Friday, October 30, 2009

Make no mistake, Game Two of this 2009 World Series was a must win game for the New York Yankees.

After the defending champs, led by a miraculous and composed Cliff Lee disposed of the Yankees and their ace C.C. Sabathia with ease in Game One they were on the brink of the point of no return already.

Instead, A.J. Burnett and his mascot catcher Jose Molina went out for the Yankees and threw seven innings of gems allowing only a few scattered hits, a lone run and striking out 9. Molina justified his mascot presence not only by Burnett's performance but additionally by picking off Jason Werth in the 4th inning which, other than a foolish failure to have their two base runners going with a full count, down by two in the 8th and hitting into a double play instead, was one of the critical turning points of the game.

Although he didn't win, he didn't disappoint...5 2-3 innings, vintage Pedro was on display — minus the overpowering fastball of his heyday. He didn't need it. Martinez baffled the Yankees with offspeed pitches and sneaky fastballs.

Joe Girardi answered critics of his perceived overmanagement by using only one arm out of the bullpen. Two innings of relentless Mariano Rivera was sufficient to nail it down.

"They're the best team we've played all year," New York's Derek Jeter said. "They're champs for a reason, and we need to play well if we're going to beat them."


Giants at Eagles for first place in the NFC East followed by Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field in a Vikings uniform, a titanic match up, followed by Game 4 of the World Series in Philly which will also be a must-win game for whomever loses Game 3 on Halloween Night. Philly is nearly ground sporting zero.

Yes, yes, missed another week of predictions - it was essentially an uninspirational week but this week, here we go:


DEN @ BAL: Undefeated pretenders against what once and intimidating team but now an O for October Baltimore Ravens team who have little choice but to end Denver's season-long win streak. Both teams are coming off a bye week. Baltimore 24 Denver 21

NYG @ PHI; The Giants are reeling on a diet of NFL-level competition after wiping up a bunch of muppets and looking good. The pattern is the Giants can't beat teams that are any good. The Eagles aren't great, nor are they pretty. Will Michael Vick finally factor? What you've got to figure is how often the Giants seem to have their number. Giants 27 Iggles 21

MIA @ NYJ: Rooting with heart rather than head. Despite their wobbles, the Jets simply have to revenge that hideous loss a few Monday nights ago on national telly. Jets 24 Dolphins 17.

SF @ IND: Can anyone beat these Colts? Well surely the 49ers could be inspired but logically, these teams are simply uneven on paper. Colts 33 49ers 17

STL @ DET: A great WHO CARES game featured in this week's Anti-Football League match. Lions had the week off and time to get their rookie QB back to reasonable health. No chance. Lions 38 Rams 23.

SEA @ DAL: Which Cowboys team? Which Seahawks team? Who knows? Tony Romo has a habit of sucking most of the time and occasionally playing over his head. He's just had an over-the-head game last week so we aren't expecting consecutive ones. Seahawks 24 Cowboys 21.

HOU @ BUF: Oh god how these Texans are everybody's darlings this season. Buffalo have won two in a row. Which charade stops first? Texans 28 Bills 23

CLE @ CHI: These games, mismatches highlighting the distinct lack of parity in the NFL this season, have traditionally been blowouts. Cutler is due to bounce back from a row of mediocrity but not the Browns. Bears 37 Browns 13

OAK @ SD: The Raiders have had their moment in the sun beating Philly like that. The Chargers won't want that kind of humiliation. Chargers 31 Raiders 13.

JAC @ TEN: The Who Fucking Cares Bowl of the Anti-Football League. I'm tempted not even to bother putting a score up here but what the hell, let's root for those poor, miserable Titans, eh? Titans 23 Jags 20.

MIN @ GB: It's about time Favre goes down, innit? The swift decline may have begun already in Pittsburgh last week. You hate to bet against this guy where pride is on the line but somehow the Packers must feel like they will be humiliated forever if they lose this. Packers 26 Vikings 23.

CAR @ ARI: This is the kind of game you might expect an upset. Cards rolling, Panthers spitting out the bile of a home loss to Buffalo of all teams. Short week for the Cards as well. Are they motivated? Are they hungry? They've yet to beat anyone good but they can be a good running team. Controlled atmo, I'm going with the upset because I still hate the Cards and don't want to root for them so long as their Johnny Come Lately Jesus Freak of a QB is still there. Panthers 28 Cardinals 27.

ATL @ NO: Great Monday night match up in the Superdome. Big stage, the Saints look indomitable. Although they might be ripe for upset and the Falcons are coming off a stunning loss, this might be another half-shoot out where the Saints do all the shooting. Saints 38 Falcons 24.

What's my record now on this half-hearted season of two weeks of picks out of 7? 21-9, that's what. But that's on the back of a 14-2 opening record, that's what. So the stock is tumbling.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


World Series matchups.

Even without the World Series, this was destined to be a busy weekend in South Philadelphia. On Saturday night — opposite Game 3 — Pearl Jam is playing a concert for the final event at the 42-year-old Spectrum. On Sunday afternoon — before Game 4 — the Eagles are playing the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. Both stadiums sit across Pattison Avenue from Citizens Bank Park.

Looking forward to Game Two already:

Pedro's Pitching...

His playoff history against the Yankees goes back a decade, to Game 3 of the 1999 American League Championship Series, when, while pitching for Boston, he threw seven shutout innings. In the 2003 and 2004 postseasons, Martinez faced the Yankees five times, insinuating himself in the middle of some of the rivalry’s most memorable moments: pushing Don Zimmer, then a 72-year-old Yankees coach, in a skirmish during the 2003 A.L.C.S.; staying in too long, as it turned out, in Game 7 of the 2003 A.L.C.S.; and calling the Yankees “my daddy.”

Game 1: Phillies at Yankees
7:57 p.m. Wednesday
Game 2: Phillies at Yankees
7:57 p.m. Thursday
Game 3: Yankees at Phillies
7:57 p.m. Saturday
Game 4: Yankees at Phillies
8:20 p.m. Sunday
Game 5: Yankees at Phillies*
7:57 p.m. Monday
Game 6: Phillies at Yankees*
7:57 p.m. Nov. 4
Game 7: Phillies at Yankees*


As always, Bill Conlin weighs in:

Howard meditates:


Game One: Phillies in extra innings 4-3.
Game Two: Yankees 9-4
Game Three: Yankees 5-4
Game Four:Phillies 3-2
Game Five: Yankees 9-8
Game Six: Phillies 7-5
Game Seven: Yankees 4-3

7:57 p.m. Nov. 5

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


First of all, a shitty NFL weekend, or Monday night really, watching the Jets once-miraculous defence suddenly mystified but the Dolphins and their gimmick offence. Rex Ryan? What happened to this defensive genius? Is this the beginning of the end? Two good things; Sanchez looked reasonable in bouncing back from that rookie-like performance against the Saints last week and Braylon Edwards, whom the Jets got for a steal trade last week, proved that he was only suffering from Brownsitis; in fact, he's still a great receiver. Good for the Jets. We'll stomp this piss out of the Dolphins in a few weeks when they've got to go to Jersey.

Secondly, yeah Donovan McNabb, inexplicably the most under-appreciated QB in football. What a bold and brilliant comeback from QB controversy, injury and worry. Granted, beating up on the Bucs is no big feat these days but still, nothing's guaranteed in the NFL.

Except for the Raiders absolutely sucking. If ever a team deserved demotion, it's these Raiders, even moreso than the winless Lions of last season. Everything about this team sucks, their horrifically clueless QB, their old and hideous senile owner, their criminally incompetent and soon-to-face-assault-charges-against-his-own-assistant coach Coach and as Pat reject Richard Seymour said about what it was like playing in Oakland; well, the weather's good.

The Broncos are 5-0 on the heels of everyone thinking they were absolutely fucked this season after being forced to trade Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton. Yes, it's always good to see the Patriots lose another and their invulnerable airs deflated yet again, yes, yes, yes, Tom Brady is human and Bellichick is no fucking genius any more and all those sanctimonious Pats fans can finally shut their fucking mouths but gawd, the Broncos?! With Orton??! C'mon. Let's have a more believable subplot. Nope, forget it, just wait til these pussies have to start playing someone good. I mean these last three victories? A gimme against the Raiders, at home against the Shitboys with the most overrated QB on earth and at home against the quickly fading Pats with a ghost of a QB leading them. Next two games at San Diego and at Baltimore. Let's see where things stand then before we go anointing them World Champions.


Thank you Buffalo and Cleveland for introducing ANTI-FOOTBALL to the NFL. They can join the Rams, Bucs and Chiefs and form the New AFL (Anti-Football League. And I reckon the Panthers can probably join them, even if they did beat the Redskins this weekend - maybe that's because the Redskins belong there too. What is this with incompetence? Raiders, Chiefs, Bucs and Rams a combined 0-20 for the season.


I like the 49ers. I knew I would just as soon as Crazy Face Singletary took them over and taught them to respect themselves to overachieve with the same ueberlevel of desire that got him through his NFL career despite the lack of clear physical tools. Desire and pride. Why is that so fucking hard to coach? Look at those winless sad sacks in the NFL and then look at the bloody 49ers. Winning games with Shaun Of The Dead Hill at QB no less. Ok, they got their heads handed to them by the Falcons, 45-10 at home no less, hardly impressive, but they'll bounce back and hard, even if they've got to go TO Houston and TO Indy the two weeks after their bye week. Ok, well, maybe not but at least their in a weak division.

Good Christ, are the Bungles really 4-1?! Why yes they are, just as I suspected they would be - a Marvin Lewis simply isn't going to suck forever. Still, impressive wins over the Steelers AND Ravens in three weeks. They must be for real. Which means the Steelers and Ravens will be fighting the Dolphins/Jets/Patriots for the two wild card this season what with the Broncos and Colts also having virtually clinched their division already five weeks into the season - how's THAT for anti-climatic?

Here's my week hand again trying to pick the wieners - anyone who knows about my collective 3-7 record in two Fantasy leagues knows I don't know fuck all or have no crystal ball -

Week 6

HOU @ CIN - The Texans keep almost reaching the dizzying heights everyone predicted for them this season, everyone's sleeper team which means in my mind, it's not a fucking sleeper team any more if everyone thought it. The Bengals on the other hand, at home and the REAL sleeper team, win this one, 31-17

DET @ GB - I like these Lions, they're much more exciting to watch than I thought they'd be even though I've watched them lose two weeks in a row to the Bears and Steelers (gruesome schedule gets no better at Lambeau Field this week...) Injuries are bound to keep them low and the Packers have had a week to think about getting embarrassed by their former Wonder Boy Brett. Pack take this one by double digits. 33-20.

STL @ JAC - one of the Who Fucking Cares Bowl games this weekend. And I mean it. Go Jacksonville. Beat the fuck out of these pathetic sad sacks. 42-10. The Rams suck and we hate them.

BAL @ MIN - Maybe these Ravens aren't as impressive as we thought, losing at home to the Bengals like that on the heels of losing to the Patriots. Here's what I think: Upset special. The Vikings and Glamour Cunt Favre finally get their kicking. Ravens 24 Vikes 13. Too good to be true? C'mon, it's gotta happen some time and what better than an unexpected home loss - you think they are going to be undefeated going into Lambeau? Nah, that'd be too rich.

NYG @ NO: FINALLY the fucking Giants have to play an NFL team instead of these amateur outfits they've been scheduled against the last several weeks. You'd be hard-pressed to go against the Saints, sky-high at home after a week of rest. I'd like to see the Giants get exposed Massively this week by a ridiculous margin, let's say 45-3 or something but the truth is, this will be less of a mismatch than the Saints-Jets were two weekends ago. Why are the Saints getting both of these teams at home with a week off in between? Do you smell conspiracy? Saints 23 Giants 21 if only because the Giants are going to be taken by surprise by a team that actually belongs in the NFL.

CLE @ PIT: Common sense sez with the Browns in such clear disarray and Eric Mangini proven for his second owner he never deserved a second chance after falling on his face with the Jets, the Browns are a fucking mess, even if they beat the Bills in Buffalo by a baseball score last week. NONE of their QBs are any good. Look what Leaving Cleveland, the new NFL docudrama about Braylon Edwards career-changing trade to the Jets. And if you think that's bad, think about what a player must feel like getting traded to Cleveland. I mean it's CLEVELAND for fucks sake, forget about their lousy team. Steelers 30 Browns 10.

CAR @ TB: Yes, scheduling parity, that's what I like to see. One shit-hideous franchise against another in a Mediocrity Bowl of losers. Well listen, the Bucs have to win sometime, why not against these sad sacks who are going to be euphoric about somehow stealing that game against the Redskins and will suffer an emotional let down hereafter? Bucs 13 Carolina 7.

KC @ WAS: Another exciting AFL (Anti-Football League) game nobody but those in the immediate vicinity and far-away masochists care about. Redskins 28 Chiefs 27.

PHI @ OAK: Oh c'mon. Even travelling to the other coast should be worth the trip for the Iggles. First the Bucs, now the Raiders. Is McNabb living large or what? Iggles 38 Raiders 6.

ARI @ SEA: Matt Hasselbeck is back and the Seahawks are 2-0 and have outscored their opponantry (yes, I know that's not a fucking word but it bloody well should be...)69-0 in those two games. If that isn't an MVP candidate, I don't know who the fuck is. If he can stay on the field for more than a half without getting injured, the Cards will get fed their lunch. Seahawks 26 Cardinals 17.

TEN @ NE: Pre season this looked like it would be a monster mash up. Now it's one wounded, close your eyes ugly limping 0-5 team against another team that has to finally face up to its averageness. Not easy for Boy Wonder and the Genius but the momentum is simply anti-gravity for those sad sack Titans. Patriots 33 Titans 16.

BUF @ NYJ: Ok, the Jets have a day's less rest but look, you think they aren't going to be pissed off and the Defence isn't going to be out to prove something after getting humiliated on National TV, out-witted even by those fucking Dolphins? You bet. And at home. With another week of practice for Edwards. Sanchez has the best game of his career. Jets 30 Bills 14.

CHI @ ATL; The Bears are rested, the Falcons are playing in their home dome. The Falcons just beat the shit out of the 49ers after travelling that dreaded cross-country trip. But now they've had to fly back again. Are these Falcons inconsistent or is that just my imagination? This should be a good game. Bears Defence is hurting and struggling bleeding linebackers like they've been so in theory, Matt Ryan will carve them up with those Hillbillies whooping it up in the background. This will be very close methinks only because the Bears had a week to prepare, the Falcons are coming down from a glorious high, hmmm, can't decide by anything other than imaginary coin flip. Aw, fuck it. I'm playing Matt Ryan AND Cutler on my two fantasy teams this week so let's root for a high-scoring affair, say 38-35, Falcons.

DEN @ SD: I sooooo want to see this ridiculous infatuation with the Broncos come crashing to the ground. I can't explain why I hate the Broncos so much this season. Maybe because I pish-poshed their chances, mocked their stupidity in the off season and didn't listen to the johnny-come-latelies who moaned this team is "for real". Inevitably when you see a team getting gushed on like a naked bird on a buffet table at a Horny Men Convention, you have to wonder when the music stops and everyone catches themselves in mid-act. It's not pretty. But is THIS the week? Against THESE Chargers? They lost by 5 at home to the Ravens so they're capable of anything. They got the piss beat out of them by the Steelers in Pittsburgh. This proves physical teams scare them. Are the Broncos a physical team? Well, their defence is good allegedly. They give up hardly any points. That means the Chargers will play El Foldo this weekend. Streak continues, Broncos 23 Chargers 20.

Last week's record: none. 14-2 on the season for flat out victors. Big effin deal.


And yes, as all the applause die down, I shout above to confirm my opinions about the BASEBALL PLAYOFFS.

First of all let me say congratulations Baseball for making sure that every team I fucking hate still has a chance. Ok, the Red Sox and Cards are out, somebody had to go but can I really root for any of these teams?

I HATE the Yankees and Phillies as a Mets fan so logically they'd be the likely World Series finalists just because that's how it works. If I hate a team they will win, almost guaranteed. It's as if I can smell it.

Now the funny logic is that by that logic, I'd have to root for a Freeway Series but jesus christ, I just can't bring myself to do that. I might as well stop watching baseball until next year. The combination of listening to Vince Scully broadcast the Dodgers and the Angels and Southern California perfect sleeping weather and the entire WHO THE FUCK CARES element (I mean not even people in LA will give a shit at least the Yankees, people can hate, jerk up a little fucking emotion about but the Dodgers and Angels? Fuck that. Keep baseball on the East coast.

I wouldn't MIND Dodgers Yankees because of the Manny and Torre element but the more exciting World Series would be the Phillies-Yankees so fuck it, I'm going to root for that even though I hate both teams simply because it would be a more exciting World Series, ok? Which means watch out for that Fucking Freeway Series Finale. Ugh.

Dodgers bullpen beats Phillies. Yankees are just superior and hot, fuck the Angels.

Prediction: Dodgers-Yankees.
A Gigantic Weekend of Sports

Friday: ALDS, two games: First we see the tense, extra-inning demise of the Twins in Yankee Stadium following a wildly blown call by an ump right on the spot completely missing a fair ball ground rule double by Joe Mauer.

Is ump Phil Cuzzi a closet Yankees fan, an ump on the take or do they have standing orders by the Commish to make sure a high market Yankees team makes it into the World Series this season?

Who knows which it is, but there's no way that call can be missed unintentionally. Instead of a lead off double, man-on-second, no outs, the Twins have to try and knickle and dime their way to a run. Sure, Mauer singles up the middle anyway but that means Jason Kubel's single that followed would likely have given the Twins a one run lead going into the bottom of the 12th, etc. etc.

Sure, Teixeira hit his lead-off homer in the the Yankees half of the inning but does closer Joe Nathan pitch the same way with a one-run lead? Perhaps a wee bit more confidently?

You could piss and moan about this but let's face it, now that A-Rod has shook that post-season funk he's been in his entire career, Derek Jeter is playing as if this is the last swan song of his career and the Yankees seem destined to come back from any deficit, falling 2-0 to them in a best-of-5 series didn't bode well for the Twins. That and the natural ump bias and Selig wanting the big market Yankees to return to the big stage because well, they paid for it...

And then to add to the sour taste in the mouth, the BOOOOOORING Anaheim Angels and their BOOOOORING pre-scripted, let's-win-one-for-the-dead-kid run win a second game in So Co because the Red Sox batters have fallen into a collective coma and can't seem to even hit mediocrity any more.


First of all, a slew of key World Cup qualifying games, most of important which in Europe was probably the Portugal-Hungary game which ended up 3-0 in favour of the team no one can believe has already nearly failed to qualify for the World Cup - Ronaldo's team. Helping Portugal's cause was Denmark's 2-0 stomping of the Swedes which means the Danes went ahead to qualify and helped Portugal at Sweden's expense - no better result.

There was also the other-side-of-dawn Argentina victory over Peru which meant that they face a winner-take-it-all bunny boiler against Uruguay on Wednesday.

Not only that but both American AND Mexico qualified officially for the World Cup.

On Saturday, non-stop, virtually, because due to the time differences, the Red Sox game blurs into dawn. Up ahead, a big Gators-LSU NCAA football game marking the return of Superhero Tim Tebow. That turns out to be a 13-3 disappointment, defensive slug-fest which has importance in the rankings but as a game, not what you want to see at college football's highest levels. Without the requisite infatuation/man crush for Tebow, I simply can't garner the same enthusiasm for this game, Florida's impressive and oppressive Defence notwithstanding.

Back in baseball, a return to the National League where the first game gets SNOWED OUT in Colorado. October, mind. Frosty.

Then the Dodgers just shut down the utterly gutted Cardinals who suffered that horrific defeat with two outs in the 9th on a dropped fly ball by Matt Holiday who blew the game and the series for the Cards.

Wanna see it again?


On Sunday, well the World Cup qualifiers in the western hemisphere bled into the wee hours but the flip coin would be the ALDS games, the Red Sox trying to redeem themselves at home despite a whimpish offense and the Twins trying desperately to reclaim the series in a Metrodome finale versus the NFL games.

Well, the NFL games made it somewhat easy to want to watch the Red Sox blow a massive lead and the ALDS with a bullpen melt down of catastrophic and season-ending proportions. Papelbon finally choked it down and Hillbilly Wagner might have escaped the Mets but he isn't going to have a heart warming World Series story to tell his grand kids.

First of all, because the only 1 pm kickoff merit, the Bengals-Ravens game was BLACKED OUT so I was stuck trying to find interest in the Steelers-Lions game instead with the Lions trying to make it without Stafford, their heroic rookie QB and Duante Culpepper in his place. Culpepper, as it turned out, looked alot better than expected and instead of being held scoreless, the Lions actually required some lucky Steelers defending to be prevented from upsetting the Steelers, not impressive for the Steelers and the Lions are maybe the best one-win team in the NFL.

Yes, Broncos upset the Pats at home to go 5-0 and prove EVERYBODY wrong. I'm already hating the Broncos which undoubtedly means they'll make it to the Super Bowl this season with Kyle Orton leading them unless of course this game meant a happier thing; that the Patriots demise, much like the Red Sox demise, is only a matter of time away and all those annoying fucking Boston fans can finally climb back into the hole they were inexplicably released from several years ago when the Sox finally broke the curse and that mumbling genius first led the Pats to their inexplicable string of Super Bowl victories.

The Jets game wasn't until Monday which meant another Sunday night of the fucking Colts - you just watch - a hideous Colts-Broncos Super Bowl, is that even possible? Let's see, why no it isn't, thank christ!

Then you see the Yankees finishing off the Twins without barely breaking a sweat whilst the Phucking Phillies take Game 3 in freezing cold Colorado with a come-from-behind abomination that saw Shitty Brad Lidge survive two 9th inning walks to save the game. TWO fucking walks at home, bottom of the 9th and these loser Rockies couldn't score the tying fucking run in their choke artist uniforms. Fuck, that would have made let's see, every team I find boring or hate in the NLCS and ALCS. Thanks sports gods for fucking my weekend!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Holy Shit, What A Finish To The Regular Season!

Wow, you can't imagine a more exciting finish to the 2009 regular season for baseball: a one game, do-or-die playoff to determine the winner of the AL Central and the first victim of the formidable New York Yankees in the 2009 Playoffs, played in one of the loudest, most exciting venues in baseball (yes, believe it or not, the Metrodome) which was facing its final game ever as the Twins are moving to a new stadium next season, and the game itself, an amazing see-saw battle which saw the Twins overcome a 3 run deficit, lose a lead before finally winning it all in the 12th inning.

The Twins overcame a seven-game gap in the final month, went 17-4 to pull even on the final weekend and won their fifth division title in eight years.

Now even the Mets didn't choke as badly as the Tigers, or at least the argument can finally be made. No longer the biggest laughingstocks.

And the Twins go on to their fate: the NY Yankees, the best team in baseball.

Monday, October 05, 2009

After 4 full weeks have (nearly) been completed is it now time for everyone to jump of the Broncos Bandwagon already?

Sensible people do not get excited about teams QB'd by Kyle Orton. Yes, they're 4-0 but that's against the Bungles, the Browns, the Raiders and Cowboys. Their next 4 games are against New England, at San Diego, at Baltimore and against Pittsburgh. If they escape better than .500 after that run, I'll be shocked. Pretenders.

The Patriots won the battle against the Ravens on Sunday but only just. Don't expect them to win the war. One less dropped pass and the Ravens probably would have won this. A few less rubbish calls by the refs saving Tom Brady's career, again, the Ravens probably would have won. Of course winning is worth more than what could have been but the Patriots are not a better team than the Ravens and if and when they meet post-season, this game will stick with those Ravens and fuel a nasty feeding frenzy...

Ditto the Saints over the Jets yesterday. Sanchez won't always be a stuttering rookie and yes, the Saints Defence is much improved but if these teams were to play each other again (when, right? The Super Bowl?) the Jets would win most every other time. And for the record, that bit about Is Sanchez Spanish for Turnover? Cheap, lads, cheap. He'll be back.

Blackout Luck of the Draw had me watching the Bears-Lions game this week - I'd have loved watching the Pats-Ravens but frankly, this game was quite surprisingly exciting for a Black and Blue Division match up. Lions receivers were running free, particularly Calvin Johnson against a Bears defence that looked less-than-ferocious. Had rookie Matthew Stafford been a little more accurate the Lions could have blown this game out early but regardless, the Bears looked very vulnerable - a team like the Packers or Vikings might make mince meat of that defence still stumbling around missing its two best linebackers. Regardless, Jay Cutler's crazy flip dive into the end zone, completely giving up his body to the defenders is the kind of crazy shet that either gets you killed or inspires teammates.

Rankings won't come out, if at all until after tonight's game. After watching the Vikings just barely take out the 49ers last week (and don't get me wrong, the 49ers are easily one of the best (and unlike the Broncos) real surprises of the 2009 season so far.) you'd have to wonder if the Pack will be as flexible. The guess here is Aaron Rodgers is going to far outshine Favre this week - it's still early days but I can't help remembering how quickly Favre peetered out last season and one can only imagine it happening even earlier this season. Of course if they just feed Adrian Peterson over and over again, eventually it probably won't matter. I've got him on one of my fantasy teams but am playing against him on another so I'm torn as to how I'd like to see him perform. Still, I'll be rooting for the Vikes.

Perhaps more interesting than trying to guess how low the Raiders will sink before the season is over is wondering if they'll be the first team EVER to have their head coach arrested in mid-season. That'd be too easy for Al Davis, saving him from having to sack yet another coach after yet another bad decision. If it's possible, this is a franchise, albeit in a different sport, probably run even worse than the New York Mets.


I'm still sick from the Mets season but reading that they're making ceremonial sacking of a few meaningless coaches (still even keeping them in the system) and NOT sacking the pitching coach Dan Warthen just points out early and significantly that the Mets are not serious about turning the franchise around.

Looks like next year will suck as much as this one did. Wake up you fecking eedjits.


Isn't it nice the Twins, who seem to have made a franchise history out of fighting back and overcoming the odds, came back from 7 games back to force a playoff? And even nicer that it is postponed by a day because of the Packers-Vikings game and then the Minneapolis fans will, if they're lucky, host the Yankees that same week in the playoffs?

Yes, the Tigers are probably the better team on paper but this time of year it's so much about momentum. That or which team has the fewer drunks.

I don't have any post-season predictions perse other than to think about how funny it'd be if the Yankees get knocked out in the first round by the Twins given the massive disparity in payrolls.

Realistically, I guess I'd have to root for a Yankees-Dodgers World Series for the Irony Factor alone; Manny and Joe Torre facing the Yankees, wow.

But in the first round, we get two of the best managers in the business going head to head when the Dodgers play the Cardinals and La Russa. That's gotta go the full five and down to the last nail-biting out.

Am I the only one finding it sick funny that the Dodgers' most consistent and perhaps best pitcher all year has been Randy Wolf, the pitcher Omar Minaya didn't think more of than the useless headcase Oliver Perez he ended up WAAAAY overpaying a free agent contract to? I'm rooting for The Dodgers in Five.

No matter what, I'm rooting against the Phillies. Period. I have to. They did it in 2007, no reason they can't do it in 2009 with their very deep bench, their momentum and the Phillies rather rubbish bullpen. Rockies in 4.

In the AL, you've got to wonder if the Angels really are capable of being eliminated three seasons in a row by the Red Sox. Their biggest worry has to be their bullpen, the Red Sox strength. On the other than, the Angels are a better hitting team than the Red Sox and are fast on the basepaths which plays to the Red Sox weakness. Homefield advantage and depth in the rotation gives the slightest of edges to the Angels in five.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NFL preview and predictions
TOP 6 (inclusive WC) AFC:
1 Pittsburgh
2 New England
3 San Diego
4 Indianapolis
5 Cincinnati
6 Baltimore

San Diego over Baltimore
Indianapolis over Cincinnati
San Diego over New England
Pittsburgh over Indianapolis
Pittsburgh over San Diego

TOP6 (inclusive WC) NFC
1. Chicago
2 Dallas
3 New Orleans
4 Seattle
5 Green Bay
6 Atlanta

New Orleans over Atlanta
Green Bay over Seattle
Chicago over Green Bay
Dallas over New Orleans
Chicago over Dallas

Pittsburgh 27 Chicago 13


Week One Predictions:

hu, Sep 10
TEN @ PIT 13-31
Sun, Sep 13
JAC @ IND 10-24
DET @ NO 13-34
PHI @ CAR 24-17
DAL @ TB 31-20
NYJ @ HOU 24-20
KC @ BAL 3-26
DEN @ CIN 6-33
MIN @ CLE 26-14
MIA @ ATL 20-31
WAS @ NYG 13-21
SF @ ARI 20-17
STL @ SEA 14-23
CHI @ GB 17-20
Mon, Sep 14
BUF @ NE 3-34
SD @ OAK 35-13

Monday, September 07, 2009

Mr Mandell Reminds us

Mini-previews for three of this week's big games:
• USC at Ohio State (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET):
My, how things change in a week. Back when USC named Matt Barkley its starting quarterback and lost starting WR Ronald Johnson and CB Shareece Wright, many felt the Trojans would be vulnerable heading to Columbus. Now, after watching USC thump San Jose Sate and the Buckeyes barely escape against Navy, many may wonder whether this year's game will be any closer than last year's 35-3 Trojans wipeout.
• Notre Dame at Michigan (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET):
Boy, did this one get more interesting in a hurry. The Wolverines looked light years better in their 31-7 rout of Western Michigan, but how will young QB Tate Forcier fare against an ND defense that shut out Nevada? For that matter, can Irish QB Jimmy Clausen continue his recent dominance (37-of-44, 716 yards and nine TDs in his past two games) against the Greg Robinson-led Wolverines defense? I know one thing: I'm intrigued.
• UCLA at Tennessee (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET):
The Vols racked up an impressive 657 yards against Western Kentucky, but I'm not sure that tells us anything. The Bruins only scored three offensive touchdowns against San Diego State, but I'm not sure that tells us anything, either. The only thing we'll know for sure going in is there are going to be a whole lot of freshmen on that field.

Read more:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

baseball power rankings

10. Philadelphia Phillies (15-13): Losing two out of three at home against the Braves proves that this just isn't going to be the Phillies season. Capping the schadenfreude department though: Champion Douchebag Shane Victorino was 0 for 13 in the three-game series.
9. Detroit Tigers (16-13) -You've already got in Justin Verlander, (2-0 0.56 ERA in May) the hottest pitcher in baseball and now on the horizon you've got Jeremy Bonderman and D-Train making minor league starts and prepping to join the team again. By the All-Star break this team could be cruising to the AL Central lead.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (15-17)- Other than Evan Longoria (AL MVP candidate) and Carlos Pena, the Rays haven't hit much this season. Once their bats catch up with their pitching this team can still overtake the entire AL East again.
7. LA Dodgers (22-10)- but for the shame and resultant lack of run production to follow after the Manny Cheater was outed and suspended, this team would be ranked much higher however, their streak is over, time to make way for the ....? Hmmm, maybe there are no teams in the NL West to overtake the Dodgers, even without Manny.
6. New York Mets (16-13)- 7 game winning streak against Braves, Phillies and Pirates have given the Mets the sort of push forward that might just change their season.
5. Milwaukee Brewers (18-13)- The Brewers concluded a stretch of playing games on 20 consecutive days - the maximum allowed in the collective bargaining agreement - with a 14-6 record.
4. Kansas City Royals (18-13)- now that Greinke's magical streak has ended, will this spell the end of Royals dreams for the season?
3. Boston Red Sox (19-12): Without the Yankees to beat up on the Sox are just another team.
2. St Louis Cardinals (19-12): This team is still Pujols and a Bunch of Other Guys nobody's ever heard of outside of Missouri but somehow La Russa keeps them going. On track to win their division, watch out for them even in the post season. They win no matter what happens to the team.
1. Toronto Blue Jays (21-12) They didn't go away after the first hot week or so and they don't appear ready to go away now. Cito Gaston may be managing the Rays of 2009.

Manny joined the growing list of named and shamed baseball cheats this week when he was suspended for 50 games for using Performance Enhancing Drugs.

So he doesn't need to have hip surgery forced upon him to get out of the spotlight like A-Hole did at the beginning of this season before he came back to produce another tainted homer in his first at-bat.

You hear what that means, scumbag Red Sox fans? It means your little World Series victories are tainted. The Curse is still on. You can kid yourselves about it but the reality is, without Manny, you weren't going to win even one World Series let alone two.

And you know what it means to the Dodgers, who struggled all off season with Manny's Arsehole Agent to sign him to a realistic contract? It means the Dodgers' amazing home winning streak ended and immediately ended turning into a two game losing streak. Not the end of the Dodgers season though. Still, it makes the NL West more interesting. And why is 50 games enough? Why not a lifetime ban? Why are any of the steroid cheats getting more chances? Why is A-Rod playing for that matter?

Joke. Enforcement is a joke. Otherwise we'd all be watching Triple A ballplayers now as the regulars, the stars would by and large all be suspended or banned.

But, as Bill Simmons points out, baseball just turned it's head because we liked what the roids were bringing. (Especially World Championships for the Sox...)

"You don't understand what it was like to follow baseball before you were born. There was a strike in 1994, and the World Series was canceled. Everyone hated baseball. Then Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa started hitting homers, and the balls started flying out of the park, and it was so much fun that everyone looked the other way. We didn't care that these guys were practically busting out of their skin or growing second foreheads. We really didn't. All the cheating made baseball more fun to watch. We were in denial. It was weird.

"Then, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in a season, and that was like the turning point. We realized that things had gone too far. We blamed him for cheating and looked the other way with dozens of other guys who might have been doing the same thing. Brady Anderson hit 50 homers in 1996; we didn't care. Bret Boone had 141 RBIs in a season; we didn't care. Big Papi went from 10 homers to 41 in four seasons; we didn't care. Roger Clemens was washed up, but suddenly he could throw 98 miles per hour and win Cy Youngs again; we didn't care. Eric Gagne saved 84 straight games and threw 120 miles an hour; we didn't care. Good players started blowing out tendons nobody had ever heard of; we didn't care. Pitchers blew out elbow tendons and shoulder ligaments routinely; we didn't care. This was the deal. They cheated; we pretended they didn't. It's really hard to explain unless you were there."

I think that sums it up nicely. Then again, we weren't "aware" of this stuff at the time it was happening. That's the insiders. THEY knew. THEY didn't care. We as fans were just left to deal with the aftermath but yes, I remember the Sosa and McGwire season, the excitement about their homer launching pads. No one at the time said but hey, they're on steroids and they're numbers are artificial, inflated. We still innocently believed this was some magical force over baseball. Not cheating. Not taking drugs to enhance their performances. We were idiots. How could something so good be free? Of course not.

We should really hate baseball for being so cynical to turn its head away like it did, just for the chance to make money, generate fan interest after greed had nearly ruined the sport. But we don't. We can't even bring ourselves to hate the cheaters who get caught. We just nod knowingly. Of course he was a cheat, look at his numbers.

Still, always thought Ortiz was the likelier roider than Manny.


Interesting following The Hunt For the Ball That Launched The Shot Heard Round The World

“Miracle Ball” contends that a rebellious, baseball-crazy nun named Sister Helen Rita had violated Felician order rules to attend the game and was sitting in the left-field stands when Thomson's homer cleared the wall.

Pafko at the wall...

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Jesse Spector's look at baseball after one month shares plenty of data:

Seven teams - the Angels, Astros, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Phillies and White Sox - did not have a starting pitcher record an out in the eighth inning of a game this April, as the longest outings by the starters of each of those clubs had been seven innings. Not surprisingly, the combined record of those teams were 64-83.

from Paul Hagen's round up in the Philly Daily News:

Brewers righthander Yovani Gallardo. He took a perfect game into the fifth against the Pirates on Wednesday. He struck out a career-high 11. He pitched eight shutout innings. And, by the way, he homered in the seventh to give himself a 1-0 win.

Milwaukee manager Ken Macha generally begins his postgame interview session with a brief recap of the game. It was especially to the point this time: "Hitting: Gallardo. Pitching: Gallardo. Any questions?"

Not quite as good, but yesterday, Ted Lilly struck out 10 and knocked in a pair of his own. He became the first Cubs pitcher with 10-plus strikeouts and 2-plus RBIs in a single game since Mark Prior on Sept. 21, 2005.

But the best hit by a pitcher was probably the one laid out on the ump by a high school pitcher:

Whether criminal charges will be pressed against the pitcher remains to be seen, but there is no doubt, according to multiple witnesses, that he landed a powerful punch on the base umpire's jaw, dropping him to the infield dirt.

After he allowed all 23 of Southern's runs, the pitcher was picked off second base in the bottom half of the fifth.

Penn coach Dennis Sheedy and the parent of a Southern player contended time was out at that juncture, and that the pickoff should not have counted.

According to several adults, the player cursed out the umpire, Mark Lumpkin, and delivered a powerful punch to his jaw.

The parent of a Southern player, who wished to remain anonymous, said Lumpkin "definitely got clocked. The first time he tried to get up, he couldn't do it. He did the second time, but was still shaky."

Jayson Stark, as usual, full o' facts:

in the wild-card era (1995-2008), just 20 of the 112 playoff teams (18 percent) were under .500 -- yes, even one game under -- at the end of April.

Zack Greinke wins this prestigious non-trophy. All Greinke did was go four consecutive starts and 43 straight innings before allowing an earned run -- making him the first American League pitcher in the past 97 seasons to allow zero earned runs in his first four starts of a season. And Greinke ended the month at 5-0 with an insane ERA of 0.50. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that since the invention of earned runs in 1912, Greinke is only the third pitcher to win at least five games in April and have an ERA that small. The others: Walter Johnson (5-0, 0.24) in 1913 and Fernando Valenzuela (5-0, 0.20) in 1981.

Lastly, watch out for this guy coming to KC Royals pretty soon - maybe another reason they might be favoured to maintain their current pace and win their division:

Right-hander Luke Hochevar improved to 5-0 and lowered his earned-run average to 1.13 by pitching a seven-inning shutout Saturday night for Class AAA Omaha in an 8-0 victory at Nashville in the first game of a double-header.

Hochevar threw just 79 pitches and allowed only two hits, both singles, in striking out five and walking three.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


D'oh! Not just the worse team in Baseball, but they can't even spell their own names!

Washington Nationals Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman wore jerseys reading "Natinals" during a game last week.

Dunn and Zimmerman donned the shirts that were missing an "O" for the first three innings of Washington's 3-2 loss to the Florida Marlins on Friday night. They eventually changed into jerseys with the team nickname spelled correctly.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Are Those Marlins Smoking?

With last night's victory in 11, the Marlins jumped to a ridiculous 10-1 record as they threaten to run away with NL East before the race properly begins. The team they beat last night, the Nats, are already out of it with their 1-9 record, as ridiculously bad as the Marlins' is ridiculously good.

It's all in the Beinfest

The primary reason Loria has been able to continually field competitive low cost teams is because, in GM Larry Beinfest, he's had one of the most savvy player evaluators in the business. This year's Marlins team, off to their best start since their 1997 world championship season, is just the latest testiment to Beinfest's baseball acumen.

It begins with the strength of the team, the young, power-armed starting rotation of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad and Anabel Sanchez. Nolasco was acquired in a 2005 trade with the Cubs for Juan Pierre; Sanchez in the 2005 Josh Beckett deal with the Red Sox that also netted shortstop Hanley Ramirez - one of the five best players in baseball - while Volstad was a No. 1 draft pick in 2005. All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla, the Marlins' RBI leader going into the weekend, was a Rule 5 Draft pickup in '95; outfielder Cody Ross, a 22-homer, 77-RBI man last year, was acquired from the Reds for a non-prospect minor leaguer in '06, and first baseman Jorge Cantu, who had 29 homers and 95 RBI last year, was a released free agent. Beinfest's latest trade gem, speed merchant third baseman Emilio Bonaficio, obtained last winter from the Washington Nationals for extra outfielder Josh Willingham, has been their early season MVP with a .400 on-base percentage and a team-leading 12 runs and four stolen bases. You'd think by now rival GMs would be going out of their way to avoid Beinfest.

And for those of you fascinated by minutae, this gets personal with Cody Ross

Here's a bit of inside information, and do we mean inside. Cody Ross is wearing a round badge on his left rump, courtesy of a Peter Moylan pitch that struck him there last night.

But here's the catch: the circular welt isn't the imprint left by the baseball, but an empty can of Skoal put in his back pocket just before the at bat. According to Ross, Hanley Ramirez handed him the empty can just before his seventh-inning at bat and told him to put it in his back pocket for good luck.

The reason: Ramirez thought it would help cure Ross of his hitting slump.

"You know how baseball is," Ross said. "You'll do anything to get going."

Ross doesn't dip. But he's happy the can was in the right place at the right time.

"It kind of pinched when the ball hit," Ross said. "When I got to first, I thought to myself, 'This doesn't hurt as much as it should.'"


Fans too stunned to speak, whooop! Go Yankees!

After losing 22-4 in humiliating fashion at home, the Yankees have allowed 70 runs in their six losses, an average of 11.7 per game.

In six innings, he has allowed 23 earned runs. His earned run average is 34.50. To reach his career E.R.A. coming into the season (3.79), Wang would have to roll off 48 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.


Of course the biggest news items of the week were reserved for the death of Fidrych and retirement of Madden.

The Bird's wondrous season, 19-9 as a rookie in 1976, leading the American League in earned run average (2.34) and complete games (24), was memorable. He was the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game and won the Rookie of the Year Award. Fidrych, along with Catfish Hunter and Frank Tanana were blasted by the National League that year, all giving up at least two runs in two innings work. Only Luis Tiant shone.


1. Florida Marlins (10-1)
2. Cubs (7-4)
3. Toronto (9-4)
4. San Diego (9-3)
5. KC Royals (7-4)
6. Seattle (8-4)
7. LA Dodgers (9-3)

last week:

1. Chicago Cubs (4-2 on the road to start)
2. Phillies (two pretty impressive comeback victories this week)
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Toronto Blue Jays

You will note only the Jays, Cubs and Mariners have remained steady after the first week. Of them, will any make the post season? Well surely the Cubs are solid candidates and perhaps even Seattle, but the Jays? Anyone think the Yankees/Red Sox and Rays are not going to overtake once the season kicks in?


Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers .538-2-7 and go on then, 6 for 6 hitting for the cycle?
Ryan Ludwick, St Louis .407-3-11
Jason Kubel, Minnesota ,435-2-10

Zack Greinke, KC 2-0 0.00 19 Ks
Mark Buehrle, Chisox, 2-0 2.77 10 Ks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baseball: Week One

No doubt, the death of Nick Adenhart was the biggest news of the first week of baseball.

One might consider the emotional debris of that tragedy will resonate with the Angels all season but yesterday's brawl against the Red Sox was probably more a result of Josh Beckett's inexcusable and confounding attempt to hit Bobby Abreu in the head than any emotional baggage.

Sports Videos, News, Blogs


After a full week, the Braves and Marlins are the surprise co-leaders of the NL East with 5-1 records and indeed, the best records in all of baseball at this point but this is merely a mirage which will quickly fade as they face each other next for top billing. Meanwhile the Mets and Phillies, the logical favourites, will face dogs in the Padres and Nats respectively, so expect the NL East race to tighten immediately.

In the American League, Seattle, Toronto and Baltimore are the surprise leaders. Again, consider this a temporary mirage. The Jays travel to Minnesota, Seattle face the Angels and the Orioles begin a series at Texas.


1. Chicago Cubs (4-2 on the road to start)
2. Phillies (two pretty impressive comeback victories this week)
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Toronto Blue Jays

This is bound to change once the heavyweights take over but early days, Seattle might surprise.


Miguel Cabrera, Detroit .520-3-10
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay .481-5-10

Jay Johnson, Florida, 2-0 0.57 15 strikeouts
Chris Young, San Diego, 2-0 1.38 12 strikeouts

Thursday, April 02, 2009

(Editor's note: this is a roughrough draft because I didn't have time to finish before opening day, just getting the all-important predictions down for the minute and will build on this tonight...)

But the Reds win out because of their surplus of arms. Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Micah Owings. Joey Votto is a star waiting to happen at 1B. However, Willy Taveras is the leadoff man in Cincy.

The Minnesota Twins have placed catcher Joe Mauer, as well as pitchers Scott Baker and Boof Bonser, on the 15-day disabled list.

The White Sox name Dewayne Wise their starting CF and their LEADOFF HITTER. Wise, 31, with a .254 OBP. Top of the order, dead already.

The Cubs' Kevin Gregg/Carlos Marmol closer situation/distraction. Whilst Lou Piniella has always been a darkhorse candidate for Mets manager every time he and the manager's position were both available, I'm beginning to think he's lost some of that magic. Not just the lousy post season record historically but also stuff like this, weird pitching decisions, confusion, controversy. It gives on the sense that the Cubs will continue to disappoint this season like they've been doing for 100 years already. Add all of the above to the fact they have Mets favourite punching bag, Aaron Heilman in their bullpen. Oh yeah, the inevitable breakdown of Milton Bradley. Or that Derrick Lee is washed up at 1B.

The Cardinals Jason Motte might make it as an important cog in the bullpen eventually this season.

The Indians can be content with the left side of their infield. Mark DeRosa and Jhonny Peralta set at first and short respectively. Peralta also leads all AL shortstops in homers the past three seasons with 57. Shin-Soo Choo in right field, with a chance at a full season, might be a darkhorse MVP candidate. Kerry Wood closer,

Cancel any hope for the Tigers, who were no-hit in a Spring Training game against the Marlins. Yes, getting rid of Sheffield is a plus but it still doesn't solve the issue of who replaces the production Sheffield never produced and the Tigers are still missing? D-Train Debacle, blood tests for anxiety disorders? This franchise is confused from top to bottom.

The Pirates are still probably too short of talent to make a move yet but Pedro Alvarez

One of the reasons the Angels won the last few years has been the strength of their pitching staff. Now that they're down a few starters and lost their closer. Time to relinquish their choke hold on King of the Mediocres?

First team to 100 losses? Baltimore
The Hunt for Roy Halladay: Winner of these probable sweepstakes will likely have a big push into the post-season.


AL East

Boston: post steroids, keep an eye a potential remarkable drop off from Big Papi
NY Yankees

AL Central

Chicago White Sox
Kansas City

AL West

Angels (by default)

NL East

NY Mets
Florida: Marlins' bullpen, the catching and the team defense

NL Central

St Louis

NL West

Los Angeles
San Francisco
San Diego


Boston over Cleveland
Tampa over Anaheim

Boston over Tampa

Mets over Cubs
Cards over Dodgers

Mets over Cards

Mets over Red Sox

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


It isn't exactly shocking news or at least, the frequency of managerial changes has inured me to allowing increased heart palpitations every time Newcastle change managers.

Yes, bravo. Alan Shearer, Geordie Golden Boy, is coming to manage Newcastle for the last 8 games of the season and try to save them from imminent relegation to anonymity and disaster.

My first reaction is: if he were joining Newcastle to play striker, great. Manager? He's not even professional qualified.

Ok, he says he thinks he can bring some "confidence" back to the squad.

Great, they need it yes, but how a trainer? How about bringing a few players with him who don't spend the majority of every season out injured?

the most recent failed project

Yes, this latest greatest crisis in my favourite side's season makes for remarkable press - Geordie supporters have been begging for Alan Shearer ever since Kevin Keegan took his toys and went home.

The team has been one long joke. First, over a year ago, Sam Allardyce was sacked, the dumbest move in a series of idiotic moves that have ruined the franchise.

Then he's replaced by Keegan, which, since I was against sacking Allardyce to begin with, only seemed like adding one dumb move atop another. But even when Keegan was managing to look like he might be capable of doing something, the fat pig, beer-swilling owner who shall remain nameless, undercut Keegan to the point that Keegan felt like quitting so restricted was he by the owner's moves.

So off go two good managers and in comes Joe Kinnear who frankly, was doing quite a decent little job despite his lack of star status and then goes off and gets a fucked heart needing triple bypass surgery to end his managerial career with Newcastle. How's that for bad luck? The Curse of Sam, methinks.

And since then, Newcastle have sort of sputtered along, spinning down the drain of mediocrity.

The only real good news was getting rid of this useless cunt.

So now, here we are, 8 games from season's end, 8 games from relegation.

Can Shearer and England reject Michael Owen, who is allegedly fully fit again (injury countdown, 1 week?)

Given their schedule, if Shearer can keep Newcastle from relegation he's a bloody genius and doesn't need a coaching badge.

Thursday, March 26, 2009



The tournament can finally be enjoyed. Well, almost. What we need next is a Gonzaga over UNC tonight to complete the hate checklist.

That's because new East Bracket Favourite Villanova stomped Duke, beating them by 23 points. TWENTY THREE POINTS. Whoop!

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the East Bracket final will be between two Big East teams after Pitt's three man team overcame Xavier.

Awhile back I noted (or someone else noted and I merely parroted the observation) that the last time the Big East had so many teams in the tournament, the final went down to Villanova against Georgetown.

So my conclusion is that the Villanova is going to advance to the Final Four. That's who I'm going to root for. Very trendy pick.

On a sadder note, my brackets are all entirely fucked with the Missouri shocker over Memphis.. Hey, maybe that kid from Maryland, Greivis Vasquez, was right: Memphis were overrated.

It doesn't matter really. My team are out. My brackets are finished.

UCONN rubbished their third straight opponent overcoming one controversy after another.

The question is, can they handle Missouri's defence? Can they handle a team that is absolutely peaking at the right moment or have they shot their wad overwhelming Memphis?

Well, I'm simply not going to root for Missou. Further, I think they've shot their wad. UCONN are going to advance to the Final Four.


Going to be on a boat to France tonight so unless there is some sort of Wifi on board which I highly doubt, I'm going to miss all the games. Will probably miss all of the Saturday games as well. (hence the reason I've picked my two Final Four projections, the updated ones based on what I hope is reality.

The other two?

Well, I can't help but root for Syracuse to beat Oklahoma. On the scale of do I hate Duke more than I want Syracuse to win? No, I could have stomached, albeit with great distaste, nausea, dry heaving, Duke making it to the Final Four, but only if Syracuse made it as well. Now that Duke are out, I have only UNC to Root Against so what I'm hoping for is a Gonzaga-Syracuse Regional finale.

Will it happen? Maybe. It's probably the least likely of four scenarios; Syracuse v UNC or Oklahoma v UNC or Oklahome v Gonzaga. But root for it. UNC v Syracuse would be a good game but I sense this would inevitably be UNC's game. So root for Gonzaga along with Syracuse.

So, Villanova, UCONN and Syracuse in. No bias here.

That leaves the Louisville Region.

Louisville play Arizona and whilst their little storybook beginning is enchanting, enough is enough. Arizona don't deserve do go any further.

Besides, the only team in any bracket I've got left winning is Louisville so they've GOT to win.

Michigan State against defending champ Kansas? Zzzzzzz. I know I don't care. Let's just say Louisville.

And let's just say a Louisville-Syracuse final although I sense, with history on it's side, UCONN-Villanova is a strong possibility at this point as well.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


They've whittled it down from 65 teams to 16. The Sweet Sixteen. Five of them from The Big East. All number 1 seeds advanced.

For the first time since the NCAA expanded the tournament field in 1985, each of the 12 teams seeded Nos. 1-3 advanced to the Sweet 16. So much for upset cities and crazy bracket picks.

So what was the most impressive win on Sunday? Most people seemed to think going in that 6th seeded Marquette's guard play would overwhelm 3rd seeded Missouri. Kim English scored 15 points off the bench in about 8 seconds during one unbelievable spurt and finished the game with two clutch free throws to win.

To be honest, none of the other games, even what for me, was the game I was most interested, Syracuse against Arizona State, were that thrilling. No extremely tight, see-saw sort of games that kept you edge of your seat.

So rather than recap the obvious in the absence of tight games and upsets, I'm just going to move forward and rank/update my Final Four but before I do that I will note that in the NYT bracket I had 13 of the 16. In the SN bracket, I had 13 as well. What's that mean? Nothing. Plenty of people did as well or better.

1. U CONN: granted, it was only Chattanooga and Texas A&M, but they still beat them both by a combined 82 points. Purdue is up next having topped Northern Iowa and Washington. Should U Conn do the expected, they will face:

2. Memphis: Sloppy against Cal State Northridge but demolished Maryland quite impressively perhaps the most impressive victory of the 2nd round. They face Missouri next which will be the most exciting match ups ahead. Well, there's so many exciting match ups that's hard to state unequivocally but big, deep line ups, fast teams. Memphis' defence is the difference-maker here.

Now logically only one of these teams can make it to the Final Four, but whichever team doesn't will still be better than the remaining teams.

Naturally I've got to admit some anti-Duke and anti-North Carolina biases so perhaps it's not unexpected that I now believe in:

3. Villanova: Is this everyone's new dark horse? Yes, they lose the supposed "home court advantage" as they move from Philly to Boston. But they've beaten UCLA pretty impressively, (which wasn't even the best team) and have got Duke next then potentially face a lackluster Pitt who would be out already were it not for DeJuan Blair. Pitt can't even be guaranteed to get past 4th seeded Xavier let alone would be a Villanova team with momentum.

4. Michigan State: surprise. It's easy to say with hindsight that Michigan State, with their great coach in Izzo and their superlative bracket record, should have been the obvious pick in the Final Four all along, especially given their 2 seed. They have a slim advantage over

5. Louisville: They were one of the best and there have been no serious challenges so far. They do face a formidable test against 12 seed Arizona and considering its difficult to say with certainty that L'ville can win this game, you have to say the argument of their strength is diminished.

6. Syracuse: Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I have them in my Final Four anyway, so picking them here is a no-brainer. Oklahoma, as far as a I can tell, is a one man team with a suspect back court and nothing they've done to date would indicate any different. Thus, the Orangemen can get to the South bracket final against either UNC or Gonzaga. Can they beat UNC? It's a long shot and even though UNC wasn't blistering against LSU, I'm going to go crazy and say the difference to lead Syracuse will be a red-hot Eric Devendorf from the three point line.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shit Beating Saturday

Well, it's 10 pm in the UK and there's been three Tournament games so far, all three of them beatings. Shit beatings.

One thing I can state categorically after watching the American television feed of these games is that in five some odd years over in England, I've never missed watching commercials for shitty watery beer like Bud Lite every 60 seconds. In fact, commercials altogether. It's shocking how often there's a commercial. And not only commercials, but the same bloody commercials over and over again. It's like being beaten over and over again with a bludgeon of stupidity.

punished, every way imaginable.

First you had Villanova beating the shit out of UCLA by 20, which quite frankly, I hate to say I told you so (because I didn't, I only meekly scribbled 'Nova into the bracket slot here fully believing UCLA are a cleverly disguised team that is actually a collective of crappy individual basketball players.) Destiny, you see. The last time the Big East emptied the contents of their league in its virtual entirety into March Madness, Nova beat Georgetown in that still-impossible-to-believe-to-this-day final. Not that I have them going all the way, but I certainly had them this far.

Maybe next time, Mr Venezuela keeps a lid on his gob?

Then you had shit beatings almost in stereo with Memphis humiliating Maryland, whose star Greivis Vasquez had idiotically taunted Memphis by being quoted as saying "Their conference is pretty much questionable. They don't have tough games." Result? The Twerps spent most of the afternoon struggling to stay within 30 of Memphis. Not that it was any element of genius to sort it out, but after watching Memphis today, I'm feeling happy I've got them down as National Champs. They were an impressive sort of machine.

And then, of little surprise, U-Conn stomped Texas A&M by 26 points.

U-Conn have crushed all oncomers to date - impressive but...impressive enough?

All matches excruciating to watch.

*****beyond Midnight Magic*****

So, given the selection of live matches, I thought I'd take a gander at the UNC-LSU match up given that I've made a point of ignoring both Duke and UNC for the Final Four.

It looked like just before the half, UNC were going to coast in another blowout but LSU came out in the 2nd half like a new team and for awhile, had me convinced they could pull off the upset. But gradually, Ty Lawson took the game over, scoring 21 of his 23 points in the 2nd half; bombs from the three point line, drives to the hoop, an impressive display. Apparently not such a bad toe after all.

Duke, whose annoying supporters cheered on LSU's every positive move throughout the match, won their match up against Texas mostly pretty much by default. The Longhorns had more than enough chances for an exiting upset, shot a miserable 64% from the charity stripe, which is amazing considering they shot 50% from the field, and in the end, lost their nerve. Now it's up to Villanova to do the business on Duke.

In UNC's bracket, the #2 seed Oklahoma were carried by Blake Griffin, much like UNC were carried by Ty Lawson and the result? 33 points and 17 rebounds in a 73-63 victory over Michigan. He's first player since Nick Collison in 2003 to have 30 points and 15 rebounds in a tournament game. Impressive, but the fact the guards didn't have to face a full court press was really the determining factor. Their guard play will break them in this bracket eventually.

BY FAR the most exciting match of the day was Gonzaga's wild last second victory over Western Kentucky. Although they held what seemed like a convincing 4 point lead with with just under a minute remaining, with the ball before a quick turnover cut it to 2 and then before you knew it, the score was tied.

But then Demetri Goodson went the length of the court and made the game-winning layup with 0.9 seconds. I mean sweet jaysus, this one had you squirming, regardless of who you were rooting for and Western Kentucky, lads, well done, valiantly fought, I'd almost had them winning this game smelling an upset but Gonzaga survived in a fashion which I believe somewhat downgrades their chances against UNC. West Kentucky screwed themselves from the free throw line - get this, only five for fourteen. If they'd have even hit 50% from the line...

The other winners, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen: Purdue, but only just.

Obama was perfect on Saturday, 8 for 8.

I wasn't so fortunate. Hell, I had Mississippi State beating Purdue in the SN bracket, but got all the others right. And in the NYT bracket, I missed only this game as well. It's not in shreds like my Midwest brackets are with Wake and West Virginia out, but it's a real piss-taker.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The Midwest bracket took a battering. The 9,11 and 13 seeds all advanced against the 8, 6 and 4 seeds respectively.

1. Easily the shocker of the tournament so far, not only did 13 Cleveland State beat 4 Wake Forest, they beat them definitively, racing to a 17 point lead before eventually finishing them off 84-69. The shocking thing is the ability to shock. Millions picking by considering every possible scenario, can't recall anyone pointing this game out as a potential upset, hell, a potential rout. Well done, Cleveland State!

2. My Midwest bracket was crapped in twice, the second time coming with 11 seed Dayton's rather shocking defeat of 6 seeded West Virginia, a team along with Wake, I foolishly believed in. Hell, I thought West Virginia, on Bob Huggins' vicious coaching could advance into the next round with their eyes closed. Dayton had been 1-13 historically against Huggins. Instead, Chris Wright scored a career-high 27 points and had 10 rebounds in leading the Flyers whose reward is to face the defending National Champions, Kansas.

3. It took 2 overtimes but 9 Sienna overcame 8 Ohio State in the anyone say I told you so match. I remember this being a match up you could basically flip a coin on in your bracket. The snatches I saw of this was of a lethargic Ohio State team solidifying the perception that outside of Michigan schools, the Big Ten is a wasteland. (don't tell that to Wisconsin, of course. Their "reward" is to play #1 Louisville.

4. Top seeded Pitt was nearly upset by 16 seed East Tennessee State. Pitt played with fire up until there was only about 4 minutes left in the game, just avoiding getting burned thanks in large part to DeJuan Blair's 27 points and 16 rebounds. But they advanced and probably millions fewer had their brackets destroyed.

5. I actually had this in my bracket but #12 Wisconsin beating #5 Florida State is technically considered an upset. Florida State had the chance to put the game away with their 12 point lead at the half but Wisconsin's defence was simply too much and eventually the Badgers were able to put the game away with 2 seconds left in overtime on Trevon Hughes' spectacular little circus shot, with the foul, that made it an unsurmountable 3 point lead. Toney Douglas, who led the Seminoles to the ACC finale on his back alone, wasn't enough this time despite his 26 points.

6. Another "upset" that most people probably had was #12 Arizona beating #5 Utah. I mean, considering how many "experts" considered this Utah loss almost a given, despite the perception that Arizona didn't even "belong" in this tournament, you have to wonder about the seeding gurus on this one. When the 12 beats the 5 by 13 points and its not really a surprise, someone on the seeding committee better put their hand up. And I suppose now the watch word is Watch Arizona because with Cleveland State up next, they might be dancing into the Sweet 16 before you know it.

7. #10 USC "upsetting" #7 Boston College? Again, no mystery. After their performance in the PAC 10 tournament, most people likely had this result etched in their minds long ago. I know I did. I know I did and pretty much every bloody sports columnist who made their picks public. Can they overcome Tom Izzo's Michigan State team though? I'm still saying no. The fun stops here.

Notwithstanding the above, Friday's 2nd day went pretty much as planned.

Conference records from round 1:

Big East -- 6-1
Big 12 -- 6-0
Pac-10 -- 5-1
ACC -- 3-4
Big Ten -- 4-3
Atlantic-10 -- 2-1
SEC -- 1-2
Horizon -- 1-1
Mountain West -- 0-2

The ACC is embarassing. This maybe puts UNC's dominance in proper perspective. Wouldn't it be gorgeous if LSU beat UNC and Texas were to beat Duke? Ah yes, of course it would, leaving only Maryland to represent.

Realistically however, I'd say #5 Purdue over #4 Washington is the best bet for an upset on Saturday along with 10 Michigan over 2 Oklahoma and 12 Western Kentucky over 4 Gonzaga.

Best matchup of Saturday? Well without a doubt I'm looking most forward to No. 3 Villanova vs. No. 6 UCLA and No. 2 Memphis vs. No. 10 Maryland. Even though Memphis is my pick for Champion, I'll be rooting, I suspect for the Terps.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Initially, it's a pleasure to point out two nice things about this tournament:

1. The perfect, beautiful and free internet broadcast of ALL the games being played, a refreshing change from having to overcome the greed and incompetence of attempting to watch baseball or football on the internet.

2. Time difference between US and here allows me to come home from work right when the tournament is starting.

Now, down to the results of the first day, in no particular order:

1. Maynard's last-second miss blew my VCU over UCLA upset but until that last second, the chances looked very good.

2. Is Coach Jim Calhoun no longer considered an integral element to U Conn's success after demoliting Chattanooga? UConn recorded the second-largest margin of victory in an opening-round game by a one seed since 1985.

3. Western Kentucky, everyone's favourite
upset pick over the Illini, nearly blew a 17 point lead but eventually won.

4. 14th seeded American held an incredible 10 point halftime lead over #3 Villanova before they were eventually worn down later in the second half by a deeper, better team.

5. Technically, #9 Texas A&M's 13 point victory over #8 BYU is not much of an upset but as I had BYU winning this in both my brackets, I'm not too pleased but their next opponent is U Conn, so pay back is due. This is the 2nd year in a row BYU have lost to Texas A&M so if they face each other next season again, well guess who everyone is going to pick? Wrong - there will be just as many saying now it's BYU's time. Blech, this is the ugliness of Bracketology.

6. Very happy to see #10 Maryland hold off #7 Cal not just because I had them winning in both brackets but because I'm rooting for Maryland and Syracuse both to make it to the final, irrespective of how unlikely that is.

7 Got killed by #8 LSU's victory over #9 Butler - don't think I had LSU on any of my brackets (not the main two anyway) - no regrets though, with the SEC denigrated to chump status towards season's end and Butler being an attractive, trendy pick, well, whodda thunk it?

8. Nothing else earth-shattering to note. The usual in most every other game, eventually anyway (not to mention the Memphis Scare against a 15 seed) so perhaps Friday will be a bigger day.

9. 12 of the 16 higher seeded teams advanced.