Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Brief And Pointless Rant About Locker Room Behavior

Also A Spitter
I work out, because that's what my brain and body chemistry allow, something like 6 out of every 7 days or so. I do so at any number of gyms, because I do ride share for extra money, and have a membership with a chain that has something like 50 locations in the greater metropolitan area. (When you do ride share, you can be, well, anywhere. The job flexibility isn't exactly total. Also, the gym membership means I always have a bathroom I can use within range. Moving on.)

In nearly every one of these gyms, after nearly every one of these workouts, I shower. I sweat a lot as a general rule, and to catch up to my goals for the year, I have to go pretty hard. What I encounter in the shower is, more often than not, this:

Some dude making ridiculous throat noises in some other shower. Which echo in the valley, and rattle in the dell, and happen so often that when it *doesn't* occur now, I notice.

It would be one thing if it were old guys with respiratory problems. But the folks in my gyms are 95% younger than me, because I tend to go later at night, when older guys are long gone. These are young uns who think that spitting is the new peeing to mark their territory, or maybe the ghosts of previous members trying to clear their spectral systems of unholy phlegm... no idea. It's not like I'm going to go find the perp and tell him, um, dude?



Honestly, I try to remain open minded. The older I get, the more the temptation to judge everything that is younger than you as Going To Hell In A Handbasket goes off the charts, and that way lies Grumpy Old Man Codgerdom. I don't want to be that guy. It's a daily war to fight that urge, especially when I'm driving around picking up rando ride sharing strangers and trying to be pleasant as people who are young enough to my kids pule about stuff that should barely matter to them, let alone the people who you temp hire to schlep you around. I also have a pretty low bar for locker room decorum. All I want is to get out of there before someone starts babbling about politics, or his workout, or whatever.

But... Jebus... Seriously...

Can y'all please stop treating a shared public space like it's a hated rival on the battlefield? Or maybe just learn that the rules for You Are In Public are different than No One Can See Or Hear You?

Week 7 NFL Picks: The New Abnormal

Folks -- each week I mean to get back to a long form column, and each week I just pass out around this time in the week, because that's just what my schedule and life are like now. Priorities. Also, well, picks.

* * * * *

KANSAS CITY (-3) at Oakland

Tampa at BUFFALO (NL)

CAROLINA (-3) at Chicago

TENNESSEE (-6) at Cleveland

NEW ORLEANS (-4.5) at Green Bay

JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) at Indianapolis

Arizona at LA RAMS (-3.5)

NY Jets at MIAMI (-3)

Baltimore at MINNESOTA (-5.5)

Dallas at SAN FRANCISCO (+6)

Cincinnati at PITTSBURGH (-5.5)

DENVER (NL) at LA Chargers

SEATTLE (-5.5) at NY Giants

ATLANTA (+3) at New England

Washington at PHILADELPHIA (-5)

Last week: 3-10

Season: 48-42

Career: 929-931-34

Friday, October 13, 2017

2017-2018 Fantasy Basketball Draft: Whipsaw Bone

The quick five-step process to feel like you've really boned your auction draft...

1) Get priced out on the one guy you wanted to go all-in on, then overpay for second-round talent. (For this year, for me, that was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went for the high water mark of $86 on a $200 budget. Last year, I stuck the landing on Russell Westbrook at $85.)

2) Get fixated on guys you had last year, and (probably) pay too much for them. That'd be Green, Gobert and Johnson. (Warren and Harkless, not so much.)

3) Fight depression in the middle rounds, because you've overspent on your top 3 guys, and you haven't mentally adjusted to, duh, 14 team league, not 12.

4) Schedule the draft in the middle of a football game for your laundry. Fly, Eagles, Fly!

5) Have a 10+ year track record of finishing fairly well in leagues, so every time you get involved in the bidding on guys, other owners jump in your action.

Having said all that... might be a decent team. We'll defend, I should have nine startable guys every week, I don't have any FT% horrors, and Draymond lets you be short a point guard because he's just that way. But as always, will need health and luck and time I don't have to manage a team. (Pick that makes me very happy: Jonathan Simmons for $7 late. He looks otherworldly so far this year.)

Sexing Mutumbos
1.(17)Draymond Green (GS - SF,PF,C)$44
2.(18)Rudy Gobert (Uta - C)$61
3.(22)Damian Lillard (Por - PG)$54
4.(58)Victor Oladipo (Ind - PG,SG)$17
5.(91)Patrick Beverley (LAC - PG,SG)$4
6.(92)T.J. Warren (Pho - SF)$1
7.(96)James Johnson (Mia - SF,PF)$7
8.(105)Jonathon Simmons (Orl - SG,SF)$7
9.(117)Zach Randolph (Sac - PF,C)$2
10.(142)Jeremy Lamb (Cha - SG,SF)$1
11.(152)Justin Holiday (Chi - SG,SF)$1
12.(157)Maurice Harkless (Por - SF)$1

Eagles - Panthers Top 10 Takeaways: Quick And Dirty

I didn't get to see too much of this -- was screwing up my fantasy basketball league with a classic whipsaw auction draft bone job, and only saw it on my phone-- but here's what I got second hand.

10) It takes work to almost lose a game when you are +2 on the turnover score, but Doug Pederson is freaking talented. But I do have to give him props for pulling the PAT off the board and sticking the 2-point conversion with an open formation power run by RB LeGarrette Blount. That was porny.

9) Carolina's running backs tonight: 14 carries for 11 yards. No, seriously. Cam Newton will make the final numbers seem OK because he ran for 71, but the Eagle defensive line might be the best in football right now.

8) I'm not emotionally prepared to live in a world where Zach Ertz is good at the end zone, but nowhere else. It's Bizarro Land, folks.

7) Wentz's final numbers don't look that great -- 16 of 30 for 222 -- but the 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and 25 yards on the ground are damn fine, thank you. Second straight game where he's popped for multiple scores.

6) K Graham Gano didn't get a chance to hit a long figgie before the half, which really hampered the Panthers in the desperate final drive. So it's not as if Pederson was the only coach on the field with odd decision making in his wheelhouse.

5) I get that Newton had no running game tonight, but he could have been picked a half dozen times, honestly. He just doesn't look right.

4) Amazing that the defense just got the kill shot on 4th and 1 at midfield from the bad final pass. I've watched this laundry for a long time, and to get breaks like that at the close is Not Us, People.

3) The most important stat in the box score to me: 7.0 yards per pass for the good guys, 4.3 for the home team.

2) Nelson Agholor might make the Pro Bowl as a slot receiver. I wouldn't have given him a 25% chance to still be in the league last year. For all of the hair-pulling things Pederson does with his game calling, his personal development has been lights out.

1) With the win, the Eagles go to 5-1, in the top spot in the conference (!), and 4 of those 6 were on the road. It's time to get greedy, folks, and not just take this division by the throat, but ensure none of those unfortunate January road trips to bad places.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Week 6 NFL Picks: Fire

Folks -- even less time this week to write a picks column. My part of the world is filled with smoke from regional fires, work is crazy busy, I have obligations across the board, and about ten minutes to write these. But on the other hand, slapdash went 9-5 last week, and the record for the year is also, well, smoking.

Spoiler alert: this week, I think it's all about road teams covering big numbers or outright winning the game. Blame the crazy old narcissist in the White House for all of that, seeing how he's turned every home stadium into a place where people feel good about yelling at black men who don't want to be killed by police. How dare they protest in ways that remind the world about that! Protest is only OK if no one (and by no one, we mean white people) sees it!

So with that... on to the picks.

* * * * *

PHILADELPHIA (+3.5) at Carolina

Miami at ATLANTA (-11.5)

CHICAGO (+6.5) at Baltimore

CLEVELAND (+9.5) at Houston

GREEN BAY (-3) at Minnesota

DETROIT (+4.5) at New Orleans

NEW ENGLAND (-9) at NY Jets

SAN FRANCISCO (+10) at Washington

TAMPA (-2) at Arizona

LA Rams at JACKSONVILLE (-2.5)

Pittsburgh at KANSAS CITY (-4.5)

LA Chargers at OAKLAND (NL)

NY Giants at DENVER (-11.5)

Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (NL)

Last week: 9-5

Season: 45-32

Career: 926-921-34

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Eagles - Cardinals Takeaways: A Welcome Lack Of Drama

My favorite post-game graphic
Today, my beloved laundry went to 4-1 with a resounding 34-7 home win against a team they should beat, well, in a resounding manner, and the difference between the two teams was so vast, even Doug Pederson couldn't keep it close. Let's get into the finer points.

> What people will remember from this game is QB Carson Wentz having his best game to date as a pro, with 300+ yards on a low '30s pass count, rampant efficiency on third down, only one (glaring, but still, just one) turnover, and four touchdowns. (The first time that an Eagle QB had gone for more than two in, gulp, four years. Try not to dwell on that.) But what I'll remember is Kenyon Barner, the definition of fungible RB/STer, having his best game, with a back-breaking punt return, several key runs, and just all-around goodness. The Eagles dominated every phase of this game, and that could have been expected. Barner looking like Darren Sproles II, not so much.

> This is probably the last time we'll ever see Larry Fitzgerald face the Eagles, and I, for one, am glad to be rid of him. Dude has owned my team more than anyone in my recent memory, especially for a non-division foe, and while he was still the best WR on the field for Red today, the game was (happily) not close enough for him to call down the demons again. Amazing player.

> I don't want to throw cold water on a team that's leading its division nicely, with division rivals losing games and players left and right... but wow, the Cardinals just stunk up the place today. There's got to be something about West Coast teams just not getting their body clocks right for 10am PST / 1pm EST games, because this one was 21-0 after the first quarter, and never really got to drama after that. Arizona has major issues at offensive line, their all-world RB is hurt, their QB is ancient and immobile, and the defense is in transition... but I've seen my Eagles keep worse teams in games all year. It takes an effort to get your ass kicked this much, this fast.

> Wentz spread the love around today, with TDs to four different receivers, but the highlight reel play was to WR Nelson Agholor, who beat his man deep, showed hands that no one in town knew he had, emptied his tool box of moves to get the last ten yards and the touchdown, then did the backwards trust fall for the score. That was all kinds of nifty, and the only thing that made it hurt (a little) for me was that my opponent in a fantasy league was starting both Wentz and Agholor. Just your garden variety 22-point play in fantasy. (I think I'm still going to win, and yes, no one cares.)

> The most promising part of this game for me was the play of the secondary. With the ARI running game predictably threadbare (14 carries for 41 yards, which almost seems like an average day for both units), it was obvious that QB Carson Palmer was going to fill the air with footballs, and defensive line pressure only lasts so long in today's NFL. Gone were the last two games of bend and occasionally break, with a manageable 44 attempts for 291 yards. It could have been a much better day if multiple INT opportunities weren't dropped, but if DBs could catch footballs, they wouldn't be DBs.

> You knew the Fox crew was well and truly bored with this game from the shots we got of TE Zach Ertz's wife (he's got one! she's an athlete! who the hell cares!) and Painted Dudes with Eagle Feathers. Honestly, between the media telling us all about Lone Wolf shooters as if they were breakout characters in a reality TV show, and giving air time to drunken cosplayers, I'm ready to repeal some broadcast licenses. Stop giving airtime to terrible humans. You'd think this lesson would have been learned by now, honestly.

> The Eagle WR crew really stepped up with the celebrations today. Smith's baseball long ball routine was an exceptional use of group choreography, Agholor's trust fall was all kinds of fun, and given his yips near the end zone, I'm amazed that Ertz knows what to do after scoring. I'm also giving a pass to TE Trey Burton, who was probably too shocked after pulling off that in-flight adjustment and making the play to know what to do, either. TEs, time to practice this stuff. (Oh, and if you are a bitter Alshon Jeffery fantasy owner, not sure what to tell you. This offense is just spread all over.)

> The entire defensive line had fun in this game, but the guy I want to single out is Vinny Curry. Dude caught a lot of grief for cashing a check last year and not playing up to it, but there's a possibility that was injury related, and he just looks worlds better so far in 2017. Between him and Tommy Jurnigan, the line didn't miss a beat for not having its best player (Fletcher Cox, who should be back soon), and they continue to free up the linebackers for maximum efficiency. I'm still not sold on this defense being as good as they've looked so far -- Pederson's clock-milking helps hide depth issues, and there are too many deep balls completed for comfort -- but this has been the best that this unit has looked in the better part of a decade. (Oh, and if you do want to knock a guy, first round pick DE Derek Barnett isn't doing much positive, and that's kind of worrisome.)

> I'm probably burying the lede here, but Wentz? Pretty damn good QB. He saved his best moments for third downs early, got some deep balls working (that's been his worst feature to date as a pro, along with questionable ball security), moved in the pocket well, and just never looked like the moment was getting too big for him. He's still got some ways to go, as there are moments of hair-pulling inaccuracy and Shaky Play Sequences before turnovers, and I'm not sure if he'll ever be reliably good for your fantasy team, what with Pederson trying to play every game with the least number of snaps possible. But he's clearly the best QB in the division, and one of the better ones in the league. And he's had the job for all of 21 games.

> Next up: Carolina on the road for Terrible Night Football, and if the laundry somehow pulls that off, dangerous amounts of confidence and exuberance from Philly Fan, who really does not know how to handle prosperity. I'm not sure I do, either, but it'd be all kinds of fun to try it out. Especially with the Giants at 0-5 and suddenly bereft of WRs to go with their lack of OL and RBs, Dallas getting de-pantsed at the close at home by Aaron Rodgers, and the Racial Slurs with the eternal pain of their ownership around to screw things up. I'm not ready to start talking parades, but I am starting to think about hosting playoff games and having a bye week...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Week 5 NFL Picks: All Picks No Filler

I'm going to level with you, folks: my life right now is highly non-conducive to writing a sports blog. The details of that are best left undisclosed, but the gist is that this week, I just don't have time to do more than make the picks. So here they are, without explanation or varnish. Sorry, and I hope I don't have to do this again, but no promises.

* * * * *

New England at TAMPA (+6)

Buffalo at CINCINNATI (-3)

NY Jets at CLEVELAND (-1)

Carolina at DETROIT (-2.5)

SAN FRANCISCO (+1.5) at Indianapolis

Tennessee at MIAMI (-1)

LA Chargers at NY GIANTS (-3.5)

Arizona at PHILADELPHIA (-6.5)

Jacksonville at PITTSBURGH (-8)

SEATTLE (+1) at LA Rams

Baltimore at OAKLAND (-2.5)

GREEN BAY (+2) at Dallas

KANSAS CITY (-1) at Houston

Minnesota at CHICAGO (+3.5)

Last week: 8-8

Season: 36-27

Career: 917-916-54

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eagles - Chargers Top 10 Takeaways: Doug Pederson Ensures Excitement

Fingers Crossed For Excitement
> If you'd like to make sure every game is close, regardless of the talent of each team, Doug Pederson may be your platonic ideal coach. Adding to the extraordinarily predictable and limited play book this week were give up runs on third and long in distance field goal range, which PK and burgeoning folk hero Jake Elliott keeps making, thank heavens, and a near repeat of last week's brain dead fourth down at midfield before halftime go for it insanity. Someone really needs to let Doug know that (a) his QB isn't a rookie any more, and (b) his team has WRs now, and doesn't need to run Alex Smith II, No Electricity and No Boogaloo, Now Go To Bed Young Man, offense. Just maddening.

> The Eagles are 3-1 with three of the first four games on the road, but I'm not sure that games against the Carson Chargers count as road games any more. When your defensive players can call for noise on third down, that's not a road game. So glad the NFL put not one, but two, teams in a city that could not care less about football.

> Second straight game in which the defense did well early, then gave up some monster plays, then pretty much fell apart late. Keep in mind this is happening with a slow as molasses offense that generally avoids three and outs and keeps winning time of possession by a lot. (Albeit, time of standing around and waiting for Carson Wentz to snap the ball with no time on the clock and the defensisve ends going off like dragsters at the raceway isn't quite as impressive.)

> Either the Charger defense is kitten soft, or the Eagle running backs got a lot better in the last month. Chris Clement was a hammer in the final minutes, Wendell Smallwood had his best game as a pro, but LeGarrete Blount was positively pornographic in running through tackles all game. If this dude wants to keep giving us flashbacks to Peak Marshawn Lynch, I don't care if he can't catch or block. (Note: I am not saying he can't do either of these things. He seems tolerable at both, honestly.)

> If there is a busier CB in creation than Jalen Mills, I haven't seen it. I'm sure the numbers will bear out to the strategy, but I don't get why opponents seem to think that his guy is the only WR that's eligible for a catch. If nothing else, he's young and getting an unreal amount of reps in which to get better.

> The Charger run game today: 13 carries for 58 yards, but keep in mind that 47 of those came on two carries. For most of this game, every handoff was a gift to the road team, and the body language from RB1 Melvin Gordon made me wonder if he even wanted to be there.

> I don't know why the Chargers seem to think that Younghoe Koo is a good idea for being their kicker. He looks afraid to be out there, his stuff has no power even though he didn't miss anything today, and it's not as if there aren't a billion kickers wandering the Earth. Bad organizations make bad decisions and then stick to them. This seems like one of those.

> Disappointing day for Wentz, who started off like a house on fire, then never found the end zone again. He also had more than a few moments of Frisky Young Guy Is Going To Turn It Over, which isn't helping Pederson pull the carbon rod out of his ass and, you know, play call as if ever game doesn't have to come down to a single play. But in the end, a road win is a road win, and his throws to help set up the running game to kill the clock on the final game ending drive were absolute money.

> This was the third straight game in which Eagle Fan got to engage in pure hatred for an Asshat Opponent. Coming on the heels of Travis Kelce and Odell Beckham was Philip Rivers, who is never so fast as when he's running at a ref to pule for PI, and looks like he's going to throw a tantrum when his coach doesn't let him go for it on fourth down. He's always been a problematic talent, given his ball's tendency to float and his tendency to screw up ball security, but on the downside of his career now, he's secretly killing his team. Both from the money he makes and counts against the cap, and the bad decisions and karma-killing whining. So glad I don't have to root for this guy... and now that the Chargers have left San Diego and gone to a town with no football fans, no one else does, either. Everybody wins! Well, everybody except Rivers. Works for me.

> With Dallas losing at home to the Rams (who scored on nine different possessions, which isn't quite as impressive when seven of them are field goals, but whatever), the Giants deader than dead after a last-second loss in Tampa, and DC having to go to KC tomorrow night, the division is definitely looking up. They get Arizona at home next week for a 10am PST start, and with the added bonus of the Cardinals playing extra time today to escape with a home win against SF. The game after that is Terrible Night Football in Carolina, then three straight home games against the Slurs, Niners and Broncos. There's a very real possibility that if the next four weeks go as well as the first four, the November 19 date in Dallas could be the division's last best chance to stop the Green Train.

Assuming, of course, that Pederson doesn't stop the train first...

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