Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy HELL-oween

This is the scariest thing you'll see all day.

I can't believe my poor eyes. (I can't believe I posted baby pictures on back-to-back days, either.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Week 9 Review/Week 10 Preview

Week 9 Review: I Hate Being Wrong

First off, a little humility.

I took some mild-mannered heat from my co-author for talking about my success in the last write-up. I blew that off, until I drove past Riverside Baptist Church before Saturday's games...

All glory and praise to the guy who runs this website.

...but I still figured I was unstoppable. And then, Saturday happened.

Look at all that red. Okay, duly noted: no more bragging til the season is over.

After all, I've been sucking in the Pick Six game pretty much all year, and Week 9 was no exception.

A lot of "L"s litter the Pick Six board. Quigley had four losses in five games, plus a bye. The worst hit was Ohio State (MPF and Quigley), who fell to Penn St. (Quig's only win) in an epic defensive battle, decided by a freshman's screwup. Don't worry kid, at least you didn't go to Michigan. Kansas (Quig again) got tripled up by Texas Tech. TMMPF's shared teams biffed--South Florida lost to Louisville and Wake lost to Real Miami.

Meanwhile, in non-Top 25 oblivion, Auburn (MPF) lost at W. Virginia on Thursday night, Illinois (Q for three) lost to Wisconsin (previously 0-3 in conference ... this gives me hope for next week) and Cincinnati (Quig IV) got crushed 40-16 by another basketball school, UConn.

Bottom line: I'm barely ahead of the cat.

Okay, let's see who else is sucking ...

Schadenfreude Dep't.: This season keeps getting funnier and funnier. 1000 Words:

Okay, the Irish. The Irish played Washington. The Huskies were about this scary.

ND dominated from beginning to not-quite-end, the middle of the fourth quarter, when Charlie put in the third string. We missed the second half to go up to Lincoln Square to see That Guy From The Jayhawks. We followed the game from a Tennessee bar called Bad Dog, but it appears we didn't miss much.

Oh, and this guy got his wish.

Iowa had a bye. BHGP summarizes it nicely.

And finally, in response to a commenter's question: Manchester Central 47, Manchester Memorial 0. I got that right, but I ain't bragging.

Week 10 Preview: Schizo Mania

Some guy posted pics of all the mascots of 2008 ND opponents, some of which I've used for this season's writeups. However, this was the best he could do for Pittsburgh:

Clearly, the mascot for the impossible-to-predict Panthers is this:

Pitt is 5-2, but those two losses are to Bowling Green, a middling MAC team, and Rutgers, who before Pitt had scored a max of 21 points against a D-IA team. Rutgers hung 54 points on the Wannstache. He has proven to be awful at game planning. Charlie eviserated him back in 2005, when TM and I were crammed into Blue Bayou on Southport with hundreds of Irish fans for a gamewatch. Yet at the same time, Pitt has beaten two teams that will probably go to a bowl (South Florida and Iowa) and that many fans expected a loss.

Speaking of schizo, I'm not sure you ever know what you're going to get from a Ron Zook-coached team. Maybe 2-10? Maybe the Rose Bowl? Maybe losing to an 0-3 Wisconsin team that Shonn Greene dominated? Maybe water-skiing?

You thought I was kidding, right?

After watching Iowa and Illinois play Wisconsin in back-to-back weeks, plus Iowa's performance against Illinois last year, I think we have a good chance for a win. Missouri laid out the blueprint for beating Illinois back in Week 1: force the erratic Juice to throw the ball. Get ahead early, shut down whatever semblance of a running game they feature that week, and make the Juice throw downfield. If the Hawks do that, it should be an enjoyable game.

Pick Six: Biggest game is the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, aka Florida (TM) vs. Georgia. C'mon Dawgs! Other matchups of note: Texas (TMMPF) at the Pirates of Lubbock, and a family matchup of South Florida (TMMPF) vs. Cincy (Quigley).

Nebraska: Herbie's back! Thanks for taking care of Iowa State. Of course, have you seen Iowa State lately? It ain't that hard. Even smoke stops the Cyclones.

This week the Huskers face a tough, tough Oklahoma team, who took the No. 1 team in the nation down to the wire. If we see Herbie next week on the blog, it will have been a major upset.

Phew! I'm ready for football. Enjoy the games!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Newspapers for Obama

On Saturday Alaska's largest newspaper (the Anchorage Daily News) endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Here is an excerpt:

"No matter the outcome in November, this election will mark a signal moment in the history of the 49th state. Many Alaskans are proud to see their governor, and their state, so prominent on the national stage.

Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency -- but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand."

In fact, if the election were based on newspaper endorsements alone Mr. Obama would win in a landslide.

According to Editor & Publisher the Obama/Biden ticket leads the McCain/Palin ticket by 194 to 82 in newspaper endorsements. In addition, several newspapers in key swing states (such as the Indianapolis Star and the Ann Arbor News) have decided not to endorse a candidate.

Newspapers are a dying institution in America and you, kind reader, might not care what they say... but I do.

Why do newspaper endorsements matter? I think it should be noted that many fine journalists spent many hours researching, interviewing and observing the candidates before making these choices. And as this E&P columnist found, endorsements may have actually had an impact in the key battleground states in 2004.

I don't think it is any secret who the editors of TMMPF support. Know, though, that regardless of our leanings we feel that, as voters, it is our responsibility to be as informed as possible.

With that in mind, TMMPF endorses reading the endorsements in your college/local/independent/national newspaper. In fact it would probably be beneficial to read a few (google is your friend).

Use the E&P list to get some conflicting views, you never know what might catch your eye. As any good journalist will tell you, to be truly unbiased one needs to gather information from all possible sources.

And as a voter (we believe) this is our (and your) civic duty.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Favorite Conference

I've written about politics. I've written about the Big Ten Network. But the two had not collided until now.

Fourteen months after launch, the Big Ten Network is coming through on its promise to provide non-athletic content. In their weekly email, they clued me in to the Big Ten Battleground Poll, a web site that follows what voters in the Heartland think--specifically about the presidential race.

And I'm so pround of the good, honest people of the Big Ten, cause in about a month they turned this (Sept. 19):

into this (Oct. 23).

Way to go, Big Ten! Now we just need to make it stick on November 4 (and maybe win a couple bowl games to shut up the fans of the SEC).

Check out the Big Ten Battleground Poll right here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Hate Dumb Ads (Or, Why Iowa Is Better Than Iraq)

I saw this ad today, and since I have a blog I can share with you how dumb and unfair it is.
This makes it sound like it's just as easy to go to Iraq as Iowa. There are many good reasons for going to Iowa. One is football. Another is the Field of Dreams. Another is that Iowans are the first to decide who they want to be president of the United States of America.

There are many reasons not to go to Iraq. One is war. Two is, ... yeah, it pretty much comes down to not getting yourself killed.

Let's not chastise Obama for going to Iowa 43 times more than Iraq, shall we? Aside from being a nicer place to live, they also speak English and it's much easier to get to (the Ike to I-88 to I-80). We'll have four, maybe eight years to pick on the guy, for probably much more valid reasons.

We even produced an American president, Mr. Vets for Freedom Dot Org. Hah!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Week 8 Review/Week 9 Preview

Week 8 Review: I Love Being Right

Eat turf, Badger!
photo by Matthew Holst of the Press-Citizen

We spent Week 8 in Iowa City, where Iowa hosted Wisconsin and Shonn Greene ran over, through, between, on top of, and fill-in-a-prepositional-phrase Wisconsin.

We saw the new (or new to me) Nile Kinnick statue. I rubbed his helmet for good luck. It seemed like the traditional thing to do, not that we necessarily needed it with this Wisconsin team. A couple pictures:

The Black Swarm takes the field:
Forget the turtle...Fear THIS!!

The final score and proof of our dominance. The backups gave up a late TD, after the PA system inexplicably played "Jump Around."

I'm not a coach or player, so I'm allowed to ask "what if" about this Hawkeye team that looked incredible against cupcakes, couldn't put away three straight winnable games, then absolutely crushed two conference foes. Nine points separate Iowa from an undefeated season. Nothing can make them 8-0 instead of 5-3, but the confidence of knowing they can win should be exciting to watch when they face Illinois after the bye week.

If this video is still up, please enjoy the afternoon of Hawk joy we experienced, condensed into eight minutes of awesome:

I predicted a win, although not necessarily this big. My friend Tonya wrote: "hope you have fun and Wisconsin doesn't kill Iowa too bad :( I know...not much faith, but Wisky is pretty good and sadly, Iowa isn't..."

I wrote back to her before the game:

Did you see last Sat's game? Iowa crushed Indy. we put it together in all phases of the game. Our most complete win of the season.
We are catching Wisky at the right time. They are stunned and defeated mentally, confused and bewildered. Wisky may have more talent, but they're not playing like it. Also, they are changing out their QBs. Hawkeyes know the fits and starts that produces.
I'm starting to like our chances, if our D plays tough and frustrates the QB into throwing vs running. A couple early IA TDs could make Wisky say, oh boy, here we go again.

Speaking of being right, all my reading and studying of Steele culminated in a big Week 8 in the pick 'em games. I correctly called 13 of 18 games against the spread, widening my lead in the small game...

...and moving up a few notches in the national competition.

In the game where I pick winners outright and assign confidence points to each game, I've moved up to 7th out of 50 or so. (By the way, the name "Much Better Than Last Year" refers to the performance of Iowa, Notre Dame and me in the pick 'em game.)

Pick Six: TM's lose-lose situation resulted in a loss ... for Mizzou, which means the Texas team we share stays at No. 1 while her Tigers drop. Their border wars foes in Kansas (Quigley) also lost to a Top 5 conference rival in Oklahoma. Wake (TMMPF) Feared the Turtle to the tune of 26-0. Cal (MPF) lost to Arizona and says goodbye to their second brief stay in the Top 25. Idle Ball State jumps up to 20 based on losses by teams above them. Clemson (Kitty) falls further into oblivion by losing to Georgia Tech.

Unless Florida and Mizzou absolutely face-plant, and/or Auburn and Cal find their way back to the rankings, I think TM's got this one wrapped up.

Interesting stat of the day, courtesy The World Wide Leader: Maryland is 3-0 vs. ranked teams and 2-2 vs. everyone else.

Interesting stat #2: Penn State (23) represents 50% of Quigley's total points (46).

Lessee...anything else happen last week?

Oh yeah. Heh-heh. Oh well fellas. At least you kept it within 30.

Week 9 Preview: The Home Stretch Begins

The University of Notre Dame plays (sigh) the University of Washington, which is coached by (sigh) Tyrone Willingham. Willingham used to coach a bunch of places, like Stanford and (sigh) here. ND fired Willingham with two years left on his contract because they are a bunch of intolerant racists. Meanwhile, Willingham has proven Notre Dame's folly by leading Washington to unparalleled success. Let's all move on now shall we yes good.

Pick 6: The huge intra-family battle is Ohio State (TMMPF) vs. Penn State (cat). Auburn (MPF) has a chance to earn some points by facing a less-than-2007 W. Va team, but it's a long climb back. And Big 12 games to watch include Mizzou (TM) against Colorado and Texas vs. Oklahoma State (who would have ever thought the Cowboys would be ranked higher than Mizzou??).

Iowa has a bye. (So do the Chicago Bears. It'll be a quiet weekend.) Ohio participates in Interactive Tuesday!! vs. Temple. It's more than a mid-week football game, it's Interactive!!

The other big battle, of course, is a Notre Dame night game vs. Gary Louris at the Old Town School. Who keeps scheduling great Americana artists during college football season?!? I last wrote about Louris here.

He does crossword puzzles too, which is cool.

Nebraska: Oh you thought I'd forgotten you.

Herbie's back, thanks to your 35-7 crushing of Iowa State. (Although let the record show we beat Wisconsin, a good team, by more than you beat ISU, a bad team.) I think you should have no problem with Baylor this week. A win puts the Huskers right where the Hawks are heading into the bye: 5-3 overall, 2-2 in conference.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week 7 Review/Week 8 Preview

Week 7 Review: Your Tears Taste So Sweet

First, a little schadenfreude: (let this play while you read the next part, but use headphones if you're at work or if kids are around)

October 26, 2002:

October 11, 2008:

Love those similarities. Oh, and Meechigan's grammar sucks.

This was a historic loss: first ever to a MAC school. And not even a good MAC school--Toledo had not beaten a I-A school until Michigan. Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp called the loss "worse than Appalachian State."

The two Toledo photos courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez of the Detroit Free Press and the utter incompetence of the Dick-Rod Wolverines. Good thing we have a "MAC Attack" label.

Also Saturday, Iowa somehow put all the pieces together in a dominant performance at Bloomington. Last time the Hawkeyes went to Bloomington, I was there and it did not go as well. (In fact the football team scored more points than the basketball team did that night.) But the O-Line created huge holes for the running game, Stanzi proved he is the Manzi by recovering from first half nerves to lead Iowa on several scoring drives. It gives me hope for next week (more on that in a minute).

Catching up on some Pick Sixin', not that I really want to:

In the games of Week 6, Auburn (MPF) had a close loss at inexplicably good Vanderbilt. TM and I shared the South Florida loss to Pitt, and the cat had five wins and a bye. I took hit of 10 total points, Quigley moved up two, and (sigh) Ball State entered in the top 25 for the first time ever.

After closing the gap from 19 points (Week 4) to 11 (Week 5), I let it slip to 19 again (Week 6). I needed a strong performance in Week 7 to stay competitive. So what happened? Well, Auburn fired Tony Franklin (he of the Tony Franklin offense), so another loss (this week to Arkansas) was probably inevitable. That was my only loss, but it kicked Auburn to the curb--goodbye, six points. Tina's huge Florida win over LSU was offset by Mizzou's loss to Okie State. Quigley had TWO losses but managed to move up in the standings: Clemson was already out of the top 25 (and appears to be for the duration, now that they've fired Tommy Bowden), and Illinois choked against a potentially good Minnesota (they went 1-11 last year, currently 6-1). Penn State's domination fueled their climb up the charts, currently at No. 3.

So not only did TM's lead grow, the cat is now within scratching distance of second place:

As for the Irish:

The ram/Tar Heel thing took time from stiff-arming cheerleaders to temper Irish expectations. This loss didn't bother me, personally: we knew this team would succeed and fail in fits and starts. I'm not a head coach, so I'm allowed the nuance of "good losses" and "moral victories" and the like. The fact that ND had a -5 turnover margin, on the road, and lost by only five points, shows they were competitive all game through. I'll take a UNC loss over an MSU loss any day.

Games watched, all or part: Interactive Tuesday!! from an Irish bar in downtown Los Angeles, Clemson/Wake (Thurs), Iowa/Indiana (main TV), Texas/Okla (little TV), Tenn/Georgia, ND/North Carolina, Mich St./Northwestern, Okie St./Mizzou, Penn St/Wisc, UCLA/Oregon (the fall asleep game).

Week 8: Bring on the Steenking Badgers

On Saturday we'll be at Kinnick for the Iowa-Wisconsin game. It'll be my third game of the year in three states, TM's fourth in four. The Hawkeyes are undefeated when my co-author attends a home game, so I'm optimistic. We got tickets through a friend of my mom known as "Hawkeye Joyce." I'm telling ya, if you want Iowa tickets, it doesn't hurt to go to someone with "Hawkeye" in her name. I mentioned to Mom to see if Joyce had any connections or ideas on how to score tix for what I figured what a sold-out game. Two emails and 10 minutes later, Joyce had a pair in my name.

I don't know what happened to the Hawks between the three straight losses and the 36-point margin of victory at Indiana, cause they looked like totally different teams. But my hope for a bowl is restored, although the margin for error is slim. Here's how I perceive our best bets to pick up the two wins needed for a bowl*:

  1. Purdue. They are just awful, they appear to have quit on Uncle Wilford, and they come to Kinnick.
  2. This Saturday, vs. Wisconsin. They are a talented team, ranked No. 8 in the country (not the conference, the whole United States) just four weeks ago. But they are wounded, discouraged and depressed. Plus they could be breaking in a new quarterback, after Allen Everidge got benched in the PSU blowout.
  3. @Illinois. Anybody remember when I predicted Illinois would have a huge falloff?

    You heard it here first: Illinois, way too high at 8.0 [projected] wins. No, I haven't looked at their schedule. But I have looked at their depth chart: no Mendenhall, no RB to replace him [and] a shaky Juice Williams still at QB. ... If you're smart enough to be reading this, and you're offered 8 wins for Illinois: Take The Under!

    At 3-3, they need five wins in the final six games to get to the eight wins predicted by Vegas. Memorial Stadium was never a house of horrors, and Minnesota (!! ... I still can't fathom it) proved there's not much of a home-field advantage there. The defense is awful, and if Iowa can shut down the Illinois run game and force Juice to pass, we should win.
  4. @Minnesota. I know this sounds weird to say, and I mentioned it above, but Minnesota has gone from 1-11 in 2007 to 6-1 so far. Two conference wins prove they are at least kinda sorta for real. I think this will be a tough game for Iowa.
  5. Penn State. They are unreal, have crushed everyone they've seen, and for whatever reason we play better at Happy Valley than Iowa City. An almost-guaranteed loss.
Also: The Irish are idle. Ohio hopes to continue MAC Attacking after getting the first conference win.

Pick Six: TM is going to lose points somehow when Texas hosts Missouri. Ohio State (Quig and MPF) faces a surprisingly tough and ranked Michigan State team. Kansas (Quigley) goes to Oklahoma, sure to be angry about last week. TM will be forced to choose between Pick Six points (Wake Forest) and reptilian fear (Maryland).

In honor of the MACAttack! last week and Mizzou going to face No. 1 Texas, here's a MACFAC(t): Not only is Gary Pinkel a former head coach of a MAC school (Toledo), but he also is a graduate of Kent State and was an assistant at Bowling Green.

Oh, and lookee who's back in the Top 25:
Of course, so is this.

Nebraska: Congrats on staying closer than expected with the Mike Leach Pirate Attack. The improvement is visible, but it's still a loss, so there'll be YouTubery next week (this post is already pretty full). Beat the crap out of ISU, and I'll bring back Herbie next week.

Go Hawkeyes! Beat Badgers!

* Due to the general mediocrity of the Big Ten this year, I think six wins will be sufficient, unlike last year. The conference has seven bowl games (Rose, Aaargh I Hate Your Commercials, Outback Steakhouse, Alamo, Champs, Insight Dotcom, and the Your Punishment Is Going To Detroit In December Bowl). We're currently sixth in total wins (4-3), with three games left against teams below us in the standings.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Playoffs: Requiem for a Choker

Part One: My Laziness Saved Me

First, a story.

I shouldn't have even been at Game 1. But, my workday on Wednesday started with this email from my boss:


From: (boss name redacted), Joan E.
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 8:51 AM
To: MPF; (coworker name redacted), William
Subject: Cubs Tix?

Mike/Willy -

I have two sets of Cubs Tickets for purchase if you are interested,
one is for Wednesday and one set for Thursday night and they are

Let me know if you are interested.



A couple things to know: I won a lottery to buy tix thru the Cubs earlier, so TM and I already had tix to Game 2. And, face value for tix start at 30-something for standing room, 60-something for bleachers and get higher from there. So that's a great price.

So I said yes to Game 1 and get sent to the secretary holding the tix. She tells me where they are and then says, "And make the check out to Tribune Company." (owner of the Cubs) I said, "You won't take cash?" She said, no, the note on these said check only.

Who brings their checkbook to work on a regular basis? Maybe women if it happens to be in their purse, but not men. There's a Chase ATM in the lobby of the building, but it wouldn't do any good. It has to be a check.

So I'm screwed. Except.....

....except the night before I'd looked at my checkbook and realized I hadn't filled in the running total in the check register for several entries. I like to keep it up to date.

But I was feeling lazy, so I said, ah, I'll just do it tomorrow at work when I'm bored, so I threw my checkbook in my work bag. (I also wrote a check for my co-worker Willy, who of course didn't have his checkbook at work.)

We sat in Section 206, left field line. I would describe the mood in the park as hopeful yet reserved. Part of it almost certainly was the early start: 5:30 local time. I had to cut out of work early to come home and change clothes, and we barely made it to the park in time. Part of it could have been that so much was expected of the Cubs: Best record in the NL, first NL team to clinch, and that whole 100-year thing. Maybe the crowd just didn't have time to get drunk or at least buzzed, or maybe they were too nervous to get drunk 'n' noisy.

I think only two good things happened that night, and both happened early. One, I discovered our seats were next to my friend and co-worker Charlie. Two, Mark DeRosa hit a two-run homer in the third.

Other than that...Dempster* was wild. He had more walks than innings pitched. He did manage to get one over the plate to Manny, which Mort warned he shouldn't do:

You rock, MPF. Have a blast tonight. If the Cubs give Manny anything to hit it'll be a big mistake. Walk him every time. Just like what the Brew Crew should do against the Phillies now that Ryan Howard doesn't have Pat Burrell to protect him. ...

The big BUT (in Mort's prediction of Cubs and Angels winning their series--ed.) lies on the home team winning Game 1. If the Red Sox and Dodgers win Game 1, that will make a huge change in the final outcome. Also, if the Cubs decide to pitch to Manny instead of walk him every at-bat (kind of like what the Brewers need to do against Howard), then things will change.

Make sure that pile of salt is right outside your front door.

I guess Mort shoulda told Dempster, not me. But by the time of the Manny homer, the wildness had pretty much put the game out of reach, psychologically if not logically. Final: Dodgers 7, Cubs 2.

Game 1: Cubs (click on any scorecard for larger version)

Game 1: Dodgers

The official Game 1 box score is here.

Part Two: Errors in the Infield

We sat in Section 229, under the overhead along the first-base line. The fans were a little louder Thursday than Wednesday. I'm sure the later start time (8:30 pm) had something to do with it, but also a recognition that we had our ace going, and if anyone could shut down the Dodgers and get this thing to 1-1, it was Big Z. But when the second inning happened, I think the die was cast.

In 1984, the first NL East title for the Cubs in the divisional era, Chicago had a squad nicknamed "Animals in the Infield." The players were Leon "the Bull" Durham, Ryne "Ryno" Sandberg, and Ron "the Penguin" Cey. (As I recall he was squat and pudgy like the bird. I dunno if shortstop Larry Bowa had a nickname. The "boa," I guess.)

Well, in Game 2, the Cubs had errors in the infield--at all four positions. First off was DeRosa in the second inning, letting a grounder through. It sucked, but not a fatal error. Very next batter: D Lee flubs a grounder and can't recover in time. Those would have been outs two and three; now it's one out, bases loaded. Big Z strikes out the pitcher, but the next two batters (Furcal and Martin) single and double, respectively, bringing home four runs. Whatever air was left in the Friendly Confines escaped at that point. Down 1 game to zero, and 5-0 in the top of the second...this team just wasn't prepared for that.

Not to be left out, Aramis "No Cool Nickname" Ramirez (3B, 4th inning) and Ryan "The Riot" Theriot (SS, 9th inning) made their own errors to complete the sweep. The Cubs made a futile attempt at a comeback with one in the seventh and two in the ninth, but by then it was too late. Final: Dodgers 10, Cubs 3.

Game 2: Cubs

Game 2: Dodgers

Game 2 box score here.

And, they went out to LA, and of course the Cubs played a little better with Rich Harden* on the mound, but still not good enough. A 3-1 loss and the season was over.

I don't know if I have any answers for what happened. The team I saw in Game 1 and Game 2 was not the team I followed over the summer. The big bats that could crush anyone into submission went silent. The most reliable pitcher at Wrigley couldn't find the plate with a map and a flashlight. The one guy you expect to stop a slump (think Pedro in the late '90s for Boston) was victimized by errors and couldn't recover. Most damning is all the money wrapped up in the salaries of Sorryano, Ramirez and (cringe) D Lee, all of whom could not deliver a clutch hit (or even a meaningful hit) to save their lives. I never thought I'd say this, but: where have you gone, Moises Alou?

So now it's watching the playoffs on TV with general apathy, sorta rooting for the Dodgers cause they got a kid from Iowa. Maybe someday we'll go all the way, Eddie. Just not in 2008. So for my final words on the 2008 Cubs, I shall quote Harry: "So long, everybody."

*-a Canadian. I need to justify the "Canadians" tag.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

East Coast Bloggin'

Greetings from the Kiawah Island Golf Resort off the coast of South Carolina.

That's right, spanning both coasts in a single week, TMMPF has no boundaries!This morning I got up bright and early to take a tiny little plane to the tiny little airport in Charleston, South Carolina. I then rented a car and drove another 45 minutes to Kiawah Island where I will attend a 1-hour breakfast meeting before flying home.

Not that I'm complaining. I mean I am in a villa all my own... and the ocean is somewhere nearby... but it's been raining ever since I got hear (alternating between raining while cloudy and raining while sunny) and to be honest it is kind of isolated here in the villa. But other than that I'm not complaining.

Tomorrow I have to get up bright and early for my meeting and then I am bound and determined to see the ocean (maybe even dip my toes in) before I head back to the airport.

For now, however, I will stick to watching football (and baseball)and vegging out in my pj's in my huge villa.

Note to self: the next time you are sent to a fancy resort on an island on business remember to bring your husband!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Week 6 Review/Week 7 Preview: the 56K Version

Remember how in the earlier days of the Inter Webs there was often a choice on the home page: Full Version for broadband, and Low-Fi Version for dial-up? Well, consider this the dial-up version of the review/preview.

Week 6 Review:
I watched a lot of football, I'm sure of it. But I don't remember much, other than ND looking pretty good for three quarters and Iowa pissing me off yet again. Here are the notes I jotted after the game:

KF thoughts:
On 4th and 2, on the 22 (or so) yard line, 4th quarter, you should kick the field goal. It's only 39 yards from there, not impossible for a collegiate kicker in normal conditions. With a young, inaccurate QB, who watched the Jimmy Clausen 2007 tapes on How To Be a Horrendous Rookie Quarterback, you need to take the points.

Oh, but then we got a second chance a few minutes later...4th and 1 on the 21 yard line, two minutes to go. Almost exact same situation. Here it's a little more acceptable to go for it...your back is to the wall. But then the sideline and the offense couldn't get on the same page, so Iowa TAKES A TIMEOUT...essentially icing themselves. Now the "D" has a chance to take a breath, decide their alignment and confirm what everyone knows...we're gonna run it with Greene. Which of course we did...and forgot to block the linebacker, who had a straight shot to tackle Greene and end the game.

Ohio: lost.

Nebraska: lost badly, so no Herbie for you. Next week: more YouTubing from nutty Mike Leach. Arrrrr!

Pick 6: She's still leading.

Games watched, all or part: Interactive Tuesday!! featuring crappy Sun Belt teams, Cincy/Marshall I think, Iowa/Mich St., Kentucky/Bama, Vandy/Auburn, OSU/Wisc, PSU/Purdue, Michigan/IU (on replay on BTN at 4am Friday--seriously), Notre Dame/Stanford.

Week 7 Preview:

Newspapers around the country are running a misprint on the Iowa line...they've got the Hawks favored by five. Hah! We scored 13 points last week. We've lost three straight games by a total of nine points. Iowa, who did not go to a bowl last year, with a rookie QB, goes to Indiana, who did go to a bowl and has a senior QB. Of course, Indy scored a whopping seven points last week vs. Minny.

Can ND win on the road? We'll find out at North Carolina tomorrow.

Ohio U: plays Kent State. I can't pick Kent...they lost to Iowa State.

National scene: I'm looking forward to Texas/Oklahoma. And, how will Auburn do since they fired their offensive coordinator? (How do you run the Tony Franklin Offense after you shitcan Tony Franklin?)

Can Tift Merritt and Son Volt compete for my attention with these night games: LSU vs. Fla, Penn St vs. Wisconsin and Mizzou vs. "I'm a Man! I'm 40!"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

West Coast Bloggin'

Hey everyone, greetings from California. I'm in Los Angeles for work, and I realized a couple nights ago that it's the first time I've been in LA since 1984.

I planned on writing a little more about the life and culture, but wouldn't ya know it, they've actually kept me pretty busy out here with work. So I'll have my thoughts on LA (hint: the stereotypes are true) and some pictures up soon, maybe the weekend.

Since this is my first business trip in a long time, there were certain individuals at home that protested my leaving:

I think I would have been OK kicking him out of the suitcase, but then:

This one really got me.

I also hope to have the football review/preview up soon, but it might not be til Thursday or Friday. I will say that when I went to a pub for dinner last night, I asked the hostess to seat me in the bar area, near a TV "where I can watch the football game." She looked stunned and confused. Football on a Tuesday? I guess she hadn't heard of Interactive Tuesday!!

Scenes from Game 2 at Wrigley

Monday, October 06, 2008

Scenes from Wrigleyville

There was so much hope in Wrigleyville last week.

The mood was happy. Confident. There was a swagger to Northsiders steps.

We all knew it wouldn't last. But for one blissful moment there was hope.

It was nice while it lasted.

Tune in tomorrow for scenes from Game 2.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Week 5 Review/Week 6 Preview

better late than never....

Week 5 Review:
Well, um, Iowa crawled into a cave and handed a sure win to the smart kids from the North Shore suburbs. This one hurt, one of the most painful, gut-kicked, optimism-killing losses of recent memory. I've lost faith in this coaching staff. We need change. I'm not smart enough to know if that means Kirk, or Parker, or probably O'Keefe. But damn, who turns a 17-3 second quarter lead at home into a 22-17 loss to fricking Northwestern?

It's enough to make me give up religion and start going to the Church of Rick Astley.

All glory and praise to the guy who runs this website.

In happier news, Notre Dame finally looked like a complete team in dismantling Purdue. That was the (nearly) total performance we've been waiting for since the Brady Quinn era ended. If the kids play like that all year, we'll be just fine.

Nationally, three of the top four teams lost. A playoff is foolishness. The regular season IS the playoff in college football.

Jayson Stark-esque Stat of the Week: Ohio scored 50 points over three straight weeks (Ohio St, Directional Michigan, N'western), so of course they scored 51 in the very next game (Virginia Military Institute).

Pick 6-ing: Florida's inexplicable loss to Ole Miss (yes, Ole Miss!) dropped TM in the points standings. Quigley had a double whammy with Tigers (Clemson) losing to Testudo (Maryland) and the inevitable loss of his own team (Illini) to his own team (Penn State, who is starting to look scary good against actual competition). Meanwhile, slight increases by three of my teams couldn't offset Wake Forest's loss to Navy, so I lost points as well.

I'm closing the gap, but not exactly how I planned it.

Week 6 Preview:

ND faces the Tree and its Catholic-hating, un-invited band. They've had one good win (Oregon St), and then won the two they shoulda won and lost the two they shoulda lost. I think we'll be fine, if we play like we did in the Michigan/Purdue games.

Iowa prepares to get run over by the Ringer. He doesn't play QB for a Top 5 team, so according to the bylaws of the Downtown Athletic Club, Javon Ringer cannot win or be considered for the Heisman Trophy. However, week in and week out he proves he's one of most outstanding players in the country. Iowa's D will likely hold him in check for 3.5 quarters, at which point exhaustion will set in, and he'll finish with 150 or so yards en route to a 28-10 type win. I mean, c'mon. We scored 17 points, at home, vs. a smart school. I do not think we'll suddenly turn into Missouri or Texas Tech in our first conference road game.

Speaking of the XII:

Nebraska fans, your Bugeaters laid an egg against your first real foe, Va. Tech. Husker Larry wrote me: "I still feel confident NU is on the right track, but it's going to take longer than any of us thought. ... After watching us, I think it will be a struggle to get the six wins needed for a bowl. We just aren't a very good team. The talent slipped way too far for this to be fixed quickly. ... As for this weekend, I imagine Mizzou will hang 50 or more on us."

Sorry Husker reader(s), this week I'm replacing Herbie Husker with crazy pirate coach Mike Leach. Here, he offers his dating tips:

Pick 6ing: OSU at Wisconsin looms as an exciting night game. Auburn at Vanderbilt is suddenly important, with both teams ranked. Texas leaves the Republic for the first time to take on Ralphie in the mountains--they should be fine. South Florida already shit the bed last night against the unranked's like he's on a mission to ruin my 2008 college football season. Cal looks for a little redemption against Arizona State, in that long climb back to the Top 25.

Other Pick Sixers of note: Mizzou (TM) @ Neb, and two winnable Big Ten road games for the kitty: Illinois @ Meech and PSU @ Purdue. Ball St. should (ought to, not guaranteed) absolutely crush Toledo, who lost 35-16 to Florida International (the team that took whuppings of 40-10 and 42-0).

Maryland is on the edge of the Top 25, and would likely get in with a win over super-hapless Virginia (1-3, lost to Duke 31-3!!) and a loss by anyone in the lower echelons. Look for Ohio to clamp up defensively against a poor W. Michigan team, and get their second win.

Enjoy the games! I'll be on the couch from about 11am to 11pm.