29 March 2008

Double scoop

Good afternoon and happy weekend everybody!

Two errors for y'all today, both from ESPN.com.

The first comes from an article co-written by Morty Ain, Luke Cyphers, Carmen Renee Thompson and Todd McShay, who apparently think that Matt Flynn has multiple personalities. To quote: "By jogging against a current, Flynn, alongside teammate Glenn Dorsey and Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, they build leg strength." To analyze: what the heck?

Screenshot here.

The second error is from the often-unintentionally-humorous Pat Forde, who takes time out from saluting Stephen Curry to offer obeisance to Greek mythology.

Screenshot here.

Nice. And nice.

27 March 2008

Heath Benedict

Sad news yesterday, as NFL draft prospect Heath Benedict passed away from natural causes.

I knew very little about Benedict, beyond that he played at Newberry College (a D-II school) after getting injured at Tennessee.

Benedict, a 6-6, 334 OT, was projected to be a mid-round pick in the upcoming draft.

We can debate whether NFL players are getting too big, whether they're on steroids, a whole slew of other issues - but not right now.

24 March 2008

He healthy

"He," in this instance, is San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, whose poor performance over the last two years has prompted some critics to wonder whether he's injured.

According to SportsIllustrated.cnn.com writer John Donovan, "Zito has heard all the questioning, of course. But he says he healthy."

I guess if Zito says he healthy, we be wrong to say he not healthy.

Screenshot here.

22 March 2008

This is the way the world ends

...not with a bang but a whimper, as Pittsburgh meekly falls to Michigan State, killing any chance of my bracket maintaining a semblance of respectability.

I've now lost seven of my sweet sixteen picks (Notre Dame, St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Drake, and Arizona). I picked Pittsburgh to make it to the final (losing to UNC). The only remaining chance I have to avoid the bottom of my pool is for Davidson to make a magical run to the Elite Eight.

So: until we speak again (as I'm home for Easter and, thus, away from my computer more than usual)... go Wildcats!

20 March 2008

March Madness: My Picks for Today's Games

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament starts in under three hours (unless you count the play-in game). 16 games will be played today. My picks for all 16 follow; these are the same picks I've made on my CBS Sportsline and Facebook brackets.

12:20 PM ET No. 3 Xavier over No. 14 Georgia
Georgia's hot, but Xavier's got much better talent and balance.

12:25 PM ET No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Portland State
This one will be over by the first TV timeout.

12:30 PM ET No. 12 Temple over No. 5 Michigan State
The ever-fascinating 12-5 matchup, and the first upset of the tournament. MSU, to me, is too dependent on a streaky Drew Neitzel to pick over a steady Temple team.

2:30 PM ET No. 6 Marquette over No. 11 Kentucky
Dominic James is the real deal, and Kentucky's without Patrick Patterson.

2:50 PM ET No. 11 Baylor over No. 6 Purdue
I don't trust teams that depend heavily on freshmen; Purdue's leading scorer and leading rebounder are both in their first year.

2:55 PM ET No. 9 Kent State over No. 8 UNLV
The Golden Flashes are in the tournament for the 5th time in the last 10 years; no jitters there.

3:00 PM ET No. 4 Pittsburgh over No. 13 Oral Roberts
I very nearly picked ORU in this game - but Pitt is just too talented.

5:00 PM ET No. 3 Stanford over No. 14 Cornell
I like Cornell. I really do. But Stanford starts two skilled seven-footers.

7:10 PM ET No. 6 USC over No. 11 Kansas State
The day's marquee matchup, as OJ Mayo takes on Michael Beasley. I expect Beasley to put up huge numbers - but he doesn't have the supporting cast that Mayo has, and Beastly won't be able to make up the difference.

7:10 PM ET No. 2 Duke over No. 15 Belmont
Belmont's got the shooting to hang in this game for a while, but they don't have the same amount of depth as the Blue Devils, who will run the Atlantic Sun champs into the ground.

7:20 PM ET No. 13 Winthrop over No. 4 Washington State
I'm partial to teams with guys named Taj; also, Winthrop is a battle-tested (they beat Notre Dame in the tournament last year) and talented group.

7:25 PM ET No. 9 Texas A&M over No. 8 Brigham Young
And now we get to two teams I know nothing about... except that, when in doubt, I always pick against the religious school. Why? Because their ethics keep them from recruiting the really good players.

9:40 PM ET No. 3 Wisconsin over No. 14 Cal State Fullerton
No offense to the Titans, who have a really cool mascot, but it's Wisconsin.

9:40 PM ET No. 10 Arizona over No. 7 West Virginia
A mild upset, I suppose; but Arizona, when they're healthy, are as talented as any team in the country.

9:50 PM ET No. 5 Notre Dame over No. 12 George Mason
Because Luke Harangody is a beast.

9:55 PM ET No. 1 UCLA over No. 16 Mississippi Valley State
What, you expect me to pick against UCLA in the first round? Everybody knows they only lose in the final four.

17 March 2008

Longing for innovative nicknames

Robert Horry: Big Shot Bob
Blake Hoffarber: Big Shot Blake
Robert Horry: Mr. Big Shot (meet the new link, same as the old link)
Blake Hoffarber: Mr. Big Shot

No. Can't anyone come up with something a bit more inventive than these ripoffs? Please?

Applause for Pat Forde, who, despite blatantly copping the "Mr. Big Shot" title earlier in his article, comes through with the alliterative "Minnetonka Miracle Worker" later in the piece.

16 March 2008

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason (to date) round-up

The Bucs have been an aggressive team in free agency this offseason, as they could afford to be with more than $40 million of cap room. The argument could be made that the Bucs haven't been this aggressive since 2002, when they signed, among others, Keenan McCardell, Roman Oben, Michael Pittman, and Joe Jurevicious - all players who were crucial for their super bowl run.

Will this year's crop turn out that well? We can only hope so (furiously knocking on wood). I'm taking a look at the top 4 signings only - these are the guys who, I think, will make the biggest impact.

C Jeff Faine, 6 years, $37.5 million
Faine is considered the top center in this year's free agent market. He's slightly undersized at 6'2", 292 lb. but is strong and skilled. He should be an anchor for the line for the next several years - and he'd better be, since the Bucs have given him the biggest contract of any center in the league.

WR Antonio Bryant, 1 year, $600 thousand
This deal is a tremendous bargain for Tampa. Bryant is a big, skilled receiver, albeit one with some issues, who could (with luck) become a valuable complement to Joey Galloway. He's 27, so he's still young, and he's demonstrated the ability and talent the Bucs need. There's a 50% chance he busts and does nothing - but there's probably a 25-30% chance that he turns into exactly what the Bucs need to make their offense work.

TE Ben Troupe, 2 years, $ unknown
Troupe is big, he's fast, and he's got good hands. He was a tremendous talent at UF, but got buried, for whatever reason, with the Titans. I see him as a player, like Graham, who, if given the chance, can excel. He'll probably be the second TE for the Bucs, but will have ample opportunity to display his skills in the Tampa offense, which often employs two tight ends.

RB Warrick Dunn, 2 years, $6 million
Dunn looks to be a backup at this point - but he should be a valuable one. The Bucs' RB corps has a lot of depth, but - with the oft-injured Carnell Williams and the still-inexperienced Earnest Graham - could use a steadying veteran presence. Dunn knows how to play the game, and he'll be an ideal mentor to Williams (a slightly undersized back who dances too much) and Graham (a gutty back who has trouble blocking).

12 March 2008

Agonizingly boring

Only two days after the "beared" debacle revealed in my last post comes a similar error - this time, an overapplication of the "bore" exception.

From an ESPN.com link: "The GM bore his soul in his spring introduction speech." No! No! No! The GM bared his soul. He exposed it. He sure as heck didn't carry it!

Sorry for the brevity of the post - class in 10 minutes.

Screenshot here.

10 March 2008

Beared?

Cringeworthy error in Matt Mosley's Hashmarks blog on ESPN.com: "Brett Favre's final news conference as a Green Bay Packer beared a pretty strong resemblance to his playing career."

Beared? Really? Don't most native English speakers learn exceptions to past-tense rules by, like, kindergarten? My guess is that Mosley actually understanded that "bear" is an exception to the rule, but that he forgetted, and overapplyed it.

Screenshot here.

09 March 2008

One Odd Acronym

From ESPN.com's action sports department, and specifically this article by Brian Kamenetzky: "a growing number of action sports athletes (call 'em ACAs for short) are finding their bliss on four wheels. "

Wait... action sports athletes... ACAs... in what twisted universe does that make sense? We could, perhaps, excuse it as a typo, albeit an unbelievably prominent typo - except that Kamenetzky then repeats the ACA acronym throughout the rest of the article. My guess is that he was trying for "Action Crossover Athletes", or "Action Sports Crossover Athletes" - but the recurring presence of an unintelligible acronym renders the article in its present form nothing more than a punchline.

Note to self: when creating a snazzy acronym, make sure that it, you know, makes sense. Screenshot here.

08 March 2008

2008 NFL Draft All-Name Team: Defense and Special Teams

In the first installment of this two-part miniseries, two things were established. First: that that is not an intrinsically cool word. Second: that there are several NFL-draft-eligible players with humorous and/or fun names. We continue our list in this post, and shift our focus to the defensive side of the ball.

DE: Wallace Gilberry, Alabama
I've always been partial to the name Wallace. William... Alfred Russel... George... Okay, so nix that last one. But it's still a cool name. And Gilberry just straight-up sounds cool. Or if not cool, at least... pleasant.
DT: Letroy Guion, Florida State
It's always good to have one guy whose name can be pronounced in a snooty manner with a faux-French accent, preferably while holding a glass of expensive wine and looking down the bridge of one's nose. Guion fits the bill.
OLB: Jolonn Dunbar, Boston College
I hope, at some point during the upcoming season, to see a play in which Jolonn Dunbar tackles tight end Joe Jon Finley. If it happens during a Monday Night Football broadcast, I fear that Tony Kornheiser will simply continue speaking in rhyme, becoming a modern-day Dr. Seuss.
ILB: J Leman, Illinois
There's a sort of "Harry S Truman" situation going on here... or there would be, if the hon. Mr. Leman didn't actually have a name to go along with the initial. But he does - Jeremy - which makes his going by a single letter really, really funny.
CB: Jonathan Zenon, LSU
Zenon: Defensive Back of the Twenty-First Century!
S: Pig Brown, Missouri
With luck, this guy will become a starter somewhere, if only for the "sooey!!!" calls that would surely begin emanating from the stands.
K: Alexis Serna, Oregon State
I wonder how much teasing this guy takes about having a girl's name? I'm sure it doesn't help that he's 5'8", 170 lb. - hardly the stereotypical frame for an American football player (that is, a player of American football) - or that he's a kicker.
P: Ken Debauche, Wisconsin
Not even going to touch this one...

07 March 2008

2008 NFL Draft All-Name Team: Offense

As the days, weeks, months tick slowly by, as we wait for that glorious morning when Roger Goodell will take the stage at Radio City Music Hall and answer the most important questions facing the western world, matters of lesser significance present themselves to us, gleaming in the cloud-filtered sunlight of each new day. Whether we're gleaming or the matters are gleaming, I'm not sure - but something or someone is gleaming, and that's a cool word.

What is so cool about the word "that," you ask? Possibly nothing, except that it segues us so wrenchingly to the matter at hand. I'm not using nicknames in the forming of this list - the players' names are listed just as they appear on their official profiles, to avoid spoiling the exclusivity of this so-well-compiled list by imposters such as Run DMC and Matty Ice.

QB: T.C. Ostrander, Stanford
Rarely does one find a football player whose name so completely matches the stereotypical aesthetic of his university.
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ole Miss
Two first names? Okay. Two last names? Okay. Two first names and two last names, of which the last of the firsts and the first of the lasts are basically identical to a defensive lineman already in the league? Wow.
FB: Jehuu Caulcrick, Mich St.
Jehuu? Seriously?
WR: Lance Leggett, Miami (FL)
Yes, we could have gone with FSU's DeCody Fagg. But we here at 90% Mental like to think that we're a couple of steps above fart jokes and really, really obvious putdowns.
TE: Joe Jon Finley, Oklahoma
Rarely does one find a football player whose name so completely matches the stereotypical aesthetic of his university.
OT: Breno Giacomini, Louisville
Gotta love a 300-lb guy who sounds like he'd be at home either on "The Sopranos" or on "Grease."
OG: Charles Manu, Nevada
My first thought: Mork and Mindy! My second thought: Numa Numa! My third thought: I just hope he has better hair than the estimable Mr. Ginobili (who, by the way, has carried one of my fantasy basketball teams to second place).
C: Kory Lichtensteiger, Bowling Green
That's almost as long as Saltalamacchia. What? It's exactly as long as Saltalamacchia? We can only hope that similar uniform-related hilarity ensues.
Honorable Mention: RB Harvey "Scooter McDougle Jr., Toledo
Mr. McDougle would have pushed Mr. Green-Ellis for the RB position were he considered any sort of legitimate prospect for the draft - but, somehow, most NFL teams don't look highly upon 5'8", 190-lb RBs with 4.6 speed who have been accused of point shaving. Still a great name, though.

06 March 2008

Let the eulogies, um, continue

Brett Favre will be talking today at 12:30 PM. As ESPN counts down to his press conference, they're talking about the many things that made him a great quarterback.

But - really - they've been doing that for years. What makes this career retrospective any different from any monday night game or sunday night game or sunday afternoon game that Favre has played in the last five years?

The ESPN personalities - currently, Schlereth, Wingo, and Darren Woodson - are talking about Favre's arm, his competitiveness, his inventiveness, and his sense of fun, among other topics. We've heard all this before, ESPN. Can't you give us anything new?

Oh, that's right - you've been fawning over the great Brett since practically before I was born. You don't have anything new to talk about, because you've talked about it all before. Way to go.

04 March 2008

Goodbye, Brett

According to ESPN.com, Brett Favre has decided to retire. If this is true, then my reactions are mixed.

Two seasons ago, I wrote a column in the school paper (exciting stuff, I know) arguing that Favre should retire, that his skills and supporting cast had eroded to the point that he was destroying his legacy.

Last season, Favre dramatically cut his interception rate, improved his completion rate, and took the Packers to the verge of the super bowl. Pundits marveled at his "return to form" - but then, in the NFC championship game, he reurned to his lack of form, throwing a truly awful interception to put his team out of the game.

On one hand, I'm sorry to see Favre leave the league; he's been one of the most prolific and personable quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. On the other - it's time, and by leaving now, Favre will leave "on his terms," with his legend intact.

This is, I think, a good decision. One that leaves me rather sad, but a good one nonetheless. Goodbye, Brett; it's been a fun ride.

01 March 2008

A Little Too Early

In this article, Don Banks breaks down the latest NFL free agent signings. When it comes to Jacksonville signing Cleo Lemon to back up David Garrard, Banks asks a question whose answer, he thinks, will determine whether the signing was a good one: “Is Cleo Lemon clearly better than Quinn Early?”

The answer to Banks' question is simple: If you’re looking for a backup quarterback, absolutely yes – Quinn Early was a wide receiver who retired in 1999! He had a distinguished career, from being drafted in the 3rd round in 1988 to compiling more than 400 receptions, but he wasn’t a quarterback.

Banks, of course, is thinking of Quinn Gray, the quarterback the Jaguars signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002, who performed admirably for the club last year while Garrard was injured.

Screenshot here.