Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fashion is...uh...wait, where was I?

Fashion Week does indeed continue here at GTB, with what appears to be a revealing new wedding fashion trend...


(h/t zman)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Feast Your Ears

As a child of the DMV in the 1980s, you were force-fed the Redskins, Don & Mike, and three different varieties of Top 40 music. If you were adventurous, or 'urban', you listened to WPGC. But if your rebel base was in the suburbs, your only option for musical insurgency was WHFS.

Eclectic, unflinchingly uncommercial, and often just kinda weird (the station featured a deejay named
Weasel, who had neither a voice for radio nor a face for television - just a love of music), HFS played the music its deejays wanted to hear. And the music that musicians wanted to hear. When I was in high school, it made me feel cool to be on the cutting edge of progressive music, and that's entirely because I found HFS.

Later, when I was a young adult, HFS beat the rest of the market to grunge, to alternative hip-hop, to all the music that mattered. The annual HFSestival always boasted the best festival lineup in our area.

It is no exaggeration to call HFS the soundtrack of my youth.

I remember vividly driving to work one morning when the signal abruptly changed from alternative rock to Spanish-language music. I pressed the preset key a few times, assuming a glitch. It wasn't until I got to work and checked out the then-nascent internet that I learned that HFS as I knew it was no longer.

My own personal Day the Music Died.

Imagine my happy surprise when I found out this week that a local team has filmed a documentary about the history of WHFS. Entitled, 'Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3', the film is in post-production, working to secure rights to the music featured within.

"Weasel playing the rock and roll," and me 16 years old again. Can't wait to see this film.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Power to the People/Fashion is Dumb

Leeds United are one of England's most historic clubs. Founded in 1919, The Whites are one of the founding members of the Premier League, though the club has toiled in the lower divisions since being relegated in 2004. They currently sit in 9th place among the 24 teams in the Championship, one rung below the top.

That's all preface to a lesson in customer service, played out in near real time this week.

The business side of Leeds United decided that it was time to replace the club's somewhat dated, and muchwhat dreadful badge, seen below:

Let the record show that Leeds has historically had really awful design sensibilities, when it comes to the club's badges. From a goofy-ass bubble-lettered 70s mess, to an out-of-nowhere peacock through the 80s and early 90s, Leeds' badges kept pace with the club's spotty performance.

So Leeds weren't exactly operating from a position of strength when they commissioned a new badge. 

Leeds supporters are known for a salute, itself vaguely white supremacist, or at least authoritarian. But famous nonetheless as the Leeds Salute, an emphatic thumping of one's left breast with one's right fist, arm parallel to the ground. And the designers of the new crest wanted to honor that legacy.

Which gave us this:

Leeds supporters, to put it mildly, were nonplussed. As ESPN put it, "Leeds United have unveiled their new club crest and the general reaction, to put it in the kindest terms possible, has been of intense mockery." In that article, both fans and other teams mock the new crest, though old-school Columbus Crew fans didn't understand the fuss.

To the lasting credit of the bosses at Elland Road, the voice of the fan carried the day. From a statement the club issued just two days after the unveiling of the new badge, "Leeds United would like to thank our supporters for their feedback on the proposed new crest released yesterday. 

The volume and depth of opinions expressed reinforced the level of passion our fan base has for our club. While the current board of directors are custodians of Leeds United the fans will always be at the heart of everything we do, and you will be listened to. 

We conducted thorough research into the  desire for a change to the crest to symbolise a new era for the club. 

However, we also appreciate the need to extend  the consultation with supporters and we are committed to working with you to create an identity we can all be proud of. We will release further information on how supporters can get involved in the process next week. 

Marching On Together.”

I think that means they're gonna drop the new badge and find something better.

And now that we've shitcanned the G:TB Peeps Diorama Contest, I believe we need a new gimmick. Please offer your ideas in the comments.

Gheorghing On Together

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fashion is Dumb: Bird's Nest Edition

"Designer’s name is Guo Pei. Which is how I order my kids to take a leak."

The only time TR and I exchange emails is when he sends me fantastic photos like the one below for GTB's actually recurring "Fashion is Dumb" segment.

Don't even try to take this from us. We've got a good thing going.

Please enjoy the atrociousness.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Voices Scary

Okay, time to slide that title phrase down the page just a bit.

Modern technology and trending has given us a cool series of listenable gems and enlightening disasters over the last decade: access to isolated vocal tracks sheds light on who has and has not the vocal talent for the ages.  You've undoubtedly heard a few of these along the way -- probably something outstanding from Marvin Gaye.

In some cases (not highlighted here at Gheorghe: The Blog), these stripped-down versions make you realize that studio wizardry is very real, and that legitimately so-sultry eyes and table-flat stomachs can punch tickets for record contracts and production that mask legitimately so-so voices. Or perhaps just later-career lethargy.  (Hello, performer whose name rhymes with "Whitney Beers.")

In much more interesting and gheorghey instances, however, we hear just how impressive a vocalist these singers are/were, or just get an interestingly alternate take on a song we've heard 1,000 times.  I'll get out of the way and let you listen to a few.

One of the most popular of these:

In memoriam:

Gotta love Dave...

For Rob:

For Teej:

One of the best:

Just for fun:

And finally, without a doubt, the very best isolated vocal track ever. You simply have to listen to this.  Yes, the video stands as the most homoerotic collaboration 'twixt rock gods. (And according to Bianca, or maybe it was Jerry Hall, it wasn't just an act.)  Yes, it's dorky, cheesy, 80's.  But once you give a listen to the audio, you'll know it to be pure greatness.

Monday, January 22, 2018

You Had Me at "Fecal Deluge"

Bloomberg reporter Devin Leonard put out a very good article a couple weeks ago on the decrepit (and decaying!) cesspool that is New York Penn Station. I wanted to share it with you all, considering some of us still do or used to navigate through that area. The article link is here.

It is a long read, but an entertaining one. Mr. Leonard adds some flair to his prose, instead of sticking to straight-laced reporting, which makes it more fun to read. I wish he had pushed the envelope more, to be honest, and added a true Hunter Thompson-esque angle to this. He ignored the topics of the homeless crisis, and overlooked the horrendous bathroom conditions (in terms of odor AND the men who linger there for anonymous sexual encounters amidst the stench).

The article is too long to post, but I copied some snippets below. The conditions of this train station and its impact on my daily commute were a big driver of my slow descent into functional alcoholism (joking, but not really), a hole I'm trying to climb out of today. It's why I lugged my family to Dallas in '14 and to Denver in '15 to explore other parts of 'Murica.

With that said, let's get to some of my favorite parcels from Leonard's writing:

All who schlep through the complex are united by a powerful urge to leave.

A few weeks later, a sewage pipe spewed waste onto a heavily trafficked concourse—an honest-to-God shit-storm'I’m like, "Literally, it’s raining in Penn Station,"  recalls Marigo Mihalos, a booking agent from New Jersey who witnessed the fecal deluge on her way to work. 

Penn Station is a debacle reaching across time. Its past is a slow-motion disaster of inaction and canceled reforms, its present an ongoing disgrace. And its future could be truly catastrophic, in the form of a tunnel failure that pinches shut one of the most vital economic arteries in America.

The addition of New Jersey Transit trains in the 1990s was both an economic boon to the region — "I bought a house in Maplewood, N.J., in 1996 so I could ride the new Midtown Direct to work — and the beginning of Penn Station’s transformation from mere malodorous eyesore to Hieronymus Bosch-grade hellhole."

In 2015 the governors of New York and New Jersey agreed to a deal on Gateway: The states would pay half the cost of building new tunnels to Penn, and the Obama administration pledged that the federal government would cover the other half. That year and the next, Donald Trump campaigned as the guy who would rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, promising a $1 trillion plan to repair roads, bridges, tunnels, the electrical grid, and more. It was possible to think that Penn Station might be saved. But after Trump was elected, the New York City native dashed those hopes. He eliminated billions in funding for Gateway-related projects in his 2018 budget. And in the waning days of 2017, Trump made it official: His administration would not abide by the Obama-era commitment to pay for half of the new tunnels. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shame on Us For Not Doing This Yet

While I would love to further penetrate the "up Marls' Ass" topic, we need to acknowledge the fact that the Dems nutted up (metaphorically speaking) to stick it to Trump. So let's let Chuck D lay it down.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Audio Up Marls's Ass

I haven't done an Audio Up Your Ass edition in a while (it upsets Marls when I post The Test because he doesn't have a world famous podcast of his own) but I just finished a song and I changed the name of my band (again). I know I swore I wouldn't but this new name is too good to pass up (not quite as good as Sturgeon Mary, but I don't think I can produce music fitting of a name that bizarre).

Anyway, prominent Gheorghie and music critic Zman pronounced this song as being "better than it ought to be" and proclaimed that there are "strains of real music in there."  I should warn you that this is the same Zman who recently announced that Rob and I are akin to Philip Roth in our writing style and substance, so you might take his words with a grain of salt.

Anyway, my new band name is thematically related to the last post. It's my favorite soccer term and it also sounds kind of dirty, so it's perfect. I'm hoping Park the Bus will be the last band name I employ (and I'm still annoyed that there's a Canadian drone band that stole the Greasetruck  moniker).

Warning: my new song contains some piano and it's fairly easy listening. My version of yacht rock, perhaps, although the lyrics are pretty dark. It might even be an R and B song.

And-- just for Marls-- there is a new episode of the The Test up. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

USSF Presidential Election: A Very Special Guestie

Obviously, those of us with interest in both William & Mary and the United States Soccer Federation have a rooting interest in the race for the USSF Presidency. And some of us (coughshlaracough) aren't particularly subtle about our preference. So, in the interest of impartiality, we asked our pal Fay Guy in a Speedo to weigh in on the process that culminates on February 10 with the election of the new USSF boss.

Sunil Days Aren't Here Again
Columbia Grad

As the current president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), Sunil Gulati has taken as much heat for the USMNT's failure to qualify for the upcoming World Cup as Bruce Arena, the coach he (re)hired for the campaign. As a result, Mr. Gulati has decided to step down from the  position he's held since 2006 after being re-elected for a record-breaking 4th time for the 4-year post. Obviously, Gulati has done some incredible work for the sport in the USA, you can check out his C.V. at if you don't believe me. The reason Gulati is affiliated with Columbia U is due to his status as a Senior Lecturer in Economics there. The reason he is a lecturer at Columbia is due to the fact that his position as current president of the USSF is a gratis position. How am I supposed to trash on a guy who is the de facto head of a non-profit and works for nothing?

The equivalent position in the FA in England made a couple million pounds last year for reference. The USSF is run as a non-profit and none of the 14 board members draw a salary, including the president. A quick scan of their 2016 tax return confirms this as well as a few other items of interest. Apparently all of the board members average 5 hours per week to oversee the behemoth that is US soccer while the staff (coaches, players, et al.) average 40 hours per week. These hours seem patently ridiculous given that a flight to talk to former head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to LA from NYC is 5 and a half hours if you're lucky. The numbers also reveal that USSF CEO, Dan Flynn, earned $695K while Klinsmann made $3M as head coach. If this doesn't annoy you enough note that his assistant coach, Andreas Herzog, earned almost $400K while Jill Ellis (W&M '87), the head coach of the unfathomably successful US Women's National Team earned just over $300K. The average salary of a Senior Lecturer at Columbia is $77K and it isn't even a tenure track position. No wonder the USMNT can't compete in the easiest and worst regional division of world soccer, CONCACAF; there isn't much at stake for the brass if the team succeeds or fails. No carrot, no stick. This seems incredibly un-American, maybe our Communistic approach to a relative nascent sport in this country is a reason for our lack of success. Gulati has been faulted in the past for not attending important games for the men's and women's teams in the tri-state area and his excuse for not attending is that he's had a class to teach at the time. I imagine this is a problem unique to soccer anywhere else in the world except for the 'shithole countries' recently referenced by our orange-in-chief.

Wharton grads
The election for a new overlord president is a few weeks away and there are eight candidates vying for the unlucrative position and middling power. Out of those eight, most Americans have only heard of one, Hope Solo, and although she has no shot of winning there would be a beautiful symmetry in having a dual dumpster fire presidency to rival the one in the Oval Office. The front-runners are Kathy Carter (W&M '91) and Eric Wynalda. One is a marketing guru and President of Soccer United Marketing and the other is Eric Wynalda. Mrs. Carter (Kathy, not Bey) represents the old regime and didn't decide to run until Gulati opted out. The current administrators are promoting her presidency while Mr. Wynalda is the populist front-runner with radical ideas to shake up the tedium also known as MLS. Either way, apparently there's not much at stake here. How can there be for a position that has no salary at five working hours per week? That's like me listing viewing on my resume. Soccer will continue to limp along on the fringes of the American sporting consciousness. The MLS will continue to earn enough dough to keep it from radically altering its structure. The USA's developmental soccer progam will continue to be a pay for play affair that's only available to the privileged, unathletic few. Winter is no longer coming and there's no Game of Thrones until 2019. It could be worse, we could be Italian.*

DeVry grads
*Italy is neither a shithole country nor a place to be maligned. They failed to qualify for the World Cup as well.

(If you're scoring at home, the official G:TB prediction is that Wynalda and Kyle Martino join forces after several ballots fail to resolve the issue, and Wynalda wins. And is a trainwreck.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I'm Gonna Need Your Shoe Sizes

I've been making a conscious effort to spend less time on Facebook of late (certainly wish I could say the same about Twitter - I'm a work in progress), so forgive me if I've stumbled upon something this week that you've seen for a while. But I found it so important to the work that we do here that I needed to ensure that it was shared with the world.

Do feast your eyes on these beauties, Tribe fans.

And if the Tribe makes the NCAA Tournament this year, I'm afraid the G:TB bylaws require that each of you (at least the W&M grads in our number) acquire at least one pair. 

The good news is that I've checked with the IRS, and the purchase is tax deductible. 


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Drunk Music Lessons: The Only Dad That Matters

I was driving my 13 year-old daughter home from a soccer game yesterday, when she informed me that she was a big fan of The Clash and The Pixies. Obviously, I'm an excellent parent. Because I let her watch Stranger Things, where it turns out her enjoyment of 80s alterna-punk blossomed.

Like, I suspect, many parents of teens, my opportunities to spend real quality time with my kidlet are few and far between as she pulls away like a normal human adolescent and her moods swing from surly to really surly. So I was low-key thrilled when she eagerly accepted my invitation to spend the evening on an internet tour of the alternative music that raised me.

I didn't have quite the same happy buzz as the last time I gave her online music appreciation lessons (at least I didn't when we started), but I certainly enjoyed the time spent hanging out on the couch talking about and listening to tunes, most of which follow. This is a musical memory that'll stay with me for a while.

Friday, January 12, 2018

John Cena is an ambassador?

John Cena is a big deal professional wrestler and a lesser deal actor. He's also a big time car guy. In fact he has a 2017 Ford GT in Liquid Blue with 20" forged aluminum graphite wheels (with black lug nuts), silver brake calipers, a "Dark Energy" interior theme, exposed exterior carbon fiber finished in Gloss Shadow Black, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

These cars are really hard to get--Cena had to apply to buy his (which cost $460,000!) and he was selected out of thousands of applicants for the right to buy this exquisite machine because Ford deemed him to be an "influencer[] and ambassador[] of the vehicle and the Ford brand ...." I know this because Ford sued Cena in federal district court for selling his 2017 Ford GT.


Part of the application to buy the GT said "If you are selected as a Selected Applicant, there is no guarantee that you will be offered an opportunity to purchase a GT, because the terms of any purchase are subject to mutual agreement by the pertinent seller and the prospective buyer." So if Cena can't reach a deal with his local dealer, no GT.


After Cena was selected, he had to sign an "Affidavit of Eligibility and Release" which stated in part "each seller of a GT will have the right to condition the sale on the purchaser's agreement to restrictions on resale or transfer of the GT ...."

Then, when Cena reached agreement with Elder Ford in Tampa, he signed an order confirmation which stated in part "You understand that being selected for the opportunity to purchase this vehicle is non-transferable and agree not to sell the vehicle within the first 24 months of delivery."

Cena took delivery around September 23, 2017. He sold it some time on or before October 20, 2017. Even if you aren't great at math you can probably see that this time period is less than 24 months. In fact it's less than one month.


As a result, Ford sued for breach of contract, fraud, silent fraud, innocent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. And they might have a legitimate case for some of those claims, but I'm not sure how they will establish their damages. Have they really been harmed? Is the GT's image really better off with Cena owning the car than whomever he sold it to? Who would choose a pro wrestler as an ambassador anyway? Oh, right ...


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gettin' Civic Wit' It

There is a tendency among certain people I know to take an expansive view of the current state of
American affairs and lean towards despair. As we're met with an unceasing barrage of variously negative, odd, unthinkable, and enraging revelations from our national leadership, it's easy to lose focus on the things that matter in our homes and in our communities, and indeed, to us as individuals.

I've had an interesting couple of days, as it relates to the topic at hand. A whirlwind first-hand tour through American Civics, one might say. I wouldn't say that it made me feel any better about our proximate circumstances on a national level, but it did remind me of the relative nature of things, and of the idea that change and progress happens slowly and painstakingly, right up until it happens in a rush.

As most of our readers know, I'm a member of the Board of Directors of my local soccer club. The "machine", as Dave has dubbed it, the Club is the largest single-sport youth organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 12,000 kids participate in one or more of our programs each year. As a result of that scale, we're on the radar of our county's Board of Supervisors and of organizations seeking their support.

Last night, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors met to consider a proposal to lease a parcel of public land to D.C. United for the purpose of building a 5,000-seat stadium for use by the MLS club's new United Soccer League (USL) franchise, as well as office space and four full-size training fields. Because our county desperately needs new field space for youth and adult recreation, and because the D.C. United brand is a good thing for soccer in our area, our Club supports the proposal.

And so I found myself speaking to the Board of Supervisors during the public comment portion of the proceedings. If you'd like to see my public political debut, skip ahead to the 2:14:35ish mark in the video below.

Following that widely viewed and acclaimed performance, I spent this morning at an event of unquestionably greater significance. I watched from the audience as 724 people from 99 different countries took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.

A woman that works for me is a Turkish national. She's been in this country since college, some 16 years. Roughly two years ago, she started the naturalization process, which culminated this morning.

Though the character of our national leadership, and public perspectives on a wide range of issues dramatically changed during the course of her journey to become a U.S. citizen, her enthusiasm for citizenship never waned. And so I was thrilled to be able to witness her final step towards being an American.

The event was held at the George Mason University Center for the Arts, in a large auditorium. The crowd in the audience and in the section of candidates was the meltiest pot you could imagine. People from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from England to Iraq, from Laos to Pakistan eager to become Americans, and the atmosphere was a mix of apprehension and excitement, festive with just a hint of urgency.

Check out the length of this line, and the diversity of the people in it:

A very enthusiastic official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made a brief speech and explained the process, and then administered the oath. My colleague texted me immediately afterward, "I am a US citizen!!!", and I couldn't have been more happy for her.

The new citizens were shown a video featuring former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, herself a naturalized citizen. I won't belabor the fact that the Secretary's strongly pro-immigrant message felt slightly awkward juxtaposed against current Administration policy, nor will I make too much fun of the way the President told his new constituents that they were 'very, very special' in recorded remarks that followed Secretary Albright's. The jubilant solemnity (if such a thing is possible) of the event mitigates against excessive politically motivated snark.

Though my colleague did text shortly after taking the oath to say, "I submitted my voter registration. Now where do I register as a Democrat?"

I was pleased to be able to support my friend and colleague from the beginning, but I found myself moved by the excitement, emotion, and determination of our newest fellow citizens. As people streamed out from the event to greet their friends and family, a scene that was repeated dozens of times, their pride in being Americans was obvious. And for someone whose pride in being an American has been tested of late, that was a significant thing.

We live in a flawed and scuffling nation. And yet 724 people this morning in Fairfax, VA completed a journey that required years of invasive scrutiny, uncertainty, and bureaucratic slog, and a repudiation of the nation of their origin in order to count themselves a full part of it. Still thousands more across the nation are actively seeking to follow the same path.

We're a better nation for their contributions, and they deserve our best efforts to help this country live up to its potential.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018


The Dakar Rally, known to many as the Paris-Dakar Rally, is one of the most famous tests of automotive endurance in the world. Participants ride motorcycles, cars, trucks, and various other forms of vehicular contraptions across deserts, through jungles, over mountains, and just about every other terrain known to man. The race, open to professionals and amateurs alike, was originally run between Paris and Dakar, Senegal, but has been contested in South America since 2009 as a result of security concerns in Africa.

Dakar is notorious for toll it takes on drivers and their equipment. In a post entitled 'This is The Kind of Driving That Actually Makes You Piss Blood', Jalopnik deadpans a description of the event, saying, "The Dakar Rally is famous for its obscene length, dangerous routes and off-road cargo trucks racing each other across ridiculous terrain." Here's an absurd compilation of 30 years worth of Dakar crashes:

The 2018 Dakar Rally kicked off in Lima, Peru on Saturday, and the racers that survive to the end will cross the finish line in Cordoba, Argentina on January 20 after completing 14 stages that range from 270 to more than 900km.

American Bryce Menzies, famous for his truck jumping exploits, was widely predicted to have the best U.S. shot to win the race in some years, but found himself on the wrong side of an endo when his X-Raid Mini (a badass little vehicle, if you're asking me) went ass over teakettle in just the second stage.

While Menzies is out, there's another American still in the chase, and while he won't win the race, we're still pulling for him.

Bill Conger is the older brother of my friend Craig, a high school classmate of mine (and the groom at the epic wedding Whitney and I attended in Zihuatenejo last May). I didn't know Bill very well, but Craig's always had a thing for speed. In addition to being fast as hell on his own feet (as a rookie cop, his fellow officers called him 'Flash' and made him chase all the suspects who took off on foot), he owns a stupid-fast Japanese motorcycle that he tools around rural North Carolina upon.

It seems he got that speed jones from his brother.

Bill took his first crack at Dakar in 2012 on a bit of a whim, but only finished three stages. He's back for this year's race, wiser, and a bit more realistic about his objectives. "The goal is to finish and I have to keep that in mind at all moments. Of course there’s a competitor in me but I have to challenge myself to calm down and stay focused. I know I’m capable of it…"

Through four stages, Bill is 97th of 117 motorcycle pilots in the general classification. He's already a badass in my book, even if Dakar is nowhere near Argentina.

Monday, January 08, 2018

National Championship Open Thread

Admittedly, we don't celebrate the pigskin around here as much as we used to. But we still enjoy a spectacle, and tonight's down-home extravaganza in Atlanta certainly qualifies as that.

In the spirit of the times, and our scattered consciousness, a few items to keep you entertained in the lead-up to the big game. Sort of a Gheorghasbord-style preview.

Much was made last night about Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes speech, and rightly so. It was a powerful repudiation of the power structure of Hollywood and our society in general. It was moving while balancing fury and hope. Predictably, the Oprah 2020 memes began rocketing into the socialsphere. And that's where I pause a moment. Have we fallen so far as a society, has Trump debased our institutions so much that we're willing to reflexively promote someone who's both enormously successful and at the same time a peddler of nonsense like Jenny McCarthy and Doctor Oz? So it seems. I'll stick with Popovich/Kerr 2020.

Over at Sentence of Dave, the proprietor recently recounted the stories of a misspent summer, specifically the abject squalor in which the residents of a certain house in Nags Head lived. I recommend it to you as a lesson in young male inertia and a mark of how far some of us have come. No comment on how far we still have to go.

Obviously, we can't go too long without mentioning Tribe hoops, even while ostensibly focusing on football. FOGTB Fairbank passed along a note from his former colleague David Teel, who noted that W&M is currently making better than 50% of its field goals, 45% of its three-pointers, and 80% of its free throws. No team in the history of college basketball has ever finished with a 50/45/80 line. We're beyond plaid.

I consumed a shit-ton of Best of 2017 in music content over the holidays, and I was heartened to see KCMP (The Current) out of Minneapolis agree with me about the song of the year. Even more heartened to know that I'll get to see Jason Isbell play it live in Richmond in a few short weeks.

It's been widely noted that Nick Saban's never lost a game to a former assistant, going 11-0 against his prior underlings. It's fair to say that Kirby Smart's Georgia team represents the best squad any former Saban assistant has ever brought to a contest against the master. But come on. Do we really think a guy named Kirby, with that haircut, is going to beat Saban? (Spoiler alert: we don't.)

Says here that Alabama wins, and fairly easily. Say, 24-13.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

This Week in Wrenball: A Very Stable Genius

I'm too emotionally close to William & Mary hoops to be objective, which generally translates into poor predictions borne of irrational expectations. But I'm usually wrong within a reasonable margin of error - generally speaking, I know whether the team will be good or bad.

I don't know a goddamn thing about this team.

To wit, I said this in our preseason preview: "We've begun a season where a number of CAA teams look to take big steps forward, and the green and gold have pretty clearly taken several in the opposite direction. In Tony We Trust, and all that, but if this team is to win even 10 games, it'll take one of his great coaching jobs."

Jimmy Moran is an assistant with the Blazers.
W&M's comprehensive 90-65 win over Delaware on Friday night was their tenth win of the season. The very stable genius in this conversation is Tony Shaver, not your friendly neighborhood blogger.

The Wrens' 3-0 start in league play has them atop the CAA standings, and is the first perfect start through three since 1997-98. That team was really damn good, riding a young Jimmy Moran, the late, lamented Bill Phillips, and senior Randy Bracy to a 13-3 regular season record and a co-championship. (We'll choose not to dwell on the late-season ankle injury to Moran that cost W&M dearly in a first-round CAA Tournament loss to American.)

A win today at an average Drexel team would enable the Tribe to match its best-ever season-opening stretch. The Tribe's next game is a home tilt against a JMU team we already beat on the road. Our good friend Shlara is booking rooms in Charleston in anticipation of a CAA Tournament run.

And we're trying to retain a semblance of balance.

Yes, W&M is flying. Sure, your Wrens are the best shooting team in America (for reals: W&M is tops in the NCAA in three-point FG% (.463), FT% (.811), True Shooting% (.649), and Effective FG% (.620), and third in overall FG% (.522)). And, indeed, the Tribe is balanced - every member of the starting lineup makes more than 50% of his shots (and all average at least 12 points per game).

But it's super early, and the three league wins came against JMU, Hofstra, and Delaware, none of whom are expected to challenge for the top of the table. The Tribe is one Nathan Knight injury away from calamity, and one poor shooting night away from losing by 30 to a bad team.

On the third hand, it just takes three good days in March.

Dammit, Shlara.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Jags vs Bills - Part 3

For all of the reasons Z presents as to why the Bills can win, one might guess there may be as many that would allow someone, in this case me, to support the argument that the Jags should not only win, but win by 9-9.5 points as prescribed by the bookmakers. One might think.

Before heading down that road, it very much surprised me when I saw Jax favored by as many points points when I first saw the line on Tuesday. I read today (Thur) that there was a line as low as 6.5 when it opened up, but most were at 7.5. Regardless, that's a pretty big variance between opening and today's, not uncommon but not normal either. Before checking a spread, like most, I guess beforehand what the number is going to be. Three to 3.5 points was my hunch fwtftw. Both teams are...meh. Decent. One at 10-6 in a weak division and with a weak schedule as has been pointed out, the other 9-7 with nothing too much to shout about either. Neither squad has any significant playoff experience within their roster or coaching staff. We all know of the parity that exists within the league. It is a common occurrence for a cellar dweller to beat a perennial powerhouse. Because of the parity, my NFL wagers are kept to a minimum. Betting is difficult to begin with but in the NFL, it's impossibly unpredictable. You see a spread like this one and think it's nuts. Anything more than 4 would have raised my eyebrow. But NINE? Most would think it's a no-brainer to bet on the Bills.Then you bet on the Bills thinking it's a lay-up and the Jags end up winning by 24. That's what kind of line this is - the "no-brainer boned in the ass line". Or is it?

Speaking of roads, this is a view from the backseat of my Bahamian taxi en route to the airport today...Three Stooges! On Video!

Let's take a look at common opponents - Cinci - Indy - NYJ

Cin 7 at Jax 23
BB 16 at Cin 20
Sure, the home game is worth about 3 points so we'll grant them that. We can agree that Cinci is no bueno though, no? The washed up QB that is Andy Dalton was held to 10 of 18 and 136 in North Florida. Zero Touchdowns. Of course, AJ Green was escorted off the field for committing an assault and battery against Jalen Ramsey but damn. Do they run the option there in Cinci?
(If you were curious, Dalton threw 2 pics, 1 TD and 22-38 for 338 yards in their win against the Bills)

Jax 27 at Indy 0   
Indy 7 at BB 13
Indy 10 at Jax 30
Advantage Jagoffville with an average margin of victory 3+ TD's versus 2 Field Goals.

Jax 20 at  NYJ 23
NYJ 12 at BB 21
BB 21 at NYJ 34
We'll call it a push.

If we take the Jags lesser productive of their two against Indy; and the Bills lesser of theirs against the NYJ, the cumulative scores are Jax 73 - Jax Opponents 40; and Buffalo 50 - Buffalo Opponents 61

Taking the better of the two: Jax 70 - Jax Opponents 30; and Buffalo Opponents 50 - Buffalo 39
Advantage - Jacksonville

Other quick stats provided by our friends at
Total offense Buff - 29th; 31st in Passing Yards; 27th in Passing TD's; 6th in Rushing Yards; 15th in Rushing TD

Total Defense Jax - 5th; 2nd in Total Yards allowed; 1st in Passing Yards allowed; 21st in Rushing Yards allowed; 6th in Rushing TD's allowed.

But all of these numbers mean diddly. Reason being, it's the Playoffs, game 1. The Bills just won a game to get into the tournament, a game they absolutely had to win to do so and on the road. They won the week prior to that, and 3 of the last 4. They've got the mojo and an uber-efficient QB that makes nary a miscue.

We've got a little bit of the opposite, losing the last 2 and....Bortles. He's not the worst quarterback in the league, but he can be sometimes. Except when it comes to being a stickman. Word is out in Jax - he likes to surf. The bars, that is! One of Blake's friends below...
This game is all about him & McCoy. Is Bortles playing to win or not to lose? He's got an immense amount of pressure on him. He holds our city on his shoulders. Does he feel it? And will McCoy's ankle be strong enough to allow him to take advantage of our weakness that is our running defense? I look forward to seeing the crowd and the energy they bring - it will be a far different environment than the norm and should negate much if not all of that negative mojo the Jags are carrying. Throw in the teal beer & out!

Assuming a healthy Shady and a turnover ratio that is kept to -1 or better for the Jags (that's right, I'm considering a net -1 for us to be just fine), I like the Jags winning but the Bills covering. Shady rendered useless and that same -1 turnover margin, vaJJ by 9 and then some. Bortles playing like he has in his more recent games will make this a very close contest decided on the last possession.

Jacksonville 16
Buffalo 13

So you're telling me there's a chance -- Part 2

While the rest of you are hunkering down for the snowstorm I've been mining the depths of to prove that Jacksonville's defense is overrated. Here's a list of the QBs they played:

- Tom Savage with Deshaun Watson in relief in week 1
- Marcus Mariota (twice)
- Joe Flacco and Ryan Mallett
- Josh McCown
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Jared Goff
- Jacoby Brissett (twice)
- Andy Dalton
- Philip Rivers
- DeShone Kizer
- Blaine Gabbert
- Russell Wilson
- TJ Yates
- Jimmy Garoppolo

Aside from Roethlisberger, Rivers, and Wilson (all three made the Pro Bowl) this is not a particularly distinguished list. At least six of those guys are bad, McCown is a journeyman/replacement level player, and the jury is still out on Mariota, Watson, Goff, and Garoppolo (although the last three admittedly look pretty good). Dalton and Flacco are probably washed up and past their primes.

In the running game they were ranked 21st in yardage and 26th in yards per carry. Not too impressive.


They absolutely smothered the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Texans, holding them all under 200 yards of total offense. But those teams were at or towards the bottom of the league in terms of yardage. Yes, they picked off Big Ben five times and made him contemplate retirement in his post-game press conference, but he still threw for over 300 yards.

By contrast, the Bills faced Tom Brady (twice), Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers--that's four games against Pro Bowlers. They also played Cam Newton and Matt Ryan, the last two league MVPs, and Alex Smith who led the league in QB rating. That's seven games against good QBs and partially explains their 20th ranking in passing yardage. Impressively, they allowed the second-fewest TD and had the sixth-most INT. They are not intimidated by Blake Bortles.


Ultimately I think the Jaguars defense makes its money via takeaways--they had 33 this year, second most in the NFL. Their 21 INTs were also second in the league, although it's hard to say how impressive this is given the level of QBs they played. Notably, Buffalo turned the ball over 16 times on offense, the sixth fewest in the league. Tyrod Taylor threw only 4 INT and led the league in INT % at 0.95%. So each team's strengths play into the other's. Van der Waals forces and all that.

I can easily see Bortles throwing three picks while the Bills play a clean game, with Buffalo winning 17-13. I can also see Bortles attempting 15 passes with Leonard Fournette getting 35 carries for 150 yards and the Bills going three-and-out every possession, with Jacksonville winning 13-7. Either way I say take the under (right now it's at 39.5 to 40) and the points (Bills are getting 9).

But in my heart I'm taking the Bills. After all, you gotta have faith.


And if you're really lucky I'll tell you why the intangibles cut in Buffalo's favor.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

So you're telling me there's a chance -- Part 1

I think the Bills can win in Jacksonville on Sunday and this post is the first of at least one posts explaining why. I think the Jaguars's offensive stats were over-inflated by a soft schedule, and I think Blake Bortles isn't very good. As a result the Jags could easily get knocked out of the playoffs early.

The Jags were 1-2 against playoff teams this year. Here's how Bortles did in those games:

Those are affirmatively bad stats. He averaged 0.33 TD, 1.67 INT, and 159 yards per game with a 52.4% completion percentage in three games against playoff teams.

The Jags were 4-3 against teams with winning records. Bortles still wasn't very good in those games:

He averaged 1.3 TD, 1.1 INT, and 215 yards with a 58.4% completion percentage in games against teams with winning records. That isn't an impressive QB stat line in 2017.

So why did the Jaguars score the fifth most points this season? Because they played five games against the three worst scoring defenses in the league. Bortles looked absolutely decent in those games:

He threw no picks and completed 66% of his passes, which is great, but he averaged only 1.6 TD and 249 yards in those games.

To put it another way, Bortles lost a passing duel to Blaine Gabbert.

Sure, Buffalo's defense is nothing to brag about and it gave up a league-high 22 TD (I see you Leonard Fournette). But Bortles is so bad that I think the Bills can stack the box against the run without too many concerns.


If you're lucky I'll explain why Jacksonville's defense is overrated too.

Monday, January 01, 2018

I am a Moron and My Urethra Hurts. Happy New Year.

Life has been challenging in the last week, since my 8 y/o broke his leg. He will have a cast above his knee for four weeks. That means he needs help to move around, to get to a table to eat, to pee, to poop, to sleep, etc. It's not as dire as Lalin from Carlito's Way, but it sucks for sure.

So what does this have to do with my urethra? Well, I've been waging an epic battle with the sub-contractor used by the third-party service Cigna uses for durable medical goods. Read that again. That is an accurate assessment of the convoluted process I am involved with to get a one-month wheelchair rental for my kid. It has involved several lengthy phone calls where I am on hold for long stretches at a time. 

One of these times was Friday. I was pacing around in my bedroom on hold, when I realized I could hold in the golden stream no longer. Since I had been on hold for several minutes already, I thought I would have another 20-second window to let it go. I started to relieve myself and then, of course, Nikita from Apria Healthcare came back on the line. At this point, I had several options: 1) continue whizzing away as normal, knowing she would hear and likely understand what was happening, 2) continue whizzing, but aim for the porcelain edges, in an attempt to minimize volume, or 3) pinch and think about it. 

I chose Option 3. Option 2 would have been the best bet, but I needed Nikita to handle business for me. I did not want to be the guy filling her earhole with the sound of a vociferous urine stream. Turns out Option 3 was a poor decision. It immediately began hurting a lot. I had to unpinch and resume purging. It was messy, kinda painful and still pretty loud. And this was while I was escalating my anger that they were still processing the order and claiming it could take 3-5 business days to fully process. 

It now hurts when I pee. No blood or anything, just a little pain that reminds me I am a moron, and that I should not mess with my fossa navicularis ever again.