Just Your Results.

A Better Week Then Belichick.

A Better Week Then Belichick.

I was thinking today that football picks are a bit like the online reviews of the sports world.  Forget these particular picks here for a moment.  NFL pick columns have long been a staple in papers, blogs–you name it.  This despite the fact that almost everyone doing these columns is not particularly good at picking games.  We have our moments, our streaks, but the only thing that ever really gets proven is that there is no method, no formula, no pattern.

So, why bother?  This is where I draw the comparison to online reviews.  I’m sure everyone has read at least a few over the years.  I have actually fallen victim to checking out a site like Rotten Tomatoes before I watch almost any movie.  It doesn’t necessarily shape my decision, but I want to see what people think.  And do the people reviewing the movies have any more authority than I do on football games?  Not really.

I just wonder what the draw is to all this information that is often useless and at best biased.  And, does anyone know an online review website that is actually helpful?  Anyway, your noble standings….

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings: 

  1. Big Dub, 8-7
  2. Grossy, 8-7
  3. Nichols, 7-8
  4. DC, 7-8
  5. Kraft, 6-14

First of all, apologies for not posting Kraft’s picks this week.  I am a pretty poor blogger these days, and he’s the only one who has picked every week.  Disrespectful on my part.  He also picked the JAGS and the BUCS, an uncommon act of bravery that netted a 1-1 result.

The “European Ryder Cup Team,” Pick of the Week:  Grossy (KC -3.5)

There were some fine picks this week.  But, thought we needed a quick word on the state of the Patriots.  Monday night had to be one of the lows of the “era,” and the team has gotten so thin that it’s difficult access old Touchdown Tommy Terrific.  Depending on what you read, Brady is either nearing the end, or the Patriots have about 6 guys on the roster with NFL talent.  All I know is a lackluster home win over Oakland didn’t make me feel real strong about a road trip to KC and that trepidation was rewarded with a breezy cover.  I THINK I’m 3-0 on Monday night–if you’re looking for a trend.

The “Tom Watson” Awful Pick of the Week:  Various (Pittsburgh -7.5)

I wanted to highlight this, because I think it highlights exactly how unpredictable the NFL has gotten.  The Bucs couldn’t have looked worst last week.  The Steelers played one of their better games.  And, I guess it was lining up as a Steelers win (no cover), but when that gets flipped and the Bucs win outright?  I just don’t know where you go from there.  Are both these teams off limits for the rest of the season?

***

The 3PT D.A. of the Week:  Kirk Cousins.

Strong D.A. force this week.  Perhaps that is because D.A. saw the field yet again.  I don’t know if Tom Brady has ever won–but he’s getting close.  Among the other noteworthy performances is EJ Manuel losing his job to Kyle Orton.  Really, Buffalo?  Got that eye to the future again?  But, Cousins was just too electric on Thursday night to ignore.  The guy was going to save the season one week and then came out and looked an awful lot like…Kirk Cousins.  Before tearing up Philly (umm…) and Jacksonville (yep…) Cousins had been remarkably average as a pro.  Like, some type of AJ Feeley/Mark Sanchez hybrid.  But, Redskins’ fans had something rosier in their minds and two good games solidified that.  Then, SLAP.  Cousins goes for 4 picks, loses a backbreaking fumble and the ‘Skins get clobbered 45-14…AT HOME. Well, played Kirk.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top-10:

  1. Cincinnati, 3-0.  Bye Week Bump.
  2. Arizona, 3-0.  Bye Week Boost.
  3. Seattle, 2-1. It pays not to play.
  4. Denver, 2-1.  Now I’m just messing around.
  5. San Diego, 3-1. Are the Chargers decent? Nah.
  6. Philadelphia, 3-1.  Some warning signs Sunday.
  7. Houston, 3-1.  The Texans are 3-1?!?!
  8. Baltimore, 3-1. There are no good teams in the league.
  9. Detroit, 3-1.  Second worst 3-1 team of all-time.
  10. Dallas, 3-1.  Worst 3-1 team of all-time.

Erm, About those Picks…

What do we Think the Success Rate is Here?

What do we Think the Success Rate is Here?

Well, I don’t think we want to delve too deep into the picks from last week.  People need time to find their rhythm.  So after a few weeks of scorching predictions, maybe we’ll revisit the actual pick making process.  Does anyone, on the planet, have any idea what they’re talking about?

But, for the time being, I wanted to talk briefly about people who drive around with things jammed in the trunks of their sedan.  I was behind a car like this the other day and I spent the entire time wondering if the furniture was just going to spill out onto the road in front of me.  In fact, I was expecting it to happen at any moment.  That it didn’t became a bit of a disappointment.  My question is, is packing a trunk like this an optical illusion? Is it more stable than it appears?  Or do these things inevitably go wrong?  I would love to hear some stories of shit falling out of cars onto the highway.  I think part of buying a sedan is that you know, when you sign that dotted line, you SHOULD NOT be moving couches with this car, but I guess people are just greedy.  They want it all.

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:

  1. Nichols, 5-5
  2. Gross, 5-5
  3. DC, 7-8
  4. Kraft,. 4-11

***

The “Great Sleeping Weather,” Pick of the Week: Indianapolis (-7)–Various.

The state of Florida lost in professional football 132-46 over the weekend.  That’s three games and their negative point differential is already looking Phillies-esque.  I have to admit that Jacksonville made me wonder on Sunday what would happen if they played Tampa.  Would it be an exciting game?  Would it be like watching pee-wee soccer?  I have no idea.  I do know that there is a new gun slinger in town, Blake Bortles.  Bortles is going to throw a TREMENDOUS amount of interceptions, and when teams start laying off like Indy did in the 2nd half–some decent throws too?  Anyway, this was the one game that looked easy and turned out that way, several of us needed it desperately.

The “Roger Goodell,” Awful Pick of the Week: Kraft (Miami -4)

Kraft did not have his best week, and I cannot help but wonder if we are in the midst of another of Kraft’s brilliant bet against streaks like we saw in Year 1 of this contest.  If you have the courage, the faith that 30% winners could be coming again–it’s time to get on board now.  Of course, here, this is simply the case of Kraft saying “Bury K.C.”  You can’t bury Andy Reid in sixty minutes.  You’d need more time to make a big enough hole.  ZING!

***

The 3PT D.A. of the Week:  Josh McCown

The QB play in the league this week was pretty noxious.  Somehow Matt Stafford and Aaron Rodgers played like Rodney Peete and Ty Detmer.  We saw the debut of Bridgewater and Bortles, but I want to let these grow into their DA-ness.  I don’t know when the last time someone threw 3 Pick-6s in a game was, but if someone is doing it this year, it’s going to be Bortles. Get ready.  But, Josh McCown in Tampa is just a pitiful sight at this point.  Bringing in Josh McCown is deflating in itself, if that was my team, I’d rather draft ANYONE than have a free agent McCown, but he got the starting job and it only took 2.5 weeks for Mike Glennon to storm the field.  So, you go from McCown to a baby giraffe playing QB, but at least Glennon is young?  Josh “Cade” McCown was 5-12 for 52 yards and a pick-6 in limited action.  That’s about about 35 D.A. points on 13 dropbacks.  Astounding.

***

The Definitive, Yet Arbitrary NFL top-10:

  1. Cincinnati, 3-0. Greatest team ever QB’d by a redhead?
  2. Seattle, 2-1. Were you kind of rooting for Peyton?
  3. Arizona, 3-0. They’re winning with Giancarlo Stanton at QB.
  4. Philadelphia, 3-0.  Great Offense.  And, great offense.
  5. Denver, 2-1. Someone has their number.
  6. San Diego, 2-1. Impressive San Diego Road Win–1st ever?
  7. Atlanta, 2-1.  Could have put 70 on Tampa.
  8. Carolina, 2-1. Dropping like an anchor.
  9. New England, 2-1. What was that exactly Sunday?
  10. Buffalo, 2-1.  Why not?

Week Three NFL Picks.

What 40 Million a Year Gets You.

What 40 Million a Year Gets You.

The NFL is like a lit bottle rocket right now.  It could end up anywhere and it wouldn’t surprise me.  Oh, the commissioner’s press conference is going to get interrupted by a screaming Benjy Bronk from the Howard Stern show?  I’ll allow it.  I wondered last week if anything could truly tarnish the league from a success standpoint, PR black eyes create a lot of noise for the NFL, but it doesn’t appear that they ever impact the bottom line.  Over the last few weeks that theory is being tested, but that’s why you have a strong commissioner in place to stand in front of the media and capably face the fire.  Oh, that isn’t what happened?  Goodell should resign based solely on the distraction he’s causing at this point.  Can we just go back to watching the damn games?

Speaking of which, here are some solid locks for week three.  If you don’t have your trends nailed by week three, you’re in for a long year.  Let’s see what we’ve got….

Kraft, 4-6

  1. Miami (-4) over K.C.  Bury K.C.
  2. Buffalo (-2.5) over San Diego. Don’t bet against cancer stories.
  3. Carolina (-3) over Pittsburgh.  It’s about time for a Mike Tomlin blow up that could creep into the all-time coach presser Pantheon.
  4. Denver (+5) over Seattle.
  5. Green Bay (+2.5) over Detroit.  The only time GB has lost in Detroit is when Rodgers was out.

***

Grossy, 3-2

Buffalo (-2.5) over San Diego.  The Chargers are coming off a monster win.  They’re traveling east for a 1pm game, you know all about that drill.  The Bills play pretty solid defense? Is this a thing people are starting to agree on?  More importantly, I snagged Sammy Watkins off waivers in my fantasy league and I’m ready to fully commit to a season long romance.  Sammy, are you on Tindr?  I have so many rookie WRs it’s troubling and a bit sad.

Houston (-2) over New York Giants.  This is kind of like the game last week, right?  Road team coming in as half-hearted favorites, because the Giants can’t be THAT bad?  You can’t start making teams like Houston and Arizona definitive road favorites in NY can you?  I think we’ll be there after Sunday.  Eli should really just blow his ankle out, take the year off and head to Denver to be Peyton’s backup until the neck gives out for good.  That seems more likely than the Giants putting together a decent offensive line in our lifetime.

Indianapolis (-7) over Jacksonville.  Congrats to Tampa Bay for blowing the basement out of the NFL power rankings on Thursday night.  You think you’ve seen the worst NFL football you can imagine and then the Falcons go up 56-0.  I’m sorry, did Florida State just take the field against Franklin & Marhsall?  56-0? I thought this was professional sports.  ANYWAY, my point is, the Jags are almost that bad.  Forget the first half against the Eagles.  They’ve got Gerhardt averaging 1.6 a carry and a defense that gives up about 40 per.  Here’s a game Indy does really have to win.  Should be a blowout.

Carolina (-3) over Pittsburgh.  Still don’t think the Panthers pre-season hate has fully dissipated.  Maybe they won’t win as many games as last year, but they’re off to a nice start and they’re certainly better than Pittsburgh.  BY A MARGIN.  The Steelers are going to do nothing offensively in this game.  Just go ahead and put Le’veon Bell on your bench.  Clear out a spot for him.  It’ll save you the 11 for 29 nightmare.

Chicago (+3) over NY Jets.  I’m hearing that Geno Smith is looking improved.  Now is that compared to himself, or a functional NFL QB?  Aaron Rodgers did whatever he wanted against the Jets last week, and while Mr. Cavallari is not quite in Rodgers’ league, he’s got more than enough weapons to light up the Jets secondary.  Would you feel comfortable laying points with the Jets?  I didn’t think so.  Rob and Rex Ryan might both end up in the FXFL next season.

***

Nichols, 3-2:

  1. Houston (-2) over NYG
  2. New Orleans (-10) over Minnesota
  3. Green Bay (+2.5) over Detroit
  4. Indianapolis (-7) over Jacksonville
  5. Denver (+5) over Seattle

That 3-2 Dream.

I don't see Tom Brady Throwing A TD to Little Johnny Moynihan in 2027.

I don’t see Tom Brady Throwing A TD to Little Johnny Moynihan in 2027.

Are there less sons of professional football players in the NFL than in other sports?  The other night the Giants played a game where Bruce Bochy was managing his son, who was pitching to Tom Gordon’s son, it was all quite incestuous. Obviously the case of a father and son on the same team (see the Griffeys) is extraordinarily rare, but in baseball it seems like fathers at least coach, or coach against their sons on a somewhat regular basis.  This is something else that doesn’t necessarily happen in the NFL.  It’s so hard to be an NFL head coach it seems like being a player is almost a disadvantage? Oh, you weren’t a graduate assistant under a Bellichick protege and then a “quality control assistant” during your twenties? Sorry, back of the line with your Pro Bowls and Super Bowl rings.  It’s certainly better to be related to an NFL coach if you want to coach than to play the game professionally.  If you grew up watching pops draw on napkins, you can ride that all the way to glory, or to the head job with the Jets.  YOUR CHOICE.

The question is, is it smart to coach kids, or is it just better to interfere with the actual coach from the sidelines?  Certainly no one can just let their child be coached, right?  You must have some opinion, so why not offer it up in an official capacity? Of course, you could be a terrible coach, in which case, you probably want to save the other 12 youngsters and just ruin your own kid with your terrible theories and techniques.  A real conundrum, not unlike trying to figure out the National Football League, a sport where the Saints can lose to the Browns, yes those Browns.

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings: 

  1. Grossy, 3-2
  2. DC, 5-5
  3. Kraft, 4-6
  4. Big Dub, 4-6

***

The “Ken Griffey Jr.” Pick of the Week:  Grossy, Philadelphia +3

Well, this could be my only lead of the year.  If you remember my pick, I talked vaguely about poor defense for both teams (that happened!) and then I made some arbitrary comments about just taking the points when in doubt.  That’s ANALYSIS.  I also said I don’t much like Foles, which is still the case after Darren Sproles strapped the team on his back Monday night. Sproles and the refs put on quite a show.  I’ve always been fond of Sproles, for fantasy purposes, going back to his SD days, but watching him play regular football is still quite entertaining.

The “Pete Rose Jr.” Awful Pick of the Week:  Kraft, Tampa Bay (-6) 

Kraft, as the resident expert on all horrible Florida football, gets judged quite harshly on these games.  As a professional handicapper, he’s expected to have all the hot tips on the Bucs and Jags.  If there is going to be a week where Jacksonville doesn’t get outscored by 11 TDs in the 2nd half, I expect Kraft to have his finger on the pulse.  Now, I’m not so sure.  I guess he didn’t see Austin Davis coming.  Then, who did?

***

The 3-PT D.A. of the Week:  MATT CASSEL!

Eli ONLY threw two interceptions this week (not bad, kiddo!) and really I couldn’t do that to him every week, though the humor of it I think would have eventually settled in.  We are running out of time to enjoy Matt Cassel.  The Vikings have themselves in a really awful PR spot right now with the AP situation and it might appease the fans and take some attention away from the negatives if they just said, “Hey Look, Bridgewater!”  Also, Matt Cassel is terrible and shouldn’t be a starter in the league.  It was a D.A. symphony from Cassel, who threw 4 INTS (1 returned for a TD), was sacked six times, and managed to complete barely 50 percent of his passes.  Checking the abacus, that’s about 50 D.A. points.  BOOM.

***

The Return of the Definitive, Yet Arbitrary, Top 10.

  1. Denver, 2-0. Great Regular Season Team.
  2. Seattle, 1-1. 1/2 free pass for getting Gates’d.
  3. Carolina, 2-0. Great D. High Water Mark.
  4. Philadelphia, 2-0.  Awful D. Great “scat” back.
  5. Cincinnati, 2-0.  Sanu over Dalton?
  6. Buffalo, 2-0. For laughs, High Water Mark.
  7. Houston, 2-0. Still laughing, High Water Mark.
  8. San Diego, 1-1.  They beat Seattle!
  9. New England, 1-1.  They beat the Vikings!
  10. Arizona, 2-0.  Wins against the Giants don’t count.

Week Two NFL Picks.

Fire Up the BItcoin ATM.

Fire Up the BItcoin ATM.

I think all NFL rookie QBs should play immediately.  My curiosity demands it.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the master class in “veteran” Chad Henne I watched last Sunday, but that didn’t stop me from wondering about Bortles.  This might come as a surprise to you, but I did not watch Jacksonville’s pre-season games.  I also did not catch much of Bortles in college, so when people start talking about Bortles actually being good–that’s something I want to see for myself.  Because, I’m still pretty sure Blake Bortles is going to be a pretty bad NFL quarterback, but I’d like to be proven right or wrong immediately.  I don’t want to wait why Bortles marinates like a Memorial Day flank steak.

It’s all about that instant answer, the appeasement of the ever shrinking attention span.  This is why betting on games is so fulfilling (for some people).  You may not know the outcome sometime until the final minutes, but I guarantee every casual or amateur bettor has chalked a game up as a win or a loss in their mind within the opening few drives.  Early lead?  Counting that money.  Early deficit?  Go to the quiet place and look for the next game to bet on.  With that in mind, here are some games that I’ll be unusually interested in…

GROSSY: 0-0

Carolina (-3) over Detroit.  

Now that Megatron is off my fantasy team for the first time in years (not my fault), I can look at Detroit a little more objectively.  Skinny Matt Stafford does look dangerous, but there’s just something odd about this line?  As I mentioned in the last post, Carolina was a popular pick to fall off a cliff.  Yet they won week one (with DA) and now are favored against a playoff team?  Someone is trying to tell you that the Panthers are back, baby!  I don’t care if Cam plays or not, I hear about Detroit’s defensive front all the time and yet teams continue to put up mountains of points against them.  Lions wilt in that southern humidity…

Tennessee (-3.5) over Dallas.

Dallas is horrible.  Is there a Dallas/Giants prime time game this year, because I am already dreading that slop.  Jake Locker appears to be rounding into a very average NFL quarterback, but that’s more than enough to coast here.  I would not be surprised if the Titans won by double digits, and I’m not sure I’ve said that since 1997.

New England (-3) over Minnesota.  

Doesn’t really feel like the Patriots are going to start 0-2, does it?  Minnesota blew out the diaper fire that is St. Louis, but I wouldn’t get too ahead of yourselves up there in southern Canada.  Belichick knows how to beat Cassel.  He taught him everything he knows!  Seriously, though, this line is probably at least double this last week.

Atlanta (+5) over Cincinnati.  

Last season I fearlessly picked the Falcons to go to the Super Bowl.  I’m not sure they won a game.  But, I think the Falcons have drug themselves out of the league’s basement for this season and the Bengals are never, ever a team I’d feel real comfortable laying points with.  Road dogs against the shell of the Steelers?  Sign me up, but I’m not ready for a world where Cincy is a comfortable home favorite against everyone.  I don’t care how much money they gave the Rojo Gunslinger.

Philadelphia (+3) over Indianapolis.  

The Colts don’t stop anyone.  The Eagles don’t stop anyone.  Everyone seems to think that the Colts have to win this game, like it is pre-ordained by the bumbling commissioner himself.  I think it’s a total coin-flip, and since I have to pick the last game, might as well take the points.  For the record, I still don’t like Foies.

Big Dub: 2-3

  1. Pittsburgh (+2.5) over Baltimore
  2. Miami (-1) over Buffalo
  3. New York Giants (+2.5) over Arizona
  4. Cincinnati (-5) over Atlanta
  5. Chicago (+7) over San Francisco

Kraft: 2-3

  1. Tenneesee (-3.5) over Dallas
  2. Buffalo (+1) over Miami
  3. Green Bay (-8) over NYJ
  4. Chicago (+7) over San Francisco
  5. Tampa Bay (-6) over St. Louis

DC: 3-2

  1. Kansas City (+13) over Denver
  2. Atlanta (+5) over Cincinnati
  3. Detroit (+3) over Carolina
  4. New York Giants (+2.5) over Arizona
  5. New England (-3) over Minnesota

Tuesday Morning Self-Esteem Check.

I'm Sure Self-Esteem Remains High.

I’m Sure Self-Esteem Remains High.

Is it possible the NFL could become less popular?  They are testing the fans right now.  The juggernaut they built through marketing, fantasy football, and gambling is starting to feel like some asshole driving around in an H2 with 40 inch tires getting 2.7 miles a gallon.  The league is a PR nightmare right now, but I’m still not sure that any of it matters.  From the reprehensible handling of the Ray Rice decision all the way down to the laughable Heads Up Football initiative, every decision the NFL makes lately is late, half-hearted, and done solely in their own interest.  I don’t think the fans really care, though.  They may offer lip service, Ray Rice will be loudly booed if he ever makes it back onto the field (he probably will), but no one is going to turn off the TV, no one is going to withdraw from their fantasy league.  The NFL just rolls on, and makes me wonder, what would have to happen for this league to actually take a hit?

NFL Pick ‘Em Standings: 

Picks for week one were conducted in a cloak and dagger manner over electronic mail.  Your host, the formerly prolific blogger, did not make any picks at all.  This is a good thing as heat and Coors Light induced dehydration likely would have clouded my judgement.  Moving forward expect us to revert to the traditional Pick ‘Em format, you know, that novel idea where you see the picks before the games actually happen.  Weird.  

  1. DC, 3-2
  2. Nichols, 3-2
  3. Kraft, 2-3
  4. Big Dub, 2-3
  5. Grossy, 0-0

The “Wheel of Fortune Slots,” Pick of the Week: DC, Minnesota (+3) over St. Louis.  

Let me just check the score here….yep, that’s 34-6 Vikings.  When was the last time Minnesota blew someone out?  That’s a serious question.  Was Jeff George the QB? Was it before Robert Smith retired to be an actor?  Minnesota’s role in this game was what was surprising to me.  I’m certainly not surprised the Rams put up six points.  That seems in line with the offensive machine they’ve assembled there, but look at the Vikes!  Cranking up 34 points on a defense that was a trendy pick to be among the best in the league.  Matt Cassel is a winner people!  Only thing this pick lacked was a definitive OUTRIGHT tag.  

The “Fro-Yo Bubble,” Awful Pick of the Week:  Various: Tampa over Carolina.  

I can produce the emails I received, but i’m sure you’ll take my word.  The Bucs were a hot trend this week.  The Bucs I said to myself?  I haven’t been following the NFL as closely as usual.  Is that hobbled giraffe that makes Nick Foles look athletic, Mike Glennon, their starting QB?  OH NO, it’s Josh McCown.  NOW I UNDERSTAND.  When a team turns the keys over to a McCown you sit up and take notice.  The amazing thing is, McCown lost convincingly to Derek Anderson.  Yep, that same Derek Anderson.  Maybe the, “Oh my god Carolina is going to drop to 4-12″ meme got a little too much momentum in the pre-season.  

***

The 3PT DA of the Week:  ELI MANNING!!!

I just decided right now that I would like to give this to Eli every week this season, and I can’t do that if he doesn’t win week one!  It was a pretty star-studded field for DA.  Mr. Anderson himself took the field and shredded the Bucs.  He’s back!  Nick Foles played what was probably the worst half of Eagles football since a Detmer.  The Rams had someone on the field named Austin Davis?  Anyone?  But, since I don’t really blog that much anymore, it wouldn’t feel right not taking an available shot at the Giants.  Has anyone ever blown a coverage on Megatron like that?  Honest question.  Has Megatron been that open since Pee-Wee?  Kind of feels like a guy you keep track of, but anyway, Eli was a steady 18/33 for a buck sixty and a couple picks. Also led the league in diaper load faces.  I don’t have the slide rule next to me, but that’s in the neighborhood of 30 DA points.  

Ok, we’re back.  Can’t wait to get after it next week.  

The Jean Short Open: The Year of the Vest.

Because Why The Hell Not?

Because Why The Hell Not?

What can you say about the Jean Short Open that hasn’t already been said?  Year six of the JSO is a bit like re-watching one of your favorite movies.  You know you are going to love it, but you aren’t sure if you are going to discover something you’ve never seen before.  Well, just like in all other areas, the JSO never, ever disappoints.  

For the first time ever the JSO was pushed to Labor Day weekend.  A devastating wrist injury (suffered before Sunday’s photo leak) pushed back the original date and after a special request by Rodger Goodell to not distract the nation from the start of the NFL season, we ended up choosing to spend part of our holiday weekend at fabled Pickering Valley Golf Club. 

What wasn’t new this year:

1.  I lost again!  What the hell is going on here?  Can you blame your partner two straight years when you have different partners.  Checking….nope, looks like I can’t do that.  The second year without the belt is not going to be any easier than the first.  Believe me.  

2. MOST CLOSELY CONTESTED ATHLETIC EVENT ON EARTH.  The JSO, for the 2nd time in 3 years required extra holes and for the 3rd straight year was all square headed into 18.  If the Ryder Cup produces half the drama, I’d expect monster ratings.  

3. I thought I had a good outfit, until I saw everyone else’s outfit.  

4. No one, and no animals were injured during the playing of the JSO.

5. Coors Light remains the beverage of choice (though just barely).

What was new: 

1. We broke a rule at Pickering.  Apparently there is at least one rule, and this year we finally broke it.  

2. Someone fell out of a golf cart. 

The Big Winners.

                                                                   The Big Winners.

One strange thing that happens with the JSO is you sometimes end up with similar outfits or themes.  After all, the championship belts only exist because two of them showed up independently one year.  So this year, not only did we have three vest, but these two ball strikers went for a formal flair, landing somewhere between Bagger Vance, The Good Humor Man, and an old-timey carnival barker?  Regardless, the point is, the greatness of the JSO lies in the fact that two people MIGHT show up in identical white newsboy caps.  

After our traditional parking lot beer, the day started with our first ever real reaction in the golf shop.  Should note that a group loading up their cars was equally horrified by our presence and one guy seemed to actively peel out in an attempt to dissociate from us as quickly as possible.  Or maybe he was late for his kid’s soccer game.  I DON’T KNOW.  So, in the shop the guy beyond the counter grumbled something about us “starting a new look,” and then made a horribly racist joke.  It was uncomfortable, and I don’t want people to judge Pickering as a whole, but our takeaway was, “We finally got someone to feel something.”  Progress?

The round started out well for yours truly and my partner.  After I birdied the 3rd hole to send us to 2 up, I said, “Don’t worry, it’s not like we’re going to shoot 66….or ARE WE?”  Spoiler Alert: We didn’t.  This is what the winners were up against:

That's a DIY Lee Denim Vest.

                                                         That’s a DIY Lee Denim Vest.

After the first few holes, things went back and forth for the rest of the front nine.  The one thing to note was the incredible beer pace that the winning team was setting.  These guys were hammering down adult beverages and not looking back. Was it hurting their games?  Do they have games to hurt?  So many questions.  In our cart there was some discussion as we played the signature 8th hole about whether or not our opponents could make it 18 holes.  Were they slow rolling us? Spolier Alert: YES!

So, we were one down going into nine, which turned into a real circus when The Mummers brought to you by Men’s Wearhouse was dislodged from his golf cart during a sharp turn.  No footage of this exists as it happened closer to the 18th hole than the one we were playing and things had gotten a little heated on the tee box over the lack of a “great shot point.” I forgot to mention that the JSO probably gets more competitive every year.  Anyway, someone finally fell out of a cart.  It took six years.  

Try to Explain this Picture.

                                                     Try to Explain this Picture.

Much like the front nine, we built an early lead on the back, taking holes 10 (reverse scramble) and 11 with ease.  I would say at this point we got overconfident.  But then the vagaries on the JSO started to catch up to us…

On 14, still up two shots, Haas hit his tee shot directly over his right shoulder (he’s a lefty).  This is pretty much a 180 degree angle to the tee box.  The ball rose, barely cleared the carts that were parked pretty much behind us, and landed like a butterfly.  That’s a great shot point.  Due to the complex scoring system, despite taking that and many other swings on the hole, Haas had a putt FOR EAGLE.  He does not waste such opportunities.  We were back to one up.  

Then, we get to 15.  Which is one club.  This has always held a special place in my heart as I fashion myself as an immensely more talented ball striker than I actually am.  But this year I chose my 7-iron, hit a good drive, scraped one near the green and secured us the win we needed to get back to 2-UP.  

Two up with three to go sounds comfortable, unless you are Mark Calcavecchia at the ’91 Ryder Cup, or you are about to play the 16th hole, which of course is: BEER PAR!  Our team decided to not go for beer par this year since we had the lead. We actually got quite close to making par anyway (Par 3 hole–drivers only), but that was of little matter as our opponents (MVP Haas again) easily did beer par, as always, and cut our lead in half.  

Seventeen is the easiest par-5 in the state of PA–on paper–made more difficult by a day’s worth of drinking and the relatively new rule that I have to hit my drive off the top of a water bottle.  

Finally a shot of my Coors Iron On Patch as I tee it up.

                        Finally a shot of my Coors Iron On Patch as I tee it up.

And this is me blabbing about how great I'm going to hit it.

             And this is me blabbing about how great I’m going to hit it.

I didn’t quite catch all of the drive, but thanks to my partner we were still in fine shape off the tee.  From there, I don’t really recall all the details, again lot of scoring details, but moral was we lost 17 as well.  Back to all square.  On the way to 18, our opponents got their cart stuck on a railroad tie.  This is the 2nd time in my life I’ve had to rescue a cart from a railroad tie and both times I was playing with this foursome. WEIRD.  That attempted distraction DID NOT WORK as we halved 18 and went on to extra holes.  At this point we headed across the parking lot to the 16th tee–thus leading to our first ever reprimand at Pickering.  You see, one of our outfits had changed…due to the rising humidity:

The Tank Top Had Been Engaged by Hole 19.

                  The Tank Top Had Been Engaged by Hole 19.

You see, there are a couple rules at Pickering.  One of which is, you must be in sleeves.  So, while darkness is about to fall and we’re about to play the most important hole of the year the guy from the shop comes out and tells us that a) we have to ask if we want to play extra holes and b) that shirt just isn’t going to fly.  It just “doesn’t look good.”  YEP, that’s what doesn’t look good at Pickering.  Anyway, we threw on some sleeves and got on with the playoff.  

As with all JSO playoffs, this one ended with a very short missed putt.  A three footer can break several inches on the 16th green at Pickering, such is the natural pitch of the land, and the greens are also incredibly slow, so this is quite the combination.  Our team missed two putts and that was all she wrote.  Another year of heartache.  It takes 24 hours to process all that Coors Light, but it’s another 365 until you get a chance to get that belt back.