Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nuggets: Gimme Some Love

Alright, alright, I admit I haven't been the most supportive Nuggets fan. Hell, I even get them in Hi-Def now and it's still a 3rd or fourth option on the ole spin dial. However, after this evening I'm beginning to think I may be underestimating the annual spring chokers, invisible playoff loafers, the George Karl imploders. I've gotten a little jaded on the prospectors in past years. Maybe I should pay closer attention. Maybe.

Here's what I know. They got rid of A.I. A good move. A trade that never should have been. I was against it (check the archives bitch!). Melo got a seed cut. He looks a little less street but it seems to have helped his defense and shot selection. Carmelo runs the court as well as any small forward in the league. He is a very solid player and the absence of Iverson hasn't been a bad thing for him. And lastly, they have played really well since they got Billups. Having seen the first coming of Billups here in Denver, I was a little skeptical that he would have a big impact; however, Chauncey has played as well as any point guard in the NBA this year and he IS the reason they are in first.

Also, that perennial thorn in our side, the Utah Jazz, can't seem to make their annual run at us. I know it's only February, but this is the time historically that we see the big push from the Salt Luke Warm City contingent. What the Nugs need to do is keep letting Chauncey run the O and get Nene and Melo some touches. A healthy Kenyon Martin is necessary to bang through the NBA playoffs (nothing is better than seeing a sprawling Ginobli and Kenyon glaring), some solid bench play from Carter and L.K., and who knows how far this team could go?

You've piqued my attention again Nugs, show me and the rest of the country what you can do. Alright, where's my Nuggets' Nerf hoop? SWISH...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NFL Playoffs: All Aviary Final

Ray Lewis and the Ravens will be quothing "nevermore" to the Steel Bunch this weekend. Mike Tomlin says that this is just another game but history has a way of playing out in professional sports and rarely do you beat a division opponent three times in one year. That is as scientific as my AFC pick is going to be. I do like Derrick Mason to make some big plays in this game. Mason and Mark Clayton are underrated and if the Ravens get any kind of offense in this game, then they are on their way to Tampa. Prediction: The Ravens score one defensive touchdown and win 21-17. Bet the OVER.

I like Philly to win on the road as well. The Eagles' defense is playing about as well as anyone right now and I think they can rattle Kurt Warner. I like Warner but I think the Eagles defense will frustrate the Cards and they will play ball control on offense. Prediction: McNabb runs for a TD and throws for one as the Eagles win 17-10. Defense tends to take over in championship games. Bet the UNDER.

Monday, December 29, 2008

NFL Wildcard Playoff Predictions

After a wild weekend of games, the NFL playoffs are here, and surprisingly, with the Vikings, Dolphins, and Falcons as participants.

Now, some people had the Vikes as a sexy pick in the pre-season; however, I don't have a lot of confidence in Brad Childress and Tavaris Jackson, so I was not among them. I've been a Vikings' fan for over 30 years, so you can forgive me if I'm a little skeptical about their chances. It's not that they don't have good players, they just don't have good enough players. And they have won this year despite their head coach. I honestly thought Chilly was going to let the clock run out at the end of the Giants game. In watching the game, it did not appear obvious to him that they were behind with 30 seconds left to play. "He does know that we're behind right?," I asked my wife as Childress pissed away the last minute of the game. Viking fans should be thankful that we have a solid kicker to make up for our lack of coaching.

I'm also enduring the Broncos misery today in Denver. The Donkeys are not a good team, they have been beset with injuries, but they still should have won the hapless AFC West. What they need: a new defensive coordinator; new defensive secondary; and some healthy running backs. With this, I think they are right back in the mix next year. And don't be crowing too loud San Diego, you won a division where no team (including yourself) had a winning record. How about winning a playoff game before your punk linebackers start talking trash to the other team coming out of the tunnel. You've kicked Denver while they were down. Don't expect much leniency from them in the years to come. Even Norv "wooden head" Turner knows you don't do that to a team you play twice every year, but he was never the world's smartest guy.

For Wildcard Weekend, I like:

Arizona 30 Atlanta 24. I think the Cards get back on track with this one. If Warner and the Cards don't turn it over, I think they win. Atlanta can't win a shootout and AZ is going to go vertical. I think Boldin is going to play big in this one.

Colts 24 Chargers 21. LT gets hurt, Rivers throws a big INT late in the game and the great Peyton Manning does just enough to get the road win in the playoffs. Indy also has the advantage that Norv Turner will show up with the rest of the Chargers. Dungy won't lose this game.

Miami 16 Baltimore 14. I don't know how you can doubt the Fins. I'm going with them. This will be a tough, low scoring game but I think the Dolphins are this year's Giants.

Philadelphia 30 Minnesota 17. How I would love for this to be the other way around. I think the Eagles are going to out-tough the Vikes and they have a real advantage at head coach and quarterback, two pretty vital areas. If the Vikings turn the ball over at all, they are toast. I think the McNabb experience over T. Jack is really going to show in this game.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

21st Century Christmas

21st Century Christmas. Days of wine and leprosy.

I feel dirty from the shenanigans going on lately and it’s going to take a week-long bath to get rid of the funk. Chicagoans don’t know when to give in. No bailouts, no forgiveness, and if you prey on someone else—if it be physical or if you rip somebody off—then you must pay the price. Nothing is anybody’s fault. Truth is untruth. Truth is unauthorized. It’s honorable to fire your employees on YouTube. Let’s take our Wii over to the tennis court and play tennis. Embrace the age of artificial imitation. Make another sequel. Look in the camera and act like you really hate your reality show competitors. Say something outrageous because our ratings are down. Our kids are flunking, so it must be your fault. Live in fear from the terrorist boogeyman. Tolerate racism. Decry racism. Spread racism. Read from the book of Matthew and then molest your congregation. Mortgage your children’s future. Borrow money from China. Live, breathe, love, hate.

I parade around like a disoriented Shriner in an era of glitter and glut. I’m more interesting to people because of my failures rather than the good things I’ve done. Everybody lets me down. I can’t be trusted. I’m a different color, I act differently, and I speak differently, so promote me or send me to prison. Work in our fields but don’t be seen. Return to your own country. Jet fuel burned corpse bulleted glass explosion. I knew the picture was fake. We’re bringing back torture because we’re pissed. I’ve reached out to the vampire underworld only to come back disappointed. Original ideas die a certain death in Hollywood. The masses adopt violence as their new opiate. I fall off the high wire.

Everything is about change but nothing changes. We rarely have to wait in line but our identity can be stolen. Every time I text, the English language dies a little death. I don’t have to see you face-to-face. You misunderstood what I meant. Carrying that sign will get you arrested. My right to carry a gun is more important than your right to exist. Everyone pushes to the front of the line. Get stuck in the crosswalk and we leave you for dead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ranking the Mountain Men

5. Kit Carson (1809-1868). Notable accomplishments: Served as a guide for John C. Fremont on his first expedition to map and describe Western trails to the Pacific Ocean. Over the next several years, Carson helped guide Fremont to Oregon and California, and through much of the Central Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin. He was still serving as Fremont's guide when Fremont joined California's short-lived Bear-Flag rebellion just before the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846. Carson would serve in the war, playing an important part in the conquest of California. Carson also led the forces of U.S. General Stephen Kearney from Socorro, New Mexico into California, when a Californio band led by Andres Pico mounted a challenge to American occupation of Los Angeles later that year. Carson played a prominent and memorable role in the Civil War in New Mexico, he helped organize the New Mexico volunteer infantry, which saw action at Valverde in 1862. Most of his military actions, however, were directed against the Navajo Indians, many of whom had refused to be confined upon a distant reservation set up by the government. Legacy: Carson City, NV; Carson National Forest, NM; Carson Pass, CA; Kit Carson County, CO. Power Ranking: 7.5

Zebulon Pike (1779-1813). Notable accomplishments: General James Wilkinson, who had been appointed Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory, ordered Pike in 1805 to find the source of the Mississippi River. His attempts to close British forts on American soil at the lakes, though vigorous, were unsuccessful. Pike returned with his men on April 30, 1806, with little to show for their efforts. Pike was ordered out once again to lead an exploratory expedition to find the headwaters of the Arkansas River and Red River. Near St. Louis on July 15, 1806, Pike led what is now known as "the Pike expedition" from Fort Bellefontaine to explore the southwest. Pike never successfully reached the summit of the famous peak that bears his name. Pike was promoted to captain without his knowledge while on the southwestern expedition. In 1811, he was listed as Lt. Col. Zebulon M. Pike with the 4th Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Tippecanoe. He was promoted to colonel in 1812. Pike commanded combat troops in the successful attack on York, Ontario (now Toronto). On April 27 1813, Pike was killed by flying rocks and other debris when the retreating British garrison blew up its ammunition without warning. Legacy: Pikes Peak; Pike National Forest, CO; Numerous Pike counties in U.S.; USS Zebulon Pike; Piketon, OH. Power Ranking: 7.5

Jim Bridger (1804-1881). Notable accomplishments: Among the first white men to see the geysers and other natural wonders of the Yellowstone region. In the winter of 1824-1825, Bridger gained fame as the first Europeon American to see the Great Salt Lake. Along with several other trappers, he established the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. In 1864, he blazed the Bridger Trail, an alternate route from Wyoming to the gold fields of Montana that avoided the dangerous Bozeman Trail. Later, he served as guide and army scout during the first Powder River Expedition against the Sioux and Cheyenne that were blocking the Bozeman Trail (Red Cloud's War). Legacy: Jim Bridger Wilderness, WY; Bridger's Pass, WY; and Fort Bridger, WY. Power Ranking: 8.0

2. Jedediah Smith (1799 - 1831). Notable accomplishments:
In his 32 years as an explorer, Jedediah Smith's accomplishments certainly earned him an uppermost rank as explorer in this period of United States history. He led the first overland party from the east to California. He was the first to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains going east. He had discovered South Pass from the east and was the first to bring wagons through it to the west which encouraged the Oregon Trail wagons to follow his exploit. His travels were over twice the distance of Lewis and Clark and covered a broader territory. He had covered both a southern route and a central route to the west coast. Also the Snake River from Oregon to the Great Salt Lake and Western Wyoming north to Montana had been viewed by his eyes and journaled by his pen. While his maps and oral stories were shared with many people, unfortunately he did not live long enough to have his journals and maps published. In September 1823, while Smith was leading a small band of trappers west overland from the Missouri River toward the mountains, a grizzly bear nearly killed him. The beast broke several of his ribs, tore away one eyebrow, gashed his scalp in numerous places, and practically destroyed one of his ears. Smith's companions hurriedly attended to his wounds, but deep scars remained. Legacy: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, CA; Jedediah Smith Wilderness, WY; Smith River National Recreation Area, CA. Power Ranking: 8.5

1. John "Liver Eating" Johnson (1824-1900). Notable Accomplishments: In 1847, his
Native American wife was killed by members of the Crow tribe, which prompted Johnson to embark on a 20-year vendetta against the tribe. The legend says that he would cut out and eat the liver of each man killed, but it's quite possible that this only happened once and that he just pretended to eat the liver. In any case, he eventually became known as "Liver-Eating Johnson" (usually spelled without the t in Johnston). Since eating the liver of a victim is a symbolic way of completing a revenge slaying, some credence might be given to this activity.

Another story is when Johnson was ambushed by a group of Blackfoot warriors in the dead of winter on a foray to visit his Flathead kin, a trip that would have been over five hundred miles. The Blackfoot planned to sell him to the Crow, his mortal enemies, for a handsome price. He was stripped to the waist, tied with leather thongs and put in a teepee with an inexperienced guard outside. Johnson managed to chew through the straps, then knocked out his young guard with a two-finger jab between the eyes, took his knife and scalped him, then quickly cut off one of his legs. He made his escape into the woods, and survived on the Blackfoot's leg until he reached the cabin of Del Gue, his trapping partner, more dead than alive, a journey of about two hundred miles. Eventually, Johnson made peace with the Crow, who became "his brothers," and his personal vendetta against them finally ended after twenty-five years and scores of Crow warriors had fallen. Legacy: The 1972 Robert Redford movie "Jeremiah Johnson" is based on Liver Eater's life. Power Ranking: 9.0

Ray Burn

Somebody scheduled some baseball games this weekend but instead an ass whooping broke out. Sitting above the green monster at Fenway was a dangerous place to be as several spheres with flames trailing them came rocketing down into the stands scattering fans and spilling beers. More than one Sox fan (at least the ones who stayed) was left to contemplate the wiffle ball like offerings of Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester that ended up shrieking through the night like a German 88 shell. ZIP....BANG! The thorough dismantling of the Red Sox this weekend was masterminded by a nondescript manager with Buddy Holly glasses and a bunch of young kids who don't know they are playing what some have called "the greatest team of our generation." This team is good and TB's manager Maddon knows it but isn't necessarily saying so. Tampa has been so good the last two games that the Red Sox have no answers. "We certainly need to figure it out," said Boston manager Terry Francona.
"The quicker we get to our bullpen, we certainly make it harder on ourselves. We've had a difficult time. We have not had an answer for a lot of things." Boston Manager Terry Francona after Game 4.
Lost in the Tampa offensive explosion is the fact that their pitching has been extremely solid throughout the playoffs and their bullpen can match up against any team going into the late innings. This has obviously been a problem for the Sox, whose bullpen has worked overtime in this series because of the lack of the starters to get anybody out. What's left for the Red Sox is draw upon their 3-1 comebacks in 2004 and 2007 and hope that Dice-K can at least keep the Rays under 10. If he is unable to do that, it's going to be a "wicked haaard" winter of discontent in Beantown.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Training, Selig, and the Ghosts of Steroid Past

With the NCAA tournament in full bloom, there's always some reminder that baseball season is just around the bend. For some enthusiasts, like me, who can't wait until April, and jump on a plane for Arizona to see a split-squad game, we already know who our team is playing for the first couple of series' of the season. The harder thing in following this game is to keep track of the offseason player movements; the process commonly known as Stevestus Finleyism. There's a newness in spring training, an optimism. Even the Royals and the Rockies have a chance in April.

The highwater (or low depending on your belief) mark of the 07 season is Barry Bonds' possible collision with the all-time homerun record. Rumour has that the Commissioner wants to play down the achievement, if it happens, and may not personally attend games where the record is imminent. Tough call, Bud. There's a sufficient amount of evidence that players have used steriods but also that MLB officials knew about it and did not act. One person who does know what happened is Selig, and in cooking up his multinational stew with a homerun in every pot, it is very possible that certain preservatives were overlooked, if you know what I mean. So it seems to me that Mr. Selig is sleeping in the bed he has made. Sure, he's washed the sheets and swept it clean, but some dirty things were done there, and that stain never fades. Clearly, MLB officials failed to recognize the supplements from the real bad stuff. They chose to believe it was an Andros world rather than a locker room full of guys with the numbers of Mexican pharmacies in their speed dials, until it had to be pointed out to them. Luckily for all of us, even a megalomaniac like Selig can't ruin the game. It succeeds despite him.

I still can't believe Carlos Beltran took that pitch in Game 7 of NLCS with the season on the line. Apart from the Cards totally dominating the Tigers in the Series, the Beltran pitch is my most vivid memory of the 06 season. The Bonds controversy aside, it should be a great season. Here are my predictions for 07:

NL WEST: 1. Dodgers 2. Giants 3. Rockies 4. Padres 5. D'Backs
NL CENTRAL: 1. Cardinals 2. Cubs 3. Astros 4. Reds 5. Brewers 6. Pirates
NL EAST: 1. Mets 2. Marlins 3. Phillies 4. Braves 5.Nationals

If Jason Schmidt is injury-free, he could anchor a good Dodgers' staff and they should score runs too! The Giants, Cubs, and Marlins will fight it out for the wildcard, with the Cubs finishing a game back of the Cards, who get 86 wins. Mets are the team to beat in the NL and they could win 100. I like Derek Lee, Pujols, and Beltran as my early MVP candidates.
AL WEST: 1. A's 2. Rangers 3. Angels 4. Mariners
AL CENTRAL: 1. Twins 2. White Sox 3. Tigers 4. Indians 5. Royals
AL EAST: 1. Red Sox 2. Yankees 3. Blue Jays 4. Orioles 5. Rays

The A's will win a weak division and the Twins will win baseball's best division. That leaves the Yankees/Red Sox drama. Look for the Sox to edge them out but the Yanks landing a wild card spot. Vernon Wells and Joe Mauer should be MVP candidates at season's end.