Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Member-Member Rundown

Last weekend I played the final truly meaningful event* of the FGR's 2013 golf season - the Blah Blah Country Club (real name withheld) 2013 Gentlemen's Member-Member Tournament and by now you know that if I'm bothering to write about it, then it either turned out really well or it was a Jaguarian failure (we can at least get a new word out of this Jacksonville debacle). Let me preface the following account by stating that I entered this thing with less mojo than Rocky had in his first fight with Clubber Lang. I stood on the tee as a 5 handicap who had not broken 80 in almost ten weeks and what was even more troubling was that I didn't really care. My attitude towards the game could be summed up by the scene in Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I when the two stoned Roman soldiers had the following exchange:
Who's up for some golf . . . YAYYY!!!

Soldier A: "Do you care if it falls?"

Soldier B: "What?"

Soldier A: "The Roman Empire."

Soldier B: "Fuck it."

Just replace the word "falls" with "rises" and the words "Roman Empire" with "your handicap" and I was Soldier B. So of course I hit my opening tee shot to three feet for a birdie and that may have been the whole tournament right there. My psyche was so fragile that a tee shot in the bunker followed by a ho-hum bogey may have resulted in a "check please" situation. But lucky for me (and my future relationship with my partner), it didn't go that way. In fact, over the five nine-hole matches** we played, I was two under on the opening holes with two birdies and three pars including a nice little 20 foot curler in the fourth match that appeared to be cruising along whistling a tune when it stopped and said, "half price lap dances?" then looked both ways to make sure none of his wife's friends were around and ducked-in the side door.

I'm not going to bore you with the full blow-by-blow but I will say that we entered the final nine with a half point lead on our next opponents who also happened to be two of the guys we play with all freakin' summer. It was win or go home for them and win or tie and go home for us. We were one up when I birdied the 5th hole (for those Blah Blah Country Club members keeping track, we started on the 3rd hole so our 5th was the actual 7th) to put us two up and things were looking good as we would only have to win one more hole or halve two of the last four to win the flight. We then of course lost the next hole to a birdie, halved the 7th hole and, just to keep things exciting, I three-putted the 8th to even-up the match.

As we all stood on the last green lining-up 10-20 foot par putts, I saw one final meltdown looming and fully anticipated politely shaking hands, walking straight to my car and driving-off the property . . . forever. The golf gods, however, must have figured that one soul crushing defeat per season is enough and guided my partner's putt into the hole. I stood there for a moment in a state of disbelief thinking "the game likes me . . . it really, really likes me." I then made a beeline for the bar to get "primed" for the playoff.

" . . . divide by the sandbag factor . . ."
The playoff format is as follows: (1) both players tee off; (2) one ball is selected and the team plays alternate shot from there until the ball is holed; (3) the whole field (in this case six teams I think) plays together and strokes are awarded based on the combined handicap of the teammates, the handicap number of the hole and one of the formulas on the chalkboard in Good Will Hunting.

The first hole was the no. 5 handicap so we, along with everyone else except the guys from the top flight, were getting a stroke (we were in the second flight so we should have had an advantage). We both hit the fairway and decided that I would hit the approach which I knocked to the same spot from where I had three-putted about an hour before. My partner hit a C+ putt which left me a five footer for the par net birdie we would need to continue. Every other team but one had already made net par or worse so, if I missed, the playoff would be over and we would finish in a five-way tie for second. After watching me weave my way up to the ball, the other team in the mix must have been all over each other like Judge Smails and Dr. Beeper after Smails drained the Billy Baroo putt. Unfortunately for them, they didn't know what they were up against at that point. There was nothing about my putt that wasn't perfect. Stroke, speed and line . . . center of the cup. (I'm still getting chills when I think about the prospect of missing it).

The second hole is the toughest on the course - 430 yards with trees right, out of bounds left and a green that has no bailout option. It was getting colder and darker (at least it was in my head) and the ball was not flying. My partner did me a huge solid by absolutely smoking his best drive of the weekend right down the middle. (I think my drive went 120 yards into a fairway bunker). Our opponents had to have about 200 yards to the green for their approach and I couldn't watch as the guy who had just hit a perfect 3-wood from about that distance on the previous hole took his club back. Then I heard the applause, looked-up and saw the ball 20 feet from the hole and you have to be f*cking kidding me. I had 155 yards which would normally be a solid 7-iron, however, short was not an option, it was cold and the odds of me hitting a "solid" iron shot at that point were well south of 50/50 so I went with the choke-down 6 and smacked it right in the center of the green. A pair of two-putts and we were on to the par three 9th.

Now it was really getting dark and cold. If it didn't end there, I was probably going to need a lift to the next hole a la Byron Leftwich. The 9th hole is a blind uphill 170 yard tee shot where the only miss is a little short. Neither of our opponents hit what appeared to be good shots. When my partner hit his, it looked perfect and judging by the applause a few seconds later, it was. (I honestly have no idea what I did with my tee shot. If you told me today that I never bothered to hit it, I would be inclined to believe you). The next few minutes were a bit of a blur.  We had about six feet up the hill for birdie. I kind of remember the other guys barely missing their par putt and then me asking at least five different people, "two putts to win right?" I was NOT going to be the guy who spazzed the glory putt two feet above the hole so I left it three inches short, happily absorbed about a dozen "nice lag" calls and then watched my partner tap it in for the win.

Suffice it to say that there were a few celebratory cocktails as we held-court in the bar for the better part of two hours. In the days since, I have been repeatedly asked if I've received a letter from the club (the answer is "not yet" but let's just say I haven't been sprinting to the mailbox lately). I only wish I had some footage of the playoff because I was so hell-bent on staying focused that I never really took the time to look around and enjoy it. As it is, the only recorded history I have is the following text exchange with the FGW and, if I was not previously aware that I have the most supportive wife this side of Tami Taylor, I'm pretty sure this confirms it.

"Oh my God he's never going to
shut-up if/when he gets home."
FGR: (4:47 p.m.) We won the flight. In a playoff.

FGR: (5:55 p.m.) Holy shit we just won the whole thing!!!

FGW: (6:41 p.m.) Awesome! We just got home from Dundalk.***

FGR: (8:03 p.m.) Waiting for a ride home.

FGW (8:05 p.m.) No rush - have fun.

(It was later pointed-out to me that "No rush - have fun" may have meant, "don't come home until I'm asleep" . . . I can live with that).


* Cut to the FGW rolling her eyes at that one.

** The format is a six team flight with two players on each team. You play each of the other teams in the flight in a nine hole match where you get a point if you win a hole, half a point if you tie a hole and squadoosh if you lose a hole. There aren't many strokes involved because you're flighted with teams that have roughly the same combined handicap. Your best friend in this format is the opponent who is a 9 and thinks he's a 5. It's a little bit like that line from Rounders. "If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker." I was pretty sure I was the sucker.

"Welcome to
Dundalk Hon!"
*** For those not familiar, if the Baltimore area were the human body, Dundalk would unfairly be regarded as the space between its third and fourth toe at best and its armpit at worst. I say "unfairly" because most people from Baltimore have never actually been to Dundalk. But, because most of the hack local morning radio D.J.s use it as their go to punchline, it gets a bad rap when really it's just a blue-collar part of town - something I learned when some snot-nosed law school buddies and I went to the Dundalk Heritage Festival as kind of a goof and left thinking, "wait, why doesn't everyone live here?" All you need to know about Dundalk is that it doesn't have a Starbucks and no one there gives a crap. (Note to self: open a Starbucks/tattoo parlor/wholesale cigarette store in Dundalk . . . sorry, couldn't resist).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The FGR Halloween Pick

Cincinnati by 2.5 at Miami: The Pick - Bengals

This is your night to shine
Dolphin cheerleaders. Please
don't hesitate to be creative.
I'm getting this pick out way early because I'm on the verge of posting a story that deserves top-billing for the week instead of getting bumped for another Thursday night match-up that makes you go "meh" (I guess that's how you spell that sound). Anyway, the Bengals are officially starting to frighten me after dismantling a semi-competent Jets team on Sunday. To make matters worse, the Ravens have now resorted to signing their cast-off running backs while continuing to ignore the fact that 1966 Gale Sayers couldn't average four yards a carry behind that offensive line . . . but I digress. This spread makes no sense to me. The Bengals are at least a touchdown better than the Dolphins and, now that they are the clear front-runners for the AFC North title, there will be at least 30,000 Cincinnati fans at the game negating any home field advantage (while Miami fans sit on the beach wondering why the Dolphins never make the playoffs).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The FGR Week 8 NFL Picks

We're going with rapid fire picks this week as I'm devoting my time to getting back to my roots by writing something with a little more depth than just finding twenty different ways of saying, "the Jaguars are terrible, Jim Harbaugh needs to find his happy place and the NFL rigged the Super Bowl blackout." In the meantime, let's get some NFL picks out just in time for them to be of no value to anyone.

San Francisco by 16.5 at Jacksonville: The Pick - 49ers+

All British references of
any kind mean it's Rosie
Jones time. It's just a rule.
The fact that this game is in London is not a coincidence.* The league figures that if they can strand the Jags on the other side of the Atlantic, they will solve the mistake they made by putting a team in Jacksonville in the first place and finally achieve their European expansion goal in one move. Or maybe the Jags will just spontaneously disband and live happily ever after abroad meaning the NFL can start all over in Los Angeles. Either way, everybody wins.

At Detroit by 3 over Dallas: The Pick - Cowboys

The fact that Jim Schwartz may actually have a longer tenure as the coach of the Lions than Matt Millen had as their general manager is a testament to ownership's loyalty and ineptitude.

At Philadelphia by 6.5 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Giants

The Eagles were completely stymied by the Cowboys at home and are now giving-up almost a touchdown this week because their opponent just "raised" its record to 1-6 last week. Welcome to the NFL's suburban middle-aged paunch also know as the NFC East.

At Kansas City by 7.5 over Cleveland: The Pick - Chiefs

There are a few things that you can do as an NFL team to make yourself "unpickable" from a gambling standpoint. Switching to your third string quarterback because the guy who was supposed to be your starter when the year began isn't getting it done is definitely one of them. (Being from Cleveland is another).

At New Orleans by 12 over Buffalo: The Pick - Saints

This feels like one of those 45-17 Superdome track meets with at least four Drew Brees touchdown passes and seventeen smug Sean Payton smiles. It's a good week to have Saints in your fantasy line-up. Might even be worth a flier on Joe Horn.

At New England by 6.5 over Miami: The Pick - Patriots

As noted in the Thursday FGR pick (winner), no team from Florida has won a game in over a month. Make that five weeks.

At Cincinnati by 6.5 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Jets

I find myself in the odd position of rooting for the Jets this week and actually believing that they are a good play getting 6.5 points against a Bengals team that doesn't have the firepower to blowout anybody. I feel like I need a shower.

Pittsburgh by 3 at Oakland: The Pick - Steelers**

"IT BURNS . . . IT BURNS!!!"
Picking the Steelers and the Jets in the same week . . . now I feel like I need a Silkwood*** shower.

At Denver by 13 over Washington: The Pick - Broncos+

The Redskins allowed a team quarterbacked by Josh McCown to roll-up 31 points in less than three quarters at home so when I apply the simple formula that (McCown + 1 quarter) x 2 = Manning, I come-up with a little over 82 points which should be enough to cover.

At Arizona by 2.5 over Atlanta: The Pick - Falcons

One of the best gambling stats of the year: no one has covered the spread the week after playing the Seahawks. The team on the wrong end of that this week is the Cardinals. The fact that the statue of Carson Palmer is playing behind a sieve of an offensive line with no running game doesn't help either.

Green Bay by 6.5 at Minnesota: The Pick - Packers+

For all I know the Packers will struggle in Minnesota like they always do and eek out a three point win on a Mason Crosby field goal at the buzzer but how can you pick a team that is rotating three quarterbacks who will all be coaching high school football by 2015?

Seattle by 10.5 at St. Louis: The Pick - Seahawks+

So you're the Rams and you're 3-4 in an NFC where the second wild card spot is probably going to the first team that can get nine wins, you lose your starting quarterback who has never really led you to anything and, to motivate your back-up (who may be just as good as your starter anyway), you run to the phone and call Brett Favre? I'm picturing a scene in the Rams' boardroom where the owner's twelve year old son is sitting next to him wearing a three-piece suit and whispers something in his ear and then the owner says, "get Brett Favre's agent on the phone now!"

Last Week's Record: 6-9 . . . Season Record: 56-49-1

Average score for the week was 81 so chalk-up another win for the FGR [I really need a name for this fictional enterprise]. All kinds of bye issues this week so we'll start Marques Colston and Julian "don't call me Assange" Edelman at receiver and we'll grab the Browns defense under the theory that it's going to be a low-scoring stinkfest in Kansas City.

Matthew Stafford - 29
I kind of dissed the Tampa cheerleaders in
the Thursday night pick but it's not their
fault so consider this a make-up call.
LeSean McCoy - 7
Knowshown Moreno - 10
Alshon Jefferey - 14
T.Y. Hilton - 2
Jason Witten - 4
Jay Feely - 11
Ravens - 11

Total - 88


Eli Manning - 12
Chris Johnson - 16
Bernard Pierce - 1
Marques Colston - Bye
Julian Edelman - 4
Aaron Dobson - 3
Dallas Clark - 6

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.


* I caught a few minutes of NFL Radio last week when a caller with a thick southern accent wondered allowed why the NFL doesn't make the London games away games for both teams so that neither loses a home game. When the host explained why that wouldn't work because all teams have eight home games and eight road games, the caller asked, "well what if they played it after the bye week?" I'm not sure where it went from there but who knew there were Jet fans in the south?

** I went and saw Anthony Jeselnik last night and I bring this up because he is from Pittsburgh and he did a nice job of antagonizing the crowd with it. If you're familiar with Mr. Jeselnik's work, you know that there is very little of his material that I can repeat here but, when someone from the crowd asked him what his favorite joke was, he did give us this nugget:

Man goes to see the doctor for a physical . . .

Doctor: "Sir, I'm afraid you are going to have to stop masturbating."

Patient: "Why?"

Doctor: "So I can examine you."

*** Silkwood is a 1983 movie about a woman named Karen Silkwood who is contaminated while working in some kind facility with radioactive materials. As if the subject matter wasn't emotionally charged enough, they casted an over-acting all-star team which included Kurt Russell, Craig T. Nelson, Ron Silver and Cher. I think someone was required to sob and/or pound their fist on a table every five minutes.

+ Top picks of the week.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Fantasy Golf Report Thursday Night Pick

Carolina by 6.5 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - Panthers

This pose pretty much sums-up the
Schiano era. Please pass the Charmin.
You just can't pick the Bucs right now regardless of the points unless they're playing the Jags. (Too bad they don't meet this year because a Jags-Bucs game in front of 2,000 people in a torrential downpour would be highly entertaining . . . for about three minutes). Here's a fun stat. No team from the state of Florida has won a game since the Dolphins beat the Falcons over a month ago. Just another reason why it's more fun to go watch your favorite team play in the Sunshine State. Well that and the Waffle Houses. Mmmmm . . . chocolate chip waffles with a side of hashbrowns smothered in melted cheese. Can I get an angioplasty with that?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The FGR Week 7 NFL Picks

I just had to go and touch the money last week. That, along with a couple of ridiculous covers by the Patriots and the 49ers crushed my momentum. Let's see if we can get it back and, in the process, throw a couple of new wrinkles into this week's feature: (1) My four favorite picks of the week will be denoted by a "+" and (2) the preamble will be jammed into the first pick (thereby removing one game for which I have to figure-out something to say). It's an end to the shutdown celebration. Let's all climb onto the tour bus together, spontaneously break into a Tiny Dancer singalong and make some picks.

Seattle by 6 at Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals

Last week Bill Simmons suggested that the NFL should do away with the sloppy Thursday night game and replace it with a regular version of the late night Sunday game like the one the Raiders and Chargers recently played. I think we should go one step further. Let's keep the Thursday night game, add the late Sunday night game AND have the first game on Sunday start at 10:00 a.m. with another game starting every hour. The early Sunday games would feature the home games of the Bucs, Jags, Dolphins, Bills and Panthers and then as we progressed through the day we would move west with the Browns, Rams and Titans. Then around 3:00 p.m., it would be like when Ivan Drago's corner man yelled whatever he yelled in the Apollo Creed fight and BOOM, here come the marquee games. (I've used this week's schedule and put the games in one possible order while leaving the Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night games where they were). Imagine it . . . almost fourteen straight hours of football on Sunday. It works for all of the following reasons and more:

1. On the east coast, we're ready to start watching football at 10:00 a.m. The west coast has had this on us for years and we want in. Not to mention, no one wants to watch games involving the Panthers, Bucs and Jags anyway but if you made them the only games that were available . . . well . . .

"You guys want to go to the bar
downstairs and sing with Vonda
Shepherd after we find the mole?"
2. Those of us in east coast football cities that matter would have something to watch while we tailgate.

3. West coast fans would actually get to see their teams play in prime time thereby relieving them of the obligation they feel to continue watching Homeland in the hope that it finds it way back from being the first ever terrorism themed comedy/drama. I keep expecting Peter MacNicol to emerge from a bathroom stall at Langley and announce that he "likes a fresh bowl."

4. We would get more of the Redzone Channel's Scott Hanson and less of clowns like Dan Marino, Terry Bradshaw and Shannon Sharpe because halftime shows would go the way of the single-bar facemask.

5. Except under random circumstances, you would never miss the end of any game. That means that the poor bastards in Orlando who were forced to watch the Jags go for a moral victory by covering the spread in Denver would have had the chance to see the end of the Saints-Patriots game. (Oh, so that's what it's supposed to look like).

6. Did I mention that there would be football on for almost fourteen straight hours?

I'm sure there are hundreds more reasons why this a good idea and a handful why it's not (kind of like getting rid of two preseason games and adopting the college replay system) so it will never happen but we can always dream.

(10:00 a.m.) At Atlanta by 7.5 over Tampa Bay: The Pick - Falcons

We're about to find out whether or not Matt Ryan is truly big time as it looks like he will play the rest of the season without two of his top three receivers which still makes his receiving corp. twice as good as Tom Brady's. Somewhere there is a guy who built his whole fantasy team around the Falcons' passing attack curled-up in the fetal position on his bathroom floor repeating "why, why, why, why?"

(11:00 a.m.) San Diego by 7.5 at Jacksonville: The Pick - Jaguars

I don't believe the Chargers are ready to deal with success. Not to mention, they've got a 3,000+ mile road trip on the heels of a Monday night game and the Jags are coming off the high of their first cover of the season. It should be noted that this is probably the Jags' third best chance to win a game this year behind their December 15th home game against the Bills and their Thursday night duel with the freefalling Texans on December 5th. (The rationale behind scheduling that as a primetime game had to be "well at least the Texans will be battling for the division title right?" Oops).

(Noon) At Miami by 8.5 over Buffalo: The Pick - Bills

With the exception of their wacky Thursday night game in Cleveland, the Bills have kept every game this year to within one score including an overtime game against the Bengals last week. Not to mention, despite his slightly improved play, we're not ready to trust Ryan Tannehill with a big boy spread like that.

(1:00 p.m.) At Carolina by 5.5 over St. Louis: The Pick - Panthers

We will, however, trust Mrs. Tannehill
to run the juicer . . . if you know what
I mean . . . and I think you do.
If you remove JaMarcus Russell from the equation, this is a match-up of the two shakiest number one picks since the Texans set the tone for their quarterbacking future by taking David Carr in 2002.* The Panthers' decision to take Cam Newton over the likes of Von Miller, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson doesn't seem like such a no-brainer anymore and the Rams' decision to (a) take Sam Bradford instead of the five Pro Bowlers who went nos. 2-6 and then (b) keep him instead of drafting RG, III seems even worse. Bradford appears to be that quarterback who is just good enough to keep you in the vicinity of 8-8 making you think that next year is the year until you look-up and realize that it has been "next year" for five straight years and you still haven't played a game in January.

(2:00 p.m.) At Kansas City by 6.5 over Houston: The Pick - Chiefs+

I have been in a stadium when the home crowd cheered an injury to the inept starting quarterback (believe it or not, I was not one of them . . . I do have some scruples) and I am in no way defending that kind of behavior but I will say that if you ever saw Kyle Boller try to throw a pass while his feet were moving . . . well let's just say that that is more than some fans can take. So while I cannot justify the cheering by the Houston fans last Sunday, I can certainly see what motivated it. On the other side, we have the Chiefs who only had four tough games left on their schedule anyway and now you can drop that to three as the Case Keenum show comes to town. Andy Reid and Alex Smith have clearly made a deal with someone and I don't think it's a coincidence that they're wearing red this year.

(3:00 p.m.) At Detroit by 3 over Cincinnati: The Pick - Lions
I'm not sure but I can tell you
which one was more fun.

These two teams have a lot in common. Dominating defensive lines, top flight wide receivers, histories of misery and an unjustifiably high percentage of their fans who actually think they have the coaches and quarterbacks to bring home a Super Bowl. Close your eyes and try to imagine Andy Dalton or Matthew Stafford warming-up before a Super Bowl. Now close your eyes and try to imagine Carmen Electra holding an Oscar. Which one was easier?

(4:00 p.m.) At Green Bay by 10 over Cleveland: The Pick - Packers

This game should give us a pretty good read on the Packers. They've kind of muddled their way to 3-2 but now they get Brandon Weeden in Green Bay thereby avoiding a trip to Cleveland's factory of sadness.** If the Pack comes-out of this with a convincing 27-10 win, then we can start counting them as a team that might be able to win a January game in Seattle. If, however, they screw around and let the Browns keep it close for four quarters because their defense can't get the job done against Weeden, then this thing is probably ending with another Aaron Rodgers/Mike McCarthy grumpfest.

(5:00 p.m.) At Washington by 1.5 over Chicago: The Pick - Bears+

The Redskins have taken the position that their name is meant to celebrate Native Americans, not to offend them which explains why the movement by Native Americans to change the name has intensified. I mean if you were a psychiatrist named Hannibal Lecter or a surgeon named Frank Burns, you would probably spend your life wishing those weren't two of the symbols of your profession.

(6:00 p.m.) New England by 4 at N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Patriots

Kind of coin-flip between this and the next game for the 7:00 p.m. slot because they are both solid intra-division match-ups but we need to get this thing going before Boston and New York fans pass-out in a puddle of spilled Irish Car Bombs. We could also base it on Super Bowl wins since the turn of the century: Steelers (2) + Ravens (2) = 4 . . . Patriots (3) + Jets (0) = 3.

(7:00 p.m.) At Pittsburgh by 2 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

"Oh my God . . . we're the 2012 Chiefs."
A Ravens' loss to the Steelers would mean losing records for both teams and a combined 5-8 with only two wins outside of the division. The AFC North appears well on its way to a classic Costanza/Benes roll reversal situation with the suddenly thriving AFC West. How did such a proud division fall so far so fast? Well, Ray quit and Ed became a Texan . . . we should've known we'd never get far. (Sorry).

(8:00 p.m.) At Philadelphia by 2.5 over Dallas: The Pick - Eagles 

Like it or not, with the exception of Denver at Indy, this is the game of the week from a ratings standpoint. In addition to the sizeable TV markets, we've got all kinds of built-in drama from Jerry to Chip to Romo and the Eagles' burgeoning quarterback controversy. It feels so Shakespearean. I hope nobody dies at the end.

(9:00 p.m.) Denver by 6 at Indianapolis: The Pick - Broncos+

I was initially waffling on this game until Jim Irsay decided to make it Peyton Manning's mission to humiliate him on national television. There are certain athletes who's names you just don't mention before you play them . . . not even to wish them a happy birthday or to tell them that you like their tie because no matter what you say, their warped hyper-competitive brains will twist it into a dis for which you must pay. At the top of the list are Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Then there is a secondary group that includes Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis*** and Seabiscuit. At the bottom of the list is the aforementioned JaMarcus Russell.

(10:00 p.m.) San Francisco by 4.5 at Tennessee: The Pick - 49ers+

The Niners don't play a legitimate playoff contender until November 17th when they travel to New Orleans which is basically the NFL scheduling department's version of shutting the power-off (no I am not letting it go!!!).

At N.Y. Giants by 3 over Minnesota: The Pick - Giants

Is this the worst Monday Night Football match-up of all time? Is there another one that's even close? On a semi-related topic, have you noticed how Jon Gruden likes to connect completely unrelated revelations with the word "but"? Last Monday night he said something along the lines of "those Paganos are some kind of football family but I'll tell you what, you don't know pain until you've been through a botched vasectomy" (ok, I made that up but it was something like that). I think Gruden is the new Phil Rizzuto but the Giants find a way to beat a team quarterbacked by Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman (I'm sure that's not what Giant fans were expecting to hear before week 7).

Last Week's Record: 6-9 . . . Season Record: 50-40-1

The FGR Fictional Fantasy Team

It was a low-scoring week across the league so this was another win for Team FGR (hey, we have a name now). We'll go with the same starting line-up this week as the only potential sub, Chris Johnson, will be dancing his way to one yard gains against the 49ers on Sunday. We're also going to drop Randall Cobb and Shonn Greene for the widely available Dallas Clark and Aaron Dobson under the theory that Dobson made it this far as a person who catches footballs for a living by occasionally catching one that hits him in the hands.


Can someone please do something to light  a fire
under Jason Witten? . . . well thank you Ashton.
Matthew Stafford - 23
LeSean McCoy - 17
Knowshon Moreno - 28
Alshon Jeffery - 3
T.Y. Hilton - 4
Jason Witten - 2
Jay Feely - 2
Ravens - 13

Total - 92


Eli Manning - 7
Chris Johnson - 5
Bernard Pierce - 2
Shonn Greene - 0
Randall Cobb - 5
Marques Colston - 1
Julian Edelman - 5

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.


* 2002 was not the best year for quarterbacks as the Lions took Joey Harrington third, the Redskins took Patrick Ramsey 32nd and the Cardinals took Josh McCown 81st. You know is was a down year when your runaway winner for best quarterback drafted was David Garrard. In case you were wondering, the 2002 answer to the always fun question of "who did Ozzie Newsome settle for at the end of the first round?" is some guy named Ed Reed with the 24th pick. So for the record, Ozzie's first round track record includes three first ballot Hall of Famers (Reed, Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis), two potential Hall of Famers (Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata), two Super Bowl MVP's (Lewis and Joe Flacco) and Kyle Boller (hey, even Aldous Snow had African Child).

"What you did was very spiteful but it
was also very brave but the content of
what you said has made me hate you." 
** If there is a better line over the last few years than "factory of sadness," I haven't heard it. To see its origin, check out this one minute rant from Browns fan Mike Polk. Fans of the other thirty-one teams need to watch it and then spend a quiet moment being thankful.

*** Prior to his first match-up against the Ravens in 2008, Steelers rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall texted Ray Rice that he expected to have a big game so Ray Lewis did this to him and broke his collarbone proving that no good comes from texting, ever.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The FGR Week 6 NFL Picks

Well what I've lacked in golf forecasting ability, I appear to be making-up with football picks as Thursday night's win pushed me to 45-31-1 against the spread this year. This was setting-up to be a pretty entertaining entry as the original weekend itinerary had me playing a 45 hole tournament with most of my family out of town which would have created the potential for a little late night creativity along with a few inappropriate tweets and Facebook posts. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas and now the golf is off and I'll be heading to Delaware to coach little league soccer in the rain for two days. It's your basic middle aged reversal of fortune seasoned with a dash of "hey let's drive three hours so our ten year old kids can play sports against ten year old kids from other places who look just like the ten year old kids from home."

As a result, some of this week's games will get more attention than others. The good news, however, is that the golf tournament was pushed to next weekend so the prospect of inappropriate tweets and posts still looms.

At Kansas City by 9 over Oakland: The Pick - Raiders

There is little doubt in my mind that the Chiefs will win this game and I usually go with sure winners regardless of the spread but 9 points against a divisional opponent with a wild card quarterback is just a few too many.

Philadelphia by 1 at Tampa Bay: The Pick - Bucs

But not before Glennon
stops at Baskin-Robbins.
The NFC East has two wins outside of the division. One was the Cowboys over the Rams who are lousy and the other was the Redskins over the Raiders which on that day may have been the worst team in the league this year considering Matt Flynn was playing quarterback. I have to believe that getting the stink of Josh Freeman's attitude out of the locker room will give the Bucs a boost. Not to mention, Cinemax is running Varsity Blues this month so there's always the chance that quarterback Mike Glennon could stage a mutiny and force-out Greg Schiano.
Green Bay by 3 at Baltimore: The Pick - Packers

I must admit that I'm passing on what will probably be the only chance of my lifetime to watch Aaron Rodgers play live. Football is really the one sport where there is little incentive to see a potential hall of famer come to town because, with only a sixteen game season, no one wants to see him do hall of fame caliber things against your team.*

Detroit by 2.5 at Cleveland: The Pick - Lions

The restoration of Brandon Weeden to the starting spot should get the Browns tanking run back on track though it appears that the Steelers are going to make every effort to out-tank them. A truly bitter rivalry.

At Minnesota by 2.5 over Carolina: The Pick - Panthers

The Vikings now feature a potential quarterback rotation of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman. That's got to make Viking fans feel like the last guy to show-up at the cookout . . . "um we've got a little bit of potato salad left, I think there are a few radishes still on the veggie tray and . . . hey, did anyone eat that hot dog that the cat was licking?"

At Houston by 7 over St. Louis: The Pick - Texans

"Joey, I am the worst GM in NFL
history. It's not your fault.  It's not
your fault. It's not your fault." 
After his fourth consecutive game with a pick six, they're burning Matt Schaub's jersey in Houston but if you asked a Texans' fan if they'd trade him straight-up for Sam Bradford right now, they'd probably say, "you know what . . . we think Matt's going to come around." So if you're keeping track, here is the official progression: Tony Romo is the poor man's Brett Favre, Matt Schaub is the poor man's Tony Romo, Andy Dalton is the poor man's Matt Schaub, Sam Bradford is the poor man's Andy Dalton, Brandon Weeden is the poor man's Sam Bradford and then you go through a few historically bad quarterbacks like Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith and Joey Harrington and eventually you end with Blaine Gabbert.**

At N.Y. Jets by 1 over Pittsburgh: The Pick - Steelers

You know I may have underestimated the Jets this season considering they're 4-1 against the spread. In my defense, my dislike for them is well-grounded in the fact that I spent two years living with a reeeaaalllly annoying Jet fan (is there any other kind?) in college. I mean if you spent two years having to listen to your roommate butcher Hakuna Matata in the shower, you probably wouldn't be a really big fan of The Lion King right?

I will say, however, that I think that Rex Ryan is being unfairly judged as a head coach. Here is the list of coaches who have been to at least two conference championship games over the last ten years along with their starting quarterbacks - you tell me which one stands-out for overcoming the greatest liability at the most important position: John Harbaugh (Flacco), Bill Belichik (Brady), Jim Harbaugh (A. Smith and Kaepernick), Tom Coughlin (E. Manning), Rex Ryan (Sanchez), Mike Tomlin (Roethlisberger), Mike McCarthy (Rodgers), Sean Payton (Brees), Andy Reid (McNabb) and Tony Dungy (P. Manning). Get the point? So let's stop talking about Rex like he's Rich Kotite or Bruce Coslett. He's an obnoxious blowhard, but at least he can coach. With all of that being said, I'm taking the Steelers.

Cincinnati by 8 at Buffalo: The Pick - Bengals

I'm not sure which I find more unbelievable: (a) That the Bills did not have a quarterback that they deemed back-up worthy on their active roster or (b) that the player they promoted from the practice squad is a black guy named "Thad." Of course it turns-out he went to Duke which is also the Alma mater of "Shane" Battier, "Corey" Maggette and "Elton" Brand. I had a joke about them missing out on a recruit named Thurston Washington but I think it's time to move on.

At Seattle by 13.5 over Tennessee: The Pick - Seahawks

The next three quarterbacks the Seahawks will see at home are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mike Glennon and the aforementioned Christian Ponder/Matt Cassel/Josh Freeman cookout leftover plate . . . just in case you were wondering about the roaring laughter coming-out of their defensive film room.

At Denver by 27.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Jags

Why do I think that Peyton Manning is going to run this thing up to 35-3 in the first half and then ease off the gas just long enough to allow the Jags to cover? Maybe it's all of his charity work? ("Look, I'll kill a snitch . . . I'm not saying I have . . .").

At San Francisco by 11 over Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals

I'm applying the same theory that I used on the Chiefs-Raiders game. The 49ers will win this thing but it's a divisional game and the Cardinals defense is good enough to continue exposing Colin Kaepernick as a suspect passer. If only the Niners had a reliable quarterback who could complete a high percentage of his passes and not turn the ball over.

At New England by 2.5 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

Rumor has it that Gronk is coming back. Unfortunately for the Patriots, unless he can cover Jimmy Graham, it isn't going to matter.

At Dallas by 5.5 over Washington: The Pick - Cowboys

Or we could call them the . . . wait,
what were we talking about?
Since I've already started digging the race joke hole, let's keep shoveling. The recent resurfacing of the "Redskin" name controversy reminds of comedian Nick Dipaolo's classic line in response to people who don't like the way Italians are portrayed in The Sopranos, "if you want to complain about the way Italians are portrayed on TV, let's start with those Olive Garden commercials." With that being said, I fully expect the Redskins to change their name within the next five years. The question is which way do they go? Do they stick with the Washington theme like the Capitals and Nationals or do they go a different direction like the Wizards? The Illusionists would be fitting in light of what they led us to believe they were going to be this season (a good team) as opposed to what they are (not a good team).

Indianapolis by 1.5 at San Diego: The Pick - Colts

The Colts look very solid right now and they've proven they can win on the road with victories at San Francisco and ahem Jacksonville. On the other side, the Chargers looked like they might have a wild card shot before they Norved it up against the Raiders last week.

Last Week's Record: 9-5 . . . Season Record: 44-31-1

The FGR Week 4 and 5 Fantasy Teams

I wasn't hiding last week's fantasy scores (though I should have been), I just forgot to report them so here are two weeks' worth. The weekly per team average of the league from which I am drawing these scores is just a shade over 90 points per game so Week 4 would have been my first fictional loss.

Week 4 Week 5
Matthew Stafford - 15 Matthew Stafford - 14
LeSean McCoy - 9 LeSean McCoy - 14
Chris Johnson - 3 Chris Johnson - 13
T.Y. Hilton - 4 Randall Cobb - 10
Marques Colston - 9 Alshon Jeffery - 30
Jason Witten - 4 Jason Witten - 21
Ravens - 14 Ravens - 12
Jay Feely - 7 Jay Feely - 9
Total - 65 Total - 123
Bench Bench
Eli Manning - 7 Eli Manning - 18
Bernard Pierce - 0 Bernard Pierce - 4
Shonn Greene - 0 Shonn Greene - 0
Knowshon Moreno - 14 Knowshon Moreno - 20
Julian Edleman - 14 Julian Edleman - 3
Alshon Jeffery - 23 Marques Colston - 1
Randall Cobb - BYE T.Y. Hilton - 29

For this week, I'm going with McCoy and Moreno at running back with Jeffery and Hilton at wide receiver. Visiting wide receivers generally don't fare well in Baltimore (at least that's my completely baseless theory) so I'm gambling by leaving Cobb on the pine.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.


* Consider that this is coming from the perspective of a fan who has had the pleasure of watching his favorite team win two Super Bowls and reel-off five consecutive playoff seasons. I can't speak for Browns fans or Bills fans who probably covet the opportunity to watch Adrian Peterson run roughshod over their defenses because at least it makes their teams highlight worthy. (What? The Browns are 3-2?!? Yeah right).

** I genuinely hope that Gabbert goes on to be a great coach or make a fortune in the restaurant business because he's certainly earned it by suffering through his brief awful career without taking a swing at a writer. Then again, Blaine and I have never met.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The 2013 PGA Tour Wrap-Up

It seems to me that the only thing more ridiculous than trying to stage meaningful games in a sports season after all of the really meaningful games have been played would be to play your most meaningful game the first week of the season.* The PGA has apparently come to the same conclusion so, instead of staging the "Fall Finish" which sounds more like a Sherwin Williams product than a series of golf tournaments, they've decided to start the 2014 season on October 10, 2013 and in the process they have conceded any shred of an argument that they are concerned for player safety. Just when Angel Cabrera was preparing to dial it back to two packs a day after the Presidents' Cup, he's got to open up the chimney flume that is his windpipe and play in the Open. They're running El Pato** into the ground and no one seems to care!

"So far, reading this column reminds
me of another recent experience."
With that pointless rant out of the way, let's gain some closure on the 2013 season and start looking ahead to 2013-14. The Fantasy Golf Report began this year by boldly*** attempting to project what the final FedEx Cup rankings would look like while also picking the winners of each major, WGC event and The Players Championship. Because we are all about accountability, let's take a look back and see how we did starting with a review of our preseason top ten alongside our pre-playoffs top ten and the final top ten. After that, we will do a three page dissertation on the salad spinner . . . where did it come from and for the love of all that is holy where did it go?

Preseason                 Pre-Playoffs                Final Results

1.  Rory McIlroy Adam Scott Henrik Stenson
2.  Tiger Woods Matt Kuchar Tiger Woods
3.  Jason Dufner Tiger Woods Steve Stricker
4.  Keegan Bradley Henrik Stenson Adam Scott
5.  Justin Rose Zach Johnson Zach Johnson
6.  Bubba Watson Brandt Snedeker Matt Kuchar
7.  Matt Kuchar Lee Westwood Jordan Spieth
8.  Dustin Johnson Phil Mickelson Graham DeLaet
9.  Lee Westwood Bill Haas Phil Mickelson
10. Phil Mickelson Rory McIlroy Justin Rose

That was a huge swing and a miss on McIlroy but I was not alone. When it was announced that he was changing to Nike clubs, I don't think any of us envisioned a nine month adjustment period. Wait a minute, there's no chance the following scene occurred sometime back in late 2012 is there?


Phil Knight: Tiger, we need you back on top. If there's anything Nike can do to make that happen, you let us know.

Tiger: Well you could sign Rory to a huge contract and then fit him with crap equipment.

(The room bursts into good natured laughter and, as it dies down, one maniacal laugh can still be heard).

Phil Knight: Make it happen.


"Use your open eye Jason."
Speaking of misses, I'm still trying to figure-out exactly what Dufner was doing from January through July when it looked like he was playing with his eyes closed before showing-up at the PGA Championship shooting lasers. Bubba Watson apparently came down with Post-Greenjacketitis, Lee Westwood was a bit more Westwoodian than usual and Dustin Johnson found something he liked to do more than playing golf. We probably should have seen all three coming.

On the positive side, I pegged Tiger's finish and was one spot off on Kuch and Mickelson. The only other correct top ten pick was Justin Rose. Stenson's comeback came out of nowhere when you consider that he started the season by getting bounced in the first round of the Matchplay, missing the cut at the Honda Classic and then finishing 39th at the borderline Tour event in Puerto Rico. And I certainly didn't see Steve Stricker averaging almost $350,000 per start on his limited schedule and capping-off the season by finishing 2nd, 4th and 2nd in three playoff events though he did confirm one of my fundamental beliefs in life which is that when it comes to working, less is more.

So how about the big tournament winners, did we hit on any of those? You're goddamn right we did! Let's start with the good as we picked Adam Scott to win the Masters and Tiger Woods to win the Bridgestone. We also had a couple close calls with Dufner at the U.S. Open and Ian Poulter at the Matchplay (they both finished 4th). On the flip side, we went with Luke Donald (19th) and Bo Van Pelt (62nd) at the Players but, in our defense, we didn't get the memo that Van Pelt was taking the year off until it was too late (one top ten Bo?!? One?!?). Usually good players only experience drop-offs like that when their wives are having babies or smashing the windows of their cars while screaming, "the stuffing was dry?!? . . . THE STUFFING WAS DRY?!? . . . YOU MUTHER . . ."

The FGR Rankings

"I'm telling you that if Bones wasn't
a black belt in jiu-jitsu, we never
would've made it out alive."
We have one FGR qualifying event left in the season with the HSBC  sporting a loaded field which includes Mickelson, Stenson, Rose, Dufner and probably Tiger. Under the FGR formula, a win is worth 25 points so any player all the way down to McIlroy at no. 6 could take over the top spot and claim the prestigious FGR Player of the Last Two Years award (that I just made-up). It couldn't have worked-out much better in 2013 as the top five is comprised of the four major winners plus Tiger. Let's just hope that Rory doesn't win and make my whole contrived ranking system look like a sabermetric representation of his hair.

FGR Top 20 WGR Top 20
1. Scott, A. 122 Woods 12.84
2. Woods 121 Scott 9.27
3. Rose 112 Mickelson 8.51
4. Mickelson 110 Stenson 8.15
5. Dufner 105 Rose 7.54
6. McIlroy 97 McIlroy 7.31
7. Kuchar 79 Stricker 6.72
8. Poulter 75 Kuchar 6.58
9. Els 74 Snedeker 6.20
10. McDowell 65 Dufner 5.93
11. Stenson 64 Johnson, Z. 5.40
12. Westwood 63 McDowell 5.33
13. Bradley, K. 58 Furyk 5.09
14. Mahan 57 Donald 5.08
15. Day, J. 55 Bradley 4.97
16. Stricker 55 Day 4.89
17. Watson, B. 53 Garcia 4.49
18. Hanson, P. 49 Westwood 4.44
19. Furyk 49 Schwartzel 4.43
20. Simpson, W. 47 Spieth 4.34

Looking Ahead

It just feels too early to start forecasting 2014**** when the paint isn't even dry on Henrik Stenson's giant $10M check yet but if you find yourself needing some guidance at this point, here are ten predictions, four of which I am guaranteeing (just not sure which four).

1. Tiger will continue to win on courses he likes. I picked him to win the 2014 Masters when I was previewing the 2013 Masters so I will stick with that. The U.S. Open is at Pinehurst where he has finished second and tied for third in 2005 and 1999 respectively. The British Open is at Royal Liverpool where Tiger won in 2006 and the PGA Championship is at Valhalla where Tiger won in a 2000 playoff. (Holy crap, looks like Tiger is getting barred from my season long league again this year).

2. Adam Scott will solidify his position as the second best player in the world. It's just a matter of time before Tiger overtakes him in the FGR Rankings but Scott has finished top ten in six of the last twelve majors so he's not going to give it up without a fight . . . even if he has to send Stevie Williams to do the actual fighting.

3. The guy who is not in the FGR top 10 now who will be at this time next year is Hunter Mahan. The guy who will drop all the way from the top 10 out of the top 20 is Ernie Els and if you saw him trying to putt at the Presidents' Cup you know why. I kept yipping my beer and spilling it all over myself just watching him.
Actually, it'll probably suck but
I needed to spice things up a bit.

4. Megan Fox's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be a summer blockbuster.

5. We've seen the last of Luke Donald. He really blew a golden opportunity at Merion where he shot 6 over on the front nine in the final round and lost by 5. He's not going to find many more major courses that set-up for his game that well until he starts "playing it forward" in 15 years.

6. I have no idea which direction Rory McIlroy's game is heading. I know this isn't a prediction but I am at a total loss. If you can make a good case for why he will be better or worse in 2014, email it to me and I'll print it.

7. Rickie Fowler is this generation's Fred Couples. Everyone likes Rickie and agrees that he has plenty of talent to win a major but he just doesn't put himself in contention to do it often enough. Look for him to come out of nowhere and take down the 2019 British Open.

8. Nick Watney is the guy we thought was going to be good who inexplicably fell-off the map but is actually really good. Look for a big 2014 from him.

9. Billy Horschel will have a serious sophomore slump, Jordan Spieth will not and we may never hear from Russell Henley again.

10. The debate as to whether Sergio Garcia or Colin Montgomerie is the greatest Ryder Cup player never to win a major will be settled when Sergio dominates at Gleneagles next year after making another failed run at a major.


* That would be a not so veiled shot at NASCAR but what would you expect from a sport where one competitor crashes on purpose so another competitor can get into the playoffs but then the commissioner's office steps in and decides that that's not fair so they throw-out the guy who benefited from the crash but not the guy who crashed on purpose and then they decide that one of the biggest names in the sport got screwed in the deal so they add an "extra" playoff spot and let him in. Confused? Well just imagine if the NFL shut-off the power to the Super Bowl to avoid a blowout. It's kind of like that (you're Goddamn right I went there!).

** Just one of the greatest nicknames in sports - "The Duck." Short and to the point. By the way, if you don't think the Duck is going to live to 100 while shooting his age at Augusta deep into his 70's, then I'm afraid that your thinking is incorrect. I said GOOD DAY SIR!

"You put an extra pack in the bag in
case we go to a playoff right?"
*** Yes I said "boldly." I'm latching-on to this new notion that everyone from athletes to stand-up comedians can be "courageous," "brave" and "bold." You know who are "courageous," "brave" and bold? Men and women who fight wars, fires and bad guys, people battling life-threatening illnesses and doctors who put their lives at risk to save others. Other than a few more examples that I'm sure I missed, that's it . . . that's the list. "Oh he's so courageous for playing with cracked ribs." Stop it.

**** Maybe it feels too early because (a) the World Series hasn't started, (b) I haven't seen any ads with people giving luxury sedans as Christmas gifts like they're toaster ovens and (c) the Jags haven't been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

The FGR Thursday Night NFL Pick

Are you really Harry Potter?
At Chicago by 8.5 over N.Y. Giants: The Pick - Giants

I'm still having a hard time believing that the Giants are that bad and the Bears are that good. Remember that two of Chicago's three wins came against the Steelers who are 0-4 and the Vikings who are 1-3 with their only win coming against the Steelers so the Bears could really be a 6-10 team in disguise. Not to mention, when you have two of the greatest "shaky good" quarterbacks of all time squaring-off against each other, that presents so many variables that you have to take the points when you're getting this many.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The FGR Week 5 NFL Picks (Part 2)

Let's pick-up where we left-off with last Saturday's timeline. As you may recall, I had just spent the last two hours almost falling asleep on the couch before watching my son's soccer team get blown off the field (that could potentially be the worst opening sentence to a novel ever other than, "as a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he broke wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it" - for more of these, click here). Fortunately, I would have a chance that afternoon to redeem the family name.

4:30 p.m.: After being inspired by my son's team's Jacksonville Jaguar impersonation, I had to play a quarterfinal tennis match in my club's "Men's B Singles Club Championship" which is the tennis equivalent of a gluten free pie eating contest. I don't know what being a "B" tennis player means. All I know is that I won this thing in 2011 when I beat a 73 year old guy in the finals on a day when the heat index was 100+. The match took three long sets and at first, I thought he was going to have a heart attack but then I realized that I was the one doing all of the running and midway through the final set my legs started cramping-up. I held-on to win in what must have looked like the tennis version of the lumbering slugfest at the end of Rocky II only if I had been fighting Mick instead of Apollo Creed.

"Great match buddy.
Sorry you died."
I figured winning the "B" title two years in a row wouldn't be very sporting so last year I paid my dues by getting my ass kicked in the "A" division. With that out of the way, I'm diving back into my gene pool. The match on Saturday was fairly uneventful. I was better than the guy I was playing so I just spent an hour bunting the ball back to him waiting for him to make a mistake.* Words that don't come to mind are "scintillating," "inspiring" and "watchable."

6:30 p.m.: (Editor's Note: I wasn't sure about this entry because it doesn't necessarily represent how I feel about eating dinner with my kids but that doesn't mean it's not fairly accurate so screw it, here goes). Everyone agrees that having dinner as a family is healthy but, in the same way that you don't want to over exercise or eat too many beans, moderation is key. I love hanging-out with my kids but let's face it, there are reasons that kids aren't invited to formal dinner parties. Just to name a couple: (1) the only thing more boring than listening to someone describe what happened to their fantasy football team is listening to someone describe what happened to them while playing a video game and (2) people generally prefer that their guests not intentionally wipe their hands on the curtains, furniture and cats.

We may need to see more of Mrs.
Brody to save this season, and
I don't mean more of her acting.
10:15 p.m.: After telling my kids to go to bed for two straight hours before they finally stopped ignoring me while they toiled away on their Rainbow Looms,** I settled in to watch the most recent episode of The Bridge a/k/a the show that has forced me to fall so far behind on Breaking Bad that, by the time I get to the series finale, I'll have forgotten all of the spoilers.

10:45 p.m.: I fell asleep with 15 minutes left in The Bridge which is hard to do but it's apparently my new move. The next night, I caught-up on The Bridge before falling asleep three quarters of the way through Homeland which currently has its blinker on with every indication that it's about to take a left turn down Unwatchable Road.

Speaking of Unwatchable Road . . .

At St. Louis by 11.5 over Jacksonville: The Pick - Rams

The Jags are averaging less than 8 points per game which means that, even if they "explode" for 14 in this game, the Rams will only need 26 to cover. Of course the Jags are giving-up over 32 points per game so there you go. By the way, Sam Bradford is terrible.***

Kansas City by 2.5 at Tennessee: The Pick - Chiefs

The Chiefs and Broncos coached by formerly fired coaches Andy Reid and John Fox will likely be a combined 16-2 or 17-1 when they meet on November 17th. The teams with very suspect rosters and rocky quarterback situations that they left behind, the Eagles and Panthers, will likely be a combined 5-11 or 6-10. If you were Mike Tomlin, wouldn't the thought periodically cross your mind to walk into the Steelers front office and poop on the carpet just so you can escape the unravelling of the Roethlisberger era?

At Miami by 3 over Baltimore: The Pick - Ravens

I should have known better. The Bills game was the early season road game the Ravens were supposed to win and the Dolphins game is the early season road game they are supposed to lose so they will of course reverse that just to mess with everyone. As a Ravens' fan, I have all the faith in the world in John Harbaugh based on the last five seasons so I hope that at least one point during the second half last week as the Ravens were in the process of calling twenty consecutive passing plays when Joe Flacco clearly did not have his "A" game, he asked offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell the following question: "Jim, can you please tell me exactly what in the fuck are we doing?"

At Cincinnati by 1.5 over New England: The Pick - Patriots

Oh those lovable Bengals. If not for one of the luckiest wins you'll ever see against the Packers, they'd be 1-3 coming-off a 17-6 beatdown at the hands of the Browns who are supposed to be tanking. It's going to be fun watching them come to grips with the fact that Andy Dalton is a poor man's Matt Schaub. Let's hope it takes them a couple more years to figure it out before they trade him to the Raiders for a first round pick.

Seattle by 2.5 at Indianapolis: The Pick - Colts

Merry Christmas Colt fans.
Enjoy your effin' fifteen years
of Super Bowl contention.
We know the Seahawks are going to lose a road game soon because of the way they keep dodging bullets. Meanwhile, the Colts have won their last two games by a combined score of 64-10 (and I know one of those was against the Jags but the other one was at the 49ers to they kind of cancel each other out). If I was a Colts fan, I would feel like I have about the fourth or fifth most reliable quarterback in the league right now behind, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and maybe Tom Brady. (Please don't talk to me about Tony Romo's 105.0 quarterback rating in September which is the football version of A-Rod's regular season batting average).

At Green Bay by 6.5 over Detroit: The Pick - Packers

My son asked me the other night if I thought Aaron Rodgers would win another Super Bowl and I said "yes" before I started to really think about it. Rodgers is 29 and let's say he plays 8 more seasons after this one which is realistic considering his healthy track record and what Peyton Manning is doing these days at the age of 37. That gives him nine more shots to win another ring. I figure Manning, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck are going to combine for at least four titles over that span which leaves Rodgers five chances and I like his odds. (Note: When I started writing about this premise, I was going to conclude that I didn't like his chances and then I got to the end and went the other way . . . just the kind of in-depth analysis you've come to expect from the Fantasy Golf Report).

At Chicago by 6.5 over New Orleans: The Pick - Saints

Now that Jay Cutler has settled-down and has as many turnovers as touchdown passes, can we get past the notion that the Bears are a Super Bowl contender and start dreaming about a Saints-Seahawks NFC Championship Game?

At N.Y. Giants by 2.5 over Philadelphia: The Pick - Giants

I'm going to rip-off D.J. Gallo's line for this one: "Chip Kelly's defense is on pace to revolutionize offense in the NFL." This week, however, Kelly's team may have met their incompetent match as we have the resistable force that is the Giants' turnover machine against the movable object that is the Eagles' defense. I guess I'll take the home team?

San Diego by 4.5 at Oakland: The Pick - Chargers

Believe me, if there's one thing Ravens fans understand, it's that you never want your team quarterbacked by a guy who scored a big contract off a one game performance and was subsequently shopped for a 5th round draft pick and case of Tenactin by the team that foolishly signed him (see Scott Mitchell).

Just butt fumble baby!!!
Here is the list of Raiders starting quarterbacks since former MVP Rich Gannon was taking snaps: Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor, Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller (Kyle Boller . . . really!?!), Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell, Charlie Frye, Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, Aaron Brooks, Kerry Collins and of course, Marques Tuiasosopo. Looking at that list, clearly the question is not will Mark Sanchez be a Raider but when?

Carolina by 2 at Arizona: The Pick - Cardinals

I'm sticking with the Cardinals as my dark horse wild card pick despite some very shaky recent play by Carson Palmer. Just to clarify, my dark horse is being quarterbacked by a guy who couldn't cut it with the Bengals and the Raiders. Proceed with caution.

Denver by 7 at Dallas: The Pick - Broncos

The Broncos' average margin of victory this year is 22 points and their closest game was a 16 point win over the Raiders who they understandably had a hard time taking seriously. How can they not be at least double digit favorites in every game until someone stays with them for four quarters?

At San Francisco by 7 over Houston: The Pick - 49ers

On one side you have Matt Schaub who has thrown a pick six in three consecutive games. On the other side, you have frothing Jim Harbaugh who may be feeling that his 1970's Woody Hayes coaching approach is wearing a bit thin with his players so his championship window may not be open as long as he thought. Especially because the quarterback he ditched is 4-0 with 7 touchdowns and 2 turnovers while the guy he kept is 2-2 with 4 touchdowns and 7 turnovers.

At Atlanta by 8.5 over N.Y. Jets: The Pick - Falcons

You have to love Jet fans (well you don't really . . . it's a figure of speech or a saying or something). Their team is coming-off a 38-13 shellacking and their quarterback has 11 turnovers in four games but that doesn't stop them from being chesty and defiant. We wouldn't want them any other way.

Last Week's Record: 8-6-1 . . . Season Record: 35-26-1

Email the FGR here.


* I'm glad that tennis hasn't resorted to a handicap system by awarding the lesser player a two game lead in every set or some other contrived field-leveling concept. I'm frankly surprised that golf's handicap system isn't the subject of more derision as the sporting world's answer to pure communism. Isn't this the perfect description of the handicap system: "From each according to his ability to each according to his need"? You have to love the guy who stands on the range bitching about taxes and welfare before hitting the first tee and saying, "ok I get three a side." (Note that in this scenario, the Tea Partier completely opposes the handicap system as a matter of principal but gladly takes his strokes anyway . . . I think it's time to get back on topic).

Let's go sweetie . . . you're
about to miss your quota
for the second day in a row.
** Are you sure the government shutdown isn't just a diversion so we won't notice that the Rainbow Loom has turned half of the American households into East Asian sweatshops?

*** I'm going to end every Rams' pick this season with that line because it's true. It's time we dispense with the "if he just had some weapons" argument for quarterbacks like Bradford. The Patriots could start three Division I women's volleyball players at wide receiver and Tom Brady would still win 8 games while completing 65% of his passes (God I hate that guy).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The FGR Week 5 NFL Picks (Part 1)

Writing the Fantasy Golf Report has been kind of a grind lately to the point where I actually thought that it might be time to take a sabbatical (assuming you can technically take a sabbatical from an unpaid hobby). And then it dawned on me as I was making my first swipe at the Week 5 picks on Monday afternoon* that I've started wandering off course by foolishly trying to actually write about the topics I'm writing about (stay with me). I mean who in the hell wants my take on which NFL teams are good this year? I just re-read the somewhat bland Week 4 picks and I can assure you that I don't.

"OK, I'm listening."
So we're going to get back to what the FGR does best which is recounting self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing tales about myself. We do, however, have one problem with that plan this week (notice that I make this "our" problem). I haven't done much worth writing about lately other than an event I participated in over a week ago that's kind of languishing off in a separate post that currently has about as much momentum as the Eli Manning/Joe Flacco "elite" quarterback debate. With that limitation in mind, let's give the Seinfeld formula a shot and see if we can make something out of nothing. Without further ado, I bring you The FGR: A Saturday Without Golf or Alcohol.**

9:45 a.m.: I kicked-off the day by attending my six year old daughter's soccer game. At that age, they generally play 4 v.4 or 5 v. 5 and the rule of thumb is that if you have two kids who understand the object of the game, you win. Unfortunately for the opponents of my daughter's team, her squad is apparently comprised entirely of girls who spent the last three years getting pushed around in the back yard by their older brothers and now it's payback time. I don't think they could have scored faster or more often if the opposing coach had blown the whistle and then immediately thrown the ball into his own team's goal. The two best parts of this experience for me are: (1) I was the coach on the wrong end of these beatdowns six years ago so I've earned this and (2) I am not coaching this team so I don't have to worry about the sportsmanship implications when the score hits 6-0. I can just stand on the sideline while smugly pretending to be happy for the girls on the other team when they actually get a foot on the ball. The words "patronizing clap" come to mind.

10:45 a.m.: I spent about the next hour hovering over FGK1, pretending to make sure he got some homework done while resisting the urge to say, "sucks to be you dude" and "really, is there a bigger waste of time than 7th grade homework?" I mean looking back, wouldn't the play have been to almost fail-out of school from 7th-10th grade and then make a miraculous comeback in 11th-12th. Then conjure-up some bullshit adversity story like you ran into problems with model airplane glue that you had to overcome. Throw that into your application essay, add a few oboe lessons and some rudimentary fencing skills and you're an Ivy League lock right?

12:30 p.m.: The FGW took FGK 1 and 3 to the steeplechase (this is actually not as snooty as it sounds . . . t's snootier) and FGK2 was out birthday shopping with his grandparents so I had exactly two hours of free time which is also known as that netherworld of having just not quite enough time to play nine holes of golf. So I went and got a new propane tank for the grill, swam some laps at the indoor pool, ate lunch while watching twenty minutes of Friday Night Lights (a movie that literally has every storyline end sadly yet I still can't stop watching it) and then just barely caught myself before I dozed-off and missed FGK2's soccer game. (Empty house + couch + turkey sandwich + re-watched movie = ZZZzzzzz).

3:00 p.m.: I should have stayed on the couch. FGK2's team took the field with the enthusiasm of a bunch coal miners climbing onto the elevator the day after a cave-in and then it went downhill from there. The only thing worse from a coaching perspective than having an unmotivated team line-up against a more talented opponent is when your team is made-up of nine and ten years olds which kind of limits your ability to pull a Coach Dale from Hoosiers. In fact, I think you could scream, "maybe they were right about us . . . maybe we don't belong up here" at a bunch of ten year old boys and they'd look at you like "yeah, they probably were right about us ass-hat but you scheduled these all-stars . . . can we go home now?"

"I need more crossbar baby."
4:00 p.m. The final score was 6-0 and we were lucky that hitting posts and crossbars didn't count because the other team was ringing shots off them like they were recording an acoustic version of Don't Fear the Reaper. By the time the barrage was over, our goalie looked like Michael Douglas at the end of The Game. To make matters worse, there were no post-game snacks to ease the pain, not even a freakin' orange slice. We should have taken the kids to McDonalds like the losers in the commercials do but my day was far from over and a Big Mac sitting in my gut was the last thing I needed at that point.

To be continued . . . on to the Thursday night pick.

At Cleveland by 4.5 over Buffalo: The Pick - Cleveland

If the Browns and the Bills play a Thursday night game in October and no one watches it, will it really have happened? Clearly this is the NFL's way of killing two birds with one stone by satisfying the "everyone gets at least one night game requirement" for two of its most unwatchable teams in one shot. It's no coincidence that this game is up against the start of the baseball playoffs and the season premieres of about a dozen shows including NBC's latest attempt to reclaim Thursday nights by trotting-out actors who haven't been funny in ten years (Sean Saves the World and the Michael J. Fox Show? Really?).*** I think Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock are contractually allowed to bail on this game if there's no score at halftime and hand the microphones to recently indicted Cleveland morning DJ's Rover and Toomey. At least that would get me to watch.

As for the game itself, Billy Cundiff is apparently the only guy who got the tanking memo as he missed 37 and 49 yard field goals last Sunday that were both more painful to watch than the Boom Goes the Dynamite guy (when a total lack of preparation meets opportunity . . . this never gets old). Who else but the Browns would torment their fans by signing a kicker who is still scarred from missing a 32 yard field goal that cost his team a chance to go to the Super Bowl? Even with that baggage, I like the Browns to keep their failed tanking mission going for at least the next two weeks against the Bills and the Lions which should be just long enough to get the hopes of some fans up before they drop them like a watermelon from a tenth floor window.  

Last Week's Record: 8-6-1 . . . Season Record: 35-26-1

Email the FGR here.


* I like to write down the lines and make one pass through the picks on Monday while what I saw on Sunday is still fresh. There are usually about six games that jump out at me as only having one possible outcome. In this week's case, my picks for those games are the Browns, Colts, Packers, Chargers, Broncos, 49ers and Falcons. The knee-jerk reaction is usually a result of having Peyton Manning on one side of the match-up or Matt "Two for Us - One for You" Schaub on the other. Wait, I'm trying to analyze games again aren't I . . . sorry.

This game is brutal.
Switch it back over to
 The Vampire Diaries.
** The same could not be said of last Thursday when I went to play golf and officially started soliciting designated drivers at around 4:15 p.m. I'd write about that experience but frankly, I don't remember much about it other than (a) I started laughing as I tried to address my final tee shot which I promptly hit about 40 yards with what I believe was a 5-iron and (b) there was a post-round dinner attended by about 100 guys in blue blazers where a raffle for prizes was held and every time someone stood-up with a winning ticket I yelled "BINGO!!!" The next thing I knew, I had been ushered outside by the putting green where I pretended to smoke cigarettes which is kind of like me pretending to make balloon animals only with more coughing and more wasted cigarettes.

*** You know you're reaching when you use the actor's name in the title of the show. I'm not sure this has worked since the days of Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore but give NBC credit for trying anything and everything. I'm sure The Wacky Adventures of Todd Bridges can't be far behind.