Monday, January 31, 2005

OzzieBall 2005

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Steve. This is probably the post I remember the most from the old site. Little did I know at the time that this team would pull it all together and win the World Series. It worked out really well for me that we started the old site the year the Sox won it all, and I'll always have a record of our thoughts about the baseball season as it was happening on this site.

Ryan: so who will be good on the sox next year?
Steve: haha who knows
Steve: hopefully Rowand can keep it up
Steve: Thomas will probably miss the first few weeks of the season
Ryan: so your outfield is dye podsednik and rowand?
Steve: yeah
Ryan: you've got an outfield full of the second best outfielders on a team
Steve: I guess we're using the Twins model
Steve: we even have the white guy with the weird last name
Steve: Jermaine Dye should start going by J.C. Dye or something
Ryan: our outfield is stewart hunter and ford.... very normal last names
Ryan: with jones on the bench, playing dh
Ryan: he should... but only if he becomes a mediocre middle reliever
Steve: I'm not ruling out the Sox might try that
Ryan: haha

I haven't posted anything on my own since the fantasy basketball story (my team ended up winning and now I'm in first by myself) so I figured it was time to follow up Ryan's Twins preview with my own on the White Sox, the Twins most hated nemesis, even though we Sox fans hate the Cubs much more. Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams were hard at work this off-season, for better or for worse. Most of the core of the 2000 Division Champ team is gone now, but that was also a team that could consistently win you about 84 games a year, and we all know that's not enough. So maybe it was time after all to shake things up. Ozzie even brought all of his old cronies back and gave them jobs, with Tim Raines as 1st base coach, Joey Cora as 3rd base coach, Greg Walker as the hitting coach, and Harold Baines as the mysterious bench coach. All the Sox need to do now as sign Ellis Burks as a free agent and get Lance Johnson, Robin Ventura, and Carlton Fisk jobs sweeping floors or something and we have the 1993 team running the show. Just for the record, win or lose, I'm still glad the Sox are like DMX and not Ja Rule.

Right now though, I'll breakdown your 2005 Chicagooooo White Sox (As Gene Honda would say), position by position. Oh and here's a prediction by our other contributor.....

Kevin: The White Sox will win the division, I bet Ryan's life on it

Starting Pitcher – What's this? The White Sox have 5 starting pitchers? I don't believe it. I'm really going to miss the Felix Diaz/Neal Cotts/David Sanders/Jim Abbott?/Mike Porzio/My Great-Uncle Tom/Jeff Bajenaru/Jason Grilli combo I got to witness every 5 days last year. The Sox starters could be pretty solid this year, as long as everyone stays healthy. I can honestly say I'm cautiously optimistic, which is saying a lot for a South Sider.

Mark Buehrle has been the on and off ace of the Sox staff since 2001, and he has been decent at getting the job done, which isn't saying too much for an ace. But he's at least consistent, so I'll take that over Esteban Loaiza, who decided to go back to vintage Esteban last year, shave his goatee, and now is going to suffer as a member of the Washington Nationals.

Freddy Garcia went from one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball after the 2000 ALDS to one of my favorites because of 3 things: He got traded to the White Sox, I pitched my only perfect game in video game history with him a few months ago, and he's dating Ozzie Guillen's daughter, which is why he's on the Sox. I still can't wait for this exchange on the mound:
Ozzie: Alright Freddy I'm gonna pull you because you're pitching like crap today
Freddy: Fine, I guess I'll just go back in the clubhouse and NAIL YOUR DAUGHTER!

Next up we have Jon Garland, the supposed phenom that was supposed to be the White Sox answer to Kerry Wood when he was called up in 2000. Needless to say, it never panned out, but he's just good enough to be a 4th starter in the majors with his 4.something ERA and .500 W-L record. It's amazing though how many guys the Sox got rid of in the past 5 years but decided to stick with Garland. He's only 25, so I guess he can still have a breakout year, but I'm skeptical

Finally we have the former Yankees and Cuban Refugees, Jose Contreras and "El Duce" Orlando Hernandez. Both of these guys were thought to be lost at sea at sometime, but I really hope they stop celebrating being alive and start pitching like they could wind up in Castro's torture chamber by June if they don't produce. Contreras and El Duce claim to be 33 and 35, respectively, but I think they are probably much older and I'm praying they don't break down like anything made by DaimlerChrysler in the middle of the season.

Relief Pitcher - I'll start with the one highlight of the bullpen. Shingo Takatsu. I love watching this guy pitch. I've never seen hitters get so angry so often when they strike out on his total junk changeup that he throws. If you haven't seen this guy pitch, you're missing out because he can vary the speed of his pitches by about 25 mph, and it drives hitters insane.

The rest of the bullpen is pretty much composed of AAA pitchers that really want to start but aren't nearly good enough and Dustin Hermanson, who I'll always remember for giving up the technical record breaking 67th home run to Mark McGwire back in 1998 (because Sosa hit 66). So you make your own conclusions on how I feel about that acquisition. Besides Cliff Politte, who's a veteran and always good for a 7-run outing every now and then, I think its a crapshoot who will be in the bullpen come April and who will be starting for the Charlotte Knights after looking at the Spring Training roster. As the summer wears on, I'm sure I'll be complaining about them.

Infield – Alright! Now it's time to talk offense. Before I begin, I just want to let everyone know that my big problem with this year's version of OzzieBall, which will focus on speed and contact more on hitting home runs, is U.S. Cellular Field. After the roof over the upper deck was added to the Cell last year, the wind patterns inside the stadium actually were changed by it and balls starting flying out of the stadium like it was Wrigley Field, except you didn't have to be worried about being killed by falling concrete, drinking Old Style, and pissing in a trough. But my question is if you're going to play in the #2 home run stadium from 2004 (after Wrigley of course), wouldn't you want to have a bunch of sluggers? Argh....well let's get to the infield.

1st Base - Paul Konerko. I'm really glad that the Sox decided to not ship him to Arizona as it was rumored. If anything, I would have really missed the music they play when he comes up to bat. He had the beginning of Metallica's "Battery" perfectly timed out so the lighting fast metal part would kick in right after he stepped into the batter's box. I do have a problem with how he can sometimes be vocal with the media and cause rifts in the clubhouse, but since Ryan likes to talk about team cancers, the White Sox have so much that one more guy really isn't going to make it worse than it is, and some team needs to always be the bad guy in baseball movies. AAA legend Ross Gload will probably make the team as his decent backup.

2nd Base - Tadahito Iguchi. The Japanese sensation hit well over .300 last season and 24 home runs in Japan and they signed him despite both the Yankees and Red Sox being interested. I don't know how he'll do in the states, but HE'S NOT WILLIE HARRIS! Willie of course, is taking it like a man and crying that he'll win the job in spring training anyways. It's hard to type right now because of how hard I'm laughing over that thought.

Shortstop - Juan Uribe. Uribe finally returns to his natural position after platooning with Harris for some unknown reason and backing up Jose Valentin last season. The husky supposedly 25 year old infielder hit .283 with 23 HR and 74 RBI, and I think he can really fill his spot as a stable SS for the Sox for years to come, as long as he lays off the deep dish pizza.

3rd Base - Joe Crede. Another prospect that never quite got over the hump. He's the only 3B on the roster so I guess this is who we got. My dad is a big fan of his. Last year he said, "I hope the Sox make some blockbuster trade and just package Crede along with the deal, just to get him out of here." If he goes down with an injury.....uhh

Catcher - A.J. Pierzynski - "The clubhouse cancer" as Ryan called him (he's only like 1 or 2 cells compared to the Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, Carl Everett, and Willie Harris tumors) had a very productive year last year and is a major improvement over Sandy Alomar Jr. Ben Davis is a more than capable backup too, and was a huge surprise with his production after being packaged with Freddy Garcia last year. Hopefully we won't have any Jamie Burke sightings this year.

Designated Hitter - Frank Thomas. The Big Hurt, the White Sox Legend, the Crybaby. Call him what you want, but I grew up watching this guy and I'm hoping he can put up a few more above average seasons to ensure his spot in Cooperstown. In this age of steroids, the Hurt never really got much bigger and better, and he's still built the same way he was when he played tight end for Auburn, plus some late 30's ass fat of course. Before going down with his foot injury last year, he was leading the American League with 18 home runs. He might not be ready for opening day, and the more than adequate Carl Everett will most likely take his place until he comes back, as both a hitter and a head case.

Outfield – New Look this season. I'm going to miss Maggs and C-Lee and all their home runs in the park formerly known as Comiskey, but maybe it really is time to move on, especially since it looks like Ordonez's knee injury is much more serious than it seems. Oh well, I guess that's the end of Maggs' hilarious "brin pesssi and see you at ballpar" commercials that I still don't really know what they were for to this day. On to the present....

Center Field - Aaron Rowand. This guy really impressed me last year. I remember looking at his physique in the past and wondering why he didn't hit more home runs, and it turned out that it was just a matter of the game slowing down for him. Now he kind of reminds me of a poor man's Jim Edmonds. He can hit, run, and field very effectively and I'm hoping his new contract doesn't make him like a lazy NBA player.

Right Field - Jermaine Dye. I've always been a fan of his since his days in Kansas City, and I think this was a good signing and the fans should warm up to him very fast considering his history of hot starts. He also promised on ESPN Radio 1000 that he will take the Sox to a championship, which is pretty bold since we're talking about a team that hasn't won a title since 1917 or even a pennant since 1959. At least he's positive, unlike his fan base. Ironically, I actually traded him to Kevin along with Moises Alou (now on his Giants) in our fantasy league last year for Magglio Ordonez in a very stupid trade.

Left Field - Scott Podsednik. He stole 70 stolen bases for the Brewers last year. The White Sox traded one of my favorite players and one of the best Cub Killers out there, Carlos Lee, for him. He better produce. At least Lee gets to play the Cubs 19 times a year now.

The backup outfielders are Carl Everett, the Mr. T of baseball, Timo Perez, and Joe Borchard (if he makes the team). Since I love crazy dysfunctional players, how can I not love Carl Everett? I can't wait for his first meltdown. Who's he going to punch? What's he going to throw? The possibilities are endless. He has got be more emotionally unstable than my ex-girlfriend. Moving on, Timo....haha cool name. Joe Borchard walked away from the starting QB position at Stanford a few years ago to be a pretty crappy major league/AAA player. He is, however, the best young QB in Chicago and could probably start for the Bears.

The Lineups I would use (because I have no idea what Ozzie is thinking):
LF Podsednik
2B Iguchi (Uribe or Rowand if it turns out he sucks)
DH Thomas (This could be Everett too)
1B Konerko
RF Dye
CF Rowand
SS Uribe (or Iguchi)
C Pierzynski
3B Crede

That's a pretty stacked lineup if you ask me, and the rotation I mentioned above is decent too. As always, the team chemistry scares the hell out of me, but if these guys can get it together, their talent level should be able to carry them to the Central title. Let's not forget that this team won 83 games last year and were in first until Ordonez and Thomas went down. Those guys may not be around this year either, but at least they had the off-season to prepare by picking up Podsednik, Pierzynski, Dye, and Iguchi. These guys won't hit 40 HR's, but they're very capable of producing runs. Sorry Ryan, I think when fans turn on their TV's this fall to watch the playoffs, they'll be watching an AL Central champ that has players they've actually heard of (because there's a good chance it can be the Tigers).

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Why the Twins will still win the central, in Ja Rulian fashion

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan.

Ryan: so who will be good on the sox next year?
Steve: I guess we're using the Twins model
Steve: we even have the white guy with the weird last name
Steve: Jermaine Dye should start going by J.C. Dye or something
Ryan: he should... but only if he becomes a mediocre middle reliever

As my brother said after reading my last post “are you even a Twins fan? All you did was rip on them.” I am still a Twins fan, believe it or not, and despite the obvious holes on the team, I think they are still going to win the American League, and I’m going to tell you why. Here it is, as promised, the Ja Rule metaphor.

For those of you who don’t know, DMX and Rule have had a spat over the past however long. It goes something like this. X: I’m so much better than you at rapping and sounding like the Cookie Monster. Plus, I’m a badass and you wore a sweater in that video with Ashanti. Ja Rule: I’m making much more money than you.

Let’s say, for kicks, that Ja Rule is the Twins, and DMX is the White Sox. Additionally, let’s say the “money” is AL Central titles, and their styles of rapping are the way the teams approach a baseball season. Being a badass is the new way to sell records. Look at 50 Cent, or Eminem or whomever. The new way to win baseball titles is to sign truckloads of free agents. Wearing a sweater and singing duets was the old, Buddy Holly way of selling records. The old way of winning baseball titles was to have a solid core of homegrown talent and to have good fundamentals.

So Ja Rule is climbing up the charts, making money, all the while being ridiculed for not being a badass, while DMX whiles away, scaring the hell out of white people but making relatively little cash. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, DMX wanted to make more money, and realized the old way wasn’t working. So what does he do? He emulates Ja Rule, his nemesis, and puts on an argyle sweater and does a duet with Mary J. Blige. Would you buy that? Hell no. And now DMX sold out and all he has to show for it is an ugly sweater.

This DMX scenario is, of course, not plausible. The thing is, this is happening to the Sox. All their high priced free agents are being let go and traded for Scott Podsednik. They are hanging up their badass for a bunch of skill players and a soft jazz beat. The only problem is, just like DMX doesn’t understand how to be a dorky pop star, the White Sox don’t know how to play small ball. Worse yet, they sold their soul (i.e. their entire triple A team) to be stacked with sluggers and stars, or rather, to be badasses.

Worse yet, as the Sox will soon realize, this is the year the Twins laid an egg. For all intents and purposes, this is a rebuilding year for the Twinks, while they wait for their young players to fill bigger roles. This is the year the DMX realizes that Ja Rule just released an album full of remakes of Perry Cuomo songs. If the Sox had stayed true to form, they could have run away with the division this year.

Harder for them to swallow, is that next year Terry Tiffee, Jason Bartlett, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer will have fully blossomed, not too mention the Indians and Tigers will have finished their rebuilding process. This could have been the last good chance for the White Sox to win the division in a landslide. From here on out, it’s all Rule baby, whether you like it or not. –Ryan

P.S. DMX, you are a badass, and I don’t want you to think I believe anything else. Much more talented too. Please don’t read this and hurt me. I’m just as white and scared as Woody Allen.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Players Over 30 Need Not Apply

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan. It's his first post about the Twins! A 2005 season preview.

Ryan (12:31:44 AM):
Ryan (12:31:53 AM): official home of C. J. Nitkowski
Steve (12:32:56 AM): I think our site is actually better
Ryan (12:33:26 AM): the choice at the beginning is very existential
Steve (12:33:46 AM): I went for baseball
Ryan (12:34:40 AM): and hes playing for the twins
Steve (12:36:08 AM): yep
Ryan (12:36:35 AM): best former tiger on the team

I figured it was time for a baseball article. Since I’m turning into what Kenny Lofton is to the Yankees at Target (an incredible talent with no playing time) , I think I can squeak out a post or two this week. For this post, I’m going to break down the Twins, C.J. Nitkowski and all, and in my next post, I’ll tell you why they are still better than the White Sox using an exquisite Ja Rule metaphor. Watch out for that. It’s gonna be brilliant.

For the time being though, I’m going to break down the Twins, position by position.

Starting Pitcher – I think this is going to be the highlight of the team, and, as everyone knows, low scores are the foundation of exciting sports. For the first time since the Nixon administration, Brad Radke won’t be the opening day ace. I always thought he was a great middle of the rotation starter, and now, with the emergence of Carlos Santana… I mean Carlos Silva and Johan Santana, Radke can be the number two as the Twins will be close three games in a row. It’s supernatural.

As for the other two starters. Kyle Lohse? Terry Mulholland? Matt Guerrier?! It doesn’t look promising. Lohse is solid if you can post double digits game in game out. Back when Jason Schmidt was going to get dealt, there was talk of Lohse for Schmidt straight up. But at the time he was too big a talent to let go. Now he has a ridiculous goatee. Unbelievable.

His grandfather, Mulholland, learned everything he knows from Casey Stengel. The joke here is that the guy is old. He reminds me of the aged seasonal help at your local department store. He gets the job done when you need him, but he’s really only there because he has nothing better to do. As for Guerrier, I think he got lost on a tour of the facilities in Elizabethtown.

Relief Pitcher - This will be either a phenomenal or a disastrous bullpen. I see no gray area. How will Juan “Babyface” Rincon react to pitching batting practice to the Yankees in the last playoff series? If it rolls off his back, he’s reliable. If not, he’s Kyle Lohse, only in the bullpen.

J.C. Romero has shown promise, except for last year when he showed a lot of suck. If he gets hot, as he inevitably will, he will be unhittable, and that gives me some solace. The fact that Jesse Crain is our next best middle reliever terrifies me. The prospect of a game going from Kyle Lohse to Jesse Crain to bad Juan Rincon to J.D. Durbin gives me nausea. But at least we have Boof Bonser.

Which brings me to another strange point. Of the active players, and guys I know will be on the team eventually, most don’t use their full first name. J.C Romero. C. J. Nitkowski. J. D. Durbin. Boof. It’s like a crappy set of Scrabble tiles.

Beyond the guys I’ve already mentioned, we have Grant Balfour (the most unfortunate name I’ve ever heard for a pitcher) whom should never be used if the manager has heart problems. Then there is Joe Nathan, the best closer in the AL, who we acquired when we traded Clubhouse Cancer to the Giants. Joe Nathan. Chemotherapy. After those guys, we’ll plug in kids from the Arden Hills little league team.

Infield – Wow. What a mess. There are two positions that are “set”. First base and catcher are going to be occupied by Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, respectively. This would be fine, but they can only play if they pass Mr. Klein’s wood shop class. Combined, they aren’t as old as Terry Mulholland. Seriously, I’m older than Joe Mauer. And he is ready to be the future face of the Twins? I’m surprised he hasn’t asked to play in sweats.

Mauer and Morneau have a lot on their shoulders. Mauer will be the face of the team for as long as Carl Pohlad will pay him, and Morneau is viewed as the next Tom Brunansky, someone to finally be a true slugger for the squad. It’s quite a load to bear for guys who get carded when they want to see an R movie.

The rest of the infield features the all-star cast of Jason Bartlett, Juan Castro, Michael Cuddyer, Eric Munson, Augie Ojeda, Nick Punto, Luis “yes, I DO think the eyeliner looks good on me” Rivas, and Terry Tiffee. I think they will draw straws to play second third and short fifteen minutes before lineups are due to the umpire. But at least they are young.

Cuddyer was highly touted for the past forever, and never really panned out as a superstar (duh) but I have faith in him to bat seventh and play third. Punto is scrappy. One of my favorite players on the Twins. Too bad he can’t hit thirty home runs and is build like an elf. Munson was rejected by the Tigers. The Tigers! Disgusting. Tiffee has a motor. All of them are excellent utility players, but not everyday players. But at least they are young.

As for Rivas, I don’t know what to think. If you asked me last year what infielder I would have preferred to keep, Corey Koskie, Cristian Guzman, Doug Mientkiewicz or Luis Rivas, I can guarantee that it wouldn’t have been Rivas. Needless to say, he’s still providing his .225 batting average and acceptable glove work He’s turning into Denny Hocking. The Twin with borderline major league talent who won’t go away. He’ll be sapping payroll until I’m in my thirties. .

Our catching is a flagrant attempt at respectability. Not only do we have the player drafted right before Mark Prior starting there, we have serviceable back up in Mike Redmond. Also listed as a catcher is Matt Lecroy, who plays like he’s playing slow pitch softball. All he does is hit homeruns or gets into an “easy out” situation. (Really, find game footage where he did something else). Potentially the back-up DH.

Outfield – The average age of the outfielders is something like 15 years older than the infielders. And even then, the outfielders are only 30. Mulholland brings the whole team average up to 37. But I digress. The fearsome foursome of Shannon Stewart, Jacque Jones, Torii “the Flower” Hunter, and Lew Ford provide a good core for the team. I expect them to field every ball hit, either in the air, or through the legs of Jason Bartlett.

The fact that Stewart is one of the most reliable veterans is a fact I find a skosh unsettling. He was the third best player on the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Twins, and now we are counting on him for everything. I don’t want that. I’m not sure anyone does.

Jacque Jones had a great hitting season the past year and the year before, but with all this trade talk, I can’t help but think he’s due to go Brady Anderson on us any game. Another funny thing about Jones: put a band-aid on his cheek and he’s Nelly. Look at the guy. They’re the same person!

Torii Hunter is very good at catching a baseball. I don’t know if you were aware. He has a role in a new commercial by Nike in which he plays a flower. Some day, however, someone will realize he is batting below .250 and that his good glove doesn’t mean he should be batting clean-up.

Lew Ford is an interesting fellow. Through anecdotal evidence, its quite apparent that the man is a dork. A dork making a lot of money. He could pay the dry cleaner instead of ironing the shirt on his back. But the truth is, he is a solid fielder, a good hitter, and a half wit. He will provide the Twins with a spark all year. I can’t ridicule him. Just read the newspaper, you’ll find something funny about him.

The rest of the outfielders, such as Michael Ryan or Michael Restovitch are solid back-ups and should fill in all right when one of the top four inevitably goes down. I’m not worried at all about the outfield. It feels nice saying that.

My Projected Lineup:
LF Stewart
RF Ford
C Mauer
1b Morneau
CF Hunter
DH Jones
3b Cuddyer
2b Rivas
SS Bartlett

There you have it. That took entirely too long too write. But don’t forget, I’m going to talk about the AL Central sometime in the future, when I get around to it. - Ryan

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Championship Sunday

Originally posted on "Is It Sports" by Steve. This is just another big posted conversation, try your best to follow...At the very end, more proof of Ryan's conversion to a Colts fan exists...

After both going 3-1 last week, Ryan and I break down our NFC and AFC title game predictions.....

Ryan: so.. who wins tomorrow?
Steve: I'm going with Philly and New England
Steve: I think Philly breaks the curse and uses the weather to their advantage
Steve: Eagles 28, Falcons 20
Ryan: I dont think Atlanta has as many problems with the weather as other dome teams
Ryan: mostly because they arent a passing team
Steve: I think the snow will slow down their speedy runners
Steve: if they use Duckett a lot, I think they'll have a better chance
Ryan: yep
Ryan: but i agree... new england wins
Steve: so you think the Falcons are going to win?
Ryan: i think so... going back to the theory that the nfl is rigged
Steve: lol
Steve: I just don't think its Vick's time yet
Steve: and the media will have more fun with the will TO be healthy? stories
Ryan: i honestly think the story is better with philly losing
Steve: well I think they have potential instead of being the 90s Bills to be the 70s Rams
Steve: the Rams were pretty competitive every year but kep losing in the playoffs to Minnesota and Dallas
Steve: but finally in 1979 they beat the "default" other good team (like Atlanta, because everyone else sucked) which was Tampa Bay to go to the Super Bowl and become the doormat for the team of the decade
Ryan: i remember back to 98
Ryan: yada yada yada vikings this vikings that
Steve: well that's a good point too
Ryan: vikings lose
Steve: I see this Falcons team as less of a Cinderella though, more like a team on the brink
Steve: kind of like the 1995 Packers
Steve: they made waves by finally knocking off the Niners but couldn't get past Dallas, but then 1996 was their year
Steve: I'll erase this line...want me to just post this conversation when we're done?
Ryan: that would be easy
Steve: I'm covering all the points when that I want to hit in the conversation
Ryan: all right
Steve: I think in the New England game, this will be one of the first times that bad weather helps the road team, because they have a ton more experience
Steve: and I think the football Gods will work against a rookie QB making the Super Bowl
Ryan: i hate him and his hat
Steve: who?
Ryan: roethlisberger
Ryan: he is always wearing that hat
Steve: haha
Steve: wow the Rams lost 4 NFC title games in 5 years in the 70s before making it to Super Bowl XIV
Ryan: wow
Steve: They lost in 74, 75, 76, and 78 and in 73 and 77 lost in the divisonal playoffs
Ryan: sounds like the vikings
Steve: the year they finally made it in 1979 they were only 9-7
Steve: well I want to be social so let's get some scores down and I'll post it
Steve: like I said before Eagles 28, Falcons 20
Steve: Patriots 16, Steelers 12
Ryan: falcons 27 Eagles 26
Ryan: Patriots 21 Steelers 7
Steve: coolness
Steve: Have anything else to add before I post?
Ryan: we both went what, 3-1 last week?
Ryan: since it snowed and the pats won
Steve: yeah that's right
Steve: because you picked Minnesota
Ryan: haha
Ryan: knowing full well they would lose
Steve: and I forgot about weather and became a hype whore
Ryan: yep... i feel bad though... simmons laid into he colts too
Steve: why do you feel bad?
Ryan: the colts are good guys for the most part

So there you have it. I've got Patriots-Eagles and Ryan has Patriots-Falcons. Stay tuned for our Super Bowl predictions, which will probably be a lot more in depth and made more sober - Steve

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Saga of the Bricklayers

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Steve. In case you were interested, I ended up finishing 2nd that year in my league, and then morphed into the Buffalo Bills of fantasy basketball, losing in the championship matchup 3 years in a row.

Steve: do you think anyone would care if I wrote a story on fantasy basketball
Ryan: it could be entertaining
Steve: it's an emotional roller coaster
Ryan: haha
Ryan: i think if anyone reads our site, they will read whatever we post
Steve: that's true
Steve: its on then

Disclaimer: I hope our IM conversation warned you enough so if you could care less about fantasy sports, click here to go back

I'm an odd type of fan. I'm not the type that will change alliances to other teams if my team is doing bad, I may just lose interest in the sport itself. That's what happened to me in 1999 with the NBA. Jordan retired, Pippen and Jackson left, and I was left to cheer on Ron Harper and 2 exciting rookies, Elton Brand and Ron Artest (yes that one). What happened? they sucked. What happened in 2000? they sucked, and they kept sucking and sucking until I lost interest in the NBA (now the Bulls are on a remarkable tear, it's really too bad that Satan will own their souls in a few years but that's a whole article).

Last year things changed when my friend AJ asked me to join his fantasy NBA league. I decided it could be fun, especially because some of Bill Simmons's articles on about all the crazy/thug characters in the NBA got me interested in watching the mayhem again. So the Bricklayers were born, named for the ill-fated Rock N Jock Basketball game on MTV, and I thought the name was appropriate for the level I knew they'd suck at. My draft went well, and my team was anchored by a bunch of guys from Chicago and high profile rookies like Kevin Garnett, Antoine Walker, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, my high school classmate Dwyane Wade (no kidding), and Michael Finley. I also had Baron Davis, who was like a living, breathing "lots of pros/cons instead of nicely balanced" video game character last year (ridiculous 3's, tons of assists and steals, but infinite turnovers and 6 for 31 shooting nights).

So what happened? they sucked. I finished dead last but I became an NBA junkie again. This year, the Bricklayers returned with a mission. I reassembled my core in the draft and tried to get a better supporting cast (last year I had 78 year-old Clifford Robinson and the "Stro Show" at center for example) for the real junkies out there, here is the my current team:

Guards: Dwyane Wade, Baron Davis, Larry Hughes, Ricky Davis, Manu Ginobili
Forwards: Kevin Garnett, Corey Maggette, Rashard Lewis, Joe Johnson, Bobby Simmons, Vladimir Radmanovic
Centers: Emeka Okafor, Marcus Camby, Nazr Mohammed

After a 1-8 start riddled with injuries, the Bricklayers tore off a 51-28-2 run and I'm now tied for first place in an amazing Cinderella story. But the events late last week just proved that its midnight. Like I said, emotional roller coaster. Usually 1 big injury can hurt a good NBA team, but how does it effect a fantasy team...well let's see. In a span of about 4 days, Lewis got knee tendonitis, "Flash" suffered 4 separate injuries, Baron sprained his ankle, Hughes broke his thumb, Ginobili hurt his calf, Camby got suspended for trying to protect a 7 foot Brazilian with 1 name in a fight, and my healthy Corey Maggette decided to throw up a 2 for 17 night on Monday and then came over to my apartment to step on my throat and light my furniture on fire (ok maybe that part didn't happen, but I'm still not ruling out that it can't). Needing a healthy Guard, I decided to pick up Ricky Davis, the king of crazy from the Celtics, and I got this nugget of information:

Jan 17 Celtics coach Doc Rivers kicked swingman Ricky Davis out of practice on Sunday when the sixth man complained loudly and "colorfully" about the officiating during a scrimmage. The practice was held in front of a group of New England Baptist-sponsored high school students, and Rivers didn't like Davis' tone and language. "He was yelling at the guys, and I didn't like the tone of his talk," Rivers explained to the Boston Herald. "And there were kids in the gym. When I think a guy is becoming a distraction, I'll throw him out."

I forgot to mention that after the scrimmage, Randy Moss gave Ricky a congratulatory phone call but suggested that the colorful language should have been directed at the high school kids, not the ref. If this was a real NBA team, I think about 57 minutes of SportsCenter would be dedicated to them. Oh wait, I don't have Kobe so when you subtract ESPN-mandate Kobe time I think that leaves me with about 34 minutes. But still, how can something so good become so bad so fast? Oh, and I forgot to mention I'm only playing the team I'm tied with for first. So my time on top is over, but I'll cherish my worst to first turnaround forever. My advice: don't play fantasy, it's more addictive than the facebook (so I'll make sure to have a lot more stuff on this team in the future!) joooooiiiiinnn, you can't resist. mwahaha

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Thumbs Up: I'm Rich Biiiaatch!

Originally posted on "Is It Sports" by KevinWhy is Carlos Beltran so excited?

a) He is playing on the 71-91 New York Mets
b) He's getting paid 118 Million Dollars (hopefully in ca$h) until 2018
c) His corner infielders are Jason Phillips and David Wright
d) His hit .269 last year
e) All of the above

If you said b) He's making 118 Million Dollars, you're correct! Congratulations! You are rewarded by looking at this ridiculous picture of Carlos Beltran!

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In Yuppies We Trust

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Kevin, another friend who did a few great posts for us in the early days of the site. It's fun to have someone else attacking the Cubs besides me.

Naming your first three daughters Addison, Sheffield, and Waveland , Now that's Old Style.

Making $10 million extra dollars in revenue and not spending it, Now that's Old Style

Getting rid of Samy Sosa, Moises Alou, and 74 home runs, Now that's Old Style.

Disclaimer: I am not a Cubs fan. Just a bewildered, perplexed, and perhaps thankful Giants fan.

What do urine, sneezing, and personal feelings all have to do with baseball? Nothing. In the unbiased world of sports Moises Alou will hit at least his career average of 28 home runs next year, Sammy Sosa will hit his average of 43, and Aramis Ramirez will hit his average of 27. However, Chicago is not located in the unbiased world of sports. Instead, it truly is a world of its own, where stats are used to prop up popular Cubs players, and play down every one else. Here are three examples of crazy Cubs logic, the same logic that says they will win the World Series this year.

I. What pissing on your hands can do to a man

Moises Alou could be considered a fine baseball player, the youngest of a historic baseball family. The key word their is "could." That was until he admitted to reports, for unknown reasons, that he urinates on his hands before games, as an alternative to wearing batting gloves. This was part of the reason the Cubs, and Cubs fans for that reason, didn't want him back this year. Cubs fans say Alou isn't a team player, runs slow, fields bad, the excuses will keep rolling off their yuppie tongues. But the matter of fact is that Alou has consistently been a very productive power hitter, and hit 39 home runs for the Cubs last season. Have you ever heard of a team and their fans complain about a player hitting 39 home runs? The cubs decide to get rid of him because he's "not good enough for them." The likes of Corey Patterson are often brought up in conversations with Yuppies. Cubs fans would like you to believe he's a better player than Moises Alou. Ok Corey, Ill take your average of 20 homers a season, 69 RBIs and 158 hits. But I'd rather have Alou's 28 home runs, 177 hits, and 109 RBIs. The point is that once Alou had a bad baserunning play, didn't connect well with the media, or pissed on his hands, the Cubs and their fans found a way to downplay him as a player. Their loss. Instead, the Cubs will replace Alou with Todd Hollandsworth, a former rookie of the year who has never hit more than 12 home runs a season. As one Cub fan said, "Moises Alou wont hit more than 25 home runs next year." Maybe that fan is right. But just because you don't like the guy, doesn't mean you can will him to a bad season, or that he is suddenly worse than Todd Hollandsworth. Somebody, anybody tell me why the Cubs got rid of Moises Alou.

Nobody wants to slap the Palm of that hand and A closer look at what urine does to a hand

II. Sammy Sosa: Since 39 home runs wasn't good enough for Alou, why would 35 be good enough for Sosa?

Technically Sosa is still a Chicago Cub. But not if the Cubs and Cubs fans have their way. Because Sammy didn't hit 65 home runs last year, he was considered a disappointment, so much that he should be traded. Because he got hurt for a week "sneezing" he's considered no good. And because he left the last game of the year early in frustration and disappointment, he wont produce next year. Again, Cubs fans seem to think that players will only perform as well as they are supported by the Cubs faithful. Somebody remind me how many home runs Sosa hit last year. That's right, THIRTY FIVE! And that was a down year for him. Yet 9 out of 10 yuppies would agree that Sosa will only continue downward, is struggling since he's "off the juice," and cant perform under pressure. This is the same Sosa who hit a 2 run home run in the bottom of the ninth in the NLCS to send game 1 to extra innings. The Cubs would have never made the playoffs in 2003 without Sosa. There would have been no Bartman, no playoffs, no hope. Boy do Cubs fans have short memory. And yes, Sosa will hit at least 30 home runs next year.

Sammy Sosa, taking a bad fall while sneezing

III. Aramis Ramirez: The best player baseball has ever seen

So lets make an important recap. Alou had a career year, but will definitely be bad next year. Sosa had a down year, so he will continue downward. What does all this mean? That since Aramis Ramirez had a career year last year, he unlike Alou, will continue upward and lead the Cubs to the promise land. For some reason, Cubs fans don't find anything about Ramirez distasteful or unnerving, and because of those personal feelings, he is definitely the better player. Where do Cubs fans come up with this stuff? Ramirez averages 27 home runs a year, 164 hits, and a .273 batting average. But he's better than Alou, right? Ramirez may be younger, and have more promise for the long run, but I have no reason to believe that he will continue to be one of baseballs best AND that Alou and Sosa fall off the map in this next season. Ramirez, you are a good player, but not peeing on your hands or throwing your back sneezing doesn't guarentee you another career year.

Believe the hype, the talk, the excuses, and the whining from Cubs fans if you want. But just remember, the numbers aren't on their side, history isn't on their side, and common sense isn't on their side. What is on their side is personal feelings. These feelings towards players are being mixed up with an evaluation of that players performance. This isn't just a problem with the fans, but also with the Cubs front office, since they have acted upon these fans opinions. Who knows? Maybe Cubs fans will be right next year, and everything will fall into place as expected. But I wouldn't bet on it. There is, however, only one thing we know for sure that will happen . There wont be any corked bats with urine stains sitting in the Cubs clubhouse next year.

Ramirez welcomes the Yuppie "Love" with open arms....enjoy it while it lasts

-Kevin Grigsby (The original KGB)

P.S. Cubs fans are complaining that Dusty Baker isn't good enough either. Go figure.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Oh no! Ryan is ranting!

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan, back when he was a Vikings fan....but I think he still hates Randy Moss

Ryan: personally, i kinda wish the cop had shot moss when he ran her over, thus ending his career
Ryan: then everyone would say " what a damn nutjob" instead of, oh thats just randy being randy
Steve: well I think another big problem is that the asshole players get paid even more usually for endorsements
Steve: how many commercials do you see Marvin Harrison in
Steve: so it pays to be a jerk
Ryan: however, i also see peyton manning, docile and soft spoken, in a ton of commercials
Ryan: and when was the last time you did see randy moss in a commercial?
Steve: he was on one of the video games recently
Steve: T.O. is everywhere, but he keeps his controversy on the field usually
Ryan: yeah... and he actually goes through the motions of being a good teammate

I hate Randy Moss. I can’t tell you with how much passion I feel that way. He is taking valuable air time from good, decent players by being such a prick. He should be in jail, not in the Metrodome. I don’t ever want to see him win a championship. I hate him more than I love the Vikings.

Moss to Miami for Sam Madison and draft picks?

Moss's new uni?

But Moss has a problem that is pandemic to all of professional sports, The dicks get all the attention, whether they deserve it or not. Nobody knew anything about Freddie Mitchell until after he came back from the Lost Ark and gave that conceited press conference.

Randy Moss to Oakland for Charles Woodson and picks. Steve says “Don’t say that! Al Davis would jump at that deal”

Its not that I have a problem with competitiveness. Tedy Bruschi made some harsh comments about the Colts, but it was in the spirit of competition. Same goes for Terrell Owens’ exaggerated celebrations.

What’s the excuse then, for Randy Moss or Ron Artest?

Moss to Dallas for a backup left tackle, three cows, an oversized belt buckle and a timeshare in Aruba.

The important thing for the Minnesota Vikings is to rid themselves of Randy Moss before he ends up in jail, still on their payroll, and the Pacers need to do likewise with Ron Artest. I mean, Randy Moss got kicked out of Florida State. Florida State! One more time because I don't think you get it yet. FLORIDA STATE! Charlie Sheen wouldn't get kicked out of Florida State!

Three way deal. Moss to the Lakers, Kobe to the Mets, Vikings take on Cliff Floyd and his contract. Floyd beats out E.J. Henderson at starting linebacker.

I’m rereading what I wrote, and I realized something. Even if those involved in professional sports read this, i.e. Randy Moss, he would say “you Ryan, don’t understand.” I guess I don’t know what it’s like to be overpaid and pampered by everyone. So I guess this whole article was an exercise in futility.

Unless the Vikings pull off that three way deal. I really think Floyd would shore up our defense. –Ryan

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Do I Want to Talk About the Vikings? Neigh!

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan, back when he was still a Vikings fan...

Kevin : gotta love the Vikes
Ryan : Ugh... I'dont want to talk about it

The Vikings disgust me. That’s all I can say. That and the Eagles still look rusty. Other than that I don't want to talk about football again until the Super Bowl. (Don’t worry, I probably will again anyways.) The teaser conversation up there was just a cheap trick to introduce Kevin, a guy who might be chatting with us every now and then. I wouldn't expect him to post all that often. Steve and I don't, so I guess it would be hypocritical to expect the same of anyone else.

Instead, I want to waste your time by talking about a road trip I took with my roommate and a friend on Saturday. Graduating in May, it seemed appropriate that I try to visit as many lame locations in the West Lafayette region before I graduate. Thinking it would be just as lame as any location, the three of us hopped in my 97 Accord and headed to Louisville, Kentucky.

Our first dose of Louisville was downtown. Not knowing much else to do in Kentucky, we sought out the Louisville Slugger factory. After running a red light in front of a local squad car, much to his disinterest, we found a parking spot near the Jefferson County Detention Center and were on our way. The building, with its humongous (cement) bat out front was a throw back to Dick Tracy era buildings. It was, other than the monument out front, a relatively unassuming building set in the heart of an entertainment district of Louisville. When I got inside, the whole building had the feel of baseball history. It was reminiscent of my trip to Cooperstown a few years back. The attempt wasn't to aggrandize history, but at the same time, you couldn't escape it, and were overwhelmed with it. The most entertaining part was the signature series wall, with the signatures of all the players through history who have signed with the company, from Babe Ruth to Midre Cummings.

The next stop in our Kentucky misadventures was the University of Louisville (A note to the Athletic Department: Cardinals don't have teeth). The three of us grabbed lunch at what looked like a refurbished airplane hanger. The thing that struck us at the spacious sports bar was the enthusiasm for sports. Upon hearing their teams lost, our virgin ears were sprinkled with an “aww shucks” or something fairly docile instead a series of four and twelve letter words inappropriate even for this column. When a team would win, they applauded the performance of their own, instead of deriding the opposition. It was sportsmanship at its finest.

Lastly, we went to the only place people think of when they think of Kentucky. Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. We got to the track about ten minutes after it closed, so we decided it would be nice to take pictures of the outside as the building was absolutely gorgeous as well as monstrous. A security guard, in a gesture that would make the Department of Homeland Security cringe, invited us inside for a private tour. The three of us, flattered by the request, took her up on the offer and despite our lack of knowledge of the sport, were nonetheless overwhelmed by history once again. It would be a disservice if I tried to put the enormity of the structure, as well as the mystical aura of the track into words. I recommend everyone, sports fan or not, visits Churchill Downs once in their life. I insist. Also, a column about Churchill Downs would be beyond the scope of my writing ability. So go to Kentucky. Seriously. –Ryan

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

NFL Playoff Time....woo-hoo?

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" this is another post that we co-wrote. On the original page, the background was green, I wrote in white, and Ryan wrote in "Vikings gold." Since the background on this site is white, I'm writing in black and Ryan in Vikings Purple.

Steve: yeah I'm so apathetic to these playoffs
Steve: I don't really like anyone thats left
Ryan: theres an idea... you could rip every team thats left in the playoffs... i would be amused
Steve: haha
Steve: "why I hate all the teams left"
Ryan: exactly Ryan: although... i get first dibs at the vikings and rams
Steve: haha that's fine

Well the divisional playoffs are here and I couldn't be less excited. I had my hopes riding on 2 teams: The Chargers, because they have Drew Brees and LT, and the Seahawks, because I wanted to see Jerry Rice get one more shot. Now that Marty pulled off his annual choke, and the Seahawks proved they are owned by an 8-8 team, I don't have much left to root for. Here's my breakdown of what I don't like about any of the teams that are left, along with my predictions for this weekend.—Steve

You would think that I would be a little bit happier with the whole situation, what with the Vikings still in the playoffs, and the Colts, local celebrities looking like Hulk Hogan in the 1987 Wrestlemania that is NFL football. Yet I’m not happy. The Vikings, whom I’ve been watching whenever I can all season failed to disappoint me, as is there custom. I bet against them, and they won despite me. The Colts are just annoying if you aren't a Colts fan. In four years of living here, I’ve learned the only thing a Hoosier likes more than ripping their rivals is boasting about their team. Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the remaining teams and the games this weekend. Steve is in white, I am in Vikings gold.—Ryan.

Steelers: These guys have put together a fine season, especially in the era of mediocrity (oh I mean parity) in the NFL. Growing up in a Raiders household, I learned to not like the Steelers at a young age. I'm pretty much impartial to them now, and I like Ben Roetheslseibegeraeraegeerber a lot, but something inside of me kind of wants to see them go down because if they go all the way after a 15-1 season, they'll be placed in the sacred realm of greatest teams of all time, and I just don't think they belong there.

I’m old school. I like the 2-3 zone and lots of passing, very few fast breaks. Fighting has its place in hockey. Pitching wins championships. Our steroided batters of note, Bonds and Giambi, haven't won any rings, last I checked. But that’s for another column. I like the Steelers. They run the ball and play solid defense. Some call it boring, but that’s what old school (or skool, for you new skoolers) is. It’s boring but it’s ultimately effective. I doubt anyone is saying they wish Plaxico Burress had a few more 80 yard receptions.

Jets: I just can't get over this team. I kept asking myself, how do they keep winning like this. The AFC was so competitive this year with so many good teams, and apparently the Jets were one of them. They were very good at doing what other pretty good teams couldn't: beating bad teams. After Pennington's meltdown a few weeks ago, I thought this team would be done for sure, but as I told Ryan the other day, their suck power was no match for Marty's choke power and they got the W in RAINY San Diego in a very bizarre game. I think it ends here

I’ve been on the Jonathan Vilma bandwagon all year. This guy is going to be great. Mark my words. (I know, calling the defensive rookie of the year a “player to watch” is quite a stretch. But just you wait. A few years from now, Vilma will be compared to Ray Lewis, an Mr. R. will be compared to… Mr. T. You heard it here first.)

Steve's Prediction: Steelers 23, Jets 16 (Pennington throws a pick in the end zone as time expires, then stabs 4 members of the New York press after the game)

Ryan’s Prediction: Steelers 27, Jets 6. New York’s… thrilling… attack will be stymied.

Colts: I think this is the bandwagon I'll jump on. If I wasn't currently living in Indiana, I would have been on them from the start. I've loved watching Peyton all season and Marvin Harrison just gets the job done with class (though I loved what Moss did to the Packer fans). My big problem is that I get stuck watching this team every week when sometimes there are much more competitive games on. Like I said, I love watching Manning, but the TV stations in Indy need to implement the "Sorgi Rule." Once Jim Sorgi steps onto the field, the game must immediately be switched.
It bothers me that Dwight Freeney, best DE in the league (I was on his bandwagon too) gets no press, but some jerk-off kicker does. It also bothers me that “Vanderjerk” is the only personality this team has had since Jeff George.

Patriots: This team just looks shaky with all the injuries. I don't care how smart Bill Belichick is (I think ESPN is now claiming that he discovered fire AND invented the wheel). I just don't think they can do it this year. But the NFL must have their team of the decade, and I'm sure the refs will be aware. This time though, I think the Colts are going to get them and shut all the critics up and kick off the most intense rivalry in the NFL for the next 5 years (because the Steelers will go 7-9 next year).

No. It’s not to early to start calling this team a dynasty. And yes, this is the best team we have had in a very long while. This is a team without a major superstar, except maybe Tom Brady, though he isn't even a statistical marvel. Bill Belichick has laid the coaching groundwork for all major team sports. Teamwork! On a team!

Steve's Prediction: Colts 34, Patriots 31 (If it doesn't happen, at least we'll get to see Peyton's "aww dang" face as he rips off his chinstrap)
Ryan’s Prediction: Colts 58, Patriots 35 if the field is clear. Patriots 21, Colts 17 if it snows, rains, there is any wind, Ben Affleck is at the game, a squirrel delays the game for more than 30 seconds, or if anyone on the Colts gets injured. Including Tony Dungy.

Eagles: there anything to like about these guys? I’m looking forward to watching them play though after not giving a damn since December 19.

It’s hard to think of anything pertinent to say about the Eagles that doesn't involve Terrell Owens or Campbell’s chunky soup. So I won’t.

Vikings: I'll let Ryan lay into them....

I want to take you back to week 15, the Vikings were in Detroit, and had, of course, allowed the Lions to score a potentially game tying touchdown. Then the long snapper one hopped the ball to the holder, no PAT, game over, Vikings win. I hope, Aaron Brooks, that you realize, that this play is why you aren't in the playoffs. The Vikings are in the playoffs because of a botched extra point by the Lions. THEY WON BY ONE AGAINST THE DETROIT LIONS! And don't even get me started on the jerk players on this team. The fine, decent folks of Minneapolis don't deserve this team in the same way the fine, decent folks of Portland don't deserve the Trailblazers. Randy Moss is an ass, no pun intended (well, maybe a little), Daunte Culpepper is the poorest leader I have ever seen, our top running backs are a guy from Wisconsin who has never shown any signs of production, a druggie named after a Canadian province and a rookie drafted in the 4th round. On the other hand, Mike Tice is 1-0 in the playoffs! His former Phys. Ed. Students are proud, let me assure you.
Steve's Prediction: Eagles 28, Vikings 27 (with the score 28-20, the Vikings will score and Tice will kick the extra point)
Ryan’s Prediction: In a way, it would be cathartic to see the Vikings get thumped. That’s why it won’t happen, at least not until I have faith in them. Vikings 35 Eagles 24

Falcons: As a Niners fan, I still hold a grudge from the Dirty Bird days, but Vick is fun to watch.

Probably my favorite team left in the playoffs, but it goes against everything I stand for. They are the only team I will tolerate reaching the Super Bowl from the NFC, but only because I can’t find anything in particular to squabble with.

Rams: I just hate this team. Mike Martz has an amazing combo of both arrogance and stupidity. He seems like he should be a villain in some dopey kids movie. For a crap 8-8 team beating their crap 9-7 division champ, they get way too much publicity, but the NFC is so weak they could be playing in Jacksonville.

The Rams have found their way into the playoffs once again. They also managed to get to the second round by beating Darrell Jackson and the hapless Seagulls, err… Seahawks.

In a related note, I think their title as the “Greatest Show on Turf” is about to come to an end after the warrants come in and Randy Moss and Onterrio Smith are arrested on field in a home game sometime next season. I’d buy that video.

Steve's Prediction: Falcons 27, Rams 6
Ryan’s Prediction: Falcons 20, Rams 16

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Darrell Jackson, stone hands or butterfingers? The debate rages on

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan. It's funny to think that our 5th post ever was about such an insignificant player in an insignificant playoff game.

Ryan (3:36:36 PM): im interested in the rams-seahawks game... its going to be a train wreck
Ryan (3:36:59 PM): both teams are going to choke, and i dont know how thats possible
Steve (3:39:07 PM): maybe they will just repeatedly fumble their kickoffs
Ryan (3:39:59 PM): but then the ball will be in good field position for the other team... what then?
Steve (3:40:50 PM): they'll throw INT's that will be returned for TD's
Ryan (3:41:58 PM): theyll through it right into the numbers of the opponents, but those throws will be dropped, field goals missed
Steve (3:46:29 PM): this might be like 7 OT's
Ryan (3:46:44 PM): my prediction - Rams 9-6
Steve (3:47:50 PM): well I think they'll score a lot
Steve (3:48:16 PM): so I'm gonna say Rams 36-34 when they win in the 7th OT on a safety

1st half, Seattle versus St. Louis. Dick Vermeil would roll over in his grave if he had watched the first half of this game. If he were dead. As it is, he’s probably weeping about something or other in Kansas City. Never has sports intuition served me better than in this game. It’s like watching the 8-9 game in the NCAAs. You have to know if Utah St. can beat Butler, but at the same time you just know they will lose to Kentucky by forty in a matter of days. The biggest thing I’ve gleaned from the first half is that Darrell Jackson is the leading candidate for the Todd Pinkston Award for Playoff Inefficiency in a Wide Receiver. This guy is stiffer than the Space Needle and with worse hands. How is he a started for a playoff team? How did he get drafted? Hell, how did he get a scholarship to play football at Florida? In a series of about two minutes he had some of the most god awful showings I’ve seen since high school. First, Matt Hasselbeck hit him right in the hands. Probably the best throw Hasselbeck has thrown all game. Jackson, overwhelmed with the prospect of receiving Hasselbeck’s first throw in the playoffs decides to share the wealth and dropped it right into the waiting arms of Travis Fisher. Travis Fisher plays for the Rams. Fortunately, Marc Bulger is a mediocre quarterback on average and tossed it back to the Seahawks. About three plays later, Jackson is going on a pleasant Saturday afternoon jog, apparently forgetting he’s playing football in the playoffs. He was visibly startled when the football went flying past him. Darrell Jackson is making about a million dollars more than me, and totally phoning it in. This is a description used mostly for Keith Olbermann in his final days at ESPN. Fortunately for Darrell Jackson, he isn’t the only person on the field that totally sucks today, just as Steve and I predicted. The game is still in hand for both teams, but that doesn’t mean anything good for football fans. We’ll see how the second half goes.

2nd Half Vindication! Darrell Jackson can catch. He even scored a touchdown! My wrath, though well deserved, moved to the commentators. In the first half, I was with Paul Maguire. He was laying into D-Jack, one of the few times that Maguire actually can get away with that type of activity. But then they spit out these chestnuts. Maguire: “We always seem to get great playoff games, every year.” This was a – close – playoff game. To have a great playoff game, you need tension. You need people to think that, hey, when St. Louis inevitably wins, they won’t get decimated by the Eagles. These were not great teams and this was not a great game. It was like Episode I from Star Wars. Nobody wanted to watch it. We couldn’t turn away. Theismann: “I just don’t understand why he [Hasselbeck] isn’t completing more than sixty percent!” Where was he in the first half?! Wasn’t he watching this game? It doesn’t matter if you throw it right at a receiver if they drop the ball worse than the Boulder police. It’s unfathomable that a HOFer doesn’t see this obvious conclusion to the conundrum right in front of him. Needless to say, the ‘Hawks lost when Bobby Engram dropped the game tying touch down pass. I cant believe this game was even on TV - Ryan

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Behind the Scenes of an NFL Game

Originally posted on "Is It Sports" by Steve

My dad has been a scout for the Oakland Raiders since the 1997 season. In those 8 seasons, he's almost seen it all, starting with a 4-12 season under the immortal Joe Bugel in his first season with the team up to the Silver and Black's appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. As the Chicago area scout, he focuses on the Bears and their opponents and works at the scouting combine in Indianapolis each February. The stories from the combine (where no media is allowed) are absolutely classic and I'm sure I'll be getting to those on this site one day. I recently met him down in Indy for the Colts-Raiders game, where we worked with the video crew. Since not many people get the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes in an NFL game, I thought it would be interesting to break my weekend down here.

Saturday Check-In: As we walked through the doors, the lobby was LOADED with Raiders groupies looking for autographs. As usual, my dad gets mistaken for a coach, and I get mistaken for a punter. Some players absolutely ate up their fame, hanging out in the lobby, small talking, signing autographs, while others just tried to sneak up to their rooms. We ran into Napoleon Harris in the check-in line, who my dad had been watching since his days at Thornton High School on the south side. As they talked, I noticed a sleepy, disheveled looking Robert Gallery checking in wearing what may have been pajamas? workout clothes? something. Then came the best part of all for the players when they realized that they got to hang out in exciting Indy for the day!

Saturday Night: After dinner at Champs and watching the beginning of the end of a beat up Kyle Orton's Heisman hopes by narrowly defeating lowly Penn State, we went back to the hotel and met up with Ted Hendricks in the lobby. If you don't know who he was, watch the next NFL Films special on ESPN2 at 2 AM and you have about an 80% of seeing him (Hall of Fame LB, 4 rings with the Colts and Raiders, all time blocked kick leader, REALLY good friends with Al Davis). I first met him when I was 13 and he has to be the most intimidating 57-year old I've ever met, but he's a really nice guy. One time he ran over a stop sign with his car and gave it to John Madden as a birthday gift. When we went back to our room, we shared an elevator with a sleepy, disheveled looking Robert Gallery wearing the same pajamas as before.

Sunday Pre-Game: The Raiders were in a cheery mood after their pre-game breakfast before inexplicably getting on a team bus and getting a ride about 50 feet across the street to the RCA Dome. Warren Sapp tried to switch the charges of all the rooms from the Raiders to Ted Washington during check out, which led to Washington cussing him out and chasing him to the bus. We were supposed to have field passes for the game, but the Colts dropped the ball and didn't provide enough to the team for us to get in. So I just grabbed one of the camera crew's tripods, and walked right into the dome (this is a few hours before it opened), letting everyone know that I was part of the camera crew. Soon I was led back to the locker room area. So just remember kids, if you want to get in a game and don't have a ticket, just bring a tripod and say you're part of some crew. So much for homeland security. Another entertaining part for me was when the players walked past us into the locker room. First, we saw C. Montgomery Burns....errr I mean Al Davis walk by, followed by the players. The way the players show up at the stadium really says a lot about them. Most of the older veterans like Jerry Rice were dressed in expensive suits, showing that they must have style and class. Phillip Buchanon showed up looking like he just came from a Lil' John video shoot, complete with his 8-inch wide, golden, diamond encrusted "Showtime" necklace for the nickname I never heard anyone call him. Oh well he went to Miami. Robert Gallery showed up in the same pajamas, looking sleepy and disheveled, and Rich Gannon walked by in a suit and a WWF-style neck brace on. I was just waiting for Rice (who was asking for a trade because he wasn't getting thrown to) to turn on him and crack him with a chair, with Bonnie Bernstein screaming, NO! He's already injured! that's just despicable!

Warm-ups: I can proudly say that I know for a fact that I purchased the first hot dog sold at the RCA Dome on October 10, 2004. I walked by the concession stands right as the first one opened for business about 30 minutes before the fans were let in. Since Jerry Rice is my all time favorite player, I loved watching him run routes and catch passes during warm-ups (he got no catches again during the game). The other thing that surprised me was that the national anthem was sung before the fans were let in, and that led to a series of questions in my mind. Why is she practicing? Is this being recorded? Wait, is that Ashlee Simpson? Are all songs sung in stadiums prerecorded and lip-synched? Since it is the national anthem, should I stand up even though I'm 1 of 5 people in the dome? and finally, why am I thinking so much?

The Game: As expected, Peyton Manning lit up the Raiders with 3 of his record breaking 49 TD passes, and the Colts cruised to a 35-14 win. Surprisingly, if you don't count week 17 when he was benched, Manning's 198 yards ended up being his lowest yardage output for the entire season. This had a lot to do with the Raiders not being able to stop Edgerrin James. The "This is why they got Eli" version of Kerry Collins decided to show up by throwing 3 picks, as opposed to the "NFC Champion, definitely not a recovering alcoholic looking for another chance" version of Collins. I don't know if I've ever seen a QB more inconsistent. Some days he looks like he should have played in the AFL in the early 60's, throwing up massive numbers, and others he looks like Jake Plummer in 1999 (9 TD's, 24 INT's). My favorite moment of the game was when Purdue's Stu Schweigert laid a devastating hit on Brandon Stokely as he was about to catch another Manning TD pass. Since we were in Indiana, it seemed like 1/3 of the crowd (Purdue fans) were cheering and chanting STUUUU, 1/3 of the crowd was moaning that the nearly unconscious Stokely couldn't hold on, and I think the other 1/3 of the crowd was trying to remember if they slopped the hogs before jumping in their pickup and driving to the big city.

Post-Game: When I went to another Raiders-Colts game back in 2000, I saw Peyton's boys squander a 28-7 lead, losing 38-31 to the Silver and Black. The fans were very good losers, complimenting the Raider fans on a game well played in an "aww shucks" Indiana kind of way. This time, they were some of the sorest winners I've ever seen, taunting the fans in black and telling us to never come back. I just shot back that I doubt we would be, since the next time they play we'll probably be facing the Los Angeles Colts (that worked surprisingly well). The Colts won't be moving though, since they just got a new stadium approved. I've never been a fan of replacing 20 year-old domes before, the the Colts definitely need this. The RCA Dome is a bleak dungeon-like place where the hallways must have been modeled using blueprints from a morgue, and it doesn't even have an out of town scoreboard. This retractable dome couldn't come sooner, especially since Peyton and Purdue are turning more Hoosiers into football fans while Indiana U. and Purdue are turning more away from basketball. The Raiders themselves changed and quickly left the stadium. Obviously very dejected, especially compared to their attitude before the game, they ignored most autograph requests from the loyal Raiders fans that stuck around. One thing did remain constant though. Robert Gallery got on the bus wearing the same pajamas. - Steve

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

No NHL? At least we still have college

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Ryan

Ryan:let me see if i can get all the D-1 schools in minnesota
Ryan: got em
Steve: good job!
Ryan: for hockey though, lets see... minnesota, minnesota state, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State, Bemidji State
Steve:Does Illinois even have a hockey school?
Ryan: im looking right now... if nebraska omaha is a d-1 hockey school, then by god illinois should have one
Steve: where is the list?
Ryan: looking through these divisions, its like a who's who of 16 seeds in the big dance

I shudder to think that anyone would label me a stereotypical Minnesotan, namely because there are very few Minnesotans that fall into that stereotype. If there was one way to separate a native Minnesotan from someone who just moved there it would be hockey. Almost everyone who has lived there from childhood has an affinity, however fleeting, for the game.

I went to a University of Minnesota hockey game at Mariucci Arena in Downtown Minneapolis. We played Merrimack, a school I had never heard of. The fans at the game were into the game. They had choreographed cheers, and new exactly when to use them. They gasped at the close calls, cheered when the puck was cleared from the zone. The fans knew the game.

Instead of an NHL section in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, there were two pages devoted to hockey, high school and college, boys and girls. Minnesotans care about hockey the game, even if they don’t particularly seem interested in professional hockey. Everyone in Minnesota knows someone who plays, from mini-midgets just learning to skate to someone who was a fourth round draft pick by the Blues a few years ago. My brother played for at least half a dozen years. I would have, but my enormous head was not conducive to good equilibrium on a pair of ice skates.

The high school I attended won two state championships while I was there. This has the rough equivalent to a school in Indiana winning the basketball championship, or a school in Texas winning a football title. High school hockey in Minnesota is important. College hockey in Minnesota is important. Pee Wee hockey in Minnesota is important. Professional hockey is mere entertainment.

The state of the game of hockey is in great shape among its truest fans. The National Hockey League has its demons to work out, but in the mean time, the real fans of the game are content to watch their own boys and girls skate at the community rink. -Ryan

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The Great Quarterback List of Tecmo Super Bowl

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" by Steve

Tecmo Super Bowl (NES - 1991)

Tecmo Super Bowl (SNES - 1993)

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The BCS Mess and Lil’ John…A Taste of Things to Come

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" This is where it all began, our first Is It Sports? post, written by both Ryan and Steve.

Ryan: heres a question for you... if we have so many bowls, cant we eliminate the motor city bowl and have the top mac team play the top wac team instead of them playing 6th or 7th teams in crappy bowls?
Steve: yeah might as well
Steve: I never understood the MAC champ vs. Big Ten #7 thing
Steve: going to a bowl game in Boise would suck too
Ryan: exactly
Ryan: especialy if you are say, boise
Ryan: the only playoff i would endorse is one that features just the conference champions
Steve: like all 11?
Ryan: yeah... works for the big ten
Steve: that would be interesting
Ryan: 10 games and 18 bowls
Ryan: because you cant eliminate bowls
Steve: where would the tournament games be played?
Ryan: and the 4-5 game is always the rose bowl, pac 10 vs big ten
Ryan: same sites as the top 10 bowls
Steve: so who would get the byes then?
Ryan: top three non big ten pac ten teams according to the bcs
Steve: so that would always be the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 champs probably
Ryan: more than likely
Ryan: unless a utah slips in there
Steve: so this year it would have been...
Steve: 1. Oklahoma
Steve: 2. Auburn
Steve: 3. Utah
Steve: 4. USC
Steve: 5. Michigan
Steve: 6. Virginia Tech
Steve: ...or Louisville or Boise State?
Ryan: just go with espn polls for ease
Ryan: louisville va tech boise
Steve: ok so that makes Pitt 9
Steve: and Toledo 10
Steve: and North Texas 11
Steve: so the first round would be Louisville vs. North Texas
Ryan: so, Louisville N Texas
Ryan: va tech toledo
Ryan: boise pitt which would be huge
Steve: I thing Boise would definitely take them
Ryan: yeah, but it would still be a big game
Steve: show how much the Big East sucks
Ryan: then assuming the seeds, ok and boise, auburn and va tech, utah and louisville
Ryan: all quality games... and as it would play out, you would get to see the national champ play 2 undefeated teams no matter what
Ryan: well, barring upsets
Steve: yeah Utah/Louisville would be interesting
Ryan: it would be a shootout
Steve: yeah
Ryan: but i really dont have a problem with the bcs, to be honest with you... you are ALWAYS going to have problems no matter what
Ryan: wa wa, you left us out of the tournament
Steve: yeah its a 117 team league
Ryan: at least there is finality to this
Steve: Notre Dame would be pissed
Ryan: well, give notre dame tyhe big east playoff berth if the deserve it, or make them join a conference for christ sake... the big ten.. they play half of us anyways
Ryan: but i would really prefer the bowls.. .thats the way its always been, and a playoff truly doesnt accomplish anything
Ryan: bowls celebrate winning programs and i think in college football, a program is more valuable than one team
Ryan: so im glad oklahoma and usc got in and auburn didnt, because usc and oklahoma will be good next year, and auburn wont
Steve: I can't believe how much ass USC kicked
Ryan: especially after tech thumped cal
Steve: I know
Steve: Cal must have been pouting
Ryan: i think "sucking" is the term
Steve: yeah
Steve: I just hope Leinart comes out so he doesn't screw over the Niners
Ryan: the heisman is cursed, you know
Steve: yeah, but I think Ken Dorsey's arm is too
Ryan: yeah... florida... what a quarterback hotbed
Ryan: did you see rex grossman in his 7 snaps this season?
Steve: awesome
Steve: well Dorsey went to Miami
Ryan: last i checked miami is still in florida
Ryan: the only good miami is the one in ohio
Steve: I thought you meant like UF
Ryan: well, you got weinke too... remember him?
Steve: because I was going to bring up Danny Awful
Ryan: jesse palmer
Ryan: the last decent quarterback to come out of that state went to UCF
Steve: Rob Johnson
Steve: yeah Culpepper
Ryan: that is not saying much
Ryan: Marshall has produced two qbs more recently than the entire state of florida
Ryan: and i dont care what you say, pennington is a much better quarterback than culpepper
Ryan: pennington to moss at marshall did something culpepper to moss never did..... win
Steve: yeah thats a point
Steve: I don't dislike Pennington
Ryan: i would rather have pennington and santana moss than culpepper and randy moss
Steve: randy's a headcase
Ryan: yeah.... unrelated... do you read espn magazine? simmons article in that one?
Ryan: its about kobe.... he makes a fleeting reference to wrestling that was pretty funny
Steve: oh yeah I read that one online
Steve: how he should become a bad guy?
Ryan: yeah... i liked the part where he smacked nicholson with the chair
Steve: haha yeah I liked that too
Steve: you should read his pyramid scheme article from 3 years ago
Ryan: i think we could start posting some of our im conversations online on some sort of website and it would catch on
Steve: haha yeah

And there you have it, the conversation that led to this site. All of these conversations are held on AOL Instant Messenger but we're going to change our screen names to our actual names and color code them for your convenience.

You don’t have to read the entire conversation up there if you don’t want to, but we kicked around some pretty interesting ideas, namely our solutions to the college bowl system and compared Marshall’s ability to produce quality quarterbacks with the entire state of Florida. Marshall won. Decisively.

There are a few other things talked about in that convo, all of them sports related. The thing is though, we aren’t sure how much or little of our time will be spent on sports. Hence “isitsports”. We aren’t sure either. Note the conversation below:

Ryan: ok... given the conversation we had last night, and the abundant time on my hands, i have determined something
Steve: what's that?
Ryan: well, i was thinking today about how intimidating most rappers are, then i realize how unintimidating lil jon is... and then it dawned on me that with the release of "ok" by Nivea, featuring lil john, he only needs to make one more song to complete his career, and at the same time, finish the joke the entire rap industry is playing on him.... but my idea is a song called "what?!" by DMX and Lil Jon
Steve: why would it complete his career?
Ryan: well, all his major phrases have been turned into songs then... yeah, lets go, ok, what
Ryan: what else does he have left?
Steve: haha ok
Steve: nothing much
Steve: you know how PDiddy had that Vote or Die thing?
Ryan: right
Steve: I saw a pic in magazine of Lil John passed out on the floor drunk wearing a shirt that looked just like Diddy's that said Crunk or Die!
Steve: I thought it was hilarious
Ryan: oh lil jon... how we'll miss you when youve completed the circle
Ryan: and after watching a couple hours of music videos, ive realized that nelly is the least intimidating rapper
Steve: he'll be one of those guys that in 10 years people will look back and be like what the hell were we listening to back in 2004?
Steve: yeah Nelly is pretty much crazy
Ryan: well, hes out to make money, not to build his image
Ryan: he is the modern ll cool j
Steve: yeah I guess

The earlier conversation was about one of my new interests, rap feuds. By the way, I’m from suburban Minneapolis; Steve is from south side Chicago.

Other than being ironic in a musical sense, it provides the biggest disconnect between us. Sure he is a Republican and I’m currently in between parties, he’s looking forward to a successful engineering career, and I’m, well, lazy. Needless to say, we are different people. The only thing we consistently disagree on is his insistence that the White Sox don’t suck and the Twins do. I’m sure you, the reader, will hear all about that over the coming however long we feel like writing this. For the time being, however, I’m going to have to say we won’t be putting 4 page IM conversations in our posts. – Ryan

Ryan pretty much summed me up. Like he said, I am from the south side of Chicago but I’m really only a fan of the White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks. I’ve always been a Cubbie hater and the Bears…well are just fun to make fun of. My NFL teams are the 49ers (2-14 I know, I know, but you gotta stick with your teams) and Raiders. Since I’m an engineer, just try to bear with my crappy writing skills.

In our conversation about Marshall vs. the state of Florida, I made my first of what might be many mistakes. Brad Johnson, who went to Florida State, is the QB I was thinking about, and even though he won a Super Bowl, I think he probably belongs on that list as well. Rob Johnson went to USC. Yeah, that Rob Johnson. You might remember him as the guy that got beat out for a job by a 56 year-old midget from Canada. The Johnson boys split time with the 2002 Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, but their biggest contribution to that team was not screwing up…well Rob did, and that’s why Brad was the starter. I’ll never forget Brad’s legendary touchdown pass to himself when he was on the Vikings, and let’s not forget that he’s about to lose his job to an unproven and/or twice failed son of a Super Bowl winning quarterback, and might wind up as the starter on the (gulp) Cardinals. But the moral of the story here is that QB’s from the Big 3 colleges in Florida don’t live up to the hype they receive. I can’t believe I forgot about the best Heisman winner to ever play in the NBA, Charlie Ward. I’m sure there are plenty more where that came from as well. With Chris Rix and Brock Berlin entering the draft this April, NFL teams might want to look, but not touch. - Steve

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