Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wake vs. Roger - Down the Stretch

Now that all four American League playoff participants have been determined, the last real drama (Sox/Yanks AL East race still in the balance, to be sure) to be milked from the season comes down to Saturday's Red Sox/Twins contest. Tim Wakefield takes the mound for the Sox needing a fairly dominant performance to carry yours truly to a come-from-behind victory over Teejay Boylington and shift the requisite brace of microbrews my way. Bet standings as of this moment:

ERA - 5.20
WHIP - 1.39
BAA - .270

ERA - 4.18
WHIP - 1.31
BAA - .261

By my admittedly challenged math, Wake needs to go 8 or more innings and allow 3 or fewer baserunners by hit or walk for me to pull out the improbable victory (7 perfect innings would also suffice). If his recent efforts are any indication, I'm well and truly boned.

Although my point still stands - the Yankees paid $18m for 99 innings of essentially league-average production. Kudos for that, then. And, yes, I'm bitter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is it college hoops time already?

Well, not exactly, but we are getting damn close. And, just to show you how serious G:TB is about bringing you the best in college hoops information, we are teaming up with (mooching off of?) the wonderful work Michael Litos does at his "The CAA: Life as a Mid-Major" blog. Today, Rob and Whit, along with the Extrapolator, took an axe to the piss-poor Lindy magazine CAA pre-season rankings (I of course am extremely lazy and contributed nothing to this effort, but hey look, I found a CAA logo for this post, so suck it Trebek). Gheorghe's goal will be to dissect the CAA hoops season (Hi Bruiser!) as much as possible over the next 5 months, with an obvious tilt to the sleeping giant that is Tribe Basketball (it's really hard to type when you're laughing so hard). Anyway, go read what Rob, Whit, Extra P and MGL wrote today. It's better than watching Mike Gundy lose his shit for the 40th time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Bad Medical Metaphor

A false positive is a result that is erroneously positive when the situation is normal. Although it probably means you had a lot of fun along the way, you still don’t want to receive a false positive for AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, or your football team.

I had a lot of fun rooting for the Giants today, but perhaps I shouldn’t get my hopes up. In fact, I might have been better off rooting for Eli Manning to fail miserably, so that the Giants have reason to give up on him for good.

Though the Giants pulled it out, this was partly the result of a bad Manning pass that Plaxico Burress made a good reaction on. This isn’t unusual: a lot of Manning’s completions are barely that—balls that are a little too high, a little behind, thrown with a little too much touch. If they get hauled in or dragged down, it’s usually because of a good play by the receiver. A false positive for Manning. And he still threw two ugly interceptions. That’s the normal situation.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"I've been through the desert on a horse with no wins..."

" felt good to be out of the rain..."

DATELINE: San Juan, Puerto Rico. It appears we've located the Washington Generals of the horse racing world - it's a 9-year-old Puerto Rican horse named Dona Chepa. Yesterday the ancient brown mare finished last (shocker) in a six horse field at Camarero Racetrack (some call it the Yonkers Raceway of eastern Puerto Rico), resulting in the horse's 125th consecutive loss, which, according to the silly article I found on the internet, is the longest in horse racing history. I tried to call Tom Durkin to confirm, but he won't answer his phone (could be he's still mad at me over the "Travers Incident").

The track spokesman said Dona Chepa's loss jumps her ahead of the Australian horse Ouroene, who was a stellar 0-124 from 1976-83. HOWEVAH, and it's a big HOWEVAH, there apparently is no world governing body that tracks horse futility (can't we get the Elias Sports Bureau to track this? or maybe Howie Schwab?). Dona Chepa's ineptitude though does surpass all other known horse suckiness:
-The aforementioned Aussie failure
-Japan's Gloria Springs (0-106)
-North America's Thrust (0-105, North America)
-Britain's Quixall Crossett (0-103, Britain)
(Anyone else a bit surprised there's no French horse on this list?)

No one saw this coming - Dona Chepa comes from a distinguished line of champion racers, and was sent to all the finest private schools. Her debut on Valentine's Day 2001 was supposed to be the beginning of something magical. Alas, it was not to be. Once, in May 2003, Dona Chepa came in 2nd (there was much rejoicing). And, despite her apparent lack of any horse racing "skills", Dona Chepa has managed to pocketed $12,971 (the horse has finished out of the money a whopping 90 times).

Don't be sad for Dona Chepa or her trainer, dear reader. The article really lifts your spirit with this final note:
The last-place finish Wednesday wasn't a total loss for trainer Efrain Nieves, who received a plaque from the Camarero Racetrack to mark Dona Chepa's record-breaking streak.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Professional TV Watcher Extraordinaire

Yesterday, Whitney brought in Central Jersey's finest medical practitioner to explain Seasonal Affective Disorder. Well, just in time for the new Fall Season, I recruited the only guy I know who watches more TV than me to preview/review/pummel all the upcoming programming on the small screen. Let's just call him Commodore DVR for now. We needed some structure to this, so much like Bonnie Franklin, the Commodore is taking it one day at a time:

* * * *
Prison Break - This is a good way to start. One word: AWESOME. This show really brings it each week. Why? Well, the plot line is good and takes a ton of ridiculous twists. But I think that a main reason is the way that they end the show each week. Always leave the viewers wanting more. Prison Break really excels at this. The main character, Michael Scofield, is also really good. Word on the street has him batting for the Yankees. Well, it doesn’t matter. He really gets the job done. Anyway, the season already started and, so far, I’m liking it again. This season starts off in Panama where half of the main characters are in a prison that really isn’t run by the guards. The guards actually just stand in towers outside the jail and kill people that try to come out. Hard to believe, but I like the concept. I’m very good at suspending all disbelief. I want to live in pretend-land.
Recommendation: Must Watch Same Night.

Heroes - Man, Monday night is a good one for shows. A few people died at the end of last season on Heroes. The cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere) is still alive if anyone was worried (and just turned 18 too in real life, mmm. TJ has pictures if anyone is interested). I’m unsure in which direction this show will go from here. Now that Skylar is dead and Peter blew up, I’m anxious to see what new twists they will add. Hopefully there will be new mutants. But last season was really good, so I’m going to keep on with this one. Would help to get another hot chick on the show just to keep things fresh.
Recommendation: Must Watch Same Night (for now).

Big Bang Theory - Well, looks like CBS has done the trick with running commercials for this enough during football that I’m semi-intrigued. Really just more for the attractive women aspect. Premise of the show is two geeky guys that have a hard time getting chicks. They now live near some hot women. The guys will probably get flustered by the hotness of the women. Hilarity ensues. Well, at least that is what CBS is hoping. I’m going to give it a shot.
Recommendation: Could be absolutely terrible, so don’t say I told you to watch it.

The Bachelor - Wow, 11 seasons. And I’ve watched almost all of them. This one sets up like the rest. Here is the recipe: Hunky, decently successful guy who can act like he thinks that he can find a wife on a TV show. Add lots of attractive women who are desperate to get married because they’ve had crappy relationships or don’t want to work. End product brings some awesome results. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again: NOTHING is funnier than watching women cry on this show. Honestly, women cry right after the first cut. They’ve had maybe a 10-minute conversation with the guy. Shouldn’t you be OK with getting cut at that point? He barely knows you and has to make a cut of women. So he is purely picking superficially. Wouldn’t it be worse if you stayed and then he cut you? That would mean that he sort of got to know you but doesn’t think you’re all that great compared to other women. Now that is more of a dagger. But, actually, it isn’t. Why. BECAUSE THE SHOW LASTS FOR MAYBE 6 WEEKS. Meanwhile, he dates tons of girls and you have set-up dates with cameras all over the place. How close can you get to some guy in that time? Thus, the show boils down to displaying just how crazy women are when they are looking for a husband. And their overall insanity level as well.
Recommendation: It all depends on the women, but has potential for Must Watch Same Night. (Side Note: ABC’s website has a clock ticking down to the time that the first episode airs. Probably a little over the top)

Chuck - The premise is that some smart kid accidentally opens a super secret government email and now he has the super secret information in his head. Thus, he has to be protected now. Really? Sounds completely stupid.
Recommendation: This show is going down.

The Hills - I’m a sucker for watching hot, young and shallow girls on television. Always entertaining. But do you know what has really made it for me this season: how bad Spencer (Heidi’s bf) sucks. His facial hair is a disaster. He also is a huge douchebag that thinks way too much of himself and really isn’t all that great to Heidi. I also love seeing how he disenchants himself to everyone in Heidi’s life, which is leading her to a life of zero friends except for him. He is also losing his feud with Lauren b/c he is taking the absolute wrong approach. He won’t talk to his best friend from childhood b/c the guy still hangs out with Lauren sometimes. Wrong move. This is his fight with Lauren and he should keep it that way. Don’t push your friends into choosing sides. They don’t want any part of that. I learned that when I hated TJ for a long time. Don’t expect people to choose sides. Leave your issue with that person and then lead your life as normal. Anyway, if you’re not watching this show, then you’re probably smarter for it. But I can’t get enough.
Recommendation: Must watch for people that enjoy stupid juvenile drama.

The Pick-Up Artist - I’ve only caught a couple of episodes of this show. My little brother endorsed it, so I gave it a try. Actually not too bad. Premise of the show is guys that have a terrible time picking up women. And they aren’t all fat and ugly. A couple of them are. But the real comedy is when they discuss women and the ways to pick them up. All sorts of interesting terminology, such as referring to women as “sets” and having a “hook”, which refers to a hot woman that talks you up at the bar and flirts with you so that other women will be more interested in you. Also, the usage of “multi-threading”, which means moving among many different conversations so that the sets can keep engaged. Anyway, the show is almost over. I may watch some re-runs in my down time.
Recommendation: Maybe record the marathon and watch a few on a rainy day.

That is my Monday watching. Professional TV Watcher Extraordinaire.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

He Writes the Songs the C.O.s Sing

I've never quite understood this obsession with "creative" sentences by judges. If people break the law, just fine them or send them to jail, whatever the statute dictates. Don't decide they need to clean billboards 100 feet above the highway or cross stitch Bea Arthur's mug on a hundred afghans. Isn't that why sentencing guidelines were created in the first place?

Well, no one listens to me, obviously. I've come across yet another judge who thinks he has just the right quirky punishment to fit the crime. Fort Lupton, Colorado Judge Paul Sacco is sentencing noise ordinance violators to listen to Barry Manilow music as punishment. Violators of the city's noise ordinance are sentenced to one-hour music "emersion sentences". I'll let the judge explain:
"When you have a person that's been playing rap let's say at extreme volumes all over the city and they have to sit down and they have to listen for an hour to Barry Manilow -- it's horrible punishment," Sacco said.
It's no secret I love me some Barry, so frankly I think the judge can piss off. But his Highness claims the punishment is working because there are very few repeat offenders. My guess is that has as much to do with the choice of music as it does the fact violators are not allowed to eat, drink or read during said "punishment", but what the hell do I know.

Judge Sacco, I hope you realize all you're doing is creating a Universal Soldier-esque breed of degenerate Maniloonies.

Gheorghe Medical Update: SAD

From Gheorghe correspondent and medical consultant Jimmy Giovanelli in central New Jersey:

* * * *
SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, refers to a clinical depression caused by lack of sunlight. It usually occurs in fall and early winter. I am suffering from SAD right now, but I think there is another, often overlooked cause: the early collapse of one's favorite football team. I know you're not supposed to self-diagnose, but I'm fairly certain that my seasonal depression is caused by the premature disintegration of the New York Giants. The cure will still be sunlight; instead of watching the games I'll go outside and rake leaves and play with my kids and ride my bike, and soon this season will be a flickering memory, a fleeting thought that I might be forgetting something . . . something I used to do on Sundays . . . and then it will disappear entirely. Sort of like my church attendance.
Some people might say I'm not a true fan, and they're probably right. They'll say: premature disintegration, that's premature speculation! To them I say, perhaps you need Levitra. Some people might say this sounds like a preemptive strike before all the facts are in, and to them I'll say: if it's good enough for our President, then it's good enough for me. Some people might say: you New York fans expect too much from your teams, stop being so selfish. To them I say: have you seen my tax bill? I pay three times more than those folks in Wisconsin and Texas. I deserve more.

I don't get March Madness any longer, or Mets Fever; I don't suffer the Knicks or follow the Devils. I occasionally look at a Yankee box score in the newspaper, but since I don't receive a newspaper, this happens once a month. The only sport I watch is football, and the only team I follow is the Giants. So I need the Giants to perform. And it's not like I follow that closely. I just want to turn on the TV, root for some guys that I know, and watch a couple of play-off games. But when the players you know all seem to be retired, injured, recovering from an injury, or throwing surprisingly well despite an injury, it might be time to give it a rest. I can always catch the bandwagon across the Raritan and root for the Scarlet Knights.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How's that new guy working out for ya?

In the aftermath of a NFL weekend that once again proved Week 1 analysis is virtually useless (at least when it comes from me), I thought I'd get back on the horse and take a crack at this again, but this time focus on Year 1 for the new coaches in new places. By my count, we've got 7 newbies enjoying various degrees of success (or, in two cases, an amazing amount of distress). Let's take a look.

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers - Sure, it's a 2 game sample, and those two games happened to be the Browns and Bills, but Tomlin has the Steelers firing on all cylinders. Dr. Z and Jerry must be impressed by the line play on both sides of the ball for Pittsburgh - Roethlisberger has barely been touched in two games, Willie Parker has run wild (117 yds/game) and the opposing QBs in Weeks 1 and 2 (poor Charlie Frye and J.P. Losman yesterday) have been beaten senseless (10 sacks, 3 fumbles, 2 picks). Tomlin is one of two unbeatens on this list, but of course, he's getting the nod from the G:TB crew as the most impressive New Guy so far. Tribe Pride Baby.

Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals - Yep, Kenny Whiz has Will Leitch's Buzzsaw at 1-1, but the wins should actually be reversed. The Cards gave last week's game away with an awful fumble, but in a bit of football karma they were given the game yesterday when Matt Hasslebeck channeled Rex Grossman and laid the ball on the ground after a comically botched hand-off attempt. Any way you slice it, though, Ken and new line coach Russ Grimm have Arizona playing tough and physical up front (perhaps "The Steeler Way" is looking for a retirement home in Sun City West?), and Edgerrin James is excelling behind a O-line that has been the laughingstock of the league for years. In that division, anything can happen, and based on the first two week, anything will happen.

Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons - Bobby wishes he were still in the Big East (well, after Saturday night, maybe not). When the state of your team is dependent on the weekly performance of Chopsticks Harrington you are eternally screwed. I prematurely called the Browns the worst team in football last week, so I don't want to get ahead of myself here, but Petrino's boys better do something soon on the offensive end or they are in for a loooooong campaign. The Falcons have scored a whopping 10 points in 2 games. Tarvaris Jackson (he of the 4 INTs yesterday) beat them in Week 1. I said it before the season started and I'll say it again - Brian Brohm might want to start looking at Buckhead properties now.

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers - It would be so easy to crush Norv for the Chargers' lackluster start, and sure, he deserves a lot of blame as the head dog, but can we get some accountability from the players? The offensive line has been abused by the Bears and Pats. Philip Rivers looks like he's doing the Riverdance in the pocket. Mr. Tomlinson, how about less bitching/whining in the media and more on-field performing? The defense held its own against the Bears, but come on, that Bears offense is a joke. Tom Brady tore the SD defense to shreds last night. Norv is in serious trouble already, and don't think the Chargers are going to walk all over Green Bay in Week 3 at Lambeau. It's neck and neck with Petrino for worst performance on this list, but the edge has to go to Norv because he has so many more quality players than Bobby. In fact, fuck blaming the players - Norv, you are a horrible leader of men and simply cannot get the job done as a head coach. That is all, let's just move on.

Cam Cameron, Miami Dolphins - An ugly 3 point loss to the Skins in Week 1 and an even uglier Week 2 loss at home to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Hitching your wagon to Trent Green ain't as awful as being tied to the anchor that is Joey Harrington, but Cameron better hope Green eliminates the mistakes in Week 3. The running game seems non-existent, so much so that I think the Dolphins should welcome back Sticky Icky Williams with open arms. That defense can hold its own against middling teams (like the Skins), but look what Romo, T.O. and Marion Barber did yesterday. We are only 3 weeks and an 0-5 start away from Jason Taylor's media blow-up pitting defense vs. offense (and never mind the Ted Ginn vs. Brady Quinn issue that is bound to resurface). Cameron has winnable games coming up - he better notch his first NFL win soon before this thing spirals out of control.

Wade Phillips, Dallas Cowboys - 2 and 0 in Big D is a big deal, especially since they're doing it with the most potent offense in the league (82 points), rather than with a defense that Wade was supposed to mold after his successful Chargers run. Nowhere to go but up on the defensive side of the ball, and whether Wade lets Jason Garrett run the whole show on the offensive side or not, to the victor go the spoils, so I'll throw some love his way. The Cowboys get the Bears this week, so I think we'll get a good sense of where they truly are offensively, and given Rex Grossman's penchant for "no purchase required" football giveaways this might be the Dallas D's breakout game.

Lane Kiffin, Oakland Raiders - Yes, they're 0-2, but they're a competitive 0-2 and that is a major step up for this franchise. It appears the defense will still be above average, though giving up 36 point to the Lions in week 1 is scary. The biggest difference of course is the upgrade from last year's "Bed and Breakfast" offense to Kiffin's attack. The Raiders scored 21 in Week 1 and 20 yesterday - they hit the 20 point mark only 4 times total in all of 2006. They have already thrown 3 TD passes - they had 7 TOTAL in 2006 (seriously, can that be right?). Kiffin has revived Lamont Jordan's career and made Josh McKown look like a real pro QB (at least for the first two weeks...I know, it's very early). They might've even stolen a win yesterday if Mike Shanahan wasn't so good at being so sneaky. And if Sebastian Janikowski didn't get so god damn flustered after that timeout.

Oops, He Did It Again**

Who you gonna blame now Juice (I'd go with "Phillip" this time around)? OJ was charged yesterday with 6 felonies for his role in that Keystone Kops Vegas memorabilia heist. I will say this - he looks a lot happier in this photo than last time.
**Well, I guess not exactly like he did it last time, since as far as I can tell there weren't two dead bodies left in that Vegas hotel room.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gheorghe Ponders...Five Alive

Almost done with Major League Baseball, and I'm not gonna lie to you - I'm worn out. This is way too much typing.

Chicago Cubs

Originality: Everything Cubby reeks of originality in today’s sporting climate, from the team name to the ivy on the walls to the rooftop vantages behind Wrigley to the very cute 100+ year streak of futility – such a clever marketing gimmick. Odd that they chose Cubs, though, when Bears wasn’t taken until 1919. It’s almost as if the original Cubs’ owners knew they couldn’t live up to the ferocity of the full-grown animal.

Geo-cultural relevance: Alliteration is fun! Otherwise, the name has nothing whatsoever to do with the Windy City.

Tradition: Lord, have mercy, do the Cubbies have some. Billy Goats with curses, Harry Caray’s leather lungs, Tinker to Evers to Chance, Alou – no – Bartman, the ball through Leon Durham’s legs, generations of fans cycling through birth, school, work, and death without seeing their beloved Cubs win a World Series. Enough already, somebody give these people a taste of the apple.

If They Named the Team Today…the ironic in the room would push hard for the Goats, which would assure the team of an aura-killing World Series championship. The more marketing-focused would settle on the Hawks in honor of Chicago’s fearsome winter wind. Nevermind that Atlanta theoretically already owns that name – does anyone seriously think that the City of the Big Shoulders gives a flying fig about what Atlanta thinks?

Overall Impact: For better or worse, the Cubs name means something to fans of all ages. It’s distinctive and storied, and I suspect Northsiders wouldn’t have it any other way.

Milwaukee Brewers

Originality: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet…and beer. They forgot beer when they wrote that jingle. There are very, very few things better than a really frosty one on a hot day at the ballpark. At least very few things actually attainable by you and me and every other average American. Tom Brady could probably think of a handful of better things, I suppose. Two thumbs up on the originality scale, even though that approbation probably fits better with Chicago’s teams.

Geo-cultural relevance: The original barkeep poured a perfectly balanced pint when he came up with this name. Milwaukee was home to the four largest breweries in the world at one point (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller, in case you were wondering – how in the name of all that’s holy and sudsy did anyone drink Blatz with a straight face?), and even as three of the four have sadly faded, it’s still one of America’s fabled beer towns. The legendary (and possibly apocryphal) Spring Break Bad Brewery Tour of 1991 was centered around this mecca of all things cheap, watery, and intoxicating.

Tradition: While the Brewers did give us one of the all-time great secondary nicknames, Harvey’s Wallbangers, in celebration of the most successful of all Brewer eras, the team has only appeared in a single World Series, never winning one, and also gave baseball Bud Selig. On the other hand, Gorman Thomas was a perfectly cast baseball villain, a real, live Ogie Oglethorpe. I’m at a bit of a loss here.

If They Named the Team Today…it’s really hard to see how they could go any other direction, unless Selig was involved, in which case they’d first ignore the fact that they had a problem, then completely fuck up the solution and wind up moving the team to Oklahoma City in hopes that people would forget about the whole thing.

Overall Impact: Brewers is a perfect nickname – they get a top seed and a first-round bye in the all-sports team name tournament.

St. Louis Cardinals

Originality: Though it’s not really their fault, the Redbirds suffer from their linkage to the football Cardinals, who shared the city with the like-named baseball squad for some 28 years. Seriously, the city that invented toasted ravioli (mmm, toasted ravioli) couldn’t come up with a second name for a major athletic franchise? And Midwesterners wonder why the coasts make fun of them for being square.

The actual facts of the Cardinals’ naming don’t do them any favors, either. According to Wikipedia, “They were briefly called the Perfectos in 1899 before settling on their present name, a name reportedly inspired by switching their uniform colors from brown to red. There was already a "Reds" team at Cincinnati, so the St. Louis team became "Cardinals" (reportedly because a woman spectator exclaimed that the uniform was "a wonderful shade of Cardinal”)." Frankly, I’d rather be stuck with Perfectos than let my wife name the team. Your wife. Sorry, honey – your taste in team names is beyond reproach.

Geo-cultural relevance: Christ, cardinals are everywhere. I’ve got a family of them hanging out in my back yard, but you don’t see me naming my kids after them, do you? Ain’t that right, Squirrel and Rabbit?

Tradition: The Cards make up for the questionable provenance of their name by wearing it extremely well. They’re second only to the Yankees in World Series titles, and boast some of baseball’s most colorful and prominent names, from Rogers Hornsby to the Gashouse Gang of the 30s to Stan Musial, Curt Flood, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith, and Albert Pujols, with dozens of luminaries in between. (Random aside: Tommy Herr’s 8 HR, 110 RBI line in 1985 is one of my favorite statistical oddities of all time.)

If They Named the Team Today…if history was any guide, they’d choose Rams.

Overall Impact: Decent to quite decent, especially given the classiness of the organization and the tradition bolstering the name.

Cincinnati Reds

Originality: Hosiery strikes again, with the original Cincinnati franchise going with Redlegs in honor of their sanitaries. I guess the late 19th Century was a simpler time. The Redlegs moniker is, I suppose, a unique twist on the ‘Stockings’ construction that was all the rage back in the days of dead balls and gloveless fielders.

Geo-cultural relevance: I want to know what the Reds knew, and when they knew it. More importantly, I want to know how this franchise survived the McCarthy Era (they changed their name to Redlegs, but c’mon, Red is Red). Were their sleeveless uniforms a fashion statement, or was it a subtle ploy to allow Ted Kluszewski’s massive arms to roam free in silent, terrifying splendor, signaling certain doom to all who might threaten the Reds’ clearly Communist ownership?

Tradition: The Redlegs were the first all-professional team in baseball history, founded in 1863 and going the paid route in 1869. Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, that distinction resonates as a claim to fame far more than their on-field performance. They did “beat” the Black Sox in 1919 to claim a World Series title, then got another in 1940 before lying fallow for 3+ decades. The Big Red Machine was one of the great non-Yankee dynasties, though it did sow the seeds of Joe Morgan’s inexplicably large ego and small processing capacity. Recently, not much of which to speak, other than Ken Griffey’s hamstrings and a little league-sized ballyard.

If They Named the Team Today…ah, hell, who knows. I’ve got nothing when it comes to Cincinnati. They make killer chili, but it has spaghetti in it – that’s a sin against God and man. They have a nice little connector airport, but I think it might actually be in Kentucky. Jerry Springer used to be the mayor. That’s not very helpful. Based on my utter lack of inspiration, I’m letting the cutting edge marketing gurus have a crack at this one, and they’re going with the Hillcats – Cincy is, in fact, the City of Seven Hills. (It’s also the Queen City, but unless Freddy Mercury comes back to life and takes ownership, that one’s probably not gonna fly.)

Overall Impact: Rooted in tradition, deeply connected to the city, Reds is a rock-solid name for the Cincy squad. Nothing fancy, but it works.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Originality: The former Alleghenys were dubbed the Pirates by their competitors in the 1890s, who were non-plussed over alleged free-agent chicanery. In an age before the swashbuckling name had anything to do with anti-gay slurs, it stuck, and the alliteration was just a pleasant byproduct. In a related story, Washington Bullets management petitioned the NBA to change the Heat’s moniker to Scum-Sucking Slicky-Boy Weasels after the Miami franchise played games in pursuit of Juwan Howard. In retrospect, the Bullets should have just kept their mouths shut. Typically inept Boulez management.

Geo-cultural relevance: The Allegheny and Ohio rivers were among the most notoriously pirate-infested waterways in America at the beginning of the 20th Century, until the slow-witted buccaneers realized that they really couldn’t do much with the giant coal and steel barges they’d seized*. In fact, the current site of the Pirates’ gorgeous new stadium sits on land that was once a massive pile of coal and steel booty dumped by really stupid pirates who couldn’t figure out what to do with their hauls. Oddly, the Monongahela River was spared this fate.

* - oh, hell, nevermind

Tradition: Growing up, the Pirates were one of the most colorful and badass of all franchises, with Willie Stargell leading the ‘We Are Family’ Buccos to the 1979 World Series championship and Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, Kent Tekulve and the rest of the squad sporting old-school squared-off caps. Bill Mazeroski’s legendary homer won the 1960 Series, guaranteeing a soft spot for the Pirates in the hearts of generations of Yankee haters. Lately, though, the Pirates are the running punch line in baseball’s joke of an economic system, failing to even post a winning record in the last 14 years.

If They Named the Team Today…they’d be broadcasting a cry for help, enlisting Bob Costas to help plead their case, stuck in baseball’s ghetto. The Orphans might still suck on the field, but they’d get the sympathy vote.

Overall Impact: It’s not the nickname’s fault that the team stinks on ice.

Houston Astros

Originality: Both the Astros and the original Colt .45s are top-notch in this category, even if the Jetsons got there first on the team’s current name.

Geo-cultural relevance: We have liftoff. NASA’s Manned Spaceflight Center (which became the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973) is located in Houston, giving us the “Houston, We have a problem.” line made legendary by Stuart Scott’s SportsCenter recitation. (Wait, you mean to tell me that ESPN didn’t make that up? That the World Wide Leader isn’t the font of all original comedic wisdom? Whatever. Chris Berman hates you.) The Astros spawned the Astrodome, Astroturf, and Astroglide. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Tradition: Despite only modest on-field success, the Astros single-handedly melded the pyschodelia of the 60s to sports fashion with their cutting edge (and, in my mind, so far before their time) rainbow-barf uniforms. For that, and the LSD-inspired touches in Minute Maid Park, the ‘Stros get high marks here.

If They Named the Team Today…I think they’d probably stick with Astros – it’s an awesome name. Possibly, though, they’d grudgingly admit that baseball is at best the 4th most popular sport in Texas behind NFL football, college football, and high school football, and reclaim the Oilers name in hopes of confusing easily duped Texans.

Overall Impact: Hey, like I said, it’s an awesome name.

NL Central Recap: Man, I can’t believe something’s gonna beat Astros, but Brewers sneaks in front by a head. Pirates, Cubs, Cardinals, and Reds – fine names all – settle for a third-place tie. The NL Central is easily the best division in baseball from the perspective of overall team name quality, which balances the fact that it’s clearly the worst in the sport on the field.

Next up: NL West

Previous Entries:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rookie Record for Rockie?

Yes indeed (I love me some alliteration). Last night, Colorado Rockie (Rocky?) Troy Tulowitzki hit his National League record-breaking 20th home run as a shortstop. You might have heard of the man he replaced in the record books: Ernie Banks, who hit 19 bombs for the Cubbies in 1954.

BP fastball machine Kyle Lohse gave up Troy's historic homer in the 5th inning last night. Only 3 other SS have played at least 100 games in their rookie season and hit more HRs (and, obviously, they're all American leaguers):
Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox- 30 in 1997
Bobby Crosby, Oakland A's - 22 in 2004
Ron Hansen, Baltimore Orioles - 22 in 1960

Given this impressive feat, G:TB would like to remind people that Tulowitzki is a viable 2007 National League Rookie of the Year candidate. I realize Milwaukee's Ryan Braun has received most of (if not all) the press this year as the NL's ROY lock (deservedly so), but TTT (Troy Trevor Tulowitzki) deserves to have his name considered as well:

Ryan Braun, 3B
95 games, 30 HR, 79 RBI, 74 Runs, .325/.369/.641 (BA/OBP/SLG)
[How ridiculous is the pool of young 3B in the NL?]

Troy Tulowitzki, SS
135 games, 20 HR, 81 RBI, 83 Runs, .291/.359/.470 (BA/OBP/SLG)
[32 RBI in his past 32 games for a team clinging to NL Wild Card hopes]

In the end, I'm pretty certain Braun is going to win the award, but I think baseball writers (even if they can't spell his last name right), should think twice before dismissing a rookie SS who has been a key contributor all season long for a playoff contender (wow, what kind of mess is the NL Wild Card that I can even write that about the Rockies?). In brief, Gheorghe says "Vote Troy in '07".

Why must Hollywood ruin everything?

Last week, I'm wasting time on IMDB and discovered they are making a sequel to The Untouchables. Fucking unbelievable. Then today, I see this headline from The Hollywood Reporter (yep, I spend so much time on the internet each day THR is now an almost daily destination):

"New Tron races on"

That's right folks, someone at Disney thought we needed to deface the cult classic Tron, ignoring the fact that the original was a slice of movie-making brilliance, the first major studio release to use computer-generated images extensively. The movie will be directed by Joseph Kosinksi, who apparently is good at directing commercials (however, I see he is also doing the Logan's Run remake, so I guess the whole notion of "fresh" ideas is foreign to him him). The dude who wrote and directed the original, Steven Lisberger, apparently needs a paycheck badly and will sell out as one of the sequel's producers.

According to the article, plot details/storylines are being kept secret for the (completely unnecessary) sequel, and in fact, the lazy S.O.B.s at Disney intend to call the sequel the same exact name as the original. Give me a break people. From what I can tell, the only thing Tron fans can look forward to is this:
"When making the original, in order to convince the studio to take a chance on a first-time director, Lisberger shot a test reel, financed by the studio, involving the deadly Frisbee battle. In a case of historical synchronicity, sources said one of the things Kosinski will be doing is working on a sequence involving the movie's Light Cycles to work out his vision for the movie."
Of course, G:TB, through various devious methods, has obtained some of this new Light Cycle footage (come on, I know some of you saw this coming after the opening sentence):

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gheorghe Ponders...Four on the Floor

Back to the East Coast and our comfort zone. For what it's worth, the NL East can't compete with the AL West for overall team name depth.

New York Mets

Originality: I’ll say this for New York City – they certainly have a way with unorthodox and creative team names. You’d think they’d be able to translate that gift into other artistic and literary pursuits. It’s really quite a shame. The Mets, short for Metropolitans, are the only professional franchise named for an art museum*, a real testament to the team’s security in its collective manhood.

* Not, in fact, accurate and used in this case only for poetic license. I love poetry. Doesn’t make me gay, nosiree. The use of ‘nosiree’, however, may render that declaration questionable.

Geo-cultural relevance: New York is a metropolitan area, so, y’know, huzzah. There are probably more specific appellations that could work for the team, but the nation’s leading city makheyes a good argument here. Of note, two of the finalists for the team’s name back in 1961 were Bees and Burros. Man, do I wish that they’d chosen Burros. Get it, Burros, Boroughs?

Tradition: From the most lovable of all losers to the most improbable of champions to the most egregiously despicable championship scoundrels, Mets fans can choose from a smörgåsbord of entertaining personalities and historical events. Casey Stengel’s boys remain the gold (pewter?) standard for futility, but managed to be as enjoyable as they were incompetent. The Miracle Mets of ’69 were the patron saints of the hopeless until the 2004 Red Sox took that mantle in the ALCS (wait for it, I’ll balance that blatant homerism in just a moment). And the legendarily debauched 1986 Mets delivered one of sports’ all-time crushing blows, the forces of evil triumphing over sunshine, soft beach breezes, and puppies and sending Dan Shaughnessy’s kids to college.

If They Named the Team Today…the Big Apple’s perennial stepchildren would be looking for a big splash to knock the Yankees from the back pages for a few days. Hard to do, but I think Burros may work. That, or they shell out massive dollars when a certain calm-eyed, intangible-hoarding shortstop’s contract expires and sell him the team’s naming rights, birthing the New York Jeters. Not many other options get the Mets into first place in NYC.

Overall Impact: Fine, fine name for New York’s NL franchise. Unusual, memorable, and malleable for headline writers.

Philadelphia Phillies

Originality: Cradle of Liberty, home of the cheesesteak, City of Brotherly Love**, and they come up with a repeat of the team’s hometown? Does it shock anyone that this is the best Philadelphia could do? Even Robbie Robertson and Cam Cameron are embarrassed.

** - G:TB believes that this nickname was meant to be ironic.

Geo-cultural relevance: Yeah, well, Phillies is, in fact, a shortening of Philadelphia, so congratulations, geniuses – you nailed it!

Tradition: The Cubs (and formerly Red Sox) get all the attention, but the fact of the matter is that the Phillies are one of the more egregiously dysfunctional franchises in all of sports. Despite reaching the World Series four times (with a win over the Royals in ’80), the Phightin’ Phils have a dreadphul history. Their colossal choke in 1964, blowing a 6 ½ game lead with 12 games to play, is one of the all-timers. Generally speaking, the Phillies have mostly been mediocre, which is perhaps worse than epically bad.

If They Named the Team Today…the mouth-breathers on Philly talk radio (hosts and callers alike) would demand satisfaction, but being as short on creativity as they are on charm, they’d settle on the Eagles.

Overall Impact: It’s an unusual name, and it’s come to fit the franchise. It provides headline writers with an easy crutch: Phillies Phold Again. It’s not awful. That’s about as effusive as I get when it comes to Philly.

Atlanta Braves

Originality: I suppose it’s a bit better than Indians. But not much. It’s not nearly as good as the Atlanta Crackers.

Geo-cultural relevance: The team started in Boston, moved to Milwaukee, and settled in Atlanta. Nobody saw fit to change the name, which had alliterative value in the team’s original home, cultural resonance in Mill-e-wah-que (which is Algonquin for "the good land”), and…zippy in the Dirty South. Pretty fitting for America’s worst sports town to just make do with a hand-me-down franchise name.

Tradition: The team registered from time to time pre-1992, with notables such as Henry Aaron, Warren Spahn, and Eddie Matthews. The terrific baseball motto, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”, served as the rallying cry for the late 40s M-Braves. Since the Braves’ out-of-nowhere run to the NL West title in ’92, the Braves have been one of the league’s most prominent franchises, synonymous with great pitching and sustained excellence, and the poster boys for the vagaries of the baseball postseason.

If They Named the Team Today…only 20 or 30 people in town would notice, and they’d pick a name with all the rough edges and personality sanded completely off. Like the Wildcats. And they’d still play that insidious Tomahawk Chop, and fans would still drone on in metronomic synchronicity.

Overall Impact: Bland and forgettable. Just like Atlanta.

Washington Nationals

Originality: None. Horrible, horrible job by MLB in naming this team. They missed so, so many opportunities. Does it stun you to know that the same rocket surgeons that completely missed the Steroid Era and allowed an All-Star game to end in a tie flailed miserably when given an opportunity to define a franchise’s future?

(Note: I’m from the Washington, DC area. I’ve perhaps given this topic more thought than most normal humans would consider healthy.)

Geo-cultural relevance: Inasmuch as the Nation’s Capital is part of the nation, Buddy the Pinhead and his crew hit this out of the park. Of course, the NBA’s Syracuse Nationals did it first. Cripes. What, Senators (one of the many great choices) was too derivative? How about Bullets – an homage another great name lost to the forces of political correctness? Sea Dogs? (sorry, that may be a bit inside)

Tradition: It’s easy to forget that the Nats carry with them the long and storied history of the Montreal Expos. Mostly because there is no long and storied history of the Montreal Expos, other than to serve as a late-model version of the Kansas City Athletics, farm team to the rest of the bigs. Gary Carter, Randy Johnson, Mark Langston, Larry Walker, Vlad Guerrero and a bushel basket of others toiled first in Montreal before seeing success in other places. In their current incarnation, the Nats simply aren’t old enough to have established any meaningful currency.

If They Named the Team Today…they’d do well to listen to me. This team should be called the Grays, in a nod to Josh Gibson’s Homestead Grays Negro League franchise, which called DC (and Pittsburgh) home. Not only is Grays a distinctive name with a terrific heritage, the use of the name now would instantly turn the Washington franchise into a marketing juggernaut. The hip-hop community would jump in with both feet, and so would the hipster/ironic/socially conscious Myspace world. Old-time liberals would rush to buy merchandise to salve their white guilt. I’m not wrong on this, people. Name it, and they will come.

Overall impact: Nationals is about the most inoffensive and vanilla name possible. Presented with a blank canvas and a score of great options, MLB made like J.D. Drew and whiffed meekly.

Florida Marlins

Originality: It’s an homage to the Miami Marlins, a long-time minor league franchise, so it’s not exactly created out of whole cloth. In the sporting universe, though, it’s unique, and in a region where a lot of the good names are already taken (Gators, Dolphins, Hurricanes, Heat – well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad), Marlins is a pretty spiffy alternative.

Geo-cultural relevance: Florida is surrounded by water. Fish, including Marlins, swim in water. Hand, meet glove. And, for what it’s worth, I’m told that Florida has some kick-ass sportfishing, too. I wouldn’t know – worms and such make my stomach queasy.

Tradition: Weird. Very high highs, including two World Series championships in 14 seasons, and very low lows, including not one but two fire sales. The team plays in a football stadium and has finished in the bottom five among all MLB clubs in home attendance since at least 2001, despite winning a championship in that time. They’ve got a young, reasonably exciting squad right now, but they’ve got no juice. Pun not intended until I realized it was a pun, upon which it became very much intended.

If They Named the Team Today…they’d need to punch up the sexy to get some buzz. We’re talking about South Florida, people. Let’s talk sun and surf and skimpily clad European girls wandering the streets freely. Let’s talk about the Miami Blow. Hey, it could stand for wind – get your mind out of the gutter.

Overall Impact: Solid to quite solid, although the region's utter indifference to the team hurts it a bit. Tough entertainment climate with a lot of competition for team names.

NL East Recap: I like the Mets, with the Marlins second, and the Braves and Phillies trailing way behind, and the Nationals begging for spare change outside the stadium.

Next up: NL Central (6 teams. I may need to stretch.)

Previous entries:
MLB AL Central

Friday, September 07, 2007

Gheorghe Ponders...Part the Third

Like any good member of the East Coast liberal elite, I've spent far fewer words on the AL West than on the other divisions, both in the aggregate (well, there are only four teams to consider), but more importantly, on a per team basis.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Originality: In that there are no other major professional franchises (nor any other remotely prominent teams that come to mind) with heavenly hosts featured in their names, the Angels would seem to score quite high marks in this category. And when they were the California Angels, or even the Anaheim Angels, those high marks were deserved. Now, though, with their too-clever-by-half marketing-driven geographical realignment, they’re translated as the Angels of Angels of Anaheim. That’s not original; it’s something my 5 year-old would conjure, and then reject as moronic.

Geo-cultural relevance: As the California/Anaheim Angels, it was a sly nod to the team’s regional heritage without usurping the Dodgers’ rightful claim to Los Angeles itself. Now, it seems…well, dumb.

Tradition: Meh. The first thing that came to my mind as I pondered this category was Donnie Moore. That’s probably not what the Angels’ brass would select. They do have a World Series win in the 21st Century, and a history of competitive teams. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

If They Named the Team Today…judging by Artie Moreno’s first attempt, they’d come up with something breathtakingly awkward, like the Southern California (Except Los Angeles Proper and San Diego) Grande Mission Cats.

Overall Impact: As the California/Anaheim Angels, this was a terrific team name, Disney-movie bastardization notwithstanding. As the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, it’s a disaster.

Seattle Mariners

Originality: Samuel Coleridge is bitter, but since only about 13% of baseball fans have the first clue who he is, and most of them confuse him with Bruce Dickinson, the M’s are on to something here. It also just sounds good.

Geo-cultural relevance: It’s a city on an ocean inlet, for Chrissakes. People drive boats to Seahawk and University of Washington football games. The only person I know in Seattle lives on an island and must take a ferry to get to downtown. This is a brilliantly evocative name for this town.

Tradition: The Mariners pale in comparison to their expansion brethren from Toronto, having never sniffed the World Series, despite winning 116 games in 2001. They do, however, have the Mariner Moose (a bit of an odd juxtaposition, frankly – they couldn’t have found a narwhal suit, or a salmon costume?). Hell, the team’s Hall of Fame only has four members, one of whom is a broadcaster.

If They Named the Team Today…their corporate overlords from Nintendo would demand cross-promotional value. The Seattle Wiizards, perhaps, or the Game Boyz.

Overall Impact: I love this name. It’s got a good syllabic mix, and it works perfectly for the team’s location. Nice work, pre-grungy dudes.

Oakland Athletics

Originality: As old-school as the game itself, Athletics wasn’t particularly original when the team was named back in the 1860s. Over time, though, as the team moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Oakland, the name took on a retro-kitschy vibe which turned the conservative derivation into a modestly hip new-age moniker. Oddly, the Billy Beane-era A’s are one of the least athletic teams in baseball, since all they care about is hitting homeruns and walking. (/Joe Morgan)

Geo-cultural relevance: If you’d been paying attention even one paragraph ago, you’d remember, and I quote, “…the team moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Oakland”. Try to keep up here, people. Of course there’s no relevance. I’m really gonna need you to start thinking for yourselves.

Tradition: A whole mess of tasty goodness here, as the A’s can trot out Connie Mack, Charlie Finley and his array of silly antics, terrific mustaches in the early 70s, day-glo uniforms, white cleats, Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Dennis Eckersley, the Bash Brothers, mountains of steroids, Dave Stewart, and one of the worst drunken episodes of my collegiate career. Long story.

If They Named the Team Today…they’d seek out the most undervalued naming property available, oblivious to the nervous guffaws of the entrenched “baseball men” still running the game. They’d jump ahead of the trend by going completely corporate, inking a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal to become the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperatives.

Texas Rangers

Originality: As a name itself in a vacuum, this is obviously not an original construction. As a franchise’s tag, though, it’s killer. I wish I’d thought of it first.

Geo-cultural relevance: A no-brainer bullseye. It specifically evokes Texas’ unique and colorful history, from the days of Sam Houston right through Chuck Norris.

Tradition: The team’s use of the name hasn’t nearly lived up its promise. I blame George W. Bush. Sorry, reflex.

If They Named the Team Today…Tom Hicks would drastically overpay a group of swishy naming consultants from some treehugging Pacific Northwest firm to come up with a splashy name, spending so much in the process that he’d hamstring the franchise for several years before he sold the rights to Manhattan. I’m thinking Los Banditos Fabulosos de Tejas.

Overall Impact: Texas Rangers is an awesome name. Shame the team doesn’t live up to it.

AL West Recap:

Of the divisions reviewed to date, this is clearly the most difficult. All of the names are relatively unique and reasonably decent. In the end, the Rangers prevail, nosing out the Mariners, with the Athletics topping the Angels by dint of asinine regional greed.

Next up: NL East (looking for a little grease from the Mets fans who frequents this site - could get ugly if you don't pay the man)

Previous entries:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Week 1: Well, That Certainly Looks Like a Lot of Words

Week One of the 2007-8 NFL Campaign is upon us, and the annual event that has become a yearly tradition at the Wheelhouse will return again to bring joy, sexual arousal and wheelbarrows of belly laughs to the clamoring masses. Yes, it's the weekly NFL picks column where we pick the NFL games (against the spread, like real men) poorly. However, this year, there's a new wrinkle. In the coming weeks, the mental giants who have lo' these many years brought you Jerry's Wheelhouse, Drunk & Stupid and Gheorghe: The Blog will be aggregating our efforts to bring you one all encompassing study in cyber-mediocrity. Our yet to officially be announced new venture will probably launch later this month or possibly in early October...and will be a fancier version of our current respective efforts with some new elitist twists and more overall content. I know--this is kind of like the AFL-NFL merger and Smith meeting up with Wesson all in one. All right. Well, in honor of this informal announcement of a soon to be formalized announcement, the men who will bring you said new site have gotten together to provide a group efforted week one pick'em opus. Each respective contributor picked his favorite squadron's game (for your reference Geoff-Skins, Whit-Skins, rob-Skins, TJ - Jets, Jerry - Giants, Mark - Bucs), plus two others. I know...I've got wood too... Enjoy.


Pittsburgh (-4.5) at Cleveland
Tradition. Fat mustachioed fans. Two "classy" coaches. Clouds.

Shrinking cities. Three yard off-tackle runs. Unusual color schemes.

Two teams that "flat-out don't like each other." Yup, this game has it all, and then some.

If somebody asked me to sum up the difference in media coverage between foreign and American sports, I might say that the CBS broadcast of this heated rivalry is guaranteed to feature some sort of QB comparison graphic that says, "Roethlisberger with Fryes."

: The Fryes will be soggy, the Berger will be well-done, the bun won't even have sesame seeds, and Willie Parker will provide more than enough shake to easily cover the spread. Then Romeo Crenell will eat all of them in an effort to close the 10 fanny-pack gap that his old buddy Charlie Weis has opened up on him.

Carolina (+1) at St. Louis
Last week I dined with Rams owner, Georgia Frontiere, at a lovely little bistro overlooking the Mississippi that came recommended by none other than Dick Vermeil. What a lovely setting and what a lovely woman. Her homespun tales of football and show business nearly had me forgetting about the scrumptious spiced lamb shanks and the delectable pumpkin risotto. After the meal we sipped a knee-buckling good glass of Da Silva's Vintage Port 1865, which is a personal favorite of former commissioner, Paul Tagliabue. Frontiere mentioned to me how excited she was about the upcoming season and how she thinks this is the best squad she's had since the Vermeil-era. She seemed particularly taken by rookie RB, Brian Leonard, as she referenced his versatility, professionalism, and rugged masculinity on several occasions.

Who will win? I don't know. I don't know very much about football.

It's difficult to even think about such a violent game after such a tranquil meal. All I know is, good luck, Men of Linehan. This neutral observer will be hoping the Ram-Men can cast one more ray of sunshine through the misty autumn clouds of this fine woman's life. Rams.

Giants (+6) at Dallas
Woody Paige on the Giants: "I don't like this team, I don't like the quarterback, and I really don't like Tom Coughlin."

Some preview of this game : "Giants at Cowboys. Division rivals split the 2006 series, but N.Y. is headed south, while Dallas is on the way up." (seriously, that's the whole thing and it came from a professional website)

Some terrible writer on claimed there are 24 QBs he'd rather have over Eli Manning, including B
atch, Huard, Garcia, Leinart, Smith, and Leftwich.

I haven't seen a team, (bear in mind a team that has made consecutive playoff appearances), that has been so thoroughly blasted in the media in such a vapidly superfi
cial way. No doubt, the Giants have some concerns, most notably a dreadful secondary, but everything you hear is Barber, Coughlin, Manning stinks. Not much meat on that bone. Now I have a pretty healthy dislike for Coughlin and I think he's a pretty terrible coach, but the Giants have shown they can win games with him stomping around like a hyper-active 60 year old toddler on the sidelines.

Something that a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that the Giants have been pretty good when they're relatively healthy. In 2005 they went 11-5 and won the division. In 2006, they started 6-2, led the Bears at home on Sunday night before going on to completely self-destruct. But they still made the playoffs at 8-8, which is kind of a joke. Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL and nobody gives a damn if your guys are hurt, so I won't be whining about them, but they should be a consideration when projecting a team's prospects for the following year. Dallas had virtually no injuries last year and managed to make the playoffs.

For what it's worth, Eli has looked fantastic in the pre-season, sharp, accurate, composed. He's going to get better. And he hasn't been that bad. I'm constantly amazed by
the amount of stick Eli takes in the media, especially versus other young QBs. You hear people gush about Alex Smith and Matt Leinart. I even heard somebody say "We know Tavaris Jackson is a good QB…" although that was probably an isolated comment. Eli is better than those guys. He really is. He's not a great player right now by any means, but he's pretty decent and he's still going to improve. Barring massive injuries, the Giants are going to have a good offense this year. The defense will have some problems and is going to lose their share of battles, but they also have a good pass rush and the ability to counteract a negative series of plays by getting pressure on the QB. I don't like this Giants team that much, but they're a lot better than they're getting credit for. Giants.


Atlanta @ Minnesota (-3)
A year ago the Vikings were the ones groin-deep in controversy, as the fi
nal dust was settling on Freddie Smoot and his fellow nautical enthusiasts. A year later Smoot's in Redskins camp while Michael Vick is headed to federal prison (some might say a comparable fate), and it's the Falcons who are looking at a long rebuilding season. Word on the street is that Chris Chandler is mulling a comeback, despite the fact that it could result in serious head injuries for him and me. The fact that I'm kidding and yet he might be the Falcons' best good chance against Tarvaris Jackson spells very bad newz for Atlanta. Vikes 23, Falcons 3.

Detroit @ Oakland (-1.5)
Some years ago we were throwing back a few pints in a pub in San Francisco's Financial District. A woman who appeared to have gone to U. of Houston approached the group and bought us a drink. She volunt
eered that she was from "the worst city in the United States"; several locals instantly guessed Oakland. Nope, it was Detroit. Winner. Lions 27, Raiders 13.

Miami @ Washington (-3)

Super Bowl XVII this ain't. The decent Dolphins D ain't the Killer B's; same goes for the albeit-improved Skins' defense as compared to Butz, Milot, Manley, & Co. Ronnie Brown has been only marginally better than the forgettable Andra Franklin, and Portis & Betts (together they're Bettis?) still don't stack up to Riggo. But most importantly, Trent & Jason aren't even Woodley & Theismann, and boy, is that saying something. This game will be the first bleeding eyesore of the season. Enjoy. Redskins 9, Dolphins 7.


Kansas City @ Houston (-3)
Huard versus Schaub. Not exactly Manning versus Brady. The Texans have jumped ugly on unsuspecting team
s in a handful of their season openers*, and the fabled HBO Curse has crippled lesser teams than the Chiefs. Okay, the curse has crippled teams with lesser head coaches. Strike that. The curse has crippled teams with fewer words in the names of their home towns. Noted prognosticator T. Geofferson Burrrrrr whiffed on the Kansas City gridders last season, but he wouldn’t be wrong in 2007 by taking the under on 7 wins. Texans cover the number.

* - Note: this may be purely anecdotal and not necessarily backed by any actual facts.

Most important DNP: Brodie Croyle, because putting him on the field all but assures an injury, and his comely wife won’t have that.

Denver @ Buffalo (+3)
I’ve paid next to zero attention to either of these teams during the preseason, so I know just about nothing about their prospects. I was gonna go with the Bills because I like Marshawn Lynch’s name, but then Denver went and picked up Simeon Rice to counter Buffalo’s naming advantage. In actual fact, I don’t think the Bills will be very good, and I’m a sucker for Mike Shanahan. Broncos’ long-standing grudge against the Bills’ namesake will prove decisive in this one. Denver covers on the road.

Most important DNP: Jake Plummer. Natch.

Miami @ Washington (-3)
The Dolphins and Skins meet in a Super Bowl rubber match, with Garo Yepremian and Mike Bass on tap to re-enact the most awkward pass in Washington history – well, next to Larry Craig’s incomplete effort. Cam Cameron’s new-agey coaching theories and cutting-edge use of the same first and last name has Joe Gibbs and his geriatric staff in a complete tizzy in the days before the game. Joe Bugel’s paralyzed with indecision, trying desperately to figure out whether to punch Cameron in the neck or hit Al Saunders in the mouth. Meanwhile, Clinton Portis just realized that he’s paid to play football and that his backup may in fact be a fairly adept running back. Look for a big game from No. 26, right up until he bruises his s
hin trying to tackle Mike Wise. Dolphins win outright.

Most important DNP: Mark Brunell, because if he’s called on to enter the game, emergency rooms throughout the National Capital Region will experience a marked spike in laceration injuries from frustrated Skins fans putting their fist
s through their television screens.


Dolphins +3 @ Redskins
Number of snaps the Skins starting offense took as a complete unit this preseason: Zero. Pete Kendall and Chris Samuels will be taking their first live snap next to each other on Sunday at FedEx. That said, the Redskins preseason performance this year looked far different compared to last year's Spurrier-esque showing (who loses a preseason game 41-0...seriously?). At the least this iteration looked…what’s the word? Ah yes, competitive…and at it’s best, their defense looked like it might be an elite level unit again. But come Sunday, one wonders if Jason Campbell will be nervous in his first season opener as "the man"? He shouldn't be--he started seven games last year. But Greg told me I'd be an idiot to be nervous at my wedding, and yet I still was while waiting for the ceremony to go figure. I've hedged and equivocated quite a bit, but I’m optimistic about this Skins team--which means I think they could be
at or above .500 heading into December with at least a chance to do something…

And then there's the Phins: They suck. Their offensive line is ghastly, Trent Green is the "answer" only if the question is "Who has two thumbs, is 37 and loves a good gyro?" and their vaunted defense is aging like a fine milk. I like the Skins 24-14.

Saints +6 @ Indianapolis
On a recent flight, I finished reading the vomit bag and the passenger safety guide (showing pictures of people smiling calmly whilst using their seat cushion as a flotation device juxtaposed against a flaming water bound aircraft in the background) and was ultimately relegated to reading American Airlines in flight magazine. It featured a cover story on Drew Brees that delved into every aspect of his life, save for the interesting ones (What’s that thing on his face? Why Purdue? When’s the last time you took the old lady to Poundtown, USA? Ever get her to let you go five-hole?). Apparently Drew LOVES New Orleans—can’t f*cking get enough of it. He loves the restaurants, the people, pouring resources into the local economy, and using small pieces of his vital organs to plug holes in the levees. But, Bourbon Street is “not for him.” What a douchenozzle. I actually like the Saints in this one from a “Indy letdown” perspective, even though I think New Orleans misses the postsea
son this year and the Colts again get double-digit victories. 26-24, Saints.

Philadelphia -6 @ Green Bay
How many times in the last 10 seasons have the Packers been a 6 point dog at Lambeau
? I say…infrequently… And, you really have to give it the media for standing strong on their Favre-love. The blogsphere/counterculture mocking of the media for the unabashed Favre fellatio has been going strong for 4 years now, and the talking heads are still showing no sign of relenting. I’ve personally tired of it and am conceding victory. Favre is “great” and “everything that’s right with America” and “plays football the way it’s meant to be played” and “has a penis so large they could project a drive in movie on it” and “makes minorities, old people and puppies smile with his greatitude” and “throws tight spirals of honeysuckle and magic into the hearts of all ruddy faced children.” Eagles, 38-9.


New England @ NY JETS (+6.5)
Not the way I want the Jetropolitans season to open, against everyone's Super Bowl sweetheart New England. It's the cougar-hunting, hooded sweatshirt-wearing Mentor against The Mangenius. Hey, Bill, you know who really pulls off the hooded look? This guy.

Mangenius did get the cameo on the penultimate Sopranos episode, so his Q rating is off the charts. HOWEVAH, I have serious concerns about the Jets offensive line, and fear Brady and his new brand of offensive weapons will dismantle the Jets secondary. I am very sad to see NW released Raccon Eyes Caldwell, because the close-ups of him in the NE/San Diego playoff game last year were priceless. He looked more clueless than Cliff Clavin on Jeopardy.

Enough delaying the obvious - the Jets are starting the season 0-1 (and failing to cover). Man do the Patriots drive me crazy.

Gambling stat that makes me look like I know what I’m doing when I really don't have a clue:
The Patriots are 7-1-1 ATS in the last 9 meetings.

Baltimore @ CINCINNATI (-2.5)
Well lucky me, I get both Monday night games this week. And lucky for you, the viewer, you get a Joe Theisman-less booth for the entire year. I saw Joe on the MASN simulcast of the John Riggins show yesterday, and let me just say, I’m not gonna miss him in the least. Then I heard he was discussing prostates on the Junkies this morning. Is that awful male version of The View still around, the one with AC Slater and Danny Bonaduce? If so, Joe should be a regular. What does Joe have to do with the Ravens/Bengals game? Absolutely nothing at all.

The actual game...well, I despise Brian Billick, in a LaRussian sort of way. I am convinced Steve McNair will turn to dust on the field this year, Friz Freleng-style. Dust that Devard Darling will try to snort mid-play. Look, Troy Smith made the roster - he spends his nights prank calling Eric Crouch and Jason White. All these unconnected statements simply lead to me taking Carson Palmer and the Bengals (and look, I waited all the way 'til the end to mention that Palmer is on my fantasy team). Shayne Graham boots a 45 yarder as time expires for the cover.

Gambling stat that makes me look like I know what I’m doing when I really don't have a clue:
The home team is 11-5 ATS in the last 16 meetings.

Arizona @ SAN FRANCISCO (-3)
The booth for this game - Mike and Mike...and Mike. Awesome. Can't get enough of those guys. Greenberg, Golic and Ditka for three plus hours. Alex Smith wants everyone know he does not have small hands and he most definitely does not smell like cabbage. Matt Leinart would like to be the white version of procreation machine Travis Henry. Everyone seems to think Arizona will be good this year, but even if they score 30 a game their defense blows. At least I say it does - I have neither the time nor the energy to look up actual stats. I'm taking San Fran by at least a touchdown in this game, mainly because Dennis just sent me this Rotoworld "Gem of the Day":
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, TE Vernon Davis is rumored to have dated Serena Williams.
It's just a rumor of course, but that potential genetic combination is pretty amazing. Boy or girl the kid would probably be wearing spandex, running a 4.4 40-yard dash and bench pressing 350 pounds by the second grade. We don't normally play cupid here at Rotoworld, but this really needs to happen.
Gambling stat that makes me look like I know what I’m doing when I really don't have a clue:
The 49ers are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 MNF games.


Tennesee @ Jacksonville (-7)
By now most of you have read that former Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich was "euphoric" when he learned of his release from Jacksonville late last week. Most have assumed this is b/c of his often rocky relationship with his former axe-wielding, suit wearing maniac meathead of a coach, Jack Del Rio. While this is a solid theory, I have it on good authority that the real reason for Leftwich's exultation was that he had recently caught a glimpse of Reggie Nelson's penis in the locker room and said penis was so monstrous in size that it had been haunting Leftwich's dreams ever since. While cutting Leftwich came as a surprise to most, I can't see how it matters much come Sunday, since Tennessee has exactly one offensive skill position player who is worth a shit in Vince Young. The Jacksonville defense is a juggernaut built to stop the Colts offense so I'm having a tough time imagining them struggling to contain the likes of LenDale White & Bo Scaife. Sorry Titans fans, Yancey Thigpen isn't walking through that door. Even if he did, his chronic case
of ass herpes would render him largely ineffective.

19-7 Jags.

Tampa Bay @ Seattle (-6)

I'd like to optimistic about Tampa's chances this year. However, based on last year's prediction it's safe to say I don't have a goddamn clue what I'm talking about. Here's what I do know:
Cadillac Williams is perpetually banged up, Michael Clayton isn't starting and Jeff Garcia is nailing a Playboy Playmate despite the fact that he's (a) bald and (b) wears a do rag underneath his helmet. Life ain't fair kids.

Don't believe me? Go ask David Boston about his recent experience with the fine folks at the Tampa Police Department.

Seattle is back after an injury plagued post Super Bowl season and looks scary good on offense once again with Deion Branch acclimated to the West Coast Offense and Shaun Alexander healthy. Additionally, FB Leonard Weaver will supply the offense with an additional pass catching dimension out of the backfield that Mack Strong never could, due to splitting time between Seattle and Vivid Video. (Actually, that's probably not true at all but Weaver and I went to the same high school. Go Scorpions!). Either way, Seattle better be ready to put some points on the board with regularity this year because I don't see how their defense stops any competent offense unless they figure out a way to clone Lofa Tatupu 10 times over. Luckily enough for Seattle, they're playing the Bucs who haven't had a competent offense since Doug Williams was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time in Ybor City.

31-17 Seahawks.

Chicago @ San Diego (-5.5)
Has the statute of limitations on referring to San Diego as "whale's vagina" in an NFL picks column run out? God I hope so. Seriously, we get it. It's from Anchorman and Anchorman is funny. You know what else is funny? Watching Rex Grossman try to handle the QB-Center exchange. How did Alex Smith get stuck with the small hands label with Grossman running around fumbling like a pre-Coughlin era Tiki Barber? God only knows. Luckily for you, God's not the only person who knows that Rex spent last night pissing himself at the thought of Shawne Merriman coming off the edge unmolested.

How pathetic of a QB do you have to be replaced by a guy who once injured himself tripping over his dog whilst heavily overserved? Well, we're about find out. The over/under on Griese replacing Rex is Week 6*. I'll take the under, thank you. As for this game, Norv Turner could've probably guided Team USA to a semifinal loss to Puerto Rico in last week's Tournament of the Americas but even he won't be able to fuck this game up. Have no fear AFC fans, he'll make sure he takes care of sabotaging this Charger team eventually. If I had to guess, I'd say somewhere around Week 11. The nauseating Super Bowl hangover begins tonight Chicago. Have fun with that.

* May be completely untrue.

27-10 Chargers.

Okay fellas...candlesticks always make a nice gift. Let's get two...