Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How big of a dropoff after the big 3?

One thing I hate about the NBA is the extreme unlikelihood of a team coming out of nowhere to win a championship. The Golden State Warriors won a series last year and were won of the biggest Cinderella stories in NBA history. So how unlikely is it for a team outside of the big three (Spurs, Mavericks, and Suns) to take home the hardware this year? (they've had issues with their domain name) lists the Spurs as the favorite to win it all at 7:2, the Mavs and surprisingly the Celtics at 4:1, the Suns at 9:2, the Rockets at 5:1, and the Bulls at 9:1. The Nuggets at 20:1 and the Pistons at 15:1 look somewhat attractive, but I'd take Dallas and Phoenix against the field if I had to bet on NBA futures. Defending champs are always overrated, and I'm confident it will come down to one of those three teams. If you take the two with the longer odds I think you're getting 60% odds at a better than 2:1 payout.

I find it pretty surprising that the Rockets and Celtics are in the rare air. I started this entry assuming there'd be a dropoff either after the Suns or Pistons, but Detroit shares the same line with Miami and Cleveland, and there's barely any dropoff after Phoenix. KG is still an elite player, but I don't see how his addition, when you traded half your roster, is enough to go from 24 wins to elite status. And I don't see how Ray Allen is that big of an improvement when he's the clear number three option on offense.

Cleveland the only market in the U.S. that won't show Pats/Colts

Since Texans/Raiders won't be a sell out and will be blacked out in Oakland, and Houston CBS affiliates will simulcast the Patriots and Colts on cable, Cleveland will be the only market in the U.S. that won't be able to watch Colts/Pats. It seems that they can't go against the Browns home game.

Here's the Cleveland Indians' reaction to the news:
And here's how the Cleveland Browns are taking it:

So Lance, what's more painful? Cancer or sitting through an Olsen twins movie?

In maybe the strangest celebrity couple since Jill St. John and Henry Kissinger, Lance Armstrong and Ashley Olsen have been linked by the New York Post and New York Daily News. Page six's source says "they were making out all night. They left together around 2 A.M." So he goes from Sheryl Crow, who is nearly ten years older than Lance, to Ashley Olsen, who is about 15 years younger? And she's got twice as much money and half as much lip? (I mean seriously, how can you date a girl who advocates using one square per trip to the bathroom?) Good work my friend. I think even Peter La Fleur would give him some props.

Will this finally be the year for Monk?

While comparing this year's Patriots to other dominant teams, I gained a new appreciation of the 1991 Redskins. They played an NFL record tying 11 games against teams with 10 or more wins, led the league in scoring, 2nd in scoring defense, 1st in punt return average allowed, 3rd in punt return average, and allowed an NFL record few 9 sacks, while racking up 50. An unbelievably well rounded team with seven Pro Bowlers but, as of now, zero Hall of Famers.

But that won't be the case a year from now as Darrell Green was named a semifinalist yesterday for the 2008 class of the Hall of Fame. Green and Cris Carter are the headliners, and Green is an even bigger lock that Carter to make it in on this first ballot, considering the difficulty receivers have had getting in. Now it's probable Carter will get in, and when his name is brought up you can bet his stats will be compared to those of Art Monk. Mostly, the stats are comparable, except Carter has almost twice as many touchdowns ("All he does is catch touchdowns"), but three fewer Super Bowl rings. Between two and five non-seniors candidates can be elected in a given year, so the difficulty varies from year to year. But the symmetry with longtime teammate Green and the Carter comparisons may be enough to finally get Monk the votes.

G.I. Joe gets the green light, Akira in the works, Joker gets viral, and one scary trailer

Paramount will begin filming G.I. Joe early next year, largely to avoid losing out on the rights like they did with Transformers (whoops).

In other movie news, apparently Warner has tabbed a director for a live action version of the seminal anime Akira: Ruairi Robinson. It seems like a huge project to hand a unknown director, but he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

The Dark Knight kicked off a viral campaign today at The gist is people around the countries will take pictures of minor landmarks that are laid out by the Joker, and when all the requested pictures are uploaded to the website something will happen or be revealed. Probably an actual trailer, as opposed to voiceover teaser we've seen. Maybe it's just this leaked teaser.

Finally, I've finally seen the trailer for The Mist and it looks incredible. Frank Darabont directing Stephen King? Could be great.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Week 8 Power Rankings

A week without a lot of upsets keep the top 10 the same this week, setting the stage for Super Bowl 41.5 next week. The bottom five also stayed the same , as Atlanta's release of Grady Jackson kept the Falcons behind the Jets despite New York's awful play. The biggest riser is New Orleans, moving up 4 spots, and biggest fall belongs to Houston, dropping 5 spots. Across the board this is the most stable my power rankings have stayed from one week to the next, which led to me going 11-2 in my picks for this week, good for 2nd in my pool.

1. New England Patriots (8-0) (Last week: 1) AFC East
2. Indianapolis Colts (7-0) (2) AFC South
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) (3) AFC North
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) (4) NFC East
5. San Diego Chargers (4-3) (5) AFC West
6. Tennessee Titans (5-2) (6) AFC South
7. Green Bay Packers (6-1) (7) NFC North
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2) (8) AFC South
9. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) (9) AFC West
10. New York Giants (6-2) (10) NFC East
11. Cleveland Browns (4-3) (14) AFC North
12. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) (13) NFC West
13. Washington Redskins (4-3) (11) NFC East
14. Denver Broncos (3-4) (12) AFC West
15. Detroit Lions (5-2) (16) NFC North
16. Baltimore Ravens (4-3) (15) AFC North
17. Buffalo Bills (3-4) (20) AFC East
18. Carolina Panthers (4-3) (17) NFC South
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3) (19) NFC South
20. Oakland Raiders (2-5) (21) AFC West
21. New Orleans Saints (3-4) (25) NFC South
22. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) (22) NFC West
23. Houston Texans (3-5) (18) AFC South
24. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) (27) NFC East
25. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5) (23) AFC North
26. Chicago Bears (3-5) (24) NFC North
27. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) (26) NFC North
28. San Francisco 49ers (2-5) (28) NFC West
29. New York Jets (1-7) (29) AFC East
30. Atlanta Falcons (1-6) (30) NFC South
31. Miami Dolphins (0-8) (31) AFC East
32. St. Louis Rams (0-8) (32) NFC West

Division Power Rankings (by sum of team rankings)
AFC South - 39 (+5 from last week)
AFC West - 48 (+1)
NFC East - 51 (-1)
AFC North - 55 (no change)
NFC North - 75 (+2)
AFC East - 78 (-3)
NFC South - 88 (-3)
NFC West - 94 (-1)

Best. Name. Ever.

Chris Webber is apparently engaged to a South African star named Cleopatra Mariri. She has been living here all over the United States wherever Chris Webber is playing over the last four years. She's got another celebrity friend named - wait for it - Chichi Letswalo who has come to the greatest country in the world "looking for a rich man and a job." But wait, it gets even better! Miss Letswalo was hired as Stephen Marbury's nanny at $140 a week. The same Stephen Marbury who admitted to sharing an intern with a cousin outside a strip club last month. So let me just say what we're all thinking: Marbury just hired a 24 hour bang maid for a fraction of minimum wage. Which makes it the best Knicks signing since Pat Riley.

My top 10 vampire movies

Vampires are so much cooler than other classes of monsters. Zombies and werewolves are more limited in power, and since they stick out in crowds zombie and werewolf movies are limited in scope. Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde generally stick to their literary roots, which is even more limiting. Vampire flicks can cover everything from superhero to teen angst movies. In honor of Halloween, here are my top 10 vampire movies.

1. Nosferatu the Vampire (1922). 8.1 on imdb, 98% on Rottentomatoes. Considered among the greatest silent movies, it's amazing that this 85 year old genre defining classic remains scary. Absolutely still worth a watch. Number 16 on RT's Top Horror Movies.

2. Dracula (1931). 7.7 on imdb, 92% on RT. Poor Bela Lugosi. You'd have to figure the accomplished Hungarian stage actor would have turned down this life defining title role if he had to do it over again. He died penniless; Frank Sinatra reportedly paid for his funeral. Still, great movie, among the most influential of all time. Number 25 on RT's Top Horror Movies.

3. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000) 7.7 on imdb, 70% on RT. The director of the transcendent anime Ninja Scroll takes a swing at the sequel to the 1985 anime classic Vampire Hunter D. Among the best anime ever produced, with over the top action and some incredible villains.

4. Near Dark (1987). 7.0 on imdb, 91% on RT. Fantastic movie whose influence is seen in dozens of horror movies. Terrific cast with Bill Paxton in possibly his finest role. ("We keep odd hours," one of the best lines ever.) Made Kathryn Bigelow's career. Number 34 on RT's Top Horror Movies.

5. Dracula (1992). 7.2 on imdb, 82% on RT. So what if it's not as great as the sum of its considerable parts? It's still a cool movie with a great choice for the title role even if the rest of the casting falls flat.

6. Interview with the Vampire (1994). 7.3 on imdb, 69% on RT. A terrific translation of a terrific book with a terrific cast. The cast is completely stacked: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea, and Thandie Newton.

7. Shadow of the Vampire (2000). 6.8 on imdb, 82% on RT. More of a dark comedy than horror, Malkovich and Dafoe make for a great onscreen duo. Terrific concept based on the original Nosferatu. Number 38 on RT's Top Horror Movies.

8. The Lost Boys (1987). 6.8 on imdb, 74% on RT. A classic 80s Coreys movie. Kiefer Sutherland shines in an early role. I wanted to put it higher for nostalgia, but this is where it belongs.

9. Day Watch (2006). 7.0 on imdb, 65% on RT. An amped up follow up to the amped up Night Watch (2004), it loses a bit if you missed the first part of the trilogy. Available today on DVD.

10. Blade II (2002). 6.5 on imdb, 56% on RT. An entertaining sequel based on the comic book character directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth). Perhaps a bit loud and over the top, but it's never dull.

The Jerk Store is well stocked

Here's a PTI style toss up for you: who showed less respect to their respective sport on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez/Scott Boras for announcing he'd opt out of his contract in the middle of game 4 of the World Series, or Bill Belichick/Tom Brady for running up the score to preposterous levels? It's got to be ARod & Boras for taking away from the Red Sox World Series win. People have run up the score for no reason before (can you imagine how many points the Pats will put up when they play the Jets again at Foxboro 12/16), but how many agents break baseball news in the middle of a clinching World Series game? What the Patriots did was classless, what ARod and Boras did was appalling.

If you throw in Kobe Bryant's lack of effort this preseason, at least perceived by Charles Barkley and Phil Jackson, then you've got three of the five biggest names in American sports (along with Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning) engaging in some seriously me-first behavior. Kobe is of course trying to force his way onto Dallas or Chicago after forcing his way onto New York or L.A. when he was coming out of high school or like he forced Shaq out of L.A. Even with the most hyped regular season game ever on the horizon, this Prima donna stuff is truly casting a pall over sports.

Monday, October 29, 2007

So now a new trivia is born into this world

In order to solve one of life's great mysteries, some Japanese show has samurais chase a champion power walker to see if he will run or power walk away.

How does he escape? You'll have to watch the video. From TV in Japan via With Leather.

Payback for Beckham?

Maybe Giants/Dolphins looked like a halfway attractive matchup eight months ago, but it didn't look that way at any point in the last two months yet that's what England and Americans without Direct TV were subjected to Sunday afternoon. How is a 13-10 snoozefest supposed to drum up any interest in our number three domestic resource (behind feature films and smugness).

And I can't remember a worst string of nationally televised games than the run we're on right now. Not since week 3's epic Green Bay/San Diego game have I been able to watch Sunday's day games from my couch without cursing Fox, CBS, and the NFL for subjecting me to mismatches between large market teams. Thank goodness for the flex scheduling - starting week 11 NBC will pick which games to televise Sunday Nights with some exemptions.


The last two weeks a reporter has asked Bill Belichick if he's running up the score. It's now a rhetorical question - of course he's running up the score. Yesterday the Patriots went for a fake spike with 20 seconds left up 20-0. They went for it on 4th down with 11 minutes up 38-0, and with 7:16 left up 45-0. Up 52-7 with under a minute left there were still starters in the game.

Profootballtalk pointed out that while the Redskins beat the 49ers two years ago 52-17, the Redskins didn't through a pass in the last 18:30 of the game. I would compare the Patriots behavior to stealing bases up 12 in the 9th inning, but it's worse. In baseball there's no clock - you could conceivably score 12 runs in the bottom of the ninth. It's easier to sit on a lead in the NFL. It's also easier to sustain an injury. So when Brady is in up 35 in the third quarter when the Pats are playing someone with a little less class than Joe Gibbs, I have a feeling you'll see a lineman try to take out his knees. Hell, I'm surprised I didn't see it yesterday.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Zombietown USA

Apparently, there's a small town in Florida near the Alabama border where it became fashionable to lose a limb and collect on insurance. In fact, "more than two-thirds of all loss-of-limb accident claims in the United States in the late '50s and early '60s come from the Florida Panhandle." Renowned documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) attempted to make a documentary about this twisted town, but while sitting at a bar, "a citizen twice Morris's size smiled as he extinguished a cigarette on the lapel of Morris's blazer." He ended up releasing Vernon, Florida without any "Nub City" references, but a white trash expose:

What Morris produced instead was 56 minutes of surreal monologues from an idle police officer, an obsessive turkey hunter, a pastor fixated on the word "therefore," a couple convinced that the sand they keep in a jar is growing, and, among others, an old man who claims he can write with both hands at once... Roger Ebert called it an "unforgettable film."

The thought of seeing these Jerry Springer watchers limping around the streets to go to the corner store and drop blood money on beef jerky is scarier to me than any zombie flick. Maybe I've led a privileged life but never in my wildest dreams have I considered shooting off a part of my body for money. I remember seeing an episode of ER like this, where some strung out couple needed money to score a fix. Even for them, your left hand has to be worth something pretty significant.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Week 7 Power Rankings

Halfway through week 3 the Chiefs and Giants both looked dead and buried. The Chiefs had scored 16 points and the Giants had allowed 97 points in two and a half games. Since then the Chiefs have scored 86 points and the Giants have allowed 52 points in four and a half games and both are firmly in the Wild Card hunt. Garrard's injury could be huge for Jacksonville, in a division with no margin for error. That's the problem with cutting your backup QB a week before the season. The biggest riser is Denver, moving up 6 spots, and the biggest fall belongs to Tampa Bay, dropping 8 spots.

1. New England Patriots (7-0) (Last week: 1) AFC East
2. Indianapolis Colts (6-0) (2) AFC South
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) (3) AFC North
4. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) (4) NFC East
5. San Diego Chargers (3-3) (6) AFC West
6. Tennessee Titans (4-2) (9) AFC South
7. Green Bay Packers (5-1) (7) NFC North
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-2) (5) AFC South
9. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) (10) AFC West
10. New York Giants (5-2) (12) NFC East
11. Washington Redskins (4-2) (15) NFC East
12. Denver Broncos (3-3) (18) AFC West
13. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) (16) NFC West
14. Cleveland Browns (3-3) (13) AFC North
15. Baltimore Ravens (4-3) (8) AFC North
16. Detroit Lions (4-2) (21) NFC North
17. Carolina Panthers (4-2) (17) NFC South
18. Houston Texans (3-4) (19) AFC South
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) (11) NFC South
20. Buffalo Bills (2-4) (23) AFC East
21. Oakland Raiders (2-4) (14) AFC West
22. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) (26) NFC West
23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-4) (27) AFC North
24. Chicago Bears (3-4) (28) NFC North
25. New Orleans Saints (2-4) (25) NFC South
26. Minnesota Vikings (2-4) (22) NFC North
27. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4) (20) NFC East
28. San Francisco 49ers (2-4) (24) NFC West
29. New York Jets (1-6) (29) AFC East
30. Atlanta Falcons (1-6) (30) NFC South
31. Miami Dolphins (0-7) (31) AFC East
32. St. Louis Rams (0-7) (32) NFC West

Division Power Rankings (by sum of team rankings)
AFC South - 34 (-1 from last week)
AFC West - 47 (-1)
NFC East - 52 (+1)
AFC North - 55 (+4)
NFC North - 73 (-5)
AFC East - 81 (-3)
NFC South - 91 (+8)
NFC West - 95 (-3)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This team needs its own sitcom

Watching an piece on Jeanie Buss last night on ESPN, I was shocked how similar she looked to Jan from The Office. Which of course makes Phil Jackson Michael Scott. Down the roster and into the front office, there are numerous parallels between the Lakers and the workers at Dunder Mifflin. As great as The Office is, how entertaining would a Lakers sitcom be?

Jeanie Buss = Jan Levinson-Gould. The resemblance is uncanny. Jeanie is a woman in the male dominated world of sports management, Jan was a woman in the male dominated world of corporate management.
Jan: Michael, come over after work tonight. I miss your…body.
Michael: I dunno. I feel…I drive a lot. I’m spending a fortune on gas…

Jan: I’ll give you $200. If I get up before you I’ll leave it on the dresser.

Michael: I dunno…that makes me kind of uncomfortable…

Jan: $300?

Phil Jackson = Michael Scott. They're both the boss of their team and were/are dating their boss. Phil has written multiple bestsellers, Michael wrote Threat Level: Midnight. Phil's unusual motivational techniques have included comparing Rick Adelman to Hitler; Michael's unusual motivational techniques have included comparing slavery to the Holocaust.
Michael: Olympics of suffering right here! Slavery versus the Holocaust, come on!

Michael: Why don’t we just go as teams to demonstrate our teamsmanship.

Kobe Bryant = Jim Halpert. They're both Philadelphia natives. Kobe used to live in Italy, Jim used to date an Italian girl. Kobe helped orchestrate Shaq's trade to Miami, Jim's relationship with Pam led to Roy's firing. This of course makes Vanessa Pam and the girl from Colorado Karen.
Jim: I miss Dwight. Congratulations Universe, you win.

Shaquille O'Neal = Roy Anderson. Neither are part of the team anymore. Shaq drives a Superman Ford Expedition, Roy drove a Ford pickup in season one. Shaq hates training camp, Roy hates Dunder-Mifflin get-togethers.
Roy: I am going to kill Jim Halpert.

Kwame Brown = Meredith Palmer. Kwame is coming back from offseason shoulder and ankle surgery, Meredith is coming off of rabies and a cracked pelvis. Kwame was charged in connection with a DUI in the offseason and was investigated for sexual assault, Meredith is an alcoholic and sex addict.
Meredith: You know what? Don’t even worry about it. Everyone was so drunk I bet no one even remembers a word you said.

Meredith: The uterus is different from a vagina. I still have a

Lamar Odom = Kevin Malone. Both are bald and seem to have facial expressions limited to a smile and scowl. Odom has averaged 64 games played a season due to a series of injuries, Kevin suffers from anal fissures. Odom loves to sing, Kevin is in a band.
Kevin: I just want to lie on the beach and eat hot dogs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Kurt Rambis = Dwight Schrute. Rambis preceded Jackson as coach of the Lakers, and Jackson kept him on as an assistant. Just like Dwight has the bogus title "Assistant to the Regional Manager," Rambis was recently named "Vice President of Business and Basketball Integration." Rambis's nickname is Rambo, Dwight has his own crossbow range.
Dwight: I have been Michael’s number two guy for about 5 years. And we make a great team. We’re like one of those classic famous teams. He’s like Mozart and I’m like…Mozart’s friend. No. I’m like Butch Cassidy and Michael is like…Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart? You’re gonna get a bullet in your head courtesy of Butch Cassidy.

Andrew Bynum = Ryan Howard. Bynum was the youngest player in the league the last two seasons, Ryan is the youngest guy in corporate. Bynum has seen a meteoric rise from high schooler to a valued Lakers asset they wouldn't trade for Jason Kidd, Ryan has seen a meteoric rise from intern to corporate.
Ryan: If I had to I could clean out my desk in 5 seconds and nobody would know I had ever been here. And I’d forget too…

Vladimir Radmanovic = Kelly Kapoor. Radmanovic is Serbian, Kelly is Indian. Radmanovic lied about a shoulder injury so the Lakers wouldn't void his contract, Kelly lied about being pregnant so Ryan would talk to her. Radmanovic averaged career lows across the board last season, Ryan dumped Kelly last season.
Kelly: If Ryan is laid off I will kill myself. Like Romeo and Juliet (the Claire Danes one).

Mitch Kupchak = Toby Flenderson. Just as Toby often stands in the way of Michael's schemes, Kupchak's horrible trades have stood in the way of Phil Jackson coaching a productive team. Of course, it made more sense for Toby to frown upon the Boy Scouts coming to Casino Night than for Kupchak to trade Caron Butler for Kwame Brown.
Toby: Actually, I didn't think it was appropriate to invite children since it's, uh, you know...there's gambling and alcohol...and it's in our dangerous's a school night, and you know, uh... Hooters is catering. You know, is that not—is that enough? Should I keep going?

Derek Fisher = Stanley Hudson. Fisher asked to be released from the Jazz and signed with the Lakers so he could be at a city with facilities to care for his daughter, and Stanley has a game "called work hard so your children can go to college.”
Stanley: This here is a “run-out-the-clock” situation. Just like upstairs.

Luke Walton = Creed Bratton. The combination of Walton's dad being a hippie and the rumor of Luke dating Britney Spears make him the only Laker potentially dirty enough to compare to Creed.
Creed: I’m not offended by homosexuality. In the 60s I made love to many, many women – often outdoors in the mud and the rain – and it’s possible that a man slipped in. There’d be no way of knowing...

Brian Grant = Oscar Martinez. Brian Grant was paid an ungodly sum by the Heat, much of which he earned from the bench, Oscar got a three month vacation so he wouldn't sue.
Kevin: Hello Oscar, how was your gay-cation?
Oscar: That’s very funny.
Kevin: Yeah? I thought of that, like, two seconds after you left.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The easiest sports argument

Today marks the release of the special edition DVD of the greatest horror movie of all time, The Shining. It's not close; nothing with mutilated teens or hackneyed monsters can compete with Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson, 25 Oscar nods between them. It seems silly to suggest something that's more of a drama like Rosemary's Baby or Psycho, a cookie cutter teen slasher flick like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, or even The Exorcist, which is not quite as intense. The Shining is listed as the number three horror movie on, behind Psycho and Alien, which I would consider primarily a suspense and sci-fi movie, respectively.

By an even wider margin, Raging Bull is the greatest sports movie of all time. Robert De Niro at his absolute best, winning his only Oscar for Best Actor (the tenth Greatest Performance ever according to Premier Magazine). Scorsese's first of seven nominations for Best Director. The number one sports movie on by a wide margin and an outstanding 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. And romantic comedy fans want to come with the tepid Bull Durham? Deluded baseball fans want to bring up the tedious Field of Dreams? Puhlease. Rocky and Million Dollar Baby both won Best Picture, and are both terrific movies, but Raging Bull is one of the greatest movies of all time.

More menacing than Goodell

Bungie Studios, developers of the Halo series, is threatening to drop the hammer on Gilbert Arenas (italics were on the press release):

There are those of you doing things you shouldn’t be in Halo 3. Some of you have gotten a little too famous for your own good. This ain’t a church and there is no redemption or salvation once you have been judged. Apologies are now officially too late to save you.

The storm approaches.

Love, Bungie

That has to be intended for Arenas, right? I had heard that Arenas was going to avoid sanctions, but now it's anyone's guess.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Putting the Patriots start into perspective

Without question, the '85 Bears, '91 Redskins, and '98 Broncos are the three most dominant teams of all time. All made a legitimate run at 16-0 and all were overwhelming Super Bowl favorites a month or so into the season. Head to head, I would take the '89 49ers, '94 49ers, or '03 Patriots, but those teams all had bumps in the road and really weren't clicking until the end of the year. As dominant as those three teams were, through seven games the '07 Patriots are winning more decisively than any of them.

Pts for Pts against Margin Avg pts for Avg pts agnst Avg margin
'85 Chicago Bears 212 105 107 30.29 15.00 15.29
'91 Washington Redskins 231 82 149 33.00 11.71 21.29
'98 Denver Broncos 240 133 107 34.29 19.00 15.29
'07 New England Patriots 279 120 159 39.86 17.14 22.71

These stats are through the first seven games for each team, all of which were 7-0. The '91 Redskins opened with Detroit and Dallas, arguably the two next best teams in the NFL that season, and played 10 win Philly in week 5 and 11 win Chicago week 6. This makes the Redskins start particularly impressive. The '85 Bears played the 10 win Redskins and 49ers along with the eventual AFC Champion Patriots during their start, but they also played the 2-14 Bucs twice. Denver only played two playoff teams in their first 7 games in '98, the Jaguars and the overachieving Quincy Carter-led Cowboys. The jury is still out on the Patriots schedule, but the Cowboys and Chargers seem to be among the NFL's best this year.

I'm inclined to call the '91 Redskins start slightly more dominant than that of this year's Patriots, but the Redskins won one game by 2 points and another by 7 during their start. The Patriots have won a staggering 8 straight regular season games by 3 or more scores, going back to last season. I have to imagine that's a record; the '94 49ers did so 4 times in a row at one point, the '85 Bears and '98 Broncos 3 games in a row, the '89 49ers and '91 Skins twice in a row, and the '03 Patriots twice all season, non-consecutively. The '85 Bears and '89 49ers both won the last game of the regular season and all three playoff game by three or more scores, peaking at the right time.

Is James Lipton gonna have to choke a bitch?

Inside the Actor's Studio host James Lipton admitted on Thursday's Conan O' Brien that he was he a pimp in Paris. Literally.

"This was when I was very very young, living in Paris, penniless, unable to get any kind of working permit... I had a friend who worked in what is called the Milieu, which is that world and she suggested to me one night, `Look, you'll be my meck... We would translate it perhaps... as pimp. We were earning our living together, this young woman and I, we made a rather good living, I must say."

In honor of this revelation, here are Pimp James Lipton's answers to the famous ten questions, compiled by Bernard Pivot.

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on?
Stacks of chedder.

What turns you off?
Stretch marks.

What is your favorite curse word?
Bitch, as in "bitch better have my money" or "bottom bitch."

What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of a car window rolling down.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of the back of my hand across some trick's face.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
To interview our greatest actors and directors to educate and entertain.

What profession would you not like to attempt?
Bottom bitch.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
How much for an hour with Jodie Foster?

Robot gun kills 9, who saw that coming?

A robotic anti-aircraft gun malfunctioned in South Africa, killing nine and injuring 14. Apparently the only reason it stopped firing is it ran out of ammo. When the soldiers received their duties for that day, do you think they were excited about getting to see this technological marvel, or were they like "Oh @$&%, this is just like Robocop 2!" This is a scary development for anyone who has ever seen a Robocop, Terminator, Matrix, or Will Smith movie.

Hormone deficiency... Riiiiiiight.

If a journeyman pitcher with less than 100 career wins and one season where he struck out more than 106 in on HGH, then who isn't? Paul Byrd says he was prescribed HGH by a doctor because of a hormone deficiency and admitted it made him a better pitcher.

"At the insistence of a close friend, I went and had my hormones checked . . . To my surprise, the doctor told me that I was producing very little growth hormone and prescribed a dosage to help me out. I didn't like sticking a needle in my inner thigh each night but I sure did enjoy the sleep that occurred afterwards. My life changed during that time and I was able to work out more, experience less fatigue and recover quicker from pitching."

I've known many people who have had trouble sleeping, and most of them were prescribed sleeping pills and not human growth hormone. Maybe he went to Dr. Nick Riviera asking for a way to sleep better and to pitch 200 innings every season. Byrd reportedly received HGH 2002-05 (I say reportedly because he may have received HGH prior to 2002 or after 2005). In 2002 he pitched a career high 228 1/3 innings, in July 2003 he had Tommy John surgery, he recovered quickly to pitch 114 1/3 innings in 2004, and again threw 200+ innings in 2005. I think Ricky Williams needs to see this doctor about his glaucoma.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The funniest thing I've ever heard Steven Colbert say

Flash back to July 31, 2002. The figure skating world was rocked by the pairs figure skating scandal. just launched and it is outstanding. It seems like they've got the show's entire catalogue on demand.

Why is Coppola still relevant?

In the ultimate case of the pot calling the kettle black, Francis Ford Coppola rips Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, and Al Pacino, maybe the three greatest actors of our time, certainly in the top 5.

"I met both Pacino and De Niro when they were really on the come. They were young and insecure. Now Pacino is very rich... De Niro was deeply inspired by (Coppola’s studio American) Zoetrope and created an empire and is wealthy and powerful... Nicholson was — when I met him and worked with him — he was always kind of a joker...

I don’t know what any of them want anymore. I don’t know that they want the same things... they all live off the fat of the land.

They live off the fat of the land? Coppola has one good movie (Bram Stoker's Dracula) in 20 years (since Peggy Sue Got Married, so I'm being charitable), and they live off the fat of the land? Robert De Niro has established himself as an accomplished comedic actor since 1999, has repeatedly gone outside his comfort zone with diverse roles such as a coma patient (Awakenings), the title role in Frankenstein, and a wannabe talk show host (The King of Comedy). I don't see Jack stepping outside the box as much but he should have gotten a 13th Oscar nod for The Departed, and will likely get one for The Bucket List, where he'll star opposite Morgan Freeman. Even Al Pacino, who Coppola seemingly criticizes for not doing more theater, recently played Shylock in Merchant of Venice and Roy Cohn in Angels in America.

Coppola's Youth Without Youth is set to open next week. The first review is positive (A-), but his last movies, The Rainmaker, was well reviewed but completely formulaic and uninspired. I have feeling this will be another derivative period piece. If anyone thinks I'm discounting Coppola's work, keep in mind The Godfather is the greatest movie of all time by a mile and I've seen it at least a dozen times. But Don Larsen was a journeyman pitcher who threw the only hitless game in postseason history, a perfect game on October 8, 1856. Kurt Warner had the greatest season ever in 1999, and has faded into a role as a nice backup. Sometimes it all comes together for somebody, and then they lose it.

She ain't my ho no mo

I usually stay away from the celeb gossip, but if Tony Romo's play falls off in the next month this story will dominate Cowboys football news. Plus I get to use this clever title. It sounds like American Idol hottie Carrie Underwood has moved on from Romo to some guy I've never heard of on a show I've never heard of with a haircut that probably costs more than the computer I'm typing this on. Regarding Underwood, Romo said "We're friends," but if blondie calls him on a Monday morning complaining about this pretty boy ditching her to play poker with Jake Gyllenhaal when he's high on painkillers with an Osi Umenyiora imprint on his lower back, I have a feeling the friendship will be strained. Not that I'm bitter.

This is why ESPN doesn't let Sal Paolantonio share his opinions

Somehow Sal Paolantonio's descriptively named book The Paolantonio Reports: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches, and Moments in NFL History is the number one selling football book in America (according to Wikipedia. According to Amazon it's 11th). Personally, I hate saying movies or athletes are underrated or overrated, because they're wrongly rated to me. For example, I think Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible is underrated, and Scarface is overrated. But by what measure? Who's doing the rating that I have to debunk? With teams I don't have as much of a problem with it, because you can at least imagine teams across seasons or eras playing each other. I don't mind using it in terms of draft prospects, as long as it's not referring to their college career. For example, J.J. Redick was overrated as a draft prospect but was a great college player. He was overrated because he has underperformed in relation to where he was drafted, and there is statistical evidence to support where he was rated (his draft slot) and where he should have been rated (his effectiveness as a player).

Some of Paolantonio's poorly defended declarations include Barry Sanders and Brett Favre as overrated, and Dave Krieg and Bart Starr as underrated. His argument for Barry Sanders being overrated center around his 2.8 yard per carry in the post season, which jumps to 5.0 if you take away one game at Lambeau where he had -1 yard on 13 carries. So one bad game on the road against another of his most overrated players takes away from the legacy as the most exciting athlete anyone has ever seen. Paolantonio is underrating the importance of a supporting cast.

His argument for Bart Starr being underrated centers around his postseason quarterback rating, particularly his record low interception rate. Tom Brady, throwing to no receivers of note last year, dropped from first to second behind Starr all time in lowest postseason interception rate last year. Phil Simms is third; is he underrated or are all New York athletes overrated, as he says Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan are as part of the "New York Hype Machine?" Starr threw 3 TDs, no picks in the 1967 postseason after throwing 9 TDs, 17 picks in the regular season. Maybe Paolantonio is overrating the importance of the postseason?

Snap decisions on the 2007 draft

Matt Mosley's ESPN Hashmarks blog has a decent piece on where players would go if the 2007 NFL draft was held today. It's absurd to think JaMarcus Russell would drop from 1st to 32nd overall because of his holdout, but besides that I don't have any major disagreements. Calvin Johnson is a nice prospect but the Lions were foolish to turn down to cornucopia of picks the Broncos offered. Picking sixth was truly a can't miss spot, with the top 5 guys being available, and any would have been appropriate to draft but Dwayne Bowe. Landry was a fine pick, but the Redskins have to be looking at Okoye and Adrian Peterson and thinking "what if?" I told a Chargers fan this week that the Bolts were foolish to draft Craig Davis over Anthony Gonzalez and Mosley agrees.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Oscars of video games

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards video game nominations (arguably the most prestigious video game awards) have been announced. If you take away the idiosyncrasies like including The Orange Box for PS3 and not XBox 360, and pushing Halo 3 and BioShock back to next years' awards but including Ratchet and Clank and Kane & Lynch while they haven't been released yet, it's a pretty strong group. The Skinny Post favorite Gears of War has seven nominations, topped only by Wii Sports with eight. A lot of PS2 games were nominated late in the system's life cycle, while there are zero XBox or Gamecube nominations.

Kobe beef

Whether Kobe Bryant cleaned out his locker or merely cleaned his locker, it sounds like Kobe's days in L.A. are numbered. Kobe has criticized management for poor personnel decisions, which include:
  • Trading Shaquille O'Neal for two good players and a bad contract, failing to demand Dwyane Wade from Miami in return
  • Trading the best player they got Shaq for Kwame Brown
  • Passing in the draft on Josh Howard for Brian Cook
The Kobe situation is different than the Kobe situation that spurred the Shaq trade. Most notably: Kobe was a free agent when he orchestrated Shaq's exile from L.A., while Kobe is signed for two more years now. (Which reminds me - Kobe's fallback plan back then was signing with the Clippers. Does he honestly think he'd have a better supporting cast there? Donald Sterling would have been happy to surround him with Krispy Kream employees.) So what can Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers hope to get for the best player in the NBA? And where can we expect Kobe to end up?

I agree with Chad Ford's latest column pretty much across the board. He lists Chicago as the favorites, potentially giving up Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Joakim Noah, and expiring contracts. This would be a pretty strong package that would revamp their starting lineup, but it lacks a superstar. That's where his number two contender comes in. The Wizards could potentially offer Gilbert Arenas, 1st round pick Nick Young, Darius Songalia, and a future 1st round pick. It's a lot to give up on both sides, but both teams are terrified of their superstars opting out - Arenas next summer, Bryant the following summer. The Wizards would suddenly be a favorite in the East, maybe the favorite, only losing one starter. DeShawn Stevenson might have a chance to meet Lindsey Lohan through new backcourt mate Kobe. And the Lakers could be confident that they could resign Arenas. It sounds like it could happen.

Take that MLBPA!

The MLBPA lost an appeal which will allow online fantasy leagues without having to pay for licensing, making statistics associated with sports leagues public domain. Just thinking about the money grab by the most evil force in American sports makes me angry. The Major League Baseball Players Association continues to be so myopic it's amazing. By making drug testing a negotiating point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, sports fans can safely assume anyone who improves one year to the next is on performance enhancers. Their strike in 1994 may have raised salaries, but MLB was near the same level of popularity as the NFL at the time. Now it's not close.

CBC Distribution and Marketing, Inc. runs CDM fantasy sports, a small online fantasy company, sued MLB Advanced Media seeking to use of players' names and statistics for free. Fantasy baseball is the only reason I have more than a cursory knowledge of the stats put up this past season. If I were associated with Major League Baseball I would consider that a good thing and would attempt to promote fantasy leagues, not attempt to shut them down.

What this ruling means for fantasy players is that small fantasy sites can compete with the big boys. So if I made a free fantasy site with state of the art stat tracking, you'd want to come to my site instead of Yahoo, who charges for stat tracking. So if Yahoo notices that they're losing users to me, maybe Yahoo adds free stat tracking, so I try to top them I have to add some innovation. Capitalism lives on!

Rockies lose to Little Leaguers

How bad were the ratings for the NLCS? So bad they were the four lowest rated games in NLCS history. So bad they produced lower ratings than the most recent Little League World Series and Home Run Derby. I was a fan of TBS's coverage, although their HD reception was consistently among the worst I've seen. It seemed like Fox didn't make much of an effort to lead into the NLCS with their ALCS broadcasts, and ESPN (although not a postseason MLB partner) spent at least ten times as much time hyping the ALCS as the NLCS.

USA Today points to the small markets of the teams as the reason for the atrocious ratings. I've got my own theory: no one cares about the senior circuit. The reasons:
  • The AL is better. The American League dominates interleague play every year and have won 10 out of 15 World Series
  • The best AL teams are in the biggest markets. The two biggest payrolls, most popular teams, and most consistent postseason teams (Red Sox and Yankees) are in the AL
  • The best NL teams are in the smallest markets. The best NL teams in the last 20 years (Atlanta, Florida) are in small markets
  • The NL is west coast-centric. The NLs best player (Bonds) and biggest market (L.A.) start games past 10 EST
In the NFL, even in the salad days of the NFC and the NFC East in particular, John Elway, Dan Marino, and Bruce Smith were great players in the AFC and featured in nationally televised games that ended before midnight EST. In capitalizing on the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, MLB has marginalized half their teams.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Does Lee Roy Selmon have champagne on ice?

The lamest tradition in the NFL has got to be when the 1972 Dolphins celebrate the last undefeated team losing their first game every year. They've had some scares: the 15-1 1985 Chicago Bears started off 12-0, the 14-2 1991 Washington Redskins started out 11-0, and the 14-2 1998 Denver Broncos started out 13-0. The current edition of the Patriots just reached 6-0, and face the winless Dolphins this week. Which begs the question - do the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bottle of bubbly on ice, waiting for a team to go winless?

A mildly popular topic of discussion on football shows is whether it's tougher to go winless or undefeated. The answer is easy: it's much more likely to go undefeated. There are mechanisms in place for bad teams to get better, but there are also mechanisms in place for good teams to get better. What I'm getting at is it's very hard for bad teams to get worse. Teams that pick in the bottom if the first round can still find good players, but the massive media pressure focused on the NFL draft has made it much harder to whiff on high picks.

Take, for example, maybe the worst team of the last 30 years: the 1991 Indianapolis Colts. They went 1-15, winning one game by one point, and started off 0-9. With the top two picks in the 1992 draft they took Steve Emtman (retired at 27) and Quentin Coryatt (retired at 29), ahead of Sean Gilbert, Terrell Buckley, and Troy Vincent. I can't imagine a team getting away with getting two injury question marks at the top of the draft with the working knowledge of NFL draft prospects possessed by every season ticket holder.

So how ironic would it be if the same year the '72 Dolphins were wiped off the record book, the '07 Dolphins went winless and took the '76 Buccaneers off the hook? Last years Raiders were maybe the worst coached team ever, and still managed to win not only one but two games. The Dolphins have the reigning Defensive MVP and a top five back, and play in a division with two one win teams. But they're 0-6, still have two games against New England, a home game against Baltimore, and a road date with Pittsburgh. Their most likely wins would be either a home matchup with the Jets, or one of their two remaining games with the Bills. It probably won't happen, but it would be some crazy symmetry if it did.

Week 6 Power Rankings

The biggest surprise of week 6 has to be the Saints showing against Seattle. Seattle looks completely bipolar - they're 3-3 and have won by 3, 14, and 20 and lost by 3, 11, and 21. I wanted to drop them precipitously, but I'd still pick them to beat half the teams in the NFL, so I only dropped them three spots. ESPN made a big deal about the Giants crushing the Falcons on Monday Night, but I'm ready to crown their ass quite yet. I did move them up three spots. The Vikings scored a mild upset over the Bears, the Bucs won at home against the VY-less Titans, and Vinny Testaverde outplayed Tim Rattay. The Panthers moved up 8 spots and Bears dropped 8 spots in the biggest moves of the week.

1. New England Patriots (6-0) (Last week: 1) AFC East
2. Indianapolis Colts (5-0) (2) AFC South
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) (3) AFC North
4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1) (5) NFC East
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-1) (6) AFC South
6. San Diego Chargers (3-3) (8) AFC West
7. Green Bay Packers (5-1) (7) NFC North
8. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) (10) AFC North
9. Tennessee Titans (3-2) (4) AFC South
10. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) (16) AFC West
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) (18) NFC South
12. New York Giants (4-2) (15) NFC East
13. Cleveland Browns (3-3) (14) AFC North
14. Oakland Raiders (2-3) (9) AFC West
15. Washington Redskins (3-2) (11) NFC East
16. Seattle Seahawks (3-3) (13) NFC West
17. Carolina Panthers (4-2) (25) NFC South
18. Denver Broncos (2-3) (17) AFC West
19. Houston Texans (3-3) (12) AFC South
20. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) (23) NFC East
21. Detroit Lions (3-2) (24) NFC North
22. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) (31) NFC North
23. Buffalo Bills (1-4) (22) AFC East
24. San Francisco 49ers (2-3) (27) NFC West
25. New Orleans Saints (1-4) (30) NFC South
26. Arizona Cardinals (3-3) (19) NFC West
27. Cincinnati Bengals (1-4) (21) AFC North
28. Chicago Bears (2-4) (20) NFC North
29. New York Jets (1-5) (26) AFC East
30. Atlanta Falcons (1-5) (28) NFC South
31. Miami Dolphins (0-6) (29) AFC East
32. St. Louis Rams (0-6) (32) NFC West

Division Power Rankings (by sum of team rankings)
AFC South - 35 (+11 from last week)
AFC West - 48 (-2)
NFC East - 51 (-3)
AFC North - 51 (+3)
NFC North - 78 (-4)
NFC South - 83 (-18)
AFC East - 84 (+6)
NFC West - 98 (+7)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Let's see... Lance Briggs and Greg Olsen or Adrian Peterson and Rocky McIntosh?

About a month ago, I went out on a limb and said "Call me crazy, but [Adrian Peterson is] already one of the top five backs in the NFL." It doesn't look that crazy anymore, does it? Peter King agrees with me, and I imagine a lot of other people do too after watching Peterson carve up a decent to very good Bears defense, juking Charles Tillman out of his jock, and carrying Ricky Manning, Jr. 10 yards on a kick return. Purple Jesus had 224 yards on 20 carries, averaging more yards per carry than Bears backup running back (forever hereafter referred to as "The Other" ) Adrian Peterson had on the day. He had a shocking 361 total yards, including kick returns, the fourth most ever.

So do the Bears have any regrets about not trading Lance Briggs to the Redskins along with their 31st pick for the sixth pick and Rocky McIntosh? I thought it looked like a great move for them at the time. With the sixth pick they could have drafted Peterson, as opposed to face him twice a year for the foreseeable future. Or maybe they could drafted defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, the rookie leader in sacks. He would have more than adequately plugged the hole created by Tank Johnson's release. Or LaRon Landry, who was drafted sixth. Landry would certainly be an upgrade over Adam Archuleta, who has been brutal at strong safety. I doubt they would miss Briggs as much as Briggs misses his car: McIntosh has three less tackles and one more sack than Briggs in a defense where McIntosh isn't prominently featured.

To be fair, I know for a fact that the Redskins were desperately trying to trade out of the six spot and there were no takers. So Green Bay could have put a package together, maybe with a little as their 1st and 2nd, to trade up for the electric Adrian Peterson. Houston picked 10th, an ideal spot for Washington to have picked, and probably could have traded up had they offered a 3rd. But we know for a fact what it would have taken the Bears to be riding the #28 car right now, and so do they. Not much.