28 September 2007

NCAAF Picks 28/9/07

This weekend's SEC football picks. Last weekend was tough, but I'm still over .500 for the year. Lines, as always, are from USA Today.

LSU -40 against Tulane
The Tigers keep on rolling in the wake of last week's closer-than-expected victory over South Carolina.

South Carolina -14 against Mississippi State
The Gamecocks, coming off that closer-than-expected loss, take their frustrations out on the Bulldogs.

Ole Miss +15 against Georgia
Georgia is talented, but QB Matthew Stafford is inconsistent. Ole Miss isn't quite so talented, but the Bulldogs of Ga will do what the Bulldogs of MSU couldn't, and keep it close.

Kentucky -23.5 against Florida Atlantic
Andre Woodson has been excellent, but he hasn't had a really huge game yet. This week, he will.

Auburn +18 against Florida
The Gators will win, but the Tigers' defense will keep it within two touchdowns.

Alabama +2.5 against FSU
How are the Tide an underdog against the Seminoles? Oh, that's right - they're a lower-echelon SEC team, and the 'Noles are a mid- to upper-echelon ACC team. But 'Bama is just straight-up better.

Out-of-conference Picks
Oregon -4.5 against Cal
Oregon is a very talented team; so is Cal. Tedford's team will have an advantage in speed on the outside, but QB Dennis Dixon (no INT's so far this season) gives the Ducks an edge.

27 September 2007

Glass Half Full?

Let's look at the bright spots of this season for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Give me a minute to think, here...

Ah! Here's one - they didn't lose a hundred games! That's progress, isn't it, from last year? (Never mind that they have a .411 winning percentage)

Combing the statistics, here's another: Scott Kazmir was pretty good - a career-high 13 wins, with a solid 3.54 ERA. (never mind that his ERA and WHIP are both up from last year).

The youngsters did great this season! Delmon Young was as good as advertised, hitting .291/13/93 in his first season, and Carlos Pena far exceeded expectations with 43 HR! (But if the team was this bad when players were exceeding expectations, what will happen when they go into a slump?)

There's a demon for every angel, and a few more unaccounted for - but, as always, there's hope heading into next season. As always, it seems, there are a solid group of prospects - Evan Longoria and Jeff Niemann leading the way - just on the verge of cracking the big leagues.

To steal a phrase from the Brooklyn Dodgers - wait 'til next year. Or the year after that. Or possibly 2063.

21 September 2007

(Very Brief) NCAAF Picks

Sorry for the lack of explanation - the bus for Glasgow leaves in 45 minutes.
But - do take a look at last week's record. Isn't that sweet? Makes me smile just looking at it. All lines from USA Today
Florida -21 over Ole Miss
LSU -16.5 over South Carolina
Kentucky +7 over Arkansas
Tennessee -18.5 over Arkansas State
Auburn -17 over New Mexico State
Georgia +3.5 over Alabama
Last week: 5-1

18 September 2007

Mailbag 9/18/07

Hey - so this is my first mailbag from Scotland. I've gotten a lot of emails in the past few days, and (as always) chosen a few of my favorites to respond to here in the blog. If you email me and your message doesn't get featured, I will try to at least send you some sort of response via email.

Let's get right to it, eh? (oh, wait, that's Canada...)

Tom from Orlando writes in to remind me of this article, which explicitly explains what was illegal about the Patriots' videotaping, and asks me to rethink my stance on the whole incident.

I'm thinking about it... and I'm sticking with it. I simply don't see why it's a problem, especially given that you're allowed to take as many still photographs as you like (and could conceivably, therefore, create the modern equivalent of a flip show). Peter King made the best case I've seen so far as to why it shouldn't be allowed, but I'm still unconvinced.

Mike from Lexington, KY wonders what happened to Louisville, and bemoans what he terms "the flood of SECers shouting their dominance" in the wake of the NCAA football season's first three weeks.

Here's what happened to the Cardinals: they're a team built around offense, but with a bit of a weak defense - not unlike West Virginia last year, or what many people thought Florida would be this year. Louisville got away with it until they ran into another team built the same way, with almost the same quality - Kentucky's offense has always been very good, and it's become quite lethal this year with the ascendance of Andre' Woodson to elite status. If these two teams played 10 times, Louisville would probably win 7; unfortunately for the Cardinals, this was one of the 3.

As to the SEC fans... after the first three weeks of the season, they have reason to shout - LSU looks dominant, Florida's defense has almost lived up to it's incredible offense, and, while Auburn has fallen to South Florida, there have been relatively few humiliations elsewhere.

Speaking of South Florida: not that I told you so, but... I told you so...

15 September 2007

SEC Football Picks

Florida -8 against Tennessee
I just think the Gators are a little bit too fast for the Vols... Harvin, Caldwell, Tebow & co. are the SEC's version of the Golden Bears' offense, and Tennessee will face a similar result.

Auburn -13 against Mississippi State
MSU isn't a very good team. Even though Auburn struggles on offense, their defense will hold State under 14 points.

Kentucky +6.5 against Louisville
This game will be an absolute shootout - take the over if you can get it at 76 or below. The most entertaining game of the week, and one that will come right down to the wire.

LSU -41.5 against MTSU
After LSU crushed a conference opponent by 45, and without looking in form on offense, does anyone really think that the Blue Raiders will be able to avoid a blowout?

Vanderbilt -4.5 against Ole Miss
Ole Miss is terrible, and Vanderbilt could be pushing for a bowl berth. Also: Ole Miss is terrible.

(Out-of-Conference Special)
USC -10 against Nebraska
I don't like the Trojans. But they're a quality side, absolutely oozing with talent, and they're going to overwhelm the Huskers in much the same way they did last year.

14 September 2007

[un]Belichic[k]

The hoodie master has been caught, and punished. Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team will be forfeiting at least one draft pick.

And I ask: so what? Baseball teams have been doing this since before the AL combined with the NL. And baseball teams adjust - catchers have dummy signals, pitchers and managers cover their mouths when they're talking.

So why is it such a big deal that Belichick and Co. were videotaping other teams' signals? Eric Mangini has said that his team was doing the smart thing anyway, using dummy signals to confuse recorders.

It's not that hard to avoid tendencies, is it? Is it so hard that it's worth costing someone a first-round draft pick to avoid it?

I don't think so.

07 September 2007

AL Playoff Predictions

AL East
While the Red Sox of Boston are falling,
the Yankees on Roger are calling.
But while he's gotten older
the Yanks have got bolder -
Joba, Phil and Chien-Ming are balling.

Yankees take the division by three.

AL Central
CC and Travis drive Cleveland,
but Granderson's Tigers won't leave them:
The Royals and Twins
and the White Sox lack wins,
so with Cleveland's schedule, they'll beat them.

Cleveland over Detroit in a tight race.

AL West
Though the Angels are running away with it,
Seattle is trying to stay with it -
But Vlad crushes pitches,
and Lackey is vicious,
And LA of Anaheim plays with it.

Los Angeles by eight games.

Starting this afternoon, I'm going to be in Scotland until mid-December, so my blogposts until then may be somewhat sporadic. I'll post when I can - everybody have a good football season.

02 September 2007

NCAA Week 1 Roundup

Today we begin a (hopefully) continuing series, recapping the big stories of each week in college football.

It's the End of the World as We Know It
The entire country, for a week at least, are Appalachian State fans. In case you've been under a rock somewhere, you know they beat Michigan. If you didn't watch the game, you might not realize that they flat-out beat Michigan - they were simply faster than the Wolverines. Appalachian State dominated the majority of the game.

Guess Who's Back?
The Gators absolutely dominated Western Kentucky as they began their title defense. Tim Tebow proved that he could throw the ball, going 13-17 for 300 yards. UF will have a much tougher test in two weeks (following a preordained blowout against Troy) when they play Tennessee.

Sweet Emotion
Virginia Tech played their first game after the April shootings, and, after all the memorials and the moment of silence, were less than inspiring. They won, but only 17-7 in what was supposed to be a tune-up. The Hokie defense survived the Hokie offense, which posed a greater threat than their East Carolina counterparts.

My Name Is...
Armanti Edwards. The quarterback for Appalachian State, he absolutely shredded the Michigan defense, going 17-23 for 227 yards and 3 touchdowns, with an additional 62 yards rushing. Impressive stuff, and even more impressive when you consider that the only 1-A school (side note: I refuse to use the ridiculous new monikers that the NCAA decreed this past offseason) that recruited him was New Mexico State... and that the Aggies wanted him to convert to receiver.