Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paying the Piper

So, the AL is all but wrapped up, and it looks like the Pretzel Factory got a few things right, for once. We picked the Red Sox. That, though it was shaky, seems to be working out. Then, there were the A's-- boy did WE back the wrong horse. Oh, and the Tigers (yeah...). And the Wild Card did not come out of the Central (though we knew the Indians would make the playoffs). And the Yankees did, in fact make the playoffs.

OK, so we were wrong. A lot. But it brings up a good point. It doesn't matter how far out a franchise seems to be-- when they are close to the top, they bubble over and find ways to stay relevant. The Celtics piled weapons and found KG. The Yankees patched together a pitching staff out of bubble gum and iodine. Soccer teams do stuff. In general, the teams that always seem to win have the greatest luck. Sure, there are smart decision-makers, but think about some of the names that populate these teams in their hardest times and come through in the clutch. I would have forgotten men like Scott Brosius had some assface (who was telling me that the Red Sox had no chance in the East just two days ago) wasn't sporting his jersey despite not being able to button it. There's a thousand of these names (Shelley Duncan and Ryan Gomes-- a sticking point in the KG deal most recently).

It may be impossible to pick these damn seasons perfectly, but I'll tell you what: I may not pick against the Yankees to make the playoffs until the league forces them to rebuild with some sort of salary cap. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I can't. There, I admit it.

ALSO: J.D. Drew is hitting. I should mention that since I was such an asshole about it. I still don't trust him, but dammit, I have to cheer for him again now. Maybe (hopefully?) I was wrong about him too.

Coming soon: Paying the piper, National League edition (once the Mets decide if they have any balls whatsoever).

EDIT: Link Dump: Smear the Queer has beaten us in the imaginary "how to classify the Mets latest futilities" contest. Just a perfect piece of writing.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Worst. Weekend. Ever.

Have you ever thought, "Why in the f*%# am I a sports fan? Why do I invest so much time and money and heart into just being ripped endlessly and mercilessly to bloody fucking shreds? Why am I seriously contemplating seeing how far I can stick this bread knife into my throat?"

Because I did. This weekend was the worst.

It started off good, though. I hooked up with a wood-bat baseball league here, and after 5+ years on the shelf, I got back on the bump and did pretty well. I had one bad inning where I walked about four guys, but they only got a few solid hits off me in 5 2/3 innings. We won in the bottom of the seventh on a bases loaded, two out, two-strike double. Things were looking good.

And then the calendar hit "Saturday."

The Padres wasted a solid effort by Jake Peavy and lost to the streaking - screw that, the goddamn fucking SPEEDING - Rockies 2-1 in fourteen innings. Colorado State, after two tough losses, lays a damn ostrich-on-growth-hormones-sized egg in the second half and falls to Houston 38-27 to drop to 0-3. Plus, they also haven't won since October. Of 1985. The Padres? Yeah, that's what that sound was - like an aborted fetus squishing down the drain. The Rockies pummel them 6-2.

Jesus tap-dancing Christ, we haven't even gotten to Sunday yet.

I begin the day stretching under a cloudless, sea-blue sky. The field smells faintly of sewage, but hey - I'm playing baseball!

Not really.

We blow a chance to win the first game and fall 6-5. Then, in the second game, I leave a small African village on the bases and, going into the final inning tied 4-4, we give up about as many runs as the Orioles have given up to the Rangers on the year and don't even get to bat in the bottom of the seventh. That's right - they mercy killed our ass.


On to the bar. Drink the pain away. Wait for the train. Call dad. Padres down a lot. Early. Fuck. Wait helplessly on the train. Fuck. Get to the bar. Jaguars up 7-0. Fuck. Drink. Broncos tie it - fuck? Broncos fumble. Fuck. Broncos fumble kickoff to open second half. Fuck fuckaboo fuckjam fuckfart!!! Broncos go for it on fourth down - fail. Fuck. Broncos get miraculous fumble. Piss it away. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. (Did I mention I was sitting next to the only Jaguars fan in all of New York City? No, I didn't. Nice guy though, but still - fuck.)

Well that's one long, relentless smorgasbord of suckitude. I'm full. I can't take anymore. I don't want dessert; dessert being, in this case, facing a dude in fantasy with Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Ronnie Brown's quazillion points.

What's that, you say?

Milton Bradley did what?!?!?!?

Fuck me.

I hate sports.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like?: Wk 2 Super Happy Fun Time Deflate the Raiders Edition!!!

Instead of my usual seat at the bar of The Puke Castle, I was in Long Island for a baptism. Among the highlights: a baby who, while probably muttering something like "baby cakes" ended up saying, repeatedly, what sounded remarkably like "Phoebe Cates"; the 80-something-year-old Priest, or Pastor, or whatever those cooky Catholics call him referencing football, the beach, taking the bus to school, and numerous other minutiae from everyday life on an extremely holy day; and, finally, watching the Jets game - and then the Raiders-Broncos OT - in a basement, on HD, with a bar stacked full of 18-year Jameson and Jameson Gold.

I still don't know what tastes better, though: fine, aged Irish whiskey, or the sweetness of fucking over the Raiders once again?

Actually, it could've been 418-year Jameson and Jenna Jameson Gold and it still wouldn't have been as good as seeing Sebastian Shankakowski's second kick clang off the top of the upright. Was it a dick move by Mike Shanahan to call the timeout seconds before the first kick was as straight as a lumberjack's axe? Sure. Was I rubbing my man clams in ecstasy when it worked? You bet your coin purse I was.

But, the reason we're here is, which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like? I didn't get to watch the game until Monday, and even then I had to skim over it at work. Nevertheless, here's the analysis.

First Half: Jay Cutler. Strong. Some very solid throws, and one very poor one (the pick to Morrison). It's easy to forget that it's only his seventh start.

Second Half: John Clayton. Scraggly. Weak. Scary at times. The interception was not his fault (it was tipped at the line), but he did take a safety in the fourth quarter of a close game (and to Gerard Warren, whom the Broncos had recently cut, no less).

OT: Jay Cutler. Sure, he only completed two passes on the winning drive, and the receivers did most of the work, but he got them in position to win and that's all that matters.

Hey, it's 2-0. Probably the weakest, shakiest 2-0 ever, but it's 2-0 either way. Maybe they've been blessed.

Which J.C. did Jay Cutler Play Like?: Week One

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do Not Deny Wade Boggs His Rightful Place In History

When you enter a celebrity fishing tournament, you expect three things: 1) Beer, 2) More beer, and 3) Fair results.

It's not clear whether or not Wade Boggs received the first two, but he was definitely shafted on the last one.

While participating in an event in Key West, Boggs apparently caught two fish on a spin reel, while former Broncos offensive lineman Mark Cooper caught one on a fly. The point totals for both men were equal, so Gary Ellis erroneously awarded the title to Cooper, since he caught his fish first.

Boggs' reaction? Well, you might think Margot Adams tried to steal his pre-game chicken.

At the awards ceremony at the Westin Key West, when hearing the news, Boggs was quoted as saying, “I caught two fish and you caught one and you win?” He then grabbed the trophy and ran out of the room.

Real mature. Next thing you know Boggs is going to say that William Pitt the Elder is better than Lord Palmerston.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Which J.C. did Jay Cutler play like?: Episode the First - Interrupted

Some of you may remember this feature from last year. If you do, kudos -- you are one of six. I was looking forward to resurrecting it this year because it was a long, painful off-season, and I wanted to enjoy football again. Sundays should be joyful. They should be fun.

Unfortunately, Sunday's Broncos-Bills game was anything but.

I'll admit I was geared up. Aside from a day in late March or early April, optimism abounds best in early September, when 53 men -- dressed somewhere between Mad Max and American Gladiator -- take the field in stupendous, combat-ridden euphoria, ready to do battle for their fans.

I, like many, were ready.

The facts of the day are this: Denver escaped with a 15-14 win over Buffalo after converting two fourth downs on the final drive, the field goal unit scrambling onto the field with scant seconds remaining just in time for Jason Elam to hit a 42-yard game-winner after missing two earlier in the game.

It was a thrilling finish, one that literally caused me to fall out of my seat, onto the ground. But the happiness was short-lived.

On the kickoff to open the second half, backup tight end Kevin Everett barreled down upon Bronco return man Domenik Hixon, taking him down with a helmet-to-helmet blow.

Everett did not get up.

Amid tons of boisterous Vikings fans, enjoying their lead over the Falcons, I sat quietly. I watched the replay and cringed. Everett attempted to make the tackle -- to do his job -- and fell with a "THUD" to the Earth. I knew it was bad immediately.

He may make a lot more than I do, but I do not stroll towards my computer in the morning thinking, "You know, I may never walk again." It just doesn't happen.

It was a great opening Sunday. There's no denying that. Just remember that for some, it could've been their last.

The Pretzel Factory would like to extend the heartiest of wishes to Kevin Everett and his family. Good luck on the long road ahead.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Miss Teen South Carolina Previews the AFC

We here at the Pretzel Factory are honored to have a special guest: Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 and future Surreal Life star Lauren Caitlin Upton is with us this week to take a look at the upcoming NFL season.

We're going to break the interview up into two parts: the AFC and the NFC. We'll propose one major question for each team, and let Lauren get after them, South Carolina-style.

Tomorrow will be the NFC. Today: the AFC.

AHCtP: Despite losing last year's AFC Championship to the Colts, the Patriots are the trendy pick to go all the way based on their acquisitions of Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas, Wes Welker and others. Do you see New England returning to the top?

LCU: I really think that the Tom Brady and, um, our construda will be the thing that brings their to, uh, a champion, such as a more effective, umm overall passing attack.

Interesting. Now, with the New York Jets, is Thomas Jones really the answer to the departure of Curtis Martin at running back?

It was very devastatingly when I believe the Toni Braxton break-up is, uh, terrible to them in that our Mangenius, is, umm pigeonholed by Chad Pennington's lack to the ball and throwing it, uh, down field.

Good point. Now on to Buffalo, where highly touted rookie Marshawn Lynch out of Cal takes over for the departed Willis McGahee. Can he succeed?

It was, well, very obvious to the I think, The Departed was very good, such in Leo DeCaprio looked amazingly amazing but he acteded believable so in as to assume, I strongly feel, academy was honoring Martin Scorsese, umm, for an body of, we overall work.

Uh ... ok, that's not really what we were going for on that one, but ... in Miami, their QB situation last year of Joey Harrington and Daunte Culpepper was a complete mess. They countered by bringing in 37-year-old Trent Green. They've got a good defense, but can they score?

It is clear to me that the Joey is a, uh, [pause] [breath] [eyes dart down and to the left] show not as funny as in not as funny as the Friends, while I truly do, umm, hope that us U.S. Americans never did like the Trent Green's style of, uh [... long pause ...] Dottie Pepper.

What? Dottie Pepper? She's a golfer. And did you mean Tom Green? Ok, we're going to just skip the team-specific questions and go by division. In the AFC North, the Ravens have their superior defense and, just maybe, enough offensive firepower to hold off the Bengals and the Steelers. Who do you see coming out of one of the toughest divisions in football?

[Laughs, brushes hair away from her face]

What's so funny?

To me, I find it irony that this is supposed the umm, tough division but for the all teams to have they such a homosexualistic tendencies, with what the Bengals and cross-dresser in the photos of Chris Henry, such as Steely McBeam the mascot and uh Brady Quinn which is why the Ravens will say 'No More!' and will such as they can win every game easily.

I guess I never thought of it that way. Moving to the AFC South, the reigning Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts look to once again dominate this division. Can Jacksonville, with their talented defense but spotty offense, Vince Young-but-gifted Tennessee, or the historically inept Texans put a dent in the king's crown?

It is to my knowledge that the Peyton Manning is better than, uh anyone else to have host the Saturday Night Live.

You're not even trying anymore! Seriously, we had to do some very forgettable things to your mother to get you here; the least you could do is give us one pure, sentient, football-related thought about the AFC West. Please. We beg you.

With Norv Turner taking the helm in San Diego, domination and tremendous success will give way to bad clock management and even worse game management. The Chargers still have enough talent to win the division, but with half a year under his belt, Jay Cutler and a revamped Broncos D -- fresh off the signing of Simeon Rice -- look primed to challenge the Bolts for West supremacy. The Chiefs could be a major factor, too, especially if Larry Johnson can put up monster seasons like the last two. Despite having the overall number one pick, the Raiders still have holes in just about every position, and shape up to be two wins for every other team in the division.

Holy shit. That was great! What happened there? And why did your voice sound deeper?

I ... I don't know what you're talking about. By the way, I was drinking coffee on the plane the other day, and I noticed that th--

Wait a minute -- Peter King, is that you? Do you have your hand up Miss Teen South Carolina's ass? Go on, get out of here! Go turn in 2500 words on how the bust sculptor at Canton won't be able to adequately capture Brett Favre's stubble. Ms. Upton, are you OK?

I personally believe that us teenage blondes don't have enough, uh, access to the anal fisting by slovenly overweight sportswriters, ummm, because we such as...

Oh christ.