Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009

Until Seth Curry Saves Duke! gains in prominence and the country slash world slash universe recognizes the New Year as beginning on what is known today as "March 30th," the date of SCSD!'s first post, it will be necessary to pay homage to the Gregorian calendar and celebrate with the masses as they count down to the false transition.

(I just re-read that sentence, and man, it had a lot happening. I should teach a class on how to kill a joke by pure verbiage. Or, rather, 'it would befit me to assume the role of instructor for a group of prospective pupils desiring intimate knowledge on the practice of sabotaging humor by means of extreme prolixity.')

Anyway, it's been another whole year. You can't argue with me there. I wish I had something profound to say, or at least a countdown of the ten greatest something-or-others, but the only thing really happening is that I'm getting my arse kicked up and down in this bowl prediction project. And unfortunately, I was late to work today and have a lot going on, so I only have time to make the weekend predictions. But when the chips are down and the truth is out, the New Year ain't nothing but another day. Let's keep noses pressed to the grindstone. Let's pound that pavement. Let's continue with...

THE 10TH LAYER OF HELL BOWL PREDICTION TORTURE PAGEANT

It's increasingly embarrassing to go back and look at my write-ups from the day before after these games play out. To be fair, Bowling Green gave up a BS 70-yard drive with 16 seconds left to lose their game (big respect for the Idaho coach for going for two...that was awesome). But Nebraska absolutely annihilated Arizona, and the offense I so gleefully insulted looked pretty awesome. The Pac-10 in particular is giving me all kinds of hell; I'm 1-4 straight up and 0-5 against the spread in games involving that conference.

Time for the weekend's games, and there are many. Minimal write-ups this time, don't want to take the focus off the good old-fashioned no-frills bad predictions.

Goals: 25-9 straight up, 20-14 against the spread.

Current: 6-9 straight up (I can still reel off 19 straight!), 3-12 against the spread (so much breathing room!).

Today:

Houston (-7) vs. Air Force, noon. Don't bet against the service academies? Okay, sure, but what about that Houston offense? They'll score, but the D is vacant, and C-USA has been a let down. The Mountain West will deliver. Air Force both ways.

Oklahoma (-9.5) vs. #21 Stanford, 2pm. Wow...what a line, nobody believes in Stanford despite the ranking. And it's a mystery, because they lost big to Cal, who looked horrible, and beat USC, who looked pretty good. I'm gonna revert to my coaching hypothesis here; Stoops isn't awesome in bowls, and Harbaugh will be prepared. Stanford covers, Oklahoma wins.

Missouri (-6.5) vs. Navy, 3:30pm. Missouri can put up some numbers, but Navy's D has been solid, especially second half of the season. Again, I believe in the service academies, and if you love America, so should you. DAMN THE TORPEDOS, NAVY IMPLEMENTS A BLOCKADE ON THE STRAIGHT-UP AND THE SPREAD!

Minnesota (-1.5) vs. Iowa St., 6pm. Gee, I'm glad this is the night game, and therefore the only one I'll be able to see since I work until 4pm. God forbid I have to watch a fun game like Oklahoma-Stanford. Nope, give me this clash of the titans, because I want to be completely fucking depressed and bored by the time the ball drops. Minnesota both ways.

#11 Virginia Tech (-4) vs. Tennessee, 7:30pm. I'll take the SEC team that almost beat Alabama, please. Volunteers everywhere you look.

New Year's Day games:

Auburn (-7) vs. Northwestern, 11am. Fun early game. Needless to say, I'm rolling with the SEC here. Auburn wins and covers.

#16 West Virginia (-2.5) vs. FSU, 1pm. Would be nice to see Bobby go out with a win, but I don't see it. Mountaineers both ways.

#13 Penn State (-3) vs. #12 LSU, 1pm. Wait, seriously? Easiest pick of the year. Give me a break. LSU says Geaux Home, Lions.

#7 Oregon (-3) vs. #8 Ohio State, 4:30pm. Interesting Rose Bowl. I think OSU will cover, but Tressel will make some stupid mistake and blow the game. Oregon straight up, Buckeyes w/spread.

#5 Florida (-10) vs. #3 Cincinnati, 8:30pm. What a great game. It should be highly emotional with Tebow leaving and Urban Meyer stepping down. Florida's going to win, but Cincy will keep this one closer than expected and cover. That offensive unit is nothing short of great. Cincy with spread, Gators straight up.

Saturday's games:

South Florida (-4.5) both ways over Northern Illinois - I've learned my lesson with the MAC.

UConn (+4.5) against the spread over South Carolina, Gamecocks straight up - I like Edsall, I think UConn will be pumped and fall jussst short.

#19 Oklahoma State (+3) both ways over Ole Miss - that team is always a disappointment, and I think Dez Bryant will go off...kinda puzzling that they're underdogs here...

Arkansas (-7.5) over East Carolina both ways - no brainer. ECU doesn't see this kind of ability in C-USA. SEC West ain't a thing to take lightly.

Michigan State (+8) both ways over Texas Tech - karma is a bitch, and Mike Leach is getting screwed by TTU and the James family. He's going to land on his feet, but the Red Raiders are going to land on their asses. BOOYA.

And there it is. Have a great New Year's Eve, my friends. Thanks for reading in 2009, and I'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Triumvirate Delivers

Scheyer, Singler, Smith: three dudes whose last names begin with S, and who do most of the scoring for the Blue Devils. Anybody have any good ideas for a group nickname? I'm brainstorming, and so far my ideas are pretty lame:

The Three S-Keteers

Oh wait, that's my only idea. It's not going to catch on (too sophisticated), but you have to admit that the poster would be pretty awesome: taken from a low angle, all three dressed up like French Royal Guard soldiers, hands placed on top of each other over a basketball, and below in calligraphy it says "One for all...all for One." And in the background, there's a disturbing semi-transparent floating image of Coach K's smiling face.

Anyway, the S-Keteers did the job against Long Beach State last night, scoring a combined 55 points to lead the Devils to an easy victory. I don't have much analysis to offer, particularly since I didn't watch the game (wasn't on tv, too cold in the city to go to a bar), but it feels like we're at that point where the team has proved that they're going to be very good, and now it's time to find out just how good. We have to tolerate one more gimme game against Penn on Thursday, and then it's ACC play starting with Clemson on the 3rd.

Long Beach State, meanwhile, lost to their 4th straight top 10 team. That is what we call an ambitious schedule, and I particularly liked their coach's quote after the game:

"I think [Duke is] every bit as good [as those other Top 10 teams], but that's what everybody asks me when you're going on this Washington Generals tour," Monson said.

Gotta have a sense of humor!

By the way, Andre Dawkins is now 25-51 from 3, almost 50%, good for top 10 in the country. Nolan isn't far behind, though he's attempted fewer. And Scheyer is 13th nationally in assists at 6 per game. If these three, along with Singler, can keep up such a high level of play, Duke will be highly dangerous. Unlike past years, we have some fungible big bodies to throw at other teams, so we won't get dominated on the boards. It's very possible that we can dominate with strong guard play and not become overwhelmed by superior size or athleticism. EXXXCCCCITTTINGGGGGGG!

Around the rest of the country, a few undefeated teams barely survived; Syracuse, West Virginia, and Purdue all trailed late in their games before prevailing. For a while it looked like Duke might scoot up to the top 5 in a single night. Instead, we must bide our time. Friday's game between Purdue and West Virginia should be very interesting, and a nice point of conference comparison.

I suppose I can't avoid it any longer...

THE TOILET BOWL OF DEBASEMENT PEP RALLY EXTREME

Miami couldn't quite get things moving on offense last night, despite an early boost from a long kickoff return, and Wisconsin Big-10'ed them to death. Slow drives, lots of runs, strong run defense, and precious few mistakes. It's sort of like fighting a land war with Russia; you feel like one side is better, but they're not making any inroads and eventually they're battered to pieces and just plain fatigued from a string of failed efforts. Wisconsin never budged, and they deserve credit. Meanwhile, UCLA used their superior athleticism to roar back from an early deficit and give me the straight-up win. I called that game pretty well, but unfortunately Temple made some mental mistakes toward the end that screwed up my spread pick. Not a great night for yours truly.

Laughable Goals:

25-9 Straight Up
20-14 Againt the Spread


Currently:

6-7 Straight Up
3-10 Against the Spread


Almost mathematically eliminated from both goals, and it's not even New Year's Day!

Today's games: Bowling Green (-1.5) vs. Idaho, 4:30pm

Bowling Green scores a lot of points, Idaho concedes a lot...an awful lot. They've allowed more than 50 points three times this year, and have lost 4 of their last 5. Also, they're in the WAC; the best two teams from that conference looked like hell earlier in bowl season. Bowling Green's conference, the MAC, is also 0-2, but Temple looked semi-decent yesterday, and the Falcons have won 6 of 7 to end the season. Idaho's nickname is the Vandals, which is kinda cool, but I can't let that sway me.

I Like: Bowling Green every which way.


#20 Arizona (-1.5) vs. #22 Nebraska, 8pm

Love Nebraska's D, hate their O. Their offense almost literally makes me want to puke, and it's compounded by how conservative Pellini is as a playcaller. He deserved to be drawn and quartered after the Texas game, but since he's apparently still at the helm, I'm not on board. Seriously, look at their point totals in Big 12 games this year: 27, 10, 7, 20, 10, 31, 17, 28, 12. In the current era, those are some low numbers, even considering the aberrations. Arizona isn't exactly a bastion of defense, but they don't have to be. Suh will wreak his usual havoc, but eventually the Wildcats will break through.

I Like: Arizona both ways.

Another day, another chance to go over .500 for the bowl season. Keep your fingers (and swords) crossed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sporadic Tuesday

Let's go to the asterisks, baby!

*The Vikings lost last night in a MNF game I didn't watch. This result:

a) Pisses me off: as you may know, the Giants finish their season at Minnesota next weekend. If we'd taken care of business against Carolina, it would have been the game that decided our playoff fate. AND THEY STINK! The really annoying part of this is that we're probably still going to beat Minnesota. Coughlin will get in everyone's ear about playing for pride, we'll catch a few breaks, Favre will whine about something, and we'll win a meaningless game. All this will happen just to piss me off. I guarantee it.

b) Thrills me: one of the best parts of the last three NFL seasons has been watching Favre's annual late-season meltdown. I used to love him as a kid, back when he was a fearless gunslinger who embodied some kind of maverick spirit, but then he turned into an arrogant diva who seemed to need every camera in the room trained on him at all times. I sort of loathe him now, and it's nice to see the pendulum swinging back into Favre-unraveling territory. The latest update is that they've lost home field advantage through the first two rounds! Which means, my friends, that ole Brett is going to have to bundle up and play in the cold in round 2 against Philadelphia (if they can win the first game against Dallas or (holy shit!) Green Bay, which is doubtful). Easy prediction: Philly 94, Minnesota 2.

*This leads me to a thought that I've been trying to avoid for a few days now: Philly is really good. Like, Super Bowl good, maybe. Believe me, I don't enjoy this fact any more than you, but it has to be said. Now that the Giants are out of the playoffs, I can admit it. It would be the perfect story, too...Andy Reid and Donovan finally getting their first super bowl ring together, the city of Philadelphia recovering from the Phillies loss, and Michael Vick standing on the podium after the game, holding two dead dogs by their necks, blood trickling from the corners of his mouth, eyes wild...oops, got carried away. Sort of like all the dogs got carried away after Michael Vick trained them to kill each other for his amusement. Sort of like that. (Applaud now)

*Duke plays tonight. It's against Long Beach State, and will probably be the last game on the schedule that's not televised. I imagine we'll win. Conference play begins next Sunday!

*I have to post an excerpte from a g-chat conversation I had with my friend Kyle yesterday. It's totally unrelated to sports, but so hysterical that more people need to read it. Disclaimer: Kyle, though gifted with a strange sense of humor, is not a serial killer or even borderline psychotic (I think).

Kyle: haha, interesting comment a min ago
i went to HR to turn in a timesheet for one of my team members
i ask the HR girl for a pen
she said 'no, you cannot have a pen'
in a fun playful mood
i say
'well ill just write it in your blood then'
in a fun playful tone
silence
me: haha did you really say that?
Kyle: yes
prob shouldnt of

I was laughing the rest of the day about that.

*It's that time again!

THE STRUGGLE-TO-REMAIN-OPTIMISTIC BOWL CORNUCOPIA OF SHAME!

First, a great big thank you to Georgia for coming through last night. By massacring the Aggies, you preserved my self-worth, at least for the time being. I'm turning this ship around, and you were my steering wheel.

Pipe Dream Goals:

25-9 straight up
20-14 against the spread


Current:

5-6 straight up
3-8 against the spread


Today's Games: UCLA (-5) vs. Temple, 4:30pm

Other than USC, the Pac-10 has laid an egg, and UCLA finished 3-6 in their league. Why not roll with Temple, a top MAC team playing their first bowl game in 30 years? Why? Well, one reason is that they got thumped by Ohio at the end of the year, a team that looked like hell losing an earlier bowl game to Marshall. Another reason is that they're not as athletic as UCLA. Then again, the game is in DC, a quick bus or train from Temple but a long flight for UCLA. And how motivated can the Bruins possibly be? They were embarrassed in their last game at USC, and they've wilted against good teams all season. I'm at a total loss here, but my gut is telling me to split the difference.

I Like: UCLA straight up, Temple against the spread.


#15 Miami (-3) vs. #25 Wisconsin, 8pm

Hooray, my first chance to pick against the Big-10!!! Making this one extra fun is that I've watched and enjoyed Miami all year; Jacory Harris is a rising star and incredibly entertaining, and I love Randy Shannon as a coach. This team plays with nuts. Wisconsin? Boring. They can kinda run. If they have the ball 4th-and-inches on the Miami 35, they'll punt. I plan to do a crossword puzzle when they're on offense.

I Like: Miami both ways.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Christmas Beat-Down

That, my friends, is called getting your just deserts. I'm not going to sit here, on my high blogging bench, and say the team didn't want it enough. Or that they didn't try. I don't think that's the case, at all...Coughlin is a good coach, and I'm sure the whole team was fired up. But with the 2009 Giants, the success/failure formula was simple:

1) Get an early lead = chance of success.
2) Face an early deficit = assured failure.

The defense just cannot play from behind. Giving up the first score is like stepping on a patch of mud at the very top of that slippery slope. The rest is scripted. In that sense, the biggest play of the game might have been Manningham's fumble on the first drive. With the Giants marching downfield, he caught a ball at the Panthers' 15 and was stripped. Carolina recovered and started their own long drive which culminated in a touchdown. Then the Giants went 3-and-out, Carolina scored again, things got desperate, our defense got worse, and before anyone could catch their breath, the Panthers had scored on 5 of the first 6 drives to take an insurmountable 31-0 lead.

But if Manningham had held on to the ball, and if the Giants had gone up 7-0? Who knows...normally you can't say one drive made a difference in a game that ended up 41-9, but it's a Jekyll and Hyde story with these guys. Look how well we played with a lead against Washington, and really, is Carolina that much better? (Possibly.) Our defense just stinks, and they need to be spotted at least 7 points to have a fighting chance.

Of course, that won't happen against good teams. Sometimes you have to take an early punch, and Bill Sheridan, our new defensive coordinator, constructed a unit with the world's largest, fattest glass jaw. It's infuriating, actually, and I hope he gets what he deserves this offseason (wow, that sounded extreme...I just want him to be fired). When you look at our 8 wins this year, it's Dallas twice and then six scrubs. For a team that won the Super Bowl two years ago and finished with the #1 seed in the NFC last year, that's totally unacceptable.

The only upside to yesterday's game? It produced a classic distraught Eli photo:


And that's it. Dallas scored a stunning win at mighty Washington last night, so our playoff hopes, previously hovering in the toilet, are now flushed. This is good and bad.

Good: Now I can enjoy the playoffs without waiting for our defense to meltdown and ruin my weekend.

Bad: FUCK THIS, THE GIANTS ARE NOT IN THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2004. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS BULLSHIT.

If I don't move on, the ranting will get worse and my shift key will break (I don't use caps lock, I just hold down shift with my left palm and type one-handed).

I was on a train for most of yesterday afternoon, listening to the G-Men on the radio, so I missed a lot of the NFL action. Luckily, I was home in time to see the end of the unbelievable Jets-Colts game. Yo, Colts head coach, Jim Caldwell, let me tell you what you got:


Balls, you say? But Seth Curry Saves Duke!, isn't Jim Caldwell a coward? Shouldn't he have gone for the undefeated season?

Hellll no. A coward would have played his troops for 60 minutes in a game that didn't matter just because the media and a few dumbass fans like the way 16-0 looks on a sports page. Did it help New England to go 16-0 two years ago? Nope. You could argue that the mounting pressure played a big role in their lackluster end to the season and eventual loss to the Giants. Why do you want to bring that on your team? There's enough pressure just getting through the postseason without the weight of history burdening your shoulders. Good for Jim Caldwell.

Still, that was unbelievable. I mean, Indy goes up 15-10 in the third quarter, the crowd is going wild, the announcers are pumped, Peyton Manning looks like a wizard, and the dude folds up shop. At 14-0. At 14 and fucking 0. Cojones, man. I seriously admire the dude now, because he legitimately does not give a one-eighth of a flying fuck what any man thinks. I hope they win the Super Bowl.

Even more hysterical: The Jets looked like goners last week, coming off an ugly loss to the Falcons and dropping to 7-7 with Indy and the Bengals to finish their year. But now it looks like that scheduling is divine, because just like Indy, the Bengals will have nothing to play for next week and are likely to rest a lot of their guys. And a bunch of teams lost yesterday, so now the Jets control their own destiny.

Here's the situation: a New York team with a great defense and questionable offense is going to make the playoffs as a wild card, and every game they play will be on the road. Sound familiar? I'm not making any predictions here, but I also wouldn't want to be facing the Jets in round 1 if I'm New England or Cincinnati.

Ugh, it's that time again:

THE UNGODLY BOWL PREDICTION EXTRAVAGANZA OF MISERY

Goals which would take a miracle:

25-9 straight up
20-14 against the spread


Now:

4-6 straight up
2-8 against the spread


So there's that whole comical attitude you can take when you follow sports and your predictions are terrible for a certain series of events, where you throw your hands in the air and muster a sheepish smile and go 'what can ya do!?' But at this point I'm a few steps beyond amused self-deprecation; I'm pissed off. 2-8 against the spread, seriously? I fucking watch so much college football! How can this happen? How can I not be over .500 picking straight up? This is ABSURD. I'm on the verge of losing all pride and credibility, and it does not sit well, my friends.

Some of these losses are maddening. For example, I missed Kentucky covering the spread last night by a half point. And to start the fourth quarter, they had the ball on the 50 after a lousy Clemson punt, down 1 and with momentum. But they called some stupid trick play that lost five yards, and went three and out. Additionally, any team favored by more than ten points inevitably loses, and it's inexplicable. Nevada and Fresno, screw you both. You lost to chumps. Then I didn't realize how bad the Pac-10 was, so that burned me, and by the time it registered the timing was bad enough that I picked against Pete Carroll, one of the best coaches in the college football, against an east coast slouch in a game taking place in California. How dumb can I be? Then you've got those pesky underdogs, who are now 6-4 straight up. Give me a break, right?

So here's my excuse: everything is chaos with these mid-level bullshit teams, and a lot more depends on coaching than I originally thought. When you have a month to prepare for a team, an important element is how well the coaching staff can utilize that time. It also means you can basically throw out the results from the last few weeks of the season, since momentum (good or bad) dies in the interval. But now that the big games are starting, and the teams are ones I've followed more closely throughout the year, I'm going to start getting better. That is a motherf$#*ing promise, right there.

Today's game: Georgia (-4) vs. Texas A&M, 5PM

Even after Kentucky let me down, I still like the SEC over most conferences. That's especially true of the Big-12, who were overrated last year and only got worse in '09. A&M hasn't won a bowl game since 2002, and I don't see them starting now. Georgia had only two bad losses, against Florida and Tennessee, and I'm willing to give them a pass on those. What really scares me is that they fell to Kentucky in the second-to-last game of the year...but then they beat Georgia Tech on the road to finish up. A&M is a strange team; they always win or lose big. But they also seem to give up mega-points almost every week. This is not a gimme, but Georgia should win by about 10.

I Like: Georgia straight up and with the points.


Last point: if there was a weekend awesomeness scale today, the lowest entry would not be the Giants loss; it would be Urban Meyer having to step down because of heart problems. I've always liked him, and along with Nick Saban and Pete Carroll, he's one of the game's three greatest coaches. This really stinks, and college football just suffered a bad loss.

I now leave you with a strange video to a great song in honor of the Carolina Panthers, whose barrel of whoop-ass is still trickling through the swamplands in New Jersey.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Pre-Christmas Half-Off Blow-Out Spectac-Ular

Here we are friends, one day before another December 25th. Maybe that's significant to you, maybe not. If not, please stop reading, because this blog is meant exclusively for Christians. It's the blog equivalent of the defiant dude on the street who's still pissed off from last night's Bill O'Reilly episode about the town in New Mexico where the mayor wouldn't allow a tree to be put up in the city square, and keeps going up to people with a challenging look in his eyes and saying "Merry Christmas" like he's picking a fight.

That's who this blog is. Except it isn't; I like Christmas well enough, but right now all I can think about is the moment this afternoon when I'll exit daylight with my heavy bag in tow to make the horrible Grand Central-->Times Square-->Penn Station subway journey, and then possibly have to sit on the linoleum and listen to babies cry and girls whine on their cells and businessmen make that tight face that says 'this is unacceptable' because every Amtrak train is delayed. After that, though...yeah, man, Christmas. Gifts and trees and church. Kids singing in a choir. There's a nun who directs the singing kids, and she gesticulates like she's giving a fiery halftime speech to a football team. That's always a big hit with me.

Anyway, I'll be back Monday, so you'll only miss one post. Let's get started with:

THE BOWL BASH BONANZA!

(I've decided to give this a new name every day to keep things fresh.)

Goals which can be considered "ambitious":

25-9 Straight Up
20-14 Against the Spread


Currently: 2-3 both ways. I finally took my head out of my ass last night and realized that the Pac-10 stinks and that the Mountain West is pretty damn good. It made it easier that Utah-Cal was basically a carbon copy of the BYU-Oregon State game the night before, but hey, at least I learn the simple lessons, right? Let's hope I can carry this momentum into the weekend and emerge with a winning record.

Tonight's Game: Nevada (-13) vs. Southern Methodist, 8pm

Conference trends: C-USA is 0-2 in bowls. The WAC is 0-1. Maybe I should have learned my lesson from Fresno State, the other WAC club who was a huge favorite and lost in OT to Wyoming. On the other hand, Nevada killed Fresno, 52-14, about a month ago. And unlike Fresno, they pass all the time. Almost every game SMU won was close, and they were blown out a few times along the way. Am I still scared of the underdog after what's happened so far? Yes. Absolutely. But the miserable showing by C-USA is enough for me, as is Nevada's strong end-of-year showing against Boise State.

I Like: Nevada straight up and (gulp) with the spread.


Saturday: Ohio (-4) vs. Marshall, 1pm

Here we are again; mid-level C-USA team (they lost to UCF and Southern Miss, who were both blown out in earlier bowl games) with a .500 record against a strong team from the MAC who lost 20-10 against a very good Central Michigan club in the title game. No-brainer here, the spread should be much higher.

I Like: Ohio straight and with the spread.


#17 Pittsburgh (-3) vs. North Carolina, 4:30pm

Three points, really? Pitt team came a missed extra point from taking Cincy to overtime in their final game. But looking more closely, the spread does make some sense. UNC is a tough team, and this should be a really fun game. But can they stop Dion Lewis? Can they put up enough points to keep pace? I'm not sure, but I doubt it. It'd be crazy, in my mind, to take a team that lost to Florida State and NC State semi-recently over one of the strongest teams in the Big East. I think that conference has a lot to prove, and they're going to. I don't hate UNC at all, but this is still an easy pick.

I Like: Pitt straight and with points.


#24 USC (-7.5) vs. Boston College, 8pm

The Pac-10 looks miserable, USC is without Joe McKnight and 3 others, they're probably disappointed by a down year and no Rose Bowl, and it's probably not the biggest deal to them if they lose. On the other hand, BC lost big this year to UNC and Virginia Tech, and barely squeaked by Maryland in their last game. Plus, the game is being played in San Francisco, and Pete Carroll is pretty great in bowl games. I'm really torn here; I think it could go either way, but I have to ride this Pac-10 trend at least one more game.

I Like: USC straight up, barely, and Boston College against the spread.


Sunday: Clemson (-7.5) vs. Kentucky, 8:30pm

This one is so friggin' tricky. Kentucky ended their year with an OT loss to Tennessee, and they beat Auburn and Georgia along the way. The only games they lost decisively were Florida and Alabama, and, well, so what? Also, there were two games late in the year that gave a good hint about the relative strength of the ACC and SEC. Georgia over Georgia Tech, and South Carolina over Clemson. Neither was expected, both were fairly decisive. I have to roll with the SEC and the underdog on this one, especially with a spread this high. Hopefully CJ Spiller doesn't make a fool of me.

I Like: Kentucky straight up and against the spread.


Wow, that's a lot of games. Moving on to the big boys, I have a small correction from a couple days ago; the Giants own the tiebreaker with both Green Bay and Dallas. All that has to happen is for us to finish with the same record as either team, and we're in. Currently, the Giants are 8-6 with Carolina and Minnesota (road) on the docket. Green Bay is 9-5 with Seattle and Arizona (road). Dallas is 9-5 with Washington (road) and Philly (road).

If we can win out, things should fall in our favor. Carolina should be a safe win, so the big question mark is Minnesota, which is why you can imagine how much I'm loving the latest Brett Favre implosion saga. Keep being pissed off at your coach, Brett! You should be able to audible just like Peyton! It's not like you're prone to stupid passes under pressure anyway...nope, they oughta give you the playcalling reins too!

Man, I really wish we were playing them at the Meadowlands on a freezing day. I'd get giddy watching Favre shiver on the sidelines, and I'd probably be able to pinpoint the exact moment when he emotionally checked out. You can tell by when he gets that little annoyed half-smile, half-grimace, shakes his head, and looks up at the scoreboard. That's when ole Brett has shifted all blame and responsibility elsewhere, and switched into go-through-the-motions mode.

No Duke basketball this weekend, so that should about cover things. Have a great weekend, and good luck giving and receiving gifts to all my Christian brothers and sisters. This is our moment!

Here's a picture of Lawrence Tynes dancing with the Rockettes and a Santa Claus. It's Christmas Tynessssssss...in the city!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taking Popular Christmas Songs and Replacing the Lyrics with Sports References

NOT!


(Yeah, I just dropped a not! on you. The whole blogosphere got PUNK'D, y'all!)











Can you tell I don't have a ton of content today? Regardless, let's push ahead with some bullets:

*Texas wins again, taking down Michigan State and remaining undefeated. I guess this somewhat cements their claim as a top 3 team, though I'd really, really love Duke to get a crack at these guys. Famous last words? Possibly. But I think our #7 rank is too low, and I think we can compete with anyone in the country right now except possibly Kansas. Speaking of the Jayhawks, they decimated Cal in the second half to stay undefeated, and Purdue and Syracuse also won to keep a fat zero in the loss column. There are going to be some very interesting match-ups when conference play starts in a couple weeks, and this is shaping up to be a fun season.

*This whole 'Bowl Prediction Extravaganza' episode is destroying whatever shreds of credibility I had left. I'm now 1-3 straight up and 1-3 against the spread. Last night, Oregon State looked like they'd never touched a football before, much less practiced how to make legal formations or understand why the dudes in the striped shirts kept blowing whistles. BYU won 44-20, and OSU showed no resemblance to the competent squad that came inches from the Rose Bowl three weeks ago. I don't know what the hell happened, but I've come up with a good rule that will help me avoid this exact mistake in the future:

Rule: Be very fucking careful betting against Mormons or the Service Academies.

(Warning: this might get offensive or really ignorant)

These are not flighty people. With Mormons, direction is ingrained. Almost every athlete on BYU will, at some point, take two years off to fulfill a mission somewhere in the world. A lot of them are already married, and some even have kids. These are not your average young men, prone to fleeting pleasures and emotional let-downs. With the service academies, they have crazy routines that instill a rigorous sense of discipline. They wake up early, they only get to party like every month or so, and when they have sex someone with the rank of corporal or higher has to be watching in the same room (possibly a rumor). They also know they might be in a war one day, and a lot of their training goes toward making sure they don't fuck up in a way that costs them their lives. Focus is basically their credo.

I once saw a game where an opposing team called a timeout to try to freeze a kicker from Air Force. The announcer casually mentioned that the player in question was training to be a fighter pilot, and would graduate in the spring. So here's this dude, qualified to operate a lethal flying machine at ridiculous speeds, entrusted with bombs, and he's supposed to be worried about kicking a field goal? Come on. He spent the timeout laughing and then kicked the ball through with his opposite foot. Not really, but he made it.

Obviously, these schools do not have the best athletes. When they go up against a well-disciplined top-tier football team who manages not to get down on themselves or make too many mental mistakes, they don't really have a shot in hell. But against a team like Oregon State, with questionable defense and unknown character? Why bet against the Mormons? Why bet against solidity? The only guarantee with last night's game is that one team would not come out flat, and that team was BYU (it's also why they beat Oklahoma early in the year). Their ranks were similar, records were similar, and ditto for their styles. So why the fuck didn't I just take BYU and run with it?

Anyway, lesson learned. Also, one last caveat: this rule doesn't apply to Army. Until they stop running that stupid wishbone option offense and start playing 20th century footbal (notice I'm not even asking for the current century), you should always bet against Army. There's a difference between adhering to tradition and being stubborn in the dumbest way possible.

Which takes us once again to:

THE BOWL GAMES PREDICTION EXTRAVAGANZA

Increasingly unlikely goals:

25-9 Straight Up
20-14 Against the Spread


Currently:

1-3 both ways

Tonight's game: California (-2.5) vs. ##23 Utah, 8pm

Hmm, a mid-level Pac-10 team that gives up a lot of points against a quality Mountain West team ranked higher but still not favored...sound familiar? Not that I need much more, but Utah lost to BYU in overtime in the last week of the season, while Cal fell to UW 42-10. Last night's result does not bode well for the Pac-10 this bowl season, and I'm gonna do a 180 on yesterday's hunch that they'd be the hot conference. Time to get wise and ride the underdog.

I Like: Utah straight up and against the spread.

I'll be posting some kind of holiday spectacular tomorrow, but nothing on Christmas. Take it easy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blood on the Solstice: The 21 December Massacre

by Hugo Ursine Vanderbilt
Special to Seth Curry Saves Duke!


WASHINGTON - Yesterday evening, as the shortest day of the year wound to a close, more than 22 natives were slaughtered on the fields of America's capital city. The unexpected attack came three hours after sunset, when invaders from New York stormed the Washington defenses. The first offensive wave proved too intense for the locals to withstand, and as their lines broke, any chance of victory vanished into the cold night air.

It was the second clash between forces from Washington and New York in the ongoing American Civil Conflict, and this latest defeat is a devastating blow to the District's morale. Despite a year of ongoing failure, recent results had infused their ranks with hope; a successful defense against an invading force from Denver was followed by near victories against armies from Dallas, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. But as the winter solstice crawled toward midnight, the capital streets ran with the red blood of its long-suffering denizens, and even the state-run propaganda machine pronounced the clash a definitive slaughter.

Impatience with the Washington leadership has peaked and possibly crested among the furious citizenry, and it's likely that General Zorn will be relieved of duties at some point in the next month. As of press time, he did not immediately return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, General Coughlin's New York regulars had only a day to enjoy the pillaging pleasures, as they were called back to Manhattan amid rumors of an advancing battalion from Carolina. Much-lauded First Corporal Eli Manning acknowledged his pleasure after an evening of conquest, and took with him a gaggle of concubines in what has become a victory tradition. He and Coughlin refused to comment on the widespread speculation that their resurgence indicates ambitions beyond the northeast, perhaps extending as far as Miami. "We are New Yorkers," said a circumspect Manning. "New York shall ever be the homeland."

As a result of the stunning vanquishment, Michael Bloomberg has become the 44th President of the United States.


Thank you, Hugo! Solstice Massacre indeed; that game was immensely satisfying. Despite Washington's poor play and abysmal record, I still consider this a quality win. As mentioned in the dispatch above, the Redskins beat Denver and Oakland in the last month, and came a hair's breadth from taking down Dallas, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. They've been playing well, and we showed them up at home.

So the situation remains the same; with two weeks to play, the Giants are a game behind the Packers and Cowboys for the final wild card spot. We'd need to beat Green Bay outright, but we only need to tie Dallas since the tiebreaker falls our way. Next week is Carolina at home, and then a trip to the freefalling Vikes in week 17. I still like our chances, though it would be wonderful to control our destiny...maybe next week.

Other quick notes about the game:

*Jason Campbell is like a friggin' martyr. At one point, while he lay crumpled on the ground, I texted my friend Kyle that I actually felt bad for him. And that was in the second quarter. He was removed shortly after due to injury, but apparently begged Zorn to come back for the second half. And then he suffered some more.

*Eli Manning is absolutely on fire this past month.

*Hakeem Nicks is a future #1 receiver. He has all the goods (except, occasionally, the goods required to catch a football).

*We should have pulled the reins near the end and let the Redskins come back to within striking distance so they could carry some confidence and momentum into next week's Dallas game. Not really, but come on Redskins, please step up. Just one friggin' time. Please.

Last thing for today will be installment #2 of my Bowl Games Prediction Extravaganza. You can read the intro two posts down, but the basic gist is that there are 34 bowl games, and I'm trying to meet the following goals:

25-9 Straight Up
20-14 Against the Spread


Currently: 1-2 straight, 1-2 ATS

Tonight's game: #18 Oregon State (-2.5) vs. #14 BYU, 8pm

Despite the lower ranking, Oregon State is the favorite here. And with good reason, I think. But I'm still a little confused; inevitably, one conference every year turns out to be really awesome, and one conference tanks. Last year, the Pac-10 was great (5-0), while the Big 10 and Big 12 stunk (1-6 and 4-3, with 3 of the supposedly top-tier Big 12 schools losing). I have a feeling the Pac-10 will repeat as the awesome conference, and I'm riding them hard in my bowl pool. OSU is coming off a tough season-ending loss to Rose Bowl-bound rival Oregon, and their other 3 losses were all close affairs to quality opponents (Cincinnati, Arizona, USC). Also, their D got stronger as the year went on, excluding the 37 points given up to Oregon. Everyone knows about BYU's big win over Oklahoma to start the year, but the Sooners ended up not being that great, and BYU got trounced by FSU and TCU. I'm sensing a blow out, to be quite honest.

I Like: Oregon State straight up and with the spread.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Weekend Awesomeness Scale, 12/21 Edition

This is a groundbreaking blogging invention concocted here at Seth Curry Saves Duke! Using a secret scientific formula which combines mathematical elements from such established sporting standards as Sabermetrics, BCS, Quarterback Rating, ERA, and the opinions of former NFL superstar Troy Aikman, I've ranked ten events from the weekend on a scale of awesomeness. We'll begin with the least awesome:

1 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Sending Me an E-Mail in 2002 Saying My Presence at His Concerts Brought Him Down, Spiritually

Wyoming defeats Fresno State in overtime, 35-28. Normally, of course, I wouldn't have known these two teams were playing, much less have watched the game and been emotionally traumatized by the result. But I'm in a college football pool, and without rehashing the whole thing, the basic premise is that you pick the winner of every bowl game and attach a priority score to the result (from 1-33, using each number once). If you pick the game right, you get the number of points you assigned to the game.

Well, Fresno State had a killer offense in the WAC, and Wyoming might have been the worst team to draw a bowl game, going 6-6 in something called the Mountain West Conference. The point spread was 11.5. You can see where this is going; I attached the highest priority, a 33, to this game, and picked Fresno. And really, they should have won. Their offense was superior, and they had Wyoming down to fourth down at least three times near the end as things got desperate. But of course they kept escaping, and the Fresno coach happened to be this befuddled-looking walrus creature that looked more incompetent as time wore on. It culimnated in overtime, where, with a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, the Fresno offense committed my ultimate pet peeve by running directly into the stacked line four times in a row, failing to score and all but giving the game away.

DEAR FOOTBALL OFFENSES ACROSS THE WORLD: ON THIRD AND FOURTH AND SHORT, THE DEFENSE CONCENTRATES THEIR FORCES IN THE VERY MIDDLE OF THE LINE. IF YOU ATTACK THEM WHERE THEY ARE STRONGEST, YOU ARE LIKE A FUCKING DONKEY BANGING HIS HEAD OVER AND OVER INTO A CEMENT WALL THAT IS APPROXIMATELY FIVE FEET WIDE AND CAN BE CIRCUMVENTED SO, SO EASILY.

Wyoming then missed a field goal on their chance to win, but triumphed in the second overtime. And my chance to win 250 dollars took a near-fatal hit.


2 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Pulling Me Aside in 2002 to Tell Me that 'Cry Freedom' was a Song About How He Liked to Watch People Cry when he Deprived them of their Freedom

Dallas ends New Orleans' undefeated season. This happened Saturday night, and I didn't get to watch because it was on the NFL Network (see also: next entry), but this was miserable for two reasons:

1) Undefeated seasons are fun.

2) To make the playoffs, the Giants just have to finish with the same record as the Cowboys. As of now, we're one game behind, and this looked like the week when we had the best chance to make up the gap. Instead, the improbable Cowboys win reverses the momentum from what looked like another December collapse, and now the Giants have to get a big win on the road tonight just to stay a game behind. Dallas finishes with Washington-Philadelphia, not an easy road by any means, but their job just got a little easier.


3 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Writing a Song in 2002 with a Veiled Reference to Me as Someone he Would Never want his Daughters to Marry

Jets lose to the Falcons 10-7 after missing three field goals, ending their playoff hopes. Also, my girlfriend telling me at 6:30pm on Saturday evening that she just remembered we had to go to a holiday party that night at 9.

Let me set the scene: for the first time since summer, I played basketball at a gym in Williamsburg. My fitness was pretty decent, but it lasted two hours, so now I'm tired all over. Outside, the first real snow of the year has started to fall, and Fresno State is up by 10 on the tv. I've settled about a foot deep into my very nice couch, I've got the sleepy post-shower feeling going on, and it's shaping up to be a nice, relaxing evening.

Then a phone call, then the collapse of comfort's promise, then despair on my end, then Fresno's collapse, then struggling through a biting and suddenly less romantic snowy evening to a party where I did my valiant best and sort of half-socialized with a room full of strangers, then struggling home as it got really fucking cold and the subway turned out to be pretty far away, then being sort of angry, then feeling guilty for being angry because who am I to be the selfish dude who never does anything, then questioning my own value as a human, then Dallas beats New Orleans, and, at long last, sleep.


4 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Releasing the Album 'Stand Up' in 2005

Middle Tennessee State defeats Southern Miss, 42-32. Just like the album mentioned above, this kinda sucked (I picked Southern Miss with a priority score of 18), but I wasn't too emotionally involved and didn't expect much. Still vaguely disappointing, but life goes on.


5 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Just Going About his Business, Man (2002)

Olek Czyz decides to transfer out of Duke. Can't really drum up too many feelings about this one; Czyz was a 6'7" backup forward, originally from Poland, and a sophomore. He's not that good, and it became obvious early on this year that he wouldn't play a big role. It would have been nice to have him on the practice team, and maybe pick up some spot duty when the other bigs get in foul trouble, but if he's unhappy, maybe it's best he ships out. Of course, there's always a really good chance that he doesn't speak English very well, and he was lost and trying to tell school officials that he wanted to do a bus transfer, but there was a hilarious mix-up and then this announcement was released, but really he's not transferring at all and it will all be cleared up by tomorrow.


6 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Sending Me a Bootleg of the 3/10/93 Show with a Full Version of 'People, People' and 'Blue Water Baboon Farm'

Texas 103, UNC 90. The Longhorns proved something against the mysterious Tar Heels, improving to 10-0 with a balanced scoring attack and dominance on the boards. I didn't want to admit it, but I guess these guys are for real. Also, always nice to see Carolina come back to Earth. March 6th is already circled on my calendars; that's when we take them down in Durham.


7 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Diving Into the Crowd, Making his Way to My Seat, Handing me his Guitar, and Saying 'You Deserve This, Man. You Deserve This.' And I Realize He's Right. The Year is 2002

Pittsburgh defeats Green Bay on Roethlisberger's last second TD pass. I got to watch the end of this game on Fox's bonus coverage, and was amazed again at Big Ben's ability to throw a ridiculously perfect pass into a tight space when the game is on the line. The 19-yard TD to Mike Wallace at time expired pretty much defied the reality of angles and gravity and velocity and other such elements. This is a good result because Green Bay holds the other wild card spot, and now they're 9-5 and only one game ahead of the G-Men. I'm actually not sure who holds the tiebreaker between the two teams...crap I just looked it up, and since we never played Green Bay, it goes to best record within the conference, and they're up by two games. But anyway, they can still lose their last two and finish a game below us. I'll take it.

Also, this sets up a madcap scenario for the AFC wild card. As of now, two teams are at 8-6 (Denver and Baltimore) and control their own destiny. After that, there are a whopping 6 teams (!) at 7-7, knocking on the door. I'm pretty sure none are eliminated, either. Next week's Steelers-Ravens game will be hugely important, among others.


8 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Going Into Space, Discovering a New Planet Even Bigger than Jupiter, and Naming it 'Dave and Shane's Sweet-Ass Planetary Crib,' circa 2002.

It occurs to me now that I have nothing to write here. I blew my load kinda early. But seriously, imagine that: 2002, and me and Dave have our own friggin' planet!


9 - As Awesome as Dave Matthews Summoning Lightning at a Concert, Channeling it Through his Guitar into the Crowd, and Anyone who Gets Hit, Including Me, Has a Vision of the Future Where Nobody Suffers and Everyone is Named Dave Matthews, and the Year is Always 2002.

Duke owns Gonzaga. In Friday's post, I called an easy game and a 15-point victory. This turns out to have been too conservative. I also wrote this about Nolan Smith:

"Against Gonzaga, I'd very much like to see him take the reins early and often, and establish his presence without restraint."

24 points on 10-18 shooting, including 3-3 from behind the arc. Great stuff, and he brought exactly the kind of aggression the team needed.

Granted, Gonzaga is probably very overrated, and Duke dominates at MSG, but a win against a ranked opponent ain't nothing to sneeze at.


10 - A Post-Apocalyptic Landscape, and Just When Hope is Running Out and Things are Getting Really Ugly, Dave Matthews Emerges From an Underground Cavern and Summons the Survivors into a Subterranean Paradise Filled with Great Music and Food. Calendars Hang Everywhere, and they All Read: 2002.

After a rough start, the Giants hang tough and beat the Redskins 27-17 in Monday Night Football, keeping playoff hopes alive.

(For those curious: 15 DMB shows, 3 Dave & Tim Reynolds, 1 Dave & Friends, 2001-2004)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bonus AFTERNOON Post: The Bowl Games Prediction Extravaganza

Hey SCSD fans, because I screwed you out of a post yesterday, I thought I'd tack on a little bonus Friday content. Since I've become a bowl-game predicting machine today, I thought I'd take my efforts public and predict all 34 bowl games, little by little, over the next few weeks. In your eagerness and gratitude, don't miss the morning Friday post below.

Which leads to the question: what would my winning % have to be to be called 'successful'? Straight up, I'm thinking I have to have fewer than 10 losses. Against the spread, I'll allow myself 14 losses. So here are the targets:

Straight-Up Bowl Season Prediction Goal: 25-9
Against-the-Spread Bowl Season Prediction Goal: 20-14


Current Records:

Straight-Up: 0-0
Against-the-Spread: 0-0


On to the weekend games!

Fresno State (-11) vs. Wyoming, Saturday, 4:30pm:

Fresno is part of the Wac-Attack, and offense-heavy conference that makes me wish I had season tickets for any of their teams. They're 8-4 on the year, with three of their losses coming early to Wisconsin, Boise St., and Cincinnati. Recently, though, they got killed by Nevada and just squeaked by Illinois. Wyoming, though, is just 2-4 in their last 6, and those wins have been squeakers. They give up points almost at the same rate that Fresno likes to score them. Despite the high spread, I don't see the Cowboys coming close to a cover.

I Like: Fresno straight up and with the spread.


Rutgers (-2.5) vs. U. Central Florida, Saturday, 8pm:

Rutgers were somewhat of an enigma in the Big East this season, excelling on the road and taking good schools like Pitt and West Virginia down to the wire. A late inexplicable blow-out loss to Syracuse gives me pause, but their 8-4 record is still somewhat impressive. They travel well, but will that be enough against UCF, a school coming off 3 straight wins, including a narrow one over then #15 Houston? Yes, I believe so. Aside from the Syracuse loss, their D has been relatively solid, and will be better than almost anyone UCF has seen in Conference USA. Four weeks ago, UCF went down 35-3 to Texas, and while this game won't be the same level, I'm not expecting anything close.

I Like: Rutgers straight up and with the spread.


Southern Miss (-3.5) vs. Mid. Tennessee State, Sunday, 8:30pm:

This is the ultimate who-gives-a-shit game, but analyze I must. Both teams score like crazy and don't play much defense. In the few games they've played against quality opponents, though, MTSU has trouble scoring; 14 against Clemson, 7 against Troy, 6 against Mississippi St. They're badasses in the Sun Belt, but Southern Miss, competitive in all but one game this year, should annihilate them.

I Like: Southern Miss straight up and with the spread.


Off we go!

I Can't Think of a Slur that Rhymes with 'Zags'

The weekend approaches, so let's get right to the bullets:

*Duke-Gonzaga Saturday at 4pm. The Zags are ranked 15th, but they've dropped two so far this year; one to Michigan State, and one to Wake Forest. MSU started the year ranked highly, but they've dropped out of the top 10, and Wake is supposed to be in the midst of a down year. Saturday's game will be played here in the city (MSG), and though I may be invoking a jinx, I'm going to brazenly declare that this particular west coast team does not scare me on a neutral court.

I'm envisioning a 15-point victory, but what I'm most interested in is the play of Nolan Smith. It seems like he's the kind of player who gains confidence as the game goes along, but who occasionally plays tentative at the start. Someone must have told him the same thing, because this earlier this year he came out firing right from the opening tip. Unfortunately, that tactic has been dropped of late, and now he's back to easing into the flow. Against Gonzaga, I'd very much like to see him take the reins early and often, and establish his presence without restraint.

The team needs a better sense of interplay. At the moment, we're a strong squad with very good individual players who emerge by turns. At any given time, the ascendant personality may be Scheyer, Singler, or Nolan, but so far they haven't meshed into a self-sustaining unit. Until that happens (and granted, we're only 8 games deep into the season), we'll be prone to off games like the one at Wisconsin. Once an opponent isolates the cogs, we're at the mercy of individual talent. Often enough, that's plenty for a Duke win. But sometimes it's not, and it certainly won't cut the mustard in March, or even in January-February during ACC road games.

Besides our three stars, the one player who can go a long way in fomenting chemistry is Mason Plumlee. He's shown flashes of brilliance as he recovers from his early injury, and my fingers are crossed that he continues to grow and flourish. An athletic big man who can run will transform this team; it's miles different than having a statue like Zoubek mucking up the flow. (PS, I'm never angrier watching Duke games than when Zoubek tries to take a charge against a driving guard. Play some f*$#ing defense, big man, you've got a foot on the guy!)

*Bowl season starts Saturday. Normally I wouldn't be too excited about the opening games, but my college bowl pool has worked its magic and made me interested in the outcome of match-ups like Fresno St.-Wyoming. (If you want in this pool, there's still time, and it's only 10 bucks, and it even has its own blog!) That game in particular tempted me, and I decided to make it my highest priority, a 33, with Fresno St. as the winner. I can't exactly explain why; I do like Fresno in this game, but mostly I just wanted to make a statement with the opening game, and also experience the tingle of risk. Ah, gambling...

*The Colts kept their undefeated season alive just barely last night, winning 35-31 over Jacksonville. All season, one of the semi-humorous semi-maybe-true talking points has been that Peyton Manning is actually coaching the Colts, and head coach Rich Caldwell is just along for the ride. Who knows if this is even remotely true, but the following post-game quote from Caldwell does not help his case:

"This was an old-time shootout at the OK Corral."

Boy howdy, that one sure had me nervous! I didn't know up from down, what with all the passing and the scoring and the shouting...hoooooo doggy! Lucky thing Peyton called up them good plays, or we'd 'a been deader'n doornails out there!

*Giants-Redskins on MNF this week, and it's possible we'll have a shot to move into the 6th and final Wild Card position. The Cowboys play the league's other undefeated team, the Saints, on Saturday (NFL Network pisses me off so bad), and once they lose the Giants control their own destiny. The problem, of course, is that we're aligned to meet New Orleans in round 2. Which, in my mind, will be the end of the line. Something needs to happen over the next few weeks that lets us somehow play the Vikings, a game that could foreseeably end in something other than a 20-point loss. But that's getting greedy; I should probably just settle for playoffs.


*After being highly disturbed by this week's New Yorker, which includes a few articles on global warming and a horrifying short story by Helen Simpson, I figured I should sign off with one of the few songs ever dedicated to an antarctic ice shelf. Have a great weekend.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sick Day Blues

Today I slept til 10:30 and then dragged myself into work so people can get paid, but alas, I don't have much to offer the blogosphere. It's not a great night for sports, either, unless you get the NFL network and can watch the Colts go for 14-0 against the Jags.

So I will see you tomorrow, my friends. Be safe and prudent!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bringggggg Me a Scheyer Love (whoa-oh-oh)!


Holy sweet crap, Jon Scheyer, you are the truth. (By the way, I specifically chose the picture above because it looked like the kind of cheesy inspirational scene that might appear in a Steve Winwood music video, if those even exist.) Check out this line from Duke's 113-68 win over Gardner-Webb last night:

36 points, 11-13 FG, 7-9 from 3, 7-7 FT, 8 Reb, 9 assists.

And that's in 30 friggin' minutes! If Coach K had left him in for like 2 minutes more, he would have had 40 points and a triple-double. Insane. (And I know it's bad form to care about stats like that in the midst of a rout, but seriously, COME ON COACH K!) It's one of the best individual games I've ever seen on the college level. Say what you want about the crappy opposition or whatever, but those numbers speak for themselves. And it's not like he was shooting wide open 3s all night; everything was contested, and Gardner-Webb actually kept it close for 10 minutes or so. Schey-Guy was just completely out of his mind. Honestly, look at those numbers again, let them settle, and have your mind blown all over.

His performance was providential for two reasons. First, he's been a bit cold from the floor the last couple games. That slump is officially over. Second, it kept yesterday's game from being another uninteresting blow-out. Here are some other thoughts from the Gardner-Webb stomping:

*Andre Dawkins is a pure, pure shooter. He posted a 3-5 performance from long range, and he's now 23-44 shooting 3s on the year, for a 52% mark. That's good for 9th in the nation, and he's still supposed to be a senior in high school! Dawk's form is so gorgeous to watch...I didn't realize it at first, but he's a legitimate sniper, and easily Duke's best since J.J. Redick.

*It seems like Scheyer and Singler alternate big games. Singler was basically absent last night, finishing with 11 points (0 in the first half) and 5 boards. He wasn't needed, but when ACC play rolls around, we'll need strong showings from both...in the same game.

*Nolan Smith showed signs that he can be a very good-to-great point guard for this team. When he makes up his mind to penetrate, he's incredibly adept, and he's downright lethal on the fast break. But he's still playing a little cautious up top, like he's holding something back. If he can break down that last barrier, he's a terrific fit for sharing the point.

*Along with all the stats he accumulated last night, Scheyer earned an official crush from my girlfriend. "Oh, he's cute!" she exclaimed at some point in the middle of his rampage. Which is always kind of a downer; there you are, appreciating someone's athletic ability, and your significant other has to chime in and make you realize that not only is this person a superior athlete, but also an attractive specimen of the human race for whom she would desert you in a heartbeat. At this point I've learned to quickly drown out such thoughts, but I think that's why everyone loved Larry Bird so much; not only was he awesome at basketball, but he was also so ugly that he posed no threat to anyone. Anyway, Scheyer joins Mark Teixeira from the Yankees and Eli Manning from the Giants in the rarefied pantheon of her crushes. Let's take a pictorial tour:




She definitely has a type: white, clean-cut, and goofy.

digesting....

making connections...


Awwww shit, man!



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sayonara, Hideki

It's always a sad day when you lose the World Series MVP, but Matsui had gone further; he'd become a Yankee treasure. The quiet gentleman from Japan is on his way to the Los Angeles Angels, never more to don the stripes.

Old Hideki stayed an enigma right to the very end. Granted, that's mostly because he can't speak English even a little (though apparently he understands it fairly well). I still find myself wishing we had a little more insight into his personality, though. Here are the non-baseball things I learned about Matsui in his seven seasons with the Yanks:

1) He got married secretly, and drew a sketch of his wife for reporters. Some gems from that article:

"Matsui refused to reveal many details about Wednesday's wedding or his new wife, only saying she is 25 and from Japan, where she formerly worked "in a reputable position at a highly respected company."

As teammates congratulated him, Yankee captain Derek Jeter and outfielder Bobby Abreu claimed they were conned into a bet by the newlywed slugger.

Abreu and Jeter said at the start of spring training, Matsui overheard them wagering on who would be the first to get married.

"It was a bet between me and Bobby," Jeter said. "[Matsui] finagled his way into it. That's pretty good. Sneaky. How do you say 'sneaky' in Japanese? I should have known he was up to something."

2) He's really into pornography. His collection in Japan apparently exceeds 55,000 videos, according to this article in Time Magazine when he first came to the Yanks. Excerpt:

Throughout it all, Matsui remained almost unnervingly low-key. He wears no earrings, no rock-star sunglasses, no outlandish hip-hop togs of the type favored by contemporaries like Ichiro. Flash just isn't Matsui's style, even if the conservative Giants hadn't frowned on such outré displays. Instructed to stay in the team dormitory and refrain from dating during the first several years of his career, so as to devote all his concentration solely to baseball, Matsui agreeably complied, without so much as a whimper. Indeed, his only eccentricity, if it can be called that, is his extensive private library of adult videos. His refreshing ability to laugh self-deprecatingly about his porno collection, reporters say, is one reason why fans and even nonfans have taken to him so much. Says former reporter Isao Hirooka: "Hideki just wants to be like ordinary people."

What is a 'hip hop tog'? And one more, for fun, discussing the build-up in Japan before he came to the states:

Another newspaper article breathlessly noted recent revelations about gays in major-league baseball and stressed the need for Matsui to be vigilant in the Yankee Stadium shower room when he bent over to pick up the soap.

Lucky for Hideki, he was never sodomized by a teammate, in the shower or otherwise. And he went on to have a very nice stint in New York. My impression, informed by nothing but observation, is that he's a simple, nice, laid-back guy with incredible baseball focus. Probably pretty funny, too, or at least with a strong appreciation of humor. His face has the appearance of being carved from stone, and its structure and complexion made him look at least twenty years older than his actual age. When he wasn't smiling, he looked like a tired old samurai. It's arguable that he was the best clutch hitter for the Yankees in the past seven years; that honor can't go to anyone but he or Jeter. Hideki always came through, and he could hit lefties just as well as righties. It'll be a less interesting team without him, and I absolutely hate the fact that he's going to the Angels.

From a business standpoint, the move makes sense. Cashman couldn't afford to keep an older guy whose knees preclude him from playing the field. The DH needs to be available for Jorge every few days, and Hideki commands too much money not to be a full-timer. If he could play right field once in a while, it would be a different story, but alas, he cannot. And so Matsui-san hits the road west, and the Yanks lose a great warrior.

Sad, sad, sad. That sweet swing won't be forgotten.


Duke plays Gardner-Webb tonight at 7 in a lead-up to Saturday's showdown with Gonzaga. Also on Saturday, UNC takes on Texas in a game that should tell us a lot about the Longhorns. The bowls start Saturday, as does my college football pool, which is now up to 40 participants and a $250 top prize. You can e-mail me for more details or see the post from a couple days ago. Take care.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tape-Delay Blog: Giants-Eagles

Good morning- today's long post is a 'tape-delay' blog of last night's game between the Giants and Eagles. What that means is that the words were written live, during the game, but are being posted today during normal work hours. I promise that the content below contains all original thoughts and entries from last night, and aside from minor style edits, I haven't adjusted anything to make myself look like a genius. It ended up being 11 pages in Microsoft Word, so if you actually make it to the end, God bless. Enjoy.

7:38 – Here we go, baby! It’s about 30 minutes til game time, and I’m cooking up a bit of pasta (linguine marinara) to fill me up before kickoff. It’s the only thing I know how to make that involves using a stove or oven, and it also happens to be my favorite food. Just like Eli Manning only knows how to make perfect passes, and it also happens to thrill a nation. (This is the first of many entries where I discuss irrelevant personal details and then loosely connect them to the football game I’m supposed to be blogging about.)

7:46: Dallas did their part in the 4pm game, losing to San Diego by 3. They’re now 8-5, which will be the same record the Giants and Eagles hold if the good guys win tonight. That would leave the NFC East in a 3-way tangle with 3 weeks left. The Giants have the easiest schedule of the bunch.

7:48: Girlfriend just called to ask what kind of girl scout cookies I like, since she’s buying some from the girl she babysits. Am I the only one who’s never liked girl scout cookies? I like the names (Daisy-go-rounds, samosas, tagalongs, do-si-dos), but none of the cookies. To me, regardless of flavor, they’re all thin and bland. Which is kind of how I feel about girl scouts themselves. So I told my girlfriend to stop calling and ruining my blog. (If you stop reading this post right now, I can’t say I blame you.)

8:00: I do, however, like chocolate chip cookie dough. I had a few heaping spoonfuls while waiting for my pasta to cook. If you look at my cookie dough career, I think I probably own the record for least times making actual cookies. I just love the product, homes. I do find myself wishing the chocolate chips weren’t around, though. I know what you’re thinking: just buy sugar cookie dough. Believe me, brother, it is not the same. I learned that one the hard way. There's still a tube of 7/8ths full sugar cookie dough sitting in my freezer from '04. I can't even look at it.

8:02: Bob Costas is interviewing Eli Manning. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” he says of the Giants-Eagles rivalry. Eli offers a chuckle that falls somewhere between good-natured and sheepish, and a tame answer that amounts to, “well, we’re all out here trying our hardest!” It works so well that he uses it for every other question Costas asks.

8:04: Costas talks about how Peyton gets combative when people question Eli’s ability. “He jumps to your defense like Perry Mason!” says Costas. Eli’s smile temporarily leaves, and he says “Is that another 1940s tv reference, grandpa? Who the fuck is Perry Mason?”

8:05: That last entry is not true.

8:06: Since I don’t have a coffee table and my desk faces away from the tv, I have my computer on a cardboard tv box, exactly the right height, which normally rests on the side of my bed. This is an object of “furniture” which functions perfectly to hold my water bottle and cell phone while I’m sleeping, but which my girlfriend absolutely detests. Something about a 26-year old still using cardboard as a main part of his decor. Sometimes I bring a lamp over and place it ont he box, and it drives her crazy.

Last week, she started crusading for an end table. She sent me roughly 60 links per day on g-chat showing various examples for sale on craigslist. It went from an idle conversation topic to a sort of mania on her part, and it became clear that this would be a ‘sticking point’ that at best would plague my days and at worst would escalate to our first huge fight and end the relationship. So I gave her carte blanche to find an end table, with the one caveat that it couldn’t be higher than the bed; there’s no space behind the bed, so if it was higher, there’s a strong chance I’d bump the table in the middle of the night and send the very heavy lamp crashing on my head.

She picked something up last Thursday on craigslist for 20 bucks, set it up, and watched me expectantly when I came home. And here’s where I made a sort of boyfriend ‘mistake.’ Instead of making a positive comment or showing any kind of gratitude, I walked over, pushed the end table (which was higher than the bed!!) lightly toward the wall, and watched as the lamp teetered and fell directly onto the pillow where my head would be. Then I gave the girlfriend a meaningful look and shook my head.

Needless to say, it wasn’t our best night. And now she hates the box even more, especially because I’ve been extolling its virtues since the failed end table experiment. I’ll make sure to document her exact reaction when she sees me typing on it. She’ll be home in about an hour.

8:15: It was an absolutely miserable day in New York. Nothing but cold, rain, and overcast skies. The Meadowlands should still be wet, and it will definitely be freezing. Westbrook is out for the Eagles, and hopefully the conditions limit their passing game. Since Eli never learned to throw a spiral anyway, I don’t think it fazes him when the ball is slick.

8:21: Just sent my weekly Giants text message. This is a ‘motivational’ note I send to ten people on my phone list. Two of them are young kids, two are my brothers, three are actual Giants fans I know, and two are Pittsburgh fans who repeatedly ask me to stop sending them the message. It’s always some combination of corny and weird, and always involves an odd homage to Eli, often involving some mythical feat he once accomplished relating to the week’s opponent. This week’s installment: “The Eagles have landed, America. This is where we take our spot on the perch. Eli once ate a live eagle, and it was beautiful. Get angry. Go Giants!”

8:23: Excerpt from the Sunday Night Football theme song by Faith Hill: “Al and Chris having fun on tv!” And they really, really do.

8:26: Two great text responses already. First my friend Mike, a Packers fan, told me he was ‘shitcanned’ because he was at the Packers win over Chicago. Then my cousin, also named Mike, wrote “The eagle came off the endangered species list in 2003. The g men are going to put them back on it. I’m pumped.”

SO AM I, YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD!

8:30: Giants control their destiny. Win today, and we’re first place in the NFC East. Justin Tuck now being interviewed by Andrea Kramer. “We’ve got to play with the same intensity we played with against Dallas.” Nobody reminded him that Tony Romo threw for 400 yards last week. Which is probably good.

8:31: Kickoff. Party Tynes boots it not quite to the endzone, Eagles take it out past the 30.

8:31: Look, Eagles head coach Andy Reid takes a lot of flack, but I’ll say this for him: he looks absolutely retarded standing on the sideline.

8:32: First offensive play is a 10-yard run. Here we go again. It wish it was raining harder.

8:33: OH MY GOD, I FORGOT TO PUT ON MY JERSEY! If we lose, it’s on me. I’m now wearing Corey Webster #23. I’ll be switching back and forth between this one and my Eli jersey as the Giants switch between offense and defense.

8:34: First play after donning the Corey Webster jersey, Michael Vick (the asshole who killed dogs, not the other Michael Vick) completes a 40-yard pass inside the ten. They oughta call this secondary a ‘tertiary,’ am I right?

8:35: McNabb to Celek on a well-designed tight end screen. Touchdown Eagles. On the sideline, Celek screams at the Meadowlands crowd. It’s still early, bud.

8:37: That DJ Remix Southwest Airlines commercial, using sound bites from the runway personnel, makes me want to puke as though I just watched Michael Vick shoot a battered dog in the temple.

8:38: You know how people act like Flava Flav is this hilarious person, and if you just mention him, it’s like some kind of pop culture currency that buys you a cool pass? WELL HE’S NOT THAT FUCKING FUNNY. Which you can tell Sprint, because they have him in a commercial now. Other things that aren’t funny are midgets, mullets, and any other fucking loser who made bad art in the 80s. Here’s a good lesson: when some kind of idea or concept makes you smirk, rather than laugh, it’s officially lame and won’t be cool or even relevant or even identifiable in ten years. Can you tell I’m really happy about how the game’s gone so far?

8:39: I think Eli’s first pass just hit the referee, and Brandon Jacobs then yelled at the ref. B-Jake then follows it with a vintage 2008 run, plowing ahead with like 15 Eagles hanging on him for 8 yards.

8:41: Steve Smith’s first catch of the game. Love him. He is always open over the middle. Always. They should just run that play over and over.

8:41: Oh lord. Jacobs fumbles, Philly returns it for another touchdown. Are they maybe reviewing this one? Nope. Replay just shown, not even close. Son of a…

8:43: The over-under for when I quit this live blog and start sulking has just been set at 9:32.

8:46: 3-yard pass to Kevin Boss. Jacobs gets a first down, having cut off the rubber sleeve that apparently was specifically designed to make him fumble. Nicks with a sweet slant from the left end, 17 yards. They need to use this guy a lot more, even if he is from UNC.

8:48: As if on cue, Nicks drops the next pass. First Kevin Gilbride sighting, our offensive coordinator. Still has a dumb mustache. Still something untrustworthy about the fellow. Steve Smith over the middle works again. First down in Eagle territory.

8:50: Second and long, Giants call a run. Here we go with the conservative crap. Third and long will either be a draw or a 3 yard pass. Guaranteed.

8:50: Almost right. 6 yard pass to Smith, still short of the first down. AND COUGHLIN’S GOING FOR IT!! I love it. Let’s try to win this friggin’ thing.

8:51: JACOBS IS A BAD HUMAN BEING! First down! Alright alright alright. Let’s stuff this baby in the zone.

8:52: The field is meant to look green, but is actually kinda grayish, swampy, and drab. So huge credit to the field crew for making the Meadowlands an exact representation of New Jersey.

8:53: Wow. Eli throws a prayer to the corner, somehow the defender misses the easy pick, and it falls into Boss’ arms. First and goal.

8:54: UGH. Fade route to Manningham is complete, but out of bounds. And he should have had his feet in, but kept his right leg hanging in the air so it could land wide for stability. Bad form, Mario. Plant the foot and fall over. You wear pads. Giants settle for a very disappointing field goal. It’s still ‘early,’ but I really feel we needed the touchdown there.

8:57: I’m excited for the Sherlock Holmes movie. Call me what you will. Robert Downey and Jude Law just “do it” for me.

8:58: Girlfriend arrived. No harsh reaction to the box, unfortunately, even though I even prompted her. Now she just read this and said “see, I’m awesome.” And she brought ice cream and sodas. Now I’m feeling bad about all that stuff earlier…

9:00: Collinsworth is yelling at Manningham for not making a strong enough fake to the inside before doing his fade. Which is valid, but he still should have caught the effing touchdown.

9:01: Giants snuff out a screen. Good sign, Philly destroys us on the running back screen al the time. Pressure on McNabb on third forces an incompletion. Kiwanuka made a sweet deke to harass McNabb from the middle.

9:06: Why the hell are we running Jacobs wide? HE’S NOT FAST. He’s a bull! I think Gilbride gets confused about the different running backs sometimes. I wonder if he even knows their first names? End of first quarter.

9:10: Are you fucking kidding me, Hakeem Nicks? Forget anything good I’ve ever said about him. He just dropped a bomb from Eli that would have been a sure touchdown.

9:11: AND HE DID IT AGAIN. Oh my lord, he has no hands. On both plays, however, Philly got called for illegal contact. But still, sweet mother…even Collinsworth called that sequence ‘embarrassing.’

9:13: “Eli has just gotten sooo sophisticated,” gushes Collinsworth. I think he’s the Eli Manning of NFL announcers; happy-go-lucky, interesting, and strangely effective.

9:14: HAKEEM NICKS!!!! MAN OF INTRIGUE!! What a friggin’ spectacular play! He just snatched a bad pass out of the air, came down, pulled off a brilliant spin, and raced for a long touchdown. I’ve never seen such a huge swing of skill by one player in a single drive. I love you, Nicks! I think?

9:16: They just showed the three Nicks plays from that drive in slow motion. He literally looked like the neighborhood dweeb on the first two plays, either very uncoordinated or just scared of the ball, and on the third he looked like Moss or Rice (the receivers, not the plants).

9:20: Vick the Dog Killer in…and he breaks a tackle and runs for a first down.

9:21: While I’ve been thinking about Nicks, Philly is carving up our (horrible) secondary. They’re on the verge of another touchdown. And now McCoy receives a pass in the flat, ten yards from the endzone, and there is literally nobody around. Does this defense ever even practice?

9:24: Some weird play involving a halfback option to Vick fails. Rouse with the break-up. And wow, on the replay he realllllly got away with interference there. Philly has to kick the field goal. Nice stop, kinda. 17-10.

9:31: Debilitating fumble aside, Jacobs is starting to look like his old self. The last two weeks have been like a revival; the bull is back, the matadors are scared.

9:33: And Nicks drops another big pass over the middle. I don’t even know what to say or think anymore. He’s certainly getting his name out there. But now we have to punt. And now Jackson runs it back down the sideline for a touchdown, and now we’re screwed. This game just got close to being out of hand.

9:38: Hixon fumbles the kickoff, and the game comes inches away from being basically over. But the G-Men recover. This drive needs to end in points. 4 minutes left in the second quarter.

9:39: Good start by Bradshaw, who jukes and jives to the 50. It occurs to me that I’ve totally forgotten to switch jerseys like I intended. Between that and not wearing anything Giants related to start the game, I can only blame myself for how things have gone.

9:41: Bradshaw is just destroying the Philly defense right now. A 17-yard run brings us to the two minute warning, and we get the ball to start the second half. This thing could be tied before long, but a touchdown here is crucial.

9:44: Smith drop a pass in the middle of the endzone. These receivers are not delivering the goods, and this also ruins my theory that Smith over the middle should be run every single time.

9:45: Or does it??? Smith over the middle to the 5!

9:46: Yikes, Kareem Mackenzie, our right tackle, is dragging himself across the field like someone in a bad disaster movie rigth after the explosion. That’s typically a bad sign.

9:47: I like the Playstation guy. Those commercials give me the giggles. (Shit, I promised myself I’d never say ‘give me the giggles’ again after my dad refused to speak with me for three years last time.)

9:49: Mackenzie is hobbling on the sideline, but at least he’s ambulatory. Bradshaw spins to the 2. After another draw, TOUCHDOWN Bradshaw! Great drive, and Ahmad owned it there. When he’s healthy, this offense is very, very dangerous. 24-17 Eagles, only 1:30 left in the half.

9:54: I went about a half hour without screaming at the television, but Osi just hit McNabb’s arm as he threw, and we nearly had a pick-six on our hands. But #52 dropped the ball and cost us a potential tie. Oh my oh my oh my oh my.

9:56: Instead, our horrible secondary decides not to cover anyone downfield, and McNabb finds Jackson wide open way downfield. Dockery and Rouse blew another one. They’re reviewing it, apparently. For what, I’m not sure...McNabb might have been across the line. Coughlin is absolutely livid; I think he knows we need a new defensive coordinator. It’s just unbelievable how a player can be that wide open.

9:59: There’s a lot of confusion about forward fumbles and possession and what not, but the bottom line is the pass stands. Eagles in field goal range...Tuck bats down a second down pass, twenty-six seconds left. If you’re a betting man, put down a double sawbuck that the secondary leaves someone wide open close to the endzone.

10:00: It’s Celek wide open at the 5. Un-fucking-believable. He rams it down the 1. I hate this defense. So weak, so predictable. For some reason our linebacker was five yards deep in the endzone. And the really sad part is, we’re only rushing four guys. That leaves seven supposedly in coverage.

10:01: Michael fuckface Vick runs in for the touchdown. Somewhere in heaven, an angel dog loses its wings. The extra point is blocked by Robbins, so it’s a 13 point lead with 10 seconds left. I’m going to sulk through halftime, back later.

10:04: Jesus, one more piece of excitement as Hixon fumbles again. This one is recovered by Philly, but the clock expired and its halftime. Unreal.

10:18: We’re back, and the girlfriend went to bed, so now we can get REAL. Eli looks pissed. If we can score like 50 points this half, we have a real shot at winning the thing.

10:20: There’s something about a dude named Boss stiff-arming a guy that’s just a few degrees cooler than your average stiff-arm. And your average stiff-arm is pretty awesome.

10:21: Steve Smith just set a team record for catches in a season with 83. He’s been a stud this year.

10:22: Nicks continues to confuse everyone. With Asante Samuel draped all over him, he makes a spectacular catch on the sideline and prevents an interception. But of course Philly is challenging...come on, guys, let’s play football here. Not ‘challenge-ball.’ (Is it possible to shame a team into not challenging favorable plays?)

10:24: Play stands! But they showed the replay, and Nicks looked like he was trying to corral a greased-up watermelon. There are some hands issues with this young man.

10:26: Jacobs is awesome. He just bowled all 11 Philly defenders over on his way to the 2-yard line.

10:27: On second-and-goal, Eli overthrows an eligible tackle. Maybe not the best option in the playbook, Gilbride. “A better first down call than second down,” says Collinsworth.

10:28: Jacobs can’t get in the endzone. Decision time, 4th down. This is basically the game here.

10: 28: Coughlin’s going.

10:29: JACOBS AIN’T HEARD OF YOUR CONCEPT CALLED DOUBT! Chris Snee leads him into the zone. Six point game as Party Tynes nails the XP.

10:30: One hates to be negative, but this has all the makings of a game that stays close enough so I can never give up and go to bed, but tantalizingly out of reach right until the last whistle. I hate having to hope for a defensive stop from this group of bumblers.

10:33: Some kind of beat poet voice-over leads us back to the Meadowlands. NBC Sunday Night Football really has their finger on the pulse. Of what, I don’t know.

10:34: “The Giants have had a real hole on the right side of their defense this year,” says Collinsworth. And the left side. And the front, and the back, and most of the middle, too...

10:35: PICK-OFF GOFF! Goff, who is apparently a mechanical engineer, or at least majored in it during college, intercepted McNabb.

10:36: And Eli fumbles. But he might have been down by contact, so I’m not panicking yet...here comes the red flag.

10:40: This call is taking forever, and for good reason. It’s ridiculously close whether or not Eli was down by contact from the defender who grabbed his jersey, and now they’re calling it a fumble. I hate to admit it, but that call isn’t horrible. This is a huge missed opportunity. I don’t think you can really count on this defense for another big stop.

10:43: Whooooooooo. That’s a sigh of relief 'whoo.' McNabb had his man wide open on a streak route on yet another miserable group coverage effort, but overthrew him. “I’ve never seen so many blown assignments in one game,” says Collinsworth. And it’s week 14. No excuse. But Philly has to punt, luckily. Another chance to take the lead.

10:44: I don’t think these McDonald’s commercials capture how depressing it is to actually step into their restaurant. The McDonald’s of advertisement-land is a bright, homey place with luminous reds and yellows setting off the appetizing food. I wish they’d try to convey the oily, lower class squalor that overwhelms you when you cross the threshold. More obesity and acne would be a decent start.

10:47: DOMINIC HIXON, LADIES AND GENTS!!! 61 yards later, and we’re one Party Tynes kick away from the lead! McNabb looks pretty annoyed on the sideline, but he’s got nobody to blame but himself. Tynes nails it, and we’re on top, baby!

10:49: I picked a good game to blog...this is wild. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Eli as pumped as when Hixon scored. Not for a second do I think we’ll hold this lead, though.

10:51: And right as I say it, McNabb to Jackson for another long touchdown. This time, Ross was the goat. The really infuriating part about this secondary is that you can’t pick out one guy who keeps failing...they all stink. I need a scapegoat, please! Jackson did a little river dance after scoring that was actually quite entertaining.

10:54: Hakeem Nicks is mankind’s greatest mystery. He just caught an 8-yard pass and inexplicably ran about five yards backward.

10:56: Three and out for the G-Men, and that is not a good omen.

10:58: Kiwanuka makes an admittedly nice tackle in the backfield, but then gives a huge full body fist pump, which I just don’t think the Giants defense has earned. Kinda like how the Arab alliance didn’t earn a celebration during the 6-Day War just because Day 4 didn’t suck as bad. (What?)

11:02: God love him, but every time Eli Manning calls an audible, it’s a shotgun draw. End of fourth quarter, Giants ball, 3rd and long. 37-31 Eagles.

11:03: In our favor: the fact that a missed extra point always, always comes back to haunt the team that missed it. It’s like a tragic flaw in a Greek play; it will be their downfall. Not in our favor: the world’s worst defense. Our D is like a 'sensitive' guy; you hope for the best, but he cries a little too often and just isn't gonna get the girl.

11:05: Boss with the first down, and a late hit! If this were 1978, I’d be all: “That was so Boss!” Then I’d give a knowing smile, alone here in my living room. (I might wake up my girlfriend to see how she took it.)

11:07: Man, Eli is pinpoint today. Boss drops a beautiful pass downfield...when even your reliable tight end is having a bad hands day, you know things are rough.

11:08: Fucking draw on third and 5. Hate it. Bradshaw gets stuffed. Coughlin’s going to punt, which I guess is the smart move. Jackson fair catch at the 9. Is one more stop too much to ask?

11:10: Zales has that commercial where people keep telling their significant others that they love them in meaningful situations, and the s/o stops in their tracks and looks shocked. They need to have one where the guy says it, but the girl is smiling at a text on her cell phone and looks up with those wide eyes where it’s clear she’s not paying attention, and goes “what?” And they need another where the guy looks up from a comic book and goes “don’t be a fucking idiot.” And one where a chubby guy with a mustache and a beanie wags his eyebrows and goes "oooohhhh, mushy mushy!"

11:11: In a move I respect, the Giants secondary are no longer even pretending to cover any receivers.

11:15: Defense getting eaten up. Beginning of the end, I fear.

11:17: The lowlight of this game just happened, as Brown made our entire defense look like weebles as he ran back and forth in a joyous expression of human locomotion. Michael Prick takes it to the 1, and then Weaver scores. Fucking brutal drive.

11:23: Teeth are brushed, clothes are laid out for tomorrow. I’m trying to reason with myself and not become totally pissed off at how terrible our defense has played all year.

11:25: Eli audibilizes into a play where he runs for 4 yards without going out of bounds. This is followed by a running play for 5 yards. A minute has come off the clock here.

11:26: Oh my, what a run by Bradshaw. Eli, about to get sacked, shovels it to Bradshaw, who jukes out three different Eagles and finally gets forced out a the 30. New life!

11:28: Fourth down, but no timeout...and Manningham with an amazing catch in traffic! Yikes. Brilliant pass by Eli, though.

11:30: 2:30 left...TOUCHDOWN MANNINGHAM! This one will be reviewed...and it will be overturned. He didn’t get the second foot, and that’s the second time it’s happened this game. Horrible. He reminds me of the spastic kid in gym class who could never play basketball because his body was too excitable and he couldn't stop himself before he dribbled out of bounds and ran into the wall. 2nd and very long, and we’re in trouble.

11:36: Whatever the fuck ‘P’ stands for in the phrase ‘1080P,’ it really pisses me off. Just say pixels, or whatever it is. Otherwise you’re a douchebag who loves being smarmy at Best Buy and secretly thinks Wal-Mart is the coolest. Why is this bothering me right now? Because THE GIANTS ARE FRIGGIN’ TERRIBLE AND IT’S PISSING ME OFF. I'VE HAD A ROUGH NIGHT, AND I HATE THE FUCKING EAGLES, MAN!

11:38: Remember what I said about this game being close the whole time, but ultimately frustrating? Giants at the 5, and then TOUCHDOWN BOSS. 1:30 left. This one will come down to an onsides kick. Which we probably should have been doing all game.

11:41: Tynes chose to kick it as hard as he could directly out of bounds. Clever, but ultimately stupid.

11:42: “The Giants need a reverse Joe Pesarshick,” says Al Michaels. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds smart.

11:43: Oh, it’s some old game where the Giants blew it against the Eagles. 1:22 left, Giants out of timeouts, 3rd and 9 for the Eagles. Are they dumb enough to risk a pass? If not, we’ll get the ball back with about 30 seconds left.

11:44: Nope, they run. So there’s a chance, but not much of one.

11:45: Both teams averaging 7.2 yards per game. Before the game, I knew we’d have to outscore them, and it looks like our offense was up to the task. But the fumble recovery and the punt return are the difference. 500 yards of total offense for the Giants might not be good enough.

11:47: 95 yards in 30 seconds is the task at hand.

11:47: Eli narrowly avoids a safety, Boss gets a few yards, but now only 19 seconds remain.

11:48: Eli fumbles. Game over. Huge fight on the field. Sean O’Hara got punched twice by Trent Cole, then got flagged for taking his helmet off. O’Hara is irate. Then the refs get it right and disqualify Cole for the last 8 seconds. Hopefully he gets suspended for a game.

11:50: So our record is down to 7-6, and playoff hopes are pretty slim. Crappy way to end the weekend. I won’t be staying tuned for the Wendy’s postgame report. At least Dallas lost, I guess. Philly still owns our souls. See you in hell, Eagles.