Monday, January 16, 2012

P6 2011: Final Standings

A week ago tonight, Alabama defeated Louisiana State to win college football's national championship. Due to extenuating circumstances (ie, work was nuts, I needed to write the Best Of, and we're about to have a kid), I'm only getting to posting the final update now. (The top two finishers were informed Tuesday morning, as soon as I ran the numbers after the final AP poll was posted.) We've reached the end of four months of clever names and silly pictures; let's see how it all finished up.

Biggest movers: Generally, not a lot happens between the end of the regular season and the ranking after the bowl games. It takes a major collapse to fall very far, like losing 70-33 to the champion of the weakest of the six major conferences. Of course, no Pick Sixer had Clemson, so that drop didn't affect the game. Among involved teams, West Virginia (+6) was the beneficiary of that Clemson beatdown, and Oklahoma moved up 3 after beating Iowa (as they should have, Iowa did not belong in that game, thanks a lot Pennsylvania State for screwing up the Big Ten's bowl lineup). Nosedivers: Virginia Tech, -4 after losing to the luckiest Michigan team in decades; Kansas State, -4 after losing the Cotton Bowl to a very good Arkansas squad, and a couple of red-clad -3s (Nebraska and Stanford).

Biggest gainer: Even though I just said most teams didn't move very much, three players managed to finangle a 10-point jump off those gainers: "QBKatt" and "Takin' that Pick 6 to the House!" (the only two players with identical picksets) plus "A Burfict Ten."

And now, your winner:

"Sidney" entered the final poll with a five-point lead on "HORRIBLE Dog." Both had Stanford and Southern Cal, so it really came down to the Big Ten vs. SEC Showdowns in Groups C and D: South Carolina or Wisconsin, and Outback Bowl combatants Michigan State vs. Georgia. Unfortunately for the dog, her two lost and Sidney's two won, allowing the lead to widen to eight points.

Congratulations to Sidney, winner of the 2008 Volunteer license plate, officially issued by the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Here's what this year's version looks like. And congrats to HORRIBLE Dog, winner of the Tennessee Volunteers coozie, which she no doubt will urinate on. The top scoring kitty is "The Boonster," ninth overall, which is a great comeback story after he didn't do so well last year (dead last). The top scoring child is "The Bobcat," seventh overall, who visited us this summer and loved meeting our (at the time only) kitty and who also jams a mean blues harp.

Quigley gets ready to say goodbye to the prize he won last year, and has no use for.

As always, you can check out the standings here. I color coded the sheet so you can see how your teams did in the bowl. Green is a win, red a loss, and black means that either they didn't make a bowl or they are on NCAA probation for providing impermissible benefits to star running back Reggie Bush. If you want to see how your team did over the season, just click the other tab called "Points."

I just want to say thank you to all the babies, children, cats, adults, and yes, even the dogs who played the game this year. It was a lot of fun to talk with you through the season. I hope you heed the call when the email goes out in August to pick six more teams.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


BEST DAY: July 1, the day we got medical confirmation that we are pregnant with our first child (due late February). Runner-up: Six days earlier, on June 25, we adopted a kitten named Franklin.

BEST ALBUM: The two-disc compilation “The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition.”

BEST SONG: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Runner-up: “Discoverer” by R.E.M.

WORST TITLE FOR AN OTHERWISE DECENT SONG: “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” by Coldplay.

BEST CONCERT: Robert Plant at Ravinia (June 16). Runners-up: The Hold Steady at the Metro (Aug. 25), Scott Miller at Schubas (Nov. 9).

NOT BEST DAY OR BEST CONCERT SO I GUESS IT GETS ITS OWN CATEGORY: The Dave Matthews Band Caravan (July 10), a daylong music festival at the old US Steel site on the South Side’s lakeshore. We saw Emmylou Harris, the Jayhawks, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, David Gray, Flaming Lips and DMB.

BEST PICTURE: Keeping with the theme of new additions, I think I’ll go with these two:

The 20-week ultrasound.

Franklin's first day home.

BEST OPENING ACT: Nick Lowe (for Wilco, Dec. 12 at the Civic Opera House). Runner-up: Big Head Todd and the Monsters (for John Hiatt at Ravinia).

BEST COVER: I saw many cool versions this year, but the winner is the Flaming Lips doing Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon” at DMB Caravan. Runners-up include “Secret Agent Man” by the Gin Blossoms (Frontier Days in Arlington Heights, July 1) and Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ "America the Beautiful" (Ravinia, on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11).

The magical weirdness of the Flaming Lips. (click to see detail)

BEST NEW VENUE: We finally saw a show at Lincoln Hall (Old 97’s, July 20) and enjoyed the intimate space with great sightlines.

BEST VACATION/BEST WAY TO WATCH A BEARS GAME: Our Caribbean cruise/the big screen by the pool deck, wearing shorts in winter (Jan. 23-30).

BEST AD: I don't always watch commercials. But when I do, I prefer the Most Interesting Man in the World (Dos Equis).

I actually saw this one before it was released, as part of focus group testing. The cat on the table was my favorite part.

WORST AD: I covered my ears when I heard the incessant earworms of State Farm’s “get to a better state” radio jingles. I also hated AT&T’s “that’s so 12 seconds ago” ads.

BEST MOVIE: True Grit, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (released in late 2010, saw in the theatre early 2011).

BEST TV SHOW: Louie (FX). I didn’t watch a lot of TV beyond sports and news, but this was incredibly funny and honest.

MOST FUN DURING THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON: The Pick Six game I managed. Last year we had about 12 people, this year we had more than 50.

BEST CUBS GAME: My first ever Cubs-Sox game was in the midst of a Cubbie losing streak, but the North Siders got the win (July 3).

BEST NOTRE DAME GAME: After an 0-2 start, the Irish steamrolled Michigan State 31-13 (Sept. 17).

BEST ROAD TRIP: Many good nominees here, but I’ll go with my first trip to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (Oct. 14-16). The football team lost the Homecoming game, but I really enjoyed seeing the campus.

Franklin's original ad from the adoption agency.

WORST THING ABOUT THERE NOT BEING A DOUBLE-A BASEBALL TEAM AROUND HERE: We could have completed the grand slam, as we went to major league (Cubs, twice), Class AAA (Toledo, May 28, although it turned into a rainout) and Class A games (Kane County Cougars, July 29).

BEST T-SHIRT: The one that said "National Sarcasm Society" and below in smaller letters "Yeah, like we really need your support." (spotted on Randolph Street near Wells)

BEST PLAY: The Les Miserables revival we saw (Cadillac Palace, Feb. 25) was neat and all, but did match lofty expecations, so I’m giving it to a small play we saw in Boston called “Or,” (Lyric Stage Company, Oct. 29).

WE’LL MISS: Rock band R.E.M., who called it quits after a 31-year career on Sept. 23.

We are looking forward to an exciting new adventure in the new year. May God’s blessings be on you and your family in 2012.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

P6 2011: A Programming Note

Attention Pick Sixers: the final game of the season is Monday night. The final AP poll will be released Tuesday morning. Ideally I would crank the numbers in the morning and get the results posted. However I will be working out of town on Tuesday, so I'll strive to get the final numbers up as quickly as possible.

This probably only affects Sidney and HORRIBLE Dog, as the rest of you can probably wait a day to see howe it all finished up. But I don't want you all thinking I'm asleep at the wheel.

Enjoy the last college football game for eight months. This shall be the first and last time I say this on the blog or ever: Roll Tide.  

Monday, January 02, 2012

Be Sure To Get Your Money's Worth

We drove home from Ohio on Tuesday, buzzing through the lake effect snow of northern Indiana with minimal breaks. We made it in plenty of time to watch the first bowl game of the day, the Pizza Pizza Bowl. During a commercial for the second game (the Belk Bowl), I said, hey, we'll get to find out what a "Belk" is! TM chuckled and said she thought it might be a department store.

But the point stuck with me: what the hell is a Belk? And why do they sponsor a bowl game?

Sponsoring a bowl game probably costs a lot of money. (And if it doesn't, get ready for the TMMPF Bowl in December 2012!) A company should expect to get its money worth by getting its name in front of hundreds of thousands watching at home nationwide. And some of these companies are wasting their money by putting their name on something that just confuses the hell out of their target audience (me and other football fans).

The drive home from Ohio. Once again cute Franklin (and Quigley) makes an appearance in a post that has nothing to do with kitties.

So with TM's encouragement I decided to rate all the bowls by the wisdom of their sponsporships. The actual bowl name, when applicable, is in parentheses.

Tostitos (Fiesta)
AT&T (Cotton)
Discover (Orange)
Capital One
Allstate (BCS National Championship, Sugar)
Hyundai (Sun)
AutoZone (Liberty)

These are the smartest of the 34 sponsors (there are 35 bowl games; Allstate has two). At the top of the list are broad, nationally recognized names that consumers use or see nearly every day: tortilla chips, credit cards, insurance, telecommunications, cars, restaurants. AutoZone is at the bottom of the first tier because while it is a nationally known chain, it does not have the name recognition or frequency of Outback Steakhouse or AT&T. And while I hate hate HATE the Capital One ads, I must acknowledge it is logical for them to get their name on a bowl.

Meineke Car Care
Champs Sports
New Era (Pinstripe)
Vizio (Rose)
Sheraton (Hawaii)

The next tier contains solid names that align with the demographic: a lesser known sports bar chain (Ed: Champps is a sports bar. Champs Sports sells athletic gear. That just proves my point), a ballcap maker, a TV maker, a hotel chain. Vizio should maybe be lower because I don't know if people know what Vizio is (I think it's a software for making flow charts) but at least they are trying to get in front of guys who buy TVs. Same for sports bars clothing and ballcaps. And if you're wondering why AutoZone gets the top rank and Meineke does not, it is because they are intentionally confusing me the fan by moving their bowl almost 1,000 miles but keeping the same name.

And whatever happened to George Foreman ads in the Meineke bowl?

Beef 'O' Brady's (St. Petersburg)
Little Caesars Pizza
Valero (Alamo)
MAACO (Las Vegas)

We're starting to get into questionable territory here. Little Ceasars should be higher ... after all, they are a well-known brand with a product people eat all the time. But they insist on calling it the "Little Caesars Pizza Bowl" which sounds like a disgusting product on their menu. I can only imagine the marketing executive working with his kitchen guys on creating a pizza bowl. (TM and I envision a bowl of crust, like a bread-bowl for soup, with all the ingredients piled in ... essentially, an open-faced calzone, but again, we do NOT want to see this come to market.)

This shitty idea has happened before, people. Let's not have it happen again.

Valero (gasoline) and Ticket City (online ticket reseller) are trying to get their names out there. At least Ticket City had the sense to not slap a "dotcom" at the end of their name. Beef "O" Brady should be punished on the simple grounds of having a stupid name, but at least I think they are more national than regional. And Maaco? Does anyone my age or younger remember "Uh oh, better call Maaco?" More to the point: there are still Maacos in business?

Kraft Fight Hunger
Famous Idaho Potato

We're into borderline stupid territory. Only the more blatantly stupid transgressors of the next category make these guys look halfway decent by comparison:

First up are and With Taxslayer, I can guess at the purpose: tax prep. And, yes, it is tax prep season, so this kind of makes sense. However, in a world with H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt and Turbo Tax, I am not going to trust my finances to a website that makes me think of knights and dragons. As for how many people are ever going to register a website domain, and how many of them are too dumb to go to Network Solutions?

Famous Idaho Potato: The best line I read leading up to this game was, someone asked "is the potato famous, or the bowl game?" As for Insight: I am in favor of intangible concepts, as long as they are patriotic like Independence or Liberty. I don't have a clue why I should feel perceptive or clever during a bowl game.

A Kraft Foods bowl: I'd buy that. A bowl that slaps Kraft's name onto a verb and noun? No.

San Diego County Credit Union (Poinsettia)
Franklin American Mortgage (Music City)
Northrop-Grumann (Military)
R & L Carriers (New Orleans)
Bridgepoint Education (Holiday)
Bell Helicopter (Armed Forces)

These are stupid for two reasons: usage and geography. When was the last time you bought a helicopter? How about a spy satellite? Or hired a trucking company (not a moving company) to transport shipments across country? Your average viewer doesn't give a shit about these three because it's not relevant to daily life.

Franklin American, while having a kitty-friendly and patriotic name, is stupid for the same reason the financial companies are at the top of the list: what is the point of this bowl if I can't find or walk into a Franklin American branch? And doesn't the housing market suck right now? And how do I find a Bridgeport Education? Do I have to go to the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago? Isn't that inconvenient for everyone in America? (Even when I lived in Wrigleyville I wouldn't go to Bridgeport for anything.) (Okay, the fact that I thought it was called Bridgeport, not Bridgepoint, should be enough for them to reassess their name recognition.)

And to the San Diego County Credit Union: I love football. But I can't be a customer of yours. Do you know why? Because I don't fricking live in San Diego! Just like almost EVERYONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY watching your football game. Buy a billboard on I-5.

AdvoCare V100 (Independence)
Gildan (New Mexico)
BBVA Compass

Can anyone say what or who AdvoCare V100 is? I will concede it sounds like a brand of gasoline. But do you know for sure? Shouldn't a gasoline COMPANY sponsor the bowl? It's not like CapOne has the "Platinum Credit Card" bowl or Outback has the "10 ounce New York Strip" bowl.

BBVA Compass: I was so puzzled I broke down and used Wikipedia to look it up.

Gildan and Belk: Well, we watched the bowl and TM was right, it's a Southern department store. Good for them ... does nothing for us customers in 34 of the 50 states where there isn't a Belk.

Now THIS is top-notch customer marketing. (click to read detail)

By the way, as I was going through the list, I realized there is no Bowl anymore. This would have ranked between good and medium, because it is for a consumer product, but it's stupid to name a bowl after your website if you have a physical store or thing.

In conclusion: there are already too many bowls as it is. Let's lop off the bottom five or 10, since those sponsors are wasting their money. Ford, Verizon Wireless and JPMorgan Chase: come on down.