Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pickin' Pigskin with Bob and Steve: Week 8

Bob and I were very, very important people this week, so unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to do our usual back and forth. However, we still managed to make our picks, so kudos to both of us.

Houston over BUFFALO (3.5)

Steve: Houston -3.5

I think Houston has been the much better team this year, and Buffalo has been so freakin' horrendous. Matt Schaub, even if he is killing my fantasy team all the time, is at least an above-average quarterback, and would probably go to a Pro Bowl if he was on a decent team.

Bob: Houston -3.5

Interestingly, Buffalo are the only team who are a dog at home this week. Also interestingly, Houston's defense is terrible against the run but above average against the pass, which matches up perfectly with Houston's inability to run that is covered by the fact that they are second to the Pats in passing yards. This game has the chance to be very, very interesting. Only one thing is for certain in this game: If Steve Slaton can't get his groove back against Buffalo (giving up a league-leading average of 172 yard on the ground), he probably can't get it back against anyone.

CHICAGO over Cleveland (14)

Steve: Cleveland +14

The Bears' offense was so underwhelming against the Bengals last week that I don't trust them enough to beat the Browns by 14. Ladies and gentleman, the Jay Cutler era! It's fantastic!

Bob: Chicago -14

Every week I overrate da Bears and I feel like every week they burn me. Last week I specifically went into the picks planning to choose against them, but talked myself out of it because I thought the Bengals did not match well against them. So why do I pick da Bears again this week? Because Cleveland sucks.

Speaking of da Bears, a lot of people are upset about that DirecTV commercial David Spade made that featured Chris Farley, but I really have a hard time getting exercised about it. I mean, it's not like Spade is really taking advantage of the fact that Farley died. It's not like Spade isn't somewhat famous in his own right, or that the other actors that have been featured in these commercials are super-famous so Spade is profiting from his dead friend. Furthermore, if anybody deserves to profit off of Chris Farley's corpse, it's probably David Spade since his career crashed after Farley died. Newsflash, people: Sometimes a person dies and it's sad. That doesn't mean that anything related to that person is now sacred. So when can we get back to making fun of Michael Jackson?

DALLAS over Seattle (9)

Steve: Dallas -9

Although I don't think Tony Romo will ever be an elite quarterback, I think the Seahawks really stink. And Dallas can definitely score, so I think they'll easily be able to beat this spread.


Bob: 'Boys -9

I really am not feeling that good about Seattle this year, but it is tough to pick the terribly inconsistent Cowboys for a line that is close to double-digits. What it comes down to is Seattle looks like a similar team in some ways to the Falcons, and the Cowboys put a whooping on Atlanta last week. Honestly, though, I don't feel that great about this pick. I think Seattle has been beaten by some good teams, so they may be a bit better than their record. But the Cowboys have had some tough opponents too, but sometimes they fail to show up against a mediocre-to-bad opponent (remember that game against Kansas City?). That game is a tough call.

DETROIT over St. Louis (4)

Steve: Detroit -4

Similar to my other responses, I'm going with the Lions because they seemingly have a better offense than the Rams. Calvin Johnson is awesome, and they should just have him run the Wildcat offense every single play. By the way, I got offered him in fantasy football, but unfortunately, they wanted Dwayne Bowe and Rashard Mendenhall too, and were only giving up Johnson and the running back formerly known as Lawrence Maroney.

What the hell happened to him anyway? He fell off the face of the Earth following his decent rookie year, and unlike Robert Edwards, he didn't have the excuse of completely blowing out his knee.

Bob: Detroit -4

Talk about a battle of the awfuls. Neither of these teams do anything well and they both have very little for which to play. I guess Marc Bulger could be playing for his job, but I don't really see why they would have stuck with him for this long only to give up on him now and turn the team over to Kyle Boller. These teams are evenly matched, but St. Louis continues to be unable to score at all. That is really the only thing that really pushes me in any direction. Honestly, it would be more interesting if the line were an over/under on number of three-and-outs or number of players who clearly quit mid-game.

And good news everyone! Cleveland is travelling to Detroit on November 22, Kansas City on December 20, and Oakland on December 27! So there are a number of future stinkers like this game coming.

INDIANAPOLIS over San Francisco (13)

Steve: Indy (-13)

I wonder if there is a line high enough against a mediocre team that wouldn't cause me to pick Indy at this point. If the line for this game was 21, then I might consider picking San Fran. Even then though, I think I'd chicken out and still pick the Colts. That's how confident I am in their offense.

Bob: The Peytons (-13)

Indy hasn't won by less than 17 since Week 2. Marinate on that one for a little bit. Arguably, Indy hasn't played a team that had its act together since it played Miami on that week, but still, they have won by AT LEAST 17 points for the past four games. San Francisco is probably the best team they've played since the Dolphins, but I think San Fran isn't as good as we thought after the first few weeks. I hope Peyton Manning injures himself injuring his umpteen-millionth commercial soon. Yes, I'm bitter.

NY JETS over Miami (3.5)

Steve: Miami +3.5

This definitely feels like an inflated line because a New York team is involved. The past couple weeks, the Dolphins have looked more impressive, excluding the Jets beatdown of an Oakland team that has absolutely no hope unless they're playing a team that has a quarterback that threw up in a Super Bowl. (Thanks for the assist on that one, Bob!)

Bob: Miami +3.5

Didn't Miami just beat the Jets a few weeks ago? In the meantime, Miami has had a bye and then nearly knocked off the unbeaten behemoth that is the Saints, while the Jets lost to Buffalo and then won to the Raiders. And the Jets are still favored? Sometimes I just don't get what people are betting on.

Speaking of things I don't get, "the Sanchise?" What is with that nickname? Have we decided we don't want to call him Sanchez because we don't want his name associated with the sex act? If that's so, how come the idiot anti-tax protestors are still called "tea baggers?" And is the success of the Jets franchise really tied that close to Mark Sanchez? I think the Jets team lives and dies with its defense, not their mediocre rookie quarterback. And has nobody noticed that the Jets real advantage seems to be their running game? I hate it when some pretty boy, porn star looking quarterback gets all the credit for something that is hardly linked to him. Go away.

PHILADELPHIA over NY Giants (1)

Steve: Philly -1

Going against the above information, I think this is one of those random games that McNabb actually decides to show up. This line seems way too beneficial for the Eagles, and I doubt many people actually expect them to win, so I'm going with them. This line seems like TOO much of a sweet thing.

Bob: Yankees still suck +1

If this game gets hyped because it's Philadelphia versus New York, just like the World Series, I'll vomit. Oh, yay, two of the nastier cities in terms of sports fans are matching up against each other. I'm so excited. I guess I'm just bitter about this World Series matchup. The Phillies and the Yankees were the best two teams in the league this year, but there's nothing about either of these teams that's very exciting. The Yankees are the root of all that's evil, and what's more I don't really buy this whole "they have fun in the clubhouse thing." The Phillies don't do much to excite me, either, and their fans are just about as hard to tolerate as E-A-G-L-E-S fans.

As for the game, I don't see why the Giants aren't favored by at least a field goal. Even though the Giants have had a few down weeks, they still look better statistically than the Eagles. And the Eagles probably won't have Westbrook, so everything will be on McNabb. And remember when they couldn't beat the freaking Raiders a few weeks ago...

BALTIMORE over Denver (3)

Steve: Denver +3

At this point, I have three Denver Broncos players on my fantasy team: Knowshon Moreno, their kicker Prater, and their defense and special teams. Like Bill Simmons' old analogy about the Rueben sandwich, sometimes it just pays to go with a winning thing, even if you're not completely convinced about it on paper. Similarly, although I still have no idea how the Broncos are winning, I feel compelled to pick them every week as long as the line isn't completely insane.

Bob: Denver +3

These two teams have both faced the Bengals, Chargers, Browns, and Patriots. They both beat the Bengals and Browns, but only Denver beat the Chargers and Patriots. Arguably, the Patriots were a better team when they got beaten by the Broncos than when they beat the Ravens. So I don't see how the Ravens are favored by a field goal here. I feel like this is an emotion pick - e.g. Denver is due for a letdown game, and I see it coming here. But there is nothing in the matchup that tells you that. It just "seems" like time. Well, I'm going to ride the Broncos train until they jump off the rails-which they probably will, but I'm not going to be that it will happen just yet.

TENNESSEE over Jacksonville (3)

Steve: Jaguars +3

The last time the Jaguars had a sweetheart line, they got completely blown out by the Seattle Seahawks. I almost feel like this is another trap, but they can't lose to the gutless Titans, can they? I mean, Vince Young did great three years ago with some inexplicable wins, but he can't find the horseshoe up his ass again, right?

Bob: Jacksonville +3

Another inexplicable line. I'm not even dignifying this with an explanation.

SAN DIEGO over Oakland (17)

Steve: Oakland +17

LDT is done with a big fork sticking out of his back, to the point that the fork is rusting and in danger of poisoning the blood of the rest of the team, and Norv Turner has syphilis in his brain. The Raiders suck, and suck horribly, but I still think they can manage to beat the spread against a divisional rival.

Bob: San Diego -17

That spread is soooooo big for a San Diego team that just doesn't seem to show up every week. Didn't San Diego barely beat the Raiders on Week 1? As long as Oakland continues to have the same problem as St. Louis (an inability to get into the endzone), I guess I'll have to take the favorite and hope the Raiders can't cover.

On a related note, why are western conference teams are so bad in the NFL? The AFC West is Denver, San Diego, Kansas City, and Oakland, while the NFC West is Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona, and St. Louis. Arguably, Denver, San Diego, and Arizona are above average team, and San Fran is a wildcard. Still, though, the badness of the Raiders, Chiefs, and Rams, and the ability of even the good teams in these divisions to have epic stinkers (with the exception of Denver, so far) really sets the western NFL teams apart from any other collection of conferences. Is the NFL West the new NBA East?

ARIZONA over Carolina (10.5)

Steve: Arizona -10.5

If Jake Delhomme wasn't starting, then I would roll the dice with the Panthers. As is, I'm refusing to bet on them. Like the aforementioned Bill Simmons, every time I try to bet on the Panthers, they completely F me over. The Bills were playing complete scrubs last week, and the Panthers couldn't even help me out then.

Bob: Carolina +10.5

This line is too rich for me. These two teams line up pretty evenly in statistics, except for the fact that Carolina's offense manages to score about a touchdown less and the defense gives up a touchdown more. Honestly, I have no idea what Jake Delhomme will do on any given Sunday, so I don't want to guess. Argh, I already have buyers remorse, but I don't want to think about this game for another second.

GREEN BAY over Minnesota (3)

Steve: Grene Bay -3

Brett Favre can burn in hell.

Bob: Green Bay -3

Brett Favre can burn in hell.

NEW ORLEANS over Atlanta (10.5)

Steve: New Orleans -10.5

Drew Brees is unstoppable. I could say something as succinct as that, but really, the only sort of person who would say something like that and nothing else at all is some sort of simpleton, and if they said something that succinct, then they should be getting ready to write a big ole check to me.

Bob: New Orleans -10.5

Drew Brees is unstoppable.

The picture of the blonde girl is from this site.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Noting trends about Saturday Night Live

I am a pretty devoted follower of Saturday Night Live, so of course, I have been very disappointed about the quality this season. I'm normally the last to be a SNL naysayer - I don't think the show fell of as much in the various eras as is always claimed, with the exception of a small period segueing from Will Ferrell to this newer cast.

Therefore, the complete fall of the cliff in terms of quality this year has been puzzling to me. To compensate, I'm going to note some other things form my years of watching:

- Phil Hartman was the best cast member ever. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. He does have a Best Of DVD, but it feels incomplete as compared to Ferrell, who somehow got two DVDs. I think Hartman's death, and the fact that he wasn't really ever in much besides SNL and Newsradio, limits people's recollection of how great he was.

For example, Darrell Hammond is a pretty good cast member, and does a ton of impressions... and he does like half as many as Hartman did, and Hartman's were generally better. While Hammond does a better Clinton, it's basically just a refinement of Hartman's, and Hartman did some other classic celebrity impressions like Frank Sinatra, Admiral Stockdale, Telly Savalas, Johnny Cash and Ronald Reagan.

However, Hartman also deserves credit for being more than an impression guy. Some of his original characters and voices, whether they be Simpsons characters Lionel Hutz and the monorail salesman or SNL creations like the Anal-Retentive Chef and the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer (not Johnny Damon). A lot of cast members have one skill but not the other, whereas Hartman could handle both.

Speaking of impressionists...

- Saturday Night Live is the one solid outlet for funny people who do comedy but aren't stand-ups. There are sitcoms, but because they rely on set characters and somewhat-set situations, there isn't as much room for off-the-wall creations. I think It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is the best comedy on television right now, but I'd argue it has more in common with classic SNL and Monty Python than a traditional sitcom.

Meanwhile, SNL and to a lesser extent Mad TV require a steady flow of weird characters and political commentary to flourish, which means there is always a need to have a diverse cast of people with actual acting chops, people with an improv background and people who are traditional stand-ups. In a good year of SNL, all three groups have standout sketches.

Getting into this a bit...

- Hosting Saturday Night Live is a good test for whether a personality has staying power or not. The guys who have hosted the show the most - Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Christopher Walken - are all unquestionably talented and great. And all four have been successful in a variety of roles in their career.

I think either Bill Simmons or Adam Carolla made the point that SNL really does show you whether or not someone has some chops. For example, Paris Hilton was god awful, and Lindsay Lohan was great pre-cocaine and awful post-cocaine. I finally came around a bit on Justin Timberlake's talents after his hosting stints - The dude is seriously funny, and because of that, I think he sticks around for the next 20 years somehow.

This also applies to musical guests. Kanye West is unquestionably a jerk, but all of his performances on SNL have been incredible. The same thing goes with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Beastie Boys and Elvis Costello. And a final, maybe-controversial point...

- Black performers aren't used to their full talents. I'm excluding Garrett Morris from this discussion, because he was deep, deep into drugs according to most SNL accounts of those years.

Get past him though, and you have Eddie Murphy, who while great on SNL, is now known more for his movies and stand-up. Chris Rock didn't do much on the show, and neither did Damon Wayans.

Tracy Morgan's Best Of DVD has a lot of standout skits, half of which I don't remember because they clearly were on in the last half of the show, after Weekend Update, when the audience falls off dramatically. He is better on 30 Rock, what little I've seen of it, and he's much better as a guest on various late night talk shows and radio spots.

In this year's cast, I feel like Kenan Thompson isn't used to the best of his abilities. He was more amusing on a recent episode of Psych, co-guest starring with Urkel, than in most of his SNL skits. He is also their only black cast member, which means you have weird things like Fred Armisen playing Obama.

I'm not sure why this quirk exists. Back in the day, SNL was accused of having a sort of Harvard's boys club of white writers, so maybe it still persists to this day. They have shown themselves to be able to rise to the occasion at times though, such as in Chris Rock's Nat X show, but the effort isn't consistent at all. I feel like a lot of comedy is being missed out on because black performers aren't being used to the extent of their talents.

The Blue Oyster Cult picture comes from here. Astronaut Jones comes from here. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer is from here. Wayne's World photo is from here.

Postponed... for a bit.

I'm taking a little extra time with tonight's post, which will be on Saturday Night Live. It should be up before 9 though, and probably before 8, but we'll see. Just putting this in as a placeholder, to signify that I am not deceased.

Picture is from this site.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Updated Steve Greenwell TV Guide

I'm providing an update to my earlier TV guide, since I've added and remembered a couple shows, and some shows have been demoted. To use some sports terminology, which will infuriate Danielle Membrino, I'll give each show the designation of Majors, AAA, AA and released.

Majors means I watch it every week, AAA means I'm about to start watching, AA means I'm intrigued and considering getting into a show, and released means the show is dead to me now. I also bolded the best show of the respective night, if applicable, because I was bored.

Monday

- Heroes, NBC, released. I've officially thrown the towel in on Heroes; I simply don't think it can be saved. I mean, the other week they had Claire sharing a lesbian kiss with some girl! That isn't her. Knock that shit off, Heroes. Listen, I'm hip, but that was such an obvious ratings grab that I was disgusted. I stopped watching regularly after the first two episodes of this season, as I find the Weird Tattoo Guy not compelling in the slightest. They should have simply kept Sylar as the main villain. How many years have the X-Men fought against Magneto? That seemed to work out pretty well for them.

- WWE Monday Night Raw, USA, Majors. This isn't as "must see" as is used to be. Since switching to weekly celebrity guest hosts, the show has become a bit stale to me. Still, I'm hopeful that Kofi Kingston and Legacy can shake up the card a bit. Cena, HHH, HBK and Orton are all a bit overexposed to me right now.

- Monday Night Football, ESPN, Majors. I figured this deserved a separate mention from a below mention of football. This year, Jaws and Gruden work so well together that I'll often switch over from Raw, and stay switched over. Definitely a big improvement from their booths of the past few years.

Wednesday

- Dinner: Impossible, Food Network, Majors. I don't care how much Chef Robert plagarized on his resume, he is still lovely to me. I just wish this didn't overlap with Top Chef's night, since I generally prefer Top Chef.

- Glee, FOX, AAA. I've seen some episodes here and there, and I've enjoyed them, but I haven't immersed myself fully in the show. It is high in my queue, though.

- Lost, ABC, Majors. I'm still racing to catch up in time for the new episodes, but I'll probably still make it. All the other new shows that are out are affecting my time table a bit though, in addition to the stuff I have to do for my various works. However: I will be caught up by the time Lost resumes in January. I'm currently on episode 16 or 17 of the third season, so I'm more than halfway there as-is.

- Modern Family, ABC, AA. I haven't started watching this yet, and it's deep down my queue, but it could force its way up with all the rave reviews I keep hearing about it. More than one person has mentioned Arrested Development when trying to explain it to me, which is high praise. I also note that it has the vampy Sofia Vergara, who is from one of my favorite shows that got canceled, Knights of Prosperity.

- South Park, Comedy Central, Majors. Since not everyone here is a fan of Bill Simmons, but since some of you are fans of South Park, I really recommend that everyone check out his podcast with Trey Parker. It is actually broken off into two sections and more than an hour in length, but there is a lot of good stuff about how the show is created, what they find funny, and just general interesting background information on both of them. And p.s., South Park is awesome and hasn't lost its touch at all, as episodes this season have seen Butters as a pimp, the boys running a wrestling promotion and Michael "Mr. Jefferson" Jackson preventing a bunch of celebrities from getting out of Limbo.

- Top Chef, Bravo, Majors. I think this season has been a mini-Renaissance for the show, as there has been a good balance between the drama (the brothers hating on each other, the super bitchy old lady mom), the hot (that blonde oh la la!) and the quality, as the chefs can actually cook well.

Thursday

- Community, NBC, Majors. A couple of the season's middle episodes lagged, but the most recent one, in which Joel McHale talked Troy into playing football again, was really strong. While McHale is the star of the show, the ensemble itself is strong. And man, forget about Brita; the real gorgeous one on the program is Alison Brie [left]. She is quite, quite fetching, and there is nothing cheesy about her performance. (Oh yeah, I went there.) I think I would like Brita more if 1) her character wasn't so abrasive and 2) her hair didn't have that weird curl in it.

- Parks and Recreation, NBC, Majors. I was ready to give up on this show after seeing its second season premiere, but a friend convinced me to give it another shot. And man, it did not disappoint! While Amy's character is still a little too unbelievable for me to get fully behind, and the-girl-who-lost-to-Pam is still kind of boring, the rest of the cast is really strong. This includes Tom, Tom and Amy's boss, and the emo girl who is also strangely attractive. Kudos to Parks and Recreation for rebounding after a lackluster start.

- The Office, NBC, Majors. The cool new Internet meme is to complain about how much The Office stinks as compared to its past seasons. (At least this reasoning has replaced the "British Office is 700 times better!!!" talk that dominated hipster snob talk beforehand.)

- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, FX, Majors. It all comes down to a few words: Milk steak. Jelly beans, raw. Full-on rapist.

Friday

- Psych, USA, Majors. It's currently on break for a while, unfortunately, but I finally caught up on episodes. Rachel Leigh Cook is still stunningly hot as Shawn's girlfriend, although this annoys me because it means he and Juliet will not be getting together in the immediate future, and she's even more dreamy.

- The Soup, E!, Majors. I never seem to be able to catch it on Fridays, even though I am home a lot. (I know, that is a sad statement about my life, as if all of the shows on this list didn't give myself away either.) I do always manage to catch a repeat at some point though. Thanks to E! for replaying it about 500 times in the following week!

Saturday

- Saturday Night Live, NBC, released. I'm shocked that it has come to this, as I've watched practically every episode for the past 10 years. That includes some of the most notoriously bad ones, like the Paris Hilton episode and the one where Lindsay Lohan seemed all coked out. However, for some reason, this season just FEELS so much worse. Maybe it's because I thought the show would be decent coming into the year, or because the Weekend Update show on Thursdays was funny, so I naturally thought the regular season would build on that. Regardless, SNL stinks right now, and this is coming from one of its biggest boosters of all-time.

Sunday

- NFL football, Majors. Pretty explanatory, I should think.

- Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Cartoon Network, Majors. Yes, this show is allegedly still on the air, so I'm including it. Unfortunately though, the only episode currently listed on the Adult Swim schedule is some sort of Christmas episode. I'm hoping they do more, since I'm the only non-stoner who loves ATHF.

- Family Guy, FOX, Majors. While the show isn't as good as its ultimate peak, which I thought was its third season, I still find it consistently funny, even if it does rely on "manatee" jokes, in the words of South Park. I've found this season better than last's, and they haven't even shown the Star Wars episode yet.

- The Cleveland Show, FOX, Majors. I already touched on this show in a previous post, so go there if you want my take, uh, again.

- The Mighty Boosh, Cartoon Network, AAA. Another show that I caught about 10 minutes of after a recommendation from a couple friends. It looks silly and funny though, so I'll do my best to catch up on episodes. And yeah, I realize that this is just an imported British show.

- Titan Maximum, Cartoon Network, AAA. See above, except that I haven't actually seen any of it yet.

- The Venture Bros., Cartoon Network, Majors. This is probably a bit of an upset as my favorite show of Sunday nights, over the more established cartoons, but hey, it deserves it. The first two episodes of the new season have been hilarious, and my only regret is that there are only about 11 episodes being released this year. Sigh! It is still great at savagely skewering old cartoon cliches, which is why I enjoy it so much.

-----

The photo of Alison Brie is from some ridiculous spam site, so I'm not going to dignify it with a link. The Venture Brothers photo is taken from here. The lesbian kiss picture is from here, which has a good and brief take on the debacle that is now Heroes. The Master Shake photo is from here. And the picture of the wonderful Charlie Day comes from this wonderful blog.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Many humble apologies my fine shopkeep!

Sorry about this, my dear, dear readers. I feel like I have betrayed you, my family, with such a belated entry. However, I was busy finishing up a high school newspaper all of yesterday and today; I'm the adviser for the endeavor. I will try to do two posts tomorrow, one at 11 a.m. and one at 7 p.m., as penance.

The Howdy Doody test pattern is from this site.

EDIT: Scratch these plans. One super long TV entry for 7! And the peasants rejoiced. I'll try to sneak in a news post if I can.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pickin' Pigskin: Week 7 Tally

It was a good week for Kristin and I when it came to picking football games, but a great week for Bob Hanson, with overall record and place in parentheses:

Bob: 10-2 (61-41, 1st)
Kristin: 7-5 (59-43, 2nd)
Steve: 7-5 (52-50, 3rd)

So, I'm still lagging badly behind the Hansons. But Bob vaulted into first place on the strength of his week, as he picked three games better than Kristin. The only game I'm proud of picking was the Bengals over the Bears, which they completed sheared and tamed on Sunday.

At least my fantasy team continues to roll. After the Saints' Colston and Shockey went absolutely insane in the afternoon game, my 33 point lead shrunk to -1 as the Giants game started, since my opponent got 10 points for the Giants defense. Thankfully though, the Cardinals beat the crap out of their defense, and the Giants player on my roster - Steve Smith - outperformed Ahmad Bradshaw, 6-3. My team finished with a 106-94 win, and we're now 6-1 and in a tie for first place. woohoo!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stuff you're probably not interested in: WWE Bragging Rights review

[Left] Chris Jericho pictures are always appropriate.

I wasn't really sure what to write about today, but then I realized that I haven't written about professional wrestling in a good, long time. Don't read on if you still want to watch WWE's Bragging Rights! While I realize most of you aren't wrestling fans at all, maybe you'll find this interesting anyway.

Opening match: Miz vs. Morrison was a fun match with some good action, even if I didn't like the finish, which was Miz pinning Morrison clean. Sure, he did a kind of dirty move by shoving him during Starship Pain, but I'm not sure what the finish accomplished. I can't see the Miz getting pushed further just yet, and he get the best of Morrison in their last confrontation (the draft), so I thought Morrison would be going over.

Diva tag team match: The diva tag match was interesting until the finish, when it looked like Beth Phoenix and Melina screwed up. Maybe that was just my perspective though. I did like the sort of odd tension between Phoenix and her fellow heel, Michelle McCool. They would make for an interesting heel stable if it weren't for the Beautiful People in TNA, of which they would be a clear copy of.

World Heavyweight Championship fatal fourway: This match for the WHC wasn't that great. I'm believing the Internet reports about Taker being seriously diminished in terms of health more and more, because this match only went about 10 minutes. Undertaker won after a tombstone piledriver, and after Rey and Batista broke up each other's pins during the match.

After the match was over, Batista savagely attacked Rey, instantly turning him heel. While I think Batista turning heel is good for his character, which was getting stale as a babyface, I don't like it from an overall standpoint. This means Punk is on his way out of the title picture after the next match / short program with Taker, barring a huge upset, setting up Batista vs. Taker around Royal Rumble time. They did have good matches in 2007 and 2008, but it still feels stale to me. Also, given Taker's health concerns, who knows if that can continue?

Seven on seven, Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown: This was better than I thought it would be, although I was annoyed to see Kofi Kingston take the pin. I also thought he went out pretty weakly - All he got was a chokeslam from Show, and about 30 seconds passed before Jericho actually got the fall. At least have Jericho do a Lionsault or something, because the Chokeslam is more of a secondary finisher for Show now, and a rising star like Kofi shouldn't be pinned on it.

Iron Man match: Finally, this was surprisingly good. It looked like Cena got legit busted open, all the pinfalls made it interesting, and they did a good job of portraying Orton's utterly psychotic nature. His look of madness in the last two minutes was incredible, although with the finish, I'm not sure where they go from here. Maybe have Orton get even more ruthless? Just have him beat the crap out of people backstage for absolutely no reason, until even Legacy / Priceless (and specifically Ted Jr.) feels the need to stand up for him.

And with the win, there is now absolutely nothing for Cena to do. DX looks like they're going to be busy with JeriShow, any kind of match with Orton would be stale, and the other heels on the roster - Swagger, the Miz, Masters - don't really seem to be anywhere near Cena's league as a competitor.

Maybe the WWE will actually take my advice and go with a Kofi Kingston vs. Cena match, face vs. face, for the PPV. Or maybe they'll go old school and have Cena and Taker each lead a Survivor Series team at the PPV. You could the GMs pick each team, and Cena's team would be faces - Cena, Kofi, Evan Bourne and MVP. Smackdown would be a mix, maybe Taker, Morrison, Punk and Ziggler / Estrada. To provide an incentive for the winning team, all the surviving team members would be entered into a match for the championship belt on their brand.

At some point, you have Punk get Taker DQed, followed by Taker "removing" Punk from the match, setting up their program for the next PPV. At that point, maybe Morrison is the only guy left, and he fights valiantly against the remaining members before getting pinned by Cena eventually. They shake hands at the end, everyone is happy, the end.

p.s. I was disappointed that there was nothing from ECW on this show. What gives? It's got the best wrestling week in and week out on WWE programming now.

And also, the Chris Jericho picture is from here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The $14 million question about J.D. Drew

See? J.D. can get his uniform dirty!

Recently, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has been ridiculed on WEEI, the number one New England (and especially Boston) sports radio station for a statement he made on their morning show the other day. He made the claim that right fielder J.D. Drew has more than justified his $14 million yearly salary, citing his OBP, slugging and defensive prowess.

The problem when evaluating Drew is twofold. 1) His attitude and demeanor are lax, to say the least, which enrages fans. He won't play unless he is completely healthy, which keeps his games total down from year to year as well. 2) His value is tied up primarily in advanced statistics, such as his ability to draw walks and take pitches. His counting stats – hits, runs batted in and home runs – aren't impressive according to conventional means.

To defend Drew a bit, he actually did play in a lot of games this year, more than the common fan realizes. He managed 137 games played this year, 22nd among American League outfielders. His OBP of .392 ranked second among outfielders, and his OPS – OBP plus slugging – was second to teammate Jason Bay.

I think what freaks people out is the $14 million price tag. However, similar to my previous point about the free agent market, the limited amount of options drives up prices on the few good players.

In that context, Drew is a good investment at $14 million. For example, in 2007, here are other players who made more than Drew: Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon, Jason Schmidt, Richie Sexson and Mike Hampton. Drew comes in at #17 on that list, and all the previously cited players make more than him.

If you need more examples of overly-compensated players, then look no further than the Angels. Torii Hunter is making $18 million and Gary Matthews Jr. earns $10.4 million. This blog has a good wrap up of all the signings from 2007, and the Drew one has worked out a lot better than Dice-K, Carlos Lee, Matthews Jr., Schmidt, Jeff Suppan and Barry Zito, among players who signed for more than $10 million a season.

The J.D. Drew photos are from here and here.

Buy My Crap - CentSports.com

Although this isn't really something you can "buy" from me, I have been using CentSports.com lately. It is a kind of weird idea - They give you $0.10 to gamble with, which you can then use to pick games on their site. You can cash out when you hit $20, so it's not an immediate thing, but it's fun to screw around with.

If you want to try it out, use this link here, and then I get 5 percent of each win you make. Hopefully, you will become a degenerate gambler, and a winning one, and then I'll get rich by osmosis. I have no problem living off of your success, much like Paris Hilton.

For a short bio of Jimmy the Greek, and where the above picture game from, click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pickin' Pigskin with Bob and Steve: Week 7

In an effort to get more sports content up on my blog, my buddy Bob and I pick NFL football games every week. We do this with varying degrees of success, and sorry in advance if you are foolish enough to use our picks for ACTUAL gambling. In the words of the Hardly Boys, what are you, retarded?

San Diego over KANSAS CITY (5.5)

Steve: Kansas City +5.5

At this point, I feel like I'm in a sort of reverse Keith Hernandez zone. Since I'm so far behind, hey, why shouldn't I try to go against conventional wisdom when I can? Although we still haven't reached the halfway point of the season, and I could hypothetically catch up to you and Kristin, there obviously isn't a lot of incentive for me to do so. And besides, me picking the games “seriously” has not really led to much success.

Therefore, I'm going to pick more arbitrary, random and humorous reasons to pick teams. I'm going maverick like Sarah Palin, or being a wild card like Charlie from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which is my new favorite show. It reminds me a lot of hanging out with Boutwell and Billy and Matt. And with that in mind, I'm going with the Chiefs, because the Chargers have so totally given up and died when it comes to Norv Turner.

Bob: San Diego -5.5

Picking Kansas City to upset San Diego this week and calling it “going maverick” is like shopping at Hot Topic to be a nonconformist. Are you shopping where most high schoolers shop? No, but you are shopping where every other goth-y, maladjusted teenager does. Oh, dude, where did you get those black jeans and that studded leather belt? It's so alternative!

Kansas City got a nice little win against the Redskins last week, but the Redskins are probably the most poorly coached team in the league — and that's saying a lot with Brad Childress and Norv Turner still in the NFL. Let's not forget that although the Chargers are 2-3, and their losses are against the Steelers, Ravens and Broncos, who are all above average teams. This isn't to say San Diego is good — their defense is a sieve when it comes to giving up touchdowns and LDT is a sulking mess during games. But Philip Rivers can still throw and they have a dangerous receiving corps. KC doesn't do anything well on defense (or offense), so I smell a cover here.

Indy over ST. LOUIS (13.5)

Bob: Indianapolis -13.5

Yeah, I'm going to have a hard time betting against Peyton Manning this season. Particularly when he is playing against a team that can't score or stop other teams' offenses. I sort of invited fate when I said the line for the Raiders-Philly game couldn't be high enough last week, but I get the same feeling about this game. I guess it isn't guaranteed that the Colts cover, but they should at least win this game handily. If they don't, they're going to have a lot of 'splainin' to do.

It's hard to believe that the Rams were in the “Greatest Show on Turf” only 10 years ago, in the Super Bowl eight years ago, and managed a 12-4 record six years ago. St. Louis will be lucky to win more than a game or two this year. Interestingly, the fate of the Rams seems to have tracked pretty closely with the career of Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Both were on top of the world in 1999, with the Rams winning the Super Bowl and Freddie Prinze, Jr. just coming off I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and She's All That. Both had a decent 2000, but the Rams got knocked off in the wild card round of the playoffs and Freddie Prinze, Jr. made some bombs (Down to You and Boys and Girls). They had a moderate bounce back in the beginning of the 21st Century (Rams make it to Super Bowl and Prinze makes Scooby-Doo), but haven't done much since.

Now the Rams have no hope for the future, and Prinze has been relegated to doing voices for animated films and Robot Chicken. It seems that the Rams and Prinze have the reverse-Midas Touch. Since Freddie Prinze is going to be on 24 next season, does that mean that show is going to die?

Steve: Indy -13.5

... Wow. I bet that is the first time anyone has paralleled the career of Freddy Prinze, Jr. to that of the St. Louis Rams, and I really hope no one else tries, because you've set the bar so high. Two more things about Freddy, since the Rams suck and the Colts should totally dominate them in this game:

1) He is married to Sarah Michelle Gellar, and if I was married to Sarah Michelle Gellar, I wouldn't spend as much time acting anymore either, I would be at home mackin' the bee's Jesus out of her. And this is even taking into account that I really dislike Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 2) Freddy was a writer for the WWE last year, and hosted WWE Raw this year, so he obviously is a wrestling fan. Taking into account one and two, and I think he's just a decent guy who made the most out of the fact that he's a beautiful bastard, even though he didn't have a ton of talent.

CINCY over Chicago (1.5)

Steve: Cincy -1.5

I'm not entirely sure why the Bengals are favored in this game; I'm guessing it's the home field advantage that is the tipping point. I mean, I'm taking them regardless, because they are my favorite team, and because I do think they can beat the Bears. But they've played so many close games this year that I'm not really convinced they can pull it out.

However, consider me shocked that they're even playing this well for Marvin Lewis. Coming into this season, I thought he was a lamer duck coach than FDR's legs. Now, he probably bought himself at least another year, barring an epic collapse, and Dick Jauron and Wade Phillips and Jim Zorn are the most likely to be fired in the middle of the season.

Bob: Chicago +1.5

Boy, did your Bengals betray me last week. There is no reason they should have lost to the Texans. Well, except for the fact that the Bengals might not be as good as we thought. They have been fortunate to draw a few teams who were in the midst of turmoil (Green Bay with injuries on their O-line, the Steelers sans Polamalu, and Baltimore off their loss to New England) and barely beat the awful Browns. Don't count on Marvin Lewis surviving to next season yet, if the Bengals collapse down the stretch he will be gone in a red-hot second.

Unfortunately, I am not so wild about Chicago either. Cutler is the quarterback I always thought he was and they haven't really matched up well against quality teams this year. I can see this game going either way, but right now I see the edge going to da Bears.

Green Bay over CLEVELAND (7.5)

Bob: Green Bay -7.5

Really? Green Bay is only favored by a bit more than a touchdown against a Browns team that is No. 31 on offense and No. 32 on defense by yardage? A team that was only able to win because it played an inept Buffalo team who could only put up three points? Meanwhile, Green Bay is ranked in the top ten in both categories. This line is inexplicable. This is the kind of game that makes me want to bet real money on these games. Hope you had a fun season, Mangina, because I don't think you'll be getting another NFL coaching job anytime soon.

Steve: Green Bay -7.5

Again, I concur with your take on the line, so let's focus on the absolute trainwreck that is Mangina. First, why does he keep waffling on Brady Quinn vs. Derek Anderson? Hasn't Anderson had more than ample opportunity to prove that he had a really flukey, flakey year that made them give him a silly contract? Just bite the bullet and play Quinn, and hope that he improves enough to be a viable starter the next year. (Similarly, I've been advocating the same thing with the Titans; Vince Young at least has a chance of being a decent quarterback down the road at a time when Kerry Collins will be collecting his NFL pension.)

And second, I do think Mangina gets at least another year with the Browns, even if this year is a complete trainwreck. I don't think they hired him expecting immediate results, and bad organizations have a tendency to give guys like Mangina too much rope. (See the Bengals and Marvin Lewis, despite his success so far this year.)

PITTSBURGH over Minnesota (4)

Steve: Minnesota +4

I must begrudgingly pick Brett Favre here. It is odd that I must now begrudgingly do anything related to Favre, because growing up, he was my favorite individual NFL player. I own not one, but two Favre jerseys – classic Green and Yellow, and the white they wore in the Super Bowl win. He earned the honor from my former favorite player Dan Marino, because Marino was getting very old and about to retire.

I'm picking the Vikings because they have looked a lot more impressive this season than the Steelers. Tomlin coached them up great last year, but this year, he's just doing silly things like insisting that Willie Parker still get carries. It would be like if Bill B. in New England decided that Kevin Faulk was going to be the starting running back over Corey Dillon back in the day. Ricockulous. Luckily, Tomlin finally changed his mind this week, but I still think the Vikings win on a late Favre touchdown.

Bob: Pittsburgh -4

The Steelers are the superior team. They have played better, even without Polamalu. The Steelers have the No. 2 run defense in the league. This game should finally be the one that brings Fav-re down back to Earth. Although last week should have been that, too. That guy is so “wily” and “gutsy,” he just forces his team to win! Except for that last playoff game for the Packers. Or down the stretch for the Jets last year. Or really for Green Bay at all any time since 1997. Ugh. I get the sick feeling in my stomach that Favre will make me regret this pick, but the Steelers really, really should win. Particularly since Polamalu is coming back.

Hmm, actually I just thought of something. Favre cameo-d in There's Something About Mary in 1998, the year after his last Super Bowl. Since then, his teams have made the playoffs only six times in 12 years, and his playoff record is 3-6. Since that movie, the Farrely brothers have managed to ruin not only his career, but that of Jim Carey post-Me, Myself, and Irene, Chris Rock post-Osmosis Jones, and all Red Sox fans post-Fever Pitch. Considering most of the Farrely brother movies are so good, it's odd that they seem to have torpedoed so many careers.

New England over Tampa Bay (14.5, in London)

Bob: New England -14.5

The Pats under Bill Belichick have largely managed to avoid “trap games” under his tenure, but this game has “trap” written on it with a capital “RAP.” The Pats should roll in this game, since they are superior on both sides of the ball and are going into a bye the next week. There is no reason this shouldn't be as one-sided as last week's game against the Titans, or my love of John Cusack. But the trip to London could mess up even the most well coached team and it's probably going to be hard for the team to get excited. In addition, Tampa Bay's one bright light is their pass defense. Fortunately, Tampa's run defense may have a way of making even Laurence “Kool Aid” Maroney look good.

Steve: New England -14.5

I am greedily pining for my fantasy team with this pick. Yeah, Brady earned me about 500 points last week, but that's not enough! I need morrreeee, like a zombie hungers for brains, or like Steve Phillips hungers for fat chicks.

HOUSTON over San Fran (3)

Steve: Houston -3

I feel like we have this game every couple of weeks. Both teams seem so very BLAH to me, and I have no idea whether either will show up from week to week. In fact, if I could skip one game out of all of them this week, this would be the one.

However, let me quit my whining and get to picking. If I HAVE to pick one of these two teams, I'm going with the one that flat out murdered me the other week in fantasy football. Eff you, Matt Schaub. You better reward me for picking your team this week, otherwise me and you will not be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

Bob: Houston -3

The number of blah teams this year, I feel, is unprecedented. Looking at the ESPN NFL Power Rankings for this week, I feel like the teams from place 21 to 32 have no chance of doing anything good this year. Above that, some of the teams are intriguing week-to-week, but I have a hard time getting worked up about any team higher than Green Bay, which is at No. 13. Since there are 12 teams that will make the playoffs (although the Top 12 in the Power Rankings won't necessarily all make the playoffs since the NFC/AFC split may not be even, and all the divisions may not be represented), that means that the rest of the season is almost mapped out. So I agree with you, some of these games are just painful to pick

Oh, this game. San Francisco looked so promising at the beginning of the season, but then they realized they had Shaun Hill at quarterback. This team, for the time being, has a low ceiling because of the putridity they have under center, and they don't seem to do anything well. On the other hand, Houston is relatively prolific on offense. Houston should win this game — but we all know this doesn't mean anything, since they have a talent at losing games they should win.

Jets over OAKLAND (6)

Bob: J-E-T-S -6

Boy, who to pick, Jamarcus Russell or the guy who has spent the last two weeks doing his best Jamarcus Russell impression? Mark “Pornstar” Sanchez has been simply awful the last two weeks while the Raiders somehow managed to embarrass the Eagles. I don't see how the Raiders manage to win two in a row, even considering how bad the Jets have been lately. Rex Ryan should realize he has a relatively prolific running game, and take the ball out of Sanchez's hands to get him back some confidence. Of course, we have seen no evidence yet that he is a good coach. I'll take the Jets for the time being.

Steve: Jets -6

Jamarcus Russell sucks. Mark Sanchez kind of sucks this year, but nowhere near as bad as Jamarcus. And if Rex Ryan was able to give Tom Brady fits, then I don't think Russell has any chance. As Football Outsiders has pointed out, Mr. Russell is on pace for a historically inaccurate season, and I don't think his accuracy is going to improve with constant blitzing.

CAROLINA over Buffalo (7)

Steve: Carolina -7

At first, my instinct was to take Buffalo, simply because they are coming off a big win versus the Jets and also getting seven points. But then I decided to go maverick on this, especially when I remembered that Trent Edwards would not be starting because of the concussion he suffered against the Jets.

This leaves the offense in the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Ryan Fitzgerald, or whatever his Ivy-educated ass is actually named. Listen, the National Football League is no longer a gentleman's game of the 1920s that sees the boys from Harvard playing those Yale scoundrels to a gentleman's tie on the quad in a gentleman's way. James J. “Gentleman” Yeager isn't walking through that door. Julius Peppers did not go to Harvard, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or Brown, or Cornell, or Penn, or Princeton, or Columbia. He will render Ivy boy's head fromist his neck and thenst lower his pantaloons and shit down his throat.

Bob: Buffalo +7

I never want to pick another Carolina game again. Ever. Jake Delhomme is so frustrating — the guy can throw five picks one week, get benched and booed off his home field, and somehow still find a way to keep his starting job and win a few games. You never know what you're going to get out of him. Trying to predict what Delhomme will give you is like trying to predict the weather next week by looking out the window. Good luck.

That being said, I wanted to concur with your pick against the Bills. But this is a wide spread for two mediocre teams, and this game looks like it will be a run fest. This game could go either way, and it will probably be close. I'll take the points.

New Orleans over MIAMI (6.5)

Bob: New Orleans -6.5

This is the sexy pick for upset of the week, and it sure would be exciting to see a team take down the Saints. I don't see it, though, since the teams are relatively even on defense and have similar run / pass splits in terms of performance. But Miami doesn't have Drew Brees and his set of receivers. So I don't really see Miami's path to victory. They match up well, and every team should have a down week sometime, but I'm not going to bet based on the hope that a team is uncharacteristic.

Steve: New Orleans -6.5

I agree with you about the Dolphins being a sexy pick. Hey, I have Ronnie Brown on my fantasy team, which I like to bring up constantly, so I know the flashy, coked-up allure of Miami better than anyone. However, at the end of the day, a classic quarterback like Drew Brees will bring the Saints victory better than the glitz of the Wildcat offense. That's just a fling, baby, the Saints are the real thing.


DALLAS over Atlanta (4)


Steve: Atlanta +4

While I don't think Dallas has been as truly bad as some would suggest, I still fucking hate them for no good reason. This is odd because I don't even dislike Tony Romo; I mean, he did dump America's sweetheart Jessica Simpson (or co-sweetheart with Mandy Moore), but he seems like a nice enough guy. (p.s. I just looked up Mandy Moore on Google, to make sure I was spelling her name correctly, and found out that she's two months younger than me, and still a stone cold fox. I then noticed that she was married to Ryan Adams, which I can't even hate that much, since he sings one of my favorite slow songs.)

But anyway, being nice is kind of a problem if you're trying to be a quarterback in the NFL. You can't be a nice guy. Tom Brady dumped his pregnant girlfriend, and while Big Ben didn't rape that girl, he didn't stick around and become her best friend either. Joe Namath is a drunk who drunkenly slurs love confessions to sideline reporters, and Peyton Manning would advertise an abortion clinic if they paid him enough. And Steve McNair apparently was not a nice guy either.

Tony Romo just seems like a swell guy, the personality-less third lead in a buddy movie. Like, the only other friend of two friends; he never even really blew up on TO. And for these reasons, the Cowboys won't win shit with him around.

Bob: Dallas -4

I have been preaching this all year. Dallas isn't that bad — on offense. Their defense is still subpar, but it's not as bad as it was to start off the season. People like to blame Tony Romo, but a quarterback can only do so much for a team. Your “nice guys finish last” assertion is an interesting one, but I don't think I agree with you on Peyton Manning not being a nice guy because he's a sellout. And as you noted, Tony Romo is only nice to the point that he dumped Jessica Simpson because she was a bad luck charm — on the night before her birthday, no less. Stone cold. His problem isn't being nice, it's that he's got "Donovan McNabb Under Pressure" Syndrome.

GIANTS over Arizona (7)

Bob: G-Men -7

I know the Giants got shellacked last week (BWA HA HA), I have a hard time seeing why they are only favored by a touchdown against Arizona. What has Arizona done this year? Beaten mediocre Jacksonville, Houston, and Seattle teams? Ooh, scary. I guess a touchdown is generally a large spread, but this year a lot of games haven't been close. The Giants should be able to bounce back from last week's putrid showing.

Steve: Giants -7

This spread does seem too small, given how both of these teams play. The Giants are more successful at airing it out, and again to bring up fantasy football, I have the better Steve Smith on my team. Hopefully, Tom Coughlin gets super pass happy, infected by the sweet scent of Kurt Warner's crazy pass tendencies.

Philadelphia over WASHINGTON (7)

Steve: Philly -7

I sure hope Kristin is sticking by the Redskins, because I'd love to pick up a game here. Yeah, the Eagles effed up against the Raiders, but they always seem to bounce back after stinker games. Similar to my preceding rant about Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb seems like a nice guy, but this isn't the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Redskins have a bye coming up after this game, so I think the potential is high for them intentionally throw the game. One, because they would make a crapload of money by doing so, and two, because it would get Jim Zorn fired. If I was Roger Goodell, I would be carefully monitoring this game. I mean, it's hard to prove that the Redskins are throwing a game, because they set the bar so low from week to week, but I'll know the fix is in when Clinton Portis “accidentally” throws a lateral to Trotter for an easy six points.

Bob: Philadelphia -7

How dare you. Even after she wrote you that nice thank you note, you take a dump on her 'Skins. It's not her fault that she was raised to root for a team that has the most evil owner in the NFL. As a matter of fact, I'm hoping Snyder can take his evilness up to a new level this week, and fire Zorn at halftime during a nationally televised game. It's hard to hate a guy who got unfairly thrust into a head coaching position like Zorn, but he is just THAT bad. I feel like Norv Turner and Art Shell at least have a sense of what they are doing wrong as they miscoach a team. Zorn doesn't seem to have that self-awareness.

That being said, the Eagles and Redskins have relatively equivalent defenses. The big difference is the Redskins' ineptitude on offense. With Zorn having just been stripped of his playcalling duties, it's possible the Redskins could begin to turn the corner on offense. This team is not going to be good, but it should be at least okay. I won't bet that the Redskins will solve what ills them on offense overnight (although anything is better than Zorn calling plays), but this game could be closer than it looks on paper.

The Hardly Boys pictures are from here and here. The picture of Freddy and Sarah Michelle Gellar is from here. The pictures of Mandy Moore come from this style blog that I agree with. The "old tyme" football player is from this costume web site. And the Brett Favre picture, circa There's Something About Mary, is from here.

Pickin' Pigskin with Kristin: Week 7

Every week, as an accessory to the picks Bob and I do, his wife Kristin also picks games. So far this year, she has been in first place overall more weeks than Bob and I, so she's doing quite well. Our picks will be up at 7 p.m. tonight.

San Diego over KANSAS CITY (5.5)

Kristin: San Diego

You can barely beat Washington and you expect to come within 5.5 on San Diego? Not that San Diego is amazing or anything, but let's be serious.

Indy over ST. LOUIS (13.5)

Kristin: Indy

I think Indy will be nicely rested after their bye week last week and able to score big. Further, I bet St. Louis is still tired after expending all that energy actually scoring a few points - something they are clearly not used to doing.

CINCY over Chicago (1.5)

Kristin: Cincy

I think this is an interesting match-up- pitting two mid-level teams that blew games they really should have won last week against each other. I will take Cincy only because I think they are the more fun of the two teams to watch.

Green Bay over CLEVELAND (7.5)

Kristin: Green Bay

I don't see this being close. Poor Browns.

PITTSBURGH over Minnesota (4)

Kristin: Minnesota

I'm going to put my faith in the Vikings and hope that they can hold their own and play out a tough, full game like last week. Also, I am angry with Pittsburgh for not beating the spread last week because they got lazy and bored. As much as I hate to admit it, Favre isn't done yet, and he has played well in big games.

New England over Tampa Bay (14.5, in London)

Kristin: New England

OMG! Last week's game was amazing! Now, I would like to take some time to gloat and quote myself from last week. I predicted perfection and domination, but even I did not think I would be so right. Tom Brady the god/hero descended on a snow cloud and proved that the bitch is back. Knee what?!

Now, my only hesitation in this game is the jet-lag. I keep thinking about the Red Sox 2008 Japan trip being blamed for all the team's aliments for the season, and their lackluster showing abroad. It's one thing to play this game in the states and another in London, either way - GO PATS!

HOUSTON over San Fran (3)

Kristin: Houston

Grumble! I hate how inconsistent both Houston and San Fran have been this season. I'm taking Houston only because they are at home.

Jets over OAKLAND (6)

Kristin: Oakland

The announcers were saying last week that they weren't sure if the Jets even wanted to win. If the spunk and spirit has gone out of the Jets, maybe the put-on-a-whooping-out-of-nowhere Raiders can further their humiliation and downfall. Go wishful thinking go!

CAROLINA over Buffalo (7)

Kristin: Buffalo

Not that I think Buffalo is much better, but I have zero faith in Carolina.

New Orleans over MIAMI (6.5)

Kristin: New Orleans

Go Saints! Super happy to see the Giants smashed last week! I find the Saints exciting and refreshing and delightfully not from New York or Pittsburgh. Sorry, Miami, I still have a soft spot for you but this is not your week.

DALLAS over Atlanta (4)

Kristin: Atlanta

I see Dallas putting that beautiful new stadium to waste. If I can't honestly root for the Skins I can at least root against Dallas.

GIANTS over Arizona (7)

Kristin: Giants

Boooooo hisss. Giants suck!

Philadelphia over WASHINGTON (7)

Kristin: Washington

Now I know my Washington picks have become a joke, but I'm almost serious with this one. Philly was made to look stupid last week, maybe it can happen again. I really love their crazy / exciting / young / unbroken / no baggage back-up QB. Why is he not starting?

If Philly isn't going to use him, can the Redskins have him? They need something new and fresh in that dead locker room - so much stale air and bad blood you would think they were a vampire high school soap opera (love you Vampire Diaries) to match their high school blocking and tackling skills.

Vampire Diaries photo taken from here. The "Tom Brady is God" image comes from this humorous blog. The Saints mug can be purchased here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stats, stats and stats - September 2009


Well, this proved to be popular last month, so I apologize for taking so long in getting it to you this month. I'll probably have October's stats up in a much more timely fashion. Also, as a scheduling note, football picks will now be on Saturdays, and Amanda Meyer's column will be on Sunday nights. That schedule seemed to work out well last week for everyone involved.

You can find September's stats here, by the way. If I get more motivated, I might eventually make some graphs and charts with these numbers. Anyway, on to this month's numbers:

Total number of visits – 543 (up by 135)
Total number of pageviews – 937 (up by 220)
Average time on site – 1:56 (down 7 seconds)
Percentage of new visitors – 42.73% (up about 4.73%)
Most popular days – Sunday, Sept. 13 and Sunday, Sept. 20 (29 visitors)
Least popular days – Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday, Sept. 26 (10 visitors)
Top Five referrers – Twitter (19.52%), Blogger (17.13%), direct link (14.92%), Google (13.63%) and Google Images (5.89%)
Top Five states – Rhode Island (156 visits), Massachusetts (121), California (25), Virginia (25) and Mississippi (17)
Unpopular states – Nobody visited from Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Delaware, South Carolina and Maine.
Top Five cities – Brighton, MA; Ft. Myer, VA; Medfield, MA; Cambridge, MA; Biloxi, MS
Ad revenue – $0.87, down $0.73
Alltime Ad Revenue - $3.72

The abacus picture comes from this splendid site here.

Buy My Crap - Guitar Hero Van Halen

This is still one of the best usages of "Jump"

Hey, look at that - Something that isn't actually crap for sale by me! Try not to act surprised, but I'm putting my copy of Guitar Hero Van Halen up for sale because, honestly, I could use the money more than I'll play the game.

It was a tough decision though, because this is a shockingly well-made game. I don't mean shocking in the sense that a Guitar Hero game with Van Halen would be awesome; I think that's a no brainer. However, I enjoyed this game significantly more than Guitar Hero 5 and Rock Band The Beatles for a variety of reason, most of which I'll cover in a review for Blast that I'll link to later.

Anyway, the same offer I made for Spyborgs applies for this game. In the ultimate cheesiness move, if you want me to autograph the inside case, I totally will. Or, if you'd like to select from my library of crappy PS2, PSX, DC, SNES and NES games, I can whip up a list for you. Just send me an e-mail (sgre6768@gmail.com) when you win the auction so I know that it's you.

Edit: Bumped up to today, from yesterday, because I forgot to put the freakin' link to the eBay auction in yesterday. Doh!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Options thin for Red Sox in free agency


One of the quotes I best remember from an edition of Baseball Prospectus that I will ironically mangle right now is that if the market is only selling bananas, and you need to buy oranges, well, then you're S out of luck.

This is a key, key fact to remember about the Red Sox and this year's free agent market. The Red Sox could really use an under-30 power bat at catcher, first base, shortstop or third base. However, the market doesn't really have a good option for any of those positions.

Currently, the Red Sox have Victor Martinez, who can play catcher or first, and Kevin Youkilis, who can play first or third. David Ortiz and Mike Lowell are still under contract, and between them, you have a decent fill for the designated hitter and third base slots in the lineup. I say "decent" because both are in their decline phases, and on the wrong side of 30, and in Lowell's case, barely suitable for his position in the field.

It should also be noted that Martinez will be a free agent after 2010, when he will be 32, so he is not a long-term solution at catcher. At shortstop, the Red Sox haven't yet decided whether or not to pick up Alex Gonzalez's $6 million option. Although he did decent in a small sample size with the team, all he can really do is field, so that is a steep price. This year's left fielder, Jason Bay, is also a free agent, and also on the wrong side of 30 and probably looking for a decently long deal, four to five years, for $13 million to $16 million a year.

With this in mind, let's look at the free agent market, position by position, focusing on the Red Sox needs. All potential free agents are from this site.

CATCHERS

The best players are Gregg Zaun, Mike Redmond, Josh Bard and Ramon Castro. Of course, maybe you prefer a "name" guy. In that case, the corpses of Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Kendall and Bengie Molina are available. You can pick through the debris and find a guy or two who exceeded expectations a bit, but there is no free agent available that immediately makes me think, "Wow, our catching problem is now solved!"

FIRST BASE

See: catchers. The best player is probably Nick Johnson [left], with the caveat that you can't count on him to play two games in a row, nevermind actually holding up for a 162 game season. (Or, in Boston's case, a 165 to 181 game season.) He didn't manage a full season this year, even with that sweet mustache of his. On a performance basis though, he is clearly the best bet, and similar to the Brad Penny and John Smoltz deals this past season, you might be able to get him on an incentive-laden deal. Russell Branyan, the ultimate three true outcomes guy, is also a free agent, although the fan base's past reaction to Mark Bellhorn suggests that his plate approach might not fly.

Once you get past Johnson, you have a few "reclamation" guys that are kind of interesting to me. The team already took a spin on the Adam LaRoche train, but he is out there. Once upon a time, Hank Blalock played third base, so he could be a poor man's - okay, more like a homeless man's - version of Kevin Youkilis. The "veteran names" at first base include Doug Mienakljklasjfas, Eric Hinske, NOMAH, Carlos Delgado and Miguel Cairo.

SHORTSTOPS

I don't think it's a big deal if the Sox pass on A-Gonz because there is a semi-flood of guys like him on the market this year. If you don't want to pay him $6 million, then you can try your luck again with Orlando Cabrera, or move on to Craig Counsell or Bobby Crosby or Khalil Greene or John McDonald or Marco Scutaro or Miguel Tejada or Jack Wilson. All of them are quasi-decent shortstops, depending on how hard you squint, and all of them aren't going to make more than $6 million. I'd rather roll the dice with one of them, plus Jed Lowrie (when / if healthy) and Nick Green, than guaranteeing all that cash to A-Gonz.

THIRD BASE

Chone Figgins is the "big" name out there at third. He is a poor choice for several reasons to me. One, his highest slugging was 432, and that was two years ago, in his age 29 season. He doesn't hit home runs, or doubles. Two, he's fast, but he's 31 now, and his speed has always been overrated on the basepaths because he gets caught so much. He had 42 steals this year... but also led the league with 17 caught stealing. And finally, his value is extra high this year because of his 101 walks, which is 36 more than his previous season high. Figgins is a decent player, but he needs to have a high OBP to be an asset as a full-time third baseman because of his lack of power. Since he could get a deal worth $10 million a year from some desperate team, I'd prefer the Sox stay away from him.

Adrian Beltre is a 12-year veteran, but is still only 30. This would matter more if he had hit better than 265 / 304 / 379 this year. For all the media craze about guys on the juice, you never heard his name bandied about, even though he has never come close to matching his utterly insane 48 HR year - in Dodger Stadium! - right before he became a free agent right after the 2004 season.

The other options at third also come with serious question marks. These players could redeem themselves, but they could be complete busts as well: Mark DeRosa, Joe Crede (rumored to be retiring), Troy Glaus (so hurt he only managed to appear in 14 games this year), Melvin Mora and Pedro Feliz (club options that will probably and foolishly be picked up), and scrubs like Aaron bleeping Boone and Adam Kennedy.

OUTFIELD

For simplicity's sake, I'm assuming a traditional right fielder or center fielder would be able to play left in Fenway. The Monster is an asset when it comes to hiding a horrible fielder - Ask Manny Ramirez, who was actually able to sucker some people in Boston into thinking he was a decent left fielder.

Anyway, the outfield has some decent options, even if you assume the Rays will act sanely and pick up Carl Crawford's option. In addition to the aforementioned Jason Bay, Matt Holliday is available. While he didn't do well in Oakland this year, he is a good defensive outfielder, and could probably provide about 50 to 80 percent of Bay's value at the plate.

I see three veteran longshots available as well - Vlad Guerrero, Bobby Abreu and Brian Giles. Guerrero and Abreu seem pretty happy with the Angels, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Vlad in particular take a pay cut to stay with the Halos. Abreu might be looking to cash in after a really good year, but the Sox seem an unlikely destination; I imagine they would want to offer him something incentive-laden, similar to what the Angels did this year. And Giles already rejected a trade to the Sox in the past, so I doubt he'd seriously consider signing with them as a free agent.

In the flashback category, Johnny Damon and Wily Mo Pena are free agents, but I doubt either will be back in a Boston uniform for personality reasons and quality reasons, respectively. The Royals have an $8 million option for Coco Crisp, so there is a good chance he could be available, but he can't hit well enough to play left in Fenway. Dave Roberts is technically a free agent; if the Sox were interested, they probably would have asked him to get a uniform a bit earlier than now.

There are a lot of "tweeners" in the outfield, actually. Meaning, guys who either 1) hit OK 2) but not well enough to be an All-Star and 3) aren't incredible with the glove either. The converse is also true, with some plus defenders who REALLY don't hit well. I'm looking in your direction, Marlon Byrd, Mike Cameron, Reed Johnson, Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady, Randy Winn and Emil Brown.

CONCLUSIONS

Hey, sorry for being the bearer of bad news, but the market isn't that strong when it comes to positions the Red Sox actually need filled. For most of these, the in-house candidates - Ortiz, Lowell, Lowrie, Bay - are comparable in quality to what's out on the market. If the Sox are going to radically improve their roster in the offseason, it's going to be via trade.

The Nick Johnson photo is from this blog. The market photo is from here. The picture of Mandy Moore is from here, and included because I find her incredibly foxy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tag Team: Steve and Brenna on superheroes, Star Wars and no coffee

To rip-off the disclaimer for Bill Simmons' BS Report, Tag Team is a free flowing discussion between two adults that sometimes touches on mature subjects. Back in the day, I used to teach URI 101, which is where I initially met Brenna McCabe. She then started working for the Cigar, and later became its editor-in-chief, three years after I did. She is also insane about puppies and coffee.

Want to do your own Tag Team with me? Send me an e-mail (sgre6768@gmail.com) or leave a comment.


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Steve says: First off, I have no clue what the freak your e-mail acronym is. BCabe M? Really? Was Brenna.McCabe taken? Or BMcCabe? Or McCabeBrenna? I expect a bit more out of you!

Second, let's get down to this superhero discussion. I still haven't seen either Hulk movie because I've heard conflicting things about both of the recent versions. The older one, the one released around 2000, is apparently too talky, while the newer one with Edward Norton is just a generic action movie, which I'm also not into.

It always amazes me how Hollywood can manage to screw up superhero franchises. The two worst I've seen are Catwoman and Elektra, and especially Elektra. The movie that spawned it - Daredevil - was pretty decent, but Elektra was pretty horrible. I watched it with someone who was a huge Alias fan, who owned practically everything Jennifer Garner had ever done on DVD, and she still fell asleep. I stayed awake, but mostly because it was so bad I cringed in a lot of parts.

If we're talking about good superhero movies, I think Iron Man, the Batman Begins series and the first two Spiderman movies are on the upper tier, and in roughly that order as well. In the next tier, I think there are a lot of serviceable films: the first two X-Men movies, Daredevil, Spawn, Spiderman 3. And in the bottom tier, there is a lot of cheesy stuff that is kind of worth watching, like X-Men 3.

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Brenna says: Greenwell, you'd be surprised how many folks have (or I guess are strangely obsessed with) my name. Bcabem is first class stuff. It's also the only name that made sense and wasn't taken.

But let's get to the meat of this - for the past couple of weeks, I've been plagued by movie posters and trailers of the upcoming Hulk movie. You're absolutely right about Hollywood - It is astounding how many writers and directors have managed to butcher the Incredible Hulk franchise (this includes the hilariously bad TV show from the late '70s starring Lou Ferrigno), and the new movie, though I have an incredible (no pun intended) respect for the talent of Edward Norton, looks no different than the last one.

This movie, much like its predecessor, seems centered around the love story of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross. I think Marvel was going for a revamp similar to the revival of the Batman movies in Christian Bale, with an edgier look and better talent. The difference here is that the writer and director got in touch with the darker roots of the Batman comics -- namely the period of revival in the 1970s and 1980s when the strips took on the "grim avenger of the night" mantra.

But The Incredible Hulk doesn't look like it's going to do much for Marvel lovers, except for maybe giving a slight boost to Banner's character, formerly played by Eric Bana. (Which was one of the bleakest performances I've ever seen in a superhero movie ... almost worse than what's-his-face in Superman Returns. Cringe.)

As far as I can see, the movie doesn't even get into The Avengers or any of the cool villains that surface in the actual comic, which are the best parts of Hulk's story anyway!

I think the latest Batman movies still stand as the best superhero films of late, though I also have a strong attachment for the non-traditional V for Vendetta and the original Star Wars trilogy - I don't know if you count Luke Skywalker as a traditional superhero, but he might as well be. Mmmm, Mark Hamil.

Speaking of Star Wars, I recently happened upon "Wookieepidia," the official Star Wars wikia. Do you know what this means? This means I can FINALLY win arguments concerning the definition of a parsec, which in case you were wondering is equal to 3.26 light years. And...

"By real world definition a parsec is 360×60×60/2π Astronomical Units (AU). It is a measurement of distance based on apparent stellar motion as observed from Earth. Since the Galactic Standard "AU" would be based on Coruscant's orbit (368 days) it would equal 150,349,907,726 meters. This makes a Galactic Standard parsec equal 31,011,894,586,294,500 meters. Note, that it is also possible that the Coruscant Day, Hour, etc. are 0.75 percent shorter than Earth's, in which case the AU and parsec would be the same length as Earth's. Earth has a year 365.2424 days long and an AU of 149,597,870,691 meters. This makes an Earth based parsec equal 30,856,775,813,057,300 meters."

Ha! And now that I've gotten lost in the valley of Geekville, ne'er to return until I find a good GPS and some stellar caffeine adjustments, I leave you with this: I was venturing on YouTube last night and discovered the latest cartoon version of the X-Men, X-Men Evolution. Have you seen this poppycock!? Thirty-somethings are complaining about how all kids want to do is play on the computer instead of going outside and beating up other children on the playground like they're supposed to, but do you know what the real downfall of society is going to be? I'll tell you, Greenwell. It's poor-quality cartoons. How are kids supposed to function properly in society if they have no models to look up to?

X-Men Evolution is just some of the basic characters (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine & Storm) mixed in with some new ones (Shadowcat? Come on, man) ... as teenagers. In high school. It's the Gossip Girl version of a superhero TV series. Sure, there was some drama on the old series. But it was more about the fight and the philosophy, not about Jean Grey trying to score some cartoon hottie on the football field to make Scott jealous. Thoughts? Concerns? A strongly-worded letter to Marvel?

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Steve said: I had forgotten that there is a lot of down time when you're being a writing coach at the Cigar. Whoops! See, if I had done this earlier, you would have had time to reply to it tonight. As is, I'm not sure if that will happen.

Speaking of being a writing coach, how do you like it? I realize you're only a couple months removed, but so was I when I started. It was a weird mix of happiness and melancholy for me; I kind of felt like I was backtracking a bit.

I really haven't seen any of the Hulk content; I just don't find him that compelling of a character. His whole motivation is based on rage and emotion, and his only "power" is actual brute force strength. With alternatives like Wolverine out there, I think he's a kind of boring character. He's like Superman to me with less spectacularness.

I also don't consider V For Vendetta a real "superhero" movie. It's mostly about a political struggle, except that one guy wears a mask and cape and ladies love him. Like, seriously - I bet female fans of that movie outnumber males 2 to 1. If I was teaching a literature class, I might consider showing it at the end of a unit on 1984 as an example of the dangers of complete authoritarian control, but I found the movie kind of... muddled.

On the whole, I think Star Wars is more like space drama than superhero, but Luke Skywalker is so underrated! I was arguing with another friend who I won't name fully - Let's call her A. Meyer. Ehhh, wait, make that Amanda M. Anyway, she's not into Luke Skywalker or Matt Fox's character on Lost, Jack, because they're too boring and heroic. I would angrily chastise her (more than I do) for this folly, except that pretty much everyone loves Han Solo in Star Wars.

You know what I say? FEH! That role is so cool that pretty much any actor could have played it. Luke has to make tougher decisions in the movies, and deal with more emotionally trying situations, so I'll always skew toward endorsing him.

I have seen portions of X-Men Evolution, and it really is... just... awful. I think it takes place in an "alternate" Marvel Universe, but I have no idea why they feel the need to do that. You have decades of great, high-selling comic books. Why would you then insist on using storylines aimed at stupid teenagers? Make them come up to you!

It's a sin I think journalism is guilty of too. Since the 1970s, most papers seem obsessed with becoming more like TV news - immediate, less investigative, less enterprise, less of an emphasis on WRITING. People sometimes throw The New York Times at me when I say that, except that the actual writing in that kind of stinks – they just use bigger words. Most of it is still mind-numbing to actually read. I think some of the best work out there now is being done by places like Slate, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker, and journalism novelists, like Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis.

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Brenna said:
Days and days and days later...

Sorry for responding so late, Greenwell. I've been very busy being important & working the early morning shift at a shitty part-time job (like all famous writers have started out doing). But I'm here, and I'm ready to rock the blogosphere.

I can't stop rhyming lately and I have no idea why.

My rhymes are so potent / That in this small segment / I made allllllll the ladies in the first two rows pregnant.
-Flight of the Conchords


Thank Allah for New Zealand!

All right, I'm stalling.

Let's start with the Cigar. The writing coach gig went well, but I know what you mean about backtracking. I'll admit it - all the warm, fuzzy Cigar feelings came back full force within the first five minutes of stepping into the room. The Reno 911: Miami poster, the photo pass board, the picture of Keith Cothran mid-alleyoop on the sports department board ...

I didn't realize I was so attached to posters until just now. But it was a great feeling to be back even though Lindsay Lorenz, the new chief, rearranged all the tables and my old office is no longer plastered with Patriots and Celtics schedules, and puppy posters. Seeing my young bucks take the lead as news editors was also a treat, though I felt oddly removed from everything at the same time. But these things take time, Greenwell. All things must come to an end.

Kind of like The Amazing Spiderman. There have been rumors that there is going to be three more Spiderman movies coming out, but what's even more disturbing is that there is a Broadway musical slated for 2010. And Bono from US has taken it upon himself to write the score. This is more abhorrent than shocking, seeing as U2 is one of the biggest musical sellouts of all-time. They're the kind of band that rides on their earlier musical masterpieces (“Sunday Bloody Sunday” and pretty much anything from The Joshua Tree) and thinks it's OK to produce crap like “Vertigo” because they can get away with it. (Although that song is still a guilty pleasure of mine because iut's so catchy.)

So now Bono is trying to do the same with Spiderman, one of my favorite superheroes of all time. And why? Who knows. Maybe he's insecure about his own sellout status so he has to pick on a comic book character that can't fight for his own dignity. No one's going to spin Bono up in a web and hang him from the Empire State building for this. Moreover, I'm too curious and too much of a Spiderman fan to simply IGNORE the musical, so I have to at least see it!

It's just like with the last three Star Wars movies... God knows they should have never been made, but they're part of the story. So I HAD to see them. I'm “that guy” that has to finish the goddamn book, even if I start picturing a hundred different ways to kill the author. Read Twilight and you'll know what I mean.

You know George Lucas is going to make three more Star Wars movies. You know he's going to do it. It's definitely going to be the Luke / Mara Jade storyline from the Star Wars books. The movies will probably be the last big project the man does before he kicks the bucket! If he does decide to disgrace himself further, I at least hope they pick a better actor for the role of Luke than he did for Anakin Skywalker.

In regards to the Luke vs. Han Solo match-up, I agree with you on that front. Though I can't say I wasn't always a little in love with Solo. That wit, that charm ... and what a hottie. Hahaha. But Luke had a better story, and that's definitely one reason why the old movies were so great.

I love this time of year because Spike plays the old Star Wars movies in frequent marathons. I'm also really excited for Star Wars in Concert coming to the Dunkin Donuts Center. Is that wrong? Should I check myself in somewhere? I mean, I'm not going to dress up for it or anything. But I am probably paying out the ass for it. And I only make a measly $12 per hour. Hmm. I wish that made a difference to me. My wallet is going to be really thin by the time Christmas rolls around - Marion (mom), Francis P. (dad), Little McCabe (Meaghan?), I hope you don't expect too much this year. Brenna's working the early shift for you people already!

Speaking of which, do you know how hard it is to quit coffee when you have to slap yourself awake at 4 a.m. each week? It's like kicking a nicotine habit (or so I imagine). News of my one-month no-coffee triumph spread like wildfire this week, so my co-workers have decided to torture me more by shoving coffee beans under my nose, trying to switch my decaf to regular when they think I'm not paying attention and tempting me with Starbucks syrup that they're only supposed to give to customers. I'm not entirely sure of this, but my investigative reporting skills have led me to believe that the waiters actually have a pool going for who can crack me first. Bollocks!

Luckily, Starbucks has been a kind soul to me. This week, for example, I found its new tribute to decaf: http://blogs.starbucks.com/blogs/customer/archive/2009/10/12/1-new-starbucks-via-product-idea-coming-soon-decaf.aspx. For now, I drink my free decaf coffee at the Viking Hotel. Fancy-schmancy-watered-down-decaffeination. Awesome. When my grandmother Mary died, I was told people threw Bingo chips in her coffin because she loved the game so much. All I ask is that my close friends do not feel the same way about my Starbucks mugs.

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Steve said: Dear McCabe, at least your choice for procrastinating lyrics are excellent. That's still one of my away messages, one of the few that served the jump over to my new computer. But back to the matter at hand, yes.

With each year that passes from what should have been my true graduation year - 2006 - I feel more removed from the general URI student body. I mean, Lorenz is a senior at the Cigar, and I'm about FIVE years older than her. Ugh. Unlike that sleazy guy from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, this is not a discrepancy that makes me happy. Each time I go back, I feel like I'm reliving a sort of arrested development, and not in the good way, with Michael and George Michael and Gob. The posters still are everywhere; I was surprised that all of them were still up from my days, and that there is a picture of Nat "Buddy" Binns in the editor's office still, who nobody on the current paper knows.

This talk of Spiderman: The Musical worries me, especially if that horrible snake Bono is involved. What gives??? I wish I was a superhero, so that I could stop that. The third movie was bad enough that I'd be seriously worried about the future installments of the series. And like you, I have not really liked anything done by U2 since The Joshua Tree.

However, I am a bit excited at the prospect of more Star Wars movies, especially if Lucas isn't the sole architect of the project. I've read the officially-sanctioned unofficial 7, 8 and 9 books by
Zahn, and I thought they were pretty swell and plausible, much more so than the actual 1 and 2 films done by Lucas. (Revenge of the Sith is the only "new" Star Wars movie that I'll still
watch, because I think it really sets up A New Hope really well.)

You going to that Star Wars concert is pretty sad, though.

I do whole-heartedly agree with your no-coffee pledge though, since I dislike drinking coffee. It is a vile substance that just clings to your skin for hours. My favorite part of working for a different newspaper company is that I no longer have to constantly meet sources at the local coffee house, which I had to do a lot in Warren. It's weird that from southern to northern Rhode Island, there is a pretty decent split in terms of coffee consumption.

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Want to do your own Tag Team now? Of course you do... Send an e-mail to sgre6768@gmail.com and we'll make it work, as a wise man once said. On to the usual photo credits: The Spiderman photo is from here. The picture of the Hulk comes from an interview with Lou right here. The picture of Luke Skywalker is from here. Flight of the Conchords is from here.

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