Your Thoughts Exactly: September 2004

Thursday, September 30, 2004


The Year of Pat Tillman

As you may or may not know, Pat Tillman was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals, who quit football shortly after September 11th to join the armed forces. He was killed in action (probably by friendly fire) on April 23, 2004, and was hailed as a hero all over the country. One student from UMass wrote an article calling him "Rambo", and saying he wasn't a hero. There was backlash and he was forced to recant his article. Well, I'm not recanting (under duress) anything I write here.

I want to comment on a few things about this situation. Firstly, is Tillman a hero because he died or because of what he did? Honestly, I don't know. If he were still alive, they wouldn't be dedicating this NFL season in his honor. On the other hand, there was a good amount of fuss about him when he decided to quit. Secondly, why Tillman and not the other members of the Army Rangers?

I won't question that Pat Tillman had dedication and faith in what he believed in. That much is evident; not many people could/would give up millions of dollars for what they believed in. But I do question his actual beliefs. I don't know what he thought would come out of joining the Army Rangers, whether he thought it would be more fulfilling, or whether he thought that he was contributing to world peace. I don't know.

But it is telling that he decided to give up all that money. It is an admirable quality to stand up for what you believe in. Thinking back to Patrick's last post, I do wonder whether I would have the courage to give up a rich, easy life, to defend what I believe in. But I don't think we should all be questioning our collective resolve because we all didn't join up after 9/11. After all, what most people want out of life is to live a peaceful, successful life, and I would think that many people would fight for that right. Was that right really taken away after 9/11? I don't think so, unless you believe that every murder does.

Secondly, what separates Pat Tillman from any other member of the military? I'm sure you could find thousands who believed what he believed. Why are these people not being celebrated? The answer is the money. They've put Tillman on a pedestal because he gave up all that money. But all that does is show us that he did, indeed, have strong convictions. But it doesn't automatically make him a hero. If you don't think all armed forces members are heroes, then why Tillman? If you do think they are, then why Pat Tillman above everyone else?

So all I'm saying is that you shouldn't admire Pat Tillman for his beliefs. Anyone can have beliefs; you can admire Tillman for his loyalty to those beliefs, for being able to give up a life that most people want, in order to defend what he believed in. So for that I respect him. He obviously thought that his beliefs were being violated in some way, and that the only way to get them back would be to fight. I'll admit, if I were making millions a year, I would probably allow some of my rights to be violated. But sometimes people need things to be taken away to fight for what is right, such as civil rights, and Dr. King, or Gandhi. So was he just thinking for the future? Or was he being a little too reactive? Didn't the fact that he was living well suggest to him that fighting wasn't necessarily the best use of his life? I really don't know.

But really, is joining the armed forces really that noble of a thing to do? That's a question I will tackle another day.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Band of Brothers thoughts

Several people recommended Band of Brothers to me, a ten episode mini-series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The miniseries covers the travails of Easy Company paratroopers from Normandy through to the end of the war. The subject matter hit home for me particularly because my grandfather was a paratrooper in World War II.

After watching the ten episodes in a span of a week, I came away with mixed feelings, and probably a lower overall impression then most of my friends. The series made me think, for that I give credit, and the actors and action scenes were all up to par. I had some problems with technical aspects of the series, such as choosing to shoot the entire series in what I term “blue light;” basically dimming any bright or vibrant color from the surroundings to give off the atmosphere of war. My main problem is with the overall theme of the series, which ties into several problems I have with the current representation of World War II within American society.

As I explained to my Singaporean roommate, World War II was the pinnacle of American history, where our soldiers bravely defeated the armies of evil, and we’ve been living off that ever since. “The sleeping giant,” awoke. First off let me say that Band of Brothers actually made me ashamed of myself and my generation at first. Most of the men in this company were of my age or younger, and for the most part they were volunteers. They were being sent into hell basically, as the series illustrations of Normandy and subsequent battles effectively illustrates, with long odds of making it out of the war with their lives or avoiding serious injury. As one of the soldiers put it, “you didn’t question it.” I could never see my generation stepping up to a challenge like that, and it made me embarrassed at first.

On the other hand, one of the reasons our generation isn’t so quick to jump to fight in the War on Terror is that we are smarter and more in tune with how the political system really works. Important events like the Vietnam War and Watergate illustrated the fallacy of politicians and the military. In the end, when you are a solider, you are a pawn, a statistic, a number who is at the mercy of men sitting comfortably in safe territory planning your next brush with death. In World War II, the “greater cause,” overrode any questioning among the soldiers in Band of Brothers, and in most World War II movies. Of course, read Catch-22 and you get a different idea what soldiers were thinking at that time, and what soldiers thought the army was really all about. Nowadays, we question the righteousness of the cause before we volunteer for war. Is this a bad thing? I don’t know.

My other major beef with Band of Brothers stems from the episode “Why we fight,” where the troop stumbles across a Nazi death camp, in order to graphically remind us of what the Germans were really all about. I took an entire year’s of high school history on the Holocaust, which was one of the best classes I ever took. We built up to the Holocaust slowly from different angles, trying to understand how Germany got to this point politically, but also learning that the Holocaust was not a one time event, but a pattern in human history, a part of human nature. It is an ugly truth about us homo sapiens; from time to time, we will slaughter other defenseless humans for some “difference.” It happened before the Holocaust, it’s happened since.

Rather than explore this, Spielberg and Hanks would rather throw in some emotionally wrenching footage to remind us of how bad the Germans were. Intellectually, that pisses me off, because it’s misrepresenting history. It plays into the propaganda side of World War II and American militarism that bothers me even today, that somehow our exertions of force are allowable because our ideals are right. What crap. War is war, and the Germans and Japanese that died in World War II had friends, mothers, wives, and children like all other humans. And yes the Holocaust was awful, and we should be studying it as an event to determine why it happened and how to keep it from happening again. But we shouldn’t be using it as a post-war justification for fighting the Nazis. The Holocaust had nothing to do with World War II, the war was fought for the same reason most wars are fought; territorial infringement by a group of nations trying to snag more land.

(Someday, I want someone to make a movie about dropping the A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two brutal hours of a ball of fire killing tens of thousands of people, destroying the entire city, followed by footage of people in hospitals dying of radiation poisoning. These were innocents as well, weren’t they? Shouldn’t their story be told?)

So what lesson did I take out of Band of Brothers? Not much, other than reaffirming my belief that war is terrible. I didn’t become emotionally attached to the characters, so I tended to view the mini-series as more propaganda then art. But the series made me realize that, the legacy of my grandparents generation is that they fought and defeated the fascists when they were my age. My parents' generation can perhaps point to the expansion of civil liberties as their legacy. What is to be our legacy? What can we do as youths to positively impact the future of the world? Or will we be known for doing nothing?

Band of Brothers: 3.5 stars out of 5

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Marmaniac's Guide to Sports Surfing

So you know something about sports, but you want to know more. Maybe friends laughed at you when you picked Marshall Faulk in the second round of your fantasy draft. No wait that was me. Crap. Anyways, I am here to help. The Internet can be a great way to find out more. But there is so much crap out there, 95 percent of which is total garbage, and much of which is becoming only available through “Premium Services.” You need someone to guide you to the right places to get the inside info. Well that’s why I’m here. In the countless hours of wasted free time of my formative, I have filtered through that garbage, like Luke Skywalker, Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca in the bowels of the Death Star. I am R2D2 here to save you...(ignore those last two sentences.)

Must Reads:
General: Sports Guy, especially since he got his own page, although he’s been spending too much time talking about sports movies I haven’t seen and less time on the Red Sox. Sports Guy, of course, was previously known as the Boston Sports Guy, and had a website dedicated to Boston and national sports. The Boston angle, combined with the fact that he could be cruder and relentlessly mock many on-air personalities like Joe Morgan, Joe Theismann and Tim McCarver, made this site one of the greatest ever. This site on ESPN gives Simmons more visibility and resources, and remains a must-read for Sports aficionados, (even if he spends half his columns talking about things like Entourage. That’s my main complaint about Sports Guy now, he writes good pop culture columns, but he needs to talk more about sports damn it!) He is pretty good at predicting NFL games, but don’t take him as gospel.

Baseball: Peter Gammons, who’s been doing it the longest, and he can get under your skin some times as he has his favorites (Derek Jeter, Scott Rolen, Brad Ausmus, Darren Erstad, to name a few) and his enemies, (Dan Duquette, Steinbrenner.) But he gets the best info.

Basketball: David Aldridge, who I heard he was getting axed, but if he keeps writing columns, I find him to be the most balanced while coming through as a huge fan in his articles. I never question his love for the game, and more importantly, his love for the current version of the game. Many basketball writers, such as The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan still write good columns, and understand the game, but their hearts are in a different era.

Football: Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated, has the best understanding of football as a team game and the game itself, both in historical knowledge (going back to the 30s,) and the intricacies of the less talked about but important parts of the game like line play and coverages. His style can be grating at first, but it has grown on me.

Other Sports: For Hockey, focus on the chats of commentators like Darren Pang and Bill Clement on For Tennis SI’s Jon Wertheim is the best non-major sports columnist on the web. Golf I don’t consider a sport so find your own damn coverage. Same with NASCAR. For Pro Wrestling, Dave Metzler’s Wrestling Observer site has the most dirt. Soccernet from ESPN is where I get my soccer coverage but there has to be something better out there. If someone knows post a comment. And of course, go to Fox Sports Australia for coverage of Australia’s loss in the ICC cricket match, the Rugby League semifinals, and of course the AFL Grand Final where Brisbane goes for their fourth straight title against Port Adelaide from the MCG.

Best Overall Coverage:

Baseball: This would have been Baseball Prospectus (which still has good stats pages), despite their annoying tendencies until the site became no longer free of charge, and I was going to give this award begrudgingly to Then I realized, since Rob Neyer became an Insider (meaning you have to pay) column, ESPN only has Gammons, Jayson Stark, who is slightly above average, and a whole slew of idiots like Joe Morgan, John Kruk, Rob Dibble, and Tom Candiotti. So I am giving this to CNNSI by default.

Football: Tough one, as there is better writing on football then any other sport, including Pro Football Weekly, a few writers on CBS Sportsline, and a whole gaggle of fantasy related sites. This is a tough battle between CNNSI and ESPN; CNNSI has Dr. Z and Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, which always contains good info although I think King is mediocre at analyzing the game, and talks too much about coffee and his daughter’s field hockey games. ESPN has more depth of coverage, including Scouts INC., Mel Kiper, and Chris Mortenson on Insider (damn ESPN making people pay,) and solid free coverage from Len Pasquarelli, John Clayton, and a whole bunch of ex-players who, unlike ESPN’s ex-baseball analysts, actually contribute worthwhile analysis rather than mindless drivel. I give it to ESPN.

Basketball: I’ve been trying to find alternative basketball sites; Hoops World isn’t bad. I think there is just generally less interest in the NBA then the NFL or baseball, which sucks for fans such as myself. ESPN wins this one as well; they have a solid stable of main analysts, Ric Bucher, Dr. Jack Ramsey, Mark Stein, and Aldridge. Throw in Sports Guy’s coverage and they are the clear winners. This is one area where I miss Ralph Wiley; I did write a column talking about how aggravating I could find him, but he did know his NBA. And he had interesting opinions, although I rarely agreed with him.

General: Even though it’s in the middle of a decline, is still the best place to go for overall coverage. There is more and more crap to weed through, and more and more of the good content is becoming “Insider.” right now is like The British Empire in the 1910s, The Beatles in 1968, or Wu-Tang Clan in 1997. They are too convinced of their own greatness, too concerned with conquering other realms other than sports to realize that they are moving away from what made them great in the first place. If CNNSI could get their act together, they could take them out, but they are another corporate monolith website that can’t seem to implement the necessary changes. Hopefully, some young, hungry website will build a following based around stats and analysis and kick ESPN’s butt.

5 websites/columnists to avoid at all costs (and I am not linking you to them):

ESPN’s Page 3: Ultimate confirmation of the downfall.
SI’s Rick Riley: No longer appears to like sports, yet keeps writing about them to gain his paycheck. Please, quit, for all of our sakes.
Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback: One of the mystery’s of life, how people can find this entertaining.
Charley Rosen’s NBA columns: Ok I’ll admit its fun to see who he is bashing, but the guy has such a clear agenda, and such an interest in protecting his buddy Phil Jackson, that he makes me sympathize with Shaq and Kobe, no easy task. He also comes across as the lamest kind of coach/columnist, the guy who just wasn’t good enough to make it as a professional player, is envious of all the players who are now millionaires, and takes it out on them by over-criticizing everyone’s flaws and calling players lazy. Charley needs to let go of his hate.
SI’s B. Duane Cross: I don’t know who this guy is, but he picked a Miami-Minnesota Super Bowl this year. Enough said.

So there you have it. Also I encourage contributions from the public, if you think I missed something or am horribly mistaken, post a comment!

Monday, September 20, 2004


Random thoughts on Clinton's "My Life

Bill Clinton wrote his bio “My Life,” without the assistance of a ghostwriter, which may or may not have been a good thing. Clinton is too enamored with himself, and attempts to bring you into his world in a way that can be a little grating. For example, he consistently refers to his mom as “Mother,” throughout the book, rather than “My Mom,” in an attempt to personalize his life story. Rather than personalize the story, his use of the term of endearment had me recalling “Psycho,” and the computer from “Alien.” He is a politician to the end, he uses his childhood to show how he shaped his political philosophy (racism in his hometown seems to have had the greatest effect on him,) and of course, has to remind everyone of how his policies were for the “people.” He also spends 400 pages on events before 1992, which is about 250 too many. He didn’t live an interesting enough life up until that point to make me care…

So I skipped ahead to the 92 election. I started there to compare 1992 Clinton to Kerry, to see what he did right to what Kerry may or may not be doing wrong. The greatest difference between the two campaigns is this: in 2004 Terrorism and the War on Terror is an issue big enough to override the domestic policy differences between the two candidates. Clinton was able to bash Bush Sr. on Deficits, Jobs, and Welfare and Healthcare (and other capitalized issues.) This is impressive because Bush Sr.’s record was no where near as bad as his son’s. Clinton was also greatly aided by Perot stealing votes from Bush.

Then there are about 500 pages of Clinton as President. What did I garner from this? Well there was a general distinction between the way Clinton governed and the way Bush does that shows a difference in philosophies. Clinton tried to push many little accomplishments, especially after the Republicans came into office in 1994. Normalize relations with Vietnam. Put more police on the streets. Pushing for peace in the Balkans and Middle East. Clinton’s government and policy is a lesson in subtlety; an attempt to push the country in the right direction step by step based on smart political and economic philosophy; balancing the budget and saving money, getting people off welfare, encouraging free trade, protecting civil liberties. Bush goes for the grand and wordy: “The Tax Cut,” “No Child Left Behind,” “The War on Terror,” “The PATRIOT Act.” Creating a false sense of heroic accomplishment is the only way to keep himself in power, and that’s what his administration concentrates on. That and protecting their buddies.

Whoops sorry, that degraded into a partisan rant awfully fast. Let’s get to the most important part of Clinton’s legacy: The Sex. Who was he banging and when? Well this book isn’t the tell-all steam-fest I was hoping for. Too bad. Bill admits he and Gennifer Flower had an “inappropriate encounter,” in the 1970s (he sneaks that in there after bashing her character for two pages, which some will find repulsively sleazy, and I find hilarious.) As for Monica? Well during the government shutdown of 1995, Bill notes that there weren’t a lot of people around, since they had been sent home. Bill was frustrated by those nasty Republicans, his falling polls, and the shutdown. So as Dave Chappelle pointed out, “he did what busy men do, he fucked who was close to him.”

Ahhhhhh…but they didn’t fuck. Bill say they engaged in a “relationship” for six months in the winter of 95-96. So let me get this straight, he was getting his dick sucked without reciprocating in any way for six freakin months? That’s the most impressive act of oral sex dominance since a certain…no wait cant offend the readership.

Clinton really doesn’t like Ken Starr and the right-wing Republicans, and for good reason. The witch hunt against him and Hilary was pretty awful and ridiculous. However, he did prove that if you can take the heat and stick to your gunz, you can end up winning even against the most powerfully wealthy. That’s why I admire Clinton. I admire Hilary even more, first for the crap she had to take over the sex scandal, second over the crap she has to take for being an “empowered woman,” which is simply men showing their fear of her. Utterly pathetic. She comes across as the hero of this book.

Clinton’s biggest regret is not finishing the Middle East Peace Process, which was a lot closer than most of us realized back then. Israel had peace deals in place with both Syria and the PLO, probably the two most important dominoes to be knocked down. Looking at the area today it’s damn hard to imagine that. If anything, he proved that there was a peaceful solution to the Middle East turmoil, which is not something the current administration seems willing to consider. In the end, the failure to seal the deal comes down to some political failings by Israeli leaders, and some hubris from the ruler of Syria at the time, President Assad, and, most importantly, the failure of Yasser Arafat to suck it up and accept the deal. He just didn’t want it bad enough. He could have gone down in history as a peacemaker, despite his past. But he just couldn’t seal the deal. Sad, when you consider the quagmire that the Middle East has become in just a few years.

On other foreign policy measures, I noticed that Clinton harps on the fact that terrorism and Al Qaeda became a much greater concern throughout the presidency; evidently several attacks were thwarted throughout Clinton’s career, including several on New Year’s Eve 2000, and they knew there were terrorist cells in North America. In fact, the one discussion Clinton had with W Bush, he says he told him that Bush’s greatest foreign policy challenge would be dealing with Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, and global terrorism, while Bush was more concerned about Iraq and Russia. Clinton’s anti-terror strategy was to try and kill Bin Laden with cruise missiles (remember there were some attacks in 1998 on supposed Al Qaeda bases,) but faced the challenge of dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan, who at the time was training militants. Overall I was impressed with Clinton as a statesmen; really much of the President’s job as a leader is to meet with various foreign leaders and push them in the right direction on various issues to keep the global community safe. Clinton did a good job building a relationship with Yeltsin and Putin, being buddies with all the European leaders, and not neglecting South America or Africa. Has Bush done this? You be the judge

There are some great quotes throughout the book, both from Clinton himself, from his aides, and that Clinton uses to inspire himself. In a conversation with Dick Armey in 1995, Armey threatens to shut down the government and end Clinton’s presidency if he won’t pass the Republican budget. Clinton says “I don’t care if my polls go down to 5 percent, I’m not cutting these programs.” Funny stuff. Clinton is inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Do not give them permission.” I wrote that one down.

The book is overly long, and many people find Clinton a creep. But if you like the man, or you are interested in how politics works, and what a President actually does, this book is incredibly revealing. 81/100

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Watch Mark Bellhorn bat? I'd rather stick plastic forks in my eyes

Mark Bellhorn is the consummate sabrmetric player: he is only batting .263, but 78 walks has led his OBP to be .373. Combine that with a .450 slugging percentage and you got yourself a 800 plus OPS second baseman. Other characteristics of Bellhorn’s game fit the sabrmetric underrated ballplayer profile. He makes his share of errors and isn’t the greatest at turning the double play, but zone ratings show he isn’t that bad a defensive player. He strikes out a ton, 148 times, which draws the ire of the common fan, while the statistical crowd hollers that strikeouts don’t matter; they are just the same as a Ball-in-Play out unless there is a man on third with less than two outs, and strikeouts keep Bellhorn from hitting into double plays.

Here is my problem with Bellhorn; I agree that he has tailored his game around exploiting his one strength; reading pitches for balls and strikes, in order to maximize his value as a player. But I hate watching him play. I believe that his style of play, and that of players like Scott Hatteberg whom the statisticians cream over, is antithetical to the originally philosophy of baseball, where the goal of the batter was to “get a hit.” A walk used to be viewed as a penalty to a pitcher for being wild. Over time, it was realized that a more effective way to score runs was to concentrate on “getting on base,” as opposed to just “getting a hit,” thus for players like Bellhorn, they are more effective if they stand at the plate, bat on shoulder, hoping their plate discipline can lead to them getting a high amount of walks and thus increasing their value as players. Sure that might mean he strikes out looking 50-75 times a year, but the extra walks are worth the frustrating At Bats.

Well as a fan, let me say, watching these players, sucks. When I come back from a game at Fenway, I never say to myself, “Man, I may have paid 60 dollars for a seat I can’t fit into, for the privilege of having a fucking pole blocking my view of the pitcher’s mound, but at least I got to see Mark Bellhorn go 0 for 2 with 2 walks! I love baseball!” I want to see action. I want to see hits, and stolen bases, and sac bunts because they are exciting plays, and I want to be entertained. If I want to watch some dope stand at the plate and watch the ball go buy, I’ll watch cricket. I respect the walk when a pitcher is afraid of a players hitting ability, a la Bonds or Manny, or when a pitcher just can’t throw strikes. But I can’t respect the Bellhorn bat-on-the-shoulder strategy as a fan. I can understand why it’s effective, and why Bellhorn chooses to do it, and why teams like the Red Sox and A’s look for those kinds of players (because they believe them to be undervalued by the league in general, although that will change in the next 3-5 years.) But it lessens my enjoyment of the game.

So what can be done about this? Nothing. These players and teams are exploiting the rules of baseball. In the NBA, they would change the rules to prevent it, like they do every two years or so to appeal to the latest media trend (For the love of God they had better not put in the trapezoidal key or move the three point line in response to the U.S.’ Olympic loss,) but the MLB never changes their rules; they are too obsessed with protecting their “national pastime” image. Over time, players like Bellhorn will be valued more accurately throughout the market for their production, and make more money and become more in demand. So there will only be more and more players like him on teams. Which sucks for me as a fan. But I can’t see any way to stop it…unless pitchers started beaning players like Bellhorn for being giant vaginas. Every time he works a 3-1 count on borderline pitches, just hit him in the arm. If Bellhorn really wants to get on base that bad, he won’t mind.

Monday, September 13, 2004


fun with numbers (johan santana edition)

14-2, 144.1/3 innings, 172 k, 25 bb, 66 hits, 1.39 era, 0.64 whip, .155 ba against, 10.88 k/9, 6.88 k/bb.

so everyone has been talking about johan santana's amazing second half - focusing on his last 10 starts. but he has been better than that for longer than that. the numbers above date back to june 9, spanning santana's last 18 starts. the guy has been untouchable. if he keeps this up for, oh, i don't know - say 5 more years, he could be the next Sandy Koufax

I haven't computed his ops against from his last 18 starts, and probably won't have time to. maybe i'll put that up, but if any of you have some free time and want to post it in the comments, it would be great to see those numbers. for now, i'll just post his season long ops numbers: .251/.328/.579. pretty darn good, and considering in his last 18 he has dropped his era from 5.51 to 2.85, those numbers are going to be considerably lower.

Edit, 9/14/04, 11:38pm: Santana tossed another gem tonight, beating the white sox on 7 innings of work, allowing just 2 hits, 1 walk, and no runs, while striking out 7, all on 88 pitches.

Friday, September 10, 2004


Constant Vigilance: Bring back the I-formation

During the Pats-Colts Game, John Madden made this comment: “The Patriots on both offense and defense, have the philosophy that they are going to try and do the opposite of what you think they are going to do.” I admit,our offense played pretty well: 27 points, 335 passing yards for Brady, 86 rushing yards for Dillon. However, I believe we wasted some opportunities to score even more points. For example, the first drive down the field, we spent the entire possession in a 5 wide no-huddle set. This works very well for moving down the field in large chunks; however the effectiveness of this offense drops off once you get inside the red zone. With no one in the backfield, there is no threat of the run. With a limited field, there is no need to guard the deep pass. Thus on a basic level, the options of the offense are restricted. Of course, Weis didn’t change the offense, it’s as if he had decided “the whole first drive we are going to stay in this formation, no matter the circumstances.” Sure we got a field goal, but we had Indy on the ropes and failed to capitalize.
I read an interview with Bill Walsh before the season started, and he commented that his main complaint about trends in offensive design in the league was general negligence of the traditional Pro Form offense: one RB, one FB, one TE, and 2 WRs. He noted how quick coaches were to bring in their third and fourth wide receivers, even on first down, and how they neglected how powerful a weapon a Tight End could be. He also bemoaned the loss of the traditional Tom Rathman style fullback; a player who could run in short yardage, block, and catch 40-50 passes out of the backfield.
Certainly the Patriots have constructed their offense in this multi-wide/deception mode. But I believe this becomes an Achilles Heel for us in certain situations that demand a traditional offense: specifically goaline situations and end-of-the-game situations. Why, with two minutes left in the game, did we have Brady rolling out on third down, after nearly fumbling the ball on an elaborate play action exchange on second down? Because our offensive mentality in these situations is to spread the field, and hope we can complete a 15 yard pass for the first down. Even last year, when we had no running game, this irked me. This year, with Corey Dillon on the team, there are no excuses. We got away with poor clock management this game, but our luck can’t last forever.
So Charlie Weis, if you read this blog, I urge you to follow Bill Walsh’ advice. Simplify. Who cares if the defense knows what’s coming? Give the offense a chance to prove that even if they know what’s coming, they can’t be stopped.


it's been such a long time

I have been scolded for not posting much lately - deservedly, I admit. So while a more cohesive post is in the works, I shall share a few things.

The Royals scored 26 runs in two games yesterday. They also scored 0 in the second game. They did this with only 1 home run. This is the kind of bit that use to intrigue me; now it simply scares me because this is the type of game that inspires confidence in Bill Bavasi and the Bavasi Plan - sacrifice power and defense for contact!! Look what contact can do!! It can put 13 men in a row on base!! It can score you 26 runs!! Quick, someone find out if Dee Brown and Abraham Nunez are free agents this year!! We still have draft picks to forfeit!! (right, Howard?)

I awakened myself laughing this morning. Why was I laughing, you ask? I was dreaming about the NFL. I was watching the Cowboys play (though it was against the Bills and not the Vikings) and Vinny Testeverde got hurt, and in came a backup who is not a real person, but in my dream I knew he was about 52 years old an terrible. Then he got hurt, and in came Boomer Esiason - only it was Boomer Esiason throwing right handed. Later on ESPN, Chris Berman was trying to explain what happened, saying, while suppressing a chuckle, "I guess that's what happens when you have to go to your third string quarterback and you just cut Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson," while right next to him Tom Jackson was laughing hysterically, pretty much coming out of his chair and rolling around on the desk. I was laughing too, and that was when I awoke to my own laughter. This, of course, has nothing to do with me picking Minnesota in my survival league this week only because they are playing against Vinny.

On the bus this morning I was reading the magazine of the guy next to me (yes, I do that. If you've got a problem, don't bring reading material onto the bus). I noticed the introductory sentence to an article that read:

"Think your business software is all that and a bag of microchips?"

Now, I am a huge supporter of The Pun, but you've got to draw the line somewhere, right folks? At least the next line was genuinely funny, even though I doubt it was intended to be: "Well, you're wrong."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Your Thoughts Exactly NFC Preview!!

NFL season is almost upon us! And in the true spirit of Your Thoughts Exactly, we're here to tell you what to think about all the NFL teams so you don't have to! Meticulously researched, and with no bias whatsoever, I present the NFC Preview!

NFC North:

Da Bears! Who on earth can predict what the Bears are going to do this season? Me. The answer is me. The Bears have new coaches, a new QB, a new running back, a new defensive scheme, a new pass-rush specialist, and a new guard. And a lot of injuries. Well, the Bears’ defense is middling at best. Adewale Ogunleye should help get a few sacks for a defense that got the fewest in the league. But will the Cover 2 help? I, for one, have never been a fan of the Cover 2. I think it only worked for Tampa because of their incredible talent. But I think it does help hide the deficiencies of a unit that has a lot, especially with Lovie Smith’s emphasis on turnovers. I think the Cover 2 helps beat bad teams and doesn’t work against good teams. But that’s just the defense. Rex Grossman is directing the offense, and Thomas Jones will be the starter, usurping Anthony Thomas, who I feel never got a fair shake with the crumbling O-line and his injury. Remember, he was Offensive Rookie of the Year! But oh well. Grossman has a lot to learn, so it’s probably good that he’ll be opening the year against the Lions. But I think this team can go on a tear early, sort of like the Vikings last year, and limp into the playoffs. I say, 11-5. (Do I really think this? No, but I made a prediction a long time ago and I can pretend for at least 4 more days.)

Will this be the year that they return to the playoffs? Will this be the year that Joey Harrington proves he isn’t a bust? The Lions were really busy in the off-season. Two of their bigger additions- Damien Woody from the Patriots and Fernando Bryant from the Jags will probably help them. Really, signing anybody to this team would help them as they were terrible. But there are still big question marks at running back and QB. If Kevin Jones performs adequately and Roy Williams performs up to a little of the hype, Harrington should have a pretty good offense around him. As for defense, the Lions weren’t that bad last year. Fernando Bryant and Brock Marion will help their secondary, and their front seven should perform similarly. So look for a 6-10 finish.

The end of the run for the Packers is near. You still have Brett Favre and Ahman Green, two incredibly potent offensive threats. But the Packers had already been overachieving most of last year. They never should have made the playoffs, being saved by a miracle Arizona team, and they got incredibly lucky and incredibly unlucky in their playoff games. Well, the defense hasn’t gotten much better, and Mike McKenzie (star CB of the wild card game) is continuing to hold out, and the two sides aren’t really getting any closer to a deal. This team should continue to put up points in bunches, but with Favre getting older and throwing picks left and right, this team is going to have trouble. Obviously Ahman is worth a few wins as well. Look for 7-9.

Everyone’s preseason favorite to win the NFC north, and why not? They underachieved last year, made some nice additions in the offseason (CB Antoine Winfield, former Bear WR Marcus Robinson), and basically have everyone important coming back. And who’s important? Daunte and Randy. Well, the word out of training camp is that Randy is going to be unstoppable with the new illegal contact rules. Sure, sure. But Moss always had the talent to be the absolute best receiver in the NFL. I think he’ll be better, but unless he’s learned a new focus that escaped him earlier in his career, he’ll still have lapses of concentration. Look for him to have only slightly better numbers over his career average. As for the defense? Well, Winfield will help, and their secondary was none too good last year. But the real question is, why did they totally fall apart in the last half of 2003? Have they fixed it? Well, I still see this defense as prone to being lit up on any given Sunday, and you can’t field a great team just based on offense. 10-6.

NFC South:

The Panthers lost a bunch of players on their defensive unit, but at least all of their big front four are still there. But losing two corners, a linebacker, and a few starters off the o-line spells disaster to me, especially when your team was the luckiest team of 2003. They won a game off a blocked extra point! I mean, come on. Jake Delhomme is a good starter in this league and Stephen Davis will always be a threat too, but without a lot of luck and needing a little time for their new O-line to come together, I think they’ll go into an early tail-spin and not quite recover. I say 6-10.

Tampa has totally rebuilt this team; almost a completely new O-line is in the works (I think Kenyatta Walker is the only guy returning), the Keyshawn for Joey Galloway trade, losing Sapp to the Raiders, and getting Charlie Garner. Yet, Brad Johnson is still running the show. You can’t see anything but mediocrity out of this team. Yeah, they still have Derrick Brooks, McFarland, and Ronde Barber, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to have the same impact. And Jon Gruden doesn’t seem like he is going to do anything different than last year, just hoping that this talent change alone will be enough to get them back to the playoffs. I don’t think so, 7-9 again for you guys.

This team also seems like a team on the verge of breaking out. Here we have a team that’s returning almost everybody from the 2003 campaign, and with Deuce McAllister poised to make the leap, I think they can too. Is their defense any better with the addition of Brian Young to the D-line? Probably not, and if that’s your best addition, you probably have faith in your defense. Well, it was pretty good last year, so maybe that’s not so misplaced. It just needs a little consistency. And coupled with the other teams in this division, I think the Saints can make the playoffs. Deuce can rush for 1500 easily, and if Aaron Brooks can do what he did last year, they should be better. This was a team that was plagued with inconsistency, which you could blame Haslett for. But if they keep it up, 10-6.

Michael Vick, ladies and gentlemen! He’s back, and with a revamped defense! And by revamped, I mean even worse. They lost Ray Buchanan to the raiders, Juran Bolden to the Jaguars, and drafted DeAngelo Hall, who promptly got hurt and will probably miss the opener. Plus, he’s a rookie, so it’s no good pinning your hopes on a newcomer. But they got Aaron Beasley, a decent nickel back, but probably not good enough to turn around this team. And Jim Mora Jr. is now in charge, after Dan Reeves had an ugly exit last year. Can you believe that they actually managed 5 wins? I chalk it up to teams totally underestimating them. Yeah, Vick returned to win 3 out of the last 4, but for some reason I can’t seem to see him lasting through a whole season. He’s already pulled a hamstring in the preseason. If he loses confidence in his body, he can’t possibly be as good. But I’m rooting for him to stay healthy, because if he does, he’s a one man wrecking crew. The problem is, the whole defense is revamped and it will take them some time to jell. Vick hasn’t looked sharp in the preseason, but apparently is not a fan of it. They certainly didn’t give him much help in terms of receiving, because Dez White is not the answer at No. 2, and Peerless Price may not even be the answer at No. 1. Oh well, if Vick stays healthy, I say 9-7.

NFC West:

Ah, the Seahawks. They deserved to beat those Packers, if only because Senor Hasselbeck was bold enough to announce to the entire Lambeau crowd that they were going to take the ball and win. But seriously, this team seems to have it all. They lost their DTs, but made up for it slightly by getting Wistrom from the Rams and drafting Tubbs in the first round. D-tackle is a mysterious position anyway, what with 385-pound Ted Washington making 5 tackles but absolutely dominating the season. The real story here is the solidity at all the positions. Hasselbeck, who could easily be top 5 quarterbacks this year, Shaun Alexander, ditto for halfbacks, and their receiving corps, which boasts the good 1-2 punch of Jackson and Robinson. Their O-line returns most of its starters as well. On the defensive side, they lost Shaun Springs but made up for it with Bobby Taylor, and should be at least consistent (let’s not count the 44-41 debacle at Baltimore) like they were last year, albeit with the aforementioned question marks at D-line. Anyway, take a look at the rest of the division and you’ll see why it’s clear this team is going to go 13-3.

It’s difficult to say how the Rams will do this year. They’ve lost a bunch of players on defense, Grant Wistrom, Kim Herring, and Brian Young. And Kyle Turley is out for the season. Ok, so only Wistrom is that important, but they lost him within the division. And Marshall Faulk is a year older, but he’s still a premier back, and worth a few wins. Marc Bulger still has Mike Martz’s full confidence, but should he really? With Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, obviously, it’s hard not to be decent, but it sure seems like the Rams are on their way out. I’d say this season lies on Martz’s shoulders, but he’s always been considered an offensive specialist, not a game management one. So, can they win without a beefed-up defense? Will the loss of Lovie Smith really hurt them that much? Well, Smith’s dedication to getting turnovers seemed to dominate their philosophy, so much so that it seemed to get in their way of playing consistent defense. Perhaps they will be a little more ‘normal’ this year, but I can’t see it getting them past 9-7.

How can this team continue to be so bad? Josh McCown is your starting QB, you have a bunch of no-name RBs, and two up and coming wideouts. But what good are Fitzgerald and Boldin going to be if McCown can’t get them the ball? Maybe they were counting on the illegal contact penalty to be more strict this year, and McCown to just throw the ball up there and have the receivers get the call. They didn’t do much to help their defense, which was one of the league’s worst last year, and so I can’t seem them improving much past their 4-12 record. Denny Green has inherited a real loser here. What else can you say about this team? I just don’t know. 6-10, if only because 1) they showed a little fire at the end of last year, and 2) they get to play:

Tim Rattay! Kevan Barlow! Rashaun Woods! These are names to strike fear into your opposition! They lost Derrick Deese, one of their only solid O-linemen, and are left with pretty green people left. The defense returns most of its starters, and they were average last year, but you just can’t win if you don’t score. Who on earth will they get the ball to on offense? Who knows? They’ll be lucky to score 3 points a game, especially with Todd Peterson kicking. Look for them to have a lot of 3 and outs, especially for the first half of the season. Will they learn to play together better later in the season? Maybe, but I’m predicting a 0-8 start and a 2-14 finish.

NFC East:

My sleeper pick of the season. They had a lot of problems last year, but they should be able to get things done on both sides of the ball. The team is vastly changed, with people flying in and off the roster like crazy. Shockey is back, Kurt Warner is out to prove something, they’ve made some good additions to both the O-line and D-line, and even Ron Dayne is trying to resurrect the days of Thunder and Lighting. Now only if they had better receivers than Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer. But on defense, they’ve added DT Norman Hand, CB Terry Cousin, and LB Carlos Emmons. All solid pick-ups, (though they lost people at those same positions). But I believe this team underachieved like crazy last year. And though it might take a few games to get settled, I think the playoffs are not out of the question at 10-6.

Man, this team was busy in the off-season as well. Jevon Kearse, Hugh Douglas, and of course, Terrell Owens. The biggest knock on Philly for the longest time was that they had no receivers. Well Donovan, you have no more excuses on the offensive side of the ball. Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter will easily fill in Duce Staley’s absence, as Duce was nothing but an average back, and the rest we’ll have to leave up to Donovan and T.O. But T.O. is incredibly frustrating: will he stay focused in Philly or will the rabid fans and media get to him? Who knows? On the defensive side, however, they lost both their starting corners, Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. Many Philadelphians believe that they had started to lose a step and were getting too old to play. Well, I hope your other five corners (aged 25, 22, 23, 21, 23) are the answer. It’ll take a few games as well for Philly’s secondary to jell, but they’ll be helped by the fact that Kearse and Douglas will be rushing the passer. But it’ll be a step backward before it’s a step forward. Look for 11-5.

I see one glaring problem here. Their starting QB is Vinny Testaverde. I think Parcells has been drinking again, and thinks it’s 2000 again. Sorry, but Vinny is not the solution at QB. But at least they released both QC and Chad Hutchinson. And Eddie George is not the solution at halfback. Keyshawn for Galloway is a slight upgrade, but again, Vinny won’t be able to find him. Vinny is 40 years old! And yes, the defense could be solid again, but probably not. For being the lowest scoring defense, they really could use a lot of improvement. I think both sides of the ball will be significantly worse this year. And by the way, it’s Vinny Testaverde! Blech! 5-11.

How can we still have a team called the Redskins? I don’t understand this? And what’s with the Cleveland Indians’ logo, Chief Wahoo? Does it get any more racist? Um, ok, back to the topic.
So Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis are the big names in D.C., and for good reason. If Clinton really is as good as Madden 2005 says he is, they’re in for a treat. If he’s only as good as Denver thinks he is, then it might not be pretty. But the team upgraded quite a few positions. Even CB wasn’t too bad a downgrade as they were able to fill in Champ’s hole with Shaun Springs and Walt Harris. Other big names signed were DT Cornelius Griffin and LB Marcus Washington, both solid Madden ’05 players as well! I think Redskins management has been using it as a scouting tool. And I have to give credit to that. So I think they’ll be solid this year, if Joe Gibbs hasn’t lost a step. 10-6.

So, Playoffs:
Divisional Winners:
Seahawks (Bye)
Eagles (Bye)

Wild Card:

Bears vs. Redskins, Redskins win at Soldier Field, 34-14
Vikings vs. Saints, Saints win at Superdome, 24-10

Redskins vs. Seahawks, Seahawks win at Qwest Field, 35-31.
Saints vs. Eagles, Eagles win at the Linc, 31-0.
NFC Championship:
Yes, the Seahawks beat the Eagles again, causing mass suicide in Philly, on a last second field goal, 24-23.

Disclaimers: I have the NFC winning 132 games, but you should realize that the bears are actually going to go 5-11, so that’s actually like the NFC winning 126 games.

To find out who those lovable Seahawks are going to play in the Super Bowl, read further down to see Marmaniac's Crazy Wavy AFC Predictions!

Monday, September 06, 2004


Perfect Prognostication From the Mind of Marmaniac: The AFC Preview

Oh hurrah, hurrah, the NFL is finally here. But wait, I’m stranded on a desert island 10 time zones away. And you wouldn’t believe this, but in other parts of the world, people just don’t care about the National Football League, or gridiron, as they call it in these parts. They don’t even have games on free-to-air television! And since cable TV is excessively expensive, it looks like I won’t be seeing too many games. Alas, alas, I guess I still have the AFL Grand Final to cheer me up. Blech. You know it’s bad when I am considering taking my spring break trip to Hawaii just to get in two Sundays of NFL action.

Ok lamenting aside, let’s analyze the AFC prognosis for the 2004 season. Since gambling is all I have left, there will be a heavy emphasis on who will do well versus the spreads, and such.

AFC East

New England: The four greatest Patriots seasons of my lifetime: 1994, 1996, 2001, and 2003, all began with losses. In fact, in years where we have started off hot and looked like world beaters (1997, 2002) the season has ended in disappointment. So I should no doubt be rooting for the Pats to lose to the Colts on Thursday no? Well we won’t, but that has more to do with the Colts then us. Even when we sucked in 99 and 00, we still beat the Colts. Looking at the schedule, I am reminded of the Pats incredible success at home last year, and can’t really see anyone coming in to the Razor and beating us. 7-1 at home at the worst. We have some tough and very losable road games, like at St. Louis and at Kansas City. But overall the team should be solid. We tanked in 2002 because we couldn’t stop the run for about a month straight, leading to 5 consecutive losses where Tomlinson and Ahman Green, etc. just ran all over us. The defense should be solid again this year. The only question mark is the o-line, where we lost Damien Woody to Detroit. You can’t win against good teams with no pass protection…I hope Bellychick and crew know what they’re doing

Record: 12-4 Versus the Spread: The Pats traditionally get no love from Vegas, which was key to my success in Pro Football Pick Em last year. Take them the first week versus the Colts, they’ll probably be favored by 3.5 or less. As the season moves on, I wouldn’t bet on them too much, because, especially if they start hot, they’ll be getting numbers way to big. Even last year when we went 14-2 we didn’t blow too many teams out. After the KC road game, pick them every week. We usually finish strong.

New Jersey Jets: Why is Herman Edwards still coaching? I mean I don’t think he necessarily should have been fired last year, he won the division in 2002 and Pennington was hurt last year, but it seems like no one has ever challenged his authority or coaching credentials. He has a very authoritative tone, which means the journalists are likely afraid of him. If the Jets don’t compete this year, his time may be up. And compete they shall. Why? Because their schedule is incredibly easy, especially at the beginning of the year. That and Pennington is back. However, the schedule karma bites them in December, as the Jets will be this year’s victim of the dreaded End-of-season-collapse. Last four games are at Pitt, Seattle and New England at home and at St. Louis.

Record: 8-8, I really think the Jets will start the year hot, which will mean by mid-October, they’ll be favored by much more than they should be. Stab them in the back in around week 7, when they travel up to Foxboro.

Buffalo: Sportswriters really like Buffalo for some reason, friendly ownership perhaps? Or maybe Buffalo fits their idea of the archetypal football town; cold weather, rabid-fan base, the home of Buffalo wings. Because of this, the Bills always get overrated coming into the season. Well they lost their best cornerback, but more importantly, they didn’t do enough in the off-season to ensure Bledsoe gets time to pass. 40 sacks plus and a QB rating under 80 equals cutting block for Drew. He should go play somewhere warm next year...(Dallas, Miami?)

Record: 7-9, The Bills won’t start the year hot at all; I’d pick the Jags over them in week one even at home. You may be able to ride them in about weeks 8-12, when they get some attractive home games, but the schedule maker has not been kind; the only teams that visit in the dead-cold of December are Pittsburgh and Cleveland, both cold weather teams in their own right.

Miami: Everyone is down on the Dolphins, with Ricky Williams retiring and David Boston going out for the year. Now I love David Boston, mostly due to his spot on my fantasy team in 2001 (the one year he lived up to his potential,) and several Pro Bowl-caliber seasons in Madden 2003. However, lets be honest, it’s much more likely he was going to catch 40 balls as opposed to 100. So you can’t think of Miami as having lost a Pro Bowl receiver. That said, the loss of Ricky hurts big. Sure he may have had three yards a carry last year, but that’s because defenses were playing nine guys in the box since they knew Jay Fiedler couldn’t beat them. And he still can’t, especially with Travis Minor now the primary back. If the aging defense collapses, with Ogunleye gone and the secondary showing signs last year, then Miami will be on the clock.

Record: 6-10, Miami always starts hot and collapses. Why? Because it’s tough to play in Miami in September. You always see the opposition reaching for the oxygen tank on the sidelines. Considering how much crap has been piled on them this offseason, the Fins will probably be huge underdogs at the beginning, so perhaps some money can be made if you think they will start hot. That said, bet big against them every game after Thanksgiving.

AFC North

Cincinnati- That’s right. You know there is going to be some new blood in the playoffs, that’s why it’s dumb for all these damn publications to be picking the same teams as last year. That’s not the way the season’s going to work. Plus picking the Bengals isn’t really that big of a leap, they are young and up and coming, and a win away from the playoffs last year. I figure they struggle early, and Palmer will put it together and lead them to glory, or they will struggle early, and Kitna will reclaim the starting QB spot and lead them to glory. Either way we are looking at their first division title since 1988

Record: 10-6. Look for the Bengals to take advantage of an easy early schedule, then struggle, allowing you to make some money betting against them. But once they seemingly bottom out after week 8, the schedule eases up a bit and you can start taking advantage of some good spreads.

Baltimore: Deion is returning? I hope he gets knocked on his ass several times. It aint 1994 anymore. I see him getting carted off after a vicious Hines Ward block in week 2. Also, he can’t play QB. Or WR (even though he tried.) And he isn’t a licensed attorney, which is what Jamal Lewis will need around week 8. Good defense yes, but this team isn’t a Super Bowl contender.

Record: 9-7 Their defense will be good enough to hold games against bad teams, and win most games at home, probably comfortably. I’d bet against them in games like, at home vs. KC or at Philly

Pittsburgh: I’m not buying the supposed Jerome Bettis resurgence. I don’t think Duce Staley can get through the year as the number one back. I think Tommy Maddox may be looking to get back to the XFL after this season. All in all they are a year away from returning to the playoffs long-term. The more interesting question is whether Cowher will be around after the year is done.

Record: 7-9. I think this will be one of those up and down teams that can beat anyone and lose to anyone, and they will frustrate the hell out of me in Pick Em. Stay away.

Cleveland: Hopefully Kellen Winslow will tear it up, since I have him on my fantasy team. However, you don’t often hear teams say “man that new Tight End we got made all the difference,” at the end of the year. I like Jeff Garcia as a player, and appreciate that he made himself into a Pro Bowler by sticking with the game. I also think Terrell Owens is a giant ass, especially for calling Garcia gay in Playboy. I used to love TO, but that’s the last straw. Plus, how can you get away with calling someone gay when you have pictures like this on your own damn website? Ok I’ve been warned by the political incorrectness police that I’ve gone overboard. Self-righteous Asians.

Record: 4-12. One of my favorite “NFL Films” productions, is on I believe the 2000 Steelers, where they go into great detail about how the team started 5-2, taking like 24 of the show’s 25 minutes, and then ending with “unfortunately, the Steelers lost their next 7 games, taking them out of playoff contention.” I believe the 2004 Browns edition will focus on games 5-9 exclusively.

AFC South:

Jacksonville: Sure they’ve been everyone’s sleeper since closing strong last year. And sure, I may be influenced by having a strange infatuation for Byron Leftwich, if only because I envy his name. But there are some other strong signs. First, Fred Taylor has played in 32 consecutive games. Second, they have good young d tackles, good young LBs, with a young, defensive-minded coach. Sounds like Carolina last year to me. What are some problems that could keep them from being this years Panthers? Well they signed Dewayne Washington to play CB, never a good sign. And unless Reggie Williams is better than his preseason shows, Leftwich may be searching for targets again.

Record: 11-5. The sleeper gambling pick to start off the season, although Vegas started catching on at the end of last year. Don’t be afraid to pick them early, but be aware of overhype,

Tennessee: I originally was going to have them collapsing, and they may yet if McNair goes down. Losing Eddie George probably won’t matter that much, although he fit better for them then he will in Dallas; he fit into the punishing, physical mentality of the team, epitomized by Fisher and McNair. Speaking of those two, they are still around, and nothing keeps a team afloat like a great coach and a great QB. I doubt they will replicate last year’s success, they’ve lost too many good players on both sides of the ball. It will be a travesty if McNair never wins a ring with the Titans, surely both he and the fans deserve one, as they probably had the best team in football in 1999 and 2000. Ah Al Del Greco.

Record: 10-6, Another team that will struggle early. Like most fading great teams, they will no doubt be able to reclaim past glory occasionally, but could also throw out some clunkers against younger teams. Watch how injured McNair is, he usually plays much better hurt. But you don’t want to have money on them with Billy Volek in the picture.

Houston: Inching towards the playoffs, one losing season at a time. I think the 2004 Texans will resemble the 2003 Bengals, some exciting breakout performances on offense from Carr and Andre Johnson, but not quite enough to get over the hump. 2005 though…

Record: 8-8 The Texans will probably have a pretty good record against the spread. Look for them to start hot, they have an easy first few games. And look for them to score some “upsets” over teams like Denver and Indy.

Indianapolis: I think Peyton’s a great QB, certainly no worse than Marino, especially considering their relative playoff, successes/failures. It’s just damn hard to win a Super Bowl without a good defense. Also, I am going to fearlessly predict that one of the most consistent receivers ever, Marvin Harrison, drops off this year. And Edge decides halfway through the year to meet up with Ricky Williams in India.

Record: 6-10 The Colts will spend the first half of the year losing tough games like at New England and at Tennessee, while beating some teams by enough to give gamblers hope that they are coming back. After Edge surprisingly retires, the floor collapses, and the second half is a disaster.

AFC West:

Kansas City: Unless Gunther Cunningham can play some D-tackle, they’ll still be plagued by the same defensive problems that Indy exposed in the playoffs, and that were evident the entire second-half of last season. We all remember the game where Clinton Portis ran for 5 TDs against them. What you don’t? Oh I guess you didn’t have him on your fantasy team like I did. Anyways the Chiefs still have a great offense, a great coach, and a not too difficult schedule.

Record: 11-5. Should actually be an easy team to read. They will beat almost everyone at home, and murder bad teams, but if they are favored against a team with a Taylor or McAllister at RB, you know what to do.

Oakland: They are relying on a 40 year old Quarterback to come back and throw to what receivers? And who is playing Running Back? One good thing about being in Australia is I get to avoid the near weekly feature on either NFL Sunday Countdown, Fox, or CBS, about how funny Warren Sapp is, or how motivated he has become, or how crappy he is. And I get to miss Shannon Sharpe’s debut as a commentator. Hopefully they’ll have killed him off by the time I get back in 2005. Back to the Raiders, their best move would be to put Tui at QB, get rid of the real cancers like Woodson, and rebuild through youth. But that’s not the Al Davis way. Hey give, him some credit, he has built winners through recycled parts before. He’s also had his share of Jeff George/Desmond Howard disaster signings.

Record: 7-9. The Raiders have some serious NFL sex appeal as the supposed bad boys of the league. This sometimes leads to them getting better spreads than the deserve. Stay away

Denver: You already know how I feel about Jake the Snake. One more note on Plummer, he did manage to go 23-30 in Denver’s 41-10 loss to Indy last playoffs. But 23 completions for 188 yards? That’s freaking terrible. Throw in 2 picks and that’s pretty awful. But it was against Indy’s stacked D, so some of its understandable. Mike Shanahan has had the genius label for some time now, which I attribute as partially deserved for leading the Broncos to two Super Bowls, and partly due to the surprising amount of ex-Broncos that hold broadcasting jobs covering the NFL. Tom Jackson, Mark Schlerth, Sharpe, Terrell Davis…there must be more. I think he’s lost his mojo a bit, how do you get blown out like that to Indy? And I think they’ll miss Clinton Portis a ton. I’ll trust Joe Gibbs over Shanahan.

Record: 6-10. Will beat Kansas City opening night, and then tank the rest of the season. Mark my words.

San Diego: LaDanian Tomlinson’s wife is named LaTorsha. That is all

Record: 1-15. When Bill Parcells stabbed the Pats in the back to take over the Jets in 1997 to take over the 1-15 Jets, he commented that “we played them twice last year, and they were the best 1-15 team I’ve ever seen.” Not anymore. That honor now goes to the 2004 San Diego Chargers.

Division Champs: New England, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Kansas City.
Wildcard: Tennessee, Baltimore
First Round Byes: New England, Kansas City (virtue of beating Jags in regular season)

Wildcard Round
Jags 24, Ravens 13
Bengals 31, Titans 30

Divisional Playoffs
Pats 27, Bengals 16
Jags 27, Chiefs 24 (OT)

AFC Championship
Pats 17, Jags 7

If you count all the won-loss records in my version of the preview, and in Stu's and find we've made some sort of error, you are very bored and need to spend better time wasting your miserable life. Go here for some quality entertainment

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Why I like John Kerry... and why I hate humanity

"I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars, before I voted against it." Man, this quote has made the rounds, hasn't it? The Republicans have been bashing Kerry for being wishy-washy, long-winded, and a flip-flopper. I, on the other hand, believe that this quote demonstrates why you should like Kerry too.

Aren't you sick of being treated like a moron by politics? Both parties realize that the American people are simple-minded sheep. So the republicans portray Kerry as a person with no convictions. And the democrats try to deflect this by portraying him as a war hero. They don't actually address the issue of WHY he changed his mind, because the American public wouldn't want to listen to the explanation. And even if they did, they probably wouldn't even understand. They don't want to listen, they want generalizations and sound bites, and they want to listen to whatever they already believe. Yeah, we all do this, but some a lot more than others.

Like all things in life, things a lot more complex than they seem on the surface. Kerry voted for the 87 billion at first because he wanted the Iraq aid to go through as quickly as possible. He voted against it secondly because of the extra riders that went along with the legislation, earmarking money for companies like Halliburton. Kerry has had a history of voting for what seem to be opposite causes, but when you look deeper, he has usually had a good reason for doing so.

Doesn't it seem that most politicians basically vote on a bill based on what the title is? If you had a bill called "Saving babies", most congressmen would vote for it; they wouldn't care that the bill cost 13 trillion dollars and saved one baby's life, or that it enacted this plan of saving babies by taking them away from their parents and putting them into a federally controlled nursery that released them at age 18. But the fact that John Kerry seems to actually READ the bills and understand their funding and deeper impact, and the fact that he doesn't give a fuck that he might be voting against "saving babies" and the fact that he tells the truth about his voting record, and the fact taht he came straight out and said that he voted for and against something should tell US, that he 1) actually does have strong convictions, 2) is practical, 3) isn't insulting the American intelligence by pretending he was always for the 87 billion, or always against it. Like anything else in the world, there are causes and effects, and looking deeper into the problem usually results in better solutions. We expect our doctors to get to the roots of our diseases, we expect lawyers to do the best research to help our cases, we expect mechanics to fix the gas leak, not just fill up the tank again. But not with politicians. We'd rather hear "everything's going to be fine!", as long as it comes from a tall, handsome, married white male.

Of course, as soon as he said it, nobody wanted to hear the explanation why. The stupid public (and the media that knows how stupid the public is) jumped all over it. For once, somebody didn't insult our collective intelligence, and all the dumb people just got upset. "We don't get it!" was the outcry.

But it's not that simple either. Take our friend GW; Bush recently said that "the war on terror couldn't be won." I actually thought Bush was brain dead, but it showed to me he actually understood what was going on; he was telling the truth, he wasn't being political. Of course, the democrats jumped all over him, saying it was a defeatist attitude, and Bush had to come out the next day saying "we are winning, and we will win." Thank you, everybody, one and all. Maybe Bush isn't actually that terrible, he just makes himself look stupid to appeal to the common man! It's so brilliant!

Anyway, we blame politicians for being lying snakes. But then things like this happen, and you should all realize, that most of American wants to be lied to. The politicians are just giving us what they want.
And that's the problem with humanity. Sure, we could have politicians that didn't talk down to the public, but then the stupid people would be, to quote the Simpsons, "furrowing their brows in a vain attempt to understand the situation". And since stupid people make up humanity, they have all the power. So what can you do? Well, voting for Kerry probably won't change that. By the time he gets to the debates in October, the PR campaign will have molded him into a good robot, who doesn't say things like that anymore. Just like the PR campaign for Bush doesn't let him say a damn thing that hasn't been vetted at least 100 times. Some people are bad public speakers. Doesn't make him a bad leader, just makes him say things like "fool me can't get fooled again!" Ok, I got off-topic. Well, I don't know what we can do. The media is convinced we're all morons, the politicians are convinced we're all morons. And most importantly, I'm convinced we're all morons. The question is, can a bunch of (hopefully) smarter politicians manipulate a bunch of average stupid people to do the right thing for the wrong, dumb reasons? Well, I think it's our only hope.

Friday, September 03, 2004


To those thinking of voting for Bush

So you're going to vote? I feel Bush supporters fall into two main camps. The rich, and the conservatives. If you’re rich, and you feel that the conservative fiscal policy of tax cuts and business tax breaks will help put a couple more dollars in your pocket, then I salute you. You’re being selfish and rational. There’s nothing wrong with being selfish; we all are… from time to time. But I ask you, if you’re rich, can’t you afford to think about who is better for civil rights, scientific research, foreign policy, education, etc.? I mean, if you’re Bill Gates, and you already give billions of dollars to charity anyway, what better way to spend it than supporting the candidate less likely to screw up the country for the next four years?

It isn’t that simple, obviously. Other issues come into play than tax cuts. Kerry is against the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries, even though it helps keep American companies profitable, and doesn’t seem to make a large impact on the employment in the US. So Kerry takes some stands that seem to be ‘for the people’ but may have a negligible impact on society. But the issue I want to point out here is that as a businessperson, you have a lot of control over where your money goes and who you employ. As a citizen of a large nation, you have a lot LESS control over whether gay rights are squashed and trampled. You have a lot less control over abortion rights, and you have a lot less control over what goes on in the rebuilding of Iraq and who this country is going to invade next.

Which brings up another interesting point. When Bush invaded Iraq, he condemned the entire US to being either with him or against him. It was an incredibly divisive issue, one that not only divided our country, but also the world. Bush supporters accused anti-war protestors as being un-American, unpatriotic, and even worse, French. Anti-war advocates accused Bush supporters as being sheep, jingoists, and even worse, Bush supporters. But like it or not, if you’re a citizen of the US, your country has soldiers abroad, fighting against people who have not harmed you or threatened you in any way, indeed, who are fighting only for Iraq and their home country.

So, being part of the rich and successful, try and look at the big picture. Maybe Bush is indeed more capitalist. Maybe Bush will help the economy. Maybe the estate tax is your hot button issue. Maybe you think that Reaganomics still has a chance. But these are small technical issues. Gay rights, abortion rights, nuclear disarmament, and a foreign policy that takes into account OTHER nations interests—these are issues that will shape the world for years to come. If your ideology doesn’t line up with Bush, I implore you, forget about your wallet, it’ll probably stay fat and bloated anyway.

But if you’re part of the right, the conservatives, then perhaps for the very reasons I stated above, you are going to continue to vote for Bush. You think it is important to trample gay rights. You think abortion is murder. You think that the US is, and always will be, right, and that if you’re against the US, then you’re against kittens and freedom. Then vote for Bush. You’re voting your conscience, and I can’t do anything to change your opinion.

Next, if you’re voting for Bush because you think he’s decisive, because you think he can lead the nation more effectively, or because you like the cut of his jib, then I suggest you drop that attitude right now. What good is a decisive president if he makes the wrong decisions? Vote the issues. Find your hot issue, and vote with it. If you can’t think of one, here are some important ones: stem cell research, African debt relief, education, putting men in space, world peace, environment, health care reform, social security, or terrorism. If you chose terrorism, read on. If you chose something else, vote that way. If it still turns out to be Bush, then at least you’re making an informed decision.

Lastly, if you’re a swing voter who wakes up in the middle of the night, sweating about terrorists and what they could be doing to your quiet suburban town THIS VERY INSTANT… then you need to get a grip, and call a psychologist. Your fear is irrational, stupid, and unfounded. Vote with your wallet, vote with your conscience, but please, don’t vote with your idiocy.

This doesn't mean you should vote for Kerry. He has more than his share of problems. Vote Nader! Vote Libertarian! Or, don't vote at all. Protest the "lesser of two evils" system of elections, and vote only for referendums and local elections.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Republican Convention Update 2

This is exactly the kind of arrogance I was talking about. I am referring to Zell Miller’s speech where he tears into Kerry for being weak on military issues, and tears into anyone who didn’t follow the lead of President Bush in supporting the War in Iraq. Miller's speech read like a conservative talk show rant; he managed to hit every half-truth and/or outright lie the war supporters have thrown out there. Gems like "Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending." Excuse me? I know exactly why Republicans hate Michael Moore so much; he is stealing their act! The gall to put such ideological bullshit as your KEYNOTE speech. Please, please America, can we choose the party of Obama over this crap?

Right right, this is supposed to be an analysis of the political implications of the speech. Well tough. Lets look at the point Miller was trying to get across. “Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator,” Miller rants. The United States, Miller argues, has always been the fighter for freedom, the Great Liberator of Europe in World War 2, of Eastern Europe (we liberated Eastern Europe?) of South Korea, of Vietnam…no wait wait not Vietnam. The Democrats taking a unconcilatory view of our troops and of the War on Terror is what, Miller claims, has caused him to abandon the Democratic Party.

And John Kerry is, not surprisingly, the greatest culprit of all! Having voted against a list of weapons systems, according to Miller, proves Kerry (who is a kin to those evil liberal entities the Kennedy family and Massachusetts,) is weak on defense, and lacks the backbone to view American forces for what they are, true liberators.

First of all, I am sick of people hating on Massachusetts, especially someone from Georgia, a state with ass-awful education, and a state that refuses to take the Confederate symbol off of its state flag. Fuck off Zell, your states most famous politician is Jimmy Carter. Would you take the Kennedys over him?

Second, I wonder whether or not the Republicans decision to portray this election as the reaffirmation of an anti-terrorist Crusade will work or not. I sure hope it doesn’t. That has been the consistent theme from Rudy, McCain, and Zell so far, that Bush is our messianic leader who will lead the United States to fulfill its destiny as the annihilators of evil in the world. This makes me simultaneously furious and nervous. It makes me furious because the Republicans (and I’ll include Zell in this equation, despite his claims he was "born a Democrat,") frame this Crusade in such a way that: 1) since their lofty goal of annihilating evil is so high, all those that question it are somehow Anti-American or weak, 2) It allows Bush to fight a war with no end goal or chance of final victory. How will we know when the War on Terror is over? When we have defeated Al Qaeda? When Osama is dead? When we have installed Democracies in every Middle Eastern country (that’s the one I think…) Could you please fucking tell me? 3) It allows the government to engage in fundamentally Un-American activities (see PATRIOT Act) by justifying them as part of the greater cause/crusade. All this for a threat that most certainly does not compare to the Nazis in freaking Europe. I don’t see millions of terrorists forming into an army and conquering half our allies. I don’t see terrorists moving nuclear missiles to Cuba. That’s not to say we don’t need to round up Al Qaeda, but can we keep some fucking perspective please.

It makes me nervous because our army is already stretched, and it’s my generation that’s going to take the losses. I am not fighting for this crusade.

It makes me nervous because we are ignoring the countries in East Asia that may actually prove a threat to the United States in the future in a misguided crusade to chase after a threat that we cant even quantify, against an enemy that only exists in the abstract. And I question this policy. And if you got a problem with that Zell, then tough. That doesnt make those who question the War on terror weak. It makes them smart. There is no strength in holding unwavering convictions no matter the circumstances, no matter the implications of one's actions, no matter the loss of life that occurs due to the political dogma of a group of leaders. That isnt strength. That's weakness. And foolish weakness at that.

And finally, it makes me nervous because part of me worries what will happen if politicians can win elections selling themselves around this idea of unwavering ideology and military empowerment, and what they will do if they get power for four more years. What is wrong with our populace? Can't we see what's going on? Or am I out of touch with what the majority of Americans believe is right? And if so how did that happen?

(One last note, are we going to hear some domestic policy issues at all?)

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