Thursday, January 31, 2008


It might be forgotten by next week, but Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley guaranteeing a victory against Kansas was one of the all time sports guarantees, up there with Joe Namath and Mark Messier. Kansas had won 24 in a row in Manhattan, going back to 1983. But before the season Beasley said "We're going to beat Kansas at home. We're going to beat them in their house. We're going to beat them in Africa. Wherever we play, we're going to beat them," and he dropped 25 on the previously unbeaten Jayhawks, droping his average to 25.3, 4th in the nation and the only guy in the top 12 from a BCS conference. He's leading the country in rebounding, and he's also dropped eight threes the last four games. He's a lock for the Naismith. The question is - is he the best freshman ever, or just since last year?

Beasley and last year's historic freshman Kevin Durant have a couple things in common: both were born in Washington, DC, both played high school ball in Maryland. Beasley was dominant at Riverdale Baptist and National Christian Academy in Prince George's County; Durant starred at Montrose Christian School in Rockville. The last dominant freshman before these two, Carmelo Anthony, was born in Brooklyn but also played high school ball at Towson Catholic High School in Baltimore. These are maybe the three most dominant freshman in the history of college basketball, and the University of Maryland gets none of them. They at least got a sniff of Anthony, neither Durant nor Beasley, listed Maryland as a school of interest.

The collectively bargained rule that forces prospective NBA players to spend at least a year in college has been a boon to the college games, in my opinion. The two best players in the country last year were freshman, and you could argue that Beasley, Kevin Love, and Eric Gordon are the three best players in the country right now (sorry Derrick Rose, you're not there yet). So what if we can only watch them for a year? I'd rather see these guys playing 35 minutes a game in college than 15 minutes in the pros.

Player hating

This is exactly why I hate the NBA. The Memphis Grizzlies, in the midst of a horrible season, agreed to buyout Damon Stoudamire's contract last week, and now he's going to sign with the defending champs for the veteran's minimum. New Orleans comes out of nowhere to lead the Southwest division ahead of Dallas and San Antonio. But who are the Hornets going to add for the veteran's minimum? What's the upside of rooting for a team that's not the Spurs, Suns, Celtics, or Pistons this year? Even if the Mavericks or Nuggets trade for Kidd, then what? Then there are five teams that it's not pointless to follow.

My Super Bowl prediction

Tom Brady is so impressive it's ridiculous. He threw half a hundred touchdowns, he's dating maybe the world's most eligible bachelorette, and he always says the right thing. How about his response to Plaxico Burress's prediction?

"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady said before chuckling about it. "OK. Is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points."

The perfect response. Zero bulletin board material, even a kind of a tip of the hat to Burress, and he makes an excellent point. How are the Giants possibly going to hold the Patriots under 40? The Patriots have one of the best receiving corps in the history of the NFL, the Giants weakest position is defensive back. The Giants have the league's best set of defensive ends, but the Patriots have perhaps the league's best set of offensive tackles. I don't see New England punting more than once.

My prediction: Patriots 41. Giants 24.

Part of me sees the Patriots winning by three, just like their other three Super Bowls, but this is by far the most talented Patriots Super Bowl squad, and probably the weakest team they've played. In fact, it's arguably the weakest team New England has played in this year's playoffs.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some love for Johnny Unitas

ESPN put out a list today of their top ten quarterbacks of all time, and have to give them some props: it's not a bad list.

1. Johnny Unitas
2. Joe Montana
3. Tom Brady
4. Dan Marino
5. Peyton Manning
6. John Elway
7. Terry Bradshaw
8. Brett Favre
9. Otto Graham
10. Dan Fouts

I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough about the NFL prior to the 80s to disagree with any of the old school picks, and my modern era picks are pretty close to what they have. I am ranking them based on many games I think they could win over time on a bad team with cap room, and they are exclusively guys I've seen play.

1. Tom Brady
2. Dan Marino
3. Joe Montana
4. Peyton Manning
5. Brett Favre
6. John Elway
7. Steve Young
8. Troy Aikman
9. Warren Moon
10. Donovan McNabb

Pretty bold of me to put McNabb ahead of Jim Kelly, but I view McNabb as a more complete player. My argument for Brady is simple: Marino/Favre/Manning have the stats, Montana/Bradshaw/Aikman have three or more championships, Brady has both (Elway has neither).

Breaking news: Millen is clueless

Reportedly, Matt Millen and the Detroit Lions are shopping Roy Williams for a 2nd round pick. The same Matt Millen that turned down two 1st round picks, a 2nd round pick, two third round picks, and Al Wilson (subsequently released) for Calvin Johnson. I think Roy Williams is an elite receiver, and I tend to want to avoid players with back problems like Calvin Johnson. I have not been able to confirm nor disprove the rumor that draft bust Charles Rogers shot William Clay Ford and that Millen has been carrying him around like Bernie in Weekend at Bernie's.

A million to one shot, doc

Danny boy is gassing up Redskin One and heading to Arizona, presumably to talk to Mariucci, among others. Who else, and why? Profootballtalk has suggested two possibilites:
  1. Snyder was taken aback by the criticism of the imminent Jim Fassel hire and is trying to make the search look more thorough by interviewing as many candidates as possible, most notably the Super Bowl coordinators
  2. They're making a run at Bill Belichick
The former sounds reasonable. The latter is a longshot. They mention that Belichick would want complete control, especially in picking his coaching staff. But it's worth noting that no one outside of the Patriots organization knows for sure how long Belichick is signed for, and that if he completes a 19-0 season with his fourth Super Bowl in New England he'll have no hill left to climb there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Big girls don't cry

When you're six years old and your team blows a huge lead in the ACC Championship Game, it's OK to cry. If you're 18 and your team loses it's first regular season game in the middle of January, you're not allowed to cry. You're completely undateable at that point, because if that makes her cry she's probably broken up at the end of every Grey's Anatomy, even reruns.

Why won't you just die?

In 1996 Orioles owner Peter Angelos quashed deadline trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells, the Orioles rallied to make the playoffs, and Angelos was emboldened to interfere with the operations of the club for the next twelve years. Since 1996, how many good personnel moves have the Orioles made? Three, (signing Tejada, drafting Roberts and Bedard) maybe four? Although the Tejada trade looks good now, it would have looked far better a year and a half ago had they gotten Roy Oswalt in return.

That trade, culminated a few days before the Mitchell Report was released, did seem to indicate that president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was calling the shots. But the dragging out of the potential Eric Bedard trade reveals Angelos still needs to mull over any moves the Orioles make, handcuffing MacPhail, since Baltimore can only move at a glacial pace even by MLB standards. Why would any other team want to trade with Baltimore when they are so prone to backing out of trades, and are so hesitant to consummate a deal?

Monday, January 28, 2008

More new names

Now that Gregg Williams has been formally eliminated from the Redskins' head coaching search, you'd think that there would be some indication about who the favorite was, or maybe a couple of guys for Snyder and Cerrato to decide between. Or at least an end to the interview process. But we've only just begun.

According to Adam Schefter, the Skins recently kicked the tires of Peter Carroll. It's likely that Carroll would want final say on personnel decisions (as would Bill Cowher, who the Redskins reportedly have also interviewed) and unknown whether Snyder would put that in writing. Schefter says the Redskins are deciding between Jim Fassel and Steve Spagnuolo, and that the performance of the Giants' defense in the Super Bowl will weigh heavily. Jason La Canfora thinks Steve Mariucci could be a candidate, but that's pure speculation at this point. Finally, Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, the lone minority candidate interviewed, was brought back for a second interview.

Out of these choices, I could imagine Spagnuolo and Mariucci turning down the job. I'd tab Fassel the favorite at something like 3:1, Spagnuolo at 4:1, Meeks at 8:1, Mariucci at 10:1, Josh McDaniels at 20:1, and the field at 5:1.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The next coach of the Raiders

Fail to the Redskins

I've been following football and the Washington Redskins most of my life and I've never seen such negativity around the team. As a fan of any team, there is nothing more disheartening than the sense that your team has no plan in place to compete for a championship. From Snyder's "if it ain't broke" comments defending Vinny Cerrato's promotion to a head coaching search that gets more random by the day, many Redskins fans feel as depressed about the last month as about Sean Taylor's death.

It appears Gregg Williams won't be on the Washington staff in any capacity. I've heard whispers that he delivered a Vinny or me ultimatum to Snyder, and whether or not it's true, the mere existence of the rumor could elevate Williams to folk hero status. I find it hard to believe that the Redskins are looking to replace Al Saunders, one of the highest paid assistant coaches in the NFL, but the Redskins have already interviewed two possible replacements before they've hired a head coach.

The big winner in all this? The Atlanta Falcons. They reportedly hired the general manager without an interview, and their choice for head coach as already been criticized by one of his former players. That has to be alarming, because typically you hear nothing but praise from players when their position coaches or coordinators get promotions.

With Senior Bowl practices going on and the pool of coordinators drying up, it's less than ideal to go into February without a head coach in place. But that eliminates the possibility of hiring an assistant coach in the Super Bowl. The only way the Redskins can spin this in a quasi-positive light is if they go after Josh McDaniels or, more likely, Steve Spagnuolo, a disciple of Jim Johnson. McDaniels has indicated he doesn't believe he is ready for a head coaching job, but money talks. Spagnuolo deserves a ton of credit for turning around a Giants defense that looked like a sieve the first two and a half games of the season. But the fact that the Giants' defense is completely based on getting a pass rusher from four down lineman does give me pause about his creativity. For example, if you look at a Gregg Williams, Rex Ryan, or, for that matter, Jim Johnson defense, blitzes show creativity and can come from anywhere. The Giants don't blitz as much because their ends are so explosive and their linebackers are decent in coverage.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I guess it pays to advertise

Mixed martial artist Melvin Costa has a Nazi tattoo. But the amazing thing is that's the second most embarrassing tattoo on his chest! He actually has a tattoo that says "I have a small penis" surrounding his naval. This has got to be the worst tattoo in sports, except maybe for the tattoo of Dan Snyder wearing a knee length Darrell Green jersey that's on Vinny Cerrato's back.

200 times a day, 39000 times a year

Nine government employees were fired from visiting porn sites more than 19,000 times in 2007. Three of them more than 39,000 times. While at work. Wow that's a lot. Thirty-two others hit those sites more than 2,000 times. And that's just the ones they caught. I work at a government computer and all sites that I visit with questionable content are blocked. For example, I often check out for updates on deals, discussion on movies and the writers' strike, etc. There's a portion of the site that had reviews and discussion of adult DVDs, so I could no longer check out the site last year. Within a few months, the adult content was given a new url, not containing DVDTalk, so the site was no longer blocked.

If you work 52 weeks, 40 hours a week, 39,000 hits works out to once every three minutes twelve seconds. These guys definitely don't know how to use pornography.

Tuna Surprise

After years of laughable mismanagement, horrible trades, and wasted draft picks, Bill Parcells have taken the reins of the Dolphins. And in less than a month on the job, he has broken every rule in the book. He reportedly offered Tony Sparano the head coaching job before the playoffs started, a huge no no. Sparano may have spent the bye week lining up his staff, which probably had more to do with Dallas's one and done than any trip to Cabo San Lucas. He hired Jeff Ireland away from the Cowboys, a move Dallas could have blocked if Miami didn't give Ireland final say over the roster. But in an interview with USA Today, he indicated that Parcells has, at the very least, veto power.

It's difficult to watch Sportscenter or NFL Total Access zoom in Tom Brady's shoes or Jessica Simpson stills when there are these huge stories that affect multiple teams that go completely unnoticed by the mainstream media. It isn't as if the Cowboys and Dolphins are small market teams, and it isn't as if this story is without intrigue. Is it because Parcells still has friends at the worldwide leader? Or is the NFL putting the squeeze on media outlets? Or is it because the Dolphins new front office is no where near as good looking as Giselle and Jessica Simpson?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Were Transformers trailers a cover up?

What looks like the silhouette of a walk signal was discovered on Mars. Which of course begs the question are we going to be invaded by aliens with perfectly round heads, like what happened in Tranformers where they found the footage of Starscream on Mars and didn't prepare them selves for the alien invasion sure to come? And will Daniel Snyder seek to interview this guy for the head coaching job?

The most hyped movie ever?

It's very sad that Heath Ledger, a talented 28 year old actor and father of a two year old girl, passed away yesterday. It's foolish and pointless to provide conjecture over what caused his death, but I'm going to focus on his final project, and the unimaginable buildup that is sure to come. The Dark Knight was already being on it's way to becoming one of the most hyped movies ever, and now there will be this macabre pall over the release, bringing out the curious along with the fanboys.

The Crow would be a forgettable movie, were it not for the accidental gunshot death of it's lead actor, Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. It would have to be considered a box office success, though, as well as in terms of rentals. Other movies associated with tragedy on set are Twilight Zone: The Movie and Apocalypse Now. Apocalypse Now managed to be of enough quality for the production issues to be a footnote, but Twilight Zone is primarily known for the three actors who died during production.

Apocalypse Now is a great movie, despite the difficulties encountered during filming. The Dark Knight hasn't really run into any apparent problems during filming, so Ledger's death shouldn't have an effect on the quality of the film. It will certainly have an effect on the way it is marketed, however. Although Warner would never come out and say it, but it's possible that there will be overtones of "the role that killed Heath Ledger" in advertising, no matter the autopsy findings. Or they could deemphasize Ledger in trailers and print, much like Miramax did in promoting Bad Santa with John Ritter. Ritter played a sizable role in the black comedy, although certainly not a lead like Ledger, but wasn't featured in trailers.

But the billion dollar question is whether or not this movie will gross a billion dollars. This movie was receiving the best promotion money can buy, and just received promotion you can't buy. When the Super Bowl ads roll, and you see however much of an unhinged Ledger that Warner decides to show, there is going to be an atmosphere around this movie that no one has ever seen. It isn't unreasonable to think The Dark Knight beats out Titanic ($600 million domestic). I'll guarantee it beats out Spider-Man for the all time comic book box office haul ($404 million). I will go so far as set the over/under for where it ranks all time in the all time box office at third.

Fassel? Seriously?

The Redskins seem to be thinking outside the box for their next head coach, with ex-Giants head coach and ex-Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel now perhaps the leading candidate. First, in their defense, five of the final eight teams alive in the playoffs this year were coached by guys who have been fired (Bill Belichick fired by Cleveland, Tom Coughlin fired by Jacksonville, Norv Turner fired by Washington and Oakland, Wade Phillips fired by Buffalo, and Tony Dungy fired by Tampa Bay). Fassel also led an overachieving Giants team to the Super Bowl in 2000, a run which began with his famous "chips to the center of the table" speech. However, in his most recent job, the Ravens averaged 18.3 points in 2006 with Fassel as coordinator, 24.3 points after he was fired.

But he'd have to be a better choice than Jim Mora, Jr., who seems to follow in Larry Brown's wanderlust footsteps more than his father's. Mora got the pink slip from Atlanta for his musings about the UW job, and may have leveraged the Redskins' interest into becoming Holmgren's successor. And at this point it's safe to say Gregg Williams will be elsewhere next season, and (this is pure conjecture) a Gregg Williams/Rex Ryan swap isn't out of the question, based on what's transpired in their respective interviews.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stone to direct Bush biopic

This one's for real, folks. Oliver Stone is set to direct a biopic about our current two term leader of the free world, starring James Brolin. Stone has already directed to eponymous presidential movies in JFK and Nixon, both of which are decent flicks. This one will obviously have more in common with Nixon on multiple levels.

"I want a fair, true portrait of the man. How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world? It's like Frank Capra territory on one hand, but I'll also cover the demons in his private life, his bouts with his dad and his conversion to Christianity, which explains a lot of where he is coming from. It includes his belief that God personally chose him to be president of the United States, and his coming into his own with the stunning, preemptive attack on Iraq. It will contain surprises for Bush supporters and his detractors."

Skewing younger

The hot trend this offseason so far is in the assistant coaching ranks. If you count head coaches in waiting Jim Caldwell and Jim Mora, Jr., the first four head coaching openings of this offseason have been filled by candidates who were neither offensive nor defensive coordinators. Tony Sparano, the new coach of the Dolphins coaxed a career season out of Leonard Davis as offensive line coach of the Cowboys. The Eagles special teams fell apart after new Ravens coach John Harbaugh was switched from special teams to defensive backs coach this past offseason. Marcus Trufant made his first Pro Bowl with Mike Holmgren's expected successor Jim Mora, Jr. as defensive backs coach. And Jim Caldwell, the first publicly announced coach to be a successor, has Peyton Manning's ear as quarterbacks coach.

There are two possibly explanations for this shift: the head coaches are getting younger or the coordinators are getting older. Look at the Colts - offensive coordinator Tom Moore is over 16 years older than Caldwell. Likewise Seahawks defensive coordinator John Marshall and Jim Mora, Jr. Monte Kiffin and Jim Johnson are maybe the two most respected defensive coordinators of the last decade, and they are 67 and 66, respectively. Meanwhile it seems that coaches over 50 need not apply, as Jim Fassel seems to be the first coach half a hundred or more to be seriously interviewed for any of the openings, Marty rumors and Rooney Rule fodder notwithstanding.

What's cooler than cool?

I filled up my car at lunch, cleaning up may car somewhat in the process. I spent about two or three minutes outside. I get back in my car and the tips of my fingers are throbbing and my hair feels as solid as Jimmie Johnson's dome. It was about 28 degrees outside, 25 degrees warmer than the NFC Championship Game.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Germany's Team

It's like a movie that you read

I was referred to a great article on (I assume based on the magazine) titles 8 Kick-Ass Movies You Didn't Know Were Based on Books. It's a funny read with some decent incite. The biggest revelation was about Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Coordinating value

I've been mulling over Jason Garrett's contract, especially when compared to Gregg Williams' contract. There's really no comparison in terms of their track record as coordinators. Both have presided over a top three unit wherever they've been, but Gregg Williams actually has a track record. In four out of his last five seasons as coordinator Williams' defense has ranked in the top nine. I included the Bills defense when he was head coach because it showed that maybe he wasn't ready to be a head coach at first, but managed to show improvement. NFL rank refers to the teams' ranking in yards allowed defensively for the Williams teams and yards gained offensively for the 2006-07 Cowboys.

NFL Rank
Williams named DC in 1999
1998 Titans 16
1999 Titans 17
2000 Titans 1

Williams named HC in 2001
2000 Bills 3
2001 Bills 21
2002 Bills 15
2003 Bills 2

Williams named DC in 2004
2003 Redskins 25
2004 Redskins 3
2005 Redskins 9
2006 Redskins 31
2007 Redskins 8

Garrett named OC in 2007
2006 Cowboys 5
2007 Cowboys 3

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Catching you up with the coaching carousel

The coaching carousel is either slowing or spinning out of control, depending on your point of view. Jason Garrett spurned the Ravens head coaching job to remain offensive coordinator or the Cowboys, at a reported $3.5-4 million annually. By comparison, Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is the second highest paid assistant at $2.66 million. Former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan signed an extension last year for more than $1 million, probably less than $2 million. But more importantly to the Cowboys, head coach Wade Phillips' reported salary is $3 million, so his authority can't help but be undermined. Conversely, Jerry Jones authority is strengthened, and he may view that as a bonus.

When Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome returns from the East-West Shrine Game (6 PM EST Saturday 1/19 on ESPN2) Baltimore is expected to reach an agreement with Eagles defensive backs coach John Harbaugh, Jim's brother. A few hours ago, it seemed Atlanta was down to Rex Ryan from their finalists, but the Baltimore Sun is reporting he's "no longer a top candidate." The Colts will be coached by Tony Dungy or Jim Caldwell next year. After Gregg Williams' fourth (!) interview, it looks safe to say the he'll be coaching the Redskins next year. Tony Sparano, the latest hand picked Parcells disciple to get a head coaching gig (Bill Belichick and Al Groh were the first two) has no where to go but up in Miami.

The other spot in flux is Seattle. Peter King got a little excited about the possibility of Mike Holmgren opening a coffee house in Seattle, which of course would fill a gaping hole in the community (Seriously. How about opening a chicken and waffle house? They only exist in West Virginia and should be everywhere). Seahawks defensive backs coach Jim Mora looks like the smartest guy in sports right now. He was fired in Atlanta for on air musings about the University of Washington job. Since then the Falcons franchise has completely imploded, there's a distinct possibility he'll succeed Holmgren as Seahawks coach, and he even interviewed for the Redskins job yesterday.

What's the dilly with Dungy?

Yesterday at around 2 PM Profootballtalk reported that Tony Dungy would be stepping down as Colts head coach, and that quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell would take his place. Within two hours the Colts were denying the story, yet Caldwell removed his name from consideration for the Falcons and Ravens head coaching jobs. Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and Eagles special teams coach John Harbaugh are the finalists for the Ravens job, so that isn't a huge development. But Caldwell, Garrett, and Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan are the finalists for the Falcons job, and Garrett also removed his name from consideration, so there much me something to this story for Caldwell to turn down a chance at a job 300 miles from Wake Forest, where he coached for eight years.

You can compare the Ravens, Redskins, Falcons, Dolphins, Seahawks, and even the Cowboys jobs right now, but the Colts job, in my opinion, is the most desirable job in the NFL right now. You've got Peyton Manning at a high level for at least another six seasons, an extremely capable general manager, a hands off owner, and reasonable expectations (as opposed to an unreachable standard in New England). The Steelers job is also among the most desirable, with a history of job security, but also a history of losing key players through free agency. The identity of the coach of the Colts next season is biggest off field story in the NFL right now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Cloverfield monster

I've seen a picture of the monster from the much hyped movie Cloverfield. It's not a shot from the movie, more of a concept drawing, but from the descriptions I've heard it's the most accurate drawing I've seen. Click here to see it. I'd put the pic on my blog but some of you may want to wait to see it until the big reveal in the movie. The buzz about the movie has been extremely positive, and it sounds like it will transcend the Godzilla meets Blair Witch Project marketing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The real reason TO was crying

Now what... sniff... we gonna do... sniff... with all this popcorn?

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Colts clearly should play to win

Year after year it's the same story with the Colts. They jump out to 10, 11, even 13-0, sit their guys at the end of the year when they're locked into the playoffs, and then get knocked off at home. The one year they win the Super Bowl they played 16 meaningful games in the regular season and had momentum going into the playoffs. Two years ago Peyton Manning played a series in the season finale and the rusty Colts were knocked off at home by the Steelers in their opener. In week 17 this year against Tennessee, key players barely played a quarter, and the team failed to call a timeout late in the game to force the Titans to give up the ball and give the Colts a chance to win. The game reeked of collusion, but the story disappeared with the New Year. It's like no one is willing to criticize Dungy, for fear that they will be smited by the hand of God.

No need to play any more games, Pats are champs

Let me get this straight: the Chargers go into Foxborough next week with Tomlinson, Gates, and Rivers hurt, and expect to have any chance of winning a Norv Turner/Bill Belichick coaching matchup? Then the Patriots will have two weeks to prepare for either an undermanned Giants squad or the most overachieving team in the NFL? It's possible the Patriots could suffer a rash of injuries, or maybe kidnappings (like in Ace Ventura), but it sure seems like smooth sailing from here on out for the Patriots.

Six degrees of Wes Studi

I watched Comanche Moon last night, which of course starred Wes Studi. I say of course, because anything in cinema which portrays Native Americans must by law star Wes Studi. The films in which he has starred that center around Native Americans include Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves, The New World, Into the West, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, and other movies I'm less familiar with, including three movies in production.

His most famous non-Native American role is in the phenomenal heist flick Heat, directed by Michael Mann. My favorite Studi role would have to be Magua from Last of the Mohicans, also directed by Mann. Magua really, really hated the Grey Hair.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Sparanos

This is the funniest thing I've seen on ESPN in about five years.

The NBA is down with Obama, NASCAR digs Giuliani, owners like McCain and Hillary, and Mormons are devoted to Romney

Deadspin and the DC Sports Bog has gone over political donations from sports figures. The least surprising big name donation: Todd Heap (Mormon) gave the max to Mitt Romney. The most surprising: every big name in NASCAR gave heavily to Rudy Giuliani. Chairman Brian France, President Mike Helton, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Casey Mears were all big contributors. I always considered NASCAR to be a very non-New York sport and Giuliani to be the consummate New Yorker. I guess politics makes strange bedfellows.

It sounds like Favre is coming back

According to the South Mississippi Sun Herald, Favre is leaning toward returning next season.

"I am trying to enjoy it because this could be my last game in Green Bay. For the first time in three years, I haven't thought this could be my last game. I would like to continue longer."

I would have liked to see him hang them up after this season, because being runner up in MVP voting would be a pretty nice swan song. But there is a reasonable chance of the Packers being competitive next season, whether or not Favre comes back. They've got a number of impact players on defense, they're almost $20 million under the cap for next season, everyone besides Favre and their cornerbacks are just hitting their primes, and Aaron Rodgers is the best backup quarterback in the league (now that Kyle Boller and Kellen Clemens are starting).

The Royal Families

Think about this: if Hillary Clinton is elected President - and I consider her a slight favorite right now - then a Clinton or Bush will have been President for at least 1988-2012. Whatever you think of any of their politics, you've got to find that a little chilling.

The Skinny Post Man and Woman of the Year

Tom Brady. Brett Favre. Tiger Woods. All received some consideration for the first annual Skinny Post Man of the Year, but one man went above and beyond in tying together sports and entertainment, bringing an unprecedented amount of unintentional comedy to sports broadcasts, paying less attention to the games he was announcing than the corpse of Harry Carey. This was never more evident than when Mike Patrick, during the biggest play of an overtime SEC thriller, uttered the immortal words "What's Britney Spears doing with her life?"

There was really only one contender for Woman of the Year. Lauren Caitlin Upton became the most famous beauty pageant contestant since Vanessa Williams since her inability to string together a coherent sentence became the second most memorable quote of 2007 ("Don't tase me bro" finished first).

Congratulations winners, you've provided countless hours of entertainment for millions of Americans, and now you can ring in 2008 with the first Skinnies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Before Wade Phillips got another opportunity in Dallas, the Bills were 29-19 in three season under his leadership. He was replaced by Gregg Williams, who was 17-31 as Buffalo's head coach. Granted, it was Williams' first job and Phillips' third, although Phillips' first job was four games as an interim coach of the Saints.

Sean Taylor 4th in All Pro voting

Not a lot of surprises on this year's All Pro team. I agree with Patrick Willis at middle linebacker - he's the most dominant mike I've seen this year. I thought Adrian Peterson would get the nod but he received the third most votes at running back. I'm a little surprised Haloti Ngata, in my opinion the best interior lineman in the NFL, didn't get a single vote. But I think it's great the Sean Taylor finished tied for 4th with Tory Polamalu at safety. Meast finished tied for ninth in the NFL in interceptions and had more tackles in about half as many games as All Pro Ed Reed.

West Virginia is for losers

West Virginia University may be the only state school in the country that ends in University (as opposed to beginning with "The University of"). About half the population of Morgantown is 18-24, and I've heard it's a relatively wet campus. None of this gives them the right to be offended that their head coach left the Mountaineers for the Wolverines. I hate the Big Ten, but even I have to admit Michigan is a plum job.

Rich Rodriguez's mother, son, and daughter have received insults and death threats in the three weeks since he took the Michigan job, and his house has been vandalized. He turned down the Alabama job last year in the 11th hour and was a game away from playing in the National Championship Game this year, where they probably would have been at least a slight favorite over Ohio State.

People think the Notre Dame job is tough. Notre Dame goes 3-9 and Charlie Weis doesn't have to deal with death threats, except maybe from those who run the buffets he frequents. The Michigan job is tough, but Lloyd Carr lost to a D1-AA team this season and could have come back for another year if he wanted. Rich Rodriguez goes 11-2 and is hung in effigy.

Pasquarelli is a huge (as in fat) jerk

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli took some parting shots at Joe Gibbs yesterday, the most bitter of the many sportswriters who were scooped by Jay Glazer regarding Gibbs' return to the NFL.

Counting playoff appearances, the Redskins went 31-36 under his stewardship, five games under the break-even point. His winning percentage of .463 was roughly one-third below the .683 standard Gibbs set during his earlier 11-year reign... He was, simply, too old to handle his players, to understand their perspectives, to push their buttons in this era of salary-cap football (remember, Gibbs didn't have to worry about the salary cap during his first stint). And the wear and tear of a season is hard on any coach, much less one who qualifies for senior citizen discounts at your neighborhood cafeteria.

At no point does he mention that the Redskins made the playoffs twice in his four year stint. He also fails to mention that with Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder the de facto general managers, the Redskins have the most fundamentally flawed front office in the NFL. Although most teams would find making the playoffs half the time acceptable, it's harder to accomplish in Washington than in Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh, who have successful front offices. In Washington it's Herculean.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A recipe for success

Recently announced: Johnny Depp will play John Dillinger in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. The legendary bank robber died at age 31 and is most famous for removing his fingerprints with acid. Apparently this movie has been in the works for some time; DiCaprio was linked to the role back in 2004. This movie will be an adaptation of Bryan Burroughs' Barbarians at the Gate and will focus on J. Edgar Hoover's transformation of the FBI. Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd are also expected to be cast. Sniff, sniff. Yup, smells like awesome.

Huzzah, Joe Gibbs, huzzah

Joseph Jackson Gibbs called it a career today, three days after a 21 point loss in Seattle. The Redskins made the playoffs eight times in 12 seasons in his first tour of duty, made the playoffs once in eleven seasons after he retired the first time, and have made the playoffs twice in four seasons this time around. Since the franchise was founded in 1932, the Skins have made the playoffs 10 times in the 16 seasons Gibbs has coached, and 11 times in the 49 other seasons.

After Washington finished 6-10 in Gibbs' first season (they had gone 5-11 the season before under Steve Spurrier) it seemed inevitable that the Hall of Fame coach would tarnish his legacy by coming back. But late season runs in 2005 (five wins in a row to close out the season) and 2007 (four in a row) locked up two wild card spots and may have added to his legacy. He retires with the Redskins in better shape than they were when he got there, even after losing their most talented player in the middle of the season.

This is why it's not surprising that Gibbs opted not to finish out the five year deal he signed in 2004. This was the kind of season that can take months or years off of your life as a head coach, with Sean Taylor, Ron Springs' coma, the agonizing loss to Buffalo, the 45 point loss to New England, and a glut of injuries on offense, including 40% of the line for most of the season. Also, as close as Gibbs is to his players, he probably doesn't want to have to make the tough roster decisions that Washington will have to make to get under the salary cap.

Rocket fesses up

After all the denials and the qualified admissions it's great to see Roger Clemens finally admit to a massive amount of steroid and HGH use. Now, maybe we can move forward from this pointless 60 Minutes interview and start talking about a fantastic slate of playoff games this weekend, or even the NFL Draft. Or whatever new rules there will be next year for the kickers' balls, or pretty much anything NFL, or the writers' strike, or pretty much any topic besides this analysis of Clemens naive interviews and press conferences.

The Big Ten: The Buffalo Bills of college football

Ohio State dropped 0-9 in bowl games against the SEC, 0-8 in their last eight games against the SEC, and 0-2 in the last two National Championship Games against the SEC, losing by a combined 79-38. Watching the better athletes on LSU last night dominate reminded me of Super Bowl XXVIII, when the Bills played the Cowboys for the second year in a row. I couldn't imagine rational people (cough-Dr. Z- cough) picking the Bills to win that matchup, and I was shocked to hear supposedly rational people picking the Buckeyes to win this one (shockingly, everyone on ESPN Gameday but alum Kirk Herbstreit).

The Big Ten has a huge advantage in reaching the Championship Game, not having to play a conference championship. And without a playoff, they only have to win one game to become champs. James Carville said of the Big Ten on the Dan Patrick Show "The Big Ten can send a three loss team to the Rose Bowl and make a fortune... The Big Ten is the most villanous, backward looking sports league in the world." (Click on on interviews, scroll to image of James Carville 12.24.07) No one has more to lose by having a college football playoff than Ohio State and the Big Ten. Ohio State President Gordon Gee recently said "As far as a playoff system, there will not be one. They'll have to wrench a playoff system out of my cold, dead hands."

It's been easy to love college football this regular season. Starting with Appalachian State winning at Michigan, the regular season was full of upsets and thrillers. But an anticlimactic month of bowls capping off the season, it's easier to fixate on everything that's wrong with the sport. There was one great bowl game this year (Purdue/Central Michigan), a couple of good ones, and a bunch of snoozers. If we had Georgia playing USC and LSU playing Kansas next week, this season wouldn't have ended on such a downer.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The other war is over

Last Friday Warner Bros. dropped a bombshell, announcing they will release high definition movies exclusively on Blu Ray. Warner had been carrying HD DVD, Blu Ray's rival format, for months with titles such as 300 and Blood Diamond, which have more features than their Blu Ray counterparts, and their superb Matrix box set. This leaves Universal and Paramount as HD DVDs lone supporters, while Blu Ray has Warner, Fox, Disney/Buena Vista, Lions Gate, and of course Sony in their stable.

On one hand, I just bought a 2nd HD DVD player about two months ago - a Toshiba HD A3 for about $104 shipped. On the other hand, I just sold my 1st HD DVD player, an XBox 360 Add On Drive, for $135 last month. If you can get a dedicated HD DVD player (i.e. not the Add On drive) for under $150, it's a decent value as a DVD upconverter and occasional player of HD DVDs.

If you want to know the difference in the formats beside support, it basically comes down to this: HD DVDs are capable of displaying picture-in-picture (Or PiP, clips from featurettes can be shown in a picture in the corner during movie playback), while Blu Rays are larger and scratch resistant. The larger size of the Blu Rays, in some cases, has led studios to put a second cut of certain movies on the discs with the PiP commentary.

To sit or not to sit

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Jon Gruden had to face criticism for sitting key starters in week 17. Tom Coughlin would have been torn apart in the New York media for playing to win in week 17 had the Giants lost. I think both coaches made the right call - most of the time, if you have a chance to give your starters a rest before the playoffs, you do it. It's like getting a bye without earning it. But most of the time you don't play a team that's 15-0.

Amani Toomer's touchdown in the back of the end zone December 13, 1998 to beat the 13-0 Denver Broncos might be the most famous play in Giants history. The Giants' record that year: 8-8. Sometimes it isn't about how many wins you get, it's about when you get them.