31 December 2007

We Wear Short Shorts

"We", of course, refers to the Los Angeles Lakers, who, according to ESPN.com, yesterday wore not just short shorts, but game-used, antique short shorts. Screenshot here, in case ESPN tries to deny that the error ever happened.

EDIT: the article in question has been removed from the ESPN home page! The power of the press triumphs again... or maybe someone on the ESPN staff just realized how truly atrocious the headline was.

29 December 2007

NCAAF Bowl Picks: Pre-New Year Edition

Wow, this is going well. The bowl season is well underway now, and my picks are falling, one by one, like the townspeople in "30 Days of Night"... or the victims in any other horror movie, ever.

On to the picks, you say? I agree. Enough of this witty banter.

Meineke Car Care Bowl (Dec. 29)
Wake Forest -2 against Connecticut
Two bad offenses, two good defenses. Wake has just a bit more experience, which should give them the slight edge.

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 29)
UCF -3 against Mississippi State
Kevin Smith, UCF's running back, needs 181 yards to break Barry Sanders' single season rushing record. He ran well in almost every game this year, and the Bulldogs don't have the D to slow him down.

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29)
Texas A&M +5.5 against Penn State
TAMU is a team with a powerful rushing attack; Penn State is a team with a rock-solid rush defense. Both teams have inconsistent quarterbacks. Look for a close, low-scoring game.

Independence Bowl (Dec. 30)
Colorado +3.5 against Alabama
There is no way that I'm picking the Saban Tide in this game. It's a gut feeling, but it's also backed up by fact: Bama has lost their last four, and haven't shown signs of life in any of them.

Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 31)
Air Force +3.5 against California
The Falcons aren't as talented as the Bears. But Cal, at this point, is a team that is in complete disarray.

Humanitarian Bowl (Dec. 31)
Fresno State +6 against Georgia Tech
Smurf Turf! Always a fun sight for mid-majors looking to knock off BCS-conference foes. Also, the Yellow Jackets are playing this bowl game with an interim head coach, since Chan Gailey was fired.

Sun Bowl (Dec. 31)
South Florida -6.5 against Oregon
Before Dennis Dixon was hurt, I would have taken Oregon giving a touchdown. Now, it's the other way around. It's really a shame - he made watching the Ducks a lot of fun.

Music City Bowl (Dec. 31)
Kentucky -10 against Florida State
Ten points is a big number, especially in a bowl game. But 36 is an even bigger number.

Insight Bowl (Dec. 31)
Indiana +4 against Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State's porous defense and exciting (if erratic) offense will combine to make this a high-scoring game, but Indiana, playing in a bowl for the first time in a long time, should pull it out.

Chik-Fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31)
Auburn +2.5 against Clemson
Davis and Spiller are the hot topic coming in; Tuberville's mad coaching skillz (note the z, which means that Tuberville is considered "hip") will be the hot topic coming out.

Apostrophe Ho!

How does one pluralize the word "ho"?

SportsIllustrated.com's Phil Taylor apparently doesn't know. According to Merriam-Webster (yes, the noun "ho" is in Merriam-Webster), the plural is either "hos" or, Quayleishly, "hoes". Taylor didn't use either of these options in his reference to Don Imus' remarks about women's basketball.

Have a nice morning, everyone; I'll be back with more NCAAF picks in a few hours.

26 December 2007

Post-Christmas NCAAF Bowl Picks, Part 1

This post will lay out my picks for the bowl games from December 26 to December 28; hopefully, like sugar cookies, the second batch will turn out better than the first.

Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26)
Central Michigan +8 against Purdue
The last time these teams played, Purdue won easily. But this is a bowl game, so things just have to be different, right? On a related note, Purdue has only beaten one Division 1 team with a winning record this year. Can you guess which one? On another, tangentially related note: wow, two rhetorical questions in one pick - I shall avoid them for the rest of the post.

Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27)
Arizona State +2.5 against Texas
ASU was being considered for a BCS berth. Texas was not. If Erickson can revive the Sun Devils from their disappointment, they should prove to be the superior team.

Champs Sports Bowl (Dec. 28)
Boston College -4 against Michigan State
This game will be an example of what happens when a team with a decent offense and a very good defense (Boston College) goes up against a team with a very good offense, but a porous defense. Defense, as the pundits say, wins championships. Here, it will win the Champs Sports Bowl.

Texas Bowl (Dec. 28)
Houston +4.5 against TCU
Good defense may beat good offense, but really good offense (Houston, the 4th-best in the country) beats pretty good defense.

Emerald Bowl (Dec. 28)
Oregon State -5 against Maryland
This pick makes sense for two reasons. First, Yvenson Bernard is a really cool name. Second, Yvenson Bernard is a really good running back, and the Beavers are a good team. Note: Ralph Friedgen is a cool name too, but unless he pulls a William Perry, he's not as good a halfback as Bernard.

Last time: 1-5
Bowls: 1-5

23 December 2007

They Should Know Better: Early Bowl Edition

With the bowl season in progress, a host of new sports-related websites have appeared, the majority of which, sadly for the English language (though not for this blog), include errors.

Some of these errors are simple typos, and thus can be written off as the products of rushed production. The frontpage of the New Mexico Bowl has an error of this type, an omitted "the" at the beginning of the scrolling banner.

Other errors, however, are less forgivable, as they indicate a simple lack of knowledge. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the New Orleans Bowl, the PapaJohns.com Bowl, and the Poinsettia Bowl.

Have a merry Christmas, everyone.

19 December 2007

NCAAF Picks: Pre-Christmas Bowl Games

The NCAAF bowl season starts tomorrow. Over the next four weeks, 62 teams will be playing glorified exhibition games for the right to say that they are the champion of whatever relatively anonymous bowl invited them. LSU and Ohio State are, to me, the only teams who actually have anything at stake.

That aside, it's good to have college football back after its traditional, awkward midseason hiatus. Odds, as usual, are from USA Today. I won't be counting these picks in my season-long quest to conquer the spread, due to the special nature of the bowl season; I'll be keeping a special tally solely of bowl games. Hopefully I can do better than some of the ESPN and SI pundits I seem to so often denigrate in this (rather one-sided) forum.

Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 20)
Utah -9 against Navy
I'm a fan of Navy's throwback option attack, but with a replacement head coach whose name I can't pronounce, they'll have trouble against a tough Utes defense.

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21)
Florida Atlantic +2.5 against Memphis
When in doubt, go with Howard Schnellenberger. He's earned it.

PapaJohns.com Bowl (Dec. 22)
Cincinnati -11 against Southern Miss
Southern Miss has fired their coach after a "disappointing" 7-5 season. Not a good sign for the bowl game.

New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 22)
Nevada +3 against New Mexico
The last time New Mexico won a bowl game was 1961. They won't break the streak this year.

Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 22)
BYU -5 against UCLA
These two teams played against each other earlier this year. UCLA won, 27-17. But I still think BYU is better - and UCLA is another team dealing with coaching staff drama.

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 23)
Boise State -10 against East Carolina
The Broncos are, if I'm not mistaken, the faster team; playing in the home of the Rainbow Warriors and June Jones, they'll have a significant advantage in this game, which could turn ugly in a speedy fashion.

Final Regular Season Record: 45-32-1
Bowl Record: 0-0

17 December 2007

Get Your Kicks...

Miami Northwestern High School won the Florida class 6A high school football championship in convincing fashion, beating Boone High School 41-0 in the championship game and ending their second consecutive undefeated season.

As the ESPN.com story recounted: "Tevin McCaskill's 25-yard TD grab made it 28-0 early in the third quarter and the route was on. "

Which route is that, exactly? Miami Northwestern certainly got their kicks, but they're not quite between Chicago and L.A.

In related news, I've received several emails asking how I have the time to read the hundreds of articles that it must take me to find the errors I reveal. Charlie from Gainesville asks: "Do you do anything besides read ESPN and Sports Illustrated?"

Well, Charlie (and Jim from Tampa, Susanna from Tallahassee, and Mike from Atlanta) - I have other interests: sunsets, good books, long walks on the beach... um... I read pretty fast, too, which helps.

15 December 2007

Sundays Matchup

The dropped apostrophe in the post title was intentional.

NFL.com is usually quite good with their copy editing. Not so much today, as one of the headers on their front page reads:

"With a win and some help, the Browns are in the playoffs, giving Sundays matchup with the Bills a playoff feel."

Screenshot of the error is here.

14 December 2007

The Mitchell Report

After a seemingly interminable wait and an expense of over ten million dollars, the fabled Mitchell Report, the supposed last word on baseball's steroids problem, has finally been released. And it sucks.

Mitchell, of course, was hamstrung by a lack of power; all he could do was ask for players' cooperation. But does that really excuse the lack of reliable information? Most of the names in the report, so far as I could tell, were generated by hearsay and (very weak) circumstantial evidence - cancelled checks, address books, etcetera.

Thus, we have players included such as the immortal Jerry Hairston Jr., who is indicated on pages 207 and 251 of the report. According to ESPN.com's summary (because who really wants to read 400+ pages of bureaucratese?), the case against Hairston is based on the word of Kirk Radomski and one cancelled check. Nice.

I'm not saying that these players didn't do steroids. Quite probably, many of them did; more probably, there are dozens or even hundreds of other players, not named, who made use of performance enhancing substances. But was this report really the best that the MLB could do?

In the famous words of Stan Marsh: weak, dude.

10 December 2007

Killer Trees from Outer Space!

Peter King, who writes the "Monday Morning Quarterback" column for SportsIllustrated.com, said in his latest piece that he liked "The pursuit of Nick Collins, the Green Bay safety who chased down Justin Fargas on a fourth-and-short in the first quarter and chopped him down like a dad at a Christmas Tree farm."

King's comment brought a smile to my face, as I contemplated the laughable idea of dads in Christmas tree farms throughout the world fleeing in terror from machete-wielding firs.

Nice simile, Mr. King.

09 December 2007

Whose Neck, Exactly?

This is a sad story - the poorly written headline, in this case, isn't funny, which heightens the significance of the grammatical error. Jordin Lindsey, a football player for the University of South Carolina, was injured in a fight this weekend. Fortunately, he's all right, and was to be released from the hospital today (the story doesn't say whether he actually was released).

The headline, from SportsIllustrated.cnn.com: Gamecock has neck slashed. The headline, of course, doesn't specify whose neck - whether it was Lindsey's or whether he, in some odd hitman scenario, hired Michael Myers to kill some enemy. Nor does it even specify whether the main figure in the story is even human - for all we know after seeing it, the story is an investigative piece about Roy Jones Jr.

Well done, SI.

08 December 2007

My Heisman Pick

The Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the best offensive skill-position player on a good team in Division 1 NCAA football, will be given out tonight.

Four players have been selected as finalists: Colt Brennan, Chase Daniel, Darren McFadden, and Tim Tebow. Of those four, each has his strengths and weaknesses.

Brennan, the senior quarterback from the University of Hawai'i has put up amazing stats over the past two years; further, his team is the only remaining undefeated in Division 1-A. However, he is haunted by the ghost of countless "system quarterbacks" since Andre Ware won the award in 1989. He is also hampered by his team's weak schedule.

Daniel, the quarterback for the University of Missouri, has also put up significant statistics, and against better competition than Brennan. His performance against then-undefeated Kansas has helped his cause considerably. But in the Big XII Championship against Oklahoma, Daniel laid an egg, going 23-39 for 219 yards and no touchdowns in his team's 38-17 defeat.

McFadden, a do-everything running back for the University of Arkansas and one of the leading prospects in the upcoming NFL draft, has dazzled with spectacular talent and flashed terrific performances, but has also disappeared at times, especially when he ran for only 43 yards in a disastrous loss to Auburn.

That brings us to our final competitor, and the man I believe should win the Heisman: University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow has had a record-setting season, becoming the first player ever to pass for 20 touchdowns and rush for 20 touchdowns in the same year, and setting the SEC record for rushing touchdowns in a season. Critics will point to the "Meyer system" (as University of Hawai'i coach June Jones did) and Tebow's underclassman status (he's a true sophomore) - but Tebow has shown up big in every game this season, and is the most deserving player of all the candidates.

06 December 2007

Stupidity in Action

Anthony Smith, second-year defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has guaranteed a win against the thus-far undefeated New England Patriots.

Aww, dude... that's just straight-up ignorant. And not in a "lacking information" either - that's ignorant in a full-on, Chris Rock, face twisted, voice-screech, barely intelligible, I-can't-believe-you-said-that way. Don't do that, dude.

How is this wrong?
First off, you're a nobody. You're a second-year third-round pick from Syracuse who's only starting because the guy in front of you got hurt a month and a half ago. Rodney Harrison has never heard of you. Most of the country has never heard of you. You haven't earned the right to make a guarantee.

Second, you're playing against the Patriots. You know, the seemingly unstoppable football machine that hasn't lost yet this year and is on pace to set numerous all-time offensive records? The team that, when confronted with the slightest hint of potential opposition reacts in much the same way that Jabba's Rancor does when suddenly presented with a defenseless green dancing girl?

Third, you're a free safety, and you're going to be trying to cover Randy Moss. There's a high probability that, at some point during Sunday's game, you're going to be left sitting on your butt while Moss celebrates yet another touchdown catch. This should be a rule: if you're going to wind up sitting on your butt while the player you're supposed to cover celebrates yet another touchdown catch, don't make a guarantee. You'll just look stupid.

Of course, you already look stupid, and the game hasn't even started yet. Way to go, Einstein.

03 December 2007

BCS Reaction

All of the bowl matchups are out now, in case you've been under a rock somewhere. With Missouri and West Virginia royally blowing their chances to go to the title game, somebody had to step in, and LSU and Ohio State found themselves the lucky recipients.

This is a good a resolution as you could ask for, even if it doesn't really settle anything. Ohio State and LSU's claims are as good as anyone's, even if they aren't necessarily any better than those of a half-dozen other teams.

In the other BCS bowls, my only real gripe is the inclusion of 9-3 Illinois. They weren't an automatic selection, and their selection meant the exclusion of 10-2 Arizona State, as well as a host of other... actually, it didn't really mean the exclusion of any other, more worthy candidates; I just object on principle.

01 December 2007

Not the Same Old D-Rays

If, when you saw that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had traded rising star Delmon Young and quality shortstop Brendan Harris to the Minnesota Twins for a bunch of prospects who might or might not pan out, you heaved a sigh of disgust and said 'same old D-Rays', suck it back in and take another look.

First off, they're not the Devil Rays, or D-Rays, or whatever anymore - now they're just the Rays. While I think that's a truly abhorrent aesthetic choice - the Tampa Bay Rays? Really? They rhyme? - it might just be a sign of a break from the past.

Delmon Young was a rising star, yes, and we'll miss him in a couple of years when he's hitting .310 with 25 HR and 20 SB. But we didn't exactly get a stiff in return. Garza is a pretty quality pitcher - he had a 3.69 ERA last year in 16 starts, which is better than anyone else on the Rays' rotation but Kazmir (and two runs better than anyone but Kazmir and Shields, which is a frightening indictment of the Sonnastine/Howell/Jackson combination), and he should be the Rays' #3 starter right out of the gate.

The Rays should be okay in the outfield; they have Crawford and Upton manning two spots, with Baldelli (when he's healthy) and Gomes holding the other spot down until one of their prospects (presumably Dukes) gets up to the show.

Is this the same sort of move we're used to seeing from the Rays? Not really - this one actually has a chance to have some positive benefits. If they don't lose Carlos Pena to arbitration (heaven forbid - their one legitimate power bat), they could show some improvement next season. For once.