Wednesday, August 31, 2005

And now for something completely different...

A baseball post? With kickoff of college football season less than 30 hours away? Believe it, homeslice.

The Mets came back to beat the Phillies last night, moving to within just a half-game of the NL wild card lead. That means with a win tonight and a loss by the Marlins, the Mets could actually start September leading the race for the NL wild card.

Incidentally, how crazy are these standings? Five teams within a game and a half of each other, four of them tied in the loss column.

Frankly, I think the Astros will end up stealing it because the four NL east teams will spend the last month beating up on each other, while the Astros get to fatten up on the Reds, Cubs and Pirates.
Team W L GB
Florida 70 62 ---
Philadelphia 70 62 ---
NY Mets 69 62 0.5
Houston 69 62 0.5
Washington 68 63 1.5


Why are the Mets so close, so late? Two words: David Wright.

The starting pitching has been solid for most of the year, the bullpen has not imploded (yet), and lots of guys are hitting decently.

But Wright (and an assorted cast of unlikely "heroes of the night") has basically carried this team for the last few weeks, with Mike Cameron hurt, Mike Piazza hurt, and Carlos Beltran hitting like a little girl for long stretches.

By the way, did I mention that I got Wright on my fantasy team (in a keeper league, nonetheless), by trading John Thompson straight-up? I mean... good lord.

Oh, and I got that Felix Martinez dude, off the free agent wire this spring.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hart to Hart

Brian over at MGoBlog checks in to dismiss the notion that Michael Hart "disappeared" during the OSU and Michigan games because the Michigan O-line couldn't hack it. He chalks it up to OSU getting out to a big lead and forcing Michigan to throw.

"Bizarre, since Hart went for 99 against Iowa's fabulous front seven and broke 200 against Purdue's equally stout D. Michigan lost in Columbus because it yielded two huge, time consuming 90+ yard scoring drives and a Ginn punt return touchdown. Hart was kept under control early, but by the time Michigan got the ball back on offense later he was a nonfactor because of the score."

I humbly disagree. Here's why: he's wrong.

First of all, outright yardage (the measure used in the article) probably wasn't the best way to measure Hart's disappearance. Yards per carry is. Here are Hart's YPC stats by game, with the games singled out by Brian in bold.

Miami, OH: 6.7
Notre Dame: 3.4
San Diego State: 4.8
Iowa: 3.8
Indiana: 4.0
Minnesota: 4.6
Illinois: 5.8
Purdue: 6.2
Michigan State: 6.8
Northwestern: 6.6
Ohio State: 3.4
Texas: 4.0

First of all, we can probably discard the first two games, since Hart played only sparingly.

Now, it looks to me like Hart was not nearly as effective in the final two games (as the article suggested) as he was during the previous, and somewhat improbable-- as in "unsustainable"-- four games. If someone wants to dispute that conclusion based on the numbers above, feel free.

It also seems to me that Hart really didn't play a spectacular game against Iowa. Decent? Sure. But 3.8 yards per carry is not outstanding by any means. Frankly, it's pretty damn average.

Really, only one of those four games lies significantly outside the realm of expectation that's created by the others.

It looks to me like Hart did exactly what one of the commenters in that post accused Ted Ginn of doing-- fattening up against crappy teams. I'll follow his example and take out Hart's performances against Michigan State's defense, Illinois' defense and Northwestern's defense (non-bowl teams, all) and the Purdue game looks like a downright fluke.

You tell me which number doesn't belong: 4.8, 4.0, 4.6, 6.2, 3.4, 4.0. Really, I don't think you can say that Michigan consistently ripped off big running games against good defenses. Hart had a good game against Purdue. Hart did not have a very good game (especially relative to the rest of the season) against Iowa, Ohio State and Texas. This would seem to suggest that the original statment "Hart disappeared against OSU and Texas" is significantly more accurate than Brian would have you believe. If you want to make it more accurate and change it to "Hart became a very average back against most good defenses," then I think the facts would support that as well.

Now, to the idea that OSU's long drives and quick scoring took Hart out of the game because they forced Michigan to throw. Yes, that played a role later in the game, but it wasn't exactly 28-0 in the first half, either.

Michigan had eight drives and 38 plays under its belt before OSU opened a lead of more than seven points in the third quarter. (Info from here.)

Even after that, Michigan got the ball back with 9:56 left in the third, down only 13 points (hardly panic time) and ran another six plays before OSU stretched it to 34-14.

So that gives UM a total of nine drives and 44 offensive plays before OSU really took the rushing game away.

So what did Hart do with all those chances?
First drive (down 7-0)
5 yard rush
1 yard rush
Total: 2 rushes out of 9 plays (22%)

Second drive (tied at 7)
11 yard rush
10 yard rush
1 yard rush
3 rushes, 6 plays (50%)

Third drive (up 14-7)
6 yard rush
1 rush, 3 plays (33%)

Fourth drive (tied at 14)
4 yard rush
1 rush, 3 plays (33%)

Fifth drive (tied at 14)
Rush for no gain
1 yard rush
2 rushes, 3 plays (67%)

Sixth drive (down 17-14)
6 yard rush
1 rush, 5 plays (20%)

Seventh drive (down 20-14)
1 yard rush
1 rush, 3 plays (33%)

Eighth drive (down 20-14)
2 yard loss
1 rush, 6 plays (17%)

This is where we should see some significant change in Hart's usage, according to the "we fell behind" theory (he singles out Ginn's punt return, which happened here).

Ninth drive (down 27-14)
Rush for no gain
5 yard rush
2 rush, 6 plays (33%)

Tenth drive (down 34-14)
2 yard rush
2 yard rush
2 rush, 6 plays (33%)

Eleventh drive (down 34-14)
3 yard rush
1 rush, 4 plays (25%)

Twelfth drive (down 34-21)
This drive started with 7:51 left in the game
No carries
0 rush, 4 plays (0%)

Thirteenth drive (down 37-21)
5 yard rush
1 rush, 12 plays (9%)

Fourteenth drive (down 37-21)
No carries
0 rush, 4 plays (0%)
End of game

When the teams were separated by a touchdown or less, Hart carried the ball on the following percentage of plays: 22, 50, 33, 33, 67, 20, 33, 17.

Once OSU took a lead of more than a touchdown, it was: 33, 33, 25. That's hardly inconsistent with the previous part of the game.

Only with eight minutes left in the game did Michigan truly abandon the run: 0, 9, 0.

So if you want to base your argument on the fact that Hart only got to run for 52 minutes of the game, so be it.

I would suggest that if in fact, Hart's carries were limited at some point, it probably had a lot more to do with the fact that he wasn't getting anywhere on the ground, rather than the score of the game.

By quarter...
1st: 6 carries, 34 yards (5.7 per)
2nd: 4 carries, 11 yards (2.75 per)
3rd: 6 carries, 8 yards (1.25 per)
4th: 2 carries, 8 yards (4.0 per)

Going into the fourth quarter, why would you keep giving the ball to a guy with 19 yards on his last 10 carries? (Unless you were up by three touchdowns and just needed to kill the clock)

I also don't see anything in the data to suggest that Hart was getting stronger or running better against the OSU defense as the game wore on.

Frankly, I think all the stuff about OSU's long drives is a bunch of crap. Everything I see here suggests that unless Michigan ran it 50 times and theoretically wore down the defense at some point, that Hart could have carried it on every play during the fourth quarter (or the second, frankly) and still not ended up with good numbers.

Brian also points out that OSU sacked Chad Henne only once. On this point, he's exactly right. Of course, the article didn't say OSU sacked Henne a bunch of times.

"Chad Henne got knocked down time after time and simply did not have time to throw on many plays."

Guess what? Chad Henne did get knocked down a bunch of times, and ended up hurrying a lot of his throws. It even got to the point where even the TV announcers mentioned it. In this case, Brian is right. But the article is not wrong.

As for Garret Rivas, dude missed four extra points last year. He (as pointed out in the article) twice missed two field goals in a game. He's good, but far from automatic.

Big problem

I just found out that the ABC station in Detroit is not going to air the Ohio State-Miami game this weekend. The problem is that the station is also the ESPN-Plus affiliate, so they're showing the Michigan State-Kent State game instead of the Bucks.

This leaves me with four options:
1) Have my in-laws in Toledo tape it, or go down there to watch at their place.
2) Buy ESPN Gameplan.
3) Suck it up and go to Columbus and scalp a ticket.
4) Miss the game.

Working backwards... fat fucking chance... expensive (gas will be $12.3 billion, plus the cost of a ticket)... expensive... maybe the best option.

I was leaning toward driving down, but my wife is leery about me doing that when I already have my heart set on going to the Texas game (tickets: $1 billion and up).

Stupid Spartans.

Monday, August 29, 2005

You too, Shushie!

Good practice, kids. Now its time for the easiest part of any coach's job. The cuts. Although I wasn't able to cut everyone I wanted to, I have cut a lot of you. Clarett is cut. Rudy is cut. Janey, you're gone. Steven, I like your hustle. Thats why it was so hard to cut you. Congratulations, the rest of you made the team! Except you, you and you.

I wonder how many idiots are stuck with one of these babies.

And let me just say that it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The final tally...

If you've taken the time to wade through the greatest football roadtrip of all time, you already know that you would be sitting through a whole lot of football games.

Before I'm willing to let it go, I figured I'd tally everything up, just to put it in perspective.

Here's a look at the routes you'd be driving (roughly, not following specific roads), thanks to Tony.


Thassa lotta drivin.

And this one shows the states where you'd see a college game. You'd also see NFL games in Washington State and Washington, DC.


[snarky EDSBS-style photo caption]... because no one wants to be Miss Idaho.[/snarky EDSBS-style photo caption]

You would see these teams play at home: Cincinnati (twice), Central Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Florida State (definitely once, possibly twice), Ohio University (twice), Marshall (twice), Ohio State, TCU, UTEP, Texas Tech, Boise State, Utah, Oregon, Fresno State (twice), Colorado State, Oklahoma, North Texas, Louisiana-Lafayette, NC State, LSU, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia Tech (twice), Memphis, West Virginia, Louisville (twice), South Carolina, Miami of Ohio, Toledo, Michigan, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh, Florida, Southern Cal, and maybe Tulane and Clemson.

You would see these teams wearing their road jerseys: Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Bowling Green (three times), Louisville, Miami FL (twice), Pitt, Kansas State, Texas, Utah, Houston, Sam Houston State, Air Force, Southern Cal, Toledo (twice), Air Force, Kansas State, Troy, Florida Atlantic, Clemson, Florida, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Tennessee, Boston College, UAB, Connecticut, Pitt, Toledo, Southern Miss, West Virginia (twice), Rutgers, Florida, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Western Michigan, Florida State (definitely once, maybe twice), Louisiana Tech, UCLA, and possibly UTEP and Maryland.

You would also get to see Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Georgia at neutral sites.

You would travel to see these NFL teams play at their home stadiums: Browns, Seahawks, Chiefs, Cowboys, Saints, Falcons, Ravens, Redskins, Panthers, Eagles, Bengals, Chargers, and possible Texans.

And you would see these NFL teams on the road: Bengals (twice), Cardinals, Eagles (three times), Falcons, Jets (twice), Cowboys, Colts, Raiders, and possibly Steelers.

To break it down by conference, you would see games in at least one stadium of every D-1A league.
ACC: Florida State (definitely once, possibly twice), NC State, Maryland, Virginia Tech (twice), and maybe Clemson

Big East: Cincinnati (twice), West Virginia, Louisville (twice), Pittsburgh

Big Ten: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan

Big XII: Texas Tech, Oklahoma

C-USA: Marshall (twice), Memphis, and maybe Tulane

Mid-American: Central Michigan, Ohio University (twice), Miami of Ohio, Toledo, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois

Mountain West: TCU, UTEP, Utah, Colorado State

Pac-10: Oregon, Southern Cal

SEC: Kentucky, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Florida

Sun Belt: North Texas, Louisiana-Lafayette

WAC: Boise State, Fresno State (twice), South Carolina

In all, you would see 12 or 13 NFL stadiums (don't they all look alike anyway?) and a total of anywhere from 16-18 NFL teams.

Not bad.

VY won't you shut up?

So Vince Young thinks he's a better quarterback than Jason White.

Interesting.

Other than the fact that White was a better thrower, won the Heisman, destroyed Young's team the two times they played, won a league title and played for a national title, I think he's totally right.

I mean, Young is a better scrambler. Besides, he did such a good job leading his team in their biggest games over the last two years.

Check out his game-by-game stats from last year. I'm not exactly blown away by the numbers he put up against powerhouses like Oklahoma State, Kansas, Colorado and Texas A&M.

The more I see and hear from Texas, the more I can't wait for OSU to get their crack at crushing them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

10 months too late...

Looks like the Spartans finally figured out how to finish in Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Road trip.

In an effort to stave off the college football withdrawal I've been going through since my PS2 bit the dust over the weekend (as well as keep myself from doing any work whatsoever today), I decided to design the most complete college football roadtrip in history.

This is, naturally, inspired by my previous post which mentioned that I wanted to do something like this at some point. I can't do it this fall (unless the good folks at Powerball come through for me in an unexpected way in the next few days), but it's a start.

I'm stipulating that this is all driving, because it's a college-style roadie. I don't know about you, but I never had the money to hop in a jet after paying for Econ textbooks.

I figure it's not realistic to think that you could drive much more than 600 miles in a day (given that most of the midweek games are at night, and you'll have less than 24 hours to get from one place to another), so going from the east coast to the west coast is out. However, if you're going from a day game to a night game the following day, I'm willing to stretch the mileage a little bit.

And I'm talking D-1A stadiums only. I'm sure St. John's in Minnesota or Pacific Lutheran or Mount Union are incredible, lovely places to see a game. But I don't give a shit. Maybe next year.

Also, I'm interested in the following things:
1) Hitting some of the best stadiums/atmospheres in the country.
2) I also want to see as many big games as possible (hello, OSU-Texas!)
3) I want to see as many games as possible, so in some cases (especially early in the season) I'm going to be sacrificing quality for quantity. For example, given the choice between seeing two games on a Thursday/Friday, and one slightly better game, I'll probably take the two. Unless that one game is bitchin' sweet. It's all a judgement call.

Oh, by the way, this took me like a million hours to figure out.

Away we go...

Thursday 9/1, 7:00 pm: Eastern Michigan @ Cincinnati (The only Thursday game between two D-1A teams that would allow you to get to your Friday night game under the prescribed rules.)

Friday 9/2, 7:30 pm: Indiana @ Central Michigan (Arizona @ Utah is an easy choice here, except you can't get to Salt Lake City in a day from any of the Thursday game sites. The closest one is the Arizona State game, and that's more than 700 miles away). Driving today: 391 miles.

Saturday 9/3, 12:00 pm: Bowling Green @ Wisconsin (Great college town, plus a legitmate chance for a mid-major to win on the road. Easy choice.) Driving today: 424 miles.

Sunday 9/4, 3:30 pm: Louisville @ Kentucky (It's a hike, but since I've got more than 24 hours from kickoff to kickoff, I think I can make it. Unless I ended up passed out in a gutter on State Street the night before. Always a possibility) Driving today: 561 miles.

Monday 9/5, 8:00 pm: Miami @ Florida State (It's a little longer than the prescibed 600 miles, but I've got more than 24 hours from the end of the last game until the start of this one, so I think it's doable. This is the absolute no-brainer game of the week.) Driving today: 648 miles

Friday 9/9, 8:00 pm: Pittsburgh @ Ohio (A stopover at the misses' alma mater sets up an incredible day of football on Saturday) Driving since Monday: 851 miles

Saturday 9/10, 10:30 am: Kansas State @ Marshall (But what about the Ohio State-Texas game, you ask? Check out the kickoff time. I'd be out of Huntington before 1:30... plenty of time to make it to the Varsity Club for some pregaming before the 8:00 kickoff) Driving since last stop: 81 miles.

Saturday 9/10, 8:00 pm: Texas @ Ohio State (The non-conference game of the year. Period, end of story.) Driving since last stop: 133 miles (214 total today)

Sunday 9/11, 1:00 pm: Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns (Doesn't really count, but there are no college games this day, and you've got a ton of time to get to your next game after this one. And let's be honest... even the corporate, homogenized professional version of football is... well... football. We'll get to NFL games whenever the rules will allow and it won't interfere with a college game.) Driving today: 142 miles.

Thursday 9/15, 7:30 pm: Utah @ TCU (We missed Utah during week one, so we'll get them here. The team that used to be Urban vs. the team that used to be LaDanian... this could've been a hell of a game if it wasn't 2005.) Driving today: 1248 miles

Friday 9/16, 8:00 pm: Houston @ UTEP (I love it when the weekday games are in the same state.) Driving today: 603 miles (Texas is a big-ass state)

Saturday 9/17, 7:00 pm: Sam Houston State @ Texas Tech (New Mexico State @ New Mexico is another possibility. I would have loved to make it to College Station for the SMU-TAMU game, but it's almost 700 miles--see comment about Texas in previous entry. This will be fun only if to see if Mike Leach's guys can put up 100 points.) Driving today: 342 miles.

Sunday 9/18, 1:00 pm: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans (This one is italicized because if could theoretically impact the next game. It could go if it would put the Wednesday night game at risk.) Driving today: 581 miles.

Wednesday 9/21, 8:00 pm: Bowling Green @ Boise State (You've got to see the blue turf, right? Plus, this game should finish with a 51-48 final score.) Total driving: 1936 miles in three-plus days.

Thursday 9/22, 7:30 pm: Air Force @ Utah (The Utes become regulars on the roadie.) Driving today: 339 miles

Saturday 9/24, 7:00 pm: Southern Cal @ Oregon (I've heard good things about Autzen Stadium, and my... isn't this an intriguing upset special?) Total driving: 876 miles in two days.

Sunday 9/25, 4:00 pm: Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (New stadium. Otherwise "meh.") Driving today: 282 miles.

Tuesday 9/27, 9:00 pm: Toledo @ Fresno State (Intriguing intersectional matchup. We'll be back to Fresno later...) Total driving: 935 miles in two days.

Thursday 9/29, 8:00 pm: Air Force @ Colorado State (This is a long drive... pushing the rules a little, but probably doable.) Total driving: 1284 miles in two days.

Saturday 10/1, TBA: Kansas State @ Oklahoma (A really interesting game a few years ago. Now, just a chance to see Norman.) Total driving: 747 miles in two days.

Sunday 10/2, 1:00 pm: Philadelphia Eagles @ Kansas City Chiefs (Over/under on the number of times I make the "Who are the Chefs?" references: 23) Driving today: 366 miles.

Tuesday 10/4, 7:30 pm: Troy @ North Texas (This is where the requisite reference to the two leading NCAA rushers over the last two years goes. Just to show how smart I am about football. We should have plenty of time before the game to enjoy all the exciting non-football stuff to do in Denton. Hellloooo Denny's!) Total Driving: 513 miles in two days.

Thursday 10/6, 8:00 pm: Florida Atlantic @ Louisiana-Lafayette (Unless a movie the caliber of "Ghost Dad" or better comes up on the TV at the hotel.) Total driving: 427 miles in two days.

Saturday 10/8, 1:00 pm: Texas vs. Oklahoma @ Dallas (I'd love to get to Austin, but this is probably as close as we'll come. Looks like the Horns will go 0-2 on our trip.) Total driving: 390 miles in two days.

Sunday 10/9, 4:15 pm: Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (As a Giants fan, I'm legally required to hate me some Cowboys, but Parcells... man... that dude is the best.) Driving today: Virtually none.

Thursday 10/13, 7:30 pm: Clemson @ N.C. State (Chuck Amato and his ridiculous 3-D glasses go under the lights.) Total driving: 1,205 miles in four days.

Friday 10/14, 8:00 pm: UTEP @ Tulane (We're really pushing it to make this game. Frankly, it probably won't happen. I'm not going to include it in the final totals, but it's at least possible in theory because of the short drive the next day.) Driving today: 881 miles.

Saturday 10/15, TBA: Florida @ LSU (You go to Baton Rouge hoping for a night game, but odds are that CBS screws this up and makes it a 3:30 kickoff. Oh well...) Driving today: 80 miles (or 953 miles over two days if we skip the Tulane game).

Sunday 10/16, 1:00 pm: Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (We'll see the Superdome whether or not we make the Tulane game. So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.) Driving today: 80 miles.

Thursday 10/20, 7:30 pm: Virginia Tech @ Maryland (Get ready to see a lot of the Hokies) Total driving: 1099 miles in four days.

Friday 10/21, TBA: Arkansas @ Georgia (Another slightly-longer-than-allowed drive, but it's worth it to see Sanford & Son Stadium, the hedges, the dog, etc.) Driving today: 615 miles.

Saturday 10/22, 3:30 pm: Tennessee @ Alabama (And a stop at Dreamland BBQ to boot.) Driving today: 217 miles.

Monday 10/24, 9:00 pm: New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons (The Michael Vick Experience, hopefully without the herpes.) Total driving: 202 miles in two days.

Thursday 10/27, 7:30 pm: Boston College @ Virginia Tech (They hate playing on Saturdays in Blacksburg, don't they?) Total driving: 409 miles in three days.

Saturday 10/29, TBA: Florida vs. Georgia @ Jacksonville (The world's biggest outdoor Hairy Buffalo party.) Total driving: 551 miles in two days.

Saturday 10/29, TBA: Maryland @ Florida State (This is at least theoretically possible, but will depend on the scheduling. If one of these games is at noon and the other is a night game, you could do it. Otherwise, this one is out. I won't count it in the official totals.) Driving today: 163 miles.

Tuesday 11/1, 7:30 pm: UAB @ Memphis (This is where I talk for a while about how good Memphis' running back is, and how he's a Heisman darkhorse. Just to show you again how smart I am.) Total driving: 733 miles in three days.

Wednesday 11/2, 7:30 pm: Connecticut @ West Virginia (This is again pushing the rules, but after three relatively light days leading up to this, I think it's doable. Plus, how often do you get to see 50,000 drunken West Virginia fans in one place?) Driving today: 773 miles.

Thursday 11/3, 7:30 pm: Pittsburgh @ Louisville (If only we could see Dave Wannstadt on "mustache Wednesday"!) Driving today: 400 miles.

Friday 11/4, 8:00 pm: Toledo @ Ohio (Back to Athens. Again. They'll probably still be hosing the puke off the sidewalks from Halloween.) Driving today: 277 miles.

Saturday 11/5, TBA: Miami @ Virginia Tech (Great game. We ought to get a time-share in Blacksburg) Driving today: 225 miles.

Sunday 11/6, 1:00 pm: Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens (The start of an NFL Sunday double-dip) Driving today: 300 miles.

Sunday 11/6, 8:30 pm: Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins (At this point, we've seen Andy Reid more than our loved ones this fall.) Driving today: 44 miles on this leg (344 overall).

Tuesday 11/8, 7:30 pm: Southern Miss @ Marshall (Very exciting if Brett Favre was playing Byron Leftwich/Chad Pennington. Not so much now.) Total drive: 412 miles in two days.

Wednesday 11/9, 7:30 pm: West Virginia @ Cincinnati (Should get there with plenty of time to meet Bob Huggins for a drink before kickoff. We all know he's got the time...) Driving today: 166 miles.

This is where Boise State-Fresno State should go, except it would force us to miss three games, plus the NFL double-dip. Plus, we've already seen both teams play at their home stadiums.

Friday 11/11, 8:00 pm: Rutgers @ Louisville (Not a close game. Like... at all.) Total driving: 105 miles in two days.

Saturday 11/12, TBA: Florida @ South Carolina (Steve Spurrier, blahblahblah) Driving today: 506 miles.

Saturday 11/12, TBA: Florida State @ Clemson (Again, it could happen if the South Carolina game and the Clemson game are a noon game and a night game. If CBS grabs the Cocks and Gators for 3:30, you can forget this game. It's not counted in the final tally.) Driving this leg: 138 miles. Total for the day: 644 miles.

Sunday 11/13, 4:00 pm: New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers (Maybe the Jets can drag John Fox back to Jersey with them and let him take over for that jackass Coughlin.) Driving today: 92 or 138 miles, depending on where we're coming from.

Monday 11/14, 9:00 pm: Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (More Andy Reid. Who could turn that down?) Driving today: 558 miles.

Tuesday 11/15, 7:00 pm: Bowling Green @ Miami of Ohio (Can the Falcons get over the hump against the preppies?) Driving today: 585 miles.

Wednesday 11/16, 7:30 pm: Northern Illinois @ Toledo (Another MAC classic.) Driving today: 193 miles.

Saturday 11/19, TBA: Ohio State @ Michigan (Yeah, like I'm going to miss this one.) Total driving: 51 miles in three days.

Sunday 11/20, 1:00 pm: Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals (Meh.) Driving today: 243 miles.

Tuesday 11/22, 7:00 pm: Toledo @ Bowling Green (BG should be fine as long as they can get a big halftime lead. Oh, wait...) Total driving: 189 miles in two days.

Wednesday 11/23, 1:35 pm: Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois (Unless we pass an interesting middle school game on the way there.) Driving today: 313 miles.

Thursday 11/24, 8:00 pm: West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (Happy Thanksgiving. Here's some Backyard Brawl.) Driving today: 520 miles.

Saturday 11/26, 3:30 pm: Florida State @ Florida (It could be Texas-Texas A&M, but it would cost us WVU-Pitt, plus I would like to see the Swamp) Total driving: 896 miles in two days.

Friday 12/2, 9:00 pm: Louisiana Tech @ Fresno State (A loooooong drive back to Fresno for a mediocre-- at best-- game.) Total drive: 2,628 miles in six days.

Saturday 12/3, 4:30 pm: UCLA @ Southern Cal (Frankly, this could and probably should be a conference championship game, but at the moment, I don't know which one. So we're headin' to the hood!) Driving today: 229 miles.

Sunday 12/4, Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (Meh. Again.) Driving today: 131 miles.

Then go home, do some laundry, sleep a little and get ready for the bowls.

Total for the trip 47 college games, 12 NFL games (not including the ones that could get dropped).

A total of 29,149 miles driven, not including those games that could get dropped. To put that in perspective, if you drove around the earth at the equator, you would get wet (you know, because of the ocean). You'd also go only 24,901 miles.

I'll figure out the number of states and do a breakdown of conferences, teams, and other crap later.

The end of an era...

There's a very good chance that next Saturday, I will miss my first Ohio State home football game in almost a decade.

I've attended every game in the Horseshoe since the home finale against Indiana in November of 1995, as well as a number of roadies (including eight Big Ten opponents, two Kickoff Classics and the Rose Bowl). I actually had to work a little to make this happen-- finding new reasons to go out to school early every year, in some cases weeks before classes started, to watch historically-significant games like OSU-Rice and OSU-Wyoming.

But this year, a new project has pulled me away from the stadium on fall Saturdays. I hope it's worth it-- I was kind of proud of my streak.

The totals, assuming it ends on September 3...
1995: 1-0 (Kickoff Classic)
1996: 6-1 (6 home games plus Rose Bowl)
1997: 7-1 (7 home games, plus @ Michigan)
1998: 6-1 (6 home games, plus @ Iowa)
1999: 5-4 (7 home games, plus @ Michigan and Kickoff Classic)
2000: 4-2 (6 home games)
2001: 5-2 (6 home games, plus @ Michigan)
2002: 8-0 (8 home games)
2003: 10-2 (8 home games, plus @ Wisconsin, @ Indiana, @ Penn State, @ Michigan)
2004: 6-3 (6 home games, plus @ Northwestern, @ Michigan State, @ Purdue)

I still haven't hit Illinois or Minnesota, but will get to those at some point.

In all, it was nine seasons, 60 consecutive home games (51-9... an .850 winning percentage) and a total of 74 overall, with a 58-16 record (a .784 winning percentage).

Hopefully, this new deal will make me enough money that I can spend a fall (at some point in the indefinite future) driving around watching football at stadiums all over the country. Sadly, that's pretty much all that passes for a long-term goal in my life right now.

There's a football in the air...

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but at my house right now, it's about 70 degrees and just a little overcast. It dropped to the mid-50s or so last night.

Yes, it's the first fall-like week of the year, and I'm about ready to explode. I've found myself humming Better Than Ezra's "This Time Of Year" several times this week (I don't know why... I never really liked them) and counting the seconds to the start of college football.

Around this time, I usually start doing irrational things. For example, last year I plopped down to watch a Buffalo-Eastern Michigan game on some cable access channel. I ended up watching the whole thing (a surprisingly entertaining 37-34 EMU win). I would guess that these two teams probably both ranked below #100 last year, and yet I was engrossed.

This year, my pathetic addiction is taking a different, and even worse form. I'm seriously considering making a 2.5 hour drive up to the town of Mount Pleasant, Michigan next Friday night to watch Central Michigan play Indiana. I mean... I've already figured out directions, when I would have to leave work to make the kickoff (set for 7:30 pm) and if tickets are available (they are).

Frankly, I'm starting to scare myself.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Why would you drive a Honda if you can't show it off?

It's Woodward Dream Cruise weekend here in Detroit. I was all set to go off on another rant about the idiocy of spending an entire weekend driving for miles just for the privledge of sitting in a traffic jam and wasting gas.

Then, I remembered that I had already covered this last year.

So there you go.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

18 days and counting...

It seems like game-by-game predictions are the thing to do these days. Tony did it by picking actual scores, but I'm not that ambitious.

I'm going to go through Ohio State's schedule and give my guess on the chance OSU has to win.

Let's be honest: OSU is not going to be a big underdog in any game, so these will end up getting filed into three categories: Almost a sure win (90% or better), probable win (60-89%), toss-up (59% or less).

September 3 vs. Miami (Ohio): Almost a sure win (90%). Miami is a pretty good team, although they probably won't live up to the level they've reached in recent years. There's always some danger because in-state teams always take the Buckeyes much more seriously than OSU takes them, and there's a definite "look-ahead" possibility here. However, I think the gap in talent is still substantial enough to overcome all but the most serious mental lapses. And if you can't get "up" for your season opener, you've got some issues.

September 10 vs. Texas: Probable win (70%). Texas is big, Texas is good. Unfortunately for Texas, they are breaking in a new running back, and OSU has the defense to contain Vince Young's running and make him beat them through the air. Also, Mack Brown hasn't exactly shown himself to be a spectacular big game coach. Plus, this one is in Columbus and it's at night. We all know the Horseshoe is not the most spectacular atmosphere for crappy opponents (Indiana, San Diego State, etc.). But when it's on... it's on. Big games (Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, etc) get downright nasty. And this one I defy anyone to find a louder, more hostile place for visiting teams to play than Ohio Stadium at night. I don't see this as a blowout, but I think OSU can find a way to put up 20-28 points and hold Texas to something in the teens. I just don't see the Bucks losing this one.

September 17 vs. San Diego State: Almost a sure win (95%). The talent differential is just so great that I don't think the Aztecs can pull off a win. That being said, this is one of the greatest betting opportunities of the season. Assuming OSU comes in off a win over the Horns, they're going to be a huge favorite (20-30 points). This is the classic sandwich game; a letdown from the Texas game, plus a look-ahead to Iowa. This has ugly, sloppy, uninspired crapfest written all over it. I see something along the lines of 23-16.

September 24 vs. Iowa: Probable win (85%). Quick story: a friend of mine spoke with a number of OSU players a week or so ago. He asked which games they were looking forward to most this year, fully expecting them to say Texas (which is getting hyped like no other game in Columbus history). To a man they all named two teams: Iowa and Northwestern. This team got its ass kicked in Iowa City last year, and it is not happy about it. Add in the fact that Iowa has some question marks on the defensive line, and the Hawks haven't won in Columbus since... a long time ago. (I think it's 1991, but I have to dig out my media guide to be sure.)

October 1 Off Week

October 8 at Penn State: Tossup (55%). This game absolutely scares the hell out of me.
1) PSU will be a better team this year than they've been in the recent past.
2) They're pretty damn tough at home. OSU has two wins there since they joined the league (1995, 2003) and four losses (1994, 1997, 1999, 2001). The wins came by a total of four points.
3) OSU has been terrible after "idle" weeks under Tressel. They lost to Northwestern last year and lost to Wisconsin in 2003. They lost to UCLA following their only off week (the weekend after 9/11). The only win came in 2002, and that was against Kent State, with the off week coming between the first and second games.
4) There's an old axiom that you can only get a team really "up" for three games a year. This will not be one of OSU's three games (probably Texas, Iowa, Michigan). This will almost certainly be one of PSU's.
Will the talent advantage be enough for OSU to overcome the crowd, the history, and the Lions' fire? I say probably. Maybe. Sort of. [crosses fingers]

October 15 vs. Michigan State: Probable win (80%). We all know how MSU's season is going to go. They'll finish within a game of 6-5, beat one team they probably shouldn't (Michigan, I'm looking in your direction) and lose to a couple god awful teams. Drew Stanton will look like a Heisman contender, then get hurt twice. If Stanton is hurt in this one, it's 95% certain that OSU will win. MSU doesn't have the horses to win in Columbus.

October 22 at Indiana: Almost a sure win (97%). Basically a home game, and IU is just terrible. I don't think I'll ever understand why they fired Cam Cameron (who was starting to turn things around), then fired Gerry DiNardo so quickly. It's not like anyone's going to walk in there and have that team in the Rose Bowl in two seasons. It'll take 4-5 years, but if Terry Hoeppner can get them back to a consistent 7 or 8-win team (like they were under Mallory) they ought to build a statue of him.

October 29 at Minnesota: Probable win (85%). This one should scare me on a similar level to the Penn State game, but somehow it just doesn't. Until Glen Mason gets this team over the hump-- I'm talking a New Year's Day Bowl game and a 10-11 win season, they're just another Michigan State. Incidentally, for all the love Mason gets for rebuilding crappy programs, he has exactly as many conference championships in his career as Mack Brown: Zero.

November 5 vs. Illinois: Almost a sure win (98%). This will not be a good week to be a frat boy in Champaign.

November 12 vs. Northwestern: Almost a sure win (98%). Revenge + Team imploding this summer + Horseshoe = Blowout.

November 19 at Michigan: Tossup (49%). I have a theory on this series. Unless there's a substantial talent gap that forms between these programs in the near future (not likely) it's going to be back-and-forth for quite a while. In 2003, you could tell that Michigan spent all spring and all summer thinking about how close they came in the Horseshoe. They came out absolutely ready to kill and were the first team to beat OSU soundly in more than two years. That really stuck in the Buckeyes' craw, and they kicked the shit out of Michigan last year. I'm betting that the Wolverines are none too pleased with sharing the Big Ten title and backing into the Rose Bowl, and will come out pissed off this fall.

That being said... Michigan got absolutely sodomized along the lines on both sides of the ball last fall. I know some people have made a big point of how Troy Smith is overrated because his reputation is based on that one game against Michigan. Fair enough.

But I'm not sure there's a Big Ten unit less deserving of its reputation than Michigan's offensive line. Somehow, they're considered a dominating series of blocks of granite. In reality, they're decent on screens and traps, but when they needed to line up and ram it right at people last year, they couldn't do it. And they got absolutely buried in Columbus.

If... if... if the Buckeyes can control the line like that again, Michigan won't win. Will it happen? I don't know. But it could.

If Carr falls to 1-4 against Tressel, heading into Columbus in 2006, there are going to be a whole lot of surly folks in the "shitty pavement state."

Realistically, I think this year's crop of Buckeyes is probably a 9-2 team. If they get a bounce here or there, it could easily end up 10-1 or 11-0. It could also end up 8-3 or 7-4 if there are injuries, bad bounces, etc.

I'd like to see one of the running backs step up, I'd like to see the special teams be consistent, and I'd like to see how Ted Ginn holds up now that everyone in the world is keying on him.

The Rose Bowl is not unrealistic, but in this conference this year, it's faaaaar from a given.

Who are we? The Wildcats! Who are we gonna beat? The Wildcats!

Can someone explain this picture to me?



Why does it look like 70% of the crowd at Michigan Stadium is wearing red?

Also, who the hell thought that halo was a good idea?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Gayest. Thing. Ever.

As I was sitting at work just moments ago, I suddenly heard Kelly Clarkson singing. Very loudly.

Since I don't work at a radio station, and wasn't anticipating seeing Kelly Clarkson today, this caught me off guard.

Where the hell was that coming from?

The answer: a co-worker's cell phone. Oh, by the way, it was a guy.

I don't even know where to begin telling you why that's so troubling. I mean... he had to decide that yes, that stupid "Hazel Eyes" song was the absolute best way to alert him that someone was calling him. Then, he had to actually make the effort of finding that particular song. Worst of all he PAID to have that as his ringtone. I mean... wow.

The whole idea of ringtones seems to be way over the top. I know I'm in the minority, because my ringtone is... gasp... the sound of a phone ringing. But it's easy to pick out across the room because I'm the only one who doesn't have the Macarena or the Baby Elephant Walk screaming in people's ears when someone calls me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mmmm... Cream of wheat...

I was about to spout off on the whole controversy over the radio guy from San Francisco who got canned for busting on certain players (and their native lands) for their pitch selection. But good ol' Pete Fiutak pretty much stole my position before I could write it.





My brain has turned into a bowl of Cream of Wheat trying to figure out when it became derogatory to say someone was from the Caribbean and how, exactly, saying a few Caribbean players are swinging at bad pitches is any worse than when NBA analysts dog European players for being soft on defense. But I digress.


So there you go. Maybe we can contact the White Coaches Association for the answer. Oh, wait...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Two sisters. I'm just watching...

I think there's something wrong with me.

I received two invitations to join fantasy leagues in my e-mail this morning. One seemed infinitely more interesting than the other.

The interesting one was for a Premiership league (British soccer). The other one was for an NFL league.

I think my in-depth insanity for college football has really killed a lot of my interest in the NFL (probably coupled with the total ineptitude that has been the last few years of the New York Giants). Everyone else is counting the days until fantasy football starts... I'm just doing it because I always seem to. There's no way I'm buying Madden this year.

I'm not even happy with my football team's name (Detroit DFLs). At least the soccer name (Gareth Keenan) is mildly amusing.

(Incidentally, the title of the post comes from what was probably the funniest moment in the entire run of The Office on the BBC.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

My boy, we're pilgrims in an unholy land...

Back from the morning junket to Ann Arbor.

Lloyd Carr had a few entertaining moments, all of which are paraphrased (not directly quoted) below:

'Tis better to have gone to the Rose Bowl and lost than never have gone at all. We're going to keep going out there until we win one of the damn things.

(Talking about the hype of kids coming out of high school)
Carr: There are 1,000 high school all-America teams. Multiply that times 11 and you get... what... 1,100?
Media: 11,000
Carr: I never was that good at math.

(Asked about an anonymous Big Ten coach who called Michigan "arrogant and overrated")
It was probably one of those guys who hasn't had any success against Michigan.

(After he talked about goals in a general sense)
Reporter: What are your goals for your defense this year?
Carr: (staring at reporter silently for at least 5-10 seconds... room gets uncomfortable)
Carr: "We'd like to tackle the quarterback."


Some other notes, most of which you probably already know about.

Carr said that nothing would help him sleep at night more that knowing who his center will be. He would like to keep Reuben Riley at guard, but may have to move him to center.

Chad Henne enters this year with better confidence and knowledge. Both Henne and Hart are going to find out that the stresses and pressures on them are only going to rise. They both dealt with them as well as they could have last year.

Scoring is up dramatically now compared to 20 years ago. A good offense needs to be able to score and control the ball.

Carr says the defense has given up too many big plays, and controlling those is a focus this year.

Carr says Michigan quarterbacks have been so successful in getting to the NFL because UM makes good selections on the people they recruit-- smart players who are physically and mentally tough. Also, dealing with the pressures and challenges of being in the spotlight at Michigan prepares for what you'll face in the NFL.

He compared sophomore Jake Long to Steve Hutchinson and Jeff Backus, the only other guys he recalled contributing significantly on the offensive line as redshirt freshmen. He pointed out that both were picked in the first round of the NFL draft, and said that with Long's attitude and work ethic he has a chance to be a great one.

Owie.

I'll be the first person to admit that I'm not in the best shape in the world. It's been a few years since I've played an organized sport (stupid "being a grownup"...), and have since then spent most of my time eating and... eating.

This has apparently now caught up with me.

This weekend, I threw my back out. Like... a lot. We had tickets for a Tigers game yesterday. Not happening.

I spent more or less the last 36 hours lying flat on my back. (So this is what it's like being a sorority girl!) And I'm still walking like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

Today, theoretically, I'm going to Ann Arbor for Michigan's media day, racing back home for a dentist appointment, then speeding to East Lansing for Michigan State's media event. Now, it looks like the Sparties will have to wait, as I go beg a doctor for muscle relaxers or a loaded revolver, whichever will work quicker.

As they say in Chile, "not good times."

Friday, August 05, 2005

You say tomato, I say Ginn...

A recent post and response at MGoBlog got me wondering how the two most electric playmakers in the OSU-Michigan rivalry this season (Steve Breaston and Ted Ginn) really stack up.

I'm going to preface this with four notes:

1) Steve Breaston scares the hell out of me. Getting him back healthy this year should go a long way toward helping Michigan replace Braylon Edwards' play-making.

2) Statistics are not always a truly accurate measure of a player's greatness, but given the alternatives at hand ("Your guy sucks!"... "No, your guy sucks!"... "You're a doody-head!"...) they're the best measure we've got.

3) I decided on the methodology before I looked up the numbers. I think they'll make a compelling case that Ginn has been a superior (i.e. more explosive) player, but I won't change the criteria if they don't. I'm going to compare numbers (yards/yards per touch/touchdowns/touchdowns per touch) for their freshman years, Ginn's freshman year compared to Breaston's two years, and then isolate their results the same way specifically in the OSU-Michigan game.

4) I don't feel like formatting a crap-load of tables, so the numbers might appear a little garbled below. If so, TFB.

Freshman Years
Passing
Breaston (2003): 1-for-1... 36 yards... 1 TD
Ginn (2004): No Passes

Rushing
Breaston (2003): 12 carries... 65 yards... 5.4 ypc... 2 TD
Ginn (2004): 13 carries... 113 yards... 8.7 ypc... 2 TD

Receiving
Breaston (2003): 38 catches... 444 yards... 11.7 ypc... 3 TD
Ginn (2004): 25 catches... 359 yards... 14.4 ypc... 2 TD

Kick Returns
Breaston (2003): 9 returns... 191 yards... 21.2 ypr... 0 TD
Ginn (2004): 2 returns... 40 yards... 20.0 ypr... 0 TD

Punt Returns
Breaston (2003): 45 returns... 619 yards... 13.8 ypr... 2 TD
Ginn (2004): 15 returns... 384 yards... 25.6 ypr... 4 TD

Conclusion: There's really only one category where one guy stands out significantly over the other-- punt returns. Considering that Ginn played basically half a season and tied the conference's career punt return for touchdowns record, I think you've got to give him a slight edge. Incidentally, that Breaston TD pass was a throw-back screen to John Navarre during the comeback win over Minnesota. If you remember the play, it was Navarre who ended up gaining most of the yards with his legs.


Career Numbers
Passing
Breaston (2003): 1-for-1... 36 yards... 1 TD
Ginn (2004): No Passes

Rushing
Breaston (2003-04): 22 carries... 141 yards... 6.4 ypc... 2 TD
Ginn (2004): 13 carries... 113 yards... 8.7 ypc... 2 TD

Receiving
Breaston (2003-04): 72 catches... 735 yards... 10.2 ypc... 6 TD
Ginn (2004): 25 catches... 359 yards... 14.4 ypc... 2 TD

Kick Returns
Breaston (2003-04): 37 returns... 880 yards... 23.8 ypr... 0 TD
Ginn (2004): 2 returns... 40 yards... 20.0 ypr... 0 TD

Punt Returns
Breaston (2003-04): 69 returns... 911 yards... 13.2 ypr... 3 TD
Ginn (2004): 15 returns... 384 yards... 25.6 ypr... 4 TD

Conclusion: Again, Breaston hasn't shown himself to be noticably more explosive in any category, and the only major difference in the "yards per" category comes in the punt return department.


2004 OSU-Michigan game
Rushing
Breaston (2004): 2 rushes... 22 yards... 11.00 ypc... 0 TD
Ginn (2004): No carries

Receiving
Breaston (2004): 4 catches... 17 yards... 0 TDs
Ginn (2004): 5 catches... 87 yards... 0 TDs

Kick Returns
Breaston (2004): 4 returns... 69 yards... 0 TDs
Ginn (2004): No returns

Punt Returns
Breaston (2004): 1 return... 5 yards... 0 TDs
Ginn (2004): 4 returns... 123 yards... 1 TD

Conclusion: Ginn in a runaway, although to be fair, Breaston was dinged up.


Career in OSU-Michigan game
Rushing
Breaston (2003-04): 3 rushes... 25 yards... 8.3 ypc... 1 TD
Ginn (2004): No carries

Receiving
Breaston (2003-04): 9 catches... 40 yards... 0 TDs
Ginn (2004): 5 catches... 87 yards... 0 TDs

Kick Returns
Breaston (2003-04): 6 returns... 118 yards... 0 TDs
Ginn (2004): No returns

Punt Returns
Breaston (2003-04): 7 return... 60 yards... 0 TDs
Ginn (2004): 4 returns... 123 yards... 1 TD

Conclusion: Again, Ginn by a fairly wide margin. You probably remember the Breaston rushing touchdown, a little three-yard sneak off-tackle out of the quarterback position.

I really don't think any Michigan fans can logically complain that Breaston is the superior player and that Ginn is getting unwarranted hype.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

An oldie, but a goodie...

If you haven't seen this article about non-conference football games, you're missing out. A former co-worker who I hadn't talked to in something like eight months actually called me out of the blue because he thought the "smart-ass, dripping smarmy sarcasm" in it sounded like something I would have said/written.

Gee... thanks... I think.

Today, the guy is backing down from his earlier stand. Wuss.

Yes, the general state of non-conference scheduling is pretty pathetic in most leagues, but I don't think that makes the SEC less of a group of sissies.

Know how you'd get better early-season games? Go to a 16-team playoff so one loss doesn't kill your season, and emphasize strength of schedule in the formula.

I'll try to dig up my old proposal and put it on here at some point.

Woohoo! I'm Roseanne Barr!








the Shock Jock

(65% dark, 56% spontaneous, 44% vulgar)

your humor style:
VULGAR | SPONTANEOUS | DARK


Your sense of humor is off-the-cuff and kind of gross. Is it is also sinister, cynical, and vaguely threatening to the purer folks of this world. You probably get off on that. You would cut a greasy fart, then blame it on your mom, and then just shrug when someone pointed out that she's dead.

Yours is hands-down the most outrageous sense of humor; you like things trangressive and hardcore. It's highly likely (a) you have no limits (b) you have no scruples and (c) you have no job. Ironically, it's your type of humor that can make the biggest bucks in show business.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Howard Stern - Adam Sandler - Roseanne Barr
My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
















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You scored higher than 75% on dark





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You scored higher than 87% on spontaneous





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You scored higher than 75% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test


(via Poon)

I cut out the big 3-D looking graph of all the different types of humor because it messed up the formatting of the whole page. If you really care, I ended up with the same result as Poon, so you can see it there.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

We don't need no steenking facts...

Do me a favor and read the first couple pages of this book on Ohio State football history. Two or so should be enough. (Seriously, it's going to be worth your while.)

Done? Okay, now check this out. Our friends at Snopes say "not so fast, my friend."

The speech was actually written a few hours before the game, and posted on the O-Zone.

If you do a Google search for "Tressel speech" (with no quotes), the first three entries all tell you it's not really his speech. Hell, one of the entries is a transcript of a press conference where Tressel himself says it wasn't him. Yet he embellishes the story with details like "he paused for effect", as if he was there.

It sort of makes you wonder how thorough the rest of the fact-checking in the book was.

If this alone doesn't put Joe Menzer into the Dumbass Hall of Fame, it's at least enough to get him elected to the all-star game.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Holy Crap!

The Blue Jackets just signed Adam Foote.

That's definitely big news for that team. It's something that should help quite a big on the back line, but they probably overpaid ($15.5 million over three years) over too long a contract for a guy with a spotty health history.

Still, it looks like Dougie Mac might actually be making a push at the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are... umm... still working on making some sort of tangible improvement to a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1867.

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