Tuesday, October 30

Pick 'em Results (8)

Wow, what a pick 'em barnburner:

John: 24 pts, 6-0 (86, 34-14)
Cason: 20 pts, 5-1 (-19, 21-27)
Ryan: 19 pts, 5-1 (38, 28-20)

Wow, congrats on a great week, in total points (63 points handed out) this week topped our previous high in Week 5 (55), when Shawn guest picked. Not sure if we'll approach that ever again since all 3 pickers going 6-0 would total 63 points. Also, a hearty congratulations to Cason, becoming our first guest to top either me or John. The only mistakes were Cason's severe desire not to be a homer and pick Green Bay (even though Favre was on MNF). Meanwhile I surrendered to the siren's song of homerism by picking a Panthers upset.

Now, onto next week, a quick preview of the lines and games has 10 games at 3.5 or less, here they are:
Wash@NYJ, GB@KC, Ariz@TB, SF@Atl, Jax@NO, Den@Det, Cin@Buf, Sea@Cle, Hou@Oak, Dal@Phil

Something tells me our records may take a bit of a hit, we shall see.

Monday, October 29

Champ Bailey

Back in the preseason, Mike Tirico claimed that Champ Bailey had allowed 4 receptions all of last year. Well, this being impossible, FO turned to its game charters, who only have an order of magnitude different (40 catches). Only 40 completions in 16 games is pretty impressive (2.5 per game), especially considering that 97% of the time he was in single coverage.

Now, fastforward to tonight when he was blantantly responsible for the 79 yard TD pass to James Jones in the 1st quarter of MNF. How rare is that? Champ only allowed 5 plays longer than 25 yards last year, and allowed exactly 0 touchdowns.

Sunday, October 28

Ryan's Week 8 Pick 'em

Sorry for the late post, morning birding kept me away from a computer, now I'm back and ready to enjoy some football:

6) Pittsburgh over @Cincinnati - Um, really guys? Though I would like to pick the Chargers win today, this game should be as easy to pick. The Steelers are a good all around team, and they're coming off a loss, another misstep and they'll really begin to fall too far behind the class of the AFC (well, the class of the NFL).

5) Buffalo over @NY Jets - Also a seeming no brainer. The Bills have had a lot of close losses, and them beating the Ravens didn't exactly surprise me, they should handle the Jets while making Pennington looks silly, also losing Vilma doesn't help.

4) Cleveland over @St Louis - Even with Steven Jackson, the Rams are bad, and the Browns have kept their heads above water in the much stronger AFC.

3) Green Bay over @Denver - despite the impressive performance last week, the Broncos' weakness (stopping the run) might let the Packers have a more balanced attack than usual, and the Denver offense isn't scaring a fast-maturing Green Bay defensive unit.

2) New Orleans over @San Francisco - This is one of the games I'm not so confident in. The Saints really don't have the ability to stop the run and no matter how poorly the Niners are playing, they still have Frank Gore.

1) Philadelphia over @Minnesota - The Eagles strength this year has (surprisingly) been their running game, well, that just won't fly when you play Minnesota. Kelly Holcombe could keep the defense just honest enough to let the RB tandem run wild.

Upset Special: I'm usually wrong on these, so its not like I'm losing a lot by saying that the Panthers will beat the Colts (-7.0) today. Keep the faith.

Week 8 Pick'em

Cleveland over St. Louis (6). The Rams just haven't done anything right this season, and Marc Bulger didn't show me anything last week. If anything, his ribs might be more tender after the beating he took.

Pittsburgh over Cincinnati (5). I agree with Cason; last week's loss to the Broncos was a fluke for the Steelers. The Carson Palmer-led offense is amazing, but Cincinnati really Bungles along on defense. Expect a high-scoring affair, but with the Steelers ending with a comfortable lead.

Green Bay over Denver (4). The Packers have looked solid all season long on both sides of the ball. The Broncos are missing Javon Walker on offense and their defense is one of the league's worst.

New Orleans over San Francisco (3). This one could get ugly. Both teams have cobbled together two wins on the season, but New Orleans' offense is a bit of an upgrade over the 49ers'; especially with Alex Smith just coming back from injury.

Buffalo over New York (2). The Bills' defense has looked decent so far, so they should be able to stave off the Jets' offense, whether it's led by Pennington or Clemens.

Philadelphia over Minnesota (1). Going to be a close one here, but Philadelphia's offense is so much better than Minnesota's, and their defense will be looking to stop the rush all day long and let the pass beat them.

Upset Special: Detroit over Chicago (-6). I really don't see how people are still all over the Bears' nuts this season, even though they've been just awful. Detroit's no great shakes either, but they'll roll in this one.

Guest Week 8 Post

This week we welcome Cason Dwyer, Project Manager, Epic Systems, since Cason went the wordy rout, I'll turn it over to him:

Greetings from the land of cheese and beer (if only I could indulge in both...)! Writing from the headquarters of Epic Systems, I'll be the guest picker for this week and I'll try to improve upon last week's poor performance. Let's get started, winners in bold:

6)Pittsburgh at Cincinnati:
Although the Steelers looked bad losing to Denver, I'll give them a pass and assume it wasn't their week and that the Broncos were upset by the Rockies' popularity so they decided to win a game. I think the Steelers will definitely beat the spread and be able to force enough turnovers to slow down the Bengal offense while scoring with ease when they have the ball.

5)Buffalo at New York Jets:
Let's see, Vilma is likely out as of the time of writing, Chad Pennington is starting, and the defense made Kenny Watson look like LaDanian Tomlinson...

4)Cleveland at St Louis:
A lot of people think the Rams are due for a win. I agree, but not this week.

3)New Orleans at San Francisco:
In previous years, I'd always have trouble when it came to predicting the Saints. In Last One Standing pools, my dad, my uncle and I would all have a rule that developed from experience: don't ever bet on the Saints. The corollary to that rule was don't ever bet against the Saints. In five years of LOS pools, anyone who picked the Saints would always lose because the Saints would do the exact opposite of what we expected. Predicting the Saints is much harder than cheering for them even when they were terrible.

As you can see, I've picked the Saints to win here. From a logical standpoint, the Saints have won two in a row against, at best, mediocre competition. However, San Francisco certainly fits that description. I don't think they will put up a plethora of points, but I think they will do enough to win against a 49ers team that is just getting back Alex Smith. Reggie Bush might get a bunch of scores like he did last year against the 49ers, even though he's had to fight harder for his yards and TD's this year.

In spite of all my predictions, don't be surprised at all if the Aints show up in San Fran and Alex Smith throws for a bajillion yards in a 49er win.

2)Green Bay at Denver:
Finally, a home team! I would love to see the Pack win since I was required by state law to become a Packers fan, but I think the Packers have been getting too lucky in many of thier wins. Denver woke up against the Steelers and I think they will be able to force Favre into throwing interceptions since Green Bay's running game suffered another injury with DeShawn Wynn hurting his neck.

1)Philadelphia at Minnesota:
I think this is the toughest call. The Eagles haven't scored a lot and they probably won't break 20 on Sunday. However, the defense can slow Adrian Peterson and force the Vikings to throw, where they are weakest.

Editor's note(s): Cason's upset pick is Detroit over Chicago (-6), also, I hope I inferred the correct pick for each game

Thursday, October 25

Thursday's Links du Jour

I'm at it early this morning. It looks like its going to be a long day, so I've started posting links early, check back often for all the blogs that are fit to republish, and columns, of course.

Oh, and a clerical note, the Jax/TB game will not be picked this week (I have a feeling the rapidly climbing line has something to do with Quinn Gray starting at QB). We will pick Pittsburgh Cincinnati instead. Now, onto the links:

Ladies and Gentlemen, straight from the University of Florida, Channing Crowder

This week's Blog Poll (and for John, FEI)

The Rockies stumbled out of the gate last night, though did anyone expect them to top Beckett? I'd have to agree with Mr. Boswell, the layoff was way too long. If you remove the Fox scheduling, the Rockies would have only had to deal with about a 5 game layoff (2 extra days to set up the series on a Wednesday, 1 unnecessary day off in the Cle/Bos series), which seems a tad more realistic. Honestly, these guys haven't gone 8 days without playing since March. (While we're on the subject, one more preview)

KenPom does some similarity scoring (also, there are some great previews up at BP including the ACC)

MJD @ AOL Fanhouse gives Londoners all the information they need to know regarding the NFL showdown at Wembley Stadium

Also, THT looks at the decline in innings pitched in the majors, since 1871

Wednesday, October 24

World Series Preview

Just to remind everyone, the baseball season isn't quite over yet. The Red Sox have the mind-numbing formality of playing the NL Champion Rockies. Yeah, you'd think they'd have started that by now, huh? Well, at least we all got an extra episode of House out of it to tide us over. Anyways, John and I will be strongly pulling against the Red Yanks, err, I mean, Sox. Its time for ROCKtober, here are some previews via sites that know more about baseball than I (more than even John!). As a side note, if you came here because I pestered you and convinced you that you should know about the teams playing, you should keep reading down to John's "New York Look Yankees?" post, its the kind of original idea, well-researched post we put up about once a month around here.

The Hardball Times What2Watch4 in the World Series (also from THT the cases for the Rockies and for the Red Sox

The AP points out that this series was already played, in June

"Sox and Dawgs" goes back to look at the aforementioned
3 game series at Fenway

The writer of "Baseball Musings" previews the series at TSN

BP has a couple of articles about the rotations for both teams and their patience at the plate

Epic Carnival gets in the the World Series preview action, and follows up with 6 important issues facing the teams as they head into play tonight.

Byron commented on the lack of a prediction from John or I. We both more or less argee with the pundits, I've got the Sox in 6, John has them in 7. The Rockies pitching seems overmatched, and the Sox lineup is so much better from top to bottom. Though, as if you couldn't tell, we hope ROCKtober rolls on.

Tuesday, October 23

New York Look Yankees?

One of Ryan's comments at lunch yesterday prompted me to do some research into the Yankees payroll (I forgot what that comment was, exactly, maybe Ryan can elucidate). Looking at Cot's Baseball Contracts, I came up with a list of the Yankees' top contractual obligations and determined when New York would be able to cut bait with all of their highly-paid talent, if they decided to. Amounts are an average per-year salary through the given year, giving an idea of how much payroll they're taking up, and how much will come off the books in what year.

Mariano Rivera: free agent this offseason ($10.5M in 2007)
Roger Clemens: free agent this offseason (prorated, actually paid Clemens about $17.4M in 2007)
Alex Rodriguez is signed through 2010, but has a 10-day window after this World Series ends to opt out of his current contract and become a free agent.

Andy Pettitte: $16M player option for 2008
Jorge Posada: $12M player option for 2008
Bobby Abreu: $16M club option for 2008
Kyle Farnsworth: $5.7M through 2008
Carl Pavano: $10M through 2008
Mike Mussina: $11.5M through 2008
Jason Giambi: $17.1M through 2008, $22M 2009 club option

Hideki Matsui: $13M through 2009
Johnny Damon: $13M through 2009

Derek Jeter: $18.9M through 2010

Kei Igawa: $4M through 2011

As you can see, a whole crap-ton of money comes off the books after next season for the Yankees. Of course, they may choose to re-sign a lot of these guys, but I just don't see Cashman going that route for anyone but Abreu. Everyone else is just dead weight on that 2008 list. If Rodriguez stays in New York next year, the Yankees will have contractual obligations to just five players (not including pre-arbitration guys): 3B, LF, CF, SS, and a SP. Cashman could certainly choose to wipe the slate clean after 2008, and let his minor leaguers fill most of the holes while signing free agents or trading to play positions that there are no in-house options for. The Yankees could, and probably will, look MUCH different in 2009 than they do now. Surprisingly to some, the Yankees' pitching prospects in the minors ranked first among MLB clubs at the beginning of the season according to Baseball Prospectus, with names like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Tyler Clippard. Whether their payroll will still be as bloated as it is now depends on how much say Cashman has on whether he uses young guys or free agents to fill his holes, and whether the Steinbrenner family continues to be as liberal with the pursestrings as George has been in the past. The fact that they were asking Joe Torre to take a pay cut to stay in New York may signify the first sign of payroll slashing as much as it signified their unhappiness with not winning the World Series since 2000. If the Steinbrenner family does indeed decide to keep paying players more than they're worth just to come play in New York, Cashman might not have much need to look to his farm system for much. The fact that all these players will be at least six years into their careers will pretty much guarantee that the Yankees of the future will be of the same mold as the Yankees of current, just with different numbers on their jerseys. Cashman, and the Yankees organization as a whole, has a crossroads to look forward to at the end of the 2008 season. Here's hoping they have enough sense to look to the future, not just of the club, but of MLB as a whole.

Sunday, October 21

Early Pick 'em Recap

OUCH, we're all reeling after the 1 o'clock entire week of games:

Ryan: -11 pts, 2-4 (62, 28-14)
John: -11 pts, 2-4 (19, 23-19)
Dani: -13 pts, 2-4 (-39, 16-26)

If I weren't such a flip-flopper (or such a sucker for Vince Young) I'd have at least 1 correct pick. We all whiffed big time on sure bets such as Pittsburgh beating Denver, and Baltimore beating Buffalo. John and I also kept up our sterling record, always topping the guest we invite to join in the misery of picking the crapshoot that is the NFL. I'd like to point out that though I'm only 5 games behind John (not a heavy or insurmountable lead) he's running away with the points 62 to 19. This is probably due to the fact that his 5 and 6 point games seem to always go John's way.

Next week, Epic System's newest, uh, well, we know Cason works for Epic Systems in Madison, WI, but we're not sure what he does, maybe he can elaborate when he gets here. Also an early look at the games: Cle/StL, Phi/Min, Buf/NYJ, Jax/Tam, NO/SF, GB/Den (the lines page is in the "Links" section). Somehow, Pittsburgh is only receiving 3.5 points at Cincinnati, not sure how that's working, John and I really need an account at one of these places.

Friday, October 19

Guest Pick 'em Week 7

Friday's Links

This week's guest picks are courtesy of Dani Volker and her colleagues at the Circulation Desk in Davis Graduate Library. Actually, in all seriousness, we'd like to thank Dani for actually putting some research and thought into her picks unlike previous guests (Flippy McQuarter, Byron Huff). These picks look pretty good to me, though as you all know that's as much of a curse as a blessing. With a slightly easy week to pick and some minimium research Dani might have a shot at the #1 guest picker spot held by John labmate Shawn (5-1, 15 pts). As an aside, care to post an upset pick Dani?

6. Baltimore over Buffalo: Apparently my picks are gonna pretty closely resemble the guys', but having brushed up on my football knowledge some this week, even I know that a team with weak offense stands no chance against a team with a good defense.

5. Houston over Tennessee: With Vince Young all banged up, Tennessee would have a rough time pulling this one out.

4. Pittsburgh over Denver: Tune in to watch Denver's defense fold like a cheap card table under the weight of the Steelers' offense.

3. Indianapolis over Jacksonville: This one should be close, but from what I hear, when in doubt, don't bet against the Colts.

2. Tampa Bay over Detroit: From the looks of it it's gonna be a bad week for the home team. But with the Lions in a slump and the Bucs on a roll, this game shouldn't break the trend.

1. Kansas City over Oakland: My office football officianado tells me asking who'll win this game is like asking who's gonna be second to go down the drain, but we'll have a go at it anyway. With a slightly better record and a recent win under their belt, Kansas city should ride momentum to win over an Oakland team fresh off a loss.

Alright, that's all I've got.

Ryan's Week 7 Pick 'em (and some links after that)

Go road teams!

6) Pittsburgh over @Denver - No Javon Walker doesn't help the (already injured)Broncos here. Their backs are against the wall, and its not good to look up from that position and see the Steelers. Currently, IMO (and FO's), there are only two teams you'd least like to see, the Pats and the Colts, but somehow, no one seems to be talking about the Steelers.

5) Tampa Bay over @Detroit - Um, guys, hello? Vegas? Really? I know Tampa doesn't do it with flair or style or anything like that, but they get it done. This matchup seems tailor made for them, move the ball on a weak Detroit defense, and then shut down the high powered passing attack, easy enough, right?

4) Baltimore over @Buffalo - This was really tempting to swing the other way, as Beatpaths points out, the Ravens have really been feasting on weak competition, defeating the Jets, Niners, Cards, and Rams. However, the Bills are starting a rookie QB and have been feasting on weak competition themselves (if you count a 17-14 win over the Jets). Look fo an ugly matchup with total points not breaking the 35 point threshold.

3) Kansas City over @Oakland - We really have a habit of picking the bad teams, well, its not our fault, Vegas sets the lines. Oakland this year has been horrid, especially against the rush. Combine that with a bouncing back KC defense and you've got the recipe for a win at the Black Hole. Also, congrats to all you LJ owners if you've held onto him, enjoy him for the next 3 weeks before he blows a tire.

2) Indianapolis over @ Jacksonville - Don't think the Jags have the horses on offense to run with the Colts, nor can they stop their vaunted passing attack (gimpy Marvin Harrison and all). Tony Dungy lives on trading field goals for TD's, which is what the Colts will be doing Monday night.

1) Tennessee over @Houtson - This game hinges on whether or not one person plays, Kerry Collins. Well, indirectly Kerry Collins, directly Vince Young. You all may remember I got screwed by picking the Titans while Young decided to take the 4th quarter off, something about a strained quad (what a baby). So, this week its pretty simple. Vince Young plays, Titans win. Vince Young sits, upset city. Will Carroll thinks he'll play, so Titans win.
Edit: OK, note here folks, I was serious about the whole Vince Young thing, if he starts and gets injured (thus Titans lose), I'll take the points hit. If Kerry Collins starts, this pick flips instantaneously over to Houston>Tennessee, I may get up and physically switch this, but we'll see.

And I'll hop on John's bandwagon for the upset Atlanta over New Orleans (7.5), the Saints haven't shown me a whole lot yet, so I'm not ready to bet on them, also their defense shouldn't be able to stop Leftwich and some competent recievers.

Links (wasn't that cool? it just jumps you down the page!)
Via John, the Tar Heels' newest stud pitcher was top 15 MLB draft talent, but is coming to school instead.

Apparently Joe Torre hit 30 HRs, 110 RBIs, all while pitching 200+ innings a year for the '96-'01 Yankees

Guess who was right

Terry Pendleton might not be going anywhere

Oh, and bummer John, I mean, Mr. Pac-10 Basketball

I knew I forgot something, "Joe says No" to one giant sham of an offer from the Steinbrenners, as John says "Hello Cardinals!" (more on Joe, this guy mirrors my general beliefs, more or less)

Great stuff by Josh Beckett last night, and as everyone is now noticing, he's stepped up twice now ('07 & '03) in the playoffs. Here are Beckett's career playoff numbers: 9 G (8 GS), 5-2, 3 CG, 1.78 ERA, 65.2 Innings, .716 WHIP, 73 K. Now, that's a smallish sample size (one-third of a season), but against some damn fine hitters Beckett has gotten it done.

Also on Baseball Reference, an interesting feature called "Stat of the Day"

From Baseball Musings (Via RMN), Troy Tulowitzki is the first rookie shortstop to start in a World Series since one Derek Jeter

Meant to post this PC article on Chief Wahoo earlier (and now we've go a Bobby Knight interview on the same blog)

John and I dominate the KP chat

Thursday, October 18

Week 7 Pick'em

Pittsburgh over Denver (6). It's weeks like these that make me wish I lived in Vegas. 3.5-point spread for this game? Really, Vegas? Denver will be without a mostly ineffective Javon Walker due to surgery, but even with him, Denver wouldn't have had a prayer in this game. Steelers roll.

Tampa Bay over Detroit (5). This game is almost as ludicrous as Pittsburgh/Denver. Apparently, people still aren't giving Tampa Bay the credit it deserves while at the same time being on the Jon Kitna 5,000 yards watch. There's no way this one's close.

Baltimore over Buffalo (4). Yes, yes, we all know the Ravens can't score, but neither can the Bills, and the Ravens play defense. The Bills don't.

Indianapolis over Jacksonville (3). Gutsy going with this one as my three-pointer, but even at Jacksonville, and even though they might be without Harrison, this Colts offense is just too good for Jacksonville to stop. The Colts defense has surprisingly held its own this season as well, ranking eighth in the NFL.

Kansas City over Oakland (2). These two games are a bit iffy for me, but Oakland has just been awful this season. Even if they have another implosion from Larry Johnson, the Chiefs should still manage to get by this pathetic Raiders team.

Houston over Tennessee (1). Vince Young will likely be at less than full strength even if he starts, and if Kerry Collins starts, I don't see much hope for the Titans in this one.

Upset Special: Atlanta over New Orleans (-7.5). Damn, one win and everyone hops right back on that Saints bandwagon. I'm surprised the wheels didn't come right off after all that extra weight suddenly jumped onto it. The Falcons are the better team here, if not by much, so I've got to go with them this week.

Links Du Jour

So I think I'll just have a running post each day (or every couple of days) with links to visit, here are what I've found thus far morning:

BlogPoll is up (John mentions that the FEI is also up this week for the first time, Go Heels! UNC is a spot above Wisconsin)

The Ohio State Buckeyes are teaching their new dogs some old tricks (and putting up with crap for a weak schedule)

In a shoutout to Jason, the US broke their European winless streak

And from Dani, the New York Times is reporting that Norse wizards (not starting pitching) are to blame for the Yankees' playoff failures this season

Apparently Jon Beason has been reading his handbook on how to be a good rookie, "it's not like I'm going to bring more to the table than a healthy Dan Morgan. I think with both of us out there, we're a better defense."

And finally, some quotes from FO:
“I go with my gut. Your gut always tells you what’s right.” -Herm Edwards
“I have to make sure I don’t lose my (composure), because then it becomes bad … it becomes ‘Da-Da-Da-Da-Da-Da.’” -Also Herm (that's the Sportscenter Theme Song)
“I told you you couldn’t overthrow me.” -Steve Smith (I mean, he's right, you can't)

Wednesday, October 17

Mid-Week Pick 'em Update

Ok folks, since I've slacked off for some time, accidentally letting the pick 'em results slip by due to all the baseball hysteria. Anyways, last weeks results:

John: 14, 5-1 (73*, 26-10)
Ryan: 9, 3-3 (30, 21-15)
Flippy McQuarter: -7, 2-4 (-26, 14-22)

*John awarded himself 20 points for last week, when he only earned 19. I know, I know, see what he tries to sneak by while I'm not around?

So, John was his usual self, just missing on one pick, though it was the 5 pointer. Though nailing the upset (+3) helped pick him up a little. He correctly predicted a barnburner in Miami and the falling flat of the Jets' offense, though apparently Brian Greise should scare people. I fared a little worse, but for the first time (ever) knew my limitations. I nailed the 6, 5, and 4 point affairs, and whiffed on the lower games. In my defense, if Vince Young had played the whole game the Titans would have won, and the other game I missed, Washington over GB, was also a 3 point affair. And from both John and I, what the hell Cincy, you SUCK. Our friend Flippy got a little caught up, apparently he hasn't read a paper in quite some time. Just an FYI Flippy, Michael Vick is on house arrest. Investing 6 points in the Fowlcants (or Foulcants) really cost him (Flippy, not Vick).

In the coming week we've got lots of good teams playing at home, which makes for 7 and 8 point lines. Joining us in the role of guest will be the newest librarian in Davis, Dani Volker. Here are the nailbiters we're planning on picking, as always subject to change (Away/Home):
Bal/Buf, TB/Det, Ten/Hou, KC/Oak, Pit/Den, Ind/Jax

Move over John Hollinger, get ready for Basketball Batting Average, but are free throw attempts ~ walks? So who's ready for basketball OBP, or OPS even?
Um, really Deadspin? Could you be any later to the party?
Earlier this was above (linked to "hysteria"), but its a good HBT article on what the Rockies did to the D'backs. In part the D'backs took 8 walks and 0 scored, the Rockies took 18 walks and 6 scored
Is it time to retire Cheif Wahoo?

Tuesday, October 16


I really love reading Darin Gantt, there is no good reason he should be writing for a small town paper like the Rock Hill Herald, but I enjoy his Panthers coverage. In this weeks' columns he fleshes out the QB situation (for next year) including a great Hurney quote "I think at this point everybody thinks Jake's going to be back and ready, and we've got some young guys that we like.", and lets a little rain fall on the parade.

WTF Commish?

And all you Purple Jesus/AD/AP fans out there can stop crowning the next Eric Dickerson

I LOVE Roy Williams, first the Megatron/Orch Dork saga, and now there is apparently some pizza delivery saga (first he didn't tip pizza guys, now he's running pies for a Detrot area pizza hut)

Oh, and a baseball special for John, Will Leitch never disappoints at Fair and Foul (to be fair, signed Dice-K was a business decision, that will reap benefits beyond the field such as merchandise in Japan, a pipeline to Asian talent, and the Yankees not having him). Oh yeah, and what's today's date? Its the 16th of ROCKtober, congrats to the NL Champs. And for what its worth, I think 8 days rest is the easiest opponent that the Rockies have faced in the past 22 games. (PS: notice the new look sleek Deadspin?)

Monday, October 15

Knee-Jerk Top 10 (Week 8 or something?)

So, I think this college football season is shaping up rather well, lots of exciting upsets and if everything goes well perhaps the fall of the BCS!! Ok, follow my logic here, in the top 20 there are 10 one-loss teams and 6 zero-loss teams. Included in the 0-loss teams are the following: Arizona St, Hawaii, South Florida, Boston College, and Kansas. Not that I doubt these teams, ok, I do. Four of them WILL LOSE BEFORE THE SEASON IS OVER, in fact, likely 3 this weekend (BC, USF, ASU). Of the other two, only Ohio St has to lose to fell the great BCS. If Hawaii is undefeated they likely won't make the title game (if they do, and get stomped, even more outcry which is good). Basically Ohio St has to lose some time over the next 5 weeks (Mich St, @Penn St, Wisconsin, Illinois, @ Michigan), to leave (and I'm assuming here) roughly 8-10 teams with one loss as of bowl time. In the past, there have been easy decisions to make to set up a national chamionship (last year the only undefeated teams played) or any one-loss controversy has only plagued one of the two spots (see 2000 & 2001 where a controversial one-loss team was picked to play an undefeated). Hopefully this year, there will be up to 5 or 6 teams claiming the right to play for the national championship and the powers that be might realize that a playoff is the best system for all parties involved (fans, schools, sponsors, etc)

Edit: Ok, for some reason I didn't catch that the other 2 undefeated teams I predicted to lose are both idle, and playing in fact NEXT weekend, oops. At least I was right about USF

1) Ohio St - as I've said, they've been improving in leaps and bounds this season, which has been full of OTJ training for the offense, now some losses (Cal, LSU) have them atop the polls (Mich St)
2) USF - well, they haven't lost yet, and their resume is quite impressive, they've got a rough mathup comin this week (@ Rutgers, Thurs)
3) Kentucky - the lovely SEC Beatloop (LSU>SC>KY>LSU...), luckily the two SEC East teams have yet to play Florida, hopefully that will help settle things out a bit in the comparative rankings, but until then we're just have to guess, or go with the hot hand, hence the whole "knee-jerk" gimmick, they'll get a chance to prove their ranking this weekend (Florida)
4) Oklahoma - dispatched upstart Missouri this week to help everyone forget about the stumble at Colorado, they should coast (and steadily creep up the AP rankings) until a game at Texas Tech in November (@ Iowa St)
5) LSU - rough loss at Kentucky, its looking more and more like an undefeated season for any BCS conference team will punch your ticket to the national championship game, well, it usually does, but it seems especially certain this year, with the polls favoring them winning out should get them a date with Oklahoma (guessing here) on Jan 8th (Auburn)
6) WVU - just like Florida they benefit from the bye week (Miss St)
7) SC - quite impressive in the first half against UNC, and quite not in the second, I feel like the real Gamecocks were the ones playing the first half, but their running game has to improve if they want to put away teams in the fourth quarter (Vanderbilt)
8) Florida - I've returned them to the top 10 because everyone else seems to be mired in suckatude, that and I'm anticipating a win over Kentucky since it would only cloud the picture in the SEC (@ Kentucky)
9) Missouri - Losing by 10 to a top-10 ranked team, on the road isn't that bad, we'll leave them here for a bit, could have some trouble with Texas Tech's system offense this weekend (Texas Tech)
10) BC - #2 in the AP, finally a loss comes this week, I really hope they don't tear down the goalposts in Blacksburg (idle)
Would have been in if I didn't want to rant about the lunacy that is BC's #2 ranking) Oregon - they're looking like the best team in the Pac-10 right now (undefeated top-10 Arizona St is a CROCK a la BC)

Dropped: Cal, Illinois

Great story on Vinny here
Apparently the Red Sox Nation (which has elected a president) is none too pleased with Eric Gagne
College Basketball is just around the CORNER!!!

Sunday, October 14

Random Guest Picks Week 6 (and probably 7 and 8 and...)

Since apparently the challenge of going up against John and I at a totally random pick 'em is more than any mortal can bear, that and no one apparently reads what amateur internet hacks write, we're having to flip a coin this week to see what the "guest" says.

6) Atlanta over New York

5) Philadelphia over NY Jets

4) Tennessee over Tampa Bay

3) Cincinnati over Kansas City

2) Green Bay over Washington

1) Miami over Cleveland

(exactly 3/3 split heads/tails, and in such a small sample size)

Wow, the coin seems to be a pretty big dumbass, the Falcons over the G-men for 6 pts? Well, we'll see who is laughing come Monday night, but that's quite a gamble.

Week 6 Pick'em

Philadelphia over New York (6). Once again, I'm devoting six points this week to an apparent mismatch between Philadelphia and a New York team. The Jets don't do a lot of things right, but Chad Pennington is the least of the Jets' worries. Even so, he could be on a short leash on Sunday with Kellen Clemens waiting in the wings. Expect both teams to attack through the air often in this one.

Cincinnati over Kansas City (5). Even without much of a linebacker corps, the Bungles should still be able to slow down a one-dimensional Chiefs offense and let Palmer and Watson take over when they have the ball.

New York over Atlanta (4). The Giants have proven to be a force on both sides of the ball, and while Atlanta's defense isn't terrible, it won't be enough to stop a top-ten offense consisting of the best running back tandem in the NFL right now, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward.

Tampa Bay over Tennessee (3). While Tennessee's defense has been phenomenal thus far, their offense has been decidedly sub-par. Tampa Bay is much more well-rounded, and Earnest Graham should be able to keep the defense honest enough to give Jeff Garcia a few looks downfield.

Cleveland over Miami (2). Expect a barn-burner here, when the NFL's 30th- and 31st-best defenses hook up. Derek Anderson vs. Ronnie Brown, here we come. Except Anderson has a running game; Brown has...Cleo Lemon?

Green Bay over Washington (1). Close one here, as two excellent teams on both sides of the ball meet in a matchup of (somewhat) surprise teams this season. I give Green Bay the edge due to Antwaan Randle El's and Santana Moss' lingering injuries.

Upset Special: Minnesota over Chicago (5.5). Going with three easy points here, as Brian Griese doesn't scare anyone with Bernard Berrian battling a case of turf toe and Muhsin Muhammad still not able to catch anything thrown his way. I don't care how inept the Minnesota offense is; as long as its defensive line can stuff Cedric Benson and put moderate pressure on Griese, it should be a victory for the Vikings.

Week Six Pix

(note: since the Carolina line hss ballooned to 5/5.5, likely thanks to Carr not playing, we're switching over to Cleveland-Miami)

6) NY Giants over Atlanta - um, in case you haven't noticed, the Falcons are bad, I wonder how the ratings juggernaut of MNF will do with this ugly contest

5) Philadelphia over NY Jets - the Eagles just don't lose after bye weeks under Andy Reid, and they can easily blitz Pennington while covering his 15 yd throwing radius

4) Cleveland over Miami - the Dolphins are pretty bad as well, and the Browns can move the ball on offense (they put up 17 on the Pats, 17!)

3) Cincinnati over Kansas City - wow, are we just picking games involving shitty teams this week?

2) Tennessee over Tampa Bay - the Bucs have no running back, the Titans have 3

1) Washington over Green Bay - this is my 50-50, should be an entertaining matchup, can old Favre overcome the lack of a running game? can young Campbell handle an on-the-rise Packers' defense?

Upset) Houston over Jacksonville (7.0) - the young Texan D may be able to halt the Jaguar rushing attack that is just gaining momentum, do this and the Jags very well may fall apart at the seams (all over again), now when the Texans have the ball, I have no idea how they'll pull it off, o/u for points: 22

Friday, October 12

Testing, Testing...

Never done this before, we'll see if my html-ing skills are up to par

The World Series Preview

Here are some links to VegasWatch where there are previewing the World Series matchup between the Clevelan Indians and the Boston Red Sox. I mean, that's what it is, right? Essentially? Ok, ok, the Rockies could probably take on either of these teams, despite not having a starting pitcher that would crack the top 2 (Cleveland) or top 3 (Boston) of the rotation.
(edit: upon further review, Francis' VORP is higher than both Schilling and Matsuzaka)

Starting Rotations
(yeah, he's a little Indian crazy)

To tag on (in case the VW preview didn't quite fill you with enough knowledge of the ALCS combatants, from BP:
"six different hitters homered versus New York, and of the 12 who played, 11 collected at least one extra-base hit. In the Indians' balanced attack"
Also from that article, though the Sox and Tribe tied for 1st in the AL with 96 wins, the Red Sox projected win total was 15 games higher than that of the Indians (103-88)

Links (thanks as usual to Deadspin, AA, etc)
Dick Vitale's MLB Playoff picks (click only if you have a strong stomach)
Manny Acta interview (not sure why this is here, John and I both read it)
And Will Carroll's weekly injury report, I'd be worried but no one in my fantasy league bothers to read this blog OR update their rosters

Later: John and I co-post to knobslob the new BP!! (and preview our plans for hours and hours of College Basketball viewing)

Thursday, October 11

Playoffs?!? Playoffs??!?

With Starling song being my main activity of the day at work, I've been scouring the internet looking for readable articles. As it turns out, there seem to be some type of playoffs starting up tonight, maybe in some minor 3rd party sport or something, I'm not sure. I mean, if its not NFL then who gives a crap right?

Previews from Hardball Times (in case you haven't been following MLB all that closely, I'll understand, I promise):
Why the Rockies will lose to some AL team in the World Series
Why the D'backs will lose to some AL team in the World Series
Tonight's NLCS Game 1 pitching matchup, woah, wait before you click, major points if you can name the 2 starting pitchers, hell ANY 2 starting pitchers on these two teams (and no John, you can't play)
Is it sad that if it weren't for Brian Fuentes I wouldn't be able to differentiate the Rockies and D'backs bullpens?

Other Baseball News/Blogs:
John Schuerholz is stepping down after 17 years as Braves GM
The common thread running though the 4 remaining playoff teams
MVP calculations via regression and simultaneous anticipation of voter stupidity

Wednesday, October 10

Knee Jerk Top 10

Yeah, so I've decided to get a little lazy in my poll making, and a Power 16 doesn't really seem to make a lot of sense anyways, so 10 it is. Not only 10 because its the first 2 digit number, or because we have 10 fingers and are ruled by 10-based number systems, but 10 because that's how many teams will eventually make BCS bowls. So this week will be a nice wrap-up of 2 Saturdays' worth of activities

1) LSU - Easily the #1 team in the country, haven't I said this for a while?
2) OSU - Also very very impressive, I don't know how the AP has Cal ahead of them (ok, I do know, they started higher in the preseason)
3) Cal - Winning on the road in the Pac-10 is a good sign, though I'm not sold on the rest of their resume
4) USF - Wow, how does UNC pick their schedule? We always seem to play the wrong team the wrong year (ND/Rutgers last year, USF this year)
5) SC - Only loss is at the obvious #1 team in the country, what's wrong with that? Should easily be the top 1-loss team, and probably ranked higher than some unbeatens (as they are here)
6) Oklahoma - I'm not one to hold a grudge over one loss
7) Missouri - They seem to be impressing people (ok, ok, I'm copying the blog poll, sorry I didn't happen to watch any football this past weekend, I had better things to do)
8) WVU - Strong bounce back effort against 'Cuse, they should show that they're for real in the coming weeks
9) BC - This makes me sick, in fact, I was going to rank them 6th, but I can't, there is no way. I'm going to drop them to 9th on principle alone, they have beaten NO ONE, next year I want UNC to stack the schedule to start with 4 cupcakes that we should beat a 2 decent teams on par with us. Soon a 6-0 start, slippage at the top, and the Butch Davis year 2 will be off with a bang. Honestly AP poll, #4?, Really? Have you no shame? Semi-bold prediction, BC finishes the year 2-4.
10) Illinois - I think from now on the #10 spot will go to a newcomer to the top 20 or so who has shown some real potential, could they definitely beat Kentucky or Oregon the other 2 competitors for this slot? Maybe, but I'm basing this more on recent performance and potential.

Dropping (from the top 10) - USC, Florida, Rutgers, Texas, Oregon)

The day's links:
Jon Beason is rocking out as the Panthers new MLB
The Panthers have signed a QB who is closer to my parents' age than my own (not to mention drafted in the same position, but 15 years earlier, than David Carr)
The man who will be (and is currently) most responsible for the mercinarification (is that a word?) of sports, especially baseball, thinks A-Rod is worth 500 million for the next 10 years (are we crossing into an era where players begin to directly make money from their own revenue? first Becks and now this)
Deadspin editor Will Leitch's Fair and Foul blog with the NY Times is definitely worth a read

Back from Bangkok

A few of facts:

Fact 1: I should be in bed right now

Fact 2: This post humors me greatly

Fact 3: The week's slate of games to pick is Cin/KC, Phil/NYJ, Tenn/TB, Wash/GB, Car/Ari, NYG/Atl

Fact 4: These seem really easy to pick, like, really easy, though maybe I've just been gone too long and I'm basing it on week 3 knowledge

Fact 5: We need a guest picker for the week (Cason? Dani?)

Fact 6: I should be asleep right now

Fact 7: I like elephants

Fact 8: Jake Delhomme > David Carr

Monday, October 8

Week 5 Pick'em Recap

John: 5-1, 20 points (21-9, 60 points)
Ryan: 6-0, 21 points (18-12, 21 points)
Shawn: 5-1, 15 points (12-18, -19 points)

What a great week! A hearty congratulations to all, especially Ryan, as he nailed all six games correctly. Shawn did his part to shore up that guest record, going 5-1 on the week to stop the bleeding from the previous two weeks. John was just a half-step behind Ryan on the week, allotting one point to his incorrect Denver pick. Ryan has now led in points two weeks out of five, with John taking the other three weeks.

Saturday, October 6

Shawn's Week 5 Picks

Arizona over St. Louis (6) - Regardless of whether it is Lienert or Warner, I don't think that St. Louis has much of a chance here.

Giants over Jets (5) - This hurts because I'm a loyal Jets fan. However, that means that I've seen them play this year and while Pennington has been a proficient passer, if the Giants defense plays half as well as they did against Philly, I expect it to be a brutal game.

Jacksonville over KC (4) - Should be a good game, but with the Jags coming off a bye week, I think that they'll take the Chiefs despite playing at Arrowhead.

New Orleans over Carolina (3) - I can't see Carr leading this team to a victory but a stronger running game could give them a shot.

Baltimore over S.F (2) - Despite being at .500, I don't think that the 49ers are that good of a team. However, I think I could say the same thing about the Ravens.

S.D. over Denver (1) - I think that Henry's status may play a role in this one, which is why I'm not ranking it too high.

Upset Special: Atlanta over Tennessee (-7.5). While I'd like to go for broke and say that Cleveland will upset the Pats, I think we all know that that is ridiculous. I'm going to go with the Falcons upsetting the Titans. Not because I think the Falcons are better than they've been playing, but because I don't have as much faith in the Titans as some.

Ryan's Week 5 Picks

Jacksonville over Kansas City (6)
Carolina over New Orleans (5)
New York Giants over New York Jets (4)
San Diego over Denver (3)
Baltimore over San Francisco (2)
Arizona over St. Louis (1)

We'll see if Ryan shores up his record this week by virtue of having the same picks (mostly) as I have. Worked last year. Hopefully we won't have to resort to Bizarro Ryan again, because Bizarro Ryan delights in leaving Normal Ryan flapping in the breeze.

Week 5 Pick'em

Arizona over St. Louis (6). The Rams have no Steven Jackson, no Marc Bulger, and no Orlando Pace. The Cardinals have a quarterback controversy with Matt Leinart picking up groceries on the side. I'll take the controversy here, especially if Warner keeps playing like he has so far.

Baltimore over San Francisco (5). Neither team is doing much on offense this year, each with a balky quarterback due to injury, but the Ravens defense is as stiff as ever. First team to 10 points wins.

Jacksonville over Kansas City (4). Jacksonville is just as unpredictable this year as they were last year, but I think the Chiefs' upset last week over the Chargers was more a product of San Diego's inefficiencies this year than Kansas City's prowess. Expect this one to be close, as Kansas City is putting the opposition's passing games on lockdown while being weak against the rush. This doesn't play well to the Jaguars' preferred method of scoring so far this season, as David Garrard has been solid and Maurice Jones-Drew has yet to get on track. Good thing the Chiefs won't find the endzone all day.

New York Giants over New York Jets (3). Two teams that really haven't shown me anything yet this year, but I'm willing to ride the strength of the Giants' victory over Philadelphia in this one.

Carolina over New Orleans (2). Another two teams that have yet to show me anything this season. Both secondaries are among the worst in the NFL, so look for Drew Brees to get back on track and David Carr to show the Panthers faithful why management brought him in this season to back up Delhomme. Plus, it's an away game against a division foe for the Panthers, so it should be that much easier to pull this one out.

Denver over San Diego (1). This one will be a close one, but it will end up being the Broncos offense vs. Tomlinson, as Denver's passing defense is among the best in the NFL. Tomlinson will break out for his best week so far this season, but it won't be enough.

Upset Special: Tampa Bay over Indianapolis (-10.0) Tampa Bay is a lot better than everyone (including Las Vegas, apparently) is giving them credit for, and Manning notoriously struggles against the Tampa-2 defense. Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham will step up admirably in Cadiallac Williams' absence and carry the day against the Colts.

Wednesday, October 3

Week 5 Slate

Here's the slate of games for Week 5:

Carolina at New Orleans
Jacksonville at Kansas City
Arizona at St. Louis
New York at New York
(see, neither team really has home-field advantage)
San Diego at Denver
Baltimore at San Francisco

Again, holla back if you'd like to be the guest picker for the week.

Edit: The esteemed Shawn Lyons will be the guest picker for the week. Look for an upwards trend in that guest record.

Tuesday, October 2

MLB Awards

At the close of the 2007 MLB season, it's time to see who deserves those coveted awards, and who's likely to snatch them from their outstretched hands.

Hands down, Alex Rodriguez, as he led the majors with a 96.6 VORP this season. His closest competitor, Magglio Ordonez, took home the batting title crown, but he has two strikes against him: his team isn't in the playoffs, and he didn't lead the league in home runs or RBIs (Rodriguez did).

Hanley Ramirez took home the VORP title this year with 89.5, second only to Rodriguez. There's no way he gets the MVP award, though, because his team isn't in the playoffs and because he didn't lead the league in home runs or RBIs. So if he's out, who gets it? There are three guys in the front-running, any of whom could take home the hardware: Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Matt Holliday. Fielder led the league in home runs, with Howard second; Holliday led the league in RBIs, with Howard second; and Holliday led the league in batting average. Since Fielder's team isn't in the playoffs, I doubt he'll get it. My guess is that Matt Holliday will probably take home the award, because RBIs seem to have more of a "most valuable" feel, and because the late-season run by the Rockies will be fresh in everyone's minds as they turn in their ballots. He's not a bad choice, as he's the fourth-best candidate in the NL, behind Ramirez, David Wright, and Chipper Jones.

AL Cy Young
The AL's best pitcher this year was C.C. Sabathia. Even though his team is in the playoffs, he just doesn't have those Cy Young tokens, also known as "wins," as Josh Beckett has. Beckett's team is, unfortunately for Sabathia, also in the playoffs. Beckett wins.

NL Cy Young
Can you believe the season Jake Peavy has had? 9.67 K/9 with a 77.0 VORP, 11 points better than his closest competitor, Brandon Webb. Even though Webb's team is in the playoffs and Peavy's isn't, the voters HATE giving back-to-back Cy Young awards (see Clemens, Roger and Santana, Johan in 2005). Peavy also won the pitching triple crown this year in the NL and led the majors in both strikeouts and ERA.

AL Rookie of the Year
The deserving candidate here is none other than Jeremy Guthrie (show of hands: who has heard of Mr. Guthrie?), pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. The award will most likely go to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and there's a small (har har) chance it goes to Dustin Pedroia. Probably Matsuzaka, though.

NL Rookie of the Year
Ryan Braun stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the NL, a full 17 points of VORP away from Hunter Pence and Troy Tulowitzki. Even though Tulowitzki's team is in the playoffs (and he played a full season for the Rockies, while Braun came up in late May), I think Braun still gets the award.

And just for fun, the worst hitter in MLB this year was Nick Punto, third baseman for the Twins, and the worst pitcher was Mike Maroth, who in just 38 innings pitched for St. Louis managed to outstrip every other pitcher in negative VORP. One of the main reasons St. Louis missed the playoffs this season in the NL Sucktrel.

Delhomme's status uncertain

From ProFootballTalk:

In the hectic run-up to the Monday night game and the Live Blog, we missed this one from Adam Schefter of NFL Network.

Schefter reports that Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme could miss significant time with an elbow injury. The injury, Schefter said, isn't "day to day" but "week to week." And possibly "month to month."

Schefter also hints that Delhomme's injury could prematurely end his career.

As a result, David Carr will continue to be the starter. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft was a woeful 19 for 41 for 155 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his Carolina debut. It was good (or bad) enough for a 54.4 passer rating."

Braves fans, rejoice!

John Schuerholz announced today that Andruw Jones will not be in the Braves' plans for 2008. According to Jones' agent, Scott Boras, it was never in the Braves' interest to re-sign Jones past his 2007 contract, even before his sub-par .222/.311/.413, 5.4-VORP season. "'General managers of teams that I have [established] players playing for call me all the time,' Boras said. 'With John [Schuerholz], I have never discussed anything about Andruw Jones for two years.'"

"Schuerholz didn't provide specifics regarding what was included in this e-mail. But he acknowledged that Boras is seeking a contract similar to the ones received by Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano before this season began. Both of them gained contracts that consisted of at least seven years and included an annual salary of at least $17 million."

My feeling is that Braves fans will have mixed reactions to Jones' departure. Even after this dismal season at the plate, Jones still has the potential to record many more productive years with another team, as he's still just 30 years old. The Braves have two very good outfielders at the major league level right now, however, in Jeff Francoeur and Matt Diaz, and a serviceable one in Willie Harris. Brandon Jones, who spent most of the season at AAA-Richmond, will likely challenge Harris for a spot in the outfield in Spring Training. I can't see the Braves signing any of the outfielders in this offseason's free agent crop, as the most likely candidates in Mike Cameron, Torii Hunter, and Aaron Rowand will likely command big dollars, possibly near what Jones will be getting from his new club.

Week 4 Pick'em Recap

John: 4-2, 12 points (16-8, 40 points)
Ryan: 1-5, -11 points (12-12, 0 points)
Guest (Ravi): 0-6, -21 points (7-17, -34 points)

Ewww, what an ugly week. The guest record has really gone south in the last two weeks, as an 0-6 showing by Ravi is, I believe, the first time someone has not recorded a single victory in a week. Ryan didn't do much better, managing to scrape together a victory on Brett Favre's back, but it drops his record overall to a decidedly average 12-12 with zero net points. John put together his usual record of 4-2, and came out big on the Kansas City upset to boost his record to a downright ethereal 16-8 with 40 points.

The Philadelphia loss really hurt all of us, costing the panel a ridiculous 16 points. Osi Umenyiora totaled a godlike six sacks against McNabb, leading a stout Giants defense that boasted 12 sacks and two forced fumbles (both courtesy of Umenyiora). Umenyiora's six sacks stand as the Giants' single-game franchise record.

Also noteworthy was the fact that the seemingly hapless Falcons collected their first victory of the season over Houston, which cost the panel 11 points overall. Joey Harrington, surprisingly, is ranked as the league's 8th-best quarterback after four weeks of play.

A call now goes out for next week's guest picker (I'm looking at you, Chuck, but anyone's welcome to fill the spot). Cason is probably the next-most-likely candidate, as he easily holds the comments record for the blog.