Jean Van De Velde has an interesting history. He went from being on the cusp of being without question the greatest French golfer in modern times (largely because there is virtually no competition for this honor) to being perhaps the most ridiculed golfer from any country. This stems, of course, from his mind-boggingly stupid performance on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open. (For anyone who missed this, he led by three strokes…and managed to shoot a triple bogey on that hole, something almost unheard of on ANY hole by a professional golfer. Worse yet, he did it by making bad decision after bad decision. It was his fault he tripled the hole, pure and simple. He lost, predictably enough, in the playoff that ensued.)
Now, JVDV is raising a fuss about the fact that women want to enter into men’s tournaments, saying that if this is permissible, he wants to play in the Women’s British Open. Now…I get where he’s going with this. It’s somewhat sexist to say its fine for a woman to enter a man’s tournament but that it’s unfair the other way around. But the reality is that when players like Van de Velde and Vijay Singh raise their eyebrows at women playing their sport, they just look like dicks. Look, Michelle Wie is going to make the cut one of these days and if that’s the case, eventually the entire concept of Men’s Tournaments and Women’s Tournaments should be merged. Perhaps the new golf associations will be based not on gender but on where the tee boxes are. Frankly, I’d bet even money that Van de Velde wouldn’t enter the Women’s British if they let him…because he might miss the cut. There are probably a handful of men on the PGA Tour who get lucky enough to have their card this year but will be back in qualifying school next year. Would they dominate the women’s tour? I doubt it. Once you get over the distance in power, one of the best things about golf is that everyone is facing the same hole. Sure, a man might be able to hit his tee shot past a sandtrap that someone with less power can’t, but Corey Pavin had a fine career in the PGA without being able to drive more than 250 yards. Michelle Wie already blasts past 300 regularly. The line is already blurred, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.
I think it's safe to say this was a very strange weekend in the NFL. Shaun Alexander and LaDanian Tomlinson, the automatic dominant running backs in the NFL, were virtually shut down. Almost every game seemed to change hands in the last few minutes, and the 49ers were humiliated by the Redskins. (OK, that last one might not have been so strange. Sigh.)
The hurricane caused the KC-Miami game to be played on Friday, and kudos to everyone for making their picks on time. (That is, everyone aside from GiveLAaTeam’s Sean Planck, who'd I feel sorrier for had he not already won a week.) I couldn't figure out why Miami was favored…and neither could the Chiefs. They suddenly realized they have the best tight end in the league and a shockingly potent running game, and all of asudden, the Chiefs are for real again.
Congrats to Jon Phillips, Steelers fan, whose Celebrity Smackdown won the week before the Monday Night game even started. (That's two weeks in a row someone walked away with it, folks…let's get it in gear before I have to start explaining the tiebreaker system again.) Even more impressive (or sad, depending on your point of view) was that Jon didn't even make all his picks, neglecting the Detroit-Cleveland game. (I think we all would have liked to ignore that game, frankly. This week featured three of the most turgid matchups of the season, and our good friend Barmak (owner: Hell is for Gyros) said he was personally offended that the league would schedule these games.)
One of those games was Baltimore-Chicago, billed as a defensive battle. I remember a defensive battle between the 49ers and the Bears back in 1988 or 1989, that the Bears won 10-6. It was devastating…a brutal smash mouth game that exhausted Dave Dorfler (owner: IusedToBeGoodAtThis) so much he went to sleep even though it was 9 pm on a weeknight and he was 19-20 years old. This weekend’s matchup was not that kind of a game. Ugly. With the Ravens losing Ed Reed and Ray Lewis for next week, the Ravens look very, very bad.
Of course, nothing compares to the 49ers, who are trying desperately to prove they are actually worse than last years squad. The season ends with the 49ers playing Houston, and there's some solid money that the game will decide who has the 1st pick in the draft. (And lord oh mighty, somehow the Texans are FAVORED in this coming week against the Browns. I guess someone has to be favored – actually, they don't – but how crappy do you have to feel if you are a Browns fan? Wait, scratch that…not sure that the Texans wouldn't/won't be favored against the 49ers.)
Several games this week came down to the last minute, none of them more surprising than Seattle vs. Dallas. By now, you've probably seen the preposterous Drew Bledsoe interception, that led to a last minute field goal to beat the Cowboys. What's insane about this is not that the pass was bad -- and it was -- and not that they were throwing at all – though that is truly insane – but that the pass was to a stupid place. Allow me to expand: the pass, as crappy as it was, made no sense. Had a Cowboy receiver caught the pass, he would have still been miles away from anywhere a field goal could have been attempted for Dallas. That means the PLAN was to chuck it up in the air, TWICE. That. Makes. No. Sense.
And look, Green Bay is 1-5 also, largely due to the Paul Edinger field goal that was something like 5068 yards. Which cleared the upright by a mile. Somehow this will prolong Mike Tice's coaching career, and that's a real shame. (I'll just keep asking until it gets answered: what does the guy have to do to get fired?)
One of the games that the final score didn’t reflect was the Eagles-San Diego game. Really, San Diego won this game for almost the entire 60 minutes…and then all hell broke loose. A blocked field goal returned for a TD, and suddenly San Diego is 3-4, and the Eagles still can consider themselves the class of the NFC, even if that might not be true. San Diego is a far better team than their record states, but with Denver and Kansas City in their division, they’ve got problems.
OK, enough of my yammering…off to see how many members of the Bush administration are gonna get indicted this week. It’s Christmas in October!
Because of the Miami-KC game being moved due to Hurricane Wilma, all your NFL picks for the Pick Em league need to be in TODAY by 3:55 PST or you will get a zero for the week. I've posted this at the Pick 'Em site, sent out an email and posted here...you therefore have been warned! Thanks.
Just take a look at this quote:
"What we've seen in Louisiana - the breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of disaster - is exactly the kind of situation where the Second Amendment was intended to allow citizens to protect themselves," Wayne LaPierre, the association's executive vice president, said in a recent statement on the organization's Web site.
Hey Wayne...did it ever occur to you that the problem was due to the propensity of guns? That if those guns weren't sitting all over Wal-Mart that the so-called looters wouldn't have had access to all those guns? And further more, what are you suggesting, that people should have taken up arms to shoot these people themselves?
Please stop. Just go away and take your guns with you.
And so we come towards the end of another week in the NFL and lookie-loo, I actually had a respectable week. This may very well mean that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding down the street, but until I hear the clippity-clop, I’m just going to assume that broken clocks are right twice a day. (Which gives me at least one more week to do acceptable.) But, as well as I may have done – and that puts me up there with regular studs Mommy and Me, Manchovy, Smoke a Boller, we are all toast.
That’s because Alex Vollmer’s Waterboys have a two game lead with one to play. That means his magic number is zero, and he is the proud owner of $75, American. For those of you technically inclined with a nose for baseball, check out Alex’s blog at Notes From the Bullpen. It’s good stuff, at least what I understand. I’m not sure if Alex is a Seahawks fan, but everyone who likes football should be a Shaun Alexander fan – ho hum, just another 4 TD day. Wow.
Today is the day that at least two coaches should be fired. Suprisingly, Jim Haslett isn’t one of them, as the Saints played respectably. Haslett – and I say this with a lot of angst – gets a season-long waiver, due not just to the hurricane and the displacement but now the season-ending injury to Deuce McAllister. (Of course, after the season, he should be sent packing.)
No, the two coaches who need to start looking for new jobs are Mike Tice and Norvelle Turner. Tice is almost too obvious – not only has the team massively, massively underachieved (though let it be stated that I didn’t buy it), one of his running backs is out for the season after failing drug tests and getting caught with the Whizzanator – and now most of his star players were apparently involved in a sex orgy on some boats on Lake Winnetonka. Folks, this story writes itself. If you can’t control the team off the field, and their on-the-field performance reeks, there’s only one person to blame. If that person also apparently has the IQ of a sugar beet, then it’s a pretty easy decision to make.
Norvelle Turner – I call him Norvelle, as does Al Davis – is the next guy to go. The Raiders were also overhyped, but even with that porous defense the offense should be scoring points. And they are not. What’s more, the team just plays like it doesn’t care. Finally, just listening to Norvelle talk in the press conferences is disheartening – he sounds like he’s about to CRY, and I’m thinking that’s not the Lombardi-esque attitude most players need to be inspired. It’s time to go, Norvelle.
Note – I am basing the fact that the team plays uninspired on a few highlights I saw on ESPN. Despite living in the Bay Area, I couldn’t watch the Raiders-Chargers game, a game I had a lot of interest in for fantasy football purposes. That’s because the Raiders fans – who like to pretend they are the best in the league – didn’t sell out the game. Sure, it’s just a division rival, why bother? The next time anyone tells you the Raider fans are the best in the league, the only correct response is, “Yes, at going to prison.” I can’t think of anything else they’re good at.
Michael Vick…oh, Michael. So talented, so fragile. I’ve been having a off an on discussion with Senor Andy Cuthill about whether or not Vick is the most overhyped player of his day. I keep saying, “Give it time, let’s see what he’s really about.” But Michael, we can’t see that if you keep getting banged up. This really helps prove yet another one of my many brilliant insights – the difference between an elite athlete and tons of other athletes has less to do with athletic skill than it does with the ability to not get hurt. Sure, Bo Jackson might have been the greatest running back of all-time, but we’ll never know. Mike Sherrard was supposed to be a great wideout, but the guy was like Mr. Glass from Unbreakable. It’s possible the Falcons will, on the strength of an overall good team and an overall weak NFC, make it all the way to the Super Bowl. I doubt it, but it’s possible. If they do, and they somehow win, it will be harder to make the claim that Vick is totally overrated. But right now, he’s more hype than anything else.
LaDanian…it’s a preposterous name, but he is clearly above even Shaun Alexander as the obvious best running back in football. And I’ll say this here and now – he just might be sealing a legacy as the greatest ever. Yep, I said it. I actually said it a few weeks ago – and yesterday, all he did was rush, catch and throw a TD. Dude, that’s just showing off.
It would be hard not to mention the fact that Ricky Williams is back, but I don’t have much to add. Eight yards is not much to brag about, and I love that Ricky is sort of a national joke – but he does seem like a genuinely nice person, if confused. I’m not sure I’d want him as a teammate – anyone who outright quits is not exactly someone I want on my side – but he seems like someone who is trying to figure out who he is. Not sure that matters in the scope of football, but so be it.
Speaking of running backs who gained very few yards – Kevin Jones? You stink. I honestly thought you were a mini-version of LaDanian, or even Marshall Faulk – run, catch, do everything sort of player. Yesterday, you averaged less than two yards a carry.
Let’s think about this for a second – a yard being three feet, less than two yards is shorter than most men, and clearly most football players. That means that Jones averaged less than what he would have averaged if he’d been allowed to do nothing else than simply fall down face first. For shame…
Of all the things I thought I could predict, I never saw Jake Plummer beating the Patriots. This either means Count Shanahan has gotten Plummer whipped into shape, or the Pats have just as many problems as their nay-sayers suggest. Time will tell.
The fact that the Redskins held in there against the Chiefs tells me more about the Redskins than anything else. Brunell to Moss and a little bit of Portis might be enough to get them somewhere, if that defense can keep going strong.
For those baseball-inclined, I must say that I’m intrigued about the possibility of the White Sox ending a longer streak than the Red Sox did last year. And I really can’t decide who in the NL I want to go more – I’d say the Astros, but that means Roger Clemens who is the embodiment of all that is sick and wrong (and he’s also the greatest pitcher of my lifetime, for what it’s worth). I just HATE him. But Tony LaRussa gets way too much credit for being a “brilliant” manager when he doesn’t seem to be that at all. The only thing I like about LaRussa is that he has said that when he retires, he wants to open up a bookstore. That’s it. I’m going with the Astros, if for no other reason than just about NO ONE will watch a Houston-White Sox series, and that’s always amusing.
Until we meet again…
The two baseball teams that -- until last season -- were the easy default "loveable losers" were the Red Sox and the Cubs. Before the 2004 games, the Red Sox had gone since 1918 - a date easy to remember because Yankee fans chanted it relentlessly. The Cubs haven't won since 1908, which is fast approaching a full 100 years. That's pretty insane.
But...it's kind of odd to me that it turns out that the White Sox haven't won since 1917 -- a year longer (now two) than Boston's Curse. You never hear about that. (Excluding, almost assuredly, the current playoffs.) Hell, I've heard a lot more about Cleveland's losing streak, which is 31 years shorter than the White Sox. Two years after the White Sox last won the series, the Black Sox scandal happened -- and the team has been on a losing streak ever since. That's actually an insanely powerful story and yet you don't hear about the Curse of the Black Sox. Do you? Why is that?
Now, I suppose it's not really a good tactic to try and get publicity for spectacular failure, and one based on cheating, but the Cubs and Red Sox have enjoyed, at the least, some admiration from casual fans who like their failure. (Unlike the diehards who, it is safe to say, don't.)
I know that the main reason Boston got more press for its streak is that they'd had quality teams numerous years, and lost in spectacular fashion, while the White Sox have almost never been even much of a threat. They had the bad luck to get a brand-new stadium just before the new cool stadium look came around with Camden Yards. Instead, they have an oval monstrosity in one of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago. Lots of things stand in the way of people knowing much about the White Sox...but the fact that they've cursed themselves into losing streak by cheating on the World Series is the kind of thing you think some people would bring up now and again.
Update: two days after I write this, Bill Simmons echoes my sentiments almost exactly, but funnier:
I was thinking about the whole White Sox/1917 thing. For the past 15 years, Red Sox fans had to deal with this ridiculous theory that Babe Ruth somehow cursed our franchise because we sold him, which makes no sense if you think about it because going to New York was the best possible thing that could have happened to him on every level (I cover this in my book -- did you know I had a book out?).
Meanwhile, the Black Sox throw the 1919 World Series, violate/destroy/obliterate the sanctity of the game and nearly kill professional baseball as we know it, and since then, 86 years (and counting) have passed without them winning a championship ... and nobody ever brings up a potential curse with them? Who could have possibly angered the Baseball Gods more than the 1919 White Sox? If any baseball franchise is "cursed," wouldn't it be them? When we watch these White Sox playoff games, as Williamstown reader Rob points out, "Where are all the montages of the 88 years of futility? Where are the floating heads of Chick Gandill, Eddie Ciccote, and Joe Jackson?" He's right, how do the White Sox fans get a free ride this October? Imagine if the 1919 Red Sox threw the World Series? How many times would McCarver and Buck have brought it up during last year's playoffs? 700? 800? I'm confused.
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Earlier this year, I predicted that my picks would be south of B Money and Sibs, a team managed by Jeff Mester’s kids, but right now we are neck and neck. (Give the kids a week.) However, I neglected to foresee the possibility that I was going to lose to a one-year old. (Almost, I think.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mommy and Me, a team co-managed by Theo Shriber, featured here. Yes, his mother Amy knows a lot about football, but she swears the picks are generally made by which part of the keyboard Theo slams when she’s making picks. Swallow that with your lunch, which I assume is a healthy portion of humble pie.
Congrats, Theo. Oh yeah, you too Amy.
A very strange week ended appropriately enough, with Pittsburgh winning on a last-second field goal. I should have seen that coming when the entire staff of Inside the NFL predicted a San Diego win. Some great plays across the league: Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison completely hurdled LaDanian Tomlinson on one of the most athletic plays I’ve seen in a while, and Anquan Boldin scored after breaking what appeared to be 75,698 tackles. Lots of other great plays all over the league, of course.
I spent Sunday – which, yes, was my birthday – at Candlestick Park watching my 49ers get punked by the Colts. It was fun to watch Peyton Manning, though his posturing at the line, pretending to change the play every play, gets old quick. (By the way, does anyone else think that Haley Joel Osment is going to look a lot like Peyton Manning when he’s done growing up? Just me, then? OK.) I must say, the 49ers hung in there for awhile, and even though Alex Smith’s stats were…well, putrid, stats don’t reflect that he showed some poise, a very strong arm, and hopefully it’s a starting point. Ahem.
What to make of the Dallas beatdown of Philadelphia? A team that had to rally to beat the 49ers, got beat by the Raiders then trounces Philly? I have to write this off as Dallas feeling that this was a game they absolutely had to win, and Philly not feeling nearly the same way about the game. The same can absolutely be said for Green Bay’s smackdown of the New Orleans Saints, with the caveat that New Orleans isn’t very good, and soon to be much worse after losing Deuce McAllister for the year.
On the flip side, I look at the previously unbeaten teams that lost this weekend – Tampa, Washington and Cincinnati – and I think, yeah…that sounds right. Cincy is clearly the best of the three and they aren’t the class of the AFC. The best teams in the AFC right now are clearly Indy, New England, San Diego and Pittsburgh – regardless of record, those are the most complete teams. Cincy is just outside looking in. (And yes, I didn’t mention Baltimore – what a pathetic display that was, losing to the Lions with tons of penalties, sloppy play everywhere…yikes.) In the NFC, a much weaker conference, Tampa still is extremely young and over-reliant on a rookie running back. Washington is all defense, and can beat teams that it can hold to under 20 points, but that’s not going to do it all season long. Unless you are Indy, currently holding teams to less than six points a game for the season. That’s truly insane. And with that offense – hey, it seems just fine that Indy is the only undefeated team out there right now.
I must say, of all the things I enjoyed about the games this weekend, hearing the ESPN broadcasters refer to the Pittsburgh coach as “the slobbering Bill Cowher” ranks right up there. Dude, drooling just ain’t cool for a man in his forties.
On a more serious note, I hope that Mike Martz gets better. As someone who really likes to make fun of that guy, I really had hoped that he’d leave the team because he’s a crap coach, not because he’s ill. Damn reality and its infringement on my ability to be a jerk!
Here’s a chilling thought of its own. I look at running backs Ahman Green and Fred Taylor and I have the same thought – old man, at the end or at least downside of his career, broken down by football. Green is 28, Taylor is 29.
A few things I heard on sports radio that I thought I’d pass along. One – and this is something I’ve heard considerably – is that Detroit players simply don’t think that Joey Harrington can ever be their leader. Some have suggested he should drop the Y in his name, but I don’t think that’s gonna do it. And frankly, there is no reason they should rally around the guy – he flat out stinks. So, if I were Matt Millen, I’d be quarterback shopping. Anyone hear what Chris Simms is up to? Phillip Rivers?
Two, if you heard Brian Cox (who I must admit I like as a radio host) describe his own experience with a sports hernia, you’d be very, very concerned about Donovan McNabb. Without getting too graphic, let’s just say that I never want to hear the phrase “bone-crippling, staggering pain” paired with “your little man and the hole” ever, ever again.
Finally, for those who haven’t heard yet…the dream is just about over. That’s right…I’m going back to work. I almost made it a full year without earning a dime, and I hate to say it, but it was one of the best years of my life. I’ll be working at Wells Fargo running projects for the Internet Services Group, a group that I believe fellow Greebytime Pick ‘Em participant Raging Buckeyes - aka Tom Pendolino – also works in. He informs me that the Pick ‘Em has made it through the Wells Fargo firewalls, which is good news all around.
Alright – onwards and upwards. Until we meet again…
Week Four is in the books, and while I can say with pride that I more than doubled my win totals from Week Three, it still ain’t pretty. Such can’t be said for the Darkhorse Badger, captained by Brad Bredemann, a Wisconsinite to the bone. As part of his reward (the other being financial) I present you with a photo of everybody’s fave, Brett Favre, with his lovely wife Deanna. (This way, everybody wins.)
The other reward? The weekly payout…yes, we can now release that vital information because almost all of you have paid. There are two folks out there who are running the risk of being deadbeats, and I just may delete their teams from the league as promised, but 2/41 isn’t bad enough to make everyone else wait. For those holdouts – PAY UP. YOU HAVE THE MONEY. DO IT.
For everyone else, the weekly payout is $75. That means four owners have now made a 50% return on their entry fee. Not bad! The yearly payouts will go like this: 1st total overall points gets $450. Yowza! Second place takes home a tidy $250, and 3rd place gets you that $75. OK then.
Lots of great games this week, and a few stinkers. It was the proverbial “coming-out” party for Eli Manning (not in that sense, last I heard he was “having fun” with Lindsey Lohan) who actually managed to have a slightly better day than his older bro Peyton, who had a fantastic day himself. In fact, there were slews of great quarterbacking days in the league – or, potentially, some really horrible days in the secondaries around the league. Same coin, different sides.
Random fact I just was reminded of: With all the hubbub about the Manning brothers, did you know that there are four sets of quarterback brothers in the league? Yup, four.
That’s the Manning, Hasselback, McCown and of course, Detmer boys. Their collective parents must be so proud.
Wow, that adventure to Mexico City was not such a good one for the 49ers. The offense scored not once against the staunch Arizona defense, with the only points coming on defense. Utterly outplayed by the Cardinals. There’s just no good way to spin that. That being said, the Niners are now 14-point underdogs at home to Indy next week. Wow…that’s terrifying no matter which way you play that spread.
The Philadelphia-KC game was really something, on the other hand. Kansas City, fresh off getting stepped on by Denver on Monday Night, took off with something to prove. And then sat back and watched the Eagles step all over them again. Noticeably, Tony Gonzalez was all but ignored in the offense, continuing the season-long trend. What’s that about? Has Dick Vermeil gotten Mike Martz fever, ignoring a potent offensive threat because it’s “too obvious?” Let’s be clear: Gonzalez led the league in catches last year. That’s probably overdoing it, but he had a lot to do with the offense KC put up, and his catching ability frees things up for the running back, be it Priest or Larry Johnson. Maybe the stent in Trent Green’s leg is preventing him from seeing the TE on the field. Also – Philly won without really using Brian Westbrook at all. Why is that? Is KC suddenly stout against the run? The dude had over 200 total yards the week before. Look into it.
So it’s time to face facts: Indianapolis is undefeated. I could have seen that coming. Washington, New York Giants, and Tampa Bay are also undefeated. I would have predicted…none of that. Wow. Of all of them, if Tampa can keep Cadillac Williams healthy (already an issue), I think they rebound the quickest. I’m not sure I buy Washington…well, at all (sorry, Amy!) and the Giants need to keep it up a little longer and beat some solid teams before I buy into them. Beating the Rams? Hell, the 49ers did that.
Some interesting matchups this week...let's have some fun out there, okay kids?
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