

Must be time for Warren to fire up the bong

Sadly the Raiders' first victory of the season, quieting all those Schadenfreudists who were praying for 0-16, wasn't very surprising when you come right down to it, no matter how bad they are. The Cardinals were coming off a demoralising Monday Night loss with a rookie QB and every week that passes clarifies that Dennis Green is no miracle worker. He's just another fat guy with a bad temper.

Quickest route to Loserville? Seneca Wallace, QB.

Vikings Over Seahawks in Seattle. Only because the Seahawks were supposed to be invicinceable at home and the Vikings haven't overwhelmed with talent. Matt Hasselbeck going down with a knee injury (only a sprain) doesn't explain complete collapse of Seahawk defence. The good thing about this, other than another Seahawk loss, is that it unveils the hideous falsehood of Seahawk homefield advantage.

Thanking good fate they aren't 0-6

Tampa Bay sending Philly to another road loss - Maybe this shouldn't be surprising considering Tampa were considered a Super Bowl candidate (albeit a darkhorse) before everyone wrote them off and really, was losing Simms such a big loss? Apparently not. This was the Ronde Barber show as the Buccaneers scored a pair of touchdowns on interception returns by him. Not a great Buccaneer offence, but sufficient. Hard to say if the Bucs are Back (SCHEDULE) or that the Philly's were KO'd since their rematch against TO (two consecutive road losses won't pull the plug on the season)- what are the chances of losing to a 62 yard field goal? But for a second straight week the Iggles poorly managed the clock and it cost them. Stay out of the South, Philly!

Hey look, another photo of Herm Edwards talking out of his arse - wait no! That's his face!

Top Ranked Defence Exposed - The concern about San Diego's fast start and tough defence was that it had been achieved against the patsies of the NFL. Even their impressive loss to the Ravens was clouded by the historic inability of the Ravens to find their own endzone, discover an offence. (OFFENCE AGAINST FOR VICTORIES BY CHARGERS) That KC dismantled this myth at home with Herm the Worm showing KC fans how good he is at hitting bottom and coming back up.

Crazy finish in Atlanta, wasn't it? Although the first half didn't match the second for scoring (attributable to lousy defences, not Big Ben's concussion) Pitt 2-4, Atlanta 4-2)

Who the hell are the Jags? They've beaten the Cowboys, Steelers and Jets by a cumulative 77-17 margin. They almost beat the Colts and suffered an inexplicable loss to the Deadskins. Every sign pointed to them being a playoff team and a tough team at that so how does Houston crush them?

Denver has now faced four of its own former 1,000 yard rushers in games (Clinton Portis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and now Droughns), and has never lost to those players. (courtesy Gil Brandt


1. Two-Headed Hydra of Chicago and Denver -both have great defences handicapped by dodgy QBs but

3. Indianapolis Colts - They have now replaced the Patriots as the team I hate the most in the NFL. Consistently great playing in games that don't matter and consistent chokers in the playoffs. Who cares what they do in the regular season?

4. San Diego - the loss to KC was a temporary blip on the screen - they won't cough up the ball three times in the first quarter very many more times this season and without those three turnovers, they would have beaten the Chiefs and no one would be worrying them about this.

5. New Orleans/New England? - The home team would win this game so on a neutral field, the nod goes to the Pats.

BOTTOM FEEDING FIVE (from worst to least-worst)


I caught this snippet from Starbucks King on SI:

This is more like Jim Brown, who walked away in 1965 to make movies and to try to do some good in the world. Barber has had enough of the regimentation and the silly rules (reporting at 8:23 for an 8:30 meeting because you have to be early with the Giants to be on time) and, quite frankly, the physical pain.

In the normal sequence of things, I don't give a toss that Tiki Barber is retiring nor am I slightly curious as to why. But the one thing that caught my eye was an adult millionaire man being subjected to the idea of reporting at 8:23 for an 8:30 meeting because you have to be early with the Giants to be on time. I'd heard Tom Coughlin was an arsehole but there is the proof. And the frightening thing is that collective misery seems to work.

So I'm rooting against the Giants the rest of the season simply because Tom Coughlin is an asshole, his ideas are the ideas of assholes and his success would justify his asshole life and asshole ideas. SO LOSE GIANTS, LOSE!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Terrorism came to the NFL this week. At least the threat of it. A 20-year-old grocery store clerk who authorities say amused himself by posting prank Internet warnings of terrorist attacks against NFL stadiums was arrested Friday on federal charges that could bring five years behind bars.

Dante Hicks, in the movie Clerks:

"You get me slapped with a fine, you argue with the customers and I have to patch everything up, you get us thrown out of a funeral by violating the corpse, and then to top it off, you ruin my relationship. I mean, what's your encore? Do you, like, anally rape my mother while pouring sugar in my gas tank?"

CINCINNATI (-3 1/2) vs. Carolina - An Internet posting that claimed so-called "dirty bombs" would be exploded at seven NFL stadiums this weekend was a hoax, said Mike Snowden, who is director of both county agencies and the former chief of police in Cincinnati. Significantly, Cincinnati was not one of the seven. Probably not enough fans in the stands to merit it. The Bengals have allowed 532 rushing yards in the past three games. Pick: Carolina

N.Y. JETS (-3 1/2) vs. Detroit - Let's see, Game Two of the World Series or another demoralising NFL loss. Tough choice for Detroit residents this Sunday. Pick: Jets

MIAMI (-3 1/2) vs. Green Bay - It is rumoured that Hong Kong has pink dolphins. Miami has underachieving dolphins. Pick: Green Bay

Jacksonville (-9) vs. HOUSTON - Texans coach Gary Kubiak, on if he thinks his team is improving: "Yes, I think we're getting better as I watch us work every day. Have the results been good? No, they have not been good." Ah, not good. If it were only that simple. Pick: Jacksonville

New England (-6) vs. BUFFALO - Thinking too far ahead of the Bills, the New England Patriots have formally asked the NFL to ensure the safety of Patriots employees when the team hosts the Indianapolis Colts and their explosive president at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night, Nov. 5. Pick: Buffalo

Philadelphia (-4 1/2) vs. TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookie Club kicked off its annual series of community events on Tuesday, October 17 with a trip to the bowling alley. Pick: Philly

Pittsburgh (-1 1/2) vs. ATLANTA - The fastest quarterback in the NFL faces the youngest one to win a Super Bowl on Sunday when the Atlanta Falcons host the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pick: Atlanta

San Diego (-5 1/2) vs. KANSAS CITY - The Raphael, a boutique hotel across from Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, is offering a "Go Chiefs" package that includes a tailgate basket with two field box seats to a football game, as well as choice of accommodations. The basket will hold a 12-pack of beer and peanuts. Party time. Pick: San Diego

Denver (-6 1/2) vs. CLEVELAND - Since the start of the 2005 season, the Denver Broncos are 17-4. The Cleveland Browns are 7-14. You do the maths. Pick: Denver

Arizona (-1 1/2) vs. OAKLAND - The last time the Raiders started the season 0-5, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Pick: Arizona

SEATTLE (-7) vs. Minnesota - Last winter in signing Seattle's Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota included a clause in his offer sheet - which came to be known as the "poison pill'' - that would guarantee Hutchinson the entire $49 million if he was not his team's highest-paid offensive lineman. Since tackle Walter Jones was already making more, the Seahawks couldn't afford to match the offer. Pick: Seattle

INDIANAPOLIS (-10) vs. Washington - "We've been up and down, kind of all over the place," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs lamented this week. "And that's not good as a football team." Pick: Indy

Monday night

DALLAS (-3 1/2) vs. N.Y. Giants "If I was a teammate, I would have hit him in the head with something," Charles Barkley, that NFL guru said of the Cowboys' Terrell Owens. "T.O.'s got such an overbearing personality, he'd be tough to play with." Barkley certainly ought to know. Pick: Giants

Last week ATS: Pitiful, pitiful - 3-9-1
Season ATS: 40-42-4

So it all comes down to the Midwest.

Yes, both the Yankees and the Mets had the best records in their respective leagues this season and whilst New York were hoping for another Subway Series to roast the rest of America with, the two finalists this season are the Detroit Tigers and the St Louis Cardinals. I can't deny there is still a bitter disappointment in the Game Seven loss of the Mets to the Cards in the NLCS, but our season's over. At least I don't have to stay up all night listening to Mets games for another week, losing sleep for baseball.

The Cardinals and Tigers have a history. They've played each other twice previously in the World Series.

"Back in 1968, the last World Series before playoffs, the Cardinals' Bob Gibson pitched a five-hit shutout and struck out a Series record 17 to beat the Tigers and 31-game winner Denny McLain 4-0 in the opener at the old Busch Stadium.

In the only other Series matchup between the clubs, the Cardinals' Dizzy Dean pitched an eight-hitter to defeat Alvin Crowder 8-3 in 1934's first game at Detroit's Navin Field, as Tiger Stadium was then known"

Will it be an exciting Series? The last two have been sweeps, by American League teams over National League teams (one of whom were these very Cardinals against the Red Sox,) but there are no "Sox" in this series for the first time in two years so perhaps the tables can finally be turned.

This will be one of just a few World Series matchups that have occurred at least three times and haven’t involved the Yankees:

Giants-Athletics, 4 Meetings
Cubs-Tigers, 4 Meetings
Cardinals-Red Sox, 3 Meetings
Cardinals-Tigers, 3 Meetings

So what's it going to be this year? The Tigers, as we all know, made one of the most complete and quickest turn-arounds after portraying baseball's worst team for several seasons but seizing this season early in a choke hold as one of baseball's best teams led by one of baseball's spiciest and most talented managers. That the Tigers fell into a deep funk towards season's end and ended up losing the AL Central which was supposed to be theirs, that they opened the postseason as massive underdogs against the Yankees, lost Game One and then swept their way three straight from them and four more from the Oakland A's only proves that this series is a series of improbables because they will face:

The Cardinals, a team managed by the biggest micromanager in the game's history. They too held a massive lead, also in the Central, albeit National League and they too squeaked into the postseason by a hair, barely winning their division after losing their final game of the season. They won only 83 games out of 162 and yet somehow managed to beat the Padres in a series no one thought they could win and then topped it by beating the NL-best Mets in another series no one thought they would win.

The heavyweights and local scribes weigh in on predicting the outcome. Of 9 writers selected, 6 picked the Tigers to win it all, none in a sweep.

You can't figure much on matchups - Detroit's great starting rotation against the weak-hitting Cardinals, auld mates facing each other as managers, the DH, the bullpens and Albert Pujols versus Detroit. If you can predict one thing, predict the unpredictable for if this postseason wherein the two least likely candidates survived, has taught us anything, it is that there is no way of knowing what's down the road.

So I've played out the World Series with dice, inning by brutal inning wherein the first roll equals the number of subsequent rolls for a chance to roll a "6" which will logically, equal one run. Here's how it played out:

Game One @ Detroit: In this matchup of two rookie pitchers, one of whom has the worst record ever of any starting Game One pitcher in the World Series, the Cards jump to a 2-0 lead by the second inning before a two-run homer ties it in the 3rd. The Tigers lead 5-4 before the Cards tie it in the 9th and then the Tigers come back again in the bottom of the 9th to win a thrilling opening game, 6-5.

(Sports Amnesia is predicting that the reality is that the Tigers have had over a week's layoff and are rusty, the Cardinals, with no time to really consider the pressure of the World Series and still contemplating their thrilling NLCS Game 7, take the opener...)

Game Two @ Detroit: Sees two former New York goats, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver as the starting pitchers having the last laugh. Powered by a suddenly explosive Alberto Pujols, the Cards rally to win, 8-5 and tie the series.

(Sports Amnesia is predicting that having lost homefield advantage, the Tigers simply "must" win this home game. Kenny Rogers hasn't surrendered an earned run in the post season and the Tigers will even the series at one apiece moving to St Louis...)

Game Three @ St Louis: Once again, Nate Robertson (1-1, 5.91 ERA postseason; 13-13 regular season) opens up for the Tigers on the road, the same scene he faced while starting Game 1 for the Tigers in the previous two rounds. He faces the reigning Cy Young winner, Chris Carpenter. Robertson's luck continues as the Tigers unexpectedly batter Carpenter in another unexpectly high scoring game. Tigers win, 9-6.

(Sports Amnesia predicts Robertson's road luck continues and the Tigers regain homefield advantage to go up 2 games to 1...)

Game Four @ St Louis: Jeremy Bonderman (1-0, 3.08 ERA postseason; 14-8, 4.08 regular season) pitched two strong outings so far this postseason to clinch the Tigers' last two series, but both outings came in Detroit and this isn't a series clinching game. His mound opponent is the NLCS MVP, Jeff Suppan 1-1, 1.86 ERA postseason. Having lost their brief homefield advantage and facing and early do or die situation, the Cardinals take the early lead for the 4th consecutive game but end up losing 7-3 behind a pair of Craig Munroe homers.

(Sports Amnesia predicts the Cardinals take a massive advantage here as Suppan is unbeatable to tie the seris at 2 games apiece...)

Game Five @ St Louis: And now, faced with having to put all their "Cards" on the table, does La Russa go with his Game One rookie starter or Jeff Weaver on three days' rest? For the first time all series, the Tigers take the early lead, 2-0 and build it to 4-1 by the 3rd inning. The Card lose again, 7-3 and the Tigers are World Champions.

(Sports Amnesia predicts that with virtually no good starting pitching prospects for the Cardinals in this game, they lose to face elimination...)

And the answer is: Kenny Rogers wins his 3rd postseason game of 2006 to take it all for Detroit.

Thus, the prediction is Tigers in Six as Kenny Rogers wraps up an unexpected MVP performance.

But let's not forget, Sports Amnesia predicted a Dodgers-A's World Series and look how that ended tits up.

Monday, October 16, 2006

TO's TDs Prove Something...Just Not Sure What

I suppose it would all be easier if this guy suddenly flared out - the "accidental overdose" coupled with some lackluster performances where he wasn't getting enough TDs to compensate for the Flying Circus that trumpets beside his place on the team might send the whole show crashing down.

But for another week at least, TO was the story again - 3 TD catches and another convincing victory. So long as he keeps producing and the Cowboys keep winning well, virtually anything within the law is justified, isn't it? Yeah, he's annoying no doubt. I don't think I'd want to see him in a Jets uniform (on the other hand, Randy Moss, rumoured to be on the block, I would like to see...) but frankly, although you could argue there are better receivers out there you'd be hard pressed to prove it. When Owens is healthy he's a big advantage for his team regardless of the headaches he gives them during the week. This obviously wasn't true at Philly where the schism he fractured was a large destructive leadership battle but so far in Dallas the Fat Man has kept a full scale mutiny from erupting.

But enough about TO. The best thing that could happen to the NFL would be a broken leg and the rest of the season off. That and the fact I hate the Cowboys and an injured TO, you have to admit, weakens them greatly.

And so what about the Bears ridiculous victory on Monday Night? Joe Theisman hyperbole in midseason flutter called it the weirdest game in his 31 years of professional football, or something along those lines but I've gotta believe he's been waiting to say "in my 31 years of football both as a coach and a player" all season long and now was his chance. This was a crap team playing over their heads eventually losing to an intensive defensive fury. Brian Urlacher let slip after the game that he wasn't even being blocked. So there you go. The Cardinals are simply incompetent and the mirage of the first half disappeared as you would expect. Question is can they travel to Oakland and keep the Raiders without a victory?

I went 3-9-1 ATS this week. Owed perhaps to alot of surprises and alot more close games than has been the norm. These weeks pop up out of nowhere at times and frankly, unless you're following alot closer than I am, it's going to smack you eventually. My new TOP TEN NFL TEAMS

1. San Diego Chargers (4-1) -did what was expected of them.
2. Chicago Bears (6-0) - they have QB problems, alert! But a killer Defence and likely homefield advantage through the playoffs.
3. New Orleans Saints (5-1) - How can you say this? Well, winning at home against the Eagles but coming back after they'd lost momentum proves this is a solid team to be aware of.
4. Philadelphia Eages (4-2) - Need to bounce back immediately at Tampa and I think they will.
5. Carolina Panthers (4-2) - rolling along fine after typical slow start.
6. New England Pats (4-1) - Not much can go wrong on a bye week.
7. Indy Colts (5-0) - See above. They'd better come out strong against Washington's laughable team though.
8. Seattle (4-1) - simply because they don't lose at home and that victory over the Rams took some doing.
9. Denver Broncos (4-1) if they ever learn to score, the defence is deadly.
10.St Louis Rams (4-2) - really. Shoulda won that game. They were the better team that lost.


So the Cubs hired Piniella. I'd have thought Joe Girardi was a no brainer, frankly but it's hard to argue against Lou Piniella, who would've been gone to the Yankees had the Yankees gone with heads instead of hearts and sacked Joe Torre.

Still, the A's fired Macha and there are alot of palatable places for Girardi to go and wherever he goes, if there's a modicum of talent, this guy is going to take that team far.

Tight, tight games on Sunday.

Seven games were decided by a total margin of 17 points.

Every team bar the Raiders have at least one victory now this season after Tampa, Tennessee and Detroit earned their first wins of the season against the Bengals, Redskins and Bills respectively.

Vince Young gets his first W

For whatever joy these first-win teams must feel on Monday morning, think about what losers a team like the Redskins must feel like, losing to the Titans at home and dropping to a very unimpressive 2-4. For the first time in franchise history, the Titans wore navy jerseys and navy pants. Must be an ugly but winning combination.

Was it a catch or a drop?

The Bengals thought they'd won their game against the Bucs only to have the initial ruling of an incomplete td pass overturned and ruled a TD with 35 seconds left to play. The Bucs (1-4) avoided their first 0-5 start since 1996 and snapped Cincinnati's eight-game winning streak against NFC opponents.

Roy Williams flipping out over his 10 catch, 161 yard game...

As for the Lions, they won their first game of the season by holding on for a 20-17 win after rushing out to a 10-0 lead. The Bills lost their second game in a row on the midwest road. Combined with the Tigers winning the American League pennant it was a heady week for Detroit sports.

Not these first wins and tight games but you had the Saints spilling the Eagles and granted at home, but a gutsy performance that finally puts them on the map of serious contenders for the playoffs. With their victory, New Orleans (5-1) enters its bye week atop the NFC South.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Week Six of the NFL

The Bears and the Colts are the only two undefeated teams in the NFL after five weeks and not coincidentally, both teams play in notoriously weak divisions. The Colts did this already last season and look where it got them. Not the Super Bowl. There are six teams left in the AFC with less than two losses - along with the Colts there's the Patriots, Ravens, Bengals, Broncos and Chargers. Of those teams, the Chargers have the best balance of offence and defence. And even though my Colts against the Eagles Super Bowl prediction is still valid, at this point anyway, I'd say the Chargers are my favourites to make it from the AFC.

In the NFC, there are also six teams left with less than two losses - along with the Bears there's the Eagles, Saints, Falcons, Rams and Seahawks. The Bears are by far the most dominating offensively and defensively, have momentum and might well get homefield advantage through the playoffs which would be crucial given Chicago weather in the winter.

But I'm still going with the Eagles.

Thus I rate the Top Five in the NFL:

1. Eagles
2. Chargers
3. Bears
4. Patriots
5. Rams

This week's picks:

DETROIT (-1½) vs. Buffalo - There are four winless teams left in the NFL and Detroit is one of them. Rod Marinelli thinks there is one major reason his Detroit Lions are 0-5. Discipline. "After having a chance to view the tape, a theme throughout our team is not doing our jobs, understanding our jobs and doing what we are coached to do," he said. "It's glaring to me. We have to be a more disciplined football team." So will they make a trip to a local dominatrix? Pick: Buffalo

BALTIMORE (-3) vs. Carolina - The Baltimore Ravens ' team plane made an unscheduled landing early Oct. 10 in Pittsburgh so cornerback Corey Ivy could go to a hospital to treat a kidney injury. No stops scheduled to treat a mediocre offence against a very tough defence. Pick: Carolina

Cincinnati (-6) vs. TAMPA BAY - Tampa have lost every game they've played this season to date. "We are struggling," coach Jon Gruden said. "If I could put my finger on it, I'd probably tell you what it was. ... well, I sure hope you wouldn't keep the secret to yourself. Pick: Cincinnati

DALLAS (-11½) vs. Houston - The last and only time these two teams met, the Texans won the battle of Texas, 19-10. Of course, that was their first season in the NFL and they've got 3 more seasons of experience so imagine what the advantage they'll have now. Pick: Houston

ATLANTA (-3) vs. N.Y. Giants - The Falcons (3-1) own the NFL's best rushing attack, averaging 234.3 yards per game. Running backs Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood have combined to rush for 582 yards, while quarterback Michael Vick has run for 333. The Giants don't play well in loud stadiums. Pick: Atlanta

Philadelphia (-3) vs. NEW ORLEANS - Now that the MNF hoopla of the first game back in the Dome has receded, a group of Eagles fans who call themselves The Green Legion teamed up with a number of Saints fans this week to help clean up some of the battered areas in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the battered areas of Philly remain, well, battered. Pick: Philadelphia

Seattle (-3) vs. ST. LOUIS - Battle of the NFC West and the Seahawks won't play it at home. The Seahawks are 1-3 in St. Louis since joining the NFC West in 2002. Pick: St Louis

WASHINGTON (-9½) vs. Tennessee - The Titans are another of the NFL's winless dregs. The last time Vince Young visited the city of Washington, the University of Texas Longhorns were celebrating a national championship at the White House. Pick: Tennessee

PITTSBURGH (-6½) vs. Kansas City - After posting a 27-4 record in his first two years as the Steelers' starting quarterback, Roethlisberger has lost all three of his starts this season while posting the NFL's second-lowest quarterback rating (41.7). Pick: Kansas City

N.Y. JETS (-3) vs. Miami - For those of you who imagine having Joey Harrington as your starting QB is bad enough, imagine this: Cleo Lemon is the Dolphins' backup quarterback if Harrington goes down. Pick: NY Jets

San Diego (-8½) vs. SAN FRANCISCO - The Chargers haven't won in San Francisco since 1982 which is pretty bad considering how bad the 49ers have been over the last few years. Pick: San Francisco

DENVER (-15) vs. Oakland - The Raiders are everyone's favourite NFL punching bags. No matter what team you root for, you can always think hell, we're not THAT bad. Just look at the Raiders. The Just Win, Baby motto of Al Davis is now more like a desperate plea. Pick: Denver

Monday night

Chicago (-10) vs. ARIZONA - A columnist expressed outrage at the way Bears players chase the media out of the locker room each day at 1 p.m. before practice starts by flashing the light on and off and making siren noises. The columnist said he felt threatened by the practice, which has been going on for 2½ years. So go cover the stinkin' Cubs then. Pick: Chicago

Last week 5-7-2
Season 37-33-3

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tragedy, Shamgedy

If I were following on my lead properly, I'd be dehydrated by now from crying over the death of a Yankee pitcher who flew his plane into an apartment building in the middle of Manhattan that I'd probably be too shriveled to type.

I feel terrible that a guy who was a mediocre pitcher at best and I'm not talking about him as a human being, just as a professional, played a game of sport that paid him enough money to buy a $187,000 toy plane for a little side hobby to begin with.

Why am I supposed to feel bad about this? Why is this labeled a "tragedy"?

Immediately after the Phillies’ season ended, Lidle met with a flight instructor, Tyler Stanger, in Pomona, Calif. He had his pilot’s license by February and seemed amazed at how easily he picked it up.

“It’s no problem,” Lidle said in September. “It’s easy.”

Apparently not so easy, pal. But maybe because becoming a millionaire by being mediocre at what you do was so easy you figured everything else must be a lark, right?

I don't begrudge the baseball world mourning this moron but that it is headlines all over, that it gets more air play than all of the other ongoing problems of the world, sticks a bit in the craw.

Career numbers: 82-72 with a 4.57 earned run average. Career earnings, 17 MILLION FIVE HUNDRED AND FIVE DOLLARS.

Yes, I'm feeling weepy already.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Welcome, Class of 2006

Reggie Bush; 1st NFL TD is a game-winning 65 yard return...

Is this just the beginning of Reggie Bush's coming-out party or simply a symptoms of his true use in the NFL, as a special teams explosion, an uncoverable back coming out of the backfield to catch passes?

Matt Leinart lost his inaugural start, not surprising perhaps, even at home because after all, he plays for the Cardinals. Still, he three a pair of touchdown passes on his first five throws as an NFL starter. Watch this space.

Vince Young nearly led the pitiful Titans (is there a more incongruent nickname in the NFL?) to an upset over the Mighty Colts, but he scored his career touchdown on a 19-yard first-quarter run and his output as a passer, just 10 of 21 for 63 yards is indicative of the rumour that he is more a runner than a passer, a lower grade and less explosive Michael Vick, but this was only his second game.


Demise Of The Steelers

Their loss to the Chargers, shredded defence by Phillip Rivers, is another stake in the heart of the defending Super Bowl Champs, the third straight loss and with their lone victory being over the lowly Dolphins, even the one victory looks pretty stale.
The illusion that Big Ben was not effected by his nearly fatal motorcycle accident is fading perhaps as rapidly as his memory - then again, maybe the mystique was already being defogged in the Super Bowl so perhaps this is just the beginning path down the long road to reality.

Shocking The Bills

Granted, the Bills aren't on anyone's Top Ten list and they were playing on the road but they let the game get away from them early with a series of failures - the first being a muffed fake punt effort in their first offensive series. You could just see the air leeking out of their balloon. Does this mean the Bears are the best team in football right now? There will be even more bandwagon jumpers after this performance and the fact that they play in a weak division will help lead them to homefield advantage in the playoffs but I seem to recall the Panthers embarassing them at home in the playoffs only last season. The jury is still out as far as I'm concerned.

Giants Week Off Fortuitous
I wasn't surprised by this victory nor the margin of it. The Giants have historically taken it to the Skins, especially at home. Add to history the sense that the Giants were fading fast making this a match of desperation and add to that the reality that the Redskins offence is not really as good as it looked the last two weeks with a fragile QB, questionable running game and a one man mini receiver, you had all the ingredients for this kind of result.

4-1 Rams?

Not a mirage until you look at who they've beaten: Green Bay, Detroit, Arizona and a notoriously slow starting Bronocs team in Week One. If they come out of their next four games (v Seattle, at San Diego, v. KC and at Seattle) then you can come running down from the lanes of St Louis with a convincing product. Until then, I'm withholding my enthusiasm.

Jets losing by 41 to Jacksonville
This to me was the most shocking result of Sunday. The Jets have been a fighting team, innovative and suprising despite dire predictions by most of the football critics and although a victory wasn't necessarily the probable outcome, getting tossed like this, like a bag of fast food rubbish out the window of a fast moving vehicle on the side of motorway, will cause many to say "I told you so." But the Jets will bounce back from their worst loss in 20 years. Hosting Miami and Detroit and visiting Cleveland will right this usually steady ship.

"It was just a plain ol' butt-whipping they laid on us," Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma said.

Pennington finished 10 of 17 for 71 yards. He was picked off three times and sacked three times.

"I don't think there wasn't anything positive coming out of this game," coach Eric Mangini said.


Indy Escapes

Put this one down to one of the mysteries of the football universe. The Colts should have won this game handily; as they double digit line suggested and yet they were inexlicably stymied by a team that had looked utterly hopeless against the Cowboys, a far inferior team. Two losses wherein the victor scored at least 40 points and no victories on the horizan? Was it just one of those any given Sundays? Impressively, despite all the signs of upset being present, the Colts managed to squeak one out. Pinched victory. Every team gets them during the course of the season.
Bye Bye, Yankees

Oh, they'll be analysing this one all winter. And oh yeah, you might hear the first calls for Looooooou right about now. If Joe Torre isn't on his way out the door now, he'll never be.

The Yankees, tied with the Mets at season's end for the best record in baseball lost in the first round of the AL playoffs to a team that backed into the playoffs by losing three straight to the KC Royals and let a double digit AL Central lead slip through their hands.

The Yankees with their Murderer's Row lineup (oh, shiver, oh tremble) played much like Mistresses' Row after Game One, losing three straight to the Detroit Tigers who outpitched and outplayed the Yankees so badly that at one point it was 8-0 in this elimination game.

You lose two of three against the Tigers and you'd think in Game Four they'd come out smoking but they didn't. They were overeager at the plate and crap on the mound, throwing away everything they thought they'd worked for all season.

And yes, everybody's favourite whipping boy, A-Rod, will take a pummeling for a 1 for 14 series, as well he should but the finger pointing should begin and end with the manager who took a 200 million dollar roster and made it look like 200 dollars.

For four world championships, Joe Torre was the best manager the Yankees had in 50 years and during that spell the Yankees were a team rather than a collection of millionaires, a team of passion rather than passivity, a team that won rather than a team that spent year after year disappointing in the post season.

But this new collection with A-Rod, Giambi, Sheffield, the selfish sort of players who don't respond well to Torre's kind of management, need something of a kick in the arse. Think the Yankees fall down like that three in a row if Lou Piniella was breathing fire down their necks?

It was a brilliant upset by a team of enthusiasm led by a chain-smoking Marlboro Man kind of manager and the Tigers should enjoy it now, while they can.

The formidable A's, who swept the Twins are up next in the ALCS.


Now there's only one team in New York at the moment, as the Mets swept the Dodgers to go to the NLCS.

How often does that happen?

Well, three times the Mets have made it to the World Series without the Yankees in 44 years of baseball existence. Twice they won it all. 1969 and 1986.

2006 might see it again.

His Hall of Fame credentials wouldn't help him last night...

The Mets swept past what looked like a lifeless Dodger team who probably blew their only chance at winning this series by reliquishing the momentum in a second-inning running gaffe in Game One that saw two runs erased into none by one bonehead play by a player and one by the third base coach.

After that and yes, the Dodgers showed a few sparks last night but the reality was that they were doomed by a bad bullpen, the Dodgers simply rolled over and let the Mets roll past them. Not as embarassing as the Yankees mind you, but the Dodgers were favoured by many in this playoff they were swept in by those who fell in love with the demise of Pedro and El Duque.

Now the Mets will wait. One, maybe two days to see if their next opponents will be the Cardinals or the Padres. Whoever it is, don't expect them to stop the Mets juggernaut to being the next it team in New York and maybe even the next World Series Champions.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

--Arthur Schopenhauer

At Indianapolis (-18.5) Tennessee - Tennessee has covered only one of its last six games and is 4-11 vs. the number in its last 15 contests. Meanwhile, Indy is 7-3 against the number in its last 10 games prior to a bye week and has covered five of its last seven contests as a favorite of more than 10 points. A three touchdown margin against the inexperienced Young would not be out of the question. Pick: Indy.

At NY Giants (-4) Washington - When asked what kind of clues former Redskin LaVar Arrington could provide to the Giants' offense about the Redskins' defense, his former linebackers coach, Dale Lindsay, said: "None. He didn't know anything when he was here. What makes you think he'll know something up there?" Pick: Giants

At Minnesota (-6.5) Detroit - The Vikings have converted nine of their last 43 third-down opportunities and went 12-plus quarters without a touchdown. To top off the coaching job, they lead the league at 9½ penalties per game. Pick: Detroit

At New Orleans (-6.5) Tampa Bay - The Saints are eighth in defense. The Bucs are next-to-last in offense, Bucs QB Bruce Gradkowski will be making his first career start as the QB with the most lineman-sounding name in a very loud Dome which intimidated the Falcons only a fortnight ago. Pick: Saints

St. Louis (-3) At Green Bay Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has not thrown an interception and the defense has picked off eight passes to tie the Ravens for the NFL lead. The Rams team lead the NFL in turnover differential at plus-10. Brett Favre will play with a slight concussion and pinched nerve in his neck but he mighted be hearted by the fact that the marching band from his alma mater is scheduled to entertain fans tomorrow before and during the game. That's right, the Members of Pride of Mississippi band from the University of Southern Mississippi are making a daylong trip to Wisconsin today. Joining them are the color guard, feature twirlers and the Dixie Darlings dance team. Pick: Green Bay.

At New England (-10) Miami - The Nicktator, as he is somtimes called, who screams at underlings, is so tough on assistant coaches that, according to multiple reports, he went through 40 assistants in 10 years at Michigan State and Louisiana State. Last year he made a player cry before a practice. Pick: New England

At Chicago (-11) Buffalo Now the time is ripe for a let down. After surprising many already this season the Bears are coming off an easy victory at home against the exposed Seahawks, small surprise considering they didn't have their artificial home noise behind them. Fired Bears coach Dick Jauron returns to the scene of the crime. Pick: Buffalo

At Carolina (-9) Cleveland Greg Good, the six-foot-four 340-pound Carolina Panthers fan who dresses up as "Catman" at home games, will receive a new pickup truck from Fox Sports after an on-air practical joke. Instead of receiving a "real" pick up, Good was handed a toy pick up "Fatman" Tony Siragusa, causing humiliation and outrage in Carolina. A Charlotte Observer sports columnist took up Good's cause, writing a front-page column in Wednesday's newspaper that resulted in outraged fans e-mailing Fox Sports. Pick: Cleveland

At Jacksonville (-7) NY Jets - "Everything is not a movie," Byron Leftwich mused after another Jags loss last week. "Everything is not a great story.". Well, there goes my pet theory. Pick NY Jets

Kansas City (-3.5) At Arizona - The Chiefs defence has not allowed a passing touchdown all season and will now be facing rookie QB Matt Leinart. Seems almost too good to be true but as Mr Leftwich reminded us all this week, everything is not a movie. Pick Arizona

At San Francisco (-3.5) Oakland The Raiders have failed to cover in 11 of their last 12 games and are 14-37-1 against the spread in the past plus three years since their Super Bowl embarassment. Pick Oakland

At Philadelphia (-2) Dallas - You have wonder how "brotherly" the love will be in Philly this week for TO's eagerly awaited return. "If T.O's trying to kill himself, he's coming to the right place," said John Mirsky, 40, of East Norriton. Pick: Philly

At San Diego (-3.5) Pittsburgh Ridiculous and meaningless stat of the week. The Steelers, as a franchise, have run 7,453 times for a league-high 30,650 yards since 1992. They must be tired by now. Pick: San Diego

Monday Night Football

At Denver (-4) Baltimore Mike Shanahan’s club has averaged 34 points and covered in each of its last three games after the week of rest. Yes, the Ravens are rejuvinated but and yes the Broncos haven't scored more than 17 points all season. Pick: Baltimore

Last week: 9-4-1
Season 32-26-1
Hurtin' In Minneapolis

Twins starter Johan Santana had gone 16-0 with a 1.93 earned run average in his 23-start home streak going into yesterday's game so this was really an opening game that the Twins were expected to win.

But Frank Thomas' two solo shots extinguished hope of a Twins opening advantage and Barry Zito pitched a sparkling debut as the A's went on to win the first game of the series 3-2.

Before Tuesday, the Twins won eight consecutive postseason Game 1’s. The loss was Minnesota’s sixth in a row in the postseason at the Metrodome since 2002.

I still think Boof Bonser will outpitch A's starter Esteban Loiza in the second match but this has become rather imperative now. It might not be such fun times to be a Twins fan at the moment. Nerves wearing raw after just nine innings.

The 38-year-old Thomas became the oldest player to have a multihomer game in postseason history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Mr October Redux

Derek Jeter is already renowned for his many World Championship rings and imprinted moments of greatness in his career but last night he added another layer to that reputation with a 5 for 5 night at the plate leading the Yankees to an unsurprising

Cardinals Playing Possum All Season

Could it be that the near-collapse of the St Louis Cardinals in the regular season was just a sign of apathy, a ho-hum disregard for the NL Central race having done it already so many times?

Unlike the Atlanta Braves who could never quite bring themselves to match their regular season intensity in the postseason, the Cardinals got off to a roaring and important start by beating the Padres and their ace on the road to take a 5-1 victory over the Friars.

St. Louis has won five of its six Division Series since the format's inception. In NLDS openers, the Cards are 5-1 and have outscored opponents by a 43-18 margin.

The usual suspect, Albert Pujols provided the game's first runs with a monster 422-foot homer that capped an eight-pitch at-bat.


Today's matchups:

Well, who bloody well knows now that El Duque might be injured and not start Game One against the Dodgers, adding to the growing list of starting pitching mishaps that seem to plague the team like a curse. Look for John Maine to make a smashing debut and an unexpected Mets victory if the Duke can't go.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Baseball Playoff Finally Arrive
Twins and Their Dome At Home Will Do The Business

A little over six months in the waiting (if you only count the regular season, forgetting about Spring Training and the winter months pining away with rumours of free agent signing and multiplayer trades,)the baseball postseason is finally here. Sports Amnesia's Preview is here with tiny little observations and best of all, more arbitrary, far-flung predictions.

Minnesota Twins v Oakland A's: The first thing you would say is that potentially, Johan Santana could win it all by himself. Well, that's the impression you get about the man likely to be this season's AL Cy Young winner. Pure team numbers show that the team is alot more than Santana. Of the four playoff teams the Twins are tops in ERA, tied for tops in fielding percentage and tops in post-All Star batting average. They are the least powerful of the AL's final four if measured in homeruns and have only the third highest on-base percentage and lowest amount of runs scored.

The A's on the other hand lead the pack with the most post-All Star game saves (and yes, in this convoluted world, Sports Amnesia is going with stats which demonstrate the hot hand rather than they early heat that faded...) and yet the pitching staff overall is second to the Twins almost everywhere.

An intangible factor is the Hubert Humphrey Dome and the fact that the Twins are opening this round in it. Give immediate momentum to the Twins who will take the Opening Series. The A's are likely to lose Game One and near-certain to lose game two consider they will throw Esteban Loiza out for them against The Boofer. Twins take the momentum, a 2-0 start out of the gates and, coupled with the A's rather dubious post-season mark, this early start will prove their downfall. Rich Harden, dubious and injured most of the season would be forced to save the series himself.

The A's have more experience playing in one-run games but given their pitching staff this might not be helpful.

Pick: Twins in Three


New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers:

The Tigers enter this postseason as Team Taper Off; after a solid beginning that saw them with the best record in baseball, they faded so fast they ended up losing a double digit lead in the AL Central and eventually the division title. They have no playoff experience versus the massive experience of the Yankees.

How far have the Yankees come in history that a Chinaman is pitching their opening playoff game? (well, Taiwanese to be precise but...) A team loaded with big ticket free agent pitchers starts a guy who has come up through their ravaged farm system.

The Tigers' bullpen is atrocious and I'm not sure the likes of Nate Robertson is going to make such a difference the weak and inexperienced bullpen will even matter. The Tigers suck in extra inning games (4-8) which show a lack of depth necessary for the playoffs but the Yankees were poor in one-run games, winning only 24 of 46 (Tigers meanwhile won 20 of 31.)

Question is, will Tigers be in enough one run decisions for that to matter? The Yankees are in the habit of scoring alot of runs and have the highest post-All Star Game on base percentage of any of the playoff teams. That means it might be like a pinball game that the Tigers have to hope they can outscore the Yankees in.

Not bloody likely.

Game Two is the fulcrum when the faded Justin Verlander takes on Mike Mussina who is 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 15 starts at home this year and will be pitching at Yankee Stadium, is a rather pedestrian 7-7 in his postseason career with a 3.30 ERA. In nine ALDS starts, Mussina is 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA.

Meanwhile the Tigers' Kenny Rogers (17-8, 3.84 ERA) is a remarkable 0-3 with an 8.85 ERA in nine playoff appearances. He will face the ageing, injured Unit at home. The Unit has an ERA of over 5.00 in the last month, both home and on the road. This will be a HIGH scoring Game Three with momentum on the line.

Pick: Yankees in Five


San Diego Padres versus St Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are the Detroit Tigers of the National League albeit without the flashy start to the season, the story of the unsung and the surprise. They nearly blew a double digit lead in their own Central division and choked as badly as the Tigers did down the stretch. At least they held on to their division even if it was more by virtue of a lack of opposition than any pronounced greatness.

Of course, the Cards could be lying in the grass, pretending to be dead when they were really just sunning themselves all along.

The Cards are the worst hitting, worst pitching team in the National League playoffs.

Their opening game pitcher is Chris Carpenter who has a home ERA of 1.81 and a road ERA of 4.70. Opening game is on the road.

Look for Woody Williams to outpitch Jeff Weaver in Game Three to give the Padres the edge overall.

This series will be surpisingly tight.

Pick: Padres in Five

Los Angeles Dodgers v. New York Mets

Rematch of 1988 without any of the players. In other words, so what.

Yes, Mets are without Pedro, blablabla. They've been without Pedro most of the year relying more on the mystique of Pedro than the man himself so the loss isn't as devastating as it appears.

The Mets had the best record in the National League, they hit well, outscoring bad episodes of shaky starters, their bullpen has been stellar all season with great depth and they're loaded with stars.

The Dodgers have been the hottest team outside of the A's since the end of July. They, like the Mets are a great comeback team which should prove for some very very exciting games.

Game One- Derek Lowe finished the regular season with one loss since mid-July, going 9-1. He was rested for this game. But El Duque's postseason clock is ticking right on schedule. In September, he had a 2-2 record a 2.01 ERA in five starts. The Dodgers are a lousy road team (39-42) whilst the Mets sparkle at Shea, (50-31). The Dodgers are crap (3-8) in extra innings and a mere 20-20 in one-run games. This game will decide whether the Mets will believe the bad hype or go back to remembering their self-confident, never-say-die team spirit that got them there.

Game Two: The Dodgers decided against the Maddux-Glavine classic, the bastids and will deserve to lose this game for doing so. Hong-Chih Kuo may not be old and tired but he isn't Greg Maddux either. He pitched six shutout innings against the Mets which is likely why he's in this spot. Buyer beware, Glavine's last 15 postseason starts -- those from 1997 forward -- have yielded a 4-9 record and 4.40 ERA. Maybe why the Braves lost all those playoffs?
Point is, Kuo probably can't get away with the same trick twice. Glavine will give up an early lead but the Mets will come back by the 5th.

Game Three: This is where Pedro's absence shows. Brad Penny, whom the Mets clobbered for seven runs and ten hits in less than six innings at Shea will start against the dreaded Steve Trachsel. Make it clear, Trachsel is only as good as his run support. If the Mets clobber Penny again they might have a prayer with Trachsel but basically, this is a throwaway game for the Mets so they'd better go to LA with a 2-0 lead or else there will be serious trouble.

The Question then is if Willie will bring back El Duque on short rest in Game 4 with a chance to clinch or if he will give rookie John Maine a taste of the postseason. If the Mets are up 2 games to 1 rather than down 2 games to 1, look for Maine to start but on the brink of elimination, they will likely toss out The Duke. Unfortunately, Game 4 will feature Maddux coming back to pitch for the Dodgers, a devastating hidden gem.

Pick: Dodgers in Five


We see the Twins taking out the Yankees and then the Dodgers relieving the Padres of the postseason in a vindicating postseason swell for Grady Little.

WORLD SERIES: Twins over the Dodgers in Six.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Captain Craptastic

34 points in their last 12 quarters and an inexplicable loss to the previously winless Houston Texans. That's what the Miami Dolphins have accomplished.

Duante Culpepper has been sacked 21 times in 4 games and all the little dreams of the Dolphin worshippers who predicted great things for this team have simply vanished. Which came first, Culpepper's immobolity or the Dolphins' offensive line's fallability?


Is the 700 page playbook finally being read by the offence in Washington? 22 first downs, 482 total yards, 36 points and 100 yards rushing against a vaunted defence.


What did we learn from the battle of the unbeatens, Ravens v Chargers, Bears v Seahawks?

1. Bwahahhaaha. Seahawks suck. Let them have their homefield advantage, the veil has been lifted to reveal an ugly bride. Allowing 37 points to the Bears, a traditionally meak offensive team led by a QB who has never played a full NFL season demonstrates that the Seahawks are frauds.

2. Steve McNair is competent enough to lead the Ravens to success and but the Ravens, playing at home was just enough to offset the Chargers having a week off. The rap against the Chargers has been the weakness of their opponents but they've proven themselves, even in losing to be one of the top AFC teams.

3. The Bears are the favourites to go to the Super Bowl.


Who are more real, the Saints or the Panthers?

The Panthers started off losing two in a row and barely beating a team that hadn't won a game themselves and lost their starting QB. The Saints were playing away from home and coming off a short week and an emotional victory. That the game was this close proves that the Saints are for real. More real than the Panthers? Not yet. But if this game had been played in New Orleans with equal amounts of rest, the Saints might have won it. The Saints are therefore, more real. But no one is as real as the Bears.


Who is the worst team in the NFL at the moment?

1. The battle of the unwinning, Browns v Raiders netted the Browns a satisfying victory on the heels of an impressive performance against the Ravens the week before.

2. The Tennessee Titans lost yet again in even more humiliating fashion than the week before, this time by a 45-14 margin to the Cowboys.

3. If the Titans met the Raiders on a neutral field who would win? Probably end in a 3-3 tie.