Thursday, September 30, 2010

College Football Matchups

We're sure to have another great weekend in college football, maybe the best one yet. Here are my picks for all the ranked matchups of the weekend:

#1 Alabama vs. #7 Florida

#9 Stanford vs. #4 Oregon

#21 Texas vs. #8 Oklahoma

#24 Michigan State vs. #11 Wisconsin

#22 Penn State vs. #17 Iowa

Upset of the weekend: Clemson def. #16 Miami

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Play Less Basketball

With NBA training camps kicking off earlier this week, there's one question on everyone's mind: really? Again?? Already???

The NBA never goes away. The season is a long one: 82 games stretch across 6 months. The NBA post-season is relatively lengthy too: 4 series last 2 months, going deep into June. Add in the 1 month preseason, and you've got a league in full operation for 9 months of the year. But even in the offseason, basketball doesn't go away. The draft happens right after the Finals end, the NBA Summer League somehow pollutes Sports Center's morning highlights every July, and the free agent frenzy blows up, then lingers. Basketball, it seems, is always there.

Frankly, I think it's a disservice to the sport. September is a magical month for football because we've fought through February, March, April June, July, and August waiting for kickoff. Opening Day is so exciting in baseball because we've made it through a 5 month off season with tarps on the fields. But when basketball rolls around, it's hard to be enthusiastic. Another October, another season.

This year, basketball has been especially frustrating. The LeBron saga sunk its teeth into the offseason, clamping down and refusing to let go. We'll be badgered with this story for years; the Miami Heat will define (and ruin) the sport. Not for Lakers and Celtics fans, who still have a chance, but for everybody else. We even got full coverage of the FIBA World Championships, because yeah, I definitely wanted to see USA play Angola.

I'm not trying to say basketball is never fun to watch. But it sure would be a lot more exciting if we had to earn it. If we were allowed to forget about basketball for a while, story lines would be so much more compelling when the sport rolled around again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fantasy Football: Week 3

After another great week, some trends are beginning to emerge. Here all the results:

Shut Up Meg (3-0) def. Market St. Marauders (1-2), 100-93
In one of this week's closest match-ups, Shut Up Meg managed to stay undefeated with a 7-point win. Drew Brees (22), Cedric Benson (20), and the Pittsburgh defense (18) helped Shut Up Meg reach the century mark. Market St. Marauders got some huge performances from Mike Vick and Adrian Peterson (32 and 31, respectively) but didn't get enough help from the supporting cast.

Petey Jones. RB. (2-1) def. Bleeding Nipples (1-2), 108-77
Petey Jones. RB. had six players in double digits, including a finally effective Joe Flacco, with 22. Bleeding Nipples got some help from Brandon Lloyd, who also had 22, but was let down by two Redskins, Portis and Davis, who combined for 6 points.

Carolina Sex Panther (2-1) def. Nick (1-2), 114-57
Carolina Sex Panther put an absolute hurting on Nick, with great performances pretty much across the board. Austin Collie led all scorers with 29, and Matt Ryan helped the cause with 19. It seems like a bit of a shame, however, to have a 114 point week when a 58 point week would have done the trick. 

Hocus Pocus (1-1-1) tied TwoDat (0-2-1), 83-83
I didn't even know you could tie. (Coincidentally, TwoDat's starting QB was none other than Donovan McNabb). Hocus Pocus went into the Monday Night Football game needing 8 points from Devin Hester to win. Hester put up 7, four yards short of point #8. Michael Turner led all scorers in this one with 18.

vick's pooch kick (2-1) def. bitchesaintshit (1-2), 95-82
The most perfect human on the earth Tom Brady led the charge for bitchesaintshit with 22 points. Unfortunately, that charge fell short, as vick's pooch kick got 23 from Peyton Hillis and 20 from Jeremy Maclin.

Captain Insano (1-2) def. SlapBet Commissioner (1-2), 79-68
Captain Insano got a remarkable 22 points from Kyle Orton (against the Colts, nonetheless) and 11 points from Jermichael Finley. SlapBet Commissioner needed a big Monday night performance from Matt Forte, but Forte managed just 3 points.

MonStars (2-1) def. NorthEastGrapepicker (0-3), 109-68
NorthEastGrapepicker's scoring woes continue. This week, Brandon Marshall did help with 22, but Favre was once again stuck in single digits and the RB's combined for 9. MonStars got huge performances from DeSean Jackson (21) and Chris Johnson (24).

The Backside Georges (3-0) def. Armchair Quarterback (2-1), 100-58
The Backside Georges are the only other undefeated team left after winning against the previously unbeaten Armchair Quarterback. Armchair Quarterback had only 2 players in double digits and also decided to start 2 wide receivers instead of the normal 3. The Backside Georges got 22 points each from Aaron Rogers and Mike Wallace.

**Special Awards**Highest Scoring Team: Carolina Sex Panther with 114 points. Great stuff.
Lowest Scoring Team: Nick with 57. Shonn Greene really doesn't have it this year.
Best Player: Market St. Marauder's Michael Vick with 32. Woof.
Worst Player: A few zeros, but no negatives this week.
Best Matchup: Hocus Pocus (83) vs. TwoDat (83). Couldn't have been any closer.
Worst Decision: TwoDat starting Miami's defense against the Jets (1 point) instead of Cincinnati's D against the Panthers (13 points).

Monday, September 27, 2010

5 Takeaways from Sunday: Week 3

1. The Chargers Are Old News - A preseason favorite for many, San Diego fell to 1-2 with a loss to the Seahawks. The Seahawks! Yikes.

2. The Chiefs Are For Real - The Chiefs, who have averaged 3.33 wins per season in the last 3 years, are already up to 3-0. They're one of my favorite stories in the NFL so far this year. More on them later in the week.

3. The AFC East Is The Best Division In Football - And boy, it's going to be a dog fight. The Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins are all 2-1 and are all very much capable of winning the division (and not to get carried away, maybe the Super Bowl). Gotta feel bad for Buffalo.

4. The Redskins Are Still, Well, The Redskins - They had me fooled too after beating the Cowboys and losing in OT against the Texans. But this week, the Chesapeake Bay Area People Of Crimson Pigment went to St. Louis and lost by 2 TDs to the hapless Rams. Now that's more like it.

5. The Saints Can Lose - And, the corollary: the Falcons are a legitimate team. This was a great game, and yes, one that the Saints should have had. But it's always good to see competition, and this year it looks like the NFC South will have some.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

College Football...

...has been fantastic today. As if you didn't already know.

Tonight, I'm looking forward to:

(12) South Carolina vs. (17) Auburn

(22) West Virginia vs. (15) LSU

and of course, (3) Boise State vs. (24) Oregon St.

Who do you like to win the national championship? I'm sticking to my guns: Boise.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Countdown Friday: Backup Quarterbacks

Definitely a 7-figure job

Sometimes people joke about how being a backup quarterback is one of the easiest jobs in sports. These men make millions to watch NFL games from the sidelines, sip Gatorade, and hold a clip board. However, this year we have already seen backups play a factor in the futures of their teams, and they suddenly have value.

Look to Philly, where Michael Vick has stepped up for a concussed Kevin Kolb and stolen his starting job. There's another QB controversy in Oakland, where coach Tom Cable has deemed Bruce Grodkowski to be an improvement over Jason Campbell, and owner Al Davis disagrees. The Titans benched an inept Vince Young for veteran Kerry Collins. Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch have the Steelers at 2-0 despite missing 2-time Super Bowl champ Ben Rapelisberger. And even in Detroit, a place that's somehow worse than Cleveland, they've found that they have something in Shaun Hill, who looked very good in the Lions last game while filling in for an injured Matt Stafford. For all of these teams, having a solid backup plan has been a very important part of their season so far, and these moves will have a large impact on their progress this season.

The value of a quality backup can not be overstated, especially in a sport as dangerous as football. And sometimes, you find that your backup is ever better than your starter. Right 2001 Patriots fans? Anyways, all of this got me thinking, who are the best backup QBs in the NFL? So, here we go:

5) Tavaris Jackson
He's almost been a starter so many times, I have to think that he's at least decent.

4) Bruce Gradkowski
He outplayed Jason Campbell last week. And while that may not be hard to do, his career numbers are better than most backups. He has gotten some time as a starter, and over the past 4 years has completed 54% of his passes.

3) Shuan Hill
He's got a 23-10 TD-INT ratio, a career QB rating of 91, and is 10-6 as a starter. Someone's going to overpay him or give up one too many draft picks in a trade soon enough.

2) Charlie Batch
He's appeared in 25 games in his 6 years with the Steelers so far, and has gone 3-1 in his starts. He takes care of the ball, with only 0.88 INT/game started over the course of his career. He gives teams a legit shot to win games.

1) Michael Vick
He's a former #1 pick, and he can still play ball. He's quick, creative, and still has a rocket of an arm. If he can improve his accuracy a tad and become a more consistent decision-maker, he should be a starter in this league for the next few years.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Really Wasn't Feeling It Today here's a video with a creepy guy and way too much autotune.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let's Make A Deal

Two weeks into the NFL season, TV ratings are at a record high. Why? True, the games have been interesting, but has the season really been better than those in recent memory? Maybe. Maybe not. So why are NFL fans tuning in like never before?

Because there might not be an NFL next year.

Whether we're in stage 1: Denial or stage 2: Anger it seems we'll all have to come to terms with the idea that Sundays might not be the same a year from now.

There's a lot going on in regards to negotiations, and we'll talk more about that as collective bargaining agreement discussions heat up. But in the end, it comes down to exactly what you'd expect: money. The NFL owners think the players are getting too much, and, if recent trends continue, NFL teams will be consistently operating at a loss because of player obligations. The players, though, are no so eager to take pay cuts.

The situation is out of control. All we can do is tune in every Sunday and watch each game a little more closely. Maybe we'll have football next year; maybe we won't. But we sure have it right now, and only a fool would take that for granted.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fantasy Football: Week 2

In Week 2, the excitement shows no signs of dying. Let's take a look at the match-ups:

Vick's Pooch Kick (1-1) def. TwoDat (0-2), 90-86
In a tight matchup, 29 points from Matt Schaub helped guide Vick's Pooch Kick to victory. TwoDat certainly must feel let down by his WRs: trailing by only 9 points going into the Monday night matchup, TwoDat managed only 8 points between wideouts Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Crabtree's 3 points was enough for Vick's Pooch Kick to put this one just out of reach.

Armchair Quarterback (2-0) def. NorthEastGrapepicker (0-2), 109-47
In the rout of the week, Armchair Quarterback was propelled by 40 points from Lions RB Jahvid Best. NorthEastGrapepicker had only one player (Joseph Addai) in double figures.

The Backside Georges (2-0) def. SlapBet Commissioner (1-1), 99-88
In a good matchup, SlapBet Commissioner just couldn't quite the necessary production from Robert Meachum in order to attempt a Monday night comeback. The Backside Georges followed the 26 points from Aaron Rodgers, as well as a 17 and 13 spot from Antonio Gates and Calvin Johnson, respectively. Arian Foster was mortal this week, scoring 12.

Market St. Marauders (1-1) def. bitchesaintshit (1-1), 81-64
Market St. Marauders can be pleased with the acquisition of Mike Vick, who scored 22. Adrian Peterson's 24 points certainly didn't hurt either. bitchesaintshit was devastated by running backs, who combined for 3 points.

Hocus Pocus (1-1) def. Bleeding Nipples (1-1), 105-68
After talking some trash at the end of Week 1, Bleeding Nipples got annihilated by Hocus Pocus. RBs for Hocus Pocus combined for 58 (!!!) points. LeSean McCoy led all with 30.

Nick (1-1) def. Captain Insano (0-2), 80-71
At least it wasn't another 40 point week for Captain Insano. Still, you have to wonder what would have been if the captain hadn't started KEVIN KOLB at quarterback. Jay Cutler was the MVP in this one, with 23 points.

Carolina Sex Panther (1-1) def. Petey Jones. RB. (1-1), 64-52
Bit of an upset here, folks. A low-scoring upset. Carolina Sex Panther, despite the rather unorthodox decision to start only 1 RB and no TE, was able to pull out the victory. 

Shut Up Meg (2-0) def. MonStars (1-1), 88-57
This was the week to have Pittsburgh's D, as those 28 points gave a big boost to Shut Up Meg. On the other side of the same game, Chris Johnson managed only 1 point for MonStars.

**Special Awards**
Highest Scoring Team: Armchair Quarterback with 109 points. Excellent work.

Lowest Scoring Team: NorthEast Grapepicker with 47. BENCH BRETT!
Best Player: Armchair Quarterback's Javhid Best with 40. Another surprise RB.
Worst Player: NorthEast Grapepicker's Brett Favre (and a handful of others), with a bagel.
Best Matchup: Vick's Pooch Kick (90), TwoDat (86). A real nail-biter.
Worst Decision: Captain Insano, for starting an injured Kevin Kolb. Cost you a W.

Monday, September 20, 2010

5 Takeaways from Sunday

1. Jahvid Best can tear it up - While calling him "the next Berry Sanders" might be a little premature, Detroit sure has a player on their hands. Who knows, once Stafford gets healthy, this team could finally become relevant.

2. Mark Sanchez might not suck - I know, I have a hard time believing it myself. But the Jets will be unstoppable this year if their passing attack looks like it did against the Patriots' secondary. Then again, it was the Patriots' secondary.

3. Peyton is so much better than Eli - But we knew that already.

4. The Cowboys (still) don't deserve the hype - A plethora of TV analysts picked these guys to win the Super Bowl, or at least go deep into the playoffs. I was skeptical then, and I'm even more annoyed by the praise that Dallas received now that they're 0-2. And it isn't like their schedule was hard. I'm not saying the Cowboys will definitely miss the playoffs, but don't expect big things out of this team.

5. Brett Favre is too old - Three INTs against Miami's "stalwart" defense? Finally, the wheels come off for the 82-year-old QB. And I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NFL Lines: Week 2

Sorry it's late, my bad, but here are my picks:

CHIEFS (+3) at Browns
Bills at PACKERS (-13)
RAVENS (-3) at Bengals
Steelers at TITANS (-6)
EAGLES (-6.5) at Lions
BEARS (+7) at Cowboys
Buccaneers at PANTHERS (-3.5)
Cardinals at FALCONS (-7)
DOLPHINS (+5.5) at Vikings

Rams at RAIDERS (-3)
SEAHAWKS (+3.5) at Broncos
TEXANS (-3) at Redskins
Jaguars at CHARGERS (-7)
PATRIOTS (-3) at Jets

Sunday Night:
Giants at COLTS (-5)

Monday Night:
SAINTS (-6) at 49ers

This Season: 7-7-2

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Remember When...

Miami and FIU pounded the crap out of each other in the middle of a game? I'm not here to pass judgment; if you like fights, you probably couldn't stop cheering and if you don't, you probably thought it was a sad display of savagery. But either way, it happened.

People don't forget.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where Are They Now?: Jason White

What happened?

In 2003, Jason White was the Heisman Trophy winner, beating out Pitt WR Larry Fitzgerald and Ole Miss QB Eli Manning. He threw for 3,846 yards, 40 TDs and only 10 INTs. White was also named to the All-Big 12 Team, as well as being the AP Player of the Year and a consensus All-American. He lost the Sugar Bowl to LSU 21-14.

In 2004 White tried to become the second player ever to win consecutive Heisman Trophies. He threw for 3,205 yards, 35 TDs, and 9 INTs. He finished third in the voting, behind USC QB Matt Leinart and Oklahoma teammate Adrian Peterson. The man kept good company. Oklahoma lost the Orange Bowl to USC 55-19. White finished his career as Oklahoma's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. So, why isn't he an NFL superstar like Fitzgerald or Peterson?

When the 2005 NFL Draft rolled around, Jason White went undrafted. (Wait, what?) Yeah, you read that right. He also did no receive any offers for post-draft workouts from any teams. Eventually he got an offer to try out from the Kansas City Chiefs, but they chose to not sign him. Finally he got an offer from the Tennessee Titans to join their practice squad. White decided to retire from football near the end of the 2005 season. He said it was due to weakness in his knees. (He tore one ACL his freshman year, and the other in his sophomore year.)

Jason White lives in Oklahoma, and is now the current owner and operator of the Jason White Companies. He controls a "The Athlete's Foot" franchise and "A Store Divided", which sells Oklahoma and Oklahoma State merchandise. He has not ruled out making a return to football as a coach.

Countdown Friday will be back next week with the Top 10 Worst Coaching Decisions of the 2000s.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hilarious Headline of The Day

"Heat To Hold Camp At Eglin Air Force Base To Find Some Privacy"

Irony. Suddenly, Miami wants some "privacy" for its big stars.

It will be the first time the Heat have held camp outside of South Florida in 23 years. On another note, I'd like to ask the simple question: will this team be good for the NBA?

No. The NBA is a superstar league (unfortunately). What the Heat have done is taken 3 superstars and brought them all to play in a somewhat unsuccessful market. That's, in effect, 2 fewer superstars for the NBA to sell.

But what everyone is forgetting is a basic truth about the NBA: the regular season doesn't matter. At all. It isn't like football, where every game seems so important. Even though the Heat have the "New Big Three," casual basketball fans still won't really care until the playoffs.

And the Heat will get bounced in the Conference Finals. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On The Origin Of College Cheating

This whole Reggie Bush business has me thinking about the manner in which college sports operate. Don't get me wrong: I love watching games. I love a noon kickoff every Saturday in the fall; I love filling out my bracket come March; I love following the Frozen Four each year. But on the business side - and the morality side, I suppose - a lot is to be said about why college sports do poorly. Cheating is everywhere, and it's not about to go away.

We begin at a basic economic truth: people respond to incentives. And to build upon that, people respond to incentives when the foreseen benefits outweigh any potential costs. The Reggie Bush scandal is a perfect example that shows why it's in EVERYBODY'S best interest to cheat. Everybody - from the top down - had good reason to ignore the rules.

Let's start at the top of an athletic program, with a hypothetical AD. He's a decently nice guy, but he's at a Division 1 school and is under lots of pressure to win. So what does he do? He hires a coach who wins. Easy. What if the coach violates some NCAA rules?? Some serious ones?? Well, by the time anybody finds out, he'll have established a winning program. And he can say he didn't know a damn thing and fire the coach. Or, in the worst case scenario, he has to resign. But by then he'll have established himself as an AD who wins. He'll probably be able to find another job somewhere else.

Now down the chain to the coach. Coaches have unbelievable incentive to cheat. The highest paid college coach made $5.1 million last year. Why wouldn't you cheat? Almost nobody gets caught, and even if you do, you can be off making millions somewhere else (say, Seattle) by the time repercussions come around. So break all the rules: pay the best players so they'll come to your school, practice well over the NCAA limits, recruit when you're not supposed to...

Lastly, we have the players. The NCAA is an interesting creature. Although most of the $700+ million in annual revenue that it generates makes it back to participating schools, the players never see a dime. (There are scholarships, in which case the players still don't see a dime, but don't see their own dimes disappear). However you want to look at it, what you have in the end is an enormous industry that thrives on free labor. So if you're a guy who's pulling 100,000+ fans to a stadium (generating millions in ticket revenue) or a guy who's getting viewers across the country to tune in at home (generating millions, maybe billions in ad revenue), wouldn't you like a slice for your self? Not much, just a few hundred thousand. Maybe a car or something. And really, who can blame you? You need all your hard work to pay off now, because you know you could get injured or be a draft bust if you try to go pro.

And even if you do get caught, all you have to do is clear a little space on your mantle.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fantasy Football: Week 1

It was an exciting first week in the Sports Casual Fantasy Football League. Congratulations to all teams that are now 1-0. Everybody who fell to 0-1, don't worry, it's a long season. For some of you (the 40 point club) it might be an even longer season. Here are the results:

Shut Up Meg def. Carolina Sex Panthers, 85-69
S.U.M. got it done at the WR position, with 21 points from Chad Ochocinco and 18 from Wes "my ACL is fine thank you" Welker.

Petey Jones. RB. def. Nick, 89-69
Despite just 4 points from Joe Flacco, Petey Jones RB took the game by quite a margin. Mendenhall lead all scorers with 19.

SlapBet Commissioner def. Hocus Pocus, 107-47
In the rout of the week, SlapBet Commissioner could do no wrong. Peyton Manning and Matt Forte combined for 58 points, enough to win the game on their own. The commissioner had a QB, WR, two RBs, and a kicker in double digits.

Bitchesaintshit def. NorthEastGrapepicker, 69-49
What car accident, Tom Brady said, as he put up 22 points. With one of the most depressingly old rosters (Brett Favre, Derek Mason, Joseph Addai) NorthEastGrapepicker didn't crack double digits with any player.

Bleeding Nipples def. Captain Insano, 91-40.
I'd be embarrassed too. The Eli Manning - Hakeem Nicks combo (really? that's a thing?) combined for 41.

MonStars def. Market St. Marauders, 98-82
This just in: Chris Johnson is really good at football. This week, he was 26-fantasy-points-good. Carson Palmer, who had 0 points at halftime, managed 19 in half 2. Market St. Marauders put up a valiant effort but fell a holding penalty short.

Armchair Quarterback def. Vick's Pooch Kick, 46-41.
This matchup deserves no more attention.

The Backside Georges def. Twodat, 103-64.
T.B.G. got everything it needed from Arian Foster, Aaron Rodgers, and Antonio Gates.

**Special Awards**

Highest Scoring Team: SlapBet Commissioner with 107 points. Snaps.
Lowest Scoring Team: Captain Insano, with 40. Really?? 40??
Best Player: The Back Side Georges' Arian Foster with 41 points. Did not see that coming.
Worst Player: Nick's Shonne Greene with -2. I'm speechless.
Best Matchup: Armchair Quarterback (46), Vick's Pooch Kick (41). Because both teams sucked [almost] equally. Incidentally, this was also the worst matchup.
Worst Decision: Vick's Pooch Kick, for starting an injured Beanie Wells over a healthy Ricky Williams. Williams would have landed 6 points, V.P.K. lost by a margin of 5...whoops.

That's it for Week 1. Six days to think about who to start next Sunday. Good luck in Week 2.

Monday, September 13, 2010

5 Notes From Sunday

Where did this guy come from?

Sorry about the lack of posts yesterday, my bad. I was too busy sitting in front of the TV for 11 straight hours watching football until my eyes bled. Anyways, I have a few things of note I'd like to bring up here. Why, you may ask? Because I have a blog and I can. So there.

1) Albert Haynesworth is fat and overrated. The Redskins, despite an anemic offense, were able to upset every one's pick to win the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys. The 'Skins defense was impressive despite a lack of any sort of contribution from their highest paid player. They can win without him, and something tells me they will.

2) Chris Johnson is really, really good at football. And Vince Young wins football games. Yes, I know that the Titans played the Raiders, but they were still very impressive. This team can play ball. The AFC South is going to be a heck of a division this year.

3) Calvin Johnson's catch was a catch, and the Lions should have beat the Bears. You can not tell me that he did not have full control of the ball. He got both feet down, and landed on his side while showing the ball to the ref, then went to get up and celebrate winning the game when he put the ball down. That is not a loss of possession. He had control of the ball and was across the goal line. That's a TD.

4) The Patriots have still got it, and the Bengals are not good. The reason the Bengals were so good last year? They're an above average team who played an easy schedule. The Patriots looked sharp, fast, and hungry. I was impressed. They certainly looked like a team that could make a playoff run come January.

5) Arian Foster just became the biggest late round pick/free agent pickup in fantasy history. Seriously, has any guy in recent memory had such an incredible Week 1? I'm sure in some 8 and 10 team leagues he wasn't drafted. 231 yards, 3TDs. That's huge. You know what else is huge? He isn't splitting carries in Houston. He is the man, which is hard to come by in today's NFL. And everyone who drafted him, don't pretend like you knew what you had, you got lucky. Nobody's fooled.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

College Football Fever

I've got it. And I'm too busy watching Michigan - Notre Dame to do a well thought out blog post. So enjoy this catch; it really might earn the title "Greatest College Football Catch Ever."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Countdown Friday: Soap Opera Summer

In this edition of Countdown Friday, I'd like to take a look back at this summer in sports. Or, as I like to call it, the "Soap Opera Summer." Sure, there weren't as many exciting sporting events as we would have liked. But things did happen - the World Cup, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup, a couple drafts, Wimbledon. And yet, how often did you turn on the TV and see highlights from these? Every now and then. But you always saw reporters talking about stories - stories that had nothing to do with actual sports, just celebrity gossip. So here they are: the top 10 soap opera stories of the summer.

10. Stephen Strasburg Is The Messiah - This one is only number 10 because it was actually quite exciting to watch him play. But if he pitched only 1 day out of 5, why did we hear about him for weeks?

9. Laurence Taylor Robs The Prostitute Cradle - His defense was that the prostitute lied about her age. Because yeah, that makes it better. But still - a former athlete breaks the law? No way? This story only warranted a few days of coverage, if that.

8. Clemens Is Indicted - A baseball great lied about using performance enhancers and is now in trouble for it. I feel like I've heard this one before.

7. Did Lance Use Steroids? - Yes. Nobody cares. Shut up, Floyd Landis.

6. Haynesworth Is Fat And Spoiled - I still haven't forgiven ESPN for trying to convince me that every fitness test this guy took was worthy of the title "Breaking News."

5. Tiger Woods Doing Anything Ever - There are hundreds of other golfers on the pro tour, most of whom seem to be better than Tiger right now. How about we look at the ones who are actually winning tournaments?

4. Ben Roethlisberger Behaves Inappropriately Towards Women - His sense of entitlement makes me sick. 24/7 news about him only inflates the ego.

3. The Brett Favre Will-He-Won't-He Saga Continues - At least we knew it was coming this time. Sidenote: I burned all my Wrangler jeans.

2. A-Rod Goes For 600 - Definitely didn't need to watch the 46 at bats between 599 and 600. But thanks to ESPN, I got to. What an absurdly meaningless statistic. 600 home runs! It's like 597, but a few more!

1. LeBron-apalooza -As if there was any other choice for number 1. This guy took his ego and somehow elevated its importance beyond that of every other sporting event in the nation. And ESPN ate it up. Perhaps the most irresponsible sports journalism I've ever seen. It's supposed to be about the game, not some egomaniacal superstar.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Football Lines: Week 1

So with the coming of the NFL season comes the need to wager on things. So we here at Sports Casual are going to bring you the lines and which team to bet on if you want to make a little money. Without further ado:


Vikings at SAINTS (-5)

Panthers at GIANTS (-7)
DOLPHINS (+3) at Bills
FALCONS (-2) at Steelers
Lions at BEARS (-6)
Bengals at PATRIOTS (-4.5)
Browns at BUCCANEERS (-2.5)
Broncos at JAGUARS (-2.5)
COLTS (-2) at Texans
RAIDERS (+6) at Titans
PACKERS (-3) at Eagles
49ERS (-3) at Seahawks
CARDINALS (-4) at Rams
COWBOYS (-3.5) at Redskins

RAVENS (+2.5) at Jets
CHARGERS (-5) at Chiefs

You can thank me when you're rich.


I'm way too excited to do a legitimate post today, so I'll let the guys at The Onion handle it for me.

I hope you enjoyed our NFL division-by-division preview. Whether you liked it or not, check out this OSN 2010 NFL Preview. Hilarious.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Techno Wedesday

For many of us, today is the first day of classes. Some react to day one of school with joy. Others dread the thought of being stuck in a classroom again. To capture these mixed feelings, here's a compilation of sports plays. Some of these look quite impressive. Others look quite painful. You decide whether the glass is completely empty or entirely not full.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where Are They Now: Danny Almonte

I stumbled upon a great ESPN article, which now serves as the basis for this post. We all remember the story: Danny Almonte, a young phenom, dazzled the sports world in the 2001 Little League World Series. This kid was throwing college level stuff at the age of 12. Or, should I say, the age of 14, as investigations into Almonte's age later proved that he was two years too old for eligibility in the LLWS, and his parents and coaches had been part of an elaborate cover up.

Cheating at the Little League World Series is sad, in a pathetic way. The story of Danny Almonte from 2001 on is sad, in a sad way.

Almonte lived in the Bronx for a few years and then moved to Florida. After spending a year in Miami, Almonte returned to the Bronx in 2005. Towards the end of the year, the then 18-year-old Almonte married 30-year-old hairdresser Rosy Perdomo (after extensive investigation, however, it was discovered that Perdomo was indeed 32 and thus in violation of the Hairdresser League rules).

There were many rumors indicating that Almonte might be signed or drafted by a major league team in 2006, but these never came to fruition. He bounced around independent leagues, a state college, and semi-pro ball, always hoping of making it to the majors but never quite getting there. Now, he's a volunteer assistant coach at his old high school, and (who saw this coming?) he's no longer with his wife.

Everyone who knew Danny Almonte's name thought he'd be a great player some day. Barring a small miracle, we're all wrong. This story provokes the classic question: what if? The national exposure - first sweet, then sour - might have ruined a young man. Or it might have been wholly irrelevant to Almonte's future path. But we'll never know.

For the ESPN story, click here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Week Ahead


It's been a wHile since we've done a preview of the week ahead, but I thought it was especially important this time around. Why? Because this week is awesome. Sports took a vacation just like the rest of us, but they're back now and even better than they were before they left. Here are five things that I'm looking forward to this week:

1. Boise State vs. Virginia Tech -  Every year it seems, college football treats us to a top 10 matchup during the first week of play. This game, of course, comes at the expense of one team's title hopes. But it sure is a great game to watch. I don't see why this year's matchup should be any different.

2. US Open Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals - Good tennis is fun to watch. During the first week of any grand slam, you get a few intense matches but most of them are straight set victories for superior players. But in the second week, shit hits the fan and things get crazy. The US Open is, I think, the most fun grand slam tournament to watch. And week 2 is the most fun week of any tournament. We all learned in math class that fun + fun = super fun.

3. NFL Season Opener and Week 1 - It's finally here. Time to put predictions aside and watch actual games. Thursday night's kickoff is sure to be an excellent game. Here's to sitting in front of the TV all Sunday long.

4.  Giants vs. Padres - Baseball is nearing the home stretch, and there are some compelling series on the horizon. One such series will take place over the weekend, with the top two teams in the NL West facing off. The Giants have the chance to capitalize on what could turn out to be an unbelievable choke job by the Padres, who've dropped 10 in a row.

5. Michigan vs. Notre Dame - This is always an excellent rivalry game. Even though these teams are not title contenders, this year's meeting still has a "rich" backstory (get it?). Michigan and Notre Dame both have relatively new coaches and new quarterbacks with something to prove. And they both looked great in game one.

Enjoy the week! I know I will.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why I Love College Football

I love the south.

So the college football season kicked off yesterday, and I loved every minute of it. The run to a national championship has begun. College football is one of my favorite things because anything can happen. Appalachian State can beat Michigan in The Big House. Boise State can upset Oklahoma and take the Fiesta Bowl title. And Ole Miss (SEC) can be beaten by Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley Conference).

The passion and excitement that these young men bring to every game is enthralling. There are no paychecks, there is no showboating, there are no reality shows. This is football played at a very high level in its purest form: for the love of the game. For that reason, I find that even despite a reasonable way to find a national champion, the game is still incredible to watch. For those of you who missed out yesterday, make sure to tune in to Virginia Tech vs. Boise State on Monday night. For some of these players, their dreams of winning a title in their final season will live another week or be crushed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BCS Champions

This is not a rant about how terrible the BCS is. That'd be like beating a pre-Civil War southerner in a literacy contest - too easy. Instead, let's take a look at this years BCS champion.

So here it is: the best team in college football this year will be...Boise State.

Why? Why the hell not. Go Broncos.

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Countdown Friday: Baseball Fights

So in case you haven't been able to read anything about sports or watch Sports Center lately, you may have missed the Nyjer Morgan incident. The whole thing was awesome, and that clothesline by Gaby Sanchez was a thing of beauty. I love baseball fights. It's one of the best aspects of the game. It brings passion and a physical nature to a normally passive and slow-paced game. So in respect to that, I went on Youtube and found a compilation of some great baseball fights. Enjoy:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Ode to September

Well, we've made it through 2 weeks of NFL predictions and emerged a better group of casual sports fans. Or something like that. Anyway, for those of you who enjoyed the segment, thanks for reading. For those of you who were less than interested, thanks for sticking it out.

Now, it's time for something new. And what better place to start than the greatest month of the year?

Don't get me wrong; I love summer just as much as the next guy. Those days at the beach, grill sessions on the patio, the lack of school - what's not to love?

Sports, he said, answering his own rhetorical question. But lucky for us, September has arrived. Here are my favorite things about month number nine:

The NFL Season Begins - This one is a given. No explanation necessary.

Baseball Finally Matters - I've been complaining about baseball for quite some time. The first five-ish months of the regular season just don't do it for me. But we've finally reached the exciting games - the division contests, even a triple crown race - will all be settled soon.

College Football is Back - There are so many things that are wrong with college football. But I still can't get enough of it. There's nothing like waking up on a Saturday morning and finding a game that's just kicking off.

The MLS Pushes Towards the Playoffs - I like soccer, and I'm not ashamed.

Basketball Gives it a Rest - I enjoy the NBA from time to time. But not ALL the time. With a season that tips in October and wraps up in June, the only months left for a break are July, August, and September. Of course the NBA summer league and free agency get a fair amount of coverage during the first two months. Finally, a basketball free month.

Now that fall is on the way - as school starts up again, as the weather gets a little cooler, as some Virgos and Libras celebrate birthdays - please, enjoy your September.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NFL Predictions: Super Bowl XLV

I'm so excited

On February 6, 2011, Super Bowl VL will be played in Jerry Jones' new $1.2 billion behemoth of a stadium. At this juncture, we have determined with 100% accuracy that the Green Bay Packers will be facing the Baltimore Ravens. We'll go into a position-by-position breakdown and eventually reveal the soon to be Super Bowl Champs.

Side note - Why is the NFL calling it Super Bowl XLV? The X is an entirely unnecessary letter. If they actually were trying to do this in the style of the Romans, then VL would be appropriate. 50 (the L) minus the 5 (the V) equals 45. Why subtract 10 from 55? I don't get it.

Quarterback: PACKERS
Joe Flacco has been impressive in his first 2 seasons in the NFL, but that's exactly what scares me here. He has only been in the NFL for 2 seasons. Beyond that, Aaron Rodgers emerged last year as one of the game's elite quarterbacks. He is a shoo-in for 4,500 yards and 30 TDs this year.

Running Backs: RAVENS
The Ravens ground game is amongst the best in all of football with the dynamic duo of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Both of these gentlemen would start for most teams in the league. And the Ravens have both of them. The Packer's Ryan Grant is no slouch, but coming off of a down year he is nowhere near as capable as the Ravens backfield.

Wide Receiver/ Tight End: PUSH
While the Ravens did acquire superstar Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals in the off season, and Todd Heap is a very solid Tight End, the Packers can counter that with depth. After Boldin, the Ravens are looking to AARP member Derrick Mason, career backup Mark Clayton, and the often inebriated and injured Donte Stallworth. The Packers have a tremendous duo in the incredibly consistent Donald Driver and explosive Greg Jennings, and Jermichael Finley is a very good Tight End. This one's too close to call.

Offensive Line: RAVENS
While the Packers have tried to improve their O-Line, it's still a noticeably weak spot for this team. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 84 times over the past 2 seasons. The Ravens boast a very strong left side, featuring 6-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, former first-rounders Ben Grubbs and Michael Oher. Flacco has only been sacked 68 times over the past 2 seasons, a mere 6.8% of his drop backs.

Defensive Line: RAVENS
Both teams run the trendy 3-4 defense, but the front 3 of the Ravens is better than that of the Packers. Haloti Ngata is an absolute beast and the best Defensive End on either team. The Packers will be sorely missing Aaron Kampman. B.J. Raji could be a force for the Packers at Nose Tackle, but as of right now he's no better than Ravens NT Kelly Gregg.

Linebackers: PACKERS
This may come as a shocker to some, especially those who remember the Ravens Super Bowl team from 2000. The Ravens were always known for having a group of LBs that would strike fear into opponents, and Offensive Coordinators would spend weeks trying to figure out how to survive the game. However, its 2010, and this may be the Packers deepest position. Led by former first-rounder A.J. Hawk and Pro Bowler Nick Barnett  in the middle, and first-rounder Clay Matthews on the outside, this group is loaded. Compare this to the Ravens group that consists of Terrell Suggs (coming off a 5 sack season), 35 year old Ray Lewis, and 2 career backups, the Ravens core is just not what it used to be.

Defensive Backs: PACKERS (by default)
Charles Woodson is the only Cornerback on either team who can lock down a legitimate #1 receiver. The Ravens secondary has been hit with some injuries in the off season, and it wasn't very deep to start with. As for safeties, the Packers have Nick Collins, who is above average and will probably grab about 5 INTs this season. This is a weakness for both teams, and look for both Quarterbacks to take full advantage.

Special Teams: PACKERS
Mason Crosby has a bigger leg and is more consistent than counterpart Billy Cundiff. Crosby hits 78% of his Field Goals, and is over 50% from 50+ yards. Cundiff has hit 73% over his career, and is 40% from 50+ yards. Willie Blackmon is the best Kick Returner on either team, and that should count for something.

Super Bowl XLV Champion: Green Bay Packers, 34-27. You heard it here first.