End of the Year Picks, Etc.

Kate Upton Ushers in the New Year with Winners.

Posting picks on a Saturday.  Believe me, I feel the shame.  It’s been unsettling being out the blog routine for a whole week, but I’m looking forward to Monday when things will start to get back to normal.  I know I used a picture of Kate Upton last year but hey, a) it’s Kate Upton and b) NYE is rapidly approaching.  I’ve got to eat, celebrate and get tucked into bed by 10:30.  That way I can really get the jump on 2012.  I’m going to be honest.  I don’t have a lot of faith in my picks this week.  It was pretty deflating to get almost mathematically eliminated last week and I’ve spent the past 7 days drinking in absolutely zero football news.  I was in the land that ESPN forgot.  It was a nice break, but I don’t know who is resting, who’s playing, or what.  I do know I need to work about a 5-0 to Dub’s 0-5 to make this happen though, so let’s see…

Big Dub:  44-30-6

Lions (-3.5) over Packers.  I really hope this line is telling me something.

Bengals (+2.5) over Ravens.  The Ravens suck on the road and this is the perfect spot for the Ravens to come up small.

Titans (-3) over Texans.  Again, please be honest with what you are suggesting, Mr. Linemaker.

Giants (-3) over Cowboys.  Ding Dong, the Cowboys are dead.

Chiefs (+3) over Broncos.  Broncos never win by more than 3, do they?

 ***

Grossy:  42-35-3

Eagles (-8.5) over Redskins.  Why not?  They need to seal up that 17th pick in the draft, or whatever number it is they’re going to use on an undersized D-end next Spring.  Maybe they can trade the pick to Houston for Wade Phillips.   Honestly, this is just a case of one team having even less to play for than the other.  I think the Birds will give the home crowd one last reason to rue this season as the biggest waste in franchise history.

San Francisco (-10.5) over St. Louis.  I don’t think I picked against the Rams enough this year.  Probably because the one week I did they beat the Saints.  Not covered.  Beat the Saints, who right now look hotter than any team in the league.  The Niners need this game to lock up the bye and the right to lose at home in the 2nd round.  That’s what we’re all waiting for, so I expect them to seal the deal in convincing fashion.

Colts (+3.5) over Jacksonville.  Gotta take the Colts, right?  I mean, Indy clearly has the advantage at QB.  That has hardly been the case this year.  The Colts have proven over the last couple of weeks that they DO NOT want Andrew Luck.  Well, Jacksonville isn’t going to stand in their way.  Believe that.  By the way, this might be the worst game of the entire NFL season.  It’s just a putrid stink-bomb and I’m sure everyone in Florida is hoping it gets blacked out.

Patriots (-10.5) over Buffalo.  Pats looked awful, went to Coverville and then got back-doored last week.  I think they learned their lesson.  They, like SF, are looking for that #2 seed.  The Bills showed some life last week for no apparent reason, but in New England there won’t be any reason to be so gallant.  I’m about 50% I’m getting nipped late in this one, but there’s no way I can take Buffalo and I’ve got to pick different games than Old Dub.

Lions (-3.5) over Green Bay.  This is just the lock of my life.  It wraps up my 5-0.  Big Dub gets a lone win to go 1-4, and I cruise to the crown by percentage points.  Sounds like a dream, right?  Green Bay’s got nothing to play for in this one.  They may be fielding their practice squad–I don’t know.  The Lions will be able to clean up the mess.  I’d rather be 14-2 than 15-1 entering the playoffs anyway.  It’s less conspicuous.

***

JCK:  38-41-1

  1. Washington (+8.5) over Philadelphia
  2. Detroit (-3.5) over Green Bay
  3. Indianapolis (+3.5) over Jacksonville
  4. New York Jets (+2.5) over Miami
  5. Buffalo (+10.5) over New England

***

Kraft: 35-40-5

  1. Detroit (-3.5) over Green Bay
  2. Carolina (+8) over New Orleans
  3. New York Jets (+2.5) over Miami
  4. Seattle (+3) over Arizona
  5. Texans (+3) over Tennessee

***

Nichols:  36-41-3

  1. Detroit (-3.5) over Green Bay
  2. St. Louis (+10.5) over SF
  3. Washington (+8.5) over Philadelphia
  4. New York (-3) over Dallas
  5. Kansas City (+3) over Denver

D.A. Finals Preview

Eli Esses D. vs. Kraft:

We’ve got week 2 of the D.A. Finals.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  I wish I had a fantasy team going this week, but I don’t.  Perhaps next year I relinquish the commissioner’s reins and get in on this D.A. nonsense, but for now I’m just a satisfied spectator.  In week one, Kraft carved out a 9.5 point lead over Big Dub’s squad.  It’s a long way from insurmountable, but it’s the kind of advantage that could make a difference.  The squads:

Kraft (60.5 points)–Kellen Clemens (or St. Louis starter) and Josh McCown.  Kraft had the first pick this week and snapped up St. Louis’ sacrificial lamb against the rabid and ready Niners.  It’s a logical play, and a smart play with the lead.  Coming back around, he gets the Bears’ newest king of the scrap heap.  The Bears fans might be the only group more shell-shocked than Eagles fans this year.

Eli Esses D (51 points)–Seneca Wallace and Rex Grossman.  An interesting play by Big Dub who has been charging since mid-season.  The Eagles, believe it or not, have been tough on opposing QBs and Grossman has that scary, blowup potential.  Perhaps slightly behind the 8-ball he felt he really needed to swing for the fences.  Grossman gives him that one-swing, homerun power off the bench.

It should be a great final, congrats to both for making it this far, and may the most atrociously awful QBs win.

***

Closing thought from a drive back to PA from Virginia.  Unlike Peter King I have to transport myself and cannot just hop on the Acela and throw down the corporate plastic.  Anyway, it was a traffic-free drive up 95.  A rare occasion.  In fact, no traffic on the way down either.  So, if you’re planning a trip to VA or D.C, I suggest leaving Chistmas Eve evening and returning New Year’s Eve.  So anyway, as I digest the miles into my eyeballs, I’m thinking…is there a threshold of bumper stickers you cross and automatically become an insane person?  We’ve all seen a simple Obama sticker, some Ron Paul love, a dog shout out, etc.  But, if you hit like 4, 6, 8 stickers on one car don’t you go from someone with a fun-loving bumper sticker spirit and a strong opinion or two to a complete nut job?  I mean, keep some secrets about yourself.  I don’t need to know your stance on EVERYTHING just because I happen to be tailgating you for 40 miles.

Happy New Year everyone, be safe, and be generous with the Cliquot.  See ya Monday.

What I’ve Missed

Thoughts on 4th Place.

Well, I’ve missed the blog.  I know 3 or 4 of you are probably out there with nothing to read on your iPhone while you sit on the can, and for that…I apologize.  It was good I was away, because on the weekend when I saw absolutely no football the following happened:  I completely tanked in NFL Pick ‘Em, I successfully defended my prize-less 4th place finish in Fantasy Football (back-to-back regular season champ!), and the Eagles season ended.  That’s why everyone needed an extra dose of Christmas on Sunday morning.  Saturday just wasn’t right.  So, keeping in mind I’ve barely been in touch with the interwebs or TV for the past few days, here’s a disjointed melange to hold your over for a few days…

***

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings:

  1. Big Dub:  44-30-6
  2. Grossy:  42-35-3
  3. JCK: 38-41-1
  4. Nichols: 36-41-3
  5. Kraft:  35-40-5

***

D.A. Finals Update:

I’m sorry I wasn’t really around to recap the 1st week of the finals.  It was a great match-up with great performances–even if no one took Tim Tebow.  Eli Esses D had Seneca Wallace and Blaine Gabbert.  Kraft answered with Kellen Clemens and John Skelton.  As you can see, it’s anyone’s game heading into the last week:

  1. Kraft: 60.5 points
  2. Eli Esses D:  51 points

***

Mailbag Interlude:  It is Wednesday….

Q: Why do people always tell you “don’t think so,” or “not sure,” when they definitely mean “NO!”  I’m not offended, let’s save the song and dance.  G.D. Blunt, Richmond, VA.  

A:  First off, let me just say, I do this ALL THE TIME.  “Hey Grossy, we’re going to (insert Philly bar) for Happy Hour, probably catch some drinks afterwards someplace else.  You in?”  Now, there are very few instances when I’d be “in” for this scenario.  But, I very rarely come out and say no immediately.  Sometimes I ignore the text.  Sometimes I say, “HMMMM….” and nothing else.  And, I’m really not protecting feelings.  I’m really delaying a bit of feeling bad about myself for not being the out-going Happy Hour guy.  Everyone loves that guy!  It isn’t me.  So, I stall for a while and think…maybe they just won’t ask me again.  I do think some people do it to soften the blow, though.  I guess no one wants to get turned down, no matter the stakes.  The sunny way to look at it would be like, Hey, at least your friends take your feelings into consideration for a split second.  The day you don’t have anyone on your contact list to invite over to play Yahtzee?  That’s when you’re really in trouble.  

***

Top 5 Things I’d be talking about if I were Fully Blogging This Week:  

1.  Bryce Harper named his puppy, “Swag.”  This is why Bryce Harper is so vital to the American sports landscape.  He’s a total clown and he never wavers.  You’re going to be able to count on Bryce Harper doing things like this for years to come.  Sit back and take it in.

2.  Winter Classic coming to Philly next Tuesday.  Flyers looking less than sharp after a 7-game winning streak?  Bryzzy not looking worth 50 million?  It’s not going to matter for that particular day, people will be caught in pomp, absorbed in circumstance, but this is the time of year when you start looking for holes in your hockey team.

3.  Wild Phillies rumors.  David Wright?  That’s the power of Twitter.  Jorge Posada.  Not in this lifetime.  The real story is massive free agents are going to go into January unsigned.  That feels unusual.  Spring Training is creeping.

4.  Has there been a significant bowl game yet?  Didn’t think so.  How am I doing in my bowl pools?  I don’t even know.

5.  The Help is a good movie.  It’s definitely better than The Descendants.  No offense, Clooney.  I also watched the MMA movie Warrior.  Think of Rocky, only 10 times less believable.  I thought it was pretty entertaining until the end, though.

 Bowl Standings Updated thru Air Force/Toledo Game.  We’ve got a hot one…see you all soon.

Kate Beckinsale Ushers in Blogcation; Picks Winners.

Happy Holidays.

Ok, it’s pretty much time to call it a season ’round these parts.  I’m a little behind on my Christmas preparation, so I’m not even going to bother going into much detail or depth here.  The picks will continue to come, we’ll tally the D.A. results, there could be the odd post here or there, but basically we’re shutting it down for a while.   Before we get to the important stuff, how about those Colts?  Impressive.  We’ve got an all-out derby for the #1 pick now.  Anything could happen.  And, with Matt Barkley going back to USC, the pool got a little more shallow.  Tank these games while you still have the chance, people.  Cleveland is really kicking themselves for not being 2-12 right now.  Ok, enough about that.  Picks…

Big Dub:  41-29-5  

Oakland (+1) over Kansas City.  How do I know last week’s game against Green Bay was Kansas City’s Super Bowl?  They did the Gatorade bath.  Blow your wad and you get tired.

New York Giants (+3) over New York Jets.  This is one of the easiest picks of the year.  Do you really trust Mark Sanchez in this spot laying points?

Seattle (+2) over San Francisco.  San Fran stinks.

Baltimore (-13) over Cleveland.  If the Ravens score 14, they’ll cover this number.

Cincinnati (-4) over Arizona.  I don’t have to lay more than this against the Cardinals on the road?  Deal.

***

Grossy:  41-31-3

San Diego (+2.5) over Detroit.  Why not?  Might as well ride the Chargers till they buck me.  Fact is, they’re playing better, Detroit isn’t going to stop anyone and they’ve pulled A LOT of games out of their backside this year.  The Lions are improved, great for them, but they’re still just a sloppy team with good skill players.  The pristine conditions of a dome are just what old Philip needs to tighten the race in the AFC West.  He’ll be slangin’ TDs and then giving up praise to Jesus.  It’s his dream day.  No last-second magic for the Lions this time around.

Denver (-3) over Buffalo.  The Bills are playing out the string.  If it happens to be a blizzard–all the better.  There’s a joke about Tebow being so white you couldn’t see him in there somewhere.  The entire world wants Orton to come back to Denver next week with the division on the line.  There’s no way that happens.  Buffalo won’t allow it.  They strenuously object.  They’re too bad.  Tebow is Mr. Bounce Back, he’s probably been in everyone’s ear since that game ended Sunday.  No one in the history of history is going to be better prepared and try harder from this point forward.

New York Giants (+3) over New York Jets.  The Giants stink, the Jets are worse.  That’s my thumbnail.  The Jets certainly don’t deserve the standard hometown 3 points here.  I don’t love the fact that the G-Men receivers are talking trash.  Well, it’s amusing, it just doesn’t help my pick, but if the Eagles can move the ball up and down the field at will against the Jets so can Eli-Face.  He’s not going to disappoint Archie on Christmas Eve.

New England (-9.5) over Miami.  Remember what the Eagles did to Miami a few weeks back?  That was your friendly reminder from the NFL gods that the Dolphins are a very bad football team.  Can they beat the Bills?  Sure.  Are they going to go to New England and get their doors blown off?  Ab-so-tooting-lutely.  All New England has to do is slow down Reggie Bush a little bit and this thing is done like dinner.  And, the worse the weather gets, the better Welker is.  Everyone knows that.

Atlanta (+7) over New Orleans.  I’m fading the Saints’ winning streak.  They’ve knocked off six in a row, but it’s mostly hammering away at “Little Sisters of the Poor.”  I know that’s the oldest joke of all-time, but was that ever an actual school?  I don’t know.  Their best win of the streak came over these same Falcons–in OT.  I’ll certainly take OT in this one.  I think Atlanta is playing well too, they need the game just as bad as New Orleans does, and I think they can keep it within a TD.  I’m tempted to puff out my chest and say OUTRIGHT!  Oh, screw it, Falcons win.

***

Kraft:  33-36-5

  1. Atlanta (+7) over New Orleans
  2. Washington (-6.5) over Minnesota
  3. Cincinnati (-4) over Arizona
  4. Kansas City (-1) over Oakland
  5. Tampa Bay (+7.5) over Carolina

***

Nichols: 35-38-2

  1. New England (-9.5) over Miami
  2. Minnesota (+6.5) over Washington
  3. Tampa Bay (+7.5) over Carolina
  4. San Francisco (-2) over Seattle
  5. Dallas (-1.5) over Philadelphia

***

JCK:  35-39-1

  1. New England (-9.5) over Miami
  2. New Orleans (-7) over Atlanta
  3. Carolina (-7.5) over Tampa Bay
  4. Cleveland (+13) over Baltimore
  5. San Diego (+2.5) over Detroit

***

Commissioner’s D.A. Top-5:

  1. QB Rams
  2. Blaine Gabbert
  3. QB Cardinals
  4. QB Browns
  5. Caleb Hanie

***

All right, time to hit the strip mall one last time.  Hooray!  I’ll see you out there in the trenches.  If I don’t say it again, everyone have a great holiday.  Thanks for contributing to one of the 2 or 3 best years in the history of this blog.

Week 16 NFL Preview — America’s Team Edition.

Unless You've Got USA on Your Chest, You Don't Qualify.

So, I’m listening to Mike Missanelli yesterday.  It’s one of his worst shows in recent memory.  He’s talking about why Eagles fans still hate the Cowboys and why they shouldn’t because the franchise is no longer “viable.”  He said “viable” at least 3,000 times over the course of a few hours.  It was a mind-numbing exercise.  I’m not sure why I didn’t change the channel.  But, in all this discussion over Cowboys hate, the notion of Dallas being America’s team came up several times.  All this Cowboy hate allegedly wasn’t rooted in the present, but in the glory days of the past where Dallas was the only team you could watch on TV and they piled up Super Bowls.

I’ve always hated the notion of an America’s team.  First, because it is always the team itself assigning the moniker.  The Cowboys.  The Atlanta Braves.  It’s the laziest and most self-absorbed team slogan of all-time.  Secondly, the team is essentially recruiting bandwagon jumpers.  Don’t like your own team?  Come over to America’s team.  It’s safe here.  The entire fan base is populated by frauds.  And to that point, if I was a die-hard member of one of these fan bases, I’d hate the idea of being America’s team.  If I’ve lived in Dallas my whole life and rooted for the Cowboys, I don’t want some mutt in Jersey standing up to take ownership as well just because he feels included.  That’s crap.

The idea is also incredibly antiquated.  Maybe, back in the 1960s or something you could have made the case for Notre Dame being a true “America’s Team,” at least in the sense that most people use the term.  But, this is 2011.  No one has to watch Dallas every week by default.  In fact, today’s coverage in most cases should make your tastes more local.  Unless you have the NFL ticket, the Eagles are the only team you can watch here every single week.  And as unfortunate as that may be, it doesn’t mean you should jump ship to Dallas or whatever flavor of the month you desire.

A new poll crowns Green Bay the most popular team in the country by a wide margin.  Huge surprise there.  13-1.  Defending Super Bowl Champs.  Does this make them the new America’s Team?  If I was a true Packers fan it wouldn’t be a moniker I was in any hurry to adopt.

***

Contraction Special:  Vikings @ Redskins.  

The Redskins are in spoiler mode, but the only thing they could spoil for Minnesota is a shot at the #1 pick.  So, I wouldn’t expect many fireworks from the nation’s capital.  Or, should I say, America’s City?  Anyway, the Vikings have managed to go 2-12, annoy their star RB, and run through a QB carousel that has included Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder and Joe Webb.  There’s no room for Andrew Luck at that Inn.  Has McNabb signed anywhere by the way?  There’s also just something about the Redskins.  Even when they are playing a decent game it leaves this horrid taste in your mouth.  Grossman stinks, you’re baffled that Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney are the starting wideouts, Shannahan’s always getting way too much credit.  If you hadn’t noticed, I really, really hate the Redskins.  This game is terrible.

The AFC Special:  Raiders @ Chiefs.  

This game has playoff implications.  How sad is that?  It’s hard to keep track of which division in the NFL is the most embarrassing.  The NFC West appears to be off the hook.  Now, you’ve got the AFC West and NFC East trying to figure out how to get a team to 9 wins.  It’s not that the Chiefs and Raiders are the dregs of the league, it’s that at this point in the season they shouldn’t be playing a big game.  Two .500 baseball teams don’t play epic weekend sets in Mid-September.  Bonus points here for the QB match-up.  You’ve got one guy that started the season out of the league and another that started the season on another team in the division.  It’s a cold existence in Tebow’s shadow.  This game?  Also terrible.

Game of the Week:  Giants vs. Jets @ Each Other.  

I actually think the best game of the week could be San Diego and Detroit.  The Chargers are hot and did you see Megatron last week?  But, that game just loses out to the storylines in this New Jersey clash.  So, you’ve got a Jets crowd, but the Giants are playing on their home field as well.  What does that do to home field advantage?  And, which of these teams comes into the game in worse shape?  The Jets got exposed and throttled by the Eagles last week.  The Giants laid a timely turd against Washington.  Let’s shelve the Eli Hall of Fame ballots for one more week.  Neither team can afford to lose this game.  Several other teams have their own playoff hopes tied to the outcome.  You’ve got the Giants receivers talking junk at Revis and last but not least it’s Sanchez vs. Eli Manning.  Should be a classic.

***

Fantasy Busts for Week 16:

I think last week was my worst week of the year for fantasy advice.  Just in time for the playoffs!  Well, you get what you pay for.  Hey, I was right about Matt Stafford–kind of.  The problem is, I try to get too cute.  Anyone can say don’t start Mendenhall against the 49ers.  That’s not helpful.  I’m going to continue to be cute.  Your championship depends on it.

  1. C.J. Spiller
  2. Carson Palmer
  3. Adrian Peterson
  4. Dez Bryant
  5. Beanie Wells

Over/Under Lock of the Week (Record, 7-4…hey now):  Tampa/Carolina over 47.5

 

Mid-Week Mailbag.

When There's an Orange in the Logo...

Little bit of confusion at mailbag central this week.  I got a lot of letters asking me for Christmas presents.  Whoa.  That’s not how this works.  You’ve got the wrong guy.  But, people obviously have the holidays on the brain.  Welcome to the last mailbag of 2011.  It’s OK to cry.

Q: So, I’m at a local beer purveyor.  Wide selection, I’m off in my own world, weaving through the aisles.  I see a woman bend down to pick up a case of Shock Top.  Let’s just say, I’m not a fan.  So, like I said, I was in self-entertainment mode, so when I see that case of beer I mouth the words, “That’s awful.”  The thing is, this chick had powered out of her crouch, spun and made fleeting eye-contact.  She made an odd face, like she had read my lips.  Not possible, right?  Bud Heavee, St. Louis, MO.  

A: I’m going to say “not possible.”  Not because people can’t read lips, but just because I guarantee this lady wasn’t paying attention to you.  I don’t know what to make of her face.  Perhaps you startled her, or she found your facial expression troubling, regardless she was hefting up a case of Peter King’s favorite beer–not reading lips.  It’s funny that when people put themselves in a position like that they often assume the worst.  They assign superhuman powers to people around them.  I was talking junk about a guy once, a guy who played at the golf course I worked at, and a couple of my fellow employees and I were just hammering this guy as we left for the day.  I’m not even sure we used his name, but the last thing I said was, “That guy can choke on a____.”  A few seconds later we walk around a corner and that very guy is coming the other direction.  Immediately I was like, “OH MY GOD, what if he heard me?”  What if he has  uncanny deduction abilities and the hearing skills of your everyday Labrador?  I’M SCREWED.  If I was being reasonable, I would have known he didn’t hear jackola, but I still worried about it for a while.  

Q:  What’s your go-to Wawa sub?  Jared Fogle, Strained Belt, UT.  

A:  See, right away I can tell this question comes from a foreigner, because in these parts and in Wawa proper the sandwiches are called, “hoagies.”  Have you not heard the Wawa Hoagie-Fest song, Jared?  If I was answering your question to the letter, I’d have to say, Meatball Sub, because for some reason “sub” wins out over “hoagie” when you’re talking about meatballs.  That’s REGARDLESS of location.  Anyway, the reason I’m stalling is because I’m not the best guy to answer this question.  I’m not really a hoagie lover.  And, while Wawa is a retail nirvana in some ways–It’s not like they make GREAT hoagies.  They have pretty good bread.  I can say that.  You know what Wawa apparently dominates?  Soup.  Again, that’s off-topic.  My go-to is roast beef.  It’s not great roast beef, but they started selling these cheddar and horseradish chips at Wawa and I load up the hoagie with those and it really turns a corner.  If you’re polling the Mid-Atlantic region, I’d think Turkey and Meatball lead the way, and stay away from the chicken.   

Q: Would you rather run a successful sports booking operation, or be a moderately successful sports gambler?  I’m talking like, 56% winners–nothing special.  You can ignore the fact that being a bookie is illegal, and assume that it would be your primary source of income.  D. Jenny Ritt, Louisville, KY.  

A: I think being a bookie epitomizes the phrase, “hard way to make an easy living.”  Have you ever had to deal with a single degenerate gambler?  It’s a nightmare.  I don’t know how many “clients” you need to run a successful book, but I’d think it’d be at least a couple hundred.  I guess you could weed out the real losers, but most people are just one bad bet away from turning into a total wreck.  Plus, even if you are virtually guaranteed of making money, it strikes me as a stressful endeavor, or maybe taxing is the better word.  It’s kind of like the people who make a living playing poker by playing 20,000 hands a day.  And, as much as I like a bit of schadenfreude, I think it would eventually get old watching people run themselves into the ground.  On the other hand, being a consistent 56% winner would be total bliss.  Ok, so you have to hold down a real job as well, but consistently not losing money gambling on sports is great for the self-esteem.  If you could be a casual gambler, not go broke and actually make a few bucks extra–That’s the dream right there.  

Q:  So, HBO cancelled Hung and How to Make it in America.  I’m not going to act like I’m devastated about this news.  Both shows were average, yet oddly watchable.  How to Make it in America really captured the early Entourage spirit for me.  You think HBO will ever find another 1/2 hour comedy with some lasting power?  I guess hoping for another Curb is a little naive.  Ron Donald, Hollywood, CA. 

A:  I actually liked How to Make it in America.  If that means I have terrible taste in television–so be it.  I think it was exactly what you’re looking for in a mindless, 1/2 hour show.  I suppose if you are a hardcore New Yorker the show was cliche, or unauthentic, but I don’t give two bleeps about that.  I’m not sure why cable television does better with the 1-hr drama than the 1/2-hour comedy.  I think the advantages of cable, the ability to show what they want/say what they want probably helps the drama more.  You put a comedy on HBO and you automatically think you need a sex scene every episode.  That’s not really the case.  There’s certainly never going to be another Curb, that’s like lamenting why Whitney isn’t as good as Seinfeld.  999 out of 1,000 TV shows aren’t that good.  But, don’t get too depressed.  There is good news regarding the 1/2 hour cable comedy.  The Starz classic, Party Down, is possibly coming back as a movie.  Party Down is by 9 miles the best premium cable comedy show from the last few years, and even if you’ve never seen it, you’ll recognize some of the faces.  Adam Scott from Parks and Rec, Jane Lynch, Lizzie Caplan.  Awesome cast, awesome premise–they need to make this movie.  

Q:  Do you ever get frustrated that the Chocolate Chip Cookie isn’t really a Christmas staple?  Sure, I like other kinds of cookies, but sometimes you want to come back to old Mr. Reliable.  Chip A. Hoy, Media, PA.

A: I know people who make chocolate chip at Christmas.  It may not be traditional, but you have to GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT.  There’s also the neat little loophole of making the Christmas M&M cookie.  This is a very similar cookie and you’ve made it festive with a very simple addition.  An M&M cookie is not nearly as good as a chocolate chip cookie though–don’t get me started on that.  All that said, I don’t think Christmas really is the time of year for the chocolate chip.  It’d be like having corn on the cob with Christmas dinner.  Ok, great, but this doesn’t feel quite right.  There are other cookies that only have December to shine, so take a step back and let them have their moment of glory.  You’ve got gingerbread, snickerdoodles, various incarnations of peanut butter and chocolate, what I call butter cookies–which are the ones you roll out and decorate with sugar.  Are you feeling silly about complaining about the chocolate chip?  I assume you probably are, so I’ll stop lecturing you and we can move on.  

Q: What percentage of people do you think have a good time on New Year’s Eve?  And, that’s not counting the people who lie about it.  Whette Blanket, Miami, FL.

A:  People do lie about it.  Especially when they went to some party and a friend bailed.  That party will always be the best party ever.  You’d never give the person who didn’t come the satisfaction of saying anything else.  New Year’s is a high-pressure holiday.  I remember those years from like 21-25 where you sit around with the burden of dreaming up something EPIC for New Year’s.  Sometimes these plans work out, and sometimes you end up in an overcrowded room, sweaty, sober and miserable.  It’s a roll of the dice.  I’ve spent New Year’s in basements, in seedy Atlantic City motels, in the quaint little hamlet of Cape May, NJ.  I’ve been around a little bit.  I’d say I have fun 45% of the time on New Year’s.  The other times it feels forced, you’re paranoid about a DUI, whatever.  I’m predisposed to being anti-New Year’s, though.  Some people love it no matter what.  The more claustrophobic the scene–the better.  When you factor in those people, and factor in this cheesy movie coming out that’s going to have everyone looking at New Year’s with rose-colored glasses–I’m going to land on 59%.  Fifty-nine percent of people of have a good time on New Year’s.  That’s science.  

Q: Who do you think is going to throw more TD passes next year, Peyton Manning or Tim Tebow?  M. Shannahan, Landover, MD.  

A:  So, the question is, will Peyton play in 2012?  There’s no way Tebow can out-TD pass an even moderately healthy Pey-Pey, right?  RIGHT?  Tebow has 11 TD passes this year.  Let’s say he ends the season with 14.  That’s GENEROUS.  If he played the whole year, you might be looking at the 18 range, which doesn’t sound horrible until you look up Peyton Manning’s career stats.  Peyton has never thrown less than 26 TDs.  And, he’s only been under 30 once since 2006.  Granted, we don’t know where or when Peyton will be playing again.  Does he get shipped away from Indy and bogged down in some terrible offense (looking at you, Washington).  Does he come out of the gate fine somewhere and get injured after a few games?  Then, there’s Tebow.  I believe Tebow will be in the league for a long time, but I don’t know that he’ll be starting at QB.  He could be a gimmicky back up, he might play 15 plays a game at various positions, I’m not sure.  There’s not even a guarantee he’ll start for Denver next year.  Assuming he does, I think his best case scenario, everything breaking his way is 20-22 TDs and if I’m being blunt, he could also throw zero.  I don’t think Pey-Pey’s going back to a Pro Bowl next year, but he’ll find a way to toss 25 TDs, even if it’s offset by 25 INTs.  

 

Reactions to Top-10 “Tech Gifts” of the Season.

Raise Your Hand if You've Heard of Roku.

 

You should know by now that railing against technology is one of my favorite pastimes.  It’s right up there with whittling.   Luckily I don’t spend much time keeping up with the newest gadgets and this allows me to stay on a nice, even keel.  I got reeled in by the old Yahoo headline today, though.  There’s usually nothing less interesting than the Yahoo story after you click on the salacious headline, but in this case, I’m going to use it.  If I was trying to think of tech gifts on my own, I wouldn’t know where to start.  Here are the big 10:

1. Amazon Kindle Fire–$199.  There’s not much need to get into the Kindle again.  This is actually an Amazon iPad.  It’s not your 3-year old cousin’s Kindle!  That’s for damn sure.  For a different, more distinguished opinion of Amazon you can read Richard Russo’s (cough, Pulitzer Prize, cough) thoughts in a NY Times Op-Ed.  Summary: Stephen King “loves” his Kindle, but Amazon is sucking the life out of your local economy.

2.  iPhone 4s–Prices Vary.  Well, we’ll all have an iPhone soon enough, I guess.  I do like the new Samsung(?) commercials where they show the lemmings lined up outside what is supposed to be an Apple store.  I also hear that Blackberry is dying.  Poor Blackberry.  Anyway, the 4s is amazing because it has “Siri” which answers questions for you…only not really.  Siri is like if you trained your dog to tie your shoes, but it took 2 minutes.  You’d eagerly show off the trick for a while, but in the end you just go back to tying your own shoes in 17 seconds.

3.  Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet–$249.  This is another iPad, but with access to B&N’s extensive library of titles.  Is this the time to say I hate the name, “Nook?”  I think it is.  I guess the thought is, you put books in a “nook” so this thing becomes a “nook.”  Of course, once books are abolished we’ll live in a nook-less world.  Oh, the irony.  If I ever got one of these I might choose the Nook, because at least for about 30 more seconds there are brick and mortar Barnes and Noble stores.

4.  Jawbone JAMBOX Wireless Speaker–$199.  If you happen to like sitting around listening to music (which I don’t), this sounds like a really sweet gift.  You carry this thing around anywhere, plug in your pod, or phone, and you’ve got yourself some neighbor rattling quality sound.  And, no wires.  Rough time to be in the wire business, I imagine.

5.  Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones–$300.  Bose strikes me as the most 80s company of all-time.  Here are these big, metallic looking overpriced headphones…it’s the Zach Morris phone phenomenon, but Bose is still dominating.  If 300 smackers seems like a lot to pay for a set of headphones–don’t panic.  You can also use them on planes to cancel out the ambient noises.  You can’t put a price on that.  Personally, I’ve never put on a pair of comfortable earphones.  You know what’s comfortable?  Not having something on my ears.

6.  Mophie Juice Pack Plus–$99.95.  This is apparently PEDs for your iPhone.  It’s a case and also a battery supplement that will let you churn through even more data before you have to let your phone take a breath.  I think by calling it a “juice pack” the steroid connection is implied.  Here’s my question, is the iPhone so delicate because people want a pretty, sleek phone or do they just want to prop up the iPhone cover industry/have rich people who don’t care break them every 6 weeks?  I’m going to invent a lead case for the iPhone.  Feels great in your pocket!

7.  Pogoplug Mobile–$80.  We’re venturing fearlessly into products now that I have no idea what they are or what they do.  This little device lets you store data that you can then retrieve using your mobile device.  Say you put together a nice 28-minute highlight package of your son’s 30-minute karate class.  Can’t devote that kind of phone space, so throw it on the Pogoplug and poof!  It’s there when you need it.  I would actually get a Kindle before I got this thing.

8. Griffin Beacon Universal Remote$50.  Remember the remotes that were the size of cafeteria trays and people could control their TV, curtains and fireplace with them?  Well, this is a step up from that–I think.  You buy this device and set it in the general vicinity of your picture box and it will turn your smartphone into a remote.  The underlying theme of most of these, if you’ll notice, is that eventually you’ll never have to put down your phone/tablet to pick up anything else.  That’s exhausting.  I’m working on an app that turns your iPhone into a fork.

9.  Powerstick USB Portable Charger–$50.  Eventually phone batteries will last forever, but until we can harness the power of the sun, or of people’s own finger strokes to charge their phones we need new items like this.  This thing you plug into a USB port of an existing device and then plug in your phone, camera, whatever and charge it right up.  So, your phone could be charging from your computer.  The theme, as always, less wires.

10.  ROKU LT Streaming Player–$49.99.  I’m getting knockoff Apple TV from the summary.  It’s affordable!  This little wi-fi device allows you to stream Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc. onto your television set.  Personally, I’m not a fan of Apple TV as a main TV experience.  Streaming Netflix?  Awful selections.  I guess if you don’t care what you watch, you just want your TV to be on…great product.

Ok, that’s the top-10.  You’re welcome for the education.  Buy at your leisure.

Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check

Caleb Hanie's Self-Esteem? Low.

Just another week in the NFL.  I spent some time last week going on and on about the Packers.  Oh, why don’t more people pick them to win each week?  How do they cover such luxurious spreads without the slightest hiccup?  Then they lose outright to the Chiefs.  Needless to say we lost a few soldiers on that pick this week.  We’ve got 10 games left to pick, and it would only be a slight exaggeration if I said I was misting up a bit at the thought of Pick ‘Em season coming to an end.  I’m just thankful that I’ve still got a horse in this race.  I fell short of my 4-win goal, but I’ve still got a hook in Big Dub.  Two more weeks to reel him in.

Pick ‘Em Standings:  

  1. Big Dub:  41-29-5
  2. Grossy: 41-31-3
  3. Nichols: 35-38-2
  4. Kraft:  33-36-5
  5. JCK:  35-39-1

The “Candy Cane Ice Cream,” Pick of the Week:  Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the epic 2-way battle we have going to win this thing is the strong resurgence of last year’s champ.  Mired in a mid-season slump that took him well below .500, I wasn’t sure Nichols would ever leave the cellar.  But, he’s been chipping away and a 4-1 Sunday got him a lot closer to nosing back over .500.  Who knows, maybe he’ll go 10 for his next 10 and go back-to-back.  Anyway, in a 4 win week, the one that stood out was the Bengals over St. Louis.  Not sure why no one else was on board here.  Kellen Clemens?  What else is there to know?  Nothing.  The answer is nothing.

The “Dog Drank all the Tree Water,” Awful Pick of the Week:  You’ve got to do your homework.  And, for the 3rd time this year, I made a pick without the proper QB knowledge.  Who knew the pride of Texas, Kevin Kolb, was going to sit out again?  And, even though John Skelton is a verified 4th quarter assassin (ask Eagles fans), he really shouldn’t be trusted laying seven points.  The Cardinals feisty come from behind win was just an insult, sitting there knowing there is no way to get 7 points in OT.  And, what was Vegas thinking with this one anyway?  Seven points?  Seven?  I feel misled.  No more reading lines this year, no more Cardinals either.  Gotta be smart.

***

D.A. Semi-Finals:

The D.A. Semi-Finals left me feeling a bit unsatisfied.  I don’t think the QBs lived up to the moment.  We missed out on Ricky Stanzi, Dan Orlovsky and the dang Colts won a game…what is going on here?  Of course, the sheer thrill of being in the semis will carry the day, but I’m hoping for more fireworks in the finals.  Hopefully the players drafted can play more like Eli Manning.  Talk about going from the top of the world to the depths of despair in one week.  Well played, Eli.  Are you a play against the Jets this week?

Big Dub Keeps Hot Hand, Bests JCK 37 to (-6.25)

The hottest team in the league stayed hot.  Big Dub feels a little like Butler right now.  A Cinderella story all the way to the finals.  The question is, can he finish the job?  Or will Eli Esses D be a nice, quaint memory that fades over time?  To earn his spot in the finals, Big Dub struck early.  Thursday night, Blaine Gabbert started the show with 28 points.  Gabbert could be the leading D.A. QB of the year, and he’s so bad, 28 points felt a little hollow.  On Saturday, Josh Freeman’s decent finish left him with only 9 points.  Thirty-seven seemed like an attainable number for JCK (Seneca Wallace and Kyle Orton), but in-line with the theme of the day–the Packers let everyone down.  Orton cut them up for (-19.25 points) and that was that.

Kraft Upsets Neckbeards and Codeine 46.5 to 28 to Earn Spot in Finals.  

This was only a mild upset.  Kraft led the league in points, Neckbeards won the regular season.  Pretty titanic clash for the Semis.  Neckbeards got to pick the draft order and chose to pick 4/5.  It allowed Kraft to have the #1 pick, but with the top-heavy talent pool, the theory made sense.  The only problem was, Caleb Hanie came to play.  Credit goes to Kraft for sniffing out Hanie with the first pick.  Who knew he had 2 pick6s in him?  It was part of an orgasm of defense for the Seahawks and Hanie’s 47 points were easily the best of the week.  It off-set Orlovsky’s day and put Neckbeards in a tough spot.  Christian Ponder was very good with 27 points, but spot-starter Kellen Clemens meandered his way through the Bengals game without taking many bullets.  His 2 points weren’t nearly enough.

D.A. Finals:  Kraft vs. Eli Esses D

  • Two-Week Cumulative Scoring
  • Draft Order TBD

 ***

3-PT D.A. of the Week:  

There was a nice pack of contenders this week.  Mark Sanchez was brutal.  T.J. Yates finally showed some potential.  Christian Ponder was woefully inaccurate.  Blaine Gabbert was Gabbadocious.  And, then there was Eli Manning.  He was the only real contender to Caleb Hanie’s throne this week.  Eli threw in an absolute terrible performance in a pretty key spot for the Giants the week after looking great against Dallas.  Eli chucked 3 picks and out-stunk Rex Grossman–not an easy task.  I was about to crown Eli, but then I realized that would be just a little too much anti-Giants bias.  Just because Hanie has conditioned us to his terrible play doesn’t mean 2 pick6s don’t still mean the world in this contest.  And, there is the fact that Hanie has also ruined Chicago’s whole season.  He good big-picture too.  Congrats, Caleb.

*Bowl Picks, Etc.