Sunday, November 30, 2014

zman's Annual Bills/Browns Preview, Alternatively Titled "Why do I keep doing this to myself?"

This is the seventh Bills/Browns game in eight years and my fourth preview of these usually meaningless games. I say "usually meaningless" because these teams always finish at the bottom of their divisions, hence the annual matchups, but this year both teams are above 0.500 and the Browns are legitimate playoff contenders. The Browns have won four of the last six meetings and I suspect they'll win again on Sunday.

That said, these teams are remarkably similar, at first blush. The Bills have scored 238 points and allowed 207 (good for +31) while Cleveland has scored 242 points and allowed 219 (+23). Both teams have young first-round QB's riding the pine behind old journeymen. They rank 6th and 9th (clicks!) in terms of lowest turnover percentage, and they rank 16th and 17th in terms of highest scoring percentage. That said, they arrive at the same place via different routes.

The Bills get most of their offensive work done through short efficient passes and avoiding INTs. They've attempted the 13th most passes but have the 6th fewest yards per attempt. But that's ok with me because they're only 1 TD behind the league average and only four teams have a lower INT%. The running game is a bit of an afterthought--only five teams have fewer rush attempts and they all suck (ATL, JAX, TEN, TB, OAK) so they're probably stuck playing catch-up all the time and thus passing. The Bills have only 5 rushing TD; only four teams have fewer (PIT, SD, OAK, and TB all have 4 rushing TD). They finally got a RB over the 300 yard mark for the season last week (Boobie Dixon) and no one has more than 80 carries after eleven games. For the first time in forever their rush defense is good, ranking eighth, second, and tenth in rushing yards, rushing TD, and rushing yards/attempt, respectively. They also lead the league with 46 sacks, good for a 10.5% sack percentage which is almost two full points more than the next best team (Philly).

As I noted previously, the Browns have the lowest completion percentage in the league--55.6%, tied with the Jets and almost three full percentage points below the #30 team. But they have average more yards per completion than any other team--14.0 yards, which is 1.1 yards more than the #2 team (the Tennessee Inbreds). I guess this means that the Browns go for broke in the passing game and swing for the fences every time Brian Hoyer drops back. So it's odd that they have only 11 passing TD, 29th in the NFL. They do, however, have the second most rushing attempts and rushing TD, so maybe their plan is to throw bombs to get to the goal line and then pound it in from there. Or maybe they grind it out for the most part, occasionally taking deep shots down the field and being successful about half the time. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Josh Gordon returned to Cleveland's lineup last week after serving a 10 game suspension. In case you don't watch much of the NFL, Josh Gordon is really good at football, particularly the aforementioned "deep shots" aspect of football.

Cleveland's defense is stout against the pass (ranking ninth, eight, and first in passing yards, passing TD, and INT, respectively) and willowy against the run (ranking twenty-ninth, seventeenth, and twenty-eight in rushing yards, rushing TD, and rushing yards/attempt, respectively).

So on paper this should be a good matchup with both teams' strengths countered by the other's strengths. Ultimately though all of the previous comparing and contrasting was useless. Josh Gordon's return throws all those numbers out the window and Cleveland's offense will take a leap forward and will be too much for the Bills to handle. Further, Cleveland hasn't allowed more than 24 points in seven weeks (and only twice all season) while Buffalo has scored more than 24 points only three times all year and two of those games were against the Jets so they don't really count.

Plus if Buffalo wins this week then they have a good shot at winning eight games (the eighth win being Oakland in week 16) and that simply can't happen.

Final score: Browns 17, Bills 11

Saturday, November 29, 2014

CFB Week 13 Picks

Thankful. If my per game wager was $20,000,000, I'd be up $20,000,000 through 13 weeks. Pretty impressive heh? If I had been on the ball and done this ahead of time, UVA would been put in the "Lock of the Week" category, so am thankful for being lazy. Rivalry week is in full form. And if we're honest, we really should have had this completed prior to yesterday when a few of the better games were contested. Oh well - not the first time GTB nation has been a victim of procrastination.

The picks....

Ga Tech +12.5 at Georgia O/U 65.5
Keeping with the lazy/procrastination trend, I'm going to mess with your mind and kill a couple of birds with one stone here. In what should be a pretty good game today, the Yellow Jackets head to Athens with both squads 9-2 and UGA being likely bumped out of the SEC championship game with Missouri's win over Arkansas yesterday. Is that deflating for the 'Dawgs? Regardless, both teams have among the best rushing and scoring offenses in the country. Gurley is out but everyone knows by now Chubb is every bit as effective. This might very well be a "whoever has the ball last, wins" scenarios in a shootout of moderate proportions. I'm taking the Jackets and the Over, over. What's your Vector Victor?
Jackets & the Over

Something both UGA & Tech fans can agree on

Liberty Flames at JMU Dukes -4
Today in THE 'Burg, (sorry Wrens but you'll be watching it on the tele) the Flames will take on the Dukes who are red hot and on a 7-game winning streak. Following the Dukes is something I have done very little of this year, as in I haven't. At all. I don't even know the name of their new coach. What I do know is that his predecessor's squads had the tendency to finish their seasons trending the other way, losing their last 3 out of 4, or 4 out of 5 and just missing the playoff or getting in and playing to that trend only to be tossed aside as the losers they were. Well, not this year buddy! Or buddies! No sir. Their QB is fully expected to complete many passes to his key Wide Receiver. And their Fullback - watch out. He can run, both north/south & east/west. And their D Coordinator - he can run a defense. Look for technique tackling and high on the shoulder blocking today as the alma mater of the Danimal douses the Flames for entry into Round II of the playoffs.

Georgia Tech +12.5 at Georgia
I'm with Danimal here. Georgia is the better team but not 12.5 points better. I'm going with the Rambling Wreck in a game that will feature approximately 300 rushing attempts. For the record, Ill be taking Georgia Tech over FSU in next weekends ACC Championship game too.

Michigan at Ohio State -21
Rivalry games are often hard to handicap as downtrodden teams get up for the chance to ruin their biggest rival's season. That was the case in this game last year and the Wolverines nearly toppled Ohio State. Not gonna happen this year though. The Buckeyes are much better than last years team and they're still playing for a shot at the CFB final four. Buckeyes.

Baylor at Texas Tech O/U 79.5
Both these teams score a ton and neither is particularly strong defensively. It's that simple. Take the over.

(Insert Picks By FL guy here)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Clarence Explains It All

Clarence is not a role model. He’s not even human. He’s a cartoon. Some of the things he does could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: Don't try this at home.

"When Black Friday comes, I'm gonna stake my claim. I'm gonna change my name."  
--Donald Fagen and Walter Becker

-- Donald Fagen

Some folks wait all year to get incredible bargains today.  For others, the thought of venturing anywhere close to stores today induces nausea.  Clarence, as you probably recall, loves to spend Black Friday waxing philosophical about stuff. This is in stark contrast to Rob's recent advice to do more listening and less talking. So be it.

Enjoy another edition of Clarence Explains It All.

Clarence Explains RGIII
For about a year now, I have held strong to one opinion on Robert Griffin the Third.  This man excels at one version of football offense, the read option.  Cue the 2012 overachievement footage.  Several disastrous plays that year led to two things: RGIII getting injured and Mike Shanahan getting vilified.  Cue the 2013 backlash footage. Save Robert by making him a pocket passer.  Except this isn't Rocky III and southpaws don't become proficient righties. My awesome hedge trimmer makes a crappy lawn mower.  Or something like that.  And this line can't hold blocks for more than 1.69 seconds.

Now that Washington is bottoming out yet again, Gruden's looming performance review is shaky at best, and Griffin either looks to be holding a clipboard or dumped for a song, please listen to what Clarence has been saying for a year.  Go back to the no holds barred read option melee.  Wouldn't each of the stakeholders involved throw most degrees of caution to the wind at this point and like to see what happens?  

Because here's what will happen otherwise:
  • Colt McCoy gets bludgeoned, same as any QB behind that line
  • RGIII is waived or traded for a 5th round pick
  • Whoever takes him runs the read option and he wins Comeback Player of the Year
I know Gruden doesn't run that kind of offense, or at least he hasn't in the past.  But ask Zman how much fun it is to see Marshawn Lynch dominate these days. (Hell, the Bills should be first in line for RGIII.) It will pain us to see this kid excel elsewhere.  

Clarence Explains UVa
Sorry for the left turn, but let's not be afraid to tackle terrifying subjects, people.  And I only have one minor point here.  As a semi-staunch lefty, I see some of my R-voting friends often grimace at the let's-just-see-how-stupid-the-American-public-is, right-wing rhetoric that emanates from certain media sources.  Like the Washington Times linking every natural disaster of the 1990's to the Clinton Administration.  Or more recently, this. (The Bobby Jindal clip is mind-numbing.) It's a means to a GOP end, so I understand it, but it's a bit much, and my level-headed comrades often shake their heads.

Similarly, Rolling Stone magazine often makes me do the same thing on the other side.  The publication's journalistic indictments of Republican leaders and their ilk often stray two or three steps beyond what I would call a practical assessment of the situation.  I'll admit some negative bias owing to this magazine's acute divergence from the being THE authority on great music into a $10/copy ragsheet featuring slanted political commentary and oh, by the way, here's a puff piece on an overreported musical act 15 years past their heyday.  But even objectively speaking, Rolling Stone makes me grimace with some of their takes.

The UVa story? As I read it, I couldn't help my preconceived opinion seeping in.  That the reporting might have been embellished and too fine a point placed on trashing one university for a pervasive campus problem.  But, and it's a Kardashian-sized but, even if that were true, and I hope it isn't, it's a means to an end.  If the shredding of the University of Virginia's pristine image had to happen to shed enough light on a fucking horrible, seemingly repeated ad nauseum (literally) phenomenon of atrocity at that school, then I am all for it. And Rolling Stone may have been the perfect vehicle to do so.  I just hope that we don't see any lawsuits pop up that poke holes in the story enough to diminish the momentum emanating from this edition.  It's weird to say.  As much as I wish the UVA story were fiction, I truly hope that the magazine didn't inject its common brand of liberal bias, as it's called, fictionalizing any of it in any way in order to take the account over the top.

Clarence Explains Men
Reading the RS story makes most any man feel ashamed for his gender.  Knowing that the perpetrators couldn't claim to be a gang of people whom life had stepped upon, whom education and understanding had missed, is even worse.  Males have been sexually assaulting females since we did so in caves.  Otherwise reputable men are undone by libido every day.  Whether God or science is responsible for the makeup of man, the male of the species is flawed.  In order to keep humans on the planet, we are physiologically wired to want women.  The desire has populated the planet since our inception, but it also can be dreadful.  It compels men at each stop on the intellectual continuum; from cognitively challenged to genius-level men, it's the great equalizer -- the testosterone gets us all, and we want sex, and sometimes, we want it right now.  Most of us keep that desire in check, but at the very least it has made us look stupid and unsavory more than once. Clarence is no exception.  The fact that we aren't the type of people who would even consider gang rape an option in our drunkest, most vicious frames of mind doesn't mean we aren't part of this flawed gender.  Casual flirtations, torrid affairs, even obsessions to porn or prostitutes -- they hurt women, too. Hell, the fact that men simultaneously denigrate hookers and keep the oldest profession alive and well points to a problem bigger than us.  The biology sucks, and I don't have an answer.  I'll probably get drunk tonight, want some sex, and act like an idiot to get it.  But we draw the line somewhere, as foolhardy as that may seem.  I confess to sympathizing when men, particularly ones who have a track record of good deeds and helping folks, negatively and irreversibly alter their lives with sex, be it a backseat blowjob or a years-long affair.  But I couldn't possibly conjure anything but nasty bile for men who take pleasure in harming women, and I guess that's how Clarence sleeps at night.

Clarence Explains Bill Cosby
Holy fuck.  This one hurts.  It falls into the latter category of the last section; if the Cos had merely fallen prey to the typical male's sex addiction* and gotten his rocks off consensually with women not his betrothed for 40 years, I'm shrugging.  Drugging and raping is not in the same galaxy, Dr. Cosby, and I'm wincing.  Not for him -- fuck him, and may justice be served.  For me, and for the headache we all get when we wonder whether we are allowed to ever enjoy Dumb Donald or Theo Huxtable or Jell-o pudding pops or some hilarious records or my college graduation commencement speech.  Do I have to boycott all of those things?  Can I just enjoy them objectively while discounting the human associated with them? It's disappointing, any way you answer that.

*Okay, that's two things in a row I can't explain.  But I will explain this. It's my belief that any man claiming sex addiction is full of shit. In our circle of friends, an affair was recently exposed.  The woman has been completely trashed as a home-wrecking whore, the guy claimed sex addiction, got some counseling, and was relatively unscathed. Generally speaking, the female gets the shaft in the court of public opinion on these matters, but this is total bullshit.  Nearly every non-eunuch man has a sex addiction.  See the last section.  It's how we keep the species alive.  We want it all the damn time.  Like right now.  Seriously, right now I want to make sweet, sweet love to a woman.  Call me, ladies.  So, dudes like Tom Sizemore, Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, Eliot Spitzer, and many more: stop copping out and being a pussy, and just own it.  You are a stupid, stupid man who wants sex constantly like the rest of us. You don't duck the thunder on that crap pseudo-diagnosis.

Clarence Explains Scott Stapp
Creed lead singer Scott Stapp is apparently broke and homeless and deranged. Among other things, he texted his estranged wife: ""Florida is not safe. Biological weapons on the way. U have to leave with kids and meet me in Atlanta." Clarence tells you that he is spreading this anti-Florida message that to get back at Otto Wolfcastle for making fun of him and his shit music.

Clarence Explains Ferguson
The more you learn about this story, doesn't it seem like this is one of those cases -- as most are -- where the truth is somewhere in between? Like Michael Brown and Darren Wilson were both wrong to some degree, and it cost one his life and the other his career (most likely), and it was an unfortunate incident through which we should advance relations via education and a cautionary tale but through which we will actually regress because people take out their misdirected aggressions, far worsening relations?  This wasn't Rodney King.  And people should remember: in the Rodney King mess, 11,000 people were arrested, dozens were killed, and Rodney was drunk and did elude police -- and some years later he drowned in a pool jacked up on most every drug. The truth of these stories is always way more complex than you can put on a posterboard.  This media-stoked fire just temporarily covers up the grief of an unfortunate incident with a whole lot of anger and hatred... which fuel further incidents. Two wrongs don't make a right, people, but three rights do make a left. Think about it.

Clarence Explains Gheorghe
I've had a weak year of G:TB output, and I'm not alone. The blog has been held together by a few, most notably Rob. Let's get Gheorghemas going and make up for that in a big way.  The holidays aren't what they once were for Clarence, so a fun distraction is needed.

Well, that's about it.  Have fun this holiday weekend.  Now back to your regularly scheduled dipshittery.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Very G:TB Thanksgiving

In a bit of an upset, we've actually continued a tradition from one year to the next.

Happy Thanksghivingh, friends of Gheorghe. You're the best.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

If Not Me, Whom? If Not Now, When?

I've decided that it's time. Time to stop talking about doing something, and actually do something. I not pleased with the state of political affairs headed into the 2016 Presidential election. We're going to wind up having to choose between a Clinton and a Bush again, or worse, between a Clinton and Mitt Romney (laugh if you want, but that dude is laying the foundation for another run, and the GOP is flirting with him). That's an unacceptable set of choices for me.

And so I ask for your support.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Feats of Daring Week

As usual, we stumble into a theme by sheer force of laziness and desperation.

We established yesterday that I'm a mediocre mountain biker. Today, an endeavor at which I'm far more accomplished, yet still miles (inches?) behind the art's most sublime practitioners.

Chinese driver Han Yue recently set the world's record for tightest parallel park, squeezing his Mini into a spot with only 3.15 inches to spare.

Enjoy his stunt parking stylings.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Balls, Wall, Heart, Throat

There's a point in time when you realize you don't have 'it'. Situational, that 'it'. Talent, some days. Motivation, others. Still others, simply will.

Today's one of the latter days.

I'm a mediocre mountain biker. I enjoy it, but I'm not very good at it, especially when the terrain gets technical. Partly because I don't spend enough time practicing, but - if I'm being honest - mostly because I just don't have the balls to let it go, trust the bike, and just wind out down the steepest descents.

Danny Macaskill, on the other hand, has it. Just watch. And if your heart doesn't catch in your throat around the 4:45 mark, then maybe you have it, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dying At the Bottom of a Pit in the Blazing Sun

So many songs to choose from as we parse the wee one’s orders to create riveting musical content by listing our favorite ten songs. However, I chose to write about just one song – the greatest song in the history of rock and roll. Not Stairway or Baba or Born to Run. I’m talking about the greatest, most indulgent, grandiose, vocally spectacular, wailing 9+ minute rock opera of them all – Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell. Before you scoff or chortle, you need to acknowledge (as I do) that a small part of the brilliance of this song is the spectacularly 1970’s-ish feel of this tune. It does not attempt to be transcendent. It lives within the confines of 1977, but turns the conventional pop-rock composition concept on its head. The video below of a live performance of this song is absurdly over the top and of low quality, which makes it all the more fantastic from a dramatic and unintentional comed perspective. If you want the studio version of the song, which features a less masturbatory intro, get it here.

Allow me to indulge you with possibly more than you ever cared to know about a song that was deeply impactful to my early appreciation of rock and roll. It is also a part tribute to my deceased mother, who was a hip, hip lady who turned me on to a lot of cool music as a kid and even quietly tolerated my Weird Al phase when I was eleven.

Background. While the majesty of this song is nothing without the power of Meatloaf’s pipes, his imprint on the song is vocals alone. The brainchild behind the album was arranger Jim Steinman, who wanted to make a good old rock opera. Without his ego and courage, this whole bizarre album would not have happened. And it certainly was bizarre. It had Phil Rizzuto (Phil Rizzuto!)! It had motorcycle sounds! It had a pre-Night Court Ellen Foley! And it had more graphic sexual imagery than you would want to hear from a young, husky Meatloaf.

Why the Hell Do You Care About this Song and Album So Much, TR? Let’s start with that album cover. I have vivid memories of being a young boy and going through my mom’s album collection with my older sister. It’s a shame that music won’t be as vivid a multi-sensory experience to future generations as it was to me growing up. An album was a THING. You could hold it, stare at the front, the middle, the back, the lyrics in the middle and wonder about all the thought that went into the packaging. As a kid, I remember the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine album, the Stones’ Tattoo You album, which featured a goat hoof in a high heeled shoe, and, of course, Bat Out of Hell. As a kid, you could not help but be drawn to it. It was evil and enticing all at once. There was a dude on a motorcycle. Exploding out of the ground. At night. In a cemetery. While a mega-bat sitting on a mausoleum squawks in the background. How badass is that? Very. It felt like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to when I was staring at that thing, which made it that much better, probably because it had “the H word” on the cover. I’m not sure how much I would’ve liked Devil Went Down to Georgia at that same age without the “I’ve told you once, you son of a bitch…” line. Cursing was cool to five year-old me.

Part I - The Intro (0:00 to 1:45). I don’t know of any song that goes from 0-60 quicker. The first 105 seconds of this song (the first 100, to be precise, since it really starts ripping five seconds in) are EPIC. Pure bravado and excess. It reminds me of the conclusions to some of my favorite old Phish jams. And that’s just the start. I dare you to crank this part in your car and not feel better about your life for having done so.

Part II - The Story Unfolds (1:45 to 2:57). There is a bit of mystery as to a possible secret meaning to the lyrics. Many see it as a Springsteen tribute or Springsteen parody. Making this more intriguing is the fact that E Street Band pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg were the session drummers for the entire album. Bittan’s ivory tickling here is especially E Street Band-esque. We’re getting an opaque orgy of dismal imagery, offset by a boy’s love for a girl. But it’s just a tease. Meatloaf hasn’t even started wailing yet! This song was actually part of a Neverland-themed play that Steinman had composed in the past. But that’s less relevant. Who gives a shit about Peter Pan?

Part III - The Chorus (2:57 to 3:37): Meatloaf starts wailing! When I was younger, I used to think the lyrics were about a one-night stand, but who the hell knows. This part can be interpreted many ways. But most involve visualizing Meatloaf making love, so let’s not go too deep here.

Part IV – Motorcycle Conquers Teen Angst (3:37 to 5:23): Segue to traditional teen anthem – motorcycles, decaying city, teen angst. Speeding on a motorcycle will prove to be a bad thing later, Meatloaf! This section also features my favorite cheesy lyrics in the song: “Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls.” I love this, because Meatloaf’s voice pulls off all the goofy lyrics. He could read the ingredients in a bag of Doritos and have me riveted. Maybe that’s just because I eat too much and love Doritos. But Meatloaf is pretty clear here – he is qualmless about being damned for dancing through the night with a special woman. Pretty minor offense to be damned for, IMO.

Part V – Chorus Reprise (5:23 to 6:12): Same chorus, but extra em-PHA-sis on the last words. And we get the motorcycle revving at the end, letting us know it’s time to get back on our hog for one last fateful trip.  

Part VI – Solo (6:12 to 6:54): Dueling motorcycle-piano solo!  You never hear Asia, Styx or Boston doing that. 

Part VII – Motorcycle Accident! (6:54 to 7:40): Speed proves to be Mr. Loaf’s problem, as he “…never see(s) the sudden curve ‘til it’s way too late.” More motorcycle sounds are added to reinforce the obvious. There’s been a wreck. And it's bad.

Part VIII – Is Meatloaf’s Heart Jesus Christ? (7:40 to 8:52): My favorite verse in the song gets repeated twice. First slowly, then with the power of those pipes. “I’M DYING AT THE BOTTOM OF A PIT IN THE BLAZING SUN.” Fuck. Yeah. And then we get the cathartic after-math. His heart, still beating, is breaking out of his body and flying away, like, you guessed it, a bat out of hell. And if you’re scoring at home, that’s eight seconds that he takes to hold that least hellllllllllllllllll. After his sixth time of saying that line. You try to do that shit and see how it goes. Song fades out and we all take a deep breath and think about having a smoke.

Part IX – What Comes Next on the Album: We get this gem. Tremendous intro.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Week Are We Almost Done With This Picking Thing?

Yeah - not gonna lie to ya - I won't be sad when we are done with this weekly assignment. I motion for 2 games per week in 2015. All in favor?
As I was sitting here on the couch beginning at 545 am thanks to our youngest who just has to get up and into our bed at about 515, I realized after having put the computer away that not only had I not produced my picks but I hadn't a clue on this week's matchups other than knowing it was a crap week - the worst, by far this year.

Boston College +17 at Florida State
Mark is correct, betting against FSU each and every week would prove profitable. They are targets. They are in many eyes, numero uno. They have that Heisman guy as their QB. BC has had a week off after losing to Louisville at home by 19. Is Florida State looking ahead to next week's game against in-state rival Florida? Could THIS be the week FSU finally stumbles and is shocked by the far less talented catholic fellas from the Northeast? It's highly unlikely but they'll cover.
Boston College

Missouri +3.5 at Tennessee
At 8-2 with a head scratching loss to Indiana, Missouri heads to Knoxville for the game of the day. At 5-5 Tennessee is fighting for its life and bowl eligibility. Should be an interesting one. For more insight and analysis on this one, give me a call today and I'll walk you through it.

Louisville +3 at Notre Dame.
Ahhhh fuck it. The implosion that is happening before our eyes in South Bend brings joy to many and literal madness to others. Why on earth would anyone bet against a "trend" of turning the ball over more than 3 times per game over the last 7 and simply not assume that trend is a habit, learned behavior that for whatever reason is impossible to alter for this team and more specifically their QB? Faith, I guess. Do you know this line started at -9? Touchdown Jesus H. Now, it would be very surprising if Louisville hasn't watched the tapes of the last month+ to learn how to score a shit ton of points against the Irish. I'm sure they did, but with adjustments and coaching of the young'uns that have had to fill in for the wounded, along with a W in the turnover battle, ND wins handily.

Mark is working today. Sucks to be him. Here are his picks.

Eastern Kentucky +30.5 at Florida
Finally, our long statewide nightmare is over. Will Muschamp is no longer the Head Coach of Florida Football. Well, technically he still is for another week but he's not coming back and, maybe, Florida will hire a coach who doesn't treat offense like the proverbial red headed step child. I think the Gators rally around Muschamp and give FSU a game next week. This week though? I expect a sloppy unfocused effort. Florida probably won't lose to EKU like they did to Georgia Southern in this spot last year but they're not winning by 4+ TDs. EKU.
Stanford at Cal +5.5

One of the more underrated rivalries in America. Also the rivalry with the dumbest, unoriginal name. The Big Game? Really? With all the smart, creative thinkers these two schools produce and that's the best they can do? Anyway, Cal's been better than expected this year and especially tough at home while Stanford is an anemic offensive outfit with a very average QB. Golden Bears cover and maybe even get a win.

Missouri at Tennessee -3.5
Missouri has killed me this year. I've missed the mark on them 5 times this season so it makes sense that I'm running it back one more time today. Because, you see, I'm not very smart or particularly good at learning from mistakes. The insertion of Josh Dobbs has changed the Volunteer offense and energized the fanbase. Missouri is playing for the SEC East title but they won't be able to pull out a late road victory (as has been there M.O. this year) in Knoxville. Get ready to hear 'Rocky Top' approximately 130 times tonight as the Vols win.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Procastinate Even While I'm Procrastinating

Still working on my top 10(ish) songs opus, but it's turning into a serious project. I might release it in chapters.

Until then, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Old 97's (a band that will certainly factor into my list) debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome, a pair of versions of my favorite tune from that album.

First, the original studio recording, which has since morphed from a bluegrass head-nodder into a straight-ahead rocker:

And, for Shlara and KQ, a sweaty Rhett version that rocks, though the sound quality is brutal:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Regularly Scheduled Dipshittery

At Clarence's request, something to take our minds off of the terrifically shitty news of the day. It promises to get better, though, as President Obama's scheduled announcement regarding U.S. immigration policy will undoubtedly be met with universally bipartisan hosannas and an as-yet-unseen coming together of the body politic on Twitter.

Ah, fuck it. Look at this picture. It's the top response when you do a Ghoogle image search for 'regularly scheduled dipshittery'. We win the internet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gheorghe Photo of the Week

Two great tastes that go great together, NFL Hall of Famer Darrell Green and G:TB Hall of Famer Gheorghe Muresan.

I have a DG 28 jersey, and Rob has a Gheorghe 77 jersey.  We will be re-enacting this photo the next time we hang out.

Monday, November 17, 2014

For Those Times When Mainlining Taco Bell Seems Like Too Much Effort

Mass market food purveyors are in a constant zero sum battle for the tastes and wallets of the American consumer. Every KFC Double Down begets a McRib begets a Friendly's Grilled Cheese Double Melt. Repeat ad absurdum.

The same holds true for soda marketers, fighting against a seemingly inexorable tide of health-conscious imbibers who've forsaken the tried and true sugarwater for "healthy" smoothies and glorified tapwater. Coca Cola Black Cherry Vanilla, anyone?

But today, we celebrate the truly inspired flavor geniuses at Mountain Dew. Not content with pushing the soda envelope to Orange Citrus Kickstart Mtn Dew or Mountain Dew Voltage (we assume it comes with a Ritalin drip), they've broken the heretofore theoretically impenetrable food/drink boundary.

Friends, we give you Doritos flavored Mountain Dew.

Do not adjust your blog settings. Do not look around for Alan Funt. Do pull that trashcan closer in an effort to catch the inevitable vomit that's about to erupt from that place in your intestines that's smarter than your brain.

Yet another example of the tried, true, and so often forgotten truism that just be
cause you can do something doesn't mean you should. And what's worse, the marketing mavens at Pepsi have branded this Frankensteinian monstrosity 'Dewitos', which sounds like a combination of baby talk and duck digits.

We've got an early frontrunner for the winner of next year's Scary Story Contest

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Short Attention Span Book Reviews

As a rule, follow-through isn't one of my strengths. I'd go as far as to say that it's one of my most obvious weaknesses, if I'm being honest. My life is littered with the detritus of business ideas, short stories, home projects, and any number of other notions that I started and didn't finish. Given the fact that I'm clearly aware of this character flaw, you'd think that age would give me the wisdom to rectify it, or at least be aware of not taking on things that I'll struggle to finish. Instead, the opposite seems to be be happening as I grow older.

A recent case in point: my inability to focus on one book long enough to complete it before starting another. By my count, I am currently in the middle of five different books, having just this week finally finished Pat Conroy's excruciatingly honest memoir, The Death of Santini.

Because it's really difficult to have any idea when (or even whether) I'll finish any of the five, I thought you might be interested in a partial review of each book. Consider it sort of a bizarro Sentence of Dave.

Mark Leyner, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

That same sentence artist turned me on to Leyner's sui generis brand of literary lunacy a long time ago. The author's dizzyingly comedic style reminds me of nothing so much as a coke-fueled Robin Williams standup routine with a plot, albeit a loosely connected one that may or may not choose to resolve itself. According to my Kindle app, I'm about 39% of the way through 'Nutsack', which is, as near as I can tell, the story of a group of modern-day gods ensconced in a Dubai skyscraper and obsessed with an unemployed anti-semitic plumber from New Jersey named Ike Carton, who may or may not be Jewish.

The story presents itself as the ritualistic chanting of a tribe of bards, with every diversion and recursion folded into the story as a natural extension, and in true Leyner fashion, nearly every paragraph is a diversion - he's a master of the non-linear. As Ben Marcus explains in a New York Times review of the book, "[Leyner] is either a genius or a freak, and it may not matter which, because his books are compulsively readable, created by a literary mind that seems to have no precedent." Frankly, it's exhausting, and made moreso by my lack of attention span. I'm doing a lousy job of reading this book, to be honest.

Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue

This is my first Chabon book, though I'm familiar with his lofty reputation. I picked this up at a little bookstore in Healdsburg, CA a few weeks ago, because I obviously needed to carry one more book home on the plane.

Set in 2004 on a decaying street on the border between Berkeley and Oakland, the first 92 pages of Telegraph Avenue tell the story of a failing vinyl record store owned by a pair of friends. Brokeland Records' demise seems to be hastening, as the community's most prominent political force as brokered a deal to attract a big box megamedia store owned by a football star-turned entrepreneur.

The book moves easily between its modern setting and the early days of one of the protagonists' father's modestly successful blaxploitation film career. Chabon has a gift for detail, and for conveying sounds and smells that drive the action. Both cinematic and musical, the book tackles themes of race, gender, social equality, and gentrification. Or at least I think it will.

Bob Ryan, Scribe

The veteran sportswriter's memoir is a fairly straightforward account of his time in the game, at least up to 1987, but it's told with brevity and wit. It doesn't hurt that Ryan got to cover some of the best NBA teams of all-time, pre-Jordan Bulls. His love for sports, particularly NBA basketball, is clear, as is his obvious gratitude for the life he's led.

Ryan's not looking to break any news in this book, but his choice of John Havlicek as the greatest basketball player in history might at least offer a starting point for an interesting barstool debate.

Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Harbach's debut novel was highly touted upon its release in 2011, later being named one of the New York Times' Best Books of the year. It's equal parts Chip Hilton and Jane Smiley, a slowly-unfolding story about the baseball team and President of Westish College, a fictional Division III school hard on the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan. It's got romance (both in baseball and human terms), bromance, and a bit of Kinsellan mysticism.

I'd read some reviews of this one when it was released, and am apprehensively turning pages in dread of the Knoblauchian plot twist that befalls the story's mild-mannered and decent central character. And so while Harbach's book is beautifully drawn, it may take me some time to work up the courage to finish it.

Jamie Summerlin, Freedom Run

One of my co-workers is an avid endurance athlete, and as a formerly overweight kid and young adult, particularly drawn to stories of perseverance and overcoming limits. (He's also, coincidentally, married to one of my wife's college roommates, so I've known him for many years prior to working with him.) In a previous professional life, he was a professor at West Virginia University, where he taught Summerlin.

The subtitle to this book is 'A 100-Day, 3,452-Mile Journey Across America to Benefit Wounded Veterans'. Summerlin, a former Marine, decided in 2010 that his training as an endurance athlete could be put to use in service of a greater good. As he writes in the prologue, "Maybe running is what I can use to accomplish something more meaningful. Maybe that is my calling in life."

And then he went and ran from Coos Bay, OR to Rehoboth Beach, DE. I assume he made it, though I've only read the first few pages. I started reading this one expecting that I would meet Jamie at the Richmond Marathon yesterday, where I'd planned to run the half. My absurd work (and eating) schedule over the past few weeks led me to defer my race entry until next year, so I've got 365 days or so to finish the story.

Maybe I'll have completed one or two of the other books on this list by then.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Week TA- WELVE!!! Whaaaa?

Hello Friends.

What would the sports talk radio douche nozzles discuss if the CFB Playoff didn't exist? Any idea?
We enter into the 12th week and Danimal still holds a pretty comfortable lead over Bad News Hughes. I was able to significantly diminish the pain of my 2nd half bad beat in the ND/ASU game last week by getting a little aggressive with the Buckeyes. But still, bad beats linger.

Okay, this week we're starting with...

Nebraska +6.5 at Wiscaaansin
Sorry. This is my lazy pick of the week. I'll try and make it up to you.

Virginia Tech +4 at Duke
Maybe a predictable pick here I admit. Mark & I have a tendency, understandably so, to pick teams we have an interest in, or have success with from a betting perspective. It's a combination here. Betting against VaTech usually means a W with a 3-6 ATS record. Duke, conversely, is 7-2 and 5-0 at home. I believe my old h.s. pal and AD in Blacksburg is going to sooner than later be in the uncomfortable spot of having to shitcan Frank Beamer. Few if any coaches in the land deserve more credit than he for what he has done with that program. But his time is done. My prediction is they go into Durham as a listless bunch due to his inability to get them motivated when things aren't going their way. And should I be wrong, Duke is an exceptionally coached, 7-1 team. Their schedule leaves a bit to be desired but they've beaten who they were supposed to beat and few they were underdogs to. Tech doesn't do that.

South Carolina +7 at Florida
Who's 2-5 in the conference you ask? It's the Cawwwcks! No kidding. The Gators are 4-3! Mark has to be prettttty pleased with that considering where things were leading a short while ago. Okay, "pleased" might be too strong of a word. These two are almost mirror images of each other imo. SC has lost a few very close ones including an OT loss to UT, a 1-score loss to AUB, a 1-score loss to UK, and a 1-point loss to the SEC East winner, Missouri. On the flip side, UF has won the their close ones, 2 of the 3 anyway (losing to LSU by a Figgie). What we've got is two underperforming teams here, the difference being one has a better coach and a 7-point head start.
Gamecocks (I think they win too for what that is worth)


This is a sad time of year. The Oktoberfest beers are becoming harder to find on tap at our local pub. The leaves are beginning to fall from the trees (at least that's what I told happens up north) and you realize we don't have much time left in the College Football season. It's a sad time. But it's not time to sit around and cry into your beer. Make the most of it and wager recklessly. That's what I do. Actually that's what I do all season long but it fit well with the intro.

Auburn +2.5 at Georgia- Auburn's season blew up on them at home last week. They let an average Texas A&M team come into their place and jump all over them early. Then they fumbled away their chance at redemption (twice) near the end to seal a defeat to the Aggies. Auburn could come into this game downtrodden and unfocused. I doubt it. Not when they're taking on their second biggest rival. Furthermore, despite the return of Todd Gurley, I believe Auburn is a much better team than UGA. Gus Malzahn and the Tigers run the ball as well as any team in America and Florida showed us that the Bulldogs struggle badly to stop the run, especially on the perimeter. 2.5 points is gift. Take the gift, Clark. War Eagle.

Arizona State at Oregon State +10.5- Arizona State is coming off a woodshedding of Notre Dame and has unexpectedly pushed their name into the College Football Playoff discussion. That ends tonight in the snake pit that is Corvallis. The Sun Devils thrive on forcing turnovers and the Beavers are tight (with the ball). Further, ASU has lost on 4 of their last 6 trips to the house that Mike Riley Built. ASU wins a close one. Beavers cover.

Mississippi State +10 at Alabama- This line was one of the week's biggest movers. It opened at MSU+6 and reached 10 yesterday and has since held steady. Both the public and the sharps seem to believe in Alabama. I don't blame them. The Bulldogs haven't been especially impressive in their last few wins and the Tide have rounded into form since their loss to Ole Miss. I'm playing the emotions card here and guessing that Alabama will have trouble getting themselves all the way up for this game after a physically and emotionally draining win in Baton Rouge last Saturday night. The Tide starts slow and the Bulldogs don't. Mississippi State and the points.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Because Teedge Suggested It ...

I commented on tonight's Bills game yesterday thinking yesterday was today. Teedge noted that yesterday was yesterday, not today, and suggested that I write about today's game. So I wrote this last night, which as I sit here typing is actually today, but not the same today as the today in which the Bills play the Dolphins.

Just as yesterday and today are confusingly the same, so too are these AFC East squadrons. Both teams are 5-4 coming off close painful losses which were preceded by major blowouts. The Bills and Fins are ranked #20 and #21 respectively in passing offense which is somewhat surprising given that only a handful of teams in the league jettison their current QB in favor of Kyle Orton or Ryan Tannehill (I'm looking at you Houston, Tampa, St. Louis, NYJ and Tennessee!). They are below league average in yards per attempt, yards per completion, yards per game, and TD percentage. Surprisingly, both teams are above league average in INT % and QB rating. And they're pretty close to each other in all of these metrics.

At a more granular level their passing offenses consist of one good receiver and a bunch of dreck. Sammy Watkins has played very well for a rookie WR and the Bills win whenever he goes over 100 yards. (Parenthetically, I think the standard for young WR needs to be adjusted. It seems like preposterously dominant young WR are suddenly ubiquitous. Demaryius Thomas, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffrey, Antonio Brown, Randall Cobb, Eric Decker, and Keenan Allen have all entered the league since 2010. Either this is a golden age of wide receivers or the rule changes have thrown everything out of whack.) Watkins has 617 yards so far; the second closest Buffalo receiver has 346. The gap twixt Sammy and the rest of the team would be about five yards bigger but for this play.

sammy watkins

Meanwhile, Mike Wallace carries the receiving load for Miami with 519 yards. The next closest Dolphin has 354 yards.

I think both players are held back by their QB situations. If you're going to mortgage your future to trade up for, or pay $60 million to acquire, a great WR, you should make sure your QB is at least serviceable. The Bills apparently realized this a few weeks after the draft so they ran out and gave $10 million to Orton who at the time was retired.

The jury is still out on Tannehill and I'm not buying just yet, he's too spotty to rely on long term.

The similarities continue on defense--Miami is ranked #4 and Buffalo is #7. Paradoxically, a team named after an aquatic mammal is absolutely deadly against airborne attack, allowing only 210.8 passing yards per game (second best in the league). The Bills allow 224.6 passing yards per game, seventh best in the league. And they sit at third and fourth in terms of lowest opposing QB rating.

And both teams are stout against the run. Actually, let me rephrase ... after years of pissing and moaning about Buffalo's run defense, I'm delighted to report that they've allowed the eighth fewest rushing yards so far this year! At only 3.7 yards per carry, they are the seventh best team in this regard! No slouch either, Miami is tenth and eleventh in these categories.

So what does all this mean? A Bills loss, in all likelihood. Here's why. After this game they have the following schedule: NYJ, CLE, @DEN, GB, @OAK, @NE. They will doubtlessly lose the Denver, Green Bay, and New England games. I expect them to beat the Jets at home and Oakland (even though they have to fly across the country to do it). That's 7 wins and 7 losses. Buffalo is clearly prohibited from being over 0.500 for the season (haven't done so since they went 9-7 in 2004) so they have to have to lose two more games, which would be Cleveland and this Miami game. It's fate.

Further, Buffalo's running game is in shambles. Only 10 teams have fewer rushing yards and only nine teams average fewer yards per carry. Fred Jackson is back but gingerly, leaving Bryce Brown and Boobie Dixon to carry/fumble most of the load. As an aside, whenever I hear "boobie" I think Hey Ma.

Meanwhile, only seven teams have more rushing yards than Miami and only four teams average more yards per carry.

Adding to my concerns is that Orton hasn't thrown a pick since October 19 so he's due, probably for a plurality of INTs. And Tannehill plays well in alternating weeks, putting up triple-digit QB ratings and >8 yards/attempt one week followed by ratings in the low eighties the next. He rating was 81.8 in last week's loss so I expect about 275 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, a completion percentage hovering around 70% and maybe a rushing TD too.

Final score: Buffalo 17 Miami 31

Special bonus image--I couldn't figure out how to work this in but it's too good to ignore.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Not Even Ghostface Can Beat the Clock When it Comes to Rule 37

In my last update on the Jack Urbont/Ghostface Killah saga, I whinged that we might never get to see footage or a transcript from Ghostface's deposition. Looks like we can change "might" to "will."

The judge handling the case wrote a letter to Ghostdini in May telling him that he had to appear for a deposition within 40 days. As you recall, he did not appear for his deposition so Urbont moved for sanctions and a default judgment. Judge Buchwald granted the motion last week. Not even Pretty Toney could beat the clock this time.

It was FRCP 37(b) in particular that laid the Wallabee Champ low. Simply put, if the court orders you to provide some particular discovery to the opposing party and you don't, the court can sanction you or even enter judgment against you. Thus, the God's decision to run instead of sit (for a deposition) ultimately did him in.

And Urbont has triumphed.

But only to the tune of $3,758.58, which are the costs Urbont incurred for the cancelled depositions. I assume Urbont will seek damages for copyright infringement because, after all, that was the whole point of this lawsuit in the first place. I doubt Ironman will need to be deposed for that part of the case so we'll just have to wistfully dream about the transcript that never happened.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

The Pigskin Picks - The Eleventh Week!

Week. Eleven. Hard to believe but it's true. The season is whizzing by us in a fashion that is fast as heck. Yeah, that fast. But there are six weeks remaining, offering us plenty of football entertainment.
Mark and I both went 2-1 last weekend and up to this point in the season, our collective record is 25-34-1. I'll just say that I have a winning record and spare Mark further pain. Speaking of Mark, he's currently in Nashville hanging out with country singers and barbecue artists. Time is not his friend so he emailed me and the Teej his picks. Teej too is traipsing. He in New Orleans at the ever raucous Real Estate Person Convention Party! I hear that shit is off the hook. Anyhoo, Marks' picks include:

Ohio State +3.5 at Michigan State
Mark is taking Sparty. I think.
Wisconsin at Purdue +21
I'm guessing he has Purdue considering I am seeing an opening line at +15 and a current line at +17. Is this a teaser? Now, don't get surly hardcharger, just askin!
UVA +21 at FSU
Danimal Picks
Texas A&M +23 at Auburn
I sure wish I had been paying attention this week when this line opened at +15. Historians would probably guess that I'd be going with A&M here. But no.
Auburn by 4 touchdowns. Mark it down.
Ohio State +3.5 at Michigan State
Lawdy lawdy I don't like Coach Urban. We all thought after that thumpin in Week 1 against the Hokies they'd be living in the land of irrelevancy by now. Michigan State - so many are up in their jock straps, feeling they have what it takes to be in the Final 4. That's a little bit of a head scratcher to me. They played Oregon pretty tough for a while, yes. They lost by 19. Their only other notable win was against Nebraska. Ok. Factoid for ya's - Urban is 6-0 on the road as an underdog in conference games. He's 6-0 against the spread, AND out right. For that reason, I'm going Buckeyes.
Notre Dame +2.5 at Arizona State
Breaking the law breaking the law. No, not supposed to do this. ND lost their leader on D last week, Joe Schmidt. Leading tackler and qb on that side of that ball, replaced by true freshman and 4-star recruit Niles Morgan. Niles is nice, but he doesn't know what the fuck he's doing yet. Getting this experience now will bode well for the Irish. In 2015. Their D has given up 30+ point the last 3 games. They are banged up and ASU is looking for revenge after last year's loss. I do hope I have this one wrong. But if a gun is to my head and I have to pick here, I pick ASU.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Several, SEVERAL, Hundred Words About Boxing (Alternately Titled “An Excuse for TJ to Post an Apollo Creed/Ivan Drago Picture”)

I won’t kid you that boxing is a wildly popular sport right now, nor has it been for years.  But boxing, like many forms of art (indulge me) has at least two subsets of its fanbase, each of which appreciate the sport for reasons wildly different than the other and each of which judges the other side for its reasons for liking boxing.  On one hand, you have the so-called purists – folks who like the strategic aspects of the sport and not just constant action and the hitting.  The purists are made up of any boxing fan over the age of 65, and probably me and Mark and maybe 17 other people in the country.  Everyone else who watches boxing is in the other group – the folks that tune in for the punches, the blood, the knockouts.  That’s why Saturday’s matchup between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Bernard “The Alien” (nee “The Executioner”) Hopkins might be intriguing to a broader audience than usual – it has the potential to please both sides of the aisle.  

This fight will truly be a contrast in styles and histories.  To wit:

Kovalev began boxing in Russia around the time he would have been a fifth grader, and fought on the amateur level for over a decade, amassing over 200 fights (thanks, Wikipedia).  Hopkins began boxing in prison and turned pro basically the day he was released (I think he had an aversion to the headgear that the AM’s wear).  Kovalev is 18 years younger.  Hopkins has fought more than twice as many professional fights and if I were to guess, at least 4 or 5 times the number of professional rounds.

Of styles, the round disparity is largely due to the differing approaches they take in the ring.  For Kovalev, he fights as if he has a plane to catch (or as if there is a gallon of milk in his fridge that is about to expire).  There is an urgency to him, and his fights look a lot like the one-sided bedlam I used to witness on certain boozy nights at Unit M.  A large percentage of his fights end in the first, second, or third rounds – none have gone past 8 (of a possible 10 or 12, depending on the Boxing entity and other minutia).  Folks who are drawn to watch this fight will mostly do so because of the potential to see the Krusher get another ridiculous knockout .  

Kovalev is one of boxing’s hopes to lure fans to/back to the sport.  He delivers action and knockouts in spades.  From the opening bell, Kovalev is always stepping forward, toward his opponent.  There is no sidestepping and not much head movement to avoid punches.  He walks his opponents down, measures them, throwing the occasional jab to keep the other guy from throwing too much and then assaults them with power shots when he gets close enough.  And his punches have some serious stank on them – often the result is something like this:

or this:

(fast forward to :35 mark – this one’s a little brutal, but don’t worry, that guy ended up being okay, as far as I know)

From the first clip, you might get a whiff of something aside from his high activity and knockout prowess – Sergey is a bit of a character.  As he throws massive punches, sometimes he’ll do an Ali/Sugar Ray okey doke impression ( - :26 mark) or a tasteful little crotch thrust as demonstrated in the first clip above.   He’s made an effort to speak English (typically a prerequisite for US fans to be interested in a fighter), answers interviewers’ questions with a smile on his face, and speaks his mind.  All boxers talk trash, but there is something kind of funny and harmless about the way he called Adonis Stevenson “a piece of shit” during a post-fight interview and then sheepishly grinning in response to the crowd’s laughter.    

Hopkins, on the other hand, has never been a true bruiser, nor has he ever really sought to endear himself to anyone, but the purists love him.  He is the ultimate, as a WWE announcer might say, “Ring technician.”  Hopkins brings a cerebral aspect that you would not expect from a sport that features two shirtless guys hitting each other in the face for an extended period.  He studies his opponents and the referees.  He might be one of the only fighters that knows the tendencies of not only his opponent, but of each ref calling his matches – how often they deduct points and for what infractions, how much holding they will allow, how much hitting in a clinch, etc.  Hopkins is the only guy I have seen actually ask questions of the referee during the pre-fight visit when they go over the instructions (BTW, “We went over the instructions in the dressing room” should be a euphemism for something).  And he uses that information to formulate his game plan for each fight.  

And after almost 500 rounds, he’s probably seen basically every type of punch and angle imaginable.  His defense is otherworldly – some guys protect with their gloves, some rely on their movement – Hopkins is about 75% the latter.  He twists and ducks and makes fighters look pretty stupid at times with whiffs on punches.  Fighters have actually fallen down from swinging and missing on him (compare to Kovalev, who basically walks into punches and can be/has been knocked down on basic lack of defense and/or poor balance).  It is pretty deflating to the generally-huge egos of Hopkins’ opposition.  His gameplan, generally, is to wear guys down mentally, rather than physically, then take advantage in the mid to late rounds to win by an unsexy decision.  He has gone the distance in as many fights as Kovalev has been in as a professional.

I would suspect that the majority of the rooting audience will be behind Kovalev because hitting guys a lot and making them fall down is more crowd-pleasing than Hopkins’ mental gymnastics and general cageyness.  I really like Kovalev, but the boxing nerd in me prefers Hopkins’ style, and it would be pretty incredible to see a 49 year old guy be victorious against this level of opposition.  But I really have no idea how this one will turn out.  Kovalev is younger, bigger, stronger.  He’s knocked out 23 of the 25 guys he has fought.  But then there’s this:

Hopkins has fought very high profile, recognizable guys (many of them former champions and at least two of whom are likely hall of famers) with names like Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Tarver (first guy to knock out Roy Jones Jr), Felix Trinidad, and “Bad” Chad Dawson.  Sergey Kovalev has beaten guys with names like Blake Caparello, Cornelius White, Lionell Thompson, Grover Young and Harvey Kilfian.  Just trust me that that list is not exactly a murderer’s row; in fact it sounds more like a wine tasting guest list, or possibly a bunch of dudes that have their own bowling team.  

So there might be something for everyone remotely interested in boxing this weekend.  The experience, speed and technical skill are all on Hopkins’ side.  Sergey has strength, charisma and [relative] youth.  I don’t see Hopkins getting through 12 rounds with this particular opposition, nor do I see him getting a knockout.   If anybody can do it, it would be Bernard, though.  I think Sergey will have to go deep into the fight and there will be a question of whether he can still put the spicy mustard on his punches in the late rounds.  But Hopkins almost has to come down to earth at some point, and I think this is the opponent who makes it happen.