Nerds on Sports Where nerds are talking about sports!

March 2, 2009

[Business Day One] This Isn’t Bad, So Don’t Worry

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , , , — Serpico @ 11:18 am

First off, if you haven’t put in your nominations, do that now.  You’re the Academy, people, and it’s a serious responsibility.

Alright, moving on to football matters.  The Patriots said goodbye to Mike Vrabel and Matt Cassel, shipping them off to Kansas City for a second round pick.  At first blush, it appeared as if the Pats somehow fleeced new KC Bürgermeister Scott Pioli into giving the 34th pick for a 35 year old man who can, at this point, only sort of run and tackle.  But then Cassel was revealed to be part of the deal and the response from Boston (“Our team is run by fools!  Fools!”) was not entirely positive.

That’s why I’m here.  To tell you that it was for both parties.  The NFL is not like fantasy football.  You can’t hoodwink other teams in the NFL with the ease that you can hoodwink some fantasy greenhorn in his first season.  Especially when you’re dealing with a guy (Pioli) who knows everything about you and you know everything about.  The Patriots dumped a heck of a lot of salary and got an incredibly valuable early second round pick.  The Chiefs acquired a guy who can throw a football and another guy who has played long enough to be another coach in the locker room.  That’s a net win for both teams.  The Patriots don’t make their living on getting early first round picks, like the Chief’s third overall that some fans up here were salivating over.  Unless you were lucky enough to acquire Matt Ryan (let’s go Eagles… errrr Falcons), you’re overpaying for people who haven’t played a down of pro football.  The Pats don’t build their teams around early 1st round big guns – rather, they make sure every position is filled with guys that can hurt you.  If you’ve noticed, they won a bunch of  Super Bowls doing this.

The Patriots are picking 23rd, 34th, 47th, and 58th.  Four of the top 60 picks.  I’d rather have that than a 3rd overall, since you’d be paying the same amount of money for those four players than you would be for that single theoretical superplayer.  The Pats will always take the warm bodies, as opposed to the one hot one.  And, given the system that they work under, everyone gets really good at doing what they’re supposed to.

Look forward to the draft, Foxboro Faithful.  And look forward to a better year overall, Kansas City.

February 2, 2009

[Business Day One] A Wizard’s Guide To Sports

Filed under: Business Day One,MMA — Tags: , , — Serpico @ 1:55 pm

Steelers-Cardinals was boring.  Sure, Big Ben Roflcopter led a blistering two minute drive down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with under 60 seconds to play.  Sure, the Santonio Holmes catch was impossibly athletic, and could only be performed by about 50 people in the world.  But, well, Roflcopter always leads those drives and Holmes always makes those catches.  And the game ended just as Vegas predicted – a close Pittsburgh victory.

UFC 94 was boring.  The main event (St. Pierre vs. Penn 2) involved the Canadian ruthlessly pounding the confused and exhausted American for four rounds before the fight was called.

The sporting highlight of my weekend was neither of these things.  It was, instead, my first viewing of Wisest Wizard, the greatest nerd-related drinking game I’ve ever seen.  Here’s how it works:  Every time you finish a beer (or a diet A&W root beer, in my case), you duct tape a fresh beer to the top of it.  Eventually, you create a mighty wizard staff of beer cans and duct tape.  Every third or fourth can, you fight a “boss battle,” which involves taking a shot.  And that’s it.  That’s the game.

The peripherals of this hobby are splendid.  You can discuss which powers you gain as you increase in level (“I just learned the Stumble spell” or “Dude, you just discovered Summon Lo Mein Fart.”)  Walking around with an aluminum staff is ridiculous, as they are more durable than you think they’d be.  Wisest Wizard works at any sporting event that could use a little extra spice on it.  Like, say, a lackluster SuperBowl or Ultimate Fighting event.  Seriously.  As a nerd, you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

January 26, 2009

[Business Day One] Don’t’s, Lots of Don’t’s

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , — Serpico @ 2:34 pm

Watching the SuperBowl is a privilege, not a right.  You need to earn the invitation to a party by being a good friend, showering with regularity, and making sure people know you like football.  The enjoyment associated with the Mardi Gras of the pro sports can be taken away as freely as it can be given to you.  As such, when you’re at the party (wherever that party is), there are rules you need to follow.  And that goes beyond the obvious ones like “wipe your feet before entering” or “figure out who’s playing.”  I call these rules the “Don’t’s.”  And I’m going to share them with you so that you don’t embarass yourself and ruin what, for many, is the most fun day of their year.

DON’T be late.  If so, you’ll miss the pre-game gambling grids, the prime seating and the first round of chili.  Also, there is not more horrendous than the suspence of an opening drive interrupted by the sound of someone buzzing into your apartment.  Just budget an extra ten minutes for the trip.  Everyone will thank you.

DON’T show up empty-handed.  This is common courtesy, but it must be mentioned in the context of the Big Game.  To host a SuperBowl party is to lay out $100 in food and booze and know, for a fact, that this food and booze will wind up all over your floor.  SuperBowl parties aren’t clean and classy affairs.  They’re messy and loud and result in an environment that needs a wet-dry vac to correct.  Hosts are saints, and you should make a sacrifice of smoked meats, a cheese tray or a case of domestic beer to honor their divinity.

DON’T be contrary.  We’ve all seen it.  That random girlfriend of friend of a friend that shows up and immediately begins rooting for the other team.  Not because they’re a fan, or because they even know anything about football, but because they want to “be funny” or “give everyone a hard time.”  These people are soul-sucking leeches, put on this Earth to bother the rest of us.  They’re the same people that wore zany neckties in high school, or carried a tie-dyed purse.  They just want attention, and they don’t care if that attention is laced with murderous hatred.  There is nothing more infuriating than a non-fan cheering in mock enthusiasm when your team gets scored on.   It’s the only thing worse than stunned silence.  Just imagine you’re a Buffalo fan, and your cousin’s new girlfriend came over your house eighteen years ago wearing a $5 Giants shirt she bought “just for fun.”  Now imagine her cheering when Norwood’s kick went wide.  Now, take a breath and imagine the statewide search for the body.  Be kind and, if you don’t know the sport, stay quiet until those catchy commercials start playing.  Which reminds me…

DON’T feel bad about enjoying the commercials.  Enough effort has been put into them over the years that it’s ok for the die-hards to laugh at them.  It’s not like doing the wave.  It’s totally fine.  Don’t feel bad.  Laugh when something funny happens.

DON’T ask if anyone wants the last cocktail weiner.  Just take it.  No one cares.

DON’T use ESPN pre-game analysis as the source of your opinions.  Yes, the temptation is there to opine on why Larry Fitzgerald will dominate or why Willie Parker will get stuffed at the line.  But if you haven’t seen any Steelers or Cardinals games this season, what you heard Cris Carter say before you drove to your buddy’s house IS NOT a valid substitute for silence.  If you don’t have an opinion of your own, don’t offer someone else’s to look cool.  Everyone there knows where you got it from.

And finally, DON’T leave until it’s over.  These people are your friends.  There is nowhere else you should be.

January 12, 2009

[Business Day One] Keep Your Money In The Bank

football on a pile of moneyI heard a phrase once that has become one of my favorites.

“Bookies don’t ever quit because they run out of money.”

The Ravens won, despite being a 3 point underdog. The Eagles won, despite being a 4 point underdog. The Cardinals won, despite being a 10 pointer. The Steelers won, as expected, only by 11 points instead of the 6 Vegas suggested.

Of all of those games, I only saw the Pittsburgh-San Diego tilt playing out as it did. Did anyone with a mind in their head see the Cardinals defense suddenly get stout? A healthy Brandon Jacobs not a dominant part of the game plan against Philly? The Ravens/Titans game, which played out like twin brothers getting into a fistfight, could’ve gone either way. But I didn’t think Joe Flacco would handle a somewhat loud Nashville crowd with an AFC Championship berth on the line.

I’m sure the money in Vegas agreed with me, which is why the house won a bundle and a lot of men will be explaining to their wives that the $200 a plate restaurant suddenly lost their Valentine’s Day reservations.

Gambling is an ugly business, and an even uglier one when you lose. I’m willing to bet (or maybe I’m not) that a lot of unhappy people are sitting bleary-eyed over their phones on the top online casinos or at their desks right now. I pity them but do not empathize. These are the playoffs of one of the weirdest years in recent NFL history, all the predictions were off and noone predicted the future. You all should’ve known better.

Cut your losses, get some nachos, and watch the rest of the games with no action on them. You’ll recoup some of the years you just lost this weekend.

December 29, 2008

[Business Day One] Unsurprising Surprises

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , , , , — Serpico @ 10:16 am

Week 17 is over and the playoff picture is now in place.  As crazy as this season was, this final week was (fortunately or unfortunately) the most predictable and least surprising.  Come, walk with me:

-The Patriots won, as expected, and went 11-5.

-The Jets lost, as expected, as did the Jaguars, meaning the Patriots missed the playoffs as expected.

-The Gods of Sport gave the Chargers their win to make up for the ballyhooed missed call in Week 2.

-The Eagles stomped the Cowboys, forcing them to miss the playoffs and setting up what will be a hilarious offseason in Dallas.  As expected… and prayed for by me.

I know plenty of people smarter than me, and more prescient, but I saw this all coming.  And I think you all did too.  Even in a bizarre season, where Favre is in New York and Peyton stunk for two months and Tom Brady can’t walk, fate tends to work itself all out.  And now here we are, with the start of a boring playoffs about to begin.  A playoffs where the favorites (Giants and Titans) are ball-controlling, power running teams that don’t commit turnovers and keep plays in front of them on defense.  Sure, we have Atlanta and Baltmore in the playoffs behind rookie quarterbacks, and that’s all well and good (Ryan for Heisman!).  But these playoffs will be what we think they’ll be.

Also, Eric Mangini is being fired right now.  The surprise is that Rod Marinelli was fired from Detroit too.  What a world we live in where I thought Rowdy Rod’s job (as coach of an 0-16 team) was safer than the Man Genius’s.  Meh.  At least there was one surprise this weekend.

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.

December 10, 2008

What’s With All This 3D Broadcasting Nonsense?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Willis @ 3:17 pm

3D TVLast week the NFL tried out some 3D in theaters in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Of course, only for NFL VIPs. These VIPs got to see a little of what the future of the NFL may hold. Of course they chose a game that was boring in the Chargers 34-7 rout of the Raiders to try and spice up.

At least someone from the AP was there to tell us about it.

LOS ANGELES — The first NFL game broadcast to theaters live in 3-D fumbled, then recovered Thursday night.

I hope this first line (and title) got the shitty sports metaphors out of his system. Or should I say I hope the clock has run out for these metaphors and they stay down for the count, if not I might throw a flag and send this article to the penalty box.

Two satellite glitches blacked out the broadcast to theaters in Boston, New York and Los Angeles in the first half of the game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.

And on a few occasions, a quick camera movement or a refocusing — and one ill-advised dissolve — had viewers pulling off their polarized lenses.

Umm.. explain? How is dissolve bad in 3D? Did it dissolve into a giant 3D Norv Turner too close for comfort?

But the Los Angeles audience was mostly forgiving, in awe of a spectacle that had depth and in some instances gave the feeling of being on the field, especially for the opening coin toss.

Really, the coin toss is the best part of 3D? NFL is really selling me on this is the future. (more…)

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