2010 Major League Baseball Predictions (oh - and my Final Four picks)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

(Final Four - my smart bracket had the Duke/WVA matchup before the tournament - and both my smart and fun bracket had Duke going to the finals, so I'll stick with Duke.  I didn't have a bracket with either Butler or Michigan St anywhere near the final four - I'll take Butler.  I like either Duke or West Virginia to beat either Butler or Michigan St. - so I won't need to do an additional pick before Monday; there's not really any value play looking at the Vegas number.  However, there was an article in Slate before the tournament suggesting you pick Duke to win the whole thing if you were predicting the tournament like a hedge fund manager, as while Kansas had the best season, and therefore, the best chance to win the tournament - they weren't as strong as the overwhelming way the public, me included, picked them to win.  Conversely, Duke had an excellent season, as good a candidate as any to be called the second best season when you look at the advanced metrics - which is why I picked them to go to the finals - but, and here's the key, they were not valued that way by the public; I talk about this sort of thing all the time whenever I suggest investing - where can you find value - and the value in a bracket contest was taking Duke, which had the second best chance to win the whole thing but wasn't seen that way by the public.)

Projected win totals are in parentheses, where there's a real discrepancy between this and the Vegas win total, I'll note it.  For shorthand and because I spend a little bit of every week putting star ratings on wrestling matches, I've got every player rated on a scale of 1-5 based on a 2010 projection.  Time won't permit me to put it in an uploadable form, but I'll make comments where applicable and note the 5 star players.  Some players get more than 5 stars; I create rules and then I break them.  I have the power supreme.

NL East
1. Philadelphia (90)
-Halladay's a five star player, Utley's a six star player; Rollins and Werth are both 4 stars.  Bullpen's the only weakness.   Jamie Moyer will turn 48 at the end of the 2010 season. He was on the '86 Cubs with Davey Lopes.  Davey Lopes was on the '72 Dodgers with Hoyt Wilhelm. Wilhelm was on the '57 Indians with Early Wynn. Wynn was on the '41 Senators with Buddy Myer. Myer was on the '24 Senators with Walter Johnson.  Johnson was on the '07 Senators with Lave Cross.  Lave Cross was born in 1866.

There are 6 steps between the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies and the Civil War.  You're welcome.

2. Atlanta (86 WC)
-McCann's the only five star player, but Escobar, Chipper, and Jurrjens are 4 star guys; it's Bobby Cox's last season.  Billy Wagner is closing for the Braves - if he can stay healthy for a few years he's going to be a HOF candidate.

3. Florida (81)
-Ramirez is a six star player; they don't have even another 4 star player - Johnson's fatigue factor pushes him down to 3 1/2. 

4. NYM (77) (under 81) - your first value opportunity; the Mets were thought of as a contender the past few years and they underperformed - that 81 win total is reflecting some value from past years that isn't there anymore when you look at the pitching staff.  Santana's still a 4 star pitcher (Reyes and Beltran are 4 star players both starting the year on the DL; Wright's a six star player) but they don't have another arm on the entire staff above 2 1/2. 

5. Washington (74) - Zimmerman's a 4 1/2 star player; Livan Hernandez is in this rotation. 

Here's what Livan Hernandez did in the 2002 World Series, pitching for my Giants.

0 wins.  2 losses.  ERA of 14.29.  5.2 IP 9 walks, 9 hits.  9 earned runs.  Thanks, Livan.

NL Central
1. St. Louis (87) - Albert Pujols is a 7 on a five star scale.  Hey, look - Brad Penny.
2. Milwaukee (80) - Braun and Fielder are both 6 star guys.  Trevor Hoffman's going to the HOF - Jim Edmonds, one of the more underrated players of recent vintage is backing up in the OF. 
3. Chicago (79) (under 83.5) - Same value bet as the Mets; the Cubs have been an underperforming favorite in the past couple of years; but their stars are all in decline - Soriano - decline, Zambrano - decline, DLee - decline.  They do not have even a 3 1/2 star player and I do not see a scenario where they win 84 games.
4. Cincinnati (78) - Phillips and Votto are 3 1/2 star players; there's some mainstream dark horse talk about the Reds; they could finish as high as second (with the caveat that the Cards are entirely dependent on Pujols's health) but aren't a WC contender. 
5. Houston (77) - Berkman (on the DL) and Pence are 4 star players; this is probably the top end of Houston's possible projection. Pedro Feliz is here now; he has a career OPS+ of 83 (means he's 17% below the bat of an average major leaguer).  His career OBP is .293.  Look - I know he can glove - but a third baseman with 4,000 plate appearances of a career sub .300 OBP is a terrible baseball player. 
6. Pittsburgh (70) - McCutcheon's the only 3 star player here.  I just feel badly for Pirate fans. 

NL West
1. Colorado (85) - Tulowitzki's a five star player; this division could really come out any of 4 ways, but there's less obvious weakness with the Rox than the other contenders in the West.
2. Los Angeles (84) - Kemp and Ethier are both 5 star players, who would have thought that HOF bound Manny Ramirez would be the 3rd best OF on his team in 2010.  The pitching staff doesn't have a lot behind Kershaw/Billingsley/Broxton.  I'm looking forward to the knuckleballer Haeger.
3. Arizona (83) - I've got a Dan Haren man crush; he got my Cy Young vote last year, even above my guy, Lincecum - and he's on both my NL and Mixed fantasy team this year (perhaps the phrase mixed fantasy team so proximate to the phrase man crush is a poor choice).  Arizona's got a ton of guys - Upton/Reynolds/Young/Drew/Montero - who, if they perform at the top of their projection, would mean a division title for the Snakes. 
4. SFG (81) Your 2010 San Francisco Giants:

CF Rowand - 2 star
SS Renteria - 1 1/2 star
3B Sandoval - 4 star (thank you Panda.)
1B Huff - 1 star (Aubrey Huff is our cleanup hitter - can we not ask "why not pick the Giants to win" please)
LF DeRosa - 2 stars
C Molina - 2 stars (Buster Posey is ready now, we could have taken Huff's money and Molina's money and bought a better bat - but Sabean loves him some low OBP guys whose names he's heard of)
2B Uribe - 1 star (Sanchez will presumably be returning from the DL to claim the spot, he's 1 star also - we not only traded Tim Alderson to get him, but then we re-signed him.  We could have taken Sanchez's money, Huff's money, and Molina's money and bought a much better bat.  This is not second guessing, this was readily identifiable at the time.  Much like signing Renteria was clearly a mistake at the time.  Much like paying what we paid for Rowand was clearly a mistake at the time.  The most progressive, forward thinking city in the US has one of the dumbest, most backwoods baseball organizations.  We not only make bad decisions we are philosophically behind the times. That's the frustrating part of being a Giants fan - we are not a smart organization.)
RF Schierholtz - 1 star

Bench (Whiteside, Ishikawa, Downs, Velez, Torres)

1. Lincecum - 5 stars (the best pitcher in baseball)
2. Cain - 4 stars
3. Sanchez - 2.5 stars
4. Zito - 2 stars
5. Wellemeyer - 1 star

Closer - Wilson
Set Up - Romo, Affeldt
Middle - Mota, Medders, Runzler
Long - Pucetas

The staff is really strong; good pen, good bottom end of the rotation (Zito is obviously the most overpaid pitcher in baseball, but as a 4th starter he's fine; Wellemeyer won the job in the spring over Bumgardner, who looked like a potential ace when he was 18, but his velocity is slipping - you just never know how a pitching prospect will develop.  Sanchez is an uncertainty; he may be a 3 star pitcher and we need him to be a legitimate 2nd/3rd starter if we're going to contend this year; I'm a Cain fan - he has some dangerous peripheral numbers that show regression, but the guy I see is the best number two starter in the NL - better than Hamels, better than Billingsley, better than Hanson or Oswalt or Nolasco. 

5. San Diego (73) - Gonzalez is a six star player; if they move him at the deadline to one of those teams in the AL East it changes the race.  Former Giant Kevin Correia does a nice job as a 2 star mid rotation guy. Part of the projection is the idea that they might move guys at the deadline - if they don't, they might win 78 games. 

The Phillies look solidly like the best team.  The Cards have the biggest distance between them and second place, so they're the best bet to make the postseason.  I wouldn't pick anyone else to go to the Series; if you had to, it would be Atlanta. 

AL East
1. Boston (95) - Pedroia's their only 5 star player - but both Beckett and Lester are 4 stars and they have a half dozen 3-3 1/2 star guys.  A deal for Gonzalez makes a ton of sense if Ortiz is done by the deadline.
2. Tampa (92 WC) (over 89) - I guess the 89 win total is a reflection of how difficult the division is - but the Rays are loaded - Longoria's 5 stars, Zobrist is 4 - Crawford, Upton, Shields, Garza are all 3 1/2.  They've got front end talent, depth and more prospects.  I'd like to see the Rays make the Gonzalez deal - maybe geting Heath Bell too - and win the whole thing. 
3. New York (92) - if the Yankees won a hundred games and back to back titles that wouldn't surprise me either; these are the 3 best teams, without question, in the American League. Tex is 5 stars; ARod's 4 1/2 stars still, as is Sabathia; I'm picking them to miss the playoffs because there's a greater chance that things don't work than with the Sox or Rays - Posada's old (and has no glove at all), there's age on Jeter and ARod and Pettitte and Rivera - Gardner is now a full time starting OF and that might be too big for him; Nick Johnson will get hurt, he gets hurt every year.  The range of possibilities could take them to "only" 90 wins and I'll say they get left behind in the musical chairs.  
4. Baltimore (77) (over 74.5) - The Orioles have some bats; they're gonna thump the ball a little bit, but the division's too tough and even 77 might be optimistic. 
5. Toronto (72) - The Jays aren't terrible; Hill's a 4 star player and they have some talent in the rotation - but it's not nearly enough in this division where they're gonna lose every night.

AL Central
1. Minnesota (82) - I don't know who is gonna win this division now that Nathan's gone for the season; Mauer's a six star player; they've got 5 3+ star guys. 
2. Detroit (80) - Cabrera's a 4 1/2 star guy; Verlander's 4 stars - I have Scherzer on both my AL and my Mixed teams; the Damon signing was super smart for the money and I like Detroit a little this year.
3. CWS (78) (under 84) - If everything breaks right for the Sox they hit that 84 projection - but that's what it would take - a rebound for Peavy and Jenks; Pierre and Konerko to hold their value; Ramirez and Beckham to grow at the top of their curve.  Just seems like too much to me; they might go .500 and snake the division, but I don't see them as an 85 win team, and that's what it takes to beat you if you invest in the under. 
4. Cleveland (77) - Sizemore should rebound to be a 5 star player again; Choo and Cabrera are 3 star guys; if Brantley and LaPorta hit they could win a couple more than this - the guy who is coming is Victor Martinez 2.0, Carlos Santana - who they stole for Blake from the Dodgers; by 2011 he's thumping in the midde of the lineup.  There's not enough pitching here to win the division.
5. KCity (74) - Greinke's 5 stars; Soria's 4; DeJesus is 3 - there's nothing else here.  Look away.

AL West
1. Texas (84) - 4 stars for Kinsler; the storyline going into the season for the entire league really are stolen bases - the White Sox and Rangers are just going to run other teams to death - batteries which struggle with the run game may cost their teams a couple of wins this year. 
2. Seattle (82) - Cliff Lee's health situation might be the difference between 84 wins and a division title and 80 wins and finishing below the A's.  King Felix is a 4 1/2 star arm, and a healthy Lee is 4 stars making this the best 1-2 in the AL.  I even like Bedard once he comes off the DL, and have stashed him on my AL fantasy roster.  Guttierrez is 3 1/2 stars; 3 stars each for Figgins and Ichiro.  There's a lot of uncertainty right now with Lee.
3. Oakland (81) - The A's are gonna run all the time too - with Davis and Crisp batting 1-2 - it's a little bit of madness this 2010 season.  I love the rotation - all five guys are gonna give the A's a chance to win every day.  If you took the A's organizational philosophy with the Giants payroll over the past decade or so we would have won a title. 
4. LAA (79) (under 84) And 79 wins might be optimistic - it assumes bouncebacks from Santana and Saunders; this is not a good baseball team - only Napoli (on both my AL and Mixed teams) and Weaver/Kazmir are 3 star guys.  Like my thoughts about the Mets and Cubs - you're getting 2009 prices for the 2010 versions of these teams - you should consider investing.

Let's say Red Sox/Phillies in the Series.  If it was Rays or Yanks instead that shouldn't surprise you; I don't see a scenario where anyone else makes it from the AL.

TBOR March 2010 Athlete of the Month - Plus 1992 Recap

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Maya Moore.

Runners-up: LeBron James, Kalana Greene, Omar Samhan.

She joins Drew Brees and Peyton Manning in the race for TBOR  Athlete of the Year. 

This is an award for which my records go back to 1990, each month I'm posting the archives, I'm up to 1992 - the AP Winner for that year was Michael Jordan, my winner was Mario Lemieux.

January - Mark Rypien (Mario Bailey, Cornelius Bennett, John McEnroe)
February - Alberto Tomba (Magic Johnson, Kristi Yamaguchi, David Robinson)
March - Christian Laettner (Wayne Gretzky, Larry Bird, Fred Couples)
April - Fred Couples (Christian Laettner, Deion Sanders, Roberto Alomar)
May - Mario Lemieux (Mark McGwire, Terry Norris, Jaromir Jagr)
June - Michael Jordan (Monica Seles, Tom Kite, John McEnroe)
July - Steffi Graf (Kevin Brown, Nick Faldo, Tom Glavine)
August - Vitaly Scherbo (Carl Lewis, Terry Pendleton, James Toney)
Sept - Dennis Eckersley (Dan O'Brien, Robin Yount, Barry Bonds)
Oct - Pat Borders (Steve Young, Art Monk, Jerry Rice)
Nov - Riddick Bowe (Emmitt Smith, Shaquille O Neal, Chris Jackson)
Dec - Charles Barkley (Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Joe Montana)

Baseball picks/final four picks tomorrow. 

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown, March 21-27 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dear Internet:

Today is Wrestlemania 26.  And this is the 20th Issue of the mighty Tendown.  Had I started a month and a half earlier, that would have been a helluva sweetass coincidence (another coincidence: earlier this week was the 99th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which someone should have pitched as a stip to Russo when he was still booking TNA by himself - a Triangle Shirtwaist Fire match; they lock the doors of the Impact Zone, put some underage factory workers on a pole, that would have drawn a big quarter hour number) Did you read Last Week?  You really should've; I did a Cake v. Pie tournament that turned out well, I think.  It was an extra productive week for me in addition to that - my Wrestlemania preview is here, and my two fantasy baseball draft boards are here and here.  I'll put up my picks for the upcoming MLB season at mid-week, which is when you'll also get the March Athlete of the Month and Counterfactual Wrestlemania Silver at the the other place.

Extra busy!  Let's get to it.

First: Hey, look - It's a Book Tournament -  2009 books battling it out for literary supremacy, here's the final four:

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel v. The Lacuna LP: A Novel

Wolf Hall (a Om) v. The Book of Night Women

I'd say I can't speak about this as informatively as could I the hoops tournament - but given the condition of my brackets, you should probably move to someone else for your basketball thoughts (the smart bracket, however, got the Duke/WVA half of the final four right). 

But I am a good source for wrestling questions, and despite my general disapproval of most matters WWE (for you non wrestling fans who only associate professional wrestling with WWE - think of it like music or movies or whatever is the form of the culture in which you're most invested - WWE is the big corporate product, the most dumbed down, homogenized version of the craft - it's the 300 million dollar summer blockbuster; it's that Nickelback album that charted a half dozen different singles.  You wouldn't define it as the whole of the art form.  But you probably listen to the songs at the top of the chart and watch the films that make a lot of money; and sometimes, the machine produces something that fits your taste - or a director whose smaller movies you liked makes a giant studio film that has enough of who he used to be that it really works.  That's what it's like) Wrestlemania 26 is tonight, and that means that, as I did with the ten Best Picture nominees for the Academy Awards, I'd like to structure the Tendown loosely around the 9 matches scheduled for tonight's show.  I won't, I'll segregate my graps talk as best I can, keep it in a wrestling ghetto to avoid frustrating my readers who are disinclined to partake.  I'm good like that.

I watched the Hurt Locker this week, incidentally.  It wasn't any better than Black Hawk Down, both have that bang-bang vibe with a war setting, and, of war movies of recent vintage, I preferred Three Kings (and none of them are close to the documentary Why We Fight, which I'll take over Taxi to the Dark Side and the Errol Morris movie about Abu Ghraib).  I also saw Spread (better premise than execution, and after a promising first 40 minutes it lapses into a pretty conventional story) and The Proposal (bad, but not as bad as rom-coms are these days; in the past handful of years, romantic comedies have moved from formulaic to godawful; I blame Gerard Butler, who is as untalented as Megan Fox without her level of photo friendliness - you know who is a good looking dude though is Ryan Reynolds; I know he's in superhero shape for whatever comic book movie he's shooting - but he and soon to be single Sandra Bullock get naked in a slapsticky scene and that guy is put together.  Look how fat I am - I think as I watch the Proposal.  How will I ever keep my lady friend happy being this fat while men like Ryan Reynolds make movies that aren't as bad as the movies Gerard Butler makesThese are the important questions for consideration.)

My encyclopedic understanding of Wrestlemania probably doesn't serve as a romantic point in my favor, but I do take a somewhat exaggerated pleasure in being of an age where I've watched every Mania; either on PPV or within a matter of months via video, dvd, or today, more rapid, technologically sophisticated means.  I had tickets to VIII; memory eludes me as to why I was unable to attend.  Men, as you are aware, can use sports as means to communicate (I've previously coined the term wrestleationship) I started watching wrestling with my brothers when I was about eleven and they were 3 and 4 years old - we were, for the first couple of years, barred from watching by our parents, a rule which, like most which have been imposed on me, I completely ignored - we'd pile into my room, keeping the sound low, and spend Saturday and Sunday mornings watching WWF.  I went away to college in the fall of '88, but came home to watch Mania with them for a couple of years before the family moved across the country when I was a junior.  I started law school in '92 and hadn't seen my brothers for a few years when I visited in January of '95 - they had stopped watching wrestling, but when I showed my brother Joe Wrestlemania X, which featured what are still the two best matches in Mania history, he was back on board.  A few years later I moved near my family, and the combination of Japanese tape trading and the internet providing access to information made us both more sophisticated fans; we were able, for about a decade, to see each other once a week for a multiple hour viewing of current matches - I have a terrible, just painful time relating to other human beings, I've located it recently as Aspberger's (like Peter Krause's kid on Parenthood, which, as of yet, is watchable largely because of the likeability of a few of the actors as opposed to any interest in the storylines; I'd watch Lauren Graham read the phonebook and so far, it's not a lot more interesting than that) and whether that's clinically true or not - the level of panic in my head whenever in any social situation is difficult to express (I skipped my own 21st birthday party; I had a girlfriend once throw a costume party for Halloween and not invite me) and one of my very, very, very few occasions where I've looked forward to being in the same room with another person is when I get to watch wrestling with my brother.  In most situations, when I'm in a room with someone else I feel like I can't be me, that I need to crawl as deeply inside my head as possible - but when I watch wrestling with my brother -- Barthes wrote a dissection of professional wrestling a half century ago, he said:

In wrestling, as on the stage in antiquity, one is not ashamed of one's suffering, one knows how to cry, one has a liking for tears

Wrestling facilitates, as opposed to suppresses, expression - it draws me outside of my head.  Most of my passions are solitary; on my table right now are stacks of papers preparing for the baseball season, for the NFL Draft, filled with numbers only I will ever see; my brain runs on a fast but circular track, endless churning to arrive at only familiar stops.  I'm Groundhog Day.

But not so much today.  Today is Wrestlemania 26.  It's the best thing about this week.

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown

Wrestlemania 26 Preview/20 Greatest Wrestlemania Matches in History

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I think the first wrestling argument I ever had with Kirk Hiner came a little over 20 years ago in the build to Wrestlemania VI; I was obsessively against what looked to be the upcoming title switch to the Ultimate Warrior, almost to the point of distraction.  We were 19 year old college sophomores who had created a comedy troupe together, largely for the purpose of getting girls (in hindsight, there were probably better strategies) and when we weren't arguing about how much our act should rely on puppeteering or the merits of the aphorism "there's no such thing as a free lunch" - much of our time was spent in the discussion of graps - WWF graps to be specific, because the world in which I could watch downloaded puroresu torrents on my cellphone did not exist at the beginning of 1990. 

As we've aged (horribly so, the realities of time just ravaging our once lovely faces; I'm on the left, 18 years old in the spring of '89, yeah, yeah, that's the stuff)

our wrestling conversation has continued; Kirk, now mere days from turning 40, approaches wrestling the way healthy adults do, as a curiosity in which to occasionally dabble as time permits, like religion or jogging. 

On the other hand, I do this.  And because of that, I'm the one who writes the quarterly previews - for each of the major WWE PPVs (which, I guess, will drop to 3 this year) I have, for the better part of the past fifteen years, sent Kirk a preview to catch him up on whatever elements of the narrative he may be unaware .  Now, I don't have time for any human interaction in my life that doesn't involve sex, a paycheck, or this blog (and occasionally some unholy combination therein) so the wrestling previews all go here. The one I did for January's Rumble is here. 

So - if you're not Kirk Hiner and would like to read my thoughts about this weekend's Wrestlemania 26 - you may, but you may prefer to re-read the Pie v. Cake tournament in last week's Tendown.  If you are Kirk Hiner, here's your big, big show coming up this Sunday from Phoenix.

Oh - in my head, next year, I'm going to re-watch all of the Manias, maybe starting right after the Rumble, and I'll do running commentary blog posts for them, sort of like the one I did (and plan to do more this year) for the NBA Draft.  That'll be a "if time permits" in 2011 sort of a proposal. 

With that - the Hall of Fame broadcast is on USA again at 11:00 Saturday night - there isn't the level of mainstream appeal for this year's inductees (DiBiase, Stu, Gorgeous George, Antonio Inoki, Wendi Richter, Bob Uecker, Mad Dog Vachon) so I'm not sure how they'll structure the TV packaging of the ceremony.

As for Sunday - Fantasia is singing America the Beautiful, JR has been gone for the better part of a year after his Bells Palsy returned and then his deal expired, and he's expected to return in some capacity.  There isn't any other (unless I'm missing something) celebrity involvement - they've added concerts in recent years that have had the impact on my interest that you'd expect - and they've had celebrity angles (Mickey Rourke, Floyd Mayweather, Donald Trump) that have been much of the focus of the past handful of shows.

None of that's present this year - and it's for the better - from both a storyline standpoint and, from my perspective the far, far more important in-ring standpoint, this looks like a really strong card.  It's been several years, maybe since XX, that I looked forward to a Mania more than the one coming up Sunday - and given my level of constant dissatisfaction with WWE, that's of some moment.

Here's the card.

1. No DQ: Streak v. Career: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels
-So, Shawn Michaels is retiring on Sunday.  And that's sort of a big deal. 

As I mention every year when previewing his match, WWE has done a terrific job adding value to Mania by building up the Undertaker's unbeaten streak - I'll be interested, when going back and watching the shows, when it was it was first referenced, as it seems to me this was less planned and more stumbled upon.  For the past several years though, it's been a ready made go-to storyline - last year, Undertaker beat Shawn in a match that was simultaneously 4 stars and one of the most overrated matches in WWE/F history (it won match of the year, both in the worked WWE voting, which played into the storyline for the rematch, and among wrestling fans who care about that sort of thing - I didn't have it in my top 40.) It was at the Slammy Awards where Michaels accepted the award for match of the year that he revealed his loss at 25 still ate at him and he needed a rematch to make his life worth continuing.

The back and forth saw Michaels cost Undertaker the Smackdown Title at the February PPV by interfering in his match (Jericho now has it) and Undertaker demand that Michaels put up his career if he wanted to get the rematch.

The match is No DQ to cover up that both guys are shot - they're physically broken down, both guys have sucked pretty much every drop out of their bodies, so they'll add some bells and whistles to cover up that neither one is really in condition to go 20+ high intensity minutes in the ring.  It'll be terrific - overpraised, but still terrific - and probably (although not certainly, in the way that it was certain Flair was going to lose that retirement match to Shawn) Shawn loses.

And I don't know what that means - the plan with Flair really was that he would never wrestle again (he's now managing AJ Styles in TNA and worked a tag against Hogan recently) Shawn won't do that - I expect Shawn to wrestle, in some form, as long as he physically can - but he is probably going away for awhile after Sunday (or perhaps a farewell angle Monday - years ago, in the Counterfactual,  when Shawn lost at XIV, in my world, to Owen, I did a thing the following night on RAW where Hunter turned on him, leaving him laying in a retirement ceremony in order to get some rub - and it would not shock me, given that Hunter is in need of a turn, for them to do borrow that idea this year).

So - Shawn probably loses and goes away, maybe for a full year until they do an angle to bring him back at 27. 

Or - he wins - because the Undertaker needs to go away too - both guys took the summer off in 2009, physically, they certainly look far worse than did they last year, I don't see much circumstance where either wrestles much the rest of the year.  And maybe they decide to end the streak.  That seems less likely to me. 

2. Street Fight: Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon
-No one else is saying this - so I will.  I think there's a really good chance Vince beats Bret Sunday. (Bret's saying he's done after Sunday, so that makes this theory nonsense).

Vince made a cryptic comment about Bret's family in the go home promo Monday that sort of sounded like a tease of a turn from the Hart kids (recall, Davey's boy and a good worker, Tyson Kidd, managed by the Anvil's daughter are a bottom card tag act on Smackdown).  They haven't been part of the angle at all, but it would not surprise me (maybe because I  just turned them in the build for Counterfactual 25) if they were to be shown in the crowd for Stu's induction Saturday - maybe come up to the stage for a Hart reunion and be prominently shown - and then come to the ring with Bret, or otherwise show up, since it's a street fight stip, during the match - and turn on Bret with the post-Mania storyline reason being they wanted to push their way up in the company ('cause that's what I'm going to be doing in the Counterfactual and how could you avoid it?) to help Vince get the win.

That would mean Bret comes back at some point - he's booked on a foreign tour after Mania but not after that as far as I know.  But if it were to play out like that he'd need to stay for the next PPV or he'd need to come back.

Mine is the minority view - if you can find betting odds, my guess is Bret's a pretty overwhelming favorite to hit the sharpshooter and get the pop and redemption - but I think it plays out differently.

The build's been okay - they took out the real world aspect quick, they had Bret and Shawn make up the first night - then removed that aspect from the angle - Bret does not feel like the Hit Man anymore, one assumes its a combination of the stroke and his being away from performing on television for so many years - but the sense that he's a real guy doing real things - which he captured as well as did anyone, just isn't there.

This has been just a wrestling angle - Bret faked a broken leg to get Vince to agree to the match - obviously, neither man can do much physically (no idea what Bret can do, just none) so they'll need a lot of booking to get them through this match.  But it's Bret Hart at Wrestlemania and how could you not need to see it?

3. RAW Title: Batista v. John Cena
Batista's got the strap - this is the lineal WWF title - at the February PPV Cena took the title from the rookie, Sheamus, who had beaten him for it - but immediately after Vince gave Batista a shot (they briefly had Batista and Cena in the Bret/Vince angle, so Vince was getting revenge) and he took the strap.  It's his 2nd run with this belt.

This has been a good, old school angle - Batista is cocky heel - he is arrogant and dismissive of the fans, all he cares about is fame and money - and Cena's the white meat babyface who cares too much about what all those people think.  They've done a good job - Batista particularly has really found a good heel groove.

Neither guy is much of a wrestler (my view of Cena's work is significantly below where others would rate him - I think he's the Ultimate Warrior) and this won't be a match I'll think a lot of.  The story is that Batista always beats Cena - and I think it would be a mistake to lose that, but they've had Batista really get the better of the build - so let's say this goes to Cena.

4. Smackdown Title: Chris Jericho v. Edge
Edge's body has really fallen apart in the past couple of years - last year it was an achilles tendon tear - he and Jericho were a tag act - Edge got hurt and Jericho cut promos on him that Edge was soft.  Edge had a surprise return at the Rumble as number 30 and eliminated Jericho and went on to win to get a title shot (nearly inverted from the battle royal I wrote last year in the Counterfactual, with a babyface Jericho making an unannounced return to eliminate former partner turned enemy Edge to get the title shot).  He chose Jericho's belt to challenge in that shot when Jericho took from the Undertaker in that match where Michaels interfered.  It's Jericho's 3rd run with this belt.

Again, another very simple, effective storyline - Edge keeps spearing Jericho at every turn - so the match is built around if he can land the spear - he'll win the title.  I assume this match will be good but it might be short, as I don't know Edge's physical condition - and more broadly, Edge was not as good a worker after he returned from the previous long injury layoff as was he before, it's reasonable to wonder what he can still do.  Jericho's still awfully good; he and Rey had a really strong in-ring feud last year.

I'd guess Edge wins - but he might then immediately lose to the Money in the Bank winner, either right after the match or on Smackdown. 

5. Rey Mysterio v. CM Punk (if Punk wins, Rey has to join his stable)
This is the match to which I'm most looking forward - if they give it time it'll be the best match on the show (but if it goes more than 12 minutes I'd be shocked, and more likely it's 8 minutes and I'm irritated).  Punk's character has really deftly morphed into a messianic, cult-leader type (what's frustrating is it's what I've been building Counterfactual Michaels to turn into for a couple of years - but they're doing it better than I'll do it, and they beat me to the punch) - he cuts money heel promos every time out.  This angle is Punk's trying to recruit Rey to join his flock - Rey obviously is refusing - Punk brought in Rey's kids to the angle, in what apparently was supposed to involve Punk shaving Rey's 9 year old daughter's head (which would have been awesome) but WWE backed away (Linda is in a hot Republican primary for US Senate in Connecticut, and that's propelled a real kid friendly product, with both positive and negative consequences).  I assume Punk wins and they're going to keep this going; Rey was going to shut it down with knee surgery - but if he were to join Punk's stable they could change his style for awhile to cover for his injury until they do some type of injury angle. 

6. HHH v. Sheamus
-Sheamus is the Irish rookie (not untalented, but there's no reason why he was chosen for the monster push from nowhere other than he and Hunter are boys) who came out of nowhere to take the strap from Cena (which, as mentioned, is now Batista's).  Hunter eliminated him from the match in the February PPV which saw Sheamus lose his belt - Sheamus attacked Hunter subsequently.  And here we are.  It's a real heatless midcard match - I assume Sheamus goes over and it sets up a Hunter turn.  There's no reason to think Sheamus can wrestle yet. 

7. Money In the Bank: Benjamin v. Christian v. Matt v. MVP v. Swagger v. Kingston v. Bourne v. Ziggler v. Kane v. McIntyre

The Money In the Bank match is going away as a Mania staple, apparently - as they're going to take the gimmick and give it a summertime PPV.  That's going to mean the winner here has to cash in the briefcase quickly, hence my thought that perhaps Edge beats Jericho and then quickly loses the strap.  The odds on favorite is Drew McIntrye (he's IC Champ) - another heel newcomer, like Sheamus, who has yet to show if he can do much or not.  I'm going to decide, based largely on wishcasting, that they don't do that - that instead, they put Christian in that spot - and then have him turn on Edge by cashing in the briefcase after Edge's title win.  They've done a bad job with Edge and Christian since Christian's return, doing nothing to re-establish their brotherhood relationship - and since they have so many years of investment in that relationship, it's just silly to ignore it. 

This is a good spotfest every year - there are 10 guys (ridiculous, but it gets them on the card) in this match - Shelton is in the same place he's in every year, the company's never going to push him.  Christian's just lost his spot carrying the Tuesday show when ECW went away, so he's nowhere right now, hence my thought they might do something with him from this match.  There's a lot of guys who are nowhere right now in this match - it's not a coincidence they are some of the better workers in the company.  Matt's nowhere and maybe headed the wrong way both work and popularity wise.  The company has lost interest in MVP after turning him face.  Jack Swagger could be Kurt Angle someday if it breaks right for him, preferably without the maniacal quality, but he's nowhere right now.  Kofi Kingston had a push last year but it's over - Evan Bourne has never gotten a push and it doesn't appear one's forthcoming. Dolph Ziggler is a good young worker, McIntyre I mentioned - and you know Kane.  None of these guys are in any programs whatsoever that I can think of - McIntyre had to try multiple times to qualify for the match, which is why his winning makes sense from a storyline perspective. They really need to turn someone, even if they don't take my suggestion and propel Christian - because he, MVP, Bourne, Matt, Kingston, and Benjamin are all babyfaces - that's 6 guys all in the same place at the same time.  They could turn Christian in the angle I mentioned, and still turn MVP in the next few weeks. 

8 Randy Orton v. Cody Rhodes v. Ted DiBiase
-Orton has kind of turned face against his protegees, Cody and Ted, Jr. - but it hasn't really taken hold - Orton was the hot heel act in the company for several months in 2009, and it appeared they were building for this split - but it just never went anywhere.  I guess they're married to Orton kind of being a face - it would make sense (I'm calling another turn here, not all of these turns will take place on the same show) if Cody were to have been swerving Ted - and he and Orton were to team up to take him out - re-setting this program as Orton and Cody as heels and Ted as a face - so they could then do Cody v. Ted and Orton could be a heel again. 

An interesting situation they're in - and I'm guessing it's a result of the current composition of the writing staff - is the heel characters, for a couple of years, have been much, much - just a million times more compelling than the face characters. 

Right now - this second - the best characters in the company are heel Punk, heel Batista, and heel Jericho - both Edge and Orton, who were supersharp as heels, have lost steam as babyfaces - and all three of the heels I just mentioned are much better in their heel roles than in their most recent babyface incarnations.

Babyface Hunter, as mentioned, is begging for a heel turn - I've always thought Cena was a terrible babyface character and never understood his appeal - and certainly don't understand it now.  Babyface Shawn hasn't interested me in years - but whenever he does anything that smacks of being a heel he can still be that guy.  Rey and the Undertaker are successful babyfaces - they did a real good job with Jeff as a babyface character last year before he left (he's in TNA now - he and Van Dam are tagging against Hall, Nash, and Waltman Monday) - but what's worth seeing about all those guys is they weren't over as faces based on their promos - it's not the writers who made those characters successful.

That's my sneaky smart observation for this preview.  WWE needs a writer who can create a babyface character. 

9. Tag Titles: Show/Miz v. Morrison/Killings

-Miz is both US Champ and tag champ - Show and Jericho were tag champs - they dropped and broke up, Show then picked up Miz, he and Morrison were previously tag champs - and now Morrison and Truth Killings have been thrown together (2 more random midcard babyfaces, to return to the Money In the Bank discussion - just a ton of guys all in exactly the same spot - you don't want to be a babyface, they can't get you over, you just run in place - now, another thought strikes me, part of that could be because the entrenched top guys - Hunter, Cena, Shawn, Taker - have been babyfaces a long time - sucking up all the babyface oxygen - could be, if Shawn and Taker leave for awhile, and Hunter turns - that will free up some babyface room, both literally on the card - and creatively, for some of these guys to get some babyface juice).

Show and Miz keep.  It's probably quick and not that good.

That's the announced card - they'll probably throw a women's match on. 

It should be good - Undertaker/Shawn is guaranteed to be good; every Money in the Bank has been good - depending on how much time they get Edge/Jericho and Rey/Punk will be good, and then you throw in Bret. 

We'll see if any of those matches make this list - I'll close with my Top 20 Wrestlemania Matches of All Time:

1. Razor Ramon d. HBK (10)

2. Owen Hart d. Bret Hart (10)

3.Bret Hart d. Steve Austin (13)

4.Ricky Steamboat d. Randy Savage (3)

5.HBK d. Bret Hart  (12)

6. Benoit d. HBK d. HHH (20)

7. Kurt Angle d. Shawn Michaels (21)

8. Edge/Christian d. Hardys d. Dudleys (16)

9. Edge/Christian d. Dudleys v. Hardys (17)

10.Randy Savage d. Ric Flair (8)

11.Undertaker d. Shawn (25)

12. Brock d. Angle (19)

13. Money in the Bank (Edge) (21)

14. Austin d. Rock (15)

15. Angle d. Benoit (17)

16. Eddy d. Angle (20)

17. Bret d. Piper (8)

18. Michaels d. Jericho (19)

19. Warrior d. Savage (7)

20. Austin d. Rock (17)

2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - National League

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My American League ranks + explanation are here.







6. Dunn

7. Berkman

8. Lee

9. LaRoche

10. Loney

11. Huff

12. Helton

13. Jones

14. Murphy

15. Clement

16. Sanchez



2. Phillips

3. Uggla

4. Weeks

5. Stewart

6. Johnson

7. Prado

8. Barmes

9. Polanco

10. Matsui

11. Iwamura

12. Sanchez

13. Schumaker

14. Kennedy

15. Fontenot

16. Baker



2. Zimmerman

3. Reynolds

4. Sandoval

5. Cantu

6. Jones

7. Ramirez

8. Headley

9. McGehee

10. Glaus

11. Blake

12. Rolen

13. LaRoche

14. Hairston

15. Feliz

16. Freese



2. Kemp

3. Upton

4. McLouth

5. Holliday

6. Werth

7. Bourn

8. Bay

9. Lee

10. Pence

11. Ethier

12. Bruce

13. McCutcheon

14. Gomez

15. Victorino

16. Ludwick

17. Hawpe

18. Gonzalez

19. Hart

20. Soriano

21. Morgan

22. Young

23. Coghlan

24. Ross

25. Rasmus

26. Fowler

27. Beltran

28. Ramirez

29. Milledge

30. Jackson

31. Stubbs

32. Blanks

33. Maybin

34. Ibanez

35. Byrd

36. Willingham

37. Rowand

38. Francouer

39. Cabrera

40. Schierholtz

41. Fukodome

42. Smith

43. Dickerson

44. Harris

45. SHairston

46. Venable

47. Hinske

48. Heyward

49. Church

50. Diaz

51. Spilborghs

52. Velez




3. Haren

4. Wainwright

5. Johnson

6. Broxton

7. Hamels

8. Carpenter

9. Hanson

10. Santana

11. Nolasco

12. Rodriguez

13. Cain

14. Kershaw


16. Wagner

17. Street

18. Jimenez

19. Oswalt

20. Lilly

21. Wilson

22. Qualls

23. Hoffman

24. Gallardo

25. De La Rosa


27. Cordero

28. Rodriguez

29. Sanchez

30. Dempster



33. Dotel

34. Latos

35. Bell

36. Nunez

37. Jurrjens

38. Franklin

39. Lohse

40. Myers

41. Happ

42. Cueto

43. Capps

44. Zambrano

45. Jackson

46. Webb

47. Penny

48. Kuroda

49. Hudson

50. Lidge

51. Medlen

52. Lindstrom

53. Arroyo

54. Wolf

55. Madson

56. Padilla

57. Norris

58. Motte



61. Kawakami



64. Kennedy

65. Betancourt

66. Maholm

67. Zito

68. Lyon

69. Lannan

70. Adams

71. Romo

72. McClellan

73. Maine

74. Vandenhurk

75. Maine

76. Marquis

77. Saito

78. Kuo

79. Cook

80. Calero

81. Miller

82. Rhodes

83. Ohlendorf

84. Lowe

85. Sherill

86. Neise

87. Affledt

88. Correia

89. Strasberg

90. Buckner

2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - American League

Today's my first day off in 2010.  I have one more exam to give tomorrow - then I'm taking the weekend off, I've got a full, hard week of work prep next week.

I'm backing up the Wrestlemania 26 preview to Thursday and/or Friday.  With my 3 fantasy drafts coming, I had to prep - and since an unblogged about life is not worth leading, I thought I'd offer the results.

My AL Draft is first - 5x5 Weekly.  I'm going to do position by position as opposed to an overall board as I tend to look at position choice as fluid dependent upon how each draft unfolds - but were, for some unknowable reason, people (that's you!  You are people!) were to have questions (who to pick between OF X and 3b  Y) I have answers.  Players with multi position eligibility I've tried to just keep in one place for clairty. 













12. Branyan




16. Overbay



1. Kinsler

2. Pedroia

3. Cano

4. Roberts

5. Zobrist

6. Hill

7. Lopez

8. Kendrick

9. Hudson

10. M Izturis

10. Ellis

11. Valbuena

12. Getz

13. Sizemore

14. Nix


1. Jeter

2. Bartlett

3. ACabrera

4. Andrus

5. Ramirez

6. Aybar

7. Hardy

8. Scutaro

9. Pennington


11.C Izturis

12.J Wilson


14. Everett

15. Harris








7. Gordon



10 Beltre


12. Kouzmanoff




1. Mauer

2. Martinez

3. Posada

4. Napoli

5. Suzuki

6. Weiters











17. Teagarden



20. Castro




3. Ellsbury

4. Upton

5. Cruz

6. Span

7. Abreu

8. Hunter

9. Davis


11. Markakis

12. Choo

13. Lind

14. Quentin

15. Jones

16. Hamilton

17. Suzuki

18. Granderson




22. Snider














36. Podsednik



39. Laporta



42. Brantley



45. Batista



48. Pie

49. Byrnes

50. Rodriguez

51. Gross

52. Thames


1. Greinke

2. Verlander










12. Shields

13. Lackey

14. Scherzer

15. Garza

16. RSoriano

17. Harden



20. Francisco

21. Bailey













34. Fuentes




38. Hughes


40. Slowey

41. Sheets

42. Marcum

43. Wilson




47.Rowland Smith


49. Perez

50. Rauch

51. Bedard






57. Thornton

58. Guerrier

59. Wood




63. Guthrie

64. Downs

65. Cahill

66. Snell

67. Bergeson

68. Pineiro

69. Pavano

70. Gregg

71. Bannister

72. Tillman

73. Wuertz

74. Millwood

75. Hochevar

76. Blackburn


78. Feldman

79. Saunders
80. Wheeler

81. GGonzalez

82. Garcia

83. Rzepczynski

84. Wakefield

85. Bulger

86. Holland

87. Hellickson

88. Tejada

89. Okajima

90. Westbrook

At the Sweet Sixteen - New Bracket Thoughts

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Like many, my brackets are busted with Kansas getting bounced in Round 2 - but a good chunk of my smart bracket remains otherwise intact - regardless, here's how I'd call this weekend's games.

Northern Iowa over Michigan St.
Ohio St. over Tennessee
Ohio St. over Northern Iowa

Ohio State's the only team I had right, in both smart and fun brackets - I had them going to the Elite 8 and then losing to Kansas.  With as much confidence as you can have given the nature of the tournament thusfar, I'll take the Buckeyes to come out of the weekend - Northern Iowa was good this year, every bit the team that Michigan St was - their making it to the Sweet Sixteen is only a shock because of who they took out - given the Spartans injury situation, I'll take them to go one more successful round and root for them to make the final four.

Ohio St's giving 4 1/2 and that's a stay away: Northern Iowa's getting one and a half, and since I like them outright I like the number - but just a tiny bit.  None of the numbers this weekend is appetizing - like my thoughts when we got to the NFL playoffs, the lines are really too tight at this point in the season to present real opportunities. 

Syracuse over Butler
Kansas St over Xavier
Kansas St over Syracuse

The only team I have left in my fun bracket is Xavier (the other 3 teams, BYU, Florida St, UTEP) - but the smart bracket has 3 of the 4 (I had Pitt and not X) - I'll stay with my original smart guy bracket result and go 'Cuse, KSt - and then Kansas St. to come out.  I'll root for Butler in the region.

Looking at the numbers, Butler's getting 6, which seems a little fat given the Syracuse injury.  KSt is giving 5, which is a stay away. 

Kentucky over Cornell
West Virginia over Washington
Kentucky over West Virginia

I had Kentucky/West Virginia still here in both brackets (with Wisconsin in both, and Marquette/New Mexico as my 4th team).  The fun bracket had Wisconsin beating WVU - the smart bracket WVU beating Kentucky - and now I'm hedging my bets; like the West, I'll stick with my orginal Elite 8 matchup with Kentucky/West Virginia - but I'll bend to the poor Big East performance and go Kentucky to come out.  I'll be rooting Cornell and Washington. 

Looking at the numbers, WVA is giving five, which looks like a tick heavy given how well the Huskies (Pac 10, baby!) are playing right now.  Kentucky is giving 9 and that's a stay away game. 

Duke over Purdue
Baylor over St. Marys
Duke over Baylor

In both brackets I had Duke beating Baylor. 

Now, here's where, despite what looks like a rough tournament run thusfar, I spin it in my direction.

If the Sweet Sixteen games turn out the way I expect - my smart bracket will have 7 of the 8 final teams left, only Kansas called incorrectly.  The lesson being that even in a Cinderella heavy tournament - it's smart guy chalk that carries the day at the end. 

St Marys is the team I'm most rooting for the rest of the way; I'm gonna root for Duke to beat Purdue. 

Baylor's giving 4, and since the game's in Houston I'd be inclined to give them.  Duke's giving 8 and I don't want any part of that game.

So - let's reset - my original fun guy final four:


My orginal smart guy final four

Kansas St
West Virginia

And my current final four

Ohio St
Kansas St

We'll see how this works out.

I haven't written anything, so I'm largely making this up - but my plan is a Wrestlemania 26 preview for Wednesday; my 3 fantasy baseball drafts are over the weekend, I'll probably do something.  My baseball picks will be mid next week.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: March 14-20 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Internet:

I have a cold. 

Your pal,


Okay - perhaps that's insufficient to satisfy my contractual obligation to provide you Issue 19 of The Tendown, your weekly look at the most important cultural happenings of the previous 7 days - but the fact is that I do have a cold, and that's going to mean a half assed job with this week's Tendown.  Unlike Last Week, when I discussed the Handsome Men's Club, Simple Jack comparing the Census to slavery, and found my new favorite phrase - The Rapture Generation.

But this week, this week I'm busted.  Busted, I tell you - busted like the very bestthing that happened over the past 7 days:

First: Cake v. Pie

After the first 7 games of the tournament Thursday, I got this text message alert from the NY Times:

NYT Men's NCAA Bracket:
Score: 52
Tourney Rank: 1
Sign up for groups @

That's first as in - my fun bracket was in first place in the NY Times pool halfway through the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament.  First.  First!  In the New York Times!  Everything's comin' up Milhouse!

Yeah, that's all gone now.  I had Kansas winning, so, thanks, Kansas. 

My brackets are officially thrown away. if I were more rugged, I could have used them as Kleenex.  That aside, the tournament now - with St Marys and Northern Iowa as officially minted Cinderellas - is wide open and far more interesting than even my most medicinal prognostication would have anticipated. 

But the busting of those brackets should not close our eyes to the limitless other bracket possibilites that the interwebs brought us this week - in fact, it's one of those Cake v. Pie which wins the crown as the best thing that happened over the past 7 days.  Let's play the game!

Birthday faces a nice contrast in styles in the 2nd round against Pound; that's like a Kentucky/Cornell game; Birthday is loaded with flashy highly recruited marquee athletes but Pound is small and white and fundamentally sound. So compact and scrappy is Pound - gritty and gutty - with veteran ingredients who just want it so badly!  Birthday goes over, pulling away late after a nip and tuck first half.  I'm going to take Carrot as the Cinderella coming out of its region, knocking off ICC in the second and doing it with surprising ease - then riding that wave in taking out Wedding, which benefited by a few terrible officials calls in defeating Red Velvet.  

In the pie bracket - Apple and Pumpkin make their way cleanly to their Elite 8 Match; silky smooth like a George Gervin finger roll, Pumpkin just can't miss from the field in that one, shooting 67% from the floor to earn a Final Four spot - but there - there it has to face an underseeded Juggernaut - Cheesecake - sort of like a Hakeem Olajuwon with dual citizenship - the taxonomic classification of cheesecake as not cake but custard pie creates one of the great second round matchups in tournament history - Cheesecake v. Cherry - Cheesecake v. Cherry, to use the language of wrestling, could be a main event in any promotion in the world - it's like if we got Phi Slamma Jamma against Hoya Paranoia in the second round of the '84 tourney - a half dozen blocked shots, a near brawl, Sleepy Floyd going coast-to-coast!  Cherry is up by eleven at the half, but a canny substitution by Cheesecake...

...putting in Cherry Cheesecake....

 Leads to a torrent of thunderdunks - including the shattering of a backboard (Send It In Jerome!) that rains delicious graham cracker crust along press row.  

That leaves us a Final Four for the Ages:  

1. Birthday v. 7. Carrot
2. Cheesecake v. 4. Pumpkin

Birthday's an overwhelming favorite, giving a dozen points at the closing line - but Carrot has two tide turning factors leading to one of the great semi-final upsets in sports history, included in the same conversation with the US beating the USSR in the '80 Olympic hockey semi-finals (Do you believe in Cream Cheese Frosting?  Yes!) the first is that in 2009, my birthday cake was a carrot cake - and that type of versatility (Look, Carrot can run up and down the floor with Birthday! - Carrot can play Birthday's style!) caught the overconfident Birthday flat-footed.  The second - and the factor that really wins the game down the stretch - is you have to share Birthday cake.  Most birthday cakes are consumed after someone has spit all over them after blowing out candles - then you have to hustle for a piece - and while there are presents - really it's commemoration of being a year closer to death.  If you think about it; celebrating birthdays is macabre; hey, let's gather around and sing: 

Happy Birthday to you
 Your Life Will End Soon,
Everyone in the Graveyard,
 Had a Birthday Party Too

Who needs that pressure?  I can huddle alone, in the dark, with my huge slab of carrot cake and watch my Will&Grace reruns and not bother anyone.  

Carrot wins - they go the final - where they meet Cheesecake, which solidly handled Pumpkin - can Carrot - which took out heavily favored Wedding and Birthday keep the glass slipper on against the monstrous Cheesecake?  

Yeah, no.  Cheesecake dominates from the opening tip - it's a coronation.  

Your winner in the great Cake v. Pie Tournament - Cheesecake.

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome to my process.

Essentially, I've got two brackets - a smart bracket where I pick some targeted upsets early and then mainly chalk late - and then one where I go for it.  The above is the latter.  Prior to tip, I'll have clean, large copies of both on the glass table in my living room; for at least the last two decades, I've gone out the morning after selection Sunday and purchased two USA Todays; even now, when all of my research is done online and it may well be the only day of the year I physically buy an issue - I still look forward to taking my scissors to cut out my giant brackets.  I'll be working during Thursday's early games, but save for the times when I'm with my lady type friend, you'll be able to find me on my couch, drinking canned diet lemonade (another Jividen tourney tradition) for much of the balance of the tournament.

If you're like me (I'm sorry) you get increasing pleasure out of feeling like yourself; part of its age, part life circumstance, but the experience of being me is increasingly foreign, I'm more estranged from myself today than I can ever recall being.  So when I have a "hey, this is how it feels to be me" sensation - like seeing my giant brackets on my glass table, feeling the bitterness of the diet lemonade in my throat - it's comforting.  I feel that same comfort on NFL draft weekend (we'll see what happens watching on DVR since I'll have work) and Wrestlemania; all coming right in a cluster over the next few weeks (not to mention Oscars last week and the fantasy baseball drafts, and then Opening Day - it's always a crazy flurry of paperwork at Camp Me) I always look at this time of the year as a bit of a mental homecoming.  And I need it in a hard way. 

Onto the brackets. 

Let's start with the Midwest, it's the bracket in which I have the most confidence; all the way through, the only difference between my fun bracket (again, that's pictured above) and my more scientific bracket is Tennessee/San Diego St in Round One; that's what I think of as a good upset pick for a pool - because the upsets you want to avoid are the ones that cost you multiple rounds - if you take San Diego and they lose - you're only losing in that round, as neither team is getting past Georgetown over the weekend.  Everything else is exactly the same, all the way to Kansas going to the final four.

The West is icky.  My smart guy bracket, like my fun bracket has Syracuse and Florida St up top - and BYU/Kansas St on the bottom.  But the middle of the bracket...the smart guy bracket has Butler and Vandy coming out of Round one; whereas the fun guy bracket has UTEP and Murray St - they both look like super close games to me, way closer than the seeds would indicate; and in a close round one game - why not root for the dogs?   The problem is someone's gotta go to the Sweet 16; my fun guy bracket says UTEP - my smart guy bracket has Butler.  Either will lose in the next round - as you can see, my fun guy bracket says they'll be losing to Florida St., who I have beating Syracuse in one of my more fun upset picks.  And then rounding out the fun - take a look at who I have Florida St losing to in the Elite 8 - it's BYU, who I have beating Xavier in the Sweet 16 after X takes out Pitt.  The smart guy bracket has Syracuse and Kansas St in that Elite 8 game (Kansas St to win) and I put K St over Pitt, Pitt over Xavier.  I really like BYU, I really don't like Pitt - and that Florida St/Syracuse game is exactly the kind of matchup begging to go for the underdog. 

On the other side - Kentucky, Texas, Temple, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Clemson, West Virginia is the same in the first round of both brackets.  Washington's in the fun bracket - Marquette in the bidness bracket.  And then that leads to the only difference in the next round - New Mexico in the bracket above - Marquette in the smart bracket.  The smart bracket's got Kentucky and West Virginia - but I do love me some Wisconsin, they're my East bracket version of BYU - and here's where I contradict the scan I'M CONTRADICTING THE SCAN! - I've got Wisconsin going to the final four (and not West Virginia, even though the bracket indicates otherwise) on the fun bracket - and - West Virginia on the business bracket.  No Kentucky!  No Kentucky! 

Down South - the only first round differences are Texas A&M and ODU in the smart bracket,  Utah St and Notre Dame in the fun bracket (I recognize I need to switch ODU and Notre Dame, I will)  It's A&M in the sweet sixteen in the smart bracket - Utah St, as you can see, in the fun bracket.  Everything else is the same - Duke beating Baylor in the elite 8, Baylor having knocked out Nova. 

In every version of every bracket, I've got Kansas beating Duke in the title game. 

I'm in a handful of pools - my most common final four includes Wisconsin and BYU.  I also like Utah St.  And if Florida St beats Syracuse I'll get my dance on.  My typical entry looks more fun than smart.  'Cause it's March, and when I'm feeling the most like myself - I pick fun over smart.

That part's totally untrue, no one would ever, at any point in my life, have called me more fun than smart, but I was so hoping to be able to carry that all the way through. 

Enjoy the hoops.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: March 7 - 13 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dear Internet:

Hi.  This is the 18th Issue of the Weekly Tendown, my look at all the very most important cultural happenings from the previous 7 days - last week, I discussed reconciliation, my superfungame Moratorium, that my lady type friend has never seen the Karate Kid, and an atheist's plan to take care of pets following the rapture. 

I spent the majority of Tuesday in a waiting area; the television was turned to Fox News - so I got the full taste of their morning programming; and despite this allegedly being the "Fair and Balanced" portion of the Fox News day, it was easy to see the plutocratic propaganda bombarding a captive public.  I'll be looking at a few of the stories covered that morning here - but it was actually mid-Tuesday that brought us the very best thing that happened last week...

First: The Rapture Generation

Here's Limbaugh talking health care on Tuesday: I’ll just tell you this, if this passes and it’s five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented — I am leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica.

I've never played the "if this happens, I'll leave the country" card (I think Alec Baldwin's threatened to walk a half dozen times) its a low percentage play; like the religious leaders who build their careers on the world ending at a particular time; it makes that subsequent Sunday service a little bit tricky.  Lots of people trying to buy back appliances on craigslist, I'm guessing.  Some sheepish "why did I have last day on earth sex with that" glances across the hymnals.  Last week there was an end of the world conference in Columbus, Ohio (hopefully one of the speakers strongly encouraged the flock to spend some of their final days on earth anywhere besides Columbus, Ohio).  Here's conference host Rod Parlsley:

"The last pages of your Bible read like the front pages of your paper."  "You are here because you've been chosen to live in this final hour."

Another speaker, Grant Jeffrey, with whom I'm fortunately unfamiliar was similarly on message:

 This is the most exciting generation to live since Jesus walked the earth. We are living in the rapture generation."

I'm gonna use that phrase going forward, The Rapture Generation.  Because it's not just about the people hiring atheists to take care of their pets, it's one of the motivating issues underlying policy debate.  Here's Jeffrey about global warming:

Global warming has a hidden agenda. It's a pretext to achieve a socialist global agenda where America will no longer be the America you grew up in.

Running out of oil is nonsense. They have found hidden oil 1,000 feet down-in the U.S.-enough to fuel the whole world for centuries. America and Canada are absolutely oil independent if they want to be.

That's the nexus - that connection between the ideology of the true believing evangelical and the corporate interests that use the passion of the faithful as rhetorical cover for their profit driven agenda - that drives so much of modern politics.  The same interests that have spent millions lobbying against climate change legislation have dropped millions in the effort to stop the inclusion of a public option (like, for example, the kind that Costa Rica has,  sorry Rush - but I'm uncertain where it is he'd like to go with a lesser level of socialized medicine than the United States - and more broadly, where it is he thinks he'll find a government more dedicated to protecting the interests of the powerful at the expense of the citizenry) - but its not protection of corporate profits that are part of the debate - if you spend a morning listening to Fox News, you won't get a discussion of CEO pay or the increased disparity between the wealthy and everyone else, or the profits earned by health insurance companies in 2009:

WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group, Cigna Corp., Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. posted combined profits of $12.2 billion, a 56% increase over calendar year 2008.

During the same period of time, the big five insurers covered 2.7 million fewer Americans.

Instead the discussion is about socialism.  And big government coming between doctors and patients. 

And, of course, how universal health care is anti-Christian.  Suck up some crazy and let the juices drip down your chin:

Some may ask what does God have to do with our health care system. For one, He’s created the government as an institution in society to do certain things. When we reject His design for government, in a sense, we’re rejecting Him.

In Obama’s worldview, our trust is in government not in God. A denial of how God designed and created our economic and social systems to actually work in the real world. The result? The abysmal failure of government control of health care in socialist models. From the USSR which takeover [sic] everything, including health care, to our neighbors to the north, Canada and European countries such as the UK where rationing and massive waiting periods are the order of the day.

There's a picture I found this week that, even more than Limbaugh leaving the country, is really the best thing that happened this week:

That's the message I got as I sat and watched Fox News for 4 hours.  It's the subtext of every story; it's the essence of the worldview.  Don't think.  It can only hurt the ballclub. 

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown:

The 50 Best Players in Major League Baseball - 2010 Version

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not career value - not "going forward, who would I most like" - just flat right now, for 2010, who am I saying are the 50 best players in baseball.

6 notes:

1. Pitchers are harder to forecast than position players - at the end of the year, my MVP votes may well be both pitchers (I voted for Greinke last year, for ex. in the AL) but arms aren't as consistent year to year as bats.

2. There's only one closer.  It's not who you expect.

3. Russell Martin was on the list, but near the bottom, before his injury - that's enough to boot him, let's say he misses the first couple of weeks and takes another couple of weeks to find his bat - since he's coming off a bad year anyway, he's out.

4. #51 is Cole Hamels.

5. This is not a fantasy board.  My fantasy drafts are top of the month.  I've given it zero thought so far.  I've got the Counterfactual to write.

6. My pre-season picks, with thoughts on over/unders will come prior to Opening Day.  Right now, I'm leaning Red Sox. 

Here we go:

1. Albert Pujols 1B St Louis
2. Hanley Ramirez SS Florida
3. Prince Fielder 1B Milwaukee
4. Chase Utley 2B Philadelphia
5. Joe Mauer C Minnesota
6. David Wright 3B NYM
7. Adrian Gonzalez 1B SD
8. Ryan Braun OF Milwaukee
9. Grady Sizemore OF Cleveland
10. Tim Lincecum P SFG
11. Matt Kemp OF LAD
12. Troy Tulowitzki SS Colorado
13. Mark Teixeira 1B NYY
14. Zack Greinke P KC
15. Roy Halladay P Philiadelphia
16. Evan Longoria 3B Tampa
17. Dustin Pedroia 2B Boston
18. CC Sabathia P NYY
19. Miguel Cabrera 1B Detroit
20. Alex Rodriguez 3B NYY
21. Andre Ethier OF LAD
22. Ryan Zimmerman 3B Washington
23. Matt Holliday OF St Louis
24. Brian McCann C Atlanta
25. Cliff Lee P Seattle
26. Jimmy Rollins SS Philadelphia
27. Yunel Escobar SS Atl
28. Dan Haren P Arizona
29. Felix Hernandez P Seattle
30. Adam Wainright P St Louis
31. Jayson Werth OF Philadelphia
32. Matt Cain P SFG
33. Ian Kinsler 2B Texas
34. Pablo Sandoval 3B SFG
35. Lance Berkman 1B Houston
36. Chipper Jones 3B Atlanta
37. Nick Markakis OF Baltimore
38. Justin Verlander P Detroit
39. Joakim Soria RP Kansas City
40. John Lester P Boston
41. Johann Santana P NYM
42. Josh Beckett P Bosto
43. Chris Carpenter P St Louis
44. Aaron Hill 2B Toronto
45. Josh Johnson P Florida
46. Ben Zobrist 2B Tampa
47. Ubaldo Jimenez P Colorado
48. Carlos Beltran OF NYM
49. Hunter Pence OF Houston
50. Yadier Molina C St Louis

Edited notes - I wound up replacing Jurrjens and Gallardo with Carpenter and Johnson - the injury risks of the latter two kept me from their inclusion originally, but I've decided to cut a little bit the other way.  Javvy Vazquez was better than all of them last year.  And is Tommy Hanson better than all of them by year's end - is that an end of 2011 thing?  I still might swap out Pence for Victorino or Zobrist for Uggla.  Berkman's gonna miss a couple of weeks, I should knock him down the list a couple of spots - I've already dropped Martin and Reyes from the list entirely, I'll put Reyes back by opening day if he's active.  I like Joey Votto and would like it if he played for my team. Right now, I'm weighing Victor Martinez's bat against Molina's glove for that last spot.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: February 28-March 6 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dear Internet:

Hi. It's the Academy Awards issue of Tendown (issue #17) - last week - I talked about compulsory flag salute, poor restroom etiquette, my first baseball game, the second best wrestler in the world and the philosophical value of Cop Out, which, while significant, is not worth the $7.50 matinee price I paid for the film. Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant can fistfight over a higher quality film - perhaps - one of the ten films nominated tonight for Best Picture.

That's the structure of the Tendown today - with the minor caveat that I haven't seen any of them - I'll be ranking the ten nominees for Best Picture (as opposed to making my Oscar picks, which I did earlier in the week. Shorthand, the price for Bigelow, who is an absolute lock as Best Director, is still affordable, and if that's the kind of thing you do - consider making an investment.) I won't be actually talking about the movies themselves; instead, I'll be talking about, you know, the same crap I always talk about - some mixture of my radically lefty politics and analysis of this week's episode of Bad Girls Club (it's made Real World irrelevant; well, Real World's only relevance in five years has been as a feeder system to the Challenges; but more broadly stated - every non competition reality show has to stand in line behind the absolute madness that is Bad Girls (Bravo excluded). My lady friend and I both audibly gasped when Kate punched Annie clean in the neck Tuesday night; it was the second most startling thing of the week). But I'll do it within the artifice of ranking the nominees for Best Picture. See? See how we do?

But before that...

1. The Most Startling Thing of the Week

The health care debate has entirely become one about process. Should the Democrats use the "nuclear option" (a term which the Republicans, until the past couple of months, had used to refer to eliminating the filibuster entirely - and are now taking Democratic sound bites using that meaning of the term and alleging that Democrats are hypocritcally claiming the right to use reconciliation when they claimed it was inappropriate in the past).

You: What does this have to do with the 45,000 Americans who die every year, like another 9/11 every three weeks, because they don't have goddamn health insurance?

Yeah, good point.

What the right has done, with the aid of their chief propagandist, Fox News... make the debate not about dead Americans, not about the US having the 37th best health care system in the world, but instead about Democrats using some dirty trick to pass a bill with just a majority of support.

We are, as Gore Vidal has said, the "United States of Amnesia" - but probably, given the hyperbolic coverage, this "nuclear option" should be unprecedented - and if it has been used before - say, by the Republicans - almost certainly it was covered in a similar way?

Here's Media Matters discussing the media coverage of the 2003 use of reconciliation by the Republicans to pass Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. You know, those incredibly beneficial tax cuts that had broad based support - well, not so much from the Americans without health insurance, but they're probably dead by now, so it hardly matters.

The NY Times wrote once about the bill being passed through the procedural mechanism of reconciliation.

The Washington Post, USA Today, Associated Press never referred to it at all.

There were no stories on cable news.

Media Matters went back 5 months all the way through the passage of the tax cuts and found, in every major outlet across the country, only the barest mention of reconciliation - and never as a controversial matter - never as some sort of dastardly procedural trick - never as the "nuclear option."

This wasn't 1912 - it was 2003 - this was a bitterly contested bill, one that had to be passed through a Dick Cheney tiebreaking vote, even after going through reconciliation - this was under an Administration that lost the popular vote - this was a tax break to radically shift income to the wealthiest Americans - it passed only after reconciliation - and never once did that notoriously liberal media ever say the process by which it passed was unfair.

But Lamar Alexander, this week, said reconciliation will destroy the Senate.

But - say the right - that was a budgetary bill - budgetary bills are where we use reconciliation - it's not appropriate for health care.  What we really mean is reconciliation for health care bills - that's what will destroy all of us in a mushroom cloud of...people... with coverage.

Unless you know what the R in COBRA stands for.

Or - from NPR - the other 8 times reconciliation has been used for health care legislation.

If that's the nuclear option, we sure do have a history of pressing the button.

I found the reconciliation noise startling this week. Here's Judd Gregg in 2005 arguing in favor of using reconciliation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

                              Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so.
And here's Judd Gregg now:

You're talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You're talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement, and throwing them in the Chicago River. Basically, it takes the minority completely out of the process of having a right to have any discussion, say, or even the right to amend something so fundamental as a piece of legislation of this significance. ... So using reconciliation in this manner on this type of an issue would do fundamental harm, fundamental harm, to the institution of the Senate. I mean, why have a Senate if you're going to do reconciliation on something this significant? You might as well go to a unicameral body. Be like Canada. Have one body and have it be the House of Representatives because that will be the practical effect of using reconciliation here.

And that's what hypocrisy looks like. And that understanding is the best thing that happened this week.

After the jump - the nominees for Best Picture - and the Tendown!


The Oscars are tonight - as the gayest straight guy you're ever going to meet, it is a day that means every bit as much to me as any non-Niners Super Bowl (meaning, any Super Bowl at this point, sigh) - I watch almost as much red carpet as I do pre-game; I've done predictions; I'm in pools; and like my (successful, damn right) dual call of the Saints plus the number and under the total, tonight I'll go to the (cough, cough) metaphorical pay window with Kathryn Bigelow. Let's rank the 10 nominees for Best Picture here on the Tendown

1. The Hurt Locker
Last week, I talked about Jim Bunning holding up an extension of unemployment benefits that had the support of the other 99 Senators. He did so, purportedly, because of fiscal responsibility - we shouldn't make the federal government any more bloated - spending money on items without paying for it. For this stand, Limbaugh, this week, said Bunning is a "hero to the people" (which raises the question about who Limbaugh thinks receives unemployment checks, marmasets?). The right loved this principled stand. After all - how can we pay for this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask about any spending - even when that question causes 1.2 million Americans to run out of their unemployment benefits.

Now it's time to ask the same question about these trillion dollar middle east wars.

George Bush took office with a 5 and a half trillion dollar surplus and left with a 3 trillion dollar debt.

Yet somehow - it's Obama who is framed as the spender in chief - and the fiscally minded Republicans who are just trying to protect future generations. The Republicans have a simple strategy - when they are out of power - grind everything to a halt (in 2009, Republicans filibustered more than both parties did in the 1950s and 1960s combined) claim that every measure proposed by the Democrats is an attempt at socialist/Nazi/terrorist takeover of the United States - and when in power - give every possible dollar to insurance companies, military contractors, and the wealthiest Americans.

I'll watch The Hurt Locker, but I don't care about it. The story I want to hear told about Iraq is how much it costs and how we're going to pay for it. How much infrastructure repair we don't get, how many new textbooks for public schools don't get bought, how much water and air doesn't get cleaned from cancer causing pollutants, how many jobs don't get created, how many kids don't get medical treatment, how many elderly people die in decrepit conditions because of money that continues to be spent on these wars, lining the pockets of defense contractors. Just like Jim Bunning, presumably, wants to know also, no matter how many basketball games he has to miss to find out. I encourage the newly budget conscious right wing to demand the military conform to this "how will we pay for it" principle that it all applauded this week on the backs of the unemployed.

Let me offer, to the right wing, one answer to the question "how will we pay for the unemployment benefits" - perhaps, by REPEALING THOSE TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY- BECAUSE TAXES ARE HOW WE PAY FOR THINGS. 

You guys (1) cut taxes and (2) increased spending - and now ask how we're going to pay for things? 

Stay classy, conservatives. 

2. Up In The Air

It's the movie about the unemployed, Up In the Air, which will probably be the movie on the list I'll wind up liking the most - I've liked Reitman's previous films - I like Clooney as much as everyone else does (I like to play a game I haven't really brought to this blog yet, Overrated/Underrated - the premise of which is everything is either one or the other - it's easy to say that something clearly Cheech and Chong or Derek Jeter or overrated - it's the close calls, where you just suffer having to pick overrated or underrated, where the game becomes worth it. Money? Underrated. Beatles? Overrated. Fear of death? Underrated! Clooney is really a challenge..he feels very fairly....Underrated. Done. Overrated/Underrated is a very underrated way to look at the world).

3. Avatar
I'll never see Avatar, I don't care about movies whose primary quality is spectacle - an element of that is my watching films in my house as opposed to the giant IMAX palace where the visual impact would be better appreciated - but one of the reasons for my choice of forum is that I don't particularly care about spectacle in the first place. Bright colors don't much do it for me - a line I've been using as long as I've been playing overrated/underrated is that the 4th of July is my least favorite holiday because it combines 4 things I dislike, bright colors, large crowds, loud noises and hysterical jingoism - and that (except for the jingoism part, I recognize that Avatar has a gently lefty message) motivates my disinclination to ever see Avatar. I don't, however, feel a need to call Moratorium on the giant splashy spectacular animated movie - I'm not in - but I don't think it's essentially harmful to our society that they continue.

See, Moratorium is another game I've been playing forever, like Overrated/Underrated - Moratorium is some element of our culture that doesn't need to be destroyed forever - but it just needs to go away for an indefinite period of time. Just needs to leave the territory for several years to freshen up. I mean, I could probably enjoy a Triple H promo again (or a Robin Williams stand up performance) but I need five years of not having him on my TV to get to that spot.

What I've been compiling recently are phrases I need not to hear for the next several years - that when I've heard them in the past couple of months I've shouted "Moratorium!" - whether I was alone or with my lady type friend.  I'll leave it to the reader to decide which shouting circumstance is the more bothersome.

like chickens with their heads cut off
i don't trust him as far as I can throw him
you can cut the tension with a knife
i just threw up in my mouth a little bit
kumbaya (as in, we're not gonna sit here and hold hands and be all kumbaya and shit)


4. Up
The other cartoon nominated I also won't see, and I know I won't see it because my aforementioned lady type friend watched it this week and I abstained- it's the only film on this list that she has thusfar seen and I put it here for the following reason.

Give me a moment, just thinking about it gives me the tremors. 

I'm dating a woman who has never seen Karate Kid.

I know, right?

I made a Karate Kid reference this week - something like "show me paint the fence" - and she looked at me as if I am in need of protective headgear (I shouldn't have revealed my belief that I have Asperger's Syndrome last week; this, understandably, has reduced my value as lifelong man-partner).  I said, "you know, Mr. Miyagi - "always look eye, concentrate, focus power."

And that's when she revealed the horrible truth.  She's never seen Karate Kid. 

It was bad enough that Kirk Hiner never saw Footloose - but all we did was write a play together, there was no nudity involved.  How can I be with someone who doesn't understand what I mean when I say "fear, has no place, in this dojo."  I mean, if I were a different guy, I'd have that phrase tattooed on my wrists like how the intern at People's Revolution has those Britney Spears lyrics (I don't want to play old dude here - but at what age will that guy look at his wrists and think..."yeah...I should have stayed home that day.")

But then it struck me - there are movies I haven't seen.  Movies that everyone has seen but I haven't seen. 

And with that - new game.  What have you never seen?

I've never seen Gladiator.  I've never seen any of the Harry Potter movies.  I didn't see that one Lord of the Rings movie which won Best Picture.  And I'll never see Avatar.  I'm not really in any position to judge.

I withdraw my complaint. 

5. The Blind Side
This will be just a dopey red state movie, and I'll be irritated that the best parts of the book didn't wind up anywhere near the film.  But it's a sports movie and I like sports.

This week, I liked the HBO documentary, Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals and Naomichi Marufuji - I saw 3 4+ star Marufuji matches, the 2 against Devitt (January was 4 1/4 - the J Cup final from December was 4 3/4, and that's the first candidate for 2010 match of the year, and a 4 1/4 February match against Nakajima).  I wrote the latest installment of my mighty wrestling counterfactual - and I have ready to go for next week the Top 50 players in baseball - right now - the 2010 edition.
6. Inglourious Basterds

This was Tarantino's speech just before the Inglourious Basterds premiere:

"So, are you ready to see some Basterds?" [Mild applause] "I said, are you ready to ready to see some Basterds fuck up some Nazis?" [Louder applause] "Yeah, motherfucker!" [Throws microphone on the floor]

7. A Serious Man
The Ten Best Coen Brothers Movies Ever:

1. Raising Arizona
2. Fargo
3. No Country For Old Men
4. Blood Simple
5. Barton Fink
6. Miller's Crossing
7. Bad Santa (see what I did there?)
8. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
9. Burn After Reading
10. The Big Lebowski

8. Precious
Precious is not as funny as you'd expect. 

A good piece I read this week was about how Steve Martin, one of the hosts tonight, isn't funny anymore. This has long been my contention - my belief - that some mystical force connected to Bowfinger sucked the funny clean out of both he and Eddie Murphy has not gotten the level of cultural traction that all the Poltergeist related deaths had for a few years.  Also not funny - Leno and Palin, who, to be fair, deserve each other.  And Victoria Jackson, who is not, repeat, not, doing any sort of parody in this clip. 

9. An Education
The best piece I read this week was in  Science Daily, that there is a correlation between higher intelligence and liberalism and atheism in men.  Who doesn't want to read an article that says his subgroup is the smartest?  If they added professional wrestling fans named Jim to those other two groups, that might drive down the sample to just me and Cornette.  An article in Science Daily just about me and Jim Cornette! That will definitely make Tendown.

Atheists must be smart - they've found a way to con believers in the rapture into this "doggy left behind" service.  I'm probably a great choice for those of you who are preparing to be beamed up in the soon to come end of days - much like your dog, I'm not going to be taking the ride with you - but I am extra responsible and I very much like pets.  I don't want to poach clients from that website, but if you'd like to talk terms I'm inclined to listen.

10. District 9
I have nothing to say about District 9.  But speaking of dogs - I did find this picture this week:

That's a dog in a vending machine.  Not for sale - it's getting a 33 minute shampoo.  Japan is a curious land.  Not so good if your Toyota doesn't stop, as that's a good example of a country with tort reform - but excellent if you'd like your dog washed cheaply.  And perhaps smelling like coffee.

That's Tendown.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time.

Your pal,


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