Friday, November 30, 2012

The First Rule of Cons

Scum Comes In All Sizes
Two quotes for your consid- eration today. The first comes from Indians GM Mark Shapiro, confronting a season ticket holder who asked the relatively straightforward question of why he should renew, since the 2013 team looks a lot like the bad 2012 one...

“I told him if the sole reason, the only reason, for renewing is predicated on us winning, then they shouldn’t come. I stand by that. Baseball has to mean more than just being a fan when you win."

So if you pay a few thousand bucks, do it for the love of the game, Indian Fan. The game is more than enough. You're lucky the Tribe tries at all, really.

And this little tidbit from Jets' linebacker Bart Scott, on the opinions of the paying customers who pay at least $50 a ticket to see him and the other merrymakers perform acts heretofore unseen on a football field:

"At the end of the day, if you made it to be able to put an NFL uniform on, then you are one of the best athletes in the world. The person yelling at you probably was picked last in dodgeball all through high school. So do you care about the opinion of them? No."

Left unsaid, of course, as to why you would care about the opinion of a guy who will be lucky to be walking in his mid '40s, sane in his '50s, and financially solvent in his dotage. Oh, and plays for the laughingstock of the league.

Now, the fun part about both of these quotes is that they are basically saying the same thing, which is... that if you are paying to watch a bad product, you should just shut up and smile while you do it. Since you were stupid enough to buy a ticket in the first place.

And the really awful part about both quotes... is that they are more or less representing the current state of affairs in the media, and the sports world in general.

Boo the team? Some swell near you will text your unruly behavior to the stadium police to have you removed.

Advocate the dismissal of the coach? You must be a radio station level mouth breather who can't possibly know what the national media swells know, which is that this wonderful man is the best you could possibly hope for.

Question authority in any fashion that could be considered disrespectful? Well, you must not be much of a fan of the sport.

And, well, you can hardly expect anything better from them. Every sport has had labor issues and work stoppages and drug scandals and skyrocketing ticket prices, and nothing -- nothing at all -- has dissuaded the raging popularity of just about every league.

So, well... why should Shapiro, or Scott, or any number of other ass clowns that will put their face into a microphone while forgetting the first rule of cons, say anything remotely respectful of the people who indirectly pay their salaries? (The first rule of cons: don't remind the mark that they are being conned.)

Dealers don't respect addicts. Con men don't respect marks.

But there is one saving grace in all of that...

They don't win anything of consequence, either.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Real McCoy Move

The only NFL jersey he's ever worn
As threatened yesterday, here's the Eagle move that you aren't going to like. I don't like it, and I'm advocating it. But this is where this franchise is now, and denying reality is what has got us to the point of rooting for the worst team in the NFC. Buckle up.

If football were baseball... LeSean "Shady" McCoy, the Eagles RB who is already one of the five best to ever play the position in the 75+ year history of the franchise, would be an ace starting pitcher. He'd be one of the guys that would be bid up at ever-increasing speed during any kind of free agency, and as he neared the end of his contract, especially if his team wasn't very good, he'd be traded for a passel of prospects. Especially if he were in a small market.

If football were basketball... McCoy would get (and hopefully sign) a max deal, and the focus of the franchise would be finding players that work best to spotlight his talents, or seeing if he could lobby stars to come join him. He'd get the big touches late, we'd psychoanalyze his mindset and ability to rise to the occasion, and you would know, within a fairly small shadow of a doubt, that the games were going to be all about him for the next 5-10 years. We'd also be entirely OK with that.

But football is not baseball, and it's not basketball. It's a game where your career can, and every week does, change irrevocably for the worse on every snap. And what McCoy does for a living is just about the most dangerous job in sports.

Here are, by yardage, the best RBs in the NFL in 2009, Shady's rookie year.

Chris Johnson
Thomas Jones
Stephen Jackson
Adrian Peterson
Maurice Jones-Drew
Cedric Benson
Ryan Grant
Matt Forte
Ray Rice
Knowshon Moreno

Johnson has been the most erratic RB in the game for the past two years. Jones and Grant are out of the league. Jackson is on the downside of a wonderful career spent in obscurity, and in a timeshare. Peterson is a once in a generation medical marvel who, well, could still explode at any moment.  Jones-Drew and Benson are injured and might be done. Forte and Rice are having down years, and Moreno was deactivated and more or less unused for much of the time since.

I won't go into the top 10 in passing yards, other than to note that everyone on that list is still active and starting, and of the receivers, only Hines Ward is out of the game, though Randy Moss and Steve Smith (not CAR) are mighty close. Such is the nature of being a running back today.

Finally, there's this. The 2013 Eagles are not going to the playoffs.

I can't know that for certain, of course. They will get the benefit of a last-place schedule, a very high draft pick, and some presumed health from the legion of starters that went missing in this death march of a year. (They will also have, presumably, a head coach that hasn't spent the last five years working his owner like Rasputin worked the Czar. Moving on.) You could easily spell out a scenario where they are one of the top six teams in the NFC next year, because life in the NFL is fluid.

Fluid, like the leaderboards for rushing leaders.

And if you want to bet on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl in preseason 2013, you are going to get some downright tasty odds.

Shady is 24 years old as I write this. Lord knows he hasn't been overused; his high mark for touches in a year is 325, last year. Before this year, he had missed 2 games in 3 years, and fumbled 5 times. His fumble issues this year are troubling, but far from a deal breaker. Independent of scheme, there is no running back in the NFL that I would take over him on talent, and outside of the random Twitter fight with Osi Umenyiora, he hasn't been a sideshow off the field. It's been an absolute pleasure to watch him, perhaps the only consistent one in the last two years.

And the chances for him being this good, or even the healthy starter, when this team is good again... are not high enough to run the risk of keeping him around.

What might, say, the Green Bay Packers give up to acquire a back like McCoy -- especially in the off-season, after they get stopped by a team that abandons all pretense of stopping the run? He'd instantly be the best they've had since the youth of Ahman Green. He'd give their screen game sizzle, relegate the slog trio of Cedric Benson, Alex Green and James Starks to spot duty, and give Aaron Rodgers more time to throw on every play-action pass, because the defense would finally have to honor the run. Green Bay goes from pretender to favorite, and with their draft position, they are unlikely to get anyone of McCoy's pedigree and production any time soon. Would they give up a first round pick, or multiple lower round selections?

What would the Falcons do? Michael Turner is fading fast, Jacquizz Rodgers has size issues that probably prevent him from ever holding that job for any real amount of time, and McCoy on the Georgia Dome rug, with those WRs on the outside, would be frankly terrifying for a defense. They've drafted very well for the past few years, but have not been able to get over the hump in the playoffs. Another first round exit might make them do something drastic. Something like getting into a bidding war for McCoy.

What would the Broncos do? McCoy is reasonably skilled at blitz pickup, the ultimate win now upgrade at running back, and would let them get away from Moreno without a second thought. He'd be the best back that Peyton Manning has worked with since the glory days of Edgerrin James, and probably give John Elway flashbacks to Terrell Davis. For a franchise that knows that a Super Bowl rests on the neck of an aging quarterback -- and could easily fail to get there due to their need to rely on Moreno in a key spot this year -- he might be irresistible.

By the way, all of the teams that I just named have rushing attacks that are in the bottom half of the league, and are likely to go to the playoffs, where a crushing failure in the running game would be utterly impossible to ignore.

Now, I'm not advocating that the Eagles trade McCoy for little, or that Bryce Brown, Chris Polk and Dion Lewis can deliver anywhere near to what he's given the team. If they get 2/3rds of the production from a committee, I'd be thrilled, and you should be, too. If you think you aren't going to notice the drop-off, or that it's not going to be monumentally depressing to see McCoy have the RB equivalent of the Reggie White career, where he spend the next 4 to 8 years making people wonder how the Eagles could have ever let this guy go, stop the delusions now.

I'm an Oakland A's fan. Moving your best player is depressing, and you rarely get back full value. The Eagles can, and certainly are most likely to, keep him and look amazed at any idea that he could be moved.

But I keep going back to that 2009 rushing list. Then I think about how much McCoy will have left to give when he's 27 or 28, and the Eagles have put 1,200 more touches on those legs, and might finally be ready to compete for more than the rank of watchable football. I wonder if the magic moves he makes to turn negative plays into positive ones would still happen. Maybe think about how the Rams might have been better served to move Jackson and have a lineman or two for the past five years, or how bad teams stay bad because they try to patch holes, rather than do major foundation work on the lines.

This is a bad, bad franchise. And the next GM needs to change that immediately. The most powerful way will be to move the luxury of a great running back... for the necessity of any position that isn't ruled by short-timers and committees.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go punch myself a few times for recommending that the team trade the only unquestionable good thing about it. Hard. Feel free to join in on that in the comments.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NFL Week 13: Five More Weeks To Make Money On Andy Reid

Cash Me Out, Big Man
Here's something that you won't read in a picks column: I'm really ready for this NFL season to be over. It's already cold and miserable here in Central Jersey, we've already had several snow scares, the local township is irritating me with leaf collection, and I'd rather be watching basketball. In another five weeks, we'll be able to close the books on another NFL season, finally give Coach For God Help Us A Very Finite Amount Of Life Andy Reid the send off he deserves, and get into games that matter. And don't count in fantasy. That's also devoutly wished to be over, too.

But in the interim, there's money to be made, parleys to be bet, and an ever-increasing amount of misery to take delight in. You see, as an Eagles Fan, my season has been over for weeks... which means I've already turned the page on this year. Many of you still have hope, hope that will be extinguished with utter and severe cruelty as we barrel right down into the inevitable... Patriots-Giants Super Bowl. And a national media that celebrates this as if it were the bestus thing ever.

Have I mentioned that I'm really looking forward to this year being over?

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

NEW ORLEANS at Atlanta (-3.5)

Might we actually, finally, have a Thursday night game that isn't a squash or slop? It certainly seems that way, with the improving but desperate Saints trying to prevent the Falcons from clinching the division before December. Everybody knows that the Falcons aren't as good as their record, but they also know that they are tough at home, and the Saints defense has only recently started to resemble football as we know it. This week, I think that the Saint rushing game keeps the chains moving and keeps the Falcons from doing what you have to do to beat Drew Brees -- put him on the ground a lot. And even if the Saints don't win the game, that 3.5 point spread makes me think they will cover.

Saints 31, Falcons 30

JACKSONVILLE at Buffalo (-6)

Can the Jags, and more specifically their passing offense, travel and do things on the road in Buffalo in December? I have faith in the Bills' lack of defense, and the number is too big anyway. Oh, and here's a wonderful Nelson Muntz Ha Ha moment to the Jags' new pass rusher, DE Jason Babin, who actually went down in the draft order after getting released by the Eagles. Enjoy your even farther away from the playoffs existence, you painted mook.

Jaguars 27, Bills 24

Seattle at CHICAGO (-4)

What a bad week for the Seahawks. They lose a winnable road game in Miami, then have their biggest defensive asset, their big and physical secondary, test positive for Adderal. Oof. This week, they go to Chicago, also known as the graveyard of young quarterbacks, for the biggest test of QB Russell Wilson's life. I don't think he's going to fail utterly -- the Niners' Colin Kaepernick film will be something that gives him a number of good ideas -- but the Bears are going to do more on offense, too, especially once the game gets late. The dirty little secret of the Seahawk defense is that they fade late, and will do so again this week. One of these teams is going to the playoffs, and it won't be the loser.

Bears 26, Seahawks 20

Indianapolis at DETROIT (-4.5)

I'd love to pull the trigger for the Colts here, but they haven't traveled well, and the extra days of rest for the Lions matter a lot at this point in the season. Detroit's finally found a quality WR2 in rookie Ryan Broyles , and while their running game isn't as solid as it might be with a fully healthy Mikel LeShoure, it will still be able to do a lot against a Colts team that's never been very good at stopping that. Too much for QB Andrew Luck to overcome.

Lions 31, Colts 24

Minnesota at GREEN BAY (-9.5)

Well, so much for the Packers' 5-game winning streak. They stunk on ice against the (sigh) freshly ascendant Gallant Giants on SNF, to the point where head coach Mike McCarthy threw in the towel and pulled QB Aaron Rodgers rather than let him get beat down late. This week, the Packer defense snarls a bit in a bounce-back game, the offense gets WR Greg Jennings to add balance to both sides of the field, which might even open some lanes for the running game. Add it all up, with the home field advantage, and I think this one gets out of hand. Fast.

Packers 38, Vikings 17

HOUSTON at Tennessee (+5.5)

Extra days, extra days, extra days. The Texans desperately needed them after two overtime games in five days, and the really impressive thing about that stretch was how the defense stood up late. Maybe this is just a side effect of watching the gutless Eagles for the past few years, but when a team misses a long figgie (partly as a result of their head coach, the ticking time bomb that is Gary Kubiak, managing the game as if long figgies never fail), they don't turn around and stone the opposition that's moved the ball all day. Serious props for that, really. As for this game, the Titans are horrible and the Texans want the bye, so I'm really happy to get this number and extra days of prep.

Texans 30, Titans 20

Carolina at KANSAS CITY (+2.5)

I've watched way too much Chief Football the past few weeks, and I have to say... this isn't *really* a 1-10 team. On defense, they try; on offense, they move the ball, can run it, have some pieces. Now, their coaching is a tire fire, and their QBs aren't even CFL-caliber, but they still should have a win or two more than this , and while Kansas City Fan is disgruntled to the point of scary... at least they still come to games and care. So, um, *both* of these teams are better than the Eagles. Seriously.

Anyway, this week the Panther defense fails to catch the handful of INTs that they always fail to catch, and the Chiefs keep QB Cam Newton down. And if you watch this game, you have issues. Even if you are a fan of either team. But you knew that already, right?

Chiefs 17, Panthers 13

SAN FRANCISCO at St. Louis (+7)

If you want the real reason why QB Colin Kaepernick has the gig despite the overwhelming won-loss record of former starter Alex Smith, just think about the last time the Niners did not win a game... the home effort against the Rams that ended in a tie. Jeff Fisher did everything possible in that game, but his kicker let him down (same as David Akers did to the Niners, of course), and since then, his offense has just gone backwards. Meanwhile, the Niners look like the world's last best chance to stop Giants - Patriots 3, mostly because Kaepernick gives the offense more dynamism and the defense more life... all while keeping the defense off the field. There's a lot to like here, and the tie a couple weeks ago makes the possibility of a letdown game remote at best.

Niners 27, Rams 17

New England at MIAMI (+9)

Historically, the Patriots have trouble in this game, and the Dolphins always get up for it... and I like the Dolphins running game to keep things grounded for a little while... and the Dolphin passing game has been good enough to make the back door cover a possibility... but heavens, the Patriots are terrifying right now. All while making sure that TE Aaron Hernandez, the guy that I targeted in my fantasy league, spends the season injured and/or under-utilized. Have I mentioned how much I'm looking forward to this season being over?

Patriots 31, Dolphins 24

Arizona at NY JETS (-4.5)

Bounce back game for the Jets against a team that actually has a worse quarterback situation then they do, and the Cardinals rarely travel well for a 10am PST game. The over for this game should be around 20, I think, but QB Mark Sanchez has made what passes for a career by having efficient games when the expectations are minimal. The biggest danger for the Jets might be the Cardinal special teams... or, of course, their own fans.  (NSF Humanity...)

Does it say something that I long for a team with fans that care enough to rain down profanity on their team? Yes. Yes, I think it does.

Jets 24, Cardinals 13

Tampa Bay at DENVER (-7)

Crusher of a loss for the Bucs last week at home to the Falcons, and now they get to go cross-country and face a stacked Bronco team that won't even have the letdown excuse, seeing how long they had to sweat to get past the Chiefs last week in KC. HC John Fox dusted off RB Knowshon Moreno to Cedric Benson-esque effect last week, just to murder millions honks who went for promising rookie RB Ronnie Hillman; more importantly, he prevented the team from having any kind of development, this year, from a guy with a dramatically higher ceiling. Well, that's what Fox does, and since he's living in fear of a Peyton Manning injury, I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised that he went for the D+ pass protector over the D-. (And yes, I had Hillman. GAHHHH.)

Back to actual relevance to the pick... the Bucs don't defend the pass, don't travel very well, and just had their hearts ripped out. Denver wants a bye; after this game, they will be one week closer to it.

Broncos 31, Bucs 20

CLEVELAND at Oakland (-1.5)

Not getting this line, folks. Oakland has been terrible for a while now, with an Eagles-esque pass defense and an offense that doesn't do much until they are several touchdowns down. Cleveland has been close in a lot of games, hit the Steelers into submission in a fairly impressive win last week, and actually have a defense that gets to the quarterback without it being classified as a happy accident. Plus, Oakland gets back RB Darren McFadden this week, which means they'll probably force feed a guy who hasn't done anything this yer twenty unproductive carries. I'm as confident as I can be in taking a 2-win team on the road here.

Browns 24, Raiders 20

CINCINNATI at San Diego (+1)

Another high confidence pick. How the Chargers even come to work after giving up that ridiculous fourth and forever play to Ray Rice to lose to the Ravens at home in overtime last week, I don't know... and the Bengals aren't even all that bad. They might even find themselves in a playoff game, a place that the Chargers aren't getting within sniffing distance of this year. Plus, there's also the fact that QB Philip Rivers seems to be doing everything in his power to get HC Norv Turner fired, mostly by committing ever more egregious turnovers.

Bengals 31, Chargers 24

Pittsburgh at BALTIMORE (NL)

There's no line in this game because we don't know whether or not the Steelers will have QB Ben Roethlisberger, but even if he were in the lineup, I'd be looking to the Ravens to lock down the division this week. Baltimore isn't really the club they've been historically, with real troubles running the ball and the usual inconsistencies from QB Joe Flacco... but home field matters in this matchup, their defense is starting to come together, and the Steelers just aren't young or healthy enough to pull this one off. It's also more than a little telling that their skill players keep turning the ball over when you hit them hard; that sort of things starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Especially in the red zone, where the Raven defense still look like their old selves.

Ravens 24, Steelers 16

Philadelphia at DALLAS (-10)

This is going to be a rare moment of porn for Cowboy Fan under Jerry Jones, in that the Eagles are going to be down by double figures in the first quarter and never threaten. Don't expect a repeat of last week's reasonable running game; Dallas has seen those gimmicky direct snap runs and RB Bryce Brown isn't going to come as any kind of a surprise to them. QB Nick Foles should have been picked three times in last week's game, and might be the worst QB I've ever seen at the NFL level for telegraphing throws. The fact that NBC didn't flex this game out of prime time is, frankly, an insult to America; we'd have been so much better off with Steelers-Ravens, Colts-Lions or Seahawks-Bears. I'm really hoping they get the blowout ratings turdburger they deserve. (Also, the Eagle defense is DOA, and fantasy gold for opposing QBs.)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 17

NEW YORK at Washington (+2.5)

Not getting this line, either. A win on Thanksgiving in Dallas seems to be getting everyone back on board the RG3 Train, but what the Giants did to the Packers on SNF was better, and against an opponent that's probably a wild-card or better team. (Also, Dallas has no home field advantage, so the road part of that win isn't that big of a deal.) Look for the Giants to throw effectively, their DL to eventually control the game, and Redskin Fan to wonder if their franchise will ever be able to get enough good teammates around their QB to make him anything more than a fantasy asset. (Short answer: no.)

Giants 31, Redskins 23

Last week: 8-7-1

Season: 88-82-3

Career: 631-611-29

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The 2013 Eagles Will Draft...

Johnny Football's Enabler
As an Eagles Fan (yes, still! Despite everything!), it's time to look at the standings -- the only ones that matter right now. Draft order. Here's your top four of awful, with the Eagles having already taking care of the rest of the NFC...

1-10 Chiefs: Carolina, at Cleveland, at Oakland, Indianapolis, at Denver.

2-9 Jaguars: at Buffalo, New York Jets, at Miami, New England, at Tennessee.

3-8 Browns: at Oakland, Kansas City, Washington, at Denver, at Pittsburgh.

3-8 Eagles: at Dallas, at Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Washington, at New York Giants

First, let's talk about this draft. It's supposed to suck. since the top QBs (Geno Smith of West Virginia and Matt Barkley of USC) have clear flaws; Smith is probably overrated from that one perfect defense-free day he had earlier this year, and Barkley bears the stigma of coming from the school that has produced as many high draft flops at QB as any other school you can name. (I don't know squat about college football, and even I know that USC QBs are hateful.) But when you have as bad a team as the Eagles have, a top five pick meas an immediate new starter at any number of places (I dream of a stud T, others would rather have a CB, but I'd gladly take either), and we are in Tear Down Mode here; one high pick and/or magic QB is not going to make this team into a real contender. A foundation needs to be built over 2-3 years, and this is not likely to be the only very high draft pick that's coming this way.

So let's get into the trash.

The amazing thing about the Chiefs is that three, and maybe even four, of those games are actually winnable. KC still has a defense that tries and a top-flight RB in Jamaal Charles, and since I kind of enjoy hurting myself and own Dwayne Bowe in fantasy, I've actually seen more of their recent games than anyone should. They led the Steelers, were in it for a long time against the Broncos, still have a home field advantage, and might have won more than one game had they ever gotten their turnover problem under control. It's not out of the question that they could win some games, and the magic of this draft is that there's no Suck For Luck going on. If they finish with just one win, I'll be amazed.

Jacksonville has shown more fight in the past two weeks than we've seen from them all year, and it coincides with the ascension of QB Chad Henne. He's clearly playing for a starting job in 2013, and the Jags aren't going to lay down for anyone. I think they get their third win either this week or next, and wouldn't be shocked if they get to four. Besides, they've lost so much recently that tanking for position is not going to be appealing at all.

Cleveland has the tiebreaker edge on the Eagles thanks to that Week 1 slopfest loss that really should have given us all more of a clue about how this year was going to go; if the teams played now, it's obvious who would win, since the Eagle defense has moved into Historically Generous Mode to QBs. The schedule isn't kind -- it' s hard to see them winning any of those last three games -- but Oakland might be the worst team in the league right now on the field, and someone's got to lose that Kansas City game.

Finally, the Eagles. Um, they aren't winning another game this year. I'd be amazed if they are within 10 points of any of these teams. That's certainly how I'm going to bet.

Now, is there a real benefit to moving up? Of course. Smith isn't really necessary here, so the first pick isn't all that necessary, and while Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o would be exciting (imagine, an Eagles team with a stud LB -- I'm all a flutter here), he's also not the biggest need. The third pick might get you Star Lotuleli (NT from Utah), which isn't going to be the move with Fletcher Cox actually looking good. Which leaves us with the two guys that really work here: Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel or Alabama CB DeMarcus Milliner.

Personally, I want Joeckel, in that I have the dream of having a good line again quickly with a return to health from Jason Peters and Jason Kelce, teaming up with Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. (Notably absent: 2011 bust Danny Watkins. What a waste.) Put that line together, run the ball 30 times a game, and you might resemble a football team sooner rather than later, especially if the head coach has any idea at all in regards to defense. And Joeckel is large, fast, mean, used to playing at a high tempo and in front of a mobile QB. There's nothing there that this team doesn't need in spades. Milliner is a big and physical corner who, unlike the current starters, actually shows an interest in tackling, and plays for a team with a far better defense than the Eagles. In that Alabama cares, and hits. But I digress.

Oh, and there's one last thing the team needs to do. But you aren't going to like it. Check back tomorrow for that.

So, in summing up... the Eagles currently hold the fourth pick in the 2013 draft. They are going to get a very good player with that pick. Now, the trick is to make sure the pick is as high as possible... and that the GM is actually competent or not. But I have hope -- because there is no way that 2013 can be as bad to watch as 2011, or 2012. Bring it on!

Top 10 reasons why the Eagles cut Jason Babin

Man Has Places To Go
10) After watching Vinny Curry whiff on a sack in the MNF game, realized that a younger and faster player might eventually learn how not to do that

9) Believe it or not, the Wide Nine hasn't really worked out that well for the Eagles

8) Old, ineffective and expensive isn't the best combination of on 3-8 team

7) Really want to see him finish the year on a contender and actually trying

6) No longer have a need for a guy to run past the ball carrier on his way to a magical spot, ten yards upfield and away from the crowds, where he can be alone with his thought

5) Want to spread out the perp walks over the next two months, so the fan base can savor each one

4) Did not want to see him lead the team in sacks when he's, well, horrible

3) Can't have any behavior problems in the locker room for this all-important stretch drive

2) Like most of the fan base, had mostly forgotten that he was still on the roster, so this is more of a "forgot to do earlier", rather than a "have to do now" move

1) Didn't want to be on the hook for (a) the rest of his contract or (b) the inevitable post-career psychiatrist bills from helping him get over the mean, awful, ill-tempered, vile and true things that Eagle Fan said to him

A New Era Of Eagles Fandom

Something something, something something
Time was, an Eagle team that was as bad as this one would have been booed out of the stadium.

They weren't. Not even when they fell behind 14-3, with the defense giving up points in ways that redefined the term easy.

Time was, an Eagle coach that called a fourth and inches play with a slow-developing run to the running back, rather than a simple sneak with your tall, young and physical QB, would hear the deafening hatred of people who, frankly, looked and sounded like they were dangerously unhinged and bereft of other things in their life.

Tonight, no so much. At all. Honestly, I've heard nastier crowds, and more intense ones, at high school games.

Time was, a back-breaking fumble from a promising rookie RB in the midst of his breakout professional game would make me feel a little bad for him. Tonight, I pretty much expected each mistake, given how fundamentally unsound he was with the ball.

Finally, I don't really ever remember rooting for the worst team in the conference. I'm sure there were this bad before -- after all, that Donovan McNabb pick was pretty high -- but, well, one of the pleasures of age is that bad seasons all tend to blur together. Bobby Hoying or Mike McMahon, either Detmer... couldn't tell them apart in a lineup right now. Blissfully.

Tonight, Eagle Fan did something I don't really remember them ever doing before: they just didn't give a crap. There were no chants for Reid's dismissal, no sustained boos, no intensity at any point, really. Even the touchdowns by Bryce Brown, a relatively strong positive for the club's future in that it gives them trade chips if they decided to just tank 2013 as well and move Shady McCoy for picks... was more of a meh. It was the first preseason game we've ever seen in Philadelphia in November.

By the way, not that this is a trope you will ever hear in the national media, this was the strongest point yet over how playing in Philadelphia has been forever changed by the move to the Linc from the Vet. The intensity, for good or ill, is gone. The fans are looking at smartphones, stuffing their faces, or just, as the oceans of empty seats showed, not there. After 1.5 years of this, there's nothing you can do to make these people care anymore.

Because, well, Coach For Way Too Much Of Anyone's Life Andy Reid hasn't just lost the locker room. Or the local media, or talk radio, or the defense, or the owner.

He's lost the town.

We care more about draft position than wins.

So Reid is, finally and for the last time... the right coach for this team.

For five more weeks.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Eagles - Panthers Takeaways

Weak effort, weaker team
> DeSean Jackson bettered his last game on the first play, which didn't get a first down

> Bryce Brown kept the crowd from booing for the first minute of play, which makes him this year's MVP

> Jeremy Maclin bettered his last game, yada yada yada

> Brent Celek held on after contact and celebrated like he had never done that before, which, well, might be true

> Nick Foles really should have been picked in the red zone on several instances, but the Panthers then remembered they were coached by old friend Sean McDermott

> The Eagles scored first in the only way know how -- disappointingly

> I've heard louder Eagle crowds in preseason, in the fourth quarter, then the first quarter of this game tonight

> It was nice of the Eagles to put Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on WR Steve Smith, so that we weren't reminded of how terrible CB Nnamdi Asomugha is quite so much

> Someone named Gary Brandige got more open than any anonymous white man has ever been, for a touchdown, on yet another LB/S failure

> Prolonged exposure to Mat McBriar is making me unrealistically nostalgic for Sav Rocca

> The longer I watched Todd Bowles' defense, the more I'm convinced that Juan Castillo was the best coach on this team

> The Brandon LaFell touchdown was like Carolina was playing 11 on 7, and gave us our first shot of the night of Eagle Fans wearing brown paper bags

> Foles is seriously trying to get Celek killed, which might be, finally, a positive aspect to his play

> Brown is doing what he can to remain in the NFL more than 1.5 years from now, which is more than we can say for 90% of the roster

> Dion Lewis actually had a touch, just in time for DeSean Jackson to escape to the locker room

> Unlike the Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie showed up tonight, and showed about as much interest in tackling

> I liked Coach For Way Too Much Of The Rest Of Your Life Andy Reid settling for the figgie try down 14-3, since it gave K Alex Henery a chance to break the emptiest record in franchise history

> For a guy who shows up on any number of highlight reels for the offense, opponents really seem to dislike S Kurt Coleman

> Howard Mudd's scheme makes sure that the Eagles can only hire castoffs from a handful of teams, which seems like a bit of a flaw, really

> Brown's first touchdown was downright manly, and made me open my eyes in something approaching shock or interest, which is to say, it was borderline miraculous

> You have to admire Reid's ability to take the positive taste away from the Brown score by going for two and putting it in the hands of Foles and the offensive line (FAIL)

> Derek Landri reminded everyone that he's on the roster, and that big plays from the DT are, in fact, possible

> PR Jamaris Johnson had a really nice return of a really terrible punt, which added to whole preseason feel of this game

> The Eagles actually called running plays in this game, on third and short, even, which shows that Reid has given up and has no faith at all in Foles

> Foles might be the most INT-friendly QB I've ever seen, and I watched Bobby Hoying, who would give you a pick if you just looked mean

> Panthers QB Cam Newton converted a third down by running at half speed

> The Carolina STs are so bad, they made the Eagles look competent

> DE Trent Cole was held, allowing Newton to scramble for 14 and a first without first making Cole look old, small and slow

> Newton's leap for a touchdown was physically impressive, and in its own special way, indicative of a short NFL career

> Fletcher Cox got hurt, just in case you still wanted some reason to watch this team

> The best shotgun snaps to Foles tonight were intercepted by Brown

> Brown set a new rookie rushing record, taking Corell Buckhalter off the books; sadly, this means that his career is doomed to suffer multiple horrific knee injuries

> On cue, Brown then fumbled, which was a big play, seeing how the Eagles were getting very close to Figgie Number Four

> Newton made Vinnie Curry whiff on the first noteworthy play of his regular season career, which is all you can hope for from a second round pick in the Reid Era, really

> Eventually, someone will just throw the ball 50 yards downfield, twice a quarter, to puling WRs and average 200 yards a game in penalty yardage

> Mike Patterson got a big sack on Newton, which is a nice end to his career

> Brown's second fumble of the night was surprising, in that it reminded Eagles Fans that they could, actually, still be disappointed

> Brandon Boykin and Coleman each missed Newton in space, which is kind of hard, given that he's twice their size

> Mychal Kendricks successfully covered Steve Smith on a big third down in the red zone, prompting Smith's immediate retirement

> On fourth and inches from the Panther 40 with 8:53 left, down two points, with a 6'-5" QB, Reid went for a slow developing run that, surprise surprise, did not work

> There is no truth to the rumor that when the opposition needs a big play, they just look to see where Asomugha and Coleman are lined up, and throw it that way

> You don't often see third and nine shovel passes work, but that's just how special this defense is

> On three straight plays, the Eagle defense was offsides, which is hard to do at the Pop Warner level, really

> Newton ran in another touchdown while professionally avoiding a fit of the giggles

> Graham Gano, just brought in on the strength of his Redskins Kicker Pedigree, missed the PAT to keep this a one possession game

> Brandon Boykin's big return and subsequent fumble made me laugh out loud, but more importantly, it helps to secure a better draft pick, and further ensures Reid gets out of town

> Kendricks held for a first down at the four minute mark, just to ruin any good feeling you might have about him, either

> On third and four with the last chance to make the game meaningful, the Eagle DBs picked each other for the kitten-soft first down

> Eagle Fan doesn't even care enough about this team to chant for Reid's removal, throw batteries, or remain in the stadium during winnable games

> The fact that this team will be in prime time again next week is proof, not that you needed it, that the national media hates Philly Fan

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Top 10 reasons why Fireman Ed quit the Jets

How Will They Live Without Him
10) Does not feel that he'd have the support fellow Jets fans in his new persona as Fireman Josephine

9) Tired of not just the pain and suffering from watching Mark Sanchez, but also wearing his jersey

8) Decided to do something more fun with his time than watching Jets football, so he's going into noodling for catfish while covered in leeches

7) Just can't stand the constant hot, hot loving that being the biggest Jets fan brings you

6) Someone finally told him that most of his fame was ironic

5) Got a better offer from the New Jersey Generals

4) Like many things involving the NY Jets, got cut back following the Mitt Romney defeat

3) For the first time ever at a game, someone was mean to him

2) Realized that with the Jets' defeat on Thursday fading and the Giants playing on Sunday night, the team needed him, one last time, to get them on the tabloid backsheets somehow

1) Finally realized that leading chants that prove that everyone in the crowd can spell a little is, well, kind of incredibly stupid and pointless

Top 10 NFL Week 12 Takeaways

Batch pics come in black & white
10) Denver coach John Fox started Knowshon Moreno, who had been inactive for much of 2012, because he likes to reward lifelong slugs with starts against 1-10 teams

9) The way this Carson Palmer trade has worked out is basically porn for Bengal Fan

8) Shockingly, knowing the offense really well doesn't seem to help very much when you have the talent and age issues of Charlie Batch, or fumble-tastic teammates

7) Fox broke away from Bears-Vikings in the national feed when they remembered that the Vikings start Christian Ponder at QB, then thought about switching back when they remembered that the Bears offense is almost as comical

6) Miami's sprinkler system went on in the middle of the third quarter on a sunny day, ending Twitter in a fit of wildly original Buffalo Wild Wings jokes

5) How the Chiefs franchise ever got to a point where the quarterbacks were Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, which is to say two guys that shouldn't even start in the CFL, is basically the work of performance artists

4) Cleveland got an incredible break on what should have been a late fumble against RB Trent Richardson, which is the first lucky thing to happen for Cleveland Sports in the past five years

3) Showing no shame, the NFL not only scheduled and allowed Jags-Titans and Cards-Rams to play, but called them divisional rivalries

2) Mike Smith chose a long field goal attempt from a shaky kicker, rather than take an easy punt that would have iced the game, because he was betting the over

1) The Chargers lost in OT after giving up a 4th and forever, which really upset their six remaining fans who can still feel pain at this point in the Norv Turner Era

Top 10 NFL Week 12 Ad Questions

Kris Likes The Tingle
10) Is there anything unseemly about how tightly Santa is gripping that Norelco razor betwixt his nethers?

9) If you were trying to show how your tablet computer was cutting edge, would you demo it with a tired animated movie franchise involving extinct animals?

8) Do Jaguar owners usually park their cars inside snowdrifts?

7) If your medication has the side effect of an elephant following you, isn't it, well, LSD?

6) How much can Cam Newton's sophomore slump be blamed on his need to provide content for his new Windows phone?

5) How disappointed will the Visa contest winners be when they meet John Madden and discover that he really doesn't give a damn about video games, other than the size of the endorsement check?

4) Did LeBron James teach his children to laugh like junior versions of the Penguin from the '60s Batman show?

3) How perverted is AT&T to try to make Grandma fast?

2) Are the daughters of Honda owners required to be wildly obnoxious? (Whistles, looks around, whistles some more)

1) If you actually remember individual Whoppers from Burger King, how do you keep from putting your head in the oven from the profound sadness that is your life?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The FTT Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Four kinds of smart
John Lasseter is the head of Pixar, and probably the biggest reason why they were acquired by Disney; the biggest reason why he did the deal, it seems, is to green light more stuff that he likes. The most immediate benefit of this was some spectacular Japanese animation (Hayao Miyazaki, with "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle" are the wins), and now, there's a new American piece out that's genuinely great. It's "Wreck-It Ralph."

Beyond an excellent voice cast, exceptional animation and engaging plotline, what WIR hs going for it is that most amazing of elements: an original premise. The idea behind WIR is that, kind of like "Monsters, Inc.", there is a sentient life at the arcade once the lights go out. Ralph is the Donkey Kong-ish villain who longs for more after 30 years of gettign tossed off buildings by the hero, so he leaves his game and goes to others in a quest to change his fortune. And while that sounds a bit thin for a premise, it's really not -- because it works for the kids on a slapstick and cartoon level, for the 20s due to the recognizable voice actors, and for the 'rents (that'd be, well, me) who truly appreciate Q*Bert references.

What this means from a visual standpoint is that the animators have all kinds of challenges; everything from 8-bit retro arcade games to high-def Halo-esque games to hyper-kinetic Japanese cart racing and more, and they ace all of it. Which then leads to the voice acting. The leads are all recognizable (John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch) and just natural. In reading up on the movie while doing this review, I caught the tidbit that it was actually recorded with the leads in the room with each other, which lead to improvisation that was actually used; it's a small point, but lends well to the pacing. And, well, also to the casting, since it's unlikely that less-intelligent actors could have improved on things. I'd also like to give props to Alan Tudyk, who I loved in "Firefly", for channeling the voice of the Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland" (the original Disney version, naturally) in his work.

In short, WIR is that rarest of things: the kids movie that works for everyone in the family. The Shooter Wife and I were rewarded and not bored. The Eldest was entertained and appreciative of the original plot. And the Shooter Youngest, while briefly scared by the more grown-up game footage, loved the cart sequences and the ending. There's also far more heart in this than you might imagine, especially in dealing with someone like Silverman, who's made her money in life by being anything but sincere and heartfelt.

The movie's done major box office, and we're late to the party, so you don't really need to go to make the point... but go anyway, especially if you have kids, for the simple fact that encouraging people who make this kind of work is a good idea. Maybe they'll make more. And with that, I'm off to go find a retro simulation of Q*Bert, and maybe price some consoles to put in the Man Cave...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jets - Patriots Thanksgiving Game Takeaways

> I admire how the Jets subtly equated rooting for the Patriots with being a fan of Hurricane Sandy

> Cris Collingsworth savors pre-snap hard counts like other men savor wine

> Mark Sanchez's first INT inside the 25 could only be called Vick-esque

> I couldn't write fast enough in real-time to cover the various Jet calamities that caused this game to get out of hand, but thankfully, the clown music video posted above got it all

> Sanchez running into the butt of his own teammate, then falling down and fumbling for a Patriots touchdown, is the 2012 Jets in microcosm

> It was nice of the Patriots to end this so early that everyone in America was able to get a lot of sleep

> Up 35-3, the Patriots come out empty backfield and no huddle, because Bill Belichick owns all of his offensive players in his fantasy league

> Al Michaels actually said "Anything to keep an audience at this point" at 10:31pm, in what has to be considered truth

> This game had far more in common with torture porn than football, especially when the Patriot defense made a 4th and goal stand from their own 1

> The 14 guys in America who did not kill themselves after starting their Jets defense in fantasy were consoled by the third quarter safety

> If you owned a Patriots skill player who didn't score a touchdown in this game, it's just bad luck, really

> Why the Jets don't just invent an injury for Sanchez and run Greg McElroy out there, I'll never know

> I guess there is a worse team to root for than the Eagles after all

Top 10 NFL Thanksgiving Ad Questions

Also, Exploitation
10) In exchange for letting them pre-board, does American Airlines get to exploit military personnel in their ads?

9) How many cars does Acura expect to sell by hiring a hectoring asshat who is more or less universally despised?

8) Hasn't Detroit suffered enough without being forced to claim ownership of Kid Rock?

7) Does the NFL Play 60 program exist to promote unrealistic expectations and obnoxious behavior in children?

6) Hasn't Pepsi hurt America's health enough by now, without having to resort to sponsoring terrible NFL team anthems?

5) How much giggling happens at the Kay Jewelers offices when they upsell diamonds that look like feces by calling them "chocolate"?

4) Are you as surprised as I am that Garmin still has enough money for Christmas ads, seeing how their entire reason for being is now a default smartphone app?

3) Can anyone explain to me why Toshiba wants to relate their products to exploding aircraft?

2) Are engagement rings from Jared so obviously tacky that they can be spotted from distance by abhorrent stewardesses?

1) Is there a single more regrettable development in recent American life than Black Friday, and the inevitable race to the bottom that is Thanksgiving Night sales?

Lions - Texans Thanksgiving Day Game Takeaways

Dee Troit Foot Ball
> It's nice to see Ndamukong Suh keep up the Thanks- giving tradition of kicking an opponent and getting torched in the media

> My holiday is not good until I heard the officiating crew express their wishes, or until I see the Lions lose to a suspiciously good team

> Jim Nantz and Phil Simms have clearly never seen a QB throw the ball sidearm before

> Owen Daniels celebrated a touchdown by doing pantomime that was not worthy of a homeless Frenchman

> Jason Hanson scoring points on Thanksgiving dates back to the 19th century, but in a winning effort, not so much

> The entire existence of being a Lions Fan can be encapsulated by the Justin Forsett touchdown that only happened because of Jim Schwartz throwing a challenge flag

> The Texans have played two overtime games in five days, which means they are more tired than anyone who has ever been tired

> In case you were still wondering, JJ Watt is a killing machine

> Tony Scheffler showed, repeatedly, why he's a much better idea at TE for the Lions than Brandon Petitgrew

> Phil Simms is very concerned with the fatigue of everyone involved in this game, because everything about Phil Simms is tired

> Neither of these defenses were able to guard that Johnson guy

> If you get off on watching coaches blow overtime games through overly conservative play calling for long field goal attempts, this was porn-tastic

> If you didn't watch this game, you missed over 4 hours of what the kids call LOL FAIL

NFL Week 12: Hide, Shut Up, And Give Thanks

Woodstock, You Filthy Cannibal
This Thanks- giving, I will likely do the following: sleep late, sneak downstairs to the Cave, turn on the first of three football games and spend much of the next 12 hours ducking the in-laws and clouds of estrogen. There will be anywhere from 4 to 8 people in the house, and of these people... I will be the only person who cares about football. Or writes about it, or pays the bills, or has a spouse that is kind enough to give me space for such things, especially when there's a gaggle of direct relations in close proximity.

And for this, I am intensely thankful. And probably won't say anything about it, at least not directly, for fear of jinxing it.

Finally, there's this: work has been an absolute crushing mess for the past three weeks, which is just what happens in the online advertising game, when you try to get stuff out for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas season. So if these picks seem a little punchy, or withdrawn, or lacking in the usual pep and zazz... well, I'm just operating on very little sleep, or sense. Which means that they are *bound* to crush and pay off big.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

HOUSTON at Detroit (+3)

When it comes to the holidays, I'm a traditionalist: give me the same dishes, do the same stuff, and let me wonder why the NFL continues to insist that an annual look into the sad netherworld of Detroit Football is required, with some triumphant visitor making the game dull as dishwater by 3pm, then scoring some late points to make the game seem more interesting than it actually was. I realize that Detroit has weapons now and some athletes on defense, and made the playoffs last year, and the Texans gave up a ton of points and yards to the awful Jags last week... but, dammit, tradition! And a terrible Lions secondary, and a turnover-prone Lions team.

Texans 31, Lions 24

Washington at DALLAS (-3)

Am I getting sucked into the celebrity of Robert Griffin The Sexy? Probably, and as bad as the Redskins have been on defense this year, they usually pick it up a bit in rivalry games. But three points is just one too few for the cover, and Dallas has a fan base to suck into thinking they have a chance, just like every Thanksgiving. See, I told you I was a traditionalist.

Cowboys 24, Redskins 20

NEW ENGLAND at NY Jets (+7)

This series is either a blowout or an ugly nail biter; if you are betting the cover, it's because you think the Jets are going to make mistakes on offense that will blow the game open. I have a hard time imagining the Jets playing a clean game two weeks in a row, and QB Mark Sanchez is more comfortable on the road than at home. Besides, when in doubt, bet on a terrible game for a national audience.

Patriots 34, Jets 19

Minnesota at CHICAGO (NL)

There's no line for this game because no one knows it QB Jay Cutler will play, and the longer he's out, the better he looks. Back-up QB Jason Campbell, behind this line, is just meat on a stick, a festival of weak blocking and check downs that puts no defense in bad situations. Under Cutler, they resemble a functioning unit, which is usually all that the Bears need to get by. That's also why I'm going with them here, because I just can't see the Vikings getting credible QB play on the road.

Bears 20, Vikings 13

Oakland at CINCINNATI (-9.5)

Vengeance Game for Bengal Fan! And also one more opportunity to sneak up on the Steelers and Ravens. The Bengals really aren't all that good -- the defense is one of those turnover, sack or huge play outfit that loses starch quickly, and they are turnover-prone on offense -- but they won't have to be to slap the Raiders around.

Bengals 31, Raiders 20

PITTSBURGH at Cleveland (NL)

Charlie Batch is back, and will have his vengeance! Or, um, manage the game just a teensy bit better than Byron Letfwich, who was lost in the SNF loss to the Ravens. He'll face the usual struggling mutts from the banks of the Ohio, and while I think that the Steelers are in real trouble unless they get healthy... but the Browns are a team to get healthy against.

Steelers 17, Browns 13

Buffalo at INDIANAPOLIS (-3.5)

The Bills are coming off a win, have extra days, and are facing a Colts team that got turned into road kill by the Patriots last week. But the Colts have come back from worse in their home dome, and I'm not buying the idea that the Bills' defense is going to come back to respectability this year. It's also telling that the Colts are starting to develop additional weapons.

Colts 27, Bills 20

DENVER at Kansas City (+10.5)

Even on his worst day, the Broncos under Peyton Manning should be able to score two touchdowns against the Chiefs. And on their best, I'm not sure that the Chiefs can score more than a field goal, especially now that WR Dwayne Bowe is banged up, and they are playing full-blown QB Roulette. Besides, I think RB Ronnie Hillman is going to be fresh and have a breakout game, because RB Willis McGahee just isn't all that great.

Broncos 31, Chiefs 10

SEATTLE at Miami (+3)

Time for the Seahawks to finally put it together on the road and on the East Coast? They've done it more than you think in recent years (remember that shocker in the Meadowlands against the Giants?), and the Dolphins haven't played in a good game in a month. Part of the reason why is that RB Reggie Bush has turned back into a guy that goes down on first contact, and the Dolphin WRs have always been suspect. Not a good mix to have against what might be the best secondary in the NFL.

Seahawks 20, Dolphins 16

ATLANTA at Tampa Bay (NL)

Not quite getting this line. Yes, the Falcons are a bit of a paper tiger, and the Bucs have slipped into the playoff picture and have home field advantage... but don't the Bucs still have a terrible secondary, whereas the Falcons are seriously due for a big bounce-back game from QB Matt Ryan's 5 INT-fest last week? This will be a fine game for your fantasy league players, but at the end of it, it will be yet another Falcons win, leading to a too-easy division win and home seed. Try not to be too surprised when they rest too many players down the stretch, then come out flat for their playoff loss against The Hot Team. (Inevitably, the Giants. Life is not fair.)

Falcons 34, Bucs 31

Tennessee at JACKSONVILLE (+3)

Ready for the Chad Henne Era, Jags Fans? That's a joke -- the Jags have no fans. But the sudden emergence of WR Justin Blackmon, Not An Absolute Washout, is going to be good for you in a theoretical way. Also, the Titans are about a year away from realizing that QB Jake Locker has about as much of a future in Nashville as QB Blaine Gabbert has in Florida.

Jaguars 24, Titans 20

BALTIMORE at San Diego (Pick 'Em)

The Ravens have issues -- erratic offense, overrated defense, penalty-prone and conspiracy-addled -- but the Chargers are a secretly terrible team, propped up only by the fact that they play in the AFC West, which means you get to make yourself feel better against the Chiefs. It'll be interesting to see if Raven Fans travel for this one, since everyone travels for Charger home games. Oh, and if you are on the fence about this one, just take a good look at QB Philip Rivers' work this year. Woof.

Ravens 23, Chargers 17

San Francisco at NEW ORLEANS (+1)

Classic letdown game for the Niners, who looked like a Super Bowl champion against the Bears on MNF. This week, they get the short week, the road dome game, the opponent that can actually pass block and get rid of the ball quickly, to people who can do things with it. The Niners probably won't have a QB controversy after this one -- Colin Kaepernick just gives them a much higher ceiling, and they'll need that since the defense isn't really at the level they were last year -- but they'll definitely have a little more pause about how much they need the home field in the playoffs.

Saints 31, Niners 24

St. Louis at ARIZONA (-1)

Which team do you like here -- the team with no QB at all, but home field, special teams and a more explosive defense, or the road club with meh QB/RB/WR options, a middling defense and a coaching staff that's 2-3 years away from the top of their arc? I'll take the home team and just try to get on with my day. Mostly because I'm still bitter that the Rams gave us four extra days of Jets Football that can't be completely ignored.

Cardinals 20, Rams 17

GREEN BAY at NY Giants (-2.5)

One more week of fail to shake the last fair weather Giants fans from the bandwagon -- it's November, remember? -- and give us all the sense that the first month of the season, when the Eagles were above .500, and Green Bay and the Saints were in trouble, just didn't happen at all. Despite the Giants coming off the bye, having a pass rush that might put QB Aaron Rodgers on the ground a half dozen times, and Giants QB Eli Manning being wildly past due for a bounce-back game against a giving Packer defense... I still like the road team here. Mostly because this Giants team is just putting the ball on the ground a lot right now, and you can't do that against Rodgers. At all.

Packers 34, Giants 27

CAROLINA at Philadelphia (NL)

If the Eagles really wanted to win this game, they'd offer the people who are coming to the game face value for their ticket to just go home, rather than come in and watch. This would confuse and bamboozle the most hate-filled, and thin out the crowd by up to 50%. Then, for the remaining crowd, announce an 80% off sale on concessions (not beer), so that the remaining fans are too busy stuffing their holes to boo very hard, and also make them good and sleepy. Then, fake a couple of serious injuries (simple, just have a special teams player lay down on the field after a tackle until they can get the crash cart) to push us way past the midnight hour, and hey presto... the only kind of atmosphere they can win, which is to say a game where the Panthers also are fat and sleepy.

But since they aren't that creative, don't want to admit that they are a terrible franchise that might not win another game this year, and that they really should have fired Coach For Way Too Much Of The Rest Of Your Life sometime in the last five years. But since they didn't... bet the Panthers. Hell, bet Temple. And Penn. Does Drexel have a team?

Panthers 24, Eagles 16

Last week: 7-7

Year to date: 81-75-2

Career: 623-604-28

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FTT Off-Topic: The Great and Awful PSA

So the other day when I was doing the day job, I saw a PSA for, of all things, an adoption Web site. Seeing how November is National Adoption Month, and PSAs exist... and, well, I was curious. Here's what you get from your click.

The ability to, well, shop for a kid. Pick the age, race, state and here come your option, photos and paragraphs that are just truck stops of brave journeys through pathos. Don't have enough kids from first search? Adjust the sliders and broaden your horizons -- maybe a little older than you were originally thinking, or open up beyond your demographic -- and hey presto, more possibilities. Any number of them, really.

Like, well, puppies at the pound, but infinitely worse.

I pretty much couldn't stop looking, stop thinking, or get the idea of it out of my mind for a good couple of hours. And it's still in the back, rattling around, which is why it's here.

And the more you think about it, the better it seems, really. People have put their futures, in the form of online dating, into sites like this for decades, and while you may or may not have a good feeling about that business (I've never availed, because I've been married for longer than those sites have existed, but I know about dozens of them from the Day Job), you can't deny that millions and millions of people have gotten married from that spark, and we're never going back to a world where that does not exist. And if you compare it to the idea of meeting people in bars, it's probably better, in that your date is a heck of a lot less likely to have an alcohol problem.

Pets, of course, are the same way, and no one looks askance at the idea of taking in a rescue animal. I've added great new regulars and friends to my home poker game through sites like MeetUp. But the idea of taking permanent responsibility for a person...

Maybe it's just because that, no matter what intentions or experience you bring to it, there's just no shaking the fact that every child here is having to overcome something earth-shattering, something that, well, might never be overcome.

And it makes you, of course, think about it. I've got a room that isn't used too often. My daughters could share a room and create more space. It would be interesting to raise a son, having had nothing but daughters for twelve years. We're not terribly well-off, and like nearly everyone else in this country, I'm one very bad month or wildly unfortunate incident away from severe problems... but that isn't very likely to happen, I don't live my life in fear, and way too many parents do more with less every day. This house could be absolute salvation for a soul that we don't already know.

Then you start doing the math for what college costs, and consider the impossible logistics, and how behind you would be on providing for them, or your own retirement, and just how huge a time and money and energy commitment all of that would be, not just for this generation but future... or the unfathomable risk and courage it would take. On some level, even more than biological.

And you look back at the site, the seed of an idea planted, all from a technology and method that didn't exist, not so very long ago.

The problem is with me, not the site.

Which you can irritate you own brain with by clicking here...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 Chant Ideas For Eagle Fans For The Next Game

We Can Do Better Than This.
Next Monday night, the 2-8 Panthers come to town to face the 3-7 Eagles, in what is very likely to be the last home night game (please, Lord, some small favors is all that we ask) in front of a true national audience for several years. The Panthers have no road fans to speak of, we are assured that there will be no Nick Foles Uprising to distract anyone from the stench of this regime, and the other two remaining home games (against the Bengals in a NFLN game, and the Redskins two days before Christmas) hold no juice whatsoever. Besides, this team isn't worth watching, let alone watching in cold weather.

So the stands are going to be filled, in all likelihood for the very last time under this staff, with a relatively large house of actual Eagle Fans, or at least the luckless saps that took their tickets at any percentage of face value. Which means that it's going to be the last time you really get to share your opinion, in relatively close proximity, to Coach For Way Too Much Of The Rest Of Your Life Andy Reid.

Philly Fan, Do Not Disappoint Me.

Because, well, you really are the last chance at any form of entertainment value from this collection of highly paid offal. And just booing listlessly, leaving at the half when they (inevitably) trail, and a few rounds of Fi Err An Dee... there's so much more that's possible, really. You've all got cell phones, we've got a week to prepare, and there's no way that anything more than a handful of these guys are going to be here in a year and a half. You can say pretty much anything to any of these people: they all Do Not Matter.

I'm actually excited to watch an Eagles game because of you. Seriously.

So, with that stated, a few humble suggestions for some crowd chants.

10) QUIT. The nice part about this one is that it works for so many people, really. Nnamdi Asomugha has to secretly be 45 years old and has saved enough stolen cash to go off to a lifetime of failing to catch children off his lawn, right? Michael Vick either can't be in bright light or is totally fine to play, despite being concussed by anything above a stiff wind. Jason Babin's clearly snapped from the exposure to Such Vileness. And unlike many of the things that we've asked them to do this year, we know they can do this.

9) GARR - ETTE. The national media is so in the tank for Andy -- according to Steve Mariucci, this team will never have a better coach, and if that's the case, I'd like to disband the franchise, since it means that winning a Super Bowl here is impossible -- so let's give ESPN the chance to sell hours of outrage by chanting the name of Reid's dead son at him, in the same cadence as the classic DARRYL chant. And hey, the coach was back to work two days after the man died, and the team dedicated the year to him. So it's a measure of respect to remember him in this way, no? (No. Which doesn't mean it won't happen, or be, to use Babin's favorite word, Vile.)

8) GOOD BYE AN DEE. This has the fun iambic rhythm of every good stadium chant, and works even for the 14 people in the building who aren't on the payroll that still feel kindly towards the gasbag. It's especially nice if you spend many quarters doing this. Hey, 14 years is a long time. Saying goodbye is just polite, really.

7) TIME'S YOURS. The conversational crutch of hundreds of Orwellian press conferences should end with Reid's regime, and on some level, I'd really like to see if tens of thousands of people serenading the man with his pet phrase could actually get him to not say it after the game. (I'm betting that he'll still say it, because, as his play calling shows, he hasn't listened to anyone for, like, well, ever.)

6) WE WANT KO TIGHT. What's wrong with a little sarcasm? Nothing, says I, and it's just not something you expect to hear from a big crowd that's only known for it's hate. Besides, it's high time we rehabilitate the most hated coach in my lifetime, simply because it's a small reminder that we've lived through worse. I think.

5) SELL THIS TEAM. Why is Jeff Lurie getting off the hook for this con job era? Besides, if we somehow embarrass him on national television, maybe he'll finally find his Little Jeffs and perp walk Reid, rather than let him shamble off in the off-season. Or somehow let him decide that it would be OK to continue this farce for one more year. (Also, um, if he wants to sell, that's fine by me. I'm not exactly filled with confidence with who the next choice will be after five years of waiting around for someone to go with him to the bathroom and drop this deuce.)

4) FIE ERR (ANY). Why limit yourself to the coach, when nearly every other player is also devoutly wished to be gone? It can become something of a running joke, too, especially with so many players having easily chanted names (Nam Dee, Bah Bin, Mack Lynn, Coal Man...)

3) BOB BEE AH PRIL. HOW ARD MUDD. JIM WASH BURN. HOW ARD ROSE MAN. How better to show how knowledgeable the fan base is, than to call out the equally terrible position coaches and GM? Besides, if Reid won't quit, maybe we can shake loose some of his lackeys. They might not have Reid's unmatched ability to ignore reality.

2) BRING BACK JUAN. Basically the more recent version of the Kotite chant. After all, we can't assume everyone in the building remembers Richie. Lucky bastards.

1) (TURNING YOUR BACK ON THEM IN UTTER SILENCE.) Imagine the creepy unease that would take over the field and media when, with the Eagles coming out of the tunnel and the cheerleaders and fireworks going up, in a coordinated effort, the stadium performs the Wave Of Disgust by rising, turning, and refusing to look at the field. Or the slowly growing disquiet on the telecast as people across the country wonder what's wrong with the sound on their sets, or the ESPN hype hucksters start to realize that no matter how much fake enthusiasm they put into their voices, this is going to be nothing more than 3 to 4 hours of awkward.

I'm not asking for bags, or signs, or anything that will get you tossed or vilified.

Just stand up, turn around, and turn your back on them.

After all, they did it to you.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jrue Holiday Is Making The Leap

Holiday With A D
Late in tonight's Sixers-Cavs game with the home team holding onto a small lead, Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, last year's rookie of the year and one of the ten best one on one players in the NBA, was trying to make things happen against his opposite number, Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday. Irving went into his rocking back and forth, cobra twitch fast rattle, pounding the rock between his legs, moving like a blur. And Holiday was matching him movement for movement, twitch for twitch, like something out of a kung fu movie, but faster and more athletic.

The Sixers crowd, one of the best in town in terms of knowing the sport they root for -- seriously, there aren't five better crowds in the NBA when it comes to recognizing good effort from an opponent, not disputing a correct call, and trying to pick up a game home team when they deserve it -- recognized it. And as the seconds ticked away, and it became increasingly apparent that Holiday had Irving, in this moment and on this play, dominated as much as a player can dominate in a sport where good offense always trumps good defense.

Irving wound up forcing the shot anyway, missing strong. The Sixers got the board, and eventually the win. And despite Evan Turner's outstanding game, another strong night from the resurgent Jason Richardson, and some fourth quarter magic from the perpetually bewildering Spencer Hawes, it was clear who the best player on the floor was: Holiday.

And here's the very cool thing about that: Holiday, despite now starting his fourth year in the Association, is just 22 years old. He's the first player born in the 1990s (gah) to play in the Association, and this year, he's posting 18/4/8 per game, all of which are career highs by leaps and bounds.

Now, it's not all skittles and beer; he's also turning it over nearly five times a game, hasn't showed up every night (this team gave Detroit it's only win last week, and Brandon Jennings ate his lunch earlier in the homestand as well), and occasionallyy makes you wonder, well, why the hell not. If he's the best player on this team, and if Andrew Bynum can't get his body in order and give them the quality big that they rolled the dice for, the only thing that Jrue is going to do is take a 42 win team up to 47, and to make their eventual obliteration by the Heat (or Knicks?) a little less complete.

But as the numbers show, he's starting to put it all together... and when he does that, he's just all kinds of useful, and maybe a championship caliber point guard. (It would also help if Hawes, Richardson, Turner and Bynum stay healthy and jell together. Really nice.)
But even if none of that happens?

I'll be happy enough, for a while, with the new Gary Payton in my laundry...

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