Monday, September 29, 2008

WVFL Week 4 Review

Lake Balboa Ladybugs 112 - Crafton Tough Kids 47

On Saturday, I was discussing fantasy football with a friend as he agonized over whether he should start Braylon Edwards or Rashard Mendenhall at W/R. I said his problems were minor and recounted my Week 4 starting lineup to him. Before I even got to DeSean Jackson at W/R, he started laughing. I asked why and he Selvin Young, Tim Hightower and Zach Miller in succession were hilarious. He wondered if I was in a 20-team league. My lineup was literally funnier than Jay Mohr.

Well, that ragtag bunch of misfits and fill-ins went out and scored the most points in the league this week while my friend started Mendenhall and lost by 40. For the 300th time, nobody ever knows what will happen in fantasy football. Including me. I'm now 2-2 and the two times I'd thought I'd win and the two times I thought I'd lose have been completely backwards.

The receivers got it done for me this week as Boldin, Cotchery and Jackson combined for 47 points. I should probably relish the points from 15 Boldin, because he might be out a while, continuing an ongoing Ladybug theme.

The Tough Kids found out at 1:01pm that Palmer was out, one minute after the rosters locked. Luckily, it didn't matter. Luckily for peace of mind purposes, I mean. Matt Prater led the way with 17 points, and when your kicker is your toughest guy, maybe your neighborhood is getting by on reputation. The Tough Kids needed 71 points from Ward and Miller Monday night to win. They didn't even get 71 yards.

If you double the Crafton score, they still lost by 18.

St. A's Crusaders 87 - The People's Elbow 83

In Jerry Porter's first game of the year, he notched 1 catch for 6 yards. Porter on the Elbow is starting to take on Millen on the Lions proportions. The brain trust at PE HQ is still ferociously debating what hurts more. Getting 0s from Porter and Felix Jones, or leaving 36 points from Garrard and Mason on the bench in a 4-point loss. They'll be mulling that one over for some time to come.

The Crusaders are ready to put Ryan Grant in a box and ship him back to wherever he came from before busting out last season, but the chuckalicious Drew Brees saved the week from being a total disaster. It would be fun if Ben's accidental slippage on the early interception decided this game, but it didn't. St. A's still would've won by a point. Which is fine. Nate has enough close calls to worry about.

Newbomb Turk 96 - LetsGoPens 62

This game is the WVFL equivalent of Denver/Kansas City. Larry Johnson has a huge day and carries a terrible team to a surprise win. Johnson had 33 points, Romo added 23 and no other Turk had the moxie to crack double digits. In fact, Johnson and Romo's 56 is more than the 40 everybody else teamed up for. Like if the other two Beatles were just session players.

Todd Heap did not put up the 36 points the Pens needed from him. In fact, he did not put up any points. It seems that Heap went on to the WVFL site this morning and saw the "Heap is garbage" quote from his very own coach and decided to prove a point.

Brookline Bucs 71 - Vanduhlay industries 54

Both donut shops got their first wins this week, and I don't want to say Brookline got lucky, but...they got incredibly lucky. Things were so busy at the Vanduhlay offices that Riggs didn't have time to bench Brandon Jacobs (bye) in favor of Steven Jackson. So Jackson's 24 points just sat there on the bench not counting for anything. The only silver lining is that Vanduhlay can write this charitable donation off on their taxes. Not to mention the fact that Fargas has been injured for three weeks and still started and Tatum Bell is still on the roster even though he's not on an NFL one. Hey, somebody run by the Vanduhlay building tomorrow and make sure there wasn't a mass suicide because of the downturn in the credit market.

But let's also focus on Brookline, heartily celebrating their first win. Fred Jackson had a touchdown. Bully for him.

Atlas Shruggz 89 - Purple Swirls 85

Although Westbrook was a late scratch, it had no effect on the Swirls because they had no other option. What had a greater effect was all but three starters having good days and the three bums combining for 9 points in a 4-point loss. The surprise scratch of Carson Palmer didn't hurt the Tough Kids, but it killed the Purple Houshes.

Of course, Chad Johnson wasn't much better and Atlas still won. Mainly thanks to 14 very, very, very surprising points from Deuce McAllister. Four points from Deuce would've been very surprising, so 14 points gets three verys.

Iron City Pounder 75 - Lowcountry All-Stars 64

The macarena. Clear beverages. Stuffed crust pizza. Not all trends last forever. Add the All-Stars lighting it up to that list. Lee Evans kept things even mildly respectable with a late touchdown, but 7 positions combined for 36 points. Like the Denver Broncos, people are now wondering if they got too excited by calling the All-Stars an early favorite.

It's not bad when your receivers average 14 points for the week, but you'd like to see a more even distribution than 28-0. Donald Driver is watching footage of Favre to Coles and remembering when he used to score points. Robert Royal, of course, has no recollection of ever scoring points. Speaking of Favre to Coles, the 0 from the Arizona defense has to be considered a success in the face of 56 points allowed.

Stringfellow Hawks 103 - Deathfromabove 95

DFA takes home the coveted 3rd Highest Points Of The Week And Still A Loser Award. They had more than twice as many points as Crafton, but that doesn't matter one damn bit. Amazingly, in the highest scoring game of the week by far, 9 players had under single digits, there were two 0s, a 1 and two 3s. Nine players combined for 162 points. The other nine had only 36.

What's even more remarkable is that Stringfellow got 0 from McGahee, 1 from Stuckey, 3 from Sproles and 5 from Winslow and still put up 103. I tell you, a deregulated trickle down scoring system does not work in the WVFL. The rich stay rich!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

WVHL Season Preview

That picture there has been making the internet rounds like "Obama is a mooslim!" emails recently, but I'm not afraid to show it one more time. Last season, I took the WVHL Cup (it weighs 400 pounds) and it's the only trophy I won in nearly 10 years of Yahoo! fantasy play. I am proud of it and not ready to turn the page on last year. Between that and the fact that it was 99 degrees today and I went to the beach, it seems fairly preposterous that a fantasy hockey draft was held tonight.

And yet here we are.

Keystone Winterhawks (2007 - 5th place)

Although Crosby vs. Ovechkin should foster at least a little debate, the Winterhawks nabbed Ovechkin five seconds in to this year's draft. Then the guy with the Flyer logo made Mike Green the third defensemen gone with his second pick. What Patrick Division rivalry? But I'm sure a guy who has 12 points one year and 56 the next is the bedrock of consistency you can stake a second round pick on.

Green's pick set the tone for the Winterhawks and the 2008 tone is: Guys That Need To Break Out. Green, Carter, Staal, Kane, Stamkos, Kunitz and Afinogenov are all boom or bust picks. It's possible that C Mo mixed up his sleeper list and cheat sheet before the draft.

After Savard and Ovechkin, literally not one of the Winterhawks can be counted on. They could be good, they could be bad and it's impossible to predict anybody's point total within a range of five. Now, you give me a range of, say, 20 to work with, and I'll make some predictions. Jordan Staal? Um...40-60 points. See? Easy. Also, Keystone is basically conceding the PIMs and the +/- each week like a two-foot putt in the Ryder Cup.

Beards in April? - If this was a real team, I'd love their outlook for the future. But the WVHL is more like an airplane, where everybody gets off at the end and never sees each other again. And too many guys have to come through this season for the Winterhawks to get off the ground.

The Awful Stench (2007 - NA)

You could argue that the #2 pick was the best one to have this season. At #1, you have to choose between Crosby and Ovechkin and maybe you could guess wrong. But at #2, somebody made the decision for you and you can't be criticized. And, on top of that, you still get The Bulldog, Sidney Crosby. Man, easy living at #2!

Oakes might have been trying to soft pedal his abilities with a name like The Awful Stench (unless it's some inside college joke), but if that name stays, this team is more like the rotting corpse flower. Terrible smell, but beautiful to look at. Incidentally, the Latin name for that flower, Amorphophallus titanium, basically translates to Big Ugly Dick. Cheechoo's Moose Cree name has the same translation.

ANYWAY, the Stench have the best 1-2 punch at center in the league, are great on defense and are pretty solid in net. Ales Hemsky was a total steal in the 7th round and if Cheechoo bounces back to even decent play this season, the Stench will be savored. Like durian. Once they drop Adam Foote for somebody serviceable, they'll be very good.

Beards in April? - Oh, for sure. Long, sweaty, stinky beards.

Dynamo Mockba (2007 - 7th place)

In Friday's WVFL Week 4 Preview, I jokingly wrote that Nate wouldn't be picking any lower than third on Sunday night. At least I thought I was joking. As it turns out, Nate called Arlen Specter and got a guaranteed top 3 pick inserted into the Congressional bailout package. Designing the Specter '06 website paid off, it seems. Once the House failed to pass the amendment, it was too late. Nate already had Malkin.

Mockba went with a youth movement harder than the KHL trying to steal all of the NHL's young stars. Nash, Toews, Horton, Brown, Malone, Letang, Bouwmeester. If you're looking for a forward who can't rent a car and won't score more than 60 points, try to work out a trade with Nate. He's cornered the market on such players.

As for the veterans, Mark Streit will be hard-pressed to put up half of last year's 62 points on the Island, Huet is on the wrong side of the Bulin Wall and Kari Lehtonen may have been the only NHL goalie with more than 30 starts and a sub .500 record in 2007. Hold on, I'm going to look that up. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... oops, sorry. Rick DiPietro did the same thing. The same bad thing.

Though I do have to re-admit that Marleau is a potential 9th round steal. However, he is offset by the 5th round donation of Nathan Horton. Briere went three spots after Horton. Call me in April and tell me who had more points by a 20-point margin.

Beards in April? - Nate can grow one if he wants, but it won't be a playoff beard.

Whitechapel Rippers (2007 - NA)

It is common for an owner to make a selection and then immediately decry it as a bad pick. It is uncommon for an owner to do that after the fourth pick of the draft. I don't know what Larry has against Dany Heatley, but I'm sure I'll find out shortly. Maybe he hated picking from that part of the pool with the drop off. You're bobbing along, bobbing along, all of a sudden you're underwater.

The Rippers need Kovalev and Naslund to play like it's 2002 and they need Smyth and Demitra to play 80 games instead of 40. They also need Toskala to not play for what will be the worst team in the league in '08-'09. They need to avoid the note at the bottom of this article about how Savard and Ryder have no chemistry. But what don't they need? Centers. Richards and Roy are pretty good.

Beards in April? - This team has enough to a veteran presence to make the playoffs. And then lose in the first round.

IC Pounders On Ice (2007 - NA)

In the WVFL, I said the IC Pounders were not good enough, one of the best and then just average in the span of two weeks. It will be much more straight forward in the WVHL. This is a good team. Lundqvist was the 8th goalie off the board even though he was the 2nd best last year, and this team might have more offensive firepower than the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.

The only question mark might be on defense. Pavel Kubina could be a -80 for Toronto and Schneider is one of those guys who's good on good teams and bad on bad teams. He currently plays for Atlanta. But when you can get Mike Ribeiro in the 7th round, a new 80-point scorer and the #1 center for a good Dallas team, you save drafting defensemen for later times.

Despite the names Phil Zottola and IC Pounders on Ice, whispers had been filling the West View grapevine that this GM was not actually from Pittsburgh. One particularly vicious rumor said he was from Lakeland, Florida. In an attempt to shoot down such scurrilous scuttlebutt, the Pounders took Miroslav Satan in the 5th round, a completely Pittsburgh move.

Beards in April? - Beards and a filthy Penguins hat with a perfectly U-shaped brim.

Kitcheners Ks (2007 - 3rd place)

If there's one thing Tony loves as much as Nate and more than Caulen, it's drafting old veterans in the first round. I'll save the pop psychology for another time, but making Brodeur the 6th overall pick came as a bit of shock, especially when last year more or less proved that superstar goalies don't equal a winning team. TK made Gaborik his 2nd pick and if he can manage to trade Gaborik the day before he gets hurt, that will be a great pick.

Morrow and Pronger will bring penalties and Briere and Gomez bring great value as 5th and 9th round picks, but most of the K roster just bring questions. Questions like "Is Brad Boyes going from 17 to 43 goals a fluke?" and "Can Wolski score more than 30 points?" and "Johan Franzen is talented and all but he doesn't score much, does he?" and "Is that seriously your defense?"

Of his three 2008 fantasy hockey teams, this should be Tony's least favorite.

Beards in April? - A bushy white beard with scraps of beef-a-roni in it is not a playoff beard. It is something that frightens small children.

One Day With The Cup (2007 - 1st place)

Not sure if you guys have heard, but I won the title last year. And drinking two whole bottles of Prosecco out of the Stanley Cup taught me that you need big-scoring defensemen and you shouldn't waste your time on marquee goalies. This team was drafted off of that exact blueprint. Of course, if I don't win it all this time, it's back to the drawing board in 2009 with Nabokov and Luongo as my first two picks.

As the clock was ticking down on my 2nd round pick, the hemispheres of my brain were waging a fierce civil war. The right side could not believe I was about to take Olli Jokinen so early. The left side argued that he's a former 90-point scorer who's great on the power play, on an improved team and playing for a coach who wants to stress offense this year. The left side, the cold and calculating side, the side that says airlines shouldn't spend $110 million on safety fixes until at least 1,500 people die because that's when it becomes cost effective, won out.

This team has maybe the best defense in the league and tons of solid veterans. The kind of players you get when you pick in the middle of each round. Erik Cole is going to be a steal in Edmonton and if Gagne and Bergeron bounce back from injury, this team could be incredible.

Beards in April? - I started growing one this morning so it can be nice and thick for the playoffs.

Atlas Schruggz (2007 - NA)

Parents, when you're shopping for Atlas licensed merchandise for your li'l sports fan, the hockey team is the one with the C in Schruggz. The football team is just Shruggz. For some reason. Anyway, Thornton and Lidstrom are two good cornerstones for building a team, real or fantasy. Everybody likes Detroit, but their clear #1 goalie slips to the 5th round? Nice pick up.

This team is solid on defense, but a little top-heavy in the scoring department. Samuelsson, Lupul and Rolston shouldn't be counted on for much. Also, the entire bench has to be dropped because Sundin isn't in the league, O'Sullivan wasn't in camp and Oduya isn't useful for fantasy purposes. However, he is good for when you want to say, "Oh, DO ya?"

The greatest fear for this team is that bad football juju carries over to hockey and Joe Thornton blows out his knee eight minutes into the first Sharks game.

Beards in April? - Only question is how red this beard will be.

Dublin Donkey Punch (2007 - NA 2003 - 6th place)

Dublin lost its franchise to relocation in 2003, but like the NFL and NBA, the WVHL is not afraid to put an expansion team in a failed market. But even with five years of vacation, Dublin wasn't missing a beat in the draft. Datsyuk in the first round! Phaneuf in the second! Wow! Things are going great! This team will...Corey Perry in the third round? We just went off the rails. Stealing Henrik Sedin in the 7th round makes up for the Perry pick, though. The guy had at least 75 points each of the last three seasons and you people let him fall to the 88th pick? What is wrong with you?

The DDP has two of the slickest centers in the league, but it remains to be seen whether their wings can finish anything off. Remember when Milan Hejduk had 50 goals? That seems like a long, long, long time ago. So long ago that Joe Sakic didn't last until the 11th pick, let alone the 11th round. Also, who will be playing in Ryan Whitney's spot for the first four months of the season? I hope not Ryan Whitney, because that'll be a big fat zero.

Beard in April? - Mmmmmaybe. Perry is good for PIMs, but it seems like all of the wings have a ceiling of 60 points. And there are not 17 million cracks in that ceiling. There are 0, in fact.

obamanators (2007 - 12th place. Yes, out of 12)

The plus of Dean Kline letting autodraft do the heavy clicking: He should have a better team than he usually does. The minus of Dean Kline letting autodraft do the heavy clicking: his 2nd, 3rd and 4th picks were two goalies and a guy about to schedule shoulder surgery. Though maybe new teammate Sheldon Souray can tell Gonchar what he experienced in 2006 after shoulder surgery. That being, a lost season.

You know what? Looking through this roster, maybe it's not any better than your average Kline-drafted team. Terrible +/-, no PIMs. Their best hope might be to sweep the goalie categories every week and only lose 8-5 instead of 11-2.

If you think you need help in net, start putting your trade offers together now.

Beards in April? - Autodraft computers can't feel love and they can't grow beards.

Camelsfoot Range (2007 - 8th place)

With three rounds left in the draft, Caulen showed up and decried his autodrafted team. The stock market plunged 650 points the following morning. When the man speaks, people listen. Spezza and Hossa are great picks at the top of the draft, of course, and it'll be interesting to see if Caulen hunkers down with two star goalies or tries to move one for more scoring.

Scott Hartnell was drafted solely for the goon factor, but +/- is still an issue for this team and Tomas Kaberle could be brutal up in Toronto in that column. The PP rivals that of the Islanders for non-explosiveness. The Camelsfoot power play is chemically inert, good for mixing with volatile substances for transport.

Michalek, Cammalleri, Havlat, Plekanac and Okposo are all young players with tons of potential, but when they are the heart of your scoring wingitry, potential can't pay the bills.

Beards in April? - Two WVHL playoffs in a row missed by Caulen? For us old timers, this is like watching Edmonton and the Islanders struggle.

KHL All-Stars

Vincent LeCavalier falling to the end of the 1st round is the type of gift you write a thank you note on heavy card stock for. In fact, KHL had maybe the nicest first four picks of the draft. Visnovsky is a nice middle round pick, especially when you consider what he should be able to do on the Edmonton power play, and if Byfuglien ends up playing forward with defensive position eligibility, how nice.

Tenth round pick Martin Gerber is the clear-cut #1 goalie on a good team and even though Carcillo may cut his PIMs in half, 162 PIMs is still a lot. The KHL capsule is getting short shrift, but I just like this team. There aren't too many bad things to say.

Okay, maybe having three Coyotes is a little silly.

Beards in April? - Hot, scratchy desert beards.

Friday, September 26, 2008

WVFL Week 4 Preview

Last Week: 6-1
Season: 12-9

John McCain suggested suspending WVFL play until his campaign was through the crisis of being run by people who don't know what they're doing, but that idea was shot down like Sarah Palin personally shooting down Vladimir Putin's MiG invading Alaskan airspace, and so we shall play the games. Whether McCain shows up for the ceremonial coin flip before the first game, nobody knows.

Lake Balboa Ladybugs (1-2) at Crafton Tough Kids (2-1)

I thought my team might be okay this season until I heard John McCain say the fundamentals of my roster were strong. At that point, I knew it was a lost season. But with Addai's bye closing him down like the credit market and Colston and Shockey crippled like big banks, a large bipartisan lifeline bailout to liberate Lake Balboa has been laboriously birthed. The 13 other WVFL owners will contribute $2 each for an 8% stake in my team, with the remaining $1 serving as my golden parachute. And I'll need it, because I'm going to get killed this week.

McNabb might be okay because Philly will have to pass against Chicago and I don't loathe Boldin against the Jets, but quite literally, every one of my other starters is maybe worthy of a flex position gamble. Five flex players do not a winner make. Selving Young is clearly Denver's best runner, but unless he breaks off a 60-yard touchdown, I don't think he'll put up points. Hell, Shanahan might try to sub in Pittman when Young hits the 10-yard line with only open field in front of him.

I brought Crafton into the West View world, but they are going to take me out. This is the first week Palmer looks like a good play, former Ladybug Chris Perry will love running untouched through the Cleveland defense and even though Ward, Miller and White will be bottled up by good defenses, the Tough Kid starters will be taken out of the game by the middle of the third quarter. On the plus side, I'll probably won't witness it in real time because we're going to the beach in Malibu with friends. I hope it rains in all of Pennsylvania, you dicks.

The Pick: Crafton Tough Kids 71 - Lake Balboa Ladybugs 50

The People's Elbow (2-1) at St. A's Crusaders (1-2)

The Crusaders have broken out a new uniform and logo this week, but they should be more concerned with winning as opposed to marketing. Ryan Grant hasn't hit the end zone yet this year and faces a tough Tampa defense. Santana Moss is enjoying a resurgence on par with that of the New Deal, and an iffy Dallas pass defense gives him a good shot at points. But Crayton, Thomas Jones and Michael Bush are mostly good for filling up roster spots. Which is a type of skill, I guess. As usual, Drew Brees will be passing early, often and late against the Niners, but both the Saints and the Ladybugs are missing two of their best targets.

Jerry Porter somehow found his way into the Elbow lineup, which is amazing, because he's yet to find his way into the Jaguar lineup. Perhaps Nate is too busy trying to figure out how to rig the WVHL draft so he gets Crosby to pay attention to the boring old NFL injury report. Yahoo! has Roethlisberger down for 12 points this week, but unless QBs now receive points for getting sacked, that's going to be a tough one. Yet the struggles of Ben & Jerry won't matter much this week because what Brandon Marshall and Frank Gore do to Kansas City and New Orleans will be will as painful as watching Sarah Palin without her talking points.

Hey, did you guys hear there's an election coming up? No, seriously! I'm still undecided, but I have a pick in this game.

The Pick: The People's Elbow 80 - St. A's Crusaders 68 - Nate's Lowest Possible "Random" WVHL Draft Spot 3

Newbomb Turk (1-2) at LetsGoPens (2-1)

On the last three Sundays, Old Man Tony has been burning up the internet like these ladies did when they found out Clay Aiken gets pumped harder than an oil well in Riyadh. Living in Los Angeles for almost 10 years, I have learned that there are tops and bottoms and Clay is most definitely a screaming bottom. Speaking of bottoms, Newbomb Turk will be at the bottom of the standings in December no matter how many roster moves he makes. I mean, the guy picked up Correll Buckhalter before Brian Westbrook even hit the ground. Chansi Stuckey didn't last a week in Newbomb City. He even bought a house, the poor guy! And now Le'Ron McClain is the answer, it seems. Whatever question he is the answer to, I don't want to hear it.

But let's not worry about December, let's worry about Sunday. Especially because this Sunday could turn out great for TK. A WVFL win and the WVHL draft. A win, I say? I sure do. If Chris Chambers draws DeAngelo Hall in coverage instead of Nnamdi Asomugha, he could have a good day. And if Braylon Edwards doesn't do something this week, he never will. Scheffler and Pittman should hit the end zone and even though the Bear defense will crush Buckhalter, Newbomb has the Bear defense.

On the other sideline, Darren McFadden has turf toe, a tough defense and an insane owner to contend with. Joey Galloway is most likely out, Calvin Johnson is definitely out (bye week) and Kevin Curtis is still out, so barring some roster shuffling, the Pens are thinner at WR than the actual Pens are on defense.

The Pick: Newbomb Turk 75 - LetsGoPens 66

Brookline Bucs (0-3) at Vanduhlay industries (2-1)

Let's look for a silver lining in the Brookline September. Um...well...the Pirates are just about done and the Brookline Bucs will definitely crack the 200-point barrier Sunday. I mean...there's no way they just score 6 points, right? Right? So that's the silver lining. The giant dark cloud, however, is the fact that Isaac Bruce is Brookline's #1 receiver this weekend. A situation like that is so toxic almost qualifies for Superfund cleanup dollars. What's even worse, Randy Moss has a bye this week. How is Brookline going to make up those 2 points? With Edgerrin James? Bitch, please!

Even with Brandon Jacobs not playing, Yahoo! thinks Vanduhlay will win. As terrible as Steven Jackson has been this season, he has to be an improvement over a guy on vacation, right? Right? But will Jackson even make the starting 9 on Sunday? I mean, Vanduhlay still starts Fargas, who's been hurt for three weeks, and they still have Tatum Bell on the bench even though he isn't on an NFL roster. Have I mentioned that Vanduhlay is 2-1 after squeaking past Newbomb and Stringfellow in the last two weeks? Mainly because Jay Cutler is the CEO of Vanduhlay industries.

The Pick: Vanduhlay industries 61 - Brookline Bucs 55

Atlas Shruggz (0-3) at Purple Swirls (3-0)

The Swirls might be just a tad vulnerable this week. Westbrook is probably out, Chris Johnson faces the best run defense in the league, Robert Meachem is an all or nothing flex play and the bench doesn't really have any better options. But, as Caulen's luck would have it, he's facing one of the worst teams in the league for the second week in a row. And in a case of the apple landing right next to the tree, Chris Johnson faces the Viking defense, which Caulen has.

Philip Rivers is going to destroy the Oakland defense to the point where Al Davis will finally fire Lane Kiffin, even though his pet Rex Ryan runs the defense. Every time Houshmacantwaittobeafreeagent catches a pass, it'll be double pain for Atlas, who can only watch Chad Johnson flail about with a lot of noise and gold fronts. Deuce McAllister is still too hurt to play, but Atlas literally has no other option. The word literally gets tossed around too much these days, but in this case it's apt. All three Atlas bench riders have byes.

You know what? Half the league is in horrble shape this week for various reasons, and I'm playing a team that in heavyweight fighting shape, ready to run up the score. Nietzsche said god is dead, but I know the schedule gods are alive and they are as deviant as the old Greek gods. Fuck you, schedule gods, you calendar-hugging dildos.

The Pick: Purple Swirls 88 - Atlas Shruggz 75

Lowcountry All Stars (3-0) at Iron City Pounders (1-2)

Allow me to recreate a week's worth of IM conversations with Mr. Jeffrey Webster.

NiceKroggy: Hey man, you gonna join hockey?
IKnowAll: Eh. Maybe. I unno. It's boring. You're boring. Do you like my new hair?
NiceKroggy: Come on, it'll be fun.
IKnowAll: LOL. You suck.

NiceKroggy: You sign up for hockey yet?
IKnowAll: Eh. All I'm thinking about right now is this grilled cheese sandwich I just gruffled.

NiceKroggy: Hey dude. WVHL is full. 12 guys signed up already.
NiceKroggy: You took too long, I guess. I told you to sign up two weeks ago.
IKnowAll: SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS YOUR FAULT! KICK SOMEBODY OUT!

How is this relevant to football? Well, the best team in the league (so far) has no distractions as we move into fall. So look out, league. The All Stars are another squad with three bench guys byeing out this week, but nice for them, it won't hurt them too badly. Yeah, Kerry Collins went to Penn State, but the Viking pass defense is about 1/5th as good as the run defense. And that's not just a random fraction. I studied numbers! (Note: I did not study numbers)

Lynch and Bush have dream matchups, and Bush might catch 25 passes this week with Colston and Shockey out.

For the Pounders, Trent Edwards might be hurt by the fact that Buffalo should be up 14-0 by the second quarter and Buffalo will no longer be passing. That means more handoffs for Lynch, which will further drain the Pounders. Carolina will hold Turner under 100 yards, and although Brett Favre constantly threw to Donald Driver, he's now only occasionally throwing to Coles, which screws both Pounder receivers.

The All Stars are going to win this week. The only way to hurt Webster will be to tell him how much fun the WVHL draft was. Oh man, I got Martin Havlat in the 6th round!

The Pick: Lowcountry All Stars 95 - Iron City Pounders 83

Stringfellow Hawks (1-2) at Deathfromabove (2-1)

Is there anybody in the league who wasn't offered Dallas Clark in a trade today? If not, you should know that your team truly, truly sucks, because DFA was trying to move Clark like he was an ARM mortgage on a $2 million home. I guess that's what happens when you're the only team in the league with two TEs on the roster and you can't bear the thought of parting with Owen Daniels.

Kurt Warner should be okay against the Jets in the oldest quarterback battle in league history, Antonio Bryant should be nice with Al Harris out with internal injuries and Jamal Lewis might even toe tap his way to 90 yards and a score. Although Peterson against the Titans will be a tougher matchup than facts versus GOP voters.

Here's a little Hollywood story. A couple of years ago, I interviewed Bryan Cranston, who knew Jan Michael Vincent from the Airwolf days. We ended up talking about Jan Michael Vincent's car accident, which basically left JMV as a homeless drug addict. I bring this up not because I'm some Hollywood hot balls, but because the Hawks are on the same career path as their mascot, JMV. Minus the initial success. Parker is hurt, McGahee got his eye gouged by the Browns and the Hawks are starting two running backs from the same team, which might be an unprecedented fantasy strategy. Add in the fact that Brett Favre is just having fun out there throwing picks for the Jets and the fact that it is completely impossible to tell if Bernard Berrian or Matt Jones is worse and you have one bad team.

But here's the thing. I actually think Stringfellow wins this week. Week 4 is Airwolf. Good times. The rest of the season is the rest of JMV's life. Bad times.

The Pick: Stringfellow Hawks 75 - Deathfromabove 71

By the way, y'all don't have to just passively read this thing. Feel free to light up the comments section with pithy remarks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Putting It In Coast

I don't have a survival pick and I don't have an opinion on survival picks this week because I was cruelly knocked out of the pool by The Ronnie Brown Show in Week 3. It was not enjoyable.

Conversely, I am king of the hill in both the confidence pool and betting pools and trying to figure out how to go into the prevent defense for the next 14 weeks while maintaining my lead. I suspect it will be tough. Though I do think that with the lead in confidence, my job is to basically pick favorites, assign points based on spread size and let the other three gents try to figure out upsets. With my favorite-heavy picks, I am pre-qualified as an ESPN expert. So what am I looking at this week? Nothing too controversial, I can assure you.

San Diego - 13
Carolina - 12
Buffalo - 11
Denver - 10
Dallas - 9
Jacksonville - 8
Philadelphia - 7
New Orleans - 6
Tennessee - 5
Cincinnati - 4
Pittsburgh - 3
Arizona - 2
Green Bay - 1

As you can see, since I'm sure you have 13 different spreads memorized, I only picked two underdogs and Green Bay and Arizona only got a total of 3 points. I'm not going to beat myself, folks! Somebody is going to have to wrestle this crown away from me!

In the same vein, I'm not looking to make five pool bets again this week, even though I went a glorious 4-1 last week. Impressive? Yes, thank you. With an 800-point lead on the field and 400-point bets still the order of the day, I'm figuring to make one or two bets and put pressure on the field to catch me. And if you want to make five bets in an attempt to make up ground and go 2-3 on the week, well, you know that's fine with me.

I actually hate most of the spreads this week, and being 8-1 against the spread in 2008, that comment comes with some heft. I'm considering San Francisco +6.5, San Diego -7, Buffalo -7, Baltimore +6 and PHI/CHI under 41. But I don't have much confidence in any of them. Any! Maybe what I'll do is take San Diego -7 and quit for the week. Ain't nobody catching this greyhound by Tuesday anyway!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Why would they make white shirts? Why would I buy a white shirt and wear it? Today, I wore a brand new white shirt for all of 150 minutes before spilling coffee on my belly.

Why did I think I could wear a white shirt? Why would I be so arrogant?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WVFL Week 3 Review

The preview picks went 6-1 this week, very slightly easing the sting of the following score.

Purple Swirls 108 - Lake Balboa Ladybugs 75

In what can only be considered a minor upset, Jerricho Cotchery didn't score 41 points on Monday night and the Ladybugs did not pull off a rousing comeback. Things are bad in Lake Balboa and only getting worse as Shockey went down with a sports hernia before posting a touchdown this season. The Ladybugs have 174 points thus far, but 78 have come from monster efforts from McNabb, Boldin and Addai in Weeks 1, 2 and 3, respectively. This bad team is even worse off than it seems. And although I could've beaten five WVFL teams this week, just like I don't want my daughter to touch the hot stove, I don't want the Ladybugs to win with such a puky effort. No, it should be punished. That would be the correct and proper thing.

And on the positive side, I didn't waste a good week while getting steamrolled by Caulen. Julius Jones got revenge for a year's worth of snide comments with a 20-point effort, and Houshmanzadeh went from 6 total points on the season to 26. Things went so well for the Swirls that even their QB shuffling of Garrard (5 points in Week 3) to Edwards (12) to O'Sullivan (18) worked out perfectly. Shoot, the Minnesota D put up a touchdown. Things went so well, in fact, that the possibility of Brian Westbrook missing a lot of games with a bad ankle hasn't even been noticed yet at Swirls HQ. There's one more bottle of Alize to get through first.

LetsGoPens 100 - The People's Elbow 90

Nate needed the San Diego defense to score six points or less to hang on for the win, but even in these times where 700,000,000,000 gets tossed around as a casual number and Tyler Thigpen can start the game 1 of 10 for -1 yard passing, in a time when numbers don't seem to mean anything, 17 is still more than 6. How did San Diego put up so many points on defense? Ronnie Brown secretly suited up as a Charger and got it done.

Speaking of Ronnie Brown, he ran for 4 TDs and threw for another as the centerpiece of a 1920s-style offense. His 39 fantasy points are the equivalent of 2 points in 1925 when reverse adjusted for inflation, but keep in mind, in 1925, most fantasy games ended in a 5-5 tie. Also, back then for a quarter, you could watch two plays, have dinner, get a haircut, pay the WVFL entry fee and still get a nickel back! The sad part of our history lesson? Blacks like Ronnie Brown weren't even allowed to know football existed in 1925.

Not only did Ronnie carry the Pens to a victory like Ronnie Francis, he kept the locker room together by not pointing out that Bulger, Owens, Calvin Johnson, Portis, Heap and McFadden combined for 33 points, 6 fewer than his own total. Though, believe me, had the Charger DST not wrapped up the win, Ronnie would have definitely brought it up in film study on Monday.

As for the Elbow, when your prone opponent rolls away at the last second, your flying shiver to the mat really hurts. As frustrating as it was for you to watch the Steelers game yesterday, Nate was getting 0 points out of Roethlisberger. On another note, in 2007, Frank Gore had five rushing touchdowns. He already has three in 2008. I cannot recommend drafting Joseph Addai in 2009 strongly enough. I keep pointing out that Michael Jenkins is done catching touchdowns. His season has literally been all downhill since his first catch of the season, but Brandon Marshall is doing more than enough to carry the load. Actually, maybe not more than enough. The Elbow lost.

Newbomb Turk 73 - Brookline Bucs 69

I hope you didn't miss a good day from Larry Johnson and a Newbomb win, because it could be quite a while before you see either again. Skip Henry's desperate plea for Chris Chambers to break his leg wasn't answered. Chambers actually scored an early touchdown to put this game on the salt, proving that there is a God. Or, perhaps, proving that there isn't. A real theological stumper in the WVFL!

Since Tradegate 2008, Randy Moss has scored 4 points and Selvin Young has 13. Sure, I could point out that with Moss on another team and Young starting at W/R this week, the Bucs win 74-73. Sure, I could also point out that I caught chunks of the Pats game Sunday and chunks is a good way to describe Matt Cassell. He missed a 2-yard swing screen by three yards and on one throw across the middle, Moss short armed it so hard that his biceps actually retreated into his body. Sure, I could point out that Bill Belichick is already addressing concerns that Randy Moss has quit on his team. In fact, while I'm pointing all of this out, allow to me to stop for a moment and thank you all for shooting down the trade.

But this isn't all your fault, some of it is Skip Henry's as well. James and Williams combined for 9 points and Edwards and Taylor combined for 14. You might recall that those chaps were traded for each during the week. (9/19/08 - The chances of somebody beating his former team are about 104%. And that former team will be staring at an 0-3 record and wondering why they didn't wait five more days for an utterly meaningless trade.) Hey, I just write it, people! I don't make it happen!

As for the winner of the trade and the game, TK was happy to get Fred Taylor against a bad Colts defense made worse by the non-presence of Bob Sanders. And with Larry Johnson obviously inspired by the trade of Edgerrin, look for SUBJ: Michael Pittman? to hit your emailboxes tomorrow morning.

Crafton Tough Kids 98 - St. A's Crusaders 60

Although the league votes were even, the game itself was not. The New England defense got lit up so badly that they posted a -4. When you're losing points in fantasy, things are not going your way. Drew Brees took advantage of the Super Bowl chance-ruining Bronco defense with 24 points and (not Randy) Moss had another touchdown for 13 points, but after that, things collapsed like an investment bank leveraged in the mortgage market. You don't need an MBA to know that some people have bad credit for a reason and you don't need a slide rule to know that 7 positions combining for 20 points isn't going to win too many ball games.

We all know Marion Barber is good and scores touchdowns. That is a boring subject, so let's discuss something else about him. Why does he wear his facemask so close to his face? Isn't he just asking for a busted schnozz? This has bothered me since he came into the league. I'm not sure what else to say here. When you put up touchdowns all over the roster, you are probably going to win. Things are going so well for Crafton that LenDale White is cracking 10 points each week on something like one carry.

Iron City Pounders 84 - Atlas Shruggz 69

Atlas Shruggz is like the mail guy in your office building. He's kinda slow and people assume he was a little undercooked at birth, but nobody knows exactly what's wrong with him, if anything. Then you feel guilty for simply assuming he's retarded and you smile extra wide at him the next time he's coming out of the bathroom when you're going in. What I'm saying is, like the self-sufficient, not-sure-what-his-deal-is mailroom guy, Atlas Shruggz inspires me. Every time I think I have it so rough in the WVFL, every time I want to quit and trade my whole team away, I look at him and smile. At least I'm not him, I think.

Though maybe I'd be lucky to be him, because replacing Brady with Rivers is a pretty neat trick. Rivers had 21 points Monday night, but the deficit was simply too large for Atlas to catch up. Thanks a lot, Deuce McAllister! Way to never touch the field Sunday! Nice zero! Oh, speaking of slow in the head, Chad Johnson is putting together quite a season.

The huge-assed backfield of Turner and Jones-Drew was also ample of point this week. They combined for 49, more than making up for the 5 points Holmes and Bryant Johnson spent all day on. Kevin Smith was really excited about the win because now nobody will noticed that he only had 1 point while Steve Slaton had 17 on the bench.

Lowcountry All Stars 104 - Deathfromabove 71

I read about an interesting study Monday. The crux was, incompetent people don't realize how incompetent they are. Perhaps an obvious thought, but now proven. The conclusions were that incompetent people overestimate their own skill level, fail to realize skill in others and also fail to realize the extremity of their inadequency. I would like to add a note to this conclusion. When incompetent people enjoy fluky luck, whether in winning the Presidency or leaping out to 3-0 record with the most points in the league, their smugness becomes completely unbearable.

And that brings us to the All Stars. 23 points from Lynch, 24 from Bush and 24 from the Philly defense on the strength of 9 sacks. Wayne, Evans, L.J. Smith, Morris and Rackers combined for 18 points and even if they combined for -1, the All Stars still would've won comfortably.

Like the Steelers wondering where they stand after looking bad in a benchmark game, DFA has to be wondering just how good they are after this one. Though Burress and Peterson won't be so quiet very often this year.

By the way, if you were growing more and more frustrated while reading the intro to this game capsule, clenching your fists and yelling at the screen, "You idiot! You're incompetent! You don't realize that you suck, you always expect to be good and you fail to realize Webster's skill! You're such an idiot that you're turning the study from a theory to law without even realizing it! Gah! I hate you!"...ha! I set you up. I'm only too aware of my own inadequencies, believe me. But congratulations on your reading comprehension and intelligence.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gun It In Neutral

Whommmmmmm! Whommmmmmm! That's what my engine sounds like right now. So loud and powerful. Sorry to get you wet, ladies. Go to Victoria's Secret for a replacement pair and send me the bill. My engine is powerful...but it's not going anywhere this week because I'm not in gear. I'm not moving forward or backwards.

The elusive white-tailed 5-0 week went into hiding Sunday. I got mauled in fantasy to the point that it's not even worth talking about, the Steelers lost, New England got me knocked out of the survival pool, I treaded water in the confidence pool and in my lone success, I took over the lead spot in the betting pool.

If the Eagles were supposed to be a benchmark opponent for the Steelers, our benchmark is currently "Not Sure Yet". The offensive line, which looked so good in the first two weeks, completely crumbled in the face of 200 Eagle blitzes. Our defense did a good job of bottling up the Eagle offense, but further review is needed before a consensus can be reached on the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore comes to town next Monday night and they hardly ever blitz or play tough defense, so I'm sure our line will be fine.

Matt Cassell sucks, Ronnie Brown didn't get tackled a single time and Randy Moss is already quitting on his new quarterback who, as we already mentioned, sucks. The unfettered joy I normally feel after a Patriot loss is completely fettered today because the Patriots were my survival pick. I wanted to pick Buffalo, but gosh, they weren't ready to go 3-0, were they? No, no chance at all. You might think I'm feeling a measure of consolation because ten of us went down with Pat Patriot, but I want to win while others lose, so it's actually no consolation at all. What are you even thinking? Out in Week 2 last year, out in Week 3 this year. Puke.

Brian came into Week 3 of the confidence pool down 45 points, but won this week no matter what happens tonight in San Diego. In fact, his only two dud picks were New England and Indianapolis. Classic home favorite week! He picked up 10 points on the standard bearer, me. If he can make up three points a week for the next twelve weeks, he's right back in this thing! But I held on to first place because Max didn't make up any ground on me and Ryan only inched up three points. So my brow is completely sweat free at this point. I ain't sweatin' it!

Now for my lone success of the week, the betting pool. My early game bet, CHI/TB under 35.5, went down in the fourth quarter and just kept getting more ridiculous as those two teams went into overtime. Brian Griese throws three picks and his team still puts up 27 on the Bears and wins in Chicago. Sure, that makes sense. I can figure that one out.

But like a true champion, I played for 120 minutes and bounced back in the afternoon with JAX+5, BAL -2 and DEN/NO over 51 coming through loud and clear. As it stands now, I have 4400 points, one person is in second with 4000 points and one guy stands at 3600. After that, it starts bunching up between 3200 and 2400 points. One guy who lost five bets in two weeks bought back in, won three bets this week and now stands at 3200 points. Great strategy. All you suckers who lost one or two games a week and are dwelling around 800 points are doing this all wrong. You need to lose early, buy back in and go back to the top, just like in the college football polls. I still have SD -8.5 tomorrow, so I'll either be two bets clear of the field at 4800 stunning, glorious points, or tied for first at 4000. Both options are fine, though I have a clear preference for the one I'd choose.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

WVFL Week 3 Preview

Last Week: 4-3
Season: 6-8

Week 3 in the NFL is when we know some things for certain, when we feel fairly certain about other things and we're completely uncertain about the rest of the things. It's a great week!

Lake Balboa Ladybugs (1-1) at Purple Swirls (2-0)

By going into the Yahoo! archives and requesting the relevant microfiche on past West View seasons, I see that I am 5-10-1 lifetime against Caulen in football and hockey. I am Oates and he is Hall. For me, this is a circle the calendar game every year and for Caulen it is basically a bye week.

Speaking of frustration, watching the Steagles game this Sunday is going to be absolutely brutal for me. If McNabb does anything good outside of garbage time, it'll be tempered by the hurt that he's beating the Steelers. If Westbrook does anything, the pain will be tripled because Caulen has him. I know you think it would only double, but Caulen's guys doing anything against me is already double pain.

I'm going to bench DeSean Jackson and start new Ladybug Jerricho Cotchery in his stead. He's already familiar with our intricate 1,100-page playbook and this way I won't have to make any Faustian bargains like, "It's okay if Jackson catches two TDs as long as the Steelers win 28-14." It's called integrity, people. Google it sometime.

(NOTE: This is what comes up when you Google integrity.)

The Jacksonville defense is down this season, but the Colts line is way down, even with Jeff Saturday limping/rushing back into action, so I probably still cannot count on Addai. Shockey is due for a touchdown, but whether Selvin Young or Tim Hightower starts at RB2, the result will probably be 7 points. Not too awesome. Also, Anquan Boldin will probably not score another 32 points this week. Chester Taylor may start at W/R because of Peterson's hamstring troubles, but against a Carolina defense and with a Gus Frerotte offense, who knows what he can actually do.

I think Caulen is possibly overthinking things by starting Irish pub proprietor J.T. O'Sullivan against the Lions. Even with the discount he'll get on jalapeno poppers. Not that it isn't a good matchup, but fickle fantasy fate probably portends that Trent Edwards will have a better game against the Raiders just because Caulen cut him. Man, I just had the English language singing with alliteration right there.

T.J. Houshmyteamisterrible probably won't do too much, but Steve Smith has a lot of pent up energy to let loose on a bad Vikings pass defense. Julius Jones is going from a bad defense last week to an even worse one Sunday, so even the worst running back in the league might put up some points this week. Especially since his quarterback needs back surgery and his #1 wideout is a recovering alcoholic.

The Pick: Purple Swirls 91 - Lake Balboa Ladybugs 77

The People's Elbow (2-0) at LetsGoPens (1-1)

Yahoo! has pencilled in Frank Gore for 20 points against Detroit this week. If that doesn't get Matt Millen fired, the only thing left is being caught getting a knob polish from William Ford's wife in the backseat of a Corvette. Frank Gore didn't score 20 points in two games last year. Speaking of 2007, the Saints had the worst corners in the league then and they haven't gotten better in 2008. And their top two guys are hurt. If Brandon Marshall could torture a decent corner last week, the only thing that can stop him this week is if Jay Cutler gets tired of throwing to him. Or various
law enforcement agencies.

Nate is going to need Ben, Brandon and Frank to carry the team in Week 3, but Clint only can count on Terrell and Calvin, so maybe it's not so bad for the Elbow. While Caulen is collecting and cutting quarterbacks like Brian Billick, Clint seems like he's going to gut it out with Marc Bulger no matter how terrible the Rams are. Maybe Clint also went to Central Catholic. McFadden is hurtish and Ronnie Brown is splitting carries against a strong defense. Clint is going to be hoping for some Monday night defensive magic against Brett "Four Plays" Favre, but unless he gets a point for every time Kornheiser gushes about the Golden Manchild, he's probably going to come up short.

The Pick: The People's Elbow 85 - LetsGoPens 68

Newbomb Turk (0-2) at Brookline Bucs (0-2)

A brief history of weird trades. In 1962, the Indians traded Harry Chiti to the Mets for a player to be named later. After two months of .195 hitting, the Mets named Chiti as the later player. In 1973, fellow Yankees Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson traded wives, children and dogs. In May of this year, minor league baseballer John Odom was traded for 10 bats. And just this week, Scott Henry and Tony Kress exchanged Braylon Edwards and Fred Taylor for Roy Williams and Edgerrin James.

This trade is odd for a couple of reasons. One, of the four players involved, none are shaping up to be too great this season. It's like two neighbors exchanging blue recycling bins and inviting the other to keep whatever garbage they like. Look at this milk carton! It would make a perfectly good bird feeder! These plastic grocery bags can be used for scooping kitty litter! Two, TK and Skip play each other this week. The chances of somebody beating his former team are about 104%. And that former team will be staring at an 0-3 record and wondering why they didn't wait five more days for an utterly meaningless trade.

After seeing Edgerrin James go this week, Larry Johnson has started keeping his stuff in a small box in the Turk locker room. On top of the box is tape gun. He is ready to go at a moment's notice. Tony Scheffler will be able to get as many points against the Saints atrocious pass defense as Jay Cutler feels like giving him, and Michael Pittman should be able to get a touchdown, though not too many yards. Fred Taylor might be able to have a decent day against of porous Colts defense, much to the chagrin of his former owner.

If Randy Moss doesn't do anything against Miami, you know he's done for the year. The Selvin Young trade would be a rip off in the opposite direction in that event. Roy Williams should do more against San Francisco than Edwards will against Baltimore, but he'll also complain more so it washes out. Edgerrin James is not going to do a damn thing against Washington and will go right back on the trade block after only five days in Brookline. Warrick Dunn against Chicago? Pass. But won't the Sunday night game be fun as Romo and Rodgers go head to head for the Turk and Bucs?

The Brookline Bucs are reeling right now. The fewest points in the league, the most roster moves...I don't see what's going to change for them this week.

The Pick: Newbomb Turk 70 - Brookline Bucs 69

St. A's Crusaders (1-1) at Crafton Tough Kids (1-1)

Crafton is so desperate to get Carson Palmer going that they traded for Chris Perry, hoping that having a fellow Bengal in the shed will inspire Palmer. Though it's more likely to inspire Larry to hate the Bungles even more. The hardest thing for Crafton to do this week will be to hand in the lineup card, because Ward, White, Brandon Jackson and Vincent Jackson all have decent matchups. Without question, the two guys left on the bench will be the two guys with the most points. Crafton is also starting the Giant defense, so Palmer's interceptions will actually help since it's -1 for the QB, but +2 for the DST. This will be the first time ever a fantasy owner hopes his own quarterback throws eight picks.

Drew Brees has a dream matchup because Denver's offense will light up the Saints, meaning Brees will be passing all game. And the Denver defense isn't exactly the Rocky Mountains, so Brees can torch them. But after that...the rest of the lineup would test even Christ's patience. In fact, after Brees, it's entirely likely that the
best Crusader will be Sarah Palin. Excuse me, I mean the New England defense against Miami. Simple mistake to make, since Tedy Bruschi is about as qualified to be Vice President.

The Pick: Crafton Tough Kids 81 - St. A's Crusaders 65

Atlas Shruggz (0-2) at Iron City Pounders (0-2)

Here's the good news. Whoever loses this game will have company at 0-3. They will not be down in that cold, dark basement all by themselves. But who will it be? Well, if these two teams were on the staircase together, the Pounders would be facing up and Atlas Shruggz would be facing down. Because after Philip Rivers and his perfect matchup against the Jets, the other Shruggzers are either bad, have a bad matchup or both. Oh, except Greg Jennings. Chad Cero has been completely invisible this season unless a microphone is in front of him, Maroney is hurt against and nobody runs against Minnesota, not even Jon Stewart.

Vernon Davis will never be as good as he was at the draft combine and if Dallas Clark comes back, not only is he better than Davis, he's taking all of Anthony Gonzalez' targets away. The Shruggz were incredibly unlucky the first two weeks of the season, but in Week 3 they're just regular bad.

I will guarantee Santonio Holmes DOESN'T catch a touchdown for a basic reverse jinx. And now he will catch a touchdown. You are welcome, Pounders. If MoJoDo's ankle isn't bothering him, he should be able to run on the Colts, who are missing fellow medicine ball Bob Sanders. Even if MJD32's ankle is broken, what Michael Turner does to the Chiefs should be enough to carry both backs. And if Kevin Smith is ever going to do anything, this is the week. I know Ben Affleck is pulling for him.

The Pick: Iron City Pounders 93 - Atlas Shruggz 55

Lowcountry All Stars (2-0) at Deathfromabove (2-0)

If the preceding game is red, this one is violet. At the other end of the spectrum, you see. Whoever triumphs puts an early hammer lock on first place. Problem is, in the Death backfield, one guy has a hamstring issue and the other guy has a Baltimore issue. Plus, Lewis also has a hamstring issue. This team's running game will be...wait for it...fucked. You thought I was going to say hamstrung, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?! Stop thinking some commonly, man. On another note, I bet if Peterson pulled his hamstring, it would make a crack like a line drive into the gap. Eddie Royal and Plaxico should be all kinds of silly in the points department, but they probably won't be enough to carry the entire Death squad.

If Reggie Bush played receiver, he would be just so lovely against Denver. But as long as he's in the backfield, he's not so great. He'll probably catch a pass in space and turn it into a touchdown, though. Manning, Evans and Lynch are all just chomping a bit against terrible defenses and if Sammy Morris is indeed the main Patback against the Dolphins, I think you'll agree that he's a nice play. Webster has to sell a little piece of soul to pull for the Eagle D against the Steelers and that's a significant statement, because he started with very little soul to spare.

If you would've told me that Nate and Webster would be 3-0 and I'd be 1-2, I probably would not have shown up for the draft.

The Pick: Lowcountry All Stars 100 - Deathfromabove 67

Stringfellow Hawks (1-1) at Vanduhlay industries (1-1)

Despite my proclamation, they have still not capitlized the I in industries. They paid a marketing and design firm good money to come up with such an insouciant corporate identity and they're not going to let it go without a fight. They also aren't going to let the idea of benching Steven Jackson go without a fight, because Justin Fargas still has his spot in the starting lineup as of this writing. Despite the fact that Fargas has already been ruled out for Week 3. Maybe this is just subterfuge to mess up the Hawks' gameplanning. Although holding on to Tatum Bell when he's not even on an NFL roster is an attempt to mess us all up, because nobody in the league can explain that one.

Point of order - This team is currently ahead of me in the standings.

Jay Cutler honestly might have 300 yards and 4 touchdown this week against the Saints, plus another two-point conversion for good measure. And if Tyler Thigpen (who is white, incidentally) isn't atrocious, Dwayne Bowe should post points on the Falcons. (Problem: Tyler Thigpen will be atrocious) Brandon Jacobs and Antonio Gates have comic mismatches against their opponents this week.

The Hawks are benching Tomlinson. We are witnessing fantasy football history, people! The Hawks are currently flipping a Sacagawea dollar 1,000 times to determine whether Matt Jones or Reggie Brown starts at WR2. I personally think that's a lot of effort to choose which receiver scores 2 points, but it isn't my team.

This is going to be brutal. Tatum Bell is not on an NFL team, but he is on a 2-1 fantasy team. Oh, what a world.

The Pick: Vanduhlay industries 88 - Stringfellow Hawks 65

Set The Bar Too High, Now I Can't Jump Over

People, I have won my first four pool bets of the year. If I had been using real money, I'd be making a Kobe beef meatloaf for dinner tonight. But I hadn't been, so all I can do is use complimentary words about myself. Long time readers (since Monday) know that I'm also in first place in the confidence pool, surviving in the survival pool and won in fantasy to be split 1-1 on the season.

Like Icarus, my ascent cannot last forever. But can it last one more week? Please?

In confidence, I'm wavering between Buffalo and San Diego. I like Buffalo because of how much I dislike Oakland and I'd like to save San Diego for a divisional game against the Chiefs or Raiders, but I'm also positive the 0-2 and angry about it Chargers will be able to stop the four Jet offensive plays Brett Favre has memorized so far. Maybe I'll go with New England because if you get blown out by Arizona, Miami Dolphins, you are pure stink.

There are a few bets out there that aren't huge turnoffs, but with 3600 points, a sole claim to 2nd place and most of the pool in the 2000-2400 point range, I don't want to go above three bets this week. Three is nice. Three lets me go 2-1 and make a little progress or 1-2 and still be ahead of the curve. No, going 0-3 is not an option I haven't considered to this point. I like Jacksonville +5.5 against the Colts for a few reasons. Although 80% of Jaguars offensive line is currently wrapped head to toe in gauze, the not-so-goodness of the Colts defensive line makes that a wash. Plus, Bob Sanders is out and I believe that since 2005, the ratio of Bob Sanders Missed Games to Colts Losses is somewhere around 1:1. Also, the Colts offensive line is no great shakes and if you don't want to believe me, ask Lake Balboa Ladybug star and dreadlockian Southerner Joseph Addai.

I'm also thinking about taking over 51 points in the Denver / New Orleans since both teams can pass and not stop the pass. And I may take San Diego -9.5 because the Jets are just that bad.

And then there's the confidence pool, home of my five point lead on my colleagues. I'm looky looking at...

New England - 16
New York Giants - 15
San Diego - 14
Buffalo - 13
Denver - 12
Tennessee - 11
San Francisco - 10
Atlanta - 9
Seattle - 8
Chicago - 7
Baltimore - 6
Carolina - 5
Pittsburgh - 4
Jacksonville - 3
Arizona - 2
Green Bay - 1

You think I feel good about putting 10, 9 and 8 points on three atrocious teams? Oh to the hell to the nawls. I feel terrible about it, in fact. But I'm picking four upsets in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Arizona and Green Bay and unless you feel ultra strong about an upset, you'd better put low points on it. Besides, the terrible trifecta of SF, ATL and SEA all have big spreads, so if they go down, they'll pull down at least three of us and I don't lose too much.

So there you have it. The picks of a man who is flat dominating everything he touches these days. Enjoy the fruits of my harvest, go forth and cash in your own bad self.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Beer Project

My mother the flight attendant has frequent trips to Europe and is kind enough to always bring back a nice supply of the local wares. A recent trip saw her return with so much beer from Belgium and Germany that it was like watching Ben Franklin unload a French clipper ship in the 18th century.

Some of these you can already find on American soil. Others may start appearing now that InBev has purchased Anheuser-Busch. Let's hope InBev focuses on variety more than increasing sales of Stella, the beer overrated by people who try too hard.

Looking at these bottles, I'm already trying to figure out how actual Belgians drink when they go out. They couldn't possibly stick to one beer for life, could they? But then what do you do when a bar has a beer list like the Cedar Rapids phonebook? Even if you live down the street from the bar and go twice a day, that's daunting.

I've rated each guzzle from 1-5 snobs. A one snob job, give it to your uncle who's been Bud Light for life even though he himself is older than Bud Light. A five snobber, only drink it with a friend who has chunky black glasses and a thick sweater.

So let's see what she brought back in order of hoist and quaff.

Oh, quick warning before we get started. no part of any label on these beers turns blue at any time, so you'll never know when they're cold. Even if you touch the bottle and it feels cold, you'll never be sure that it is cold. so proceed with caution.

Oh oh, second quick warning. I intentionally took bad photos so as to not seem like I'm engaging in any food porn. I know the conservative justice department is cracking down on such things as a final Bush legacy.

Timmermans Gueuze Lambic - Apple listed as the fruit, but it tasted like white grapes. A head like champagne, meaning you can pour it over the glass. The golden color is so clear you could pour two bottles and use them as sunglasses. Sweet at first, then sour right up to the point of making friends with bitter. In fact, it's both really sweet and really sour which is really odd. 2 snobs.

Cuvee des Trolls - The typical cloudy gold. Yeasty, not as peppery as some Belgians. Seemed like it wanted to have hints of lemon at times, but couldn't really commit to it. According to their very own website, dried orange peels are added to the wort, so that makes at least a little bit of sense. This beer is completely fine is every way, but that's about as far as I can go in my advocation. 1 snob.

Timmermans Lambicus Blanche - Never lost its head because it bubbled constantly. Watched the bubbles flow north the entire time like it was champagne sitting through a long wedding toast. Cloudy appearance, taste of apples and bananas. The ingredients listed sugar, sweetener and saccarhine, so either this is a weird translation or this beer is really sour at the start because it still has some tartness and bitterness to it. Nice and refreshing. 2 snobs.

St. Feuillien Blonde -Comes in the cutest li'l bottle you ever did see. If it was any breadier, I would've been eating a roll. Cloudy, like normal. A little dash of pepper. Bitter finish, like citrus pith. 2 snobs.

Grimbergen Dubbel - Held up to the light, the color is a beautiful reddish brown. Smelled like cherries and cranberries. Tasted like cherries and cranberries, with some nuts and spices added in. Malty. Man, i would drink it over and over. 4 snobs.

Grimbergen Goud Doree - Immediately takes over your entire mouth with creaminess and bubbles. A mouth feel like carbonated milk. And I mean that as a compliment, so take it as one. Taste of banana and a little citrus or coriander. Malty, not too hoppy. About the same clear gold as Budweiser. Putting those two in glasses next to each other and then alternating sips would be like driving a red Porsche three blocks, stopping and switching to a red Ford Focus. 3 snobs.

Vedett Extra Blond - I included a photo of the back of the bottle because I liked the picture. Like these guys are the Belgian version of Jones Soda Co. In fact, looking at their website, that's exactly what they are. If the color was any more pale, you'd think it was pinot grigio. Yes, I'm comparing my Belgian beer to pinot grigio. You may not be surprised to learn I'm voting for Obama. Anyway, not much flavor in this one. Kinda hoppy, but that's about it. My least favorite crack and sip so far. Vedett is made by the same people who make Duvel, and I like Duvel, so if it's coming from one tank into two bottles, won't I be quite the fool? The Duvel website says that the 64-year old Vedett is making a comeback in the trendy cafes of Brussels, so if the bottle is the Belgian Jones Soda, the contents are the Belgian PBR. 1 snob here, 4 in Brussels.

Franziskaner Weissbier Dunkel - Pro tasters spit in that little bucket so they don't get tippled. Well, I drank this the day of the tot's second birthday party and I was more interested in drinking than tasting. But I've had it before anyway. Great dunkel. Nutty, malty, smooth. 3 snobs.

Warsteiner Premium Verum - This is a beer. That's is about as much as I can say about it. The color is more yellow than gold, though when you tip it in a half-full mug, it's almost clear as water. The taste has a little malt, a little hops and a little bitterness. It's totally fine as a beer goes. Like pizza and sex, there is no such thing as bad German beer. Although there is bad German sex and probably indescribably bad German pizza. This would be a good beer for a party in that the fancy German label would impress people, but the plain American taste wouldn't offend anybody. 1 snob.

Franziskaner Weissbier Kristallklar - As we all remember from history class, the kristallnacht was the Night of Broken Glass, the night the Nazis destroyed synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in Germany. So if kristall means glass, klar must mean clear, because this is the palest beer I've ever seen in my life. Leave it to the Germans to try and go as blond as possible. Taste wise, this is a lot like the Grimbergen Goud Doree. Very carbonated, very creamy, malty with some banana sweetness in it. It's basically your standard tasty wheat beer with most of the color Photoshopped out. Perhaps after they heard about Crystal Pepsi and Zima, the Germans decided to see if they could make their own clear beer. They came close. Normally, I'd give this one 2 snobs, but the kristallklar color wash bumps it up to 3 snobs.

Henninger Kaiser Pilsner - With a name like that, you might think this beer is from Japan, but no, it's German. A refreshing light gold. Not quite kristallklar, but getting there. For a pilsner, it had a surprising amount of bitter hops flavor. 2 snobs.

Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel - Dunkels and dubbels. I lovel 'em! You know, I'm always confused when I read flowery wine reviews as the sipper runs down the list of flavors he encountered in a single sip. How in the goddamn does a grape taste like leather and tobacco? Well, Erdinger Dunkel can taste like chocolate, coffee, raisins or dark brown sugar depending on...I don't know what, actually. The angle of entry into your mouth, maybe. Or where the sun sits in the summer sky. A rich dark brown that has a tinge of red if you hold a flashlight up to it. And my god, if you're holding up a flashlight to your beer to inspect the color, you're either the brewmaster or some kind of ultrasnob. And I know you're not the brewmaster. 4 snobs.

Krombacher Pils - It's fine. A pilsener in color, head and flavor. And that's fine. Really, it is. Another good beer to put out at a party because it has European label snob factor without overbearing taste that will put off the Philistines in the crowd. Oh, you Philistines! Always keeping everything so simple. Kinda sweet and malty, that's about it. 2 snobs.

Flensburger Pilsener - I've now had enough of these golden German pilseners to realize something. Theyir pilseners, their easy I don't want to think I just want to guzzle beers, are just about in line with American pale ales. You know all of the standard color stuff by now, so I'll just remark that this is a surprisingly hoppy beer. 3 snobs.

Kulmbacher Monchshof Kellerbier - As it turns out, kellerbier is a style of beer. And Kulmbacher Monchsof is a delicious kellerbier. Somewhere between reddish and orange, it's a cloudy glass that cannot be peered through. Just so rich and lovely. A lot of caramel, a lot of malt, it's very much like Fat Tire, except with 22 more letters in the name. 4 snobs.

Tongerlo Bruin - Going from the beers of another country back to Belgian beers is like going from white wine to red. The flavor is just so much thicker and more pronounced. A huge, creamy head, pours a beautiful red. The classic sweet, malty taste you get from Belgians. I loved it, though I suspect actual Belgian people could not care less about Tongerlo. 4 snobs.

Hoegaarden Verboten Vrucht - As you can tell from the Eden label, this beer is 6,000 years old and was created in six days. With a name like Forbidden Fruit, I was expecting it to be almost a lambic. And maybe it is, except zombie yeast came back from the dead and took over this bottle. Yeast flecks were floating in this beer like it was Italian dressing. I assume bitter and dirty is not what Hoegaarden was shooting for here, so no snob ranking for this one.

Karmeliet Tripel - Smells like gold. And also bread. So creamy. Fills your mouth like creamy, golden bread. touch of bitter hops, a little bit of sweetness. so easy to drink, which is the danger zone where your beer is 8.4%. Lemme have two more, then I gotta drive home! Don't worry, it's all windy back roads!

Malheur - This name means bad hour in French. I don't want to be taunted by my beers, but with a 12% alcohol content, maybe they know what they're talking about. Dark, rich brown. Cola. Rich, heavy taste. The sweet pungency of caramelized onions, without actually tasting like onions. Like eating a meatloaf sandwich on the thickest, densest French bread, smothered in gravy, mashed potatoes. So, so heavy. Drinking this beer lets you know what your body would feel like on Neptune. The extra gravity makes you slow and sluggish. Malty, yeasty, tastes of slightly burned molasses. Did I mention it's heavy? As delicious as it is, I do not recommend drinking more than un Maleheur a month. If you are an insomniac considering suicide, try a Malheur. You'll be asleep in 20 minutes.

Orval - Let's not skirt the issue here. Orval is the finest beer I have ever gulleted. The flavor is more complex than the ramifications of Sarah Palin as President. You have to divert off into wine terms to describe the flavor of this beer. Raisins, apples, molasses, sure, you'll find them in a lot of Belgian beers. But oak? Pine needles? A dry feel like expensive cabernets. Let's stop wasting your time and mine. Mostly yours. Orval is the true king of beers. Viva le roi! 5 snobs.