Friday, August 31, 2007

NCAA Football Winning Picks

FTT Nation,

College football is upon us. Time to dust off that online sports book account (of course you wouldn't bet real money, that would be illegal) and make some bets this weekend. Here are my 5 college picks of the week:

Virginia Tech -27.5 at home over E. Carolina. This will be an emotional game for the Hokies and a team that has a shot at the BCS will want to pile on some points.

Virginia -3.5 away over Wyoming. I'd be willing to give up to 10 on this game. Thanks Vegas.

Oregon -16 at home over Houston. I'd love this game at -14, but the Ducks should win by 20.

Georgia Tech +1.5 away over Notre Dame. Any coach that goes to the lengths that Weis has over the secrecy of who the quarterback will be spells trouble in my book. Should be a long year for the Domers.


Mizzou -4.5 in St. Louis on neutral field over Illinois. The Illini are still very young and Mizzou has a solid shot to win the Big 12 North this year.

The Truth goes 3-2 for the weekend. Lays 50 tokens on the first four games and 100 tokens on the Lock of the Week. Ends up 81.80 for the weekend.

$435 Million A Week... of Utter, Utter Bull

According to a new report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. and the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, over 13.6 million people play fantasy football.

We are all also supposedly costing our employers $435 million dollars a week, since we spend 45 minutes a day (and ten minutes of that coming ON THE CLOCK!) on our teams.

Two points:

1) Don't you love how these reports always assume that any time you spend in your cube is productive? Can someone please find a similar number for the jerkweeds who need to start or come into meetings late, stand around the water cooler talking about American Idol, or try to get you to buy something for their kids' school or youth group?

2) Of that 45 minutes a week, how much of it is spent, in your own personal experience, dealing with the problem owner who wants to make you bend over and take their trade, or gets wildly bent out of shape over trash talk?

I submit to you, Nation, that fantasy football costs most employers NOTHING -- that the same opportunities and revenue that happen in the full eight hours of work are there for everyone in the seven hours and fifty minutes of work.

And that reports that tell you otherwise... are just The Man trying to get you to stop reading sports blogs.

Fight The Power!

Epic Drop: Top 10 Forbidden TV Sports Terms

Today's fun house list for the Carnival taps into my inner (OK, outer) grouchy old man.

Once more, with feeling, to the announcers of the world... cover the freaking game. There will be plenty of time for you to impress us all with your additional knowledge and interests later -- when the game's not on. Mmmmmkay?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tiger Was Better Than You... In Diapers

After the clip was over, The Two Year Old Tiger talked about how he liked the course, how he liked his swing, and how if he brings his A game, he was pretty sure he'd get cookies and juice before his nap. Then, he took some adult's money in a skins game.

The Sky is Falling in Chicago

Man, do I love Cubs fans. All morning on Chicago sports talk radio it's caller after caller crying about the Cubs. General consensus is that they're doomed. Put aside the fact that they're still in first place and are in the worst division in baseball. The only happy person in Chicago today is Rex Grossman. He's thankful that they're complaining about anybody but him.

Let me help out the Cubs fans. Here are the top five reasons why you're correct and the Cubs will fail to win the division:

#5: It's the Cubs.

#4: It's the Cubs.

#3: It's the Cubs.

#2: It's the Cubs.

#1: It's the Cubs.

I know you all thought this was the year the Cubs would win it all. Finally get to hoist that trophy, fly the World Championship flag at Wrigley and get some rings. You can always head down the road to St. Louis to check those things out. In the meantime, here's what a championship ring looks like.

Z is for ZERO

As in zero wins for Carlos Zambrano in the month of August. This is what you get in exchange for giving a guy a $91 million extension? This is your "ace" pitcher Cubs? Some intestinal fortitude. The Big Zero didn't mind dancing all over the mound in the first inning after he struck out Prince Fielder. But after another poor outing he refuses to speak to the media. Another fine investment by the Cubs.

Here's some stats to chew on Cubs fan. Zambrano's numbers from his last four starts:

IP: 24 1/3

Hits: 36

ERA: 8.14

Record: 0-4

On the bright side, at least there is something in Cubdom that stinks worse than Wrigley Field. And it only cost $91 million. That's only $700,000 more than the eventual division champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, will pay their entire team this year.

Dude, You Can Buy That For $3

I have a personal force field about foul balls; none have ever come closer to 50 feet of me, despite having been to a few hundred baseball games in my life (albeit most in crappy seats). But the lengths that people will go to get a ball, and not even one that has any real value to it... well, enjoy.

Epic Drop and Bonus: Signs You're Becoming A Very, Very Old Football Fan

Bonus reasons after your click back and forth...

11) You knew Herm Edwards would be a crappy coach because of the way he gave the WR a big cushion as a CB

12) The old AFL teams still sound like they have punk team names to you (Jets? Patriots? Chargers? Dammit, football teams should only be named after animals or humiliated natives!)

13) You get all of Chris Berman's references, and still think they are funny

14) Your head is going to explode over the idea of the Steelers having a mascot

15) You remember when the Super Bowl wasn't all about the commercials

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crime and Punishment

You know the look: 16-24 year old male, boxer shorts, and pants that start about where the boxers end. It's offputting, goofy-looking, almost comically ugly.

And some misguided officials think it should be outlawed.

Like watching the Pro Bowl, listening to Toby Keith, or rooting for the Nationals, this is one of those offenses that is it's own punishment.

No one is going to arrest you for using the word "irregardless". People don't get busted while leaving a showing of "Rush Hour 3". We don't serve citations to people for eating at Taco Bell.

And neither should people wearing their pants around their knees like a big dork have their fashion sense outlawed.

Haven't they suffered enough already?

Epic Drop: Top 12 Questions Raised by the Yahoo Sports Tim Couch Steroid Story

The link is here, but the short of it is this... why on earth did Yahoo commission a 5-part series of nearly 9,000 words on the failed steroid-aided comeback of a guy who has been off the radar for years?

Maybe Cleveland Fan still holds a candle in the window for this guy... but jeez, this was killing a fly with a sledgehammer. An extremely large sledgehammer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Top 15 Words Brett Myers Can Not Spell

Inspired by this little moment of human transcendence. NSFW, h/t Bugs and Cranks.














Wife Beater


Epic Drop: 7 Fantasy Players to Avoid

The dark side of the sleeper picks below is over at the Carnival.

Funny story about Leaf... the Shooter Brother is a Charger Fan. I distinctly recall having a conversation where both of us agreed that the Chargers were much better off getting him than Peyton Manning, because he was mobile.

I'm fairly sure that if you asked the Shooter Brother if this conversation ever happened, he'd deny it. Can't say I blame him too much.

Things You Could Not Possibly Care About

League 1, where I helped the Shooter Mom draft two weeks ago. One player keeper league (ours was Parker; we're new to the league). 12 teams, 20 rounds.

Hasselbeck, Matt QB SEA
Barber, Marion RB DAL
Parker, Willie RB PIT
Colston, Marques WR NO
Johnson, Chad WR CIN
Gonzalez, Tony TE KC
Hanson, Jason K DET
Bengals, DST DST
Grossman, Rex QB CHI
Benson, Cedric RB CHI
Duckett, T.J. RB DET
Morency, Vernand RB GB
Crayton, Patrick WR DAL
Furrey, Mike WR DET
Hackett, D.J. WR SEA
Henry, Chris WR CIN
Porter, Jerry WR OAK
Smith, L.J. TE PHI
Bironas, Rob K TEN
Dolphins, DST DST MIA

League 2, which drafted tonight, traditional Yahoo, 14 teams.

1. (8) Willie Parker RB
2. (21) Cedric Benson RB
3. (36) Marc Bulger QB
4. (49) Hines Ward WR
5. (64) Todd Heap TE
6. (77) Joey Galloway WR
7. (92) Warrick Dunn RB
8. (105) Jerry Porter WR
9. (120) Alex Smith QB
10. (133) Philadelphia DEF
11. (148) Devin Hester WR
12. (161) Patrick Crayton WR
13. (176) Anthony Thomas RB
14. (189) Olindo Mare K
15. (204) Indianapolis DEF

So as you can see, I'm highly invested in Parker, Benson, Porter and Crayton... and if you're wondering why on earth someone would draft the Colts defense, their Week 15 and 16 games are Houston and Oakland. (Meanwhile, the Eagles spend week 16 in... New Orleans. Pass.)

Actual Fantasy Football News You Can Use

Now that my two leagues have drafted, I can reveal the top five sleepers from my draft prep. (No guarantees, of course, that they won't actually suck.)

1) Patrick Crayton, WR, Dallas. Terribly good player, backing up two post-30 prima donna WRs in Glenn and Owens. Even if they both stay in their shoes, there probably are enough footballs to go around, especially given TO's case of the whoopsies last year. I'm also not a huge believer in Jason Witten; I think Crayton vultures some of his red zone touches.

Last and not least -- Crayton's in a contract year, and Dallas has to be wondering how long until the Owens Bomb goes off. Add it all up, and you've got a guy who is definitely ownable, and could do a lot more.

2) Ahman Green, RB, Houston. Matt Schaub's burst of competence in the pre-season comes from two things -- the ability to get a ball off quickly, and a dramatically improved offensive line. They still aren't good, but they aren't Oakland-esque either -- and the thing about Green is that he's always been dead useful on screens.

Green is seen as washed up and on a terrible team; he's probably neither, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him get 1200 yards and a half dozen TDs. For a flex play or third back, you can and will do a lot worse. The fact that Brandon Jacobs is probably going to provide very similar numbers 2-3 rounds earlier (especially with Giants fans in your league) is an advantage.

3) Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego.
Norv Turner wouldn't thrill me if I were a Charger fan, but if I owned Rivers, I'd be pretty pumped. Last year, in on the job training, Rivers was more than ownable. This year, he's got better weapons (especially at WR, where McCardell is no longer taking up space), more experience, and no compulsion to feed LDT to break a single-season TD record. Finally, there's this -- the AFC West could be really bad this year. KC's old, Denver lost Darrent Williams to tragedy in the off-season, and while Oakland will be better, they are still far from good. After the top QBs are gone, target Rivers.

4) Cadillac Williams, RB, Tampa Bay. Yes, he killed teams last year, but that was without any kind of competent QB play. He's not the best bet on the board, but I'm betting he gives you the same or better numbers than Reggie Brown, who is going a round or two earlier. Besides, it's not as if Jon Gruden is really going to go for the 800th revival of Michael Pittman, is he?

5) Joe Horn, WR, Atlanta. People are under the impression that He Who Must Be Condemned was actually a good QB. He wasn't. He only had eyes for Alge Crumpler, could easily give you a 100 yard passing day, and was only really valuable for his legs. The Falcons will be behind a lot this year, and if there's one thing that Joey Harrington can do, it's pile up cheap points in a dome in a blowout. Horn's good at that, too. Go look at the old Aaron Brooks footage; this will look similar. Which means Horn should be on your roster, especially if you can get him as WR3 or WR4.

As a final note of inspiration, this. If you are old like me, this sucked, and yet you played it anyway, dammit, BECAUSE IT WAS FOOTBALL. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Big 12 North Predictions

With college football kicking off this weekend it’s time to break down the conferences. We’re starting off with the Big 12 North. Otherwise known as the “there’s nothing else on TV so I’ll watch this” conference.

Most sites will break teams down by coaching, players, depth, schedule – all the data that actually means something. But not at FTT. We strive for a more shallow method of picking teams. And it helps the fan who doesn’t know much about the conference pick out a team based on it’s other “qualities.”

Each school is graded on five criteria and given a score of 6 (the highest) down to a 1 (the lowest). Criteria includes:

Location: Would you want to have to spend a weekend in this town?

Uniforms: Would you be caught dead wearing these colors/school logo?

Fans: What kind of a fan base do these schools have for their football program?

Coeds: Hot or not?

Bar Scene: Because really, it’s college – let’s get drunk!

Here is the analysis for each school:

6th place: Iowa State ( 9 points total Location: 3, Uniforms: 2, Fans: 1, Coeds: 2, Bar Scene: 1)The nicest thing about Ames, Iowa is the sign that reads "Thank you for visiting Ames" on your way out of town. Iowa State doesn't have much going on in football or otherwise. On the flip side, it's not too far from Iowa City and the Hawkeyes where you'll find great bars, hot chicks and good football. A side note: ISU is currently taking votes for new football uniforms for 2008. One version has the word "Cyclones" on the side of the helmet. The marketing campaign for this version reads " There is only one school nationally whose nickname is Cyclones." Is that really a good thing? Hey come to school here and watch tornados fall out of the sky!

5th place: Kansas State ( 13 points total Location: 1, Uniforms: 1, Fans: 5, Coeds: 1, Bar Scene: 5)
Ugly city (and I use the word "city" generously here), ugly uniforms, ugly chicks. That's probably why the bar scene is so happening and the fan base is so rowdy. There's nothing else to do but get drunk and root on your football team. And purple and silver colors? Too bad Rev. Falwell isn't still alive to out them.

4th place: Kansas ( 18 points total Location: 5, Uniforms: 3, Fans: 2, Coeds: 5, Bar Scene: 3)Rock Chalk Jayhawk, when does basketball season start? Not too into the football program in Lawrence and their football coach is one Big Mac away from a massive heart attack. But they have a great town with hot chicks to get you through the months leading up to basketball season. The bar scene and uniforms could use some improvement, but a solid across the board performance for a basketball school.

3rd place: Colorado ( 21 points total Location: 6, Uniforms: 6, Fans: 3, Coeds: 4, Bar Scene: 2)Great city in the foothills of the Rockies. They also have some of the best uniforms and there are few places better to watch a game then Folsom Stadium. The coeds are easy on the eyes (which helps after visiting K-State) but their football fan base isn't what it used to be and the bar scene is somewhat tame. But you really can't go wrong with the Buffs here and maybe making their way up to finish second.

1st place (tie): Missouri ( 22 points total Location: 2, Uniforms: 4, Fans: 4, Coeds: 6, Bar Scene: 6)
Major props to Mizzou for overcoming the armpit that is Columbia, Mo. When you drive into town, all the color instantly disappears and everything goes gray. However, there is nothing like some smoking hot chicks and an outstanding bar scene (Harpo’s before the game anyone?) to make up for this. The fans have really hopped on the bandwagon and they finally have some decent unis. This is the year for Mizzou to have a shot at winning the Big 12 North – or at least tie for it.

1st place (tie): Nebraska ( 22 points total Location: 4, Uniforms: 5, Fans: 6, Coeds: 3, Bar Scene: 4)
Yep, they’re back. Best fans in the Big 12 if not all of college football. They will travel to New Zealand for a road game if they have to. Classic uniforms, huge stadium that is always a sellout and a decent bar scene which turns a coed with a rating of 5 into an 8 after a few cold ones. Big test early in the year against USC. If they don’t get completely demoralized they should win the Big 12 North. And congrats – you’ve earned the right to get demolished by OU or Texas in the Big 12 Championship!

Next time: Big 12 South Predictions

Travis Henry Knows How To Hit The Hole

Hat tip, The Big Lead, who found the story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

For the non-clickers, the NFL running back and borderline first round fantasy pick turns out to be the father to nine -- count 'em, nine -- kids to nine different women, in four different states. (It's OK, though. According to Henry's lawyer, he's a really committed father. You think?)

Since the only thing we care about on the eve of our fantasy football draft is how this could affect his status as the starting RB in Denver, the top 10 questions we have for this situation...

10) How many kids does Mike Bell have?

9) Is the inability to wear a condom part of the Broncos' innovative zone blocking scheme?

8) Does this mean that the real reason why Denver coach Mike Shanahan never gave the job to Tatum Bell is that... his boys can't swim?

7) In the Denver offense, isn't it true that any decent running back could father six or seven kids?

6) Are all of the kids really Henry's, or did he get vultured by a short-yardage back?

5) When drafting, do you take Henry's "handcuff", or does the queasy factor just overwhelm?

4) Doesn't this all seem like a little... overcompensation, if you catch our drift?

3) How many spawn does Jake Plummer have with him in his Unabomber retirement shack?

2) How, honestly, does Henry have time to learn the playbook, or the energy to remain upright?

1) Is he done for now, or is he determined to field a full team of 45, plus injured reserve?

Epic Drop: Top 11 Signs That Yankee Fan Is Losing It

The hate is equal opportunity here for both the Evil Empire and the Massholes. Listy goodness is yours over at the Carnival.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank You, NBC, For Making It All So Clear

From MediaWeek, and I realize this has been out for a few weeks, but cut a brother some slack...

The goal, (NBC VP of strategic marketing and communications Mike) McCarley said, is to hammer home the telecast's new slogan, "Sunday Night is Football Night," and to give viewers the impression that the telecast is not just for the hard core football fan, but for the entire family.

"Our new slogan is a simple, short, consistent message that we want to repeat over and over, wherever people are," McCarley said. ... "Last year we spent the pre-season promoting that the games were going to be on NBC for the first time, and explaining to viewers what Sunday Night Football was," McCarley said. "This year we are ramping it up to try to drive more first-time viewers there and to make Sunday Night Football a family viewing habit."
So, just to be very clear about this, for all of the mouth-breathers that NBC thinks are in the audience... last year, NBC wanted to tell you that they had football on Sunday nights. This year, they want you to know it's OK to watch. That sound you just heard was my head hitting my desk.

Um, NBC? NFL? Here's why the ratings aren't as good as they should be, especially since you are always cherry picking a good game. It's the third freaking game of the day. As a football consumer, I'm fairly satiated already. Plus, I've got a house full of people who aren't particularly interested in football (that'd be the Shooter Wife and the Shooter Kids) that would like to see their husband/parent at some point in the day. You know, just to remember what he looks like.

BTW, the Internets tell me that Mike McCarley might be able to be reached at, 212-664-5528.

I'm not saying, Nation, that you should send email after email, and make phone all after phone call, to him to deliver the simple, short and consistent message that Sunday Night Is Football Night. That would be rude. Contrary to the brand. Not befitting of your lofty status as readers of this fine sports blog.

I'm just saying, it's amazing what one can find in 30 seconds on the Internets.

And that maybe, just maybe, Mike would appreciate a little thank you for all of his hard work. Maybe a sheepish acknowledgment that you, personally, didn't know that Sunday Night Was Football Night last year, but that you're pretty sure you've got it this year. Maybe he could call you back and confirm that.

Because when Sunday Night Is Football Night, I'm thinking it might actually be on Tuesday afternoon, just to mess with my head.

A Small Note To Gene Upshaw's Critics in Vickgate

Um, just what in blue blazes are you supposed to do when one of your union members goes off the resevation and self-immolates?

Defend him, and get pilloried in public for defending a man who killed dogs with his bare hands. (Read some of the comments in the Vick pieces we've written this week, and see how much fun it is when you just fail to include that Killing Dogs Is Bad.) Stay away from him, and you get people talking about how neutered you are, and how you failed your people and capitulated to the commissioner.

Look, this isn't about a guy who needs help in the face of a drug addiction. It's also not a case where a player let a bad moment get the best of him.

This is a man who ran a criminal operation, engaging in an activity that the vast majority of the country finds extraordinarily repugnant, against a skilled federal prosecution, FOR YEARS. Defend him, for any reason or motivation, to any degree, at your grave PR peril. We love our dogs.

Upshaw has a lot to answer for as NFL union boss; the awful pension plan, the long term health problems, the fact that the vast majority of his members could be crippled and income-free on any given play, at any given moment. But his treatment of Vickgate was a no-win situation in which he didn't lose that much. People who say otherwise, like this guy, are just looking to fill space.

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs Spree Was Losing The Yacht

I have to confess, there have been few things in the NBA better than the visualization of a violent, anti-social NBA millionaire with his own yacht. In the playpen of my mind, Spree was the Al Czervik of the Minnesota yacht scene, asking blue bloods if their women wanted to make 14 dollars the hard way.

The shame of it all is that with Spree's boat getting repo'd (and holy mother, imagine the cojones on the guy that had that job), that dream must die. But not before a top 10 list over at the Carnival. It's nautical.

Top 10 Questions Regarding Stephen A. Smith's Column Getting Cancelled

Ed. Note: The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced that columnist, ESPN personality, Blackberry enthusiast and Cheeze Doodle devotee STEPHEN A. SMITH is "due to resume his career as a reporter," and that he was being stripped of his column.

But beyond the paper's snippy page about it, we have questions. Such as...

10) Stephen A. has a background in reporting?

9) Is SLAV-AH MED-VA-DANG-CO crank-calling him?

8) Did the Inquirer only do this once Allen Iverson was well and truly out of town?

7) How long will it take until Stephen notices he no longer has the gig?

6) Will the probable loss in income make him cut back on his love of Cheese Doodles?

5) Does this mean he'll have more time for Quite Frankly?

4) Will Inky sports columnist Phil Sheridan now use his CAPS LOCK more to make up the gap in VERY IMPORTANT DECLARATIVES?

3) Will Stephen take questions about this on his declining Philly street cred on his ESPN Radio show in New York City, or on his television appearances in Bristol, Connecticut?

2) Is there a half-baked racial angle to this that will allow someone (not naming names) to crank out 1000 words?



(H/t, Deadspin and the SAS Heckling Society of Gentlemen)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oh Captain, My Captain

Paul Lukas's highly recommended Uni Watch blog breaks the story that the NFL is going to use NHL-style "C" patches to designate team captains, starting in week one of the 2007 regular season.

I don't really watch hockey, but I've always been a fan of the "C" in baseball. It's one of those little oddities that makes sports so fascinating. There's something about it that tickles my overactive imagination -- when I see the "C" on a baseball jersey, I imagine an entire behind-the-scenes chain of command structure among the players, complete with mysterious induction rituals and forbidden information that must be protected at all costs. If Jason Veritek is the Captain of the Red Sox, who is the First Admiral? How about the Lieutenant Commander? And can J.D. Drew really be trusted?

The manner by which a Captain is chosen also intrigues me. Does the coach make the decision? Or do the players vote? Is some kind of physical contest involved? And once the captain is crowned, can his captaincy be taken by another on the team? Is there some kind of reality-show challenge where the captain gets voted off the island and the tribe gets a new leader?

No word about whether teams will also use an "A" patch to designate an Assistant Coach, but I say the more designations, the better. In fact, this opens up a world of other single-letter designations that the NFL could also require:

"F" for Farewell tour. This designation draws attention to players who are getting what is very likely to be their final chance to play in the NFL. Were you a big Tim Couch fan when he was at Kentucky, but never bothered to watch him when he started for the Browns? Well, you're probably too late now. But if he had been wearing the "F" during his comeback attempt with the Jaguars this pre-season, viewers would've taken notice. OK, they probably wouldn't have.

But the "F" also serves to ease the confusion that results from seeing a once successful NFL player, long past his prime, take the field. Inevitably, you see a name like "Testaverde" on the back of the jersey and you ask "Can that really be *Vinnie* Testaverde?" After all, it's about as plausible as some completely unrelated guy has that name as it is that Vinne's still somehow cashing a check. The "F" patch will confirm that - yes, it's really him.

"S" for Starting RB. This seems simple enough, but fantasy football players know that it's critical to know which RB is the go-to guy. Requiring NFL coaches - and I'm looking at you, Mike Shanahan - to have a primary RB identified at all times will spare fantasy players the agony of playing a guy who ends up riding the bench most of the game.

Another benefit to the "S": Just think of the drama when a RB goes down mid-game, and the coach must tear the "S" off the starter's jersey and slap it onto another player's jersey. "And the word from the locker room is that Clinton Portis will miss four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain. Gibbs has the "S" and he walking over to Ladell Betts, who has proven that he can be -- WAIT! NO! He's giving the "S" to Rock Cartwright! I can't believe it!"

"?" for the mystery player on each team who might or might not be gay. Sure, this could quickly become a rookie hazing ritual, but if the NFL wants to increase it's appeal to more casual sports fans, this would give the broadcasts a soap-opera angle that draws viewers from much more diverse demographic groups.

"!" for any suspected roid users. Only the most hardcore NFL fans regularly pay attention to offensive/defensive line play. But when you know one of those guys is suspected of taking massive doses of horse steroids? I bet you can't take your eyes off him.

Epic Drop: Under Ground Cover Brother

Eddie Griffin died last weekend in a fiery SUV crash (he hit a freight train). What a tragic waste... because I'm pretty sure that had to be a sweet ride, with big rims, good paint, and knowing Eddie, one mighty fine onboard entertainment system. The full list is over at the Carnival.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Epic Drop: SABOTAGE tips for your fantasy football draft

I'm really proud of this one, Nation. It hurt to post it somewhere else.

Anyway, go read it. I'll be working on something new for FTT, and rocking out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Greetings, Slate Readers

Imagine our surprise when, in viewing our site logs, we found a link from Slate's Today's Blogs. Combined with the majestic power of The Spin of Dead and the steadfast sideshow love from Epic Carnival, it's made for one of the biggest days in the site's history.

As part of our constant effort to make our new readers comfortable, so they come back over and over again and fuel our conquest of Antarctica, we'd like to point you genteel people to some places you'll appreciate.

> For the political junkies, there's the spiritual equivalent

> Rudy Guiliani detractors can see the whole history of Yankee related hate

> Red Sox fans can get a quick rush of energy from our equal opportunity hate

> Mickey Kaus' fans will appreciate the rants

> Now that you are deeply involved, it's time to join the Cult

Epic Drop: Top 10 Consolations for Michael Vick's Fantasy Owners

A happy little list for happy little people.

Top 10 Losers In The Michael Vick Scandal

10. The Falcons. Starting with the money they might not get back and moving to the Matt Schaub in Houston problem, this is going to hurt for a while. It might be quicker than many anticipate, due to the fast turn of the league and the fact that getting out from under Vick's unique skills may be a help... but there's going to be tens of thousands of empty seats and no chance at the playoffs. The Harrington Era will not be long.

9. The NFL. Not enough to actually cut into the rampaging popularity of the league -- let's face it, there's pro football and then there is everything else in the American sports market right now -- but this isn't good. Atlanta's going to go back to being a weak franchise, and that's a large television market.

8. The Lakers. With Vick going off the table in the next 24 to 48 hours, attention will go back to the biggest wildcard on the table, which is the multi-divorcing Kobe Bryant.

7. PETA. Vick was a gold-plated gift from the PR gods for this organization, who had to see a spike in donations and media coverage from this sad little circus. Several more weeks and the chance to generate a truly large rally would have, secretly, suited them just fine.

6. Nike. Not that football is the biggest shoewear mover, or that Vick can't be replaced, and quickly, with a fresh face. But make no mistake: this has Harmed The Brand, and if you're in marketing, you know that you just don't do that. They cost too much to build and can disappear in days.

5. The federal government. Possibly the only entity that got off light in the whole sordid mess, the airtight prosecutorial effort was able to get every defendant to roll over and plead. For every person you hear that says that government can't do anything right... have them volunteer for a grand jury indictment.

4. ESPN. The World Wide Lemur gets to move away from actual journalism and back to another two weeks of timewaste. But it was good for them while it lasted.

3. Racial card players. Had Vick fought the charges, he would have fit right into the whole undercurrent of black/white suspicions. But now that he's copped a plea, most will walk away from him with speed. Al Sharpton is wiping away tears.

2. Pundits. From Bill O'Reilly to Deion Sanders, Vick has been the wind beneath many a gasbag wing. They are going to miss him.

1. Bloggers. He gave us so much, really. Photoshops by the score. Dramatically wrong YouTube clips. Cheap heat columns to play Devil's Advocate. And now, finally, this list.

Monday, August 20, 2007

If At First You Don't Succeed.... Stop Trying

My fantasy football league has its live draft a week from today. It’s a 14 team league in which I’ve participated the past 4 or 5 years. I’ve never made it into the playoff round. The problem is I’ve never been a huge NFL fan. I’ve been a fan of individual teams, but have never paid enough attention to what the rest of the league is doing. So I pretty much suck at fantasy football.

I’ve tried no draft prep in the past where I print off the live draft results from and work off of those. I’ve also tried putting in hours of prep time and coming up with a matrix sheet of picks depending on who goes in front of me. Neither seemed to work.

But this year, I have a new plan. I’m going to let a software program do all the work for me. A buddy of mine sent me this program that recommends who to pick in each round based on what you and the other owners have selected so far in the draft. I just took a run through on the product and it seems pretty cool. You can enter in your league's scoring system so it can calculate the best picks for you by round. Basically, each time a player is picked, you click that player’s name and it is off the board. The program has a name, but I’m calling it the Costanza 3000 based on the episode where George decides to quit life and just wear jogging suits every day.

I realize that this plan is rife with pitfalls. The biggest one being the idea of using a machine to make your picks. But I see the upside in this. When my team sucks again, I’ll just blame the software. This will also allow me to spend all my time during the draft questioning other people’s picks and bothering them while they are thinking about their next picks. Heckling is really what I do best anyway.

Another plus is I’m taking dorkdom to a new level. Let’s face it, fantasy sports participants are pretty much dorks. My wife tells me this 3 times a year when I tell her it’s draft night. And spreadsheets are so 2001. I love the guys who have pages and pages of sheets of data. If you don’t have a software program with you on draft day you’re really not trying. And that is my plan precisely.

Epic Drop: Our 10 Favorite Preseason Football Announcer Lines

Coach Shooter wants to see you over at this link. Bring your playbook.

Oh, and here's a bonus line for those coming back from the Carnival -- "Coach X and his staff spend 18 to 20 hours a day evaluating talent." What are they, coke fiends, or just inefficient?

We get it -- it's a very competitive business, and long hours are common, especially in season. On the other hand, they are getting paid millions of dollars a year to order people around and try to outsmart some other guys, many of whom seem to eat paste (I'm looking at you, Herman Edwards). Let's not feed into their God Complex any more than necessary, shall we?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dumbest league ever?

The Shooter Mom is joining her first league, so I'm giving her my draft prep. Let's just say that the league doesn't look too intimidating -- and yes, fantasy football is a complete crap shoot, but the following signs are, how shall we say, good.

5. In a 12-team league with one keeper, two defenses are off the board. Seriously. Baltimore and Chicago.

4 One of the people drafting is described as "a little special"

3. Two WRs are off the board (Terrell Owens and Steve Smith)

2. The message board is littered with typos. And big-time partisan homers.

1. Two QBs are off the board, too (Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer)

So, six of my top 12 players ranked in any draft... are on the board. Plus, the other owners appear genuinely bent that the Shooter Mom is getting experienced help.

Last year, I won a league where Reggie Bush went fourth overall (that team finished 13th out of 14), and Carnell Williams went sixth (sixth place). I never expected to be in a league that drafted dumber than that... but hope springs eternal.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Epic Drop: 12 Steps To Trolldom


A little inside blogger baseball for you today. It's the 12-step program for how to be a better anonymous troll (i.e., someone who posts more or less useless and unfunny stuff in the comments section).

You can click, or you can just skip right to the punchline and fill this post up with anonymous and useless comments...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's not even September yet

Yet Cubs fans are in full panic mode. I have never seen a fan base that deserves their team more than the Cubs. These fans are about as delusional as the Cubs have been bad over the years. And as a Cards fan living in Chicago, this has been one entertaining year.

First things first. This might possibly be the worst division in MLB – ever. I’m not convinced that the winner of the division is going to have a .500 record. It’s hard to watch this division play on a regular basis. Funny thing is, you read blogs or hear people talking on the train about how well the Cubs are playing and that this is their year. Fact is they’re 16-16 over the past 5 weeks. Normally, that won’t get it done. But in the Central, anything is possible.

I also love that Cubs fans have been down on the Cards all year. Even yesterday as I was driving home I was listening to some Chicago talk radio, these clowns said there was no chance of the Cards coming back. How can any person who knows anything about baseball say that? In this division – the Reds are still in it. Well guess what Cub fans? The Cards (who are the hottest team in the division right now by the way) are only 3.5 games out of first. And they have a 4 game road trip at Wrigley starting tomorrow. And while the Cubs 2 “aces” Zambrano and Lilly were getting shelled by the Reds at home the past two nights, Kip Wells and Joel Pineiro were throwing gems against the Brewers at Milwaukee. That’s right – Kip Wells and Joel Pineiro. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen have caught fire and Rick Ankiel is looking like Roy Hobbs. All I can say is these guys have played in October and know how to get there. The Cubs, well, not so much.

Look, do I think the Cubs can win this whole thing? Yes, I do. I also don’t think OJ did it. I’m not ruling out anyone in this division. It’s terrible. The NL Central winner will be the team that sucks the least. But I do know this. The Cubs always find a way to lose. I think we’re already seeing that. You’d think they’d get more wins after spending $300 million this off season.

The Curse of Rizzuto

The good people at the Shooter Job had a company event at the Yankees game against the Orioles this week. Here are some random thoughts from my first visit to Yankee Stadium in 15 years -- and no, for the last time, Chowds, I am not a Yankee fan.

It turned out to be a very sad day for Yankee Fan, as Phil Rizzuto died that morning and the Yankees died that night in a 12-0 stompfest at the hands of the Orioles. Here are my notes / thoughts / rantings from the experience.

> Every baseball stadium should have mass transportation, and everyone should be forced to take it. There's something that's just damned cool about being a part of a crowd for that extra 30 to 40 minutes, and it becomes obvious where everyone is going.

I used to ride the BART train to A's games, and it's a similar, though not nearly as intense feeling. Be at one with the crowd -- especially if it's a big game, or the team is doing well.

Besides, stadium chants in inappropriate places are just cool. The next time you're in line at the supermarket, break out an E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES! for me, especially if you are not in the Philly area. See? Instant fun.

> The security shakedown at Yankee Stadium is more thorough than any other stadium I've been at for a regular season game, to the point of being an active ingredient to your trip. I wound up leaving my laptop bag at work, adding a big chunk of time to my commute home. They don't make you take off your shoes and do a cavity search, but it's close.

The shakedown is reasonably fast and professional, but the arbitrariness of it all -- "CELL PHONES OUT AND TURNED *ON*! BAGS WILL BE CHECKED! DO THE HOKEY POKEY THE RIGHT WAY OR BIG STEIN IS SENDING YOUR ASS TO GITMO!"-- just rankles. I feel sorry for you young people, who are always going to think this is how it should be. It's not. We're living in fear, and the people we should be afraid of are making money off it, and the Yankees are complicit with their 7th inning 9/11 fetish. But I digress.

> Our seats were up in the Tier section, which is to say, as high as you can go... but being as Yankee Stadium is very well engineered for views, the seats were more or less fine, given us visibility to everything but the right field corner. Of all of the old-time stadiums still in operation, Yankee does the best when faced with a large crowd; the place was built for large scale theater, not intimacy. But the engineering makes up for it.

> One of the things that I really like about old-time stadiums is... it's all about baseball. Yankee Stadium's in-game entertainment is laughably bad; the sound is tinny, the enthusiasm almost campishly fake, and you half expect people to flip the camera the bird during the Smile Cam segment. Here and at Fenway, there's a game on; there's no mascot or kids area or dramatic concession choices, and about the only dumb thing the fans do is take pictures like they are Japanese for every A-Rod at-bat. It's nice, it's East Coast in the extreme, and it's for the hardcore only. Refreshing.

> Here's a dirty little secret about Yankee Stadium -- it's crawling with Subversive Elements. For the Orioles -- a team that hasn't been good for what seems like centuries, who constructed one of the most unlikable collections of Steroid Achievers ever last year -- there were pockets of resistance everywhere. And as the Yankees fell behind early and often, they were in their glory. Every dog has its day. One suspects this is because the seats are expensive, but still, it's interesting to note that every stadium was Road Fans now.

> Speaking of dogs... this was the game that Clemens would have started had he not been suspended. It was also the same night that Boston came back in the ninth on Tampa Bay, stretching their division lead back up to five.

So, for any Rocket Lovers out there... how much, exactly, does the man want to win when he (a) doesn't show up for the first few months of the season, and (b) gets himself run from games, when there are perfectly good useless RPs -- Jim Brower, anyone? -- who could throw the beanball instead?

> In terms of individual Yankee players, I was struck by the defensive skills of Yankee CF Melky Cabrera. On a team of plowhorses, he sticks out big time; it's like he's the only Yankee who isn't playing the game in slow-motion. The highlight of the game for the Yanks was when Cabrera ran down a sure triple in the gap, limiting the damage to a sac fly. When your top play scores the other team a run, that's not a good game for ya. He also uncorked a perfect throw to the plate on a play where he had no chance, and missed the guy by a step. His mechanics are not quite Mark Kotsay, but he's got the skills (and location, naturally) to win a Gold Glove someday.

> For the O's, Daniel Cabrera was dealing and is still 23 with a 95 mph, so there's hope. That hope, of course, would be manifested in another team's uniform. A-Huff hit a grand slam, delighting the tens of thousands of fantasy baseball owners who stopped paying attention months ago, when they realized their team was filled with guys like Aubrey Huff.

> The Phil Rizzuto highlight reel was tasteful and relatively understated; they played a minute of black and white highlights, then finished with some words from the man himself a his Hall of Fame induction. The man made David Eckstein look huge, and proved once again, that the world can not get enough of the little guy. (Full disclosure: I'm also short. Phil and I would have seen eye to eye.)

> For the fetishists, the Yanks are now 0-2 A.R., so they clearly need to get those #10s off the foul ground grass. I tells ya, he's a jinx!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gift Plans for the Barry Bonds 2008 Farewell Tour

Ed. Note: Barry Bonds said that he expects 2008 to be his final year. How will NL team say goodbye in his final appearance in their park?

NL East

Atlanta - Sid Bream re-enacts his famous playoff dash to the plate that beat Bonds' throw by scoring from second base while using a walker; re-enactment takes less time than actual play

Philadelphia - Special commemorative battery given out to fans to throw

New York - Life-sized Mr. Met bobblehead given to Bonds; statue's head is, still, smaller than Bonds'

Florida - Quilt woven by all 47 Marlin season ticket holders

Washington - Congressional immunity

NL Central

St. Louis - Extra-wide Arch replica that Bonds can fit his head through

Chicago - A four-year, $60 million contract and a new job as the lefty short man in the pen

Milwaukee - Sausage Race now has new character contestant, Needly

Houston - Craig Biggio's small children offer themselves up for some farewell insults from Bonds

Cincinnati - A remarkably forced handshake and photo op with Ken Griffey Jr.

Pittsburgh - Special "This Is Your Life" surprise program / intervention / roast

NL West

Los Angeles - Special commemorative bats give out to fans to throw

Arizona - Brand-new trophy mistress

Colorado - His own life-sized humidifier to sleep in (may help to reduce post-career head swelling)

San Diego - Die-cast figurines of all of the Padres pitches Bonds has violated with his 86 career long balls

San Francisco - Giants owner Peter McGowan has underlings sign a card and email an Amazon gift certificate from his address

Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs Your Fantasy Football Draft Preparation Has Gone Too Far

My favorite... 5. You are more excited by this year's new Carolina zone blocking scheme than you were by last year's new Houston zone blocking scheme

Click here to read the rest...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Our Flabber Is Officially Gasted

Actual Star Wars message thread based on something we wrote. The Internets is a strange place.

And to answer the inevitable commenter question, no, I didn't write anything at the link. (You're just lucky I'm not whipping out the Jar Jar.)

Top 15 Rejected Enhancements to Madden '08

We used to work in NoCal, and know a guy at EA. FTT's spies are everywhere! (And we just gave Tomlinson's fantasy owners heart failure with that earlier cover image.)

15. "Hot Coffee" mini-game with Tony Siragusa

14. "Black Sunday" mod where you bomb the Super Bowl from a blimp

13. Easter Egg where Michael Vick is torn apart by wild dogs

12. "Sports Guy" Mode, where all Patriot players have perfect scores, and the game comes with a protective plastic coating

11. "MNF" mode, where, no matter what you do, the game is a boring blowout and the announcers make you wince

10. "Jinx" mode, where you upload the photo of your opponent, who then suffers debilitating electric shocks through the controller

9. "Boss" level, where you must duck flatulence from Coach Madden and throw food into his mouth until he explodes

8. "Left Behind" mode, where a nation of sinful zombies must be converted away from incessant video game playing through violent, head-smashing prayer

7. "Cheerleader Fight", where competing cheerleader teams throw down and tear off each other's clothing in a long, slow-motion battle that only ends in... uh... ohh.... I'll be back in a minute

6. "Tecmo" mode, where the game becomes dramatically simpler, with much less impressive graphics, and much more fun to play

5. "Al Davis" mode, where the game is in black and white, leather helmets are worn, and the Raiders are actually good

4. "Atari" mode, where all incomplete passes go the length of the field, and the players are spooky ghosts

3. "Matt Millen" mode, where you have to play 10 WRs and the QB on offense, and the QB is a converted WR

2. "Pat Tillman" mode, where you are continually sabotaged by your own team, but the announcers just keep lying about it

1. "Unlicensed" mode -- the game costs half as much, but you have to play with Payton Maning, LaDaynelian Thomlinson and Teryl Owns, and the teams all have USFL jerseys and names

Epic Drop: Chris Simms Fears The Turk

Bring your playbook, Simms. And that note from Dad isn't going to help, either.

Monday, August 13, 2007

From Way Downtown... Bang...

H/t, Sons of Sam Malone...

I love:

"Are you sure?" No, sweetie, they are guys.

The post-game reactions... I used to think that I knew I did a good job as a parent if my daughters didn't get into pole dancing. Then it got added to reality TV. Now, it's the Internets. Anyone got the number of a good nunnery?

The Epic Drop: Top 10 Signs That Red Sox Fan Is Losing It

The most tasteless is clearly...

8. Rooting for Jon Lester to get cancer again

To see the rest, make a click...

Top 10 Fantasy Football Team / Porn Names

Inspired, of course, by the new mascot of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Image hat tip, With Leather.

Steely Eyebeams

Dick & Butt Kissers

Super Tight Ends

Very Wide Receivers

Bent Under Centers

Brown Bay Packers

Extra Long Snappers

Groin Pulling Guards

Point After Touch Downs

Brady Quinn

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Game By Game Eagle Prediction

Why deal with suspense for the upcoming Eagles season, when FTT can tell you the results months in advance? Consider it a public service. Your bookie hates us.

Game 1 - In Green Bay. I've actually got tickets, and will be taking the Shooter Mom, who routinely kills the guys in her pool and is prone to reaming out idiot hosts on WIP. The fatalist in me says they blow the game, but the Pack sucks. Eagles 27, Green Bay 17.

Game 2 - Washington at home. A healthy Portis is a worry, but the Birds don't usually have trouble stopping the run until the second half of the season. Eagles 24, Washington 17.

Game 3 - Detroit at home. I love how highly people are rating Jon Kitna in fantasy this year. This just in... he's Jon Kitna. Eagles 31, Detroit 21.

Game 4 - Giants, in Jersey. The game before the bye is rarely a good one in the Reid Era. New York 24, Eagles 17.

Game 5 - Jets, in Jersey. The game after the bye is usually a good one in the Reid Era. Eagles 31, Jets 17.

Game 6 - Bears, at home. I think Chicago falls apart this year, and the history of teams losing the Super Bowl isn't a good one in the year after. Eagles 24, Bears 10.

Game 7 - Vikings, in Minnesota. Classic trap game in a dome. Guaranteed heartbreaker. Vikings 20, Eagles 17.

Game 8 - Dallas, at home. Let's face it -- Dallas isn't winning a game in Philly until Owens is gone. Eagles 28, Dallas 17.

Halfway Mark: 6-2, 2-1 in the division.

Game 9 - Redskins, in Washington. If it's Game 9, Gibbs has thrown a QB under the bus, and Portis is hurt. Ugly game, win. Eagles 16, Redskins 13.

Game 10 - Miami, at home. A sterner test than expected, simply because the AFC is just much better. But the Fish D is getting long in the gills. Eagles 20, Miami 16.

Game 11 - Patriots, in New England. A SNF game where two of the top teams in their conferences square off. Sadly, the AFC talent gap shows up. Pats 34, Eagles 20.

Game 12 - Seahawks, at home. This never goes well. Many people jump off the bus as the team has it's first back to back losses of the year; it also doesn't help that December is clearly the toughest month on the schedule. Speculation starts to swirl about McNabb here. Hawks 27, Eagles 13.

Game 13 - Giants, at home. If you've got a do or die game, it always helps to have Eli Manning on the other side of the field. Eagles 27, Giants 17.

Game 14 - Dallas, in Dallas. Eagles win simply because Reid is that much better than Wade Phillips. Eagles 34, Cowboys 27.

Game 15 - Saints, in New Orleans. Eagles back into a division title, but the inability to stop Brees and Co. is highly worrisome, as is the fact that with the loss, the team may have to travel here in the playoffs. Saints 31, Eagles 27.

Game 16 - Bills, in Philadelphia. Reid plays scrubs against a team that won't make the playoffs. Eagles 20, Bills 10.

Overall: 11-5, 5-1 in the division, division champion, #3 seed, NFC Championship Game loser.

A Brief Note To Raul Ibanez

First 370 at bats this season, when you were on my fantasy team roster, and I patiently waited for you to hit like last year: 6 home runs.

Last 22 at bats, after I finally tossed in the towel as your average dropped to .252 and it looked like you were going to lose your job... 5 home runs.

I believe my feelings for Raul can be summed up in song, especially the words about the gas truck. (Caution: Naughty words are in the clip.)

Oh, and the piece de resistance -- frequent commenter California Mookie has him now. GAHHH.

Light and Shadow

There is a time-honored literary device of Evil being unable to withstand the touch of Good. If you've been on board the Harry Potter train, it's the fight scene from the end of the first book/movie. It's why the Emperor needs Vader to do his dirty work in the Star Wars movies, and part of the reason why villains in animated movies inevitably turn monstrous before dying. (Especially women -- you can't kill a girl, no matter how bad she's been, unless she's a dragon or crone or snake or something. But I digress.)

It's a simple thing, really. We want to believe that the mere existence of Good -- a power that all of us believe we have, even if we don't choose often enough -- will protect us from darker concerns.

Hey presto, you can even find it in the Bible:

"And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." - John 1:5
Now, before I send you scurrying off to some other blog that is making with the funny or the sports, or make you wonder about my ever-encroaching mortality or embrace of religion... let me reel this back in.

This summer, we have seen:

> Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, two longstanding single-team baseball superstars, with no signicant character flaws, off-field notoriety or steroid taint, inducted into the Hall of Fame

> Jon Lester return to the mound after staring down mortality, in the form of cancer

> The Roy Hobbsian return of Rick Ankiel, who performed the miraculous feat of reinventing himself as a credible outfield prospect after having his previous career as an exceptional pitcher shatter into a million pieces on the playoff stage

> The utterly fearless work of John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, each going directly at the Bonds Menace and denying him, for another day and another, much more forgettable pitcher, his dubious legacy

> Craig Biggio finally reaching the 3,000 hit milestone, announcing his end of year retirement, and then hitting a grand slam in his next game back, in a Ted Williams-esque defiant blow against mortality

> Tom Glavine completing a two decade long journey to 300 wins, a feat that many believe may never be done again (for the record, I'm not one of them)

What have we, the sports blogosphere and media and fans, chosen to spend our time on?

Bonds, Vick, Bryant, Donaghy, Pac Man.

All of those "good" stories? Reported once, then tossed aside like a used Kleenex. Nothing new to see here, not much grist to use for mocking, no way to channel outrage beyond the hollow bleat of "Why can't Disgraceful Athlete be more like Praiseworthy Athlete?"

Please get the following: I'm not pointing a finger here. Read my work here or on Epic Carnival, and you'll see that I'm in the same camp of negativity.

It's visceral, it's easy, it lends itself to comedy, and it's a basic law of journalism: if it bleeds, it leads. If you get bad customer service, you tell 13 people; good, four.

But it's a choice.

So if you're disgusted by the current state of sports -- if you can't get beyond the bad stuff, or even if you find yourself reading one too many stories saying how disgusted the writer is by the current state of events...

Choose to watch, and think, about something else. (Me, I'm kind of obsessed with Ankiel these days.)

Friday, August 10, 2007

For Truth

For the record, I'm not a Cardinals fan. But if this doesn't touch your heart a little, you're not a baseball fan. Or human.

Epic Drop: Top 10 New ESPN SportsCenter Timewaste Segments

Today's Epic Drop is cooler than the other side of the pillow, after you've vomited on it from watching "Who's Now."

Plus, Erin Andrews Gets Nekked! (OK, not really.)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Easiest Joke Of The Day

Word out of Tampa Bay is that fullback Mike Alstott is going to announce his retirement, and that the team is flying in Warrick Dunn to take the first 90% of his speech...

Eagles Season Preview


Normally I send you over to Epic Carnival for things like this, but seeing as it took a while to hatch this groaner, I'm rhyming and stealing. Enjoy the piracy.

If you want to save yourself 2,000 words that took me most of a week to work out (you heartless bastard): 11-5, NFC East champions, #3 seed in the NFC, NFC championship road game loser (to who? like it matters), one more piece of my old and dying heart chewed up and spit out.

It'll taste surprisingly similar to the woman from the YouTube clip, who Philly Fan has chained up in a basement. She doesn't look like this anymore. The lesson, as always: Philly Fan Is Not To Be Trifled With.

20. The MVP of the team last year was Brian Westbrook. The MVP of the team this year will be... Donovan McNabb. This isn't a plus.

19. Fantasy alert: Any year now, tight end LJ Smith is going to explode. Literally. (This is all part of my scheme to make him so overrated that he's underrated.)

18. Jevon Kearse is back. In pog form.

If he can stay on the field, the defense will be much better, simply because they were never really able to replace the pass rush he provided before going down against the Giants. With Darwin Walker gone for Takeo Spikes, the depth at the position is not what it was.

17. In the time it took you to read this, Andy Reid's kids have committed three felonies.

16. Andy Reid's Kids makes for a fine and relatively understated fantasy football team name. No question, it'll be overused, though. (If you're stuck for a name, FTT is here to help.)

15. Jon Runyan is so mean, he once killed a man, just for snoring.

14. Reno Mahe is, in fact, a debilitating tropical illness.

13. Merrill Reese, the beloved local radio play by play man, is the most excited man on earth, and needs to be medicated before entering a supermarket.

12. As always, Reid is playing Russian Roulette with wideouts, because winning with quality wideouts is just not sporting. The team is depending, to a scary amount, on the development of Hank Baskett as a quality third WR.

Someone, for the lover of God, please show him the Patriots playoff loss last year, the one where Reche Caldwell's eyes bulged to six times the size of a normal human being. Andy's inability to value the wideout position has become intervention-worthy.

11. Takeo Spikes is already the best outside linebacker of the Reid Era, and he hasn't played a down. Let's just say the competition has not been particularly stellar. (Nate Wayne! Keith Adams! Dhani Jones! Matt McCoy! Lots of other guys I had to look up, because my brain likes me enough to forget about them!)

10. Real Eagles fans would like something very, very bad to happen to Dhani Jones, who is now with the Saints. After it happens, they would like the perpetrator to recite poetry.

9. Lito Shepard is going to be so bored from people not throwing to his side this year, he's going to start letting his man get open, just to see if the opposing QB notices.

8. Brian Dawkins was the single biggest reason the Eagles made it to the second round of the playoffs last year -- because a team that lost its best offensive and defensive players (McNabb and Kearse), and couldn't stop the run worth a damn, didn't quit. He was also one of the biggest reasons they lost there. If the secondary doesn't perform to its usual lockdown levels, fingers will be pointed his way.

7. Eagle opponents who (a) run the ball up the gut, and (b) throw to the tight end will, as always, prosper. This won't be a problem for the most part, because most NFL coaches are stubborn as mules and only want to win on what their team does best...

6. In his entire life, Corell Buckhalter has never been considered a goal-line back by anyone other than Andy Reid. That's still true.

5. David Akers hasn't been himself for over 2 years, due to injury. It would help immensely if he got back to his old levels, because he used to be worth a few more points a game than the opposing kicker, and Reid has been less aggressive in going for points since he's faltered.

4. The team has not had particularly good special teams coverage for most of the Reid Era. The last good kickoff returner Was JR Reid in the Super Bowl year (which is to say, three years ago).

3. The reason why they'll win 11 games is because the most important units on both sides of the ball (offensive line, defensive secondary) are among the top five in the NFL. The QB combines game management skills (despite Don's habit for back-breaking playoff interceptions, his career numbers are quite good at taking care of the ball) with occasional flashes of game-changing brilliance. The linebackers are the best of the Reid Era, which isn't saying much, but is still helpful. The coaching staff, with the exception of TO Year 2, has always kept the players pulling in the same direction. They don't kill themselves with penalties or turnovers.

Add it all up, and you get -- consistent wins. The finest era in the franchise's history. But there isn't a sense that it's got to happen, or will.

2. The entire story this year will be McNabb. His comeback from injury. His relationship to Reid post-Kolb. His relationship to Kolb. His ability to stay on the field for all 16 games plus the playoffs, and his willingness to test the knee on scrambles. His scrambling ability, post-surgery. His rapport with the fans in Philadelphia, many of whom have never fully been in his corner, simply because he hasn't won the big one. Besides, this town loves the back-up quarterback more than a balding, fattening husband loves driving past the high school.

I'm a homer and a Don fan (see this link for more about that), so I think he's going to spend the year delivering a giant, media-savvy, middle finger to the haters. He's got a great line and RB. He's made more from less at the WR position, and his defense, especially if Kearse is back and effective, is going to be more likely to give him good field position. He's always been a workout monster and fearless about taking contact, so I think he bounces back to a strong percentage of his old self. As for his relationship with Kolb, I think it'll be like Montana-Young -- in other words, he'll hate the guy and try to bury him with wins.

Whether all of that is enough to keep him upright, or overcome the inevitable out-of-nowhere challenges that arise in the conference, or keep the whispers from getting loud... well, this is Philadelphia, and we haven't won a championship since 1982 for a freaking reason. Besides, it's hard to see any NFC team winning the Super Bowl, just like it's hard to see any NL team winning the World Series, or any Eastern Conference NBA team winning the Finals. But you never know.

1. The single biggest benefit of the Reid Era is this: he utterly and completely owns the rest of the division. Lock, stock, barrel -- these are his bitches, and the way Andy has slapped them has been a thing of utter beauty.

This has been lost to many people in the region, especially those that don't remember the crap salad days with a side of vomit dressing, but not to the good citizens of New York, Washington and Dallas. So while we might bemoan our fate as the poor man's Levy Bills, or tear our hair out over Reid's peculiar and consistent weaknesses, or wonder in our darkest moments as to whether this team will ever win it all in our lifetimes... well, I still like where I'm sitting more than the seats of Redskin, Cowboy or Giant fan.

As a lifelong Philly fan, I don't actually expect to root for a champion. I just want to be sure that someone else hurts worse than me.

Redskins fan has to endure the complete cock-tease that is Daniel Snyder and his free-agent acquisitions. He also has the added benefit of seeing his beloved coaching legend (Joe Gibbs) dragged out of retirement and into incompetence. So not only is the present a nightmare, but his memories of the past are being systematically destroyed, too.

I can't imagine how bad that is. Even when the Eagles were hiring people like Ray Rhodes and Rich Kotite, we could just hate them without reservation, because we owed them nothing. For Skins Fan, this has to be like being a Beatles fan that dreams of seeing them reform... and when they do, Yoko is singing lead, and they're playing Nazi Gospel tunes.

Giants fan has to somehow root for one of the biggest collections of egotists, douchebags and general disappointments in their history. Seriously, their big three are Fredo Manning, Mini-TO Burress and White Trash Shockey; if any of these guys were to go to another team and come back to Giants Stadium, the booing would last all day. Combine that with the nasty little whiner that is Tom Coughlin, the overrated and overblown Michael Strahan... I mean, seriously, is there a star on the team that you actually like?

It'd be one thing if they won, but this team had the division on a platter last year, and tossed its cookies so badly, Giants Fan is seriously thinking about giving the reins to Jared "The Hefty Lefty" Lorenzen (because starting a fat rook at QB is just the time-honored way to success). They also now get a steady diet of Brandon Jacobs, whose straight up running style is just begging for a major injury, not to mention consistent fumble problems. He's Eddie George, which sounds good, until you remember that George is out of football.

Finally, Dallas. Oh, Cowboy Fan, you have to know this isn't going to be your year, right? Owens has succeeded in running off his QB and his coach; he is the mayor of Crazy Town now, and if he wants you to wear underwear on the outside and grow mustaches on your ass, you can bet that Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones are going to be figuring out whether it's OK to wear tidy whities after Labor Day and whether the ass hair can be waxed. I can't imagine a worse situation to be an inexperienced quarterback trying to live down an epoch-defying mistake, and that's where Tony Romo is.

So sit back and enjoy your Ipecac Year -- or, better yet, give the whole thing a miss and tune in next spring, where a severely chastised Jones will be introducing new coach and general manager Bill Cowher. Just pray that he can't bring Kordell Stewart with him.

Celtics Courting Reggie

According to the Boston Celtics have reached out to Reggie Miller about a comeback.
Check out the desperation here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Epic Drop: Giants Release Bonds

Today's Epic Drop covers the shocking -- too strong. Surprising? No, not really. OK, noteworthy news out of San Francisco that the Giants have parted ways with home-run king Barry Bonds. It's just a click away.

Oh, and if you're looking for amnesty from Bonds? I hear you, and will deliver. In the words of Great American Stephen Colbert... moving on.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Brady Quinn signs with the Browns.

Now, all that is left is to determine whether his holdout will have irreparably damaged his NFL career, crippled his team, or merely ensured that he'll be a bust. The future is wide open!

The Chinese Are Trying To Kill Us

Hat tip, With Leather. You are looking (or, well, could be looking) at the latest Yellow Peril: gas-powered roller skates that take the user up to 20 miles per hour. The right boot holds the gas, and weighs about 10 pounds. Oh, and the skates have no brakes, of course.

So... let me get this straight. We're putting an explosive fuel under our feet, not balancing the propulsion against the other foot, and setting it up with kids. This will end well. (On the plus side, the YouTube skate trick immolations should be spectacular.) That sound you just heard was 5,000 lawyers doing a happy dance...

As an A's fan, you knew I couldn't let this go

Continuing our Animal Week theme... today's Epic Drop concerns the major rat infestation at Angel Stadium. As always, we're looking on the bright side of things.

Top 11 Advantages of the Angels' Rat Infestation

All those years in California, and I never made it to an Angels game. Phew.

Monday, August 6, 2007

All resemblance to Corey Simon with the Colts is intentional

Before this one sinks into the sands of history, score another one for the Eagles and Andy Reid, who refused to back up the truck to keep Simon a few years ago, when he was younger, less rotund, and didn't smell like a rotting whale.

Simon joins a long line of The Sky Is Falling moments for the Eagles fan base, along with letting Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor walk, letting Jeremiah Trotter go to the Redskins for a few bad years, and drafting McNabb over Ricky Williams. It makes the move to not keep Donte Stallworth oddly reassuring... and a fun little poison pill hope for the Masshole Patriot Fans...

Epic Drop: Don't Believe The Hype: Others Will Win 300

Tonight in Chicago, on a night that put the Cubs a game back in their bad division, saw the 2-to-4 week loss of main man Alfonso Soriano, and the triumphant return of Kerry Wood in the short relief set-up role that he probably should have had from the start of his career, all other stories were eclipsed by the end of the Bataan Death March that was Tom Glavine getting win #300.

Glavine becomes the 23rd pitcher in MLB history, and just the fifth lefty, to achieve bowling immortality. But rather than wonder how a man who spent decades nibbling at corners and winning despite low strikeout numbers could have possibly gotten this far, the prevailing ethos in the perpetually non-present sports media is this -- is he The Last?

The rest is at Epic Carnival. Click here to read on...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mr. McMahon: The King Of All Sports

(Forbes Magazine) STAMFORD, Conn. - WWE Inc. reported 52 percent drop in profits in the second quarter

(Hollywood Reporter) A glitch in Nielsen Media Research equipment led to lower-than-normal ratings for USA Network for five days last week. ... This past week's "Raw" episode showed a dramatic drop from a 3.4 household rating to a 2.5 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

You know, I started down the path on this post of talking about Chris Benoit and the unreal PR moves that the WWE did in the wake of the event, and how I think we're six months away from implosion (defined as cancellation of some of their television properties).

But then it struck me -- the real reason why the WWE is struggling is overexposure, and not of its own product. More so, this -- all sports is the WWE now.

Don't believe me? Let's go to the videotape. Has the WWE:

1) Ever fashioned a "heel turn" that matches Mike Vick in effectiveness?

2) Had a more hissable villain on top of its rankings than Barry Bonds?

3) Seen its champions stripped of their belts in mid-reign in unbelievable scandal, like this year's Tour de France?

4) Created a more biased ref than the NBA's Tim Donaghy?

5) Had its commissioner look like more a bumbling idiot than Bud Selig in his herculean Bonds monitoring?

So it's no wonder Vince McMahon blew the Benoit killings. He's too busy running every other league to make sure his own is OK. I hope they're paying him royalties.

Not All History Is Happy

The body language tells you everything you really need to know about the man. Uncoiling, angry, barely leaving the batters box, a body language built of age and fatigue and arrogance and effort spent by the thimble. If the ball had stayed in, there was no chance of him getting a double out of it; it wasn't so deep that it was an absolute no doubt shot. Bob Gibson would have murdered him for it.

Barry Bonds hit his 755th home run tonight, having gotten the FTT Bump that he so clearly needed. (See last week's post telling the Celtics fans that they had no shot at Garnett for a similar boost.) It happened on a Saturday night, far from prime time on the East Coast, on a night that few people are watching television. ESPN put it on the 2. Idiot commissioner Bud Selig reacted like he had no idea what to do. It all felt small, more or less meaningless, and fitting.

Since Bonds has played nine straight games (a feat that is nearly as "herculean" as Bud Selig following him around for a week and a half), he won't deign to play tomorrow. This sad little circus will move north, where a host of anonymous Washington Nationals pitchers awaits their chance to be the answer to a trivia question... that won't be asked very often.

In the post-game press conference, the media got (Mostly) Good Barry, the one that seems fairly human. As it went on, he seemed to lose patience for the experience, and became terse with his answers, and his giant head seemed to pulse, with visible blood marks over both eyebrows, as it he was about to sprout horns -- which he later explained as "rashes on my head." He also claimed that he will be there for Alex Rodriguez. That'll be special.

Clay Hensley, the pitcher that gave it up... has a positive steroid test in his past. A brave journo asked Bonds for his reaction to that, which he ducked with an air of been there, done that. The next question, I'm sure by complete coincidence, showed his kids on the podium with him. (Ed Note: Hensley was sent to AAA on Sunday. Also fitting.)

Oh, and by the way -- for the second straight night, the Padres won in extra innings, long after Bonds was gone. The loss drops the Giants to 13 back in their division. No one will remember that, because sports is no longer about teams, it's about individuals. Deeply flawed individuals.

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