Friday, January 11, 2013

NFL Divisional Round Playoff Picks

Since it went so well last week, I'm going to give my picks for the NFL Divisional Round too!

Baltimore (+10) at Denver

Is it weird that despite Peyton Manning probably being the league MVP this year and an overall 13-3 record and being 7-1 at home, I still don't buy Denver as a Super Bowl team?  Don't get me wrong, I think they are winning this game but Baltimore is so seasoned and in the playoffs every year.  I don't see them getting handily beaten.  And I know that Peyton has been to two Super Bowls and won one of them but pass the Wild Card round of the playoffs and Peyton Manning is a 6-6 QB with a 16:13 TD to INT ratio.

The Pick: Baltimore +10

Green Bay (+3) at San Francisco

I have to take Green Bay.  For me it boils down to Aaron Rodgers in revenge mode.  He grew up here, he was passed over by San Fran.  I like what Kaepernick brings to the table as a QB but it's his first career playoff start.  I don't like the spot for San Fran here even at home.

The Pick: Green Bay (+3)

Seattle at Atlanta (-2.5)

I kind of thought Seattle would be getting a little bit more than 2.5.  I hate betting on Atlanta in the playoffs.  For the purposes of making picks on a blog nobody reads, I don't believe in buying points here so I can't take an average road team in the playoffs getting less that a Field Goal.  I really want to root for Seattle so I may lay off this one.  I'm scared if I take Seattle that I'm doing as a bandwagon rider.

The Pick: Atlanta (-2.5)

Houston at New England (-9.5)

Houston looks like a shell of their earlier season self.  I can't imagine they are going to give New England anything they can't handle.  Matt Schaub looks shaky lately and if New England's defense has a strength it's that it's pretty decent against the run.  I'm glad this is the last game of the weekend.  Usually I'm trying to navigate giving my kids a bath and watching the end of the 4:00pm Sunday games.  I have a feeling I'll be comfortable tuning out by the end of this one.

The Pick: New England -9.5

Playoffs: 1-3
(although I would have switched the Minnesota pick over to Green Bay once Ponder was out. But I'll own the loss.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Some thoughts on today's Baseball Hall of Fame Voting

Some thoughts on the Hall of Fame vote today:

-Are the Baseball Writers' Association of America the most self-important people you can think of or what?  5 guys turned in a blank ballot?  Oooooh.  Message received.  Turn in a goddamn ballot and leave the steroid guys off if that's your choice.

-And what's with the first ballot bias?  If a guy is a Hall of Famer, put him in the Hall of Fame.  In all honesty, I think you should have one year of eligibility on a Hall of Fame ballot.  There should be no debate on if someone is a Hall of Famer.  If you have to think about whether or not a guy is worthy of the Hall of Fame, he's not worthy of the Hall of Fame.  Because of a first ballot bias, Biggio sits in a class with Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro as (retired) guys in the 3000 hit club who are not in the Hall of Fame.  I hope they feel good about that.  And the fact that Piazza got 57.8% of the vote means that he's not included in the Bonds and Clemens cloud of PED guys.  The guy is indisputably the best offensive catcher of his generation.  The fact that he's not a first ballot HOFer is a joke.

-Guys who vote for Shawn Green and Aaron Sele for the Hall of Fame should have to sit in front of a committee and explain themselves before having their votes taken away.

-For what it's worth, my ballot would have went: Biggio, Morris, Piazza, Schilling, Clemens, Bonds and McGwire.  Screw the steroid use.  It is what it is.  Biggio hit a HOF magic number with his 3000 hits for me and the other guys I felt I was watching Hall of Famers as I was watching them.  Reggie Bush won the 2005 Heisman trophy and Joe Paterno won 409 games.  I know what I saw.  It's ridiculous already that baseball's all time hits leader isn't in the Hall of Fame.  I'm not keeping out the Home Run King as well (no matter how much I hate him).  As for Bagwell, don't get me wrong, he was awesome but for me he was just another big offensive player at a big offensive position.  For me, he's the one who gets hurt by the era he played in.  Doing what he did, when he did it, never really felt special to me.  I don't care about WAR and OPS and stuff.  I'm old enough now that I experienced these guys' whole careers.  I don't need to go back and analyze their stats to make my decision.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

All Light Beers Are Not Created Equal: Is Your Beer Punking You?

First, some back story. Years ago I was told that Coors light was only 3.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) and I believed it. That became part of the basis for putting it on the bottom of my beer pecking order, right above Keystone Light & Busch. But then, I found out I was wrong. It was 4.2%, just like Bud Light, Miller Lite, Micehlob Light (4.3%) & even Guinness. I still don't drink it, but that's just because its terrible. But that is why the baseline for light beer is set at 4.2%. Unless of course you are in Colorado, Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma & Minnesota where they sell something ridiculous called "low point beer" in Supermarkets and convenient stores. That carries an ABV of 3.2% and that's why when I visit my brother in Colorado, we don't buy our beer in Supermarkets.

Recently, I was at the local chain bar, PJ Whelihans (which comes up Wheel Iguana w/ predictive typing) and I decided to make my beer of choice for the night Heineken Light. It was on special for $3, plus I was watching my weight and it tastes pretty damn good. But I noticed at the end of the night that I was feeling very little effects of my several beers, or at least much less effect than my friends. So when I got home I googled alcohol content in Heineken Light and was shocked to see that it was 3.5%. You might think, "so what? what's the difference?" Well, I'll tell you. At 4.2%, most light beers are at a 16% reduction in ABV from your standard 5.0% beer (Budweiser). That's a pretty significant drop, but that's what you have to do to remove calories and that drop off often allows us to drink more and for longer. But at 3.5%, you are at a drop off of 30% and are much closer to drinking "low-point beer" than you are a regular light beer.

Why am I telling you this? Because quite frankly, people should know. For the same reason it's important to know that if you are drinking a Stella Artois or a Sierra Nevada, you are drinking beers that are 5.2% & 5.6% respectively. People have developed, or tried to develop, drinking thresholds because it makes the effects of alcohol consumption more predictable. But it would take 10 Heineken lights to equal 8 Bud lights or 6 Sierra Nevada's, so maybe $3 isn't such a good deal after all.

Friday, January 4, 2013

NFL Wildcard Weekend Picks

I'm getting back in the picks game!!!

Cincinnati (+4.5) at Houston

I don't like the way Houston finished up the year.  Losing 3 out of 4 to close it out, albeit against all playoff teams, doesn't sit well with me.  Cincinnati on the other hand already essentially played a playoff game this year.  Week 16 in Pittsburgh was pretty much a loser goes home game and they won.  Also, if you look at Cincinnati's 6 losses, other than Week 1, they don't get blown out.  Take away that 31 point loss away and their average losing margin in their other 5 losses is only 6 points per loss.  I think this is a field goal game in either direction.

The Pick: Cincinnati

Minnesota (+8) at Green Bay

Like Cincinnati, Minnesota has already played in playoff games this year.  I hate when teams play in Week 17 and then again the next week in the playoffs.  I don't think Minnesota is intimidated by Green Bay.  Other than the win last week, the lost at Green Bay in early December by single digits.  And check this out:

Green Bay is that big purple slice!  I know the Packers, Lions and Bears are going to have the biggest pieces of the pie here but Green Bay can not stop Adrian Peterson.  20% of his total rushing yards is a pretty big chunk.  Another reason I like Minnesota to cover is because Minnesota is 5th in the NFL in sacks and Aaron Rodgers gets sacked more than any QB in the NFL.  Green Bay should win but Minnesota isn't a great matchup for them.

The Pick: Minnesota

Indianapolis at Baltimore (-7)

I would not place money on this game.  I hate when teams rest their starters in Week 17 which is what Baltimore did last week but for this game I'm going with my gut.  Despite 11 wins on the season, the Colts don't look like a playoff team to me.  Baltimore is in the playoffs every year, they are seasoned and they are home.  I think they win this game by double digits.  I won't be putting money on that though because I'm also a believer in story book endings in sports.  The Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano running story lines through the season have scared me off.

The Pick: Baltimore

Seattle (-3) at Washington

I'm aware that Seattle is a different team away from home and that the Redskins have gone on a borderline magical run to win the NFC East.  But even with all that, I think Seattle is the superior team and with RGIII banged up, I'm taking the road favorite.

The Pick: Seattle

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Few Hundred Words on the 2012 New York Jets

I'm prepared to talk about the Jets 2012 season now.

I've mentioned in the past that in all my years of being a Jets fan, this might have been my least favorite.  At least during the 1-15 debacle I was a freshmen in college with my whole life ahead of me.  My distaste for this season doesn't come from Mark Sanchez regressing terribly, a 6-10 record, putting up less than 20 points a game, having the best defensive player in the league injured for the year or still not having a legitimate pass rusher.  It was because of the media.  Record wise, the Jets had done the same or worse than 2012 on three other occasions already.  It's fine.  It happens.  The one thing that got under my skin all year was that the Jets were a "circus."  Granted, they did sign up for extra media attention when Woody wanted to bring in Tim Tebow but I think the public and media perception of how much Tim Tebow SHOULD have been used overshadowed how much the Jets planned on using him.  Prior to the season people were predicting that Tebow was here to eventually unseat Sanchez but the Jets never said that.  They emphasized that Sanchez was the starter and Tebow was the back up and there would be a package of plays for Tebow that would be sprinkled in.  Rex also said that Tebow can be used lightly or up to 20 plays a game depending on the situation.  Everyone seemed to run with that "20" number.  I'm sure you can point to Rex starting Greg McElroy over Tebow in Week 16 as mishandling the Tim Tebow situation but if you look at it objectively, you could not start Tebow in Week 16.  It was abundantly clear by that point that Tebow was not coming back next year.  Personally I don't think you could have risked Tebow having any chance for success in a meaningless game.  That would have caused an even bigger uproar.  But at no point in the season did I think the Jets lied about Tebow's role.  I think it was blown out of proportion because he was Tim Tebow.  If they never made that trade and Drew Stanton was sitting as the #2 then Sanchez would have been benched weeks before he was.  The Jets had a package for Tim Tebow and they know he can't run a pro style offense.

I understand Rex has kind of made his bed with all the negative press the Jets get but other than his off base statement about how this could be the best team he's ever coached, Rex was very tame this year.  He was still media friendly but without any bold predictions and rarely talking playoffs or looking ahead.  I do believe that Rex Ryan will be a head coach again and he will have learned from his mistakes here and be successful (Spoiler Alert! I don't think he's back next year.)

Touching on what actually happened on the field this year, I want to blurb about a few players:

-Shonn Greene: Another yawn of a 1000 yard season.  I'm ready to move on from him.  I like Bilal Powell better (although I don't think he's a workhorse either) and I'm a believer in not spending a lot of money on RBs.  The Jets don't have a lot of flexibility with the cap so I'd task my new GM with finding a cheap alternative to pair with Powell.

-Braylon Edwards: Despite having zero success since he left the Jets, I always said that the Jets picked wrong when they kept Santonio Holmes over Edwards.  I view Santonio Holmes as a glorified slot receiver masquerading as a #1.  When healthy I like what Edwards brings to the table.  Sure he drops a few too many but he also makes some tough catches as well.  I'd take this opportunity to bring him back on the cheap.  They still need help at WR but going in to next season with Holmes, Edwards and Jeremy Kerley as their Top 3, for some reason I wouldn't hate that based on their cap restraints.

-Mike DeVito: He's an unrestricted free agent now and I'm going to miss him if he goes.  I was surprised to learn he made 2.5 million this year and he earned every penny.  He is the blue collar guy that the Jets defense needs.  Not flashy but he is really solid against the run.

-Quinton Coples: It was tough to see Chandler Jones have 6 sacks halfway through the season and going from confused by Seattle's pick to wishing Bruce Irvin lasted just one more spot.  But although the Jets still desperately need a guy who can get to the QB on his own, I'm currently okay with Coples.  He showed me flashes this year and surprisingly led the team in sacks this year (only 5.5 but still).  I'm not getting too excited because apparently he has a history of lacking motivation but so far so good.

-Kyle Wilson:  It confuses me why he is getting such a pass.  I know the Jets some how ended up the year with solid numbers against the pass but I can't honestly say I think Wilson played well.  He's not developing at all and I don't care what defensive back metrics you can throw at me, just watching him week in and week out, he seems to get toasted once or twice a game.  I'm holding him to a higher regard than I should because of his draft status and maybe that's not fair anymore but if Antonio Cromartie or Darelle Revis leave one day, I don't think he's the answer as a starter.

So far in to the new year, the Jets let go of Mike Tannenbaum which was definitely the right now and they gave Rex a reprieve right now.  I am on record as saying that I would like their to be a way for Rex to coach the team next year but if the GM goes, the coach has to go too.  It's not fair to the new GM to not allow him to bring in his own coach.  What I believe is happening is that Woody will hire a GM and Rex will be interviewing with him to keep his job.  And personally I don't think Rex Ryan will be back.  And if he is back, I won't be able to shake the notion that we hired the wrong guy as GM and he was only hired because of his willingness to let this situation happen.  It's a tricky situation as a Jets fan.

The beauty of the NFL is that it's not impossible to change a team from a 6-10 record to 10-6 record in one year.  So hopefully the Jets hire a good ringmaster to bring the big top down on all this circus garbage.

See?  Circus analogies are annoying.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My New Years Resolution/Quest

I was looking at my resolutions last year and realized I needed to make a change in how I make a resolution.  

Quick update on last year's resolutions:
-I ate better until the NCAA Tournament started and then went downhill
-I never ran the 5K but I did get use out of my Nike+ Sportsband.  Not nearly enough though.
-My basement was finished and I did paint it myself, as well as fixed a dryer and hung a few light fixtures.  Still need to be better though.
-Still going to bed on average around 12:30am and waking up at 6:30am.
-My fingernails and cuticles remain gross (I blame the Jets)
-I did not come close to averaging one movie a week.  In fact, this year I only went to the movies twice all year.  Gross.
-I may not have listened to one new album (to me) a week but I probably did my best with this thanks to Spotify.  I did listen to a lot of new stuff.

So after looking back at that and being disappointed, I'm going to go with one resolution this year.  It's a resolution that I'm hoping has a trickle down effect on what some of my other resolutions SHOULD be: I'm going to go out for 100 runs in 2013.  

Here's how I'm hoping the trickle down effect goes:
-Back when I used to go to the gym somewhat frequently it did have an impact on what I ate or drank the rest of the day.  I'd go to the gym and then feel like having a few beers or some leftover pizza defeats the purpose of why I just went to the gym.  It was a good dissuasion.  I know it's just math and it works but counting calories made me miserable.
-I'd really like to do a mud run (e.g., Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash).  If I'm running more frequently I might be more comfortable signing up for one when the time comes.
-On the occasions I did run last year, I always made it a point to do it to an album I've never heard before.  Out for a run was the first time I listened to the Alabama Shakes album in it's entirety and it was the quickest 2.5 miles ever.  If I'm listening to something I'm familiar with then it becomes background music but when I'm  concentrating on hearing something new, I'm not concentrating on how much I'm laboring.