...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...
Kobe's not Jordan? Maybe. I think a more correct statement is Odom's not Pippen. Look, the Lakers are a Phil Jackson team: a bunch of role players with one star but no big man. The Bulls were a Phil Jackson team with two stars and decent, not great, big men. Put Bynum in there, move Gasol to forward where he belongs, and then it's all on Odom. Next year there's a good chance we'll see the same two teams in the Finals. There's nothing wrong with Kobe's game, but the Laker's future depends on whether Odom decides to adopt a Pippen like work ethic or whether he remains content being the same old Odom. Because against these Celtics, one superstar ain't enough.
Last night's game wasn't played in the Garden. It was played on the Island. That's the only way to explain how a guy can be wheeled off the court with a season ending injury, only to return a minute and forty-five seconds later miraculously healed. Not just healed, but better, stronger, faster, and more accurate from behind the arc.
Give me a freakin' break.
Pat Riley's Brylcreem. The Chief's scowl. Danny Ainge pouting. Coop's knee highs. Kareem's goggles. Rambis's Clark Kents. Walton lying on the sideline. Bird vs. Magic (all the way back to '79) Maxwell's choking taunt. Magic's no-looks to Worthy. The Sky Hook was unstoppable. The Garden's heat, its bumpy parquet. McHale's clothesline foul. The Fabulous Forum. Leprechauns. Chick-isms. Big Game James. DJ's freckles. Jack courtside. K.C. Jones ridin' that train. Randy Newman blaring. Boston and L.A. are in the Finals and it's almost the 80's again.
It's simply not possible for a guy to hit fourteen home runs when the season is only 20 games old and his team still be in last place?!?!
And how is it A-Rod only has 8 walks? Where's the respect?
Is it me, or does Greg Oden look like he's about a thousand years old?
Sundance and Jared are such nice guys, and Sabrina was my favorite.
So like everybody, I guess, I'm floored by the upsets on American Idol tonight.
But Cal beat UCLA, hooooyah!!!
We all went to bed last night thinking Tyler Hansbrough's nose was bloody but unbroken. However, x-rays today confirm a non-displaced hairline fracture, which is surely painful but not as bad as it could have been.
I've watched the replay of the flagrant foul several times and it's really hard to decide what to think. Looking at the camera angle from behind the basket, Henderson's elbow easily looks intentional, and flagrant. From that viewpoint the way he twists his body appears unnecessary, unless he were trying to throw the elbow. It also looks almost like he's got a closed fist too. But when I look at the replay with the camera angle from the left of the key, it looks totally accidental. From that angle, Henderson's hand is open, and it does appear that his mid-air twist was an attempt to maintain his balance as he came down from his jump.
What do you think?
The real Bronco Bomber, for you aviation enthusiasts. Apparently, not a reliable piece of equipment.
Or, if you prefer, here's the most famous Bronco, bombing.
Resist the Beckham hype!
Soccer is like communism. All true Americans shun and despise it. Now, MLS has managed to pluck has-been soccer megastar David Beckham in their latest attempt to force feed soccer to US sports fans.
Well let me be the first to say I won't stand for it. Americans gave the world baseball, football and basketball, and this is how the rest of the world repays us? With eurotrash David and Victoria Beckham?
Just say no to the hype that is sure to surround Beckham's Coming to America tour. I'm already feeling nauseated by the inevitable oh-so-serious Nike ads featuring Beckham bicycle kicking a soccer ball at supersonic speed through the back of a net fifty miles away in grainy black and white with a techno soundtrack. Puleeeze, spare me. Soccer will always remain just notch between chess and tetherball on the excitometer, no matter how many spice girls you dress it up with.
Just say no to the Beckham hype!
Soccerus est communismus!
In the battle of strength vs. strength, Florida's defense is beating Ohio State's offense, like a freakin' drum.
I thought it would be a low scoring game. It's halftime and they've already gone over the over.
I actually like that Tressel went for it on 4th from their own 29, but they should have converted.
I thought FL's kicker sucked. Who's that dude?
I don't think the game is over though. If it was the NFL, yes. But this is college, and that's what I love about NCAAF. Anything can happen. (Such as sucky Florida whooping OSU, I guess.)
The OSU band is playing "My Heart Will Go On?!" Ouch, the irony!
Third Quarter Update: FL's on the 2 yard line. That's it, I'm done. This game's too boring to sit through the rest. OSU did not show up tonight. Congrats to Florida. I guess the BCS worked, though I still would rather have seen SC play for the title.
Okay, I think it's safe to say everyone was surprised by the Colts' defense today.
On to game two: Dallas at Seattle.
Both teams are well coached, yet have stumbled lately.
Romo has played poorly in his last couple of games, but Seattle's secondary may be vulnerable from injuries sustained last weekend.
Hasselbeck throws more interceptions, but Romo fumbles more.
Tough game to pick, but I'm going with the superior quarterback, at least on paper, Tony Romo. Plus, he makes great ribs.
Seattle is the favorite and the spreads range from one to three points. Take the three points, bet Dallas, and laugh at the suckers later. This time for real.
Update: My advice to Tony Romo is this: from now on, be wary of any lady cops named Einhorn.
Update 2: My final record for the year, with 16 games, is 8-6-2. The two pushes tell you exactly how good I am!
The first game today is KC at Indy. The favorite is Indy, by 7 points. Interesting twists include the following:
Indy's run defense is ranked last.
KC's RB Larry Johnson is the league's second best rusher, and having a career year.
Dungy and Edwards are great friends, but Dungy will be looking to avenge Indy's 41-0 loss to Edwards the last time they met in the playoffs.
Manning needs to prove he can win in the playoffs.
I think Indy will win, but LJ and the Colts crappy defense make it too tempting not to take KC plus the 7 points. Go with KC+7 and laugh at the suckers later.
Result: Indianapolis kills the Chiefs, 23 to 8. I lose.
The Louisville Parrots are beating the Lake Forest uhhh Whittakers. I should continue to watch, but I am hungry. What should I eat? El Pollo Loco is close, but so is In-n-Out.
Okay, the NFL regular season is over and my MNF pick record was 7-5-2, which is not bad. That's a .571 winning percentage, which would get me in the playoffs if I was a football team. I made predictions in 14 games, but I really should pick two more to make it a 16 game season. I don't know where I lost track of those two games.
To make it totally fair, I will predict the next two upcoming games, which happen to be KC-Indy and Dallas-Seattle.
Since I had two unscheduled bye weeks lately (I was too lazy and/or forgot to post by game time) I've chosen two sure winners as makeup games.
The first is tonight's matchup between NFC North rivals Minnesota and Green Bay, both 6 and 8. Brett Favre's middle name has been "interception" every time I pick Green Bay, it seems. But the key facts are these: 1) Minnesota is starting a rookie QB at Lambeau Field; 2) Favre is 40 and 5 at Lambeau when the temperature is below 35, as it will be tonight; and 3) this could be Favre's last home game in his career. Green Bay is favored by 3½ points and I say they will cover.
The next sure thing is Saturday night's game between AFC West rivals Kansas City and Oakland. The Raiders have given up on football this year. They have zero pride. I've never seen a professional sports team that cared less about anything. Plus, Al Davis wants that high draft pick so he can squander it yet again. Just lose, baby. Oakland is only a 6½ point underdog, but the opening line was 3½. I'd be surprised if even 3 people took Oakland with only three points. They'll lose by at least two touchdowns. This should be a slaughter and KC will beat the spread easily.
Parlay these two and laugh at the suckers later.
Update: Fuckin Favre, did it to me again!
This week is a pretty even matchup, Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles. Based solely on records, I should bet Carolina, especially with the Eagles having lost Donovan McNabb for the season. But I'm going to go with Philadelphia to cover the three point spread.
One reason is that Philly is at home. If they can get the crowd into the game with some early plays, I think Delhomme will have a tough time of it. Jake throws his share of interceptions, and turnovers are always key in a close matchup.
The loss of Donovan McNabb hurts the Eagles, but Jeff Garcia isn't the worst backup QB in the world. He's actually rated higher than Delhomme at this point in the season. I'm not terribly confident about my pick, and most experts are going with Carolina, but there you have it.
Eric McNeal's deflection and catch were unbelievable. What quick hands.
Musberger said it, "that's why they play the game." USC, heavily favored by as much as 13 points, was upset at the Rose Bowl tonight by arch rival UCLA. And now we'll never get an answer to the Shelly vs. Casca debate.
But instead, we all get a rematch between Ohio State and their arch rival Michigan, undisputably the second best college football team this year. I wanted to see OSU vs. USC, but now I, and the rest of America want the Big 10 rematch.
And I don't want to hear anything about Florida or that strength of schedule bullshit they were peddling on tv tonight. You all saw the Florida Arkansas game. I ask you, did that sloppy Gator team look like they could do anything but cower and hide against either of the Big 10's best? I want to see a game in January, not a blowout.
Update: Hey wait a minute. Cal beat UCLA by two touchdowns. We should go to the Rose Bowl!
Quickly. Green Bay at Seattle. Green Bay sucks hard. Ten point underdogs. I followed a pattern last time, which proved true. However, if I follow it again, the chart would tell me that GB wins, and I lose if I bet for GB. They being 10 point underdogs, the pattern breaks down. It's illogical because it tells me I must bet against GB in order to win, but there's no way I can win by betting against them if they win as underdogs. Understand? Therefore, I will assume that the pattern of WLWLWL for GB's last six MNF appearances will be broken tonight (a logical assumption, since they suck hard, see above), and take Seattle minus the points, and see what happens.
Update: A push! Ha-ha, a muthafucken PUSH!
I'm very disappointed that the Bears will not be going to the Rose Bowl. A few close calls going the other way, and they might have beaten USC, but it was not to be. Despite Cal's explosive offense, and a defense that kept them in the contest until late, USC clearly has the better all around game.
I also watched the slugfest between Ohio State and Michigan, one of the best games of this college football season. Michigan stayed in range, but they never could get over the top. And afterwards, the announcers debated whether there should be a rematch in Glendale for the National Championship.
Some good arguments can be made for Michigan being the second best team in the country, but I don't want to see a rematch. I saw no fear yesterday on the part of the Buckeyes. I honestly think the team that plays OSU should be a team that makes them a little bit scared. I don't know if USC is that team, but if they beat ND and UCLA, I want to see that matchup.
Tonight we have Tampa Bay at Carolina. Tampa Bay's record is 2 and 6. Carolina is 4 and 4. Ho-hum. I don't even plan to watch the game. I got a lot of DVR to catch up on.
The Panthers are heavy favorites, at 10 points across the board. Ninety-three percent of Yahoo! Pick'em users think Carolina will win. As always, the question is will they cover.
Note this information from ESPN's preview:
Carolina has held a fourth-quarter lead in seven games, and lost three of them. Overall, the Panthers have been outscored 104-42 in second halves and 77-30 in fourth quarters.This game is a great opportunity for the Bucs to improve their record. I'm still waiting to see last year's defense emerge. Tampa Bay has been a horrible first half team, and Carolina is a horrible second half team. I think it evens out, with Carolina winning, but not covering the spread. Last time these two teams met, seven weeks ago, Carolina won by two points.
Said Smith after the loss to Dallas, "When we get up 14 points, sometimes we act like it's a hundred points."
Therefore, take Tampa Bay plus the ten points.
Update: Thanks Ronde. Way to cover your man. Grrrr.
Tonight's game pits sucky Seattle against sucky Oakland. The big question at Qwest Field is who will be suckier. NFC champ Seattle at least has a good excuse: they're missing two great players, Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck. Bad as Seattle has been playing, they're still number one in the NFC West. Oakland used to be a sure thing on Monday Night, but if they lose this week it will be their fifth consecutive MNF loss. Oakland is currently on a two game winning streak, but it's been four years since they've won three in a row. Plus Art Shell is completely hapless as a coach.
Let's look at Oakland's last two games. They beat the Cardinals, a semi-pro team from somewhere around Phoenix. And last week they managed to beat a sloppy Steelers team, despite moving the ball only 98 yards the whole game! The Raiders' third-string QB, Andrew Walter has thrown nine interceptions and been sacked 28 times since he took over for Aaron Brooks. Last week he threw for 51 yards. This is not only one of the worst Raider teams ever, it's probably one of the worst NFL teams ever.
So, the Seahawks are going to win, but will they cover? They're favored by 7½. I think the smart money is going with Seattle to cover the spread, and that's what I recommend too.
Result: No surprise, the Raiders not only suck, they don't care that they suck. I however, am now 6 and 3!
New England at Minnesota. Patriots favored by 2½ points. The opening line was closer, at 1½ points. To me, this signals that the crowd is going with NE, and I agree. On turnovers, balanced running game, and quality of their quarterback and coaching, New England is the superior team. I'll take them to cover the spread.
Result: Patriots crush the Vikings. I'm now 5 and 3!
Or more specifically, Beaver DE Jeff Van Orsow lends Cal a hand, by batting away John David Booty's last ditch pass to send the game into OT. Beavers win (despite wearing the NCAA's ugliest uniform) and Cal moves into sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.
Good matchup tonight. Giants vs. Dallas at Dallas. The Cowboys favored by 3, which is pretty even. Most folks are giving the edge to Dallas. But I hate Dallas so I'm rooting for, and betting on the Giants.
Result: Giants dominate 36 to 22. I win. My record is now a mediocre 4 and 3 thus far.
Disappointed as I am about the Mets' loss, I still think Endy Chavez's "dobleplay" is the greatest defensive play I've ever seen.
As for the World Series, I was rooting for the Mets because I thought St. Louis rolled over against the Sox. With Pujols in a slump, and Detroit well rested, I'm afraid the Cards might get swept again.
I know, I know, different guy, but still it's ironic.
P.S. This ain't the first time Lamar Thomas has embarrassed himself.
Bears vs. Cardinals in Arizona. Chicago favored by 12½ points. The Bears will win this one, but will they cover?
The answer is yes, unless there's an earthquake, tsunami or alien invasion in Glendale tonight. And even then, they'll probably still win.
Update: Just like I said, a disaster happened and the Bears still won. Actually, there were two disasters: the Cardinals' collapse and the Bears' offense.
Tonight's game is Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos. Denver is favored by five points. That's crazy. There's a lot of hype about each team's defenses. But I think Baltimore's is better, and besides, they've scored more points this year. When these two teams met last year, Baltimore lost by only two points, with Denver scoring only one touchdown at home. I see the Ravens extending their streak to 5 and 0 after tonight, and I'll take them plus five points anyday. Agree with me, and you can laugh at the suckers later.
Update: The Broncos pull it out. I lose.
In other football news, I just learned that the unlikeable Bryant Gumbel and the intolerable Chris Collinsworth have teamed up to call NFL Network games. Could there be a more unwatchable broadcasting crew? Maybe, if they shoved Musburger in there.
Tonight's game is Green Bay at Philadelphia. Philly is favored by 11½. I was stumped about who to pick, since Green Bay has burned me before. Here's the history.
On September 13, 2004, I bet Green Bay in the season opener. They won and I won.
On October 11, 2004, I picked favorite Green Bay, and they got trounced by the Titans, so I lost.
On November 29, 2004, I bet against the Pack. They won 45 to 17, and I lost.
On October 3, 2005, I bet on Green Bay. They lost, but Carolina didn't cover so I won.
On November 21, 2005, I bet against Green Bay. They won and I lost.
So I figure, there's enough information there to discern a pattern. Anyone who took the LSAT ought to be able to see it. If you want to try and guess it, don't click on the extended entry. Otherwise, the answer is below.
As you can see, the pattern for Green Bay wins and losses is a simple alternating pattern. Therefore, they should lose tonight.
The pattern for my wins and losses matches the pattern for my bets, except that it's one off.
Therefore, if the pattern holds, the next entry in the "Bet" column should be "Against," to match the "Win" entry at the top of the "Me" column.
So I'm picking Philadelphia, minus the 11½ point spread.
Update: Eagles win.
Atlanta vs. New Orleans. The first game in the Superdome since Katrina. Falcons favored by 4. I'm going with the sentimental favorites, though. New Orleans plus the points.
I can't figure out the oddsmakers this week. The line opened with Jacksonville favored by 2 points, and now they're 2½ point underdogs. Ben Roethlisberger is recovering from appendectomy surgery and despite practicing all week, he had a temperature of 104° at 2:00 today.*
I'm taking Jacksonville plus the 2½ points.
Which probably means you should bet Pittsburgh.
* Personally I don't believe it. It would be too dangerous to start him if he really had that high of a temperature only 6½ hours before game time. Nobody would risk the franchise and his salary on one early season game like that.
What's MNF without the Raiders? And they're three point underdogs! That's crazy. The Raiders always come to play on Monday Night, especially at home.
Raiders by seven.
I know I'm late, but only by a couple of minutes.
Update: How embarrassing.
1. Troy Smith and Colt McCoy are some great quarterback names. How could either of those guys play any other position?
2. If USC goes to number 2 this week, will we see a repeat of the great Casca/Shelly comments debate of 2005?
3. How many times did you say "shutup Musburger" during tonight's game?
4. Maria Sharapova is awesome. I know, that's not a question, but she is.
5. Penn State looked fugly today. Weren't they number three last year?
6. How will Emmit do this season? With Cheryl coaching him, I say he'll do better than Jerry.
This week is finally here. Thursday is the start of the NFL regular season. Yay!
Because I'm a masochist, I will revive the infamous feature known as Annika's Monday Night Football Picks.
The schedule is in the extended entry.
Monday, Sept. 11
Minnesota at Washington, 4:00
San Diego at Oakland, 7:15
Monday, Sept. 18
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, 5:30
Monday, Sept. 25
Atlanta at New Orleans, 5:30
Monday, Oct. 2
Green Bay at Philadelphia, 5:30
Monday, Oct. 9
Baltimore at Denver, 5:30
Monday, Oct. 16
Chicago at Arizona, 5:30
Monday, Oct. 23
N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 5:30
Monday, Oct. 30
New England at Minnesota, 5:30
Monday, Nov. 6
Oakland at Seattle, 5:30
Monday, Nov. 13
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 5:30
Monday, Nov. 20
N.Y. Giants at Jacksonville, 5:30
Monday, Nov. 27
Green Bay at Seattle, 5:30
Monday, Dec. 4
Carolina at Philadelphia, 5:30
Mon., Dec. 11
Chicago at St. Louis, 5:30
Mon., Dec. 18
Cincinnati at Indianapolis, 5:30
Mon., Dec. 25
Philadelphia at Dallas, 2:00
N.Y. Jets at Miami, 5:30
If the mere existence of a sport can be viewed as evidence of American superiority over the rest of the world, it is soccer.
There's real football, and there's futbol. They can't even fucking spell it right.
We suck at soccer because we don't care about it. We don't care about it because it is a stupid game.
You will never ever hear me say, "It's amazing, even though the score was 0-0, I really enjoyed watching that game."
Soccer is fun to play because all you do is run around and kick a ball. Soccer is boring to watch because all they do is run around and kick a ball.
When the foreign announcers say "gooooooooooooool!!!!" we laugh. But we're not laughing with them.
Beckham is eurotrash.
When Sylvester Stallone made that movie about soccer, he had to mix in a subplot about escaping from prison or some shit like that just to make it interesting, and it still sucked. The only movie about real football that had a prison subplot is The Longest Yard. It's now considered a classic, and they didn't even escape!
Soccer is like a slow, boring version of hockey, but without the fighting, or skating, or sticks, or guys getting slammed into a wall, or any action whatsoever.
Soccer is slower and more boring than golf, only there's more scoring in golf even though golfers are all trying not to score!
Soccer is basically like watching a high school football practice. A bunch of guys running back and forth across a field for three hours. Except the guys at my high school were cuter.
I root against the U.S. because the sooner we get knocked out, the sooner I get to stop hearing idiots complain that Americans don't like soccer.
If I have to, I root for Brazil because they come closest to making the game entertaining.
Feel free to add your own.
Mary Katharine Ham has a great background post about two of my favorite boxers, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. They're much more interesting than your average boxers.
Both brothers stand over 6'6", speak four languages, and have Ph.Ds. They served in the Ukrainian army, hold helicopter pilots' licenses, and excel at chess. They are described as intelligent, charming, and well-mannered in a sport that hasn't recently put a high premium on those qualities. They sometimes catch flak for it from opponents and critics who say they're too soft for boxing-- they lack the killer instinct.Ph.D.'s? That's must be where the "science" part of "sweet science" comes in.
Nonetheless, the two have both been heavyweight champions--Wladimir most recently beat Chris Byrd for the title in a bout that avenged his big brother's loss of the title to the southpaw American 6 months earlier. Inside the ring, the brothers combine for a record of 70-2 with 66 KOs. (Not positive that's a current stat, so don't quote me on it; I read several different stats on that, but that's the ballpark.)
I don't want Barry to beat Hank. Barry may be the most amazing hitter I've ever seen, but as a cheater, it would be a disgrace for his name to top the legendary Hank Aaron's. Barry should quit after this season.
Carl the gardener would know what to do.
What you've got to do is cut the hamstring on the back of his leg right at the bottom... he'll push everything off to the right. He'll never come through on anything. He'll quit the game.Alas, Barry is thinking of coming back.
Now 40 home runs shy of catching home run king Hank Aaron, Bonds believes he may have another season in his 41-year-old body.Quit, Barry quit.
"If my health feels good and if I feel I can play," said Bonds, who turns 42 in July, "then I'm going to play. If I'm healthy enough, it's a good shot. It's still a long way away. We're still in May. Anything can happen between now and then."
In anticipation of setting the new record, Barry has decided to change his image, too.
"The funny part is that it's brought out a softer side to me. And I don't want to go back to the other side. I'm having more fun. It's probably hurting my career more than anything because I'm not mad. I'm just happy."A softer side? Well maybe getting off the roids had a little to do with it too...
Shaq and Kobe just can't stop competing with each other.
The former Lakers teammates became fathers again Monday when their wives gave birth to girls six minutes apart.Congratulations to both couples.
. . .
Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was born at 2:03 a.m. PDT in Orange County, Calif.
. . .
Shaquille and Shaunie OâNeal became parents for the sixth time when Mearah Sanaa OâNeal was born at 4:57 a.m. EDT in a South Florida hospital.
And speaking of Kobe... what a game on Sunday. It was also great watching Nash choke, twice. MVPs are not supposed to fall apart like that. Did Magic ever? Jordan? Bird? Nash's got skills, but trust me. Ten years from now, nobody's going to remember who he was, except he was that skanky lookin dude who let the ball get away from him twice in that legendary Laker game.
I'm sorry. Did somebody scoff when I suggested that the Titans might take Young? I don't remember.
Oh, and with Leinart available, the Oakland Raiders pick... a safety?!?!!?
1. How does Al Davis fuck this one up?
2. Who gets Bush?
3. Will Green Bay take a QB or stick with their vacillating, over-the-hill hall-of-famer?
4. How will Al Davis fuck this one up?
5. Where and when does Leinart go?
6. If Houston or the Titans take Young, will he deliver for them?
7. Can anything help the Raiders. Or the Niners for that matter?
8. Can Viera handle both Today and Millionaire?
Greg has some excellent and extensive hitting advice over at The End Zone.
Throughout my life, I believed I was an excellent hitter in tough situations. I believed my teams were lucky to have me at bat in those situations. I often believed, of everyone on the team, I had the best chance of succeeding against tough pitching in tough situations. I would often be really wanting to win, and I would think "Thank God I'm coming up - my coming to bat really gives us a good chance to win this game," or "My coming to bat is bad luck for those other guys - they are screwed," or "Those other guys have no idea how much trouble they are in with me coming to bat. I'm the last person they want up there - even if they don't know it." Was that true? It doesn't matter if it was true or not! The important thing is to believe it - to have confidence. My father used to say "If you think you cannot, you cannot." He was right about that.I wish I'd had a coach like him when I was nine. I might have done more than one embarrasing year in Little League.
My percentage of picks in Six Meat Buffet's Tournament Challenge is 17%. Abysmal, but I did worse in my own fantasy baseball league last year.
Here's how my Oakland regional picks turned out:
What gets me is how someone like Preston can hit 96.8% of his picks. He oughta change his name to Prestondigitator. Or the current leader, Duane, with an astonishing 98.5% score. How do you do that without a crystal ball?
I guess it helps if you know something about college hoops.
But I bet I can accessorize better than both of 'em. I know a little something about hoop earrings, you see.
Anyways, the last two spots in the Final Four will be filled tonight. I say it will be Villanova (whom i've picked to win it all) and UConn. I saw yesterday's games and LSU looked damn strong. LSU and 'Nova in the final? What do you think?
Update: George Mason? I thought he died in season two?
As a teaser, I'm revealing one quarter of my tournament bracket for you all to harsh on.
I'm in Six Meat Buffet's ESPN group. As you can see, I'm really a believer in 'Bama. Also, the 'Zags don't make it to the sweet sixteen on my chart and Kent State gets shot down in the first round. But am I dreaming when I pick Memphis to make the final four? Stay tuned.
Update: Fuck. Oklahoma is out. There goes my Minneapolis bracket.
Cal beat Oregon last night, and will play #13 UCLA today for the PAC-10 championship! It's now an intrafamily rivalry Saturday, my dad being a UCLA graduate.
California (20-9) reached its first Pac-10 tournament final with a 91-87 double-overtime victory Friday over Oregon. The Bears, who finished third in the conference, likely will make the field of 65 regardless of the outcome of this game.But who will Hugo root for? The game is at 3:15 PST on CBS.
Forward Leon Powe claimed a Pac-10 tournament record for the second straight game, scoring 41 points to better the previous mark of 39, set by UCLA's Reggie Miller in 1987.
The senior, whose late basket forced the second overtime, established a new rebounding record Thursday by pulling down 20 in a victory over Southern California.
Ayinde Ubaka added 12 of his 17 points in the two overtime periods for Cal, which rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit and a seven-point gap in the final 2:45 of regulation.
The win gave Ben Braun his sixth 20-win season at Cal, moving past Hall of Fame coach Pete Newell for most in school history.
The teams have split two all-time Pac-10 tournament games, with Cal posting a 67-61 win in the 2002 quarterfinals. The road team won both games in the season series, with Bruins guard Arron Afflalo scoring 44 points in the two games.
Okay, now that that's over with, on to March Madness. You gotta like Duke again this year. Villanova too. Arizona and Gonzaga will disappoint, as they do every time. And Geo. Washington is overrated. Keep an eye on Alabama. If they make the tourney, they're worth at least one upset.
The Winter Olympics are over. I've always liked the Winter Games better than the Summer Games. In almost every winter sport the athletes risk serious injury. You can't say the same about the summer version. But this year's Winter Olympics was pretty lackluster. Utterly forgettable. And that's all I have to say about that.
Apparently, there is no Mandarin translation for "why why why!" When they bang their knee in China, they finish the program.
As Butch Cassidy once remarked, "who are these guys?"
Update: 38 to 33 with 3:08 left. I hope you all took the over.
Update 2: :19 left. Oh.My.God.
Update 3: That game was as good as the ABC announcers were biased.
After Kobe drops 62 on the Mavs in only three quarters, you gotta wonder if Wilt's record might be in danger. Wilt's 100 point game in 1962, for the Philadelphia Warriors, always seemed to me like a more unbreakable record than Hank's 755 or Maris' 61. Wilt's record survived all 3 Michael Jordan eras. But i think Kobe can, and should do it. Apparently, he took himself out of the game last night. If Kobe wanted to, against the right defense, he could get to 101. Unlike Wilt, Kobe is almost automatic at the line, and he's got the advantage of a three point shot that didn't exist in 1962. i'd love to see it happen.
Atlanta at home vs. New Orleans. Atlanta favored by 10½. Atlanta will cover, no prob.
Trust me on this one. Go with the Steelers and the eight points. Let the crowd bet Indy, they're going down. Trust me.
Update: Or not.
Look for the Falcons to beat the Lions in Detroit and cover the 3 point spread. In the battle of division leaders, look for Dallas to squeak by Denver. Take Dallas at home, plus the 2 points.
Enjoy your turducken, too.
Big NFC North matchup tonight. Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. i'm going to try out a new analysis today, so stay with me and you'll see the beauty of it, then you can laugh at the suckers later.
Now the line opened with Green Bay favored by 3½ points. The current line is up to 5½ points. The conventional wisdom says Green Bay will do well in November at home against their arch-rivals, who play in a dome. Also, Brett Favre and company have a lot to make up for, with their recent Monday night debacles. Plus, the Vikings are without their star Daunte Culpepper, while the Packers are still led by fading superstar Favre. The Packers are also coming off a huge victory against the Falcons last week, and they will hopefully ride into this game with some momentum and renewed confidence.
So, naturally i would pick the Packers tonight. However, this week i am going with the George Costanza rule, which states as follows:
If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.Thus, i am picking the Minnesota Vikings plus 5½ points to win.
So Randy Moss don't wanna play with TO? That's good. i'd hate to watch yet another future Hall of Famer riding the bench for Al Davis.
i don't do college football predictions, because i don't know enough about it. But since i've had such luck with the pros this year, and since all you people seem to want to talk about is college ball, here goes.
The Big Game: Cal is favored by seven. The Bears will crush Stanford by fourteen.
Alabama vs. Auburn: i love Auburn. Defense appears to be their weak spot, but i expect them to get the W, if not cover their seven point spread. Alabama will then drop in the BCS, opening a post season bowl spot for the undeserving Ducks.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame: Just because i'm Catholic, do i have to root for Notre Dame? i don't think so. i read a spirited defense of ND's number 6 ranking, but i'm not buying it. One close game against SC doesn't convince me that they're better than Ohio State, for instance. On the other hand, i've always had this unreasonable dislike for Syracuse. i don't know why. It may have something to do with a tournament pool i lost a few years back, thanks to them. The Green will trounce the Orangemen.
The Ohio State University vs. Michigan: The hidden offense will be revealed, just in time. OSU by a TD.
Southern Cal vs. Fresno State: Looking at Fresno's mascot, i'm wondering whether John Thompson should be their coach. Talk about over-rated. Who have they beaten this year? Carroll and Leinart will embarrass the Hoyas by at least three touchdowns. No, make it four.
Penn State vs. Michigan State: Penn State is back, baby. i can't understand why they're only 7 point favorites over the 5-5 Spartans. i'd spot Michigan State at least 17.
The Civil War: Since 1997, the winner of this rivalry has alternated between Oregon and Oregon State every year. It's the Duck's turn this year. Ducks by seven with their quarterback platoon.
So the Clippers are 6 and 2, and number one in the West? Don't worry, the planets are not out of orbit. The Dodgers had a great start this year too.
What's the spread? i don't know. Oh well. Phillies vs. Cowboys. The Cowboys will win.
Update The Phillies are favored by three at game time. i stand by my prediction. Of course now that it's already 7 to nothing, i'm starting to second guess myself.
Colts vs. Patriots, at Foxboro. Indianapolis is 7 and 0 this season, but they've only played one team with a winning record. They're soft and they've lost to New England the last six times they've met. You could say that Indy is due for a win against the Pats. But you could also say that Indy is due for a loss this season. The law of averages cancels itself out. New England has had a much tougher schedule, and they seem to have been reborn with Bruschi's return last week.
Indy is favored by 4 points. i really think it will be a close game, so i'm taking
Indy [New England] and the points.
Update: Okay, i'm an idiot. That was a typo, obviously i meant to say New England up there.
Update 2: i'm now 2 and 5. That's a .286 winning percentage, which is better than the Jets, the Ravens, the Titans, the Texans, the Packers, the Saints, the Cards, and the Niners. Plus, i'm cuter.
Tonight, Pittsburgh hosts Baltimore. The line started out at 7½ points and is now inflated to 11½ points.
i always have trouble with big spreads on Monday night. Even with a sucky team like Baltimore, you know they don't want to embarrass themselves in front of half the country. But they're missing two key defensive starters, and Roethlisberger is back for Pittsburgh. i expect him to regain his pre-week 6 form tonight.
But will the Steelers cover the big spread? Looking at Baltimore's previous losses, you'll find: a 14 point loss to Indy, a 15 point loss to sucky Tennessee, an 18 point loss to suckier Detroit, and Chicago held them to two field goals last week.
So with the overconfident air that i've adopted this season, i'm absolutely reasonably certain that Pittsburgh will probably cover the spread. Take the Steelers and laugh at the suckers later.
Update: Nobody likes to get embarrassed on MNF. i should always go with my first impulse.
Last week was my bye week, so i'm coming back well rested and with a sure thing, no brainer pick.
Tonight, the Falcons, who i hate, are playing the Jets, who i kind of like even though their quarterback is my least favorite QB of all time, Vinnie "INT" Testaverde. The Falcons are at home and favored by 7½ points.
The Falcons are overrated. They survived with a win over the Saints last week, but they should really be a 3-3 team. The Jets however, are not overrated. Everyone knows they suck. It should be a rout tonight, so take the Falcons minus the points and laugh at the suckers later.
Well, the baseball season is now weeks over, and the Fall Classic is almost ready to start. i think sufficient time has passed and my embarrassment has waned enough for me to post about the final standings in my own fantasy baseball league, MLBloggers.
i started the league last spring and nine other fine bloggers signed up to play. i quickly plummeted to the bottom of the standings, where i stayed pretty much from wire to wire. But here are the final results:
Greg of The End Zone had Hank's Homey's, and finished in first place. Congratulations Greg! You now win the coveted annika's journal fantasy baseball memorial stein. As soon as i design and manufacture it. This is Greg's second annika's journal contest win. You might remember that he won the infamous Joe Don Baker haiku contest back in September '04. Interestingly, Greg says he had no experience in haiku or fantasy baseball before entering either contest. Greg, you might want to try tackling world hunger next. Give it a shot.
The Maximum Leader of Nakedvillainy came in second.
Paul of the now defunct Sanity's Edge came in third. He has returned to blogging, by the way.
Munuviana's elder statesman, Ted of Rocket Jones finished in fourth place, even though he's not a baseball fan.
Dawn Summers of Clareified came in fifth place with her East Coco Beach Metropolitans.
The Biloxi Turds of Matt from Irreverent Probity came in sixth.
Victor's Windbreakers finished seventh.
Resurrection Song's Zombyboy finished eighth with his Zombyesque Zombies.
And Physics Geek of Physics Geek finished ninth with his Physics Geeks;
And finally, there's my own annika's A's in last place.
Thanks to everyone for playing.
i'm late, but you'll just have to trust me. i got SD to win minus 3 points.
It saddens me to report the end of the "All the way with Tim Rattay" era for the San Francisco 49ers.
Okay, i'm not really sad.
On a related sports note, has anyone noticed that ESPN.com has basically become a pay site this year. Useless for anything but statistics, and maddeningly slow to load too.
Week 4? Is that right? i guess so. It seems like the season just started. But it's been going on long enough for one thing to be clear: both Green Bay and Carolina suck this year.
Carolina, at home, is favored by a big 7½ points. Will they cover? i been burned by Brett Favre and the Packers on Monday Night before, but i've also won too.
The Packers and 7½ points is too tempting to pass up. i'll go against conventional wisdom and say that Carolina will not cover. Bet Green Bay, take the points and laugh at the suckers later. ha-ha.
Update: i'm now 1 and 2.
Update 2: What? No "congratulations annika on your amazing prognosticative powers?" No "annika you're so awesome?" No "annika, we're sorry we ever doubted you?"
To improve and simplify the system, The Onion reports that the BCS Committee is considering some changes.
Hat tip to Casca.
Kansas City plus 2½ points? That's a no-brainer. Sure, Mile-High is always a factor, but so are Trent Green and Priest Holmes. Take KC over Denver. Insist on the points so you can laugh at the suckers later.
First Quarter Update: Fuck.
Halftime Update: Double fuck.
(That Clay Aiken's got a pretty good arm. Who knew?)
Third Quarter Update: Looks like we're going to need the greatest comeback in MNF history for those 2½ points to matter.
Final Score Update: Okay, so i'm 0 and 2. Denver was 0 and 2 before Monday Night, but i don't see you mocking them now. Just wait until next week.
Update to the Update: Crap, wrong again. Denver was 1-1.
Dallas is favored by 5½ points. i'd take Dallas minus the points because they plan to honor Troy, Michael and Emmitt tonight. The Cowboys should be up for this home game and besides, the Redskins aren't going anywhere this year.
Unrelated football note: L.A. has been without a football team for what, ten years now? New Orleans doesn't even exist, but they have a football team. How embarrassing is that.
Update: Amy was at the game!
Despite early reports today, speculation that right hander Matt Clement was picked to be the ninth man in the Supreme Court rotation are apparently untrue.
Sources within the administration, speaking on condition of anonymity, told annika's journal that Matt Clement was never under serious consideration.
However, some experts say Clement would have been an awesome choice, despite his 4.21 ERA and mediocre WHIP. Said annika: "Heck, he's been on my fantasy team three years in a row. i don't know what kind of justice he'd make, but he's got ten wins and 101 K's this year. And the way my team's been doing, i've needed every damn one of 'em."
Developing . . .
Update: Speculation continues to circulate around Gonzalez as a possible nominee. Some pundits say President Bush is under pressure to nominate another Arizonan to replace Justice O'Connor, who grew up in Duncan, Arizona. However, some conservative activists are wary of the veteran outfielder for the Diamondbacks.
Said prominent right wing blogger annika: "Sure Luis throws right handed, but he bats lefty. And everytime i've seen him, he's way out in left field. Can we really trust him?"
Developing . . .
Update 2: The news is out! It's Roberts! i'm ecstatic. His stats aren't outrageous, but he's got good speed and was a quality guy when he played for the Dodgers. This year Dave's been a solid contributor to the first place Padre team. Democrats who wanted a center fielder should be happy with this lefty batter.
Developing . . .
[If there's a rule about beating a joke to death, you might want to invoke it now.]
Update 3: Preston wanted a justice with strings attached. Or someone who can pull all the right strings. Or something like that.
On this off day for the Tour, i thought you all might enjoy this bit of Tour de France historical trivia.
Question: What dinosaur was also an excellent biker in the time trial events?
Answer in the extended entry.
Answer: Parasaurolophus, of course. Due to its advanced skull design.
DMC at Ridgecrest Blog has a couple of really good Tour de France updates.
The first is something Tour fans already know. Lance Armstrong is a class act.
Today Lance Armstrong showed up for the big roll out wearing his normal Discovery Channel jersey, not the yellow jersey of the race leader that he was entitiled to wear.The second update concerns a questionable judgment call on the part of David Zabriskie's team leader, Bjarni Riis.
. . .
After the rollout the race referees told Lance that he would have to wear the yellow or risk being disqualified from the race. So Armstong is racing with the yellow jersey pulled on over his discovery jerset. Let's hope it doesn't get hot today.
So there you go, in a day of overpaid, over egoed proffesional athletes we have one here that tries to take the high road and do the right thing and the race officials have to get involved and drag him back into the muck.
To Bjarne Riis, you made a tough call ordering the team to ride on withour Zabriskie. But was it the right call? YOu should have left a rider behind to help him. To bad you don't respect the yellow jersey as much as the guy who was wearing it and the man today who is reluctantly wearing it today.Go check out Ridgecrest Blog. It's good stuff.
We're a week away from the All-Star break, and i'm sure everybody's wondering how annika's A's are doing in annika's own fantasy baseball league, MLBloggers.
Every other owner has been in first at least once. i've set a record for being in last place the most consecutive weeks.
Yep, pretty much all of them.
i drafted poorly. i built my team around Eric Gagné, who went on the DL almost immediately, came back briefly, and is out again. i got no runners except for Podsednik, with his sub-par offensive stats.
But that's only for starters.
i'm in the bottom three in the following stats: runs, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, batting average, on base percentage, wins, saves, strikeouts, earned run average and walk+hit ratio.
Yep, pretty much all of them.
i'm losing to Paul, who apparently gave up his blog so he could devote more time to kicking my ass!
Even a Geek knows more about baseball than i do.
Yes, as Charlie Brown said: Rats.
Cal's football team again starts the season highly ranked at number 15 in the Sporting News Poll. But while the Golden Bears' finish last season was less than heroic, their freshman offensive lineman Mike Tepper should be a hero in anyone's book.
A University of California, Berkeley, football player was seriously injured when authorities say he was allegedly intentionally struck by a car driven by a group of men leering at a female friend.Thank God chivalry is not dead. i sure hope Mike Tepper gets to play again, he's a real hero.
Mike Tepper, 19, was walking with the woman near campus during the weekend. The men began taunting the woman, a Cal volleyball player, and eventually cut the pair off with their car, police said.
When the men refused to leave the woman alone, the 6-foot-6, 312-pound lineman jumped between the car and the woman. The men allegedly then ran over Tepper twice, breaking his leg.
'My season's toast,' Tepper said Wednesday as he recuperated from surgery to repair a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments. He had nine screws and one plate put in his leg and can't walk on it for eight weeks.
Police have arrested Johnny Ray Smith, 33, and Calvin Joe Kelley, 29, for violating terms of their probation or parole, authorities said. Officers also arrested a third man, but prosecutors declined to file charges against him because of scant evidence.
Police are investigating the incident as an assault with a deadly weapon.
Cal football coach Jeff Tedford said he was 'proud of the courage Mike showed Saturday night.'
Mike was walking on Telegraph Saturday night. A good looking girl was on her way home just ahead of him and was trying to cross the street (I think at Dwight) and a car pulled up with 4 or 5 men in it. They started taunting the girl, making unwanted propositions. She said she wasn't interested and was trying to get by. As she started to walk ahead of the car to pass in front of it, they sped up and blocked her.Good news indeed. Get well soon, dude.
By this time, Mike caught up with the girl and told the guys she wasnt interested and together they walked behind the car to get by.
As they were crossing the street behind the car, the driver put the car into reverse and punched it, intentionally attempting to hit them. Mike immediately pushed the girl out of the way, but could not get out of the way himself. She landed across the street with scraped knees and a scraped up face.
Mike wasnt as lucky, the car hit him, he fell, then the car ran over mike's leg. Then, the idiots put the car in Drive and ran over him again (over the ankle again).
A police lieutenant witnessed the whole thing from about a block away. He was at Mike's side within seconds and called an ambulance. He took statements from 5 witnesses at the scene. The lieutenant put a turniquette on Mike's leg (he has a very deep gash), because it was bleeding fairly severely. The lieutenant also said that it was intentional.
At the hospital, they x-rayed Mike, and found he had a broken Fibula, and ligament damage. He also has a dislocated Tibia. They had to spend a little time trying to stop the bleeding.
He had an operation this morning, where they put a plate and two screws into the broken bones, and will repair the ligament damage. He will be in a cast for 6-8 weeks before they take the plate off. After that he will be able to jog lightly on it, but will not be in any condition to "play hard" at least until November at the earliest.
The lieutenant called for backup and had the guys arrested within 5 blocks of the incident as he came to Mike's aid. The driver was on parole, and another passenger was on probation.
The driver is going to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and both of those guys had had their paroles/probation revoked that night. They will both finish their earlier convictions behind bars, and are behind bars now.
. . .
Personally, I think Mike saved a life that night. Had he not been there, who knows what those scumbags would have done to that girl, the least of being run over by a car. I think he deserves a medal for what he did. I am proud of his behavior.... He is a great kid, and an outstanding citizen, and I am constantly reminding him of that.
In his meeting with the surgeon yesterday, he was told that he would heel 100%, and that 4 or 5 CAL players have had similar surgeries and have gone on to play in the "pros." That was great news, and we are looking to a speedy recovery and a fantastic year, next year. He will be working out with the team, but staying off the foot until such time he can play again.
Everybody's talking about Danica Patrick, the girl who is starting today's Indianappolis 500 in the second row. Danica is one of eight rookies in the race. She's never driven a 500 mile race before. Don't believe the hype, she's not going to win (i'm picking Helio). So much depends on the car, the team, and luck. But i'll be rooting for Danica. i hope she'll be safe and i hope she does good.
The Indy 500 is not an easy race. That's five hundred miles - think LA to Phoenix, an 8 hour drive, normally - exept they're doing it at 200 miles an hour. Five hundred miles, two hundred laps, eight hundred left hand turns, two hours of total mental concentration. You ever try concentrating for two hours in a life and death situation? In this race there are a hundred problems that come up, which you gotta deal with, and a million potential problems you gotta worry about the whole time. You gotta have your shit together to win the Borg Warner.
My brother races a little, and he's a huge Danica fan. Mainly because he's a horndog and she is a hottie. On weekends at my parents house, no one is allowed to touch the remote because everyone knows Derrick will be watching the car shows on Spike tv all day long. Danica does the intros for each of the shows (Ride with Funkmaster Flex, Horsepower TV, Extreme 4x4, etc.), so i was familiar with her as a spokesmodel before i ever heard she was a driver.
It was hard for me to believe, when my bro told me that Danica drove Indy cars and that she had talent. He knows about those things, but i still thought he was kidding me, so i looked her up on the web. In fact she's done well in her short career. Derrick says driving is all about aggressiveness and thinking ahead, and he thinks Danica has those qualities.
What's interesting to me is that Danica doesn't try to be "one of the boys." It's a different world now, than it was when girls like Janet Guthrie or drag racer Shirley Muldowney blazed their trails. i can understand the wisdom of using a driver's looks in a sport that depends so heavily on sponsorship money. But i also think its a sign of progress when a girl can do a guy thing and not have to act like a guy or downplay her own femininity. i think that's cool.
This was just an excuse to mess around on photoshop.
i watched the final episode of The Contender tonight, although i missed the undercard because of American Idol. The bout between Sergio "Latin Snake" Mora and Peter "Pride of Providence" Manfredo was one of the best fights i've seen in a long time.
The great thing about tonight's episode was that it was unedited, which means real boxing. No slow-mo, and minimal family reaction cut-aways make for better sports action. They should have cut Stallone's mike though. He kept repeating himself. He alternated between the same two lines for seven rounds - it was either "Whoa!" or "there's got to be a re-match." He actually started calling for a re-match in the middle of the second round. Sly needs to worry more about whether the show will be renewed. Ratings apparently were less than expected and putting the final up against tv's most popular show AI, didn't help.
Sergio Mora won the match, and the million dollars. i was impressed by him last week when he advanced to the final with a win against Jesse, whom i had expected to go all the way. Sergio fights with real attitude and he's damn quick. Tonight, when Peter had completely run out of steam in the final round, Sergio was still showering combinations on his head like it was the first.
Peter seemed more of a hard-headed slugger and had Sergio backed against the ropes for much of the fight. Sergio's temple opened up early and looked ugly. But Peter wasn't slowing him down. Sergio clearly was the better conditioned fighter, and if he didn't move as much as i had expected, he still punched almost continuously.
There was an episode of smack talk in one of the middle rounds, when Sergio turned his head to mouth off at Peter's corner. Since it wasn't broadcast live on the West Coast, they cut out the audio and i don't know what he said. But it seemed like a dangerous move, leaving yourself unprotected against a guy like Manfredo, even for a moment. i think Sergio has a little too much attitude for his own good, and that may end up hurting him down the road. He did show class after the fight by apologizing to the other corner and giving Peter the props he deserved.
One of my ex's, Tommy, was an amateur boxer who taught me how to score a fight. i think you get much more out of watching boxing if you make an effort to keep score. i had the match much closer than the judges did. According to my card, the fighters split the first six rounds, and Sergio took it all by showing more aggressiveness and energy in the final round. i had Sergio 67 to Peter 66.
And as for American Idol, we'll find out who that champ is tomorrow. My pick is Carrie Underwood, but rumor has it that Bo's got more fans. It should be interesting.
Matt has a Contender recap too.
If you're too lazy to watch an entire boxing match, The Contender is the show for you, because they edit out all the clinches and just show the punching. If you're still too lazy, you can just go to Stop The Bleating, and read the recap.
Here we are, almost three weeks into a new season, and i've been stuck at the bottom of my own ten team league for most of the time. However, after a few key roster moves, one promising trade, and some brilliant free agent acquisitions, i've been able to pull my team up by its bootstraps to fourth place.
My offensive starters as of today are:
Catcher: Victor MartĂnez, Cleveland, slumping right now, but i hope he can regain his 2004 form soon.
First base: Paul Konerko, Chicago Sox, currently leading the majors with seven home runs.
Second base: Clint Barmes, Colorado, averaging .652 with 8 RBI and an on base percentage of .714 in the last week! He's currently second in the majors in both batting average and on base percentage, behind...
Third base: Edgardo Alfonzo, San Francisco, that's right, i have the number one and number two major league batting average and OBP leaders on my team. They're fucking keeping me afloat. And you know what the funny thing is, i picked up both of them after the draft as free agents. i should be a talent scout.
Shortstop: Pedro Feliz, San Francisco, tied for fourth and eleventh in runs scored and RBI, respectively.
Outfield: Jim Edmonds, St. Louis, love this guy, he's been on my fantasy team every year.
Outfield: Matt Lawton, Pittsburgh, perrenial underachiever on a mediocre team.
Outfield: Sammy Sosa, Baltimore, whom i'm a little worried about, but i couldn't say no to the trade when Victor offered him.
Utility: AdriĂĄn BĂ©ltre, Seattle, who had a monster year last year, and better deliver this year. i've noticed that former Dodgers often seem to do well during their first year with a new team.
Defensively, my brilliant pickup was Toronto rookie Gustavo ChacĂn, who was just sitting there in the free agent pool with three wins, nobody noticing. So i snagged him. Similarly ignored is the supremely talented, but sometimes inconsistent Dodger starter Odalis PĂ©rez, who's having a great April.
My disappointments have been the injured Eric Gagne, who was my #1 draft pick, and Barry Zito, who seems to be having trouble adjusting to life without Mulder and Hudson. But he'll come around. So will Mike Lowell, my old standby the last couple of years. He's in the middle of the worst slump i've seen him in since i've been his fan. Snap out of it, mi borinqueĂ±o!
If i can get some save production out of Trevor Hoffman and/or Gagne comes back healthy, i might move up even more. If i don't jinx everything with this post, that is. Still, it feels good to be out of the cellar.
How long before the Euros just start shooting the players?
i'm toying with the idea of a west coast baseball tour this summer. With Southwest Airlines air fares so low, i think it's do-able. Nine games, nine stadia:
Network Associates Colliseum, Oakland
SBC Park, San Francisco
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Angel Stadium, Anaheim
Petco Park, San Diego
Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix
Coors Field, Denver
Ameriquest Field, Arlington
Safeco Field, Seattle
Looking at that list, i realize that some of the nicest ballparks in the major leagues are in the Western Divisions.
Well my team drafted and i'm not too crazy about it. i'm weak in two key areas compared to my competition: pitching and offense.
C V. MartĂnez (Cle - C)
1B P. Konerko (CWS - 1B)
2B B. Boone (Sea - 2B)
3B A. BĂ©ltre (Sea - 3B)
SS B. Crosby (Oak - SS)
OF J. Pierre (Fla - OF)
OF J. Edmonds (StL - OF)
OF S. Podsednik (CWS - OF)
Util M. Lowell (Fla - 3B)
BN T. Iguchi (CWS - 2B)
BN A. Boone (Cle - 3B)
BN M. Lawton (Pit - OF)
BN Ă. SĂĄnchez (TB - OF)
BN Mi. Sweeney (KC - 1B)
SP B. Zito (Oak - SP)
SP M. Clement (Bos - SP)
SP Od. PĂ©rez (LAD - SP)
RP E. Gagne (LAD - RP)
P T. Hoffman (SD - RP)
P S. Takatsu (CWS - RP)
P A. Leiter (Fla - SP)
With Pierre and Podsednik, i'm probably good on stolen bases, i think. But i need starting pitchers who can get wins.
i am now dead last in Six Meat Buffet's Basketball Challenge Pool.
However, you might remember that two days ago, i predicted the following:
1. Washington would lose to Louisville
2. Arizona would beat OK State
3. Texas Tech would lose to West Virginia
So why does my bracket suck?
Not that i have any credibility left after the devastation my bracket suffered this last weekend. But i will offer you some predictions for the rest of the tournament.
Two Pac-10 teams are in the Sweet Sixteen. Arizona and Washington. Kiss 'em goodbye. No way Washington is going to beat Louisville, who polled at number four pre-tournament. And it's never a good idea to bet on Arizona. They almost always disappoint. The Wildcats may make it past OK State, but they won't beat Illinois, who are the closest thing to an NBA team in the tournament this year.
Arch rivals North Carolina and Duke have played each other 219 times, but never in the NCAA Tournament. Isn't that an incredible stat? i want to see it happen this year, and therefore i am predicting it to happen.
And Bobby Knight must not win. Must... not... win.
Okay so this post is more about wishful thinking than actual predictions based on evidence. Or actual basketball knowledge.
Plus i like Duke's uniform, so they will win the championship.
My bracket is fucked.
That is all.
Just a reminder to you participants in the MLBloggers fantasy baseball league. Draft day is next Sunday, so get your pre-rankings done and saved before then. i will switch the league settings to "ready to draft" at the end of the day, say close to midnight, so you can make last minute changes to your list in between egg painting or whatever else you're doing that day.
Keep in mind that i know nothing about college hoops.
My final four picks are as follows:
Georgia Tech (5)
UConn (2) Kansas (3)
UConn will beat cinderella Georgia Tech again for the National Championship by a score of 83 to 71.
Update: Okay okay. People think i'm crazy. i get it. Thankfully, i can change my mind all the way up 'til Thursday.
i still think the Albuquerque bracket is weak enough for Ga Tech to sneak through. They did split the two games against Wake Forest this year.
But on UConn, i just read that their freshman backup point guard got suspended for "an unspecified violation of team rules." He wasn't valuable to the team, with only 3 points and 3 assists off the bench. But these things have a way of fucking with team chemistry, and the competition in the Syracuse bracket looks to be the toughest of the tournament.
So my new scenario has UConn losing to Kansas, who then beats dark horse Florida to advance to the final four. Duke then beats Kansas in a squeaker to avenge their 2003 loss and advance to an all ACC final. Duke then beats Ga Tech by a score of 80 to 65, to win their fourth National Championship.
Is there anyone who can suck the fun out of NCAA basketball than Greg Gumble? Sheesh dude, it's March Madness, not a funeral. Mix in a smile.
Say it ain't so Phil?!
Please tell me that was photoshopped...
p.s. i know there's a "skins" joke in there somewhere...
i've started a fantasy baseball league for bloggers on Yahoo! The League is called MLBloggers (Major League Bloggers, get it?).
It's a rotisserie league with a non-live draft. Rotisserie is cool because it's less time consuming than head-to-head leagues. You can tinker with your line-up as much or as little as you want.
So far ten bloggers have signed up:
Dawn Summers' of Clareified has the East Coco Beach Metropolitans;
Victor the Rat-Boy of Publius and Company has the Rats of Chaos;
Ted of Rocket Jones has the Rockets;
Paul of Sanity's Edge has the Sanity's Edge... ers;
Matt of Irreverent Probity has the Biloxi Turds (eeew);
Zombyboy of Resurrection Song has the Zombyesque Zombies;
The Maximum Leader of Nakedvillainy has the Bashers;
Physics Geek of Physics Geek has the Physics Geeks;
And then there's my own annika's A's.
There's room for two more bloggers in the league. If you wanna join Major League Bloggers just shoot me an email and i'll send you the password. You have to have a Yahoo! id to sign up.
Fantasy baseball is a grat way to follow the season, and it's fun to get interested in different players that you wouldn't normally care about if they're not on your hometown team.
Oh, and as an added inducement, i'll award a championship stein from cafepress to the winner at the end of the season. As if bragging rights weren't enough!
On a related note, don't forget this Wednesday is the annie's journal blogversary poker party. Details will be posted later on.
Okay Randy Moss is a punk, but he's a silver and black punk now, so that makes him okay in my book. And he's an awesome receiver, the real deal. Hopefully Davis won't decide to bench him like he did with some other stars i can name: Allen, Brown, Rice.
There are always guys who have that certain something that makes you know they will end up as Raiders someday. Kevin Greene had the hair. Sapp and Romo had the 'tude. Rice had the Bay Area love. And Moss has the bad-ass. When he faked dropping trou at Green Bay last year i said to myself, that guy belongs in Oakland.
Welcome Randy. The black hole is gonna love you!
Barry Bonds on the sports media:
I mean, you can't -- you guys are like rerun stories. This is just -- this is old stuff. I mean, it's like watching Sanford and Son, you know, you just, rerun after rerun after rerun.i think he means What's Happening instead.
Huge games today. i predict TO-less Philly, (whom, all year long, i figured would go all the way) will lose to Minnesota, with bad-ass Randy Moss looking to silence his critics. i also predict that the Pats (famous for their winning streak) will go down at the hands of the Colts (famous for their QB's TD streak).
Halftime update: Moss' head is not in the game. My predictions have become like the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Postgame update: Philadelphia won pretty handily, 27 to 14, setting up a battle of the birds next weekend. (Can i take credit for being the first to call the NFC championship game the battle of the birds?) i totally forgot about the weather at Gillette Stadium, but i'm sticking with my prediction for the Pats-Colts game.
Post Pats game update: Fucken shit.
(Stupider even than allowing Ashley Simpson to sing live on television again.)
Los Angeles California Anaheim Angels the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Not only does it sound stupid, but it alienates their fan base. People in OC hate LA, they get pissed if you say they're from LA and they never go to LA unless it's absolutely unavoidable.
My dad picks Pittsburgh to go all the way this year. Who am i to go against the old man? But i'm not so sure.
And at wide receiver, in his twentieth season out of Mississippi Valley State, at 6'2" and 200 lbs., number 80, the legendary Jerry Rice.
i was eight years old when Jerry Rice played his first NFL game. i remember watching the victory parade and cheering as he rode by me on Market Street after winning the Super Bowl in 1995, arguably his best year.
Tonight, Jerry Rice and the Seahawks play the Dallas Cowboys in Seattle. The Seahawks are favored by seven. This may be Jerry's final Monday Night appearance, so for sentimental reasons i'm going to go with Seattle minus the seven points.
WTF is the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl? Are there goldfish in it?
Did you see the Raiders last night? What a game. i'm telling you, even during years when they suck, the Raiders can still put on a show. Especially against the hated Broncos.
As for tonight's game, i need a winner to offset last week's faulty prediction. Although, if you watched the first quarter of last week's game, you probably were wondering if your girl might just have some inexplicable insight into the game of football. But then New England's ass-kicking began. That Rodney Harrison interception at the end of the second took all the fight out of the Chiefs.
So tonight it's the Rams and Green Bay at Lambeau Field. i picked Green Bay correctly for the Monday night opener back in September, but i blew my prediction when Green Bay lost to Tennessee on October 11th. That was the last time Green Bay lost, and they've fought back to a 6 and 4 record by winning their next five in a row.
i think the Packers will make it six in a row tonight and they're favored by 6½. This will be Brett Favre's 200th regular season game in his consecutive game streak, so he should be on. But with Ahman Green hurting, i wonder if the Packers will cover the spread? The weather figures to be bad and both teams will need to run the ball more. With Marshall Faulk, i think the Rams can keep it close. So i'm going to make another leap and pick the Rams plus 6½.
Update: Packers won 45 to 17. Okay, i suck. Mostly i suck. But sometimes i get lucky, and when i do expect me to call it genius. Last night was not one of those times, though.
New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. Patsys favored by three, according to the latest line. KC's studly running back Priest Holmes on the bench with a bad knee. Star New England cornerback Ty Law out. Their other corner Tyrone Poole doubtful.
Does this open up the passing game for KC? Is Trent Green good enough to win against Belichick's defensive genius? Can Derrick Blaylock put together two great performances in a row as KC's stand-in back? Is unstoppable New England ripe for their second loss of the season? Should i pick KC plus the three points?
Yes. Maybe. Possibly. I don't know. i think i will.
i'm locked in a pretty tight Fantasy Football battle this week with a team called Vehement Spittle, run by Bryan from Spare Change. Right now i'm leading 106 to 97, but the Monday night game between Minnesota and Indianapolis will be decisive. i have Marvin Harrison (WR, Ind) and Morten Andersen (K, Min) on my team; Bryan has Brandon Stokley (WR, Ind) and Michael Bennett (RB, Min).
Tonight's real life game between the Colts and the Vikings will be at Indianapolis. The Colts are favored by seven points. i don't understand why. Look at the quarterback comparison:
Daunte Culpepper, MIN: 183/258, 2180 yds, 20 TDs, 5 INTs, rating: 114.2
Peyton Manning, IND: 156/240, 2161 yds, 22 TDs, 4 INTs, rating: 117.4
That's pretty darn close. Is Randy Moss's injury really worth the seven point spread? i just don't know enough about it to say. So i'll take Minnesota and the seven points. i can't resist, since i am Scandinavian and they are the Vikings.
Update: Was i right or was i right? Am i awesome or not? Indy wins by three. i picked the Vikings plus seven points. That means i am, indeed the awesomest! At least this week.
i'm now 5 and 3 for Monday night predictions.
New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins. Line: Jets by 6½. Take the Jets minus the points.
annikagyrl: the curse is over
annikagyrl: the curse is over
annikagyrl: long live the curse
leaky: nah, they're still cursed
leaky: John Kerry is from their state
As a Raider fan (which is tough to be this year), i hate having to pick Denver for tonight's Broncos vs. Bengals game. i'm looking for a way to justify not doing it.
The Broncos are playing in Cincinnati, and are favored by seven points on the road. They have a five and one record, as opposed to the Bengals' one and four record. Jake Plummer's been decent, with ten touchdowns and an 87.4 rating.
Contrast that with Carson Palmer's stats: four TDs against eight interceptions, with a 59.6 rating. He sucks. But you should already know that, since he went to USC.
So, basically, there is no good reason for me to pick the Bengals tonight. But i will anyway, and hope that Denver wins by less than seven points.
Update: Cincinnati actually created the ilusion of a good team tonight, i was surprised. With tonight's Bengals win, i improved my record to 3 and 3 on the year. (Last week was my bye week, due to the computer glich.)
"Yaaah, go Chris Brown!"
"Yaaah, c'mon Favre!"
i am the John Kerry of football fans.
Snooze Button Dreams is killing me in Fantasy Football this week. (Good luck on the interview, Jim.) The Raiders sucked again on Sunday. And Saturday, Cal outplayed USC and still lost. Very depressing.
Hey, at least the Niners beat the lowly Cardinals.
Regarding Monday Night Football, i need Chris Brown of the Titans to have a stellar game for my fantasy team. But i actually think that Green Bay will win this one. Green Bay is favored by three points and they're at home.
This is actually a pretty tough game to pick (i'm 2 and 2 on the year with my predictions). Both teams' quarterbacks are hurting, but how can you bet against a Favre led team on Monday Night? Although i also read that Green Bay's center is out, and the replacement is not as good. But i don't know if that's just bad or really bad. (i actually didn't even know what a nosetackle was until Casca told me. i thought nose tackle was when you hung a snap swivel off your nostril piercing.*)
The hardest question for me is, will the Packers cover the spread? i have a sense that the game might be close, but i know that as soon as i say the Packers won't cover, they will. That just seems to be my luck lately. So i'll pick the Packers minus three points.
Update: Chris Brown: 148 yards + 2 TDs. Will it be enough to overtake Snooze Button Dreams though? i'll find out tomorrow. Re: my MNF predictions this year, i don't want to talk about it.
* Ba-dum-bump. That's a little fishing humor for y'all.
Tonight it's Dallas at the Redskins. Both teams are led by elite coaches trying to restore some former glory to their respective teams. Both teams have one and one records. The spread is 1.5 points, with Washington as the favorite. It sounds like a close one, but i need only one reason to pick Washington to cover the spread: Vinnie Testaverde sucks.
Update: Testaverde still sucks. Defense won that game. Like Dallas, i'm now 2 and 1 on Monday night. In Fantasy Football, DFMoore kicked my butt on the strength of Peyton Manning's performance Sunday, and i've now fallen to 2 and 1.
Quickly, tonights game, Vikings at Eagles, McNabb and Owens vs. Culpepper and Moss, blah blah blah. The difference for me is Westbrook over Onterrio Smith, though the Vikings might have a better run defense. Spread is Eagles minus three. i think the Eagles will cover, go with Philly.
Update: Eagles over Minnesota, 27-16. Moss and Owens were roughly even in effectiveness. But Brian Westbrook rushed for 69 yards and caught for 69, including several big plays. Whereas Onterrio Smith only had 28 yards rushing.
Go ahead and say it: i fucking rock!
Update 2: Oops, i just checked out this weeks results for the Blogger's Bowl fantasy football league. My opponent this week is Victor's Rats of Chaos (what is it with that boy and rats?), and while i currently lead him by a hefty margin, Yahoo has not yet updated the stats and he has four Philly players on his team. He's predicting an additional 60 points based on McNabb and company's performance tonight.
As Charlie Brown would say: "Rats!"
Yes, it's that time of year again. annika's Monday Night Football Picks is back in da house.
Tonight, Carolina hosts the Packers, and Carolina is favored by three points, according to ESPN.com.
Tough pick, but i gotta go with Green Bay. Favre is getting slower, but he's not done yet. And Ahman Green is simply awesome. Spot these guys three points and i'm going to take that bet.
As you may know, i am participating in Blogger Bowl 2004, a Yahoo! Fantasy Football league started by Nick at Patriot Paradox. My team's first game is a big one, this weekend against Ted of Rocket Jones and his Rockets.
i'm gonna beat Ted like a drum. Like me, he's a Raider fan, and his wide receiver corps is heavy on the Raiders. He's got Jerry Rice and Jerry Porter, to go along with St. Louis' #2 option, Isaac Bruce. Now i love the Raiders, and Rice may be my favorite player ever, but i think my receivers, Marvin Harrison, Chad Johnson and Justin McCareins are gonna lead annika's journal to an easy victory this week.
Here's my team:
i had originally drafted the future hall of famer, Morten Anderson of Kansas City. Not only is he one of the greatest kickers of all time, but we were both born in Copenhagen, so i had to have him on my team. Now i find out that KC cut him on Friday, so i had to scramble to find a replacement! i can't believe they cut him. Sure he's 44, but he was still effective, i thought. Now, if Stover gets hurt i'm in trouble at kicker.
It would be nice if i could post a link to the league like i did with my baseball team, so you all could watch our progress. But i tested the link and apparently Yahoo! won't let you look at it unless you're a member of that league, for some dumb reason.
Anyways, season starts for real on Thursday and i can't wait.
Hey Ted: "We want the ball and we're going to score!" Ha ha! : )
[an experiment in contemporaneous blogging]
. . . i despise Katie Kouric. i really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really despise her . . .
. . . i just turned the thing on. What's up with the glowing pregnant chick? That shit is straight up weirding me out . . .
. . . Kouric's tone of voice is soooo condescending. She talks down to the viewing audience like we're a bunch of fucking babies. God she's annoying. She almost makes me not mind the short guy. What's his name? . . .
. . . Costas . . .
. . . Interesting that Bulgaria sent an all male contingent of athletes this year . . .
. . . i'm sure the German team didn't mind following the French team in the parade of nations. Germans are very used to seeing the backs of Frenchmen . . .
. . . Cool, no boos for the Americans. But what's up with that music? Is that a techno version of Albinoni's Adagio? Couldn't they have picked a happier tune for the parade? . . .
. . . i've heard from Europeans that we Americans walk differently and we're easy to pick out from a crowd because of the way we carry ourselves. It doesn't matter what we wear, either. i can't put my finger on the difference, but i see it when i look at our team. It's almost like an optimism, if it's possible to exude optimism while walking . . .
. . . Best looking guys so far have been on the Bosnia-Herzegovinian and Irish teams . . .
. . . Italy too . . .
. . . i bet that blue haired Cameroonian chick was pissed when she saw the blue haired Italian chick steal her idea . . .
. . . Del Harris?! What the fuck are you doing on the Chinese team? He's the Manchurian coach! i hope no one shows him the queen of diamonds. Damn traitor . . .
. . . Time for another beer . . .
. . . The Iraqi team got a nice reception too. That's very cool . . .
. . . The Cook Island team wins the gold for having the most fun during the parade of nations. i wanna party with those guys . . .
. . . More blue hair. This time on a Mexican chick . . .
. . . That guy carrying the flag of Mauritania looks like the black dude from Gladiator . . .
. . . The Brits are all dressed like they just came from the Village. (not Shyamalan's village . . . McGoohan's) . . .
. . . The Olympic Stadium really was worth waiting for. It is spectacularly beautiful . . .
. . . But is there anything more boring than an Olympic opening ceremony? Maybe an Olympic closing ceremony . . .
. . . Still, it is amazing when you think that the Olympics were invented in that exact place, three thousand years ago . . .
. . . AθHNA . . .
. . . Now here come the runners, passing off what appears to be the largest fattie spliff ever rolled . . .
. . . Holy shit. At first i thought the dude was using that fattie to chain light the world's most gigantic joint. But then, as the torch slowly began to rise, it's true symbolism became obvious. Those perv Greeks built a huge working replica of an erect phallus! . . .
. . . i think i'm blushing . . .
In keeping with today's football related theme, i want to share a pretty cool website i discovered. It's called Football Poets, and it deals with that other football, which Americans call soccer, and which i call kickball.
i may sometimes deride soccer fan, but it's an uncomfortable truth that your average hooligan has a lot in common with your stereotypical Raider fan.
Read the following poem, by a poet named simply, Glenn. Tell me if it doesn't remind you of any beloved black hole dwellers you know.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
He wakes up to the siren of the clock beside his bed,
He rubs his eyes and starts to feel the banging in his head,
It's 8 o'clock on Sunday morn, he's only had five hours,
But he mustn't let his mates down so he summons up his powers.
He drinks a litre of diet coke to ease the dehydration,
Then sets off down to meet his mates at the petrol station,
His lift turns up and they all pile in, squashed and jammed up tight,
The car is filled with smells of beer and curry from last night.
He shouts and swears with all his mates as they change in a cold, damp room,
The boisterousness holds no bounds, it's Sunday in the tomb,
He strides out through the mist that hugs the rutted council pitch,
Up to the centre circle, hand down shorts, attending to the itch.
He tentatively shakes the hand of his foe in black and red,
Then shouts 'tails' as the tarnished coin spins above his head,
He runs, he kicks, he hurts, he spits, his vitriol unchecked,
He courts displeasure of the man, who is in black bedecked.
He leaves the battered field of play, threatening retribution,
Knowing, deep down inside, his worthless contribution,
And afterwards in the bar he's pompous, rude and haughty,
'Cos this is Sunday football and tomorrow he is forty.
He knows his days of mud and blood are nearly at an end,
The paunch that sits upon his belt is now his new best friend,
He'll fill him up with pie and ale until he's fit to burst,
But he will go on drinking to satisfy his thirst.
He staggers off the bus and somehow opens the front door,
He slumps down in the armchair and sleeps three hours or more,
He wakes up to the siren of the ambulance outside
Then cries as he realises, that Sunday football had just died.
i was pleased to see that Cal's football team is ranked in the top 25 on at least six pre-season polls. The latest is a number 22 ranking on Sports Illustrated's poll. SI ranks USC at number one, which is no surprise, but guess which Pac-10 team handed the Trojans their only defeat last year?
That's right, it was the Cal Bears!
Some other rankings are:
Attention all Yankee fans. How can you vote for a man who said the following:
[Interviewer]: When you get into office,* would you consider passing an executive order that would prevent Pedro from signing with the Yankees?Okay, so Kerry may lose the New York baseball fan vote with a statement like that, but he probably gained twice as many votes from all other baseball fans. Probably the smart political move.
[Kerry]: I'd consider an executive order that abolishes the Yankees. We'll have to set up some very strict regulations with respect to Yankee behavior. I think the Red Sox may take care of it. I think there may be an A-Rod backlash this year. I think there may be a reverse curse here.
Until he goes to stump in NYC, when he'll probably say that he was a Yankee fan before he was a Red Sox fan.
What's this "when" shit?
Instead of writing a new post on how awesome Lance Armstrong is for winning his sixth Tour de France in a row, i'll just link to my post from last year, about him predicting this year's win. Next year: number seven!
So Miami running back Ricky Williams is quitting the NFL at age 27 so he can smoke pot full time? Interesting career choice. He's on his way to Asia as we speak, and one wonders if he'll meet up with Todd Marinovich somewhere along the way. Well, at least that makes picking an RB for my fantasy team a little easier.
Watching the Tour de France with my housemates yesterday, the following question came up:
What kind of being would you create if you could somehow cross Lance Armstrong's DNA with the DNA of his chief rival, Ivan Basso?
The answer is not all that good. It's quite frightening, actually.
Update: i guess nobody gets this joke. It's a bit obscure, but we all thought it was hilarious over at my house.
Clue: Crossing the DNA of Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso might create a bike rider who's derailleur is perfectly in sync!
i watched Lance power his way to the top of l'Alpe d'Huez tonight. He's not just winning, he's dominating and embarrassing the competition. He passed Ivan Basso, like he was standing still. And this was a time trial! They're racing against the clock. i didn't expect to see Lance lapping guys.
Lance in yellow, Tiger in green, pinstripes in October. It's like something you expect to see every year.
One disturbing thing about the Tour, though. It gets pretty crazy along the route, with fans jumping in front of the riders, waving flags, running alongside and trying to touch them. i saw a streaker during stage 13 last weekend. But on TV today, Lance said that people were spitting and throwing shit at the American riders. That's bad news.
There were lots of fans, and it was a little scary. To me, sincerely, it was not a good idea to have a time trial at l'Alpe d'Huez. It's over now but a lot of German fans were just disgusting. C'est la vie.i wonder what Lance's left-wing girlfriend Cheryl Crow had to say about that display of America-hating. Stupid Germans. The race organizers really should try to control them, i'd hate to see someone get hurt.
Have you been watching Lance Armstrong? i watched replays of the end of stage thirteen on Sunday and the end of stage fifteen last night. The dude is awesome. He doesn't even look like he's breaking a sweat. Look at the other guy's faces at the end, they're in agony. But Lance is a machine. i sure hope he's not dopin, 'cause he's great. It's funny that Greg LeMond seems to think Lance is dirty. Does he know something or is he just jealous?
Betcha no sportspage editor would have the guts to do it.
If the Lakers lose tonight, it will be because they did not get the ball to Shaq on every posession. Larry Brown knows that Kobe will try to take the game on his shoulders, and like last Sunday, Kobe will be triple teamed. Get the ball in to Shaq and stay in the triangle offense.
But they won't do that. Because guys like George and Medvedenko think they are good, instead of hacks, which is what they really are. They will come downcourt and throw up jumpers with 15 on the shot clock, like they always do.
If Detroit wins, much as i love my Lakers, i will have to admit that the best team did win.
My fantasy team is still mired in 7th place, despite my latest couple of genius moves. i picked up Joe Kennedy of Colorado (hopefully he won't crash and burn*); dumped Mike MacDougal who's never fully recovered from a stomach virus and was sent down last week; i replaced Marlon Anderson at 2nd base with Orlando Hudson of the BJ's (.296-5-21), i got a good feeling about him; and i dumped middle reliever Guillermo Mota for a true closer, Billy Koch of the White Sox, which will hopefully net me more saves.
But today, perhaps you heard, Milwaukee's Ben Sheets punched out 18 batters! Yah, i got 'im! Not only that, but the only run scored against him today was a 410 foot blast by Andruw Jones. Yah, i got 'im too!
What's really holding me back in the Yahoo! league is home runs and RBIs. Thank God for my twin belters: Beltre and Beltran, both of whom i got, and both of whom have 10 homers apiece. Still, i'm waiting for Bagwell and Jones to start hitting like i know they can.
* That was in poor taste, i know.
What is it about So Cal teams and the last minute, come from behind, miracle shot?
Update: Read ESPN's Page 2 column: "Livin la vida Lakers."
If you see a rookie from Asia, by all means pick him up. He'll often be ranked low and overlooked by the other league members. And he might just kick ass his first year, since no one will have any experience with him. Think Nomo and Ichiro in their rookie seasons.
This year i picked up Hee Seop Choi and Kazuo Matsui under the radar. Choi is currently tied for fourth place in the NL with 5 home runs. And he's playing for the defending champs, so i expect him to improve as the season goes on. Matsui is hitting a respectable .302 right now, although i may dump him for JosĂ© ValentĂn pretty soon.
The Dodgers have the best record in baseball. They just finished a sweep of the San Francisco Giants, their great rivals. i caught two of the three games on TV. Each game was a one run victory. i don't think i've ever seen the Dodgers sweep a series with San Francisco, although i'm told they did it when Pac Bell opened.
Now my best friend Betty, who grew up here, is needling me to be a Dodger fan. i'm also feeling the pressure from Scof, way over there in Texas. But you know the Dodger-Giants rivalry is bigger than you or me or anyone. It's been going on for 100 years! It just might be the most heated rivalry in all of sports. It's certainly up there with the Yankees-Red Sox, the Raiders-Broncos, or even the Celtic-Rangers rivalries for longevity.
Still, i've never really been a big Giants fan. i always followed them, but i grew up in Oakland and i'm really an Athletics fan, if you wanna know the truth. i still remember vivdly one of the greatest, and most disappointing, events in all of sports history: Kirk Gibson's two strike, two out, pinch-hit walk-off homer, bottom of the ninth inning, game one of the 1988 World Series, off ace reliever Dennis Eckersley, to spur the Dodgers on to upset my A's for the World Championship.
Can i forgive them? Well, they're in different leagues, so i can conceivably root for both my A's and the Dodgers. i do like a team with history, and the Dodgers have that. So, now that i am a resident of Los Angeles, i will give it a try. And it helps, too, that i have Odalis Perez, Guillermo Mota, and Adrian Beltré on my fantasy team. Go Dodgers!
That said, there's no way they deserved to win today. How the hell do you pitch to Bonds with first base open, when he's doubled and homered already against the same pitcher? What kind of Jim Tracy brain fart was that? i could see if Gagne were on the mound, but Jeff Weaver? Come on! The Dodgers were lucky to escape with a one run win today.
i was so happy to see Phil Mickelson finally win a major, and in such an exciting way last Sunday. His family had a tough time last year, but he never whined about it or used it as an excuse for not winning. He seems like a really great guy.
And his favorite dish happens to be lobster ravioli. i love lobster ravioli, too. i had a great one in San Francisco last weekend. Here's a recipe i googled, from Emeril. i may give it a try someday when i'm feeling ambitious. With lobster meat, not live lobster, of course. i'm too squeamish to kill the poor things myself.
i can't wait for baseball season to begin. One reason is my new, as yet untested, secret fantasy baseball player ranking system. After two sub-par finishes in Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues, i have decided on a more scientific approach. Okay, quasi-scientific. i don't have enough free time to develop a really scientific system.
Because i love you, i'm going to let you in on it. The system is based on the fact that the Yahoo! public leagues rely on only five offensive* stats: batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases. The fantasy baseball guides out there (i'm using Lindy's) have their own ranking systems that take into account additional stats that are irrelevant to the Yahoo! leagues. Therefore i didn't think the comprehensive rankings should be trusted to pick the most useful players according to the more limited Yahoo! categories.
Another important point, of which all fantasy baseball players are aware, is that you are forced to pick players from each position category. Catchers are, by nature of their position, going to produce lower stats in the five categories, than say outfielders. Unless you get someone like Pudge, but there's only one Pudge. Still, you are forced to fill one spot on your lineup with a catcher, and there are only a few quality catchers out there.
If there are 12 teams in the league, chances are i'm not going to get Pudge. Some other fool is going to try to draft him in the first round, so i'd never put him on my list. i need to figure out a way to pick the best player with regard to the five categories, but a player that the other league members might overlook.
For example, here's how the Lindy's guide ranks catchers:
What i do first is determine the top ten players in each statistical category. i do it a little different than most statistical tables, so my list yields a few more players when there's a tie. Normally, the statistical tables will count each tied player towards the total ten in the top ten. So you'll might see numbering like: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 6, 7, 7, 7, 10. Since i don't care how many guys are on the list, as long as their stats are in the top ten, i won't skip over numbers like that. Thus, if there's any ties, my list would include guys who might be lower on another statistical list. Using the example above, my list might look like this: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, and so on. Using my system, the tenth player on ESPN's or Lindy's list would be the sixth player on my list in the above example.
i do this ranking for each offensive category that Yahoo! uses. This way, i can see if a player will help me in stolen bases for example, even if his sucky stats in other categories make him less desirable in non-Yahoo! leagues. i don't really care about a guy's on base percentage or his total hits, since Yahoo! doesn't use them.
Once i find the top ten stats for each category i assign a cutoff number, which is the tenth stat in the list. For instance, the tenth highest amount of runs by a catcher (using my top ten list) was 52, by Cincinatti's Jason LaRue. Then i go through the list of all players in a specific position and assign a point to any player who's stat for that category is in the top ten for other players within that position. (It does no good to rank, say catchers against outfielders on stolen bases; you'd never see a catcher in the top ten.) Therefore, i would give one point to all catchers with 52 or more runs.
Once i go through all five stats, on all players in a position, i get a number ranging from zero to five. Additionally, i'll give a break to guys who are close to the top ten in a certain category, or who did poorly due to injury, yet had a good 2002 season. Instead of a point for that particular stat, i'll give those guys a "+." If a player has a plus, he will automatically move to the top of the list for players with his 1-5 point total. For instance, Mike Piazza got only one point from my system (his batting average was in the top ten for catchers last year), but i gave him a "+" in three other categories because of his past performances. That put him at the top of all the other âone pointâ guys on my list.
Here's my catcher's list with my point system attached:
There's still some brainwork that needs to be done. That's the "quasi" part of the quasi-scientific system. For instance, what do i do with Atlanta's catchers, Eddie Perez and Johnny Estrada? Eddie is ranked higher than Johnny on my system, but Johnny is expected to be in the starting lineup this season. Obviously i'd want Johnny rather than Eddie, since he'll have more at bats. That's where my system needs some tinkering.
Another potential flaw is that my system relies on the previous year as a predictor of future performance perhaps too heavily. The sophmore slump isnât taken into account, nor are potentially good rookies or veterans who are on the downhill side of their careers. i try to minimize this by adding or withholding a â+â when the opportunity exists.
But all in all, i think my secret system is good for identifying the dark horses among the rankings put out by the magazines and websites. It's time consuming to go through all the positions and assign points, then rank them. i've been doing it little by little for the past few weeks, during my breaks at work.
i think i'll put Jason Varitek or A.J. Pierzynski at the top of my draft list as catcher, since they seem to have been under-rated by both Lindy's and Yahoo!'s ranking systems. Actually, i had A.J. on my last two fantasy teams and he's always been good to me. Now that he's on the Giants, i have another reason to like him.
On the other hand, Varitek is a solid player on an American League team that will be a contender again next year. His power numbers are better than A.J.'s but his batting average is not as good. They each crossed the plate 63 times. Tough choice; i can't decide yet. Tune in later if you're curious. i'll post a link to my team on the sidebar, like i did last year.
* i haven't used my system for pitchers, but the same concept should probably work on them, with a few adjustments to distinguish the value of relievers as opposed to starters.
What makes Anna grimace?
Besides the fact that she couldn't hack it as a pro, now there's this.
Ha Ha Ha Ha!
Bye bye Stanford, you were so overrated!
i love it. Oh baby, ain't second round upsets a bitch?!
Now that the season's over for him, maybe Josh Childress is free to go make the next House Party movie.
AstroTurf maker Southwest Recreational Industries is going out of business. Professional athletes and their knees have every right to be happy about this. As a sports purist, i believe football and baseball should be played on grass, not carpet, and i hope that no other companies sprout up to replace SRI.
Howard Dean is the Dan Jansen of American politics. Remember Dan Jansen, the speed skater? He was supposed to win every race, but he kept falling down. He wouldn't quit, though.
New England 32, Carolina 29. The Pats win by one field goal. i said they'd win by two. The Pats didn't cover the spread. i said they wouldn't. i told you to take the Panthers plus 7 points. i hope you did. Did you take the over? i should have told you about that too.
i am awesome!
It was actually a pretty good game, too. Good defensive play in the first half, big offensive plays in the second. i was cheering for both offenses in the fourth quarter, because i wanted my predictions to come true. My friends were looking at me funny.
When New England made that 2 point conversion, i thought i would have a push, but then Carolina tied it up and i knew i was golden. Didn't i point out that Vinatieri was going to be key? Yes, i did.
i am so awesome!
P.S. i missed the whole halftime tittie fest, since i was out on a beer run. i can't stand Janet anyway and Justin bugs me. Apparently, Zomby wasn't impressed. And Shae's blog has good coverage of the er, uncoverage.
i did catch the National Anthem and was gratified to see Beyonce sing it with grace and dignity, unlike her ass-shaking spectacular from last Fourth of July in front of General Grant's tomb.
Link thanks to Michele.
Many people have wondered why i haven't posted my prediction for today's [Most Excellent] Bowl game. (Okay, one person wondered.) So here it is.
Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots. Funny, neither team represents an actual state, just a large region. New England is favored by 7 points. The field is neutral of course, since the game is being played at Reliant Stadium in Houston. But i heard somewhere that Carolina has never practiced on artificial turf until this week. That sounds funny, but if it's true could it factor in somehow?
Friday, Rush Limbaugh said the game will be close. He picked the Patriots, but didn't think they'd cover the spread. That makes it very tempting for me to predict that the Patsies will cover.
It's really not that hard of a game to handicap, though. Tom Brady, besides being just about as adorable as any football player i've ever seen, can also show flashes of greatness on the field when it counts. And don't forget that NE has Vinatieri and [Most Excellent] Bowl experience on their side.
So, i say Carolina won't roll over, but New England will pull it out by six. Therefore, take the Panthers and the 7 points, if you get the chance.
Comic, and big fat idiot, Al Francken took down a heckler at a Dean rally yesterday.
'I got down low and took his legs out,' said Franken afterwards.What's the penalty for that, fifteen yards?
Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean.Francken says he did it because he believes in free speech.
'I'm neutral in this race but I'm for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down.'Am i the only one who sees the irony in this? Al wants to protect freedom of speech by tackling someone who tries to exercise it.