Category: Basketball

Wild Card Playoff Preview and Picks

First of all, thanks to the referee/Shane Graham combo below in Wk 4 that hit a FG in OT versus the Browns that was the key Miracle Cover in my Browns Under 5.5 bet (Season review here).  oddly, I really liked the way Mangini and Co. played and the end of the year and profited off of it as well, so it worked for both sides.

Congrats to Alabama, who somehow held on and covered the 3.5-4.5 vs Texas in the BCS Title game.  Lou made a good point……did ANYONE bet on Texas except for alumni and those from the state?  Maybe they major in Cummunications like the Jeron Johnson of Boise State:

Here is video of a crazy ending to the Florida/NC State Hoops this week

BTW, make sure to get your picks into Miracle Covers before Saturday 4:30, we have about 6 people so far.  Here are my picks for the week:

Bengals -2.5 vs Jets

Everyone and their mom loves the Jets, and I am with Simmons that taking a rookie QB on the road is not the best thing, I learned that last year backing up the truck on Matt Ryan in Arizona.  I mean, the Jets do have the better overall team, but if they fall 10-0 on the road in a VERY cold, windy, and hostile Bengals home crowd, I just don’t see it in Sanchez to give them the throws they need to beat Cincy, even as bad as Cincy looked last week.  Plus everyone loading up on the Jets in good pick’em karma, IMO.

Dallas -4 vs Philly

I really don’t want to pick the game.  The thought of having to decide whether to pick a game where my choices of  teams are coached by Andy Reid or Wade Phillips makes me have seizures. Dallas has dominated Philly so far but it is so hard to win 3 times in a row versus another team.  But the Jackson  injury at center for the Eagles I think is a huge loss because he’d been calling the protections for 7 years straight, and now it’s some rookie who also BTW has to block Jay Ratliff.   I don’t like putting money anywhere near a team who is coached by a “Phillips”,  it’s a heart attack waiting to happen, but Dallas has played their best ball going into the playoffs, and that’s what you look for in betting.

NE  -3 vs Baltimore

I’ll be at this one, and I think the Pats can muster up some Foxboro magic despite losing Welker to eek this out at home.  Flacco has played like crap since Green  Bay game and the Ravens and bengals are the only two teams who can NOT take advantage of the Pats shitty secondary because of their equally-as-shitty WR corps.  Belichick usually takes away what you do well, and that’s Ray Rice for the Ravens.  Take him out, and the Pats should win with home cooking behind them and rally around Wes.

Green Bay +1 @ Arizona

Listen to the Bill Simmons’ Playoff preview podcast and Mike Lombardi made some real good points on how you can take away things from a preseason game and a somewhat of a preseason game in Green Bay’s 67-3 total drubbing of the Cardinals in their last 2 ballgames.  Essentially, the Packers can do whatever they want on both lines of scrimmage, meaning Warner might get pressured into some turnovers.  The Packers 3-4 defense scheme matches up well vs what the Cardinals do, Clay Matthews had 6 pressures last week alone.  The Cardinals may not have Boldin either.  Plus I love taking Aaron Rodgers versus a average defense in a dome.  The only thing that worries me about Green Bay: after Minnesota, they have the worst special teams in the playoffs.  That and the “Arizona is an NBA team” factor as like last year when everyone loaded up against them, they are the only team in football history who can turn the switch on and off from F-level team to SB contender.

Match Fixing & the NBA

Soccer in the Lower German Leagues, a Target for Bribery

For a few sweet hours on Saturday, none of that mattered. SSV Ulm beat F.C. Eintracht Bamberg, 3-1. The Ulmers dominated the game and loved every minute of it.

Who cared that only 39 fans in Ulm’s black-and-white colors made the trip to Bamberg, a journey of about 155 miles, or that the Neu-Ulmer Zeitung newspaper had not bothered to send a reporter?

For those few hours, everyone could forget that three of Ulm’s best players had recently been fired after they were accused of fixing matches.

The three fired players — Davor Kraljevic, 31; Dinko Radojevic, 31; and Marijo Marinovic, 26 — are a case in point. They are under investigation and suspected of rigging four matches last season and two matches this season for several thousand euros each.

Earning $4,500 to $6,000 a month, they were among the best and highest-paid players on the team. But as one official familiar with the investigation explains, their choice was between $525 in taxable bonus payments if the team had won, and about $7,500 in cash per rigged match.

“Their calculation was, get paid well to lose or get paid poorly to win,” said the official, who declined to be identified because the investigation is continuing.

Over 200 games across Europe are currently under investigation which makes the NBA’s Tim Donaghy scandal look minor league. Follow up from yesterday is here. An excerpt:

What broke Marcel Schuon was his fear of the gun.

A middling player in Germany’s second-tier soccer league, Schuon had gambled away everything. He had borrowed from the bank. Built up debts with a dingy betting office. Borrowed more. Gambled more. Lost more.

But Schuon, 24, had always resisted when the betting office owner offered “an easy solution” — an own goal, or a handball in Schuon’s team’s next road game.

Then, in early April, a man at the betting office told him that the boss, a man identified by Schuon’s lawyer and the German news media as Nurettin G. — a stocky Turk in his 30s — had a gun. When Schuon next met the boss, on the city outskirts, he agreed to throw a game against Augsburg in return for having 20,000 euros, or about $30,000, in betting debts excused.

FIFA, soccer’s equivalent of the NCAA, is investigating but Declan Hill, author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, remains unimpressed:

European and North American soccer needs a proper system for reporting attempted corruption. Imagine that you are a professional player in some soccer league, and a criminal approaches you to fix a game. What do you do now? Who do you report it to?

The corruptors are really good at this type of approach. During my research, I wore a secret wire to meetings with fixers, runners and some of the players they met. The fixers are very professional. They know what to say to the players. In the usual fix, they will say something that isolates a player from the rest of the team: “You do know that your coach is on our payroll ” or “We control your team owner. He gets his cash from us.”

In the best case, these kinds of statements are untrue, but they put doubt in a player’s mind. In many cases, they are actually true and remind the player that if he tells anyone, he may face some very serious consequences.

Establish an independent security unit with a telephone hot line that every player and coach knows he must call if approached to fix a game. This is what the Danish Football Association has done. It leads the soccer world at the moment in anticorruption measures, because it is one of the only soccer associations to have taken this issue seriously.

Another reform is to adopt the rule used in professional tennis. This is another sport that has been hit by a wave of gambling and allegations of fixing. It was not that all or even a number of players were fixing matches, but it was that when many tennis players heard about fixing or corrupt approaches, they would not tell the authorities for fear of being labeled a rat. There was a culture of acceptance. The tennis officials, in large part, changed this culture by adopting a policy under which the players must tell the authorities if approached to fix a game.

Soccer officials should learn from tennis and start to put into place some of their anticorruption policies.

Give the NBA some credit, at least the only betting scandal they’ve had so far involved a referee. They’re also much more vigilant, at least on the surface, about keeping gambling out of the game. Kings scout Jack Mai was recently fired and banned for betting on games as recently as last season. But anytime you have current and former players with gambling debts, it doesn’t take much imagination to read the stories above and figure out the quickest way for athletes at any level to get back to even.

In an NCAA survey of 2,000 football players, 102 admitted they’d taken money to play poorly, knew a teammate who had taken money, been threatened or harmed because of sports wagering or been contacted by an outside source to share information.

One of those “outside” sources used to be Michael Franzese, or at least guys who worked for the former capo of New York’s notorious Colombo Family.

“The leagues and the NCAA realize they can overcome a lot. They can overcome the steroid issues. They can overcome the harassment issues and guys getting in trouble for guns, and (fans) will still come back. But if there is a gambling scandal, if fans think athletes are doing something to change the nature of the competition, that is going to be a problem,” Franzese says.

“It has always been a big fear and it’s very real. Athletes have a propensity to gamble. It’s an extension of their competitive spirit and if they get themselves in trouble, get addicted, you know they’ll do something to affect the outcome of a game. It’s that simple. That’s what the leagues are afraid of.”

This article from 2003 by Tom Farrey was almost prophetic:

As the NBA moves forward, the league may find out whether it was decades of anti-gambling zealotry or mere coincidence that kept its games clean all these years.

“Will we look back (a decade from now) and see a much, much stronger alliance between gambling and sports? That’s probably going to happen,” [Tom McMillen, former NBA player and Maryland congressman] said. “And if that happens, all you need is one major incident and you can do tremendous damage to the integrity of sports. I think that’s a risk factor that professional sports, and particularly the NBA, need to take a look at.”

Bill Simmons from 2007 (When the Donaghy story first broke):

…When news of the Donaghy scandal broke, everyone’s reaction was the same: “Which one?”

That’s why I had one group of friends frantically organizing a “Who was the crooked ref?” office pool on Friday morning instead of wondering, “How could this happen?” That’s why [David] Stern ignored the FBI’s advice and used such harsh language in his official statement on Friday; nobody understands the gravity of this crisis more than someone who grew up in New York in the ’50s during CCNY’s famous point-shaving scandal. This was his worst nightmare, worse than a repeat of the Artest Melee, worse than a repeat of Kermit Washington’s punch, worse than anything except a terrorist act during an NBA game. Over everything else, Stern always wanted his fans to feel completely safe when they’re attending games, and he always wanted them to believe that the integrity of the game was intact. Now, they don’t feel that way. At all.

Don’t think the NFL or any other sport is immune to this either. How easy would it be to pay off a quarterback to make sure his team doesn’t cover? The scariest part is that if the fixing is done right there’s no way for us to know. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop gambling anytime soon, but we do need to be aware. Justin’s dad gives us all some good advice, “Son, people will always try and fuck you. Don’t waste your life planning for a fucking, just be alert when your pants are down.”

Thursday Links

“Henry’s handball, Tiger Wood’s Car Crash, Roger Federer losing … That’s it….I’m throwing my Gillete away” – TFLN

According to the NY Times, pro athletes are having a hard time selling their houses after changing teams so now they’re leasing to one another.

“I’ll never buy again,” said the veteran Nets guard Keyon Dooling, who rents the downtown Orlando condominium he bought in 2005 to a Magic player. “That was a learning experience. I’ll never buy again as far as where I’m playing. It’s not a good idea because you can never predict how long you’re going to be in a situation. You could be stuck with a piece of property that you never go to.”

Dooling’s teammate Courtney Lee, a rookie with the Magic last season, considered buying in the same condominium building before Dooling advised him against it. Good thing, since Lee is now with the Nets, where he rents on a month-to-month basis from the former Net Bostjan Nachbar, who is playing in Turkey.

I think that’s the first Bostjan Nachbar reference on this blog.

Tony Dungy getting some props.

Tony Dungy continues to provide understated excellence on Sunday Night Football. Somehow, he’s able to illustrate and tactfully disapprove better than any of the more animated commentators filling the airwaves. Instead of openly criticizing Bears QB Jay Cutler, he said, “I didn’t think anyone could overthrow Devin Hester.

Someone should do a study on why people do obvious studies.

Good stuff from the Football Outsiders game charting project. Some highlights:

Believe it or not, there was someone who played worse than Mr. Russell on offense, and his name is Chris Morris. While subbing for Samson Satele at center in the first three weeks, I nearly JaMarcussed my pants charting all his blown blocks and inability to handle a simple stunt. Either he’s getting bowled over on passes, or whiffing linebackers on runs. While he has returned to his natural position as a guard, every once in a while I’ll see him diving around in on my TV, only to fall to the ground while his man wraps up the running back.

Chris Spencer has pretty much proven that he’s not a starting-caliber NFL center. He’s a detriment as a run blocker on almost every play. The bad news is that Max Unger, drafted to be Spencer’s replacement, has started every game at guard and has looked even worse. The pinnacle of this duo was a play against Dallas when Unger and Spencer tried to double-team Jay Ratliff. Ratliff not only pushed the pair into the backfield, he actually put Spencer on his back.

When Jamarcus Russell isn’t being used a part of the English language, he’s busy being compared to an airplane.

Jamarcused, Jamarcian?
Jamarcused? Jamarcian?

Some good stories on recently passed Wizards owner Abe Pollin.

The online dating site OKCupid has started a blog that delves into the statistics of online daters. I read the whole thing in one sitting. Captivating for a superdork like me.

Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women. So basically, guys are fighting each other 2-for-1 for the absolute best-rated females, while plenty of potentially charming, even cute, girls go unwritten.

The medical term for this is male pattern madness.

As you can see from the gray line, women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable. But with the basic ratings so out-of-whack, the two curves together suggest some strange possibilities for the female thought process, the most salient of which is that the average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.

Moving on…

Old data on NFL home underdogs late in the season, but interesting.

Lastly, the World Cup draw is tomorrow and the US, along with Mexico, basically got screwed.

EDIT: AWESOME draw for us.

Week 11 Rambling Drill

Looks like women’s soccer is still getting chippy out there.   One would think said aggression would only be reserved for referees who make bad calls or miss them, but I digress.  At least NBA refs can come out of it saying, “Hey, at least we aren’t as bad as those guys!”

Three things on the debacle that was the Pats game:

1) Prior history did factor into the call; however, Bill made mistakes in both cases where he should of been aggressive when conservative, and vice versa.  Take the 2006 AFC Championship game, where the Pats, up 34-31, (after Tom misses a wide open Troy Brown on 3rd and 4), have a potential 4th and 4 from their own 46 yard line with 2:26 left.  The defense, who has played 3 games in the playoffs (and 40 over the last 3 years), and the team, which had the flu run amok in the locker room during the week, all in an enclosed dome, is gassed.  THIS is when you go for it on 4th down.  Never mind the better field position which makes sense; the fact that if Peyton got the ball, he was 90% going to score a TD in this scenario vs a very below average Pats D.  Anyone watching the game knew this, Bill somehow didn’t.  Only up 3, he punted, they scored, and Tom threw a INT with 20 seconds left.  This game affected the Belichick’s decision in 2009.

2) In last week’s game, up 34-28 with 2:10 left in the game, Belichick claimed he, based on a computer simulation named ZEUS that claimed an optimal Manning would score a TD on a 70-yard TD drive 30% of the time, decided he had better odds to go for it on 4th and 2, after missing Welker on a predictable out pattern on 3rd (more on this in a minute).  He claims they decided on this BEFORE the drive started, which I claim bullshit, because after 3rd down, the punt team ran out (which is why Bill used his final timeout, which cost the team a challenge that was 50/50 on getting overturned, better than nothing).  He claims that the reason he went for it all was so Peyton wouldn’t get the ball back.  Well in that case, he employed a strategy that would make Ken Whisenhunt and Andy Reid look like geniuses.

It actually starts on 3rd and 8 from the Indy 23 yard line with 3:49 left in the 4th after a Peyton INT, up 31-21.  If you are REALLY concerned with your defense (who had played a B- game at this point) not being able to hold Peyton, this is the time to bleed clock, run the ball, and play Dick Jauron ball.  Yes, fans in NE boo, but this is the correct play IF your goal is to give Peyton the least time possible.  You either a)take the 45 seconds off or b) make Indy use on their 3 TOs, and kick the FG.  The 3 Indy TOs (good coaching, Jim Caldwell) was a big factor in them having a last stand when the Pats get the ball back again, along with the 2 minute warning.

So, Peyton, thanks to a vanilla base defense, scores a quick TD, 34-28.  Pats get the ball back at their 20.  After using a timeout before coming out of the huddle on 1st down (?), the Pats have one left (and challenge with it).  The Pats are short handed at running back and unlike Miami in September, who lined it up and ran all over the Colts all night, possessed the ball for 45 minutes (and still didn’t win), don’t have their power back in S.Morris and F.Taylor, who are both injured.  They have been running the ball out of mostly shotgun formation via Kevin Faulk (12 for 78); L.Maroney was running well, but fumbled at the 2 yard line late in the 3rd (which ended up being the biggest play of the game, IMO).  They instead have to employ the shotgun dive play on 1st down, stuffed for no gain.  OK, second down, it’s Welker time, and they get him on a 8 yard hitch play.  After this as an O-coordinator, you need to know that Indy WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN.  With 2:16 on the clock, if you are seriously in dire straits to bleed clock, this is when you bring out the BIGs and line it up.  For these reasons:

a)I actually think at this point, you could get a better matchup out of a 2 TE formation vs the Colts personnel as supposed to the shotgun vs Tampa 2, where they know the plays the Pats’ WR run very well, as well as the fact they know the likely hood of the Pats going deep versus the on 3rd down is highly unlikely; all they need is the 1st to end the game.  Not only this, the TEs were actually the ones who ended up being wide open out of these formations (Baker 2-31; Watson 2-57), and a solid bootleg fake-fade (the Ben Coates play) might be a better sell to a potentially blitzing defense, rather than a predictable slant/hitch to Welker out of the shotgun (which almost got picked off  because even the rookie Melvin Bullitt knew this).

b) Running up the gut rarely nets a huge loss, even if you don’t have your best BIG personnel.    The Pats are famous for employing a 40/50 power wham-play (where the TE motions across the formation, and as the ball is snapped, takes on a DT while the center pulls) in these scenarios.  They did this play vs a smallish Atlanta team, with Sammy Morris, on 4th and 1 from their own 28 and gained 5 yards.  Granted they don’t have their big backs, but you’d think Bill would pull Maroney to the side and go, “All I need from you is a positive gain here; and no fumbles”.  Hell, even bring Kevin Faulk out there, run a sweep, run something.  The point is, 4th and 1/shorter is a heckuva lot better than 4th and a long 2.

c) Say if you run, and you don’t get it, the clock goes to the 2 minute warning, where you get a free TO to discuss things, AND a freeroll challenge b/c unless it’s 4th and a inch, you are probably passing it.  On any big pass plays, it’s a good idea to have a challenge in your pocket if you go for it in this situation.  Having a freeroll challenge is optimal, AND even having a timeout in the back pocket for when Indy, or the Pats, gets the ball back after this possession is better than none.  Also, well all know why punting is the optimal situation here because of the fact unlike in 2006, we are up by 6 points, so the Colts NEED a TD.  If the punter is having a bad day, another reason to go for it; Hanson was having a good day.  Instead, the Pats dial up their best 4th down play, miss it by a half of a yard, and Peyton gets the ball at the 29 and he obviously scores.  Ugh.

3) At least it can maybe motivate this team to play better.  The Pats have had leads on the road this year and haven’t been able to close out games, mostly thanks to missing a big back closer like Dillon in 2004.  The defense is young and hurting on D-Line, but improving.  And the last two coaches to go for it in a similar situation, Sam Wyche and Barry Switzer, both went to the Super Bowl those years.  So, if anything, the Pats can start by taking it out on Jets.  However, if they lose that game, combined with all of the things that have gone on in my life and with Boston sports this year, I may kill myself.

The Picks (almost tempted to take Washington +11 @ Dallas, but only if Hunter the punter is QB):

PIT @ KC Under 40

A bit low, but with Bowe out, L.Johnson gone, I see no way KC scores on Pittsburgh, even w/o Polumalu.  Plus if the Steelers get the lead, they can finally work on their running game this week.

Teaser 6pt:

SF +12.5 @ GB

NYG -0.5 vs Atlanta

NBA Teaser for tonight!

Denver -5 @ LAC

GS +12 vs Portland


NBA Thoughts

Some quick NBA thoughts on a Friday. I have the Spurs at +1075 to win the NBA title despite their loss in Utah last night.

On a sad note, Utah’s Matt Harpring is likely to retire after this season.

Harpring continues to deal with the effects of a devastating infection that followed ankle surgery in 2008 as well as the effects of multiple knee surgeries throughout his career. Harpring did not join the Jazz for training camp or the preseason, remaining at home with his family in Atlanta.

Harpring was one of my favorite players as a fellow white person, and he basically carried some mediocre Georgia Tech teams through the ACC before turning pro and was a favorite of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. He had a solid career there after being drafted by Orlando in 1998. With Kyle Korver also out, the Jazz are currently without any white Americans for the first time in franchise history.

Some notes from Basketball Prospectus on Cleveland’s early struggles:

Cleveland’s roster is, in many ways, an odd mismatch of talent. Perhaps more than any of the teams we expect to contend for a title, the Cavaliers’ depth chart features some very versatile pieces (James, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anthony Parker, J.J. Hickson, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas), who are expected to mesh with some very single-dimensional specialists (O’Neal, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and Jamario Moon). Creating a system that caters to this kind of lineup is not easy, and it takes a considerable amount of time for a group as eclectic and diverse as this to come together.

The major issue is finding ways for these players to truly complement one another without cannibalizing each other’s opportunities. Integrating O’Neal to this mix has only made this harder, as his unique size and agility (even at his current age and weight) force the Cavaliers to use him in specific ways. One way to take advantage of the varied talents on Cleveland’s roster is to create squads based on specific game situations and team needs. This would allow Mike Brown to plan entire rotations in based on the game situation. Do you want low post scoring? Make sure O’Neal is in the game. Are they clogging the paint with their big, preventing dribble-drive action? Use a lineup that features Ilgauskas. Is the other team getting into the paint too easily while we are on defense? Get your long athletes and strap up and guard someone. These kinds of squad changes are common in high school basketball, where rosters are more piecemeal, and they may make sense for Cleveland.

I wonder how long it will be until an NBA team hires a coach or a GM from Europe. Truehoop had this bit today from Real Madrid’s basketball coach Ettore Messina:

I consider myself a tailor whose job is to create the best possible suit for the team. I’m not a prêt-à-porter guy; I don’t produce those “ready to wear” clothes. I’m like a man who makes a suit that’s supposed to fit its owner perfectly. That means it takes time for me to understand what’s best for the team both defensively and offensively. Like, we can defend a pick-and-roll in many different ways. And the way we defended it with CSKA could be ill-suited for a team that’s not as powerful and at the same time is much quicker than CSKA. We have to adjust our pick-and-roll defense, adjust principles of defensive rotations, etc. It’s my job to define through experiment what we should do….

Figuring all this out takes a while and in the meantime we’re not playing consistently and sometimes lose games.

It sounds like Messina would be a great fit in Cleveland, or any other team that’s going to be looking for a coach and would like to avoid the mistakes of college coaches past.

Success is a choice

They’re not choosing success in Memphis, where the Grizzlies are off to a 1-4 start and are probably the worst defensive team in the league. I love this quote from GM Chris Wallace on Allen Iverson:

We had some discussions with him [Iverson], but basically it’s like it is with all players. You come in, lets see what you can do, let’s see how it fits in, maybe its starting, maybe its coming off the bench, let the coach determine how he feels like he can best exploit your talents and we’ll go from there.

Well that’s great, Chris. You’re the GM of an NBA team, meaning your roster is only 15 players deep. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have this conversation with your coach and Iverson before you signed him? Maybe your marquee free agent wouldn’t be in the press saying things like this after the 5th game:

Q. Do you understand what Hollins is trying to do by gradually bringing you along?

Iverson: I understand what he’s doing. But he’s seen the things I’ve done. He knows I’ve never come off the bench in my whole career. He knows that’s not something I’m accustomed to. He knows that’s not something I would want to do. …Everybody knows that’s not something I want to do.

Q. Did Griz brass tell you the franchise was rebuilding?

Iverson: No. Nobody ever said anything about rebuilding. You know I wouldn’t have come to a team, at 34 years old, that was in a rebuilding process. I’m trying to win a championship. I thought I would have won a championship by now. I didn’t come here for no money. I didn’t come here for another scoring title or an All-Star game. I’ve done all that stuff. I want to win. If we are not trying to win, I have a problem. I’m assuming we are trying to win.”

Now admittedly, Iverson’s an idiot for thinking that the Grizzlies had a chance to win anything besides the NBA lottery or the 8th seed in the playoffs this season, but that’s not his job. If Chris Wallace really thought his team had a chance to be good this season, he’s somehow a worse GM than I thought, and if not why did he sign Iverson in the first place?

Thursday/Friday Links

“Mr. Steinbrenner deserves another championship.” – Joe Girardi

Halloween winners on the subway in Boston.

I love this headline: FAT footballers to receive free Big Macs in Thai sponsorship deal. Somehow, I’m not sure this is exactly the best idea…

Thailand’s top footballers will receive free burgers as part of their new three-year, £545,000 sponsorship deal with the fast food giant McDonald’s.

According to the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), McDonald’s will provide £450,000 in cash and the rest in products in exchange for shirt sponsorship for the next three years, starting this month.

And in case you were wondering, soccer from random countries is entertaining.

If I can read weird text correctly, I believe Botev pulled off a late 1-0 win, but it’s not the goals we’re interested in. No sir, it’s the rioting. Not only did players and backroom staff from both teams decamp to the pitch for some punching, shoving, and colourful language, but the fans in the stands got in on the act as well, setting fire to random bits of the stadium.

This is what I believe to be the first mention & link to a story about Larry Bird since this blog’s inception.

The Warriors fail at hazing.

Some thoughts on 2009’s best fielders in baseball. That Pujols guy is pretty good.

Lastly, this just about ruined my day.

Week 8 Rambling Drill

First, I must comment on the upcoming NBA season, which could turn out to be one of the most fun in memory.  I gotta say it’s been real fun betting against Mike Brown, as I took the Raptors +3 in their first home game versus the Cavs.  I really don’t gamble on NBA that much, especially not at the volume I bet on NFL and College FB, although thanks to a tip from our resident L.A. Clipper fan Van Tran last year, I was able to pay two months rent thanks to his “Bet the under in the first half; over in the second half when Clippers are at home” strategy that went 10-1 (only loss was to the Pacers).  This  trend was lucrative last year, mostly thanks to two things that spell NBA betting success: losing your best player to inury (Baron Davis), and Mike Dunleavy being involved in any way shape or form.  I felt this was how to have betting success in the NBA: get tips from a true fan of the team, and come to a sensible conclusion thanks to those tips.  Van Tran to me in a poker game: “Mike doesn’t even coach the team in the second half, they just play a game of pick up out there!”  A team with shaky yet talented personnel and no coaching?  Sounds like the money truck is backing up with that statement to me!  Anyone know a bookie?

Granted, however, the most optimal strategy to bet on NBA games?  Knowing a referee of course!  Here’s an excerpt from the book-that-won’t-be-published-but-should-be-because-there-is-this-thing-called-the-1st-amendment that I will immediately buy once it is on the shelves (even though the guy is a degenerate felon, but I really am fascinated by this shit):

Allen Iverson provides a good example of a player who generated strong reaction, both positive and negative, within the corps of NBA referees. For instance, veteran referee Steve Javie hated Allen Iverson and was loathe [sic] to give him a favorable call. If Javie was on the court when Iverson was playing, I would always bet on the other team to win or at least cover the spread. No matter how many times Iverson hit the floor, he rarely saw the foul line. By contrast, referee Joe Crawford had a grandson who idolized Iverson. I once saw Crawford bring the boy out of the stands and onto the floor during warm-ups to meet the superstar. Iverson and Crawford’s grandson were standing there, shaking hands, smiling, talking about all kinds of things. If Joe Crawford was on the court, I was pretty sure Iverson’s team would win or at least cover the spread.

All this times, poker player and seasoned NBA bettor Haralabos Voulgaris was betting games based on charts and graphs, and I bet games based on an NBA knowledge I had accrued due to years of collecting basketball cards and countless hours running plays in the NBA Live series (like knowing the fact that Shaq defending the pick and roll vs Damon Stoudimire/R.Wallace in NBA Live 2001 was like watching a retard trying to learn karate).  And all this time the optimal strategy was to simply know either Tim Donaghy, or the ball boy that his crew tipped, based on a prop bet the referee crew placed before the game.  It’s as if Van, Darts, and Allen were in the souls of these refs, personally placing bets on the games WHILE that officiated them.  “(whistle blows) Loose Ball Foul on 45! $20 on the white board at the Castle!”  It’s sickening, hilarious, and shocking all at the same time.  And a lot like when I read Canseco’s book, “Juiced”, I really do feel he’s not completely bullshitting on this one because me and my NBA friends (all 6 of us) have been saying the same shit about Dick Bavetta for years.  The NBA, Where Rigged Happens.

NFL thoughts on last week:

Is this LB button truck stick hit by Adrian Peterson considered a hate crime?

Reggie Bush hitting the right trigger stick+Y to score a great TD versus the Dolphins

Daniel Synder pulling off his best Communist China Mao impression

Great story from Mister Irrelivant about the Synder sign lynchings:

Last night I was at my first Skins Monday Night game. I went with a couple friends, but knew I needed to take an Anti-Snyder banner with me. Problem was I couldn’t come up with anything clever until just before I left for the game. My brother texted me the perfect idea for a sign to play off on the whole Sherman Lewis bingo thing. I whipped up a quick “Snyder…B-I-N-GO F Yourself” sign on a bed sheet so everybody could see it.

In the third quarter, one of my friends and I took out the banner and were holding it up. Next thing I know, four security guys are coming up both sets of stairs and headed right for us. They take my banner and tell us we have to leave the stadium. On the way out a bunch of people in the section are taking pictures and chanting “Free Speech!”

Once we got to the concourse area they asked for my ID, which I quickly tried to pass off to a friend. One of the security guys snatched my wallet and wrote down my drivers license info in his little black book. I guess that means means I’m banned from the stadium or something. They then escorted my three friends and I all the way from the 400 level out to the front gate. I tried to talk to them about the whole situation but they weren’t having it — too busy being serious security guys, I guess.

So, long story short, I got my point across, they took my banner, I probably got banned for life and I got to leave the game early. Good thing too, it was an awful game.

The Redskins looked so lax on offense on Monday Night; Jaws said it best that the team just doesn’t have any urgency.  Maybe they need some athletes, some spark, and someone ready to kick some ass and take names later, as in while doing a somersault backflip.  Who do I suggest?  Kurt Thomas (not the one from the NBA who has 3 DUIs), who practices the greatest form of karate known to man: GymKata (as narrated by Don LaFontaine). You know Reggie Bush walks up the steps in his mansion using just his hands!

The picks for the week:

Jax/Ten Under 45

Wait, you are telling me I get to bet an under, above 40, with games involving both David Garrard AND Vince Young!

Philadelphia +1 vs NYG

I like taking home teams in coin flips, although this happens to be my smallest play of the week.

GB +3 vs MIN

Agree with Lou, and the statement above.

6 pt teaser of the week:

ATL +16.5 @ NO

IND -7 vs SF

Thursday Links – Free Snuggie!

“The biggest things in life have been achieved by people who, at the start, we would have judged crazy. And yet if they had not had these crazy ideas the world would have been more stupid.” – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Wenger may not have been referring to the Snuggie specifically in the quote above, but it certainly applies. Fewer products have been loved, mocked, and the subject of pub crawls as much as the Snuggie. And as much as I appreciate being able to answer a corded phone without removing my blanket or attending a sporting event dressed like a monk, I was not about to pay $20 for the privilege of doing so (free book light excluded).

But now, for a limited time only, the Snuggie is free. No, I’m not making that up. Get one here.

These are all excellent questions: Why teach a bear to ice skate? Can a bear do a triple salchow? How does the bear skate–four legs or two? And why, given that it already has sharp claws and teeth, would anyone strap blades on a bear?

A happy ending for the week’s most infamous Phillies fan.

Antoine Walker – Money Manager

Lastly…

(718): what happened last night?
(917): u kept telling him to fuck u optimus prime style
(718): that explains why his roommate kept saying autobots roll out this morning as i left

Many more of those here.

Thursday Links

It’s not every day that I get to start off a post talking about whale penis. Apparently, someone thinks it’s comfortable.

Some analysis of the unheralded Saints offensive line.

Brett Favre – Tecmo Bowl Hero

It turns out that yes, NBA players gamble during games. And some of them don’t want to pay up.

How The Roots became Jimmy Fallon’s house band:

We called him back, but it was a crazy Mexican stand off. We said, “OK, we’ll consider it,” but he thought we were bluffing, then of course we thought he was bluffing. It took about three weeks for everyone to put their guns down and take each other seriously because time was ticking. He needed to get a band, and we had three weeks to convince each other we were serious and finally put our guns down and be serious about it.

Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite writers. This is too funny to be made up:

…apologize for the long absence, have been on some other stuff. Among other things dealing with a lot of disgruntled Cleveland Browns fans who are pissed that I compared Eric Mangini to Augustus Gloop, the pudgy kid who was drinking from the chocolate river without permission in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I thought Browns fans would find this funny, but apparently not. I got one letter from someone who expressed the feeling that if I were ever to have kids, he hoped “they would be born with Achondroplasia.” So I’m sitting there scratching my head, wondering what Achondroplasia is, and right on cue, two minutes later, he sends me a link to an X-ray picture of someone with the disease. I have to admit, I burst out laughing when I saw the picture — not because the disease is funny (it isn’t, not at all), but just because someone was feeling so crappy about their football team that they felt compelled to dig that horrifying thing up to send to some writer bashing their team. I mean, I totally understand the guy.

Wade Phillips – Overcommunicator

Patrick Crayton is willing to say what the Dallas Cowboys coaches wouldn’t: He’s been replaced in the starting lineup by Miles Austin.

Crayton just wishes somebody would have told him that. He figured it out Monday, when Austin worked opposite Roy Williams in two-wide receiver sets.

Awesomeness from Chuck Klosterman. Think about this the next time Ron Jaworski starts bashing the wildcat. Read the whole thing:

Whenever an innovation fails to result in a title, its unorthodoxy takes the hit; every time a football coach tries something unorthodox, he is blasted for not playing “the right way.” But all that “not playing the right way” means is that a coach is ignoring the eternal lie of football: the myth that everything done in the past is better than anything that could be invented in the present. As a result, the public arm of football — the conservative arm — bashes innovation immediately, even while adopting the principles it attacks. The innovators are ridiculed. And that kind of reaction is reassuring to fans, because it makes us feel like football is still the same game we always want to remember. It has a continuity of purpose. It symbolizes the same ideals and appeals to the same kind of person. It feels conservative, but it acts liberal. Everything changes, but not really.

The 2009 Dodgers NLCS. Epic Fail in words and pictures.

Instructions for replicating the best burger ever.

This makes the Troy/FIU game look completely legitimate. There’s a video too.:

Here’s the setup — Going into the last day of the Maranhão State League second division season in Brazil yesterday, two clubs sat atop the league with the same number of points: Viana and Moto Club. On this decisive day, Viana hosted Chapadinha, a club they had a scoreless draw with the last time they played, and Moto Club took on Santa Quiteria. Both games were scheduled to take place at exactly the same time and both Viana and Moto needed a win to take the league title.

Everything went like normal until word reached Viana — who were up 2-0 on Chapadinha 35 minutes in the second half — heard that Moto Club were winning their match, too. Then things got a little fishy. And by that I mean Chapadinha players began to WALK OFF THE PITCH and as Viana proceeded to score nine goals in the final nine minutes of the match to win 11-0. A bit odd, no? I mean, watch the video above. It’s like watching someone play FIFA with the difficulty set to “special needs”.

Lastly, Mrs. Jose Lima is also better at the internet than you.

Thursday Links

Why the Twins lost:

It comes down to this: As a franchise, what do you aspire to be? If “world champion” is your answer, you cannot tolerate or coddle role players who botch bunts, run the bases poorly and miss signs or cutoff men — brainless mistakes that cost you runs, and games, especially against the monsters of the American League East.

Really cool old story on/by Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Grown ups screwing things up.

Fantastic breakdown
of Ed Reed’s interception of Carson Palmer last week.

Antonio Pierce on playing the Raiders:

There was no vibe of trying or effort from the Raiders at all from a defensive standpoint against their offense. We’re getting three-and-outs. You don’t hear nobody [saying], ‘Hey, let’s go!’ trying to pick the guys up, rallying them, getting guys fired up. There was nothing. It was quiet. A guy gets sacked or somebody gets beat, they just get up. It’s not like there’s yelling or no kind of [emotion] about the way they were playing.

It was shocking to be out there in that game and get that kind of feeling.

Oakland is only getting two touchdowns at home to Philly on Sunday. There’s an argument that the bottom teams this year aren’t that bad. Try explaining that to this guy.

How smart bettors are identified. “It’s not the amount that usually moves a line, but rather the ‘face’ behind the action.”

Spanish soccer, fun for everyone:

This week, UEFA are reported to be investigating [Rayo Vallecano], along with Las Palmas, as their Round 41 league tie from the previous season is on the governing body’s 40 game, match-fixing dodgy list.

UEFA are basing their suspicions on these ties on irregular betting patterns….

The match itself came at the tail end of the Spanish season and gave the Canary Islanders the point needed to survive in the Segunda A division and the Rayo goalkeeper the top stopper award.

Wednesday’s edition of Mundo Deportivo explains exactly what happened by reporting that “the game ended 0-0 with barely two shots on target and shouts of “friends forever” from the Las Palmas stands.”

If the investigation shows that match-fixing was involved in the affair then the punishment could be severe – in the “both squads spending the weekend with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading team” sense of the word.

Mundo Deportivo reports that any guilty party would receive no more than a three point deduction as a slap on the wrists.

And this is because sporting fraud isn’t a actually a crime in Spain.

Also fun is qualifying for the World Cup. The US scored with only 10-men in stoppage time to tie Costa Rica 2-2 last night and sent Honduras through in the process. The video has Honduran fans celebrating the miracle cover. Johnathan Bornstein – Honduran Hero.

Most entertaining coach ever

But certain people who have not supported me, and you know who you are, can keep sucking.

IGN is counting down the top 100 Nintendo games of all time.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit of all about Duck Hunt, however, was the stand-alone product’s incredibly small size. The entire game fit on an infinitesimally small cartridge sized at 192 kilobits.

That’s smaller than the average excel files I deal with at work. You can play what’s sure to be ranked #1 (and the best video game ever) here.

Lastly, always remember that Chris Bosh is better at the internet than you.