Magic Number....1

Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 up with 3 left.  Cain can end it Friday night.  It's his birthday, incidentally.

Hopefully it's Sanchez in game 3 of the NLDS and not Zito.  In fact, if we were to use 4 starters, Bumgarner should be the 4th.  Zito's had his best SFG season, but he should be on the back end of the playoff roster.  Our pythag has now hit 93 wins - making this tied for the fifth best team in SFG history.

How about that.

1 '62 100 pythag wins
2. '02 and '93 98 pythag wins
4. '00 97 wins
5. '97, '87, '03, '10 - 93 wins. 

Meaning - the most likely outcome is this San Francisco Giants team will break that tie and stand alone as the fifth best regular season team in SFG history.

The '62 team lost the seventh game of the World Series.
The '02 team lost the seventh game of the World Series.
The '93 team finished a game out in the west, losing on the last day of the season.
The '00 team lost in the NLDS.
The '97 team lost in the NLDS. 
The '03 team lost in the NLDS.
The '87 team lost in the NLCS.

Those are the 7 best teams in San Francisco Giants history - this team now joins them.

We finished September with a 1.78 ERA, best month for any team since Cleveland's May in '68 and the best September since the '65 Dodgers.  Our batting average against was .182, best since that same Indians team, best September since the '67 White Sox.

Edit - and holding.  Zito on Saturday.  The Reds can't catch us - if we win the division, we'll play the Braves - unless they can't hold off the Padres for the WC - in which case we'd play the Reds.  

I Pick College Football Games, Week 5, 2010


I've really struggled, but ripped it up last week.   I'm picking 11 games this week. 

Ok St. v. Tex AM under 66.5 (win)
BC +3 NDame (loss)
Kansas +9 Baylor (loss)
Mary v. Duke under 65 (win)
Mich v. Indiana under 65 (loss)
Miss v. Kent under 58.5 (loss)
Navy +10 Air Force (win)
NCarolina v. ECarolina under 57.5 (loss)
Rutgers -17 Tulane (loss)
USC -10 Wash (loss)
WMich +3 Idaho (loss)


I Pick Every NFL Game in 2010 - Week 4

Last Week's picks are here.

ATS: 24-20-4
SU 29-19

Tennessee -6.5 Denver (loss/loss)
Pitt -1 Balt (loss/loss)
Cle +3 Cinc (win/win)
Lions +14.5 GB (Pack wins game) (win/win)
Panthers +13.5 Saints (Saints win game, my suicide pick) (win/win)
Falcons -7 Niners (loss/win)
Seattle -1 Rams (loss/loss)
Bills +5.5 Jets (NY wins game) (loss/win)
Jags +7.5 Colts (Colts win game) (win/loss)
Texans -3 Oakland (win/win)
SD -8 Cards (win/win)
Wash +6 Philly (Eagles win game) (win/loss)
Bears +4 NYG (loss/loss)
Miami +1 NE (loss/loss)

ATS 7-7

SU 7-7

Magic Number - 3

Another big homer from Burrell.  We're 2 up with 4 left.  It's gonna happen. 

Lincecum struck out 11; leads the NL in Ks. He has the most strikeouts in his first four seasons than any pitcher in baseball history for his first four.

We have the 3rd best record in baseball since the 4th of July. The lowest September ERA since the '65 Dodgers, and the lowest September batting average against on record.

We're 92% to make the playoffs - with a 2 game advantage over the Reds, it looks like we'll get a chance to end Bobby Cox's career.  Giants/Braves, one more time.  Our pythag is up to 92 wins - same as the '89 team. 

Bumgarner this afternoon; Cain Friday night to knock out the Padres.

The 100 Greatest Players in Professional Football History: 60-51

You can get to the previous entry here.

I finish off the bottom half of the top hundred with this post, just in advance of the NFL Network reveal of same.  A week from now, when I hit the 40s, I'll probably start that post with a full recap.  But you can click the link to work your way backward if you are inclined.  I'll edit in their choices after I watch the episode.

60.Harold Jackson WR 68-83 Eagles/Rams/Patriots
-Contextualizing his numbers, the most underrated skill position player in NFL history. A better Art Monk. (NFL Net picked Jack Ham, he's still to come on my list.)

59.Tim Brown WR 88-04 Raiders
-101 career touchdowns; I have a preference, in qualitative lists like this for long careers; health is a skill, we watch player A, clearly superior to player B and cement that superiority in our brain, but 15 years later when player A has been working for ESPN for a decade and player B is still catching footballs in the playoffs, we rarely revisit that original decision. (Mike Ditka - not on my list.  I only have two TE, Newsome and the guy still to come.  I'd say Winslow and Sharpe are closest TE who didn't make it for me. I don't think I'd have another in the top 200.)

58.Night Train Lane DB 52-65 Cardinals/Lions
-26 of his 68 career picks came in 2 of his first three seasons in the league. Aeneas Williams, who would make the top 125, is his top comp. (Steve Van Buren - already appeared on my list; the historian just compared SVB to Riggins - he, Edge, Nagurski, Ottis Anderson would all make the top 200)

57.Ken Anderson QB 71-86 Bengals
-With his 12+ yards/completion and almost 60% completion percentage, Kenny Anderson should be in the HOF. (Singletary - still to come.  Only guy from that defense to make it on my list - Dent is very, very, very close.)

56.YA Tittle QB 48-64 Niners/Giants
-Niner QB number 2 on the list; 33,000 yards and 240+ TD passes (Upshaw - still to come on my list.)

55.Alan Page DL 67-81 Vikings
-the leader of the People Eaters; the Vikes are an overlooked great all time team, but they did play really badly in those title games.  Weighing those games in evaluating, say, Tarkenton's career for purposes of this list, is challenging.  (Earl Campbell - not on my list.)

54.Thurman Thomas RB 88-00 Bills
-4+ yards a carry, 9+ yards a catch – the Bills and Vikes, sitting together on the list.  As a Niner fan, I feel about the Bills and Vikes the way I do when I see a bad car accident, a shudder of empathy and a fortunate "thank god that's not me." (Forrest Gregg - already appeared on my list.)

53.Howie Long DL 81-93 Raiders
-Neil Smith is his second comp, he and Derrick Thomas would be in the top 150. (And so would Willie Lanier, who didn't make my list.  As would Bobby Bell.  A whole Chiefs thing going on.)

52.Jack Lambert LB 74-84 Steelers
-Hard to really evaluate the smaller middle linebackers absent the guys in front clogging traffic for them, but I think Lambert’s career puts him here – Butkus didn’t make the list, which will probably be the biggest discrepancy between my list and the NFL Network’s. (Eric Dickerson - still to come.)

51.Randy Moss WR 98- Vikings/Patriots
-150 career TDs and counting. 15 yards a catch. (Bart Starr - not on my list.)

That's 100-51; I'll start the countdown of the 50 greatest players in NFL history next Thursday.

Magic Number - 4

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We're 2 up with 5 left.  At 21 games over .500, it's our high water mark since the end of  '03.  Our ERA for the month is 1.85.  We've allowed 48 runs all month; our bullpen ERA is 1.22 for September. 

Our pythag is at 91 wins - that's top ten SFG of all time.  93 is what it takes to crack the top 5. 

Our playoff chances are up to 91+%; the Padres are almost out of the WC fight.  Let's focus on rooting against the Reds. 

Lincecum tonight.  We're dropping the hammer.

6 left. Half up.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cain 3 hit the Rox and the Giants surged back into first.  Up a half game.  6 left. 

Yes, I'd rather the Padres won the WC and the Braves stayed home.  Yes, that would be my preference.

Monday's a travel day for us.  The Padres are home against the Cubs.  I'm gonna assume they win Monday to even it up with 6 left, but if the Cubs are going to get one it would be tonight with Zambrano. We're home Tue for the Snakes.  Sanchez, Bumgarner, Lincecum.  Our September ERA is the lowest since the '65 Dodgers.  We're now 84% to make the playoffs.  Our pythag has hit 90 wins; the 14th SFG team to hit the 90 win mark.

(edit - thanks Carlos.  One up.  Six left.)

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown - September 19-25 2010

Dear Internet:

On my tenth birthday, I scored a goal against my own team in a soccer game.

On my 16th birthday; Mike Scott no-hit my San Francisco Giants, eliminating us from the pennant race, to that date, no Giants team in my memory had ever played in the postseason.

To this date, no San Francico Giants team has ever won a World Series, and with a week left and a half game lead, we blew a 9-7 ninth inning lead in Coors last night.  My last memory of my 40th birthday is the picture you see above. 

Comforting, somehow.  Good to know some things don't change.  Let's do Tendown 45.

First - Halftime

The tribes on Survivor are divided according to age this season; theres a 40+ tribe and a tribe of 30 and unders.  Through the first two episodes, all of us in our 30s faced a dilemma - to whom is our inclination?  Do we feel a greater sense of kinship with the younger group:

Or - are we more aligned with the older:

Not a tough call.

I've been rooting for the older tribe.

But for the next episode that decision will be out of my hands.  Yesterday, I got drafted.

I wasn't bothered by it.  And not because I'm in a particularly good place in my life or emotionally well adjusted or that I think 40 is the new 37 or whatever bumper sticker philosophy that gets people through the day. 

I was miserable turning 30; I talked about it for a full year; I approached 30 with my eye on the scoreboard; everyone younger who was more successful was clearly ahead of me (how many majors has Tiger Woods won?  I haven't won a goddamn thing!)  I felt every drop of my youthful potential trickling away.  I was consumed, as had I been more days than not in my life, with thoughts of my own shortcomings.

Today, I have no thoughts.

I'm tired people, Jesus.  Who the hell has the energy?  You show me someone worried about a birthday I'll show you someone who doesn't have fifteen hundred dollars in rent to pay each month.  My dad used to walk around the house in his blue robe, scratching and grunting disinterest about popular culture - how could a person be so disconnected; what is it that goes through his head?  My head is constantly racing, I silently (and not so silently) passed my judgment - and there he sits on the couch, wordlessly - he doesn't even know what happened on Miami Vice last night! 

I was a dumbass.  There were days during this past quarter in which I taught 10 courses that I was working at 7 in the morning and 11 at night and pretty much every hour in between.  You know how people say "I heard myself say something my parents used to say" - there were times last quarter where I wondered if I felt on the inside the way my dad used to feel.  I'm about two years in on a 7 day workweek; every dollar goes to bills and there really is no end game.  I'll work basically every day of every year as long as someone will pay me to do it, and there really aren't any options other than that.  My grind is not existential; it is real.  I have no angst about the meaninglessness of life; I'm just tired. I do not care how much money a 33 year old has or how much a 27 year old has accomplished.  My 40th birthday meant that I had finished grading one quarter's exams two days before and didn't have to start preparing for the next quarter for two days following.  What did I do on my 40th birthday?  I didn't work.  That's my inner life.  What has to be done next.  When does it have to be done.  Will this month's checks cover this month's bills. 

My brain still had plasticity when I turned 30; I could indulge in all manner of "what does the end of youth mean?" thoughts; today I just want to get through the day.  Is that a particularly good strategy for the second half of my life - yeah, I don't care about that question. 

It makes me less interesting.  It makes my writing less interesting.  It makes me less empathetic.

I don't care.  Long as the Espada tribe wins Survivor, I'm good. 

My birthday was really good, thanks.  It's my third birthday with my Lady Type Friend, which is a new record for me.  She makes every day as good as it could possibly be and is the primary difference between turning 40 and any other milestone.  I'd rather be 60 with her than 20 without.

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 45

7 Left. Half Down

Wouldn't be a birthday without a devastating late game Giants loss.

Season ends in a week.  Half up on the Padres; tied with the Braves.  Cain today.

8 Left. Half Up.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lincecum killed the Rockies dead last night.  2 hits, 10 strikeouts. 

Burrell hit another late game homer to get us to 20 games over .500.  Half up in the West with 8 left; now a game up on both the Braves and Reds for the second best record in the NL. It's 18 straight games now without giving up more than 3 runs, our September ERA is more than a run better than any other team in baseball.  We haven't had an ERA under 2 for a whole month since May of '89.
If we can keep the 3 and under run going today, we'd tie the 1916 Giants and, stand only behind the 1917 White Sox who kept teams under 4 runs in 20 consecutive games. 

Our pythag remains at 89 wins - but our playoff chances have hit their absolute high water mark for the season, 80% - and now the Padres hold the advantage over the Braves to pull the WC.  This is the best possible of the remaining scenarios, as it would mean a first round matchup with the Reds.

In the race for the post season awards - Longoria has pulled in front in the AL MVP race; he and Cano are going to hit the tape together in a week.  King Felix has my Cy vote wrapped up.  Wainwright looks like a good bet to hold on for the MVP/Cy in the NL. 

I'm still in second in both AL and Mixed fantasy leagues - all the $ goes for first place, so I need a last week push. 

Half up. Nine left.

Friday, September 24, 2010

That's Juan Uribe, he hit two homers in the 2nd inning last night.

Half a game up.  Nine to go.

We haven't given up more than 3 runs in our last 17 games; the greatest stretch for any team since 1917. Our ERA this month is one and a half. 

Our odds to make the playoffs are 63+%; Colorado may whip us this weekend, but their season ended in Phoenix.  The race is 3 teams for two spots.  San Diego's winning the WC gets us the Reds in the first round; our beating out the Reds for second best record would get us the Braves in the first round, were they to win the WC.  The other configurations would give us the Phils, and let's put that off if we can.

Our pythag has hit 89 wins.  13 teams in SFG history have had 90 pythagorean wins. 

The weekend matchups:

Lincecum v. Chacin
Zito v. Hammel
Cain v. De La Rosa

We don't have enough at bats against Chacin to mean anything, although Posey's 2-2. 
Huff and Sanchez have good records against Hammel; Uribe does not.
Sanchez and Ross have hit De La Rosa well; Sandoval, Rowand, Renteria have not. 

It's too bad we're missing Aaron Cook  The numbers are significant:

Burrell - 15 of 24
Fontenot - 4 of 13
Huff - 3 of 8
Ishikawa - 6 of 8
Posey - 3 of 5
Renteria - 8 of 20
Ross - 4 of 12
Rowand - 7 of 20
Sanchez - 3 of 9
Sandoval - 6 of 14
Schierholtz - 4 of 7
Torres - 2 of 6

The other way - Helton and Iannetta has really hit Lincecum well, but he might be able to cool off Tulowitzki
Zito has a really impressive record against the Rox, other than Gonzalez, who is 6-16, he has owned that entire roster.  Barmes, Iannetta, Stewart, Tulowitzki, Young - all hitting under .200 with double digit at bats.  There might be a little value in investing in Zito Saturday night. 
Tulo and Spilborghs really hit Cain well; he owns Gonzalez and Helton. 

There's been a change in the WARP3 leaderboard, Wainwright's still got both my Cy and MVP votes in the NL (although Tulowitzki, who just yesterday I named Athlete of the Month, is charging hard at the tape for MVP) but Longoria and the first half WARP leader Cano have passed the idle Hamilton for MVP in the AL. King Felix is still your AL Cy winner.

I Pick College Football Games (Although I Should Stop) Week 4, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last week is here.


Air Force v. Wyoming under 50.5 (win)
Baylor v. Rice under 56 (win)
Duke v Army under 56.5 (win)
Idaho v. Col St. over 50.5 (win)
Kansas -23 NMex St. (win)
Mary -12 FIU (win)
Mid Ten -3 La/La (win)
Penn St -11.5 Temp (loss)
Tenn -14 UAB (loss)
USC -22 Wash St (win)

That's more like it.


TBOR Athlete of the Month - September 2010

Troy Tulowitzki: Runners Up - Roy Halladay, Rafael Nadal, Jose Bautista

That means we're nine deep in the race for TBOR Athlete of the Year, you can access past posts here.

Back in '98, my winner and the AP winner was Mark McGwire

Jan: Terrell Davis (John Elway, Vin Baker, Martina Hingis)
Feb: Dale Earnhardt: (Antawn Jamison, Dominic Hasek, Tara Lipinski)
Mar: Chamique Holdsclaw (Antawn Jamison, Bryce Drew, Andre Miller)
Apr: Mark McGwire (Mark O'Meara, Pedro Martinez, Chuck Finley)
May: Karl Malone (Kerry Wood, David Wells, Mark McGwire)
June: Greg Maddux (Ollie Kolzig, Michael Jordan, Sammy Sosa)
July: Ronaldo (Zinedine Zidane, Se Ri Pak, Marion Jones)
Aug: Jeff Gordon (Eric Davis, Mark McGwire, Cynthia Cooper)
Sept: Sammy Sosa (Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds)
Oct: Scott Brosius (Shane Spencer, Kevin Brown, Jason Elam)
Nov: Ricky Williams (Cade McNown, Terrell Davis, Randy Moss)
Dec: Randall Cunningham (Steve Francis, Gary Anderson, Ron Dayne)

The 100 Greatest Players in Professional Football History 70-61

You can get to the previous posts here. 

NFL Network's next ten comes out tonight; I get the jump, as I do each week, with my next ten.  I'll edit in their choices for comparison.

70.Curtis Martin RB 95-05 Jets

-100 career TD, over 100 yds/game career avg. combined rush/receiving. (NFL Network takes Marshall Faulk - still to come on my list)

69.Terrell Owens WR 96-  Niners

-Middle Name – Eldorado. If Cosell were still alive you’d know that. He’s gonna score his 150th career TD in 2010. (Bobby Bell - one of my very last cuts)

68.Len Dawson QB 57-75 Chiefs

-Top comp is Bledsoe – third is Jim Hart, who deserves a higher level of esteem than in which he’s held by the football public. (Mike Webster, not far away on my list.  NFL Net just told me it was through tough battles with his teammates that Webster was "forged" - would a similar story about any baseball player confirmed for steroid use be able to get away with using similar language, that it was tough battles that made turned him into a great player, without howls of derision?)

67.Tom Brady QB 00- Patriots
-He hits 35,000 yards passing for his career at the end of the 2010 season; if you tell me Brees and not McNabb should have been that QB ranked in the 90s, I don’t have a great argument that you’re wrong. (Kellen Winslow - another of my very last cuts, he'd be in the top 120)

66.Mike Haynes DB 76-89 Patriots/Raiders

-Top comp is Champ Bailey; of the active guys not on the list, he’s just behind Brees. (Willie Brown - still to come on my list.)

65.Ken Houston DB 67-80 Oilers/Redskins

-second highest ranked safety on the list (Randy Moss - still to come on my list)

64.Rickey Jackson LB 81-95 Saints

-He makes it over his top comp Buoniconti (Herb Adderly - still to come.)

63.Darrell Green DB 83-02 Redskins
-Eric Allen and Ken Riley would make the next hundred. (Jim Otto - still to come.)

62.Mike Webster OL 74-90 Steelers

-Hard not to put so much emphasis on Super Bowls, or if that’s even a good goal – but Webster’s two top comps are Jim Otto, who is much higher on the list – and Russ Washington, who is nowhere near the list. Guess which two won Super Bowls? That’s why I prefer baseball, I have no problem saying Bobby Grich was a better middle infielder than Derek Jeter. (Randy White - wait for it...still to come.)

61. Forrest Gregg OL 56-71 Packers
I'll be back in a week with my look at the next ten. (LT2 - who appeared ten spots ago on my list.)

10 Left. Half a Game Down

Our last 8 losses:
2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 1-0, 1-0, 3-1, 4-2, 2-1

One more in Chicago.  Let's gets some hits.

11 left. Half a game up.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cain and the pen 2 hit the Cubs.  Posey homered in the 8th.  1-0 for the good guys.

Our playoff chances hit their high water mark for the season, 65%.

We're a half game behind the Reds, even in the loss column, for that second spot.  I think we have the tiebreak. 

Sanchez tonight. 

I Pick Every NFL Game 2010 - Week 3

Last week's picks are here. 

ATS: 16-12-4
SU: 21-11

Atlanta +4 NO (Saints win game) (win/loss)
Niners -2.5 Chiefs (loss/loss)
Detroit +10.5 Vikes (Vikes win game) (loss/win)
Texans -3 Cowboys (loss/loss)
NYG -3 Titans (loss/loss)
Bills +14 NE (Patriots win game) (NE is my suicide pick) (win/win)
Browns +10.5 Ravens (Balt wins game) (win/win)
Steelers -2.5 Bucs (win/win)
Bengals -3 Panthers (win/win)
Redskins -3.5 Rams (loss/loss)
Eagles -3 Jags (win/win)
Colts -6 Broncos (win/win)
SD -5.5 Seattle (loss/loss)
Raiders +4 Arizona (Cards win) (win/win)
Miami -1.5 NYJ (loss/loss)
GB -3 Chi (loss/loss)

ATS 24-20-4
SU 29-19

12 Left. Half a game up.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our Schedule:
3 in Chicago.
3 in Colorado.
Travel day Monday, that's when the Rox and Padres play and we don't as they both have 13 left.
Home for 3 against Arizona.
Home for 3 against the Padres.  Season ends the 3rd. 

Padres Schedule:
3 in LA
Home for 3 against Reds
Home for 4 against Cubs
3 in SF

Rox Schedule
3 in Arizona
Home for 3 against us
Home for 3 against LA
4 in StLouis

The forecast - we win it by a game over both of them. 


Which would mean a first round matchup against the Phillies.  Which is less than ideal.  Ideally, we pass the Reds, giving us a first round series against the Braves, which is winnable.

In Chicago - Cain v. Zambrano, Sanchez v. Wells, Bumgarner v. Dempster

-Burrell's hit okay against Zambrano, has 2 homers against Wells, and a really high OBP against Dempster
-Guillen's 0-9 against Dempster, maybe he sits Thursday.
-Huff hasn't hit against any of them, and is 3-19 against Dempster.
-Who has hit is Renteria, 8-24 against Dempster, 13-34 against Zambrano
-Nothing from Ross or Rowand
-Sanchez has hit Dempster well 6-17
-Sandoval's good in small samples against Dempster 4-9, and Wells 3-5, bad against Zambrano 1-7.
-Uribe's 4-25 against Zambrano, which is enough that he can sit tonight.

-DeWitt (5-15 with 3 walks) and Nady (3-8) have hit Cain; he's had good success against everyone else.
-They haven't had enough at bats against Sanchez or Bumgarner, save for Baker, 4-11 with 3 walks against Sanchez.

We're 84-66, our pythag is a little better 86-64, that gives us a chance at a 93 pythag season which would tie this team for the fifth best SFG team ever. 

1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown, a Halfdown Edition September 12-18 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Internet:

Have I been hating the wrong football team?

Last Sunday, here was Randy Moss at the Patriots' post game press conference:

Two years ago, here was Tom Brady courtside at a Celtics playoff game:

I'm sorry for all the times I rooted against the Patriots. 

I was going to law school in Ohio in September of 1993, and when I'm going to law school in Ohio in September of 1993, in the pre-internet world, the number of people who are living with me through the torture that was seeing the best San Francisco Giants team of my lifetime in a daily (losing) battle for a playoff spot was very, very small.  Small enough that, one day, when I saw a young black child at a shopping mall in a Giants t-shirt, I pointed and said "yeah!  yeah!  Billy Swift going today!  Hell yeah!"  Given the way his mother looked at me, I was fortunate that Megan's Law did not exist then, or I may still be introducing myself to new neighbors as per court order.  The woman I was dating at the time suggested that we lived in Ohio in 1993 and that maybe pointing at young black children and yelling "Hell Yeah!" might not be well taken by the boy's family. 

That young boy - turned out to be LeBron James.

True story.

Okay - the tag is not true, LeBron's a couple/three years too old - but it would be good.

I don't have any group identity with my country - to the contrary, most people who identify themselves as patriots would label me anti-American.  I don't have a religion or any particular ethnicity; what I have is sports - the Niners had enough success that their bandwagon was once too full with which to identify and while I went to USC for a minute and a half when I was 18:

I just wasn't there long enough to feel a kinship with those possessing SC degrees. 
But for me - if you're a Giants fan; it crosses all barriers.  Giants fan+Sarah Palin supporter = you and I are cool.  Something has to take priority; for me its not race or class or level of demonstrable brain activity (because to be a Sarah Palin supporter, I mean - come on - she doesn't believe in evolution; I get if you don't understand Keynesian economics or the idea of a living Constitution - but you just can't hop on someone's train who thinks the earth's 6,000 years old) it's mutual support of the San Francisco Giants.

So - go Pats!  Go Brady!  Go Moss! Go Danny Glover and Robin Williams! I am prepared to read your newsletter and will share with you my foodstuffs. 

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 44

I Pick College Football Games - Week 3 2010-2011

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm pretty far in the hole.  Only picking 8 games.

Kansas +5.5 Southern Miss (loss)
Miami OH -7.5 Colorado St. (win)
Missouri -14 SD St. (loss)
Navy -3 LA Tech (win)
Oklahoma St. v. Tulsa Under 69 (loss)
Wake +17 Stanford (loss)
VA Tech v. ECarolina Under 60 (loss)
W Mich -3 Toledo (loss)

Wow, I'm off to a brutally bad start.

The 100 Greatest Players in Professional Football History 80-71

Part 2 of my list is here.

NFL Network is revealing Part 3 of its list tonight, so I'll get the jump this morning.  I'll edit in their choices after I see the show.

80.Bobby Layne QB 48-62 Lions/Steelers
-Beats out Boomer and Bradshaw, his top comps. I'm guessing Bradshaw makes the NFL list and Layne doesn't. (They picked Aikman here)

79.Gene Hickerson OL 58-73 Browns
-The Browns could run the football. With Jim Brown – after Jim Brown – the Browns could run the football. Hickerson gets the credit here. (Emlen Tunnell, not on my list)

78.Chuck Howley LB 58-73 Cowboys
(They picked Bruce Matthews, who is on this list, but not yet.)

77.Michael Irvin WR 88-99 Cowboys
-Top comp is Reggie Wayne; it’s all about the U. I’ve grown to really enjoy Irvin as a TV personality; it’s less that I find myself agreeing with him and more just that he’s very likeable. Funny how things work out. (NFL picked Dorsett; apparently they knew it was Cowboy time.)

76.Ed Jones DL 74-89 Cowboys
-Top comp is Lyle Alzado, and he’s underrated – his notoriety diminishing his accomplishment.  You think I'm done with the Cowboy run?  (Art Shell, who didn't make my list)

75.Roger Staubach QB 69-79 Cowboys
- 4 straight Cowboys!  Staubach was great; I’m a Cowboy hater, but he was great – a short career is why he’s low, and if anything I’m ranking him high given the short career, but he was considerably Bradshaw’s superior, for example. If you're looking for Aikman on the list, you'll be unhappy.  (Darrell Green - who is still to come on my list.)

74.Willie Wood DB 60-71 Packers
-Most similar players – Herb Adderly, Mike Haynes, both still to come, Ronde Barber didn’t make it. (Marion Motley - not on my list).

73.Will Shields OL 93-06 Chiefs
-The best in the Mack/Wisniewski/Allen line of interior linemen. Bruce Armstrong/Lomas Brown have similarly good cases.  (Ozzie Newsome; my second TE is still to come, and he's in the top 50)

72.Carl Eller DL 64-79 Vikings
-The best, I’d argue, in the Youngblood/Strahan/Robustelli line of ends – if you tell me he and Doleman should flip, I wouldn’t be adverse. (Jonathan Ogden - entirely fair, didn't make my list - but entirely fair - that run of recent vintage tackles - Ogden, Jones, Roaf - they didn't make my list but they'd all be in the next 50).

71.Ladainian Tomlinson RB 01- Chargers
-88+ yards rushing per game; just a tremendous run of production by the guy who earned his nickname LT2 in contrast to the way that Andy Roddick never should have been called A-Rod. (Paul Warfield)

30 down, 70 to go.  I'll update the NFL picks after the show airs, and then 70-61 on my list will be posted just before their next show. 

I Pick Every NFL Game in 2010 - Week 2 (Plus my Bonus Big Brother Pick)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Week 1 record ATS: 9-4-3 SU: 11-5

Atlanta -6.5 Arizona (win/win)
Balt -1.5 Cinc (loss/loss)
Chiefs +1.5 Browns (win/win)
Dallas -8.5 Bears (loss/loss)
Eagles -4.5 Lions (loss/win)
Bills +13.5 Packers (GB wins game) (my suicide pick) (win/win)
Steelers +5.5 Titans (win/win)
Miami +5.5 Vikes (Vikes win game) (win/loss)
Panthers -2.5 Bucs (loss/loss)
Seattle +3.5 Denver (loss/loss)
Rams +3.5 Raiders (Oak wins game) (win/win)
Pats -2 Jets (loss/loss)
SD -7.5 Jags (win/win)
Hou -3 Wash (push/win)
NYG +5.5 Colts (Indy wins game) (loss/win)
NO -4.5 Niners (loss/win)

ATS 7-8-1, 16-12-4
SU 10-6, 21-11

Hayden wins Big Brother tonight.  Lane finishes second. 

Possible outcomes of leg 3 of HOH
-Hayden beats Lane

If Hayden beats Lane, he takes Lane.  I don't know if there is a legit final two deal between any of the final 3; but were Hayden to win another competition, a Hayden/Lane matchup is a wipeout, with only Britney as a likely Lane vote.  Regardless of jurors using a "better game play" or a "who I like the most" model of voting strategy, Hayden wins.  Throw in the feeling that Lane doesn't need the money, and I cannot see any possible scenario that Hayden does not beat Lane.

Hayden is unlikely to take Enzo, both because of the previous paragraph and because he and Lane seem  more likely to have a post-BB relationship.  In the unlikely event he does, it opens up the "Enzo is mastermind" argument which might sway Ragan/Matt/Brendon/Rachel as likely "better game play voters"  Britney/Kathy still vote Hayden.  Lane may vote Enzo in this scenario, assuming he believes he has a deal with Hayden

-Lane beats Hayden

If Lane beats Hayden, there's not a good path for him to win the game.  His matchup with Hayden becomes more favorable, as Hayden's competition record is then minimized by Lane's having won the final HOH.  Lane has Britney, let's give him Enzo in this scenario just to do.  He then just needs to split the "better game play votes" to win.  I don't think he does - I think they all go for Hayden, but their decisions are all more difficult in this scenario.  I think Lane is likely to take Hayden if he wins.

If Lane takes Enzo I think Enzo beats him, and maybe by the margin that Hayden were to beat him in the very first scenario.  Britney votes for him, Hayden might, although he might feel jilted, but Lane's competition record, even with a final HOH win, won't be seen as the equivalent of Hayden's, and while Lane is liked, he isn't liked in the way that Hayden is - and really not liked in the way that Enzo is - giving Enzo's mastermind argument a better chance to take hold in the minds of the gameplay voters.


If H d. L and H takes L - Hayden wins and it's not close. 
If H d. L and H takes E - Hayden wins I think but it's really close.
If L d. H and L takes H - Hayden wins, but it should be closer than scenario 1
If L d. H and L takes E - Enzo wins and I don't think it's close.

1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown Special Halfdown Edition Sept 5-11 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dear Internet:

1 back.  19 left.  Lincecum goes today.

As I write this, my magical telephone which texts me when the world changes (last week, true story, I received a text that Keira Knightley was changing her official country of residence to the United States.  Suck on that England!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!) just vibrated the following:

                 Giants CF Andres Torres had his appendix removed.  Out 10 days to 2 weeks.

Appendicitis?  Really?  With 19 games left and the San Francisco Giants a game out of first place - arguably our best player over the course of the season just had his appendix taken out.  That's one for the books.  That's one for the Bobby Richardson playing out of position, Game 3 earthquake, 103 wins and no postseason, 5 run lead with 8 outs to go, Jose Cruz's kid dropping the fly ball - books. 

Appendix?  Really?  With 19 games left in the season?  Andres Torres is 32 years old.  What is the historical precedent for a 32 year old starting center fielder to have appendicitis at the end of a pennant race?  What's next - Brian Wilson has his tonsils out?  Aubrey Huff gets chicken pox? 

Giants baseball.  It's torture.

Here's Tendown 43.

First:  Reggie Bush

This week came word that the Heisman Trophy Trust would be stripping Reggie Bush of his 2005 Heisman; this now seems in doubt; Christine Brennan argued this week that the Trophy should not only be stripped but awarded to Vince Young, the runner-up.

She is wrong - the argument that Bush should be stripped rests on the notion that had the money given by a street agent to Bush and his family while he was at USC been known by the NCAA at the time, then it would have ruled Bush ineligible.  My thoughts about this are threefold:

1. Its a helluva erosion of due process - if today, the NCAA were to find that a current superstar player, a potential top 5 overall NFL draft choice headed for a bounty of endorsement opportunities once his college career was concluded was ineligible, the amount of  potential financial harm were he unable to play football would absolutely require a judicial hearing before he was taken off the field.  Maybe that results in Bush being made ineligible (although what would the precedent be - has there ever been a player of Bush's 2005 profile who the NCAA said could not play for a full season?  Do ticket sales fall, are ratings harmed, what about all those USC #5 jerseys that aren't sold, or DVDs, video games, and other ancillary memorabilia that directly traded off of Bush's game and fame - let's put aside whether it's "right" to punish an athlete for accepting money given the billions made in big time college sports off of the labor of those athletes - does it make sense that perhaps the NCAA doesn't want Bush to be made ineligible in 2005?) maybe it doesn't, but there would have been a court fight had it attempted to take him off the field.  Its convenient, 5 years later to say, "in lieu of that fight - let's just pretend that Bush was found ineligible and therefore could not have won the Heisman." 

2. Are we really saying that, in the history of the Heisman, the only winner who took money while he was playing was Reggie Bush?  It has to be yes, right - Christine Brennan has to be saying that, and the Heisman Trust, were they to pull Bush's trophy - has to be saying that, and if they are saying that, that's a level of embarrassing that a sports analyst should not want to reach.  John Salley has a podcast - his answer when asked how many big time college athletes take money while they're in school was "all of them."  Tim Brown went on television and said Bush should give the trophy back - my thought was exactly as is it whenever a former baseball player says that those suspected of PED use should not be eligible for the Hall of Fame or otherwise lose their records - what did you take?  What did your teammates take?  Tell me of all the money/drugs that you are aware of.  If I'm Reggie Bush - I want every living Heisman winner deposed.  Further, there are lots of behaviors that could make one ineligible.  Vince Young, recall, scored a six on the Wonderlic test at the NFL draft combine - let's walk our way through all of his coursework while at Texas.  In the same way that the "give Jose Canseco's MVP Award to Mike Greenwell" fails the slippery slope test, how deeply are we willing to probe the academic careers of the runners-up to the Heisman to begin the process of finding the "true" winner?  If Christine Brennan wants to argue that big time college sports are dirty, completely removed from the amateur ideal - that's fine.  If she wants to argue that it's just Reggie Bush, she should lose her press credential. 

3. This is really the same line of "what happened on the field is illegitimate and you should pretend it didn't happen" thought that has permeated the steroid discussion.  At this year's baseball Hall of Fame ceremony, Hank Aaron was announced as the "home run king."

He is not. 

Barry Bonds hit those home runs.  They happened.  So did Cy Young's 511 wins, and Hack Wilson's 191 rbis, and Ty Cobb's career batting average of .367.  We can view them in context - like we can view Aaron's playing in small ballparks, or Roger Maris hitting 61 against expansion pitching, or Babe Ruth never hitting a ball thrown by anyone other than a white American dude probably born east of the Mississippi, or every baseball clubhouse for decades having jars of amphetamines that the players could pop to give them a little lift for those day games after night games. 

Reggie Bush won the Heisman trophy.  He did it on the field.  Barry Bonds owns both the single season and the career record for home runs.  He did it on the field.  Andres Torres is not on the field.  He's in the hospital getting circumcised or something. 

Appendicitis?  With 19 games left in the season?  Argh.  Argh.  Argh.  Argh.

We're never going to win.

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 43. 

I Pick College Football Games - 2010-2011 Week 2

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I went 2-3 last week.

West Virginia -12.5 Marshall (loss)
Arkansas St. v. La/La Under 55 (push)
BCollege -17.5 Kent St.(loss)
Colorado St. +23.5 Nevada (loss)
Oklahoma St. v. Troy Under 63 (loss)
New Mex St. +13.5 SDiego St. (loss)
Texas -28 Wyoming (loss)
Buffalo +16 Baylor (loss)
NC St. +3 Central Florida (win)
Wake -6 Duke (push)


I Pick Every NFL Game in 2010 - Week One

My preseason picks, if you're interested, are here.

Last year, I picked every game against the number - it didn't go as well as my picking the college games did. My inclination this year will be to pick every game straight up in this space, as time just doesn't allow me to do anything but guess, really, at the NFL lines. I'll do both in week one to keep the option open.

I'm going to lean on trends in Week 1 in a way I won't do by about Week 4-5 when there are some numbers to look at for this season. When my point spread winner differs from my straight up winner, I'll indicate.

Vikings +5 Saints (NO wins game) (push ATS, win SU)
Dolphins -3 Bills (win/win)
Lions +7 Bears (Bears win game) (win/win)
Titans -6 Raiders (win/win)
Bengals +4.5 NE (Pats win game) (loss/win)
Giants -6.5 Panthers (My suicide pick)  (win/win)
Steelers +2 Falcons (Falcons win game) (win/loss)
Bucs -3 Browns (push/win)
Broncos +2.5 Jags (Jax wins game) (loss/win)
Colts -2 Texans (loss/loss)
Rams +4 Cards (Arizona wins game) (push/win)
Pack -3 Eagles (win/win)
Niners -3 Seahawks (loss/loss)
Redskins +3.5 Dallas (Cowboys win game) (win/loss)
Ravens +2.5 Jets (win/win)
Chiefs +4.5 Chargers (win/win)

ATS: 9-4-3
SU: 11-5

I finished with a total of 3 fantasy leagues - I might talk about the last two drafts in Sunday's Tendown; I don't have any Vikings or Saints in any of my 3 leagues, so I don't have start/sit needs tonight.

Enjoy the season.

2010 NFL Predictions

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The season starts today.  I make the predictions.

AFC East:
1. New England 10-6
-Their over/under is 9.5 wins; if you can tease that down to 9, I don't see, absent a Brady injury, a circumstance where they don't win 9 games.  Despite the Patriots dominance, they haven't gotten as much respect as they deserve from the public, particularly on the road - they're 34-19 against the spread on the road over the past six years.  The reason for the excessive number of holdouts as we hit week one (Mankins is still out for NE) is there are players who would be unrestricted free agents if not for the uncapped year.  I sort of want to be the only guy on the Patriots bandwagon this year - it seems to me as if it's a rare opportunity to buy low. 

2. New York 9-7
-Maybe it's 10-6, I'm less than certain that Sanchez is ready to contend for a Super Bowl than are others; I like the Jets as the second WC team in the AFC.

3. Miami 9-7
-Over the past 6 years, the Fish are 14-34 at home against the spread ("what do trends matter" you ask "this years Dolphins aren't the Dolphins from 2007") the reason that's valuable even though the teams turn over every year is the public doesn't - and when you see Miami is 20 games under .500 ATS over the last six years at home, and 8-22 ATS as a favorite the past six years - is that the public overvalues the Dolphins, particularly at home or when they are favored.  If you see Miami as a home favorite this year, look to the other side. 

4. Buffalo 5-11
-Defense is pretty good - offense is an absolute disaster; 6-10 wouldn't shock me, either would 2-14.

AFC North
1. Baltimore 11-5
-Their over/under is 10; that's a good play.  I don't see too many scenarios where they don't win ten games.  They're 30-19 at home against the spread, and 22-30 on the road against the spread, over the past six years.  More likely to go 12-4 than 9-7.  I'll say they lose the AFC Championship game.

2. Pittsburgh 10-6
-I feel similarly, maybe a little less strongly, about the Steelers over/under, which is 9, as I do with the Ravens at 10.  Is Troy Palamalu the best defensive player in football?

3. Cincinnati 8-8
Not entirely dissimilar to the Jets, and Palmer's in a better position to be a game manager than is Sanchez. 

4. Cleveland 3-13
-Their number is 5.5, the Browns have to win 6 games to beat you, that seems unlikely to happen.  Colt McCoy's in there by season's end, and the Browns waive the white flag. 

AFC South
1. Indianapolis 11-5
-I'm picking the Colts to win the Super Bowl. 

2. Houston 9-7

-I like them more than the metrics would indicate.  They, like Dallas, were unusually healthy last season (what's going on down there in Texas?) and that would indicate a bounce in the other direction.  I'm just a sucker for Schaub and Johnson - and I really like the Leinart signing.

3. Tennessee 7-9
-I just flipped the Titans and Texans.

4. Jacksonville 7-9
-I've been on the Jags for fantasy purposes the past couple of years - I'm out and I think they're, on the margin, the worst club in the division.

AFC West
1. San Diego 9-7
-They don't have McNeil or Jackson; the 11 win over/under for San Diego is stealing money; if the Chargers go 12-4 and you do worse than push that bet, you can curse my name.  They have really cleaned up against the number - over the past six years, 62-39 against the spread, 47-31 vs. AFC teams against the spread, 22-7 as a dog against the spread. 

2. Kansas City 8-8
-the 6.5 total means a 7-9 season gets you paid, if you could tease the number down to 6, so the Chiefs would have to go 5-11 for you to be a loser, that makes lots of sense.  Chiefs have the easiest schedule in football.  Cassel is my backup on all 3 fantasy teams. 

3. Denver 7-9
-I've never liked the Broncos; I was anti- Orange Crush in the late 70s; Elway was easy to dislike in the 80s and 90s - and now, Tim Tebow?  Perfect.  They can't lose enough for me. 

4. Oakland 6-10
-I'd really like to see a good team in Oakland again; outside of my Niners, I very much want to see a resurgent Raiders.  They have really been overvalued over the past 6 years - 38-57 against the spread, and 15-32 at home - the public sees the Raiders in Oakland and looks for a home field advantage that isn't there. 

NFC East
1. New York 10-6
-Their number is 8.5, if you can buy it down to 8, that would mean they'd need to go 7-9 to beat you; I maybe am overrating the Giants at 10 wins, but I think they're at least .500.  Theyre strong against the spread , 33-18 on the road, 46-30 against the NFC over the past six years.  I don't have a good handle on this division, literally any order possible in these rankings would not surprise me - I'd expect everyone bunched somewhere near .500, and it's Eli who breaks the tie for me. 

2. Dallas 9-7
-They don't win 11 games, and their number is 10.  They get the WC spot.

3. Philadelphia 9-7
-Same as NY; if you can buy down their 8.5 to 8, that's a play.  Eagles are strong over the past six years against the spread, 47-32 against the NFC.

4. Washington 7-9
-I'm rooting for McNabb, and if they were to win this division I wouldn't be surprised.

NFC North
1. Green Bay 11-5
-I'll take the popular route and pick Green Bay to come out of the NFC, but I don't see them as head and shoulders above the rest of the top teams in the conference, and don't see them as the equal of Indianapolis or Baltimore.

2. Minnesota 9-7
-Their 9.5 total would look tempting if it were 10.  I'll say no playoffs for Favre in his final season.

3. Chicago 7-9
-I wish Martz would have stayed in San Francisco. 

4. Detroit 5-11
28-40 against the spread vs. NFC over the past six years.  They're improving. 

NFC South
1. Atlanta 10-6
-Their number is 9, they're more likely to win 11 than lose 8, it's a good play.  The Falcons are coming; if I had any guts I'd take them to win the NFC.

2. New Orleans 9-7
-They don't win eleven games, and they need to if they want to beat the 10.5.  They get the last WC spot.

3. Tampa 6-10
-I have nothing to say about Tampa Bay.

4. Carolina 6-10
-Their 7.5 means it takes a .500 season to beat you.  Like the Browns, there could be a white flag flown and Jimmy Claussen might be taking snaps in late season losses. 

NFC West
1. San Francisco 9-7
-This is my most optimistic about my club.  I am not on board with a ball control, low possession strategy in the 2010 NFL, it seems designed to forever keep your franchise at .500.  But this is an extra bad division, one in which 8-8 wins it this year; I gave us an extra win just to do.  We haven't been to the playoffs since '02, just getting in mistakenly would feel like progress. 

2. Arizona 7-9
-Max Hall is their starting QB by season's end. 

3. Seattle 7-9
-Bad on the road against the spread over the past six years, 18-32.  This is an optimistic projection because my SC guys are their new staff, but that OL is a mess and their QB is done.  I'd be more surprised if they were 9-7 than 5-11. 

4. St Louis 6-10
39-59 against the spread over the past six years.  Bad on the field, bad against the number.  This is a top end forecast for the Rams.

So - Colts v. Packers is my Super Bowl.  I'll say Manning gets the chip. 

100 Greatest Players in Professional Football History 90-81

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

100-91 is here.  The next ten air on the NFL Network tonight - so I'm still looking to get ahead of them with this post.  As with the first ten, I'll add in their picks for comparison once I watch the show.

90.Jack Youngblood DL 71-84 Rams

-Beats out the players most similar – Jason Taylor and Warren Sapp. (NFL Net picked Kurt Warner; he's not on the list.  Maybe Top 250. Who did almost make the list from those Ram teams was Torry Holt, he and Orlando Pace would both be Top 125).

89. Sam Huff LB 56-79 Giants/Redskins

-Went with Huff over the shorter career of Butkus, and over the Giant of another era Carson. (NFL Net took Ernie Nevers.  Not on the list).

88. Paul Krause DB 64-79 Vikings

-81 picks, 6 touchdowns. (NFL took Ed ReedHe is not on my list - is he better than Tim McDonald?  Also not on my list, but I'm just sayin'.)

87. Cris Carter WR 87-02 Vikings

-1100+ catches, 130 touchdowns (Crazylegs Hirsch.  Neither he nor Waterfield makes my list)

86. Chris Doleman DL 85-99 Vikings

213 arts, 150.5 sacks.(Willie Davis - he's not on my list.  )

85. Sammy Baugh QB/P 37-52 Redskins

-You won’t see Jim Thorpe or Sid Luckman, or Bronco Nagurski on the list – that’s a hard decision and one that I really went back and forth on, but the pre 1950s players just become impossible to evaluate beyond how exponentially greater in athleticism, and, pretty clearly, football skill, are modern players. I don’t hate you if you have Red Grange on your list – but you won’t see him here. I see football and basketball as similar; you would not expect to find more than 3 or 4 pre 1950s players on a list of the top 100 basketball players of all time.  At some point, the sheer quantum difference in bigger/faster/stronger has to play a role in our evaluation. (NFL took Marcus Allen, who is on my list and significantly higher.)

84. Alex Karras DL 58-70 Lions

-John Randle’s his top comp. He’d be in the top 150. If you swapped them, saying I was swayed by Karras's celebrity in the way I wasn't by Butkus, I wouldn't object. (NFL took another Lion instead, Joe Schmidt.  Not on my list.) 

83. Tony Dorsett RB 77-88 Cowboys

-Curtis Martin’s his top comp – and Martin is solidly ahead of Dorsett on this list; career value is important, particularly in a game like football where, to stay healthy and productive, you are really bucking the numbers. (NFL - Norm Van Brocklin, who was in my previous ten.)

82. Don Maynard WR 58-73 Jets

-Isaac Curtis is his top comp, and that’s an underrated guy; let’s make the rest of this list about Isaac Curtis. All hail King Curtis!  (NFL - Ted Hendricks.  On my list and much, much higher.)

81. John Brodie QB 57-73 Niners

-There weren’t too many QB in the 60s better than Brodie; his ’65 was superlative, led the league in completion percentage, yards, and TD passes. The first of 4 Niner QB on the list. (NFL - Steve Young.  They took a Niner too; he's on my list and a good bit higher.)

I don't know when the next episode is - but if I find out ahead of time, I'll beat it with the next ten on my list.  It's a week from Thursday.  Lots of time.  Very helpful. 

1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown: August 29-Sept 4 2010 Special Halfdown Edition.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dear Internet:

As anyone in my profession confronts every day, we're the United States of Amnesia. 

So, a little historical perspective, on this Labor Day Tendown, is valuable.

Here's Tendown 42.

First: Situational Ethics

How do we solve ethical dilemmas?  Is it moral to steal food when you can't otherwise afford to feed your family?  Is it moral to murder one innocent to save the lives of thousands?  What are our obligations to those who cannot care for themselves? What space in the moral community should be awarded animals and the unborn?

To these questions, we now add the following - what should Sammi's roommates have told her about Ronnie's creeping at the club before coming home to crawl into her bed?

(That's a Jersey Shore reference for those unitatiated.  It's okay if you're not conversant in the Gym/Tan/Laundry subculture; you'll still be able to follow the arguments; and for those of you who think this insufficiently worthy of scholarship, consider that my alternate discussion was going to be if Kayleigh on the Bad Girls Club had an ethical responsibility to aid her roommates in their fight on the beach.)

Sammi and Ronnie have an on again/off again relationship; they appear, in a Ross/Rachel way to be "on a break" as Season 2 begins (this raises a tangential ethical issue - the morality of looking to temporarily break up with someone in the hopes of hooking up with some hot, random girl and then returning to your previous relationship.  A couple of decades ago, this struck me as a strategy to consider.  It is a mistake.)  The gang gets their South Beach clubbing on; Ronnie and Sammi squabble (which has probably been on the rundown of each Jersey Shore ep from both seasons) Sammi goes home early, and after she leaves Ronnie makes out with as many women of questionable virtue as he can get his mitts on. 

Ronnie goes back home and gets in bed with Sammi.  The next epsiode (possibly the next night) it happens again.

All of their roommates either witness or become aware of this behavior. 

Should they tell Sammi?

Here is where the great debate of the last five hundred years of western civilization comes into play - is morality properly based on absolute principles (the Immanuel Kant argument) or is right and wrong better seen as based on circumstance (the Jeremy Bentham argument)?

Kant's great unified theory of everything (his WARP3, for my sabermetric peeps) was the categorical imperative; that one should behave as if his behavior should be a universal law.  So - why is it immoral to lie; it's immoral to lie because you're of no greater moral importance than I am; and if you take for yourself the ability to determine which lies are justified under the circumstance - then I must also be given the same opportunity, and not just me, but everyone - and a world where everyone can decide for himself when lying is moral is a world where, pretty quickly, lying about virtually everything virtually all the time becomes moral. 

So - don't lie.  Sure, it means sometimes, grandma, a living saint of a woman, makes you a cherry pie and says, "do you like my cherry pie, Tommy?" and you're stuck telling the truth, "No, Nana, it's a pretty terrible pie - and my name is Janet" but nonetheless, you're stuck.  If you get to determine when a lie is for the greater good - then so does everyone else - and we all slip down that slope awfully quickly.

Sammi goes to the roommates and asks if they know anything.  They all deny it. 

Immanuel Kant shakes his fist at the Jersey Shore kids - tell the truthTell the truth!  But we'll compromise our friendship with Ronnie, they tell you in between fist pumps.  Kant cuts them off.  No exceptionsMorality is categorical.  You are duty bound to tell the truth.  And Ronnie's sort of a sleazeball, right?  Motorboating that cocktail waitress.  Tell the truth!

Jeremy Bentham slowly raises his hand.  Utilitarianism is based on creating the greatest maximum happiness and that is it.  Wendy drunkenly kills Tony in a hit and run.  Is it moral to turn herself in?  Before you reflexively say yes, Bentham asks you to consider the circumstances.  Wendy's got children - Wendy's got a job where dozens, maybe hundreds of people depend on her.  Wendy going to prison would negatively ripple through the lives of thousands.  Tony has no one.  Heck, Tony's sort of a jerk.  Tony's a criminal of some type; Tony's a burglar.  Maybe Tony was on his way to do him some burgling.  Get his burgle on.  Go Tony!  Go Tony!  You're a burgler!  It's your birthday!  And Wendy has no drinking problem, this was an isolated incident, unlikely to be repeated.

Bentham says - let's look at the world that actually exists and make it the best place we can - here Wendy sits with an ethical dilemma - to turn herself in or not.  Which decision creates more happiness - in a "choose your own adventure" sort of a way - which choice leaves the world in a better place?

Keep your mouth shut, Wendy.  Bentham says.  Don't listen to Kant.  Morality isn't based on these absolute principles that do not change regardless of circumstance - morality is based on taking each individual situation on its own and making the best out of it.  Keep your mouth shut.

And when it comes to the Jersey Shore kids - maybe the same advice applies.  Sammi's unhappy if she knows the truth.  Ronnie's definitely unhappy if he is exposed.  The house then becomes uncomfortable, really for the remainder of their summer - it is a truth that benefits Sammi and literally no one else.

And this is where it's time to recognize that this is a television show, the entertainment value of which, in Season 2, has been watching Ronnie make out with two girls at the same time at the club and then stumble back into Sammi's bed a couple hours later.  If the roommates tell Sammi - then the millions of people enjoying Ronnie's audacious flaunting of all propriety are deprived of that happiness.  Sure - tell her eventually, for the entertainment value of the conflict - but there's a good month left to be mined from Ronnie's deception.

It's better to lie.  Not always, but sometimes.  Use your head.  That's Bentham's response.

What winds up happening of course (like you don't know - come on!) is JWoww and Snooki write an anonymous letter to Sammi (Ronnie immediately suspects them, after all, there are only so many roommates from which to choose - but decides against it because the letter uses the word "wisely" - and Ronnie notes that "Snooki doesn't use that type of vocabulary."  A laugh line not as funny as Brandi's "I Been Sleep!" from the aforementioned Bad Girls Club, but funny nonetheless).  And that opens up additional lines of philosophic inquiry - Sammi feels betrayed that "her girls" did not immediately reveal Ronnie's actions - but at no point is particularly critical of her male roommates for keeping Ronnie's secret - moreover, that implicit understanding - that the women in the house were the only ones who had the moral dilemma - that it would obviously be wrong for the male roommates to expose Ronnie, ran throughout the house to the point where it went outside of discussion.  The Situation is, pretty unquestionably, a closer friend to Sammi than is he to Ronnie, but there seemingly was never a question that he, or any of the other men, would violate the "Bro's before Ho's" ethos that ran through the house.  Further, when he does feel free to talk is after the letter is written - Ronnie, of course, denies the contents of the letter, saying he never hooked up with anyone - but the Situation sort of casually confirms it in a conversation with Sammi - and when Sammi says something to the effect of "wait - you're saying he was hooking up - 'cause he says he wasn't" - the Situation defers to the letter, "hey, it's in the letter - I'm just saying what the letter says" - as if having it written down gave an evidentiary value - what would have been a rumor if whispered throughout the house, a rumor on which the men would not have been free to comment - became a fact once it was made part of a text, "hey, it's in a letter - it's on the page - so there you go".    

Ethics are everywhere.  Just look.  And now I should be able to write off my U-Verse package on my tax return next year.  Sorry, Immanuel Kant.

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 42!  A special halfdown edition.

I Pick College Football Games 2010-11 - Week 1

Friday, September 3, 2010

As was the case last season, I'll pick college football games in this space on Fridays.  I was successful last year.  I try to do ten a week; this is an abbreviated schedule, so I'll just pick five.

Cincinnati +2 Fresno St. (loss)
Clemson -27 N Texas (loss)
Georgia -28.5 La/La (win)
E. Carolina +7.5 Tulsa (win)
TTech -13.5 SMU (loss)

No lock this week, but going forward, I'll usually give you one.

2-3 for the week.

The 100 Greatest Players in Pro Football History 100-91

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beginning this week, the NFL Network is starting a roll out of their top 100 players in NFL history - if it's been leaked I'm unaware of it.  They're doing ten at a time, so, I put together a list and will do the same; I'm going to beat them to the punch if I can each week, but then will go in and fill in their selections next to mine, for the sake of comparison.

It's largely a subjective list - it starts with good, objective intentions - my lists (with the underlying methodology) of best QB, RB, WR of all time can be found here

Those lists were based entirely on regular season and contained no element of peak value as opposed to career - additionally, those are just skill positions, and didn't attempt to cross evaluate one position with another.

But this list here does all of those things - mixes positions, eras, adds peak and postseason.  Just a whole mess of nonquantifiable elements. 

But I'm right of course.  Right! Right!  'Cause that's how I get down.

I don't know specifically who #101 is - but here's who made my short list from each position but didn't wind up making the cut:

QB Steve McNair
RB Edgerrin James
WR Charlie Joiner
TE Shannon Sharpe
OL Willie Roaf (he might be 101)
DL Andy Robustelli
LB Dick Butkus
DB Eric Allen
ST Dave Jennings (there are no punters on the list)
100. Larry Allen OL 1994-07 Cowboys
-Hard to evaluate offensive lineman separate from their teammates; what you're left with is team offensive statistics and the best you can do evaluating film and reading thoughts of experts you value.  The numbers of different positions on the line Allen played gets him the nod for me over Larry Little and Ron Mix. (NFL Net Pick - Joe Namath. He wouldn't be in my next hundred players.  Maybe Top 250.)

99. Tom Mack OL 1966-78 Rams
-The player with the top comp to Allen is Mack, the player with Mack's top comp is Steve Wisniewski, who I really considered for this spot.  Jim Ringo was on this list until about eleven minutes ago. (NFL Pick - Michael Strahan.  On this list, just a couple notches ahead)

98. Ozzie Newsome TE 1978-90 Browns
-I've only got 2 TE on the entire list, and only really looked at 4 as real candidates - Kellen Winslow's slightly shorter career got him edged, and I do mean edged out here. (NFL Pick - Lee Roy Selmon. Did not make my list; would make Top 150.) 

97. Steve Van Buren RB 1944-51 Eagles
-I prefer longer as opposed to shorter careers; Gale Sayers is nowhere near this list, and I'm assuming that won't be the case for the NFL Network - but Steve Van Buren; he started 48 games and scored 77 touchdowns.  There's just not a question in my mind he's one of the hundred best players of all time.  (NFL Pick - Derrick Brooks. He's on the list and significantly higher.

96. Michael Strahan DL 1993-07 Giants
-41 of his career sacks came in just two seasons; his top comp is Gino Marchetti, who just misssed the list - and not too far away is Andy Robustelli, a Giant from a previous era, and he and Strahan fought for this spot. (NFL Pick - Mel Hein.  This is a NYG spot apparently.  He's not on the list)

95. Norm Van Brocklin QB/P 1949-60 Rams
-Reading stats and watching tapes, I'm a big fan of Tobin Rote and Roman Gabriel - those guys don't quite make the final version of this list, and neither did Steve McNair, NVB's top comp. (NFL Pick - Larry Allen, #100 on my list)
94. Donovan McNabb QB 1999-   Eagles
Only active player in this section; the rushing totals and the likelihood that he'll add to his body of work for at least the next couple of seasons squeaks him through.  Roman Gabriel shakes the fist.  (NFL Pick - Lenny Moore, not on my list)

93. Lance Alworth WR 1962-72 Chargers
-Career numbers depressed given the era in which he played; his top comp by a wide margin is interesting - Keyshawn Johnson. (NFL Pick - Sam Huff, he's on my list and not far away)

92. OJ Simpson RB 1969-79 Bills
-Top comp is Tiki Barber and Ottis Anderson actually edges him out for career value - Juice's productive career was relatively short. (NFL Pick - Michael Irvin - on the list)

91. Lou Groza K/OL 1948-67 Browns
-Not only one of the top kickers of all time, but an elite offensive lineman; Groza beats out his top comps: Richmond Webb, Jim Parker, Art Shell for this spot. (NFL Pick - Fran Tarkenton - higher, and much higher)

Ten down.  90 to go.  The list of the top 100 professional football players ever marches on.  See you next week. (Tuesday night is the next ten reveal from NFL Network, so I'll get to it Tuesday morning).

2010 College Football Top 25 Preseason Prediction

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Trojans kick off Thursday night.  So here we go.

1. Boise St. (they got one first place vote in the AP poll; no, I am not that vote)

2. TCU (I essentially see Boise and TCU as interchangeable; I like one of them to run the table, the other one to lose one, win their bowl game, and finish second)

3. Ohio St. (number two in both major polls; I'd argue they're the most talented team in the country)

4. Florida (I think of Florida, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma in a lump one could re-order in any way one liked; I was surprised Bama got the top spot in both polls given how similarly I see them)

5. Alabama

6. Texas

7. Oklahoma

8. Virginia Tech (my lowest ranked team that I wouldn't be surprised if they won the title)

9. Oregon (their over/under is 9 wins; if you do worse than push betting the over that would be a surprise)

10. USC (14th on the AP poll, not eligible on the coaches poll; they won't get any poll breaks this season, but I think we win ten games)

11. Nebraska

12. Penn St. (why 19th on the writers poll?  9 win team, right?)

13. BYU (biggest disparity between my rankings and the other polls; BYU and Texas Tech are unranked by both writers and coaches - BYU over/under is 8 wins, that's a number I like - I don't love any of the win/loss numbers, except maybe..maybe USC since we play 13 games and the number is below 10, but I understand that number. I'm not advising mortgaging anything)

14. Texas Tech

15. Wisconsin

16. Iowa

17. West Virginia

18. Clemson

19. Cincinnati

20. Boston College

21. Pitt

22. Utah

23. LSU

24. Georgia

25. Houston

There are a few season win totals that you should consider.

Oregon (over 9)

Florida St (under 7.5)

Texas A&M (under 7)

Michigan (under 7)

BYU (over 8)

USC (over 9.5)

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