Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Week 8 NFL Picks - Part 2

Let's crank out the rest of these picks before we batten down the hatches.

New England by 7 over St. Louis: The Pick - Patriots

"You'd best not be buggerin'
this up Tommy."
This game is being played in London so the one thing we absolutely know is that there are going to be at least five turnovers that will be blamed on playing overseas because the food tastes so funny over there. I have a feeling that pretty boy Brady is going to step-up his game on the international stage. If for no other reason than I'm sure Giselle has told him, "I have a lot of model friends in London (like Rosie Jones), don't fucking embarrass me like you did at the Super Bowl."

Tennessee by 3.5 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Colts

If I was a Colts fan, I would be only mildly concerned that Andrew Luck's quarterback rating is about 30 points lower than RG, III's because that guy's a freak of nature. However, I would be majorly concerned that Luck's quarterback rating is lower than Ryan Tannehill's and the same as Brandon Weedan's when those guys don't even have Reggie Wayne. Wasn't this guy supposed to be pro ready? I know it's only been six game but I really didn't have another angle on this game so why not devote a paragraph to questioning a quarterback that the Ravens would trade Joe Flacco for in a second? With that being said, the Titans stink and the Colts are scrappy enough to keep this one close win or lose.

Green Bay by 14 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Packers

Finally we have what appears to be a definitive lead pipe lock for a blowout with the Packers who have scored 78 points in their last two games on the road against respectable defenses against a Jaguar team playing without M.J. Drew and an injured starting quarterback who is  determined to play this Sunday even when his coaches keep telling him, "don't rush it Blaine . . . take the week off . . . or even the season because you know how tough these left shoulder injuries can be for right-handed quarterbacks."

San Diego by 2.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Chargers

Browns fans need to be especially worried about a strong Phillip Rivers bounce-back performance this Sunday because (a) it would obviously make it more difficult for them to win the game and (b) it might lead Browns management to wonder if Rivers could be had for a couple of high draft picks in an effort to make-up for Mike Holmgren's missing-out on RG, III because he tried to lowball the Rams. Only the Browns, who recently wasted first round picks on Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden, would miss-out on drafting a franchise quarterback because they didn't want to part with their draft picks proving once again that there is "sad irony" and then there is "Browns irony."

So many fond memories
from this MLB season.
Philadelphia by 2.5 over Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons

Reasons no. 12 and 13 that I removed the Falcons from the top of the Power Rankings: (12) Their odds to win the Super Bowl are 9 to 1 (putting them behind the Giants, Bears and Packers in the NFC) and (13) they're giving points to the Eagles who are 50 to 1. Reasons 1 through 11 all have to do with the fact that they lost their last two playoff games by a combined score of 72-23. Fortunately they are playing the NFL's version of the 2012 Boston Red Sox this week.

Detroit by 2 over Seattle: The Pick - Seahawks

The Lions have played six games and Matthew Stafford has thrown five touchdowns and six picks as he makes a push to steal the "worst early round fantasy draft pick" title from early front-runner Chris Johnson. On the other side, you have the Seahawks defense which is third in fewest points allowed and tied for first in fewest touchdown passes against it. If you're picking the Lions here, you're betting that THIS is the game where they work the kinks out of the passing game against one of the best defenses in the league. Um, good luck with that.

N.Y. Jets by 1 over Miami: The Pick - Jets

The Jets have been playing the "no one believes in us" card for years but this season no one actually believes in them and they've been fighting it with some feisty play lately. I don't see Ryan Tannehill getting his first road win in New York, especially with the wind gusting up to 40 mph. Let's hope for Nick Folk and Dan Carpenter's sake, this doesn't come down to a field goal (though it would be pretty cool to see one of those crazy Robbie Gould Soldier Field kicks - Kick Breaking Wind).

Chicago by 7.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Bears

"I got this."
I'm pretty confident that, unless they start making some major adjustments to these lines, you could bet against Cam Newton and the Panthers for the next ten weeks and come out no worse than 7-3. They've played against three good defenses in the Giants, Seahawks and Cowboys and they've come away with 7, 12 and 14 points. The Bears are allowing 13 points per game. That should be plenty for Smokin' Jay.

Pittsburgh by 5 over Washington: The Pick - Redskins

Every time these two teams play I am presented with the great dilemma of either rooting for the team I've hated the most (Steelers) or the team I've hated the longest (Redskins). But not anymore. If you haven't gathered it by now, I'm all in on RG, III to the point that he's actually washed away what was left of 30+ years of pure unadulterated Redskins hatred. I'm not even dreading the sight of burgundy and gold on Christmas morning when my bandwagon jumping nine year old son (the "FGS2") inevitably makes his move.

Kansas City by 2 over Oakland: The Pick - Raiders

That putrid smelling green cloud that used to hover over the NFC West has apparently changed conferences. Between the Raiders buying Carson Palmer for 327 cents on the dollar and the Chiefs getting suckered into trading a first round pick to the Patriots for Matt Cassel and then handing him $62.7M after watching him play one solid NFL season, we may have the two most mismanaged NFL quarterback situations in the same division. (Unless of course you count what's been going on in Arizona, Cleveland, Jacksonville or Tennessee also known as Exhibits A, B, C and D of the contract negotiations opening statement by Joe Flacco's agent).*

N.Y. Giants by 1 over Dallas: The Pick - Cowboys

This is simply a pure pick against conventional thinking. The Giants are riding too high and in the NFC East, no team runs away. This is about the time of the season the Cowboys win three out of four before tanking their playoff chances down the stretch and we get a lot of shots of Jerry Jones standing pensively with his hand on his chin thinking "I wonder if I could get away with putting a whorehouse on the club level if I called it "Landry Lounge."

Denver by 6.5 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

If this is going to be the shootout that everyone thinks, then I'm going with the better offense and that is still the Saints. Peyton Manning's comeback has been impressive, but he couldn't quite go toe-to-toe with Brees before he got hurt so I will gladly take the points.

Sorry Jesse but Eric Decker
is no Marques Colston.
San Francisco by 6.5 over Arizona: The Pick - 49ers

Chuck Norris tried Viagra once. It was on March 5th of this year in San Francisco and here are the details from the resulting 4.0 magnitude earthquake - Chuck Norris Quake Stats. Note the 8.1 km depth. Apparently he was laying on his stomach. (As you can tell, I've run out of things to say about this week's games but you don't really need me to tell you not to bet on John Skelton against the Niners D right? . . . right?).

Last Week: 7-5-1 . . . Season: 47-55-3.

Email the FGR


* If I were Flacco's agent, I would open with a montage of Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel highlights. Then just sit silently while the prospect of finding a replacement free agent quarterback sinks in.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Week 8 NFL Picks - Part 1

I spent last Thursday and Friday with seven guys in one of those scenes that makes you feel like you're in a vodka commercial with P Diddy and Frank Vincent only, instead of Vegas, we were at an old horse farm that someone had had the good sense to turn into an exclusive 36 hole golf complex. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that this is one of those places where you find yourself commenting on how good a bloody mary would taste while you're putting your on your shoes and the next thing you know someone emerges from locker #27 and hands you about the best goddamn bloody mary you've ever tasted. Then when you get to the range, there's another one next to your golf bag . . . being served by an Adriana Lima impersonator in a Waterford crystal goblet monogrammed with your initials.*

"I heard you guys were
from Baltimore so I
wore purple today."
After 36 holes** we dined in a wood paneled room surrounded by shelves full of old books that I'm pretty sure were full of 18th century pornography. After a loaf of bread, french fries and a few other courses, a plate holding a 20 oz. steak and a 3 lb. lobster landed in front of me and I remember thinking a good plot for a horror movie would be where they lock people in a wood paneled room and feed them to death. (Given some time to reflect, I no longer think that would be a good plot for a horror movie). Ten minutes later I solicited a "wrong glass sir" call from the waiter as I tried to dial-up a Big Gulp of Pinot Grigio to flush-out the various arterial sandbags I had just deposited throughout my circulatory system. I think we would've sat there all night but when a member of our crew completely failed in an attempt to hit the seat of his chair from a distance of approximately 14 inches, we knew it was time to go.***

For what I assume was the same reason that 4th grade teachers separate the hyperactive kids on a field trip, we were divided into two separate living quarters. One was fully equipped with the college common area from heaven including a suitably large television along with a fully stocked fridge and bar. Suffice it to say, we all went there where I discovered that I still had about a 12 oz. empty reservoir behind my right kidney and proceeded to fill-it with Bud Lite. At this point, it was about the middle of the third quarter of the Thursday night game and I decided to explore the studio space a bit and found an adjacent room full of plush couches and a roaring fire . . .

. . . when I opened my eyes at 4:00 a.m., I'm not sure what I though first, "where in the hell am I?" or "where in the hell did everybody go?" or "when did I eat a bowl of cat litter?" All of the lights were on and the TV was blaring and then I thought, "where in the hell is the bloody concierge to turn everything off?" I laid there for about a minute contemplating my options: (1) turn everything off and collapse back on the couch for the rest of the night, or (2) head back to my private room overlooking the course. I chose the latter.

"Oh my God how long is
this freakin' driveway?"
Unfortunately my room was on the other side of the damn farm but after another minute of internal debate grounded on the fact that I wasn't sure which direction I had to go to get there, I headed outside where it had gotten distinctly colder and wetter. I climbed into the nearest golf cart, breathed a sigh of relief that it had a key and drove down the long driveway in what had to look like the country club version of Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels' scooter ride to Aspen. By the time I got there, I was thankful that the concierge had gone home for the night because well . . . that would have been a little awkward.

The ending is somewhat anticlimactic. We got up, everyone made it to the course on time, had a few more bloodies, played through some occasionally steady rain before the skies finally opened up after nine holes and said, "take the hint you clowns . . . it's time to go." We lingered in the clubhouse for about an hour having a few more beers and refusing to let go but then the reality of driving home in rainy Friday afternoon Mid-Atlantic traffic set in and we willed ourselves off the property. And with that, golf season in the region is pretty much over. Oh sure, we'll catch some nice days before the end of the year and play some casual rounds but nothing with that kind of camaraderie and flavor. I'm sorry what was that? Palm Beach in December you say? I'm in.  

Minnesota by 6.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

Thanks to the Vikings strong start and the Bucs somewhat explosive offense, this is a much better Thursday night match-up than the NFL deserved when they decided to schedule two teams in prime time that went a combined 7-25 last year.**** Last week I said the Vikings were going to make it to 6-2 before sliding back to mediocrity and I'm sticking with that but these Thursday night games have been getting ugly and they're only going to get uglier as we get deeper into the season and the lack of rest becomes more of an issue. Not to mention, even the uniform colors clash tonight. I like the Vikings in a game only worth watching between innings of the World Series . . . 17-13.


* Not really but I did leave this idea in the club's suggestion box.

** We literally finished in the dark (in more ways than one) by shining the headlights of the golf carts on the final tee box and green. It was just like that scene in M*A*S*H when the power went out and Radar was the hero for coming-up with the idea of using the headlights from the jeeps to light the operating tables. (For the record, in my ongoing attempt to repel any readers under the age of 40, that's my second M*A*S*H reference in two weeks).

*** This was no slight miscalculation where one cheek catches a piece of the seat. This was a complete air ball. It would have been the equivalent of Felix Baumgartner aiming for New Mexico and landing in New Delhi.

- "Tagliabue always said you were greedy."
- "He meant it as a compliment."
**** The next three Thursday night match-ups with last season's combined records are Chiefs v. Chargers (15-17), Colts v. Jags (7-25) and Dolphins v. Bills (12-20). I'm picturing Roger Goodell and NFL scheduling czar, Howard Katz, betting a dollar on whether they can beat the baseball playoffs in the ratings with the crappiest possible game on the schedule (at the expense of the fans of course).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Week 7 NFL Picks

After going a respectable 4-3 on the 1:00 p.m. games (including absolutely nailing the fact that the Raiders were going to drag the Falcons into a monkey cage fight complete with flying feces), the rest of Sunday turned into a 1-4 bloodbath. It actually started earlier than that as the Ravens gave away a sure cover by allowing Tony Romo to turn a 3rd and 27 into a 4th and 10 and then into a first down on the final drive as their secondary introduced a new tackling method called "Breaking Down Your Girlfriend's Door with Your Shoulder" (unfortunately this method doesn't include actually wrapping your arms around anything other than the recently departed ankle of the ball carrier).

But I digress. Back to the bloodbath. As you may have noticed, in an attempt to distract readers from my horrible picks, I've added some Power Rankings in the right-hand column. The hope was that you'd see that I at least knew enough about football to recognize that teams like the Texans, 49ers and Patriots are among the best in the game. (How's that workin' out for you?) Here is how my top ten fared last weekend:

"You know what dad, I think
your plays are dumb."
1. Falcons: Needed a late FG to beat the lowly Raiders.
2. Texans: Blown out at home.
3. Ravens: Tried to give it away but got lucky.
4. 49ers: Humiliated at home.
5. Patriots: Blew a 13 point 4th quarter lead.
6. Bears: Bye week.* 
7. Vikings: I know RG, III is a freak but 38 points?
8. Chargers: Six turnovers by Phillip Rivers.
9. Giants: Showed-up for work early this year.
10. Broncos: Who freakin' knows?

I'm serious. Who freakin' knows? If the Raiders (arguably the worst team in the league) can go into Atlanta (arguably the best team in the league) and take them down to the wire, then what's next, Ben Affleck becoming the greatest director of this generation?

It's time to change things up and see if we can get some momentum going in the right direction so we're going to get all of the picks in early this week.** I'm also taking a flamethrower to the existing Power Rankings and re-ordering them based on how I think the season is going to end starting with the Super Bowl champ and working my way back through the playoffs. At this point I have the Redskins and the Steelers as the last teams out in each conference. More on that and the rest of the rankings as we work our way through the picks.

San Francisco by 7 over Seattle: The Pick - 49ers

Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers basically spent nine months pointing to last Sunday and saying, "that's when we're going to decide who the best is." Then they got trucked. At this point, I see them taking the No. 2 seed in the NFC and then going out in the second round to either the Packers or the Giants who have the kind of defenses that somehow undo the voodoo that Harbaugh has put on Alex Smith. As for this game, the Seahawks formula looks fairly simple. Bet with them at home and against them on the road until proven otherwise.

Buffalo by 3.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Bills

After their overtime win against the Cardinals, Bills safety Jarius Byrd said that head coach Chan Gailey inspired the team by telling them, "you've got to get your respect back." Now I'm not sure that playing Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals is technically a "get your respect back" opportunity but then again, we are talking about the Bills so its all relative.

I just want to thank Bud
Adams for moving his
team to SEC country.
Minnesota by 6 over Arizona: The Pick - Vikings

Every year we have a team come off a horrendous season and race out to a strong start based on a combination of a soft opening schedule and taking a few teams by surprise before they inevitably revert back to the mean. The Vikings are 4-2 and will probably be 6-2 after a win at home against the Cardinals followed by another one against Tampa Bay. Then the clouds start rolling in with three of the next four games being at Seattle, Chicago and Green Bay. With the Vikings' luck, that will likely coincide with Percy Harvin's migraines kicking-in and Adrian Peterson's leg falling off so savor the next two weeks and your 6-2 start Viking fans. Hopefully by then the NHL lockout will be settled.***

Indianapolis by 3 over Cleveland: The Pick - Colts

In the last three weeks, the Browns have played the Ravens tough on the road, jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the Giants, beat the Bengals and then fired Mike Holmgren. Is it possible that after 13 years of being back in the league, they're finally starting to figure it out? Naaahhhh.

Houston by 6 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

Let's shoot in Baltimore. They've
got a new stadium and plenty of
strippers to play the cheerleaders.  
I can tell you who isn't phased by the injuries to Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb and Haloti Ngata . . . Ravens fans. This is the team that went to the AFC Championship Game in Joe Flacco's rookie year with a secondary made-up of extras from The Replacements. I know this may border on blasphemy, but losing Ray Lewis may actually help the run defense (jumping out of the way of a lightning bolt).

Green Bay by 5.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Packers

If the Packers don't get rooked on Monday night and then lose the "Chuckstrong Game," they would've been on a four game winning streak going into Houston and we wouldn't be asking ourselves, "where did that come from?" If we've learned nothing else over the years, it's that quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees eventually rediscover the magic and then look out. So . . . um . . . LOOK OUT!

Dallas by 2.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Cowboys

After their impressive opening win against the Giants, I wrote "I'm a buyer on the Cowboys until they inevitably prove me wrong." I'm willing to forgive them for losses at Baltimore and Seattle and I'll even give them a pass on the Bears' game but if they don't win this one in convincing fashion, I'm out (and so are they for that matter because that would drop them to 2-4 heading into a schedule of Giants, at Atlanta and at Philadelphia). Oh wait, I almost forgot to thank Jason Garrett for not taking the Ravens' head coaching job. As my friend Tommy "The Exclamation Point" would say, "Thanks Jason!!!!"

N.Y. Giants by 6.5 over Washington: The Pick - Redskins

From a gambling standpoint, I'm all-in on RG, III because even on days when the rest of his team lets him down, he's going to be the king of the backdoor cover by continuing to furiously run the two minute drill even though he's down by 13 with 11 seconds on the clock. Combine that with the inevitable letdown game for the Giants plus RG, III's New York debut and this could be a monster win for the Skins followed by another week of Jeff Fisher watching Sam Bradford game tape while softly muttering expletives.

Chiefs - Bye Week
Not a good sign when NFL Films
plans to call your 2012 highlight
package "High School Musical 5."

How does the following exchange not occur in the office of the team president at some point during the preseason?:

Owner: "Guys, its been a tough few years. So what's our plan for getting this franchise competitive again?"

Head Coach: "Well we've got Matty Cassel coming back and we really think this is the year he puts it all together and reminds us why we gave him a $62M contract after one good season with the Patriots."

Owner: "OK fine but if Matt doesn't turn the corner, what's the back-up plan?"

General Manager: "We signed Brady Quinn in March and we're confident that our coaching staff can help him achieve a level of success that he failed to reach in Cleveland and Denver."

Owner: "You're all fired. Get out."

New Orleans by 3 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Saints

The Bucs allowed Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Tony Romo and RG, III to throw for an average of 355 yards (and then Brady Quinn threw for 180 against them which might actually be the most damning stat of all). They've mitigated that by only allowing four touchdown passes. Two problems: (1) their best cornerback was just suspended, and (2) Drew Brees is coming to town. On the other side, you have the sieve that is the Saints defense and that might be an insult to sieves because at least actual sieves are designed to stop large objects from coming through. The Saints defense might better be described as a sewer pipe. Forget the 3 points on this one and take the over on 49.5. This could be the NFL's answer to Baylor v. West Virginia (70-63).

Oakland by 4 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Raiders

In ESPN's defense, it's not like
the guy jumped from the sun.
These two teams are probably going to combine for about three more wins this year so this has huge 2013 draft order implications (not really something you want said about your team in week 7). Having already spent more time analyzing this game than it deserves, I want to take issue with ESPN's top ten plays from last week. At No. 5, they had Felix Baumgartner's 24 mile free fall from the stratosphere. To put that in perspective, at No. 6 they had a great one-handed catch, at No. 5 they had a man break the sound barrier while skydiving and at No. 4 they had an even better one-handed catch. Maybe if Felix had made a one-handed catch before he landed, he could have been as high as No. 3.

New England by 10.5 over the N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Patriots

When I reworked the Power Rankings, one thing became very clear. From top to bottom, the AFC stinks. Who's the best team? The Texans with wins over the Jags, Titans and Dolphins? The Ravens and their defense that couldn't close-out wins before they lost Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb? The decaying Steelers? Any team from the West? (The implication is that the answer to all of those questions is "no"). What that leaves (and it pains me to say it) is the freakin' Patriots. Sure they're off to a rough start but the only tough games left on their schedule are at home against the Texans and the 49ers while the Ravens still have to go to Houston, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington with home games against the Giants, Broncos and Steelers.**** (I need a drink).

Pittsburgh by 2.5 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Steelers

I'm going to try to ignore the fact that the Steelers have already lost to the Titans and the Raiders but it's not going to be easy because every time I think of it I start smiling like one of those people who always look like they're smiling even when they're sad. Speaking of sad people, is anyone else concerned that the election is going to be decided by Bengals and Browns fans?****

Chicago by 5.5 over Detroit: The Pick - Bears

"I hear you need some help
cracking the Cover 2."
Like many of the league's more successful teams, the Lions have gone all-in on a pass heavy offense. Two problems with that this week: (1) the Bears defense has allowed just 5 touchdown passes while leading the league with 13 interceptions, and (2) the answer to the question, "how many touchdown passes has Matthew Stafford thrown this year?" is the same as the answer to "Roman Numeral 5, Section 3, Part Two of Subset D" . . . Four???. Might be time to bring in Kurt Vonnegut.

Last Week: 6-9 . . . Season: 40-50-2.


* Jay Cutler reportedly spent the bye week being generally annoyed by everyone and everything and was overheard on multiple occasions saying, "I'm so bored. There's nothing to do. This sucks."

** This really has less to do with changing the momentum and more to do with the fact that I'm playing golf at a very fancy place on Thursday and Friday and I don't want to be wondering whether Christian Ponder can cover a six point spread while my caddie and I are reading putts. (Question for the caddies out there - is there an appropriate tip increase per beer that I stash in my bag at the start of each 9 . . . kind of a sherpa fee?).

*** The NHL had cancelled 22 games through Sunday in case you were wondering what happened to Barry Melrose.

**** Regardless of how it turns out, Ravens fans are going to be catatonic by Christmas morning after a six week stretch of games that includes two against the Steelers, both Manning brothers and the Redskins whose fans we've been telling to go get their shine box for the last four years . . . only now they're back and RG, III is strumming the opening chords to Donovan's Atlantis on his guitar (geez, is there anything that guy can't do and, on a related note, was Matin Scorsese sitting around listening to some mellow Donovan one day and thought "hey, that would be a great song to play over a guy getting pistol-whipped"? I mean how do you get from here - Atlantis . . . to here - Bill Batts?).  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Week 6 NFL Picks - Part 2

Let's pick-up where we left-off with a few more "reader" emails before we get to the picks:

Dear FGR,
"Please tell me that someone has a
column idea that is not about how
the Orioles need a clean-up hitter."

I am the sports editor for a decaying newspaper and a big believer in staying the course to get through tough times which is why I refuse to bring in any new blood and will instead continue to rely on the same three or four columnists who make the scouts in Moneyball look like the guys who invented Twitter.* How do you see this working out?

 - Lou Grant, Minneapolis, Minnesota

FGR: I see you going the way of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans which is now only published three days a week. It's a shame really because then I would have to find a new source for two-day old NBA box scores.

Dear FGR,

"Hey, watch the Hawaiian shirt."
I think the game of golf in general needs to loosen-up so I like to go to tournaments and yell a lot. I also believe that I am adding value for the fan watching at home. It's just my way of being part of the show on the weekends before I go back to my parent's basement to play X-Box with my friends (well not exactly "with" them as they are playing remotely from their parents' basements). My question is do you think the PGA Tour is ever going to ruin this experience for all of us by making a rule against it?

- - Mel Sharples, Phoenix, Arizona

FGR: I think you're safe for now Mel so keep yelling but if you're going to do it, could you at least get a little creative? A few suggestions: (1) follow Adam Scott all day and every time he hits a shot shout, "YOU'RE THE MAN STEVIE!" (2) give us a "HEY SMAILS . . . WHILE WE'RE YOUNG" when Ben Crane is addressing the ball, and (3) the next time Tiger wears his white nursing shoes and misreads a putt, yell "HOT LIPS YOU INCREDIBLE NINCOMPOOP THAT PUTT BREAKS LEFT."**

Dear FGR,
Coach Reeves and Norman Dale
taught me everything I know.

If you could teach one thing to the children of the world, what would it be?

- - Ken Reeves, South Central Los Angeles

FGR: It would be that if you make a pass in basketball, lacrosse or soccer and two seconds later you're still standing in the same spot, you might as well be playing for the other team . . . Good God man MOVE!!! (Sorry . . . tough loss in 9 year old soccer yesterday).


Dear FGR,

I handle all of the programming for the Sirius stations devoted to classic rock and I was thinking about playing more George Thorogood and Steve Miller Band . . . especially during drive time. What do you think?

- - Andy Travis, Cincinnati, Ohio

FGR: Listen Andy, I like Steve Miller and George Thorogood just as much as the next 17 year old kid sitting on a beach drinking wine coolers in 1985 but I think you might be doing that at the expense of a lot of good classic rock that doesn't rely on gimmicks like going "hoot, hoot" or stuttering the word "bbbbbad."*** And while you're at it, when you play Van Halen and Rush, no one is going to complain if you weight it a little more towards Fair Warning and Moving Pictures. (If you came of age in the 80's and the opening of this doesn't make you want to jump off of something and do a split, you might want to hold a mirror under your nose to and check for fog - Unchained).

"Better start hydrating."

Dear FGR,

I'm the guy who invented speed and traffic light cameras. Have I solidified my place in hell or is there still hope for me?

- - Michael Woodman, Brooklyn, New York

FGR: Unless you've figured out a way to grow corn in a desert, I don't like your chances.


On to the picks. The trend line keeps inching upward with a .500 effort last week. We can build on this:

Cincinnati by 2.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Bengals

This is the only NFL match-up where the total viewers of one state outnumber those from the rest of the entire country. George Carlin used to do a bit about people who sound really interesting for the first few minutes before it dawns on you that, "wait a minute, this guy's an asshole." That's how a I feel about the Bengals. They made the playoffs last year, have a respectable quarterback and one of the league's most dangerous players in A.J. Green but, after a few games, you say, "wait a minute, this team sucks." With that being said, they're still at least a field goal better than the Browns.

N.Y. Jets by 3.5 over Indianapolis: The Pick - Jets

Two teams traveling on different escalators. Don't you get the feeling that the Jets are headed for 6-10 and then about three years of nuclear winter while they try to rebuild this mess they've created? With that being said, they're still good enough to win this game at home. (And with THAT being said, I will stop saying "with that being said").

Atlanta by 9.5 over Oakland: The Pick - Raiders

It could be an otherwise
ugly afternoon in the
Georgia Dome.
This has the feel of one of those games where Sebastian Janakowski boots five field goals, the Raiders drag the other team down to their level and keep it within a touchdown but lose when they have 12 men on the field after holding the Falcons on 3rd and 4 with two minutes left in the game.

Tampa Bay by 4 over Kansas City: The Pick - Bucs

I couldn't agree more with everything Eric Winston said in his tirade after some members of the home crowd cheered when Matt Cassel left the game with an injury last week. Unfortunately, we witnessed the same thing here in Baltimore a few years ago when Kyle Boller went down under similar circumstances. With that being said, when your quarterback is playing so badly that your fans cheer when he gets hurt, isn't that a sign that maybe you left him in a little too long? Just sayin'.

Baltimore by 3 over Dallas: The Pick - Ravens

Ed Reed's three favorite movies of 2012 are reportedly Kung Fu Hustle, Looper and the film from the Cowboys-Bears Monday night game. I will admit that Romo scares me a little but two of the toughest places to play on the road are Baltimore and Seattle and the Cowboys already dropped a stinker in the Emerald City. Someone might want to tell Tony that they guy who nicknamed Baltimore "Charm City" was being sarcastic.

Philadelphia by 3.5 over Detroit: The Pick - Lions

A battle between two teams that no one believes in (and rightfully so). Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford have been turning the ball over like they spent the off-season reading Jake Dellhomme's Interceptions for Dummies. Either one of these teams could win by two touchdowns and I wouldn't be surprised so I'm taking the points. (In other words, if you're looking for some gambling insight on this game, this might not be the place).

Miami by 4.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Dolphins

So tell us how you really feel
about the Rams' playoff chances.
Can we all just settle down about the NFC West being the best division in the NFL until the Rams, Cardinals or Seahawks beats a decent team outside of the division? All we know at this point after the Cardinals and Seahawks blew-out the Eagles and Cowboys is that the NFC West may be better from top to bottom than the NFC East and all that does is make me think of Joakim Phoenix's "whoop tee do" face when Russell Crowe started twirling his sword in the coliseum.

New England by 3.5 over Seattle: The Pick - Patriots

For some reason Vegas is not showing a lot of love for the Patriots this year despite the fact that they've covered in 4 out of 5 games including three double digit wins. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have only scored more than 16 points once. Add the fact that Pete Carroll has to annoy the shit out of Bill Belichik and this looks like another double digit win for the Pats.

Arizona by 4 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills

Betting on a game pitting Kevin Kolb against Ryan Fitzpatrick is like betting on two drunks in a tricycle race (both involved a lot of weaving and falling down). I'm going with the kid from Harvard who isn't getting sacked nine times per game because maybe he was smart enough to take one of those pills from Revenge of the Nerds that negates the effects of the alcohol.

Washington by 2 over Minnesota: The Pick - Vikings

From the first week of the season when we saw that the Redskins' game plan called for RG, III to be used as a crash test dummy on about 10% of the plays, David Aldridge has been going on the Tony Kornheiser Show and predicting that he wouldn't make it past week 5. He was pretty close as RG, III took a shot to the head last week that knocked him out in the third quarter. Very tempting to take the points here because this game is probably going to be decided by 4 or less but I'm going with the better team.

San Francisco by 6.5 over the N.Y. Giants: The Pick - 49ers

Part of me wants to go with the Giants here because the Niners have been making a name for themselves pounding tomato cans like the Jet and the Bills but don't underestimate the revenge factor from last year's NFC Championship game. Look for Jim Harbaugh to be in full "Jim Harbaugh Mode" for the national audience today just so we are all very clear about how hard he is coaching.

Houston by 3.5 over Green Bay: The Pick - Texans

I'm guessing the irony of these ads
is lost on Mike McCarthy this year.
If the rest of the league has clearly found something to stymie Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense, then the third best scoring defense has to be in on the secret right? Maybe Greg Jennings, who is out again this week, is more critical than we thought. Whatever it is, the Pack better get it straight quick because they're about to be 2-4.

San Diego by 1 over Denver: The Pick - Broncos

The Chargers defense has shut down three bad quarterbacks (Palmer, Locker and Cassel) and been worked by two good ones (Ryan and Brees). Despite all of the chatter about his lack of arm strength, Peyton Manning is still 4th in the league in touchdown passes and yards so he falls into that latter category. This has the feel of one of those Monday night shootouts that ultimately decides every fantasy game involving Manning, Rivers, D. Thomas, Decker, Floyd and Meacham. I sure hope so because I'm one more fantasy football loss from becoming the guy everyone starts looking forward to on the schedule and I've never been that guy before . . . and I don't like it.

Last week: 7-7 . . . Season: 34-41-2


* If you didn't know these were fake emails before, that just gave it away because no one at the newspaper I'm referring to would get that joke much less write it.

** One of the greatest lines from M*A*S*H (the movie not the T.V. show) which is one of the most under appreciated comedies of all time. All ten minutes of this clip are well worth watching but if you want to get to the Hot Lips line delivered by Col. Henry Blake in hilariously dismissive fashion, go to about the 7:50 mark. You won't be disappointed. (M*A*S*H Football Scene).

*** Listening to some of some the "classic" rock bands they play on Sirius makes you realize that Dirk Diggler might have been closer to a hit with The Touch than we realized and yes, I'm looking at you Triumph and April Wine (The Touch . . . "you think the base is taking away from the vocal?").

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Week 6 NFL Picks - Part 1

As noted in last week's picks, I just spent three days in Orlando earning so much in credit card cash back rewards that I think I've covered next month's mortgage payment. It was like eating and drinking at an NFL game that lasted 72 hours. By the time we got back to Baltimore, all I had left to give the shuttle bus driver for a tip were my shoes. Fortunately, we were about the same size.

The other byproduct of the trip was that I had no time to write because all of my evenings were spent planning the next day's assault on the amusement parks like we were squaring off against Erwin Rommel in the North African campaign.* So we're going to try something I started working on a few months ago for just such an emergency. In my ongoing effort to rip-off every column gimmick from my favorite sportswriters, I am going to take a crack at a Bill Simmons-esque mailbag. Just like the Simmons mailbags, these are actual emails from actual readers.**

Dear FGR,

My wife and I have a two year old son and I was thinking of building a sandbox for him in our backyard. Is this a good idea?

"Sandboat"?!? They should
have called it "Shitboat"!
- - Larry Dallas, Santa Monica, California

FGR: The sandbox is not a good idea it's a GREAT idea. Believe me, you have never felt the true weight of something until you've carried 200 pounds of sand. Once you build and fill-it, your son will love it . . . for a week and then it will become the outhouse for the neighborhood cats. Eight years later you will finally decide to take a sledgehammer to it but only after you've emptied it and discovered that 200 pounds of eight year old sand is harder to get rid of than weapons-grade plutonium. Be sure to take a lot of pictures that first week.

Dear FGR,

I had to stop watching Dexter after my third consecutive nightmare featuring Edward James Almos and his creepy apprentice and I refuse to jump-on the CSI bandwagon. Is there another good detective show out there for me?

- - Stanley Wojciehowicz, Greenwich Village, New York

For the last time Detective Reese I
confess. Here's the murder weapon.
Now would you please cuff me?
Check-out Life starring Damian Lewis who is better in this than he is in Homeland. It aired on NBC from 2007 - 2009 before they inexplicably cancelled it.*** (If Showtime had gotten its hands on it first, we'd still be watching it). The basic gist of it is that Lewis' character is a former cop who is sentenced to life for murders he didn't commit. The show starts soon after his release from prison once he is exonerated and wins a hefty settlement for wrongful prosecution. (Yes the premise is a little thin but you get past it). By the time he gets out of jail, he's a Zen wise-ass/bad-ass detective. Then to spice it up,  he's partnered with Sarah Shahi who pushes the envelope every week in the "I'm almost buying that a police detective would actually wear that to work" department. So it's got that going for it . . . which is nice.

Email the FGR

We'll continue with this theme for the rest of this week's picks tomorrow (or Saturday but definitely not later than Sunday) but for now, let's deal with the Thursday night game which, for those of us dedicated to picking every game of the season, has become a euphemism for "big pain in my ass."

Pittsburgh by 6 over Tennessee: The Pick - Steelers

I would normally be reluctant to pick a team giving 6 points that just scored a measly 16 coming out of their bye week unless they happened to be playing the Titans who surrendered 30 points to the Viking and, in the process, actually lowered their points per game allowed to 36.2. A more entertaining wager would be Steelers' points versus Chris Johnson rushing yards. In a related note, Chris Johnson (my first round draft pick) just got traded for the second time in my fantasy league. It's a six player deal in which he is the fifth best player involved.  


* The desert combat reference is probably not far off considering how you feel after spending a hot day in an amusement park. At the end of the first day at Legoland, the FGW and I had the following exchange:

FGW: "Do you think that pirate ship is made out of Lego?"

Me: "Right now I think your breath is made out of Lego."

Thank God she laughed because we still had two days to go. We are now up to reason no. 3,789 why I believe the FGW was put on this Earth two months after me to balance out my Karmic existence.

** If you count me as a "reader."

*** I'm sure they cancelled it because not enough people watched it. I'm also sure not enough people watched it because they called it "Life" which would have been like calling The Sopranos "Crime" or calling ER "Sick." 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Week 5 NFL Picks - Part 2

This edition of the FGR's weekly NFL picks is dedicated to Mike Preston. Who is Mike Preston you ask? Well I'll tell you. Mike Preston is a sportswriter for the Baltimore Sun and he is one of the inspirations for the creation of the FGR. But he's not an inspiration in the same sense that Bill Simmons is an inspiration or David Sedaris is an inspiration. Mike Preston is an inspiration for the FGR in the same way that third degree burn was the inspiration for the oven mitt and jock itch was the inspiration for Tenactin.

Little known fact: Gene's nickname
in college was "Jelly Bean" due to his
love of chocolate covered raisins.
Instead of critiquing Mr. Preston's work, I'm just going to quote it and let you decide for yourself (and then I'll probably critique it). Here is what he wrote last Friday after the Ravens played the first game of the season after the return of the regular referees. You tell me if this is a guy with his finger on the pulse. He wrote, "the NFL Network made too big of a deal about the regular officials returning Thursday night." OK I can't help myself, I have to cut-in there. Too big a deal? The NFL referee debacle may ultimately be the biggest sports story of 2012. Unless the NFL Network completely preempted the game for A Day in the Life of Gene Steratore, I'm not sure they could have made too big a deal about the return of the regular refs. Did Preston completely miss the Packers-Seahawks controversy? (Actually, as a Baltimore Sun sportswriter, he may have).

Let's continue with the quote. "Did we really need to see them in street clothes coming into the stadium? Did we really need to see [Ray] Lewis, who never met a camera he didn't like, hugging them?" Um . . . yes we did. Like it or not, in the moments leading-up to the kickoff of that game, the refs were the story. And if you're the NFL Network telling that story and you get the opportunity to display an image of a first ballot hall of famer hugging one of the officials, you do it. (Unless you're the Baltimore Sun in which case you would be scanning the bleachers for a shot of a guy who played special teams for the '56 Colts).

And in closing, "[o]fficials should never be bigger than the game or the players. On Thursday night, they were bigger than life, thanks to the NFL Network." Hey Mike, I think the whole point of the NFL Network's focus on the return of the regular officials was that the replacement refs were the dominant story of the first three weeks of the season and were therefore bigger than the game and the players. So while your conclusion is 100% accurate, your whole point is 100% asinine but thanks for reminding me why I only get home delivery on the weekends so I can read my kids The Peanuts and Garfield (I love that smarmy cat).

"I've counted to infinity . . . twice."
Atlanta by 3 over Washington: The Pick - Falcons

With RG, III, we may be verging on a player about whom we can start saying things like, "his right hand is the only hand that beats a Royal Flush" and "the quickest way to a man's heart is with RG, III's fist" and "when RG, III falls out of a boat, he doesn't get wet, the water gets RG, III." Unfortunately for the Redskins, he only plays offense (for now).

Pittsburgh by 3.5 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Steelers

I initially had the Eagles in this spot based on the theory that their win over the Giants means that they're good and the Steelers loss to the Raiders means that they're bad but I don't actually believe either of those to be true. The Steelers have the one characteristic that every fan of every sport wishes their favorite team had. You can't count them out until the DNA tests AND the dental records come back with an identical match. (God I hate those guys).

Green Bay by 7 over Indy: The Pick - Packers

Bill Simmons made a good point when he noted that many were quick to knock Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense after weak outings against the defenses of the Giants (on a Super Bowl run), the 49ers (maybe the best in the league), the Bears (no slouch themselves) and the Seahawks on the road (in the game where the ineptitude of the replacement refs crescendoed). Then again, I'm not sure we can use the Saints' Big 12 Conference defensive scheme as much of a barometer either but the Colts aren't much better.

N.Y. Giants by 10 over Cleveland: The Pick - Browns

No you're right, you do deserve
more respect than that.
I think we all know how this one is going to play out. The Giants build a big lead going into the 4th, Eli throws a loose pick and Brandon "Backdoor Cover" Weeden swoops in for the kill. I may ultimately owe Weeden an apology. Of all of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round over the past three years who are destined to be second-rate (Ponder, Locker, Gabbert and Bradford), he may ultimately prove to be the best (I think I just invented something called the "Cleveland compliment").

Minnesota by 5.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Vikings

How's that for a segue? We almost had a Ponder-Locker match-up this weekend but it looks like Locker will be too banged-up to go which means it's time to wheel Matt Hassleback's corpse back onto the field and watch him try to overcome the 37+ point hole the Titans defense is digging every week. At least Chris Johnson finally stepped-up last week . . . right after I traded him for seventy-five cents on the dollar.

Cincinnati by 4.5 over Miami: The Pick - Bengals

A match-up of two big variable teams. The Bengals appear to be developing into an offensive machine with absolutely no defense and who knows what in the hell the Dolphins are? I'm not going to give them any credit for their effort against the Cardinals after what happened on Thursday night. Keeping it close against the Cardinals on the road was cancelled out by allowing Kevin Kolb to come back and beat them. When you let Kolb throw a 15 yard touchdown pass to tie on 4th and 10 with 22 seconds left, you need to go back and reevaluate everything, right down to the brand of toilet paper in the locker room.

Judging from the background, this
picture was taken in the 4th quarter
of that 2011 playoff game.
Baltimore by 5.5 over Kansas City: The Pick - Ravens

We saw this game in the 2011 playoffs and learned that, if Matt Cassell is a deer in the headlights, the Ravens' defense is an 18-wheeler with faulty breaks. The only reason you go the other way on this one is if you have this pegged as one of Joe Flacco's three road game clunkers which it certainly could be.

Carolina by 3 over Seattle: The Pick - Panthers

In 1939, Winston Churchill* conveyed the difficulty of forecasting the actions of Russia by describing it as "a riddle, wrapped inside a mystery, inside an enigma." By the end of the 2012 season, we're going to be saying the same thing about trying to pick Panthers' games. When in doubt, pick against the Seahawks on the road.

Chicago by 5.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Bears

The winner of the "Line I Don't Get" of the week award. I know Jay Cutler is about as reliable as a meth chef but he's only going to need to put up 17 points to cover this number.

Needed something to balance
out the Dawg Pound picture.
New England by 6.5 over Denver: The Pick - Patriots

It's been a few years but I seem to recall Peyton Manning never being able to win in New England when he was surrounded by good Colts teams. His current cast is very suspect and the Pas are still playing pissed-off from getting jobbed in Baltimore (yes I admit it and I don't care . . . suck it Belichick . . . suck it!).

San Francisco by 9 over Buffalo: The Pick - 49ers

This is a big number for a team with offensive limitations (which could be Alex Smith's nickname) against a team that can at least be described as competent. And I'm sure "competent" is exactly what the Bills were gunning for when they went out and spent a zillion dollars rebuilding their defense in the offseason only to watch Tom Brady mock it last Sunday.

New Orleans by 3.5 over San Diego: The Pick - Saints

The formula of picking against the Cardinals until they lost because they were so overdue worked so well this week that I'm going to apply it in reverse to the Saints who actually showed some signs of life in Green Bay last Sunday. In an unrelated story, this game features the starting quarterback from each of my fantasy football teams, one of whom is absolutely killing me. I probably should have taken notice that the room would always go silent when I was saying crazy shit like, "Phillip Rivers is going to be a steal in the 5th round" which he actually would have been . . . as a back-up.

Houston by 7.5 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Texans
"And these wristbands and
my Super Bowl ring . . .
and that's all I need."

So the fall of Santonio Holmes appears to have been completed on a play where he collapsed to the ground untouched and, in the process, tossed the ball to the opposing cornerback who took it the other way for a touchdown. But that's life sometimes. One day you're making catches to win the Super Bowl before complaining about no bamboo umbrellas in your drink and snails on your wife's plate, and the next you're getting carted-off the field after handing the other team a touchdown in a 34-0 loss. I guess it could be worse. He could be Mark Sanchez getting ready to play at home on Monday night where the whole country will get to hear the chants . . . "TEEEEEEBOW . . . . TEEEEEEBOW!"

Last Week: 7-8 . . . . Season: 27-34-2

And now, I'm off to Disney World. (Seriously . . . pray for me).


* I must admit that I'm feeling pretty good about a column where I quote Winston Churchill, Chuck Norris and Mike Preston.

Email the FGR

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Week 5 NFL Picks - Part 1

It was another rough week at 7-8 but at least I'm trending in the right direction as that's my best performance so far this year (baby steps). I am taking some solace in the fact that Ron Jaworski, a former NFL quarterback who studies game tape all day and then picks games on the Tony Kornheiser Show, is 7-13. On the the other hand, the show also has a monkey from the National Zoo named Reginald pick three games a week and he's 10-2. So I'm ahead of a Polish quarterback from upstate New York but getting killed by a simian in captivity. Seems about right.

I'm getting very close to going into full Constanza mode by thoroughly analyzing my picks and then doing the opposite but we're going to stick with the "formula" for one more week.*

The Cards cheerleaders deserve
credit for distracting the players
from the guy under center.
Arizona by 1.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Rams

I have absolutely no faith in Sam Bradford and the Rams. With that being said, we've reached the point of their run where I'm going to keep picking against the Cardinals until they lose because this simply can't continue. Five of their last thirteen games have gone to overtime and they've won them all. Sounds like the definition of "borrowed time" to me. Sooner or later the team is going to snap-out of this dream state and say, "holy shit, when did Kevin Kolb become our quarterback again?" That will be the beginning of the end.


* The "formula" works something like this: I write down all of the games with the spreads and in the split second before I move onto the next game, I make my pick based on a snap judgment. Then I go back later and attempt to justify my decision with some arbitrary stat or observation from past weeks. If you doubt this method based on its lack of scientific analysis, I would refer you back to the case of Jaws versus the monkey.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Ryder Cup Post Mortem

Let's pick this up where I left off at the end of last week's Ryder Cup Preview with arguably my most important golf match of the year.* My partner and I had won four matches and advanced to the semifinals of a sixty-four team tournament that began in May. Up to that point, the closest one had gone to 18 with us one up but we got it done without much drama. On this day, however, it became clear early that we were in for a dogfight because neither team was giving anything away and we made the turn all square.

Fast forward to the 17th hole (because frankly 15 and 16 are too painful to recount). We were two down after losing the last two and my partner stuck it tight on a par-3 for a birdie to get us back to one down. We crushed our drives on 18 and I was absolutely convinced that we were going to win in extra holes. Then we both hit our second shots inside eight feet. Our opponents both hit the green and subsequently burned the edges with their birdie putts leaving us with two VERY makeable chances to extend the match. Then my partner missed his putt. Then I missed my putt. And it was over. Thanks for playing but get the hell off the stage.

I appreciate the effort . . . but I just
can't stop thinking about that putt.
The walk from our 18th green to the clubhouse is ridiculously long, probably about 400 yards. That day it felt like miles. I'll never forget the agonizing silence as neither one of us could speak and, out of respect, our opponents chose not to. Some people will tell you that a loss like that builds character. The problem is that at my age, the construction of my character is pretty much finished and it is what it is.** The only thing a loss like that is good for is if you ever find yourself needing an image to suppress a random boner.

So with that experience fresh in my past, I'm having a hard time piling-on guys like Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk for their performances at the Ryder Cup because I can't begin to imagine what they must be feeling. (I hope they took all of the laces out of Furyk's golf shoes). So instead let's focus on some of the decisions made by the man with the title fit for a 70's disc jockey or a really unimaginative porn star, Captain Love.

From the day he announced his captain's picks, this had the potential to be a less egregious repeat of the 1995 fiasco when Lanny Wadkins picked Curtis Strange and then watched him go 0-3 including a devastating loss to Nick Faldo in the singles where Strange bogeyed the last three holes to lose one down. (Strange was six years removed from his last win on tour and was 49th on the money list that year). Furyk was by no means as big a stretch as Strange based on his credentials and current playing ability but, in light of his having given away the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational within the past few months, I'm not sure he's the guy we wanted playing 17 and 18 with the Cup hanging in the balance. Captain Love's decision to put him on the team under those conditions was suspect enough by why would you have him in a position where his match would only matter if something had gone terribly wrong and the Cup was on the line? That would have been like the partners at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce sending Lane out to close an airline account knowing how close he had just come to ending it all when the Jaguar wouldn't start.***

"No pressure Jim but the
Cup is riding on this."
About midway through Sunday when the horizon was beginning to tilt but before the deck chairs started sliding, Captain Love was interviewed and said that when he set the line-up, he figured that Jason Dufner (9th in the order) would probably be the guy to get the winning point. This plan was contingent on the U.S. team splitting half the points in the first eight matches. The problem with that logic was that everyone knew that Europe was going to front-load with the match-play Murderers Row of Donald, Poulter, McIlroy and Rose because they had no other choice.

So knowing that, why would Captain Love try to match strength against strength? His hottest players coming into Sunday were Bradley, Mickelson, Simpson, Dufner and the two Johnsons.**** He wasted three of those guys against McIlroy, Poulter and Rose. Why not lead with Stricker who was 0-3 at that point, Furyk (see above) and Snedeker (Ryder Cup rookie) and see if you can steal a couple of half points? Then if things start poorly, leave icemen like Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley to clean-up the mess. I actually think he had Tiger in the 12th spot to catch that last point if necessary (and there is no doubt in my mind that he would have won 18) but by then it was too late.

- "You got him?"
- "Yeah, I got him."
- "Take him."
And don't get me started on sitting Bradley for the Saturday afternoon matches while putting out golf's version of a flat soda in Woods and Stricker. I get that Mickelson didn't want to play but then shake things up and put Bradley with Woods. There is no way that (a) Bradley wanted to sit out that match or (b) he and Woods wouldn't have found a way to beat or halve Donald and Garcia in front of a wired and wasted crowd. At that point, Bradley was the surest thing in Chicago since George Stone.

So Europe has won four of the last five including this year's heartbreaker and two 18.5 to 9.5 blowouts in 2004 and 2006. What do we do now? Hey I've got an idea, let's take a look at our roster from the last time we won in 2008 and see what we can learn from it. That team had six guys who had never played in the Ryder Cup (Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley, J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Ben Curtis and Steve Stricker). Kim, Weekley, Holmes, Mahan and Curtis combined to win 12.5 points and went 4-1 in their singles matches. (Steve Stricker halved his singles match for his only half point . . . hmmm). Two of the five players this year who managed to win 3 points for the U.S. were rookies - Bradley and Dufner. To put it bluntly, what that tells me is that "Ryder Cup experience" don't mean shit so stop using it as a criteria for the captain's picks.

"That sure sounds like fortune
cookie wisdom to me FGR."
And stop picking "steady" guys because "steady" in match-play leaves you one down and telling Jimmy Roberts that you played well but it wasn't enough. Besides, Dufner, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar qualified for the team so we already had plenty of "steady" guys. We needed more birdie machines like Bo Van Pelt and Robert Garrigus who are currently 7th and 10th on tour in birdie average (Jim Furyk is 134th). It's basically the Moneyball argument applied to golf. Where runs = wins in baseball . . . birdies = wins in the Ryder Cup. Let's hope captain David Toms figures that out in 2014 because I don't know about you America . . . but I'm sick of losing.

If you have a comment, question, criticism or favorite recipe, you can reach the FGR here - Email the FGR.


* You've got to love the use of "arguably" there. As if I'm expecting someone to email me and say, "but what about that nine hole member-guest match you played in South Carolina back in June?" Though that emailer would make a good point because there was a lot riding on that match too.

** Some would say it's about the equivalent of a three bedroom split level with a detached carport, an above-ground pool and a leaky basement.

*** My prediction that Lane Pryce would end last season either dead or in prison was one of the only ones I've gotten right this year.

**** Captain Love and the Two Johnsons . . . now we might be on to something.