Happy Friday, Gabbers! It’s December already...2013 is almost over. Looking forward to Christmas and New Year’s and having some free time and spending some some of it re-introducing myself to the family. (OK, it’s not that bad.) It’s been a busy week in sports, and as always I’ve enjoyed catching up with it on the Gab. Old Harry and Lanz (part of the Boston Sports Alliance here at the Gab--I just made that up, I like alliances and crap like that) did a great job covering the Boston angle with the Patriots surviving baseless accusations from opponents, weird high school sports happenings with fake/real racism in the Western part of the state, and Jacoby Ellsbury leaving Boston for the Yankees with 1/1,000,000 the outrage when Johnny Damon did the same.
They did such a great and thorough job I can spend the whole blog writing about the Texans-Jaguars game on Thursday Night Football...
(that’s the sound of everyone closing their laptops simultaneously)
Just kidding. :)
Let’s take a swing through the NFL real quick with my homage to great writers of my youth and NFL predictions:
Jaguars 27 - Texans 17
A month ago, picking Jacksonville anytime was insane. A year ago, picking Jacksonville over Houston was beyond insane. Tonight, not picking the Jags seems odd. The team is winning and young coach Gus Bradley has his team playing hard and aggressive. The Texans had their last hurrah last week and lost in heart-breaking fashion to the Patriots. The Texans may be in great shape to draft a real quarterback and pull a Kansas City Chiefs like turnaround next year, but right now this team is going to be more deflated than that balloon my daughter let go of on the Fourth of July.
Vikings 24 - Ravens 23
The Ravens are an odd team to figure out. Madly overpaid quarterback, aging running back, bi-polar offensive line, decent defense, annoying coach, and still no logical explanation for giving away wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the offseason. That said, I can see the Ravens get hot and go 4-0 down the stretch, grab the last WildCard, beat the Chiefs and Broncos on the road, and then be facing the Patriots in the AFC Championship for the third straight season. The more I think about it, the more likely it seems. Here’s hoping Adrian Peterson goes for 200+ yards and the Vikings pull off the upset. I don’t think its likely, but I keep telling myself if I believe, it can happen.
Colts 27 - Bengals 23
Both of these teams are going to win their respective divisions; however, both teams peaked in the first half of the season and could be underdogs at home to their WildCard opponents in the playoffs. Both teams have issues on offense: the Colts are not as explosive without Reggie Wayne. The Bengals keep running out BenJarvus Green-Ellis for some inexplicable reason and no one believes Richie Cunningham Andy Dalton at quarterback can lead the offense to victory when they NEED to score. Right now, the Colts have Luck on their side, and that makes all the difference.
Patriots 34 - Browns 13
As always, I end up writing a lot about the Patriots (at least 4 or 5 articles a week) and am doing a favor by covering the Browns regularly for a buddy on his website (Browns writers are apparently like Spinal Tap drummers). As such, I feel all that knowledge is useless because NO ONE is thinking the Patriots do anything short of blowing out the Browns in Foxboro, MA on Sunday. That said, there are some interesting sub-plots: Do the Patriots allow fumbling running back Stevan Ridley out of the Dog House against the Dawgs? Will the Patriots offense get on track and have “that game” where they drive for six or seven touchdowns? Is there anything better than watching tight end Rob Gronkowski dominate as a run blocker, pass catcher, and still act like a big, dumb kid? Can Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon light it up again for 200+ yards for an unprecedented third straight game? Who the heck is going to play quarterback for the Browns if all their QBs have concussions? What does it say about the Patriots if they don’t blow out the Browns?
Raiders 17 - Jets 10
The Raiders have one of those rosters that looks like a semi-pro club: “We got McGloin at QB...you know, Jimmy’s boy. There’s Jennings at running back...remember him, he was a grade ahead of us in high school? At receiver there’s Streater, there’s that guy Denarius some-thing-or-other, and that crazy Rivera dude.” Does anyone know anyone on that team? Terrelle Pryor is known, but Matt McGloin is starting now. Darren McFadden is well known, but he lost his job to Rashad Jennings. They recycle receivers every year it seems. The Jets are sad sacks who are close to quitting on Rex Ryan. The Semi Pro Club takes it.
Packers 19 - Falcons 16
Just think, in September the FOX network had this game circled and highlighted as “Potential NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field for National Telecast.” Now it ranks below Lions vs Eagles as most likely to be watched by the national audience. No Aaron Rodgers and the bottom fell out on the Falcons. When all things are equal, go by the gambling code: home team plus three points.
Lions 27 - Eagles 24
I have no idea what to do with this Lions team anymore. They suck. They dominate. They suck for a while and then dominate. They dominate. Then they suck again. That said, does anyone buy Nick Foles and coach Chip Kelly yet? No? Me neither.
Steelers 28 - Dolphins 13
Speaking of not buying it, if Baltimore blows it against the Vikings and the Steelers win, they’re right back in the WildCard race. The Steelers have the passing game to be dangerous if their offensive line gives Big Ben a few seconds to set his feet and look downfield. The defense is still suspect (what happened to all those linebackers?), but Miami is still dysfunctional. It appears the Dolphins are finally moving past the Incognito-Martin mess, but they have a lot of holes still. Ryan Tannehill is better than I thought coming out of college, but I still think he is a few years away from his peak (he was a receiver coming into college). The running game is inconsistent and wide receiver Mike Wallace has improved, but still looks like an overpriced bust. The front four are very good, but the imported linebackers are weak and the secondary scares no one.
Buccaneers 27 - Bills 23
I loved seeing crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and all his security at the Bills “home” game in Toronto. Sitting and signing autographs, chomping on chicken wings, and then booted by some folk singer whose seat he had stolen. You can’t make this shit up. Does anyone outside of Buffalo know what happened in the game last week? Of course not. It was Bills losing to Atlanta and all eyes were on Rob Ford. All highlights were Rob Ford chomping chicken wings. It’s great theatre.
Chiefs 12 - Redskins 10
I’m wondering if 22 points combined is too much for these offenses? The Redskins have collapsed and I blame the coach and front office. Quarterback Robert Griffin the Third (or RGIII) was clearly not ready to play quarterback the first month or so of the season. The Redskins should have had him on the PUP list or IR designated to return. They have a very good backup in Kirk Cousins and there was no reason to rush RGIII back. The team let the media and the quarterback dictate team policy. Mike Shanahan should know better. Also, why does Robert Griffin go by the third? Did his Dad and Grandpa play in the NFL. Hell, I’m Hal Bent the third, but I don’t go around signing HB3 on everything. Marketing? Vanity? Who knows.
Titans 48 - Broncos 38
Just kidding…(or am I?). No, put it Broncos 41 - Titans 17. Tennessee is just not that good on offense. Of course, the stories this week are all about Tennessee pursuing Peyton Manning 2 years ago when he was a free agent. THAT would have been more interesting than going to Denver. Tennessee plays Indianapolis twice a year, Manning played his college ball in Tennessee, but I don’t think the fit was quite right with offensive coordinator Chris Palmer (long gone from Tennessee). Too bad owner Bud Adams did not just say “we’ll bring in whoever you want” and see what Peyton Manning would do as a Titan.
Cardinals 23 - Rams 16
The Cardinals are looking better and better each week, and then I remember that Carson Palmer is their quarterback and I start dismissing them as a team that can make some noise in the playoffs. I wonder if the Rams fans are sick of waiting for Sam Bradford to string together a couple of good performances. He seems smart, athletic, and strong-armed...he just doesn’t have “IT”. At least the Rams have the Redskins probable top-five first round pick for RGIII to chase another quarterback.
Chargers 35 - Giants 15
Time for the Giants to get back to their losing ways. Eli Manning goes to the city he rejected...which still puzzles me. I mean, San Diego. What the heck is wrong with San Diego? Great weather. Tijuana around the corner. Awesome powder blue throwback uniforms. Sure, he got his two rings, so it was worth it in the end. But it did not make sense then, and I hope the San Diego fans are loud in the lungs with ol’ Cousin Eli.
49ers 13 - Seahawks 12
Seattle on the road is not as scary as Seattle at home. I expect the Seahawks corners will struggle to cover Anquan Boldin and if the 49ers can get some semblance of a running game going they could control the clock and take a win from the division leaders. Of course, I could see Seattle put up 40 points and intercept Colin Kaepernick four times, too. But I’ll stick with this score.
Saints 27 - Carolina 24
This is a super Sunday night game. For the Saints, after being embarrassed on Monday night in Seattle, they must be chomping at the bit to get back on the field and get to it. For Carolina QB Cam Newton, this must be a big test to go into the Super Dome and battle it out for the division lead in the NFC South. I like Carolina’s chances, but how do you pick against a motivated Drew Brees at home? I will say that I think Carolina will show they are legit, though, even if they don’t pull out the win.
Cowboys 38 - Bears 34
Well, it’s a great game if you love offense. Neither team has what you would call an overachieving defense (both teams give up 25+ points per game). This is a fantasy football dream as both teams should be able to rack up a lot of yards and points. If Jay Cutler were healthy, I’d say the Bears may be able to keep up with the Cowboys...regardless, it should be a fun game to watch.
As always, thanks for checking in...I appreciate it! You can catch my weekly work at cover32com, musketfire.com, firststopfantasy.com, and at h4-entertainment.com.
I know its hard to excited about a game who's participants have 19 losses between them. But since every NFL team gets a primetime date and they've been trying to avoid the Jags as long as possible they finally have to show them. But at least they are playing respectable as of late winning their last two. The Texans...bleeeccch. Is it something in the water down there or is it the stench of Dwight Howard making everything else sports wise in that city unwatchable. I mean the Houston Astros foray into the American League was an outright joke, there were some Triple A teams that would have dominated them. In anycase, here is a game that I wont be watching since my beloved alma mater is playing those criminals from Louisville. Odds are provided by ESPN Scorecenter for entertainment and comparison purposes only, if you bet them and lose, you needn't bother dialing my number since I dont pay bookies.
Thursday, December 5
Texans (2-10) @ Jaguars (3-9)
Everbank Field, Jacksonville 8:20 (NFLN)
Favorite Texans by 3
Last Week Texans lost to Patriots 34-31, Jaguars defeated Browns 32-28
Fast Fact Both teams bring in bad streaks, the Jags have lost a franchise worst 7 straight at home, the Texans have lost a franchise record (and league worst) ten straight
Once considered the in the running for the worst team ever, the Jags aren’t even the worst team in their division. That honor goes to the woeful Texans who keep trying like good scouts but keep losing the close ones, finally the Jags are showing some life in their offense and Maurice Jones-Drew is still in this league. Though the battered Ben Tate is still a viable offensive option for the Texans, I just like the Jags here at home to continue to show real improvement in their comportment and offensive game plan. They will use their lone national showcase to further illustrate that they are not the laughingstock that many had them at times during the season. Meanwhile the nightmare continues for the Texans who cant even count on the Jags as a gimme win. You are reading this right…
Hello gabsters I hope all are well and enjoyed Thanksgiving festivities of over eating, over drinking and over exposure to football.
I’m vigorously working off the excess fat from overeating.
I seldom if ever over drink
And I can’t get too much football
The days, between Thanksgiving and the middle of March, mark the busiest time of year for the oldharrys. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas and New Year celebrations and then more birthdays fill the slate. Having a fairly large family has its privileges for sure
My youngest just celebrated his 21st birthday.
Tomorrow is my bride and my 27th anniversary.
She is in line for sainthood. I’ve been told that 2 miracles are required to be sainted.
1. She married me (a truly charitable action on her part as she got me and my two older sons in the deal)
2. She has stayed with me for 27 years (loved, honored, cherished and obeyed)
NFL Coaches in the news…
Stepping over the line…Mike Tomlin?
A fine? yes $100,000.00
or loss of draft pick? maybe
Tomlin has taken a lot of heat this past week and it’s ironic that Bill Belichick actually came out last Friday in Tomlin’s defense saying that he too had stepped onto the field in a game unknowingly and got run over and shoved under the Gatorade bench. That sure it sound simple, “stay off the field” but sometimes you’re so involved in the game that you aren’t aware of exactly where your feet are.
BB has paid a half million plus in fines himself.
Q O D- Do the 2-10 Texans warrant spying on?
Once again The Patriots HOF head coach, like him or hate him, made halftime adjustments that helped his team come from ten down to win.
Belichick downplayed the halftime adjustment thing saying “we make adjustments all game long, if things aren’t working or they are stopping what you are doing then you adjust right then”
When you have to come from behind like this week after week it shows a weakness that could hurt against a good team on the road in the playoffs.
The Pats are 9-3 and are 4 plays from being 12-0 and 5 plays from being 7-5.
Dwayne (Bill)Tuna Parcells would say “They are what their record says they are” leading the AFC East by 3 with 4 to go and in a good position to secure the #2 Bye position going into January.
The most intriguing fact about this team isn’t so much Brady’s slow start and revamped rookie receiving corps of Dobson, Thomkins and Boyce, it’s the revamped on the go defense because the top three defenders were on season ending IR by week three .
Below -the starters coming out of camp in black. In red are the replacements in the Carolina, Denver and Texans games because of injuries.
DE Bob Ninkovich
DT Tommy Kelly (IR) replaced by Chris Jones ®
DT Vince Wilfork (IR) replaced by Joe Vellano ®
DE Chandler Jones
LB Jerrod Mayo (IR) replaced by Jamie Collins ®
MLB Brandon Spikes
LB Dont’a Hightower
LCB Aqib Talib, limited snaps( hip injury)
SS Steve Gregory (wrist), replaced by Duron Harmon ®
FS Devon Mc Courty
RCB Alfonso Dennard (Knee ) replaced by Logan Ryan ®
5 rookies starting and getting the majority of the defensive snaps can be the undoing of what was thought to be the strength of this team.
These guys can be coached up to a point but you can’t teach size and speed. The Patriots have been burned up the middle by any and all running backs and as the weather turns cold and the playoffs approach this glaring weakness could be their undoing. It probably won’t be an issue VS Cleveland this week but they face Baltimore in a couple of weeks and Ray Rice would love to get healthy on that Sunday night running thru the Pats D. The Pats finish with the Bills and the RB tandem of Spiller and Jackson will be drooling. Tom Brady has the ability to score loads of points and will need to if the Pats vision of New Jersey in February is to come to pass.
If the Playoffs started today in the NFC:
1. Seattle- bye the trip to NJ goes thru Seattle
2. New Orleans- bye sorry performance last Monday
3. Detroit would host #6 San Francisco
4. Dallas would host # 5 Carolina
In the AFC
1. Denver- bye and they should keep it
2. New England- bye watch out for Indy taking this bye
3. Indianapolis would host #6 Baltimore
4. Cincinnati would host #5 Kansas City
Big games with playoff implications this week:
Seattle visits San Francisco
Detroit visits Philadelphia
Carolina visits New Orleans
Dallas visits Chicago
MLB hot stove heating up before the Winter meetings
-The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7 year 156 million deal. The often injured Ellsbury has a ton of talent and should be able to add power hitting to his repartee with the short porch in Yankee Stadiums right field. Most Sox fans realized that agent Scott Boris had his eyes on the Yankees for his players BIG deal payday. Jacoby is 30 and is a one time All Star. He can hit for average, plays a solid defensive center field though his arm strength is average, can steal loads of bases and will be a good leadoff man. His weaknesses are that he gets odd bump and bruise type injuries that take months to recover from. He’s not a real emotional player but is a good teammate that mainly keeps to himself. I’m guessing the Yankees get 4 solid years 1.5 lost to injury years and 1.5 aging mediocre years from Jacoby. All in all this is a good signing for NY who likes to spend on 30+ guys
I still don’t get teams signing guys for these long contracts. Please name one that worked for the duration for both the team and player.
The closest to it at $20,000,000 a year for 8 years was...believe it or not... Manny Ramirez
Ellsbury in his 6 years in Boston (Jacoby came up late in the year from AAA Pawtucket and played a big part in the ’07 World Series)
2008 145 games .280 ave. 50 sb age 24
2009 153 games .301 ave 70 sb age 25
2010 18 games .192 ave 7 sb age 26
2011 158 games .321 ave 39 sb age 27
2012 74 games .271 ave 14 sb age 28
2013 134 games .298ave 52 sb age 29
-Detroit sent Doug Fister to the Nats for three…
RH AAA starter Robby Ray, LH reliever Ian Krol and utility player Steve Lambradozzi on the bus to Detroit, Nats got the best of this deal in my view.
- The Tigers also addressed the closer position by signing Joe Nathan, a solid signing.
- Scott Kazmir to Oakland for 2 years 24 million coming off a 10-9 4.04 season with the Indians Scott hit the jackpot in Oakland.
- Phil Hughes knocked over the proverbial ATM with a questionable 3 year 24 mil deal withMinnesota. Phil was 4-14 5.19 in 2013. his last 4 years with the Yankees are not the thing that makes anyone think he will figure it out at age 28
2010 18 -8 4.19 176 innings
2011 5 -5 5.79 74 innings
2012 16 -13 4.23 191 innings
2013 4 -14 5.19 145 innings. Good luck Twinkies
The Red Sox let Jarrod Saltalamacchia walk and it looks like the Marlins like him signing Jarrod to a 3 year 21 million dollar deal
Meanwhile the Sox signed the much traveled AJ Pierzynski to be a one year stop gap to the kids in the system who aren’t major league ready yet. 8.5 million to the guy who finished a close second to Arod in the voting of “most hated MLB player” as voted by his fellow players. At 37 AJ may still have a little to give but I wonder how the sensitive and oft hurt Clay Buchholz will react to being verbally assaulted on a visit to the mound. I’m not a fan of this deal. My main question to Ben Cherrington is, what’s wrong with Ryan Lavarnway catching in ’14 paired with David Ross
That’s all for today, have a good one. I’m off to get a shave and a haircut so I can start to look like my beautiful wife married a mature man and not a ragged old man still hung up in movember when we go out to celebrate 27 years.
Don’t forget to check out Lanz and his talking sports to my right
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. It truly is hard to believe that we are in the final month of 2013. December is a very festive time of year. It is impossible to get too far into the month before the lights of the season begin to adorn neighborhoods. I have not put up lights yet, but will probably begin the process next weekend. Somehow, I always miss the warm days and end up on a ladder battling a raw December cold front. Frequently, as I struggle to string the lights, I wonder why I go through the same routine each year. I realize that it is because it is a tradition. The tree, lights and the music are all part of what is December for many of us. I also recognize that I would do nothing to change this part of the holiday season. Tradition is a very powerful thing. Families, towns, states and even countries have established traditions that are difficult to change. As much as we may gripe about certain aspects of what happens during Christmas, it is what we do that defines family memories. This is the time of year that many families reunite. It has been accurately said that Christmas is for children, but there is more to it than that. It is a time for families to make memories. As I think back over my life, I am left with wonderful memories of Christmas. Of course I remember the excitement and anticipation that Christmas brought to being a kid…I think the happiness of watching my kids enjoy the season is much more rewarding. So, when you complain about the music and the routine of the season, remember that there are eyes and ears that are witnessing this for the first time. It is what puts me on the cold ladder stringing those lights.
Austin has a tradition of lighting the tree in Zilker Park for Christmas. It really is very cool…
View of the tree and downtown...
The view from under the tree. You have to stand under the tree and spin at least once to be an Austinite...
This was shared by a fiend on Facebook that I thought was worth showing here. Thanks Mitch...
Although the season says football, there are big changes happening in MLB each day. I was shocked to learn that the Astros finally made a move that I think will immediately improve their team. Dexter Fowler was acquired from the Rockies for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles. I am scratching my head on why the Rockies would make this deal, but I guess it was about reducing payroll. Lord knows that the Astros have plenty of room to add Fowler’s 7.5 million dollar salary. I would make a joke about doubling the Astros payroll…but it is too close to the truth to be funny. I have been talking about the Tigers needing a closer since last year and it looks like they have finally grabbed a good one. It is being reported that Joe Nathan is headed to Detroit. I think this is a great sign for the Tigers and suddenly makes the Tigers a very tough team. I am scratching my head a bit over the Tigers trading Doug Fister for Steve Lombardozi, Ian Kroll, and minor league left hander Robbie Ray. With the improved middle infield of the Tigers, I was surprised that the Tigers would allow the ground ball machine that is Fister to get away. I know that they have Smyly to plug into this spot...it still was a bit curious for me. I think this was a great trade for the Nationals, but I guess only time will tell if this was a good or bad move for Detroit.
Of course the signing that grabbed the most attention on Tuesday was Jacoby Ellsbury going to the Yankees. Naturally, Red Sox fans won’t like this and I was sad to see Ellsbury leave the Red Sox. I can’t disagree with the Red Sox not paying big for Ellsbury, but they will miss his wheels at the top of their order. The big if in the Yankee’s grabbing Jacoby is health. When Ellsbury stays healthy, he is great…but he is not always healthy. With the short left field porch at Yankee Stadium, chances are good that Ellsbury power numbers are very good next year. Another player leaving Boston is Jarod Saltalamacchia. The Sox are apparently going with A. J. Pierzynski over Salty. As good as Salty was for Boston last year, I really like what A. J. brings to the Red Sox. I don’t think that the Sox will miss a beat in this exchange.
Robinson Cano remains unsigned, but the Yankee dollars are getting less with each player they sign. From what I have read, the Seattle Mariners are making a play for Cano, but I have to really wonder if Cano would trade playing in New York for Seattle. I do know that Cano’s power numbers would take a huge hit if he signs a long term deal with the Mariners. I remain skeptical that Cano signs with Seattle, but maybe it really is about the money for Robinson. Baseball winter meetings are next week and I have read that the Reds plan to dump Brandon Phillips. If Cano continues to play hard ball, the Yankees might make a play for Phillips. I suspect that if the Yankees keep Cano that something happens before next week.
The Oakland Athletics have been a terrific team the past couple of years. Is there any doubt that they do more with less? Billy Beane has been busy this week and I think the moves make Oakland a serious threat to continue their playoff ways. Beane added Jim Johnson to fill the void of departing closer Grant Balfour. He also strengthened the bullpen by adding Luke Gregerson and Josh Lindbolm. There is no doubt that adding these relievers will make the As better. Beane also grabbed outfielder Craig Gentry and starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. I really liked Gentry as a Ranger and I am sad to see him leave. He does not have much power, but could plays great defense and is a very good top of the lineup guy. The Rangers got Jemile Weeks and a very good minor league OF in Michael Choice. Weeks has impressive speed, but as we know…you can’t steal first base. Perhaps a change of scenery will help Weeks. Choice has shown promise and could be a very big addition down the road. The acquisition of Kazmir puzzles me a bit. Although he seemed to regain some of his mojo last year…a 10 and 9 record will not replace what Colon gave to the As last year. But hey…who am I to question Billy Beane?
Obviously Seattle is a very good team at home. If the Seahawks played each game as they did against San Francisco earlier in the year and New Orleans last Monday night…they would be undefeated. As I look at the NFC…I really only see one team that might have a chance to go to Seattle and win…the San Francisco 49ers. The only way to beat Seattle is to play great defense and run the football. The secondary of Seattle is probably the strength of their team. Damn, they are really good. I don’t think there are two better home teams than New Orleans and Seattle. There is just something really different about how they play at home. It looks more each week like the NFC road to the Super Bowl will travel through Seattle. The 49ers have a rematch this week with the Seahawks and have opened as a slight favorite (1.5). I have been saying for weeks that I like the 49ers to win this game and I don’t think it will be that close. I really believe that this will be the 9ers best game of the year and think they win by at least 6. The 49ers defense is completely different with Aldon Smith back in the fold. With that front 7, I think that Russell Wilson will be in for a long game.
Call me crazy, but as I look at the Cowboy schedule…I can see them winning out. The Bears defense is not what it has been and although it is a road game, I like the Cowboy’s chances to outscore the Bears. It also helps that Sean Lee will be back for this game. The remaining schedule for Dallas is…at Chicago, Packers, at Redskins, Eagles. Tony Romo has been known as a great November QB and a terrible QB in December. This year, I think he changes this mold. Of course I am a Dallas fan, but I do try to leave my rose colored glasses on the table when I look at my team. Then again…it is hard to have faith when disappointment has been the Cowboys trademark of late.
I know that Patriot fan was happy with their win over Denver…honestly, I see trouble ahead. As I look back on the big win over the Broncos, all I keep remembering is Knowshon Moreno running all over the Patriot defense. Although my Pat friends don’t want to hear this, Peyton Manning did not lose that game. With the terrible first half and numerous fumbles, Denver was able to pile up points without Manning ever getting going. With Montee Ball’s fumble, the momentum tumbled the Patriots way, only to be iced by the late fumbled punt. Hey…the Pats did what good teams do; they won when they did not play their best. My only point is that championship teams stop the run and I see this as a big problem for the Pats. Case in point…Ben Tate had his first 100 yard day since 2011 against the Patriots last Sunday. Losing the big man in the middle has really impacted New England's defense. While I am on that game…I thought it was ludicrous that Antonio Smith was suspicious that the Patriots were somehow cheating because they made great adjustments. Dude…have you even watched New England before? Bill Bellichick is as good as any coach in the history of the NFL at making adjustments. When it has been two months since your team has won a game...just keep your mouth shut.
The Texas Longhorns have a huge game this Saturday in Waco against the Baylor Bears. For much of the year, I did not think that the Horns had a chance to beat Baylor. Playing in Waco is never easy and I just did not think that the Texas defense would be able to slow down the Bears. Texas will need the game to go just right for them, but I am more hopeful now that at any time this year. I think it is less likely that Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State…which is what Texas needs to have a chance to win the Big 12. I would be very satisfied if Texas can just take care of their business on Saturday. Considering where they have come from since early in the year, it would be a very big deal. It is supposed to be wet and cold on Saturday in Waco..,a good thing if you are a running team...just saying.
Have you heard about operation mouse drop? Apparently there is a really bad problem with tree snakes in Guam...they are parachuting 2000 mice pumped full of acetaminophen to poison the snakes. Cost of this is reportedly $8 million. Check it out...
There he goes and there goes Bama's chance for a three-peat. Auburn's Chris Davis with a show-shocker ending to the Iron Bowl
Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the residents are still shaking off the effects of the tryptophan.
College Football: A Pair of True Classics
I’ve watched football since I was 9, and really started to appreciate when I was 12. I saw the fabled Hail Mary on the day after Thanksgiving in 1984. I was in the 7th grade and I liked Miami, but when Doug Flutie hit that 60 yard Hail Mary to beat the Hurricanes and essentially win the Heisman. I’ve seen some wild games, I’ve seen some miracle comebacks. To that end, the ending of two classic games this past weekend rivals nothing that I have ever seen in 30+ years Two games back to back that just left you speechless. And so in love with the emotion, pageantry and beauty of college football.
First, the classic rivalry that is Ohio State-Michigan. For this scribe in Hoodwood, I live right smack dab in Buckeye Country. I once lived in Columbus. That said I despise the Buckeyes, I grew up in a neighborhood that of course was chock full of Ohio State fans and I grew up getting in a lot of fights because I refused to go along with the crowd. I thought the Buckeyes were boring. This was the era of Earle Bruce, the Bucks were slow stodgy and very conservative offensively. The Wolverines on the other hand were wide open and the winged helmet to me just looked cooler. I rooted for the Wolverines and relished when they would play and beat the Buckeyes more often than not. Like I said, I got into a lot of fights in November. When I went to college, UC was atrocious so I still followed Michigan and laughed every fall that they would beat Ohio State. I remember the statement “Don’t kick the ball to Desi, Coop” When then Buckeyes coach John Cooper was so sure that Heisman hopeful Desmond Howard wouldn’t break a punt back. He elected to punt to Desi, Desi brought it back and did the famous Heisman pose. John Cooper was a decent coach but he went 2-10 against Michigan and twice was denied national title shots because they got beat by Michigan. It also stuck in the craw of Buckeye fans that Michigan garnered another Heisman and a national championship in 1997. Of course Ohio State fans will quickly point at Jim Tressel and how his Bucks dominated the series after 2000 and won a title of its own in 2002. After tattoo-gate and the residual fallout that saw Jim Tressel get fired and the overmatched Luke Fickell stumble to a 6-7 record and a loss to Michigan in 2011, the Bucks reveled in its hire of former Bowling Green, Utah and Florida (And UC alum) Urban Meyer. Though the Bucks were on probation in 2012, they made sure everyone knew that they were unbeaten and edged their hated rivals in their season finale. As everyone knows the Bucks have repeated their feat of 2012 running the table in their first 11 games but unlike the year previous will have games beyond the regular season grudge match. As Leaders division champs, they will be heading to Indy in the first weekend of December to take on another team from Michigan as Sparty and his crew from East Lansing await in the Big Ten title game and a possible BCS date so this game in the Big House had a lot higher stakes that the year previous. The Bucks were not ready for the Wolverines who looked nothing like the punchless toothless offense that they had been in the past four weeks. They took the fight to them, and traded scores with the Bucks for the better part of four quarters. The Bucks forged to a 35-21 lead only to see the Wolverines charge back to tie. The Bucks behind 226 relentless yards rushing from Carlos Hyde the Bucks surged ahead again. The Wolverines came back downfield and when Devin Gardner (I love that he wears a crazy number) found Devin Funchess in the end zone with 32 seconds in regulation a majority of the 113,511 were going bonkers. Overtime seemed imminent, but wait Brady Hoke decides to go for two. I loved the gutsy call but I hated the play that was call. Gardner got picked off in the end zone after Michigan went to a stack right pass formation. The Bucks hung on to win the game 42-41. Instant…classic for the ages.
Well that title lasted all of about 3 ½ hours. The annual grudge match that is called the Iron Bowl was played in Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. Both teams traded mind blowing plays. Auburn QB Nick Marshall rumbled 45 yards to a score for the first points, but the Tide rolled up 21 straight points to take the lead as Tide QB AJ McCarron was brilliant and TJ Yeldon also added a score. Auburn did score late in the half to cut the lead to 7 and tied the game in the 3rd. Auburn’s punter Steven Clark is going to be in the NFL, landing absolute dagger place punts to bury the Tide more than a few times inside the 1. The Tide did get out of that hole when AJ McCarron hit a streaking Amari Cooper for a 99 yard touchdown to give them lead. The game got conservative as both teams checked and parried one another but the Tigers got a late score on a brilliant shuffle pass from Marshall to Sammie Coates and it looked like overtime was imminent. But the Tide got downfield in a hurry and was aided twice by time being added back to the clock and with one second left Adam Griffith, a redshirt freshman looked to be the hero at least attempting to be with a 57 yard field goal. Nick Saban said later that he felt that Griffith could hit the long field goal since he had hit 60 yarders before the game. Griffith lined up the kick but Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn called a time out. Most thought he was trying to ice the kicker but instead, he put his punt returner Chris Davis under the goal post. I thought when I saw Davis waving his hands was “He could return the kick if it’s short.” Griffith’s kick had some oomph, but not enough it was short by about a yard or two. Davis caught the miss and charged out of the end zone, to the utter delight of most of the 87,451 in attendance picked up blocker raced up the sideline and was gone! That’s not an Oh snap moment, that was a HOLY SHIT! Moment. Davis went all the way to the end, that’s the ball game. No kick, and that was the finale a stunning coda to a thrilling game. The Tigers stunned the Tide with the checkmate move and won 34-28, effectively knocking the Tide out of title contention and putting themselves in the title talk. 2 games 7 hours, 1 wow.
A-Rod: The complexities of a cheater
I’m not really sure about this whole A-Rod arbitration thing now. I have long been on record as someone that abhors A-Rod. I think he’s a self-centered whiny punk who had undeniable talent but felt that he needed to be the biggest name in the game. I wasn’t surprised when he engineered the trade that sent him to New York, and his “Will you please love me now?” ministrations to the crowd. He wanted to be loved and be looked at like his one-time contemporary and rival Derek Jeter. Jeter, has always seemed to have that studied cool, but it has always been natural and never forced. Long the Yankee Captain (capital is my doing) Jeter has the kind of effervescent play and style that gets grudging respect from even the most bitter of Yankee haters. A-Rod wanted to be loved like the city’s prince and be the franchise face but instead was the very easy face to root against and the symbol of the Yankees excess and supposed greed.
A-Rod just seemed to do things that annoyed all baseball purists and when he admitted in 2009 to having had taken PED’s no one was surprised. Many expected his performance to sharply nose dive, but instead he put up MVP candidate numbers and the Yanks rode his all-around sterling play to a World Series crown. A-Rod finally had his ring (and garnered the postseason MVP award to boot) and those that despised him quietly shook their heads but couldn’t knock that he was on top of the game. A-Rod’s numbers did decline late in the 2012 season was fighting problems with his hip and a torn labrum, and was pinch hit for a number of times in clutch situations in the postseason. In 2013 A-Rod had surgery on the labrum again and didn’t start playing in the minors until late June. The Yankees for their part dawdled and delayed bringing A-Rod back to the majors as long as they could and I’m sure that the timing of the 211 game suspension on the day that A-Rod was due to debut for the Bombers was just sheer coincidence right? Did A-Rod deserve to get suspended? If he was getting busted for PED use then he should be suspended. The 50 games was the apropos punishment, his admissions aside according to the letter of the law he was a “first time” offender. Suspending him for not only the balance of the 2013 season but all of 2014 virtually guaranteed that A-Rod would likely never play again and that the Yankees could take steps to void his burdensome contract. Is A-Rod someone you think should be punished? He is the type that seems to be one that deserves punishment for his semi-arrogant cum who me innocent but I have a real beef, the arbitrary rest of the season all of next for his alleged involvement with the biogenesis. Of course A-Rod has appealed but he has done himself no favors by storming out of the arbitration hearing after it was announced that MLB commish Bud Selig would not be testifying in said hearings. A-Rod’s legal team has maintained that they would have some sort of revelatory information “An info surprise if you will.” The A-Fraud” saga will likely drag into the next baseball season as the arbiter will likely not make his ruling until after the first of the year and the legal machinations will go on for some time.
Football: Has the game been pussified?
I grew up in a different era. The hits were legendary. Players like Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, the Selmon Brothers, Jack Tatum were feared for their devastating hits. I used to have a tape called Crunch Course and it had all the great hits and they were fearsome. I loved to see the old cats like Sam Huff, Dick Butkus and Chuck Bednarik lay suckas out. Ask Frank Gifford about how he lost an entire season from a clean hit from Concrete Charley. Sadly, these hits are a thing of the past, all of the hits that you see on this tape (The NFL doesn’t sell it anymore) would be considered borderline if not outright illegal. The hits that many players have to try to avoid in the game now are nowhere near as devastating as they used to be. I remember the old video of Lawrence Taylor absolutely wearing out the Jets in a game and soberly telling Ken O’Brien after he leveled him again. “Son, ya’ll gotta do better than this!” Now in the interest of safety…or maybe because they are trying to head off a number of concussion lawsuits there are so many that comes from these devastating hits. Now the NFL is trying to keep big hits from happening. Now you have defensive backs who don’t know how to hit or where to hit. You have a bunch of players that are getting flagged and fined for hits that were once not only legal but celebrated. You can’t hit player in the air anymore they call him a defenseless player. So where is this leading? I’m waiting for the rule to start that you can’t hit a QB at all in the pocket. Or that certain players can’t be hit at all during certain times. Has the game been totally pussified? You tell me.
Phat Dap Head Slap
How loud is 137.5 decibels? Louder than a jet engine roar. That was the sustained roar from the crowd at Century Link Field in Seattle during their 34-7 rout of the Saints. That is a Guinness record. The Seahawks are giving their insane fans even more reason to be crazy, they have won 14 straight at home and are making the rest of NFC dread the fact that the road to New York for the Super Bowl will go through that noise factory
To the fan that took the Auburn-Alabama game too seriously. So seriously that she shot someone. ESPN reports that Adrian Laroze Briskey, 28, was charged Monday with murder in the killing of 36-year-old Michelle Shepherd. Briskey allegedly shot Shepherd because she wasn’t devastated enough over the Tide’s loss to Auburn Saturday. Briskey was allegedly incensed because Shepherd had the temerity to laugh about the loss and say that wasn’t as bad as a Miami Heat loss. The victim’s sister said that the shooter said that they “weren’t real Alabama fans because it didn’t bother them that they had lost.” Shooting and killing someone over a game…really?
The Final Word from the Hoodwood
Just so that we don’t end the week on a downer. Hoodwood is rooting for Pat Yarber. The 53 year old is trying to see a game in every D-1 venue. Yarber has retinitis pigmentosa and it has deteriorated his vision to the point where he has lost 80 percent of his vision. He has very poor depth perception and will eventually lose all of his sight. He will make all of the 125 D-1 venues by the end of next season. If he wants to go to a game at Nippert Stadium whether he has his sight or not. I would be happy to take him.
That’s the view from the Hoodwood, until next time fellow sports fans!