30 December 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Double Feature

My apologies to my readers for not posting last Tuesday.

As some slight recompense, I'm doing an extra-special year-end version of Two Link Tuesday! (cue cheers. No cheers? Eh... whatever.)

Two sports videos, two non-sports videos. Enjoy!

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Video 1: Pulp Muppets.
Because Beeker is a better Bruce Willis than Bruce Willis is.


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Video 2: The Magnificent World of Table Tennis
Don't you ever call it ping-pong...


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Video 3: Top 10 Greatest Knockouts Ever
I don't know whether I agree with the list - it would've been nice to see, maybe, Ali taking out Foreman - but there are some quality knockouts in there.


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Video 4: Auld Lang Syne
This is the Millenium Mix that Kenny G put out in 1999. Always makes me think.


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28 December 2008

Michael Beasley: an efficient kind of dude

ESPN's David Thorpe has some harsh things to say about Michael Beasley's play thus far. One criticism that Thorpe brings up is that Beasley is unwise and inefficient in his offensive choices:

[...] Beasley has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.6 which is the fourth lowest of all rookies.


Ignoring the run-on sentence for the moment, is an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.6 really all that bad?

(answer: Heck No!)

An assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.6 would put Beasley not only at the head of his rookie class - which is led by Chicago's Derrick Rose - but well ahead of any other player in the NBA: Toronto's Jose Calderon currently leads the league with a 4.19 ratio.

An assist-to-turnover ratio of 5.6, in fact, would place Beasley second among all qualified players since the 2000-2001 season, behind only Terrell Brandon's incredible 6.14 ratio in 2001-2002.

One problem, though: Beasley doesn't have a 5.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. Looking at his player page on NBA.com (something Thorpe apparently neglected to do), we see that he has compiled 24 assists... and 54 turnovers, giving him an impressive (drumroll please!) 0.44 ratio.

So where did Thorpe get 5.6?

(answer: idk, my bff Jill?)

Screenshot:


Happy Pledge of Allegiance Day, everyone!

26 December 2008

Two African-American fighters


Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin, two African-American fighters, will battle at UFC 92. Their fans will mostly be white.

So we are informed by a link on ESPN.com's front page.

The headline is a provocative one, promising a story about racial divides within American society and the UFC's attempts to bridge those divides.

The headline is also an incredibly dumb one. Why?

Here's a picture of Rashad Evans - and everything's good so far:


Here's a double headshot of Forrest Griffin, the other African-American fighter mentioned.


Notice anything?

(here's a hint: Forrest Griffin is in fact of Irish descent.)

Hmm... maybe if the person writing the headline had actually bothered to read the article, or had known anything about mixed martial arts, he might have caught on that George Willis (not to be confused with George Will, the conservative opinions writer from the mid-1990s) was actually talking about Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson - two African-American fighters who will be fighting (but not against each other) at the upcoming UFC 92.

A split on his thumb

From the Associated Press article on the Orlando Magic's 88-68 victory over the New Orleans Hornets:

Former starter Mickael Pietrus, still playing with a split on his broken right thumb, continued to come off the bench for the Magic and finished with 11 points.


Pietrus had a split on his thumb, apparently. In the same vein, maybe it was the ets who took down Isengard, or a series of chain-link feces that separate my house from those owned by my neighbors.

Screenshot:


Have a great Boxing Day!

24 December 2008

Christmas Time is Here

Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

(if by "children" you mean... the Boston Celtics, who are 27-2 heading into their Christmas Day game against the Lakers)

Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share

(speaking of which, did you hear that Evander Holyfield made a comeback? Went eight rounds against Ruslan Chagaev. Acquitted himself reasonably well, too, though he lost the decision)

Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there

(the 1995 Atlanta Braves. Greg Maddux: 19-2, 1.63 ERA. He's retired now, but he'll live on in my memories)

Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year...

(Spirit fingers!!!)

Merry Christmas, everyone.

18 December 2008

Ted Williams never made it to the big leagues

Or so this blogpost by ESPN.com's Chris Low would lead us to believe. Low, presenting his list of the top 25 players in the Southeastern Conference this year (a list, I might add, that he presented completely without context or justification - if you're looking for stats, this article isn't the place to look), notes that

All told, 15 of the players I had on my preseason list didn't play well enough to make the postseason list.

I know, I know. With that kind of batting average, I'm going to be a lifer in the minor leagues.

...nice. So hitting .400 (if we accept that Low was making a legitimate baseball analogy) isn't enough to make it to the majors?

Wow, Tony Gwynn sucked. And also Pete Rose. After all, neither of them ever had a season where they measured up to a guy who, by his own admission, just doesn't put up the numbers to exit the minor leagues.

Or, possibly, Low just doesn't put a lot of thought into his metaphors.

Screenshot:

14 December 2008

Playing it saf

So I was reading SportsIllustrated.com this morning and I came across the following headline:

"Thoughts on the Eagles' new game plan and a pair of all-world safties"

My first thought: what are safties? They sound like adult diapers - (cue inspirational music) have you reached That Age? Are you s**tting your pants on a regular basis? Get Safties, and admit that you're old. ADMIT IT, YOU OCTOGENARIAN LITTLE &@#$! YOU'RE OLD!!! AND YOU SMELL FUNNY!!! AND NOT HA-HA FUNNY, EITHER!!!

My second thought: oh. He meant to say safeties.

Screenshot:

09 December 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Unexpected

Today's videos are a result of a disturbing recent trend: basketball players hitting each other in the groin.

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Video 1: "Tap dance"
This trend has most recently been exemplified by Leonard Washington of the University of California, who, without any apparent reason, ran down the court... and backhanded Oklahoma's Blake Griffin in the midst of the nether regions.
(side note: sorry for the large video player... this clip wasn't on YouTube.)


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Video 2: "Hand in the Cookie Jar"
But the trend has been occurring at the NBA level, too, as shown by this video, in which Reggie Evans... gets acquainted... with Chris Kaman.

06 December 2008

Two quick thoughts on Florida-Bama

1. I was just watching VT-BC. UF and Bama both look significantly bigger, stronger, and faster than either of those teams.

2. Tebow has "Philippians 4:13" written on his eyeblack. Really? He couldn't have come up with something marginally non-cliche? I mean, it's a great verse, but it's been claimed by EVERY ATHLETE IN THE LAST HALF-CENTURY.

NCAA Football Picks: 12.6.2008

Quick picks today, no explanation, because I've got to get going... meeting at 11:30.

Virginia Tech +1 against Boston College

Alabama +10 against Florida

Oklahoma -16.5 against Missouri

Navy -11 against Army

East Carolina +13.5 against Tulsa


Have a great day.

Watch this YouTube clip! It's cool!



/distraction

02 December 2008

Two Link Tuesday: The Final (Montage) Countdown!

Today, we're doing something a little bit special: Two Link Tuesday becomes... (drumroll please) Five Link Tuesday! This isn't a lasting change - I tried to find two collections of musically enhanced martial arts training, but there were just so many classics out there that I couldn't limit myself to just two.

Do you agree with my choices? Disagree with my choices? Email me and let me know what you think.

Note: before we begin, I'd like to salute Viacom International. They put up a copyright claim on the video of South Park's "Montage," which I was originally going to put up at number 5 due to its satirical brilliance. Way to go, jerkwads... you screwed yourselves out of a top-5 ranking. Because obviously my rankings mean something to the world at large. And because Guitar Hero is obviously a form of martial arts. I mean, I actually spent time looking up evidence for Guitar Hero being a kind of fighting - which, come to think of it, speaks to my desperation to include the South Park montage on my list.


5. 8 Mile.
Not a martial arts video, you say? Well... yes. But there's fighting! Or something that's kind of like fighting - after all, Slim Shady/Eminem/Marshall Mathers/Rabbit/Jimmy is heading into a Rap Battle [tm], right?



Postscript to entry 5: 8 1/2 Mile.
8 1/2 Mile, you say?
Yes. Because it's awesome. And it gives me an excuse to tag Fellini in a post, which is something I've wanted to do for a very long time.




4. Rocky IV.
Mush, Rocky! Gee! Haw! And, dude - Drago should totally fight UFC. "I fight for me!!!" Tito Ortiz just nods his bleached-blond head. Can you imagine Drago locking in a triangle? In those shorts? I mean, dude was seriously ripped.




3. Bloodsport.
I think that Van Damme gets a bad rap sometimes. I mean, sure, he took drugs. Sure, he got beaten up in a bar by one of his own stuntmen. Sure, he beat his wife. But The Muscles from Brussels knew how to make one heckuva training montage!




2. Karate Kid.
A strong contender, and one to whom I gave momentary consideration for the top spot. "You're the best! Around!" Now there's a song that doesn't beat around the bush, doesn't - just makes me want to start punching boards or something. And now my hands hurt.




1. Rocky.
Was there ever really any doubt? The One That Started It All, and still the best. Kind of like Stallone... oh, wait, that's not quite accurate. The One That Started It All, and still the best. A true classic. It just makes me sad that when I hear the chorus singing "getting strong now" at 1:40, I imagine Jose Canseco sticking needles into Rocky's butt.




So there it is - there's our countdown. I'm not going to say that I hope you enjoyed it, because... well... (1) This is my universe. Here, I am a titan. In Greek mythology, the Titans were more powerful even than the gods. (2) I'm Spartacus. (3) FREEDOM!!! (4) I'm running a little low on sleep, thanks to finals, so I've got a right to be cranky.

Have a great day.

29 November 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 11.29.2008

In the throes of the tryptophan-induced stupor that embraced me after Thanksgiving, I forgot to consider one very significant issue. I haven't yet figured out what that issue was, but I'm quite certain that there was one - because there's no substitute for a clear head, and a mind wandering within a turkey-induced haze isn't clear. Or something.

Segue.

On to the picks!

Georgia Tech +9 against Georgia
I'm making a couple of key assumptions here. First: that the Yellow Jackets' triple-option attack can control the ball well enough to avoid letting the Bulldogs run up a big lead. Second: that an asteroid isn't going to hit Earth and cause a catastrophic mass extinction and a cancellation of the game.
Prediction: Georgia 27, Georgia Tech 19

South Carolina +1 against Clemson
Because Steve Spurrier wears a visor, the Gamecocks will win. Don't follow my logic? Check this out: it's a beautiful day at Clemson. And you know what comes with beautiful days? That's right: sun. And where there's sun, there's sun in people's eyes. Sun in the Clemson coaching staff's eyes. You follow? Yeah, that's right.
Prediction: South Carolina 19, Clemson 16

Florida State +15 against Florida
Yes, I'm picking against the Gators. Why? Because every time I pick against UF, they win in a blowout. Why? I don't know - perhaps they read my blog and get motivated by the criticism. Why? That's getting kind of annoying, dude. Why? I SAID GET OUT OF MY FACE! GET OUT OF MY FACE RIGHT NOW!
Prediction: Florida 34, Florida State 32

Alabama -14.5 against Auburn
Bird in waterfall. Drowning tiger. Auburn trying to play against the Crimson Tide. Unpleasantries. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.
Prediction: Alabama 30, Auburn 12

Tennessee -5 against Kentucky
Volunteers versus Wildcats. Rednecks with guns versus cats. Sound like a mismatch to you? The only way that Kentucky has a chance is if the rednecks try to clean their guns while they're plastered on moonshine - in otherwords, if the Vols commit a bunch of turnovers. I don't see that happening.
Prediction: Tennessee 33, Kentucky 24

Last Week: 1-4
Season: 39-46
All Time: 84-80-1

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! Joe Posnanski has issues.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my loyal readers... none of whom should be reading this right now, because you should e spending this hallowed day with your families. So happy Day-After-Thanksgiving to all my loyal readers!

Having the time to actually read the sporting websites again, I'm finding errors! Errors like this one by SportsIllustrated.com's Joe Posnanski, who, in an article on the least-prolific and least-successful base thieves in MLB history, managed to come up with this humdinger:

"Leon Durham was called Bull, probably for his last name, and but he was quick as a young player."

Don't know whether the second half of your statement agrees or disagrees with the first half? Don't stress! Just say both!

Have a great day, everyone!

Screenshot:

25 November 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Hands Across America

Today at 90% Mental, we celebrate the art of catching.

Yes, catching, that illusory, daunting task which has for so long vexed so many, which has eluded the grasp of would-be running backs and made wide receivers into cornerbacks, is the focus of each of our videos.

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Video 1: "The Greatest College Football Catches Ever"

I don't know whether these are really the Greatest College Football Catches Ever - but they're a very solid list.


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Video 2: "Greatest NFL Catch Ever!!!"

Yes, there are three exclamation points in the title of this very-unassuming video... it's a heckuva nice catch, too. Worth every single bit of punctuation.

24 November 2008

Mega-fight!

From SportsIllustrated.com, we have our first error in a while... not that they haven't been happening, but I've been too busy to do the kind of reading I need to be to catch the errors.

Headline: "Could Silva vs. Lidell mega-fight really happen?"

That wouldn't be much of a mega-fight, considering that Jamie Lidell is a singer. Now, a fight between Anderson Silva and Chuck Liddell... that might be interesting.

Screenshot:

22 November 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 11.22.2008

Have you ever read Ash Wednesday? It's a poem by T.S. Eliot, and one of my absolute favorite works.

Why do I bring this poem up? Because, this morning, I noticed a number of resonances between the games I'm picking and lines from this classic poem.

On to the picks! Odds from USA Today.

Vanderbilt -3.5 against Tennessee
"Because I do not hope to turn again"
Is it too late for the Vols to turn their season around?
In a word: yes. Look for the Commodores to get things back on track against an absolutely floundering Tennessee team.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, Tennessee 13

Mississippi State straight up against Arkansas
"Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope"
Neither one of these teams is going to challenge for anything significant this year, or in the near future, although each has aspirations of building towards a better status.
Prediction: Mississippi State 19, Arkansas 17

LSU -5.5 against Ole Miss
"Because I do not hope to know / The infirm glory of the positive hour"
The Tigers were positive that they would be national championship contenders... and then, hampered by poor quarterback play and a floundering offense, they lost to Florida. And to Georgia. And to Alabama. Still... they're better than Ole Miss.
Prediction: LSU 31, Ole Miss 21

Out-of-Conference Pick:
BYU +6 against Utah

"For what is done, not to be done again / May the judgement not be too heavy upon us"
BYU has lost a game. By beating Utah, and avoiding another loss, they will seek to become the first one-loss non-BCS-conference BCS team.
Prediction: BYU 24, Utah 21

Out-of-Conference Pick:
Texas Tech +6.5 against Oklahoma

"Consequently I rejoice having to construct / something / Upon which to rejoice"
The Red Raiders, under the guidance of coach Mike Leach and AD Gerald Myers, have constructed something upon which to rejoice: a football team that, on the offensive and defensive lines as well as on the perimeter, is the equal of any in the country.
Prediction: Texas Tech 45, Oklahoma 41

Last Week: 3-3
Season: 38-42
All Time: 83-76-1

18 November 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Top Tens

Gotta love the goofiness of the unexpected. Or the unexpectedness of the goofy. Or... yeah. Gotta love these two top-ten lists.

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Link One: Top 10 Premature Celebrations


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Linke Two: Top 10 Football Trick Plays


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Have a wonderful Tuesday afternoon, everyone!

15 November 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 11.15.2008

Gotta keep the picks brief today, as I'm running in a few directions at once.

Picks! Odds from USA Today.

Georgia -8 against Auburn
War Eagle! Or... not so much. The Tigers have struggled offensively all year, and offensive struggles are a recipe for blowouts against Moreno, Stafford, & co.
Prediction: Georgia 34, Auburn 14

UL Monroe +21 against Ole Miss
IDK... my BFF Jill? Seriously, though... IDKY.
Prediction: Ole Miss 24, UL Monroe 9

Florida -23 against South Carolina
Because even though the Gamecocks have been impressive of late, the Gators have been flat-out dominant.
Prediction: Florida 41, South Carolina 13

Mississippi State +20.5 against Alabama
Beware the trap game here! Alabama's already clinched the SEC West. Will they suffer a letdown?
Prediction: Alabama 20, Mississippi State 16

Vanderbilt +5 against Kentucky
The Commodores keep betraying my trust... and I keep picking them. Why? Dear God what is that hideous THING? (props if you got the totally useless Princess Bride quote)
Prediction: Vanderbilt 17, Kentucky 15

Out-of-Conference:
Oregon State -3 against Cal

Because Jacquizz is just such a cool name.
Prediction: Oregon State 24, Cal 20

Have a great day, everyone!
Last Week: 3-2
Season: 35-39
All Time: 80-73-1

11 November 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Garrincha and Christian NuMetal

We're gonna keep it pretty simple today. Two videos, not a lot of context. Enjoy.

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Video 1: Garrincha
Much thanks to Vinicius Adam for the link.


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Video 2: P.O.D., "Boom"
Because, when you get right down to it, what rocks harder than table tennis? And, before you ask, this video did indeed come out before Balls of Fury.


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08 November 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 11.8.2008

Because I can: today's picks written in iambic pentameter! Odds from USA Today

Georgia -11.5 against Kentucky
The Bulldogs fight against their weaker foes,
But come up short against the Gators; teams
that play against the Georgian hordes without
an offense blessed with speed are doomed to lose
horribly.
Prediction: Bulldogs 40, Wildcats 21

South Carolina -10 against Arkansas
The Spurrians from old SC are skilled
at making things that should be easy tough.
But versus Arkansas, it doesn't matter;
The Razorbacks are not equipped to take
advantage.
Prediction: South Carolina 27, Arkansas 13

Wyoming +25 against Tennessee
The Cowboys (if their mascot be named that
in sooth, for yea, I do not know) can keep
it close against the Vols, who struggle hard
to not completely fail at everything
this year.
Prediction: Tennessee 31, Wyoming 17

Alabama -3 against LSU
The Crimson Tide are led by Satan; Nick,
who left his other teams behind, brings Bama
and massive tackle Cody to the game.
The Tigers have too many issues here
to win.
Prediction: Alabama 24, LSU 19

Vanderbilt +25 against Florida
The Commodores are struggling, but still
have D and still play tough enough to keep
the Gators at a reasonable margin.
Though Florida wins, do not expect an easy
romp all day.
Prediction: Florida 38, Vanderbilt 16

Last week: 2-3
Season: 32-37
All time: 77-71-1

04 November 2008

Two Link Tuesday: The Internet is for CHAN... also, VOTE

It's Two Link Tuesday time!

For those who aren't familiar, 4chan.org is an image-based messageboard (most content nsfw) that's put together a bunch of famous gifs and spawned a number of memes, including lolcats (aka icanhascheezburger), ORLY, and the RickRoll.

The 4chanians have also applied their talents to sports media, often with hilarious and/or completely random results.

For those who aren't familiar, today is election day. IF YOU'RE READING THIS AND YOU'RE REGISTERED, GO VOTE NOW. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO!

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First video: Star Wars vs. Zenedine Zidane

We all know the headbutt... but did you know that Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn were also involved?

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Video 2: Don't Just Vote

I mean, yeah, vote, but do more than that. And yes, I know it's not a sports video. But sometimes it's important to say things.

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Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

03 November 2008

What are you, eight? Also: sports.

Headline from the New York Post: "Urine Trouble".

It's amazing how mature people are, isn't it?

It's be difficult to overstate how much I enjoyed watching the Bucs game yesterday (while I was writing an essay applying Marx to The Island of Dr. Moreau, of course, but that didn't take away too much from my appreciation). Tampa was absolutely terrible in the first half and through a good bit of the third quarter. Their offense was stalled, their defense couldn't stop the run, and Tyler Thigpen - Tyler Thigpen! - was picking them apart time after time.

Here's my take on what changed: The Bucs realized that playing timid, playing not to lose, wasn't working. They started attacking. The Chiefs forgot that playing aggressively, playing to win, was what had put them up by 21 points. They started trying not to lose.

The Bucs started attacking.
The Chiefs stopped attacking.

It's that simple, to me, and it's been a recurring pattern from what I've observed in my few years watching football. The team that knows it's going to keep attacking, going to keep coming and coming and coming until the other team breaks, tends to win. Oftentimes, that's the team that's fallen behind and become desperate. The playcalling changes, the attitude of the team changes, and the outcome of the game often changes.

Have a great day, everyone.

01 November 2008

Dude. Sweet!

As I type my personal statement for my graduate school applications, I'm watching the Texas/Texas Tech football game.

19-0?! Really?! If anybody saw this coming, feel free to email me... because I didn't.

ABC just flashed a stat on the screen, showing that Tech has just more than tripled the Horns' time of possession.

All season, I've been waiting for the Red Raiders to fall apart. They're a team that over the last few seasons has crushed weaker opposition, but come up short versus quality teams.

Is this Tech team different? We'll see... I'm still having trouble believing that it is.

NCAA Football Picks - 11.1.2008

Happy Day-after-Halloween! I know I'm coming in a little late with these picks, but I'll make up for it: the explanation for each pick will be written in the form of a haiku. Work for y'all?

Cool.

Auburn +5.5 against Ole Miss
The War Eagle is
underdog against Ole Miss?
Something is wrong here.
Prediction: Auburn 16, Ole Miss 13

Tulsa -6.5 against Arkansas
The Razorbacks miss
Houston Nutt. Or maybe, more,
McFadden, tackles.
Prediction: Tulsa 38, Arkansas 23

Kentucky +3 against Mississippi State
Don't trust the Wildcats!
I think they're overrated, but
trust the Bulldogs less.
Prediction: Kentucky 21, Mississippi State 17

Alabama -23.5 against Arkansas State
Razorbacks may fight -
oh, wait, this is ASU.
What is their mascot?
Prediction: Alabama 34, Arkansas State 3

Georgia +5.5 against Florida
Go Gators! I'll cheer
for UF. It's gonna be
a very close game.
Prediction: Georgia 34, Florida 32

Have a great day, everyone. Before I go:

The Bulldogs all taunted the Gators.
When they scored their first touchdown, players
rushed onto the field
and refused to yield
Now the Gainesville contingent are haters.
Or something. Look for the UF/GA game tonight to be one of the hardest-hitting contests of the entire year.

Last week: 3-4
Season: 30-34
All time: 75-68-1

28 October 2008

Something to think about.

I briefly considered adding this as the end of my Two Link Tuesday post, but it didn't seem to fit thematically, so I decided to publish it separately.

I would like to throw out a link to this article by SportsIllustrated's Arash Markazi detailing a meeting he had with John Wooden shortly after the former UCLA coach's 98th birthday.

There was a prayer that Wooden apparently says every night that really stood out to me, and that I felt I should highlight here.

The years have left their imprint -- on my hands and on my face -- erect no longer is my walk and slower is my pace. But there is no fear within my heart because I am growing old; I only wish I had more time to better serve my Lord. When I've gone to him in prayer he has brought me inner peace, and soon my cares and worries and other problems cease. He's helped me in so many ways, he's never let me down, why should I fear the future when soon I could be near his ground. Though I know down here my time is short, there is endless time up there and he will forgive and keep me forever in his love and care.


Whoa.

Beyond the somewhat hokey rhyming, I hope that, if and when I reach Wooden's age, I can view my own life and death with that kind of grace.

Have a great day, everyone.

Two Link Tuesday: Terry Tate Overload

Because I'm tired, and gratuitous violence makes me laugh.

Warning: contains some language. And not the fuzzy kind, or the kind that one would use in a business setting, either.

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YOU KILL THE JOE, YOU MAKE SOME MO!


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Cut the cheese?! I'm lactose intolerant!


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25 October 2008

Back-to-back consecutively

The Gator game isn't on network TV, which makes me sad... so I'm listening to it on the radio while I do my homework.

The Gators' defense and special teams are dominating right now, and UF has blocked UK's last two punts (and scored on the next play in each case).

Which leads me to one of the saddest quotes I've ever heard, this one from one of the commentators on 620 AM (WDAE) immediately following the second block:

"and I've never seen that before in my life, two consecutive punt blocks on successive series."

As opposed to... two consecutive punt blocks, six series apart?

NCAA Football Picks - 10.25.2008

So it's been an eventful couple of weeks: I wrote essays, ate food, slept, and played sports. Sports like football and basketball.

And it's going to be a more eventful couple of weeks. You know why? MY SENIOR RESEARCH PROJECT IS DUE!!! 30 PAGES OF INTENSE GENIUS!!! AHHH!!! AHHH!!! Seriously, though, things are going to be busy. Like, more busy than they already are.

Picks! Brought to you today by Lobster Cola... because I'm feeling goofy, and I still remember MVP Baseball 2001.

Florida -23 against Kentucky
I don't know why - I've been writing about labor supply theory all morning.
Also, it's Kentucky. Against Florida. It's Kentucky. Against a team that beat LSU by 30 points.
Prediction: Florida 51, Kentucky 21

Vanderbilt -10 against Duke
Because, even though Duke is better than they used to be, they're still Duke... wait... I could say the same thing about Vanderbilt. LOGIC?! WE DON'T NEED YOUR STINKIN' LOGIC!! One academic school beats another academic school.
Prediction: Vanderbilt sqrt(361), Duke 3!

LSU -2.5 against Georgia
How many times have I said that I don't trust Matt Stafford? (Answer: several.) How many times has he proved me right? (Answer: less than several.) How many times will I keep saying it? (Answer: at least twice more.) I don't trust Matt Stafford, particularly against a very solid LSU defense.
Prediction: Bayou Bengals 30, Carchasers 26

Ole Miss +4 against Arkansas
'ware the Rebels! Or something. Irrelevance, thy name is THE ENTIRE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. And also THE ENTIRE STATE OF ARKANSAS. You see what I did there?
Prediction: Ole Miss 19, Arkansas 17. Lusitania!

Mississippi State -11.5 against Middle Tennessee State
(insert generic prediction here to cover up the fact that I don't really care about either team)
Prediction: Carchasers part deux 26, Nom de Duke Ripoffs 14

Alabama -5.5 against Tennessee
Two good defenses, one good offense. I'll let you guess which offense I think is good, but here's a hint: it isn't the team whose fans sing Rocky Top over and over.
Prediction: Alabama 9th prime, Tennessee 6th prime

Out-of-Conference Pick:
Ohio State +2.5 against Penn State

Terrelle Pryor is a big, fast dude. Really, that's the entire basis for this pick. I'm pretty sure that Penn State is otherwise superior on both sides of the ball, but Pryor is going to make up for the Buckeyes' shortcomings.
Prediction: Poisonous Fruit 31, Overly Localized Felines 27

21 October 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Rays Win ALCS... by Joga-ing Bonito

Two videos for you today, each of which makes me smile in its own way.

First off: The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series! Whooo! Thus: I think it only right that we look at the celebration. My two favorite parts: Carl Crawford vaulting into the pile at 0:20 and the drunk guys in the upper deck at 0:37.

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Second: I really have nothing else to go with that first video, so I'm just going to throw a really fun little Nike ad out there for y'all.

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Have a great day, everybody! I certainly intend to!

20 October 2008

My Take on the World Series

When the Rays made it to the playoffs, I resolved that I wouldn't write anything about them here.

Given that this is a sports blog and I am a Rays supporter (I love them only slightly less than I do the Atlanta Braves), it may seem odd that I chose not to write about Tampa Bay's first playoffs trip ever. Here's the thing: I've had this nagging sensation that if I wrote or said anything about the Rays, their season would fall apart and they would suddenly, despite already being in the playoffs, find themselves back in last place.

I clung to my vow through the divisional round.

I clung to it through the ALCS.

And then the Rays made it to the World Series... and I had no fewer than (and possibly more than) eleven people ask me for my prediction.

Still, I clung to my vow.

With all that said - I'm not going to make a pick for the series. Rest assured, though, I'll be cheering for the Rays with, if not all, then a good 38.1% of my heart, and I hope that y'all are all doing the same.

18 October 2008

NCAA Football PIcks - 10.18.2008

Before I begin, a non-sports-related YouTube clip for all y'all lovers of music who happen to read this blog. I suggest that you enjoy it while reading the rest of the post:



On to the picks! Odds, as always, from USA Today.

Vanderbilt +15 against Georgia
The Commodores have fallen. And when the Commodores fall, they tend to keep falling for a long time. Then again - this Vandy team is good at creating turnovers, and I don't have a lot of faith in Matthew Stafford.
Prediction: Georgia 31, Vanderbilt 20

Alabama -13.5 against Ole Miss
Can the Tide be stopped? Yes, they can. Can the Tide be stopped by Ole Miss? Yes, they can. Will the Tide be stopped by Ole Miss? I don't think that they will. Look for Bama to control the clock and grind it out.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Ole Miss 10

Arkansas +11.5 against Kentucky
I don't believe in the Wildcats. I don't believe in the Razorbacks. By those two statements, of course, I'm declaring that I disbelieve in the existence of either team. I don't have much faith in the quality of Arkansas or Kentucky, either - which means I'm picking a close game.
Prediction: Kentucky 28, Arkansas 26

Mississippi State +8.5 against Tennessee
How bad are the Vols? They're so bad that old milk curls its figurative nose at them. They're so bad that The Matrix: Revolutions finds them repulsive. They're so bad that Michael Jackson wrote a song about them. Wow - that's pretty bad.
Prediction: Mississippi State 16, Tennessee 12

LSU -3.5 against South Carolina
The Tigers lost by 30 last week. But they're playing South Carolina! Let me say that again: They're playing South Carolina!
Prediction: LSU 41, South Carolina 24

Missouri +7 against Texas
I firmly believe that the Tigers' Chase Daniel-led and Jeremy Maclin-infused offense can keep the Tigers within a touchdown. I don't firmly believe in Colt McCoy - his name is just way too Texas-y. Also, he's got such a slender build that I don't believe he can take the Tebow-esque pounding he's receiving every week.
Prediction: Missouri 48, Texas 45

Last Week: 2-5 (I blame it on Bush)
Season: 23-28 (I blame it on Bush Sr.)

14 October 2008

Two Link Tuesday: We Got Commercialism

Happy Two Link Tuesday, everybody! I'm working off of five hours of sleep here, thanks to turning in a chunk of my senior research this morning, but that doesn't mean I can't be both chipper and eloquent, right? Right?

*crickets*

Okay then. On to the links!

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We're going with a postapocalyptic pseudoindustrial theme today. So where better to start than with a Nike commercial? (I know, I know, easy on the social commentary). It's a bunch of guys playing soccer in what looks eerily like the lobby from The Matrix.


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Second video! You know what goes well with one bizarrely militaristic sports advertisement? You guessed it - another bizarrely militaristic sports advertisement, from a company that is in direct competition with the first!


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Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

11 October 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 10.11.2008

So this is my last distraction before I go and take the GRE at noon. Let's make it a good one, eh?

And before you ask: no, I'm not Canadian.

Kentucky -1 against South Carolina
Last week, Kentucky really impressed me in their close loss against Alabama. South Carolina impressed me less in their win over Ole Miss.
Prediction: Kentucky 27, South Carolina 23

Vanderbilt -1 against Mississippi State
The Commodores beat Auburn last week. It wasn't a fluke - this is a quality team that might have a legitimate shot to challenge for the SEC East *splutter/cough* excuse me, I think I just shot coffee out of my nose. IT BURNS!!!! But, really, Vanderbilt's pretty solid.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 19, Mississippi State 15

Tennessee +13 against Georgia
I have a tough time believing that the Vols are really as bad as they've looked so far this season... and I have a tough time believing that they can't slow down the Bulldogs enough to keep this within two touchdowns.
Prediction: Georgia 31, Tennessee 20

Arkansas +19 against Auburn
War Eagle! Except they just fired their offensive coordinator and scrapped the offensive scheme they spent their whole offseason learning. Look for Auburn to run the ball and control the clock.
Prediction: Auburn 17, Arkansas 13

LSU +4 against Florida
When Tigers defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois said that the LSU defense would be looking to knock Tim Tebow out of the game, all of Gator Nation snarled just a little bit. Look for 91,000 screaming drunk guys to be the difference in the game - I'm predicting a false start penalty will derail the Tigers' would-be game-winning drive.
Prediction: Florida 34, LSU 32

Out-of-Conference Pick:
Oklahoma -6.5 against Texas

Ever since Cedric Benson burned me - twice in a row - in fantasy football drafts, I've had a tough time bringing myself to pick the Longhorns in any game. In a game like this one, where I genuinely believe they're outclassed, I'm not even going to try.
Prediction: Oklahoma 38, Texas 28

Wisconsin +4.5 against Penn State
Look for the Badgers to bludgeon the Nittany Lions into submission by running the ball up the middle over and over and over and over... by the end of the day, we'll all be asleep, and Wisconsin will pull out the close win.
Prediction: Wisconsin 20, Penn State 16

Last Week: 3-3 (cue the sound of one hand waving diffidently)
Season: 21-23 (cue the sound of one hand waving more diffidently)

07 October 2008

Two Link Tuesday: Reggie and Shaq

It's been said (although I couldn't tell you by whom) that life is about dichotomies. Light and dark. Yin and yang.

Reggie Bush and Shaquille O'Neal.

With that in mind, we at 90% Mental bring you this latest version of Two Link Tuesday.

The first video is, I think, especially fitting in light of Reggie Bush's heroics last night... heroics that cost me a victory in one of my six fantasy football leagues... heroics that cost me a perfect record for the week.




The second video is an old favorite of mine, and forms a nice counterpoint to the unrestrained viciousness of the first. This is Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard at the 2007 NBA All-Star game.



Have a great day, everybody!

04 October 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 10.04.2008

Hey y'all -

Last week was one of the weirder ones I've ever had in terms of my picks. I got a couple of games really, really wrong - see TCU vs. Oklahoma and Florida vs. Ole Miss - and then a couple of games really, really wright (as in Wilbur and Orville) - see Alabama vs. Georgia and Auburn vs. Tennessee.

This week, we'll se if we can have more of the good picks and fewer of the bad ones. Vague enough for ya? (and yes, that was a completely gratuitous Sarah Palin joke. Ooh... burn...) Odds from USA Today.

Florida -22 against Arkansas
The Gators last week suffered a loss to Ole Miss. While the loss itself shouldn't have been totally shocking (in retrospect), given how tightly the Rebels always play UF, the way that the Gators self-destructed in that game was, and still is, completely inexplicable. UF won't self-destruct this week... and Arkansas will pay.
Prediction: UF 41, Arkansas 13

South Carolina +2 against Ole Miss
I'm taking a chance here; South Carolina is a less-than-inspiring 2-7-1 against the spread in their last 10 games. Here's my logic, though: Ole Miss is coming off of a huge, emotional win against UF. South Carolina is coming off of a disappointing win against UAB. South Carolina's going to be angry. Ole Miss is going to be suffering a little bit of a letdown.
Prediction: South Carolina 24, Ole Miss 20

Alabama -16.5 against Kentucky
Look out for this game! Both of these teams are undefeated - Kentucky may be more solid than was initially thought (you like how I left that in the passive and avoided saying who thought it?). Still - Alabama looks really, really good. Let's ride it for a little bit, eh?
Prediction: Alabama 30, Kentucky 12

Auburn -3.5 against Vanderbilt
Is it really possible that a Vanderbilt game is one of the biggest of the week? Wow. Still, I think the magical interlude that the Commodores have been enjoying will end here. Auburn's offense has been struggling - but when the Tigers start to struggle, they go back to basics: running the football and playing good defense. Vandy relies on forcing turnovers - and it's a lot harder to force turnovers when the ball is being pounded down your throat than when it's floating through the air.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Vanderbilt 17

Out-of-Conference Pick:
Ohio State -2.5 against Wisconsin
The Buckeyes are healthy again, and they've finally settled on a quarterback. More importantly, they've settled on the right quarterback. Wisconsin will keep this game close, but won't be able to pull it out.
Prediction: Ohio State 18, Wisconsin 13

Out-of-Conference Pick:
Oregon +16.5 against Southern Cal
I've just got a feeling about this game... I don't know why. I feel like Oregon will, at the very least, keep this contest close... oh, what the heck, why not.
Prediction: Oregon 31, Southern Cal 29

Last Week: 3-5 (as I said, a weird week)
Season: 18-20 (not where it should be)

30 September 2008

Two Link Tuesday

Hey y'all -

I figured I'd inaugurate a new tradition here at 90% Mental - because if I can't (as the founder, editor in chief, and head writer), who can?

So here's what's gonna happen: every Tuesday, I'm going to put up two YouTube videos that I find amusing. They might be familiar to you, they'll definitely be sports-related (though the strength of that connection might vary), and hopefully you'll like them. I'll try to keep them G or PG-rated for those of you (you know who you are... I'd say I know where you live, but that'd be creepy) who are reading at work.

So, for the first inaugural Two Link Tuesday, we'll go with two classics:

1. "Boom Goes the Dynamite"



2. "That's Kinda Gay"

27 September 2008

NCAA Football PIcks - 9.27.08

Look out for the SEC! The conference has six teams in the AP Top 25 - and of those six, three (LSU, Georgia, and Florida) are in the top 5. The conference is both top-heavy and deep, a rare and frighteningly imposing combination.

Picks for this week? Odds are from USA Today.

Florida -23 against Ole Miss
Tim Tebow is going to have his first really big game of the season; look for him to throw for about 280 yards and four touchdowns; look for UF to win by close to 40.
Prediction: Florida 52, Ole Miss 14

Tennessee +6.5 against Auburn
The Vols are a solid team, their blowout loss to Florida aside, and will keep this game close. Auburn has had offensive troubles all year.
Prediction: Auburn 14, Tennessee 12

Arkansas +27.5 against Texas
Texas is a good team, and will be amped up to play against the Razorbacks. But 27.5 is a big number against a SEC team.
Prediction: Texas 41, Arkansas 24

LSU -24.5 against Mississippi State
Upset alert! OK, not really.
Prediction: LSU 38, Mississippi State 10

Alabama +6.5 against Georgia
Georgia will try to run the ball up the middle with Knowshon Moreno; Alabama DT Terrence Cody is going to collapse in on himself and form a black hole, sucking Moreno past his event horizon and into a void from which he may never return. To rephrase: the Crimson Tide have a very, very good rushing defense, and will shut down the Bulldogs' ground game. Matt Stafford has a great arm, but isn't good enough yet to carry Georgia on his own. Look for the Bulldogs to try a two-point conversion to tie with under a minute left, but be stopped.
Prediction: Alabama 23, Georgia 21

South Carolina -24.5 against UAB
If there's one thing Steve Spurrier knows how to do, it's run up the score on an inferior opponent - and, make no mistake, UAB is an inferior opponent.
Prediction: South Carolina 48, UAB 21

Western Kentucky +22 against Kentucky
The Wildcats aren't up to the standards of the rest of the SEC. They'll still win, but the Hilltoppers will keep it close-ish.
Prediction: Kentucky 31, Western Kentucky 17

Special Picks:
TCU +17.5 against Okahoma
I'm going to go out on a limb here: this upset will be one that will overshadow USC's loss to Oregon State. Oklahoma has a top-notch offense, but a defense that, sans injured DT DeMarcus Granger, will be a little bit weak in the middle; MWC powerhouse TCU has the top statistical defense in the country and a high-quality, Cerberus-esque rushing attack that features Ryan Christian, Joseph Turner, and Aaron Brown. Look for the Horned Frogs to top the Sooners and keep on rolling all the way to a BCS game.
Prediction: TCU 24, Oklahoma 19

Last Week: 6-1 (Ahh, that's more like it)
Season: 15-15 (Back to .500 - movin' on up!)

21 September 2008

E.J. Manuel: running through the ringer

...according to this post by SportsIllustrated.com's Stewart Mandel. Writing about how FSU's offense has continued to degenerate, Mandel notes that Jimbo Fisher "does have his own hand-picked QB, E.J. Manuel, waiting in the wings, but he's hardly the first savior-in-waiting to run through this ringer."

To which I reply: Yes, I'm quite sure that it's difficult for Manuel to charge through what may be (depending on the definition used) either a person who enters a competition under false representation, a device that sounds a bell-like tone, or a successful horseshoes toss - but wouldn't it be far more apt to say that he's running (or, better, going) through a wringer, which Merriam-Webster Online defines as "something that causes pain, hardship, or exertion"?

Just wondering.

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20 September 2008

NCAA Football Picks - 9.20.08

There's a terrific selection of games on tap today, as SEC teams begin playing major opponents both in and out of conference. Hopefully, my picks can measure up. Odds from USA Today.

Mississippi State +8 against Georgia Tech
I like Paul Johnson, and am a big proponent of the triple option. But Tech hasn't had long enough to really install and become familiar with Johnson's offense.
Prediction: Mississippi State 17, Georgia Tech 16

Alabama -9 against Arkansas
The Crimson Tide sport a quality defense (giving up 7.7 points per game thus far this year). The Razorbacks sport an offense that lost two first-round picks at running back.
Prediction: Alabama 24, Arkansas 3

Florida -7.5 against Tennessee
Tim Tebow apparently made a bet with Kenny Chesney: if the Gators win, Chesney must sing "It's Great to be a Florida Gator," while if the Vols win, Tebow has to sing Rocky Top. The faint strains of what is perhaps the most annoying fight song in the country shouldn't be echoing around the interwebs any time soon.
Prediction: Florida 31, Tennessee 17

Vanderbilt +5.5 against Ole Miss
Look out for Vandy! Well - not really - but the Commodores have a decent-enough squad to keep it close.
Prediction: Ole Miss 20, Vanderbilt 17

LSU -2 against Auburn
This game is pretty much a toss-up to me; both teams are terrific on defense, but somewhat lacking on offense. Auburn, though, has debuted a new offense that, without being much more effective, manages to take a lot more chances. Taking chances against very good defenses results in turnovers.
Prediction: LSU 17, Auburn 9

Georgia -6.5 against Arizona State
Look for the Bulldogs to line up and run the ball down the Sun Devils' throat, and for - when Arizona State tries to throw the ball to catch up - Georgia's pass rush to absolutely crush ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter. This is a big game between quality teams. It could still get ugly.
Prediction: Georgia 38, Arizona State 24

Out-of-Conference Pick:
Michigan State -8.5 against Notre Dame
The Irish have looked like quality thus far in the season; still, they'll struggle to stop, or even slow down, MSU halfback Javon Ringer, who last week rushed for a ridiculous 282 yards.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Notre Dame 21

Last week: 5-3 (still not ideal, but better)
Season: 9-14 (OUCH, but not as much ouch)

13 September 2008

NCAAF Picks: 9.13.08

I'm going to have to pick quickly today... analysis may be at a minimum. Thinking games through hasn't worked thus far, so I'm going to try going with my gut.

Tennessee -29.5 against UAB
The Vols looked bad against UCLA. UAB has the same first initial, but not the same defense.

Georgia -7.5 against South Carolina
Spurrier has always had Georgia's number - but he hasn't always had the dearth of talent he's faced with at USC.

Middle Tennessee State +16 against Kentucky
I just don't trust the Wildcats.

Alabama -27.5 against Western Kentucky
Saban! Saban! Saban! Now let's chant the name of Western Kentucky's biggest star... or mascot... (they're the Hilltoppers, btw - props if you knew that)

Mississippi State +10 against Auburn
In Croom we trust.

Louisiana State -41.5 against North Texas
Cupcake alert!

Southern Cal -10.5 against Ohio State
Without Beanie Wells, the Buckeyes will struggle to break 20. With Beanie Wells, the Buckeyes will struggle to break 20.

Michigan straight up against Notre Dame
RichRod's boys haven't looked good so far this year. The Touchdown Jesuits have looked worse.

Last week: 2-5 (THE PAIN!!!!!)
Season: 4-11 (THE PAIN!!!!!)

Are will

Special thanks go to reader Laura from Jupiter (I'm guessing she means the city, not the planet) for finding this error.

Are the Atlanta Braves spoilers? They will be, if you ask SportsIllustrated.com writer John Donovan.

"The Phillies and Mets, the front-runners in the National League East are will find the road to the division title goes through Atlanta."

It are has for the past two decades; why should this year be any different?

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09 September 2008

Brilliant!

ESPN.com columnist Gregg Easterbrook is an outspoken proponent of aggressive football - playing to win, rather than not to lose. One of the most obvious outgrowths of his philosophy is the idea that teams do not go for it enough on fourth downs.

So why, in his latest column, is Easterbrook applauding the Cleveland Browns for making what seems a really boneheaded move in kicking a field goal when down three touchdowns and faced with fourth-and-three from inside their opponents' twenty?

(In case you're unfamiliar with chess notation: ! indicates a good move; !! indicates a brilliant move.)

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DeAngleo!

According to SportsIllustrated.com's Jim Trotter, the Raiders have a new CB opposite Nnamdi Asomugha - and he isn't who you might think.

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06 September 2008

The way of the fist

Certainly, Rich Rodriguez has made a significant impact with the nearly militaristic way he has begun running the Wolverines' practices. But don't you think this is, perhaps, a bit excessive?

From a SportsIllustrated headline: "RichRod gets fist victory at UM."

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NCAAF Picks 9/6/07

Hi all...

So. Last week's results were somewhat less than spectacular, as a number of teams under- or over- performed in their season openers. I'd like to single out Tennessee and Alabama for special recognition; the Vols trod incautiously upon my dreams with their loss against UCLA (HOW can you allow a third-string quarterback to do that to you? HOW?), while the Crimson Tide proved incapable of the failure I had predicted for them.

Here we go with this week's picks, then; odds, as always, from USA Today.

Auburn -17 over Southern Miss
Last week, the Tigers' new offense proved quite impressive in a 34-0 thrashing of Louisiana-Monroe. This week, Auburn takes on an improved opponent, but they bring a bit more experience to the field.
Prediction: Auburn 38, Southern Miss 13

Central Michigan +23.5 against Georgia
The Chippewas, featuring Heisman candidate Dan LeFevour, can score with anybody in the country - at the same time, though, they will struggle to stop (or even slow down) the talented Bulldogs.
Prediction: Georgia 45, Central Michigan 28

Ole Miss +8.5 against Wake Forest
Look for the Rebels to pull an upset here against a team that was supposed to be one of the best in the ACC - a conference that, thus far, has been much less than impressive.
Prediction: Ole Miss 24, Wake Forest 20

Arkansas -14.5 against UL Monroe
I find that I somewhat pity UL Monroe - they open their season with consecutive games against SEC teams. After a 34-point shutout loss against Auburn last week, look for more of the same this Saturday.
Prediction: Arkansas 28, UL Monroe 10

Alabama -28 against Tulane
Beware the aftereffects of Alabama's big win against Clemson last week- or, wait... don't. Because they're playing Tulane.
Prediction: Alabama 41, Tulane 7

Florida -21 against Miami
Miami's a quality team - not the typical UF early-season cupcake. At the same time, though, the Gators have one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Look for Florida to score early and often.
Prediction: Florida 48, Miami 20

Out-of-Conference Special:
South Florida -14 against Central Florida
Last season, South Florida won this game 64-12, embarrassing the Knights en route to a 9-4 season. This season, UCF doesn't have record-setting running back Kevin Smith. So what happens? The line is set at 14. I don't understand.
Prediction: South Florida 31, Central Florida 13

Last Week: 2-6 (THE PAIN!!!!)
Season: 2-6

30 August 2008

Return of the Line: NCAA Football Picks

Last year, I picked a total of 78 college football games, and went a very respectable 45-32-1. This year, I'm hoping to build on that record and continue to improve. Being a UF fan and a resident of the southeastern United States, I focus my picks on SEC teams, though I do branch out to try to pick big games outside of the conference.

Enough blather - on to the picks! Odds from USA Today, as always.

Hawaii +33.5 against Florida
Do I think the Warriors will top UF? No, I do not - but 33.5 is a big number, especially since the Gators are sans all-everything utility man Percy Harvin.
Prediction: UF 41, Hawaii 14

Mississippi State -9 against Louisiana Tech
I do believe that the Bulldogs are headed in the right direction, and can beat the Bulldogs by more than 9 points.
Prediction: MSU 27, Louisiana Tech 14

UL Monroe +26.5 against Auburn
Auburn is a team that, year after year, seems to have a dominant defense and a less-than-compelling offense. It's hard to win by four touchdowns if you have a less-than-compelling offense.
Prediction: Auburn 34, UL Monroe 12

Ole Miss -8 against Memphis
Memphis? Really?
Prediction: Ole Miss 38, Memphis 20

Clemson -4.5 against Alabama
Look for the Tide to keep this one close - they're a talented team after two consecutive top-10 recruiting classes - but ultimately to fall by about a touchdown due to their youth and inexperience.
Prediction: Clemson 34, Alabama 27

Louisville -4.5 against Kentucky
Louisville has been gutted by desertions and graduations over the past couple of years - but they still have a solid program and one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in Hunter Cantwell.
Prediction: Louisville 41, Kentucky 31

Tennessee -7 against UCLA
Look out for the Vols! It seems every year, one SEC East team - last year, Georgia, the year before, Florida - is almost completely ignored in the preseason - and then finishes the season among the top teams in the country. Nobody's really been talking about Tennessee this year... Meanwhile, UCLA has been having quarterback issues.
Prediction: Tennessee 31, UCLA 17

Out-of-conference special:
Missouri -9 against Illinois
Yes the Illini return most of their players, including dual-threat QB Juice Williams. But they lost RB Rashard Mendenhall - and Williams, for all of his talent, had underwhelming numbers last year.
Prediction: Missouri 40, Illinois 27

29 August 2008

Ross Tucker writes about player's and brings about the downfall of Western civilization

Ross Tucker played for five teams in his seven-year NFL career. He has joined SI.com as a regular contributor on the NFL beat.

Ross Tucker doesn't know how to pluralize the word "player."

In this article, Tucker begins by claiming that "The reality of the game is player's play -- and play well -- through injuries all the time." While I don't disagree with the columnist's sentiment - Tucker, after all, has a good bit more football experience than I do - I cannot help but disagree with his apostrophe usage.

Later in the article, making the argument that Kurt Warner should start for the Cardinals, Tucker says that "Though they [the Cardinals players] would deal with Leinart being the starter, Whisenhunt risks losing the locker room if it is plainly clear to the player's that they have a better chance to win with Warner under center." Again, I agree with the sentiment - the Arizona players (understandably) want to win - but, again, I disagree with the unnecessary apostrophe.

If I may digress for a moment: improper apostrophe usage is one of the greatest threats to modern society. There are, of course, assaults on sensibility in comparison to which Mr. Tucker's two errors seem piffling and inconsequential. As the great Rudy Giuliani made the police take action on minor graffiti in New York, though, we must let no small thing slide - for the acceptance of imperfection in even the smallest detail can lead, if we are not vigilant, to greater and greater cracks in the facade of civilization and, eventually, to the collapse of the whole structure.

So, Mr. Tucker! Though you committed only two simple errors, I name you a threat - and sentence you to read and re-read the MLA Handbook until you commit no more such offenses.

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27 August 2008

NFC South Pick

Hi y'all -

As classes have begun gearing up and the semester is getting busier (I'm taking a lighter load than I thought I would have to, but it's still a not-inconsiderable 19 credit hours, on top of my various extracurricular commitments), I've sadly neglected this blog over the last few days. With luck, I'll be able to continue posting at least two or three times a week, with a minimum of double-digit posts each month.

Thus: a quickie post, today, before I run off to my next class.

The NFC South seems, to me, to be somewhat of a forgotten division. It doesn't get a lot of national attention, probably because its teams - the Bucs, Falcons, Panthers, and Saints - (1) aren't traditional football powers, (2) aren't in huge media markets, and (3) haven't been serious threats (with the exception of the out-of-nowhere Saints of a couple of years ago) to win or even make the Super Bowl for the past half-decade or so.

But! Look out for the division this year! The Saints (due to the additions of Jeremy Shockey and Jonathan Vilma, among others) and the Panthers (due to the healing of Jake Delhomme from a season-ending injury he suffered last year) each promise to be much improved, while the young Falcons are growing increasingly stocked with talent.

All that said - and yes, I'm going to make somewhat of a homer pick here - I'm picking Tampa (I refuse to call them Tampa Bay - that's a body of water, not a city) to win the division. They've got a solid mix of youth and veterans; they return almost their entire team from last year (with the exception of far-too-rapidly aging CB Brian Kelly) and they have a settled (or reasonably settled) running back situation coming into the season for the first time in what seems like years. It won't be as easy for the Bucs to win it this year as it was last - the rest of the division has improved - but they'll win it and, possibly, get a home playoff game.

Projections:
Tampa - 11-5
New Orleans - 10-6
Carolina - 8-8
Atlanta - 6-10

22 August 2008

Ben Fowlkes needs to clean up his act

Please pardon the cliche in the title - I borrowed it (with some slight changes) from Ben Fowlkes' SportsIllustrated.com article - an article that contains not one, but two errors.

And are these Fowlkesian errors simple typos or grammatical mistakes? No! They are in fact logical errors that make a hash of the entire article and very nearly leave the reader wondering what, exactly, Fowlkes is trying to say. (A note to Dr. O'Neill - I'm not sorry for the rhetorical question; it is, I feel, a legitimate way to make a point in this case.)

To the first error!

Fowlkes begins his article with a reference to the often-controversial president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship: "Dana White loves to say that running a major mixed martial arts organization isn't as easy it looks -- that's the typical self-congratulatory rhetoric we've become accustomed to from the outspoken UFC president."

Here's the issue, though: Fowlkes closes his article with a reference that's intended to tie the entire feature together, once again bringing in the MMA capo: "While White may claim it's easy, no one really believes that running an MMA organization is a painless endeavor."



But-but-but- that's not the same thing that, at the beginning of the article, Fowlkes said White says! That's not even close to the thing Fowlkes said White says! In fact, that's the exact opposite of what Fowlkes said White says!

Second error!

Midway through the article, Fowlkes attacks Elite XC lightweight champion KJ Noons for refusing to take on tough opponent Nick Diaz: "The champ flatly refused to meet Elite XC's vaguely threatening ultimatum on the matter and Diaz, instead, asked for DREAM standout Eddie Alvarez."

Wait... what? I know that MMA is a constantly shifting, fluid world - but I didn't know that it was a world so fluid that champions changed in mid-sentence! Apparently Fowlkes is privy to some intensely insider information - or, alternatively, he just sucks at using the English language.

Have a good evening, everyone!

Death of an autodeist

Greetings, all.

Before we begin: my apologies for not posting for a few days. Tropical Storm Fay has unleashed its... uh... wrath, I guess, upon us, and things have been slightly hectic. Never worrisome (with the exception of a few hours when the power went out and the dorm was plunged into near-complete darkness, but there have been a long series of incidents to deal with.

Now on to the good stuff. While I was reading this article on ESPN.com, I noticed that Tom Friend had used the line "the ignominy of that draft day." I believed I had found an error, and began to gloat a bit to myself as I began to write a post making fun of ESPN.com writers' ignorance and lack of spellchecking.

Then I did a quick Merriam-Webster search to confirm that "ignominy" should have been "ignonimy," and realized that, in this case at least, it was I who was ignorant.

Mr. Friend: my apologies. You wrote a solid article, and you spelled "ignominy" correctly. There are some few areas, I suppose, in which my knowledge may be imperfect.

17 August 2008

Bringin' it back

Remember how Lance Armstrong lost a part of himself to cancer?

He's now lost a far more integral part of himself to the copy-editing fiasco that is ESPN.com.

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14 August 2008

We can only imagine

From the ESPN.com fantasy newsdesk comes this report on Jim Edmonds:

"After being virtually left for dead in San Diego, Edmonds had put up a .273/.374/.597 line since joining the Cubs, heading into Wednesday's games. After his two extra-base hits, we'd imagine his OPS with the Cubs is close to 1.000 now."

You'd imagine? Perhaps an OPS is something that floats out in the ether, a purely abstract concept that can never be applied to real situations? Perhaps OBP and slugging percentage are like position and velocity, and as we approach certainty about a player's on-base percentage, we lose certainty about his slugging position?

For those who are curious: Edmond's OPS with the Cubs currently stands at 0.989.

Screenshot of ESPN's laziness:

House of D

Bill Parcells is a very traditional coach and GM with a tendency to try to impose his personality upon whatever team he's running.

SportsIllustrated recognizes Parcells' tendencies, as demonstrated in Ross Tucker's analysis of the release of kicker Jay Feely: "An old-school football guy, Parcells is less than enthused by players with a penchant for d letting their opinions be known. Especially kickers."

I tell you this: no player I have ever met has had a penchant for d letting his opinions be known.

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10 August 2008

America has a brand-new star

We've all heard of Michael Phelps, the 23-year-old superstar who is swimming for eight gold medals at the Beijing games.

For one night at least, though, Phelps has been upstaged by a lesser-known counterpart who has already won two gold medals and may or may not be competing for several more.

I speak, of course, of Michael Phleps.

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07 August 2008

Brett Favre: not a Buc

So.

The news dominating the headlines right now: the Green Bay Packers' trade of Brett Favre to the New York Jets.

The news that should be dominating the headlines right now: the Green Bay Packers' not-trade of Brett Favre to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Why?

Obviously, it's because I'm both a Bucs fan and the ultimate arbiter of value in the sporting universe.

What impact will the not-trade of Brett Favre to the Bucs have on Tampa's chances this year?

I think that it's actually a positive impact, for a couple of reasons.

First, the Bucs already have enough distractions, what with their running back controversies and their host of quarterbacks - and adding Brett Favre to the mix would amplify any possible tensions exponentially. Over the last few years, the Bucs have thrived when it has been able to avoid the national spotlight - and having number 4 taking snaps under center would have drawn the media like a lion to a wounded gazelle, like bad food to a high school cafeteria, or even like a tired writer to a simile.

Second, and more important, while Favre is indisputably a great quarterback, his style simply doesn't fit the Bucs' offense. Tampa has built its team on defense and ball control - and Favre, for all his strengths, turns the ball over a lot (he has averaged over twenty-six turnovers per season in the last three years). The Bucs throw a lot of short passes, splitting out a lot of wide receivers to create quick openings before the rush can get to the quarterback - and Favre thrives when he's well protected and has time to throw deep and show off his famous arm. As good as Favre is, Jeff Garcia - a capable, if unspectacular, game manager - gives the team a better chance to win.

04 August 2008

And this is relevant how?

Today's big story: Jason Giambi shaved his moustache!

Wait... that's a big story how, exactly?

Well, obviously, it's a big story because when Giambi started to grow the moustache in May, he started hitting better - so now that he's gotten into a slump with the moustache attached to his face, the reasoning is that shaving it off will help him get out of the slump.

Of course, that reasoning makes no sense whatsoever.

I've never understood superstition. Stepping or not stepping on basepaths, tapping the corners of home plate with your bat, or... um... this (to go back to the Giambi theme) has no observable, quantifiable impact on performance.

My friends know that, despite a few quirks, I am a decidedly nonsuperstitious guy. When I'm going up to bat, I pick up a bat that has the right combination of length and weight, take a couple of practice swings, and then walk up to the plate. If I'm involved in a very casual game, I might imitate Julio Franco, Nomar Garciaparra, or Craig Counsell... but I digress.

What is the point of ritual? Why do any of these illogical, impractical things? I don't get it. It just doesn't make sense. The human mind searches for patterns where, often, there are none.

In the end, though, whether you shave your moustache or not, your performance will regress to something approaching your career mean.

Have a great night, y'all.

01 August 2008

Developing a tolerance

This evening, I'm doing a few things.

First, I'm sorting keys - the last camp of the summer is leaving tomorrow morning, and I'm beginning the inventory of the few hundred keys I've been managing since the beginning of June.

Second, I'm watching Rob Roy. It's a heckuva good film - I've been a Liam Neeson fan since I saw Les Mis a few years ago (yes, I know he was in Schindler's List... I just haven't seen it yet. And yes, I know it's somewhat blasphemous to have not...), and Tim Roth is always excellent.

Third, I'm watching the X Games on ESPN, and specifically the BMX Big Air event.

These dudes are absolutely insane.

Want to know what's more insane?

I'm finding myself unimpressed by everything except the absolute biggest tricks. A few minutes ago, a guy did a 70-foot backflip, and I just shrugged.

A guy went down a ramp and did a 70-foot backflip on a bicycle, and I shrugged. How is that possible?

Have a great evening.