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Sunday, October 31, 2004

NFL Picks for Week Eight/Halloween

Is anything sacred? We have football games on this of all holidays?

Not that I have posted much here of late, and not that anyone reads the page any more for that reason, but I'll throw up some picks yet again. I got cocky after my strong showing two weeks ago and crashed to earth last week with a 7-7 straight-up record that was 6-7-1 against the spread. The Patriots, six-point favorites, beat the Jets 13-7--gotta give it to the Vegas gurus once again. Yes, I did pick Atlanta last week, and they lost 56-10. At least I didn't take Dallas. I also should've gone with my gut on Miami and Arizona last week.

OK, enough living in the past. On to this week's selections, which in no way are an endorsement of sports betting. The only thing this site endorses is John Kerry for President. If I don't post again before Tuesday, remember to go vote!

NY Giants (+6.5) over Minnesota to cover and win

The Vikings only managed to put up 20 points last week, so their top-rated offense may be slowing down with the lack of running backs and Randy Moss limited by injury. The Giants may show some pride here after the loss to Detroit.

Philadelphia (-7) over Baltimore

Good game last week with the Eagles surviving in Cleveland. Their defense looks vulnerable, but Baltimore has no Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap or Jonathan Ogden today. The only way they win is if they get three TDs off defense and special teams. Don't the Terrell Owens-hating media members seem a little too giddy about the prospect of T.O. getting hit hard by Ray Lewis?

Green Bay (-1) over Washington

Yes, right, this one determines the outcome of the presidential election, blah blah. Brett Favre's life isn't going well lately and he usually plays well under such circumstances. It's unfortunate his wife has breast cancer, though we may at least get Bush out of office as a result.

Jacksonville (+1.5) over Houston to cover and win

OK, I'm getting on the Byron Leftwich bandwagon to the point that I'm even picking against my beloved Texans today.

Buffalo (-3.5) over Arizona

Bad teams, stay away.

Detroit (+3) over Dallas to cover and win

What the hell, let's try the Lions here. As I've said a few times before, the Cowboys are bad. In the wake of the rout in Green Bay last week, the media seem to be realizing that the emperor has no clothes here. I can't say I blame them, seeing as how Parcells got a team led by Quincy Carter to the playoffs last season.

Tennessee (-3) over Cincinnati

Two inconsistent teams playing here, so I won't pretend to know what will happen. The Titans are winless at home and the Bengals are winless on the road, so something's gotta give! And did you see Chad Johnson's car on Monday Night Football?

Kansas City (+1) over Indianapolis to cover and win

Well, I guess the Chiefs made a rather emphatic statement that they're back last week with eight rushing touchdowns. They seem to have the running game back in order, which means they can set up the pass against the Colts' weak secondary. After the Jags answered my call for someone to beat Indy last week, the Chiefs may turn the trick again (and give me a treat--so clever), exacting some revenge for last year's playoffs.

Denver (-7) over Atlanta

The Falcons' offense struggling is nothing new, but their defense getting run over is. It doesn't get much easier as they face the toughest running attack in the league in Denver, a club that won't hesitate to leave dislocated ankles in their wake. Let us all now condemn the chop block.

Seattle (-7.5) over Carolina

Wait, I thought the Seahawks were going to the Super Bowl, now they're 3-3? What gives? They badly need this win in Carolina against a Panthers team that is also unrecognizable from a team that actually was in the Super Bowl last season.

New England (-3) over Pittsburgh

No, I'm not picking against the Patriots until they lose a game. The Steelers have the offensive balance that it takes to beat New England, but every new QB who emerges like Big Ben eventually has the clock strike midnight (again with the cleverness). I'm thinking specifically of Tom Brady's 4 INT game back in 2001. The key is how well the Steelers can run it and whether the Pats can get Roethlisberger in 3rd-and-long situations.

San Diego (-6) over Oakland

Keep an eye on the Bolts, at 4-3 only a game behind Denver in the AFC West.

Chicago (-2) over San Francisco

Really a putrid Sunday night matchup here. If Tim Rattay can't go, it will be a quarterback rematch of the Miami-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl of a few years ago between Ken Dorsey and Craig Krenzel.

NY Jets (-7) over Miami

Herman Edwards was yelling at the reporters earlier this week, over what I'm not precisely sure. Someone seemed a little too preoccupied with what was in the papers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It's Wednesday Evening...

...do you know where my blog went?

The Gaza pullout is excellent news, even if it does sound vaguely sexual to my sophomoric ears.

And I hear there's some kind of an election coming up. I wouldn't know, though, since I've been watching baseball.

More later, perhaps,

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Week Seven Diversion

I'm kind of preoccupied with the World Series right now, which makes this weekend one of the great sports-overload weekends of the year, but I'll throw out some NFL picks for kicks here.

Last week I was an en fuego 11-3 both straight up and against the spread. Of course, I did pick in the late first quarter of the early games. My favorite spread of last week: St. Louis by 6.5 over Tampa. The Rams won by 7 on MNF.

On to the selections, which are not an endorsement of real sports wagering, mind you.

Miami (+6) over St. Louis to cover but lose

The Dolphins have been sticking in games despite being 0-6. At home, I think they'll manage to give the Rams a scare. I figure the Rams are good for a few turnovers here that can lead to Miami points and make things interesting.

Minnesota (-6) over Tennessee

Moss is probably going to be limited by the hamstring injury, but no matter, with Daunte Culpepper playing one of the great fantasy football seasons of all time. The Titans are hard to figure out, having blown out Green Bay yet following that up with the home loss to Houston last week. We may finally be seeing this team hit the downside.

NY Giants (-7) over Detroit

We may have seen the onset of reality hit the Lions last week. They've got injuries on offense and they face a fresh Giants team coming off the bye.

Tampa Bay (-7) over Chicago

Griese actually moved the ball some on Monday Night, which was rather impressive. The rookie receiver Clayton is helping to revive the Tampa offense. I had the misfortune of seeing the Bears play last week too as they lost to the Redskins. Jonathan Quinn is atrocious.

San Diego (+3) over Carolina to cover and win

Chargers were impressive in defeat to Atlanta last week, my first chance to see the Bolts this year. The addition of Keenan McCardell should make their surprising offense even better. Carolina, meanwhile, rolled over in Philly in a game they should've been up for.

Baltimore (-5) over Buffalo

Thanks to the NFL TV rules, I get this game early instead of the Pats-Jets at 4:00 (Fox gets this week's doubleheader). I'm guessing we might hear, "Down goes Bledsoe!" a few times.

Philadelphia (-7) over Cleveland

Much is being made of the Browns being undefeated at home. The Ravens win was somewhat impressive, but beating Washington and Cincy wasn't really. None of those teams are the Eagles either. I like the Antonio Bryant pick-up by the Brownies this week, but again, he's not Terrell Owens either.

Indianapolis (-9) over Jacksonville

Dammit, someone else beat the Colts. The Patriots were fortunate to beat them on opening night, and we need a little breathing room for that top AFC seed.

Atlanta (+3.5) over Kansas City to cover and win

The Falcons seemed to figure out last week that, West Coast offense aside, they need to let Vick have some room to improvize too. KC is imploding, after another tough loss to the Jaguars last week. Jay Glazer gave a crazy report on the Fox pregame on the ongoing feud between Dick Vermeil and Larry Johnson.

New England (-6) over NY Jets

Statement game for New England, as the streak marches on during the Boston-area's greatest sports weekend ever (I'm including BC's excellent win over Notre Dame yesterday in that). I'm a little more concerned about the upcoming road games at Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Seattle (-6.5) over Arizona

I nearly picked the Cards to cover here. They're tough and punchy, though I think the Seahawks will come out strong after the statement the front office made with the Jerry Rice deal this week. For some reason, the debates among TV analysts over whether Rice should get to wear Steve Largent's retired number really annoy me. Just wear a different number, Jeez.

Green Bay (-3.5) over Dallas

This is a tough one to figure. Packers have struggled at home, but I'm guessing they snapped out of their funk definitively last week. The Cowboys, as I've said several times now, are overrated in my estimation. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them lose to the Steelers last week.

Oakland (-3) over New orleans

I'll give the Raiders a mulligan on that game last week against Denver.

Denver (-6.5) over Cincinnati

The Bengals' nice year in 2003 earned them their first Monday Night Football appearance in eons. At 1-5 this year so far, they may not be on MNF again any time soon, so enjoy tomorrow night, Cincinnati fans.

Friday, October 22, 2004

When Animal Metaphors Attack

The new Bush "Wolves" ad is trying to be like Reagan's 1984 ad with the bear. Upon watching both, however, I noticed that the bear ad at least admits to some uncertainty about how strong the Soviet Union was. The point it made was that our defenses should be as strong as possible, just in case the USSR really was as powerful as some feared (of course, it turned out to be about to collapse in on itself, but that's another story).

Different story with the Bushies, who are 100% confident about everything, even though they've been consistently wrong the last three years. Sorry for the gushing Bush-o-philic link, which came via InstaPundit.

Also see the DNC response ad, which adds an eagle and an ostrich into the mix, by way of Oliver Willis.

Since Blogger's being buggy and I may not get to post this later, I'll add, on a completely different note, that major league soccer has an idiot doing its scheduling:

Wonder how tomorrow night's Revolution-Crew playoff telecast (Channel 56, 7:30) will fare in the ratings against Game 1 of the World Series?

The Sox-Yankees Game Seven got higher TV ratings that the Pats first Super Bowl win in Boston, as Griffith's column--excellent for those of us who spend our lives watching sports on television--explains in today's edition.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bush Gets Served

Jonah Goldberg links the Bush-Kerry hip-hop dance-off. Also Best Week Ever links the Gawker chart comparing passages from Bill O'Reilly's steamy novel "Those Who Trespass" (memorably pilloried by Al Franken) and what he allegedly said to Andrea Mackris.

And does anyone else recall O'Reilly's inappropriate remarks on Janet Jackson?

If Janet Jackson wants to flash, she can come on over to my office anytime. I'll leave the door unlocked for you, Janet.

Blogosphere, I've been missing you this week.

Don't Believe Pat Robertson

Please, people, I know the story about Bush telling Pat Robertson there would be no casualties in Iraq fits our prejudices quite nicely, but Robertson isn't exactly a credible source on much of anything.

Now go watch Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from the spin room after the third debate, via I'm Just Sayin' via Wonkette. It's worth the effort to get the video to work.

Wish I Were There

Man, I really wish I were in Boston right now. People in the street are hollering about the Red Sox win, and I live in Washington, DC.

Yeah, I wasn't too optimistic when they were down 0-3. But three days of nonstop baseball later, here we are. Words fail me.

I also just read Frank Rich who links to excerpts from Lynne Cheney's lesbian novel, which I've wanted to see for a while now.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Still Alive

Before the Red Sox get eliminated here, I am compelled to link this image of what it will take to win via Adam G, who has an array of other agonized musings worth a read. I'm too jumpy just to watch the TV, I have to surf the Internet simultaneously. Why are we playing this game in the middle of the night again? They'll have to come out and defrost the infield soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

"The Lowest Blow"

Safire gives that title to his column about Kerry mentioning Mary Cheney's being a lesbian. No, an even lower blow would've been if Kerry had said, "The president can just ask Condi Rice whether she's homosexual by choice."

UPDATE: I'm an awful person, I know. To make up for this in part, I'll link a good post on Mary Cheney, her partner, and the public spotlight from Ace Pryhill.

Good Editorial, Bad Editorial

Unlike the New York Times, the Globe endorsement of Kerry is how you do it:

These three examples highlight John Kerry's core strengths: an ability to see complex problems in new, often prescient, ways and a willingness to seek collaborative solutions. Far from being wavering or indecisive, Kerry's worldview has been steadfastly informed by these values for as long as we on this page have known him. In complex and dangerous times, the United States needs a leader who can bring together people and ideas. For these reasons, the Globe endorses John F. Kerry for president and John Edwards for vice president in the critical election Nov. 2.

Then there's the insane Indianapolis Star, which seems to have decided to base its view of Kerry on the Bush caricature and media reports, rather than looking at things for themselves. They basically say Bush has done a bad job but deserves another shot in the second term anyway:

It is time for experience and resolve, which is why George Bush should be re-elected for a second term. Without a re-election facing him, the president can move to do those things he said he would do in his first presidential campaign:

He can work to unify the country. He can listen to and respect people who disagree with him. He can acknowledge errors, and what he will do to remedy those mistakes. Accomplishing those things are what true leaders do. They are things this president must do during his second term.

What the hell is that? The headline reads, "In 2nd term, Bush must unify nation by admitting errors, seeking remedies." Not exactly what you would call a ringing endorsement.

More Fake Documents!

Week Six Fix

OK, so I was out all morning and I'm writing this as of late first quarter/early second quarter of the early Sunday games. I'm a cheater, fine. At least I can't be accused of encouraging sports betting this week since you can't possibly bet according to the following picks as of now, not that you would want to anyway.

I'll be wagering at Stations today...

San Francisco (+10) over NY Jets, cover but lose

Ten points seems a lot, given how close a call the Jets had at home against the hapless Bills last week and how hot San Fran got passing late in the Cardinals game, which may have some carry over. Yet I'm still expecting a battle of undefeateds when the Jets come to New England next week.

Philadelphia (-10) over Carolina

Revenge, etc. Eagles look better than last year, Panthers worse, hence the result.

Kansas City (-2.5) over Jacksonville

After hot start for the Jags and weak start for the Chiefs, things seem to be turning around for both.

Atlanta (-5.5) over San Diego

Battle of my top two fantasy football picks: LaDainian Tomlinson, who has been producing, and Michael Vick, who has not. If you claim you picked these two teams to be playoff contenders, you're lying.

Buffalo (-5.5) over Miami

Damn, one of these teams is going to have to get a win this week. Buffalo is at home and somewhat less inept offensively, given that both Dolphins QBs were hurt against the Pats last week.

Washington (+1.5) over Chicago to cover and win the game

George Michael keeps referring to the 1983 Redskins, a Joe Gibbs-coached team that started 0-5 but turned it around after a win at Chicago in the sixth game--like I can remember 1983. This is what's on TV here, rather than the infinitely more interesting Patriots-Seahawks tilt.

Cleveland (-2.5) over Cincinnati

No strong feelings on these bland squads, so I'll go with the home team.

New England (-3) over Seattle

Damn you, Seahawks, for messing up my record last week. You know the Patriots are charmed when Brady throws for under 80 yards and they still beat Miami by two touchdowns.

Green Bay (+2.5) over Detroit to cover and win

Everyone's down on the Pack and high on the Lions these days. I still have a hard time accepting that those trends won't reverse themselves.

Houston (+6) over Tennessee to cover yet lose

I'm just picking the Texans every week for kicks at this point. At least now I'm recognizing that they will kill me with a heartbreaking loss, as was the case last week.

Oakland (+2.5) over Denver to cover and win

Broncos, while 4-1, have eked out three-point wins the last two weeks against Tampa and Carolina. This thing will be very close, and I'll take a home team under those conditions.

Pittsburgh (+3) over Dallas to cover and win

I'm a little uneasy taking the rookie QB on the road against a Parcells team. But Pittsburgh has way more offensive talent than the Cowboys and I'm hoping that wins out.

Minnesota (-4) over New Orleans

How is Jim Haslett still employed?

St. Louis (-6.5) over Tampa Bay

Is it safe to pick the Rams again? I've gone against them twice in a row on the road, now they're back home facing the Bucs and their new QB Brian Griese. They have to win this, right?

Last week: 7-6 straight up, 6-7 against the spread. Stupidly, I forgot to pick the san Diego-Jacksonville game.

Also, I lost all three overtime games. Shouldn't I get some credit for correctly picking against the spread, at least, when a game goes into overtime? I took Houston and the points (+4) against Minnesota last week, and it went to OT, so they were even after 60 minutes. Can't that count as if the game were an even line? Then the Vikings got an OT touchdown for a six-point final margin, and I lost against the spread, whereas if the game had been less close, and Minnesota had, say, won by a field goal in regulation, I would've won against the spread. (The same thing could apply to my pick of Arizona, giving one point, at San Francisco; the Cards lost 31-28 in overtime.)

Mixing Up Sweden and Switzerland

When the Yankees batting practice became too much to watch, I turned to the equally disturbing Ron Suskind article in the NYT Magazine, which, among many other things, contains this excellent story:

"I don't know why you're talking about Sweden," Bush said. "They're the neutral one. They don't have an army."

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: "Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army." Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. "No, no, it's Sweden that has no army."

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. "You were right," he said, with bonhomie. "Sweden does have an army."

The discussion of whether the president's being dumb really matters has happened many times before. Still, regardless of where you come down on the need for presidential smarts, isn't there some bare minimum of knowledge one needs to function? I mean, I've know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland since elementary school.

Also, on the NYT Kerry endorsement: why does so much of the darn thing have to focus on George Bush's time in office? There's plenty of time to do the case against Bush, and I know anti-Bush sentiment drives a lot of Kerry's support, of course, I just feel like an endorsement should consist of affirmative reasons to vote for someone.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Don't End Up in a Texas Prison

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

Jon Stewart went on Crossfire yesterday and told Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson to their faces that he thinks their show hurts America. He asked them to stop, plainly and seriously. It was pretty strange, I guess. I did not see the show myself but was told about it last night, so I went and read the transcript, which was worthwhile. Among the gems:

CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion. ...

STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

I'm torn on this. Obviously I think Stewart has a valid point about the poor state of our news media. At the same time, it doesn't seem right for a comedy host to confront these guys like this. He needs to have more faith that the power of his satire will convince the media whores of their own idiocy and bring about change that way.

UPDATE: Media Matters has the best excerpts and video links, via Oliver Willis.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Undecided Voters Suck

Scot Lehigh is excellent today, even if his dissing of the undecided voters the Globe talked to at Saint Anslem College after the last debate probably didn't figure they'd be criicized so harshly by one of the paper's columnists. After noting some of the dumber complaints the overly picky undecideds made, Lehigh concludes:

By all means, decide at your own pace, but as you do, couldn't you take your petty annoyances a little less seriously -- and the election a little more seriously?

That same question could easily be addressed to Maureen "I'm just not that into them" Dowd.

Changing gears, this story is an example of why conservative Christians bother me sometimes:

"You just don't do it on Sunday," said Sandra Hulsey of Greenville, Ga. "That's Christ's day. You go to church on Sunday, you don't go out and celebrate the devil. That'll confuse a child."

That's right, some people are upset Halloween is on a Sunday this year (found via Drudge, who has his usual goodies today).

I'm again toying with the idea of getting myself a Rumsfeld mask for the occasion. Any young women out there, I urge you to dress up as Lynndie England, with fatigues, cigarette, leash in hand--that would be hot.

Naming Kobe's Accuser

OK, so she has now re-filed her rape case against Kobe Bryant in a civil court using her real name, yet the AP and other big news organizations still won't name her. What gives? You probably already know her name if you sought it out on the net anyway. Since the Rocky Mountain News has gone forward and identified her, so will I. Katelyn Faber is the woman's name. If she isn't willing to go ahead with the criminal trial after wasting everyone's time for a year leading up to it, I don't think she's exactly deserving of a special shield of privacy either.

Yes, the irony of an anonymous blogger naming a nominally as-yet-unnamed sex assault plaintiff does not escape me. You don't see me accusing people of rape, though, do you?

In other sex lawsuit news, the Bill O'Reilly thing is one I need to do some more reading on. For now, I recommend looking back at Rolling Stone's profile of him, which shows how screwed up his staff relationships are. He has to be about as compassionate a boss as the guy on that Fox reality show with all the ads during the baseball games:

Then, one by one, the producers pitch ideas, tossing them out like clay pigeons that O'Reilly shoots out of the air.

"C'mon, people," he says.

A female producer suggests a segment on the Palestinians, who it seems are -

"I'm asleep, Stephanie," O'Reilly interrupts. He looks around the circle. "Give me something I can put on the air, please."

Moving on, the Bush campaign is having a Walk the Vote weekend. The Kerry campaign, by contrast, actually has some young people involved, so we can Run Against Bush, being able-bodied and all. The name of the event also seems designed to rankle Rock the Vote, which is in a bit of a dust-up with BC04 already.

Why Kerry Got the Debate Boost

Good Milbank analysis piece on the front of Friday's Post:

The Bush campaign's ferocious advertising campaign in the spring and summer and the Republican convention were successful at defining Kerry as a vacillating opportunist who has no coherent policy on Iraq and is spineless on terrorism. But the strategy may have worked too well, pollsters and strategists say: By turning Kerry into a cartoon, the Bush campaign created such low expectations for the senator that he easily exceeded them in the debates.

Perhaps the hand-wringing over the success of Bush's attacks was premature on our side after all. Of course, with three weeks left, this analysis is premature as well.

On a different note, the puppet terrorism spoof Team America opens today. I badly want to see it, though I may not get a chance until next week. Supposedly they had to cut out a puppet sex scene that would've gotten them an NC-17. What you could possibly do with a puppet to get that rating I have no idea. Anyway, the movie looks pretty sweet, go check the clips on the site.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Pring-Wilson Manslaughter Conviction

Non-Boston folks may not know about this one, but it's been a big story up there and it ended today when Alex Pring-Wilson was convicted of manslaughter. Pring-Wilson was a Harvard grad student in Russian Studies who somehow ended up in a fight with a Hispanic teenage father/high school dropout/pizza shop worker late one night walking back into Cambridge after a night in Boston. Really, you couldn't write fiction much better than this, with all of the tensions between the Harvard types and the resentful Cambridge underclass. Has Law & Order done its episode on this yet? Is Tom Wolfe working on the book?

In the end, 6-8 years sounds about right. Sure, Pring-Wilson probably didn't mean to kill Michael Colono, but he did--stabbing someone in the heart with a big knife is a bit more than self-defense, I'm afraid, and it's not like it will totally ruin his life, as a murder conviction would've.

I don't have much more to say on this, other than to express my regret at not having been in MA to follow the thing more closely. I've only caught a few quick bits on Court TV. Good to see Cambridge hasn't erupted in riots or anything.

Strategic Reassessment of the Blog

Maybe this site needs a new mission statement. You see, if I were an ordinary blog reader, I wouldn't find much redeeming in this space of late myself. To make a blog worth reading it needs to be updated frequently, preferably a few times a day, with at least one thoughtful or interesting item on a daily basis.

I'm not making that standard lately, and it's all because I'm not tethered to a computer, as I used to be in my previous job. Back then, I had a chance to visit lots of sites during the day and put up some content that someone theoretically might want to read. Clearly, that is no longer the case.

I'll do some thinking and get back to you, OK? I want to keep the blog, but it needs to be something at least marginally worthwhile too, right? I can't even read that many blogs these days.

So that this isn't completely useless to you, here are some links I've enjoyed today:

"It's Hard Work!"
That Hilarious Healthcare Crisis
Foreign Citizens for Kerry
So that's how Cheney knows we'll be attacked if Kerry wins...
Bill Simmons will now light himself on fire

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Limber up the clicker finger

Red Sox playoff game or presidential debate? I don't see this as an either-or proposition, master of the TV remote that I am. Let's just hope I can avoid RSI tonight.

It's good to hear that Ted Kennedy will be watching both on two TVs, and he offered up the comment, "I'll be curious to see who hits the most fouls, George Bush or the Yankees." Well, I think we all know what Kennedy means, regardless of the jumbled phrasing. Good for Marty Meehan too, admitting he's watching the game and taping the debate.

Just when I thought I was out...

... they pull me back in, of course. There I am, dozing off while I keep watching the baseball game only to see if I might witness the horror of a Mike Mussina perfect game, and somehow the Red Sox pull within 8-7 an inning later, only to lose 10-7. They are masters of stringing fans along in games they eventually lose, but this one has to be some sort of new low.

I guess it gives them some confidence for tomorrow having scored some, even though it wasted my night. Damn, these games are exhausting.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Death in the News!

Why do people I've heard of always seem to die in bunches?

My inappropriate reaction to hearing of Christopher Reeve's passing: thinking of an Our Lady Peace song.

My second inappropriate reaction: recalling that John Kerry mentioned Reeve during Friday night's presidential debate. Maybe being associated with the Kerry campaign publicly is quite literally the kiss of death. Has anyone checked on those generals who Kerry was so desperate to tell us were supporting him?

Rodney Dangerfield died recently too. Among his one-liners:

I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

That one reminds me that two of Mariano Rivera's relatives were electrocuted while cleaning the pool at Rivera's home in Panama. Thus we get the potential indignity of the Red Sox losing a game finished off by former Boston closer Tom Gordon tomorrow night.

And to cap off the inappropriateness, the Astros' amazing home-run display that appears likely to send them into the NLCS tonight is a fitting tribute to admitted steroid-user and ex-Astro Ken Caminiti, who died Sunday of a heart attack at age 41. The Red Sox facing Clemens in the World Series would be insane.

Three Days' Rest is Dumb

That's my observation after watching the baseball playoffs over the weekend. First Minnesota on Saturday, then Houston on Sunday, sent an ace to the mound on short rest, and both Santana and Clemens lasted only five innings. Sure, both left with leads, but those leads evaporated on eerily similar three-run homers by New York and Atlanta.

Let's not pitch Schilling in games one, four and seven, please. I can live with Tim Wakefield pitching game four.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Alive and Picking, Week Five

Is this thing still on?

Apologies, been busy of late--too many presidential debates and baseball playoff games are taking up my scarce free time, rather than blogging. Thanks for your concern, I'm OK.

Last week's picks, which were only a couple of blog posts ago, were somewhat of an anomaly, too. Somehow I did better betting the spread (8-5-1) than straight up (8-6). I thought the Giants would cover at Green Bay, but I didn't accurately foresee them actually winning the game. Denver-Tampa was a three-point line and, lo and behold, the Broncos won by three.

This week looks good since the Ravens and Redskins are actuallky playing each other in the Sunday night game, freeing up the DC Sunday afternoon TV schedule for other games. You know God hates me if the local CBS affiliate goes with Cleveland-Pittsburgh instead of the Patriots setting the all-time win-streak record against Miami. We'll see.

On to the picks. Don't really gamble on sports, OK?

Atlanta (-6.5) over Detroit

I'm still waiting for Michael Vick's stats to pick up, seeing as he's on my fantasy team.

New England (-12.5) over Miami

Does anyone have the Dolphins in this game?

New Orleans (-3) over Tampa Bay

Saints will be angry after the embarrassment in the desert last week, and they'll take out the frustration on new Bucs starting QB Chris Simms.

Pittsburgh (-6) over Cleveland

Did you see Troy Polamalu's interception return last week? That was awesome, so good in fact that I would deem it worthy of looking up his name's spelling, but I'm lazy. I didn't get the Steeler rookie QB's name right last week either. Meanwhile, the Browns beat the Redskins last week, yes, though it was a hideous excuse for a football game.

Houston (+4) over Minnesota to cover and win

What the hell, I pick the Texans every week. The Vikings have no viable running back available for the game today, thanks to injuries to Moe Williams and Michael Bennett and Onterrio Smith's drug suspension, so they're down to a rookie fourth-stringer in the backfield. I think the Texans may just be able to load up enough on the passing game to stop the league's top-ranked offense enough to win.

NY Giants (+3.5) over Dallas to cover and win

I'm getting better vibes from the Giants these days. Dallas barely knocked off Cleveland and Washington in its pair of non-impressive wins.

Indianapolis (-9) over Oakland

While I'm complaining about fantsay football, Mike Vanderjagt, whom I have as my kicker, is actually questionable for this game. The kicker! I shouldn't have to waste an extra roster spot on this, sheesh. Kerry Collins did miserably last week, so it's doubtful he'll take advantage of the Colts' weakness in the secondary. I do like how the Raiders pass game has been energized by former UNC point guard and QB Ron Curry, one of the better stories in the league this year.

NY Jets (-6.5) over Buffalo

There are two very good teams and two very bad teams in the AFC East, and this week will make that rather clear, with this matchup and New England-Miami, just as last week's divisional games showed.

Arizona (+1) over San Francisco to cover and win

I'm a little surprised the Cards are the underdog in this one just because they're playing on the road. The Niners have been pathetic the last few weeks, whereas Arizona followed up a few close losses to good teams with a blowout victory over New Orleans last Sunday.

Seattle (-7) over St. Louis

Seahawks at home are as sure a thing as there is.

Carolina (+5.5) over Denver to cover but lose

Defensive struggle ahead between two proud franchises that are struggling a little bit to score. I think a 5.5 spread is too wide, even though ultimately the Broncos should prevail at home.

Baltimore (-3.5) over Washington

I assume the ESPN scoreboard has a mistake in listing the Ravens as a 33.5-point favorite just now. If the Redskins lose this, they had better guard the bridges over the Potomac, that's all I'm saying after the week we've had locally. I'm not so comfortable with this choice, though, after seeing the incompetent Kyle Boller last Monday Night.

Green Bay (-3) over Tennessee

The real bet should be the over/under on references to the "toughness" of the two quarterbacks during the Monday Night broadcast.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

"Global Test" Attacks Fails the Smell Test

Tom Oliphant is too pro-Kerry to rely on for objective analysis, though he does have a good column today on how Bush's efforts to make hay out of Kerry's "global test" comment in last week's debate hasn't worked:

The phrase his campaign jumped on, was the "global test" that Kerry said the use of force by this country inevitably faces. The problem for Bush was that more than 60 million people witnessed what Kerry actually said in Florida, and the president was selling too obvious a distortion of it.

Instead of submitting American interests to international veto, here is what Kerry actually said in the first debate:

"No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

"But if and when you do it, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people, understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove it to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

The lesson here is that you can get away with distorting a few words taken out of context from a political opponent's speech when that speech is one of the many campaign events that no one sees in full. But everyone saw the presidential debate in context. By "global test" Kerry meant a decision on pre-emptive war had to make sense in terms of our overall foreign policy in the world. Unlike, ahem, a certain war the current president decided to start.

I guess my faith in the power of the debates was underestimated.

After the battle between George Bailey and Mr. Potter in Cleveland tonight, the rematch at the top of the ticket comes Friday in St. Louis. What's up with the Friday night debate? Isn't that encroaching into the weekend time a little bit? Won't the TV audience be smaller?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Kerry Resurgence

I'm very surprised that Kerry seems to have gained in the polls based on his debate performance. Of course I thought he won the debate but I didn't think there was any obvious ass-kicking that occurred, especially since Bush has been incoherent his entire term and he's maintained support anyway. Just when people were starting to kick dirt on John Kerry, we're back even. I will refrain from any handicapping for the next month.

Since my baseball playoff picks were so horrendous a year ago (I picked Atlanta), I really should refrain from making them this year. I'll just say that it feels a lot like we'll be having another Red Sox-Yankees ALCS, the outcome of which I don't want to predict.

Blogging of baseball, I made note yesterday that I was at the Red Sox-Orioles game in Baltimore Friday night. I was dismayed to see that inside the stadium, along the concourse with the concession stands and bathrooms, there were military recruiters set up with a table. I really wish I could attend a game without the unpleasant thoughts of young Americans being convinced into becoming our next cannon fodder overseas (and besides, anyone with the disposable income to be attending a baseball game these days is unlikely to be in such financial straits that he would consider joining up, I would think).

The Boston Globe is showing some good old librul bias in documenting how corrupt the Republican Congress is with a new series.

Tom Friedman also seems to be figuring out what the Iraq War was all about at long last:

What I resent so much is that some of us actually put our personal politics aside in thinking about this war and about why it is so important to produce a different Iraq. This administration never did.

What does it say when the leading foreign affairs columnist in US newspaperdom gets so monumentally fooled by the folks in power into supporting their plans? The naivete Friedman continues to display is stunning. Maybe one of these columns he'll get around to admitting he was flat-out wrong to be a war supporter.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Week Four NFL Picks

Whoa, something must have been amiss last week since I compiled an 11-3 mark straight up and an impressive 9-4-1 mark against the spread. My only losses were the Saints' OT shocker in St. Louis, the Jags' last-second win in Tennessee, and the hapless Redskins defeat on Monday Night. Yay, me.

Pittsburgh (-5) over Cincinnati

I like this Ben Rothleisberger, even though undoubtedly I just misspelled his name.

Jacksonville (+3.5) over Indianapolis both to cover and win

Hey, it happened last year, when the Jags beat Indy in Jacksonville. This Jaguars team is one of those groups that is winning games inexplicably, so I'll go with that. The matchup of the NFL's 32nd ranked offense from Jacksonville and the 32nd ranked defense from Indianapolis should be thrilling.

Houston (+2) over Oakland to cover and win

The Texans validated my faith in them with the KC win last week. Let's not have a letdown back at home now.

New England (-5.5) over Buffalo

Anyone in Boston still willing to admit they thought picking Brady over Bledsoe was a mistake?

Philadelphia (-9) over Chicago

The Bears have some new QB starting now that Rex Grossman is out for the year, and this could get ugly.

Washington (-3) over Cleveland

A battle of the underachievers--on TV in my local area, of course. Too bad Kellen Winslow won't be playing because I'm sure his antics regarding the Redskins not drafting him would've been amusing.

New York Giants (+7) over Green Bay to cover but lose

Game of the week!

Carolina (-3.5) over Atlanta

Watching this one will be painful, since I have both Michael Vick and the Panthers defense on my fantasy team. Don't you hate that?

Arizona (+3) over New Orleans (win and cover)

Hey, the Cardinals have to win some time, and this looks like as good a week as any for them to get it done.

NY Jets (-6.5) over Miami

This is the CBS doubleheader game I'm getting. I would enjoy watching the Dolphins go down in flames once again, but not when the Jets are the other team.

San Diego (+3) over Tennessee

Steve McNair spent the first part of the week in the hospital, but what else is new.

Denver (-3) over Tampa Bay

#1 defense vs. 26th offense--who do you think will come out on top here?

San Francisco (+3.5) over St. Louis (cover and win)

This rounds out my theme of crappy west coast teams (Arizona, San Diego) getting wins at home this week. Kevan Barlow is very good and should run free on the Rams.

Baltimore (-5.5) over Kansas City

I was actually over by M&T Bank Stadium Friday night when I went to see the Red Sox play in Baltimore. They've got a nice setup over there, much better than having the baseball and football teams share a field. Oh, and the Chiefs are struggling while the Ravens are looking strong. Jamal Lewis, meanwhile, is doing his part to complete the conversion of the Ravens to a modern-day version of the team from The Longest Yard.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Line of the Night

Kerry, when Bush brought up the $87 billion quote:
Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?

Time is scarce, have a pleasant weekend.