Saturday, October 8, 2011

LaterNamed!

Loyal Readers,
I cordially invite you to visit http://laternamed.wordpress.com/, my new blog! The Captain's Sports World will continue functioning, but any new material will be posted on LaterNamed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tidbits of Info on the NFL and Beyond

Here are a few random, unrelated tidbits of knowledge I gathered from watching the entire slate of NFL games last week, plus some thoughts elsewhere in the world of sports and entertainment.

-The Lions are very, very, VERY good. I know you need to take any win over the Chiefs with a grain of salt, well I guess it’s more like a bucket of salt, but it was like watching a team from the SEC play a team from the Sun Belt. They took care of business against a bad team, just like any good team should.

-Matt Forte is the best running back in the NFL that nobody ever mentions as the best running back in the NFL. Without Forte the Bears offense would probably be the worst in the league. Actually, they would. Right now the Bears offense sucks. This is partly because of a front five that look more like bull fighters than offensive linemen and partly because Devin Hester is supposed to be a number one receiver. What a joke. The one bright spot is Forte, who in the Mike Martz offense has given a good impersonation of Marshall Faulk considering the circumstances. If the Bears are going to be successful this year, Forte needs to touch the ball more.

-I like Atlanta’s win over Philadelphia last week. Anytime you get a win over a Super Bowl favorite you can pat yourself on the back. Kudos to you. I’m not totally sold on Atlanta. Aren’t they probably 0-2 if Michael Vick doesn’t go out with a concussion/half bitten off tongue? At this point, I can’t say I’m totally sure if they are a playoff team, and I’m not sure they get a win in Tampa this week.

-Bills fans, start buying plane tickets to Indianapolis right now! I think this is the year! Seriously, after Buffalo beats New England this week, it’s straight to the Super Bowl.
When will the Rex I know so
well make his first appearance?

-Rex Grossman is 2-0.

-Rex Grossman is 2-0… I had to re-type that, it didn’t look right the first time.

-Cam Newton passes the eye test for me. I got to watch a bit of the Packers/Panthers game last Sunday, and he stood out. Even though he has made his share of mistakes, he is more skilled than I thought he would be at this point and he looked pretty confident for a rookie quarterback going up against the defending Super Bowl champs. I’m pretty sure Blaine Gabbert would be crapping his pants in that situation.


-The Chiefs are really, really bad. I know I mentioned this earlier, but it can’t be stressed enough. They are getting outscored 89-10!!! They are currently sitting at the bottom of the NFL power rankings with Seattle and Indianapolis slated as 31st and 30th in the league respectively.

-The NFC West will be won with seven wins again this season. Don’t believe me? I broke down the schedules and it works out. Here are my projected wins are losses for each team in the NFC West.

St. Louis (0-2 right now): Wins (at Arizona, at Cleveland, vs. Seattle, vs. Arizona, at Seattle, vs. Cincinnati, vs. San Francisco)… Losses: (vs. Baltimore, vs. Washington, at Green Bay, at Dallas, vs. New Orleans, at San Francisco, at Pittsburgh)—Overall record: 7-9

Arizona (1-1 right now): Wins (at Seattle, vs. San Francisco, vs. Cleveland, at Cincinnati, vs. Seattle)… Losses: (vs. New York Giants, at Minnesota, vs. Pittsburgh, at Baltimore, vs. St. Louis, at Philadelphia, at San Francisco, at St. Louis, vs. Dallas)—Overall record: 6-10

San Francisco (1-1 right now): Wins (vs. Cleveland, vs. Arizona, vs. St. Louis)… Losses (at Cincinnati, at Philadelphia, vs. Tampa Bay, at Detroit, at Washington, vs. New York Giants, at Baltimore, vs. St. Louis, at Arizona, vs. Pittsburgh, at Seattle, at St. Louis)—Overall record: 4-12

Seattle (0-2 right now): Wins (vs. Cincinnati, vs. San Francisco)… Losses (vs. Arizona, vs. Atlanta, at New York Giants, at Cleveland, at Dallas, vs. Baltimore, at St. Louis, vs. Washington, vs. Philadelphia, vs. St. Louis, at Chicago, at Arizona)—Overall record: 2-14

-More teams should use the triple option offense in college football. Georgia Tech is 3-0 and beating the hell out of their opponents in the process, and Navy nearly beat South Carolina last week because the Gamecocks had no idea how to stop it. If your team stinks, you might as well give the triple option offense a try because its worth at least a touchdown every game.

-Last week at College Gameday someone had a sign that said “Lou Holtz Splash Zone.” I nearly fell out of my recliner. By the way, the reason this week I didn’t go all out with a column this week is because I’m spending most of my time working on a huge “How to Fix College Sports” essay. I’m so sick of the disputes about realignment, post-seasons, corruption, etc. I’m taking the bull by the horns and fixing everything.

OH MY GOODNESS!!! Booker T
might be nominated for a Biggie Award!
-Booker T is going to be up for a Biggie Award this year, I’m just not sure if it will be for Best Announcer of Worst Announcer. I can’t help but chuckle every time he talks. The best part of WWE Friday Night Smackdown is his commentary, so I’m leaning towards Best Announcer.

-WWE somehow managed to botch the CM Punk storyline. I’m completely disgusted with it. They really couldn’t get this one right? Triple H had to interject himself into the spot light and dull down the momentum CM Punk was gaining. I don’t have the slightest idea why CM Punk isn’t the champion and being pushed as the number one face on Raw, even though he already is. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, John Cena needs to make a heel turn so new faces can get to the top. Plus, with Cena and The Rock already set for WrestleMania, wouldn’t the match be a lot more interesting if Cena was in the midst of a heel turn? Until the WWE makes a big move like that, the Punk storyline is going to continue to fade and the WWE product will continue to be good when it could be great.

-UFC 135 Picks: Jon Jones over Rampage Jackson, Josh Koscheck over Matt Hughes, Travis Browne over Rob Broughton, Nate Diaz over Takanori Gomi, Ben Rothwell over Mark Hunt

-And finally, my NFL picks which I covered with Paul Clark in the podcast below:
New Orleans over Houston, Philadelphia over New York Giants, Carolina over Jacksonville, New England over Buffalo, Miami over Cleveland, Cincinnati over San Francisco, Tennessee over Denver, Detroit over Minnesota, Baltimore over St. Louis, New York Jets over Oakland, San Diego over Kansas City, Arizona over Seattle, Tampa Bay over Atlanta, Green Bay over Chicago, Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, Dallas over Washington

Last Week: 13-3
Overall: 23-9

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thoughts on Week 2 NFL Action

Kansas City at Detroit
The Ivan Drago of the NFL
Remember the scene in Rocky IV after the Apollo Creed/Ivan Drago fight when Drago calmly said "If he dies, he dies" while Apollo was inexplicably receiving no medical attention at all? There is a very good chance we could see the football equivalent of this the first time Ndamukong Suh gets ahold of Matt Cassel.

I got to watch the Lions on Sunday because living 2 hours south of Tampa, basically every Bucs game will be televised with the exception of the occasional blacked out games, which I was praying for so that way the Falcons v. Bears game would’ve be on. Anyways, after watching the Lions play not that great and still dominate a ten win team from last year, I feel foolish for picking them to win only eight games. If (and that’s a big if) Matthew Stafford can stay healthy for 16 games, this is a ten win team without any doubt in my mind.

Kansas City on the other hand got blown out by Buffalo at home, 41-7… I guess there really isn’t much more I have to say.
Winner: Detroit

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
This one is basically a toss-up game. Neither team looked great last week. Any sort of playoff aspirations could be ended with a loss in week two, so this game means a lot to both teams early. I’ll go with Tampa Bay just based on the play of Donovan McNabb last week, who we might soon find out is beyond washed up. There is a reason why Andy Reid and the Eagles let McNabb go to a division rival. There is a reason why Mike Shanahan and the Redskins went with Rex Grossman over McNabb last year. If we see Christian Ponder or Joe Webb any time soon I think we could officially write of Donovan McNabb, just like his last two teams have.
Winner: Tampa Bay

Oakland at Buffalo
I know that Bills fans are probably already looking online for Super Bowl tickets, calling Ryan Fitzpatrick the best quarterback in the NFL and that’s all fine and good. Hey, more power to you for being an optimist. Do some Bills fans go a little over the top? Yeah, but there are certainly a select group in every teams fan base that fall into that category. I on the other hand am more of a realist. I try not to get overexcited about anything involving my favorite sports teams because it’s easy for reality and hopefulness to get blend together. The reality of this situation is that Bills fans do this every time Buffalo wins an opening game… well, just any game really. And if they have a winning record after a few weeks, look out, this is the year the Bills get back to the Super Bowl! Story time:

Back in 2008, my Dad and I went to a week 7 game in Buffalo where the Bills hosted and defeated the Chargers. This brought the Bills record to 5-1, an impressive start for any team. After we made our way through the masses of drunk Bills fans singing the chorus of Shout! (The Buffalo Bills version), we sat in ridiculous traffic for an hour or so. Luckily, we found a comedy routine on the radio that had us pretty amused for the duration of our wait. The stars of the show were the local radio host taking the calls, and the Bills fans who had just left the game calling in and preaching that the Bills were going to the Super Bowl and Trent Edwards was the next Joe Montana, surely a Hall of Fame lock. Obviously any time you combine alcohol, an excited fan base and a quarterback who just went 25 for 30 for 261 yards, emotions are going to run high. It got a little goofy when the radio host agreed that Trent Edwards was a Hall of Famer in the making, and the Bills were without question a Super Bowl favorite.

The moral of the story: The Bills are capable of tricking anyone, even professionals. Yes, the radio host is a Bills fan and works for a Buffalo radio station, but are you telling me I’m supposed to trust the word of a biased radio host who is trying to tell me that a second year quarterback is a Hall of Famer. In the words of Chad Ochocinco, Child Please! Bills fans, for your sake, don’t get sucked in. Even if the Bills win this week, they are going to get a prison pounding next week against New England. Do yourself a favor, come back to reality early so you don’t end up disappointing yourselves yet again.

One Raiders note: Sebastian Janikowski’s 63 yard field goal was one of my eight favorite moments of the first week of NFL. Here is the rest of the list in no particular order:
-Chicago’s dominant win over Atlanta.
-NBC’s two games of the week (New Orleans at Green Bay and Dallas at New York Jets)
-Going undefeated with my four fantasy football teams in week 1.
-Ron Jaworski swearing during Monday Night Football
-Getting closer to finding out the true value of Peyton Manning and then remembering I have a card with his signature on it that he sent back to me about ten years ago.
-3 Hour NFL Countdown.
-Eating six pieces of my Mom’s homemade stuffed bread for dinner on Sunday.
Winner: Oakland

Chicago at New Orleans
What a pleasant surprise it was to be tracking my Chicago Bears on the internet last weekend and not have to worry at all during the game. Am I ecstatic with a 30-12 victory over the top team in the NFC playoffs last year? I’ll let Marv Albert take this one: YES! And it counts! If you would’ve asked me before the season, I would’ve told you that I expected it to be week four when the Bears got their first win of the season. Atlanta, at New Orleans, Green Bay to start the season? My goodness, somebody who works on the schedule has a major problem with Chicago. Despite the tough first three weeks, a visit to Philadelphia and San Diego at home, I still picked the Bears to go a modest 8-8 this season. One more win that I expected does count Marv Albert. The offense was efficient. Jay Cutler only made one “Come on Man!” throw. Matt Forte is giving a reasonable Marshall Faulk impression for Mike Martz’s offense. Plus, what isn’t to like about holding an elite offense to 12 points in week one where there was a lot of offense on display throughout the league. Great news!

As much as I would love to turn into a Bills level fan with Chicago, I’m not going to allow myself. Have I talked myself into believing the Bears are going to be better than I anticipated before the season started? Yes, but that’s reasonable. Are they going to go into the Superdome and get a win against the Saints who gave Green Bay all they could handle considering the circumstances of opening night? Probably not. Maybe I’m in for another pleasant surprise.
Winner: New Orleans


Baltimore at Tennessee
I can’t help but think if Baltimore can walk all over Pittsburgh, they can and probably will walk all over
Tennessee this week.
Winner: Baltimore

Cleveland at Indianapolis
I’ve been trying to think of an appropriate way of expressing how much Peyton Manning means to Indianapolis. With the lack of time they had to find a replacement for Manning, they were lucky to find and be able to start the year with veteran Kerry Collins rather than Curtis Painter (gulp), Nate Davis (who?) or the immortal Dan Orlovsky. Still, Manning’s value to the Colts is hard to explain. I guess the beat-down Houston put on them on Sunday is a good start. Still, I wasn’t satisfied. So these were the best explanations that I came up with:
-Imagine it was Kathy Bates (Kerry Collins) starring alongside Richard Gere in Pretty Woman rather than Julia Roberts (Peyton Manning).
-The 2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers if instead of Shaquille O’Neal (Peyton Manning) starting at center, it was Nets center Todd MacCulloch (Kerry Collins) starting for the Lakers, whom Shaq steam-rolled in the NBA Finals, averaging 36 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Seriously, they picked
Hogan over him?
-If Hillbilly Jim (Kerry Collins) was given a push in the mid 1980’s instead of Hulk Hogan (Peyton Manning).

The bottom line is Indianapolis could be historically bad this year, and that would be much better for the Colts than mediocrity would be. The only prize greater than getting Andrew Luck in the 2012 Draft would be the Lombardi Trophy, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Kerry Collins led Colts won’t be close to the Super Bowl. My advice: Tank, fire Jim Caldwell and the puppeteer that operates his body, hire Jon Gruden and draft Andrew Luck. You have either, A. Peyton Manning returns and Andrew Luck studies behind him for a couple of years or B. Manning not being able to return to typical Peyton Manning form, and Andrew Luck is now your starter. Suddenly the Colts are set for the next decade or so.

I should mention that last week I picked Cleveland as my Eliminator Challenge pick (pick one team per week, can’t pick the same team twice). I guess that was the Sports God’s way of telling me that I can’t turn my back on Cleveland in basketball and expect their football team to get me the one win I needed in the first week.
Winner: Cleveland

Jacksonville at New York Jets
Seattle at Pittsburgh
If someone can make a rational argument as to why I should pick Luke McCown or Tarvaris Jackson on the road against two quality defensive teams and then actually convince me to pick Jacksonville or Seattle, I will give you one million dollars. Well, actually I only have like 100 dollars in my wallet right now, so that’s what I’m offering. Seriously, try me.
Winners: New York and Pittsburgh

Arizona at Washington
Here’s a fun fact: The last time Rex Grossman won back to back games as a starter was during the 2006-07 playoffs, when the Chicago Bears defeated the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints before losing the Super Bowl. You could make the argument that since the 06-07 season Grossman has only started 13 games, so it’s not totally Grossman’s fault that he hasn’t won back to back games. My counter argument: There are three reasons why a quarterback who made the Super Bowl has not played a season’s worth of games in the following four seasons since that Super Bowl:
1: He retired after the season or made the Super Bowl in the twilight of his career.
2: He suffered a career altering/ending injury.
3: He absolutely, undoubtedly, without question stinks.

Reason number 1 doesn’t apply; Grossman was only 26 when the Bears made the Super Bowl. Reason 2 doesn’t work unless you want to make the argument that there were times when Grossman suffered from lapses in brain activity (I totally support this argument by the way). Then there is reason number 3, which suits Grossman perfectly. Grossman is the star on the Mount Rushmore of Bad Super Bowl Quarterbacks, along with Tony Eason, Stan Humphries and Trent Dilfer. As a lifelong Bears fan, no one can convince me that Rex Grossman was a good quarterback in his Bears tenure. Shit, he wasn’t even a good game manager. He was the loose wheel on an otherwise sturdy wagon. And with all of that said, I’m taking the Rex and the Redskins to get their second straight win this season. Good lord, the NFL is goofy.
Winner: Washington

Green Bay at Carolina Cam Newton, meet Clay Matthews. Clay, this is Cam. Yes Clay, you can give Cam and all of his believers their rude awakening now. Yeah Clay I know, Arizona’s defense does stink, he certainly won’t be able to do that to your defense. Hey Cam, you should probably run away.
Winner: Green Bay

Dallas at San Francisco
Tony Romo played just about as well as he could’ve last week in the Meadowlands. 23-36, 342 yards, 2 touchdowns. Superb. He still found a way to help Dallas choke away a 14 point 4th quarter lead. Obviously, you can’t blame him for the blocked punt return for a touchdown, which happens in key moments only in the movies. But the fumble on the goal line while he was diving for the end zone with a seven point lead and a defense that had relatively controlled the game thus far… Not his best option. The horrible throw to the gimpy Dez Bryant that he wouldn’t have been able to get to even if he was healthy because it was so underthrown… Not too good either. Yet, I still feel pretty comfortable with my NFC Super Bowl pick. I’m still on the bandwagon. Dez Bryant pre-cramping looked like one the best most impressive physical specimens alive. It looked like he was going to devour the Jets secondary like it was an order of chicken nuggets you get at McDonald’s on a late night food run. Defensively, they were much improved from last year, and again, Romo played exceptionally well. I’m not off the Cowboys bandwagon yet. For those of you who haven’t jumped on a bandwagon yet, the 49ers bandwagon is current empty. If you join now you can get a front row seat… No takers? Okay, we’ll move on.
Winner: Dallas

San Diego at New England
Whoever wins this game is going to be getting a lot of the early media praise as the favorite in the AFC. Warranted? Maybe. True? Possibly. Do both teams have their flaws? Yes and those flaws will most likely be very evident after the game because I expect that there will be a lot of points in this one. Come on, New England gave up 400 plus yards to Chad Henne… Chad Henne? Really? Phillip “Paul Clark Calls Me Phil” Rivers might surpass Henne’s yardage from last week in the first half of this game. With that being said, I’m not totally sure San Diego will be making too many defensive plays in this one either. To paraphrase Wes from his Fresh Meat 2 season, “The Patriots offense is a well-oiled machine! They’re a well-oiled machine Danny! Oh shit, I just smashed my head!” I don’t really see any team besides maybe an elite defense being able to slow down the Pats. Plus, it’s a sure thing San Diego will give up a special team’s touchdown. It’s like my Dad dozing off during the Sunday Night Football game. You know it’s going to happen at some point. It might be right at the start of the game or it might happen near the end. But it’s going to happen.
Winner: New England

Houston at Miami
Matt Schaub had to be watching Monday Night Football with a big goofy smile on his face. His biggest division rival is without their all-time great quarterback, Luke McCown is starting in his division, and he gets to conduct target practice in South Beach this weekend against the Dolphins defense that gave up 519 yards passing in week one. Plus Schaub has a fancy toy that Tom Brady doesn’t have… his name is Andre Johnson. Miami should put up some points too, but not enough to beat Houston.
Winner: Houston

Cincinnati at Denver
Dalton!!! Orton!!! It’s the NFL on CBS!!
Winner: Cincinnati

Philadelphia at Atlanta
Sarah McLachlan may be
the X-Factor on Sunday Night
5 ways Atlanta can get in Michael Vick’s head on Sunday Night:
1: Play “Who Let The Dogs Out” every time the Eagles take the field
2: Invite the President of PETA to be an honorary captain for the Falcons
3: Falcons fans dress up as the Cleveland Browns Dawg Pound
4: Run those sad ASPCA commercials on the Jumbo Tron during breaks in action
5: Have a trained dog run out and get the tee after every kickoff
Winner: Atlanta

St. Louis at New York Giants
The Rams 3 best offensive weapons are injured and the Giants secondary consists of the 4 fastest guys they could find in New York City. I’ll take the Giants in this game just because their at home, Tom Coughlin is creeping towards hot seat status and I’m still not sure that any team in the NFC West can compete against anyone outside of their division.
Winner: New York

Come all this way and wrap up with St. Louis at New York... No way! At this time I’ll make my WWE Night of Champions predictions. By now I should just be able to tell exactly what is going to happen in the WWE. I’ve been watching since I was 3 years old, so there are some tendencies I should have picked up along the way. However, like I told Pauley in our weekly NFL picks podcast (which can be found at the bottom of the page), this is the most confused I’ve ever been with the WWE, in particular the CM Punk/ Triple H storyline. About two months ago I wrote about how the WWE was on the verge of something huge with the CM Punk storyline. As much as I’m enjoying the CM Punk/Triple H storyline, which seems legitimately personal by the way (despite the fact that wrestling is scripted, I still think they actually dislike each other. Like I said, I’m confused) I can’t help but feel like they dropped the ball on this one. Even though the non-title match is the main event of the Night of Champions pay per view, I don’t feel Punk got enough time in the championship spot light. My hopes are a win for Punk will keep him at the top because he’s the best thing going in the WWE right now. So here are the picks:

Beth Phoenix over Kelly Kelly (Divas Title)- Beth Phoenix gets the victory in her home town, then Kelly Kelly comes to my house so I can give her a massage.

Ted Dibiase over Cody Rhodes (Intercontinental Title)- It surprises me that Ted Dibiase didn’t receive the push that Cody Rhodes did. I always thought Dibiase was a lot better in the ring and more villainous than Cody Rhodes. Maybe it’s because I can’t take someone seriously who talks with a lisp, wears a clear mask in the ring and used to sport ridiculous yellow tights.

Jack Swagger over Dolph Ziggler, John Morrison and Alex Riley (United States Title)- Unfortunately, I’m breaking the rule I just made about not being able to take a wrestler seriously when he has a lisp as bad as Cindy Brady.

The Miz and R Truth over Air Boom (Tag Team Titles)- The promos cut by Miz and R Truth over the last few weeks have been the highlight of Raw other than anything CM Punk related. They get the belts and keep being funny.

Mark Henry over Randy Orton (World Heavyweight Championship)- I love it how every few years Mark Henry turns into a completely unbeatable physical force, then he suddenly falls back into mediocrity as soon as the storyline comes to an end. High comedy. 15 years in the business without a championship reign… I think it’s his time.

Alberto Del Rio over John Cena (WWE Championship)- It’s not a question of if John Cena will regain the title, it’s when. I don’t think it’s at Night of Champions.

CM Punk over Triple H- Punk wins, Triple H resigns as COO, somebody else becomes COO, more controversy ensues, and I get more confused. I’ll have to sort all of this mess out with a running diary.


Last week: 10-6
Season: 10-6

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Sports Fans NFL Preview, In Big Bright Lights

You can only hope your life turns out the way you picture it. You never know for sure what you are going to do or where you are going to be until you are there, but I believe I received a sign a couple of weeks ago. I think at some point in everyone’s life, a big metaphorical neon sign with big bold blinking letters flashes in front of you that lets you know what your purpose is. My neon sign flashed in front of me when I was sitting in Academic Building 5 room 112 when I was killing time between my Statistics and Journalism classes.


With nothing to do for an hour and a half, I found myself in an empty lecture hall with a math notebook and a pencil. I figured, “What the heck, I have some time to kill, I might as well do some math.” So I took out my calculator, and punched in 16 times 32. 512. Perfect. Divided by 2… 256, which is how many total wins and losses there are in a NFL season. I had a number I needed to get to, now I just had to write down every NFL team and predict their record for the upcoming season and make adjustments in order to get to 256 so everything realistically worked out. I proceeded to go to work. 15 minutes later, every team had a record, I felt relatively satisfied with my picks and this is where my paper started to brighten up. I added up every win, and somehow the number came out to exactly 256. 256 wins, 256 losses. Right on the money. I predicted the right amount of wins and losses in an NFL season in just 15 minutes. In big bright lights I saw “Sonny, dude! You just did something miraculous!”

I mulled over this metaphorical neon sign for a while. I didn’t know exactly what to make of it. I wasn’t sure if my mind was playing tricks on me. After all, I had just come out of a Statistics class, so seeing NFL teams and their predicted records written down on paper looked very attractive. It could’ve been luck. In roughly 5 years of doing this I had never come close to getting 256 exactly on the first try, so maybe I was just shocked that I didn’t have 300 wins after my first attempt. Or maybe writing and analyzing sports is what I’m supposed to do with my life. I certainly hope so, because I know I’m really good at picking the right amount of wins and losses in an NFL season... Unfortunately my statistics skills aren’t so sharp.

Over the last two weeks I decided that it would be more important to work on an NFL Preview and do two podcasts rather than fine-tuning my skills in my Statistical Methods course or really any other course for that matter. Statistics isn’t for me. I’m admittedly a nerd, but not a math nerd… I’m a sports nerd. That’s why I start doing my fantasy football preparation in June. That’s why I get the NBA League Pass every year. That’s why talking to Gus Johnson in 2010 at the NCAA Tournament ranks as one of the top 5 moments of my life. That’s why every year for the aforementioned tournament I create a bracket that takes up a quarter of the wall space in my bedroom. That’s why I am writing this NFL preview. I’m a sports nerd, and I always will be. Hopefully I can get paid for that someday. I hope the neon sign was telling me I will. Until then, I’ll just keep writing because I enjoy it and because it can only look good on a resume.

After 132 long and fearful days of negotiations that seemingly went nowhere, followed by a frantic free agency period that played out like a bunch of kids scurrying around to get the best candies that fell out of a piƱata, it’s finally football season. I think everyone should breathe a collective sigh of relief because of how terribly fudged up life would be without NFL. Weekends would absolutely not feel… weekendy. Yes, that is a made up word. I don’t know what everybody else does, but my weekends completely and utterly revolve around football. I’m talking roughly 28 hours of watching pre-game/games/post-game on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s basically every hour I’m awake. And that isn’t even counting Thursday night games, Friday night games and Monday night pre-game/the game itself. Plus factor in the time I spend writing about it, adjusting my fantasy rosters and doing a weekly podcast with Paul Clark. Over 40 hours a week are devoted solely to football season. So in other words, without the NFL that time is most likely devoted to growing a huge unclean beard, napping and watching simulated Madden games to cope with the pain of not being able to watch NFL. Thank God there is football.

I’m going away from the conventional NFL preview where I break down teams; do fantasy football rankings; give in-depth predictions, etc. So many “experts” cover that sort of stuff, so anything I say can’t be taken seriously because really who the hell is Sonny Giuliano and what does he know about the NFL? Plus, me and Paul Clark did a podcast previewing the NFL season which you can find at the bottom of the page. Also, you’ll see my regular season and playoff predictions at the bottom of the page just because like I said, everybody gives predictions, so what the hell kind of writer wouldn’t give predictions? What I’m going to give you is something that I doubt any other “expert” will. In no way, shape or form do I consider myself an expert of NFL, College Football, NBA, WWE or anything for that matter. I am fan who probably cares and watches a little (or way) too much. Only a fan that cares way too much would do what I did for this preview (And it’s not the first time I’ve done this) and think that it is important that people read it. In my spare time, or time I should’ve spent doing school work depending on how you want to look at it, I went through weekly schedules for college football and NFL and picked out the best seven college games and five best NFL games each weekend the two are both playing their regular seasons. A little nuts? Yes. Helpful when you want to figure out when to take a weekend vacation where you won’t be by a television for 48 straight hours? Absolutely. Now you know which weekends you can afford to miss. For this guy, every weekend revolves around football, and the months leading up to football season revolve around football. I invite you to be just as crazy as I am and picture yourself relaxing on a comfortable couch in your living room or having some chicken wings and beer at a bar watching all of these glorious games.

September 8th-12th
College: Missouri at Arizona State (Friday), Oregon State at Wisconsin, Mississippi State at Auburn, Alabama at Penn State, South Carolina at Georgia, Utah at USC, Notre Dame at Michigan
NFL: New Orleans at Green Bay (Thursday), Atlanta at Chicago, Detroit at Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh at Baltimore, Dallas at New York Jets

September 15th-19th
College: LSU at Mississippi State (Thursday), West Virginia at Maryland, Michigan State at Notre Dame, Tennessee at Florida, Oklahoma at Florida State, Ohio State at Miami, Stanford at Arizona
NFL: Chicago at New Orleans, Cleveland at Indianapolis, San Diego at New England, Philadelphia at Atlanta, St. Louis at New York Giants (Monday)

September 22nd-26th
College: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Missouri at Oklahoma, LSU at West Virginia, Oregon at Arizona, Arkansas at Alabama, Florida State at Clemson, Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia, Houston at New Orleans, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, Green Bay at Chicago, Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

September 29th- October 3rd
College: South Florida at Pittsburgh (Thursday), Alabama at Florida, Nebraska at Wisconsin, Arkansas at Texas A+M, Auburn at South Carolina, Michigan State at Ohio State, Mississippi State at Georgia
NFL: Detroit at Dallas, Pittsburgh at Houston, New York Jets at Baltimore, Minnesota at Kansas City, Indianapolis at Tampa Bay (Monday)

October 6th-10th
College: Boise State at Fresno State (Friday), Oklahoma at Texas, Michigan at Northwestern, Ohio State at Nebraska, Auburn at Arkansas, Florida at LSU, Arizona State at Utah
NFL: Tennessee at Pittsburgh, New York Jets at New England, San Diego at Denver, Green Bay at Atlanta, Chicago at Detroit (Monday)

October 13th-17th
College: Baylor at Texas A&M, Florida at Auburn, Arizona State at Oregon, Michigan at Michigan State, Oklahoma State at Texas, South Carolina at Mississippi State, Utah at Pittsburgh
NFL: Houston at Baltimore, New Orleans at Tampa Bay, Dallas at New England, Minnesota at Chicago, Miami at New York Jets (Monday)

October 20th-24th
College: Oklahoma State at Missouri, Penn State at Northwestern, USC at Notre Dame, Wisconsin at Michigan State, Auburn at LSU, Maryland at Florida State, Tennessee at Alabama
NFL: Chicago at Tampa Bay, San Diego at New York Jets, Atlanta at Detroit, St. Louis at Dallas, Indianapolis at New Orleans

October 27th-31st
College: Florida at Georgia, Stanford at USC, Wisconsin at Ohio State, Baylor at Oklahoma State, Boston College at Maryland, Michigan State at Nebraska, Oregon State at Utah
NFL: New Orleans at St. Louis, Indianapolis at Tennessee, New England at Pittsburgh, Dallas at Philadelphia, San Diego at Kansas City (Monday)

November 3rd-7th
College: Florida State at Boston College (Thursday), LSU at Alabama, Michigan at Iowa, Missouri at Baylor, South Carolina at Arkansas, Stanford at Oregon State, Texas A&M at Oklahoma
NFL: Atlanta at Indianapolis, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Green Bay at San Diego, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, Chicago at Philadelphia (Monday)

November 10th-14th
College: Maryland at Notre Dame, Alabama at Mississippi State, Auburn at Georgia, Florida at South Carolina, Miami at Florida State, Oregon at Stanford, Nebraska at Penn State
NFL: Houston at Tampa Bay, Detroit at Chicago, New Orleans at Atlanta, New England at New York, Minnesota at Green Bay (Monday)

November 17th-21st
College: SMU at Houston, USC at Oregon, Miami at South Florida, Mississippi State at Auburn, Nebraska at Michigan, Oklahoma at Baylor, Penn State at Ohio State
NFL: Tampa Bay at Green Bay, Dallas at Washington, San Diego at Chicago, Philadelphia at New York Giants, Kansas City at New England (Monday)

November 24th-28th
College: Arkansas at LSU (Friday), Pittsburgh at West Virginia (Friday), Notre Dame at Stanford, Alabama at Auburn, Ohio State at Michigan, Florida State at Florida, Oregon State at Oregon
NFL: Green Bay at Detroit (Thursday), New England at Philadelphia, Minnesota at Atlanta, Pittsburgh at Kansas City, New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (Monday)

Did you just get a fuzzy feeling in your stomach or was it just me? God, I love football season. Anyways, here are the picks straight from the paper where I saw my neon sign.

AFC East
Buffalo 4-12, Miami 5-11, New York 11-5, New England 12-4

AFC South
Houston 10-6, Indianapolis 8-8, Jacksonville 4-12, Tennessee 7-9

AFC North
Baltimore 10-6, Cincinnati 4-12, Cleveland 7-9, Pittsburgh 12-4

AFC West
Denver 5-11, Kansas City 7-9, Oakland 7-9, San Diego 11-5

NFC East
Dallas 10-6, New York 8-8, Philadelphia 11-5, Washington 6-10

NFC South
Atlanta 11-5, Carolina 4-12, New Orleans 11-5, Tampa Bay 9-7

NFC North
Chicago 8-8, Detroit 8-8, Green Bay 12-4, Minnesota 7-9

NFC West
Arizona 6-10, San Francisco 7-9, Seattle 5-11, St. Louis 9-7

Super Bowl Pick
Pittsburgh over Dallas

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reality TV Podcast

After nearly two months, the Captain's Corner is back! Paul Clark joins me to discuss The Challenge: Rivals, Big Brother 13 and Jersey Shore.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CM Punk: The Best In The World

Please allow me to flashback to Sunday July 17th: I sat in my living room watching Big Brother, the reality TV show that in 2-6 years I will be the winner of. I knew as I watched a cast of horrible strategic players that I was making a big mistake watching Big Brother. I found live coverage of 2nd annual WWE Money in the Bank pay per view on the internet. Throughout the day I had been going through a mental tug of war whether to spend the 45 dollars to buy the pay per view or not. Due to the fact that I am currently unemployed (19 years and counting) and don’t plan on getting a job anytime soon, I decided that I would probably need that 45 dollars for my Christmas spendings. When I clicked refresh on the page at approximately 11 p.m. and saw that CM Punk, who according to WWE and multiple other sources was leaving the company due to contract disputes, had just defeated WWE Poster boy/WWE Champion John Cena in what critics have said was one of the best matches in wrestling history, I had come to three conclusions for the night:

A.) If the gameplay is as bad when I’m on Big Brother as it is this season, I’m a mortal lock to win. That’s a guarantee.

B.) I should’ve paid the 45 bucks to get the pay per view. I could’ve tried to win it back on a lottery ticket or something like that.

C.) Something big just happened in the WWE. I wasn’t exactly sure what though.

The next night I ate a bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream and enjoyed a quality WWE Monday Night Raw where a WWE Title tournament was held (all the way until the finals) and Vince McMahon was relieved of his duties as head of the company by his son-in-law, Triple H. I had every intention of writing a column about how the current state of the WWE is numbing the pain of the potential absences of NFL (not anymore) and NBA (seems like a certainty that they won’t play). Late Tuesday night when I was doing some research for the aforementioned column, I was abruptly halted when I lost internet service. No internet until Friday. Um, great.

When I finally got internet back on Friday afternoon I went through the usual lineup of sites I check every day when I wake up. Facebook, then ESPN.com, then Wrestlescoop (a wrestling rumors site) which was flooded with articles about the Money in the Bank pay per view and the CM Punk storyline. Then I checked Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com, where I read two articles that were centered around CM Punk. Along with reading the articles, I watched this YouTube video that Bill Simmons posted. Check it out.

(Waiting)

Okay, welcome back. In 16 years of being a wrestling fan plus seeing countless old pay per views, that is the biggest crowd reaction I can remember hearing. I came to another conclusion:

D.) Every wrestling fan should feel sick if they didn’t buy Money in the Bank. I really, really effed up not getting that pay per view.

For the next hour or so I was glued to my computer screen, not only because it had no use for the previous 3 days so it was like an extra special experience, but also because I was trying to find a site where I could watch the CM Punk v. John Cena match in its entirety so I didn’t need to buy the pay per view for full price on demand almost a week after it happened. I didn’t even get the pay per view, or even watch the main event in its entirety, but just from watching CM Punk’s entrance, and the finish to the match I realized I missed out on one of the biggest wrestling moments in history. That Friday night after I watched WWE Smackdown (I tried to come up with an interesting analogy for Smackdown in comparison to Raw. All I came up with was the NBA’s relationship to the WNBA is like Monday Night Raw’s relationship to Smackdown) I sat down to try to revise/finish the column I started earlier in the week before my internet went down. Then, just as abruptly as it did on Tuesday night, my internet went down again. I’ve come to a 5th conclusion:

E.) Having a computer without internet is like saying “Sure you can have legs and feet, but you aren’t allowed to walk.” Thanks for nothing.

I went the weekend without internet. Monday morning we got it back and hopefully for good because I don’t think I can handle another 3 day stretch without internet. My reaction to no internet had to be similar to what a crack head goes through when he doesn’t get his fix. 9 o’clock rolled around, and just like the week before I sat down with a bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream to watch Raw. The show kicked off with the WWE Title tournament finale which Rey Mysterio won. The rest of the show was decent, nothing noteworthy until the final segment of the show where in an unexpected turn of events, Rey Mysterio defended his recently captured title against John Cena. Cena won the title back in a solid match. Two title matches on Raw and a delicious bowl of ice cream would’ve been good enough for me to call it a successful night. Then music started playing. Most casual WWE fans probably didn’t know what the hell the music was. Shit, it confused me. I honestly thought they made a mistake backstage and were playing the wrong music. I was waiting for the switch to Alberto Del Rio’s theme so he could cash in the Money in the Bank contract he won 8 days earlier. The song kept playing. I knew the song; Cult of Personality by Living Colour. Still, I was confused. Then, CM Punk emerged onto the ramp way to a Billy Fuccillo level Hugeeeeee crowd reaction. Once Punk got to the ring, he and Cena took turns holding up their respective titles. Punk, the supposed-to-be-heel got the much bigger ovation than face-of-the-WWE John Cena. Just like Money in the Bank, this was a wrestling moment.
I just used 1,000 words as an intro to what this column is ultimately all about. My final conclusion:

F.) If the WWE plays their cards right, CM Punk is going to become the biggest, most controversial and most talked about superstar since Stone Cold Steve Austin.

CM Punk is ready
for the spotlight
I put that previous statement in bold because that my friends is what I call a bold statement. What CM Punk has done in the past month or so in his time in the WWE spotlight has been nothing short of groundbreaking. Not since the heyday of Stone Cold Steve Austin has a “heel” been so popular so fast that WWE’s creative team had to immediately make him the “face” of the WWE. That is where we are (or should be) going with CM Punk. In one month, he has become the single most talked about and popular wrestler in the WWE. It is very similar to the meteoric rise that Steve Austin had 15 years ago. Austin was a fast rising heel in the WWE in 1996 when he won the WWE’s King of the Ring tournament (I don’t have the slightest idea why the WWE dropped this pay per view. Seeing Mabel barely fit on the throne and get crowned King of the Ring while wearing oversized purple pajamas was a wrestling moment). Austin defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and gave one of the most important post-match interviews to date. The next night, Austin 3:16 signs flooded Monday Night Raw. WWE’s creative team had an issue on their hands: the fastest rising heel in the company was suddenly the most popular guy on the show week after week. Adjustments were made, and look what ensued. The WWE cites this as the start of the Attitude Era, arguably the most successful run in WWE history. What the hell are we going to name the next era that CM Punk just started?

Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Punk is quickly reaching a level that hasn’t been encountered by anyone in a decade or so. There is a reason why Punk is mainly responsible for making the WWE more watchable than it has been in a close to a decade. It’s because if you are creating a check-list of what you want in a WWE superstar, Punk gets a check in every category.

-His in-ring skills are better than anyone’s in the WWE. The top 5 guys in my book right now are Punk, Orton, Mysterio, Del Rio, and The Miz. Those are the names I came up with off the top of my head. Likely I’m missing someone and will remember them as soon as I post this. A testament of Punk being the best in the business is the praise his match vs. Cena is receiving. Cena is the master of the get dominated the whole match then make a miraculous comeback win. You could call it Hulk Hogan-esque. The fact that Punk and Cena had a 5 star match according to wrestling expert Dave Meltzer (the first he’s given since 1997) is proof that Punk can do wonders in the ring.

-He is better on the microphone than anyone in the WWE. The top 5 guys: Punk, Cena, The Miz, Randy Orton, and Alberto Del Rio’s ring announcer. Coming in last is Jack Swagger and his lisp.

-He can excel as a “Face” or “Heel”- Not everyone can pull this off, and those who have are all considered top guys in the business: Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Edge, and Randy Orton. And in my opinion, it’s time for Cena to make a heel turn. Once upon a time CM Punk was one of the most popular guys on the WWE’s ECW brand and became the ECW Champion right away. He came into the WWE as a face and excelled. Then he went through a period where he made his heel turn and he was underused and underappreciated. Guys like Wade Barrett, Sheamus, Jack Swagger and a past his prime Kane were in the title picture while Punk worked the middle of every pay per view card. Now with a little push he is easily the biggest heel in the WWE.

-He has had two unique gimmicks that haven’t been touched before he brought them to the table. The straight edge superstar/cult-like leader of the New Nexus. He's perfected each gimmick and he’s blowing the WWE up like fireworks on the 4th of July and the people are loving it. It’s the perfect combination of a storyline and a superstar that are so unique and unpredictable (I had no idea until Monday whether Punk was actually leaving the company or not) that WWE rumors sites, fan boards and the mass media in general are going legitimately crazy over Punk.

-Since the beginning of the attitude era, the WWE has changed drastically. No matter how good or bad the product was in general, as long as there was one guy or one storyline that was worth watching, I would be in front of my television on Monday or Friday nights. This is the complete list of storylines/superstars/rivalries that have kept me completely drawn to the WWE in the last 15 years. In other words, rather than growing out of what many stupidly consider to be a childhood phase, these transcendent storylines/superstars/rivalries are the reason why I’m 19 years old and gladly writing about the WWE: the start of the Austin Era, the original DX (Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna).. Vince McMahon becoming "Mr. McMahon" and starting the Corporation.. the new DX (Triple H, X-Pac, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and Chyna).. The Rock v. Mankind rivalry.. Vince McMahon v. Stone Cold Steve Austin rivalry.. Chris Jericho's Y2J debut.. The McMahon/Helmsley Era.. The Rock v. Austin at WM 17 angle.. the WCW/ECW Invasion.. The Rock v. Hulk Hogan at WM 18.. Brock Lesnar's debut and title reign.. Eric Bischoff as Raw General Manager.. Shawn Michaels return and feud with Triple H.. Evolution.. John Cena becoming the face of the WWE.. Edge becoming the Rated R Superstar and cashing in the first Money in the Bank.. The Return of DX.. Chris Jericho's Save Us 222 return.. Randy Orton v. Triple H at WM 25.. Nexus Storyline.. Randy Orton's face turn.. The Rock returns to host WM 27.. The Undertaker v. Triple H at WM 27.. CM Punk over the last month.

In translation, CM Punk has become one of the most captivating WWE performers in recent memory. Evidence of this is the fact that for a solid 2 hours I looked at every WWE pay per view card in the last 15 years on Wikipedia just to refresh my memory and came up with a list of the best 25 storylines (what a way to spend a Monday night). CM Punk’s recent antics have been without question one of the top five, if not higher.


CM Punk: WWE Champion
So this leaves the WWE brain-trust at a crossroads. The WWE is on the brink of something monumental. The term once-in-a-generation is thrown around a lot, but CM Punk truly feels like a once-in-a-generation superstar. My biggest fear is the storyline the WWE used to get Punk to this point will become a reality. In the storyline Punk was tired of being overlooked by guys with less talent, so he was going to take his talents elsewhere, and rightfully so. I even claimed that if CM Punk ended up in TNA, I was going to be jumping on the TNA bandwagon. For far too long (over half a decade now) the company has belonged to Cena. It’s time for a new superstar to rise to the top. Someone who isn’t the prototypical fan-favorite that sells all the merchandise and is the favorite of every pre-teen WWE fan. That man has emerged over the last month as the hero of the true WWE fans. He is the dictator of the new era of wrestling. He is the ayatollah of rock and rolla’. He is the champ. He’s the game and he is the most electrifying superstar in the WWE. He is CM Punk.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Variety Podcasts/Challenge Scores

On Thursday night, I conducted the first ever Captain's Corner variety podcast where any topics were fair game. Here are the links to each session. Below the links are the current scores for mine and Pauley's fantasy teams for the Challenge, which we drafted in this podcast.

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/audioPop.jsp?episodeId=512493&cmd=apop 
In Part One, Collin Stucko joins me to discuss Big Brother, our Sports Fan Bucket Lists, and the current state of Legend Status.

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/audioPop.jsp?episodeId=512558&cmd=apop 
In Part Two, Paul Clark and I talk about the ESPY's, The Challenge and WWE.

Challenge Scores after each episode of the Challenge:

WEEK 1

Team Giuliano: C.T., Evan Starkman, Laurel Stuckey, Adam Royer, Jenn Grijalva, Paula Meronek, Adam King, Sarah Rice, Jonna Mannion, Nehemiah Clark, Jasmine Reynaud, Robin Hibbard, Tyrie Ballard, Katelynn Cusanelli
Scoring: Adam R- 170, Paula- 35, Jasmine- 5, Robin- 5, Tyrie- 5
Total- 220

Team Clark: Johnny Bananas, Kenny Santucci, Evelyn Smith, Wes Bergmann, Leroy Garrett, Ty Ruff, Cara Maria Sorbello, Tyler Duckworth, Mandi Moyer, Camila Nakagawa, Brandon Nelson, Theresa Gonzalez, Davis Mallory, Aneesa Ferreira
Scoring: Evelyn- 35, Ty- 55, Mandi- 5, Aneesa- 5
Total- 100

WEEK 2

Team Giuliano: C.T., Evan Starkman, Laurel Stuckey, Jenn Grijalva, Paula Meronek, Adam King, Sarah Rice, Jonna Mannion, Nehemiah Clark, Jasmine Reynaud, Tyrie Ballard, Katelynn Cusanelli
Scoring: Jasmine- 35, Tyrie- 25, Jonna- 10
Week Total- 70
Total- 290

Team Clark: Johnny Bananas, Kenny Santucci, Evelyn Smith, Wes Bergmann, Leroy Garrett, Ty Ruff, Cara Maria Sorbello, Tyler Duckworth, Mandi Moyer, Camila Nakagawa, Brandon Nelson, Theresa Gonzalez
Scoring: Kenny- 10, Wes- 10, Camila- 10
Week Total- 30
Total- 130

WEEK 3

Team Giuliano: C.T., Evan Starkman, Laurel Stuckey, Jenn Grijalva, Paula Meronek, Adam King, Sarah Rice, Jonna Mannion, Nehemiah Clark, Jasmine Reynaud, Katelynn Cusanelli
Scoring: C.T.- 10, Laurel- 10
Week Total: 20
Total: 310

Team Clark: Johnny Bananas, Kenny Santucci, Evelyn Smith, Wes Bergmann, Leroy Garrett, Ty Ruff, Cara Maria Sorbello, Tyler Duckworth, Mandi Moyer, Camila Nakagawa, Brandon Nelson, Theresa Gonzalez
Scoring: Theresa- 15, Camila- 15, Wes- 5, Cara Maria- 10
Week Total: 45
Total: 175

WEEK 4

Team Giuliano: C.T., Evan Starkman, Laurel Stuckey, Jenn Grijalva, Paula Meronek, Adam King, Sarah Rice, Jonna Mannion, Nehemiah Clark, Jasmine Reynaud, Katelynn Cusanelli
Scoring: C.T.- 20, Laurel- 20, Paula- 5
Week Total: 45
Total: 355

Team Clark: Johnny Bananas, Kenny Santucci, Evelyn Smith, Wes Bergmann, Leroy Garrett, Ty Ruff, Cara Maria Sorbello, Tyler Duckworth, Mandi Moyer, Brandon Nelson
Scoring: Cara Maria- 20, Mandi- 5, Ty- 5, Kenny- 10, Wes- 10
Week Total: 50
Total: 225

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Rubber Match: Stucko/Giuliano III

You may remember last July when I joined my friends Sam Lamont (the Rory McIlroy of golfing in Western New York) and Collin Stucko (the Ray Charles of golfing in Western New York) for a day of golf at Stafford Country Club. We played in a torrential downpour, we saw a snake, a tree fell down, I almost lost my left big toe and a once-in-a-generation rivalry had begun. Collin and I had now played two rounds of 18 holes against each other. In 2007, Collin won by 4 strokes at Terry Hills (our 2011 venue) and in 2010, I won by 1 stroke at Stafford. The rivalry needed to continue in 2011. Just like Ali v. Frazier, Celtics v. Lakers, Yankees v. Red Sox and Duke v. North Carolina, Stucko v. Giuliano is a monumental rivalry that will never be forgotten. Here are the events that transpired on almost three weeks ago on June 24th during Stucko/Giuliano III.


9:20- “Baby I like it, the way you move on the floor. Baby I like it, come on and give me some more. Oh yes I like it, screaming like never before. Baby I like it…” Yes, that’s the same song I awoke to last year. Normally when I hear I Like It, I am overjoyed and ready to fist pump while being surrounded by dozens of hot girls. But it’s 9:20 a.m., an awesome dream had just been interrupted, and I’m about to participate in a sport that I play once a year just so I can do a running diary chronicling how bad I am at it. Why am I not still sleeping? Collin slept over at my Grandmas house with me and he looks excited to be awake too. Hey, when you could wake up 3 hours earlier than usual to do something you suck at, you have to do it right? I think I understand why some kids are high school dropouts now.

9:22- Collin and I walk into the kitchen to see my Grandmas dog Luigi pooped and peed all over the kitchen floor. He is walking around his masterpiece proudly. What a moment!

9:30- I just pulled a Luigi in the toilet.

9:35- I come out of bathroom, and Collin yells “You ready for some galf?” I don’t have the slightest idea as to why he is pronouncing golf with an A instead of an O or how he managed to gain so much energy in a 15 minute time period. He must be juicing.

9:40- Our pre game meal is Special K Cinnamon Pecan cereal. Thanks to Aunt Mary for being our cook.

9:45- Sam arrives right on time. To no one’s surprise it starts raining just like last year. He asks if we like his Ricky Fowler hat. I actually know who Ricky Fowler is. Kind of.

9:48- As Sam is spouting off rules for today’s game, I’m dozing off in the back seat. He’s beyond giddy. I don’t completely understand why Sam is so excited to golf with us again. I thought we scarred him so bad last year he wouldn’t even want to mini golf with us, but apparently he is a glutton for punishment.

9:52- I still have eye boogers. They now belong to the back of the passenger seat in Sam’s car.

10:01- When we get to Terry Hills, Collin asks if there is a snack shop. Clearly his head is in the right place. Sam looks like he just found a treasure at the end of a rainbow.

10:10- Eddie, a man in some type of power position at Terry Hills is bombarding us with questions like we are potential terrorists. How many people are in your group? What’s the last name? Are you going to use a golf cart? Are you two really sharing clubs? You guys suck don’t you? It’s idiots like you that make me hate my job! Okay the last two sentences were made up, but they were implied by his body language and over-exaggerated sighs.

10:12- Sam puts his white golf glove on. He must’ve developed amnesia after last years’ excursion.

10:33- Some key rules for the golf outing: Sam allows us each 5 mulligans in the front nine, and on holes 10 thru 15. Mulligans mean we get the shot over or place the ball wherever Sam’s shot landed. 16-18 no mulligans are allowed, and any whiffs count as a stroke. With that said, after Hole 1 the scores are Sam 4, Sonny 10, Collin 11 (plus his 1st of five mulligans). Collin has already been forced to fix five divots.

10:35- Collin decides to MJ it (tee in his mouth as if it were a cigar). It was hokey last year. Nothing has changed since then.

10:40- On my 2nd shot on Hole 2 my ball deflects off a tree right in the middle of the fairway. That’s how good I am. I’m taking tough bank shots when I don’t even need to.

10:46- Hole 2 scores: Sam 4, Sonny 10, and Collin 8. Yes sir, that’s 20 after two holes. Meanwhile, I just heard the thunder for the first time today. It’s not too late to quit right? Could I go back inside the dream I was having if I go to sleep within a half an hour?

11:05- I just had a serious drive to start Hole 4 after a nice double bogey on the par three Hole 3. Am I in a groove right now? As Marv Albert would say, “YES!!!!”

11:07- Collin says he has a left nostril gem, aka a snot rocket (Nobody in the world provides a more entertaining snot rocket than Collin.) Sam is much more animated and goofy than last year when he was in stone cold killer mode. He just took the glove off. He finally snapped back into reality.

11:10- We just saw a much bigger snake than the snake we saw last year. I feel like Ice Cube in Anaconda. Wait a second, did it get J-Lo already?

11:17- Collin’s 5th shot on Hole 4 is a bomb. “Welcome to the F****** show” he shouts. There is no way he should be as excited as he is, but I don’t want to take this moment from him.

11:35- The best hole for us so far is Hole 5, which is a par 3. Sam 4, Sonny 4, Collin 5. No mulligans for either of us. I just tied Crosby Lamont on a hole. For my next act, I’m going to hit a Mariano Rivera slider.

11:42- Either Sam is actually impressed by us or clapping out of pity. I feel like it’s choice B. In other news, Collin just tickled the tips for the first time today. Amazing that it took a whopping six holes for him to completely whiff on a shot.

11:50- I hit a tree on 3 of my first 6 shots on Hole 6. I think the deadline for me quitting has been surpassed. I’m glad I’m here.

12:02- After two hours and seven holes, I have a one stroke lead on Collin. We are forced to take a break in order to let a group pass us because of our current tortoise pace. We are looking to get done at around midnight tonight.

12:05- 12:15- In our break Collin not only looks for a tree to climb, but we also ponder how eating a golf ball would affect his insides. I personally thought both climbing the tree and eating the golf ball would be a poor decision on his part. However, doing either of those activities would increase the chances that Collin would have to forfeit and thus give me the win early. Go for it Collin! I’ve always believe in you!

12:32- Collin and I both have par puts ahead of us. This is beyond exciting.

12:35- Collin bogeys it and I double bogey it. Nobody was really surprised. We are tied after Hole 8. In other news, my left big toe is about to fall off again. It’s simple, my size 14 feet aren’t made for golf.

12:45- Collin and I decide to eliminate the mulligan rule after the 9th hole in order to maintain the high competitive level of this mockery of a golf match. Sam is now hitting with his eyes closed. I have a two stroke lead after nine holes.

12:55- Eddie (we actually find out his name may or may not be Nick) gives us a carrying cart to help us move along faster. Apparently our tortoise pace was no longer acceptable at Terry Hills.

1:18- We finish up Hole 10, and I’m now up one on Collin. Meanwhile, we are close to getting passed up again. Me and Collin decide it’s time for Power Galf.

Definition- Golfing without measuring any shots, taking any practice swings and power walking to each of our balls after every hit.

1:30- Collin unleashes 3 bombs on Hole 11 and follows up each one with a Sammy Sosa-esque Home Run Skip. Chris Berman would be in Home Run Derby form right now watching these powerful swings. Back, Back, Back, GONE!!!!! By the way, Chris Berman makes the Home Run Derby at least ten times more watchable than it should be. He’s the Gus Johnson of baseball.

1:35- Collin is in a zone right now. He is so excited he is making crowd noises. He is also yelling Shoo Doggy! I wish I could tell you what the logic behind this was, but I can’t.

1:40- Power Galfing is such a success we have caught up to the group who passed up. Who’s playing at the tortoise pace now!

1:47- I think Sam is terrified of our fast paced Power Galfing. He looks like the witness of a murder who can’t deal with talking to the cops anymore. I think I see his bottom lip quivering. I just want to give him a hug and tell him it’s almost over.

2:00- Collin loses his ball in the water on Hole 14. He’s currently ball-less going onto Hole 15. This presents a major problem since you need a ball to be able to play golf. Especially power galf.

2:05- Me and Collin skip Hole 15 because of the lack of balls between the two of us. Wait a second; I paid $23 to play less than 18 holes of golf??? Someone is busting my chops.

2:15- We come to the decision that I will play the par 4 Hole 16, Collin will play the par 4 Hole 17 and Sam will sit out Hole 18 so we can both play. I don’t think Sam has ever been so discouraged playing golf.

2:20- I get an 8 on Hole 16 with Collin as my caddy. Now it’s time for me to play Steve Williams.

2:25- Sam leaves his self-induced coma and yells “He’s fixing a divot!” after Collin’s poor tee shot. It’s good to see he’s still alive. In a shocking turn of events, I’m actually advising Collin on what club he should use for each shot. Not that I have any clue what club is best. I think he just hit it out of the rough with a putter.

2:35- Collin answers on Hole 17 with an 8 of his own. I have a one stroke lead going onto Hole 18. Suddenly, demons from 2007 are creeping into my psyche. Let me explain: Back in 2007, Collin and I were tied going onto Hole 18 at Terry Hills. What ensued was me choking hard and losing by 4 strokes on the hole and game. 3 years later Collin had a lead going into Hole 18 and ended up blowing it. The lesson learned: Absolutely no lead is safe when you have players as bad as Collin and I fighting it out.

2:50- I couldn’t even jot down details during the final hole because I was in the middle of a Bill Buckner/Scott Norwood level choke-job. Collin ends up beating me on Hole 18 by 8 strokes. Nope, that wasn’t a misprint. Eight strokes. And he shot a triple bogey. He wins by 7 overall. Words cannot describe my frustration right now. Actually they can, because I just verbally abused Sam on the way back to the car. I’m not sure if he is giving me a ride home.

Collin is awarded his trophy after winning our annual event
Final Scores: Sam +6, Collin +43, Sonny +50

Our day ends with a delicious lunch at Burger King. It was highlighted by Sam sitting there with a look of relief on his face similar to Andy Dufresne’s after he broke out of Shawshank Prison, and Collin trading one of his onion rings for eight of my French fries. Like last year, we are wet and my feet are sore because of the lack of golf cart and abundance of puddles on the course. Some closing thoughts:

We still went way too early even though we started roughly an hour and a half later than we did last year. And again, I would prefer to go on a day when Batavia wasn’t giving its best Seattle impersonation. One could say this is an end of a rivalry since Collin has now won 2 of 3 games. As far as I’m concerned, the Stucko/Giuliano rivalry has just begun. I could see this being something Collin, Sam and I do every year even when we are old men. Sam will still be awesome, and Collin and I will still suck. But it’s tradition. If I have it my way, we’ll be back next year for more Power Galf.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Challenge Rivals Draft: Podcast/Results

Paul Clark and I took this idea from ESPN Columnist Bill Simmons. We each drafted 14 player rosters, broke down our draft picks and will use the scoring system as seen here: http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-prospectus/post/_/id/153/grantlands-reality-tv-fantasy-league-the-complete-rules-and-draft-results




Team Giuliano: Chris Tamburello, Evan Starkman, Laurel Stuckey, Adam Royer, Jenn Grijalva, Paula Meronek, Adam King, Sarah Rice, Jonna Mannion, Nehemiah Clark, Jasmine Reynaud, Robin Hibbard, Tyrie Ballard, Katelynn Cusanelli

Team Clark: Johnny Devenanzio, Kenny Santucci, Evelyn Smith, Wes Bergmann, Leroy Garrett, Ty Ruff, Cara Maria Sorbello, Tyler Duckworth, Mandi Moyer, Camila Nakagawa, Brandon Nelson, Theresa Gonzalez, Davis Mallory, Aneesa Ferreira

Friday, June 10, 2011

NBA Finals- Game Five Running Diary

Welcome to the Game Five running diary of one of the most compelling, competitive and dramatic NBA Finals in recent memory. Will LeBron revert back to the MVP caliber LeBron James in the most important game of his career? Will Dirk Nowitzki continue to elevate his play on the biggest stage? Will Dwyane Wade keep playing at the level he did in the 2006 Finals? It’s all answered here!

1st Quarter

Before we get to the game, I have a couple nits to pick with the NBA Finals Intro that ABC runs that for the most part is spectacular. First off, ending the montage with Pre-Hair Loss Ginobili fist pumping isn’t acceptable. I’m not saying this because I’m not a Spurs fan, but you can’t end a montage of great finals moments with the third best player on his respective team. That would be like putting Buffalo Bill last on a montage of the greatest movies of All-Time instead of Hannibal Lector. Second, the montage is missing a three key finals moments:

1: Kevin McHale clotheslining Kurt Rambis in the 1984 Finals.
2: Scottie Pippen helping an ailing Michael Jordan off the court in the flu game in 1997.
3: Mark Madsen Dancing as Shaq rapped during the championship celebration for the 2002 Lakers.

9:45- LeBron takes his first shot of the game… Air balled an awkward lefty floater. Not exactly what myself and other Heat fans were hoping for to start.

8:00- After Dirk knocks down his first jumper, Mike Breen tells us that Dirk has had a lot of Chicken Soup since game four. I’m glad I know that when I have a 102 degree fever I treat it the same way as a 7’0 German super star. Does he have ginger ale or Gatorade? I tend to go with Gatorade. What about crushed up ice? Did he have a sore throat or was it a stomach flu? Mike Breen needs to tell us more.

7:12- After an awkward Shawn Marion lay-up on a fast break, Dallas leads 13-6. Timeout Miami. Is there some type of Reset button I could hit to start this game over? Can Miami get a do-over?

6:14- We get to see Juwan Howard yelling to Shawn Marion after Matrix picked up a foul on LeBron. Juwan Howard is definitely that guy. If I could pick one player mic’d up for the NBA Finals I think I would pick Howard. You know he talks all kinds of trash throughout the whole game.

The Custodian falls to the floor so gracefully
3:46- Quite a sequence for Brian Cardinal. First he gets called for a block, and only fifteen seconds later he hits a three. One of the most interesting things about the NBA Finals so far has been learning that Brian Cardinal’s nickname is The Custodian. I can’t help but wonder why that is his nickname? He looks like he could be a custodian during the summer for the American Airlines Center. Or maybe it’s because he mops the floor with the competition… He cleans up the offensive glass… His go to shot is the sweeping hook. Okay, I’m done.

2:58- Wade goes back to the locker room with an apparent back injury. I seriously doubt it’s a major issue. Let me rephrase, I seriously hope it’s not a major issue.

1:56- Mark Jackson just called Brian Cardinal a winning player. Plus he does the teams’ dishes, laundry and cleans the locker room before he goes home. He’s a jack of all trades.

0:26- Does anyone else hear that? Good God! That’s Juwan Howard’s music. Back to back jumpers for the crafty veteran.

0:00- Mario Chalmers knocks down his second end of the first quarter half court heave in the series. Ever since Derrick Rose missed a big free throw in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals Chalmers has been absolutely tearing it up for Miami. It must be a mental thing for him. Takes him back to his days in Kansas when he was knocking down game tying three’s after Memphis completely choked away a championship.

2nd Quarter

11:35- Off a missed Chris Bosh jumper LeBron snatches the offensive rebound over two Mavericks and lays it back in. I’m not saying LeBron is going to have a break out game because of this, but that sequence was absolutely not occurring in game four.

9:20- Doris Burke tells us that Dwyane Wade is questionable to return with a left hip contusion. I’m pretty sure I played a whole season with one of those. Not too bad. I expect Wade to be in within the quarter.

9:00- Just as I expected, Wade’s back in. Clearly, this proves one thing… we can’t trust Doris Burke. Can ESPN please replace her with Erin Andrews? I don’t care if she doesn’t know the first thing about basketball, because apparently neither does Doris Burke.

7:04- We get to see a close up of Mike Miller who has played inspired ball over the past couple of weeks as well as dealing with his daughter being born with some complications. Understandably, he hasn’t found any time to shave. He has the white man’s Paul Pierce beard. Eddie House checks into the game. Mark Jackson tells us that Eddie House is the type of guy who could shoot getting out of bed. Can we actually rule out that this doesn’t happen?

6:17- Eddie House looks like a crack addict who desperately needs his fix. He’s been in the game for about 45 seconds and hasn’t gotten a shot yet. Wade’s at the free throw line and you can hear Eddie House talking to LeBron in the background. “Come on man! Get me a shot Bron! I need my fix damn it!!!”

5:45- ABC shows a shot of Dwyane Wade wincing. My Dad looks to me and says, “Can’t they get him a shot?” Not too hard to tell this is a guy who has had back surgery.

2:15- Technical foul on Marion after he picks up a foul guarding LeBron in the post. I don’t know what he said, but even as a Heat fan I disagree with the call. I wasn’t alive during the 1980’s but I’ve watched enough games on tape and on YouTube to know that players didn’t get a technical for raising their voice to officials or for looking at each other without a smile on his face. In 1984 McHale did everything short of actually taking Kurt Rambis’ head off his body, a fight ensued, benches cleared and they played on. No one was kicked out. Hell, I don’t think McHale or Rambis even got a technical. Let the players play, and let them maim each other in the playoffs. That’s how it should be.

0:05- Dirk is left completely wide open for a short jumper that puts Dallas up 60-57 at the half.. LeBron has still been quiet based on typical LeBron standards. Wade missed a longer than normal portion of the 1st half, plus he was relatively ineffective after he returned. And Dallas started out hot, prompting Erik Spoelstra to call a time out five minutes into the game. All things considered, I would say Miami is in decent shape.

3rd Quarter

12:00- Wait a second, Mike Miller starts the 2nd half. Wade is back in the locker room. I think we need a Zach Morris TIME OUT!
It was LeBron's time to take
over but he failed to deliver
-Alright, here is the point in the game where “I’ll let Wade do everything” LeBron should turn into “I’ll shoot every damn time if I have to, but we aren’t losing this game” LeBron. It’s that damn simple. With all of the talk about legacy, LeBron needs to step up and show he isn’t just a decoy to Dwyane Wade. He needs to be able to go shot for shot with Nowitzki and prove he can lead this team to a championship. TIME IN!

10:15- Two three’s for Mike Miller, filling in for Dwyane Wade. Despite two half functioning arms and some terrible facial hair, the man can still knock down an open three. Heat only down 2.

7:01- Dirk nails a HIGH arching three at end of shot clock and nearly causes Mike Breen to have an orgasm. That’s the “Heat can’t win shot.” Anyone who has played a video game knows what I’m talking about. The computer will be running no offense whatsoever, then nail a 35 footer as the shot clock expires. From that point you no longer score, they don’t miss, and you end up breaking the controller when you throw it against the wall. Well at least that’s what happens with me.

6:00- As I’m typing in Cardinal for the T Mobile Player of the Game vote, Barea hits a high arching floater off the glass. He’s making me remember why I wasn’t excited when the Heat picked up a 6 years past his prime Mike Bibby.

4:33- Wade comes out of the locker room and re-enters the game for Mike Miller. Its shades of Paul Pierce from 2008 minus the wheel chair. We need that type of performance from Wade here.

3:46- A high school level defensive break down for Miami leads to a beyond wide open Tyson Chandler dunk. Right now you could actually see Miami collectively shitting their pants. A much needed timeout called by Coach Spo.

1:20- Jason Terry hits another jump shot as Dallas goes up by 7 again. Apparently Joakim Noah wasn’t kidding when he said Miami was “Hollywood as Hell” because the Mavericks are shooting like they did against the Lakers tonight.

0:34- The Custodian tries to take another charge, but gets called for the block on Chalmers. He does all the dirty work for Dallas…

0:00- Dallas only leads 84-79 at the end of 3. Miami should be getting killed right now considering Dallas is shooting like they are in a sports movie, Wade only played 4 minutes in the third quarter and LeBron is still playing like it’s the 58th game of the regular season.

4th quarter

11:42- J. Howard delivers a crushing foul to Stevenson. Not that it should’ve been, but I have no idea how the refs didn’t call that a flagrant. Hell, I’m not sure how Juwan Howard wasn’t kicked out of the game. Usually with a foul like that the refs react like the police officers on To Catch A Predator do when the pervert walks out of the house.

11:17- J.J. Barea with an “And One.” I can live with it if Dirk carries the Mavs in the fourth quarter. I could even deal with it if it’s Jason Kidd or Jet, but not this Gnome. He can’t beat Wade and LeBron.

9:35- Goodness gracious! Two spots for the upcoming sci-fi flick Super 8 in one commercial break. These NBA Finals commercials are absolutely ridiculous.

8:09- Barea hits another three. If someone would’ve told me before the Finals started that in Game five J.J. Barea was going to make more big shots than LeBron James I would’ve questioned their sanity.

6:48- I need to flip channels to How I Met Your Mother to take my mind off the fact that Miami isn’t going to win this game because of a guy who I would have an advantage on in the post (I would Dream Shake him so bad!) By the way, I love the remake of “I Want It All” by Queen that the NBA finals is using.

5:55- James to Wade for a fast break lay-up gives LBJ the quietest triple double in NBA Finals history and brings Heat within one.

5:16- Miami takes the lead!!! I never lost faith! Somehow Dallas has given up a lay-up or dunk on at least five straight possession. I don’t have the slightest idea why Dallas isn’t playing zone and forcing LeBron and Wade to be jump shooters.

4:35- WADE FOR 3!!!! 9-0 run for Miami gives them a 99-95 lead.

3:52- Dirk just absolutely lit into Tyson Chandler for not catching his pass out of the double team. I think it’s appropriate/slightly stereotypical to assume he was yelling at him in German since Chandler shook his head and walked away.

3:20- Jet wide open at top of the key for three. “BANG” says Mike Breen. Game tied at 100. 

2:27- Referee Joey Crawford just called LeBron for a questionable charge. This led to my Dad unleashing an absolute tirade on Crawford. He said things that wouldn’t even be allowed in The Hangover Part II. Without question, my Dad would’ve been kicked out of the game, fined and suspended if he was a player.

1:26- That’s what we call a dagger. Jason Kidd wide open for three (becoming a trend). The Mavericks fans are in an absolute frenzy. Dallas leads 105-100.

0:56- Bosh goes to the free throw line, makes the first and misses the second. I have to say I could’ve seen that one coming. I think I saw his bottom lip quivering when he walked to the free throw line.

The Jet took off in Game 5
0:33- Jason Terry just hit a three from San Antonio, with LeBron right in his face. That’s a perfect example of the video game shot. Lights out for Miami. 108-101 Mavericks.

0:25- A rare LeBron James sighting. His first fourth quarter points since early in game 3 come by a lay-up where Tyson Chandler ran away from him like he had a bomb strapped to his chest and contact would detonate it.

Dallas 112, Miami 103… Closing Thoughts:

1: If Dallas shoots this well they can beat anyone, anywhere. Home court advantage in games 6 and 7 won’t mean jack if Jet, Gnome and Kidd make every open or contested three they take.

2: LeBron James isn’t Michael Jordan. Let’s end that debate for LeBron’s sake, and for Jordan’s sake. It’s unfair to both of them.

3: Dwyane Wade isn’t Michael Jordan either. Wade has been without question the best Miami player in the Finals, and potentially the best player not named Dirk in the playoffs. But there is no fricking way Jordan plays only 34 minutes in a game 5 and misses the first 8 minutes of the 3rd quarter. In his 35 NBA Finals games, MJ played under 40 minutes only 3 times:

Game 2 1991: 36 minutes, 36 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds, 15-18 field goals, Bulls win 107-86
Game 1 1992: 34 minutes, 39 points, 11 assists, Six 3’s, One Shrug, Bulls win 122-89
Game 3 1998: 32 minutes, 24 points, Bulls win 96-54

Also, take a look at the Flu Game from 1997 where the series was tied 2-2 in Utah:
44 minutes, 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, Bulls wins 90-88.

No more Jordan comparisons are allowed for anyone. A hip contusion wouldn’t even hinder Jordan. If anything he would’ve found Brian Cardinal, dunked on him for causing the injury in the first place, and then unleashed hell on the rest of the Mavericks team.
4: Dirk is one game away from putting himself into the top 20 all-time discussion. He got a lot of help tonight, there is no doubting that. But in the first four games he carried Dallas to two wins.

5: The series isn’t over. Last year the Lakers were down 3-2 heading back to LA and ended up winning the series in a dramatic 7th game. Even though Wade is playing with a hurt hip and LeBron is… well I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, Miami won’t die easy. Or maybe they will.