Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ski at your own risk

As I sit here in Vail, CO looking out my window I am overwhelmed by a paralyzing fear of today's future events. I decided to join 4 friends on their annual ski trip, because no one else I know skis, and my memory of skiing is that of complete and total exhilaration coupled with a serene relaxation.

That feeling was apparent on Sunday morning, my first day skiing since 2005. I handled several green (easiest) and blue (more difficult) trails before breaking for lunch. "I feel as if I have been skiing my whole life!" I exalted confidently. My friends were impressed. Okay then, let's try Blue Ox, the black diamond.

And that is the moment when skiing morphed from enjoyable to terrifying. I think the problem with skiing is that most people want to push themselves to get better, as with most sports. But with skiing, that comes with an enormous risk. If I decide I'm ready to play basketball against 5 large black men, even when I get destroyed, im still alive. When I think its time to play against scratch golfers, I'll get embarrassed, but I'll certainly live. Not with skiing. Push yourself too far, and you are in for the most terrifying moments of your life. I.E. me on the Blue Ox.

On the first day of ski season this November a prominent doctor died of head injuries when he went off an embankment on Gitalong Run, a green trail! So, with 2 days of skiing left, I have no choice but to break away from the group, and try and ski greens. Because after all, my life depends on it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Championship Week Predictions

Back from vacation in time for Championship Week!! After the NCAA Tournament it's probably the best part of the college hoops season. I'm going to keep updating the sheet with my predictions as the brackets come out:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Automatic Bids Should Not Be Eliminated - Reaction to Jay Bilas' column

On February 15th, Jay Bilas wrote a column in favor of eliminating automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Jay Bilas writes some form of this column every year. He does it because he thinks the mid-major enthusiasts (I am one myself) view him as a power conference elitist trying to force the mid-majors out of the NCAA Tournament. Then in these columns he essentially says, "Hey look, your precious mid-majors will still be in the tournament! And maybe even more of them!" He's probably right but the whole mid-major argument isn't the part that bothers me. Besides, on his Bilas Index he obviously ranks the teams where he does only to fit his own arguments. The mid-majors are taking care of themselves these days. What Jay Bilas doesn't care about is the low-majors.

For some reason Bilas thinks that because a 1 seed has to play a low-major team in the first round somehow diminishes a championship run. I don't see that at all. He seems to think that having a team like Stanford play Kentucky in the first round instead of a team like Stony Brook automatically fixes that. The 1-16 games are only 4 games of the tournament, so why rob these low major schools of an opportunity for a memory they rightfully earned? I'm all for the 1-16 blow outs if it means I get to watch games like last year's Boston U vs Stony Brook's America East final again. To me that outweighs Boston getting beat down the next week by Kansas. And if you get rid of the automatic bids then what happens to Championship Week? Do conferences stop putting on tournaments? They wouldn't mean anything. What would Boston and Stony Brook have played for last year, a banner? Who's watching that? If you're a college basketball fan and your okay destroying something as great as Championship Week then there is something wrong with you.

Every year a friend and I get together on Selection Sunday and try to accurately predict the bracket and every year it doesn't come down to "I can't believe we left this team out," often times our reaction is "I can't believe we put this team in." So in my eyes, if you can't crack this bracket the way it is now you're probably not more worthwhile than a small school anyway. Leave it alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

UFC on Fuel: Ellenberger vs. Sanchez - LIVE BLOG REPLAY

Tonight we'll be live blogging the live UFC on Fuel Event. On the live blog we'll also be posting Tweets from Dana White, ESPN's MMA reporters as well as fighters on tonight's card.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New York Mets in 2012!

It's embarrassing that I have to go into a season with a New York baseball franchise having this kind of attitude, but here is why I'm holding out hope for the 2012 New York Mets:

Actually before starting I should clarify what "hope" means. I do not think the Mets will sniff the NL East or the Wildcard (or even the rumored 2nd Wildcard if that happens). What I mean by hope is a team that can put together a brand of baseball that will keep me interested until August. I'd actually sign up for what the Mets did last year until September 7th when they were 1 game under .500 at that point. There is a reason Terry Collins actually received a 1st place vote for NL Manager of the year. For most of the year, they were not a terrible watch. Ideally you don't want to refer to a team with a 100+ million dollar payroll as scrappy but situations what they were they were a scrappy, fun bunch there for a little while.

So why do I think the Mets might not be a total disaster:

1. I understand the Mets are arguably in the best division in baseball so the unbalanced schedule effects them more than others but look at some of last year's teams that overachieved in 2011: the Pirates were players at the trade deadline, the Indians were a .500 ball club with two days left in the season and Vegas had Arizona's win total at 72.5 going in to spring training. In any year the right group of guys can overachieve. Now that I have my "hope springs eternal" reason out of the way...

2. I know injuries are a part of sports, but injuries! Do you know how many teams didn't have a single position player play in at least 130 games? I'm not looking it up but it's probably not a lot. The Mets leader in games played was a tie with 126 with Jose Reyes and Willie Harris. Angel Pagan and Jason Bay 123, Justin Turner 117, Josh Thole 117, Daniel Murphy 109, David Wright 102. Do you know how many at bats Jason Pridie had? Too many. These aren't normal numbers for any team. I want to see what happens when the core of the offense plays 140-150 games together.

3. The rotation is the worst in the NL East but it's not as bad as it looks. I'm not expecting miracles from Johan Santana. If asked for a prediction I'd go with an 11-11 4.50 ERA. I'm looking at this year as still a rehab year for him. Assuming you get more of the same as last year with the remaining four members of the rotation (other than Pelfrey who throws up a lot of stinkers) Dickey, Gee and Niese keep you in games. But with Gee and Niese both only being 25, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some improvement out of them.

4. The walls are moving in. It sounds like a lame excuse but the dimensions at CitiField had to get in to hitter's heads. My theory is this: players do care about their numbers. It's how they get paid. The reason that the home and road splits are both bad for Mets "power hitters" is because they let CitiField get in their head so much that they pressed to get their numbers up on the road. If nothing else, I really do feel that guys like Wright and Bay will be able to relax a little more at home and if/when they start to get their numbers there, their numbers on the road will come too.

5. I'm not expecting much out of Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole and Andres Torres offensively but Ike Davis (he was on pace for a 27 HR 97 RBI type of season) and Daniel Murphy (until he inevitably gets hurt on a takeout slide playing 2nd) are coming back and they both can hit. As a Mets fan, you have to like what you saw from Lucas Duda last year so I feel all is not lost offensively. If you can put some order of Murphy, Davis, Wright, Bay and Duda together for any stretch of time I think they can put up more runs than last year.

I know Reyes not being back is going to kill this team. But the baseball season is so long and so pivotal in my enjoyment of the summer that I'll look for hope anywhere I can find it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Giants Fans: Call In Sick Tomorrow

Tomorrow is going to be the 7th ticker tape parade that is going to go through New York City in what I consider my celebration prime (18-40 years old). As a Mets and Jets fan they obviously weren't for me so I've never been to one. But it blows my mind why it wouldn't be a given to go in to the city if your team just won a championship.

If it happens to be the Mets or Jets in the next few years, I don't know if I'd actually go to the parade itself but I would hop on a train at 8am with a 24oz beer while wearing my favorite jersey and just bar hop and celebrate with the thousands of people who really understand what you just went through. And besides, if there is a better excuse for early morning/afternoon drinking during the week then I don't know what it is. Championships start in prime time and often on a work night so it seems that once the game is over there is a few minutes of high fives and then it's over. It's a long season, it deserves a longer celebration than that. It deserves a day long celebration.

So Giants fans, go to the parade. Even though you've been fortunate to get 2 of them the last 5 years, don't take it for granted that you'll get another one.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI - The Pick

Late on January 22nd after Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants in to the Super Bowl I was in a group text with a couple of my friends who are Giants fans and I wrote, "You'll beat the Pats. I'm pretty sure of it." Then I found out the Giants were dogs against the Pats so I preceded to talk about taking the Giants moneyline or taking an adjusted line to where they are giving points so I get better odds.

Two weeks later I'm still confident the Giants are going to win the game but look at my pick history this year. I was 15-19-1 in Bowl Games and 3-7 on the NFL Playoffs. I was pretty confident in most of those too. When debating who to take in this game my confidence in the Giants is under the "Cons" side of my list.

There is another reason that I'm starting to lean the Patriots way as well. As a Jets fan I know first hand that the chattier team never wins. If I'm a Giants fan I'm not happy with Jason Pierre Paul telling Tom Brady he's not a God. I'm not happy with Chris Canty telling Giants fans to get ready for a parade. Tom Coughlin can still try to play the "We're still the underdogs" but his players obviously don't think so. Even though the Pats are favored I really think they are the one's who should be playing that card. I've seen very few people picking the Pats to win.

So it turns out that I went from complete confidence in what my bet was going to be to probably laying off and rolling with my props. But if I have to go on record I think I'm going to go for the 0-4 against the Giants.

The Pick: Patriots -3(even)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI - I'm Giving You Props

Sportsbook.com has 18 pages of prop bets. I never do prop bets during the year but I do enjoy dabbling in props for the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four. Here are a few of the props I'm looking at this year:

Team to Receive the Opening Kick Off: Giants (-260)

I normally don't like props with those type of odds but it was brought to my attention that the Pats have deferred every coin toss they've won since Brady tore his ACL and the Giants have elected to receive every time they won. I don't see much downside.

First Score of the Game will be: Any Other Score (+155)

I know the offensive coordinators have had two weeks to script the first 20 plays or how ever many plays OCs script to start a game but if I'm under the impression that the Giants are getting the ball first, Because the Giants OC is Kevin Gilbride I think they have the better chance of stalling out and kicking a field goal on their first drive. And other than that, it's not like these two teams score a TD on EVERY drive. It seems worth the risk.

Giants - Will they Convert a 4th Down Attempt: Yes (+150)

As good as Steve Weatherford is at pinning teams down inside the 20, there is going to be a point in this game where Coughlin would rather trust his offense than give the ball back to the Pats offense. The only question is, will they make the mistake of giving to Jacobs on these attempts...

Patriots - Will they Convert a 4th Down Attempt: Yes (+120)

Replace the following: Steve Weatherford for Zoltan Mesko, Coughlin for Belichick and remove the last sentence from the above paragraph.

Brandon Jacobs - Total Rushing Yards: Under 29.5 (-115)

In their meeting earlier in the year Jacobs did have a decent game going for 72 yards and TD but Ahmad Bradshaw didn't play. So figure this time around Jacobs' carries will be down to around the 5-8 mark. There is always a chance that Jacobs can get to the linebackers and churn out a few 5-10 yard runs but with Wilfork in the middle, whatever running success the Giants have is going to be on the edges and those yards are going to go to Bradshaw. Any carries I see Jacobs getting are going to be soften up the veteran Patriots DL. Even 7 carries at his season average isn't getting him to 29.5.

Travis Beckum - Total Receptions: Over 1.5 (+115)

For a large part of the year Beckum has been an offensive non-factor. But he has been targeted 7 times over the last 2 games. I love bets like this. They are just fun to root for.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis - Total Rushing Attempts: 13 (even)

Green-Ellis has only reached at least 13 carries in 8 out of 18 games this year. But what I like about this bet for even money is that BGE has never fumbled in his career. In the Super Bowl, I don't see how a guy with that kind of ball security doesn't get a lion's share of the carries. He's their goal line back so he won't lose out on carries there and in the event the Pats are up late trying to salt the clock away that's the guy that's going to get the carries.

Danny Woodhead - Total Receptions: Over 1.5 (even)

I'm going to hold out betting this one until I get a better idea of Gronkowski's status. I have no doubt he's going to play but there is no question he's going to be limited. In Brady's last 3 Super Bowls running backs have caught 18 passes. Granted, Woodhead isn't Kevin Faulk but if any of the RBs are going to be targeted in the passing game it's going to be Woodhead. Like the Beckham prop above, 2 catches seems so easy here.