Thursday, September 29, 2005

White Sox clinch
Perhaps I should congratulate Chicago for being the better team.
No, I can't.
Not because they're not better than the Indians, but because I'm bitter.
Still, Chicago did what it had to do, and the the Tribe, to this point haven't.

Roberts confirmed
It's still a mystery to me why some people didn't like this pick.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One more glass of orange juice
Maybe it says something that it's taking me five minutes to come up with a decent lede for what I want to write.
But the truth is, I've got nothing.
Six games were left and the Indians were tied for the Wild Card. I thought the Tribe was a good bet to handle its' remaining games, go say, 4-2, and slide into the Playoffs.
There is likely a line about assumptions. But remember, this is Cleveland, where there is another, longer standing fact:
You can never be optimistic.
During the Indians 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, I spoke with three people, all of whom were watching the game. I think there was one common sentence:
"I can't believe it."
Under normal circumstances, my pre-disposed negativity would have kept me off that. I'd assume something would go wrong.
But the Indians had been so hot the last few weeks that I allowed myself to believe that this year would be different.
As I write this, Boston is down to its final out. If the Red Sox lose, they'll be tied with the Indians.
But the truth is, Indians fans (including myself) should have seen this coming.
The Indians began playing sloppy in Chicago, but the White Sox were so cold that it didn't matter. They were flat out bad at times in Kansas City.
But no matter. They could play bad and still take 2 of 3 from Tampa Bay.
Silly me.
Of course, Cleveland has followed a pattern. The team gets so hot that it looks unbeatable. But a loss at some point, and the Indians suddenly look like a different team.
The loss in Kansas City appears to have had that effect.
Suddenly, Travis Hafner looks like he's pressing. The whole team does, actually.
Aaron Boone, after an amazing series in Chicago, is back in May-form.
Casey Blake is ... well, Casey Blake.
If Cliff Lee allows one run in eight innings, the Indians should win.
Whatever is the root cause, it has to be found.
The Indians lose Thursday, forget it.

Hillary on the move
Dick Morris writes that the Clintons made a miscalculation when they moved to the right last November, and if she moves to the left now, she could be in more trouble.
Dick Morris was associated with the Clintons for over 20 years.
Of course, he has not exactly been on the Clintons Christmas card list since then.
Here's my problem with Hillary, and with the Clintons in general. All the talk about Hillary's shift to the right, and then a prospective shift to the left, and we still don't know one important thing:
What does she really think about anything?
Hillary is, of course, not the only violator. Many politicians shift with the polls. My brother had a good post about it in early August.
No fan of Hillary, of course. No matter how she shifts, it's unlikely she'd get my vote.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Great moments in television
Bill Maher compares Laura Bush to Hitler's dog. Thank goodness Hitchens was on to call him on it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Panel Results: Week 3
Aaron: 7-7 (25-21)
Andy: 9-5 (26-20)
Joel: 11-3 (22-24)
Nihar: 8-6 (22-24)
Phil: 8-6 (20-26)
Vivek: 11-3 (21-25)
Curtis: 8-6 (24-22)
Zach 11-3 (28-18)
Coin:4-10 (20-26)

And to think Vivek wanted to take the coin this week.

It's hard to be critical of a team that has won as many games as the Indians. In fact, despite giving away Sunday's game against Kansas City, the Tribe still has an edge in the Wild Card.
Heading into tonight's games. The Indians have a 1/2 game lead.
But more important than that, the Red Sox and Yankees play three times at the end of the season, meaning that one team will lose at least one game in the standings. If the Indians take care of business, they will be in a good position at the end of this week.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Song quote of the day
Temptation, frustration
so bad it makes him cry--The Police

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Panel
Aaron Rund: Has Peyton Manning's seats for today's Browns game
Andy Barch: Multi-sport analyst
Joel Hammond: loving the Hickory Wind
Nihar Vasavada: Indians playoff ticket holder
Phil Prusa: Desert Cardinal
Vivek Vasavada: Takes care of the place while the Master is away
Curtis A.: Obsessed with the Indians playoff drive

Sunday, Sep. 25
Atlanta at Buffalo
1:00 p.m.
Taking Atlanta: Zach, Nihar, Joel
Taking Buffalo: Aaron, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis, (C)

Carolina at Miami
1:00 p.m.
Taking Carolina: Zach, Nihar, Aaron, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis (C)
Taking Miami: Joel

Cincinnati at Chicago
1:00 p.m.
Taking Cincinnati: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Andy, Curtis (C)
Taking Chicago: Phil, Vivek

Cleveland at Indianapolis
1:00 p.m.
Taking Indianapolis: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis
Taking Cleveland: (C)

Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets
1:00 p.m.
Taking New York: Zach, Nihar, Andy, Curtis, (C)
Taking Jacksonville: Joel, Aaron, Phil, Vivek

New Orleans at Minnesota
1:00 p.m.
Taking Minnesota: Zach, Phil, Andy, Vivek
Taking New Orleans: Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Curtis (C)

Oakland at Philadelphia
1:00 p.m.
Taking Philadelphia: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis (C)

Tampa Bay at Green Bay
1:00 p.m.
Taking Tampa Bay: Zach, Joel, Aaron, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis
Taking Green Bay: Nihar (C)

Tennessee at St. Louis
1:00 p.m.
Taking St. Louis: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis (C)

Arizona at Seattle
4:05 p.m.
Taking Seattle: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis
Taking Arizona: Aaron, (C)

Dallas at San Francisco
4:05 p.m.
Taking Dallas: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Andy, Vivek, Curtis
Taking San Francisco: Phil (C)

New England at Pittsburgh
4:15 p.m.
Taking Pittsburgh: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Phil, Andy, Curtis (C)
Taking New England: Vivek

N.Y. Giants at San Diego
8:30 p.m.
Taking San Diego: Zach, Nihar, Joel, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis (C)
Taking New York: Aaron

Monday, Sep. 26
Kansas City at Denver
Taking Kansas City: Nihar, Joel, Aaron, Phil, Andy , Curtis (C)
Taking Denver: Zach, Vivek

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Three Games
A night off means one thing: A night of switching between three games. The Indians played the White Sox, The Yankees played the Orioles and Bowling Green played Boise State.
I don't know, maybe BG should stop having these middle-of-the-week games. Two years ago Ben Roethlisberger torched BG on a Tuesday night. BG was hammered by Boise State last night, and really, I don't want to write about that anymore.
-The Yankees edged Baltimore. Amazingly, B.J Surhoff is still playing.
-The Indians and Travis Hafner pulled it out. If Hafner played any other position, or perhaps, A position, he'd be an MVP candidate.
Some of the national media are already predicting a sweep over Kansas City. Let's not just assume the Royals will lay down. In 1999, when the Reds needed just one win to clinch a tie in the Wild Card and two to win it outright against the sub-.500 Brewers. Instead, Phil Garner's club pounded the Reds in the first two games. The Reds needed to claw just to take the third game and head into a playoff against the Mets, which New York won.
I assume Buddy Bell will have the Royals ready.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Radio Blogger has a press conference featuring General Honore. He strikes me as a man of action. That's exactly what the people of the region need.

"I think we have other issues in this country to worry about that are a lot more serious. I think you guys should direct your efforts into taking care of that," the San Francisco Giants slugger said Tuesday before facing the Washington Nationals. "Talk about the athletes that are helping Katrina. Ask yourselves how much money y'all personally donated and have helped."

Barry Bonds is a petty, shameless man. To invoke the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina ... I honestly don't know what his motives are. But I am certain those motives are selfish. Are there more important things than steroid use by professional athletes? Yes. But taking steroids is a crime, and Major League Baseball was not not doing enough to stop their use in the game.
Bonds is acting like a child who has something to hide.

You just sort of figured the Indians game was over Tuesday when the Tribe brought in David Riske. Riske hadn't pitched in nine games, and it wasn't because Eric Wedge was resting him for the playoffs.
The Indians have had an amazing run of late, but I think the loss of Arthur Rhodes really hurts them. If Rhodes were with the team, he would have started the seventh last night, Howry would have pitched the eighth, and Bob Wickman, after getting two guys on, would have finished the win.
Bobby Howry has been the best Indians setup man since Mike Jackson, but Arthur Rhodes was just as good.

Casey Blake
Just a couple of stats for the day. Casey Blake (who hit a homer last night) is hitting .165 this season with runners in scoring position. With runners in scoring position and two outs, he is hitting 3 for 54 (.056)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Week 2 Panel Results
Aaron: 10-6 (18-14)
Andy: 7-9 (17-15)
Joel: 5-11 (11-21)
Nihar: 6-10 (14-18)
Phil: 6-10 (12-20)
Vivek: 5-11 (10-22)
Curtis: 9-7 (16-16)
Zach: 10-6 (17-15)
Coin: 6-10 (16-16)
-The self proclaimed "World Champion" is 14-18, while Vivek and Joel have been beaten twice by a coin. Aaron did get his picks in, so I adjusted the picks. It ended up being an eight-game swing. The rest of us are just kind of in the middle.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Palmer fired
In the glow of the Browns' first win of the season, I have to send out a "good luck" message to former coach Chris Palmer, fired today as offensive coordinator by the Houston Texans. I am not entirely sure how no offensive line is his fault, but no matter. I can't speak for Palmer as a football coach, because he had nothing to work with in Cleveland and really, lacked talent in Houston. But every account I've ever read says nothing but good about the man.
Palmer was given a raw deal with the Browns, and it seemed things might work out in Houston.
Still, from Browns fans everywhere who appreciate the way you understood the legacy, good luck, Mr. Palmer.

Song quote of the day
And I think that it's been said
by somebody up ahead
The older guys tell me what it's all about
the older guys reall got it all worked out-- Flying Burrito Brothers

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Panel: Week 2
Aaron Rund: Living by the coin
Andy Barch: Got his picks in very early
Nihar Vasavada: Fears Bob Wickman
Phil Prusa: AZ Browns Backer
Joel Hammond: Apoligizes for last week's performance
VivekVasavada: Michigan Militia Member
Curtis A.: Indians fanatic

Sunday, Sep. 18
Baltimore at Tennessee
1:00 p.m.
Taking Baltimore:Aaron, Andy, Vivek Curtis, Joel Nihar, Phil, Zach (C)

Buffalo at Tampa Bay
1:00 p.m.
Taking Buffalo:Aaron, Andy, Joel, Phil (C)
Taking Tampa Bay: Curtis Nihar, Vivek, Zach

Detroit at Chicago
1:00 p.m.
Taking Detroit: Aaron, Andy, Joel, Nihar, Vivek, Phil
Taking Chicago: Curtis, Zach (C)

Jacksonville at Indianapolis
1:00 p.m.
Taking Indianapolis:Andy, Curtis, Vivek Nihar, Phil, Zach, Aaron
Taking Jacksonville:(C)

Minnesota at Cincinnati
1:00 p.m.
Taking Minnesota: Phil, Vivek (C)
Taking Cincinnati: Andy, Aaron, Joel, Curtis, Nihar, Zach

New England at Carolina
1:00 p.m.
Taking New England: Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Phil, Zach (C)
Taking Carolina: Andy, Vivek, Carolina

Pittsburgh at Houston
1:00 p.m.
Taking Pittsburgh: Aaron, Andy, Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Vivek Phil, Zach (C)

San Francisco at Philadelphia
1:00 p.m.
Taking Philadelphia: Andy, Aaron, Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Phil, Vivek, Zach
Taking San Francisco:(C)

Atlanta at Seattle
4:05 p.m.
Taking Atlanta: Andy, Aaron Joel, Curtis, Vivek Nihar, Phil, Zach (C)

St. Louis at Arizona
4:05 p.m.
Taking Arizona: Andy, Joel, Nihar, Vivek (C)
Taking St. Louis: Aaron, Curtis, Phil, Zach

Cleveland at Green Bay
4:15 p.m.
Taking Cleveland: Aaron, Andy, Curtis (C)
Taking Green Bay: Joel, Nihar, Phil, Vivek, Zach

Miami at N.Y. Jets
4:15 p.m.
Taking Miami: Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Phil, Vivek (C)
Taking New York: Andy, Aaron, Zach

San Diego at Denver
4:15 p.m.
Taking San Diego: Aaron, Andy, Curtis, Nihar, Phil, Zach, Joel, Vivek (C)

Kansas City at Oakland
8:30 p.m.
Taking Kansas City: Aaron, Phil, Zach, Curtis, Joel (C)
Taking Oakland: Andy, Nihar, Vivek

Monday, Sep. 19
N.Y. Giants at New Orleans
7:30 p.m.
Taking New York: Nihar, Phil, Zach (C)
Taking New Orleans: Aaron, Curtis, Joel, Vivek, Andy

Washington at Dallas
9:00 p.m.
Taking Washington: Aaron (C)
Taking Dallas: Andy, Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Phil, Vivek, Zach.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Just you're average "Zach can't sleep" post
Several weeks ago I wrote that Christopher Hitchens would eat George Galloway for lunch in a debate on the war in Iraq. Now we'll get a chance to see for ourselves, as C-Span is televising the debate at 9 p.m. this evening.
One thing that comes to mind is that I have previously held the belief that a debate on the war is something I had little interest in. I remember in college debating with someone I really liked. All I remember is that I used the phrase "he had to go."
Yes, I still believe that about Saddam Hussein. But I was still unable to articulate my argument.
Debating sports is something I do very well. Politics is another story.
So, as you readers may know, my posts on the war have become little more than linking the latest Hitchens article and essentially writing "what he said."
I'd feel worse about this if I were picking the works of someone who I didn't enjoy reading. But Hitchens is my favorite writer, even when he writes something I totally disagree with.
I, of course, will be working tomorrow, so I'll TIVO the debate.

Indians keep rolling
No one knows what is going to happen in the next two weeks. About a month ago, I wrote in this space that I didn't expect the Yankees to make the playoffs. At that time, the Indians chances seemed far more remote.
And here we are this morning, and it is becoming apparent that if the Yankees aren't to make the playoffs, the Indians will.
In April, I picked the Tribe to win the Central Division and the World Series. That would make me look somewhat intelligent then if the Indians do reach October.
Yet, I also remember writing the Indians eulogy at least twice.
Optimism does not come easily for a Cleveland fan. What is scaring me now is that much like 2000, if the Indians do make the playoffs, they will enter with a better pitching rotation than they ever had in the 1990s.
I would take Millwood, Sabathia, Westbrook and Lee over Martinez, Hersheiser, Nagy and Hill.
That likely will sound strange to many, especially considering what Hersheiser and Martinez did in 1995.
I would certainly take the Indians lineup in 1995 over this one, but that would be obvious.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Cleveland has nothing to apoligize for
If you were to see the crowd at the Indians' game last night, you may have been a bit underwhelmed.
However, if you heard the crowd, felt the atmosphere and the intensity, you would have sworn the 21,000 at Jacobs Field last night was a much larger crowd.
It hadn't really hit me that the National Media had taken notice of the Tribe's sub-par attendance until a couple of months ago when Peter Gammons commented on it and somehow included the words "Bush Administration" into the sentence. Now ESPN Sportscenter anchors are taking aim at the fans in my city.
First of all, I am surprised they looked up from their Yankees-Red Sox fixation long enough to notice. But they did.
Scott Van Pelt and his co-anchor (I have long lost the ability to tell most of these anchors apart) seemed to scold Cleveland for not leaping out of its collective easy chair and heading to the Jake.
The line that sticks out to me is perhaps as annoying as any phrase I have heard from a sports anchor: "You're better than that, Cleveland."
I had two ideas on how to respond to this. The first was a two-word retort that probably would offend a majority of readers.
I have opted for the second, longer version.
I went to the Indians game last night with my brother and his girlfriend. We paid quite a sum to attend the game, but it was of little consequence. Our team has been playing well after all, and we wanted to be part of it.
Despite following the Indians since I was six and writing about them constantly in this space, this was just my third Indians game of the season. Yes, I live out of town now, but that's not the only reason. Like many, I don't make enough to go to every game. My mother, who loved the Indians so much as a child she named turtles after two of their players (Rocky for Rocky Colavito and Tito for Tito Francona), hasn't been to too many more, despite living closer than I do.
She wanted to go with us last night but couldn't because she had to get up at 5 a.m. and teach high school. My dad also had to get up early for work, so he was a late scratch.
Does this mean they are bad fans? Is it wrong to place certain priorities over baseball?
Everyone points to the six-year period where seats could not be had in Cleveland. But that was a different time. In those days I'd go to a game and constantly be annoyed by fans who didn't have any understanding of the game, and seemed only there because it was the place to be.
Yesterday, every conversation I heard was baseball-related.
So I won't apoligize to the anchors who make enough money to have season tickets and then complain to me about my lack of loyalty. Don't come around with that.
I had a blast with 21,000 of my peers last night. I would have liked it if 20,000 more showed up, but it didn't happen.
The point is I'm not going to complain because some in Cleveland haven't caught on. A number of fans have. Maybe I should tell the others to stop working on lesson plans, stop helping their kids with homework and to stop caring about their jobs. Don't these people know for $75 they can watch baseball?
But I'll leave that to the superiors over at ESPN.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Panel: Week One Results
Andy: 10- 6
Aaron: 8-8
Joel: 6-10
Nihar: 8-8
Phil: 6-10
Vivek: 5-11
Curtis A.: 7-9
Zach: 7-9
Coin: 10-6
Everyone that picked this week got beat by a coin. That's not good.

Roberts hearings
I'm losing respect by the second for Joe Biden here. He's coming accross like someone who has only one true love -- the sound of his own voice.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Browns No. 1
It might seem uncharacteristic for me to be patient with one of my teams, but with the Browns, you have to be. And since I want to give Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage as many breaks as possible this season, here are the five things for the Browns did in week one:

1. Frisman Jackson and Antonio Bryant: Both can catch and run. Add Braylon Edwards, and Dennis Northcutt, and it will be a productive position. Braylon will need some time to adjust, and Dennis needs to find a spot in the new offense. But it will come.

2. The offensive line: Number of times Dilfer was sacked: 0. That's a huge step forward.

3. Reuben Droughns: Watching a big No. 34 run forwards brought me back to the days of Kevin Mack, my favorite player growing up. I like William Green, but Reuben looks like a solid and steady contributor. That's something the Browns simply haven't had since 1994.

4. Trent Dilfer: Finally, the Browns have a quarterback who understands the system, doesn't try to win the games himself, and doesn't create trouble. Is he John Elway? No. But any concerns that he was Ty Detmer faded. Dilfer threw two picks, but they weren't his fault. He didn't get injured and didn't get booed off the field. Not a perfect debut, but a satisfactory one.

5. No Excuses: Money Quote after Sunday's loss:
"We've got a lot of work to do," Crennel said. "I'm disappointed in the way everyone played. I'm not happy about anything."
Crennel is a straight-shooter. That's exactly what the team, and the fans, need.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Panel
Aaron Rund: Will be traveling to Minnesota to coach the Vikings Sunday.
Andy Barch: Bull returns as the minor league season winds down
Joel Hammond: Starting the season in Flair Country
Nihar Vasavada: Self-proclaimed 2004 champion
Phil Prusa: Football Prof.
Vivek Vasavada: Bay City Roller
Curtis A.: My Flying Burrito Brother

Oakland at New England
9:00 p.m.
Taking New England: Aaron, Andy, Curtis A., Joel, Nihar, Phil, Vivek, Zach
The Final Word: Randy Moss hasn't swayed this group.

Sunday, Sep. 11
Chicago at Washington
1:00 p.m.
Taking Washington: Aaron, Vivek, Curtis Phil
Taking Chicago: Andy, Joel, Nihar, Zach.
Last Word: Joe Gibbs is back. Why.

Cincinnati at Cleveland
1:00 p.m.
Taking Cincinnati: Aaron, Joel, Nihar, Phil, Joel
Taking Cleveland: Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Zach.
Last Word: No one on CBS took the Browns. They are fools.

Denver at Miami
1:00 p.m.
Taking Denver: Aaron, Vivek, Nihar, Phil, Zach
Taking Miami: Curtis, Andy, Joel
Final Word: Good luck on the D-line boys.

Houston at Buffalo
1:00 p.m.
Everyone takes Buffalo
Last Word: Dom Capers, really?

New Orleans at Carolina
1:00 p.m.
Taking New Orleans: Joel
Taking Carolina: Aaron, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Phil, Zach
The Last word: The Saints will have a lot on their minds this season. No one can blame them.

N.Y. Jets at Kansas City
1:00 p.m.
Taking Kansas City: Aaron, Curtis, Andy,,Zach
Taking New York: Nihar, Vivek, Phil, Joel
The last word: Kansas City will win a lot of games ... until the defense falls apart in November.

Seattle at Jacksonville
1:00 p.m.
Taking Seattle: Aaron, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Joel, Zach
Taking Jacksonville: Nihar, Phil
The final word: Seattle is my pick for the NFC.

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
1:00 p.m.
Taking Tampa : Andy, Vivek
Taking Minnesota: Nihar, Curtis, Phil, Joel, Zach, Aaron
The final word: The moss is greener on the other side

Tennessee at Pittsburgh
1:00 p.m.
Taking Tennessee: Zach, Andy
Taking Pittsburgh: Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Phil, Joel, Aaron
The final word: I hate Pittsburgh.

Arizona at N.Y. Giants
4:15 p.m.
Taking Arizona: Vivek, Andy, Phil, Joel, Aaron
Taking New York: Nihar, Curtis, Zach
The final word: People like Arizona this year. Why?

Dallas at San Diego
4:15 p.m.
Taking Dallas: Andy, Zach
Taking San Diego: Vivek, Nihar, Curtis, Phil, Joel, Aaron
The final word: No Antonio Gates sways me.

Green Bay at Detroit
4:15 p.m.
Taking Green Bay: Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Phil, Joel , Zach, Andy, Aaron
The Final word: Detroit has nothing.

St. Louis at San Francisco
4:15 p.m.
Taking St. Louis: Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Phil, Joel, Aaron, Zach
Taking San Francisco: Andy
The final word: Andy tests the dark side of my new coin flip policy.

Indianapolis at Baltimore
8:30 p.m.
Taking Indianapolis: Vivek, Nihar, Andy, Joel, Zach, Aaron
Taking Baltimore : Curtis, Phil
The Final Word: Arlo Guthrie -- err -- Brian Billick, could be running out of time in Baltimore

Monday, Sep. 12
Philadelphia at Atlanta
9:00 p.m.
Taking Philadelphia: Curtis, Andy, Phil, Joel, Zach, Aaron
Taking Atlanta: Vivek, Nihar
The final word: The V boys side with Michael V.

There is one member of the panel who didn't get his picks in on time. When that happens, I flip a coin for each game. Aaron gets a pass because I misplaced his picks. I will add them when I get them back.
See if you can guess who lived by the coin.

September 11, 2001
Never forget.

Friday, September 09, 2005

If the season ended today
Victor Martinez is my American League MVP. He may not have the best offensive numbers. But the fact is that the Indians have picked it up since the all-star break, and Martinez is the biggest reason why.

Ronnie Belliard's play in the sixth inning has got to be the best by an Indian this year.

Song quote of the day
I know that time's gonna take its toll
we'll have to pay for the love we stole
It's a sin and we know that we're wrong
but our love keeps comin' on strong -- The Flying Burrito Brothers

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Panel
Aaron Rund: Will be traveling to Minnesota to coach the Vikings Sunday.
Andy Barch: Bull returns as the minor league season winds down
Joel Hammond: Starting the season in Flair Country
Nihar Vasavada: Self-proclaimed 2004 champion
Phil Prusa: Football Prof.
Vivek Vasavada: Bay City Roller
Curtis A.: My Flying Burrito Brother
Oakland at New England 9:00 p.m.
Taking New England: Aaron, Andy, Curtis A., Joel, Nihar, Phil, Vivek, Zach
The Final Word: Randy Moss hasn't swayed this group.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reason number 2, 687 why I don't trust the U.N.
At least Kofi's son gets a new car out of the deal.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Looking for hope, not blame
In five days, it will be the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
It is so sad that four years to the day of that tragic event, many Americans will be doing the same things others were doing on that day four years ago -- taking stock and looking for survivors.
If there are similarities to be drawn between 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina (and there are) one difference between the two events is striking.
September 11, 2001 was a tragic day, a sad day, and a day that will never be forgotten. But Sept. 12, 13 and 14 were also very important. You read stories about heroes, you mourned, and you prayed. People were angry, and rightfully so. But out of that day came hope and understanding, and perhaps a stronger faith in America. This faith was in the kindness and bravery ofthe people. There was a media focus onthe donations and the blood drives.
When I think of the aftermath of 9-11, that's what resonates the most. There were the amazing qualities of most Americans, and the fact that sometimes, the worst brings out the best in people.
Now here we are four years later. A major disaster has hit America. And while many brave souls are fighting to save lives, there is another group. If you read the columns being written about Katrina, you find many columnists are not focusing on the tragedy itself, but rather, on blame.
Some have blamed the president. Some have blamed the governor. Some have blamed the mayor and others. Some have written entire columns defending one while shifting blame to the other.
All this before we have a concrete idea of the number dead or the number that still need to be saved.
In spite of all the chaos shown in New Orleans and other places, we can't forget that there are heroes right now risking their lives. There are still people in need, people in trouble.
Did the government drop the ball? Probably. In fact, it's likely that there is to be blame on all levels of government. But that shouldn't be the theme right now. Helping and donating should be.
In the aftermath of 9-11, the country remembered that it needed to be one. Blame would eventually be cast, but in due time.
Americans have already donated $404 million to relief efforts.
Four years after 9-11, it's time to remember that blame has its place. At the same time, there are more important things than that to worry about.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

NFL Preview
As you know, there's nothing I'd like better than to write a comprehensive NFL preview.
But I'm far too lazy. So instead of my predictions, I will, for the second consecutive year, do the next best thing: Let my friend Phil Prusa do all the work, then cut and paste.
Take it Phil:

My quick hits on each team and each division in the NFL. Teams are listed by division in the order of best to worst with my projected record for the 06 season. If you see a (*) by a team, that's my wildcard pick.

1. Patriots (10-6)
No Team has ever won 3 straight Super Bowls. Don't look for New England to break that trend this year after all the losses that they have taken this year. Should still be able to take the division though

2. Bills (9-7) *
That defense is scary good. Starting QB JP Losman can make or break this team. Could remind people of the Ravens Super Bowl team a few years ago: great defense and just enough offense to win.

3. Jets (8-8)
Suddenly, QB Chad Pennington is injury prone and the offense sputters. I think Herman Edwards is a good coach, but he's going to have his work cut out for him with this squad.

4. Dolphins (7-9)
Nick Saban and Ricky Williams should be good for 2 or 3 wins right off the bat. Defense is never an issue with this team. Miami could be a contender within a year

DIVISION OVERVIEW: Should be a three way race with New England clawing their way up top. Look for Miami to spoil one of these teams seasons.

1. Steelers (10-6)
Sure Ben Roethlisberger may not get his team to 15 wins again. Solid running game and defense is the calling card of this bunch anyway.

2. Ravens (9-7)
An injury that has not been given much press: rookie LB Dan Cody (2nd round pick) done for the year after being place on IR. Still, with two of the best playmakers in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Baltimore's defense is still very good.

3. Bengals (7-9)
So close, yet oh so far away. Couldn't stop the run or the pass in the preseason until beating the Colts in a game where Indy rested 20 of 22 starters.

4. Browns (6-10)
New coach Romeo Crennel gets a pass this year as Cleveland rebuilds. Brutal schedule won't help matters any.

DIVISION OVERVIEW: Hard nosed, tough football? Thy name is AFC North

1. Colts (12-4)
The offensive fireworks should propel Indianapolis to another divisional title. How long they stay in the playoffs is another matter

2. Jaguars (10-6) *
Time for the breakout year for Bryon Leftwich. Jags need more consistency to be a contender, but the wildcard looks like it is theirs for the taking.

3. Texans (8-8)
Is David Carr a bust? Probably not, but his body probably feels that way after years of sacks. Offensive line continues to be a problem for this team.

4. Titans (6-10)
Could be the last year for QB Steve McNair. Tennessee might regret not taking a quarterback in the first round of the 05 NFL Draft.

DIVISION OVERVIEW: The two games Indianapolis and Jacksonville play each other could decide the division.

1. Chargers (11-5)
This could go downhill really quick if Drew Brees is a one year wonder. Losing TE Antonio Gates for the first two games (suspension from his holdout) doesn't help the Bolts cause.

2. Broncos (8-8)
Drafting Maurice Clarett was just the latest brainfart from this organization. Wasn't Mike Shannonhan supposed to be a genuis?

3. Chiefs (7-9)
Same story every year....offense scores a lot of points but the defense couldn't stop a pop warner team from running up the score on them.

4. Raiders (5-11)
Good: The trading for Randy Moss. Bad: Defense still has more holes then a chunk of swiss.

DIVISION OVERVIEW: Once proud division now features a lot of average play.

1. Eagles (12-4)
They may be the soap opera of the NFL, but come game time, this team can flat out play. It also helps being able to play in a rather weak division.

2. Redskins (8-8)
Owner Dan Synder changes quarterbacks as often as I change socks. He actually has gone on record to say that he likes taking quarterbacks in the Draft because they are "sexy" picks. On principle alone, I cannot rank them higher than this.

3. Cowboys (7-9)
Kind of sad I have the Texans getting a better record then the 3-time Super Bowl Champions on the 90's. Just a random collection of players that have not jelled during Parcells stay.

4. Giants (6-10)
Betcha a dollar Eli Manning wishes he just went to San Diego.

DIVISION OVERVIEW: Eagles should give thanks that they play in this joke of a division

1. Vikings (11-5)
Lose Randy Moss and win your division? Vikings may have had the best offseason of any team this year. QB Daunte Culpepper has to make it all come together now.

2. Packers (10-6) *
If this is the final year for Bret Farve, his swan song will go to the playoffs on the Wildcard. Packers are a flawed team, but should be able to get some help in the other two teams are fairly weak.

3. Lions (9-7)
Offensively this team is ready. Joey Harrington is out of excuses especially after the drafting of Mike Williams. Now they just have to stop people on a consistent basis.

4. Bears (4-12)
Hope you got Cedric Benson on your fantasy team. With the injury to QB Rex Grossman, he's going to see a lot a of time.

DIVISIONAL OVERVIEW: Only the Bears figure to be non-contenders in this group

1. Panthers (10-6)
Last season was bizarre with the rash of injuries and a killer schedule. Carolina will rise to claim the division. Could field the nastiest defense in the NFC this year.

2. Falcons (9-7) *
Lighting will not strike twice with this team. Still, Michael Vick can motor this team to postseason action. Just hope he doesn't go down with injury.

3. Buccaneers (8-8)
Slowly, Tampa Bay is rebuilding themselves. They should finally be able to run the football, but the passing game remains an issue.

4. Saints (5-11)
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Saints basically has to play 16 away games this year. Seeing the disaster that hit New Orleans, football is certainly not a top priority right now. This would take it's toll on anyone.

DIVISIONAL OVERVIEW: Panthers vs Falcons should be one of the more interesting series this year.

NFC WEST1. Rams (9-7)
Could be the last year for the Rams window. Not a Mike Martz fan here. Also not sold on Mark Bulger.

2. Cardinals (8-8)
I know a lot of publications have the Cards in as a wildcard. I just do not like Kurt Warner as the starting QB. That said. He does have weapons on offense and the defense should be among the best in the NFC. Just something about Arizona and winning just dont seem right.

3. Seahawks (7-9)
Too soft, too inconsistent for my liking.

4. 49ers (5-11)
Start up the pools, place your bets as when Alex Smith starts a game this year.

DIVISIONAL OVERVIEW: Weakest division in the NFL though Arizona could be a surprise



Yeah, I don't think I can stomach a Terrell Owens victory either.

Normal Sunday sports rambling
Note to Mike Lupica: If I wanted to listen to you Bush-Bash, I'd watch you on Meet the Press. Or maybe I'd read your blog. No one understands the desire for sports writers to talk politics better than me. But for you to talk about how disgraceful Bush's response was in New Orleans while you sat on TV getting paid hundreds of thousands to talk about sports -- that was irritating.
Look, I understand a lot of people are upset about the way Bush has handled things. Perhaps they are right. But Bush was in New Orleans focusing on getting help to people while Lupica was at his computer trying to come up with a fancy lede about tennis. I don't begrudge you for doing your job or having an opinion Mike. I do object to political criticism that is designed to do nothing but show the world how intelligent you are about non-sports matters.

Indians Lose
Two out of three wouldn't have been bad, but the Indians couldn't come through today. Casey Blake's error (which was scored a hit) in the seventh inning was the turning point. In one week alone, Blake has cost the Indians two games. The first was on a ridiculous base running play on Wednesday.
I'd ask why Blake is still out there, and I'm sure someone could give me some stats about how well he's been hitting lately. But for me, when the game is on the line, Casey Blake is the last person I would want at the plate or in the field.

The Panel will return Thursday, and the whole crew has agreed to come back. Nihar has said he's ready to defend his title. This struck me as odd, since we never crowned a champion last year.
As for action on the field, The Sporting News has predicted the Browns to go 2-14. While not predicting playoffs, I expect the Browns to do better than that.
In fact, if the Browns win only two games, I will wear a Steelers hat to work the day after the final game of the season.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Bad day for the Falcons
One would have to take Saturday as a double-dose of bad news for BG alums like myself. Not only did the Falcons lose today to Wisconsin, but Josh Harris was released by the Browns. I had hoped Josh would stay on as the No. 3 quarterback, but the Browns apparently wanted to keep some experience at the third string. Doug Johnson will fill the spot once so wonderfully occupied by Mike Pagel and Todd Philcox.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Working tonight on prep football, I happened to glance up at the television to see Mike Myers and Kanye West on the screen. The sound wasn't on, and I really wasn't sure what was being said, or why they kept re-showing the footage.
Apparently, Mr. West "went off the script" and went on a tirade about the president on a relief show this evening.
Now, there has been a lot of criticism of the way the president has handled this -- Andrew Sullivan, one of my favorite bloggers, has been especially critical.
But I have a lot of trouble thinking that West actually believes what he said. Perhaps he wanted a response, I don't know.
Still, the fact that some may believe what West has said is far more concerning.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Vitamin Z Power Rankings, Sept. 2005
I missed last month because of Californiacation. So here we go.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (85-49): Chris Carpenter may be the best pitcher in the National League not named Roger Clemens.

2. Atlanta Braves (76-58): It is amazing that the Braves always get to the postseason. But is it really all that great when they have only won one World Series, and haven't even made one since last century?

3. Chicago White Sox (81-51): Yes, Chicago has looked as playoff-ready as the San Diego Chicken. But they will go wire-to-wire. Everyone expects them to be first round fodder, but to look past a team that has been in first all year would be a big mistake.

4. Boston Red Sox (78-54): They don't exactly have a playoff spot wrapped up, contrary to popular belief.

5. New York Yankees (75-58): I think this is the first time they have made the rankings. I am not sure how New York will compensate for its lack of pitching, but stranger things have happened.

6. Oakland (75-57): Ken Macha is the AL Manager of the Year for keeping the A's spirits up when they were buried by the rest of the country in May.

7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (74-58): Bartolo Colon and a strong back end of the bullpen makes the Angels dangerous -- if they can make it to October.