Esti Ginzburg Has…

...A Pool Full of Winners.

We’ll be 1/4 of the way through the football season after this Sunday.  That seems hard to believe.  Time flies when you are watching baseball.  I don’t really think I’ve stumbled upon any trends or magic formulas this year.  Last year there was going against the public, going with the good QBs, and all of that crap that just adds up to more losses.  I’ve felt pretty good picking the games this year, and all that has gotten me is a sterling 8-7 record.  When I saw the lines this week I just stared blankly for about 40 minutes waiting for something to pop.  I think it’s actually going to help me, because I’ve had to dig a little bit deeper.  Let’s see what we’ve got…

Grossy:  Record 8-7

Patriots (-4) over Oakland.  I like the Pats laying 7, I love them laying four.  Normally, I wouldn’t take a team heading out to the coast to play a feisty Raiders squad, but this Raiders team isn’t very feisty on defense.  Is Ronnie Lott still out there? Because, it’s going to be another Tom Brady field day.  This time they only have to win by that late TD–no problem.  The Raiders should have a nice day on offense, go ahead and play your Raiders in fantasy, but it’s not going to add up to a cover.

Tampa Bay (-10) over Indianapolis.  There is no way, absolutely no way that the Bucs should be 10 point favorites over anyone.  Oh wait, Curtis Painter is starting?  That changes things.  The fact that this line is so comically high just makes me that much more comfortable.  What astronomical number can we set this at to get people to sample the Colts?  Everyone out there should know I hate the Bucs and I hate Josh Freeman, but the Colts are on the fast track to 2-14, and are efforting Jeff George’s phone number right now.

St. Louis (+1.5) over Washington.  Something doesn’t quite add up here.  Isn’t St. Louis one of the worst teams in the league?  Yes, they are.  Well, this line tells me that Washington is also terrible and we’ll know a lot more about that after they lose this game outright to the Rams.  The Rams somehow did win 7 games last year, and the ‘Skins aren’t that much different from an NFC West opponent.  It’s destiny.

Arizona (+1) over New York Giants.  Here’s another one that raises some questions.  I’ll assume the Giants will let down, or will it just be them playing like the mediocre team that they are?  The Giants might finally be what Larry Fitzgerald needs to get his life sorted out.  Eli’s due for a stink bomb, going to Arizona always causes weird things to happen.  It just feels right.  Another outright dog winner.

Minnesota (-2.5) over Kansas City.  Unlike the Rams, the Chiefs will get no salvation this week.  It’s only going to get worse.  This has to be the worst game on the schedule, so really, how can you not pick a winner?  I think McNabb finally has his day before getting benched in week 7.  Eventually the Vikings will figure it out and just give the damn ball to AP. The Chiefs don’t have anyone to give the ball to.

***

Big Dub H:  Record, 9-5-1

What do you do after a 4-1 week?  You fire away and shoot for a 1-4 week.

St. Louis (+1.5) over Washington.  This is the season for St. Louis.  They catch Washington coming off a short week.

Cincinnati (+3) over Buffalo.  This reminds me of the Titans knocking off Baltimore.  I’ll probably screw this one up too.

Minnesota (-2.5) over K.C.  A team with no wins is a road favorite?  Thank you, Vegas.

Dallas (-1.5) over Detroit.  Detroit is getting too much love.  They’re good, but they are overvalued here.

Philadelphia (-9) over S.F.  San Francisco is an embarrassment.  If the Eagles don’t blow this team out, I’m driving Andy, Castillo and Matthews off the Commodore Barry.  At least Matthews is benched.

***

Kraft:  Record, 6-7-2.

Detroit (+1.5) over Dallas.  Textbook letdown game for the Cowboys.  Big comeback, short week of preparation, their secondary has no answer for Megatron.

NE (-4) over Oakland.  Bill B. doesn’t lose back-to-back games, the Raiders don’t win back-to-back games.

Baltimore (-3.5) over New York Jets.  Baltimore just does everything better than the J-E-T-S.  They run the ball better, they play better D, Unibrow throws it better, plus the Jets will be looking ahead to next week’s matchup against NE.  What happened to that good Jets O-Line and the ground and pound running game?  Call Sherman McNeil’s agent.

Carolina (+6.5) over Chicago.  In Cam, I trust.  In Cutler, I puke.

San Diego (-7) over Miami.  Cross-country trip, Miami is horrendous, and San Diego had their wake-up call last week.  Tony Sparano gets fired at halftime, Bud Kilmer style.  Only thing is, Chad Henne is no Jonathan Moxley.

***

NICHOLS: Record, 6-7-2.  

  1. New Orleans -7
  2. Buffalo -3
  3. Atlanta -4.5
  4. Giants -1
  5. Jets +3.5

***

JCK:  Record, 10-5.  

  1. Saints -7
  2. San Diego -7
  3. Pittsburgh +4
  4. Pats -4
  5. Giants -1

***

Commissioner’s D.A. Top-10:

  1. Curtis Painter–His name’s Curtis.
  2. Blaine Gabbert–Worse in Week 2.
  3. Tarvaris Jackson–Just steadily awful.
  4. Chad Henne–He’s spiraling downward.
  5. The Red Rocket–If it wasn’t the Bills…
  6. Mark Sanchez–He’s due for a terrible one.
  7. Colt McCoy–Incompletion Machine
  8. Alex Smith–Eagles fan hope.
  9. Cam Newton–Already peaked for 2011.
  10. Rex Grossman–Get Beck loose.

Cardinals Rotation, Verlander, Etc.

Kyle Lohse Gets the Ball in Game One.

I guess one thing you should never do regarding Tony LaRussa is assume he’s going to do something.  Maybe I’m the only one, but I was surprised when St. Louis announced their rotation for the NLDS.  Chris Carpenter was locked into game 3, but I assumed that Jaime Garcia would start game one in Philly because of his historical domination of the home team, but Tony LaRussa has gone another direction, giving the ball to former Phillie, Kyle Lohse.  Now, Lohse has very good numbers against the Phillies this year as well and defeated Roy Halladay just a couple of weeks back right after the Phillies clinched, but historically, the Phils have fared much better off Lohse than Garcia.

I imagine LaRussa wanted Garcia to pitch at home (where he has better numbers), or he didn’t want Lohse to have too much time off in between starts, but whatever the reason it’s going to be Halladay/Lohse in game one.  The Cardinals will come back with hard-throwing right-hander Edwin Jackson in game 2.  In relative terms, compared to the other Cardinals starters, this is another decent match-up for the Phillies with Jackson facing off against Cliff Lee, who has great numbers against all St. Louis hitters not named Lance Berkman.  I think with the rotations lined up like this it becomes very important that the Phillies defend home-field, they probably aren’t going to have the edge we were expecting in game four.

***

When I look at the Tigers, I can’t help but be reminded of the Minnesota teams that relied so heavily on Johan Santana.  I remember thinking before the playoffs started in those years that Santana would be a nightmare match-up, a guy that could flip a 5-game series on his own, but that was never the case.  Santana didn’t have a great playoff record, when he pitched OK the Twins didn’t give him much help, and they almost always went home after one series.  I think most of the fear any team has in playing Detroit is rooted in having to beat Justin Verlander.  The Yankees have their hands full.  Or do they?  Verlander was not very effective in his only post-season (2006), and while he’s certainly a better pitcher now, there’s no guarantee that he’ll continue his regular season dominance.  Giving the Tigers game 1, or saying the Yankees will need to win the series in 4 is pretty foolish.  Still, the match-up of C.C. vs. Verlander tonight is an epic, and is a great way to kick off the post-season.

***

Twenty-two people at ESPN made playoff predictions.  World Series winners broke down like this:  Phillies 11, Texas 6, Milwaukee 3, New York 1, and Detroit 1.  I guess what surprised me about this was that the Rangers were the second choice.  Being stuck up here on the east coast, I guess my bias against the Rangers comes naturally.  They did win the AL last year, and their team doesn’t look much different this time around.  I guess my problem with Texas is ace-recognition. No Cliff Lee this year, and I’m always hesitant to pick a team that relies on scoring runs (look at what happened to them against SF last year).  I believe C.J. Wilson is a free-agent after this season, so if he really is an ace, and pitches like one this post-season, I’d expect a huge contract offer or two.  There are some teams in the AL East that could use some pitching.

I’m sticking with my Rays pick, though.  I think they’re on a roll.  I think Longoria might carry them for a series.  Just a feeling.  They’re usually wrong.

***

NFL Picks will be up later than usual today, but they will be posted.  I’d expect sometime around the cocktail hour.

Week Four NFL Reality Check with The Antagonist.

Mike Vick's Post-Game Transportation.

Someone asked me the other day what the worst part about living near Philly was, and right before I said something about the cheese saturated female population I changed my mind.  There’s nothing worse than a Philly fan.  They’ve got no balls. When their team is bad they whine or ignore them completely.  When the team is good, they still whine, but they throw in gutless panic, as well.  Oh no, the Phillies only won 102 games?  What are we ever going to do about the Cardinals?  I can’t wait until they lose game one and things really get kicked up a notch.

If you really want something to worry about, try the Eagles.  When they lose this week you can go ahead and settle in for a rousing 7-9 campaign.  That’s what coming.  The Eagles brought a Ferrari to a demolition derby.  Oh, you’ve got skill position players?  That’s great.  Too bad they’re all going to be broken and battered by mid-season.  Get ready for November when Vince Young to Jason Avant is your go-to combo when you are piling up backdoor cover touchdowns.

The Eagles stink.  And, San Francisco is just the team to prove how bad they are.  Don’t get me wrong.  The Niners are just south of mediocre, but to think the Eagles should be laying 10 points to anyone with that defense is laughable.  You’ll hear the pundits talk about how the line can’t go high enough for them.  The higher it goes, the bigger a lock the Eagles are, and maybe that’d be true if Michael Vick had any real shot of finishing the game.  He doesn’t.  And, how long until Maclin/McCoy/Jackson (combined weight 305 lbs) join the parade to the MRI machine?  Let me know when they start playing flag football in the NFL.  Then I’ll get on-board with Eagles.  In the meantime, do what you do best, Philly fans, panic.  Because, Sunday afternoon is going to be a nail-biter.

***

The Contraction Special:

Every week I’m going to highlight a game that should be taken off the schedule. Ideally, both teams would lose.  I love the NFL.  I have 4 fantasy teams.  I have a moderate gambling problem, and yet there is always at least one game a week that the baseball morons could point to as a response to the, “baseball is boring and awful,” argument. This week, that game is Vikings/Chiefs.  Zero combined wins.  Zero combined competent quarterbacks.  Zero combined coaches with a clue.  One great running back who doesn’t get the ball enough and one very good running back who no longer has a working knee.  If there was a prop bet that I could make about Todd Haley going 0-17 this year, I might take a quick taste—because you never know.  If I was an executive at DirectTV, I’d blackout this game.  What if someone accidentally puts it on?  They might cancel the whole package.  Just thinking about the game makes me want to vomit.  You’re better than this, NFL.

***

The AFC Special:

What is it about the AFC?  There always seems to be an AFC game each week that looks like a good matchup on paper, but is secretly awful.  There’s nothing that kills me more than hype over Ravens/Steelers games.  Those games are brutal.  These games probably aren’t exclusive to the AFC, but I don’t like the conference, and I’m sticking to my guns.  This week, the prime example is Houston/Pittsburgh.  Two winning teams, two probable playoff teams, what’s the issue?  I wish I could pinpoint the problem, but I just don’t care about this game.  I think it’s Schaub.  He’s got the charisma of artificial Christmas tree.  Runner Up AFC Special: Jets/Ravens.

***

Game of the Week:  Lions/Cowboys.

I can hear the cries of disbelief.  Where’s the love for the Pats/Raiders game?  That’s guaranteed to feature a minimum of 70 points, and I agree, but this game intrigues me.  I seek knowledge.  The NFC is wide open.  It is.  If you want to hitch your wagon up to the Packers, go ahead, but they are very beatable.  And, regardless, other contenders are going to have to emerge.  And, we know it ain’t going to be Philadelphia.  I’m not sure the Lions are any good, but they’re 3-0.  I think the Cowboys still have room for improvement, and probably should be 3-0 themselves.  It seems like there is no way Detroit is ready for this game on the road, but the Cowboys don’t bury anybody.  So, like I said, intriguing.

Five Fantasy Implosions:

  1. LeSean McCoy
  2. Arian Foster Part III
  3. Benjarvis Green Ellis
  4. Joe Flacco
  5. Daniel Thomas
Five Fantasy Risks to Take if You’re Desperate:  Because nothing is more annoying than some “expert” making Greg Jennings a strong play.
  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Denarious Moore
  3. A.J. Green
  4. Michael Crabtree
  5. Stevan Ridley
Over/Under Lock of the Week:  Colts/Bucs Under 40.5.  

So, St. Louis.

The Face of the Cardinals.

Anyone watch the baseball games last night? I don’t think there’s really much point in elaborating on what happened.  If you were expecting a couple of one-game playoffs like I was, well…you got something else.  Especially cruel endings for Atlanta and Boston, and a comeback they’ll remember forever in Tampa (assuming Tampa keeps their franchise).  I wanted the playoffs for the drama they usually create, but last night took care of that, and the Cardinals having to play one more game wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  Let’s be honest, there was no way the Braves were winning if they played today.  It was going to be St. Louis all the way.  So, we might as well embrace it.  If you want atmosphere, palpable tension, it has to be the Cardinals, right?  I feel like the excitement ceiling for the Diamondbacks is much lower, regardless of the circumstances.

So, what are the Phillies going to be facing come Saturday?

The Cardinals are a good team.  Before Adam Wainwright was lost for the season they were legitimate challengers to the crown that everyone wanted to hand to the Phillies on the day they got Cliff Lee.  Without Wainwright and without knowing that Lance Berkman was going to resurrect his career, most people slotted the Cardinals below the elite National League teams.  But, the Cards have been right there all year.  It’s just been a matter of their bullpen.  They actually started quite strong, but then the bullpen started blowing an inordinate amount of games, Albert Pujols lost some games to injury and the NL Central contenders started muddling around just above .500.  After the All-Star Break it was the Brewers who seized control of the division, and by the time the Cardinals found a somewhat usable option at closer they were too far back in the division.  They should have been too far back in the wild-card as well, but the Braves did a swan dive off the Bank of America building.

The summary is, the Cardinals are hot entering the playoffs, but they’re still pretty much the same team they’ve been all year.  They scored the most runs in the National League, they have two front of the rotation starting pitchers and a patchwork bullpen that can’t be trusted.  That’s the team the Phillies will be facing starting Saturday.  If you want to build up a 90-win team that averaged 4.7 runs a game into a runaway juggernaut, go right ahead, but I think the panic and naysayers should be tempered to a certain extent.

I’m going to look at this series in terms of what the Phillies need to do to win.  They’re the better team.  It’s no secret what the Cardinals have to do to win the series, they’ll need to play their best.  For the Phillies, it isn’t quite so simple.  Here’s five keys:

1.  Hit Jaime Garcia (at least a little bit).  Garcia is the scariest Cardinal from a fan’s perspective.  He’s a strong pitcher, but against the Phillies he becomes elite.  You’d think if a team like Houston can chip away at Garcia for a few runs then the Phillies should be able to do the same, but for the last two years they’ve been totally handcuffed by the left-hander. Working in the Phillies favor is Garcia will be squaring off against Roy Halladay, so hopefully they won’t need 7 or 8 runs, and this will be Garcia’s post-season baptism.  On the road, rowdy crowd, and the Phillies do have a history of flipping bad resumes on pitchers in the post-season.  They’ll likely need to beat Garcia once to win this series.

2.  Brad Lidge.  I just have a feeling Brad Lidge is going to pitch a big inning or two in this series.  That may not be comforting news to Phillies fans out there, but considering his experience and relative success toward the end of the season, there doesn’t appear to be many other right-handed options before Ryan Madson.  Now, the best case scenario is the Phillies starting pitchers duplicate the job they did against Cincy last year, but if the Phils get in a tight spot in a 7th or 8th inning, Lidge will likely have to answer the call.

3.  Work the counts.  It’s no secret that the Cardinals don’t have a ton of reliable arms in the bullpen.  The sooner the Phillies can get a starter out of the game, the better.  Especially against a guy like Garcia, who has been very economical in the past, they need to work some counts and be patient.

4. Hit a few Long Balls.  I don’t want to become a Charlie Manuel convert here and wait around for the 3-run homer, but circumstances may require the Phils to leave the yard a few times.  Home runs always help, but considering the Phils lack of speed at certain positions and generally how dinged up they are, they’ll probably need some 1-hit rallies.  Ibanez, Polanco, Howard, Ruiz–these are all station to station guys, and as we saw last year sometimes in the playoffs you don’t get to string 3 and 4 hits together very often.  The good news is, for all the grumbling about their offense the Phillies have plenty of one-swing pop.

5. Don’t get too painfully out-managed.  I don’t think I’m out of line if I say Charlie didn’t exactly weave a masterpiece against the Giants last year.  The miniscule batting average was a nice scapegoat, but Chuck was always one step behind Bruce Bochy.  Now, I’m in the Tony LaRussa is overrated camp, and I say go ahead and let him over-manage, but we can’t afford any Charlie head-scratchers in this one.

Prediction:

I think the Phillies will win the series.  I trust Roy Halladay, and I do think the Phils will play better than they did against the Cardinals in the regular season.  The Phils didn’t always have their best foot forward in those nine games.  For reference, here’s a starting 8 they put out against Garcia in St. Louis:

  1. Rollins
  2. Martinez
  3. Polanco
  4. Howard
  5. Mayberry–Pre-Minor League Stint
  6. Francisco
  7. Valdez
  8. Sardinha

I think the Phils have big advantages in games 2 and 4, and that’s enough for me to pick the home team in 4 games.  No haters live here.

Other Series Predictions:

Yankees in Five, Rays in Four, Brewers in Three.

The Debut of the Mailbag.

Oh, Hey.

Q:  What are your general thoughts on running red lights?  Personally, I never want to be the first car that stops at the light. Hank LeCroy, Shermer, IL.

A: I like that motto, Hank.  Sounds SUPER safe.  In fact, if everyone adopted that theory, we’d be in India.  Anyway, here’s my story with red lights.  I go through cycles.  I start pushing it further and further, and then I’ll get to the point where twice in the span of one week I go, “Wow, that was VERY red.”   Then I do the 360 degree neck spin to check for flashing lights.  This usually scares me straight for a while and I become the guy who is almost constantly getting rear-ended.  A lawyer once told me that if you look up in the middle of the intersection and the light is still yellow–you’re golden.  So, take that to the bank.  

Q: Is the lime the most overrated cocktail addition of all-time?  All we really want is the booze, correct? Dolores Flint, Augusta GA.

A: Very poetic, Dolores.  I’d break this into two categories.  The lime is certainly the most overrated addition to beer of all-time.  Every time I see someone mash up a lime and shove it into a Corona, I want to take the bottle and smash it over the person’s head.  And, don’t get me started on Bud Light Lime. Why, Bud Light, Why?  As far as cocktails go, sure any mixer or accoutrement is just a way to dress up the alcohol delivery.  It’s like when your mother made airplane noises with the spoon while shoving carrot puree into your hole when you were a kid.  And, certainly I can crush a gin and tonic without a lime in there, but perhaps you should embrace the luxurious nature of cocktail hour a bit more.  Go for the lime from time to time, I think you’ll like the results.  

Q: Did You Notice that Tiger Woods Jacked Dustin Johnson’s caddy, Joe LaCava, just a couple of weeks after they won together?  If DJ is considered one of the best young stars in the game, how is Tiger pulling this off?  Considering his current form, I wouldn’t invite him to a Nine & Dine.  Thom Tucker, Jupiter FL.

A: Did I notice?  Of course, I did.  But, what I really noticed was the reaction.  You know what this whole Tiger thing has taught me?  That people love to be up in arms about something.  They can’t stand Tiger still dominating the media.  They can’t stand he got picked for the President’s Cup team.  Now, he’s got his pick of caddies despite slipping out of the top-50 in the world.  It’s not fair!  No, it’s not, because Tiger doesn’t play by the same rules as other people.  He’s Tiger.  You can’t take that away with missed cuts and lost endorsements.  He is still, BY FAR, the most captivating and marketable figure in golf.  If Luke Donald walked into your local golf shop, 1/2 the people wouldn’t even look twice.  If Tiger strolled in, the entire area would SHUT DOWN.  Chaos.  And, LaCava is taking a chance to be a part of that, a part of possible history as well, because he can see it from the inside, and he’s not some hater who wants Tiger to be punished by the courts of morality and karma.

Q: I recently had a burger that was 60% ground beef and 40% ground pork.  This probably won’t come as a surprise, but it was really good.  Have you dabbled?  G.T. Washington, Marshfield MO.

A: You know what, G.T.?  I have dabbled.  I’ve gone through a big learning curve with burgers.  There was a time when I had no idea what I was doing.  I’d buy ground beef that had 6% fat, because I thought that was the best and it cost the most.  ERROR.  Those burgers turned into dense hockey pucks.  Since then I’ve settled into 85% lean.  Anything less, and you venture into grill fire territory.  The pork combo was a nice revelation for me.  I don’t have the sophisticated palate to talk about the exact differences in flavor, but what I really liked was the texture–and it was extravagantly juicy. They are a bit fatty, so you’ve got to watch them, but I am pro-pork.  Who isn’t?

Q: Every single one of my friends has at one point said they’d want to own a bar.  I certainly understand the appeal of a bar, but it seems like too much work.  Also, I’d likely go out of business serving up free drinks to friends and hot women.  If you take the bar out of the equation, what should be my dream business?  I need some goals.  Dan Pine, Coatesville, PA.

A:  This is a great question.  Who doesn’t have a little entrepreneurial aspirations?  It’d probably be a lot easier to tell you what kind of business not to start.  A video store, for example.  NO.  I have my share of ideas, but considering they’re protected by copyright and you strike me as a somewhat lazy individual, I’m going to go off the map a bit.  I think you need to exploit people’s sensibilities with a do-it-yourself type thing.  You know, like one of those car washes where people come in and pay for the privilege to man-handle the suds gun?  But, again, you seem especially lazy, so I’m going to be inspired by your name and tell you to open a Christmas Tree farm.  First, Christmas is recession proof! Secondly, people love cutting down their own trees.  It’s woodsy and rustic.  And, of course, you only have to be open for a couple of months a year.  So, start planting buddy and get back to me in 10 years when the dough is rolling in.  

Q: Is the window unit A/C the most inferior product in the world to its immediate successor, meaning central air?  Once you live with A/C  you can’t live without, and I imagine once you go central, the same thing applies.  Thank god it’s Fall.  I want to drop kick my window unit off the top of my building.  Sally Draper, Ossining, NY.

A: I think you’re on the right track, Sally.  The window unit is an invention of desperation.  Central air is true innovation.  In the dead of the summer my window unit cools MOST of my bedroom.  Things get a little sticky near the door.  Plus, the noise.  Good god.  I’m trying to think of other things that qualify.  I suppose plugging in a ‘fridge instead of hauling a chunk of ice into your kitchen was a pretty big step.  I’m not a real technology buff.  I’m going to say you are correct with the A/C until someone proves you wrong in the comments.  

Q: Would you rather have all the books you have read or all the money you spent buying them?  And, what about CDs and DVDs?  Aside from filling shelves, I’m not sure what the point is, if I could trade in my 50 DVDs right now for a quick $750, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Lee Thomas Jones, Carson City NV.

A: I don’t know that these questions can be grouped together, Lee.  Would I trade in most of my DVDs?  I probably would, but at the same time, you never know when you are going to want to catch The Big Lebowski.  I have slowed my purchases in the movie category, and I suppose if you are Blu-Ray’d up, the DVDs are about as useful as a 28K modem. You’ve convinced me, I’m trading in the DVDs.  Books, on the other hand, no chance.  We’re not talking about a life-changing amount of money here, so while the DVDs could spark a little bender, the reward for not having my books isn’t great enough.  I’m not a Library guy.  I don’t do well at returning things.  And, I like my copies.  I like to look at how pretty they are.  Plus, I think of the pedestrian vocabulary I would tote around if it wasn’t for my books, and I say, keep your dirty money, Sir.

Q: The Phillies are about to embark on another playoff run.  What are your thoughts on selling non-decisive game tickets?  If the Phils make the World Series against the Yankees and I can get 4-figures for game-2 seats, aren’t I a moron not to take the cash? Russell Aguayo, Haddonfield NJ.

A: Of course someone from Jersey sends this question in.  Money is obviously tight with all this pawning on people’s minds.  Well, what I’d say to you, Russell is, what if Cliff Lee throws a no-hitter in game 2 of the World Series while you are sitting on the couch watching that money pour into your PayPal account?  Then how will you feel?  Also, do I need to remind you that you are getting ahead of yourself?  Let’s enjoy the NLDS.  To your actual question, you gotta do what you gotta do, Russ.  If your kid needs a new retainer or something, go for it.  Just don’t lie about being there down the line if something amazing happens.  

 

Wednesday Morning Self-Esteem Check

I Heart Myself, But Not my Week 3 Picks.

Ok, I’m finally getting around to this.  Better late than never?  I hope so.  The truth is, I could probably crank out another airport/flying post.  It’s impossible to have a normal air travel experience, but we need to get down to the business.  I’ll put those stories in the vault.  As it turned out, it must have been a very easy week to pick NFL games.  Our experts (aside from myself) had their best week of the season.  Maybe I’ll eventually join the party, or maybe I’ll just end up finishing in dead ass last like I did last season.  Let’s get it:

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. JCK:  10-5
  2. Big Dub:  9-5-1
  3. Grossy: 8-7
  4. Nichols:  6-7-2
  5. Kraft: 6-7-2

The “Chase Utley Finally Homered” Pick of the Week:  We had multiple 4-1’s this week, so it’s hard to narrow it down to one pick, but as you know, I love originality.  Winners get you the season crown, but the occasional odd ball selection is what brings in the weekly hardware.  This week, I’m going with Big Dub’s (4-1 on the week) selection of Oakland.  If he had only picked them outright, we really would have had gold, but this is a classic example of people loving the Jets WAY too much, road favorites?  Come on.  Big Dub sniffed it out, and stayed within hunting distance of JCK.

The “Blame it on Mike Gundy” Awful Pick of the Week:  At one point on Sunday, I thought I was going to start 0-3.  Then, I thought I was going to go 3-0.  Ugh, I can’t handle the swings.  Ultimately, things bounced mostly wrong, and even my spite pick is no longer undefeated.  But, Detroit’s brain dead 1st half, and their insulting win/no cover is going to be the awful pick of this week.  I made it, Kraft made it, a lot of people made it.  Is falling too in love with the Lions a crime? Yeah, I guess it is.

D.A. Standings and Summaries:

I like where things are going in D.A.  This week was a bit of a reality check for rookie QBs.  Cam Newton didn’t throw for 400 yards, Blaine Gabbert looked like you’d expect, the Red-Headed Rifleman (credit someone) was awful.  That’s what we expect and need to play proper D.A. fantasy football.  Throw in Tommy B’s 4 picks and it was quite the week.  Also, the longest losing streak in fantasy sports rolled on.

D.A. Standings:

  1. Team Horse Face 3-0
  2. Kraft 2-1
  3. Fake Chow 2-1
  4. Neckbeards and Codeine 2-1
  5. The Slop Jocks 1-2
  6. The Shiva Cry 1-2
  7. JCK 1-2
  8. Eli Esses D 0-3

Game Summaries:

The Shiva Cry Finds the Win Column with 13 to (-5.75) Win over Eli Esses D.

Not sure what to say about Dub’s losing streak at this point.  These two guys were both jockeying for Eli Manning to the point that Shiva took him #3 overall.  Of course, in a match-up of 0-2 teams, you’d expect their desired QB to put up negative points, and he did, dropping (-18) on Shiva Cry.  But, that’s why there is Sam Bradford.  The Rams are something special this year, and by special I mean the worst offense in the NFC.  Bradford totaled 31 points for the easy win.

JCK gets 1st Career win, 41 to (-10.25) over Kraft.

Persistence pays off?  JCK stuck with Cam Newton and Andy Dalton this week and was rewarded.  The Jags figured out a way to stop Newton from piling up penalty yards and Dalton was just horrific, anchoring the team with 31 points.  I think both will be hot D.A. commodities going forward.  On the other side, Matt/Tim Hasselbald would like to be dropped from D.A. consideration, at least for one week.  He totaled (-28.25) points.

The Slop Jocks Upset Fake Chow, 45.75 to 18.  

After amassing negative totals the first two weeks, the Slop Jocks got back in the mix with a much-needed win over Fake Chow.  It was a balanced performance, relying on Colt McCoy’s inaccuracy and Kerry Collins getting replaced by Curtis Painter.  Is Reggie Wayne on your fantasy league’s waiver wire yet?  The Colts should remain a solid D.A. play.  For Nichols and Fake Chow, this was just a steady performance that didn’t have the wow factor.  Matt Cassel (2 points) was vanilla instead of explosively bad.

Team Horse Face Takes over 1st Place with 30.75 to 1 win over Neckbeards and Codeine

This was a nice match-up of undefeated teams, and it came down to Monday Night’s Cowboys/Redskins game.  Horse Face was sitting on Blaine Gabbert’s 18 points, but needed to survive Tony Romo.  Wheezing through an injured lung, Romo couldn’t find the end zone, and did nothing well, but win the game. A very D.A. trait.  For Neckbeards, I’d blame the Jets defense.  Jason Campbell (-4 points) didn’t meet expectations.  Is New York no longer a match-up problem?

The 3-Putt Territory D.A. of the Week:

I remember last year I dropped the crown on Drew Brees, saying the chances to give him the title would be limited.  Using that argument, I could give the prize to Tom Brady and his back-breaking pick-6.  But, Brady threw for 350 and 4Tds as well.  That’s not D.A.  The D.A. isn’t really a gunslinger’s award, and those are gunslinger’s numbers.  No, I’m going to crown Andy Dalton.  First of many, I hope!  Some may say I’ve had an itchy trigger finger for this cat, and those people are right, but you can’t deny the numbers.  Dalton was 17/32.  Two Interceptions.  A rating just north of 40, and more importantly he lost to Alex Smith at home by the final score of 13 to 8.  That’s 13 to 8.  Time to build a new trophy case, Red Rider, I wouldn’t be surprised if you go back-to-back.

Phils Fans Need To Buck Up.

Save The Shrinking Violets For the Dash of Your Beetle.

I think I might be partially to blame for this.  This, should we be rooting for the Phillies to lose to the Braves nonsense.  In the week after Raul Ibanez’s grand slam the Phillies became an incompetent bunch, and people started hunting out easy playoff match-ups, not out of preference, but out of necessity.  The Cardinals morphed into a juggernaut, and the mere mention of Jaime Garcia would make a nervous Phillies fan wee-wee in their diaper.  The anyone but the Cardinals mentality turned an entire city in Braves fans.  Until last night, of course, when many were left to ponder if the team would be better of losing to Atlanta–ushering them into the post-season.

The paradox is that the fans had spent the whole previous week saying the Phillies couldn’t enter the post-season on such a cold streak.  They lost 8 in a row, and if the Braves swept they would have lost 11 of 12 entering their date with Arizona or Milwaukee.  Was avoiding the Cardinals worth that type of slump?  Not all match-ups are created equal.  I’d love to face Mike Pelfrey every night, but that isn’t going to happen.  I certainly see how you’d prefer Arizona to St. Louis, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Phillies are the best team in the National League, and have been all year. 

Once again we’re too close to our own guys.  We gloss over St. Louis’ late-inning collapse against the Mets last week, which highlighted their atrocious bullpen.  We ignore the feared Jaime Garcia’s inability to beat the 100-loss Astros last night.  I wouldn’t confuse the Cardinals with the 2007 Rockies.  They’re playing all right, but as much credit goes to the total nosedive the Braves are performing.  And, the Phillies are better than they were in 2007 as well. 

I certainly was in the anti-Cardinals camp, and spouted that belief here.  That’s why I’m going to shoulder some of the blame for our poor sense of self.  That was just a projection, though.  I didn’t foresee a situation where Phillies fans would be contemplating rooting against their own team–which you should never do.  Now that it’s gotten down to this point, the Phillies will get who they get.  I want to sweep the Braves right out of the playoffs, or force them into a one-game playoff, because if you can’t get by St. Louis, you aren’t going anywhere anyway. 

I’m going to spend another day flying today, and so I’m going to use a plane analogy.  The end of the season has felt a little bit like the stress of getting to an airport for an early morning flight.  You can’t sleep well the night before because you’re afraid of over-sleeping.  What if the security line is longer than it’s ever been?  What if the I.D. that I’ve checked in my pocket 5 times disappears?  What I’m saying is, you worry about things you really shouldn’t be worried about, but then when you plunk yourself down in a seat at the gate 40 minutes before your flight even starts boarding you realize what a waste of time it all was.  You know how to catch and flight, and the Phillies know what they are doing too.  When Roy Halladay steps onto the mound in game one, I hope the comfort and confidence level returns for Phillies fans, regardless of the match-up.

***

Are the Marlins really going to pay Ozzie Guillen 4 million dollars a year to manage?  What’s the Marlins payroll?  Are they actually going to spend money in the new stadium, because if they aren’t, this hiring makes no sense.  You’re going to count on your manager to create interest?  Is this A League of Their Own?  I heard a passing rumor last week that the Marlins were going to get in the Albert Pujols mix.  Now, that would be a statement, and an incredibly odd choice by Pujols.  Of course, it won’t happen, and Ozzie will end up going out of his mind sometime during year two.  Miami Marlins Fever.  Catch it. 

***

So, I saw Moneyball.  I read the book years ago, and I have a working knowledge of the A’s during those years.  I think it’s interesting that when the movie finally came out, people starting picking at the whole theory.  The A’s really weren’t winning because of Scott Hatteberg.  They were winning because of Hudson, Mulder and Zito and Eric Chavez could still hit over his weight, etc.  That doesn’t really have anything to do with the movie, though.  I think the less you know about Moneyball, the more you may like the film.  I’m certainly not going to put it in the upper echelon of baseball movies, but Brad Pitt was good and I found myself enjoying his rapport with Jonah Hill in spite of myself.  If you harbor any resentment toward MLB Scouts, you’ll love the film, because they get hammered the entire time.  For those wondering, they did not create a movie ending.  The A’s still did not win the 2002 World Series.