Thursday, November 26, 2015

NCAA football picks Week 13

By Rick Morris

NOTE: Last week’s picks were 7-3; picks for the season are 41-58-1.

Ohio State -1 over Michigan

South Carolina +17 over Clemson

Auburn +14 ½ over Alabama

Iowa -2 ½ over Nebraska

Miami +7 over Pittsburgh

Arkansas -14 over Missouri

Houston +4 over Navy

Washington -7 ½ over Washington State

Oregon -35 ½ over Oregon State

Boise State -7 ½ over San Jose State

Baylor +1 ½ over TCU

Wisconsin -2 ½ over Minnesota

Arizona State -13 ½ over California

Louisville -5 over Kentucky

Penn State +10 ½ over Michigan State

Tennessee -17 ½ over Vanderbilt

Virginia Tech -3 ½ over Virginia

North Carolina -5 ½ over North Carolina State

Florida +2 ½ over Florida State

Georgia -4 over Georgia Tech

Texas A&M +5 ½ over LSU

Northwestern -3 ½ over Illinois

Oklahoma State +7 over Oklahoma

Mississippi -1 over Mississippi State

Notre Dame +3 ½ over Stanford

UCLA +3 over USC

Connecticut +3 over Temple

Boston College -3 over Syracuse

Duke -4 over Wake Forest

Maryland +1 over Rutgers

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Week 12 NFL power rankings

By Rick Morris

NOTES: Rankings from start of season are in parentheses.


1 New England (4-1-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-1-1)

2 Arizona (14-7-5-3-5-5-6-6-6-6-2)

3 Carolina (23-19-16-10-8-8-4-4-5-2-3)


4 Green Bay (1-2-1-1-1-1-2-1-4-5-6)

5 Cincinnati (17-16-6-5-3-3-3-3-3-3-5)

6 Denver (3-3-3-4-4-4-5-5-1-4-7)

7 Minnesota (12-17-12-9-11-11-11-9-9-8-4)


8 Pittsburgh (10-13-8-14-15-10-10-11-13-10-8) 

9 Seattle (2-4-4-6-6-6-8-8-7-7-9)


10 Kansas City (9-9-9-12-17-28-31-24-20-20-17)

11 Buffalo (18-6-13-8-13-14-15-17-18-14-11)

12 Houston (25-24-24-26-27-25-23-27-27-29-19)

13 New York Giants (24-23-22-16-12-12-14-12-15-13-13)

14 Indianapolis (5-8-20-18-20-15-17-20-21-16-16)

15 Atlanta (22-18-10-7-7-7-7-7-8-11-10)

16 New York Jets (26-21-11-13-9-9-9-10-11-9-12)

17 Tampa Bay (20-31-31-29-29-24-22-23-22-22-23)

18 Dallas (7-14-15-15-16-21-21-22-23-23-24)

19 Miami (11-10-14-17-24-22-16-13-16-16-18-15)

20 Oakland (30-32-30-21-21-19-20-16-10-12-14)

21 Chicago (15-27-32-32-30-26-25-26-26-24-21)

22 Philadelphia (6-12-23-23-25-20-12-14-14-15-18)

23 Washington (27-28-19-20-18-17-19-18-19-21-20)

24 St. Louis (13-11-17-24-19-18-18-15-12-17-22)

25 New Orleans (21-20-25-27-26-29-26-21-17-19-25)


26 Detroit (19-22-21-22-22-32-30-32-32-32-31)

27 Jacksonville (31-29-28-28-28-30-32-28-28-30-27)

28 Baltimore (16-15-18-19-14-16-28-31-24-25-28)

29 Tennessee (32-26-27-25-23-23-24-25-29-27-29)

30 San Diego (8-5-7-11-10-13-13-19-25-26-26)

31 San Francisco (29-25-26-30-32-31-29-29-31-28-30)

32 Cleveland (28-30-29-31-31-27-27-30-30-31-32)

BIGGEST RISERS: Houston and Kansas City (7 spots), Dallas and Tampa Bay (6 spots), Detroit (5 spots)

BIGGEST FALLERS: Oakland (6 spots), Atlanta (5 spots), Miami, New York Jets, Philadelphia and San Diego (4 spots), Minnesota and Washington (3 spots)


1 AFC East 47

2 NFC North 59

3 NFC South 60

4T NFC West 66

4T AFC West 66

6 AFC North 73

7 NFC East 76

8 AFC South 82


1 NFC 261

2 AFC 268


Friday, November 20, 2015

WrestleMania 32 booking

By Rick Morris

While the Seth Rollins injury supposedly didn’t shake up the top of the card at WrestleMania 32 – which should be the biggest in history by one very important metric, a live crowd which should top 100K for the first time – it should have.  The thought of him not being in a top match after being on top most of the year – albeit, yes, with the same “Honkytonk Man chicken-s” booking that also did Miz no favors back in 2010-11 – and not being used at ‘Mania in a top spot seems a terrible waste.

Thus, let’s lead off with the matches that I wanted to see on top before his injury:


Dean Ambrose (WWE World Champion) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

In essence, it’s Brock vs. all of the members of the Shield, with Dean as the champ joining last year’s main event.  How do you get here?  Relatively simply.  Roman takes the title from Seth, as would have apparently happened anyway, but gets immediately jumped by the Wyatts again.  Oh, by the way, Dean would have beaten Sheamus for the briefcase prior to this.  He runs in ostensibly to save Roman, but instead he joins the attack, joins the Wyatt family, actually, and cashes in.  Roman wins the Rumble again to get his rematch, but Seth and Brock make successful appeals to HHH to join the match.  Dean and Bray together leading into ‘Mania would be the kind of Roddy Piper/Jake Roberts heel pairing on top that we never got back in 1986.  Roman takes the title, pinning Ambrose and leaving open rematches with all three men.


John Cena vs. The Undertaker

This is a pretty straightforward respect match.  It’s arguable that Cena needs the win less than ‘Taker if there’s 1-2 more ‘Mania matches left for the Dead Man – as seems to be the case – and nobody’s ever lost luster by losing to Undertaker at WrestleMania, so that probably dictates the booking.

OK, with those might-have-beens out of the way, let’s revisit the usual ground rules in this space for fantasy booking.  All of this has to be within the parameters of the possible, so John Cena jobbing clean to Cesaro in 30 seconds – while I, as a bona fide smart mark, would pay big money to see that – and other such ridiculous scenarios are off the board.  For example, Roman Reigns is going over for the World Title no matter what, so I’m not fighting the impossible battle, merely trying to show how it could best be done – and that’s the same approach for the booking up and down the card.


John Cena (WWE World Champion) vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

Vince McMahon is reputed to be torn between Cena and Lesnar as dance partners for his new lead star.  Why not both?  On a card that’s going to be apparently deprived of some of the old-school name value that we thought maybe we’d see (The Rock) or saw last year (Sting), why not load up a main event that would be one of the most star-studded three-ways in history?  Here’s how you get there.  Reigns does win the tournament at Survivor Series this Sunday, but Sheamus immediately cashes in on him due to an attack from Wade Barrett.  While Reigns is pursuing revenge against Barrett, Sheamus quickly loses the title to Cena.  Reigns wins the Royal Rumble again, while Paul Heyman successfully petitions to have Lesnar added to the match since he never was pinned for the title and had his rematch disrupted by The Undertaker.  Here’s the finish, setting up rematches for Reigns against both men: with Roman outside the ring, Cena has Lesnar locked in the STF when Heyman interferes.  Cena grabs Heyman, while Lesnar delivers an F5, only to be met with a spear from Reigns as he hoists himself up to crawl over to make the pin.  Reigns steals the pin on Cena and gets his moment to celebrate at the end of the night.


HHH vs. Dean Ambrose – TEXAS DEATH MATCH

This card needs to be about cementing the stars of the next generation – in an aspirational sense, like WrestleMania 14 with Austin, The Rock, the New Age Outlaws, HHH, Mankind and Kane.  As such, that has to determine the booking and placement of the existing top guys.  This match is a no-brainer: the figurehead of The Authority vs. the biggest anti-authority (and anti-Authority) guy on the roster.  Position Ambrose as the initial challenger to Sheamus during his brief spell with the WWE World Title and position HHH as the man who, horrified at the thought of Ambrose as “face of the company,” redoubles his efforts to keep him away from the belt.  This can easily build towards the kind of all-out brawl that could steal the show.  Here, HHH has the chance to pay it forward in giving the final push towards superstardom that Mick Foley bequeathed to him 16 years ago.


The Undertaker vs. Daniel Bryan

With Bray Wyatt super-unlikely to be a ‘Taker foe two years in a row at WrestleMania, just about any hate-filled-feud angle is out the window, so we’re back to the concept of a respect match.  This would be a perfect one, since Bryan is reputed to be on the verge of being cleared: Undertaker could do a lot to put him over simply by issuing the challenge, noting that the Bearded One has become one of the very best in the world and somebody who could challenge him sternly on the grandest stage.  As with Cena, it would make more sense to have Undertaker go over, especially since it could kick off a “re-proving himself” angle for Bryan after being out of action for the vast majority of the last two years.

Paige (WWE Divas Champion) vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks vs. Naomi vs. Brie Bella

Brie gets into this match simply because it can’t be presumed that Nikki will be cleared by then and, storyline-wise, with the Bellas as the top figures pre-“Revolution,” one of them does belong in this match.  This would be a perfect place for Sasha to take the title for the first time and cement her face turn in the process, leaving Naomi and BAD behind.  It remains to be seen how nasty the WWE will let Sasha be as a face, since the last thing you’d want to do is take away her personality even if the crowd is forcing her to become a “good guy,” but that concern can’t affect the outcome here.

Kevin Owens (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Cesaro

Ideally, neither man would take a loss on this card, but there’s only so many wins to go around and a 4 ½-star epic would at least somewhat elevate both.  KO won at Summerslam and Cesaro is more in need of a boost right now, so he would go over here in a moment that, ironically, will mean much more than it should given how stingy the WWE has been with allowing him the successes he deserves after winning the Andre battle royal two years ago.

New Day (WWE World Tag Team Champions) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Ryback

The top of the face ladder is pretty crowded and the company is reluctant to give Dolph the “all the way” push, so this is a good spot for a heel turn, maybe reprising the Strike Force breakup of 1989.  This outcome keeps New Day on top of the tag division even longer – keeping in mind that, with the epic stretch that they’ve had, like The Shield, they’re going to need at least a brief face run on top before they split up – without costing the now-feuding Ziggler and Ryback any heat in the process.

The Dudley Boys vs. Wade Barrett & Sheamus

Honestly, you could whip up any kind of a pretext angle to put these four men in the ring in Arlington.  This match would deliver the nostalgia pop that fans enjoy on this stage, whilst putting over Barrett and Sheamus – who, hopefully, have something left to offer.

Tyler Breeze vs. Neville

The setup here is simple: Breeze, having never been able to beat Neville for the NXT Title and having had to wait eight months longer for the call-up because of that failure, seeks the chance to make things right at WrestleMania.  He goes over, but, in having put over Neville’s dominant NXT streak (which, sadly, hasn’t been mentioned nearly enough on commentary since he joined the main roster), he keeps his British rival strong for rematches.

Alberto Del Rio (US Champion) vs. Kalisto

Granted, their World Title tournament match was a debacle, but a matchup of top Latin stars has been a tried-and-true staple for putting backsides in seats in Texas for decades.  Plus, the WWE is reputed to always be angling for a chance to get the world record for masks being worn in a venue, and featuring Kalisto in a match would fit the bill.  This should be a hot opener, with ADR blatantly cheating to go over.  Then, the next night on Raw, he can mock the old “US Open challenges,” only to be shockingly answered by Cena coming out to accept and win back the US Title.

(Pre-Show) Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

The storyline going in is “4 vs. 26,” as the Wyatt Family has vowed to come away with the big win.  The assumption is that Braun Stroman would be the man to emerge, if they could pull it off, but Luke Harper, as the best worker by far in the Family, could do more with the rub.  Stroman could go out as part of a big tumble over the top also involving Big Show and Kane.  Harper and Stroman could both come out of this match as viable contenders for Reigns in his first year on top.

NCAA football picks Week 13

By Rick Morris

NOTE: Last week’s picks were 2-3; picks for the season are 34-55-1.

Michigan State +13 ½ over Ohio State

Michigan -3 ½ over Penn State

TCU +11 ½ over Oklahoma

Baylor -1 over Oklahoma State

Tennessee -7 over Missouri

Northwestern +10 over Wisconsin

Arizona +7 ½ over Arizona State

UCLA +2 over Utah

USC +3 ½ over Oregon

LSU +6 ½ over Mississippi

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2016 should be the year for Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame

By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)

Last week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred stated that, with respect to a decision on Pete Rose’s application for reinstatement, “The end of the year is my deadline.”  He went on to say, “I’m not telling you that this is coming December 30 or whatever.  It will be done by the end of the year, let me be clear about that.”


Virtually everybody knows that Bart Giamatti was the Commissioner of Baseball when Pete Rose agreed to a lifetime ban IN 1989.  Very few people know that at the time of that ban, Pete Rose was eligible to receive votes for the Hall of Fame.  In fact, few people know that Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned for life for fixing the 1919 World Series (and there is no evidence that Jackson, who batted .375 in that Series and hit the only home run by either team, did anything wrong on the field), actually received some Hall of Fame votes over the years (i.e., he was still eligible).

Everybody also knows that Bart Giamatti died of a heart attack just days after announcing the Rose lifetime ban. 

Today, more and more people are understanding that, ACCORDING TO BART GIAMATTI HIMSELF, Rose should have been considered for the Hall of Fame way back in 1989, once he became eligible (in 1991).

Giamatti was asked at the press conference announcing the Rose lifetime ban, whether that ban would have any effect on Rose’s ability to get into the Hall of Fame.  When asked the question, as discussed in Kostya Kennedy’s recent book, Pete Rose: An American Dilemma, Giamatti clearly believed that one had nothing to do with the other.  Addressing the baseball writers at the press conference (baseball writers vote for the Hall of Fame members), Bart Giamatti said, “YOU [meaning the writers] WILL DECIDE WHETHER HE [Rose] BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME.”

That should have been the end then, and the end now, of the inability of Pete Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame.


Instead, Fay Vincent, Giamatti’s friend and number two man in baseball, became the commissioner and, at a minimum, had some input into the absurd meeting in 1991 (just before Rose was eligible for the Hall) when baseball decided to not allow anyone on the permanently banned list to be eligible for the Hall of Fame (again, before the institution of this “Pete Rose” rule, anyone on the banned less (like Shoeless Joe Jackson) WAS eligible to the Hall of Fame.

For an understanding of the disgrace that led to this permanent Hall of Fame eligibility ban, see Kennedy’s book at pages 228-31.  It’s a permanent black mark on the Hall of Fame (unless fixed by Rob Manfred).

Vincent was vehement about keeping Rose out, always saying that Giamatti had said that Rose had to “reconfigure his life” before he could be reinstated.  But that had NOTHING to do with Rose’s possible induction into the Hall of Fame; rather, it had to do with Rose’s ability to come back and be employed by a team in some capacity.  Clearly, Giamatti never meant the lifetime ban or that statement to hurt Rose’s chance to get into the Hall of Fame (see his quote above).


So, since 1991, Rose was denied, first by Faye Vincent and then by Bud Selig (who stated for years and years that Rose had applied but he just had not gotten around to it and, in fact, never did – despite being commissioner for 22 years.  You can’t make this stuff up).

Now, with Rob Manfred the new commissioner, the time is ripe (and right) to right a terrible wrong and reinstate what BART GIAMATTI SAID IN 1989; that is, let the writers decide.

This isn’t about what Fay Vincent thought or thinks, or what Bud Selig thought or thinks, or even, to a lesser degree (he is the one with the power now), what Rob Manfred thinks about the issue.  It should be all about what Bart Giamatti thought AND SAID, plain as day; that is, it’s up to the writers to decide whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.


While it’s interesting to see that Major League Baseball has an investment interest in DraftKings and Commissioner Manfred has come out to say that daily fantasy sports is not gambling, none of this should have any bearing on his Pete Rose decision.  He may be gun-shy now to allow Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame because he’s taking a lot of heat on his DraftKings position.

But anyone with even half a brain knows that legal sports gambling is coming and that includes daily fantasy (which might be legal today – case pending in New York).  Government regulation will come, all the pro sports will invest and/or have their hands out for their share, states and local municipalities will see it as a panacea for incredible debt and financial issues that they all have on their books now (and into the future).

But with respect to Pete Rose, Rob Manfred should stay above the fray and simply announce that, after reviewing what Bart Giamatti said about Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame back in 1989, he is simply following the guidance of the then-Commissioner of Baseball, and allow Rose to be considered for the Hall of Fame.  If he doesn’t want Rose to work in baseball, he can still separate the two.


Maybe someone with a brain and some power can show this article to the Commissioner of Baseball.  It’s really very simple.  THIS SHOULD BE THE YEAR THAT THE THOUGHTS OF BART GIAMATTI SHOULD BE RESPECTED.  


Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 11 NFL power rankings

By Rick Morris

NOTES: Rankings from start of season are in parentheses.


1 New England (4-1-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-1)

2 Arizona (14-7-5-3-5-5-6-6-6-6)

3 Carolina (23-19-16-10-8-8-4-4-5-2)


4 Minnesota (12-17-12-9-11-11-11-9-9-8)

5 Cincinnati (17-16-6-5-3-3-3-3-3-3)

6 Green Bay (1-2-1-1-1-1-2-1-4-5)

7 Denver (3-3-3-4-4-4-5-5-1-4)


8 Pittsburgh (10-13-8-14-15-10-10-11-13-10) 

9 Seattle (2-4-4-6-6-6-8-8-7-7)

10 Atlanta (22-18-10-7-7-7-7-7-8-11)


11 Buffalo (18-6-13-8-13-14-15-17-18-14)

12 New York Jets (26-21-11-13-9-9-9-10-11-9)

13 New York Giants (24-23-22-16-12-12-14-12-15-13)

14 Oakland (30-32-30-21-21-19-20-16-10-12)

15 Miami (11-10-14-17-24-22-16-13-16-16-18)

16 Indianapolis (5-8-20-18-20-15-17-20-21-16)

17 Kansas City (9-9-9-12-17-28-31-24-20-20)

18 Philadelphia (6-12-23-23-25-20-12-14-14-15)

19 Houston (25-24-24-26-27-25-23-27-27-29)

20 Washington (27-28-19-20-18-17-19-18-19-21)

21 Chicago (15-27-32-32-30-26-25-26-26-24)

22 St. Louis (13-11-17-24-19-18-18-15-12-17)

23 Tampa Bay (20-31-31-29-29-24-22-23-22-22)

24 Dallas (7-14-15-15-16-21-21-22-23-23)

25 New Orleans (21-20-25-27-26-29-26-21-17-19)


26 San Diego (8-5-7-11-10-13-13-19-25-26)

27 Jacksonville (31-29-28-28-28-30-32-28-28-30)

28 Baltimore (16-15-18-19-14-16-28-31-24-25)

29 Tennessee (32-26-27-25-23-23-24-25-29-27)

30 San Francisco (29-25-26-30-32-31-29-29-31-28)

31 Detroit (19-22-21-22-22-32-30-32-32-32)

32 Cleveland (28-30-29-31-31-27-27-30-30-31)

BIGGEST RISERS: Houston (10 spots), Arizona and Minnesota (4 spots), Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Miami (3 spots)

BIGGEST FALLERS: New Orleans (6 spots), St. Louis (5 spots), Baltimore, Denver, New York Jets and Philadelphia (3 spots)


1 AFC East 38

2 NFC South 61

3 NFC North 62

4 NFC West 63

5 AFC West 64

6 AFC North 73

7 NFC East 75

8 AFC South 91


1 NFC 261

2 AFC 266


Lounge on YouTube: 2015 Week 10 fantasy football preview

By Rick Morris

Here is Mini-Episode #640 of THE FDH LOUNGE, an edition of THE FANTASYDRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER, presenting Week 10 of our fantasy football coverage for 2015.






Lounge on YouTube: Fargo Episode 2.6 preview

By Rick Morris

Here is Mini-Episode #639 of THE FDH LOUNGE, previewing Episode 2.6 of Fargo.






Lounge on YouTube: Mini-Episode #638 – 2015 NFL Week 10 preview

By Rick Morris                                          

As we referenced previously, our pals at Sportsology are hooking us up for live segments that we’re doing with guests and remote FDH Lounge Dignitaries these days.  We’re happy to report that we’ve been able to produce many segments on our own, but we’re thrilled for the help on some of these with guests and the thanks all go to our great friend Russ Cohen.

Mini-Episode #638 features a preview of Week 10 of the 2015 NFL season with FDH Lounge Dignitary and Vegas handicapping veteran Kyle Ross.