In Praise of Mike Singletary

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm an unhinged Bay Area sports fan; Brian Sabean would lump me into a group he, without a hint of affection, once referred to as the "lunatic fringe".  I believe the issue at that point was signing Vlad Guerrero. The lunatics wanted Vlad; Sabean wisely realized that JT Snow and a half dozen guys named Vizcaino was a more appealing package.

I do not care for much of the way in which my chosen teams have been run over the past several years; there's a doctrinal divide in much of sports between those who have embraced what is stastically understood  (you know, facts) and those who rely primarily on wisdom handed down through the generations by ancient men named Skeeter and Red (you know, crap). 

The Moneyball fight shifts shape throughout the culture - Inherit the Wind posited that the death blow to epistemology primarily based on stories was in a Dayton, Tennessee courtroom over 80 years ago, but this century saw the rise of truthiness - Stephen Colbert's coined word meaning that how things felt, in one's gut, carried a veneer of truth that made actual facts irrelevant.  Facts had a "liberal bias", was the punchline to another joke, and when Ron Suskind quoted a Bush Administration official as saying the problem with newspapers like the New York Times was that its journalists and readers lived in the "reality based community" that "tell your statistics to shut up" mentality had gone far beyond the locker room.

But it's really only the locker room that I care about.  My Kingdom for one World Series and whatnot.  Unfortunately, the teams which have my allegiance are the sports equivalent of Sean Hannity and Karl Rove; I would argue that the inability of SFG to win a world title despite 3 decades of service from the two greatest players in National League history is a crime against humanity driven not by dumb luck (no, Dusty shouldn't have handed the ball back to Ortiz {and if you don't know what that means you can probably safely stop reading this post} - and no, I shouldn't have then moved location; I had been watching the entire game upstairs on my small bedroom television for no good reason other than it my the right thing to do - and then took the opportunity of the pitching change to go down to the living room - chaos immediately ensued and it began raining Thunderstick fury all over my ass - but neither of us really jinxed SFG that night.  Right?  Right?  Help a brother out.) but instead by a disinclination to put even replacement level talent next to them.  It is my contention that the hundreds of plate appearances given to the Family Alou (particularly Jesus and Zeppo) were the proximate cause of our losing out on at least a couple of 1960s era chips - and Brian Sabean's oft stated disinterest in on base percentage (all conceivable metric wisdom to the contrary) has manifested itself time and time again in our choosing "character" guys with mythical leadership properties over guys who could, what's the word, play baseball.

Just today, right now, comes this.  The Giants have re-signed Freddy Sanchez to a 2 year, 12 million dollar deal.

Freddy Sanchez's SFG line: .284/.295/.324.

A guy comes over in a deadline deal for a highly rated prospect, puts up a sub .300 OBP (unmentioned in this story, btw) and we're grateful to get him back. What a great guy he is! Professional hitter! Good in the clubhouse! Plays the game the right way - the Giants way!  (Note, I love Mike Krukow, as all good people do; and I specifically seek out the games on the baseball package I purchase every year to hear he and Kuip do the broadcasts - but he's done a healthy amount of damage as a spreader of the "we heart small ball; lets get some productive outs" wisdom; I don't want to start a blog entitled Fire Mike Krukow but I'd understand the sentiment if someone did).

This is everything that's wrong with the Giants. This is why we've never won a WS. A 32 year old sub .300 OBP second baseman and we hungrily say "please give us two years more of that."

By the way, he's not good with the glove, seventeen runs below position for his career at second base. In 2010 his career year will be four years in the rear view. But he's good in the clubhouse, just like Aaron Rowand, and when we continue not to win we'll wonder why (or find a way to blame Barry Bonds) and then go out and sign another past his prime guy who can't get on base. We are a dumb organization. I have given my baseball fan life to SFG and we never, ever learn.

Mike Singletary would not be my choice as head coach of my football team.  Too much Oklahoma Drill mentality in that dude.  And that giant "you never know when I'll have to stake a Vamp" cross that hangs around his neck during games is a bit of a barrier to those who don't have any version of magical thinking.  But in the second half of our game against the Texans last week - he essentially recognized that our 1950s offense was not working; he put in Alex Smith and spent 30 minutes throwing the ball around the field. 

Now - it could be that we go back to running the ball into the line all game long Sunday, and the Sunday after that, and the Sunday after that - consigning ourselves to, at the very, very, very ceiling, going 9-7 one year and losing in the playoffs to a team that takes advantage of every single rule of modern football (if you haven't noticed, the NFL begs you to throw the ball - the rules prohibiting contact with receivers downfield, types of striking and tackling of receivers, and the limits on any contact with the quarterback have led to an amazing 21st century inflation of passing statistics - teams that don't take advantage of it just aren't paying attention). 

It could be the Niners will effectively just keep re-signing versions of Freddy Sanchez (don't get me started on GSW, firing Mitch Richmond via text message; fortunately when I was 7 I chose USC as my college program of choice instead of Berkeley) my dark nightmare remains that we'll draft Tim Tebow (proven winner!) and ride that righteousness into oblivion for another half dozen years (but all the lower income boys in Santa Clara will be circumcised).

But right now I've decided to view the future through rose colored glasses.  We'll spend the back half of this NFL season throwing the football.  Seeing what we have with Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree.  That we'll take whatever results come and draft the best offensive linemen possible in 2010.  That whereas the Giants will presumably just keep signing guys who can't get on base and the Warriors will bench Anthony Randolph, the Niners will build a team that can compete in the 21st century. 

So - provisionally - thank you Mike Singletary.  The Colts are going to smack us around Sunday.  That's okay.  Just throw the football.

The Weekly 10 - Week 9 College Football Picks

Friday, October 30, 2009

Overall: 52-27-1
Locks: 8-0

UConn -7.5 Rutgers (loss)
Cincinnati -15.5 Syracuse (win)
Iowa -17.5 Indiana (win)
Iowa St. +6 Texas A&M (loss)
SMU +16.5 Tulsa (win)
Michigan -7 Illinois (loss)
Houston -6.5 So. Miss (win)
FIU -5 La-La (loss)
Wisconsin -7 Purdue (win)
Lock: Miami -7 Wake Forest (loss)

Overall: 57-32-1
Locks: 8-1

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 8.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Overall: 51-51-1.

Ravens -3 Broncos (win)
Bears -13 Browns (win)
Texans -3.5 Bills (win)
Pack -3 Vikes (loss)
Colts -13 Niners (loss)
Dolphins +3.5 Jets (win)
Lions -4 Rams (loss)
Seattle +9.5 Cowboys (loss)
Raiders +16.5 Chargers (win)
Jags +3 Titans (I do not understand this line) (but obviously I should have, loss)
Cards -10 Panthers (loss)
Eagles +1 Giants (win)
Saints -10 Falcons (loss)


Matt Stairs

A thought struck me as I watched game one tonight (unsurprising result, thinking that Lee would win game one is why I liked Yanks in 7 instead of 6.  Burnett wins game 2, Phils take 2 of 3 at home, and then the Yanks take the last two for the chip) I wondered if this was the first ever Series where I was older than every member of both active rosters.

That's sort of a thing, right?  The first Series of my memory was '77; I had just turned 7; and that Yanks/Dodgers Series is really the first sporting event that I vividly recall watching.  The '76 Series may have been held during WWII as far as I'm concerned; it was solely a matter to be read about and seen via highlight - but whenever I see a clip from that '77 Series, I know I lived in that moment.  Those are very different sensations.  My girlfriend was born near the end of '78, and occasionally I'll say something like "you have no memory of Reagan getting shot do you?" - which staggers me; to her, it's not much different than seeing the Zapruder film, which really isn't much different from seeing artists renderings of Crispus Attucks - entirely belonging to history.  But to me - I watched it by myself on my living room couch.  Fisk's homer in '75 might as well be Ruth's called shot to me, but I remember Reggie burning down the Bronx. 

32 years later - I'm watching the Yankees again, but older than every man on the field. 

I can't say I've ever thought about this before; last year I was 38 - but Jamie Moyer (disabled this post season) was pitching for the Phils, and he's significantly older than I am.  The Sox won in '07; Schilling is older than I am.  In '06 it was the Cards - and Jim Edmonds is several months older than I am.  Chicago won in '05, but Il Duque was still with the club - and there's not really need to go back any further than that, as I was still 34 in 2004, so young and firm.  With my majestic jawline and ability to stay awake past eleven at night (so sleepy I get!  I worked all day and ate a big carbohydrate filled meal and watched my stories and am so sleepy!).

But now I'm a newly minted 39 year old and Jamie Moyer's not on the post-season roster.

But Matt Stairs is.  41 year old Matt Stairs.  Holla!  I get to be 7 years old one more year, sitting in my grandparents living room, watching Reggie hit those 3 bombs in game six.  One more year I get to be on scholarship.  One more year of safety.  One more year before I have to put childish things aside.

Thanks, Matt Stairs.  Keep playing. 


Yanks in 7

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What? You want reasons? I don't in any sense of the word have time for that.

But Yanks in 7.

Friday I'll get the weekly picks out. By end of tomorrow, I hopefully will have the Survivor Series 2k8 build finished at the other place.

Yanks in 7 (but they might lose tonight). Go, be in peace.

(as I sort of anticipated in a couple of posts, the Yanks lost the first game; the only surprise for me actually is one that aids NYY - that was Lee pitching the ninth - in a series where your plan going in is to pitch Cliff Lee 3 times, maybe he doesn't go back out there with a 6-0 lead.  Just sayin'.)

50 Best Players in the NBA 2009-2010

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What did we ever do on Sundays before NFL RedZone?

Okay, so, recently, I offered the following picks for the upcoming NBA season; as part of that preparation (and preparation for my upcoming fantasy seasons; last year I won 2 titles in my 3 leagues; I'm only playing 2 leagues this year, we'll see how it goes) I've compiled this list - the 50 best players in the NBA.  Right Now!  Or rather, I'm projecting through this season.  I'm speaking to you from the future.  From beyond the grave!  My chief, by far and away, main measures are Hollinger's PER and Pelton's WARP numbers; I look at some plus/minus as well. 

With that - the 50 best players in the NBA:

1. LeBron James SF-1
2. Chris Paul       PG-1
(neck and neck, close enough that if you flip-flopped them, no one should protest; it's not that King James isn't every single drop as good as you think he is; it's that CP3 is better than advertised).
3. Dwayne Wade  SG-1
4. Dwight Howard  C-1
(clearly the 3rd and 4th best players in the league; there's not really a good argument that 1 and 2 aren't 1 and 2, regardless of the order, and not really a good argument that 3 and 4 aren't 3 and 4 and in this order).
5. Tim Duncan   PF-1
(the starting PF on my all time NBA team is still, in 2010, the starting PF on my current NBA team)
6. Kobe Bryant  SG-2
7. Chris Bosh     PF-2
8. Dirk Nowitzki  PF-3
(5-8 really is a your mileage may vary situation: Dirk was my top pick in both fantasy leagues; I picked 7th in both 12 team drafts, which made me grumpy)
9. Al Jefferson    C-2
10. Kevin Durant   SF-2
11. Deron Williams PG-2
(same shakeup is possible at 9-11; Jefferson's coming back from injury, so this is an optimistic view of his return)
12. Pau Gasol PF-4
13. Brandon Roy SG-3
14. Amare Stoudemire PF-5
(this can also be re-ordered in any way you prefer; I had a choice in both fantasy leagues of Dirk/Amare, and with the Suns re-installation of their hyperkinetic offense, that might have made Amare a better choice; had he center eligibility in my leagues I would have picked him)
15. Tony Parker PG-3
16. Manu Ginobli SG-4
(add good complements in Jefferson/McDyess/Blair and that's why the Spurs are right there with the Lakers to come out of the West).
17. Andrew Bynum C3
(Yao's gone or he would have been above this spot; Duncan and Amare are also really centers, but listed at the 4 here, so this shouldn't be as startling as it is.  I had Bynum/Biedrins decisions to make in both fantasy leagues, I went with my GSW guy.  If Bynum can't stay healthy again, this ranking is error.)
18. Rajon Rondo PG-4
19. Jose Calderon PG-5
20. Steve Nash PG-6
21. Chauncy Billups PG-7
(Again, any reordering you like can be done; this group is jammed together; I went with youth).
22. Kevin Garnett PF-6
23. Carmelo Anthony SF-3
24. Josh Smith SF-4
25. Andre Iguodala SG-5
(KG is hard to slot given the injury, the mileage, and the ability to reduce his usage with both Sheed and Big Baby on the Boston bench; I've got JSmooth on both fantasy teams and the only AI left on this list on one; Smith's the only Hawk in the top 50, both Johnson and Horford are close.
26. Danny Granger SF-5
27. Devin Harris PG-8
28. Andres Biedrins C4
29. Blake Griffin PF-7
(the only rookie on the list; no others would be close)(oops)
30. Marcus Camby C-5
(back to back Clips; that's me getting cute like I do)
31. Brook Lopez C-6
32. Jason Kidd PG-9
(hasn't retained all of his value, like crazy Duncan, but still enough to go here)
33. Gerald Wallace SF-6
34. David Lee PF-8
(only Knick; Nate's close)
35. Emeka Okafor C7
36. LaMarcus Aldridge PF9
37. Vince Carter SG6
38. Kevin Martin SG-7
39. Kevin Love C-8
(Love's out a month and a half with the hand, I'm factoring that in; I was a huge Love fan in college; thinking that the deal swapping him for my guy Mayo was error; I was right, Mayo had a good rookie year but is overrated while Love really came on late; I'd like to see Rubio wind up in Minnesota with Love and Jefferson on the frontline.  Superfun.)
40. Greg Oden C-9
(Oden's not Durant, but he's pretty good, no matter what Bill Simmons says). 
41. Paul Pierce SF-7
42. Ramon Sessions PG-10
43. Jameer Nelson PG-11
44. Shaquille O'Neal C-10
45. Paul Millsap PF 10
46. Carlos Boozer PF11
47. David West PF12
48. Antawn Jamison SF 8
49. Gilbert Arenas PG12
50. Anthony Randolph PF13
(GSW!  If he ever gets to play.  I hate Don Nelson.  And Brian Sabean.  Which is how everything I write until he gets fired should end; even if I'm in the middle of some lefty screed, I should conclude with my dislike for Brian Sabean, as pronounced as his dislike for on base percentage.)

The Weekly 10 - Week 8 College Football Picks

Friday, October 23, 2009

Overall: 47-23
Locks: 7-0

Lines are tight this week; last week I mentioned I was picking nearly 20 games despite only releasing the 10 for the blog (went fine, thanks).  I indicated I might enlarge this from ten to a higher number, but that will not happen with these lines.  This is one of those weeks where if I can go 5-5 and win my lock, I'll feel successful.

Northern Illinois -11 Miami (loss)
Purdue -10 Illinois (push - the first one of the year, which is weird)
Idaho +15.5 Nevada (loss)
Arizona -7.5 UCLA (win)
Cincinnati -18 Louisville (win)
Iowa +1.5 Michigan St. (win)
Boise St. -24 Hawaii (win)
North Texas +21 Troy (loss)
Miami -4.5 Clemson (loss)
Lock: TCU -2.5 BYU (win)

Week: 5-4-1
Overall: 52-27-1
Locks: 8-0

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 7 (and World Series Pick)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Overall: 44-46

I'm going to split the championship series', just like last year I apparently underestimate the Phils - I had the Dodgers winning the NL last season and blew it again this year.  The Yanks have been head and shoulders baseball's best team this year; ARod has (like Kobe earlier in the year) changed the Sports Media Complex narrative from "his inner most being won't let him be a winner" to "hey, he's a new man, all growns up" - Sports Media just makes up stuff - Eli Manning loses, that means he doesn't care - look how detached and emotionless and blank he is - Eli Manning wins and he's the coolest under pressure a man could be.  All of it is entirely made up, writers' constructs that don't correspond to truth.  Some of them are good stories, some are dopey, but the idea that Alex Rodriguez, who entered this post-season as the 27th greatest major league baseball player who ever lived, somehow wasn't a "winner" because of a psychological hangup was stupid.  You wonder why athletes treat us as if we're children - tell outrageous lies, speak in the most ridiculous ways - its because the media with which they deal demand it. 

So, I'll take the Yanks.  Probably I won't like the price, but I'll take the Yanks. 

I'm 2 under .500 after a bad week 6, lets get back to level here.  I assume there are some of you investing in my college picks (feel free to kick a taste back; my advice has outperformed Charles Schwab in a hard way) they'll be up by day's end.  I'm going to see Seinfeld tomorrow night; so I'm even more jammed than usual this weekend. 

Chiefs +5 SD (loss)
Colts -13.5 Rams (win)
Vikes +4 Steelers (loss)
Pats -15 TB (win)
Texans -3 Niners (push)
Jets -6 Raiders (win)
Bills +7 Panthers (win)
Bears +1.5 Bengals (loss)
Saints -6.5 Dolphins (win)
Falcons +4 Cowboys (loss)
NYG -7 Cards (loss)
Eagles -7 Skins (win)
GB -7 Cleve (win)

Overall: 51-51-1

Do You Hear What I Am Saying?: 2009-10 NBA Predictions (w/ win totals)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last year, I gave you Lakers/Cavs in my pre-season picks for the NBA finals. 

I'm doing it again this year.  And I'll take King James to win the chip.  But I like Magic/Spurs as an alternate universe matchup; if you'll give me those 4 teams as your next NBA Champ I'll give you the field.

In the parentheticals are the Vegas win totals next to my projections, do with them as you will.  I think my math is right on my totals, but admittedly I didn't (and won't) check.  I'm freeballing it!  Occasionally I misuse popular terminology.  For example, it would be error if, after watching last week's South Park, I referred to my girlfriend as my "bottom bitch."  It would be funny.  But it would be error.  This is a concession I've made to my advanced age ( I turned 39 a couple of weeks ago; over the weekend my brother said he was starting to get freaked out by my next birthday - here's how you know a birthday is a big deal, when someone else doesn't want it to happen) there was a day when I would have said funny conquers all - that anything could be excused if the joke was funny enough.  Not anymore.  Nope.  There are some roads down which I will not travel. 

I killed it in the college picks again this week.  47-23 against the number this year.  7-0 in my locks.  Toppermost of the poppermost.  I'm my own bottom bitch.

2009-10 NBA Win totals


Boston Celtics          52 (56.5)

New Jersey Nets      26 (28.5)

New York Knicks    32 (31.5)

Philadelphia 76ers     42 (40.5)

Toronto Raptors       34 (41.5)


Chicago Bulls           36  (40.5)

Cleveland Cavaliers  61 (61.5)

Detroit Pistons         35  (41.5)

Indiana Pacers         29  (34.5)

Milwaukee Bucks    29  (25.5)


Atlanta Hawks        43  (44.5)

Charlotte Bobcats   29  (37.5)

Miami Heat             38  (40.5)

Orlando Magic       60   (57.5)

Washington Wizards 38  (41.5)


Golden State Warriors  38  (35.5)

Los Angeles Clippers    38  (34.5)

Los Angeles Lakers      61  (62.5)

Phoenix Suns                41  (41.5)

Sacramento Kings        22   (24.5)


Dallas Mavericks          49  (48.5)

Houston Rockets          36  (35.5)

Memphis Grizzlies        36   (27.5)

New Orleans Hornets  51   (46.5)

San Antonio Spurs        53  (54.5)


Denver Nuggets         51    (52.5)

Minnesota Timberwolves    30  (25.5)

Oklahoma City Thunder   37  (35.5)

Portland Trail Blazers     53   (52.5)

Utah Jazz                   50     (49.5)

Rushing to Limbaugh's Defense

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I have a soft spot for Rush Limbaugh.

We're both fat guys (I know he's currently lost the weight, that's not what I mean - I mean...I remember watching Colin Quinn do stand up on Letterman '96...he had been gone for a couple of years and he was significantly heavier than the last time we had seen him; he recognized this, clearly, as early in his act he made some sort of reference to his weight and said "I'm just passing through".  What he was saying is "I'm a thin guy; I know I'm fat today, but that's not who I am; I'm still the guy who nailed Kari Wuhrer; this is just a bad snapshot."  Rush and I are fat guys; today, he's down and I'm up - a year ago, it was reversed - but I know for me, and I assume for Limbaugh too, that inside, no matter what the scale says, we feel all double chinned and unlovable; I know at least some of the ways that sort of psychosis has infected the various areas of my life, and I don't think it's too much projection that every time I've ever heard one of his diabolical rants, my disgust has been mitigated by my seeing Rush largely as a sad fat kid, finding acceptance in any way possible, bathing in the dirty hate fueled love of his primordial fanbase) and we're childhood sports fans who compensated for a lack of motor skills by developing a facility with the spoken word.  Limbaugh worked in the Royals' PR department, I think after dropping out of college; which plays well with an audience that tends to distrust book learnin'.  I've never spent even a second reading biographical information about Rush, but I'm thinking he spent most of his young life wanting to be a sports announcer; he probably spent an unhealthy percentage of his childhood alone in his room with his baseball cards, broadcasting fictional games to an invisible audience.  Limbaugh and I agree on nothing politically, but I'd bet we would share a favorite baseball novel, a 40 year old Robert Coover book about a lonely man unable to escape his own head.  We would have been friends, I think; had we been the same age in the same place at the same time; and (and I recognize how this sounds, I do, but in the spirit of this blog, I'm going to sacrifice modesty for revelation) he would have looked up to me a little bit.  Because I was a brighter kid than Rush, and more successful too; I wasn''s twisty to untangle...but while it would be a mistake to call me, in any way, "popular" in high school - I knew even then, and see more clearly in hindsight, that there was a type of kid (an outsider, marginalized in some way, usually physically awkward, maybe emotionally stunted, with the desire to both be accepted but also keep hold of some degree of individuality) who saw me with a level of aspiration.  I don't think that's too much to say.  I wasn't the quarterback.  I wasn't a golden god.  I wasn't an untouchable cheerleader captain, but I had ideas that others did not, and I was willing to express those ideas even when they were disapproved by authority, and despite a not inconsiderable level of constant social anxiety, I was able to succeed at high levels in a handful of mainstream ways (and I had my own pirate radio station and was totally sleeping with Samantha Mathis while Concrete Blonde played in the background)  And there was a type of kid, and I've known that type of kid my whole life (even today as an increasingly distant college instructor, just beaten down by the painful weight of years of overly heavy course loads, I can still spot them in class) who sees a degree of kinship in me and looks for some sort of connection. 

Rush would have been one of those guys.

Or maybe not.  'Cause dude's got hundreds of millions of dollars and I've got literally nothing at all.

He's got that money because he sells a philosophy uncluttered by intellectual nuance.  A philosophy that regular, decent, hard working people are getting screwed by minorities and immigrants and gays and the godless.  A philosophy that America went wrong in the 1960s, when all the good and decent institutions of the US were buried under a cascade of long haired hippy love and that under the leadership of the glorious Reagan we've spent the past thirty years in a constant struggle between good (corporate America, Jesus, straight white men and women willing to rub their shoulders and make them pancakes) and evil (everyone else).

How much of it he believes and how much of it is just selling what people want to buy is irrelevant; the debate over "is Limbaugh actually a racist or is this just an act" - is foolish.  Limbaugh's got a record on race (and a high profile drug conviction) that makes his candidacy to own the St. Louis Rams a non-starter.

Oh, maybe you hadn't heard - Rush Limbaugh was (past tense) part of a group looking into buying the St. Louis Rams.

He won't be buying the Rams; not any chance in the world; and it's not because, as he claimed this week:

 This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.

It's not the media or the Democrats who determines who gets to own a team in the NFL - its a few dozen white dudes, whose conservative political leanings are also part of public record (the Chargers, who have never won a Super Bowl, have given more money to the Republicans by a significant factor than any other team has given to either party; the team which, by percentage, has given the most to Democrats - the Rams, coincidentally enough).  They don't have an ideological axe to grind with Limbaugh; they just don't want the hassle.

Which is really all it is.  They all share a money tree.  If you had a money tree, your goal would be to make tomorrow look a lot like today.  'Cause today was a day when you had yourself a money tree. It's not ideology or even a specific cost/benefit analysis that they've done - me, as mentioned, I dislike the entire corporate ethos of the No Fun League - the penalties for celebrations, the uniform police dispatched to each game, the personal conduct suspensions - all part of a systematized policy designed to weed out as much individuality from the NFL as possible while still allowing for video game sales; "respecting the shield", to use the language from the pregame shows, means deifying the logo, the corporate brand name above all.  Anything that might in any way pull focus from the league is no good - and that's what Rush Limbaugh does. 

Now, me, I'd like to see him own the Rams.  Hell, he can be the starting quarterback as far as I'm concerned; they can remake Heaven Can Wait with Limbaugh in the Warren Beatty role.  Member a couple of weeks ago when he talked about the thing on the school bus and said something to the effect of - in Obama's America, white kids get beaten up on the school bus and black kids cheer - Limbaugh as quarterback would be sort of the ultimate expression of that. 

I'd like to see him own the Rams because I don't give a damn about the shield.  I like noise.  I'd like to see which ballplayers would (as a handful admirably said ) refuse to play for a Limbaugh owned team.  Notice that Rush didn't go after the black players who came out early this week to slap down the idea of working for him.  It wasn't the media who said "I wouldn't play for him."  It was Bart Scott.  It wasn't the Democrats who said "I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of" it was Mathias Kiwanuka.  It wasn't...wherever...who said "I won't be in St. Louis anytime soon."  It was Donovan McNabb. 

I'd love to see politically engaged athletes, using their power to vote with their feet.  African-americans are hugely disproportionate supporters of the Democratic Party; and big time professional athletes (70% of the players in the NFL) are hugely disproportionately African American.  I'd love a sports landscape where athletes used their not inconsiderable leverage to push for social changes both within the leagues in which they compete and the communities whose names are on their jerseys.  I'd love to see Rush Limbaugh join the NFL because it would be an issue (sort of like the way abortion is for the right) that would just keep on giving; the athlete mobilization wouldn't end with "I don't want to play in St Louis" - it would manifest itself in all manner of ways which I would find both productive and entertaining.

And I'm a Niner fan.  Our biggest historical rival is the Rams.  Their move east and our collective crappiness has really taken all the steam out of that rivalry.  But I could really get behind a hatred for the DittoRams.

But I don't live under a money tree.  What I want, for each Sunday to be an ideological discussion about the ways in which the black athlete can engender social change, is not what the handful of white guys who own NFL teams and largely contribute to the Republican party wants.  They want still waters and blue skies.  Calm, quiet, non-political athletes who just work the soil to cultivate that tree.

They don't want you Rush. And it's not the left.  Not Obama.  It's the jocks.  They still don't want you, all these years later.   But it's okay. You don't need to eat cream cheese frosting in a shame spiral.  You aren't a lonely fat kid playing with your baseball cards anymore.  You're good enough and smart enough and doggone it, people like you.  Not good people.  Not the people you want.  But people.  And at least that's something.

(you want an example of big, evil government intruding on our lives - it's right here)

The Weekly 10 - 10 College Football Picks, Week 7

Overall: 40-20
Locks: 6-0

Last week was my first loser of the season (4-6, although, I did win my lock of the week, and if you're investing smartly, that's going to mean a push, but either way) and it's caused me to tweak the system a little bit. 

I'm picking 20 games and not ten.  Twenty!  Twenty!  Twenty!

Okay, I'm just picking ten for the blog, but I'm beta testing, if you will, an additional ten picks - just to play around with something.  It might be that I expand the number of games I'm picking going forward.

BC -2.5 NC St (win)
Indiana +3 Illinois (win)
Michigan St. -13.5 Northwestern (loss)
Virginia -3.5 Maryland (win)
Air Force -10.5 Wyoming (loss)
Utah St. +8 Nevada (win)
Alabama -17 South Carolina (loss)
Miami -14 Central Florida (win)
Utah -16 UNLV (win)
Lock: Pitt -4 Rutgers (win)

Week: 7-3
Overall: 47-23
Locks: 7-0

I Pick Every NFL Game Week 6 (and both Baseball Championship Series)

Overall: 39-37

I'm over .500 for the first time; do with that what you will.

I was 3 of 4 picking the opening round of the baseball playoffs (missing on Angels/Sox); my two World Series teams remain, so I'll roll with that and pick a Yankees/Dodgers Series. 

The AL is closer than you think - the Yanks are prohibitive favorites to win the whole thing, and they're stronger in every phase than the Angels, but just by a little bit, and a possible unintended consequence of a Yankee strength (plate discipline) can hurt them in a short series (the Twins threw a lot of strikes and the Yanks didn't hit as well as you would have liked).  If Lackey/Kazmir can put the ball over the plate, that might suppress the NY attack.  Still, you're just creating trouble for yourself if you pick anyone but New York to win the whole thing.

The Cards were favored over the Dodgers - I liked LA because they were the best team in the NL by a solid margin over the course of the whole year and they have power bullpen arms, which has been an excellent predictor of postseason success.  I similarly like LA in the series with Philly; it's essentially a pick 'em and I see it as such, but the huge (I mean huge) bullpen disparity is enough to get me to go Dodgers.

I have two blog posts whirling around in my head, it's really only a matter of carving out time (and my health; I've been flu-ish all week; if south Florida collapses under the weight of swine flu I might be patient zero) to get to them.  One is about Rush Limbaugh, so I'd better hurry as that story is about to zip its way out of the news cycle, and the other is a comparison between Barack Obama and Vince McMahon; I'm likely to be the only person who will draw that specific connection, so I'm not as afraid of losing out to Dave Zirin on that piece.  Also, at the other place, I have to finish the build to Counterfactual Survivor Series 2008 before the end of the month.  Oh - and my first of two fantasy hoops drafts is Saturday afternoon. 

Let's get to the picks.

Redskins -6 Chiefs (loss)
Bengals -4.5 Texans (loss)
Steelers -14 Browns (loss)
Vikes -3 Ravens (loss)
Jags -9.5 Rams (loss)
(here's how bad the Rams are; the Jags lost by 5 touchdowns to a middling Seattle team just last week, and I'm willing to give up ten points just to avoid being on the Rams' side)
Saints -3 Giants (win)
Bucs +3 Panthers (loss)
Pack -13 Lions (win)
Eagles -14 Raiders (loss)
(I pick every game, as you know, so I'd have to pick this game no matter the number - in my head I set 21 as the most I'd give here, and still I wouldn't like taking the Raiders.  It's sad and there's no other way to put it)
Seattle -3 Arizona (loss)
Jets -9.5 Bills (loss)
NE -9 Titans (win)
Falcons -3 Bears (win)
Broncos +3.5 Chargers
(I didn't like them before the season either, but at some point you won't be able to get points and the Broncos).


The Weekly Ten - Week 6 College Football Picks

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Record: 36-14
Locks: 5-0

Look, I'm not saying I'm going to keep doing well as this is a bit freakish, but if I had been following this blog over the past 5 weeks, I'd be a believer.  My guess is at this point there's at least someone taking some investment advice.  I'm on your side.  Let's go get 'em.

La Tech +10.5 Nevada (loss)
WVA -10 Syracuse (win)
Toledo v. WMichigan Under 63 (loss)
South Carolina -9.5 Kentucky (loss)
Auburn -2.5 Arkansas (loss)
Navy -11 Rice (win)
Marshall -4 Tulane (win)
Utah -8 Col St. (loss)
Wake -11.5 Maryland (loss)
Lock: Michigan St. -4 Illinois (win)

Week: 4-6 (boo).  The Maryland end of game loss gets me my first losing week of the season. I did give you the Dodgers this week, let's not forget.
Overall: 40-20
Locks: 6-0

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 5

I'm 31-31.  Because you shouldn't pick every NFL game.

Dallas -8.5 KC (loss)
Redskins +3.5 Panthers (win)
Eagles -15 Bucs (win)
NYG -15 Oakland (win)
Ravens -8.5 Bengals (loss)
Vikes -10 Rams (win)
Browns +6 Bills (win)
Steelers -10.5 Lions (loss)
Falcons +2.5 Niners (win)
Texans +5.5 Cards (loss)
Denver +3 NE (win)
Colts -3.5 Titans (win)
Jets -2 Dolphins (loss)
Jags +.5 Seattle (loss)


2009 MLB Playoff Predictions

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who helped negotiate Michael Crabtree's contract?

Hey, playoffs start today, Cliff Lee and whatnot. I'll pick all of the opening series, offering a couple of smart things about all of them, and then give my picks for the remainder of the postseason.

Phils (WARP3 68.4) v. Rox (67.8)
-Closer matchup then you think; Phils have just a tick more value over the course of the season; I'm going to pick the champs, but I wouldn't invest in it. 

-Rox swept the Phils in '07; they keep the ball in the park and the Phils rely heavily on home runs; the problem for the Rox is they will send out RH arms (Cook, Jimenez, Marquis/Hammel) against the Phils left handed power (Utley, Ibanez, and especially Howard, who has a crazy platoon split).  On the other hand, the Rox arms (Cook, Street) keep the ball down, and the Phils power is concentrated up in the zone. 

-The Rox are patient, seeing a lot of pitches (it's good to work counts, Jim offers to his beloved SFG, the two teams which saw the most pitches-per-PA this year were the Yanks and RSox, their being the two best teams in the game isn't coincidental), but the Phils don't walk anyone (2nd fewest in NL). 

-Both of the bullpens are bad.  The Rox seems to have improved recently; it's unclear the Phils have much of a pen plan.  Know whose pen was good?  The Giants.  One real bat at the deadline, this is all I'm saying.

-Phils in 5.  But stay away from this series.

Dodgers (78.3) v. Cards (69.1)
-LA, over the course of the season, was the best team in the NL.  They played badly down the stretch; there are lots of reasons baseball playoffs are hard to predict, one of them is the length of the season makes consideration of season long value numbers less valuable when trying to call a short October series. 

-The Cards, despite Pujols being Pujols, hit much better against RH than LH (they have the lowest OPS in the NL against lefties, which is the determining factor for me in calling this for the Dodgers) LA's going to run Kershaw (if he's the guy the mainstream media is talking about in a month as the new Josh Beckett, you read it here) and Wolf at them.  There are going to be a lot of ground balls in this series, as the Cards arms/Dodgers bats both trend hard that way - if there's a play in this series it might be under the daily run total. 

-LA's bullpen is bananas. 

-The Dodgers hit fastballs well - Carpenter's a fastball pitcher, the Dodgers have had good success against him.

-LA in 4. 

-I'll take the Dodgers to win the pennant, beating the Phils in 6.

Angels (70.8) v. Red Sox (77.3)

-Boston's playing the best ball of the season; they're in good shape to drive past the Angels again this year. Victor Martinez and Billy Wagner were really good upgrades, demonstrating that its possible to tune up an already good ballclub during the season in an effort to win the whole thing (not that I'm complaining about the deal for Freddie Sanchez, which was obviously unassailable)

-LAA did a nice job converting to a walk/homer team (Abreu helped with the former, Morales with the latter) moving away from the small ball with which they were associated for several years.  But they're outmatched here.

-Sox in 4. 

Yankees (82.7) v. Twins (70.7)

-The Twins are good, you see their season long value was the same as the Angels - obviously they come into the postseason playing well and they have Joe Mauer, who probably wins the AL MVP Award (I'd vote for Greinke, but Mauer would be second and an equally good choice).

-But they're gonna lose.  Yanks in 4. 

-New York's been the best team in baseball all season long; they're the best team now.  Does that mean they'll win - nah - it's October, stuff happens.  The Yanks will need one (at least) of their non-Sabathia starters to step up, and a few crucial outs will cause the "A-Rod can't hit in the postseason" shouts to get louder and louder.  But if you're calling it - their weaknesses are fewer than the other clubs, their strengths are more pronounced.  Lets say Yanks in 6 over the Sox, and then in 6 more over the Dodgers.

Dead Peasants

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I've yet to see Michael Moore's new movie, but I will, and I'll buy the DVD (although I will not enjoy it as much as my newly discovered favorite thing ever - Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, which I encourage you to rent, and if you do, you must watch the musical commentary track.  I know, you are unlike me; you do not share my obsessive devotion to all things commentary, you have no opinion as to the best feature commentary track ever {Boogie Nights} but you are doing yourself a disservice if you (a) do not immediately put Dr Horrible to the top of your netflix queue and (b) slavishly devote yourself to the musical commentary track, which literallty will double the pleasure you receive from the Dr. Horrible experience.  Seriously, you shouldn't be reading this blog right now.  Click on a new window and go get yourself some Dr. Horrible.  No, a torrent is insufficient unless you can get the commentary track too.  Which you can if you try, but that would be wrong) I'm aware though that one of the elements of the film is Moore's discovery of what is known euphemistically as "dead peasant insurance" - that being the corporate practice of taking out life insurance on employees, naming the company as the beneficiary, all without the employee's knowledge. 

I was unaware of this practice.

In fact, had you asked me prior to this film if this was legal, I would have said no.

You:  Don't you teach a course in law?

Hey, as long as I'm 36-14 against the spread picking college football games, it doesn't so much matter what I know about your "laws".  Seriously, it's the kind of run that would get me booted out of casinos.  If I had a broader readership, it's the kind of run that would set me up for years as "The Professor of the Pigskin"; I'd have a 900 number and a subscription based tout service. I'd be able to stop teaching 7 courses a term..

You:  7?  Isn't that a lot?  How do you live?  How do you love?

These are insightful questions.  I will share with you my foodstuffs.

There are public policy principles that require in order to take out life insurance on someone, you have to have an "insurable interest" in that person.  The rationale for this isn't complicated - if you take out a life insurance policy on your neighbor, it creates for you an incentive to want him dead.  On the other hand, if the policy is on your dad, we decide that the familial bonds (no, I'm not returning to the Mackenzie Phillips piece) will outweigh the financial gain.  The idea, of course, behind having life insurance in the first place is that someone who is financially dependent on another isn't abandoned, left to the charity of others, upon the death of that person.  That's what insurable interest means.

I don't have the slightest idea what the insurable interest is that Coca-Cola has in its employees. 

In fact, given the level of control that corporations have over the health insurance of their employees - business has an extraordinary ability to see to it that their employees die.  And profit from that death.

Coke couldn't take out life insurance on its customers.  Say, get the names of the highest quantity drinkers of its product and take out life insurance policies (if I'm not being clear enough here - imagine a tobacco company or a vodka manufacturer, say asking for personal data through a website, giving away product to customers who are willing to provide it - supplying, heavily supplying legal, but obviously harmful product to those special customers - and taking out dead peasants policies on all of them.)

Illegal.  Least I thought so. 

Because imagine the corporation which controls a worker's hours, grinding a worker down with increasingly heavy course loads, packing dozens and dozens of students into small rooms, increasing the number of courses, the numbers of subjects - treating that worker as if he is just a piece on a chess board to be maneuvered at the whim of the corporation.  Then you slice his vacation in half - that's good - then you cut the medical benefits such that it will reduce the number of routine doctor visits.  Work him harder, for more hours, for more weeks, and take away his medical coverage.  Then take out a life insurance policy on him and wait for him to keel over during a discussion of the 14th Amendment. 

Um, I mean, not that I'm talking about anyone specific.  It's more of a general observation on the American worker.

So, there is an answer to this question.  I'm sure it's a good one.  I just don't know what it is.

(note - the Tigers just took the lead in the tenth, they're a slightly tougher matchup for the Yanks than are the Twins, but both would be heavy, heavy dogs - I'll put up my playoff picks tomorrow.  Oh, Cuddyer just tripled.  It's a thing.)

So, while I'm unlikely to write a full piece about it - something happened on Fox News today, Shepard Smith went all socialist/nazi/death panel on Barrasso from West Virginia:

As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry's profits, on average, have gone up more than 350 percent. And it is the insurance companies which have paid, and who have contributed to Senators and Congressmen on both sides of the aisle to the point where now we cannot get what all concerned on Capitol Hill seem to believe and more 60 percent of Americans say they would support, which is a public option

Which is, you know, exactly right.  Ups to Fox News.


(and now it's 5-5.  Oh - Casilla got thrown out!  Who will win?  Who?  Who?)

Oh - and the next time the conservatives say they're the real Americans, and "country first" and claim that liberals with their, you know, dislike of war and inequality "hate America" - consider this.  Good to have a little insight on what drives these people, as if you needed one. 

Except, apparently, for Shep Smith.  Huh. 

And leave Dave alone.  We had a deal.

And here is Oklahoma's new law requiring abortion details to be posted online.  So that happened.

My MVP/Cy Ballots

Sunday, October 4, 2009

1. Pujols
2. Adrian Gonzalez
3. Kemp

1. Haren
2. Vazquez
3. Jurrjens

1. Greinke
2. Mauer
3. Longoria

1. Greinke
2. Halladay
3. Lester

The Weekly Ten - Week 5 College Football Picks

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Overall: 30-10
Locks: 4-0.

I'm on a bit of a run.  The lines are tight this week; this is the first week where I'm a little uncomfortable picking 10 games. 

Wisconsin v. Minnesota Under 54 (loss)
Virginia Tech -16.5 Duke (loss)
Penn St. -7 Illinois (win)
Auburn +2.5 Tennessee (win)
Iowa -22 Arkansas St. (loss)
East Carolina -2.5 Marshall (win)
Clemson -13 Maryland (loss)
Miami +8 Oklahoma (win)
UCF -7 Memphis (win)
Lock: South Florida -7 Syracuse (win)

Week: 6-4
Overall: 36-14
Locks: 5-0
You're welcome.  Again.   

I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 4

Overall 22-26

I said I pick every NFL game.  I didn't claim to pick them correctly.

Raiders +9 Houston (loss)
Jags +3 Titans (win)
Ravens +1.5 NE (loss)
NYG -9 KC (win)
Washington -7 Tampa (loss)
Colts -10.5 Seattle (win)
Bengals -6 Cleveland (loss)
Bears -10 Lions (win)
Saints -7 Jets (win)
Dolphins +1.5 Bills (win)
Niners -9.5 Rams (win)
Denver +3 Dallas (win)
SD +6.5 Steelers (loss)
Vikes -3.5 Packers (win)

Overall: 31-31

Trade Offer

I've previously written about my occasional desire to broker a trade with conservatives.  I'm willing, for example, to take all consensual sexual indescretions totally off the table.  Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, Mark Foley, John Ensign - go nuts.  No more "with the help of my wife by my side and the good Lord above and the fine people of (insert state here) I will overcome my sin" walks of shame.  Sleep with whom you want - answer only to your loved ones.  It's none of my business.  Just like the motto on that 1787 penny. Deal?

By the way, that goes for incest too. 

(You:  Why The Face?  That's a Modern Family reference, which is a show you need to start watching.)

There really are some issues where I'm just like everyone else, when Mackenzie Phillips says she and Poppa John did the bop I'm as viscerally creeped out as you are.  And under her fact scenario, given the drugs and the power relationship between father/daughter, the argument that they didn't have a consensual sexual relationship (even though she uses those words) looks stronger than the argument that they did.  But if you paint for me the following scenario - relatives have consensual sex - I don't have a firm ground to explain why that's wrong other than it feels extra icky. 

Which it does.  And it could be I'm presenting a scenario that doesn't really exist - that given most cultural norms there really isn't consensual incest, some level of abuse or cognitive disorder has to exist in order to get to that place.  I mean, Guiliani married his cousin, so there you go.

Incidentally, first cousin marriage is legal in the state where I reside, Florida, while gays are prohibited from adopting children.  I've seen the forms, there's actually a Are you a Homosexual, Check This Box, spot on the documents.  (Know where gays can adopt kids?  On the sitcom Modern Family.  Which you really should be watching). 

But "icky" probably isn't firm enough ground to take steps to prohibit someone else's behavior.  So, yeah, if it turns out there's a Republican Congressman who, in between votes against raising the minimum wage, happens to be nailing his sister, I'll let that slide too.  I'm minding my own business. 

But that's a previous trade offer. This morning, I'd like to reach across the ideological aisle and offer the following: apparently, there's some body of thought that Roman Polanski should be set free; moreover, there's an attempt to associate those thoughts with the left.  I didn't hear that topic brought up at the latest secular progressive meeting (last week's topic, The War On Christmas - Fighting Them Over There So We Don't Have to Fight Them Over Here) but it could be that I was all tripped out over the birthday cake (last Friday was my birthday, there was carrot cake  - you could put cream cheese frosting on a hammer and I'd eat it.  Which reminds me that you should also watch Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog if you've yet to do so.  Sure, you could ignore my recommendations, but had you just been following my college football picks you'd be rich enough to afford health care in the United States.)

Which sounds like a transition. 

So, here's the trade offer. 

I'll offer Roman Polanski, do with him what you will. 

In return I'd like a public option for health care.

That's it.  You don't have to take that public option if you'd prefer.  Me, I'd like the choice.  And I have health insurance.  Unlike 1 in 3 residents of Houston, for example.  I'll throw in the following - the Democratic Congressman from Florida shouldn't have used the word Holocaust to describe the thousands of Americans who die every year due to a lack of health insurance.  He was making a reference to right wing rhetoric, specifically about abortion, but I've written before that it's time to take the Nazi references out of our political discourse.  There are other atrocities that one could use when referencing behavior.  Tucker Carlson, for example, said last Friday (cream cheese frosting day; somehow, life has spun in a way that I get to spend my birthday with a woman who wears a red bikini and buys me birthday cake; I may sound all rage filled and whatnot, but things are actually pretty terrific in Jividen-land these days. I'm poor but proud, as they say) that the clip of New Jersey schoolkids singing they wanted to help Obama rebuild America was "pure Khmer Rouge stuff".   Sure, comparing 7 million dead Cambodians to  a song seems disproportionate.

But there are only so many rhetorical battles one can simultaneously fight.

So that's the offer.  You get Polanski (I'll throw in Adrien Brody's Academy Award) and this week's Holocaust reference.  We get a public option that will, you know, have the benefit of saving the lives of thousands of Americans. 


(Maybe as a small side sports related deal we can do the following - I'll give you Serena Williams - she should have been defaulted from the Open, I don't care at all about the language, but the violent threat is further over the line than the foot fault in question - and in return I want Michael Jordan - his HOF acceptance speech ranks next to Kellen Winslow's from '96 as among my favorites ever.  It was fiesty and defiant - just the way Jordan and most superpremimumelite athletes are behind the curtain.  Jordan spoke the way my guy, Barry Bonds, spoke throughout his career, getting ripped for it all the way along.  The Sports Media Industrial Complex framed Jordan as the ulimate teammate (no matter how many times he punches Steve Kerr in practice) while Bonds was the epitome of selfishness.  Jordan was embraced by corporate America and packaged as superman - while Bonds was framed as a jerk unworthy of a public embrace.  But in his final act on the stage, there was Jordan, effectively saying "I was better than you, better than you, better than you."  I loved it.  It was funny and snarky and raw and real.  My favorite ever version of MJ.  Of course, he got crushed for it.  Because all the media wanted was the guy who sold Nikes.  Oh, did you see that Michael Vick got his Nike deal back?  Apparently, electrocuting dogs/drowning dogs/putting up rape stands systematically torturing dogs for 6 years doesn't mean you can't sell sneakers to children.  It's curious, right - when it comes to steroids - the response from the Sports Media Industrial Complex is "what about the children?" - "what is the message to kids if we allow Mark McGwire in the Hall of Fame?'  But here Mike Vick is getting a shoe deal - and...well, I'm waiting. Edit - well, ask and ye shall receive; while Vick's agent said yesterday there was a deal - Nike said today that there is not a deal.  There you go. )

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