Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I'm still not sure I understand how the Cardinals are there. I guess I'm coming around to admitting they deserve to be there. Hell, they could even win this game (if Hines Ward is less than 75 percent).
Covering the pass is a lot tougher than covering the run, which gives the Cardinals' defense an advantage over the Steelers' D. Arizona is pass-heavy, and have a playmaker lined up wide on each side of Kurt Wanrer.
The Cardinals have options in the backfield behind Warner, but Tim Hightower has been spotty the past few games. Running the ball against the Steelers isn't going to be any easier than it was against the Eagles, so look for Edge to get the majority of the carries again.
Arizona can spread it out, as nine different players caught passes in the NFC Championship game (not including Warner's reception).
Pittsburgh is more of a traditional football squad, with a pair of big name receivers, but they do most of their damage on the ground, with Mr. Willie Parker.
Ben Roethlisberger is a little banged up, but he's a gamer, so I fully expect him to play every down on offense. The Cardinals also don't feature a smash-mouth defense (ranked 14th in team sacks, Pitt ranked No. 2), so Big Ben probably won't be pushed around too much when he drops back.
The weather favors the Cardinals, but I don't think it will be enough in the end.
The Cardinals will score early, probably have 10-13 points by the half, but Pitt's defense will take over in the second half.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
There are three "teams of destiny" playing, so one has to lose. The Steelers are the only team playing without destiny on its side. Sucks for them, apparently.
Ravens @ Steelers
Pittsburgh won both regular season matchups, which if history indicates anything, means the Ravens will win today.
The Steelers' offense is as balanced and healthy now as it has been since the first two weeks of the season. Pitt's D is still Pitt's D. The Ravens lose this one, going away. I'm seriously talking double-digits. Nobody is expecting what's about to happen today.
Eagles @ Cardinals
Why are either of these teams here? I hate the city of Philadelphia so much right now.
Pick: Philly and a knife in my toe, please.
Pray for 0-2 so the state of Pennsylvania gets no love.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
The Texas Rangers' decision to move Michael Young to third base has me convinced: There is a conspiracy surrounding American League shortstops, and I'm tracing it back to everyone's favorite captain, Derek Jeter.
It all started in 1997 when Cal Ripken, Jr. was mysteriously moved to third base.
A 14-time All-Star at this point, Major League Baseball's darling, the most important player to the game, is moved from a position he had been playing in the Majors since 1981—to make way for Mike Bordick?
Please, I'm a Mets fan. I know what Bordick is all about: nothing.
Something wasn't adding up, but there clearly was not enough evidence yet.
Certainly, 1997 is an interesting year for this to happen. Who won the World Series the year before? And who jumped onto the scene? Ah, yes. The Yankees, and 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, Derek Jeter.
Camden Yards is "Yankee Stadium South," after all. Remember the Jaret Wright trade? I think the Orioles are either in cahoots with the Yankees, or they owe the Bronx Bombers some serious favors.
Anyway, around this time, there were three amazing shortstops playing in the AL: Nomar Garciaparra (1997 AL Rookie of the Year), Alex Rodriguez, and Mr. Jeter.
Now you see where I'm going with this. Hang tight.
Omar Vizquel still had a stranglehold on the Gold Glove award at the position, and was even garnering some All-Star Game loving.
Starting in 1997, here's the odd man out of each mid-summer classic for a few years:
1998—Garciaparra, despite finishing second in the MVP voting
2001—Vizquel, Garciaparra (injury)
2002—All four left made the All-Star Team, as did Miguel Tejada. Five shortstops. FIVE. A-Rod started the game. Quite the heavy load just so Joe Torre can justify taking No. 2.
Rodriguez won the Gold Glove in '02 and '03, and Vizquel's career began its downslide, so he fell out of the picture.
Then in 2003, Derek Jeter didn't make the All-Star team. The Yankees finally didn't represent the AL in the World Series the year before. Darn, bad luck for Jeter!
The ensuing offseason, the Yankees made a minor acquisition. They traded Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez. They moved him to third base.
Garciaparra fell from grace in Boston unusually quick and was traded to the National League in July '04.
Two down, but the Red Sox got their revenge in October.
Jeter enjoyed little competition for "best shortstop in the AL" the next few years. Without Vizquel or A-Rod sharing a mutual position, he won the Gold Glove by default from 2004-2006.
However, Jeter missed the '05 All-Star game, and Miguel Tejada and rising star Michael Young got the nod over him.
I don't know who is behind the conspiracy, but I suspect it's the Steinbrenners. Baltimore already gave into whatever pressure was put on them in 1997, so they weren't prepared to do it again.
Someone started to play dirty when they had to get rid of Tejada. I'm not saying they're behind the Tejada smear-campaign, I'm just saying his fall from shortstop stardom was much uglier than anyone before him. The Mitchell Report (okay, he played in Oakland) and the age controversy were not pretty.
Since when has it taken a face-to-face interview to confront someone about their age? It wasn't the case for Rafael Furcal or Orlando Hernandez.
So now we get to Michael Young. Five straight All-Star appearances, the 2008 AL Gold Glove award winner at shortstop, and two years younger than Jeter, now the best shortstop in the AL.
He's also the poster child for everything right in the league. A less-crazy version of Tim Tebow, perhaps.
The conspirators have several tricks up their sleeves, so this one probably involves calling in a favor for taking A-Rod, a clubhouse cancer, off their hands a few years back.
"Hey, Texas Rangers, remember that time we took A-Rod from you and haven't won the World Series since then?"
"Well you kinda owe us for that. Move Michael Young to third base."
"Just tell them you have a prospect who is gonna tear it up at the Major League level."
So, Texas Rangers, enjoy Elvis Andrus, the second coming of Mike Bordick!
Yankee fans, enjoy another undeserved All-Star appearance and Gold Glove for Jeter.
And to the Steinbrenners, or whoever is in charge of this operation, please don't hunt me down
and kill me. Even though I've figured out your diabolical plan, I won't tell anyone.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Let's pretend I'm doing my picks in a timely fashion. Give me a pass if this seems rushed!
Baltimore over Tennessee
Steelers over Chargers
Panthers over Cardinals
Giants over Eagles
I love the home team in three of the four games, and I really just need the Eagles to lose so Philadelphia fans can go back to the deep, dark hole they came out of a few months ago when the unspeakable happened.
3-1 last week. Can it happen again???
Friday, January 9, 2009
Sitting at the bar to watch the game, there’s actually a hardcore Florida fan who is amped and ready to go.
He looks like a tool.
Not just because of the way he’s acting or because we’re so far away from any of these teams…I’m sure there are actual Florida fans around, but I saw this guy a couple weeks ago wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey for their Saturday night game. And this summer he would be rocking his Yankees jersey to the bar. You catching my drift?
So anyway, even though I’ve taken Florida from every way to next September, I decide to start rooting for the Sooners because of this guy. Slightly less tolerable than Bob Stoops.
Makes me wonder how much of my hatred for Derek Jeter is just due to being a Mets fan around championship-clad Yankee fans when I was growing up.
Anyway, at this point, we’re in the first half, Florida scores first, this guy is going nuts. Oklahoma ties it up and he shuts up, but then the Sooners go to the red zone twice more in the half and get nothing out of it. This guy is going crazy.
I leave at halftime to watch the rest of the game at home.
Fox has done a great job of selling me this game. I studied sports communications in college. I’ve learned all the tricks of the trade to suck in viewers, but they still sold this to me.
Tim Tebow is nuts. He has the resume of a Saint. Everyone should have a crush on Tim Tebow.
At first I thought he was faking the emotion because he knew he was on national TV, but then I realized…this guy is actually out of his mind.
I love college bands. I really took the Marching Virginians at VT for granted. If any Marching Virginians are reading this, please accept my apology to your predecessors.
We clearly see who the better quarterback is tonight. Bradford looks lost with all this pressure. He’s not ready for the NFL.
Announcers’ silence means everything when Florida makes the fourth down stop. Bedlam.
Members of the Gators are getting the Gatorade cooler with two minutes and change left in the game. Now I really hope they lose and look completely ridiculous. “They’re about to unload on [Urban Meyer],” our sexually frustrated analyst comments.
I’d love to see Utah vs USC vs Florida. I expect the analyst to suggest a three-way football game?
Chomp, chomp, chomp. Love the personal foul on the guy everyone is in awe over, Pyscho Tebow. Timmy being Timmy. Uno Cinco. This guy is going to be a great pro.
Bob Stoops is a champ for not kicking these cameramen in the face.
Excellent team effort on the Gatorade dump. Five stars.
Congratulations to the National Champions, the Utah Utes. Don't accuse me of stealing the idea of the last line from Rick Reilly. He's not the only person who thinks the Utes are getting the short end of the stick.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The journey as a ranked team started tonight, as Marist beat down Iona, 81-58.
Rachele Fitz led had a game-high 26 points and 16 boards in only 28 minutes of play (foul trouble). She added six assists, as the team combined for 25 assists on 30 field goals, a staggering percentage you will never EVER see in the men's game.
Erica Allenspach led the Red Foxes (13-1, 4-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) with eight assists, scoring 13 points.
Lynzee Johnson dropped 14 points off the bench, including lights out (4-4) from downtown.
Marist started the game on a 12-0 run (Sean T. McMann impressively predicted the EXACT 12-0 run before the game started), and added a 10-0 run for good measure halfway through the second half.
Elise Caron and Julianne Viani didn't have their best games, but Johnson, Allenspach, and freshman Brandy Gang (11 points, two blocks, three boards) stepped up big.
Marist shot 100 percent from the charity stripe and 50 percent from long range.
What is this, NBA Jam for N64? No, it's a nationally ranked team playing in the MAAC.
Of course, slip-ups happen, so this team will be sure to show up to play 40 minutes every night to ensure it doesn't happen.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
AFC Wild Card:
Indianapolis (-2.5) @ San Diego
Colts/Bolts is ALWAYS a great game. Bolts are playing their best football of the season (?), and playing at home. Peyton Manning was just named MVP, the Colts are also playing their best football of the season, which is better than the Chargers' best football of the season, and Indy has revenge on its mind from last year. As long as Manning isn't out taking a hike (get the reference?), Colts advance.
Baltimore (-2.5) @ Miami
What's interesting about the AFC playoffs is the two lower ranked teams are both favorites on the road. No respect for the division champs! Everybody involved is probably happy, though. The Colts and Ravens get to play in warm weather, though they'd have significant advantages in the colder weather and at home. Regardless, it doesn't matter here.
NFC Wild Card:
Atlanta (-2.5) @ Arizona
Again, the lower-ranked visitor is the favorite. This is the toughest game for me to pick, just because I'm thinking too much about it. Arizona sucks, but can be very dangerous. Matt Ryan is young, but plays like a veteran. Against my better judgment...
Philadelphia (-3.5) @ Minnesota
I don't think this has ever happened before where the Wild Card team is the favorite in each opening round matchup. Philly wants it more. Minnesota's offense can't roll with Philly's D. Stephen A. Smith needs to hit me with a "Quite Frankly" right now.
0-4? I'm not playing against the spread this week, I just posted the numbers to emphasize how strange it is for all visitors to be favorites.