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December 24, 2008

Is It March Yet?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Willis @ 3:15 pm

So it’s holiday time and most of us have finished worrying about gifts and fantasy football, but there are a few people still out there with last minute shopping and still in the running to win their league Super Bowl (sorry, NFL) Big Game. To those people I say good luck. For the rest of us, we shall prepare for the future. 

What happens in the near future to prepare for? Well, there’s the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl, baseball spring training, and March Madness and other march tournaments. But if you’re like me, you can’t wait another 3 months for some tournament action. So I’ve scoured the internet for some interesting sport or nerd tournaments and this is what I’ve found:

  • Paul and Storm have set up a Geek Madness tournament. They have realized that Obama might be our first geek president (he’s on YouTube, he was on Twitter, and he carries a blackberry) and therefore he may choose a Secretary of Geek Affairs.
  • WIRED magazine is running a Sexiest Geek contest. And I have to post this because they say “Every geek’s a little bit sexy, somehow. Maybe it’s the glasses, the hot talk about black holes or the Asperger’s-like obsession with sci-fi, science or gadgets.” 
  • Think that you are the best Madden player around? Perhaps you’d like to find a tournament where you can prove this fact. Try looking at Get Your Tournament.
  • Don’t worry, I don’t think anyone around here is nerdy enough to want to play in a Star Craft tournament or even watch the matches happen.
  • There’s another tournament going on right now. One that I am not a part of (but should be). It’s the Sports Blogger of the Year tournament at Busted Coverage. I’m not going to complain that we didn’t make the cut (we were on the bubble, I promise) but Fire Joe Morgan made it and they no longer blog.

Also before the weekend, I wanted to post an update about the Patriots status about making the playoffs this year. And while I’m at it, why not just cover the whole AFC East. (more…)

December 22, 2008

[Business Day One] In The Bleak Midwinter

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , , , — Serpico @ 10:44 am

I read Bill Simmons, more to be entertained than informed.  But he made me think the other day, when he wrote about Brett Favre:

Who’s more likely to be affected by bone-chilling temperatures — a young QB with little wear and tear on his body, or an old QB who has started 270 consecutive games, battled an addiction to painkillers and probably takes 15 minutes to get out of bed every morning? Wouldn’t it be the old guy? Think of it this way: A family gets together for the holidays in Buffalo. There are three brothers in the family (ages 27, 35 and 38), two sisters, a mom, a dad and a grandfather. One morning, Buffalo gets crushed by a blizzard and somebody has to shovel the driveway in minus-4-degree weather for two hours. Which family member gets bundled up and goes out there? The youngest brother. Why? BECAUSE HE’S 27!!!!!!!!! He’s the youngest, healthiest one! Is there any chance the 38-year-old guy goes out there? No! Why? BECAUSE HE’S 38!!!!

Makes too much sense, right?  I watched the game with that in mind, and was in no way surprised when the old man threw for two interceptions and couldn’t find his checkdown receivers under pressure.  He’s pushing 40 and running around on a frozen field in the Pacific Northwest.  What did you think would happen?

This got me thinking about football, and how it is the most variable sport in terms of weather.  At least in terms of the American sports.  Basketball and hockey are played indoors in climate controlled environs.  Yes, some arenas are warmer than others and that affects ice conditions and the grip on the basketball and all.  But still, you know the court is getting a wipedown every ten seconds and the ice is resurfaced between periods.  In baseball, if the weather is bad the game is called.  Yes, sometimes there’s rain, and it changes the complexion of the game.  But fans complain when it’s more than a drizzle, and bemoan the slip-and-slide version of America’s Passtime as “not real baseball.

Yet in football, games are played when temperatures range from 5 degrees up to 90.  In driving rain.  In ice, sweltering heat, wind storms.  It took an Act of God to get football to stop in New Orleans for a season, for goodness sake.  And only because the stadium was destroyed.  The Patriots/Cardinals tilt in Foxboro yesterday was technically as much of a football game as all the ones played in the Arizona desert.  Yet the Cardinals couldn’t actually play.  What they did against the Pats wasn’t football.  But I don’t hear any complaints.  It’s just part of the game, really.  The sheer variability of conditions.  And in that regard, football is the most unique of all sports.  Just imagine baseball being played in an irregularly shaped rock quarry for two weeks out of the year.  Or basketball hoops increased by six inches in diameter every third game.  That is how much the weather affects football, yet each game still falls within the realm of football.

Just something to think about while you’re watching these giant men freeze on the sidelines.

December 16, 2008

The Patriots Still Have A Chance!?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Willis @ 10:40 am

With only 2 more weeks left in the 2008 NFL regular season, now is the time to start planning the playoff match ups. Well, the New England Patriots (my home team) are 9-5 and have a bit of a tough road ahead.

How tough? Tough enough that it may be out of their hands. Boston.com (Boston Globe) blog writer Eric Wilbur outlined most of the scenarios:

If the Patriots go 2-0 over their final 2 games:

  • The Pats can win the AFC East if they win their final two games against Arizona (at home) and Buffalo (on the road) and both the Jets (at Seattle) and Dolphins (at Kansas City) lose next weekend (the Jets and Dolphins play each other in Week 17).
    The Pats can win the AFC East by winning their final two games against Arizona and Buffalo and the Jets and Dolphins both go 1-1 over their final two games.
  • If all three teams win next weekend, and the Pats beat the Bills in Week 17, the Jets-Dolphins game on the final Sunday of the season has to end in a tie for the Patriots to win the East.
  • If the Patriots win their two remaining games and the Ravens lose one of their next two games (in Dallas next week and at home vs. Jacksonville in Week 17), New England is in as the wild card. Print the shirts.
  • If the Pats win out, and the Colts manage to go 0-2 vs. the Jaguars and Titans, the Patriots are in, however unlikely that scenario might seem.

If the Patriots go 1-1 over their final 2 games:

  • If New England loses to either the Cardinals or the Bills, they need Baltimore to drop both of its remaining games to win the wild card.
  • The Patriots would need this nifty little scenario to win the East: Dolphins lose to Chiefs AND Jets lose to Seattle AND Jets-Dolphins game ends in a tie. Like those odds?
  • There’s one final possibility here, albeit a very confusing one: If either the Jets or Dolphins lose their last two games; and if the Patriots lose to the Cardinals and beat the Bills; and if the Ravens beat the Cowboys and lose to the Jaguars; New England and Baltimore would have the same record (10-6), and the same record within the conference (7-5) — which is the first tiebreaker in a wild card scenario since the teams did not face each other this season. Complicating matters is that, if our math is right, they would also be tied in the next tiebreaker — record against common opponents. So that means it could come down to strength of victory.

Now what Mr. “Professional Blogger” Wilbur fails to mention are some of the less mainstream methods the patriots are taking to gain a playoff birth:

  • Patriots “Diamond In The Rough” Randy Moss has been sent to the Arabian deserts to find a genie in a lamp. Where they will wish for a pair of Jets losses.
  • Belichick has been reluctant to use it due to the disastrous effects it had on Brady earlier this season, but he has 1 more Monkey Paw wish remaining.
  • I’ve gotten word that there are a couple personal ads looking for some lonely virgins who enjoy rituals to meat someone in Foxboro, MA.
  • A letter has been sent to Diddy, asking him to say that the Patriots will be in the postseason. Perhaps this is putting too much faith in commercials, but every avenue is being covered.

This is all that I have uncovered, but if you have heard anything, please post in the comments or let me know via contact form.

This is very important for the Patriots because they could very well miss the postseason for the first time in six years even with 11 wins. And teams like Arizona and Denver could get in with an 8-8 record. Yes the very same Denver team that the Patriots destroyed 41-7 earlier this season. And the very same Arizona that will likely get destroyed on Sunday.

Whatever path that Patriots follow, I guess I have to root for the Cowboys on Saturday. Ugh.

September 15, 2008

[Business Day One] Week 2 Thoughts (From The “No, You’re Not Crazy” File)

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , , , — Serpico @ 11:49 am

No, you’re not crazy. Don’t worry. You’re not the only one thinking what you’re thinking. I, John Serpico, Sports Blogger, am thinking the same thing:

-Aaron Rodgers is a good NFL quarterback. He can throw, run and throw on the run. As such, these first two weeks were not a fluke. In fact, two straight weeks of great-if-not-excellent quarterback play has done for him more than Mike McCarthy’s impressive offensive scheme did; they made believers out of the Lambeau Fans. There’s now slack on the leash, and the boo birds and doubters aren’t going to start haunting the hallowed field. Rodgers throwing three impressive touchdowns looked even better when compared to the 1TD/1cINT(costly interception) put up by Brett Favre in a home loss against the Patriots. Congratulation, Aaron Rodgers, you have arrived.

-It’s a little early to say that any win could save a season, but the Colts’ last second heroics against the Vikings averted disaster. And not disaster in a “oh my goodness, they’re doomed” kind of way. But in a “now the media will be asking what’s wrong with the Colts for a month” kind of way. The Colts are fine. All of these woes are tied to the absence of center Jeff Saturday. Once he’s back, they’ll be fine again. Seriously, he’s that important. I’d be saying this even if they were 0-2.

-When you’re trying to decide between Tyler Thigpen and a rapidly aging Damon Huard, you should just trade away the team for draft picks. Seriously, the Chiefs are that bad. They were outcoached by a guy who might lose his job soon (Lane Kiffen), Darren McFadden ran everywhere, and Larry Johnson ran nowhere. This is ugly. This is the kind of ugly that we saw from Miami last year. Despite JaMarcus Russell only completing 6 of 17, the Raiders still did whatever they wanted against the Chiefs defense. When you mix terrible undermanned D with terrible undermanned O, you’re going to lose at least a dozen. Maybe fourteen. Heck, maybe sixteen.

-The Giants are executing in all aspects of the game. I will never be entirely sold on Eli Manning as a quarterback, but the man hoisted a Lombardi Trophy above his head last year, so I should probably just be quiet. Considering how soft the rest of the NFC is, the Giants will probably pick up 10 victories without difficulty. An A- defense, a C+ quarterback and some B+ skill position guys will do that in the lesser conference.

-The Rams play the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9 and Week 14. I have a feeling that the Cards will hang about 75 points on them over those two weeks, despite playing an old man at quarterback and an old man at running back.

-Matt Cassel will be a fine leader for the rest of the season. His stats week over week will look similar to how they’ve looked for the past two weeks. However, the New England media will perpetuate the myth that he is somehow getting worse. I know this.

So no, you’re not crazy.

September 2, 2008

[Business Day One] Boston College, Week 1

Filed under: Business Day One,NCAA — Tags: , , — Serpico @ 12:46 pm

I had it all planned out. I called a month in advance to make sure that the bar in Portland, Maine would be playing the Boston College-Kent State tilt. Once I arrived in the beautiful coast city, I went to the bar three hours before kickoff and to confirm, in person, that it would happen.

Of course, the plan fell through. The first casualty of war is always the plan. So instead of sitting down in a nice Irish pub to watch my beloved Eagles take on the Golden Flashes, I spent the next half hour dragging my girlfriend around the Old Port section of town looking for a bar that was playing the game. Mercifully, a place called Rivalries took care of us and I spent the next three hours cheering my team along to a penalty-free 21-0 win.

This got me to thinking. I want to know what your best “I tried to go to a game, but” story is. Were you screwed over by a scalper? Did you miss a flight? Car break down? What’s your best story?

July 21, 2008

[Business Day One] Those Summer Weeks

In the sports world, a week is a very long time. Last Monday, I was chatting about the National League All Stars and wondering how bad they’d be slaughtered at Yankee Stadium.  A week later, I find myself with memories of a grueling fifteen inning duel and three straight Bomber wins in the Bronx since.  Jason Taylor is now a Washington Redskin (or maybe a Washington Hotskin, am I right ladies?).  Padraig Harrington got some golf hardware with Tiger away.  And the Celtics finally signed some of their free agents.

The summer, particularly around the All Star Break, always seemed to be a quiet time in years past. It hasn’t been the case this year, at least by my estimation. Whether I’m just paying more attention or there are just more positive (or at least, not overtly negative) storylines, I cannot say. But the summer has been a busy time and I wager it will continue to be until the fall throws us all back into entire weekends of football.

I’ve always found it interesting that in our regular lives, we look forward to the summer, but in our sports fandom lives, we spend the summer looking forward to other things. Baseball’s impossibly long regular season plods on, suggesting that one day there will be a postseason to cheer through. Football training camps are just starting up, and the prognosticators begin their yearly ritual of prognostication. Basketball owners are offering up franchise-changing (or crippling) contracts to gear up for next year. College teams are sending coaches all over the country to recruit massive offensive linemen from towns you’ve never heard of. Despite all of this, precious little in actual “sporting” gets done. So while you’re sitting on the beach you’ve been anticipating sitting on for six months, you’re really just anticipating what will be going on with your teams six months from now.

Such is the nature of the American sports fan. We’re a nation of speculators and calculators. We spew unending strings of trash about our best friends’ keeper strategy in fantasy hockey, despite the fact that there no ice in the Boston Garden yet. I think many of us love the time between seasons just as much as the seasons themselves. It’s a time when Donovan McNabb is still healthy, your team is undefeated and every trade management has made was a good one.

So here we sit during these summer weeks, enjoying the warm weather but always quietly looking forward to the cold breezes of the seasons to come.

April 29, 2008

On Draft or In The Bottle

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Perich @ 8:00 am

Baseball season’s over! And nobody cares about NBA playoffs! It’s time for the second most riveting time of the year: the NFL draft!

Here are some highlights:

#1: Miami Fish: Jake Long, OT. The only OT to go first since 1967.

#2: St. Luda Rams: Chris Long, DE. Some brief camera time with Suzy Kolber proved that Chris not only runs faster and hits harder than his father Howie, but also speaks at least as well. He’s practically guaranteed a cushy commentary job when he retires, so Chris has locked his future down.

#3: Hotlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, QB. Chris Berman described Ryan as “personable,” a comment painstakingly crafted to avoid any argument. Writers slaved over copy for hours to come up with such a non-controversial remark. “Can we say he shows promise?” “Maybe, but …” “He’s cool under pressure!” “Except when he’s throwing picks.” “Hell, stick with ‘personable’ and keep going.”

#4: Chokeland Raiders: Darren McFadden, RB. I caught a bit of Michael Smith’s interview with McFadden on ESPN earlier this week. Berman and Kiper revisited it on Saturday. “Darren McFadden: violent thug or criminal mastermind?” wasn’t quite the tone, but it was close. My take: a man who’s never been to jail, who stands by his family of crack addicts and gangsters and who takes responsibility for children he may have fathered – even before the paternity tests come back – shines like a cherub at the right hand of God in today’s NFL. Put that man on a poster.

#5: Kansas City Chefs: Glenn Dorsey, DT. I like Dorsey the most of any of the first rounders. Suzy Kolber caught him after he walked off stage, commenting on his visible emotion when he took a phone call in the green room. “It was the general manager,” Dorsey said, “asking me if I’d like to be a Chief. And I said I’d love to. And then they put the head coach [Herm Edwards] on the line. He asked, ‘You think you can help our defense out this year?’ And I said, ‘Yes sir, I surely will.'” Dorsey didn’t relay any of the rest of the conversation, though, on the subject of how bad the Chiefs’ defense is, Edwards probably didn’t lack for conversation.

#6: New York Jetropolitans: Vernon Gholston, DE. Commissioner Goodell addressed this draft pick to “Jets fans,” meaning the hundred or so people packed into the auditorium who’d been issuing a steady stream of boos for the last 45 minutes. I don’t want to say Jets fans are the worst fans in American football: the Missoula Babyspikers have a particularly grotesque halftime show, and the less said about the Portland Luftwaffe the better. About Gholston: he’s played competitively both at linebacker and at defensive end, making him a coveted multi-tool player. Which should be handy for the multiple tools filling the seats at Jets Stadium every year.

#7: New Orleans Aints: Sedrick Ellis, DT. Our first bit of draft chicanery. Bill Belichick, crafty sonuvabitch* that he is, traded the 49ers for a first round pick – and then traded this #7 spot with New Orleans! Always thinking, that guy.

#8: Jacksonville Jagoffs, Derrick Harvey, DE. Perich at T-minus-five minutes: All right! #8! The Ravens can snatch up Dominique Rogers-Cromartie! Perich at T-minus-two minutes: The Ravens traded their draft pick? Newsome! Harbaugh! What are you thinking? Perich at T-plus-five minutes: Okay, so they traded 1 draft pick for 3 others. All right. It’s cool. We’re all cool here. I’ll clean that beer off the wall later.

#9: Cincinnati Bangles, Keith Rivers, LB. The integrity of the draft gets compromised! Hidden cameras in the Rivers’ household** capture young master Rivers receiving a phone call. His college chum then hands him a Bengals cap, which he proudly and prominently wears for many minutes before Commission Goodell can take the stage! Shock and horror! Dishonor and taint! We learned what team he’d be playing on before we were supposed to! What’s next?

#10: New England Patsies, (more…)

March 31, 2008

[Business Day One] When A Normal Guy Runs A 40

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , , , , — Serpico @ 12:48 pm

The NFL Combine is, for those that don’t know, a job fair for college football players. The best athletes from the NCAA are invited to Indianapolis, where packs of men with stopwatches and measuring tape await. Every aspect of these future pro players is gauged – from height, weight and bench press, to more exotic categories like hand size and joint movement. While the Combine generally doesn’t have a massive impact on how a player is perceived (four years of film is a lot more telling than a shuttle drill), the event still captures the imagination of pro scouts and die-hard fans. And one element of it, perhaps above all others, is a drug to NFL Draft-niks: the 40 Yard Dash.

The fastest wide receivers and running backs can sprint 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. Some top flight cornerbacks and kickoff specialists can come in under that. Reggie Bush dazzled the NFL with a 4.33 time in 2006. Though at no time during any football game does any player run a perfectly straight, unopposed 40 yard dash, every scout wants to know how fast prospective pros can do it.

And after spending years following college and professional football, I wanted to see how fast I could do it… (more…)

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