I’m Out.

FunnyBirthdayPic

The Blogger fell victim to a Practical Joke on His 3rd Birthday.

That’s not true.  I mean, that picture is totally doctored, and is that a girl?  I can’t even tell.  I had better hair.  I know that.  So, the news has been leaking out.  It is my birthday today.  In lieu of gifts please make a donation to the Human Fund.  But, seriously, it’s no big deal.  We should all be thankful for this day, though, because if I wasn’t around you’d only have 83 websites in your time-wasting rotation instead of 84.  You’d be that much more in tune with celebrity gossip.  So, you’re welcome. 

I don’t have a story to tell, an anecdote today.  We should probably just realize that a great man was born today.  A man who once led the undefeated T-Ball Mohawks to the World Championship of Malvern, PA with a 1.000 batting average (that’s not a typo).  A man, who once won a slam dunk contest against himself (on an 8 foot rim).  A man who once mastered the game NES Open to the point where no one before or since will ever touch his prowess.  A man who came up with the idea of Spicy Chicken Nuggets, and the condiment revolver.  A man who was recently named one of the top 2,000 golfers in the history of Rabbit Run Road.  And, of course the man who writes this blog that has captivated you so.  The anecdote that is this man’s life?  Well, it’d just would be too hard to believe. 

What are the plans for the big day?  Well, lets just say I may be at Chuck E. Cheese’s around 7 pm if anyone wants to stop by.  I’ll be the guy hustling six year olds on the skee ball courts.  Yeah, I called them courts.  I own them sh*ts.   Of course in reality I will be at Chuck E. Cheese, but only because I moonlight as Chuckie.  Times are tough. 

If I make it through this intense night at “The Cheese”, I’ll have a big weekend schedule locked up.  I mean, Pearl Jam is closing down the Philadelphia Spectrum on Saturday Night.  This has music nerds all atwitter.  “I heard they’re playing till dawn.”  “I heard they’re playing every song on every album in reverse order”.   I’m sorry, I just love concert nerds.  Can’t wait to hear the set-list, and how sick it was.  It is a shame the Spectrum goes down.  Great building.  Especially for a hockey game. 

The Phillies announced they’re going Joe Blanton for game 4 of the World Series.  This disappoints about 46,000 Philly fans who had tickets for game four and were hoping for Cliff Lee  (count the blogger among them).  But, you know how that Turtle looking M’F’er rolls in the Series.  He picks up wins, and rips homers.  Should be gravy.  All I think it does it crank up the pressure on Cole a little more for tomorrow.  Seriously Cole, cute Comcast commercial.  Now, put your dog in its little Louis handbag, toss it over your shoulder, and get to the park.  You have a game to win.

I was going to send out a rally cry for David Duval this weekend.  He’s 125th on the Money List, and that’s the last spot that gets full status for next year.  The Tour is somewhere down in Mississippi where its been raining since Labor Day.  First Round pushed back until Saturday.  Come on Davey.  Make that cut, we want to see your wild ass on Tour in 2010. 

Happy Halloween everyone, send me pics of yourselves in costume.  I’ll blog the horsebleep out of you.  I hope you get good candy too.  Like all snickers, milky ways and twix.  Maybe some M&Ms.  I’m sure you know all the good houses by now.  Have a good one….Go Phils.

NFL Picks Week 8.

RoyTarpley_31103

Roy Tarpley Paved the Way for Stanley Roberts.

Welcome, welcome.  Well, we all know that I’m a sucker for a good theme, more than good picks, so on this lovely week 8, let’s start with Mr. Kraft.  If you haven’t been betting against Kraft this year, well, you’ve missed the boat.  Without further ado:

KRAFT: Record 13-22 (Last Week 2-3).

I’ll get my picks in early this week, so everyone can rush to the window, their bookie, or their fav online site and go the other way, since I have firmly established myself as the worst handicapper you can find anywhere in cyberspace.  But I must think positive, this has to turn in my favor.  I will take 3putt’s suggestion on the “Geiger Counter”, since old school NBA may be my comfort zone, so I will go to my “happy place” and take inspiration for my winning pick with my fav NBA big guy for the winning city….Here she goes:
 
GB -3 over Minnesota
Jack Sikma- 7’3″ center with a perm for the Milwaukee Bucks.  He can shoot the 3, he can shoot the hook shot, and he has a perm.  How are you going to guard this guy?  Brett Favre cost me last week, Ias he fell back into his very giving ways, as in I will cost my team the game with careless turnovers.  He is going to be unbelivably jacked up for this game.  With Brett Favre, that is not a good thing.  He may throw 7 picks.
 
Detroit pick ‘em over St. Louis
Rick Mahorn- 6’10” bruiser for the Pistons whose only skill was committing a hard foul. But, boy did he really know how to grab someone driving to the bucket by the neck.  I’ll take any opportunity to bet against the Rams, and now I don’t have to give any points?  Detroit does play hard every game, so I’ll take the Lions
 
Cleveland +13 over Chicago
John “Hot” Rod Williams- Flat top haircut, wore #18, you gotta love a guy with the nickname “Hot Rod”.  played alongside Larry Nance, Craig Ehlo… Everyone who reads this probably is wincing, saying this pick is why I suck so much, but the Bears have proved to me that they are not good. Period.  I know Cleveland sucks, but i’ll take 13 points considering the Bears cannot run the ball, they don’t play good Defense, and Lovie Smith hasn’t said 1 word this year.
 
Jax +3 over Tennessee
No NBA team in Jax obviously, so I’ll go up the road to the Atlanta Hawks.  You may think of Dominique, but when I think ATL, I think JON KONCAK.  Do you realize that Jon Koncak was once the highest paid player in the NBA?  Look it up, it’s fact.  Every good NBA team needs a Center that they can pencil in 4 pts, 4 rebounds and .5 blocked shots per game for an 82 game season.  And those guys don’t come cheap.  Vince Young?  Really?  Vince Young and an 0-6 team GIVING POINTS? 
 
Dallas -9.5 over Seattle
Roy Tarpley- drug problem, check.  Banned from the NBA, check.  Weight problem, check.  Everything you need from an NBA center.  The Cowboys looked a little frisky last week.  Seattle just lost their best LB for the year, they do play in the NFC west (and NFC west teams fold up like lawn chairs on the road), and they have the worst uniforms in the league.  Give me the Boys, i’ll lay the 10.
 
 GROSS:  Record 18-16-1 (Last Week 2-2-1).

Indy (-13) vs. San Francisco.  Nobody gets out of the gates like Peyton and the Colts, ok?  This team is always built to start the season 9-0 at least.  After that?  Who knows.  I’ve been pounding this home all year…the Niners are NOT good.  Somebody’s gonna get lit up.  Think Atlanta…the sequel.  Colts 35-17.

Carolina (+10) @ Arizona.  Just because.  Just because I think Carolina can put up some points, and this is the game where the Cardinals let down, and we realize that they aren’t a good team.  Just keep the pick numbers in single digits Jake, and you should have a chance to win this one out right.  Arizona 27-24. 

Buffalo (+3.5) vs. Houston.   I know I’m flipping on Houston here, but this line seems low, and so I have to think that Buffalo is going to rise up at home.  Plus, Houston is the kind of team that is more than happy to throw in a stinker on the road.  That, and they couldn’t put away the Niners for the cover last week.  In a shockingly bad game, Buffalo 20-17. 

Baltimore (-3.5) vs. Denver.  I was wrong about Denver.  Stone wrong.  I like them as a team, but I think they may be 6-0 against the number to go along with their undefeated record.  These types of things don’t last.  They’re not going 16-0, and have NO shot at getting anywhere close to that against the spread.  Tough trip for Denver.  They finally let down a bit, this is this weeks Minnesota/Pittsburgh.  Ravens 23-17. 

Atlanta (+10) @ New Orleans.  There’s a little too much momentum on the Saints bandwagon for my liking.  I think they win this game, but they were lucky to cover last week, and I think this week they miss out.  The Falcons, despite screwing me last week, should be able to put up some points, and if they can manage what should be a rabid crowd, I think they keep it within a touchdown.  Saints 31-24. 

BIG DUB H:  Currently MIA, perhaps upset at the “Charcoal Pit” comment.  Will post when I know ‘em…

Yanks Bounce Back.

AJburnett

A.J. Burnett's Curveball was all Frank Tanana-like.

Game two wasn’t all that different from game one, just the other team came out on top as the Yankees evened the series with a 3-1 victory.  It was another night of good starting pitching.  In this case, A.J. Burnett was better than Pedro Martinez, and the Yankees were the team that knocked a couple of home runs out of Yankee Stadium.  Even the home runs were similar.  One bomb, and one bleeder.  Very symmetrical stuff.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that we could be headed toward a long series.  Guys like Tim McCarver, that state the obvious are always harping on the importance of the odd-numbered games in a series.  Well, it does tend to go that way sometimes, and game 3 now holds more weight than even game one.  It’ll be Cole’s last chance for about the 10th time this year to sort it out.  If he doesn’t, look out.  Couple things I noticed in Game Two:

A.J. Burnett was better than I expected him to be, and a game that not many people saw as a pitcher’s duel, turned into one.  Burnett and Martinez were both working slowly, and the early innings drug along with not many base runners.  Burnett settled in nicely, and looked sharp.  His curve ball was especially brutal on left-handed hitters.  We can talk about the umpire giving him a few extra inches on the outside corner all night, but at least he was consistent.  I don’t like expanding the zone like that, but the third time Howard strikes out on a ball out there, he has to see it coming.  Of course, what is he supposed to do with that pitch anyway?  Burnett didn’t need the help, and honestly, I wouldn’t have had any reservations if I was Joe Girardi sending him out there for the eighth if the situation had dictated it. 

Getting back to the umpires, if they were ok in game one, they weren’t in game two.  Both teams saw potential run scoring situations stifled by mis-called double plays.  First base umpire Brian Gorman had an off night to say the least.  He called a line-drive that was short hopped by Ryan Howard an out (Jorge Posada was then doubled off), and then missed a bang/bang play at first in the next inning, calling Chase Utley out, and giving the Yankees an inning ending double play.  I don’t think the umpires have had a role in the outcome of any game to this point, the better team won both games, but they are getting dangerously close to making themselves part of the story, and we don’t want that. 

Lastly, these two beastly offenses have been a little disappointing to me.  A-Rod has six strikeouts in two games.  Ryan Howard took a golden sombrero on Thursday Night.  Even Notorious Nick Swisher got benched.  I wish the Phils could figure out a way to bench Pedro Feliz.  They could warm up that stiff by putting him in a freezer at this point.  I guess it just goes to show you that good pitching can get past good hitting, especially with two teams that love to strikeout as much as these squads do. 

Off day Friday, and with the series tied we know it won’t end before the blog re-appears on Monday, so until then, you’ll have to get your baseball fix elsewhere.

If it Wasn’t for the World Series…

eli

...We'd be talking Eli.

Game Two of the World Series tonight, and honestly, it needs no build-up.  Not only that, I have no idea what is going to happen, and I’m man enough to admit it.  So, just watch everything unfold, but as the weekend sneaks up on us, perhaps we should talk about the “Game That Lost its Luster”.   Aka, Eagles/Giants.  Seems both fan bases are caught up in this whole baseball thing.  The NFL even pushed the game to 1 pm to ease the traffic pain down in South Philly.  Convenient excuse to get Favre on at 4 o’clock, I say. 

It’s still an important game.  No way to escape that fact.  They’re playing for the lead in the division, and positioning in the NFC playoff race.  The NFC still has some pesky, bad teams like the Cowboys hanging around in my opinion.  Hey, maybe the Eagles are one of these teams as well.  Probably slightly more important game for the Birds, because it is their home field, but at the same time the Giants are coming off back to back losses.  The most recent, to those defending NFC champion Cardinals. 

I don’t think either team is as good as we hoped they’d be for this match-up.  A couple weeks back it was easy to picture both of these teams coming in with one loss as a worst case scenario.  Now, they both have two.  The Giants are banged up, but are getting a solid year out of Eli Manning, and have been putting up a lot of points.  The Eagles seem a little one-dimensional on offense (DeSean Jackson), but have managed to score as well, with the exception of that Raiders fiasco.  Brian Westbrook’s concussion may be less signficant than you think.  He hadn’t been himself all year, anyway. 

I guess, in the end, this game is what it is, and that is an appetizer for Game Four of the World Series.  I will say it is odd, that what had to be considered the biggest home game of the season for the Eagles is getting virtually no attention.  Tunnel vision on the Phillies.  What does Las Vegas say?  Straight up Pick ‘Em. 

On the good side of the NFL schedule this week there are two nice match-ups.  Denver is heading to Baltimore, and Green Bay gets to host Favre.  Now, the Broncos continue to impress.  They have not had a cake walk to get to 6-0.  They’ve had San Diego, New England, Dallas, Cincy…they haven’t been pushing over the Rams every week.  Baltimore has had  a tough schedule as well, but hasn’t handled it.  They’re sitting at 3-3, and need at home win to stop the bleeding, and stay in the AFC hunt.  Vegas has them laying (3.5).

Favre coming back to Green Bay should be a circus.  I guess this is kind of like a Duke/UNC game for Packers fans at this point.  Like, it’s not a good season if we didn’t beat that other team.  This is the only game that matters for Packers fans.  They had nothing to do with what went down, but you’d have to think they’ll feel a little betrayed if Favre continues to roll on with Minnesota.  The Vikings are coming off their first loss, and the Packers have so many levels of revenge here…it’s insane.  Huge game in the NFC North, the line says Packers (-3.5), seems a little….high. 

So, what’s the awful game of the week?  The stinker that I like to highlight that could possibly bring historic statlines.  More turnovers than points?  Well, this week there is a gem.  Those one win Lions welcome the defeated Rams to town.  Now in one sense, you lo0k at this and say, well here’s a chance for St. Louis to win a game.  But, doesn’t part of you want to see the Rams get blown out here?  Because, what then?  Where do you go from there?  They’d have to be hands down the worst team of all-time.  At least through the first half of a season.  Most places have this off the board (I assume because no one wants to bet it).  But, you don’t need a rooting interest in this epic struggle.

What Makes A Great Burger?

burger

More Skill, Less Frill Please.

Too much baseball talk, right?  Who cares.  Let’s do burgers.  I’ve been thinking a lot about burgers lately.  What’s that stat?  Guys think about burgers every 8 seconds or whatever?  I think that’s what it is.  So, a burger is one of those foods that is never necessarily awful.  It’s not rocket science, but at the same time it can be elevated to some pretty high levels.  I think I mentioned a little while ago I recently went to a new restaurant that claimed to have “The Best Burger in Philly”.  It was at the new Stone Rose in Conshocken.  I’d rather someone else make this claim after eating it, than have it just stated from the get-go as fact, but I was curious.  It was a pretty good burger, but at $11 American, I thought there were some pretty serious bun stability/cheese quantity issues.   A few days later I was at Five Guys crushing a much better burger for less money.  There’s a ton of personal preference involved, but I look for a couple things. 

Bun Quality:  Rolls make sandwiches.  We all know this.  For burgers, I think there’s a couple ways to go, but I prefer soft yet stable.  So, nothing in the Kaiser category.  Does anyone like Kaiser rolls?  I’m just asking.   I love a nice potato roll, a brioche, something along those lines.  You don’t want the bun to break apart, but at the same time, you like a little flexibility.  A big, crusty roll you can’t get your mouth around. 

Juiciness:  Probably the most important thing.  I know a lot of people don’t like their burgers as rare as they would like a steak, and I think this makes sense.  It’s a different experience, so if you’re going for a little warmer temperature you have to be careful about maintaining that juice level.  A couple thoughts in this area.  I think people get enamored with patty thickness.  Here’s something Five Guys has figured out.  They cook all their meat all the way through, but the patties are very thin, and so they stay juicy.  That’s a great home grilling tip.   Little thinner patties, and if you have to, double up.  Another juiciness tip, if you’re making a burger, make the commitment.  Don’t get 93% lean beef.  It’ll dry out in a second.  Go 85%.  It’s a burger, not a bowl of spinach.  Might as well roll with the extra 8 %. 

Cheesing:  So many different cheeses go well on a burger, it’s really up to you.  Mix and match.  Whatever.  But, nothing annoys me more than getting a burger at a restaurant, and being able to see the cheese outline.  Meaning, the cheese does a piss poor job of covering the patty.  This happened to me at Stone Rose too.  It looked like someone had put a cheese postage stamp on my burger, and they were going to throw it in the mail.  Hit the edges, Playboy.  This ties into something else.  It’s all got to fit together.  Bun, patty, cheese, it all has to be the same size, for bite consistency.  No tiny patties, and giant buns. 

Garnish:  Put on whatever you want.  Really.   Mushrooms, Bacon, Onions, Tomato…its a free for all.  These things don’t make the burger, just supplement it.  What I can say, though,  is that a little seasoning or flavor boost can go a long way.  Little pepper, go crazy with one of those Montreal Steak Seasoning things, or if you’re forming your own patties, put a little A-1 or Worcestershire in there.  It makes a big difference.

The great thing about the burger is it’s so democratic.  It takes some skill to crank out a quality steak, and maybe it’s not that easy to get a great cut of meat, but the burger is very doable.  Give me some beef, rudimentary supplies and little Weber grill, and I’ll take down 8/10 restaurants, I promise you that. 

Speaking of which, I can’t really think of a lot of places off the top of my head where I really like the burger.  There was a place in Lancaster called Quips that had a great Burger.  Other than that, nothing is popping into my head as amazing.  A lot of solid options.  I do really like 5 Guys.   Oh, in closing, if you’re ever hanging out with Big Dub H, and he lauds the burgers at the “Charcoal Pit”…don’t go.  He’s delusional.

By the way, Here’s an article that Haas sent me recently on the Best Burgers in the Philly Area.

Every Little Thing He Does is Magic.

Phillies Giants Baseball

Mother Lovin' Had 'Em Headed for the D Train Early.

So, it was best case scenario for Phillies fans in game one.  Cliff Lee out pitched C.C. Sabathia, and the Phillies earned a relatively stress free 6-1 victory.  Things seemed to fall into place for the Phillies at every turn, but that was mostly the work of Lee who showed the poise of an assassin.  He said after the game that he never gets nervous, and after watching that performance, I might believe him.  Lee’s casual confidence approached detatchment at times, but he never let the Yankees figure him out.  Especially baffled were the combination of Alex Rodriguex and Mark Teixiera.  They combined to go 0-8 with five strikeouts.  Tex looking especially hapless.  For a night, the Yankees offense slept.  

There were a couple key moments for the Phillies.  The first was Chase Utley’s walk in the first inning.  It looked like C.C. was on the verge of having a quick 8 pitch inning, but Utley worked a walk, and then Ryan Howard followed with a double  into the corner.  It was only a nick, and the Phillies didn’t score, but they ran up C.C.’s pitch count a little bit, and on a night where he wasn’t 100% sharp the more pitches he threw, the better it got for the Phillies. 

Utley’s second home run was also huge.  His first shot was a little bit of a cheapy, landing just over the right-field fence, but his second homer was vintage Utley.  A line drive, no doubt, rocket into right center.  Perhaps far more than the first ball, it proved that Utley is at the least, healthy.  He may not stay dialed in, but thoughts of a lingering injury should be put to rest. 

Utley was the offensive star, and  he finally got some help when Raul Ibanez grounded a two-out single through the right-side in the eighth.  The 2-run lead seemed fairly safe with the way that Lee was pitching, but when Ibanez knocked in two more, it was a done deal.  There’s already been some grumbling about whether or not Phil Coke should have been in the game to face Ibanez, and that’s a classic hindsight decision.  In Girardi’s defense, Raul has hit left-handers pretty well this season. 

The last thing I take from Game one is that the Yankees bullpen, while filled with dynamic arms, may not be lights out.  It looks to me that they are losing a little faith in Phil Hughes.  The young Yankee arms can be overpowering, but they weren’t overflowing with poise on Wednesday night.  A little wild, perhaps a little prone to getting flustered.  It’s not unlike what happened in the Dodgers series.  The Phillies relief staff, which could very well face similar problems, was given the night off. 

The win sets up Pedro for a free roll tomorrow.  I’m very intrigued by this game.  I heard a ton of over-confidence on the drive home from Phillies fans and that worries me, but I think the Yankees fans might be a little quick to assume they’ll knock Pedro around.  This is a little personal for Petey, and the Yankees line-up was put into a little one game slump by Cliff Lee, maybe it will carry over.  Regardless, I think it’s good for the Phillies that the heat is turned up on Burnett a bit, and just looking forward to another good game.  Should be a great series.

Thanks Cleveland!

drew carey

Everyone Except these Idiots.

Nice try Andre Agassi.  Trying to make me think about writing some tennis.  I think not.  You’re going to have to better than some meth.  I’m desensitized.   Meth?  Whatever, might as well say you had an extra espresso before each match.  Not buying your book.  Unless the pictures are like super sweet. 

Nope, it’s game one of the Series.  I think weather is going to hold out.  Al Roker?  Thoughts?  Yes, I’m sure that danish is delicious, but are they going to get the game in?   I’m sure they will.  It’s cleared in Philly.  New York can’t be too far behind.  That’s the weather update.  So, I just did a little spin in the car, and 610 WIP is coming live from a Chickie & Petes in Jersey somewhere.  You can’t even hear the show, because Yankee and Philly fans are just screaming at each other in the background.  Might be  a good place for a DUI checkpoint.  Regardless, it was classic.  Everyone is ramped up for this one, and those moments before the first pitch, when you’re balancing nerves and expectations, it should be amazing.  And, of course thank you to the Indians for their Mortgage the Present managerial style that has made this pitching match-up possible.

How the Phils Win:

1.  Get Ahead.  These are going to be McCarver-level insights.  No, I’m serious here.  A run in the top of the first would do wonders.  This team has confidence, but they don’t want to sit back and wait.  The first time through the order has been pretty quiet a lot of times in this post-season for the Phils.  We don’t want to get C.C. rolling downhill.  Literally or Figuratively.   Yikes. 

2.  Stay Ahead.  I’m joking.  8 innings and 3 runs or less from Cliff Lee.  The over/under in this game is 8.  And over is +120, so that tells you all you need to know.  It’s likely first to 4 wins.  Win or lose, Lee has to pitch well.  The Phillies have no chance in this series without him.  So, if he loses a pitcher’s duel to Sabbathia fine, Cliff’s got to be “Mother-Lovin”. 

3.  Avoid the Biased Umps.  I’m joking again.  The Phils can’t give anything away.  That means no defensive blunders.  No relief pitchers coming in, and walking guys.  Those have been the two losing formulas for the Phillies this October, and it’s not really characteristic of the team, but the Yankees certainly need no favors. 

What the Yankees Need to Do:

1.  Hit Bombs.  This ain’t the ’85 Cardinals.  It’s not walk Vince Coleman, steal second and third, sac fly.  The Yankees hit homers, they love hitting them at home, and it carried them to the best home record in baseball.  Rinse and Repeat.  If the Phils pitchers offer up a few chuck and ducks?  Long night. 

2.  Get the Ball to Mo.  I know that most Yankee fans are comfortable with their middle relief.  It is very good, but there’s very good, and there’s Mariano.  A direct hand-off from C.C. to Mariano would be ideal.  See, the Phils hit their share of bombs.  And, they’re far more likely to run into one against Chamberlain or Hughes than Mariano. 

3.  Lock Joe Girardi in the Umpire Room.  I’m joking.  Haha, but seriously, Joe…just stay in the dugout, keep to yourself, do a Sudoku or something.  Game will be over before you know it.