Posted on: November 19, 2008 1:04 am
Edited on: November 19, 2008 10:13 pm

10 Things I learned the week of Nov. 17th

Yea!  I'm posting on time!  Just got back from the Lightning game (well not just, stopped by Iamyo's blog to vote on songs, first), so that's where I'll lead off after the big news coming down on Friday.  And thank you NFL for making it very easy for me to come of with ten topics after what I thought was going to be a blah weekend (or curse you NFL for making me make some tough decisions to keep it to ten, depending on how you want to look at it).

1) So long, Mullet - No, this is not going to be a good-bye and good ridance point.  Instead, this is going to be a rip owner Oren Clueless point.  First off, you didn't give the man enough time.  Despite the team's poor performances, they were only 6 points out of first at the time.  Secondly, way to show some cajones (not).  Great job letting the inmates run the asylum.  Thirdly, it's absolutely beautiful that you are paying TWO coaches not to coach now.  Guess Saw VI is already in production.  Gotta get that money somewhere.  Plus, it's not like the team is performing much better now that Melrose is gone.  In the game tonight, I saw too much cross ice passing, no players in posistion for rebounds (which Vokoun gave up a ton on the FIFTY shots he faced), and a goalie who makes all the spectacular saves, but gives up the softest goals I've ever seen.  Two of the Panthers three goals tonight were on shots from the blue line, and the third was a soft shot from in front of the net in which he was horribly off balance.  Plus, he commits too early.  That's why they lost in the shootout.  If the one Panther player doesn't lose control, he would have allowed goals on both shots.  Plus, why can't the Lightning players score in shootouts?  This should be an area they excel in.  This team has some major problems, and I don't think anybody in the organization knows how to fix them.  Oh, and one more thing, why is St. Louis on the point on the power play?  Did he develop a 100+ MPH slap shot I don't know about.  His two greatest assets are his agility and his ability to steal the puck, and they are being wasted back there.

2) I always wondered what the "T" in the standings stood for - Just like Donovan McNabb, I had no idea NFL games could end in ties.  I thought they settled it like soccer and lined up five receivers in the end zone, sent out one DB, and the QB had to see how many he could complete from the 20 yard line.  If it was still tied after that, they back up the QB's five yards until one QB hits his receiver and the other doesn't.  You are the leader of an NFL franchise.  You have played this game for many years.  And you didn't know one of the most basic rules????  A rule that was explained to you during the OT coin toss????  A coin toss you were present for as a captain of the team????  And you hope the Super Bowl doesn't end this way????  This is all absolutely inexcusible.  This is the same QB and same head coach that faced a 10-6-1 Atlanta Falcons team in the 2003 playoffs (for the 2002 season) on their way to getting their butts handed to them by the better looking Barber twin.  What the heck did they think the -1 stood for?  That Atlanta suffered a rainout at some point?  That they didn't have enough healthy players to continue one game?  McNabb is a joke.

3) Caveat Emptor -  Unfortunately, I didn't know the latin phrase for "Let the bettor beware."  I couldn't believe (especially with today's economy) that $100 million was bet on the Steeler game against the Chargers.  And because an NFL officiating crew outthought themselves and applied a proper rule improperly, and changed a correct call to an incorrect call, 2/3 of those millions were swept away into the Vegas economy (maybe the housing market out there will improve, now).  Now, I have no sympathy for those that thought they had won and instead held a worthless ticket.  There's always a chance of that when you gamble.  My concern is, though, that these lost points MAY end up coming back in a tie breaker for the playoffs.  Doesn't happen often, but I remember one year (I want to say 1998) where it did.  It was a tie breaker between the Packers, Cowboys, and one other team.  I remember hearing the experts breaking down how the Packers had a +8 differential while the Cowboys had a -24, so they had to make up 32 points, or whatever it was.  Anyway, how is it that people that should INHERITANTLY knows the rules (players, coaches, referees) don't (or at the very least, apply them incorrectly).  This is becoming appalingly scary.  Thanks to the gaffe, though, it was the first 11-10 final in NFL history.

4) Um, say what? - Is there something in the water in Minnesota (maybe it's all them lakes) that makes people see things differently from the rest of us?  First, there was a columnist for the Star-Tribune who called the offensive PI call on Bobby Wade near the end of the game questionable at best.  Questionable at best?  There was absolutely NO question about it.  If he doesn't interfere with Aqib Talib, Talib has an easy pick.  Fortunately, most of the people up there told him to take his homer glasses off.  Now, Brad Childress comes out today and says that not only does he believe that DE Ray Edwards shouldn't be fined, but he thinks Jeff Garcia should have been flagged for intentional grounding.  Um, coach, want to watch the replay again?  You can do it without slow motion, since you said that's what was making people draw the conclussions they were drawing.  First off, Edwards hit Garcia SECONDS (not a second, SECONDS) after he released the ball taking close to three steps to get there.  That's the very definition of roughing, and has been for years.  That was in the books long before all this driving into the turf, leading with the helmet, going low on a QB stuff began.  And then he said Garcia should have been called for intentional grounding because he left the pocket, then went back in?  Coach, you might want to check the rule book again.  I don't think there's anything in there for that.  Another case of someone who should know the rules who doesn't.  No coach, you're more worried about Edwards possibly getting suspended, and being without your ENTIRE starting defensive line.  Oh, and great play calling late in the game, too.  Way to shut down the best RB in the league FOR US.

5) Keep on Rolling - No, I'm not talking about Alabama, who scared me to death in the first half before they woke up and took care of business in the second.  I'm talking about the University of Florida Gators, who have just been on a phenominal tear since dropping the game to Ole Miss.  After that game, Tim Tebow promised that you would never see anybody work harder, and he's lived up to it, with the rest of his teammates joining him.  In the last three games, they have made three of the best defenses in the nation look silly.  They force you to try to run gimmicks to beat them, as Spurrier did with the kickoff throwback that blew up in their face.  In the Vandy game, the only way Vandy's defense got off the field in the first half was with the help of a blind replay booth.  By the way, Florida has scored on all but two of its red zone trips this year, one on the aforementioned Harvin fumble that was a TD (or at the very least not a fumble), and one when they took a knee in the Tennessee game.  That's SCARY effeciency.  I know some of this is due to the SEC being down this year.  Even as an SEC honk, I can admit it.  This is mostly due to a huge drop in the QB play this year.  But hey, they're still clearly the second best conference, without there even being a close third.  Some down year.

6) A look back - Several weeks ago, I wrote this in my blog: Commodore 64's - If you were to suggest to Vanderbilt fans that this would be their record after 10 games this year, I'm sure most of them would have been ecstatic.  Well, they'll have to go 1-4 during the next 5 in order NOT to top it.  ...  Well, they did only go one and four in their next five, but in doing so, secured the aforementioned 6-4 record and their first bowl game since 1982.  Congrats Commodores, from a Gator.

7) Tiger scare - Does Troy have any concept on how to finish a game?  You were up 31-10 going into the fourth quarter, and you allow LSU to drop a 30 spot on you in the quarter????  How on earth does this happen?  More importantly, though, how does LSU get down 31-3 to a Troy to being with?  Did the Bama game take that much out of you?  Or did your coach just not perpare you for this team.  I have no problems with Les Miles.  I think he's a great coach.  But when a team is unmotivated and/or unprepared, that falls squarely on the coach's shoulders, no matter what level of football it is.

8) Speaking of poor coaching ... - Who is the special teams coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?  If there was one going into the Navy game, there should not have been one coming out of the Navy game.  How do you just stand around and watch what's going on, like they did on the second one.  Allowing one onside kick is a fluke, allowing two is unforgivable.  Way to hang on to win a game that, quite frankly, you deserved to lose.  Doesn't seem like that hot seat cooled off too much for Charlie Weiss after that one.

9) Speaking of poor coaching ... - Yes, I know I just used this as the title to the previous point, but it fits here as well, especially when talking about an unprepared and/or unmotivated team.  This time, I give you, the University of Ketucky basketball team.  Did they really just lose to VMI, a year after coming off a loss to Gardner-Webb?  Yes, I know upsets happen, but this level of upset should not happen to this storied of a team two years running.  Kentucky at 18-11 no more deserved to be in the NCAA tournament last year than my Gators did, but one of them made it.  And now they're well on their way to potentially not making it this year.  And UK basketball fans, what's your deal?  Gary Parish writes one little article about you that you don't like, and you go flying off the handle?  I'll give you this link to one of my responses: http://www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs

10) Weekend look ahead - The games I'm looking forward to this weekend are UF versus The Cit ... ah, who am I kidding?  Give me Texas Tech Oklahoma, Ball State Central Michigan on Wednesday to see if they can remain undefeated (actually, Ball State might be wishing it was Michigan and not Central Michigan on their schedule), Penn State Michigan State, and in the NFL, New England Miami (who would have thought I'd be saying that after last year?), New York Giants Arizona, and Atlanta Carolina.  As you can see, a fantastic weekend to make up for last one.

Posted on: October 8, 2008 6:04 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2008 11:36 pm

10 Things I learned the week of Oct. 6th

1) The beasts of the East - Well, if there was any doubt, it should now be clear that the best and toughest division in baseball this year was the AL East.  And this is most years, too.  This is now 5 out of 10 years that the ALCS is a matchup of two AL East teams.  This also proves that playing lots of games against superior competition makes you more playoff ready.  I have a feeling that despite this series likely going at least 6, the winner here will win it all.  I'll have my LCS predictions later.

2) If Pittsburgh can stay healthy, I think they'll win the AFC - I'll do my entire playoff predictions after week 9 when all the teams have played (at least) 8 games, but looking at it now, I feel safe with this one.  Everybody's favorites are struggling.  Indy needed a Sage Rosenfels collapse to avoid 1-3.  The Chargers just got physically dominated by the Dolphins.  The Patriots just simply aren't the same team without Brady.  The Bills were exposed this week.  Yes, I believe the Titans are for real, and their defense will give them the chance to be in every game, but top to bottom, a healthy Steeler team trumps all.  Of course, it won't matter because I think this is the year the NFC finally takes the Super Bowl (my apologies to my Giant friends who were probably wondering what I was smoking.  Meant to reference the NFC's recent lack of SB Champions.  I think it's 3 in the last 12 years).

3) Thursday night upsets - Do you think teams will be lining up to play on ESPN on Thursday nights after this year?  It seems to be cursed for the favorites so far.  Let's see if Clemson can get back on track by upseting Wake Forest this week.  Update: Nope.  It did get Clemson's starting QB demoted, though.

4) Huge week upcoming in college football - Wow.  We kick off with Oklahoma-Texas at noon, sprinkle in some other good games in between (including Tennessee-Georgia), and then cap it off with LSU-Florida at 8:00.  What a great day to be a fan of college ball.  The tv will be burning on Saturday.

5) NFL look ahead - The game I'll be looking forward to in the NFL is the Panthers-Bucs game.  And, I'm not just saying that because I'm a Bucs fan.  You have 2 good teams in a tough division playing a divisional game.  While I hate to use the term this early in the season, this looks like a must win for my Bucs.  Can't afford to let a very good Carolina team go up 2 games plus the tie break on you.

6) Slow news day - Unfortunately, I have no NFL firings to report this week.  One Detriot writer did try to get Rod Marinelli to quit this week, though.  That took marbles even suggesting that.

7) Commodore 64's - If you were to suggest to Vanderbilt fans that this would be their record after 10 games this year, I'm sure most of them would have been ecstatic.  Well, they'll have to go 1-4 during the next 5 in order NOT to top it.  They are the only undefeated team in the Eastern division of one of the toughest conferences in college football.  What a story they've been so far.  That comeback against Auburn was huge.  Hopefully they can use it as a spring board like the USF Bulls did last year (although hopefully they won't choke midseason like the Bulls).  This is just one of the many, although probably most notable feel good stories of the year.  Ball State cracking the Top 25 is another one.

8) NHL's Euro Trip - didn't go so well for my Bolts.  They're already in an 0-2 hole before most teams have played their first real game.  Not the start to the season I was looking for.

9) My turn to pile on the Cubs - When does this team FINALLY go from being labelled "lovable losers" to simply losers.  What exactly is there to love about them anymore?  Nothing comes to my mind.  And when does losing translate into some fans using it as a license to be self entitled jerks?  At least the Yankees have won countless times and their fans appreciate the sport.  At least the Red Sox and White Sox have won 2 and 1 respectively, not just in my lifetime, but recently.  And when does your team's failures give you the right to stop appreciating the game?  I realize this doesn't apply to all Cubs fans, but there are a lot of you out there.  Thing is, as an impartial observer, even I fell into the trap of believing the the Cubs would at least win the NLCS (I would have never picked them against ANY of the AL teams except maybe the White Sox, and even then it's a maybe).  Most of the Cub fans deserve this misery.

10) LCS Predictions - Well, after going 2-2 in round 1, time to predict the LCSes.  As much as I don't want to count the Phillies out, especially the way Hamels is pitching and their hitters potentially getting 4 games in their friendly park, but I'm going to go Dodgers in 6.  For the ALCS, in game one it's Matsuzaka and his god like road pitching numbers versus the Rays and their god like winning percentage in the Trop with over 30,000.  Somethings gotta give.  I'm taking the Rays in a squeaker.  I think the Rays also take game 2 unless Beckett pitches out of his mind, or Kaz gets up to 100 pitches in 4 innings by walking too many.  I'm still taking Rays.  I think Boston takes game 3 easily with Lester on the mound.  I look for the Rays to take advantage of Wakefield in game four like they did earlier this year.  Boston takes game 5 to send it back to St. Pete.  Then back in front of the home crowd, Rays win game 6 to go to their first World Series.  It will be interesting if it goes 7, because I think the Sox would have a good chance of winning in St. Pete with Lester.  Hopefully it doesn't get that far.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com