Online Poker a Scheme?

Shocking.

There is part of me that wants to applaud Full Tilt Poker.  Certainly you could weave in something about a fool and his money, but I guess I can’t come out and be pro-Ponzi Scheme.  That’s not a real compassionate position.  What’s the bottom line?  At the end of March this year Full Tilt Poker owed players 390 million dollars, but had only 59 million on hand.  Whoops.  Where did the money go?  Well, over time the board members of Full Tilt received 440 million in payments.  So, there’s a bit of that missing cash.  Of course, the case gets more profile, especially in the poker world, when professional players Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer are named as board members and are associated with over 60 million in fraudulent payments.  Time to rethink the whole “Jesus” nickname for Ferguson?  It always seemed to me that Full Tilt sponsored an inordinate of players and poker events.  I guess with paydays like that, it isn’t too hard to lure spokespeople.

I do feel badly for the people who lost money in this, because Full Tilt was just playing to people’s simplest desires.  It’s like calling a phone sex line and imagining a supermodel on the other end.  You assumed Full Tilt was above-board, because you wanted it to be, and you wanted to gamble online.  You wanted in on the poker craze, and felt you were on the doorstep of cashing in on millions.  Millions of people from the start ignored the shadowy legality of online poker. From the beginning there was an insistence by many that it wasn’t legal.  If you happened to ever take money out of an online account, it wasn’t like money was coming from a reputable bank.  You’d get a check from the 3rd National Savings Bank of Bolivia.   The point being, there were always red flags, but the promise of huge sums of money makes people ignore the warning signs.

I played cards online a little bit years back.  Fifty bucks here, a hundred there.  No big thing.  I always deposited with the understanding that I’d eventually lose all the money.  I guess I harbored some hope to stumble luckily into huge sums of cash, but I knew myself well enough to know that I’d blow it in the end, betting on a game, or on an ill-advised trip to the “blackjack table.”  I imagine that must have been part of the fuel for all this.  I’m sure there was a statistic about how many depositors actually withdrew money.  It must have been a very small number, and if you are looking at those numbers, taking the money before it is actually lost and ignoring the small percentage of winners is a pretty short step.  It’s a greedy and criminal step, but it’s not much of a reach.

It’s funny that in my limited experience playing cards online there always seemed to be a running joke that the whole thing was fixed.  After an odd hand, or an especially bad beat you’d get comments joking that the whole thing was rigged to increase the volume of betting.  People were paranoid about other players seeing their cards, paranoid that the program wasn’t a proper or accurate simulation, but they trusted their money was safe, which is an odd paradox.  I’m not sure this very hand of poker I’m playing is legitimate, but the thousands of dollars I have in my account?  No worries there.

Obviously online poker took quite a hit this year, and this revelation about Full Tilt is just the latest blow.  The bottom line is, you probably don’t want to be playing poker online right now.  Or at least, don’t take the nest egg and sit it in an account over at Bodog.  Gambling should probably be left to the casinos and to illegal card rooms and bookmakers.  At least when you get involved with those elements, you know what you are dealing with.

Are the Braves and Red Sox Really Choking?

Now, The 2007 Mets on the Other Hand...

Jayson Stark to the microphone please:

“The funny thing is, 3 weeks ago we had NO races to talk about.  NONE.  And now Boston and Atlanta, well, they’re scuffling. If the Rays catch the Red Sox it’ll be the first time in the HISTORY of divisional play that a team made up a 9 game deficit this late in the season.  So, is it likely?  Well, you’re talking about something that’s NEVER happened.  But, it certainly COULD happen this year.”

Tim Kurkjian Interjection:

“And the Braves, the Braves lost their 4th game in the last two weeks when they had a lead in the 8th inning and the entire year up to that point they’d only lost 3 such games.  In fact, the last time a team with a rookie closer with  an over 95% save conversion rate, blew three games this late in September was 1964.  And, who was that closer?  Jack Baldschun of the Phillies.  After Jack Baldschun retired he became a Little League pitching coach in Huntsville, Alabama until he decided to finally retire in 1999.  Who was his last pupil?  You guessed it, Craig Kimbrel.*”

*None of that is True.

You get the point, though, right?  The Red Sox and Braves are in dire straits.  The Rays are hot.  The Cardinals are extremely warm.  It’s got the attention of people in Philly, because we’re suddenly panicked about facing the Cardinals in round one.  They were supposed to be out.  When your team has Brad Lidge, you don’t want to face Albert Pujols.  That’s the rule.  But, the Cardinals keep winning and the Braves keep blowing games.  The Red Sox lost 6 of 7 to the Rays to usher them back into the race.  They’re struggling with the Orioles.  Both these teams have blown the lion’s share of huge leads. So, they must be choking, right?

The gold-standard of baseball choking is the 1964 Phillies.  I’m fairly sure they blew a five game lead with four to play.  At least that is how it feels when you hear the story recounted.  No doubt they blew a very comfortable margin.  Gene Mauch will forever take his lumps.  I wasn’t around in 1964, and so I can’t account for what happened game by game (and I’m certainly not going to research it), but I imagine it wasn’t just a pure choke.  In baseball, these things tend to be cumulative team efforts, and unfortunately timed cold spells.

I will buy the fact that you can choke in an individual sport.  Go watch the highlights from any Ryder Cup.  Seriously, pick any year.  2010–Hunter Mahan hits a chip 13 inches.  1995–Johnny Miller said of Jay Haas, “You know you’re choking when your pop-ups start going crooked.”  1991–Mark Calcavecchia played the last four holes at Kiawah in something like 23-over par.  That’s choking, but how does that translate into a team sport?  Was Chipper Jones “lost in the lights” ground ball last night a choke?  Did that in turn make Kimbrel choke?  It’s unlikely.

The biggest problem the Red Sox have is their pitching isn’t even good enough to choke, they just stink, and their offense (suffering from some injuries) can’t carry the whole load anymore.  Can a team that starts John Lackey and Andrew Miller on a regular basis choke?  Maybe, but it seems to me that the Red Sox pitching is just finding its level at an inopportune time.  I understand it was a huge lead, but they could still easily make the playoffs.  They’re still going to win over 90 games with the 21st best ERA in the league and the 3rd fewest quality starts of any team.  That doesn’t sound that chokey.

And, the Braves, well I imagine no one remembers now, but at the All-Star Break I wondered how long the Braves bullpen could maintain this workload.  We’re now at 77 games for Craig Kimbrel.  Eighty-two for Venters.  Venters’s September ERA is 4.82.  Kimbrel’s is 4.62 after being 0.00 in August.  You look at these guys and the first thing I think of is Antonio Bastardo.  Bastardo’s September ERA is a robust 9.00.  That’s after a 1.74 in August.  I haven’t heard that Bastardo is choking.  I’ve heard he’s completely out the gas.  The difference is, the Phillies held their big lead and have everything clinched, but if the Phillies were entirely dependent on a couple of Bastardos, well they might be “choking” too.

The great thing about the 162-game season is that it can’t be faked.  If the season was half as long, we might have ended up with Pittsburgh in the playoffs.  We know now how unjust that would have been.  Or, if the season was 40 games long, the Marlins could have been a wild-card contender.  I guess the Marlins did their choking in May and June when they could hardly win a game.

The fact is the Braves had been skating by on pitching all year and it’s catching up to them and the Red Sox had been covering up a glaring weakness and they’re no longer doing as good a job.  Could they choke in the end? As entire teams?  I suppose they could, but it’s their deficiencies as teams that got them in this predictament to begin with.

Tuesday Morning Self Esteem Check.

The Self-Esteem Meter Reads 37 Degrees.

History.  That’s the word of the week.  Cam Newton’s making history.  We had a historical D.A. Total.  I arbitrarily declared the week the scariest backdoor cover week of all-time, and of course, Andy Reid blew his 30th game as an NFL head coach–a runaway record.  I am in the worst position possible as someone picking games.  I feel really good.  I feel like I should actually be in better position.  You know what that means?  Yep, 0-5 next week.  But for now?  Riding high. Composing this post from atop a comically tall director’s chair, scoffing at the masses.  Let’s go…

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:  

  1. Grossy 6-4
  2. JCK 6-4
  3. Big Dub H 5-3-1
  4. Kraft 3-5-2
  5. Nichols 2-6-2

The “What the Hell’s A Letdown Game,” Pick of the Week:  If you look at the picks from last week closely you’ll notice that every single expert here picked the Ravens/Titans game.  Four geniuses got it wrong.  But, one person saw through the fog and nailed the Titans.  Let’s check and see who that was…oh, it was me.  Congratulations to myself for spotting the letdown of the century.  If the Packers could ever get a stop, I’d really be onto something.  Overall it wasn’t our best week, but I’m happy riding the 3-2 train.

The “This Isn’t Baseball, 3 out of 10 is Horrid,” Awful Pick of the Week:  I don’t want to kick people while they’re down.  I mean, 2-6-2, those are some serious wounds to lick, so we’ll bypass some of the mutual atrocities we saw last week.  Just note the standings.  For the official award, I’ll just give myself the double for taking the Colts.  I’m not exactly sure how it happened either.  It was a litmus test.  Are the Colts one of the worst teams in the league?  Yes, now we can move on, but I’m forever the guy who bet on Kerry Collins and Joey Addai.  The loss was worth Colts fans coming to the realization that the season is lost and they’re in the Luck race.

D.A. Football Standings:

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

D.A. Results and Game Summaries:

As you can see, we’ve already got some class definition in the D.A. Standings.  I think Big Dub is now a collective 3-13 in D.A. games.  Considering the format, that’s almost impossible.  He’s like John Daly.  When he misses, he misses big.  The sheer amount of yards being gained has hampered D.A. scoring this year, but I think we’re trending back to normal and that was evident with one historic point outpoint in week 2.

Neckbeards Steamroll On with a 14 to (-27) Win over JCK.

JCK had the first pick in the draft. I imagine it came down to Dalton, Jackson, or McNown.  Unfortunately, Andy Dalton, the Ginger Assassin was not the right play.  His (-20.5) point day set the tone and the rest was history.  For Neckbeards, his squad was anchored by new D.A. stalwart Matt Cassel.  Cassel had a mind to throw 4 or 5 picks on Sunday, he just needed the chance.  His 26 points offset an odd D.A. effort by Cam Newton, who would have blown up if it wasn’t for the penalty yardage.

Team Horse Face handles Eli Esses D 38 to (-35)

Team Horse Face just missed out on the playoffs last year, and I think that has motivated them out of the gate.  They used the 2nd pick to secure 8 points out of Tarvaris Jackson (where were the picks?), but then dropped the hammer with Kerry Collins and his show-off number of incompletions.  As I said, Eli Esses D doesn’t take the easy way out, he swings for fences.  For his whole D.A. career Matt Hasselbeck has been a bit of an all or nothing guy.  On Sunday he was surprisingly good for nothing (-33 points) against the Ravens.

Fake Chow Remains Unbeaten with Modest 8 to (-3) win over The Shiva Cry

This was the week of people hating on their own teams.  Picking against the Birds, Giants and Pats and then Shiva Cry nabs Eli in D.A.  The lesser Manning was OK (3 points) considering they won the game, but Colt McCoy (-6 points) couldn’t really hold up his part of the bargain.  I don’t think Fake Chow is running on all cylinders quite yet, but they’re still notching wins thanks to smart and conservative plays like Alex Smith (9 points).

Kraft Rewrites the Record Books with 94.25 to (-5.25) Win Over The Slop Jocks.

Wow.  I don’t have the D.A. Almanac in front of me, but I think this might be the highest weekly point total and the largest margin of victory in the history of D.A.  It all started with Kraft riding the bounce back week of Chad Henne and his trademark inaccuracy (33 points), but the star of the D.A. show was Luke McCown.  I believe the technical football term is Jeez Louise.  McCown flat out did it all in a 61.25 point effort.  The Slop Jocks were powerless against the onslaught.  A retroactive Ryan Leaf probably wouldn’t have helped.

3-PT D.A. of the Week:

Maybe the clearest winner of all-time.  Thank you Jacksonville for being so cheap.  I know David Garrard is not Joe Montana, but there is no way he’s anywhere near as bad as Luke McCowNown.  It must have been like Christmas morning for the Jets defense.  They came downstairs and McCown was the pretty present all wrapped up and in the shape of Big-Wheel.  McCown was 6 of 19, which is sneaky bad, he threw 4 picks (21 percent of his attempts), and managed just 59 yards.  He’d eventually get pulled, but the damage was done.  His quarterback rating added up to a nice round 1.8.  A new low for 2011, and possibly an unreachable benchmark for the rest of the year.  The best news is, the soon to unemployed Jack Del Rio isn’t sure he’ll go with Blaine Gabbert in week three.

*Check out the tab at the top of the page for week 3 D.A. info and another historical D.A. performance.

Watch Some Network TV!

Excuse Me, What's on Channel 13?

Summer television is officially over.  Say goodbye to Big Brother.  I don’t think people pay any attention to the television seasons anymore.  Cable shows are only on for 3 months, the networks trot out swill for the summer season, people don’t have the attention span to watch something that isn’t on Demand/DVD/Netflix, you get the idea.  The major networks don’t really adjust to modern tastes, though, or they do, but it takes them too long and they always make the wrong choices.  So, as soon the grocery stores start filling every square inch with mini-pumpkins, the networks have some new fodder for you.  I’m going to go through each night this week and tell you what to do…

Monday: Word association with Monday is Monday Night Football and the Bachelor.  But, unfortunately it’s Dancing with the Stars season, and Monday night football is now on ESPN–disqualified.

Watch:  Hell’s Kitchen (8 PM Fox).  Hell’s Kitchen is hilarious.  It’s the profanity.  It makes you wonder how you ever get a decent meal at a restaurant and also what happens to all those rubbery scallops?  My other favorite part of this show? Everyone that works in a kitchen looks like a mess.  Just chain-smoking, clawing onto the steep edge of sanity, messes.

Don’t Watch: Two and a Half Men (9 PM CBS).  Ashton Kutcher replaces Charlie Sheen on a show that hadn’t been funny (ever?) in a long time.  I loathe Ashton Kutcher.  I’ll never forgive myself for liking the first episode of Punk’d.

New Show:  Two Broke Girls (9:30 PM CBS).  Hey, it’s Kat Dennings.  You loved her in the 40-year old virgin.  This is by far the best reviewed new show that I’ve seen this year.  Is that like being the best reviewed Tyler Perry movie?  I don’t know.

Tuesday: Tuesday boils down to people who watch Glee vs. people who don’t watch Glee.  If you watch it, I feel like it consumes your whole day and you can’t do anything else.

Watch:  Parenthood (10 PM NBC).  Why?  Because I sometimes watch Parenthood and I don’t want to be the only person in the world who watches the show.  It’s not really good.  I can’t give it a ringing endorsement, especially now that Minka Kelly is gone, but I think it could have been good.  I must still be waiting to find a groove.

Don’t Watch:  The Biggest Loser (8 PM NBC).  Come on, people.  The show is two hours long.  And, that includes 20 minutes of crying. Also, the last 1/2 hour is just people getting on a scale.  Would you go down to the Chick-Fil-A and watch people weigh themselves for a 1/2 hour?  Ok, bad question.

New Show: The New Girl (Fox 9 PM).  Test exactly how much you like Zooey Deschanel.  I’m pretty sure she’s playing her Elf character in this one.  Score!

Wednesday:  Wednesday just brings heat.  It’s a DVR’s dream.  Really it’s a question of: do you like actual shows, are you stuck in your ways, or are you a flavor of the month singing contest ho?  Everyone fits into one of those categories.

Watch: Modern Family ( 9 PM on ABC).  The premiere of Modern Family is an hour.  That’s amazing news.  I’m fairly sure it picked up an Emmy last night.  A year late.  I think Parks and Rec was funnier last year, but still you have to watch this show, it’s a real gut-buster.

Don’t Watch:  Survivor (8 PM on CBS).  Survivor is like the Simpsons of reality shows at this point.  And, people still watch it, which scares me, because it makes me think the Celebrity Apprentice is still going to be on 12 years from now.  Worst part?  Jeff Probst is probably rich beyond belief now.  Nothing makes me angrier than “hosts.”

New Show:  The X-Factor.  (8 PM on Fox).  Somehow Fox tricked you into watching American Idol year round and made you think it was your idea.  Suckers, but hey, Paula’s back.

Thursday: Seinfeld is still on, right?  I was thinking recently, when is Seinfeld going to stop running in syndication?  I figure the last actual Seinfeld fans were born what, in like 1984?  So, that means it’ll pretty much last forever.  The Office, on the other hand, won’t do as well.

Watch:  Parks and Recreation (8:30 PM on NBC).  The Office needs this lead-in at this point.  That’s all I’m saying.  I’m hoping for 23 episodes of Bobby Flay Throwdown style burger challenges with Ron Swanson, but that’s just me.  It’s the new funniest show on network TV, which is interesting, because I hated the 1st season.

Don’t Watch: The Mentalist (10 PM on CBS).  Really people?  The Mentalist?  I don’t like shows based on someone being clever.  Ok, I just made that up, but really the Mentalist is garbage.

New Show:  Whitney (9:30 PM NBC).  I’ve been hearing about Whitney Cummings for a couple of years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever really laughed at any of her stuff.  She’s funny, but not in a carry a TV show kind of way.  At least, that’s according to me.  I’m predicting small things for her sit-com.  The previews look dicey.

Friday:  I’m now into season two of Friday Night Lights and I’m seeing how the show torpedoed itself on DirectTV, or whatever happened.  Strange season.  Love that Buddy Garrity, though.  TV on Friday is never exciting, because they assume if you were exciting, you’d be out doing something more fun than watching Dateline Mystery.

Watch

Don’t watch TV on Friday.  Just trust me.  There’s nothing there.  It’s a 4-day a week habit.  Five if you count football on Sunday (which I don’t, that’s recreation).

Ok, there you go.  Your week’s planned.  You’re welcome.

Vick Hurt.

Kafka Begins Quest to get Traded for '12 First Rounder.

About 20 minutes before Mike Vick left Sunday night’s game with a concussion I sent out a text asking how much longer he could possibly stay upright.  For the second straight game, Vick was taking a beating.  It finally caught up to him, and the Eagles as well.  The Falcons flipped a double-digit deficit after Vick was replaced, and the Eagles went from getting away with a sloppy game to flying home 1-1.  It’s not a certainty that Vick will be out next week against NY, but it’s a strong possibility and now we’ve gone two straight years with the Eagles’ QB suffering an early season concussion. Nothing against Mike Kafka, he came in and looked all right considering the situation, but this team is built around Michael Vick covering up its deficiencies. They’ll need him back.  

Vick’s injury, and the subsequent shift in how the game played out just highlighted how much of a QB league the NFL is right now.  The 32 most important guys in the league are the ones taking the snaps every week.  If you think anyone other than a QB deserves to win the MVP every year, you’re crazy.  You want an idea of how your team is doing?  Look at your QB.  Is it Matt Cassel?  If it is, you’re probably screwed.  If you’ve got Tom Brady, you’re doing all right.  That sounds obvious and simple, but with the amount of points being scored, and the total lack of defense being played, if you’ve got a game manager, you might as well have Luke McCown.  

***

Ok, these seasons really are over:

1.  Kansas City.  Wow.  Sometimes you have a (-79) point differential after two weeks.  And, I’m not entirely sure the Chiefs have played a good team yet.  The Bills and Lions have scored plenty of points, but I don’t think anyone expects them to meet in the Super Bowl.  Add in Jamaal Charles’s knee injury and you’ve got 4 months of agony left in K.C.  The only question is, do they even bother firing Todd Haley?

2.  Indianapolis.  I’m glad I got picking the Colts out of the way, because now I won’t touch them for the rest of the year. Will a Colt be starting on any fantasy team by week six?  I’ve got Reggie Wayne available.  Fifty cents on the dollar.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the Painter era.  Then draft Luck, cut Peyton and he can go play in Buffalo under new coach, Tony Dungy.  

3.  Seattle.  What were the odds on a shutout?  1:1?  How many quarters would it have taken for the Seahawks to score?  I couldn’t understand why Big Ben was still in there when it was 17-0.  That game was over.  The Seahawks aren’t going to go quietly in the Luck sweepstakes.  We can’t score, but we can’t really stop anyone, either.

4.  Miami.  Tony Sparano has that twitchy look that only NFL coaches can get when they’re slowly going crazy and waiting to be fired.  When it gets to the point, it’s best to just put the guy out of his misery.  Is Nick Saban available?  Bobby Petrino?  Any of the last several years Houston going on the road would have been a stink bomb, and the Texans may still be a fraud, but the Dolphins’ stank takes precedence over the Texans’ having no heart. 

5.  Minnesota.  Great game for Don, but he’s only one man.  Did Adrian Peterson actually sign that deal or was it a 30-day trial?  My goodness, the Vikings should play the Dolphins.  Winner moves to Los Angeles, loser joins the Big-12.  

***

The Three Games Will be a Trend Fantasy Watch:

1.  Cam Newton.  Will the Panthers throw the ball every play?  Will they always be coming from behind?  Will Newton get 10-15 points running the ball a week?  The answer to all of those is probably yes, so on the off-chance he’s still available, pick the guy up.  He’s not going to come crashing back down to earth until people start playing him. 

2. Kenny Britt.  The most annoying fantasy wide receiver of 2010 has turned himself into Andre Johnson this year.  Isn’t it strange that the Cardinals went a whole year without being able to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball, but the gosh dang Titans can make it rain to Britt every week?

3.  Fred Jackson.  Yes, he’s a Bill.  Yes, the Bills are lighting up scoreboards.  And, the guy is doing it on limited touches.  He’s not even a workhorse and he’s killing you as some clown’s flex back. 

4.  Gronkowski.  Why isn’t Randy Moss coming back to the Pats?  Because they have Gronkowski, and he’s going to catch 20 TDs this year.  Last week I said to myself, I hope Gronkowski has a bad week and then I’m going to try to trade for him.  Well, this guy’s value doesn’t look like it’s dropping anytime soon.

5. Vs. the Chiefs.  Obviously, this is the only real defensive option available.  Any other team might accidentally put up 30 points, but not the Chiefs.  I figure it’s only a matter of time before teams start returning kicks against them too.  

***

The “Rams and Giants Won’t Make it Anyway” Week 2 Top-10:

  1. New England
  2. Green Bay
  3. New York Jets
  4. New Orleans
  5. Detroit
  6. Philadelphia w/Vick
  7. Baltimore
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. Houston
  10. Atlanta

Phils Knock Off 5th Straight Division

The Celebration Waited For Hunter Pence's Pants to Come Off.

The Phillies division championship hangover manifested itself in a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday night, and of course, no one really cares.  They should be allowed as much after five and half months of dominant baseball.  The next 10 days will be a trial in maintaining focus while the Phillies try to get some guys some rest and get others sharp for the upcoming NLDS.

I’m not going to go too in-depth into the Phillies’ win.  I watched the game at a restaurant/bar and it looked like there was amazing energy down at the stadium.  People were cheering in the restaurant during their meal, which caught me a little off guard, and it was actually nice to see that the division crown still meant a lot to the fans after 4 in a row.  Eventually the fans in Atlanta got sick of such things.  I’m not sure that would ever happen here.  And, it was nice to see the players genuinely enjoying the moment too, especially Hunter Pence, who really just let it all go.  I don’t think you can overlook the energy he’s brought to this team.

There are still plenty of things to talk and speculate about, and I’m sure people are worried about the offense again all of a sudden, but I think the only proper thing to do right now is to take a breath.  Kind of like the Phillies did on Sunday night. They’ll be back by October.

 

Erin Heatherton Exercises…

...Her Right to Pick Winners.

So, it’s week two.  You’ve got to assume that you’re not going to learn anything, trend wise, about the NFL all year.  You’ll definitely think you have something from time to time.  Oh, the Bills offense looks feisty.  Then this week they’ll score 9 points against Oakland.  About the only thing you can do is not overreact to week one.  Or at least take into consideration that we probably saw some flukes last week.   That was my general thought this week.  Don’t overreact and don’t get caught up in the, “Oh, there’s no way this team is starting 0-2,” stuff, because plenty of teams will start 0-2.  Let’s see what everyone else was thinking:

JCK:  Record: 4-1 (Last Week, 4-1)

Ravens (-5.5) over Tennessee.  My brother-in-law is in town visiting from TN, and he was saying just last night how bad the Titans are.  I live in Boston, so I’ll take his word for it.

Tampa Bay +3 over McNabb’s Love Handles.  I know it would be almost impossible for Don to replicate last week’s performance, but still the Vikings stink.

San Diego +7 over New England.  I like the Patriots in their home opener, but not by 7.  I think this comes down to a last minute drive and FG.

Denver (-3) over Cincy.  This is my stinker of the week.  Broncos win, 5-0.

Texans (-2.5) over Miami.  I know everyone in Miami is catching Air Henne Fever, but the Dolphins are not very good. They cannot run the football, and they won’t score 40 points, but the Texans will, 42-17.

***

Grossy: Record 3-2 (Last Week, 3-2)

New England (-7) over San Diego.  I think the Pats are going to be in a high-scoring mentality all year, because they know their defense is going to give up a few points.  I think the slow, pulling away blowout like you saw last week could be their signature this year.  They’ll want to give the home crowd a nice show.  Not a desperate spot for SD either, who didn’t look great last week.  1/2 spite pick, 1/2 trust in Gronk.  (Spite picks 1-0 this year).

Green Bay (-10) over Carolina.  I just got a breaking news bulletin from Charlotte.  Jordy Nelson is wide open.  The Panthers are going to get torched here.  It’s going to be like a caged lion playing with a beach ball.  Carolina’s signature performance of the year could have come last week in a loss.  They’ll lose again, but in much more forgettable fashion. D.A. may get mop-up snaps.

Pittsburgh (-14) over Seattle.  This early in the year I see a line this big and I think, it’s probably not big enough.  Fourteen seems like a lot until you play word association with this game and say, “31-7.”  I defy you to come up with a final score that has Seattle within two touchdowns.  Can’t do it.  It’s amazing the amount of poison I’ve dumped on the Steelers this week, but they can handle it.  And, if they don’t?  F-’em, it’s the Steelers.

Colts (+2.5) over Cleveland.  How many times in the last five years have you been able to get points at home with the Colts?  They were a new, mutated form of putrid last week, but I think it was a nice slap in the face for them.  Peyton’s gone. Put the crying towels away, and get back to work.  Also, the Browns are not a good team.  How you lose to the Bengals one week and are favorites the next, I’ll never know.

Tennessee (+6.5) over Baltimore.  People like to talk about the momentum of a season.  There’s always games that stand out as bad spots for teams.  Later this year, you’ll hear about how the Eagles are going to lose in Seattle, just because the game is on a short week and the Eagles are coming across the country.  It doesn’t matter if the Seahawks are still winless at that point, people will like them outright.  Here we’ve got the Ravens coming off an emotional high, the Titans are at home, Chris Johnson is promising a better effort, it’s a nice spot for Tennessee.  They may not win, but I think they keep it close.

***

Big Dub H: Record 3-2 (Last Week, 3-2)

Baltimore -6 vs. Tennessee: Hasselbeck blows and the Baltimore defense looks good. Simple enough.

San Diego +7 vs. New England: I don’t know if the Pats defense can stop this offense enough to get the cover.

Dallas -3 vs. San Francisco: The NFC West sucks.

Pittsburgh -14 vs. Seattle: The NFC West really, really sucks.

Atlanta +2.5 vs. Philadelphia: The wrong team is favored.

***

Kraft: Record 2-2-1.  (Last Week, 2-2-1)

  1. Washington (-3.5) over Arizona
  2. Tampa Bay (+3) over Minnesota
  3. Buffalo (-3) over Oakland
  4. Baltimore (-6.5) over Tennessee
  5. Chicago (+6.5) over New Orleans

***

NICHOLS: Record 1-2-2 (Last Week, 1-2-2)

Chicago (+6.5) v. New Orleans: The Bears are stronger than everyone
thought.  Their weak spot is the O-Line but the Saints pass rush is
weaker, especially with Will Smith out.  Brees will come out with a
win but Chicago will hold their own.  Saints by 6.

Green Bay (-10) @ Carolina: Cam Newton meets a real NFL defense and
gets brought back down to earth, literally and figuratively.  Packers
D delivers a win to my fantasy team with 2 INTs and one pick 6.
Rodgers repeats his Week 1 performance and the Pack win by 14.

Cleveland (+1.5) @ Indy: Indy’s offense isn’t good enough to beat KC,
and their D being depleted will not help when they go up against the
Brown’s mammoth O-Line and Peyton Hillis.  Cleveland racks up some
serious rushing yards and wins by 6.

Baltimore (-7) @ Tennessee: Titans D gave up 97 to MJD.  Ray Rice
shits bigger than MJD.  Ray Rice by 10.

St. Louis (+6.5) @ New York:  Must win for the Giants, and they’ll
pull it off, but I just can’t see them figuring out how to win by more
than 6.  I’m taking the stronger of two teams for the win but not the
spread.  Giants win 21-17

Ok, that’s all we’ve got for now.  I guess everyone else is waiting for the Sportsguy’s picks to go up so they can take copious notes.  I’m sure they’ll appear sometime before Sunday.

Reminder to the D.A. people as always to send your lists in, everyone enjoy basking in the fall temperatures, and hopefully we can figure out that Jaime Garcia tonight and the Phillies can get a step closer to clinching, or pull the whole dang thing off.  I’m sure by Sunday, we’ll poppin’ bottles.  Mumms all around.

The Pizza License.

You're Better than that, Wawa.

Good old Pennsylvania.  It’s not always that easy to get a drink in my fair state.  State stores, beer distributors, people from other parts of the country come here and generally throw fits when they find out they can’t march into a Winn Dixie and pick up a coupla, five 30 packs of the Silver Bullet.  I’ve grown accustomed to it, although there are times when I get a bit frustrated.  The old, 2-six pack limit is probably the worst offender, but at least you can now get a case on a Sunday. We’re making progress.  That’s speaking only in terms of being able to get beer the same day they play professional football, not actual societal progress.

Of course, the regulation isn’t just limited to beer and handles of Popov.  If you want to open an eatery and you’d like serve your share of G&Ts and Vodka Cran-Splashes, you’re going to need a liquor license.  This makes sense.  Alcohol is a dangerous product.  You have to have some type of accountability regarding its distribution, or else shady restaurant owners would be handing out drinks like Halloween candy without any consequences.  DUIs, underage drinking, there’s a lot that can go wrong there.  What I don’t understand though, is why we can’t get similar regulation with less dangerous products?  And really, what is the definition of dangerous?  

If you’ve been to a Wawa recently, you’ve likely seen the picture above in some capacity.  It’s pepperoni, cheese and “sauce” on a hoagie roll.  They’re calling it the pepperoni pizza hoagie.  No.  Just no, Wawa.  You are not allowed to use the word pizza to describe what you are serving. What we’re dealing with here is several food outlets insisting on serving food they are not capable of making.  Pepperoni shouldn’t even be allowed in a Wawa.  And, Dunkin’ Donuts, I reject your tuna sandwich.  There are countless offenses, but we’re tackling one thing at a time here.  The Wawa pizza hoagie is the last straw.  We need a pizza license.

Now, maybe you’re saying, what about the theory that there is no such thing as a bad piece of pizza?  Well, there is some truth to that, but what you are really saying there is that you prefer a mediocre piece of pizza to a lukewarm hamburger or something of that nature.  But the bottom line is when you get pizza, most of the time right before that moment of resignation when you realize you’re eating bad pie, you are hoping for the best.  I think we can limit the bad experiences.

Before you are allowed to open a pizza place, you need to prove to me that you can make a piece of pizza.  Then, you get your license.  No, Wawa.  You don’t get one.  How many pizza places open and close within a year?  Now, some of this is due to the ridiculously saturated market, but also it’s because places open up and serve stuff that tastes like 3-day old Red Baron.  We can put a stop to that.  Weed out the offenders.  And, are you worried about all the pizza jobs that would be lost in today’s troubled economy?  Well, think about the manpower you’d need to start the National Pizza Authority?  It’d be like the modern day TVA.  I’m ready to spearhead this thing.  Who’s with me?

Week Two NFL Cheat Sheet.

Five Won't Last Till Five in the D.A. Draft.

Somewhere out there is a stat about NFL teams making the playoffs after starting the season 0-2.  About 24 seconds of Google research reveals about one team a year makes the playoffs after losing their first two games.  Now, this is a bit of a misleading stat.  It’s like the one that says the team that wins the first game of a series wins the series “x” amount of the time.  Well, that’s because the better team usually wins the first game. And, in the NFL, a lot of teams will start 0-2 because they stink, not because they haven’t figured it out yet.  But, there are plenty of 0-1 teams out there that don’t want to test the math, so to speak.

Five Must Wins:

1.  Tampa Bay.  I’d say the Bucs are destined to be 0-2, and aren’t going to make the playoffs, but they get a nice little one-week reprieve and a chance to sort things out against Minnesota.  If they lose to the Vikings, they can probably forget about the upward trend of last year.  The bad news is, it’s in Minnesota, and the Vikings are also 0-1, but that’s just a speed bump before they fall off the cliff.  Line: Minnesota by 3.  Chance they start 0-2: 45%

2.  Atlanta.  Maybe they shouldn’t have gotten blown out by Chicago in week 1, because now they have to beat the Eagles at home to avoid starting 0-2.  The good news is the Saints are about to pop up on this list and the NFC South is a collective 0-4.  Michael Vick’s return vs. Atlanta’s desperation make this the hardest game of the week to judge in terms of momentum/intensity.  Line: Philly (-1.5).  Chance they start 0-2: 55%

3. New Orleans.  There’s no shame in losing to Green Bay, but it still puts the Saints in a bit of hole as they host the Bears this week.  Tough opening schedule for Chicago, huh?  But, they’ve already got their one win, and now New Orleans needs to even their record and needs to sort out their defense, which has been shredded of late.  Line: New Orleans by 6.5 (wow).  Chance they start 0-2: 30%

4. Dallas.  This one’s got to be for the team’s and the quarterback’s state of mind.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly how they lost that game on Sunday night.  I know it was all Romo, but how does he come up with these new and interesting ways to blow games?  Cowboys can’t afford to start 0-2, especially in SF, with six divisional wars left.  Their non-divisional schedule is pretty soft from here out, time to take advantage.  Line: Dallas by 3.  Chance of starting 0-2: 35%.

5. Pittsburgh.  The schedule makers must have a soft spot for Pittsburgh.  Getting Seattle at home after the game in Baltimore is almost like a bye-week.  Especially this putrid Seahawks team, what a lifesaver.  Not only do the Steelers need to even their record, they need to blow out Seattle and reestablish some momentum in the AFC, which has plenty of teams looking ready to steamroll right by them.  Line: Steelers by 14.  Aside: when’s the last time an 0-1 team, coming off a 4 TD loss was a 2TD favorite the next week?  Chance of starting 0-2: 0%.

Fantasy Preview:

Five Guys Who Will Rebound or Improve:

1. Rashard Mendenhall.  Mendenhall had a tough match-up, fumbled, and then the Steelers had to abandon the run.  I don’t think there’s a worse set of circumstances, so don’t be surprised if week 1 is his lowest output of the year.  Seattle in town means Mendenhall in the end zone.

2. Owen Daniels.  Who cares about tight ends?  Well, there’s not much depth out there, and a lot of people are counting on Daniels.  Did you see what Aaron Hernandez and Gronk did to the Dolphins Monday?  If Daniels can put up 1/3 of that, it’ll be a big improvement from week 1 where the Texans shut it down after halftime.

3. Michael Turner.  Turner ran for 100 yards in week one, but he’s playing Philly which means there are going to be holes.  Big holes.  I’d conservatively expect at least 16 points out of Turner this week.

4. Vincent Jackson.  Jackson just missed on a deep TD last week and disappointed with only 31 yards, but the Patriots can yield some serious ground through the air.  It could be another wild shootout in terms of pure offensive stats.  I imagine both QBs will spread it around, but Jackson certainly gets a nice boost.

5. Matt Schaub.  If Schaub can’t do it this week, plant him on the bench for good.  Somehow he put up single digit points in a game where the Texans scored 5 TDs in the 1st half.  He’s got too many weapons and Miami’s defense is too atrocious for him not to come back with a 300 yard, 2+ TD game.

***

Five Fantasy Busts/Bubble Bursts:

1.  Kevin Kolb.  I haven’t given up hope that the Cardinals and Kolb will both be terrible this year.  They beat the Panthers.  Great.  Kolb’s 300 yd, 2 TD game happened by default.  In Philly we know about Kolb’s extremes.  Washington’s got a much better defense than Carolina.  Watch out.

2. Darren Sproles.  Every time Sproles touches the ball it looks like he’s going to score 8 or 10 fantasy points on that very play.  Last week, that actually came to fruition.  He returned a kick, looked really dangerous coming out the backfield, but against the Bears he won’t get as many chances and certainly won’t return a kick.

3. Cadillac Williams.  The popular “plug & play” option this week after Jackson’s injury and his nice performance against the Birds.  But, that was the Eagles and the Giants should realize all they have to do is stop the run and St. Louis will implode.  Not the 1-2 week sleeper people were hoping for.

4.  Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Fitzy’s own percentage in ESPN Leagues jumped 35% after his week one clinic.  That alone should scare you off a little bit.  The Raiders should be a little more stingy thanks to their defensive front , but regardless of circumstances it’d be difficult to get anywhere near last week’s numbers.  Is it snowing in Buffalo yet?

5. Fred Davis.  I picked up Davis on waivers and I’m not even sure why I did.  He didn’t score. How many 100 yards games is he going to have?  Chris Cooley is still in the picture.  Davis looked good, but how much of that was NY’s devastated secondary?  I’ll be sending him back to the FA pool soon enough.

***

Commissioner’s D.A. Top-10 for Week 2:

1.  Luke McCown.  The Jets should help McCown find his level, which is several rungs below every other QB in the league.

2. Tarvaris Jackson.  Jackson on the road, in Pittsburgh, in a game the Steelers must win?  Yes, please.

3. Alex Smith.  Somehow I left Alex Smith out of my rankings for week one.  Several people privately and politely brought that to my attention.  Not making the same mistake this time around

4. Cincy: Is Gradkow starting?  Is Panama Red back?  Who knows, who cares.  The Bengals peaked in week one.

5. Donovan McNabb. Peter King Says, “Will he throw for more than 37 yards?  Maybe.  Is he done for good?  I DON’T KNOW.”

6. Jason Campbell.  Isn’t Campbell about due to blow a hammy and finish a game with 19 passing yards?

7. Hasselbeck.  Don’t plan on the Kenny Britt show to make an appearance even in a letdown week for the Ravens.

8.  Colt McCoy.  McCoy was 19 of 40 last week.  I don’t know how you can ignore that, even if he is playing the Colts.

9. Matt Casell.  Todd Haley’s confused.  He needs your help.  Did I pick up the Lions defense this week?  You bet your sweet ass I did.

10.  Sam Bradford.  Bradford got last pick in gym class.  By the time he chose his WRs, the only kids left were run of the mill dodge ball fodder.

Let’s Ban Putting!

Brad Faxon Trying to Remember the Last Time he Hit the Club Face.

This is it, Folks.  Evacuate to the bomb shelters.  Brad Faxon is going to tinker with a belly putter.  For those of you not aware, Brad Faxon is a legend in putting circles.  In fact, his short game unquestionably kept him on tour while he occasionally hit the ball like a vanity handicap at your local PubLinks Qualifier.  For years, a long putter has been the Tour equivalent of iron covers.  If you saw one, you knew the guy couldn’t putt.  But, now, things have changed.  The young guys are using them (Keegan Bradley), the cool guys are using them (Adam Scott), and even the neurotic left-handers (Phil Mickelson) are having a go.  But, never a pure putter.  Not Faxon.  Not Furyk.  Yep.

Of course, this should have about all the drama of baseball players switching to maple bats.  It’s certainly a fad, and the long putter has some advantages, but to think the guys wielding short putters are out there with the equivalent of a persimmon wood is probably going overboard.  And, even if long putters are proven in the long run to be better technology and everyone in the world starts using one, what’s the big deal?

Well, this is where we get into golf’s archaic labyrinth of a rules system and the notion of the game’s purity.  Now, I don’t expect the rules of golf, written whenever they were to be able to predict future trends in golf, but the inability of the governing bodies to adapt is pretty shocking.  Instead of making a decision on the long/belly putter they try to make it mesh with a rule already in existence.  Does it anchor to the body?  Blah, blah, blah and everyone falls asleep.

Of course, not only has the horse been out of the barn on this one, but the barn has been converted into a loft apartment. Players have been using these things for years, but I think partially because of the stigma attached to them, the governing bodies thought they’d never catch on to this extent.  Why would they ruffle the feathers of a few players who were using this embarrassing crutch to keep their game going?  Let it run its course and everyone will be back in Scotty Cameron Newport heaven before we know it.  Whoops, now you can’t watch two groups go through a hole without seeing one and we’re contemplating making a serious retroactive decision? Or at least the loudmouth purists are barking for one?  It makes no sense.

I hate to break the news to everyone, but golf has lost its purity.  You’re going to play a hot ball, with a hot-faced driver, on a perfectly manicured course, but you’re drawing the line at the belly putter?  Come on.  And, really who cares if someone gets an advantage?  Banning the belly putter because a couple of guys make putts with it would have been like banning the sand wedge 50 years ago because Gary Player could hit a bunker shot that would make you cry.  You don’t hear long hitters complaining about how featherweight drivers with huge hot faces and post-balata technology has turned the teeny Rickie Fowler into a bomber.  Things change.

Of course, the real problem might just be with putting in general.  Who thought of this?  Why is the hole so damn small? What other sport has two such distinct motions?  I mean, when Roy Halladay gets two strikes on a guy he doesn’t have to switch to lefty and throw sidearm to get the punch out.  Putting is great for TV drama and people who like to punish themselves, otherwise, give me the bucket cup.

***

For everyone who just died reading another golf post, and a terribly specific and boring one at that, how about a combination of Texts From Last Night and Parks and Recreation?  Amusing website, top-2 comedy on network TV?  Eh, eh?  Someone took texts from the website and matched them with screen shots from Parks and Rec.  Pretty funny. Obviously profane.