Monday, March 31, 2008

The Road to San Antonio Needs a Few More Rest Stops

I just got back from Phoenix, and my eyes are blurry from staring at the road for six hours. So I think a real update is going to have to wait until after I get some sleep. (By the way, here's a travelling tip: Never share a hotel room with someone who wakes up at 6 am on their own accord; and if you do, make sure you have a good attorney specializing in homicide cases. Trust me on this one.)

In the meantime, here are a couple of images that quickly remind me that the trip was well worth it:


Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Detroit Tigers Cameras Are Directed By Zalman King

As noted earlier today at With Leather, Reanen Maxwell, a former scoreboard operator at Comerica Park has filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Tigers because:

"Tigers photographers routinely shot inappropriate "soft core videos" of female fans at baseball games."

The suit sounds dubious as even using the most conservative definition of "soft core," it's hard to believe that such a practice would go unnoticed in this hypersensitive and hyperhorny culture of ours. My initial instinct was to dismiss the claim as being little more than retaliation from a puritanical (and/or fat,old) former employee. But then I remembered that I still had the 9th inning of Justin Verlander's no-hitter on my Tivo, so I figured I'd rewatch it to see if there was any evidence that the claim might have any merit at all. I was shocked by what I discovered.

The first few crowd shots are pretty standard fare. Fans clapping, old men high-fiving...nothing out of the ordinary here. But if you look real closely and don't blink at the wrong time, you'll notice that after Verlander gets the 2nd out of the ninth, a cameraman does seem to focus in on one woman in particular. See for yourself:

Wow. I mean, I didn't even know Comerica had bedroom suites- these modern ballparks sure are something. I can't even show you what happens after Verlander gets the 3rd out. That footage depicts individual acts of perversion so profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.

Someone should just cut Reanen (Ms. Maxwell, if you're nasty) a check right now.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Angels in Anaheim, UCLA Edition

Getting tickets right behind the UCLA bench for the first two rounds of the tournament was great for watching the players' reactions during the game and Coach Howland's energy and techniques during timeouts. But the seats were awful for anyone trying to compose a photo essay of the Dance Team during their performances. If anyone wants pics of UCLA players huddled together, email me- I have a few dozen. While I was able to snap off some pics of the Dance Team over the course of two games, it admittedly isn't my best work. But don't blame me. Blame Lorenzo Mata and Alfred Aboya, who refused to sit down during timeouts.

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Angels in Anaheim, BYU Edition

While the BYU basketball team left something to be desired (like say, athleticism), the cheer squad was very impressive. They had tons of energy, enthusiasm, and flexibility, all of which should come in handy when they pop out eight kids a piece over the next few years:

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Angels in Anaheim, Texas A&M Edition

Aggies fans endured a difficult loss to UCLA Saturday in a game that was plagued by inconsistent officiating that took away any flow or tempo from the contest. The only time there was any sense of rhythm on the court was when either the UCLA or Texas A&M dancers performed during timeouts. Here are the Aggie girls in action:

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Angels in Anaheim, Stanford Edition

Photos of the Stanford Dollies in action are elusive- mainly because they spend a lot of time standing around. Some may view their routines as traditional, while others see them as choreography that's outdated by 60 years. Amazingly, I was able to capture a few photos of this dance team while performing in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Dick Enberg Is Only Human

Fear not, Mr. Enberg- you are neither the first, nor will you be the last, to be captivated by the UCLA Dance Team:

Oh My!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ohio State Fans Have Reason To Cheer (Until Early January, At Least)

While everyone else was busy sweating those #5 vs #12 matchups in their brackets, high school phenom quarterback Terrelle Pryor was conducting a press conference in which he finally made the anti-climactic announcement that he would be attending the "University of Ohio State." After months of deliberation, during which Michigan, Penn State, and Oregon had all been pursuing him, Pryor realized that huddled in the warmth of Jim Tressell's sweater vests is where he wants to be.

It's understandable that Pryor took his time in making such an important decision in his career. When you look at all the factors, it really does make sense that he would elect to go to Ohio State. Here are just some of the reasons that Pryor ultimately chose to be a Buckeye:

10. All of Pryor's classes at Jeannette High School qualify for college credit at OSU.

9. The only way a Rich Rodriguez quarterback can make it to the NFL is as a wide receiver.

8. Found it too difficult to maintain focus around the Oregon cheerleaders. He won't have such problems in Columbus.

7. Got Freaked out by Joe Paterno's Friday night invitation to feed off of the blood of the living.

6. Heard there might still be some bottles of Grey Goose leftover in Maurice Clarett's old locker.

5. Ever since he was a little boy, Pryor dreamed of one day losing a big game to an SEC school.

4. There's nothing to do at Penn State other than party, play football, and hook up with coeds....whoops.

3. Not very excited about Mike Belotti's "no ACL, no problem" policy with his quarterbacks.

2. Michigan already has their "high school phenom turned NFL flop" legacy established with Drew Henson.

1. When Kirk Herbstreit holds you close and looks at you with those baby blue eyes, how can you possibly say no?

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Monday, March 17, 2008

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, March

I'm getting ready to drive back from Phoenix where I spent the last three days watching split squad baseball in spring training. Unfortunately, I also managed to contract a case of walking pneumonia which has me wiped out. I guess $8.00 beers aren't as medicinal as I thought they might be.

Sports bloggers are mandated to write about the NCAA tournament within 24 hours of the brackets being released. So in order to keep my blogging privileges, here are my thoughts on the matchups:

Expect Southern Cal, UNLV, and Miami to experience a bit of culture shock in their opening rounds, as the first two will be landing in Omaha, Nebraska and the Hurricanes will be in Little Rock, Arkansas. Can you imagine the USC Song girls (pictured) in Omaha? (Actually, if you imagine them as farmer's daughters, it's not that hard.) That's got to feel like playing an exhibition in a foreign country. On the plus side, at least their coaches won't have to worry about the players being too distracted. They just need to make sure none of their players injure themselves by using too heavy of balls at the bowling alley.

Cal State Fullerton will also be shipped off to Omaha. But as long as there's a multiplex and an Applebee's, then players will be able to recreate the Fullerton experience.

Not to jinx things, but UCLA has the easiest draw of any of the #1 seeds. This will be the first year in recent memory where anything less than a Final Four appearance will be a disappointment (assuming Mbah a Moute recovers from his ankle anjury). I'm still waiting for SI to send me on assignment to cover their games. Maybe Arash Markazi could call in sick for a few days?

Message to Ashley Judd: if Kentucky happens to lose in the 1st round in Anaheim, I'd be more than happy to buy your floor seats for round two. Or, I could buy you a beer a two to help you feel better about the Wildcats' loss. Or you know what? Screw this tournament- let's just go to Disneyland together.

Here in Tempe, most people have responded to the Sun Devils' perceived snub by hitting up the bars and drinking all night. But that's what they do every night in Tempe, so who knows how they really feel?

Might as well go on the record with some predictions: Oral Roberts finally gets that first round upset they've been seeking by beating a Pittsburgh team that's shot its wad. (Oral Roberts really frowns on shooting your wad). Portland State will have the smallest deficit of any #16 seed, but still won't come close to winning. The Big 10 will do better in the tourney than the SEC. The winner of the #6 USC v #11 Kansas State game will make it to the final four (gotta go out on a limb somewhere.)

Final Four predictions: UCLA, North Carolina, Texas, USC/Kansas St. Winner: Bruins (and yes, I know this contradicts an early prediction of mine.)

Have fun filling out the brackets. Feel free to invite me into any *pools you might be participating in so you can see how little credibility I really have.

(*offer not valid to members of the Neuheisel family.)

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

God and I Agree: Big Conference Tourneys Are a Waste of Time

Last night's SEC tournament was postponed by what the National Weather Service has called a possible tornado. I guess the other possibility is just a "huge, f*ckin' wind." While the league was able to resume the Alabama/Mississippi State game, the Georgia/Kentucky matchup was postponed until today and relocated to Georgia Tech's coliseum, where only players, family, cheerleaders, band, and the press will be allowed in the arena. I'm assuming Ashley Judd will also be allowed in the building as the NCAA has a contract with Kentucky stating that no televised Wildcats games are allowed to proceed without her presence.

The message couldn't be clearer: God does not like conference tourneys. Either that, or he was just going through a practice run for the Atlanta Gay Pride celebration in July. It's always tricky to know for sure with the Big Guy. But assuming it's the contrived preambles to the real tournament that He's upset with, I couldn't agree more- at least as they apply to the major conferences. For the most part, teams in these conference tourneys have a lot to lose and very little to gain (except for a few quick bucks). Take for example, the Pac-10, a conference in which each team plays each other home and away during the regular season to determine a true champion. If the Pac-10 didn't have a tournament, UCLA would probably be a #1 seed in the NCAAs and the conference likely gets six and maybe even seven bids. As things stand today, UCLA is still a #1 seed, but now are without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for some time, Stanford probably moved up a slot or two in the seeding, but now the Pac-10 looks like a four or maybe five bid league- as Oregon, Arizona, and Arizona State may have all lost their invitations (tho I think the Sun Devils might still be safe).

The tournaments in the major conferences have only been truly significant once in the history of the modern NCAA tournament. That occurred in 1983, when NC State needed to win the ACC tournament to even qualify for the NCAA's, which it ended up winning in a magical fashion. Obviously, that was a great moment in basketball history and the sport and possibly even society (would the V foundation be what it is today without that 9 game Wolfpack run?) is better for it. But keep in mind that in 1983, the reason NC State needed the ACC tourney to qualify for a bid was because the NCAA field consisted of only 48 teams. In today's modern 65 team tournament, NC State's 17-10 overall, 8-6 conference regular season record would have been sufficient to get a bid on its own merits, and the ACC tournament would have still been unnecessary for them to make history. The last major conference team to "steal" a NCAA bid by winning its tournament was the 2005-06 Syracuse Orangemen, and they were promptly ousted in the first round of the NCAA's. But at least we got to celebrate America's favorite gritty white guy, Gerry McNamara, for a few extra days.

For the smaller conferences, these tournaments makes sense- their teams get some exposure on national tv for a week before making their early exit (George Mason, excepted) in the Big Dance. During the regular season, fans aren't going to pay any attention to the MEAC, CAA, or Summitt League. But during "Championship Week" on ESPN, fans do- and then they all decide that someone like Belmont or USD is their upset special when filling out brackets the next week. It also gives players in those leagues an opportunity to experience the joy of winning a tournament on national tv. What do the winners of the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-10 feel after they win their conference tournament? For the most part, I imagine it's relief.

So let's cancel the major conference tournaments and put the extra week to better use. Conferences that don't play a true "home and home" round robin could get closer to doing so. Or perhaps by stretching out the schedule, teams would be able to schedule marquee non-conference matchups in January or February. Or maybe, just maybe, teams could use the extra week to rest up for the "real" tournament and perhaps their players could actually go to class for one week out of the semester.

Ok, that last one will never happen, but the rest are good ideas.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hitchhiking Down the Information Superhighway

The college basketball regular season is over, which means no more games at Pauley Pavilion; and therefore, no more pictures of the UCLA Dance Team (unless a generous benefactor wants to get me courtside seats for the tournament). So, since none of you hornballs are going to stick around to read this text scrolling across the page, here are some links to some of the better writing on the internet.

The Hater Nation has been on fire lately. (And why shouldn't it? With stories about the Rams, Raiders, and Eli Manning in the news, that's right in NFL Adam's wheelhouse.) Do yourself a favor and read the comments on the JaMarcus Russell post, "JaMarcus the Hut." It's like the Deadspin comedy pyramid...except with comedy. (I kid, Deadspinners, I kid.)

Somehow I had missed that D-leaguer Rod Benson was now blogging at Yahoo. It might have to do with the fact that Yahoo does a terrible job in promoting their bloggers. Or maybe I'm just losing touch. Anyway, while Benson's Toy Story reference is great, the line of the week comes from his agent, who explained the way selections for call-ups work thusly:
"It's not like at Cal where a certain score produced an automatic 'A'." Now I suppose the agent could have been talking about scores on an exam, but I prefer to think he was referring to points in a game transferring into grades in the classroom. I'm pretty sure that's how it worked for Jason Kidd.

Kaz Matsui missed yesterday's Grapefuit League game because of anal fissures. As has been mentioned at Deadspin and The Big Lead, do NOT google image search that term. You will regret it. Do I happen to have any devoted Astros fans amongst my readership who may have watched or listened to the game? I'm dying to know if the announcer- using the common shorthand of this day- said that Matsui was "out with an anus."

Want to know a surefire way to start a brawl in baseball? Just execute the maneuver displayed in this post at The Sporting Blog. That should do the trick.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star interviewed Michael Schur, aka Ken Tremendous, of Fire Joe Morgan in his blog. He's around my age and far more talented and successful than most of us (myself included) will ever be. It's very depressing. I highly recommend reading it. This is also probably the only time I'll get the chance to link to a Royals blog before they're out of contention.

In other interview news, rstiles of Stiles Points has just added another segment in his Beers With Bloggers feature. Ya know, that interviewee has some potential. I think some high-paying media group should snatch him up while he's still on the market!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Making Friends In High Places

Tom is my friend; Jim Nantz calls me friend; and now Sports Illustrated refers to me as a friend. That's great and all- you can never have to many friends- but why is it none of these friends ever return my emails when I ask for money, Final Four tickets, or to forward me the private photos of that blonde in Florida practicing yoga on her Myspace homepage?

Note to my new friends at SI: Don't you think sending a blogger on a photojournalistic exploration of March Madness would be a great feature this month? Think about it. I'll clear out my schedule just in case.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why Everyone Should Hope UCLA Goes Deep in the Tourney: The Dance Team

Talking briefly to a few members of the UCLA spirit squad last week, it was mentioned half-jokingly that as a member of the team in Los Angeles one has the dream that they'll be discovered during a game and that it will lead to bigger things. I'd like to think that I've done my part in giving them some extra exposure this season- tho perhaps they were exposed a little more than they would have liked. Here are the lovely ladies of the UCLA dance team in action this past weekend:

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Why Doesn't Anyone Ask If There Are More Articles On The Way?

Let me use this space to answer all my emails at once. Yes there are more UCLA pics on the way, but I have some commitments this morning and afternoon, so I won't be able to post them until later. Sorry for the delay,

Now who wants to chat about that West Coast Conference finale last night?


Monday, March 10, 2008

UCLA Has One Helluva Home Court Advantage

Want to know the real reason that UCLA received some favorable calls at the end of their last few games (although Berkeley fans have since admitted that the Anderson non-foul looked legit)? It has nothing to do with the mystique of Pauley Pavilion or a Pac-10 conspiracy to ensure that the conference had a team with a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. No, the real influence over the minds of the zebras came from another set of UCLA representatives. Captured (albeit blurry) here is the one time the refs didn't miss the action on the court:

Hey, Libbey- Is that a whistle in your pocket or are you just happy to still have a job?

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There Aren't Many DaeQuan Cook Fans in Miami

While the Miami Heat have failed to be entertaining or competitive, they've at least been educational. Today's lesson from the NBA's worst is in economics- specifically, Supply and Demand. Now that Dwyane Wade has been shut down for the season, there's really no reason to watch the Miami Heat play (other than their dancers) and prices are plummeting. Check out some of these listings on Ebay:

4 tickets in the 3rd level, center court, minimum bid $10. No takers.
2 tickets in the lower level, baseline, minimum bid. $25. Pass
4 tickets, 3rd level vs the mighty Knicks. High bid $2.25

Unless there are seats that include lapdances from Heat Dancers or Smush Parker, it's going to be an even emptier arena than usual in Miami this March.

On the bright side for Miami sports fans (does such a species still exist?), at least the failure of the Heat gives you an opportunity to save up for Marlins tickets this spring. So, that should be nice.

Btw, I've been having trouble uploading pics to my server via blogger lately. Tragic, I know.
Update, 9:45 pm: problem has been fixed.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ask Not For Whom the Whistle Blows

After watching the fallout from the UCLA/Cal game on ESPN and a few other blogs, I can essentially give my response by copying and pasting my post from the Stanford game and changing the names. Yes, it looked like Westbrook fouled Anderson with his offhand (although the strip appeared to be all ball from my baseline seat). The Shipp shot was also borderline legal- tho really it seems like a misguided rule that needs to be looked at during the offseason. While some folks are upset that a call wasn't made, they should keep in mind that the director of Pac-10 officiating had just come down on the ref from the Stanford game for making a deciding call in the waning seconds. So it shouldn't be very surprising that the next set of officials would swallow their whistle in the critical moments of the very next game.

Once again, the point needs to be made that this wasn't the only bad call made during the contest. There were many missed calls in both directions during the game. Honestly, there's no reason to expect that Dave Libbey would ever be the leading member of a competent officiating crew?

As it is now, Cal fans should actually be happy about the way the game ended. Had Cal won the game, it might have saved Ben Braun's job and set the Cal program back a few more years. This way, Berkeley fans can say that really beat UCLA but the refs "gave" the game to UCLA and they can still get rid of Braun this summer. It's a win-win.

Given ESPN's myopic presentation of the last two UCLA games, it's reasonable to expect that there will be some backlash from college basketball fans come tournament time. But before making such a decision, please remember that if you do root for UCLA to be eliminated, you're also asking to say goodbye to the UCLA dance team. Keep that in mind if the Bruins end up meeting a Big 10 team in the 2nd round.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Why Is Everyone Acting Surprised That Pac-10 Officials Are Terrible?

In the aftermath of UCLA's 77-67 overtime victory over Stanford to clinch the Pac-10 championship, most of the focus from the game has been on the questionable foul called on Lawrence Hill which gave Darren Collison two free throw attempts to tie the game. While it was probably a foul by the strictest interpretation of the rules (Hill was jumping forward rather than straight up when body contact was made), most sports fans would agree that the contact was incidental to the block and probably shouldn't have been whistled; and UCLA should have just been given the ball out of bounds with 2.5 seconds left and a chance to tie or win. If Stanford fans (or UCLA detractors) want to be upset about that particular foul, that's understandable. But to suggest that the officials somehow "gave" UCLA the victory -as talking heads such as Fran Fraschilla are doing - is both foolish and misinformed. The truth of the matter is that the Pac-10 officials are easily the worst amongst the major conferences and make so many bad calls in each game that it's impossible to single out any one call as being the difference maker. The best fans can hope for is that all of the bad calls will eventually even out in the long run. Perhaps in this case, they did.

For those that only saw the highlights, the reason UCLA was trailing by two points at the end of the game was because of a Lawrence Hill basket after breaking UCLA's full court press. Here's how Stanford's own paper, The Stanford Daily, describes that play:

"With the game tied at 61 and seven seconds left in regulation, Stanford (24-5, 13-4 Pac-10) junior forward Lawrence Hill drove right into the paint and banked in a running right-handed hook off the backboard. He looked to have either travelled or charged, but there was no whistle on the play."

These were but two of many questionable judgments by the refs during the game. Brook Lopez' pivot foot looked like it was on a roller skate all game long, but only a few early travels were called. Kevin Love drew a key phantom foul on Robin Lopez during an out of control spin move. Rebounders for both teams were allowed to go over the back, but aggressively blocking out with the backside was a foul. There really is no rhyme or reason to what a Pac-10 ref will do at any moment.

Also, for those that believe in karma, it should be noted that a little over two weeks ago, Stanford was "given" two go-ahead foul shots near the end of regulation at Arizona when Chase Budinger was whistled for a foul on what looked to be a very clean block on Robin Lopez's shot attempt. Had that call not been made, Arizona would have likely held onto the victory and last night's Stanford-UCLA game wouldn't have been for the Pac-10 title anyway.

Finally on a related note, I have to give Stanford credit for the class they demonstrated both during and after the game. (Honestly, I wish they'd cut it out. It's making it really hard for me to root against them.) Both Lopez twins were seen repeatedly helping opposing players up and making sure they were ok after fouls or loose ball scrambles. Despite the bad calls that went both ways, nobody other than Stanford coach Trent Johnson was very demonstrative in their disagreement (on the last play of regulation, Johnson could be heard echoing the sentiments of Pac-10 fans for years, "Oh my God! Unbelievable!). After the game, Lawrence Hill refused to criticize the officiating ("No, if I fouled him, I fouled him," he said), even while in the opposing locker room, Darren Collison was admitting that it was all ball: "That was a complete block," Collison said. "We were fortunate to get a call on that."

Over the past month, the Pac-10 may have lost their status as the best conference in the country, but nobody is ever going to dare wrest the claim of worst officiating away from them. Such will be the legacy of Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen. Well that, and getting rich while refusing to give football fans a playoff system. Geez, no wonder there's an east coast bias in sports.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Can Aaron Rodgers Develop Into Another Brett Favre?

This morning, Brett Favre gave a tearful goodbye to the football world, and for the first time, it felt as if #4 really was retiring for good. So now it falls upon Aaron Rodgers to give Green Bay fans a reason to stroke their bratwurst every Sunday. While it's unrealistic to expect Rodgers to immediately become an MVP candidate, it's possible that the four-year veteran could at least have success along the lines of Danny White replacing Roger Staubach. Because Rodgers has been around awhile, he isn't completely an unknown commodity. He has already shown some flashes that indicate that he can pick up where #4 left off. Here's an evaluation of where he rates in Favre-like skills that made us love Brett Favre just for being Brett Favre:

Ability to lose to the Cowboys: As detailed at The Hater Nation, many of Brett Favre's memorable moments came in collapses to the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the early 90's. While it's too early to proclaim them any sort of dynasty (they might want to win a playoff game first), it looks like the Cowboys might at least be good enough that the Cowboys-Packers rivalry can be resuscitated. Instead of Favre vs Aikman, it will now be Rodgers vs Romo, and this past season, Rodgers was at the helm during a 27-37 loss to Dallas. To be fair, he played great that game (actually outplaying Favre before he was injured). If he truly wants people to think of him in the same way as Favre, he'll need to throw more picks in big moments.
(Grade: A-)

Tractor riding skills: Never one that was big on working out or spending time with his teammates in the offseason, Favre preferred working on his property once the season ended. Rodgers grew up in Chico, CA, an agricultural region north of Sacramento. The main crops there are almonds and rice, and my farming knowledge is not extensive enough to know what tractor involvement is involved there. I do imagine tho that Rodgers at least had a yard big enough to require a lawnmower.
(Grade: B-)

Trademark facial hair: Favre frequently showed up on gameday with a grizzled beard that indicated that he was either: too busy studying game film and/or picking vicodin out of his vomit to shave, or so manly that his five o'clock shadow was ready by noon. If Aaron Rodgers is able to pull out a few games early, he'll give cheeseheads the excuse they've needed for a Fu Manchu to be acceptable grooming for the workplace.
(Grade: A+)

Wide Receiver Shoulder Press: While Brett Favre was just being Brett Favre in 2007, he hoisted Donald Driver onto his shoulders and fireman carried him around the field. During Aaron Rodgers' pro day before the 2005 draft, Rodgers bench pressed 340 pounds, so he should be more than capable of lifting a split end. Just to be safe, the Packers might want to draft fellow Cal Bear and featherweight DeSean Jackson this April.
(Grade: A)

Snowball tossing: Favre's just being a kid out there, so of course he'll toss a few snowballs from time to time. Rodgers' inner-child status is unknown.
(Status: incomplete)

Gunslinging. Favre is the NFL's all-time interception leader. At Cal, Rodgers set the school record for lowest interception rate (1.43) in a season. Hopefully as Favre's understudy, Rodgers has learned that sometimes you've just gotta throw it up and see what happens, because that's what you do when all you care about is trying to win the game.
(Grade: F)

This offseason will likely be a period of mourning for Green Bay fans, but hopefully this breakdown will at least provide a glimmer of hope for the future. Why if you squint hard enough, perhaps this text could even blur into a Peter King virtual handjob. Throw in some undying love from Madden, and the transformation is complete.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

I Was a Steelers Fan For an Hour

I returned from Vegas late last night, sleep deprived and hungover. I'm going through detox right now, but here are a few thoughts on the weekend that was.

Early Saturday evening, I was playing at the Palms and noticed Hines Ward, DeShea Townsend and another Steeler that I didn't recognize sitting at the blackjack table across from me. The table had a couple empty spots, so I went to check it out. It was a $25 minimum table, which is the upper limit of my comfort zone, but I figured this was a rare opportunity, so I went ahead and bought in for $300. Unfortunately, the table was pretty cold for them and they went bust about 20 minutes after I sat down, but as cold as it was for them, it was hot for me. I went on a nice roll and ended up cashing out for my biggest personal win at a blackjack table. So while I don't have any good Page Six-like Steelers story for you, I do now have enough cash to pay the outrageous prices on StubHub for the UCLA-Stanford game, so perhaps it will at least result in some pictures for the site.

Jerome Bettis was also at the Palms and Ben Roethlisberger had been there the night before, however they were playing in the high limit rooms. Perhaps if Hines Ward were a taller receiver, he would have been playing in the high limit room too.

This is my fourth trip to Vegas during the college basketball season, and each time, the Bruins have struggled and/or lost during my visit (vs Texas, vs Washington State, at Washington, at Arizona). Some friends have a free room in Vegas during Final Four weekend and now I need to decide if I should bring my jinx with me. This is of course assuming that the Bruins make it back to the Final Four. The way this NCAA season has been, I could see the Bruins winning it all or getting knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen.

Thanks to the Santa Ana winds, my return flight back was one of those bumpy, shaky, roller coaster rides that make you think about everything that's important in life- spending time with friends, the love of your family, and always, always hitting up a strip club when you've got some extra bills in your pocket.

Now it's time for a nap. A real update will be coming later...