Friday, March 30, 2007

AL West Preview

We here at the Pretzel Factory are proud to present an absolutely absurd look into our idea of what will happen this year in Major League baseball team by team. They are broken down by division and in the order of predicted finish for your enjoyment. Enjoy your preview of the American League West, friends!

Oakland Athletics: Dan Haren and Nick Swisher wills start their own version of the “Bash Brothers” before realizing that really hurts if layers of steroid-built tissue aren’t protecting your forearm. At one point, the media will ask Billy Beane is he is beating his players—there has been evidence of severe bruises on some players arms—and he will respond by ripping his shirt of and revealing the massive cuts that Kiko Calero has left on his chest during their many trysts in the past. Also revealed? A Kevin Youkilis tattoo under his right pectoral. While all this happens, Barry Zito will fax his resume over begging for his old job back, but the A’s will be cruising to a division title by then. They might even win a series in the playoffs. I’m running off of the weak teams overachieving rule, but what the hell. Wins: 95. Playoffs: Second Round.

Los Angeles Angels yada yada yada: Vladmir Guerrero will be this years’ AL MVP when he fuses himself with the leftover parts of Ted Williams—making him the most media-insouciant and terrifying man in the history of baseball. Donning the new name “Theoldmir Willuerrerams,” the artist formerly known as Vlad will break the homerun record, hit .417, break the hits record and play an excellent right field—all in two-thirds of a season before leaving to single-handedly fight the war on terror. Next year, when he returns, he will never play again, but slowly sway in a rocking chair in Tarboro, NC singing Army songs about the Koreans. This will lead Gary Matthews Jr. to honor the man by skipping the playoffs to create a new American Flag with Vlad’s old likeness on it. It will be ratified by congress and named “New Glory.” Wins: 91. No Playoffs.

Seattle Mariners: Ichiro will pronounce himself the world’s most eligible bachelor I an attempt to attract comely lasses of virtue true. The date he sets for marriage will put undue pressure on him, so he will get less than 200 hits. The day before his death, he will marry. It will end up being a Pakistani woman with a nose ring he meets in a park drinking alone. He will commit suicide by the sword calling himself “a disappointment to my home land and the Seattle Mariners franchise” on a whiskey stained note found outside of Courtney Love’s old apartment. The Marinewrs themselves will celebrate by playing inspired baseball to take third place from the Texas Rangers during the last week of the season. Ichiro would’ve wanted it that way… Wins: 72. No playoffs… again.

Texas Rangers: Sometime during the middle of the season, Ron Washington will begin pulling his hair out—one by one until he is completely bald. It will be weird (especially since the below photo shows he has little left). It will result in a long-standing standoffishness with the media and at one point Ron Washington will scream "Hell yes we deserve to win, and I hope win win it ALL!" Good point, Ron. That’s just the way it is. Some things will never change. On a positive note, Ian Kinsler and Frank Catalanotto will become good friends and split the cost on the “Bosom Buddies” DVD set. That’s nice. Wins: 70. Um, yeah, no playoffs to see here folks. Keep moving. And now...Ron Washington, ladies and gentlemen:

MLB Preview: NL West

We here at the Pretzel Factory are proud to present an absolutely absurd look into our idea of what will happen this year in Major League baseball team by team. They are broken down by division and in the order of predicted finish for your enjoyment. Enjoy your preview of the National League West, friends!

San Diego Padres:
Does your team have brothers hitting at the top of the lineup? Huh? Didn't think so. That reminds me ... "My blood runs cold! My memory has just been sold! My angel is the centerfold, Angel is the centerfold." Wait ... you mean it's the J. Geils Band? Not Giles, as in rightfielder Brian and newly acquired second baseman Marcus? No shit? Damn. Well, whatever. In between tons of hotfoot pranks, violent games of Doorknob and some kick ass Nerf basketball tournaments in the locker room, the brothers will regain their batting stroke and, along with Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff (so far the only man in recorded human history to hit the first major league pitch he's ever seen for a grand slam) form a vastly improved offense.

Oh ... you mean they're still in Petco?

Never mind then.

At least there's Jake Peavy. And Greg Maddux. And Chris Young. And Trevor Hoffman. And David Wells. Which reminds me ... hey, new skipper Bud Black? You might want to keep some Twinkies and animal crackers around when Boomer's pitching. And some Capri Sun. You might have to help him with those little pointed straws, though. Them's a bitch. Wins: 91. Playoffs: Eliminated in the World Series.

Los Angeles Dodgers:
Can I have one of those Chesterfields now? Thanks. You know, I like to read. About baseball, and the environment - that shit fascinates me. Here's something you may not know: With speedsters Rafael Furcal (hopefully not drunk) and Juan Pierre at the top of the order, and very little behind Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent to drive them in, Grady Little will let the little scamps run wild. And oh, boy, will they! They'll do so much runnin' - hahaha, yeah! - they'll do so much runnin' that the friction will heat up the surface temperature of the Earth by one whole degree, causing a catastrophic portion of the polar ice caps to melt. The Pacific will creep up and into Chavez Ravine, and all the Dodger fans will be able to leave in the fifth inning instead of the seventh. Oh, and eggplants. Something about eggplants. Wins: 89 (WC). Playoffs: Eliminated in first round of playoffs.

Arizona Diamondbacks:
Hey, they got new uniforms! Sweet! I guess they figured out it's not 1992 anymore and that looking like a walking bruise isn't so cool! Which is funny, because they didn't exist until 1998! I don't know why I keep using exclamation points! Oh, because the Big Unit is back in the National League. Over/under on when he'll either bean a mentally disabled kid in the third row or surgically insert a pair of game-worn spikes up a beat writer's rectum? I'd say June 14. Sounds good, anyway. You know what else sounds good? Having a beer with Eric Byrnes. Seriously, that guy's the shit. Wins: 86. No playoffs.

Colorado Rockies:
The Rockies will, for a while at least, continue where they left off last year. Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday crushing the ball. The starters actually getting some ground balls and giving way to the bullpen to do a pretty damn good job. The humidor keeping the baseballs as moist as Paris Hilton at the NBA All-Star Weekend. But something won't be right ... er, how do I put this?

Ok. Here goes. You ever have Rocky Mountain Oysters? No? Well, th- no, not real oysters. Have you ever been to Colorado? Damn. Anyway, to put it lightly, they're ... bull balls. That's right - cow nuts.

I know what you're thinking: "I wouldn't be caught dead eating bull's testicles." Yeah, but you thought nobody would ever find out about that thing you do in the shower with the luffa, didn't you? Well, just so happens that during a Super Bowl party when I was about seven or eight, I ate some RMOs. I didn't know it. I didn't ask. I assumed - and later thought, based on the taste - that it was chicken. And when I did, it was decent; a little chewy, perhaps, but edible. But when I found out what it was, I felt sick.

Hence your 2007 Colorado Rockies: the bull's balls of MLB. Wins: 79. No playoffs.

San Francisco Giants:
Barry Zito will wow the San Francisco crowd w- Hey, what's going on?

AHHHH!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! IT'S GROWING! IT'S FILLING EVERY EMPTY SPACE IN THE UNIVERSE! YOUR WEAPONS ARE POWERLESS AGAINST IT!!! Wins: 0 (Forced to forfeit the entire season when Bonds eats a horse on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball). No, no, no, no no no no no no no no no playoffs. C'mon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

MLB Preview: NL Central

We here at the Pretzel Factory are proud to present an absolutely absurd look into our idea of what will happen this year in Major League baseball team by team. They are broken down by division and in the order of predicted finish for your enjoyment. Enjoy your preview of the National League Central, friends!

Milwaukee Brewers:
Like all Milwaukee teams since the early 80s, the 2007 Brewers will be gut-bustingly average until this guy shows up to race as one of the sausages sometime in late July. For a whole week he'll ponder the most difficult choice he's ever encountered in his life: bratwurst, Italian sausage, Polish sausage, hot dog or the newly-roasted chorizo? It won't matter, however, as Prince Fielder will eat them all and grow to a gargantuan 352 lbs. From that point on he'll hit 47 homers and drive in 128 runs. Even better, he'll convince Jeff Suppan (to that point 2-15 with a 6.29 ERA) to quit pitching and instead invest all that unearned money in stem cell research and cloning, so they can grow more Prince Fielders. After beaning Bernie Brewer with a wild warm-up toss and causing him to slide during an opponent's homer, Derrick Turnbow will shave his head in shame and regain his form. Tony Gwynn Jr. will hit .383 and New Era will have to invent a new super-fabric to compensate for Kevin Mench's ever-burgeoning dome. Wins: 89. Playoffs: Eliminated in the NLCS.

Chicago Cubs:
Frustrated with losing yet another ball in either the sun or the swirling winds of Wrigley, Alfonso Soriano will go apeshit crazy in a game against the Diamondbacks. First he'll turn his back during a live play and walk to the wall, where he'll take a huge grumpy on the warning track and smear it all over the Under Armour ads on the doors. With boos reigning down upon him (well, a few cheers - these are drunks we're talking about) he'll smile that megawatt smile and begin grazing on the ivy. After the game, Lou Piniella will go on a Lee Elia-like rant in graceful Spanish, at one point calling Jay Mariotti the "dim-witted, mullet-wearing, fascist cum-dumpster son of Artie Lange and Roseanne Barr who couldn't spell Jim Murray if you spotted him 'Jim' and everything else but the two fucking r's." Not knowing Spanish - or, rather, Spanish not knowing him - Mariotti will later ask his buddie Ozzie Guillen to translate, and Oz will say, simply, "He called you a fag." Despite this, the team will actually mesh fairly well and lead the division in early September ... until calling up Mark Prior. Forced into a spot start against the Reds because Carlos Zambrano sprained an ankle tripping over first while running out a routine grounder, Prior will be cruising when, in the seventh, Kerry Wood begins warming up. Simultaneously their arms will snap, and the sound will be heard by a farmer in Moldova. Wins: 87. No playoffs.

St. Louis Cardinals:
Look, shitbirds, you guys inexplicably won a championship with your worst team of the last four years. Isn't that enough? No? Ok ... Jim Edmonds will make a guest appearance on 24. Jack Bauer will infiltrate a small, ambitious terrorist cell and steal their new prototype biological weapon: a small, Lucite ball with a gelatinous center, which, when dropped or thrown against something, releases a noxious gas that turns every living thing it touches into that gooey mess Stripe turns into at the end of Gremlins. After a tense battle in a second-story office, the Lucite ball will fall out the window, and Bauer will scream for somebody to catch it. Edmonds, as a random stranger on the street, will dive and snag it inches from the ground - even though he was standing directly under it and just happened to be watching it fall the whole time. Tony La Russa will visit Edmonds on set, and after two glasses of pinot noir will pass out in the director's chair, about to say "Action!" Wins: 84. No playoffs.

Houston Astros:
Therapist: So, Brad, tell me what's troubling you.
Brad Lidge: Well, I ... I can't keep it down.
Therapist: Brad, that's really more of a doctor thing. They even say in the commercial, "if symptoms persist for more than four hours, consult a doctor" or something like that.
Brad Lidge: No, no ... my pitches. I leave everything up. In the zone. I get hit harder than Ron Artest's wife.
Therapist: Where do you think this stems from?
Brad Lidge: Umm ... it may have started when I gave up this huge home run to Albert Pujols. It was the ...
Therapist: You know Albert Pujols? I love him! Do you think you could get me his autograph?
Brad Lidge: [sigh]

Later, in the Astros' spring training clubhouse...

Carlos Lee: Hey, choo Brad Leedge?
Brad Lidge: Yeah, Carlos. Nice to meet you. I'm looking forward to playing with you th-
Carlos Lee: Right, right, yeah. Look, man, Carlos s'gon hit some big muddafuckin' homerons, you see? An' I no want choo coughin' that sheet up. Stop being such a puta maricon and fro dat ball by dose muddafuckin' hitters, man.
Wins: 79. No playoffs.

Cincinnati Reds:
After moving to rightfield, Ken Griffey Jr. will once again regain the stroke that made him, for about ten years, the best player on the planet. Then, while spooning some rice pilaf onto his plate in his kitchen at home, his hamstring will explode, his femur will snap in half and he'll tear some ligaments in his (non-spooning) wrist. Meanwhile, Al Gore will harness the awesome wind that is Adam Dunn's constant swing-and-misses and power half of Ohio. The most shocking realization, though, will come in mid-May, when Ryan Freel runs head-first into the outfield wall at the Great American Ball Park. While writhing on the ground in pain, Freel will admit that he's been cheating on Farney with Hufflepants, a four-legged clown with the head of a platypus. After the season Bronson Arroyo will hit #86 on the Billboard charts with his song "I Used to Play for the Red Sox, Remember? A Real Team? Do You Remember That?" Wins: 73. No playoffs.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
When Jason Bay goes down early in June with a season-ending ACL injury, the game young Bucs will fight hard. Hard, I say! Jim Tracy will jumble the lineup around, moving Xavier Nady up to the fifth hole, etc. But nothing will work. Pittsburgh will go on a nineteen-game losing streak and quickly become the joke of baseball (the Royals will be much relieved). Looking for something - anything - to jump-start his club, Dave Littlefield will make a bold move and cut half the roster to sign the stars of Pirates of the Caribbean. At first, the buzz will be overwhelming as even stars who used to play for the team's rival will appear in Pirates garb. Jack Sparrow will prove adept at stealing third and pulling the hidden ball trick. Will Turner, despite looking like a goddamn pansy, will have surprising power to all fields. And Elizabeth Swann is just fuckin' smokin', man. But even though they'll go 7-5 in their short stint, the Major League Baseball Players Association will file a grievance, and Bud Selig will cower to it, as usual. Wins: 68. No playoffs.

Outside the Aviary: "They Can Run."

What exactly happened here? Xavier had the “best team in the nation” on the ropes-- a multi-possession lead, the ball, timeouts left to stop momentum if needed, and confidence in their main guard, Drew Lavender. They were playing a near-perfect game. Greg Oden was in foul trouble, they made adjustments ot neutralize Mike Conley Jr. and their shot selection was pretty incredible. Then Coach Sean Miller blew it.

The coach knew he had the game won. You could see it in his face. He was smiling with his players, pumping his fist and keeping them calm. He overthought (like most coaches tend to). He went to well for the play that killed them—the play that kills them all. Hold the ball. Change the pace. Run the clock. Limit possessions. On consecutive possessions Xavier ran the clock and settled for terrible jump shots (one of which Drew Lavender double clutched from just inside the three-point line) when points were there for the taking. Most offenses start around the 25 second mark, and Xavier began their set around 13. Ohio State had to do absolutely NO work to guard them. All they had to do was rest and await their turn with the ball. We all know what happened next.

What most people don’t seem to understand—coaches and announcers especially—is the rhythm of basketball. Xavier is fantastic when they run at a mid-tempo pace. I’ve seen it. They can run or play with normal pacing. Sean Miller seems like the type that doesn’t mind innovation and ad libbing, either. You could tell when Xavier broke the structure of their offense that Miller was happy with the results more than half the time. They were a team with the build and chemistry to upset Ohio State. So, instead of continuing to work for good shots and continuing the pace and spacing that was beating Ohio State, they completely switched their mindset.

When coaches call this offense, it does three things: plays into the psychology of the players on the court, takes the ball away from the players that control the ball and it changes the pacing. You can see whether a team will panic in big situations by studying run reactions. Whether your team is putting together runs or emphatically scraping for every point in a back and forth contest, there are times when you know if the two teams on the floor can handle pressure. At the end of the game, Sean Miller essentially said to his team: we cannot handle the pressure. Ohio State responded and Xavier didn’t. Part of the reason was the change in tempo—from Xavier being in control of the game to admitting they were not capable of stopping Ohio State and playing keep away. That plays into the psyche of a club used to winning. As soon as I get the ball I am going to score is different from as soon as I get the ball I HAVE to score. If Xavier continues to run their offense, they score at least once in their held ball possessions or, at the very least, they keep the pressure on Ohio State to think they HAVE to score. Playing keep away makes a good scorer want the ball more thus playing into their hands.

The exact opposite is true for the players holding the ball. They have done enough right to earn a multi-possession lead and their reward is to stand around and overthink the defense. What was working is now out of the question. Have you ever watched—I mean really WATCHED a team that is standing toward the end of a game? The point guard dribbles and watches motion that isn’t happening yet. Overthinking. The coach is doing the same thing. Coaches can’t think of what will go wrong. They can only consider beating the other team—running their set well enough to produce a good shot. Now, though, the players and the coach are just thinking. The rhythm of the game is undulating through their minds, but it is as dead as it can be on the court itself. Announcers think this is smart basketball and mature decision making from that young man or even a veteran coach making a veteran decision or other such nonsense. Meanwhile, the defense’s workload is shrinking. Opposing players are standing and waiting. Resting—considering how they will beat their man or where they will be open after the inevitable penetration.

After these held ball possessions, consider how little the men have actually touched the ball in a meaningful way. Most teams start their offense around the twelve-fifteen second mark on the shot clock on a slow down set. This allows the point guard to distribute a far less number of meaningful dribbles and passes than on a normal possession. While it is important not to take a quick shot, it is still important to get a quality shot. Most of these possessions end with one of three things: a hurried long ball, a failed try for penetration or a decent, if not good, shot. Running a 13 second shot clock is setting the offense up for a two-thirds failure rate and keeping the ball out of the team’s hands (remember, the same team that has gotten you a lead to begin with) when they are most ready to bury their opponent.

Sean Miller, in effect, ruined his team’s killer instinct by overthinking a simple process. Run the offense. Take good shots. Keep doing what you did and the lead will stay. If it doesn’t, it is not because you didn’t limit possessions. It’s not because you took terrible shots at the shot clock’s buzzer. It’s not because the tempo wasn’t in your favor. It’s because their players responded to the pressure you put on them. That’s it. It's such a simple rule for such a simple game: don't stop winning the game. Slowing down the game like this is basically like running the Prevent Defense. The only thing it prevents is winning.

I was pacing. I was moving more than the Xavier offense and I was saying—run the ball down their throats (and I'm not even a Xavier fan). Go inside. Oden was out. There was no shot blocker, no reason to fear them. Ohio State was defeated. Sean Miller and his announcing buddies made a classic mistake. They lost all their momentum at the worst possible time. These decisions make me wonder, who the hell is in college here? Is it the coach, the announcers, or the players? The latter are told to listen when the two previous have a lot more to learn. Meanwhile, the Xavier players have the rest of their lives to think about losing this game rather than all week to bask in the victory and prepare to play again. Good thinking, Coach.

(By the way, my dad would kill me if I didn't say this: I can see Herb Sendek really wore off on Sean Miller.)

USC over UNC (If there is a God).
G'Town over Vandy (If there is a chance for my bracket).
OSU over Tennessee (If the "winning a close game you should have lost" corollary is true).
Texas A&M over Memphis (If the Law can prevail... sorry).
UCLA over Pitt (If the Pac-10 is all that good).
So Ill over Kansas (If the world were completely insane).
Oregon over UNLV (If the world makes any sense).
Florida over Butler (If I can stand to watch it).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Stupid Idea: Parts Duex and, uh, Three.

More of the cursed live blog of the NCAA Tournament. I'd put up part four, but I was so shitfaced the night before, I spent most of today trying not to throw up after drinking Vitamin Water. Such is life.

Here's some highlights:

Man, this rim is making the terrible Albany shot selection seem even worse with the way CBS miked it. That and the fact that Albany is terrible right now. Good lord, they are jacking them up as soon as their little arms can get a shot off now. UVA 13-2 after a three ball.Apparently, their coach has seen enough. Me too. I'm switching to GA Tech.

Did Vern Lundquist just say that people in the south are all fat? FUCK YOU ASSHOLE.

Why hold the ball, Calipari? You are running them to death and you play conservatively? You fucking idiot. This is why you get caught cheating. It's because you are stupid.

TAMCCU is up 10 to 0 right now. Nothing but blocked shots and big shots for those boys thus far. They are going to kill Wisconsin. Poor Wisconsin. There's just no love for the little colleges, y'know?

Why the fuck would you run a defensive set designed to trap at the wing against one of the best penetrating point guards in America? The answer is, you are stupid Sean Miller.

Um, Drew Lavender is better than Mike Conley right now. Eight points better... and a turnover. Holy shit.52-44 in favor of the smarmy dude at your office that brings this game up just to say he picked Xavier 'cause his friend's little brother goes there.

And yet, like every other coach in this moronic fucking league, Xavier decides to waste the clock and end up with a double clutch shitty shot from beyond the FT line. Fucking retarded, Drew Lavender and Sean Miller. Just idiotic. If OH ST comes back, I blame that last possession. The long rebound created puts up a stopped clock and a man on on the line. MORONIC

So, what the fuck happened here? Xavier gave their game away, as I mentioned. Fucking stupid decisions by the coach. NEVER take the air out of the ball if you have a team on the ropes. Keep attacking. Keep pressing and frustrating.If you take the air outta the ball you take the skill away from the players that got you there. Disheartening, becuase those players will forever know that they had it, and their coach let it get away. Sucks for them.


Part 3:

There you have it-- a failed experiment to end all failed experiments. Anyone wanna hire a live blogger? CHEAP.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stupid Idea

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
My friends were at work during the opening of the NCAA tournament, so I threw together a live-uh-glog(?) for them on

Here's the link:

I guarantee that was the most pointless display ever.

Some highlights:

Apparently Stanford was LAST in the PAC-10 in turnover margin in the Pac-10. LAST?! These guys got in the tourney over five better teams and they were LAST in turnover margin IN THE PAC-10. Jesus Living Christ, who is in charge here? I though we LIKED interesting teams in the NCAA tournament. Apparently, America likes watching sloppy unfocused horseshit.

Why am I doing this when the internet exists for already this specific reason? Uh, I don't know.

Louisville is up 35-12. The following things can be surmised about this: Clark Kellogg (picking Stanford) is stupid and I could walk on to Louisville and make a difference against this pathetic Stanford team. Welcome to actual games, Pac-10.

Louisville goes into the half up 46-20. Way to crack the 20s Stanford. Maybe you can still get into the NIT after you lose this game by over a million fucking points. Fuck you.

I gotta see PRIDE. Terrence Howard will do anything as long as he gets paid to be black. I love that guy.

Oral Roberts is up 3 early. Whatever. Jesus is overrated. Should I quit doing this, Paul? Aren't you the only one reading it?

MD at the free throw line. They beat the press nicely. Some big white guy NAILS his free throws, so they go up seven. Gist in for defense. Davidson gets about six threes off, but they can't hit and Curry threw two up like he was trying to freestyle walk over his defender.

Butler's half court offense:

No one moves. White guy pass to black guy... black guy points around like something is happening. No one moves. White guy comes off of a terrible weak side pick and gets a pass from black guy. Misfires. Someone rebounds. REPEAT.

Oh, there's more, guys. Enjoy the typos and terrible inside jokes. Seriously.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Random Basketball Thoughts and a preview of the NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy Chricket Go Queek Queek.

ACC Tourney thoughts:

Honestly, NC State was two plays away from winning their first ACC title in two decades. The UNC-NCSU game was a fantastic one from most all standpoints. I didn’t feel cheated like in Sendek’s first year, I was proud to watch an underdog fight with a purpose and see the best team in the conference finally face a real challenge (Brendan Wright actually sweats! I saw it!). Moreover, the entire tournament was fantastic game after fantastic game (excluding UNC games before today). All of this taken into account, the first five minutes of the Big Ten and Big 12 tourneys exuded more crowd energy than I saw in the last four ACC games combined.

I don’t know if it was Tampa, DisnEySPN’s noise-cancellation, or the fact that a couple of the higher seeds were displaced early, but I was cheering louder in my den than all the non-allegiance fans could muster in the stadium. This was the ultimate underdog story—especially if you followed these two teams or the ACC at all this year. So much was at stake—a #1 seed, a tourney birth, two schools who hadn’t won this title in too long—and you could almost HEAR fans checking their watches and wondering if they could get back to their hotel to squeeze in a tee time before their flight out at 8. I don’t get it. I also don’t know how to fix it. I just found this strange. I mean, I know it’s not Harvard-Yale for the upper middle class (UNC-Duke), but this was a big (and CLOSE) game in front of a listless crowd. I hate that

One more thing: I hope I never have to use or hear the phrase “played well enough to get into the NIT" ever again. I have the feeling I will next year, though. Who knows? I'm pretty despondent about the whole thing, so this is basically a cop-out portion of the article. NC State has nothing to be ashamed of, and I know that. Such is life. I stand by my former idea: Tyler Hansbrough eats corn a lot and has no idea who his father is. He loves the taste of diaper-dandy Brendan Wright. LOVES that shit. Bitter.

NCAA Tourney thoughts:

This is my favorite sporting event.

My final four, you ask?:
Georgetown, Kansas, Florida, and Ohio State. Playing it safe this year after last years debacle where I was 3/4 off the mark. I got Georgetown winning it all. I love that modified Princeton Offense with this group. They run a perfect curl, know their cuts/timing and can pound you inside if they need to. As someone who watched Herb Sendek coach this offense, I can tell John Thompson III knows it's flaws and isn't stubborn enough to let his kids play from behind in it all day.

I'm pumped OUT about watching this thing, people. Let's fucking ROLL. Here are my surprises:

12 beats 5: Arkansas over USC and Illinois over VA Tech
It's between the ACC and the PAC-10 for the detritus league that fucks up in the first two rounds with early exists. I'm voting for the Pac-10. I've half-written a couple of articles on how I think this is actually a weak conference, but I realized it's just gut feelings. I've been wrong before, to be sure, but I just don't feel all that confident in their mid-tier teams.

However, the ACC didn't show me much with all the upsets and uninspired play by some of the "powerhouses." Losing close games to Miami and NC State (HA!) doesn't say much for the power of the conference.

11 beats 6: Winthrop over Notre Dame AND George Washington over Vanderbilt
The latter is definitely a hunch, but the former is legit. I think Winthrop will beat Notre Dame by double digits and coasts over Miami (OH). They are not my sleeper for the sweet sixteen however. I got more thicks up my sleeves, friends. Never you worry.

Sweet sixteen sleeper: Creighton over Nevada/Memphis.
I got nothing but love for 22 game winning streaks, but they end. They really do end. And this one might end earlier than a 2 seed would suggest.

HUGE upset bid that actually happens:
Miami (OH) over Oregon.
See above Pac-10 hunch, and I already gave this one away.

3 HUGE upset bids that come uncomfortably close to happening: Maryland escapes Davidson AND Wisconsin narrowly escapes Texas A&M C.C AND Pitt survives Wright State.
I watched the latter upset hound play and they were one of those determined teams like Vermont the last few years. I was addicted to them, and I honestly believe they will challenge Wisconsin. Davidson is a pesky team. I was hoping (aloud to some friends actually) that they would get Duke and throttle them. They may have to settle for a near miss against Maryland, though. I just don't think Pitt is all that fantastic. I do think they will beat Duke in the second round.

Not so shocking shockers: Texas over UNC in the sweet sixteen. No Duke in the sweet sixteen.
Fuck you, Richard Vitale. Fuck you very much. The door to your retirement is wide fucking open, old man. I'll even hold it open and hand you your AARP card on the way out. There are other teams in this league. Approximately 300 of them. [Also, I have Villanova(9), Michigan State (9) and Georgia Tech (10) pulling mild upsets then losing in the second round. I actually think Michigan State can make a run at UNC but they can't beat them.]
The same mistake I always make: Southern Illinois in the sweet sixteen.
I can;t pull against them. Love the players. Love the style. Love that they are called SO ILL. I even bought a shirt. Hell yeah. SO ILL, SON. THAT'S WHASSUP.

NIT Champion: NC State.
Wishful thinking. Florida State and Syracuse are surely ready to play, ahem.

Your NCAA Champion: Georgetown.
I know I covered this, but I think they have something-- that old school swagger that I feared as a kid is still lurking around. Hearing Ewing and Thompson in the same vicinity still strikes that same fear. I don't know why. It just does.

My Full Bracket:
HERE. I don't know if that will work, but if it doesn't, what do you care? That's what I got. Feel free to run your thoughts at me and call me an idiot in our always lacking comments department.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

MLB Preview: NL East

We here at the Pretzel Factory are proud to present an absolutely absurd look into our idea of what will happen this year in Major League baseball team by team. They are broken down by division and in the order of predicted finish for your enjoyment. Enjoy your preview of the National League East, friends!

Atlanta Braves:
The Braves will look completely lost until mid-season when John Schuerholz decides he is going to leave the team at the end of the year to run in the next Atlanta mayoral election. The team will ban together to send Johnny off with one more Division Title (and one more first round playoff loss) to add to an already stacked resume. During the first round of the playoffs, John Smoltz's arm will get caught in a pitching machine and Chipper Jones--hobbling toward third base using Andruw Jones' bat as a cane--will be the first to notice Smoltz doesn't bleed. In fact, ESPN news will break a story first reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is, in fact, the living embodiment of The Terminator. Holy shit, brother. Stories will trickle throughout the season about other Terminators, and most of the loyal baseball fans will gripe on our blogs and finally concede that technological advancements are just part of the game... I mean if there was a mechanical feature that made getting your thoughts out there more rapidly and made it easier for people to read your ramblings on a daily basis completely possible, you would do it right? That's what I thought, cheater. Wins: 93. Eliminated in first round of playoffs.

Philadelphia Phillies:
The Phillies will relinquish both the NL East and wild card leads when Chase Utley leaves the team in July for family reasons. It will later be reported that he was actually writing a test script for a new Fox drama called "Doctor Chase." It will be about a disappointing-young-baseball-player-turned-doctor that heals beautiful women using an uncanny ability to both spot rare diseases and travel through time, though the time travel goes awry (leaving him in undisclosed modern time periods with only an invisible "Pat Burrell's vanishing OPS" to help him). I feel like I've heard this story before... I really do. Wins: 88. No playoffs.

New York Metropolitans/Amazings:
The Amazings will defy all laws of old pitchers-- Tom Glavine will win 15, and El Duque will win 13. Everything will be in place until Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran reveal their lifelong love of the Yankees. They will spiral out of control with their obsession, and will begin wearing Yankees uniforms to the games. In protest, native Queensmen will burn down Shea Stadium (and nearby areas inFlushing) to the ground-- entrapping the players in a literal ring of fire. Willie Randolph will try a Dolph Lundgren/He-Man type of rescue mission only to be foiled by a falling Subway billboard. He will crushed to death by Joe Torre's smiling face-- a telling symbol of the parity of the NYC teams. All the while, Pedro Martinez will convince Jose Reyes and (for some reason) Aaron Heilman to hang out under a displaced mango tree in the de facto Domincan section of the Mets clubhouse-- a section set up by Pedro himself with a plaque commemorating the life of Nelson De La Rosa-- without fifty cents in their collective pockets. Wins: 82. No playoffs.

Florida Marlins:
Anibal Sanchez will be foiled on his attempt to become the first pitcher to throw back to back no hitters on the last two starts of the season when Hanley Ramirez breaks tradtion by screaming "DUDE YOU GOT A NO HITTER GOING, MAN" and hotfooting him simultaneously. Shameful. Hanley will also openly challenge Dontrelle Willis to a drunk driving race to be refereed by Rafael Furcal. Neither of them will win when they hear Sporting News Radio broadcasting them in trade rumors to raise money for the rehiring of Joe Girardi away from-- wait, what the hell happened to that guy? In any event, the two will be traded to the Seattle Supersonics for Ray Allen and Smrnejnudsfgon Smyzborzga's expiring contract and the Seattle Mariners first pick in the NFL draft--Bill Simmons will officially E-X-P-L-O-D-E. Wins: 71. No Playoffs.

Washington Nationals:
They got a damn team out there? I ain't knowed about them since ought-twelve. I'll be a son of a bitch. You know who I like? That Tony Mullane. He's like a Li'l Romeo sandwich on a hot day in Jamaica, Queens, man. No shit. Say, brother, can you spare a damn dime? I'm hungry as Ryan Church on an island of Frank Robinson's apparitions. Dude, I'm the drunk as all hell. Seriously, though. I know NOTHING of the Nationals' moves or in fact, the Nationals themselves. Shoulda stayed in Minnesota's what they shoulda done. Go Jim Bowden, GO! Wins: 11teen. Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Playoffs?