Thursday, November 29, 2007

NFL power rankings for Week 13

By Rick Morris

(NOTE: This is generally the case, but it bears mention especially this week -- rankings are taking into account injuries that teams suffer, i.e. the Bears' running game without Benson and the Lynch injury for the Bills).

1. New England

2. Dallas
3. Green Bay
4. Indianapolis
5. Jacksonville
6. Pittsburgh

7. Seattle
8. Tampa Bay
9. San Diego
10. Cleveland
11. Tennessee
12. New Orleans
13. Philadelphia
14. Arizona
15. Detroit
16. Denver
17. Houston
18. Chicago
19. Washington
20. Buffalo
21. Minnesota

22. Cincinnati
23. Buffalo
24. Carolina
25. Baltimore
26. Kansas City
27. St. Louis
28. San Francisco
29. Oakland
30. New York Jets
31. Atlanta
32. Miami

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jim Tressel's next bee-yotch will be Les Miles

By Rick Morris

Any Michigan fan will tell you that the process of rationalizing losses to Jim Tressel is painful though necessary because of the repetitive nature of those results (every year since 2001 except '03). Fortunately, the Wolverines' leading coaching candidate comes ready to spin any ugly occurrence!

Les Miles actually bragged in a press conference that his team did not lose in regulation this season! Unfortunately, for Coach Les "Results Relative to Talent and Expectations" Miles, the NCAA engages in the goofy habit of counting ALL game results in the won-loss columns -- even the games that stretch into one or more overtime periods. Imagine that!

Buckeye fans probably thought that nobody could be more entertaining-in-a-surly-way in defeat than the departing Coach Lloyd Cooper. But apparently the real comedy will enter the OSU-Michigan rivalry in the coming years when the new whiny underachiever for That School Up North starts dropping his excuses for the continuing domination of The Sweatervest.

Sorry Larry Dolan, facts are facts

By Rick Morris

The success of the Cleveland Indians in 2007 has obscured, in the minds of many, the fact that the organization has put greater emphasis on its bottom line than winning on the field. Fans have waited in vain for the team to make it somewhere into the middle of the bell curve since Mark Shapiro and Company instituted the payroll slash-and-burn in 2002.

We always make mention on FDH programming of the fact that analysts can speak with the most knowledge about situations closest to home. Therefore, I can speak with more authority on Cleveland sports than on any other market because I have observed it up-close my entire life. Nevertheless, it's always nice to be reinforced by something noticed by an observer of the national scene. Such was the case with this column by our friend Russ Cohen of Sportsology. As he notes, the correlation between payroll and World Series titles is undeniably strong. The Tribe obviously has a strong core in place, but as previously noted here, it wasn't nearly strong enough to beat Boston minus a strong overachieving scenario. A few impact moves are still necessary to give this team a legitimate chance at a world championship. The Dolans must change their policy and give the go-ahead for at least a mid-level payroll in order to maintain credibility with non-homers moving into 2008.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ron Paul trumps Huckabee on rasslers

By Rick Morris

Forget Nature Boy Ric Flair's endorsement of Mike Huckabee for president. I'm far more impressed with Ron Paul's procurement of the blessing of pro wrestler and onetime horror film star Glen Jacobs (aka Kane). After all, if there's one thing that could trump the comedic value of Naitch doing his "kiss-stealing, wheeling and dealing" schtick in the form of a Huck commercial, it would be the sight of a bald seven-foot guy doing a monster gimmick preaching the gold standard, Austrian economics, the Tenth Amendment and international isolationism -- in a menacing growl, of course!

Many happy (WWE) returns

By Rick Morris

First, in October, it was Shawn Michaels. Then, after a long viral video campaign, last week it was Chris Jericho. Sunday night at Survivor Series it was Edge. Then, last night, it was Ric Flair. In a few weeks, it will be Bobby Lashley.

In each case, "it" is a returning superstar and previous main eventer being counted on to help revive the business. At a time when the WWE is facing Congressional hearings about its sham of a "wellness" program and when it is trying to shake the overall black cloud that has hovered since the Benoit family tragedy of the summer, these stars are being seen internally as key to a hoped-for reversal of fortune. In all likelihood, this is simply an extension of the delusions of grandeur that have persisted since the company self-destructed and killed the last wrestling boom in 2001 with the botched Austin turn and the fizzled Invasion (a missed opportunity that was the biggest self-inflicted wound in the industry's history).

The reason? Simple -- star power counts for nothing if it is not used properly. A sane, focused organization would be staggering these returns, pointing to WrestleMania 24 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando as a culmination of the creative efforts. But in Vinny Mac's world, everything gets hot-shotted immediately and WrestleMania be damned. Apparently the plan will be to scribble the matches on a cocktail napkin in mid-March the same as always instead of employing a several-month build.

Think of the matches we're going to be seeing soon that should be held off for when they could matter much more: Jericho/Orton, Undertaker/Edge, Lashley/Kennedy. The hot-shotting of these returning stars (many of whom are coming back far ahead of the estimated recovery times for their injuries and who may be doing so unwisely) will have a poor effect on the business when the company tries in vain to find them fresh and compelling WrestleMania matches in a few months.

Here's a final bleak thought for those still hoping that the WWE can bring about another boom with business as usual: at the end of RAW on Monday night, WWE Champion Randy Orton was in the ring with Ric Flair. Three autumns ago, Orton was the champion and at odds with Flair and Jericho, albeit in opposite face/heel roles. For the incompetent creative crew employed by the McMahons, truly, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

RIP Sean Taylor

By Rick Morris

FDH sends its thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor, his family, friends and teammates.

Honestly, I had two thoughts when I heard about the shooting on Monday morning:

1. Not having heard about Taylor's attitude adjustment in the last year or two, I wondered if this might be connected to consequences about his lifestyle. Having read sorrowful accounts from his teammates about how he had turned his life and attitude around, I feel badly for my thoughts at the time.

2. What was he doing at his Miami home? Even if Joe Gibbs had given the Redskins the day off on Monday, aren't these players supposed to stay at least roughly in the area? I think most people would think it to be awfully lenient for players to travel to the four corners of the earth as long as they were back at practice on Wednesday. I'm not raising this point to blame anyone in the Washington organization, merely to indicate my initial surprise that he could have been so far away from his in-season home at the time of this tragedy.

A subsequent thought that I had was reinforced by this Jemele Hill column on ESPN's Page 2. Now, I should mention right off the bat that Ms. Hill is not generally my cup of tea -- and I'm being restrained in that description because of the serious nature of this column and subject matter. Her style of race-baiting is something I find reprehensible. I agree with my colleague Burrell Jackson when he stated on the last Lounge program that he hates race-baiting from both sides (which is not to suggest that he is going to reciprocally agree with every statement I make here!). But she makes the point in her column that the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 24 is homicide. Practitioners of the race card such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton love to point out how blacks are incarcerated in vast disproportion to their representation in the population. But guess what? They also suffer from crime, most definitely including violent crime, in vast disproportion to the population.

As is her wont, Ms. Hill then veers completely off the rails by playing the race card and suggesting that white America is somehow to blame for this, or doesn't care, or whatever her "point" may have been. Of course, the fact that race hustlers like her treat ANY discussion of crime or law and order as a coded appeal to racism undermines her case completely. It's hard to get white America to care about the problem as much as you'd like if you figuratively slap a Klan hood on someone for merely being concerned about crime levels.

Her initial point was right, however. Sean Taylor's murder was part and parcel of a crime virus that is devastating the young black male population. Unlike her, however, I have an idea about how to address it. We will hear much talk in the days, weeks and months to come from pro athletes wanting to make a difference in the aftermath of this tragedy and to try to leverage something good from it. If they simply live up to their social obligations as role models, they'll succeed in doing just that:

^ Those who glorify thug culture (such as Carmelo Anthony participating in a "Stop Snitching" campaign or PacMan Jones with every act of immature entitlement that makes up his pathetic life) should stop immediately.

^ A "Sean Taylor Campaign" to urge legislatures and the judiciary towards concrete steps towards zero tolerance for violent crime would be a fitting tribute.

It's way past time for the richly paid athletes of our society to recognize their responsibilities to the community. Kids idolize them and politicians can be moved by them if they mobilize in the right way. Above all, it's time for some focus. If we get serious about locking up violent criminals, stop thinking that law and order is a bad thing in this country and stop navel-gazing about the percentages of black males in prison, then we can address the point of Jemele Hill and start saving the lives of young black males and everyone for that matter. I should point out that I am in favor of rooting out whatever racial double standards do account for the disproportionate black prison population as I believe in racial fairness across the board. But in general, less sympathy for criminals and more for victims and potential victims is the jolt in the shorts that society needs.

The only way to really honor Sean Taylor is through positive action.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Top college football coaching jobs

By Rick Morris

While watching college football with the family over the holidays, I got into a conversation with my brother about which coaching jobs were on the top tier. We were talking about this because:

A) College football is the only sport my brother follows in-depth (as a Notre Dame grad).
B) This topic is really in the news a lot, with openings at (so far) Michigan, Texas A&M and Nebraska.

So here we have for you the FDH Top Two Tiers of College Football Coaching Jobs, each listed alphabetically. To be on the top tier, the program must have great fan interest, the prestige of a long successful history and at least some semblance of recent success (with BCS bowl berths as one determinant). The top tier was a consensus of the opinions of my brother and myself; the second tier I wrote afterwards.

^ Alabama (barely clinging to their spot on this tier with their troubles of recent years)
^ Florida
^ Florida State (they're down now, but there will be insane interest in the job when the old man leaves)
^ Miami
^ Michigan
^ Nebraska (see Alabama)
^ Notre Dame (as long as they have a network TV deal, they're on this tier regardless of anything else)
^ Ohio State
^ Oklahoma
^ Penn State (see Florida State)
^ Texas

^ Arkansas (realistically towards the bottom of the tier)
^ Auburn (if Tuberville leaves for A&M, it's a lateral move aside from the money -- see below)
^ Clemson
^ Georgia
^ LSU (at the top of this tier, but no, Delusional Tiger Fan, a half-decade of relative success does not yet erase the last few decades and put you on the top tier!)
^ Michigan State
^ Tennessee
^ Texas A&M
^ West Virginia (stepping up to keep Rich Rodriguez from taking the 'Bama job showed that the program has grown enough financially to justify being rated here)
^ Wisconsin (Barry Alvarez goes down as one of the all-time greats for getting the Badger program to this level)

Friday, November 23, 2007

The real “Black Quarterback Syndrome”

By Rick Morris

The ridiculous heat that Vince Young has taken this week seems to dictate that we spell out for you one more time what really constitutes the “Black Quarterback Syndrome.”

Donovan McNabb implied earlier this year in his crybaby diatribe that black quarterbacks are persecuted more than their white peers and that the racial dynamic involved is just a perpetration of Jim Crow attitudes. Wrong.

Black quarterbacks don’t suffer because of bias against them; they suffer because they are put on too high of a pedestal.

The truism “no man is an island” never seems to be applied to goalies in hockey and quarterbacks in football. Ignorant and emotionally driven fans and analysts refuse to acknowledge the extent to which these players (like everyone else) are dependent on supportive efforts from teammates and coaching philosophies with a chance of success. Goalies Chris Osgood and Curtis Joseph dealt with shameful lack of fan appreciation throughout their tenures in Detroit and quarterback Tim Couch suffered the slings and arrows of an uneducated fanbase in Cleveland that refused to fathom that a bad organization and coaching staff had stacked the deck against him.

As such, black quarterbacks are not the only players in sports to suffer scrutiny that may become unfair, although their ups and downs are always considered newsworthy by our modern race-obsessed media. But the predominant reason for their struggles eludes everyone, although the dots are very easy to connect.

We at FDH predicted before the season that Vince Young would have some issues this year with lack of support. Certainly, in a purely statistical sense, we knew that he would not be a great fantasy football value and we had him 14th on our draft board when he showed up 9th on our “experts’ draft board” (an average of other leading industry websites and magazines). The reason?

Arguably the worst wide receiver corps in the league catching his passes.

Sadly, Young fits a pattern in the NFL that stretches back several years. McNabb never had a legitimate #1 wide receiver before Terrell Owens. Mike Vick, although highly inaccurate and a bad citizen, in all fairness had a bunch of scrubs catching his passes. Byron Leftwich never had anyone worth a pitcher of warm spit hauling in his throws after Jimmy Smith retired (although, frankly, that has far more to do with the rank incompetence of the Jacksonville front office when it comes to evaluating wideouts – they have spent high draft picks and free agency money, but they are hopeless in terms of their talent recruitment). Daunte Culpepper never had anyone who wasn’t a waste of protoplasm playing wide receiver with him after Randy Moss left town.

Essentially, because the terms “black quarterback” and “mobile quarterback” have become one and the same in the public mind, and the concept of the mobile quarterback has become revered in the football world, there is the sense that talented black quarterbacks can do no wrong. NFL front offices take this thought process, such as it is, and run with it. Why bother to spend finite resources on great wide receivers, the logic seems to be, when we can put those resources elsewhere and count on our superstar to succeed offensively all by himself?

And this theory gets propagated year in and year out by well-respected and well-paid pro personnel men!

The Vince Young situation is very simple. I’ll break it down for you here. Yes, he may be having some typical second-year issues in which he must counter-adjust to the adjustments that defenses have made to him. But the vast majority of his problems stem from the fact that his wide receiving core is not even Arena League-worthy. Get him some help and he’ll be a top statistical quarterback who makes several Pro Bowls over the course of his career. Leave him with the dregs he’s got now and he’ll continue to be a piñata for uninformed people who want to bury him when he’s got no chance to succeed.

Walk away while you can still walk

By Rick Morris

I’d love to say I’m surprised about this story. I am not, however.

I was very leery of Priest Holmes’ comeback this year because of the circumstances of his injury in 2005. Preliminary doctors’ reports indicated that he would be risking permanent neck damage if he were to come back and get hit again. As is the case with many self-destructive athletes with a sense of denial about their own mortality, he suited up again after sitting out a year.

And now, he has been forced to retire after learning his lesson the hard way.

"The decision to retire came after Holmes suffered three hits in last Sunday's game at Indianapolis that left him with some tingling in his extremities."

Priest Holmes is a class act and was a tremendous player during his prime. He will not be a Hall of Famer because his time as a starter was not nearly long enough, but his most dominant period stands up against anyone’s. I respected him tremendously and still do. And I hoped he’d be smart enough to realize that his health is more important than the game.

He wasn’t.

Hopefully, the damage he sustained recently will not be lasting in nature. And hopefully, others can benefit from his negative example and put their future well-being over one final, futile grasp for glory.

Putin the Czar tries to restart the Cold War

By Rick Morris

As Mad Vlad Putin goes through the motions of the farce called Russian “democracy,” he has demonstrated yet again that his move from president to prime minister will change nothing and he will continue to wield the real power. His latest campaign stunt shows the price the world will pay for the route he has chosen to hang on to power.

The denunciation he made of the West (read: America) for alleged meddling in internal affairs in the 1990s is part and parcel of what has been an unfortunate strategy: earning the sympathy of the public by scapegoating foreign powers. As a child of the Cold War, I believed at the time that the Russian people were a noble folk oppressed by a vicious dictatorship. Sadly, I look back now and see a very naïve attitude on my part. Throughout history, the Russians have traditionally yielded to authoritarian governments of one type or another. Now, less than two decades after throwing off the yoke of the Soviet Union peacefully and in unprecedented fashion, the people of Russia are serving as willing co-conspirators in a backslide to a police state.

Putin’s emerging Hitler Youth equivalent has been chronicled here previously and is a vital part of his wicked plan. And the rhetoric about the conspiracies of other nations has been lapped up like vodka by the denizens of this arrogant nation.

If the America-baiting was simply serving as red meat to pacify the people and neutralize internal opposition to the Putin Cult of Personality, it would be bad enough. But Putin is also walking the walk in international affairs, forging agreements with the tyrants of China, Iran, Venezuela and every other entity determined to jab a sharp stick in the eye of Uncle Sam. Everything takes a back seat to an anti-American agenda, from preventing the horrors that may arise from nuclear proliferation to keeping oil prices stable to prevent hurting innocents in the Third World to keeping international terrorists in check.

I will maintain again, though, that the unilateralism of the Bush administration played right into Putin’s hands. Clearly, Putin wanted to go down this path all along, but an American policy of trying to install military bases in former Soviet satellite countries did not help matters. When dealing with an insidious head of state who is acting as a de facto enemy, the United States must muster every bit possible of craftiness. By this definition, we have not acted in our best interests in a long time and we need to start as soon as possible.

Lllllloyd Carr drives into the sunset

By Rick Morris

Some of the Detroit Red Wings blogs I enjoy reading have a fitting nickname for Detroit Free Press columnist/author/talk show host Mitch Albom: The Delicate Genius. His writing talent and creative abilities are beyond dispute, but he doesn’t have an internal meter to keep his tendencies to become overwrought and maudlin in control. Witness his piece earlier this week bemoaning the circumstances surrounding the departure of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr.

It is quite possible to buy into one of the larger points of Albom’s column: that Carr is a much nicer guy than his gruff public persona would indicate and that he is a rare figure in the sports world with a sense of perspective about the place of his profession. Certainly, Carr’s insight about the worth about sports vis-à-vis the rest of the world is refreshing and necessary, especially in a week when a jerk like Nick Saban wallows in self-pity and compares a football loss to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. But Albom, unsurprisingly, let his fondness for Carr take him too far in this article as he basically suggests that Carr was too morally pure for college football:

"Say good-bye to the good guy, maybe the last of them. Whoever coaches Michigan next will have to be more about business than Carr was, more about national titles, less about hospital visits, more about recruiting, less about philosophy. It is just the way the world works, and the world has moved quickly on Carr. In recent years, you could see the weariness showing on his face, in his jowls, in his eyes, which became steelier and angrier as the silliness grew in college football ... Remember, this is a guy who started in Ann Arbor in 1980, when ESPN was just a Connecticut cable experiment. In his time, he has seen the Big Ten grow to 11, the Rose Bowl go from Granddaddy to group member, and the goal of college football go from playing on Jan. 1 to playing on Jan. 7 ..."

True, Carr’s career coincided with the period in which big money (TV deals, endorsements, sponsorships, alumni organizations, etc.) really ran amok. Point well taken. But to suggest that Carr might be “the last good guy?” What hyperbole. What garbage.

Frankly, one need look no further than Michigan’s archrival to disprove this idiocy. Jim Tressel has worked every bit as hard to uphold academic standards as Carr and has done every bit as much for charitable and educational organizations (both of his parents were heavily involved in education, as is one of his brothers) and has been equally concerned with trying to uphold a good image for his university. Granted, Tressel has suffered his share of off-field embarrassments from his players over the years. But Carr has had a number of wanna-be Terrell Owens types with big mouths over the years (i.e. Mike Hart, Braylon Edwards, Charles Woodson) and he never suffers in some quarters the way that Tressel does for his players’ failings.

Again, I don’t have a problem with what the main thrust of Albom’s column seems to be. College football has become a lot sillier and more like a circus in the last quarter-century – although some coaches have continued to thrive in this climate without selling their souls. And Carr has probably been one of the good guys in the game and has a record better than many. But Lloyd Carr, when it was all said and done, was unable to be any better or worse than a mirror of what was happening in Columbus. When they had a horrible big-game coach in John Cooper, he thrived. When they had a great big-game coach in Jim Tressel, he folded. Frankly, it’s very unfair to the rest of college football to find in Carr’s failures evidence of his nobility. Whether Mitch Albom believes it or not, Lloyd Carr is not a better man than Jim Tressel just because The Vest has pounded him year after year.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from the FDH Family

By Rick Morris

On behalf of everyone at FDH, the best from our family to yours this Thanksgiving. We are grateful for much this year (our personal blessings, living in the greatest country in the world, the positive surprises we have received from the Cleveland sports teams many of us root for), but high on the list is the support we have received from the viewers and listeners and now the readers of The FDH Lounge. The show has been a joy for us to produce and we are grateful that it has become one of the most listened-to and viewed on and that this blog has become one of the top one million sites on the Net in its first 90 days of existence according to Alexa traffic numbers. Keep following what we're doing because we're going to continue to get bigger and better each and every day.

NFL power rankings for Week 12

By Rick Morris

1. New England

2. Dallas
3. Indianapolis (demoted from top tier because of corrosive effects of injuries)
4. Green Bay
5. Jacksonville (wide receivers -- we don't need no stinking wide receivers!!!)
6. Pittsburgh
7. New York Giants (their only losses on the year have been to very good teams)

8. Seattle
9. Tennessee (clean house in the front office if they don't get Vince Young some WRs this offseason!)
10. Tampa Bay
11. Cleveland (defense is apparently overrated!)
12. San Diego (gutless and inconsistent)
13. Denver (see directly above)
14. Washington
15. Arizona
16. Detroit
17. Philadelphia
18. Houston
19. Buffalo
20. New Orleans
21. Chicago
22. Carolina (see Denver and San Diego)
23. Kansas City
24. Baltimore (the schedule will kill them -- and stop crying, Billick!)

25. Minnesota (quarterback is not an optional position in this here league)
26. Cincinnati
27. New York Jets
28. St. Louis
29. Atlanta
30. Oakland
31. San Francisco (between the NFL slugs and the faltering Cal Golden Bears, the Bay Area is a real hotbed of football these days, eh?)
32. Miami

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

For Those Football Fans Who Have the Means...

by Jason Jones

Have you taken the time to realize how far we’ve come, technologically? There once was a time when a married man would have to get up at a decent time and run to Home Depot or replace an axle before getting comfortable in front of the tube for Sunday’s games. Remember when you got the games you got and there was no two ways about it. If you wanted to see Colts v. Patriots but your local affiliate was playing Bills v. Dolphins, you were stuck. What about the announce team. Have you ever felt like CBS or FOX gave you the local high school announcers? How about getting your favorite team regardless of geographical location? Those days, at least for me, are long gone.

Introduce the advent, or at least the internet wide popularity of Fantasy Sports. So much for the early Saturdays spent at the Home Depot shopping for ceiling fans and drywall. That time is reserved for last minute Fantasy Football adjustments. Nowadays pre game analysis is a 4+ hour event. Granted, the analysis is cookie cutter bulls@#t. When you really think about it, the only real difference is that John Madden is not smart enough to disguise his obvious comments as well as ESPN, FOX, and CBS personnel. If you’re anything like me, and fantasy wise not many are, you don’t just have one or two fantasy teams to deal with; you have like 10-20 of them. What can I say? I am a draft whore. So by the time I finally finish investigating ALL of my fantasy teams, the pre game shows are wrapping up. I know this because I tend to finish all of the fantasy preparation about the same time that Frank Caliendo makes fun of Terry Bradshaw and how stupid he is. He also does a killer Jim Rome.

Seems like a good enough morning by the time kickoff comes around, but I have also discovered (a great deal late, mind you) one of technologies best inventions. Edison’s light bulb be damned! It’s not the printing press or even the wheel. And for those who are trying to play spoiler, it’s not even TIVO! It is the Sunday Ticket, and for me I get it from DirecTV. Last season, a colleague of mine who absolutely loves the NFL, looked at me funny when I told him I didn’t have it. “HOW DO YOU LIVE!” Basically, if being a sports fan is a romantic relationship, then NFL Sunday Ticket would be the SEX. Most of you who do not have Sunday Ticket are probably thinking, “big deal, so you get to see all of the games that I don’t care about”. Sure that is a valid point. I did get to see a Peterson-less Minnesota Vikings game or an underwhelming Chargers/Jaguars game. A friend of mine, although a huge Browns fan, he was less than thrilled that he would HAVE TO watch the Browns/Seahawks instead of Colts/Patriots. These are the predicaments you just don’t have with The Ticket. Sure, if that was all it was, I would be enough for me but maybe not for you. Let’s be honest, your cable provider or satellite company don’t just add $5 to your monthly bill. The Ticket is indeed rather expensive. It costs enough that it came down to me deciding between The Ticket or a buffet of tailgate food every week, and I am probably still coming out in the negative. As I said, if that was all, it would be enough for me.

The best part, and for you fantasy fans I hope you are sitting down (I guess it would be weird reading a blog standing up). Especially if you only draft one or two teams. Try to visualize this. With remote in hand, by using a multitude of menu options, a prompt will appear that loosely resembles a small and empty depth chart. No possessions, just empty blocks. There are two of these, aptly named TEAM 1 and TEAM 2. On the left margin is an additional menu with each and every NFL team in alphabetical order. By selecting an NFL team, you will be presented with the option of picking any number of players that correspond to that team. For instance, the Patriots would have: Brady, Moss, Stallworth, Welker, Watson, Maroney, or NE Defense yet players like Assante Samuel or Roosevelt Colvin would not be included. Only players you would universally register as fantasy type players would show up. Let’s get hypothetical. And before you think this team would be impossible, maybe you should be using the method….

QB_Tom Brady
QB_Jon Kitna
RB_Jamal Lewis
RB_Adrian Peterson
WR_Randy Moss
WR_Terrell Owens
WR_Braylon Edwards
TE_Kellen Winslow
K__Shayne Graham

Had that been your team, and this is the best part. Again as odd as it may sound, please remain seated. Your television gives you up to the minute statistical updates in a sports ticker fashion... Just imagine it. You’re watching the Browns/Ravens game and all of a sudden across the bottom of the screen reads: “TEAM 1, Tom Brady completes a 42 yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss with 4:23 left in the 2nd quarter”. Then 3 minutes later, Shayne Graham field goal attempt is good from 43 yards away. Simultaneously, Derek Anderson connects with Kellen Winslow on a 13 yard pass with 0:16 left in regulation. Have you soiled you drawers yet? Now keep in mind, you get two full rosters. Unlimited position eligibility. If you want 5 QB’s, 1 RB, 3 TE’s, and no WR’s…you can do that. I personally just went through and put in the most commonly owned players for my personal fantasy teams. If the ticker concept isn’t enough to sell you on the importance of watching the NFL this way for the rest of your natural life, there is always the TEAM SCORING. That’s right, by pressing the corresponding colored menu button, your entire roster shows up while the game you are currently watching is in split screen fashion. This will allow you to not only see TD’s, but also carries, pass attempts/completions, INT’s, receptions, etc. You can watch every game (or at least whatever game you choose to watch), with regional pre game shows, and up to the minute fantasy scoring updates that you decide based on players that you care about. So, I reiterate, The NFL Sunday Ticket is the greatest invention in the history of Technology.

Even at this age, my mother often says, “what would you do if you didn’t have the internet or cable”? I present, “how do you live without THE TICKET”? Naturally, the obvious answer is, “The Money”. I acknowledge that the price is something that must be addressed. It really is worth budgeting for. How much do you spend on shoes, suits, food, etc? As a sports fan, I encourage everyone to re-evaluate your budget. The NFL Sunday Ticket will in fact change your Sunday, in an ecstatically positive light. Maybe someday, this will be the only way to watch football. Until then, it is an expense I have no gripes about paying for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

When Is It Too Early To Believe?

by Jason Jones

Every real football fan lives and dies with almost every possession; offensive or defensive. With some exception, this season is no different. If for only one season, 2007 will be revered as the season that redefined the word parity. Naturally, we could not get through a season without a couple of favorites on cruise control by week 11. Logically, we could never get through a season without eventually looking back and saying, “Yep, coulda seen that one coming”. We will illustrate that as we move through the current rankings (note: MNF has not been played, thus two teams will have a lower win/loss total). The bold print identifies a better record than expected while italics identifies a worse record than expected.


1___New England Patriots__10-0_411 Pts Scored_____157 Pts Allowed
2___Dallas Cowboys_______9-1_324 Pts Scored_____218 Pts Allowed
3___Green Bay Packers_____9-1_259 Pts Scored_____159 Pts Allowed
4___Indianapolis Colts______8-2_278 Pts Scored_____159 Pts Allowed


5___Pittsburgh Steelers_____7-3_269 Pts Scored_____145 Pts Allowed
6___Jacksonville Jaguars____7-3_207 Pts Scored_____181 Pts Allowed
7___NY Giants___________7-3_236 Pts Scored_____200 Pts Allowed


8___Cleveland Browns______6-4_288 Pts- Scored_____294 Pts Allowed
9___Detroit Lions__________6-4_231 Pts Scored_____232 Pts Allowed
10__Seattle Seahawks_______6-4_221 Pts Scored_____164 Pts Allowed
11__Tampa Bay Buccaneers___6-4_195 Pts Scored_____151 Pts Allowed
12__Tennessee Titans_______6-3_178 Pts Scored_____152 Pts Allowed


13__San Diego Chargers______5-5_229 Pts Scored_____209 Pts Allowed
14__Houston Texans________5-5_226 Pts Scored_____236 Pts Allowed
15__Arizona Cardinals_______5-5_223 Pts Scored_____222 Pts Allowed
16__Philadelphia Eagles______5-5_206 Pts Scored_____187 Pts Allowed
17__Washington Redskins_____5-5_200 Pts Scored_____221 Pts Allowed
18__Buffalo Bills____________5-5_153 Pts Scored_____222 Pts Allowed


19__Denver Broncos_________4-5_153 Pts Scored_____238 Pts Allowed
20__New Orleans Saints______4-6_212 Pts Scored_____246 Pts Allowed
21__Minnesota Vikings_______4-6_195 Pts Scored_____210 Pts Allowed
22__Chicago Bears__________4-6_184 Pts Scored_____217 Pts Allowed
23__Baltimore Ravens_______4-6_168 Pts Scored_____211 Pts Allowed
24__Carolina Panthers_______4-6_167 Pts Scored_____212 Pts Allowed
25__Kansas City Chiefs_______4-6_145 Pts Scored_____186 Pts Allowed


26__Cincinnati Bengals_______3-7_246 Pts Scored_____286 Pts Allowed
27__Atlanta Falcons_________3-7_142 Pts Scored_____213 Pts Allowed
28__Oakland Raiders________2-8_180 Pts Scored_____223 Pts Allowed
29__NY Jets______________2-8_178 Pts Scored_____244 Pts Allowed
30__St. Louis Rams_________2-8_149 Pts Scored_____257 Pts Allowed
31__San Francisco 49ers______2-8_113 Pts Scored_____223 Pts Allowed


32__Miami Dolphins_________0-10_183 Pts Scored_____274 Pts Allowed

The previous was determined by record first then team +/-. Naturally, this is not how things would look if the regular season ended today. Divisions and placement would not permit it. So as we’ve already done by record, let’s see what the playoff landscape would look like if the season were only 10 games long. (And no crying and/or excuses from Mercury Morris, PLEASE!!!)

AFC Playoff Rankings

1_____New England Patriots______1st Rd Bye
2_____Indianapolis Colts_________1st Rd Bye
3_____Pittsburgh Steelers_________vs CLE
4_____San Diego Chargers________vs JAX
5_____Jacksonville Jaguars________vs SD
6_____Cleveland Browns_________vs PIT

NFC Playoff Rankings

1_____Dallas Cowboys__________1st Rd Bye
2_____Green Bay Packers________1st Rd Bye
3_____Seattle Seahawks__________vs DET
4_____Tampa Bay Buccaneers_____vs NYG
5_____New York Giants__________vs TB
6_____Detroit Lions_____________vs SEA

Clearly the AFC is a stronger conference, the Western Conference from the NBA, if you will. Most of the NFL watching world would have put NE and IND straight through to the AFC championship game, which with the exception of one hiccup by Indy, seems logically on track. With the underwhelming play of the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, it seems pretty straight forward to see the Pittsburgh Steelers at the top spot in the AFC North and third overall in record. Now clearly, San Diego is only here because every division MUST be represented. Maybe its because LaDanian Tomlinson has donned a new face mask that looks like something out of a Predator movie, or maybe if A.J. Smith would have listened to the advice from and drafted a top flight WR and not a #2, then its possible there place in this ranking could’ve been better. Jacksonville is that one team that you find in every season, often that team is consistently Jacksonville, who makes it into the playoffs and no one really knows why. C’mon, I know Defense wins championships, but how many Baltimore Ravens circa 2000 can we stomach? The Cleveland Browns are probably the most intriguing addition to this piece. Due to the fact they are my team we will revisit them later. Clearly the anti-Jaguar team of the AFC. With the exception of NE, Cleveland on an average day this season can keep pace with any AFC team on offense. However, they couldn’t keep the Little Giants (starring Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neil) from looking like Jim Brown and Walter Payton running behind the 1990’s Cowboy offensive line.

The NFC is not so gleaming with intrigue. The Dallas Cowboys are exactly what we say in week 1 and 2. What a difference a season without Bill Parcells will do to a team morale and performance. Maybe there was something to Julius Jones’ comments following Parcells departure from the team in the off season. The Packers may be the biggest surprise in all of the NFL this season. Apparently, there IS an NBA moniker that applies to an NFL team…”Never underestimate the impact of one elite player to a teams win total” (Kobe-Lakers, Lebron-Cavs, Garnett-Timberwolves). You can add Brett “Fah-vuh-ruh” Favre. No running game, a bunch of marginal to lame WR’s and a young and quickly developing defense. Not exactly a recipe for a title, but nine wins is nice, regardless. Seattle and Tampa Bay are in the Chargers category. Someone from each division must be represented. Tampa and Seattle are middle of the road teams. Tampa is a former power with an old defense and no legitimate offensive studs (at least the ones that make it through the duration of a season). Seattle is a team on the brink of rebuilding. Alexander has seen his best days, Hasselback is good, the stellar offensive line has been depleted, the WR core is a collection of # 2 and 3 receivers, and the defense is better than average. The Giants have improved themselves in record without changing much of the roster. The 32nd ranked pass defense is improved, but only because Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and the Giants pass rush won’t give a quarterback more than two seconds flat to throw. The Detroit Lions are the Browns of the AFC, a team perpetually in the cellar of the league since their previous golden age ended…ages ago. For Cleveland it was the mid to late 1980’s, for the Lions it was any season with Barry Sanders. Both have enjoyed an offensive explosion. Offensively, Detroit has always had the potential to be scary, defense not so much. The defense is ranked in the top 5 currently. Maybe now, they have the right combination of WR’s and can draft a different position in the first round. Or maybe, it has everything to do with Jon Kitna proclaiming they would win AT LEAST TEN GAMES.

As in many of my entries, a lot of numbers and facts to turn and focus on a smaller detail. Now if you are reading this and are a Patriot, Colts, or Cowboy fan then you won’t be able to relate the rest of this entry. If you are a fan of a team who is doing well this year and generally do, then you have been reading for no other reason than to re-affirm what you already know. For the rest of us, parody in the NFL means the flat line moment is still far away. As a fan of a team who almost never enjoys success as the average non regional fan would describe it, it is AMAZING to be note worthy. Leading off SportsCenter, being in top plays, having more than one player worthy of a Pro Bowl selection, and of course having more wins than losses are all reasons to be happy. If I just described your team then the rest of this is for you. Is a .500 season reason enough to dance in the streets and proclaim a good season? Are you excited if your team “has not been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs” by week 9? Are moral victories the only measuring stick once you realized no one fears your team? Is your team almost always 3 or 4 years away? Does the ball always seem to bounce in the other teams favor? Do you find yourself sitting through 55 minutes of 2+ minute highlights of all of the other team’s performance only to get a box score of your team in the waning seconds of the show? Does it ever feel like your team is IN the league but not PART OF the league? If so, then you understand my enthusiasm for this concept of parity. I have no idea what Patriots fans, Cowboys fans, Chargers fans, Colts fans, Steelers fans, Rams fans, Packers fans, or 49ers fans feel like today. Whether their team has done well or not so well this season, I have no clue what they are going through. I once heard a caller to a St. Louis radio show comment on how, “if things continue on this path, we might not get to another Super Bowl for a decade. Do you realize it’s almost been 10 years since we were in a Super Bowl?” I’m sorry I do not know how that feels. That guy probably committed suicide. I bet his wife left him and his sons grew up a little fruity because his team hasn’t been there in almost 10 years. That must be an unreasonable way to live. Maybe this will help ease the sorrows of a person like that. The last time my team made it to a Championship game, my mother was 7 years away from a driver’s license. Oh and here’s the kicker, it was so long ago it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. So, I’m sorry if I don’t cry a river for New England, Dallas, San Francisco, or Pittsburgh when they finish a season without hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

This season has been all about Parity. Look, I am in no way, shape, or form a Patriot fan. Before the season started, I had been quoted numerous times as saying, “the commissioner might as well have the trophy engraved to the Patriots before we even get started”. My only hope for them is to go undefeated and consequently shut Mercury Morris and the other demonic ’72 Miami Dolphins the F@#K up. The Colts are a nice franchise, like the face of the team Peyton Manning; the Colts just don’t rub me the wrong way. They win, it’s a good thing, I don’t root for them and I don’t root against them. I hated Dallas in the 90’s, but now they are just nice to watch. F@#K Pittsburgh. Maybe some day, Eli will throw from somewhere other than Peyton’s shadow. For those teams nothing is really all that crazy. For those teams the mean is within their grasp, whether they need to regress or progress to the mean, they are close. Even Green Bay, who is having a phenomenal turnaround from the previous two or three seasons, is not that far removed from elite status. The teams I am truly talking to are the Lions, Bills and Browns. The teams whose players and fans alike are in unchartered waters. The teams who are supposed to be a few years away. The teams who, if a player guaranteed double digit wins, said player would be laughed at relentlessly. The key here is whether the league is truly becoming more and more balanced and parity-filled or if this is just one of those adorations of Sports Law, either way we need to enjoy it. All of my friends and family, who are not avid sports fans, know on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday whether or not my favorite team won or lost. Let’s just say this year has only really provided me with 2 or 3 bad Mondays. This is what sports fans wish for each and every snap. People who are fans of prolific winners may ask why do follow a team that is that bad? This is what the correct answer of that question is. Familiarity breeds contentment. I guarantee, if there were a way to measure this, that a Lion/Bills/Browns fan would enjoy a Super Bowl champion exponentially more so than that of a team who has been there recently. That is no exaggeration….EXPONENTIALLY. I once asked an Eagle fan, if your team went 11-5 in the regular season and locked up a first round bye, what would it be like in the streets of Philadelphia? His response was if two strangers passed wearing Eagles gear they might give the man head nod. At the most, there might be an extended sports segment on the local news. When he inquired what would happen in the city of my team had the same win/loss result occurred, I responded…From non fans to die-hard’s, it would be pandemonium. People would mortgage their homes for playoff tickets. The entire month of December would probably be declared a holiday by the mayor. People wearing the team’s colors would get in free to any place that charges admission. No doubt, there would be car fires, streakers, dancing in the streets, anarchy, and random good deeds by strangers from Carnegie to Lakeside and all the way up and down E. 9th St. That’s the difference.

If you own a Sports Illustrated special hard-bound commemorative issue with your favorite team raising the Lombardi trophy. If you were old enough to drink that last time your team was crowned champion. If you get upset when your team doesn’t win 10+ games, then you go on and enjoy your team’s playoff run. Continue enjoying it as much as winning a hand during a friendly game of poker on boy’s night. If things continue on and teams like the Patriots and Steelers or Cowboys and Packers end up losing during the playoffs you may just be privileged enough to see what a true celebration looks like. I wish a first or second seed team would overlook a wild card team this season. I wish a mother!@#$er would. As much of a travesty it may be for the Super Bowl to not consist of the Patriots v. Cowboys, a Browns v. Lions Super Bowl would be a spectacle of the likes none of us have ever seen. The game could be played in Lawrence, Kansas in the middle of a dust storm and it would still probably be most intense, courageous, and memorable Super Bowl of all time to date. The NFL is the best professional sports league there is, partially due to the parity we’ve been discussing. Partially due to the devotion of its fans or maybe it’s something else completely. Maybe it’s because an old placekicker can hold up an entire city on his shoulders following the most twisted finish to a game ever. Maybe it's watching a rookie running back break an all-time, single-game record. It could be any combination of things. All I know is that as it nears a quarter to 4 am on a Monday morning, and I finish my last adult beverage of the day (and following morning) I have one thing to say. If you are a player, owner, coach, or even fan of the kind of team I have been speaking of…..I SALUTE YOU.

One final thought. A guideline for sanity as it pertains to me, personally. When you are a fan of team deemed not to be “not worth mentioning”, you deal with one shot after another. One disappointment after another. One depressing loss after another. There is only so much a person can take. I always tell myself and others who feel similar to the way I do for their respective team, every bad play, every wrong call, every turnover, every bad thing that happens to contribute to bad play and/or losses…tuck that away. Log it into your memory. Acknowledge it and never forget it. When the pendulum swings back in your favor, and it eventually has to do just that, then and only then will it be worth the wait. Regardless of what happens after this day, the parity of the NFL has reached more teams/fans than it has in quite some time. No longer is parity only between the elite and consistently good teams. Finally, the guys who always seem to be on the outside looking in are forcing their way into the exclusive club with the velvet ropes. And the view is glorious. If your team is in the hunt, enjoy it. Just understand one thing, no matter how you think you feel, there is somebody somewhere who wants it more than you. So cherish the ride.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

OSU/Michigan liveblogging wrapup

By Rick Morris

On the day that Lloyd Carr probably coached his last game in the OSU/Michigan series, the day had a certain old-school, Woody-and-Bo feel to it.

A year after the two teams met in the most hyped and consequential version of college football's greatest rivalry and exceeded the expectations with one of the greatest games ever, the next edition had a bit less at stake and the game had far less excitement. But the outcome remained the same as Ohio State defeated Michigan 14-3 in what might be Carr's final game at the Big House. If Carr does end up walking off into the sunset, this rivalry will be a tremendous reason why as the nearly unprecedented dominance they achieved over the Buckeyes in the John Cooper era has given way to a 1-6 record against the Scarlet and Gray since Jim Tressel took the helm.

A year ago, the #1 Buckeyes turned back #2 Michigan, 42-39, in an absolute classic to advance to the BCS Title Game and relegate the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl. Today, for two teams on the outside looking in regarding the national title picture, the Rose Bowl was the prize at stake and OSU will play there for the first time since 1997, barring a continuation of the extreme set of dominoes falling at the top of the polls in this crazy year.

Michigan's talented trio on offense of quarterback Chad Henne, running back Mike Hart and offensive tackle Jake Long passed up NFL riches a year ago to return for their senior season and to help the 2007 graduating class to avoid an indignity that Michigan had not suffered in decades: losing four in a row to Ohio State. But they were unsuccessful, owing in large part to Henne and Hart having to play through injuries.

In a game that always features so many playmakers for both teams on both sides of the ball, very few of them stepped up today. The two who did the most were both Buckeyes: Chris Wells with 220 yards and 2 touchdowns on 39 carries and Vernon Gholston serving as a constant presence in the Michigan backfield and coming away with three sacks.

Just as Tressel assumed the head coaching job in Columbus in 2001 in what looked to be a hopeless situation, so too does Carr's likely replacement face a disheartening picture in terms of moving back towards parity in the rivalry. Michigan returned a solid veteran core from 2006, the Buckeyes did not, the game was in Ann Arbor and they blew this chance. Even with some early departures to the NFL, Ohio State will still be more experienced than Michigan next year and the game will be at the Horseshoe, dealing the Wolverines a tough hand in terms of avoiding a half-decade without victory in the series.

OSU/Michigan liveblogging third installment

By Rick Morris

Continuing the parallels with the Wisconsin game of two weeks ago, Ohio State had a lot of success in the third quarter running Beanie Wells right at, over and around the defense. Right after a 65-yard Ray Small punt return touchdown was called back, Wells rumbled in from 62 to provide the signature big play the game had been missing and put his team up 14-3. That remains the current score.

Chad Henne left due to the deteriorating nature of his injuries, but has returned to the sidelines. Mike Hart has still had no impact outside of the team's field goal drive in the first quarter, with 43 yards on 16 carries. Wells, who ripped off a long touchdown run as a backup in last year's game, has in his second Ohio State/Michigan game already surpassed Hart's accomplishments in the rivalry, having put up 169 yards on 25 carries to go with his two touchdowns. Brandon Saine has been in the game, tallying 18 yards on 8 carries, but regrettably is still not being used on screen passes.

The talented wide receivers on both teams haven't done anything, in part due to the weather and the quarterbacks' difficulties in battling it.

Just as Michigan was starting to get some momentum in the early fourth quarter off of a long punt return, Jim Tressel appealed the call on the field and won it as the replay judge ruled that the ball should be spotted 12 yards back. Henne returned for an anticlimactic three-and-out that ABC commentator Kirk Herbstreit correctly said would remind nobody of Willis Reed's heroics. Ray Small just recovered a punt he muffed deep in his own territory and the Buckeyes will now continue running the clock down, leading 14-3.

OSU/Michigan liveblogging second installment

By Rick Morris

Ohio State just dodged a huge bullet right before halftime. Todd Boeckman, who is inexplicably not wearing gloves in the freezing drizzle of Ann Arbor and who is throwing wobbling ducks left and right, airmailed one to the Michigan secondary during an implementation of the "wishy-washy, sorta-two-minute offense." A 48-yard K.C. Lopata field goal attempt missed, leaving Ohio State on top 7-3 at halftime.

Earlier, the Bucks took the lead with an 8-play, 44-yard TD drive culminating in a Beanie Wells 1-year touchdown run. They executed a nice blend of rushing and short passing on that drive.

The trend mentioned in the previous post of settling into a ball-control game continues. The Ohio State defense has risen up on a number of occasions, first by holding Michigan to a field goal in the first quarter when they were on a drive with a lot of momentum, then by keeping the Wolverines from advancing late in the first half when they took over on a punt return at midfield, then by forcing the Maize and Blue to attempt a long field goal attempt after the interception at the end of the half. Michigan had taken over at the 50 on that punt attempt because of a previous Zoltan Mesko punt to the Ohio State 4. The Buckeyes ran three plays right into the line and punted from their own end zone, setting up the field position that Michigan could not exploit.

Unlike last year's epic battle, this has been a game of almost no big plays, almost no turnovers, very little controversy to this point and not much to identify it so far as a huge rivalry game except the nonstop mouth and gesturing of Mike Hart. At 42 yards on 11 carries and no impact aside from Michigan's field goal drive in the first quarter, he hasn't yet earned the right to his irritating actions today.

OSU/Michigan liveblogging first installment

By Rick Morris

Through the first quarter, the game has resembled the field position battle that made up the first half of the OSU/Wisconsin clash two weeks ago. The slick turf has caused some difficulties thus far but no turnovers.
Blogger: The FDH Lounge Multimedia Magazine - Edit Post "OSU/Michigan liveblogging first installment"
Michigan used the no-huddle offense to great effect on a 12-play, 49-yard drive to gain the game's only points on a field goal. The OSU defense kicked in to prevent a touchdown, with star defensive lineman Vernon Gholston's sack playing a key role. Pass protection has been an issue for Michigan, somewhat neutralizing the weather-related struggles of the Buckeyes to date. In the early second quarter, Ohio State will take over in Michigan territory after a punt, trailing 3-0.

OSU/Michigan liveblogging pregame

By Rick Morris

We will have liveblogging coverage of the Big Game today in Ann Arbor. Here's the keys to the game for each team:

For Ohio State:

^ Avoid turnovers. The best hope for the underdog in this game is to replicate the damaging turnovers Illinois inflicted on Ohio State last week.

^ Work Brandon Saine into the offense. For all the talk about spicing up the game with Ted Ginn Jr. prototype Ray Small, screen passes to Saine would work even better because they would be so out of character for the Buckeyes. My FDH partner Jason Jones has been screaming for this element all year long, rightfully so.

^ Get Malcolm Jenkins back playing at the level of his potential. He's had a tough November and is facing a hot Mario Manningham, perhaps the best wide receiver in the country. If he has a "Shawn Springs circa 1996 moment" against the Wolverines, his team may not survive.

For Michigan:

^ Have "healthy quality" play from Chad Henne and Mike Hart. If these two play up to the level they did last year, Michigan could well win. Last year, both offenses achieved near-perfect balance, keeping the defenses on their heels the whole way. Ohio State is likely to play a well-balanced offensive game; Michigan must do the same.

^ Channel the emotion of what's likely to be Lloyd Carr's last OSU/Michigan game. 20 years ago, a less talented Buckeye team went into Ann Arbor and shocked their archrivals in Earle Bruce's last game at the helm. Today, a lesser team on paper (especially defense) looks to do the same.

The prediction? With a Rose Bowl berth at stake, an Ohio State team that has been better prepared and usually more talented since 2001 does what it did last year -- match a raised level of play from Michigan and prevail on ability. The Buckeyes go to Pasadena with a 26-20 win.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The myth of CC Sabathia

By Rick Morris

Since the Cy Young Award is based purely on the regular season, it's defensible for the baseball writers to have given the American League honors to CC Sabathia. While I probably would have voted for Josh Beckett, it seems to me a very close call that could have gone either way.

But for the Sabathia homers who claim that he has grown up into an automatic shut-down ace and that the postseason represented an aberration from the level he has reached -- think again.

In response to the inane talking points about CC not winning 20 games SOLELY because of the admittedly poor run support he received, recently on, I cited from memory numerous examples of Sabathia having coughed up leads and costing the team games. Because I don't like to go purely on anecdotal evidence, I went to the trouble of substantiating these examples, courtesy of

^ July 29: He gives up a 1-0 lead to Minnesota, team loses 4-1.
^ August 8: He gives up a 1-0 lead to Chicago, team loses 6-4.
^ August 14: He gives up a 2-0 first-inning lead to Detroit, team loses 6-2.
^ August 19: He gives up a 2-1 lead to Tampa Bay, team loses 4-3.

And all of these examples were within a month! It should be noted that none of the opposing lineups bore any resemblance to the '27 Yankees, either.

Now, not every ace wins every game. But pitchers with the assassin mentality win these games more often than not. Look no further than the same pitching staff. You'd have to manually disembowel Fausto Carmona to affect him mentally, and even then he'd keep coming back at you!

Just keep this in mind when CC's record gets whitewashed by the usual apologists in Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Expansion and player supply in sports

By Rick Morris

In a recent conversation with FDH analyst Jon Adams, we spoke of the likelihood that the NFL would expand in the coming years rather than relocating an existing team to meet their goal of placing a franchise back in Los Angeles. I mentioned that I could see this happening in tandem with an expansion of the schedule, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seems to have successfully floated the trial balloon of a 17th game played overseas by every team. Jon rightfully expressed displeasure at the notion of a move to 34 teams accompanying a 17-week schedule, since we can already see how the league's talent base was watered down noticeably by expansion in 1999 and 2002.

Goodell, a sharp operator, is probably pushing the league's global presence at least in part because the league does not have a strong enough global presence long-term to staff the number of teams they want to have. But they are putting the cart before the horse a bit if they intend to expand the league also in the next decade.

Expansion in other sports was initially accompanied by cries that it had come too soon and too dramatically -- and would later trigger calls for contraction. But as the talent pool caught up to the number of jobs available, equilibrium returned in these situations.

In baseball, the 1960s triggered a wave of expansion that continued into 1977, then resumed in 1993 and 1998. While it used to be fashionable to speak of how the game had become watered down, this talking point has become muted, even in terms of pitching. The international expansion of the game has brought players from all corners of Latin America, the Pacific Rim and even a few other corners of the world. Besides, baseball historians from groups such as SABR have disabused thinking people of the notion that players such as Babe Ruth had it harder because they faced only a handful of teams and therefore, the "best of the best on a daily basis." None of those teams included players of color and as such, the greatest players in the world were subdivided into three groups that played against only themselves: the American League, the National League and the Negro Leagues (except for the AL and NL in the All-Star Game and the World Series). But the overall talent level of top players wasn't much different back then if we think beyond Major League Baseball and take the top Negro League teams into consideration. As such, any advantages Babe Ruth may have had in not having to face 13 other AL pitching staffs were negated by not having to face Negro League hurlers.

The winter sports of basketball and hockey likewise faced troubling questions when they expanded rapidly from the late 1980s onward. Both clearly moved far beyond the pool of worthy talent available when they placed franchises far and wide and the NHL in particular faced much criticism for their "Sunbelt Strategy" of putting down roots in sunny markets completely unaccustomed to their product. But those complaints have quieted in recent years, as both have benefited from a global talent pool now available to them. Even traditional hockey fans in Canada inclined to believe that the game was never better and tighter than it was when there were only half as many teams must admit that the lack of players available back then from Iron Curtain countries worked against the advancement of the sport. And in the NBA, the international players have led the charge back towards fundamentals and away from the disturbing drift towards "streetball" and in so doing, have pushed it in the right direction. Proving that a blind squirrel really does find an acorn now and again, ESPN columnist and mighty self-parody Bill Simmons opines this week that the NBA talent level is at its highest point since the early 1990s -- and he's right.

Now, the NFL truly is the biggest and the baddest of the American sports leagues. It seems truly bulletproof in terms of continued viability at this level. But Goodell should ponder the lessons of other sports before deciding to bump the league up to 34 teams. Continued overseas games, while aggravating to many jingoistic, chest-thumping, Neanderthal football fans, are a necessary evil in terms of developing a global talent base. The 17th game on the schedule may prove unavoidable with this being the case. Because football takes such a back seat to soccer internationally (inexplicably, I might add!), the product must be exposed at a micro level to people all over the world so that the league can cultivate young fans who aspire to play on Sundays. While the NHL, NBA and MLB trail the NFL in popularity and clout, at least they can truthfully state that their leagues are fully stocked with players who deserve to be there, thanks to the integration of top talent all over the world. The NFL won't be able to say the same, much less consider further expansion as a viable consideration, until they begin to feature talent from Asia, Europe, Africa and all areas of the world.

A Hamas boy band?????

By Rick Morris

Just when you thought you'd seen everything

although, come to think of it, swap out lyrics about bombing Jewish mothers and children for stanzas about shooting immigrant storekeepers and it's no different from gangsta rap.

And I thought I'D go far to prove a point!

By Rick Morris

What's the most extreme thing you've ever done to prove a point? For somebody as stubborn and determined as myself, the process of self-examination on that score could prove a bit unsettling! But fortunately for all of us, there's always somebody ready to come along and make all of our various neuroses a bit more palatable. Such as the gentlemen who DELIBERATELY SHOT HIMSELF WITH A FREAKING NAIL GUN!

What I can't believe most of all is that he did it for free! After all, with "extreme" pro wrestling promotions like Combat Zone catering to the "faces of death" crowd, he could have made some nice blood money for doing it in the ring.

He's hardcore! He's hardcore!

Government stealing from us again

By Rick Morris

While Texas Congressman Ron Paul attracts the lion's share of attention for his presidential campaign because of his quasi-isolationist foreign policy positions, it must be remembered that he is also tapping effectively into the public's inherent distrust of politicians of both parties who treat our hard-earned money as their own private treasury. His libertarian positions, although extreme, serve as a pure and refreshing counterpoint to the rampant corruption of both political parties in D.C.

Witness the latest outrages chronicled at, a new and outstanding website dedicated to shining the light of truth on blatant wastes of federal cash coming out of the swamp on the Potomac. The latest porky delight to be exposed? A handout to a Washington-state glove company inserted into the federal budget by congressmen of both parties from, you guessed it, Washington state! Interestingly, one of the offenders was Jim McDermott, a far-left nutcase who probably doesn't think that anyone in the military deserves a warm pair of gloves or anything else decent in life -- but hey, if there's a chance to placate a potential contributor back home ...

This great new site will have a ton of user-generated content, meaning that it is dependent on citizens to utilize their tools to unearth corrupt earmarks in federal legislation. May I suggest right now that the website owners reserve copious server solely for the excreble Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia? This braying jackass, who is probably the biggest pork abuser in the history of the federal government, proudly waves around a copy of the Constitution wherever he goes while somehow remaining ignorant of the Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Apparently Bobby Byrd bought his copy of the Constitution at the same place he got his white sheets.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Power rankings for NFL Week 11

By Rick Morris

1. New England
2. Indianapolis (barely clinging to a spot on this tier after Sunday night)

3. Dallas
4. Green Bay
5. Pittsburgh
6. New York Giants (only losses on the season are to teams on this tier)

7. Tennessee
8. Jacksonville
9. San Diego
10. Seattle
11. Detroit
12. Cleveland (should be a lock -- amazingly easy schedule the rest of the way even though they have the league's worst defense)
13. New Orleans
14. Washington
15. Tampa Bay (imagine how good they'd be without half of their roster in Intensive Care)
16. Buffalo (they're doing it with smoke and mirrors but still winning)

17. Baltimore (with the washed-up McNair and the brutal remaining schedule, they are done)
18. Chicago
19. Carolina (a fraud team -- even if they had a QB, they'd still have no heart)
20. Houston
21. Arizona
22. Philadelphia
23. Denver
24. Kansas City (bad time to switch to Croyle -- not that there's ever a good time to go to him!)

25. Minnesota (horrible without Peterson)
26. Cincinnati
27. Atlanta
28. San Francisco
29. New York Jets
30. Oakland
31. St. Louis
32. Miami

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Presidential Race / NFL Playoff Push

by Jason Jones

Imagine for a moment, if you will, the Presidential nominees in an NFL style playoff run. Mind you, not in the playoffs, but a playoff run. As the landscape of the NFL begins to take shape, we start to realize not every team is worthy of a spot based on the competition ahead of them. The same can be said about the presidential nominees that have no place in this race (namely Ron Paul).

If we are to fairly examine both sides we must create a depth chart or power ranking of both the NFL and the presidential nominees. These are the rankings as I see them:

(Note my opinion does not reflect that of the FDH Lounge, or any of its subsidiaries)

NFL ------ Nominees

1 New England Patriots ------ 1 Fred Thompson

2 Indianapolis Colts ------ 2 Rudy Guiliani

3 Dallas Cowboys ------ 3 John McCain

4 Green Bay Packers ------ 4 Barack Obama

5 Pittsburgh Steelers ------ 5 Mike Huckabee (name change rec.)

6 Detroit Lions ------ 6 Tom Tancredo

7 New York Giants ------ 7 Dennis Kucinich

8 Washington Redskins ------ 8 Bill Richardson

9 Cleveland Browns ------ 9 Duncan Hunter

10 Tennessee Titans ------ 10 Joe Biden

11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers ------ 11 Mike Gravel

12 Jacksonville Jaguars ------ 12 Chris Dodd

13 San Diego Chargers ------ 13 Ron Paul

14 Baltimore Ravens ------ 14 John Edwards

15 New Orleans Saints ------ 15 Mitt Romney

16 Buffalo Bills ------ 16 Hillary Clinton

Now for some explanations. Starting with the Nominees side, I am sure most of you are wondering why my power rankings in almost no way mimic that of the American public. Well, in short, people can be very smart, but groups of people are F@#!ing retarded!!! We will revisit this idea later.

- Starting at the top, Fred Thompson is the most well rounded perfect candidate on the docket. Consequently, this is where the first tier ends. If you do not agree you are entitled to your opinion like the stupid people are entitled to reproduce. This piece is not a debate over the candidates, maybe as we get closer we will do just that.

- Second is Rudy Guiliani, I am not especially riveted by this guy; especially when he mentions being in charge during 9-11. I do get the impression that he could do the job. He would be popular. Whether you like it or not, the average American doesn’t really care about the specific nature of the issues, it’s a feel thing. For some strange reason Rudy rubs people the right way.

- Third is John McCain, for those that know me, this one is probably a shock. There is on doubt, saying he has been underwhelming in the debates is a vast a polite understatement. Nixon looked more calm and collected versus JFK in the debate forum. Bottom line, John McCain knows how to play the game. I do not agree with even the vast majority of candidacy to this point, but he could do the job with a veteran savvy. This ends the second tier.

- Fourth is Barack Obama, the first Democrat on the list and believe me if I considered my party bias the first Democrat would probably come in around 9. He is very very green. This is where my confidence that the candidate is competent enough to do the job waivers. Obama is like a great top shelf minor league baseball player. He looks like he can play the part, his record looks good, and he’s confident that he can play with the big boys. Then he gets there and everyone wonders why his .385 batting average doesn’t translate literally to the majors. Some day Obama might be a great politician, but today is not that day. We need to send him back to the senate and let him work out the kinks for a while.

- Fifth is Mike Huckabee. Lets be honest, he just seems like a good guy. Do you remember that story about conservation? The one where he ride his bicycle to the grocery store to conserve on the gas he uses in his environmentally friendly car and his kids laugh at him for it? Do you remember that? I thought, “aw that’s sweet, what nice guy, a little HIPPY-ish for me, but a nice guy”. News flash, it should take more than NICE GUY. I’m sure under his old and alien like physique, Bob Dole is a nice guy. But would you have felt comfortable 10 minutes after watching any network television on September 11th, knowing he was probably cowered in some corner sucking on his binkie?

- Sixth is Tom Tancredo. First and foremost, Tom we get it. You don’t like foreigners. Maybe its just illegals from South America. Maybe he doesn’t like Canadians, Europeans, Asians, or Russians if they are here illegally. If that’s the case, this point is mute anyway. You still have to admire the solid Titanium balls on that guy to be so adamant about a single issue. I could have sworn I heard in a debate, Tancredo conclude that the answer to an exit strategy to the Iraq conflict and Universal Heath Care will come in solving our illegal immigration issue. I bet if he could he would have military snipers every 5 feet from California to Florida. Oh, and just a thought. Do you think an American born, suburb raised, heterosexual, 30 something man with a Business Administrations bachelor degree, who pledged for a well renouned fraternity in the Ivy League laid the foundation on his house? Just speculation, but I am pretty sure some illegal contributed to Tancredo’s life positively in some way…and that probably burns him up.

- Seventh is Dennis Kucinich. Not a popular guy. In the Presidential Election ’08 made for tv movie, Kucinich would be played by D.J. Qualls (the skinny kid from Road Trip). Nobody likes creepy to greet you when you’re expecting another spine tingling episode of 24 and get D.J. Qualls addressing the nation. I cannot see Kucinich running the country, but I want to believe he is a good honest man when all is said and done. This concludes the third tier.

- Eighth is Bill Richardson. Let’s not sugar coat it. This is where the bottom falls out. I do not claim to know much about the rest of these with three exceptions. The truth is aside from hearing Richardson spout off his political resume during a debate and his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, I’ve got nothing on Richardson. He seems like a decent guy who has some gumption. Besides, this list should have ended at Tancredo anyway.

- Ninth is Duncan Hunter. At least he is a Republican. He has no chance, which is a major part of this exercise.

- Tenth is Joe Biden. Again, I could see him doing the job. He has said a great deal of things that I do not agree with, but aside from Fred Thompson, there is not going to be a candidate I will agree with 95% of the time.

- Eleventh is Mike Gravel. Again, I have nothing. I have not heard much one way or the other. What I have heard has forced me to change the channel. While watching presidential debates, one must have an alternate channel to click to when the responses get unbearable. I recommend ESPN Classic or the Discovery Channel. Anything that resides on the other end of the spectrum from Politics.

- Twelfth is Chris Dodd. Insert previous statement here. Conclude tier four

- Thirteenth is Ron Paul. Strap in ladies and gentleman this one begins the tri-fecta of doom. Ron Paul is a hack! A phony, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I know he has somewhat of following, but so did Ross Perot. Ron Paul is not only bad for president, he’s bad for politics in general. He doesn’t play by the rules. I get it, Libertarian, Liberal Republican, Left Wing Republican, or whatever you want to call him. He should be running as an independent. At least that way the lobe of the American Human brain that tells us to almost disregard Independents because the math precludes them from winning, he would finally get the attention he deserves. Next to none. He’s is a hippie claiming to be the image that the Republican party should be. Believe me, I am not one to say that a single former President embodies every iota that oozes “Republican”. It just seems to me, if the entire party thinks Ronald Reagan is the Republican party, then Ron Paul is as far away from that as one can be without literally being a Democrat.

- Fourteenth is John Edwards. C’mon, are we serious. John Freaking Edwards. Has there ever been a Nominee that more exemplified the smelly kid who wanted to be cool? He’s the kid at the park who wants to be picked to play in the game and keeps getting passed over for kids who are busy doing other things (like 30 yards away on another part of the park). I also get the impression that if he were to be the next president, he is the kind of guy who would have the angle of, “fine, I’m taking my ball and going home, you guys suck!” Which is not really the attitude you want your president to have when dealing with foreign policy and cabinet meetings.

- Fifteenth is Mitt Romney. I really hope you have your seatbelt on for the next two. Plain and simple. Do not believe this devilish swindler. I bet that if I had a 60 inch High Definition television with all of the HD channels and watched a Republican Debate, I would clearly see the horns poke out through the skin on his forehead. Politically, Mitt Romney is the ANTI-CHRIST. The guy has one general thought process when he wants to get elected in Massachusetts, and a completely different thought process to get elected to president. When people bitch and moan about why they don’t like politics and more specifically, politicians; guess what? Mitt Romney is who they are talking about.

- Sixteenth is Hillary “Holy F#@K You Can’t Be Serious” Clinton. I cannot believe this is even a remote possibility. I keep waiting to wake up from what can only be confused as 2 year comma. I keep hoping I’ll wake up and say to someone, “Does Hillary really have a shot”, just to be told she was never even a candidate and that I must have dreamt the whole thing. Remember I said, people can be smart but groups of people can be retarded. In the trial of the State vs. Group’s of People’s Sanity, the prosecution presents Hillary Clinton for President of the United States into evidence as exhibit alpha. This is such a bad idea on so many levels. I’ll admit, aside from Bill downsizing the military to a dreadfully dangerous number, I did not hate Bill Clinton. Just because the majority of the average American populous believe Clinton was a good president is not enough to give Hillary the benefit of the doubt. This is not a gender issue. This is a Hillary Clinton is a crazy bitch issue. Speaking of crazy bitches, am I the only level headed American who is deathly afraid of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Peloci joining their powers of evil combining to create the kind of super villain that the minds of Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane could not dream up. It would be the catalyst for the apocalypse. Nothing she says makes any sense, she just parades around in slip on shoes and pant suits hoping the people will believe the answer to fixing this country is to have a female president; and she’s the only one. Believe me the bitch is banking on it. I am pleading with every American, don’t let it happen. Further food for thought, if Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney consummated and conceived a child, that child would undo existence. It would unravel the threads of life. Dark would become light, good would become evil, right would become left, “in short, it would un-make the world”

Now that we have addressed all of the candidates, it is time to bring the NFL into this discussion. The problem here is the AFC is the Republican Party and NFC is the Democratic Party. In one tier all by themselves are the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts; there’s no two ways about it. New England is just insane. Arguably the best offense I have personally ever seen. And Indianapolis is inches behind New England after coming off last years SuperBowl win. The second tier has the Dallas Cowboys all by themselves. What a difference a free wheeling coach makes. Same players, different result. Tier three doesn’t make any sense. Why is Green Bay winning? Why has Pittsburgh only lost twice? Brett Favre and a collection 3rd + round picks. He should be babysitting not winning football games. Pittsburgh, they’re o.k., but top 5? C’mon, somebody step up and expose them PLEASE!!! They are not THAT good. Tier four is again where things start to loosen up. Detroit is doing better than they ever have in a non Barry Sanders season. Statistically, offense and defense at the top. New York Giants finally woke up. This team puts season long sack numbers up in one game, thus elevating some of the pressures that Eli Manning cannot handle on his own. The Washington Redskins are all around o.k. Young QB is getting better, solid running game, 17 #2 and #3 WR’s, a good TE, and a solid Defense-nothing exciting. And that’s tier four. Tier five brings tears to my eyes. The Cleveland Browns. I never thought I’d see the day when I could say the Browns at least have a shot (ever week). They are alone on this tier because after this, no team can claim balance. The next tier, 6, is where it gets sloppy. Tennessee Titans keep winning despite the fact their QB hasn’t thrown 1,000 yds yet and has more INT’s than TD’s and has no one else on offense worth a damn. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a pretty decent passing game right now and a no-name running back by committee system. If Jacksonville ever becomes a team with no defense, they will be the worst team in the league. I bet they wish they had all of there QB and WR draft picks and traded players to pick over again. This season the Chargers have LT, but not much else. This is not the team that went 14-2 last season, unless you want to put all of the fault on the GM for firing Marty. Tier seven has two former playoff teams who are playing drastically under the mean. Baltimore and New Orleans. Not to be harsh, but the whole “playing to win for the victims of hurricane katrina” can only take you so far. Let’s face it, Baltimore peaked. The defense is getting old and the offense has been dog s#@t since Billick got the job; offensive guru my ass. The last and eighth tier belongs to Buffalo. Who knows what’s going on up there. Lynch is nice and the rest of the kids are having fun and playing well since week 3.

So, what does it all mean. All of the previous comes down to one concept. Who belongs and who doesn’t. In the NFL, just because 12 teams make the playoffs, doesn’t mean 12 teams are worthy of being in the playoffs. In the Presidential Race, 16 nominees is unacceptable. If Cleveland beat Pittsburgh in the first round, or Buffalo beat Dallas that wouldn’t be right-and it won’t happen. The bottom line is no matter who you are a fan of, not everyone is worthy. There’s an old saying, “That’s why they play the game”, horse s#@t. The same is true with this presidential race. Sure the Patriots, Colts, Cowboys, Packers, Steelers, and Lions probably deserve to be in the playoffs. Washington through Buffalo probably do not. Similarly, from Mike Huckabee on down also do not belong in the Presidential Nominee push. Narrow the debate’s contestants. Sorry Democrats, call back when you have someone worth pushing. Give Dole a call maybe he’ll join the race for you. Just like in the NFL, it isn’t a question of who should win the SuperBowl. It’s a question of whoever wins the Republican nomination should be the next president. Its not an issue of Democrat vs Republican. There just is not a legitimate Democrat worth voting for. Just like, no matter how hard Dallas, Green Bay, or Detroit try they will not should not and on this plane of existence cannot beat Indianapolis or New England. Whoever wins that AFC championship game should be crowned the winner. While Tom Brady or Peyton Manning are hoisting the AFC title trophy there should be a small man engraving the Lombardi Trophy to that same team. The same is true for the Presidential Nominees. McCain is better than any Democrat. Rudy Guiliani is better than any Democrat. There is no question, Fred Thompson is better than any Democrat; this time around or possibly in the last decade or more.

All in all, just be smart. Just because someone is literally in the race, doesn’t mean they have a legitimate shot at winning or have earned the right to waste your valuable time and energy listening to their s#@t.

Clinton = Apocolypse

Romney = Apocolypse

Ron Paul = Woodstock at the White House

Fred Thompson = Top 10 President in History

Rudy Guiliani = Competent Politician

John McCain = Great Candidate 3, 5, 8 years ago

Cleveland Browns, SuperBowl Champs = Apocolypse

Detroit Lions, SuperBowl Champs = Apocolypse

Pittsburgh Steelers, SuperBowl Champs = The books are cooked in Vegas

Green Bay Packers, SuperBowl Champs = I saw this movie before, it was more realistic in the 1990’s

Just be careful, and remember to think for yourselves. They are politicians after all.