Monday, February 29, 2016

The Pre-Super Tuesday Presidential Power Rankings

And then there were seven (or as many as a dozen if you count the different persona Marco Rubio tries every week) and we now have two more clearly established front-runners in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton so they have ascended to the top of the rankings. A couple of things worth noting: (1) There are currently 54 Republican Senators and 31 Republican governors but the party's nominee is probably going to be a shady real estate mogul/reality TV star who was a registered Democrat as recently as 2008; and (2) the two biggest "challengers" to the Democratic favorite were a self-avowed socialist and the former Governor of Maryland who is about as popular in his home state as the Irsay family, red tide and the Zika Virus. 

Crazy times people. But enough preambling. Let's get to the rankings. 
1. Hillary Clinton

After her win in South Carolina, she's starting to look more and more like the presumptive Democratic nominee that she was supposed to be back in 2008 when the arrogance of the Clinton machine led to her gagging it away by underestimating her more charismatic opponent. Now the word on the street is that Team Clinton would relish the opportunity to go up against Trump in the general election. Uh oh.  

2. Donald Trump

One of the many things that the Trump phenomena has exposed is the warped definition that most politicians have of the word "loyalty." They're like the mob in that they like to rhapsodize about loyalty right up to the point where they put the piano wire around your neck. Take for example Maine Governor Paul LePage. At a meeting of Republican governors on February 20th, he declared that Trump's nomination would deeply wound the party and called for the drafting of an open letter "to the people" disavowing Trump and his brand of divisive politics.

"Tell Marco it was only business.
I always liked him."
What did LePage do six days later? Well he of course endorsed Trump saying that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were "killing the brand" of the Republican Party. (Apparently his open letter idea was taken out of context). And if you think that the mob analogy as applied to LePage is too harsh, consider this quote he directed at a Maine charter school that made the mistake of hiring one of his political opponents, “it’s a nice school you have there . . . it’d be a shame if something happened to it.” Meet the spokesman for the Republican brand. Just another reason to mourn the loss of James Gandolfini who could have played him in the HBO movie. 

Of course the LePage endorsement came on the heels of Trump bringing Chris Christie into the fold. If nothing else, that's going to have Marco sweating and fidgeting more than normal every time the Cobra Kai walks through the Republican cafeteria. He may want to start eating lunch in a bathroom stall so he doesn't end-up sprawled on the floor like Jeb Bush.

3. Marco Rubio

So last week we speculated that Marco wouldn't go after Donald because he's afraid of being stuffed in a gym locker. Well someone must have watched My Bodyguard* over the weekend because Chris Makepeace finally stood up to Matt Dillon at the debate in Houston. Then he doubled down by really taking the gloves off Don Rickles style the next day and mocked Trump for misspelling words in his tweets because the nerd route is the most foolproof way to win the popularity of the mob back from the star quarterback. But Marco had a little twist up his sleeve. Check-out the way he mocks Trump for being both uneducated and over educated at the same time, ". . . that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business." [Click here for rimshot]. Don't quit your day job Marco. Oh wait, you basically already did. [Rimshot].

4. Ted Cruz

Ted continues to hold steady in the middle of the pack proving that there is a niche out there for self-righteous condescending lawyers (which bodes well for some of us). Ironically, Ted has become one of Trump's greatest assets because, as long as he stays in the race, he limits the possibility of Rubio making-up enough ground between now and March 15th. In light of Ted's glaring lack of popularity among his peers dating all the way back to college, I'm guessing this is not the first time he's gotten in the way of another dude's attempt to pursue the object of his affection (a/k/a something that rhymes with "clock-bocking").     

5. Bernie Sanders

Wait. That doesn't look like
free college tuition.
It appears that even the young socialists are having a hard time envisioning Bernie as the actual president. Maybe the Larry David thing is starting to have an effect. Or maybe they're hearing the Soviet Union references and finally Googling what they actually mean. If I was working for the Hillary campaign, I'd take Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, tweak it to Bread Lines and run with it. (And yes, that was really just a cheap excuse to link to the explicit version of the Blurred Lines video).  

6. John Kasich

Remember when John Kasich was going to combine the momentum from his second place finish in New Hampshire with his new "can't we all just get along" message and ride into contention? Yeah, me neither. That was all the way back in the second week of February and since then he earned 7.6% of the votes in South Carolina and 3.6% in Nevada. By last Thursday's debate, he had been relegated to Ben Carson territory meaning that they only asked him a question when the guy manning the camera on the three main candidates had to take a leak.  

7. Dr. Ben Carson

It looks like the good doctor is planning to see this thing through to the end which will probably involve a guy in a suit tapping him on the shoulder and saying, "it's over Dr. Carson. You can go home now." That moment probably should've occurred immediately after he announced at the debate that he would choose the next Supreme Court justice by looking at the "fruit salad of their life." Fruit salad huh? I wonder what criteria President Carson would use for a female judge. [Rimshot].


* My Bodyguard is your classic early 80's teen drama where the new kid in school gets bullied and then hires a bodyguard to protect him only to learn that he had the necessary toughness in him the whole time. The only problem with analogizing that kid to Marco Rubio is that the kid in the movie wins the fight at the end.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The Honda Classic Preview

If you were monitoring the day to day activity of the Fantasy Golf Report last week, you probably noticed that we made a rare last minute pick switch from Bill Haas to Sergio Garcia (information for life). Of course, we could have just as well switched the pick to Sergio Valente and it wouldn't have mattered because both Sergio and Haas whiffed on the cut. Yet despite the fact that my last minute swap didn't mean squat, I was more annoyed than usual by my least favorite player on tour getting the win and I couldn't figure-out why until I went back and read this line from last week's preview, "option (d) is the way to go because I'm foolish to save Bubba for later." Son of a bitch!

It was right there in my own words surrounded by a whole bunch of other words suggesting I should also consider Sergio, Haas and Charl Schwartzel (who pulled his typical PGA Tour act of backing-up 68-68 with 73-73 and falling into a tie for 45th). This was probably karmic payback for some of things I've said about Sergio in the past like "and then there is Sergio Garcia, the guy we all dislike but now can barely remember why," and "I've always contended that Sergio is going to reach a point where we grow tired of disliking him," or "we all agreed that he was no longer detestable and, for Sergio, 'no longer detestable' means he's come a long way," or "no one is suited to win something called 'the 5th major' more than Luke Donald . . . except for maybe Sergio," or . . . you get the point. Asking Sergio to step-up for us under the circumstances would be like Donald Trump asking Jeb Bush if he can crash on his couch during the Florida primary. 

Moving on to the task at hand, one of these days I'm going to learn that the "save him for later" strategy is the fantasy golf equivalent of punting on second down. But that day isn't today. Rory is the obvious pick but not saving him for a major seems almost sacrilegious. (I say "almost" because when people are calling the Pope "the anti-Christ," you've really to raise your game to get credit for committing a sacrilege). Instead, we're going to hope the run of prickly characters continues in the form of Patrick Reed. He thrives in the windy Florida conditions, he's due for a win and he and Bubba could be the inspiration for a self-improvement book called The Elusive Art of Social Skills.

If you want to look elsewhere, give the Brits and Micks a close look. Rory and Padraig Harrington won in 2012 and 2015 while Russell Knox and Rory were runner-ups in 2014. Last year, Knox, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter finished tied for 3rd, Jamie Donaldson was 6th and Luke Donald finished T7th. That could mean a good week for guys like Shane Lowry, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan. In fact, now I'm sure one of those guys will finish no worse than top three. But which one dammit? WHICH ONE?!?!              

We do love ourselves a
British invasion theme.
The Honda Classic Odds

1. Rory McIlroy - 11/2
2. Rickie Fowler - 12/1
3. Adam Scott - 18/1
4. Hideki Matsuyama - 18/1
5. Patrick Reed - 22/1
6. Phil Mickelson - 22/1
7. Brooks Koepka - 28/1
8. Branden Grace - 30/1
9. Paul Casey - 33/1
10. Kevin Kisner - 35/1

Ten Guys We Like

Rory McIlroy - 11/2
Patrick Reed - 22/1
Paul Casey - 33/1
Sergio Garcia - 40/1
Russell Knox - 40/1
Shane Lowry - 50/1
God save the queen!
Ryan Palmer - 60/1
Andy Sullivan - 80/1
Gary Woodland - 90/1
Ernie Els - 100/1

One and Done Pick: Patrick Reed

Sleeper Pick: Andy Sullivan

Picks to Date

Hyundai: Dustin Johnson  $148,000
Sony: Matt Kuchar  $77,604
CareerBuilder: Ryan Palmer  $75,897
Farmers Brandt Snedeker $1,170,000
Phoenix Hideki Matsuyama $1,170,000
Pebble Beach: Jimmy Walker $143,500
Northern Trust: Sergio Garcia $0

                            Total:                     $2,785,001

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Pre-South Carolina Primary Presidential Power Rankings

This political season has more storylines and dubious characters than the combined casts of Game of Thrones and The Wire and the FGR wants to get in on the action. Unfortunately, we're dealing with a serious dearth of political knowledge and experience but that's not stopping anyone else from chiming-in so, under the theory that opinions are like assholes (everybody's got one), here we go. 

To simplify this we're going to use the power rankings format with which the FGR is very comfortable after applying it loosely to everything from NFL teams to dads in movies. The ranking criteria is based on who is at the top of their political games right now and who is employing the Cleveland Browns model. It is not a ranking of who we want to be the next president or who we think should be the next president because we don't really want any of these people to be the next president nor do we think any of them should be the next president.* Along with millions of others, we are clinging to the hope that the last several months have just been an opening act and that the "real" candidates from each party have yet to reveal themselves. (We're waiting people. Seriously, this shit isn't funny anymore).   

To prepare for this, we've been watching as much of the debates as we can stomach and more of Fox News and MSNBC than we can stomach. We've read dozens of Facebook rants and learned more about our "friends" than we really wanted to know. And finally, we've spent a lot of time on Nate Silver's website tracking poll numbers and delegates to see how much of the candidates' crazy talk is actually going to translate into voting support. What we've come up with is a fairly useless, though hopefully entertaining, ranking of the candidates. If we did this right, then everybody who has already crawled into bed with one of these people should enjoy about 85% of this and hate the other 15%. (Appropriate coming from a career "B" student).** Let's begin. 

1. Donald Trump

The ironic thing about Donald Trump being the Republican front runner is that he’d gladly partner-up with a Muslim to build a chain of abortion clinics staffed exclusively by illegal aliens if he thought it would turn a profit. It appears that his supporters can be divided into two categories: (1) Those who want our next president to be a true political outsider as opposed to that artificial "outsider" crap that John McCain tried to sell us in the past and Ted Cruz is peddling this year; and (2) Those who are actually buying Trump's bullshit about religion, immigration, etc. The only time Donald Trump cares about the Bible is when he has to buy a thousand of them to stock a new hotel. He's #1 in the rankings because he's made all of that irrelevant. Deep down, his supporters don't really care what he believes in because they believe in him the most which is a really sad comment on the other candidates.    

2. Bernie Sanders

Bernie has convinced young people that socialism is a better option than their current prospects which isn't too difficult when indentured servitude is probably a better option than what most new college grads will be facing. At least under that 18th century plan, they wouldn't have to move back in with their parents with a $200K student loan albatross hanging around their necks. Look for him to start expanding his "Everything Should be Free" program to include benefits like free futons, free mini-fridges, free vape cartridges and free Taco Bell.   

3. John Kasich

It's going to be interesting to see how his newfound "why can't we all just get along approach?" will play with voters. At this point, it looks like his ceiling might be running mate. At least someone finally helped him to get his karate chopping under control. Unfortunately, that didn't happen before the writers at The Daily Show cast him as the fruit ninja candidate. If he starts moving closer to the center of the debate stage, the Donald is going to have a field day with that one.

4. Hillary Clinton

Her support among women and young voters is waning. She just lost the New Hampshire primary by 22 points to a 74 year old socialist Larry David impersonator. Oh yeah, she has the spectre of a Federal indictment hanging over her head. Despite all of that, she is projected to run away with the South Carolina primary and is still the favorite to be the Democratic nominee. Welcome to the 2016 presidential race. I hope you brought your tin foil hat.   

5. Ted Cruz

We've all been stuck in situations in life where we've had to deal with assholes like Ted. Maybe it was a shitty job, a long road trip or God forbid he was your college roommate. I'm pretty sure none of us has ever emerged from one of those nightmares thinking, "you know what . . . that guy would make a great president." We'll give Ted his day in the #5 spot because he's going to finish second in South Carolina before hopefully getting gonged off the stage on Super Tuesday.     

6. Marco Rubio

Marco appears to have recovered from having the wind knocked-out of him when Chris Christie went all Superfly Snooka in New Hampshire. During his back and forth with Cruz on immigration last Saturday night, he only looked a little like the kid trying to stand-up to the class bully while secretly praying for a teacher to walk-by. This would explain why he never directly attacks Trump who would stuff him in a gym locker while the teacher stood by and said, "oh Donald, you are a piece of work."  

If we could offer one piece of advice, it would be to avoid accusing a guy named "Cruz" of not being able to understand Spanish. Even if Ted wasn't fluent, don't you think he could have found someone who was? It raises some concern that Rubio might not be aware that, as president, he will have to interact with people who speak other languages and that they will have translators who speak both their language and English. It just means he'll have to be a little more discreet when talking behind their backs.      

7. Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush picked the wrong year to run as the "establishment candidate." He's only contending in one South Carolina poll and that's based on the question, "which candidate would you never vote for?" He's second behind Trump who he can't seem to beat at anything. He even threw his mother at him during the last debate and it came back and cracked him in the forehead like a boomerang ("she should run"). He probably could have influenced this race if he'd dropped out after New Hampshire and thrown his support behind Kasich but you get the feeling that if he made that call now, Kasich would say, "I think I'm good . . . maybe give Marco a call."   

8. Ben Carson

As the good doctor's campaign continues to fade into oblivion like the grain silos of ancient Egypt, you have to give him credit for making it this far despite having no debate skills, knowledge of foreign policy or understanding of the differences between the workings of the U.S. economy and his local church. Imagine how pissed he would be if he knew that some people were worshiping without greasing the collection plate. Remember, God and America only want people who have "skin in the game" and by "skin" he means cold hard cash. If you don't believe him, check the Bible. It's in there somewhere.     


* Apparently I'm not alone as a recent poll showed that 56% of likely voters would have a negative response to Donald Trump winning the nomination and 54% would have the same response to Hillary Clinton. This just in. Those are the same two people voters like the most.

** Come to think of it, that 85% is about the percentage of people who are not immediately offended or repelled within fifteen minutes of meeting me. The good news being that number is way-up from college when I was running closer to 50%. By comparison, Ted Cruz is currently at 18%.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Downton Abbey Update: Season 6, Episode 7

Man the Countess was dropping classic lines all over the place on her way to the South of France last Sunday night, first noting that "my reason for traveling is to make myself eager to come home . . . a month among the French should manage it." She then followed that stinger by noting that her return wouldn't occur "until nostalgia has smothered my fury," a sentiment which many of us could apply to family holiday gatherings. The Countess is like a polished-up British version of Donald Trump and I mean that as a compliment. It would be fitting if those lines along with her verbal evisceration of Mrs. Cruikshank prove to be her swan song because she deserves to go out on top based on her body of work whether you like her or not. Just like Kobe.

We were going to feature
Shkreli here but that guy
scares the crap out of us.
The same can't be said for Mr. Barrow, however, who now appears to be on a collision course with the same fate as Lane Pryce from Mad MenYou have to give Julian Fellowes credit for somehow conning us into awkward feelings of sympathy for the show's answer to Martin Shkreli. Barrow's fate is probably not suicide, however, because Fellowes is a master of diversionary tactics but there's part of me that hopes it does end that way just so Mr. Carson can discover the swinging corpse in the kitchen and dismissively say "Mr. Barrow, do please get down from there and resume your search for alternate employment." 

No, Mr. Barrow isn't getting off that easily. Remember that the only servants who are allowed to die at Downton Abbey are the ones who go off to war and get shot by the enemy like William Mason. Superficial self-inflicted wounds like Barrow's don't count. William earned his honorable discharge from the show with an act of bravery on the battlefield. Barrow is nothing more than an under-butler with highly questionable proclivities and appears doomed to live the rest of his days occupying the purgatory that is Mr. Molesly's vacated footman job. I'm sure there's some greater meaning to Barrow's story of descent and, if I'd actually ready Dante's Divine Comedy in college like I was supposed to, I could write something about it that at least sounded intelligent but I didn't. I did, however, watch a lot of Rockford Files reruns though. Tuition well spent. Let's press on.

While all the primary characters stayed intact, we did get some wholly predictable collateral damage at the racetrack. The only question leading-up to the inevitable crash in Turn 1 was who it would claim and we should've known because nothing portends death on a show like Downton Abbey more than cringe worthy sophomoric banter. The quick if not dull wit of Charlie Rogers got him planted in a ditch by the side of the road under a flaming Matchbox car. The poor bastard might as well have been wearing a red Star Trek uniform because he was doomed from the moment he walked onto the screen.   

Best television opening
theme and sequence
And that brings us to the Crawley sisters. Edith has decided to mull over a marriage proposal from perhaps the most stable and grounded male character the show has ever produced. Sure he doesn't have a pot to piss in but Edith is already rich and owns an apparently successful magazine so she could buy him such a pot. If the examples of her past major life decisions are any indication, particularly with regards to men, she will surely reject the proposal and immediately fall for a man showing all of the early symptoms of Polio.  

Mary, on the other hand, flat-out announced that she's running in the other direction despite the uplifting advice from Chauffeur Tom that, if she commits to love again, she will absolutely be devastated because that's what love is all about. If Tom ever gets tired of being so useful around the property, he's got a great future as a writer of melancholy country music ballads. Then again, he's Irish so his people wrote the book on suffering long before he sold them out for afternoon tea and tuxedos at dinner. 

So where do we go from here? Well Lord Grantham's miraculous recovery has to be a mirage and the communal joy surrounding the welcoming of Tiaa the puppy was just a set-up for the inevitable and tragic sweeping of the knee. The demise of opulence needs a name and a face to go with it and that has to be Robert Crawley, the man who acknowledges its impending arrival but also fondly remembers it at its peak when the servants didn't just bring you lunch, they presented it as a grand buffet fit for a state dinner. At the rate things are currently going, however, life wouldn't be worth living in five years anyway. Might as well get out now while you can still get a cucumber sandwich served-up by a depressed footman in this bitch.    

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The Northern Trust Open Preview

Would you believe me if I told you that Phil Mickelson was my second choice last week? Maybe it was a blessing that I didn't go that way with the pick because then instead of the mild sense of relief I felt when that putt lipped-out, I would've felt the sting of being that close to hitting the trifecta only to be undone by a Class II Phil screw-up. (Winged Foot is of course the Class V which would then make Jean van de Velde's British Open meltdown* the equivalent of the storm in The Day After Tomorrow).** 

Oh who am I kidding? Picking Jimmy Walker over Mickelson cost me $600,000+. It was a stumble that could prove costly in the end. On the other hand, if you've ridden with the FGR this year, you've only used three of the top twenty players in the world and you've gotten wins out of two of them (you know I'm going to milk those two wins for as long as I reasonably can and then for at least another month after that).       

Now we move down the coast to the Northern Trust Open where we've been alternating "A" List winners with riff-raff since Mickelson went back to back in 2008-09. Since then, the winners have been Steve Stricker, Aaron Baddeley, Bill Haas, John Merrick, Bubba Watson and last year's winner, James Hahn. This means we should be due for a stud performance, especially when you consider that Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are on the guest list. I wouldn't roll the dice on either of them as a one and done pick but I'd certainly factor them into any other semi-legal gambling endeavors I might be undertaking (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). 

As for whom I would pick, it would come down to Jimmy Walker (used him), Hideki Matsuyama (used him too), Dustin Johnson (used him and something seems squirrelly with his game right now), Bubba Watson (plan to use him later), Charl Schwartzel (always disappoints me when I use him), Sergio Garcia (see Charl Schwartzel) and Bill Haas (yawn). As we head to print, I'm going with Haas but that could change to Sergio at the last minute. I switched from Hunter Mahan to Matsuyama late with the best possible results and almost did the same with Walker to Phil last week but I chickened-out. 

Now I'm waffling back and forth between the equally unscientific strategies of (a) going with my first instinct or (b) riding this second guess method. Or maybe I should go with option (c) which I guess would be Schwartzel under the theory that sooner or later he's going to have to come through for me. Or maybe I'm overthinking it (maybe?) and option (d) is the way to go because I'm foolish to save Bubba for later. Holy crap I've turned into Vizzini from The Princess Bride and look how things turned-out for him.*** 

I hope you've found this salient "analysis" helpful. Believe me that just as much irrational thought went into the picks below. Good luck.

The Day After Tomorrow's frigid
plot and setting severely neutralized
some of Emmy Rossum's strengths.
The Northern Trust Odds

Jordan Spieth - 6/1
Rory McIlroy - 6/1
Dustin Johnson - 14/1
Hideki Matsuyama - 16/1
Justin Rose - 16/1
Bubba Watson - 22/1
Sergio Garcia - 25/1
Adam Scott - 28/1
Jimmy Walker - 28/1
J.B. Holmes - 30/1

Ten Guys We Like

Bubba Watson - 22/1
Sergio Garcia - 25/1
Jimmy Walker - 28/1
Bill Haas - 33/1
Charl Schwartzel - 33/1
Freddie Jacobson - 60/1
But maybe they could do a
sequel called The Day After
Tomorrow 2: Havana Nights
Brendan Steele - 66/1
William McGirt - 100/1
James Hahn - 100/1
Bryce Molder - 100/1

The One and Done Pick: Sergio Garcia

The Sleeper Pick: William McGirt


* Check-out the Sportcenter recap of that British Open final round. You couldn't have had a better narrator than Kenny Mayne. And how ironically clutch was Jean van de Velde's ten foot triple bogey putt to force the playoff? He doesn't get much credit for that. Not sure why. (Oh right. The biggest choke-job in the history of golf. Never mind).

** It was so cold in Baltimore last weekend that the penguins at the zoo circulated a petition demanding indoor plumbing. It snowed most of Monday and then turned to freezing rain. Today it's fifty degrees with periods of South Asian monsoon. This weekend it could hit sixty degrees . . . in February. I'm not going to draw any scientific conclusions but I believe the climatological term for what's happening is "nuts."  

*** Editors Note: I bailed on Haas and switched to Garcia at the last minute. This decision could ultimately be the source of a lot of anguish and regret but at least I get to root for Sergio this weekend? 

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Downton Abbey Update: Season 6, Episode 6

I feel as though I've missed a great opportunity waiting until this late to make Downton Abbey a regular part of the FGR writing cycle. What are the chances that I'm ever going to latch onto another show that is both so frivolous while at the same time so ripe for commentary (much less watch it as it unfolds season by season instead of binge-watching like some Adderall popping college kid who's parents thought they were doing him a favor by not having a T.V. in the house). I'm open for suggestions if anyone has discovered a worthy replacement.* In the meantime, we'll just have to make the best of the time we have left with the Crawleys, their servants and the men who inexplicably want to marry their strumpet daughters in spite of the sudden tragic death that goes hand in hand with that commitment. Which transitions us smoothly to last Sunday night's episode.     

Nobody met or initiated their demise (the Carolina Panthers notwithstanding) so, with but two episodes to go before the final servant bell tolls, we had to satisfy ourselves with some good old-fashioned class bashing by Lady Mary and that aristocratic apologist Mr. Carson. It was whimsically entertaining to say the least but Downton is at its best when tragedy, or at least the threat, of it is in the air. We can be pretty confident that will be the case next week as we'll be treated to an early 20th century version of the Daytona 500 in which one of the drivers will be carrying the curse of the aforementioned Lady Mary as his co-pilot. What couldn't go wrong?

That Berning sensation
ain't your ulcer. 
And don't forget Lord Grantham and his one or two not so subtle coughs per scene to remind us that the Grim Reaper could enter his room just as easily as that nosy little socialist from the house tour. I assumed that was supposed to be Bernie Sanders' dad but I checked and he emigrated from Poland in 1921 so it is highly unlikely that he was in England to interrogate Bobby Grantham on June 6, 1925. And yes I just Googled "Downton Abbey timeline" to determine the exact date of the open house so I could figure-out whether or not Bernie Sanders' father might have been there. What kind of life is this? 

It would appear that, after five and half seasons of taking more abuse than O.J. Simpson in the Naked Gun, Lady Edith's tortoise strategy is going to payoff in the race to be the happiest daughter. Lady Sybil retired early when she married the chauffeur, had a chauffeur baby and then paid the ultimate price for her act of royal rebellion. Lady Mary appears doomed to suffer another tragic loss before the series finale and, even if what appears to be the inevitable is somehow averted, she'll undoubtedly blast another relationship into oblivion with her freeze ray dooming her and young George to a lonely existence at Downton where he'll probably end-up like the creepy mama's boy from Game of Thrones who kept wanting to throw Peter Dinklage through the hole in the floor. At least they'll have Carson around to defend the abbey from thieves and evolution.

As the end draws nigh, I really just have one request and I don't think it unreasonable if I may be so bold. Young Daisy should be on schedule to take her nebulous exams this week and, if she performs well, it could be her ticket to a better life far away from the bowels of the abbey. I hope she bombs them in spectacular fashion. Then I hope she stays true to the impertinent twit she has become and blames Mr. Mosely for her failure. Then I hope she storms out of the school and gets run over by a double-decker tour bus carrying 87 obnoxious Americans on their way to Downton Abbey for Tom Branson's Magical Mystery Money Grab house tour. And yes, double decker buses had been invented by then. I looked it up. (What kind of life is this indeed?)       


"And I'm still going to call
you 'Brody' so get used to it!"
* I started watching Showtimes' Billions with Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis this week. It's going to be hard to fuck-up a show with those two guys in the lead roles so let's hope they don't find a way. As far as it filling the Downton void, let's just say it doesn't have quite the same subtlety. When one of the main characters poses the question, "what's the point of having fuck you money if you don't get to occasionally say 'fuck you,'" you know the writers aren't striving for the same level of nuance as Julian Fellowes (for you troglodytes, he's the chap who writes Downton Abbey).     

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fantasy Golf: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am Preview

Some people who devote a stupid amount of their time to things like picking the winners of golf tournaments are probably humble and unassuming. Suffice it to say that I am not one of those people as evidenced by the fact that I once devoted almost 2,000 words to a detailed account of how my fantasy football team went undefeated. Don't be fooled by the feigned effort to be self-deprecating by comparing that feat to when Homer Simpson almost sacrificed his marriage to catch a legendary fish.* That was out and out bragging. And this will be too.

You see it all started way back in January when I sat down to perform some in-depth analysis on the Farmers Insurance Open. The obvious pick that week would've been Jason Day who was the defending champion and is arguably the best player in the world today (I wouldn't argue it but someone could which technically makes it "arguable"). The FGR decided to shun conventional wisdom, however, and go with another past champion and one of the hottest players on tour in Brandt Snedeker. Did we foresee the bizarre turn of events which led to Snedeker shooting what may end-up being the best round of the year and then taking Monday off while the leaders struggled on the back nine, ultimately handing him the win? "Foresee" is a strong word. If you want to use it, please feel free but we'll just let the results speak for themselves.

Then we moved on to the Waste Management Phoenix Open where Bubba Watson was the logical choice based on his back to back runner-up finishes in 2014-15. We saw it differently, however, so we looked down the list of favorites past Snedeker and defending champion Brooks Koepka to the 4th and 5th players on the list . . . Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama. The easy thing to do would have been to pick Rickie because, well, everybody loves Rickie. But you can't let emotion cloud your judgment in these matters. Instead, you must trust your research and, in this case, that research showed that Matsuyama had historically played the TPC Scottsdale better than Fowler which may have something to do with Rickie's inability to figure-out a 342 yard par 4 (here's an idea Rickie. . . 5-iron/sand wedge).

Speaking of Rickie, anyone else 
who wears this needs to be
knee-capped with a 9-iron.
To commemorate the two week winning streak we've added a running total for our picks (see below). So now when this season inevitably starts to unravel like Marco Rubio under cross-examination by Chris Christie, we'll always have those two weeks just like Marco had his third place victory speech in Iowa to look back on and smile. (Don't worry, we'll give equal political bashing time on Thursday).** Unlike Marco, however, we still have our whole season ahead of us.

Downton Abbey Update

(Coming Thursday).

Back to Golf

We're leaving no stone unturned in an effort to keep the streak alive but fortunately we think we found the answer under the first stone because we're not much on manual labor. Brandt Snedeker had the fifth best odds when he won and so did Hideki Matsuyama. Coming into this week, we had a feeling it was going to be Jimmy Walker based on his past success at the AT&T and the likelihood that he would've probably won the Farmers if not for the weather (and the fact that he wasn't the FGR pick). So we cross-referenced that hunch with this week's odds and what do you know? Heat-up the gravy because we're about to roll a turkey (that's bowling lingo for three strikes in a row but I added the cheesy part about the gravy and frankly, I already hate myself for it).

The AT&T Pebble Beach Odds
So we're researching Downton
and accidentally type
"Abbey hot" and . . . 

1. Jordan Spieth - 9/2
2. Jason Day - 8/1
3. Dustin Johnson - 11/1
4. Brandt Snedeker - 14/1
5. Jimmy Walker - 18/1
6. Bubba Watson - 18/1
7. Phil Mickelson - 22/1
8. Justin Rose - 25/1
9. Patrick Reed - 30/1
10. Brooks Koepka - 30/1

Ten Guys We Like***

Dustin Johnson - 11/1
Brandt Snedeker - 14/1
Jimmy Walker - 18/1
Phil Mickelson - 22/1
Kevin Na - 33/1
Hunter Mahan - 70/1
Bryce Molder - 90/1
Will Wilcox - 100/1
. . . BOOM, there's Abbey Clancy.
(We just can't miss these days).
James Hahn - 100/1
Brendon Todd - 150/1

One and Done Pick: Jimmy Walker

Sleeper Pick: Brendon Todd

One and Done Picks to Date


Dustin Johnson 

Sony: Matt Kuchar  $77,604
CareerBuilder: Ryan Palmer  $75,897
Farmers: Brandt Snedeker $1,170,000
Phoenix: Hideki Matsuyama $1,170,000
Total $2,641,501


* If you don't click on the link and read the General Sherman post (your loss), then at least check-out this Drunk Homer Simpson Montage with one of the truly epic lines in the history of man at 1:48.

** We've gone out of our way to avoid politics in the past but there is way too much material out there now to ignore. We'll do our best to keep it balanced but that's going to be tough until the Republicans thin the herd a bit because every time a candidate on either side opens his or her mouth there is massive potential for mockery and the Republicans currently lead the Democrats seven mouths to two.  

*** Jordan Spieth is always one of the "Ten Guys We Like" when he's in the field. 

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