Saturday, October 24, 2009

What the Eagles Mean to Us

Here is a great quote from Hogs Haven (h/t Plotty):

We all hate the Cowgirls. We are all annoyed and frustrated at the success of the Giants. But the Eagles and their fans hold a special place in each and every one of us: somewhere between the colon and the rectum. As a sports fan, there is little I despise more than a team from Philly. Call it regional angst. Call it close-proximity friction. Call it what you want.

Could not agree more with this sentiment. And I'm gonna call it obnoxious, uneducated, and possibly illiterate fanaticism, if that makes any sense. I hate Philadelphia.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Week 7 Picks: Do The Skins Have a Chance?

After failing to live up to the ludicrous line last week, Vegas has instilled the Skins as solid 7 point underdogs to the home. I think this line is the first sign of Vegas viewing the Skins as the abortion we are. I can't help but wonder how high this line could have gone had the Iggles taken care of business in Oakland and firmly instilled themselves as incapable of losing to this train wreck Redskin team. The Eagles are Football Outsiders' (FO) #2 ranked team, while the Skins are sitting ugly at #22.

So does Philly's poop-fest against Oakland mean the Skins have a chance? The Raiders won by controlling the Eagle offense and getting just enough offense. Anyone watching the game will tell you that Richard Seymour absolutely dominated that game, just unstoppable. Well, we do have the most dominant DT in the NFL, so we've got that going for us.........The Raider defense also confused the injury-riddled Iggle O-line by using a lot of exotic blitzes, in what mostly looked to me like a type of zone blitz scheme. I will post at greater length on this, but the Redskins defense is completely vanilla. I can't believe Greg Blache's job isn't under fire given the production he gets from this talent. The Raiders basically outcoached the Iggles last week, and I have never seen Blache do something approaching this.

On to the picks...............the Football Outsiders (FO) picking system continues its impressive performance of the past few weeks, going 9-5 in week 6 and finally reaching .500 for the season. FO is rolling now, and getting to the point where I trust their system more than my own picks. FO's 'locks of the week' are now 2-2 with no 'locks' this week, their 'reasonable' picks are 11-15, and their 'stay away' picks are 32-28. FO noted that this is a terrible week for picking games.

The standings:
Sports Guy: 9-5 last week, 58-32 overall (64.4%)
DCLS: 5-9 last week, 46-44 overall (51.1%)
Random monkey throwing shit at a dartboard: 45-45 overall (50.0%)
Football Outsiders: 9-5 last week, 45-45 overall (50.0%)

As usual, the FO picks are listed in order of confidence, and I have bolded a team wherever I differ (home teams in CAPS).
  1. Chicago +1.5 over CINCINNATI - These are the 2 teams I am having the most trouble understanding. I am tempted to take the Bungles just so I can root for Ochocinco and not Cutler, but I'll swallow my pride and take the points.
  2. MIAMI +7 over New Orleans - The Saints are the #1 offense and #2 defense by FO's metrics, wow. Not sure how you can't roll with the hot hand here.
  3. WASHINGTON +7 over Philadelphia - Philly is only their #11 straight-up pick, so FO actually thinks the Skins have a shot at winning this. Excuse me while I pull my head out of my ass. My take is that the Skins played to the level of their competition last year, and think we don't get obliterated here, and maybe, just maybe, the football gods will stop peeing on me (and maybe, just maybe Eva Mendes will ask me on a date tomorrow).
  4. HOUSTON -3 over San Francisco - Houston is the 3rd team I can't quite understand, and the 49ers are an overachieving unit thanks to the awesomeness of Mike Singletary. Matt Schaub might sprain something by just looking at Singletary's manliness, but I'll take the talent and hope Singletary doesn't invoke Jesus against me.
  5. OAKLAND +7 over New York Jets - You see?!? Dirty Sanchez isn't such hot shit and the Skins did not screw up by not trading up for him. He is the 2nd worst QB in the league by the metrics thus far, ahead of only his counterpart this week, Jamarcus Russell. Last week was a product of a good game plan against a banged-up team. The Jets O-line should not have the same problems against Seymour and co.
  6. NEW YORK GIANTS -7 over Arizona - This is a seemingly an easy teaser pick even though the Giants D is secretly putting out like a drunk sorority girl. And just because everyone's getting some, does not mean you shouldn't too. And yes, this makes the Skins the guy who even the drunk sorority girl won't touch, so we're probably some combination of fat, ugly, creepy, and wasted.
  7. Indianapolis -14 over ST. LOUIS - Another obvious pick, which made me think, how many points would I have to get to take the Rams? I am gonna go with 25. I would start thinking about it at 21.
  8. KANSAS CITY +5.5 over San Diego - Let's not get crazy about the Chiefs. I saw nothing last week to indicate that they are good. Why does FO have this pick? While the Chiefs are their #25 ranked team, the Chargers are just 1 spot ahead, at #24. There is a bit of a gap between the 2, but nowhere near enough for 5.5 points. The Bolts are their 11th of 12 straight-up picks, meaning this game should be even. I was going to take the Bolts until I read this.
  9. Buffalo +6.5 over CAROLINA - I think this game wins the award for being the first worst game of the week not involving the Skins since week 1. Yay? The highlights from this game will even suck.
  10. Green Bay -7 over CLEVELAND - Another obvious teaser pick. I also enjoy rooting against Derek Anderson, he is like a wounded dog that needs the Michael Vick treatment to be put out of its misery. Except the wounded dog has 24 million reasons to live. Too soon my ass for both of those jokes.
  11. New England -15 over TAMPA BAY - Is the Pats O back? For FO to give 15 points means this is a bigger mismatch than Mike Williams against a Chinese buffet.
  12. Atlanta +4 over DALLAS - I love this pick, and am surprised FO has this so low. The Falcons are ranked slightly higher and getting points, so not sure what I'm missing here.
  13. PITTSBURGH -4 over Minnesota - So I get to take the Vikings, who I think are the better team, and get 4 points. Also not sure what I'm missing here.
To recap, this is an abnormally awful week for betting. You should believe that statement because FO said it and has a strong handle on picking games at this point. Most importantly, FO likes the Skins this week and even sees them with a chance to beat one of the best teams in the league. How can I write that and not sound sarcastic?
(Image courtesy of

Friday Furburgers: The Caps Power Outage

Look, I'm all for the "a win is a win" talk.

But after the Caps barely hung on in a 5-4 victory over Atlanta Thursday night, a game eerily similar to many others in which they let an inferior team gain ground on them in a sloppy third period, it's become apparent that their power play is just not right.

This is a team that finished 2nd in power play efficiency last season and lost none of its key parts, yet now boasts the 19th most effective unit in the league at a mere 16.0% after Thursday's 0-7 debacle.

The sample size is small and I am confident they'll right the ship in due time. Having four of the game's most skilled offensive players - Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green - tends to have its benifits.

But what if these players aren't being used in the proper capacity?

I've maintained for a while now that Ovechkin's seemingly unlimited offensive potential is maximized when he is situated on the left hash marks on the power play, as opposed to the point where he plays now. Having him fire in a dozen slap shots a game from the blue line isn't necessarily ineffective, although usually half of those shots are either blocked or deflected away from the net. But Ovechkin with a clear path to the net is about as dangerous as Gary Glitter at a YMCA youth camp. Furthermore, placing him closer to the net will force the defense to collapse on him, paying huge dividends for whoever replaces him on the point and thus boosting the overall effectiveness of the power play.

I'm really not sure why I haven't been hired as at least an assistant coach at this point in my career, but whatever. It's all politics I guess.

Anyway, without further ado and no logical segue, I present your Friday Furburgers - links from the week, for the weekend:

Nice article on Nicklas Backstrom's rise to stardom. Lock this guy up, pretty please.
Washington Post

Great statistical recap of the 2008-2009 NHL season. This is required viewing for any true hockey fan. Spoiler alert: Alex Semin deserved to join Ovechkin and Green on the NHL First All-Star Team.
Hockey Analytics

Just as he was last year, Alex Ovechkin is the most clutch player in the NHL.
The Hockey News

Since making fun of the Redskins will never get old, it's important to note that they do, in fact, still somewhat resemble a professional football team. Classic.
The Onion

Our pals at Hogs Haven interview an Eagles fan in preparation for Monday's inevitable annihilation at Fedex Field.
Hogs Haven

Wilbon endorses Sherman Lewis as a legitimate head coaching candidate. The DCLS does not endorse Wilbon.
Washington Post

This Skins fan, writing for a financial blog, absolutely tears apart Dan Snyder from a corporate management perspective.
The Motley Fool

Matt Mosley, former Cowboys beat writer and current NFC blogger for ESPN, is an idiot. And the Pope poops in the woods. Duh.
Mr. Irrelevant

Speaking of Mosley, I pulled up this little nugget from my days as an avid Drew Bledsoe reader. God I loved that blog.
Tony Homo

The so-called ESPN panel of "experts" (yes, I still hate you, John Hollinger) previews the Wizards.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oriole Season Recap: Are We Still on Track to Contend?

So I was flipping through the channels the other day and lo and behold, the baseball playoffs had started. Which is funny because you know what I haven't done since 1997?........Watch my team play postseason baseball..........The start of the postseason signals the end of the season for the O's and Nats, so it is high time we wrote our season recaps.

I have gone back and forth about the O's this year. As hard as it sounds, you have to look past the 98 losses and only examine the core young players who will be with the team in a few years. All that matters from this season is not the epic ineptitude of Jason Berken, but rather the individual performances of players such as Baseball Jesus, Nick Markickass, and Chris Tillman. For quite some time, the realistic expectation for this team has been to reach the playoffs come 2011. In order to avoid wasting time with the Melvin Mora's, I will go player-by-player amongst the guys we think might be a part of the next great Orioles team.


Brian Roberts - Here is the best Oriole from 2009. He pretty much lapped the field in Baseball Prospectus' VORP, which is his value, in runs, over a replacement level player at the same position. He finished as the 5th best 2B in baseball, but VORP only accounts for hitting, and Roberts' fielding fell off a cliff last year. This leads me to the biggger point: Roberts is clearly a good player, but he will be 32 at the start of next season. That means he will be 33 at the start of our hopeful Oriole revival season. So...can we count on him? His trade value diminishes by the minute, but that does not mean trading him is the wrong move. He suffered his first drop in OPS since his post age-27 season (his career year, and career year for most baseball players), and could be headed straight for mediocrity next season. His Baseball Prospectus (BP) projections next season will be interesting, but I am skeptical that he will help the team much in 2 years.

Nick Markickass - We may have to remove the "kickass" from his name soon enough. This is a guy who has taken dramatic leaps forward in production each of the past 2 years, and was another dramatic leap from literally being an MVP candidate, according to BP before this season. Well, about that leap......this year he lept backward. He was not a bad player by any stretch, but was the 14th best RF by VORP, which is the definition of mediocore. This was a time when he was supposed to be improving, so it was particularly hard to stomach. His struggles were not limited to the plate either; after being one of the better RFers in the league, he dropped to slightly below average. Nick the Greek will still only be 26 at the start of next season, and presumably in his peak year in 2011, so there is still a lot of room for growth, and he should be a 'good' player on the O's for many years. The question has now become whether this year is an aberration, or has his ceiling dropped a bit to the point that he will only be a part of the next great O's team as apposed its centerpiece?

Adam Jones - His phenomenal start to the season led many to think he was having his breakout year, but that lasted about as long as I do in bed. Jones' performance declined by month and he ultimately finished the season on the DL. His fielding has remained a huge plus, and should get better with age. The final result was a solid year, but one that did not live up to the expectations he created with that hot start. That said, the performance is not bad, and he is still on track to be a great player. He is only one year younger than Markickass, and this past season has raised the same question about whether he will be very good, or great. In the meantime, I have been trying to figure out a nickname for him that is not "Pacman". My so-bad-it's-funny idea is "The Carpenter"...because he has all the tools...

Baseball Jesus (Matt Wieters) - We covered his season pretty thoroughly recently, so I will keep this as brief as I can. His slow start caused me a lot of sleepless nights, but he heated up and finished as one of the top catchers in baseball. He is only 23, so what does the future hold? He is clearly on track to be fixture in the midsummer classic, but what about the absurd ceiling that last year's minor league performance created? For those of you who (unlike me) don't think about Matt Wieters during your most intimate moments, he had the best season of any pro baseball player in the last 40 years, at any level. While his first major league season was very good, his ceiling has dropped a bit from the once-in-a-generation talent that impatiently homers from the on-deck circle. Nevertheless, he is still a special player and will be a leader on the 2011 team, so feel free to purchase a Wieters jersey and ponder whether his granite balls chafe, or are sanded to a glossy finish so that they swish gently across his knees.

Nolan Reimold - Aha, finally a guy who exceeded expectations. Reimold looked like a future solid LFer before this season, but had a huge season and now looks to be much better than just solid. This year he was already in the top-half of MLB LFers, with the only downside being that he is already 26, so his growth potential is not as great as the others. He is also not a good fielder, but can at least be spotted by Felix Pie in late innings.

Josh Bell - If watching George Sherril move on to more successful pastures made you upset, take heart in that we got a very good prospect in return who looks very much like our 3B of the future.

Brandon Snyder - After dominating double-A ball he had some struggles in triple-A, but still looks like a major leaguer in the near future. He lacks superstar potential, but the O's will be more than happy if he can hold down the regular 1B job.

Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz - We covered these guys througout the season and while it is hard to judge young pitchers, Matusz appeared to live up to the hype as Tillman seemed a bit shaky. Both of these guys are still on track to be front-line starters, however, so let's just hope for a little more Justin Verlander and a little less Phil Hughes.

Jake Arrieta - He had a somewhat dissapointing season, lagging behind Matusz and Tillman, but his upside has merely dropped from a number 2 to number 3 starter, so no big concerns here.

Brad Bergeson - I had to include him after having the biggest breakout season on the team this year. He is 23 and was probably the best rookie pitcher in baseball after J.A. Happ, Tommy Hanson, and Andrew Bailey until injury shortened his season. He may not be a future star but is an example of the ability of the Oriole army of pitching prospects to fill out a very good and very cheap rotation in the very near future.

Zach Britton - This guy was not even listed in BP's 2009 book, but has arguably become the best non-MLB prospect in the organization. He still has a ways to go but looks to be a future MLB starter.


Here is how the 2011 (and beyond) Orioles are shaping up:

C - Matt Wieters

1B - Brandon Snyder

2B - Brian Roberts?

3B - Josh Bell

SS - ?

LF - Nolan Reimold

CF - Adam Jones

RF - Nick Markickass

Utility - Felix Pie

DH - ?

SP1 - Brian Matusz

SP2 - Chris Tillman

SP3 - Zach Britton

SP5 - Brad Bergeson

RP - Brandon Erbe


As you can see, we have almost an entire cheap team in place, which leaves a lot of money to fill only a few holes. There is almost no doubt that this will be a solid team, with a potentially elite pitching staff and Wieters, Markickass, and Jones the offensive centerpieces. The question is whether this team will be solid or perhaps great enough to compete with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox? From where I stand I see a lot of good players, but when the Yank's roll out A-Rod, Jeter, Texeira, etc. you need more than just good. Wieters is on the cusp of superstardom, but he appears to be the only potential elite hitter in this lineup, meaning the team may have to be carried by its pitching staff.

The biggest hurdle for the O's may be that they have to play the Yankees and Red Sox 18 times each per season. Their record against those teams last year was 7-29! If they had played those two teams as well as they did the rest of the league, they would have had another seven wins. Those seven extra wins would have only pushed 'em to 71 wins last season. A team needs about 85 wins to get into the playoffs, so having 71 last year, and conservatively projecting a six win per year improvement over the next two seasons puts the O's at 83 wins in 2011 - and right in the playoff race.

Unfortunately, the Yankees and Red Sox have shown no signs of falling back to earth, and we only won 64 games, not the 71 we would have won in this theoretical world where my life as a baseball fan does not suck. After years of endless 'rebuilding', even a solid team would be a joy to watch. But I still hold out hope that this team could reach much greater heights.

[Image courtesy of]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Portis on the Current Locker Room Dynamic

At this point in the season, only humor preserves my sanity in regard to the Redskins. Apparently, that's Clinton Portis' saving grace as well. Via Redskins Insider:

"[I] can't do nothing but handle it with humor. I can't keep moping around and everybody's sad and don't talk to each other. A couple of my teammates didn't even speak to me. I walked in, [wide receiver Santana Moss] didn't even speak to me. And [quarterback] Jason [Campbell] tried to let the door hit me in the face. I don't know what the ... I watched him look at me and then let the door slam in my face."

Campbell denied the incident, calling it a misunderstanding, but still...does this sound like a comfortable locker room to you?

The Redskins are a circus. Try to enjoy the show. Just try.

[Image via Invisible Blog]

Monday, October 19, 2009

Future Executive V.P. of Football Operations

Word on the street is that this guy is atop Dan Snyder's wish list to replace Vinny Cerrato if and when the time comes.

And to be honest, I've got a feeling things would pretty much stay the same around here, with a slight increase in front office rationality.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

***Grain of Salt Alert*** Internet Rumor Monger Suggests Cerrato Might be Fired!!!

I'll be the first to admit that Mike Florio of is a bumbling idiot and half of the things he says are complete hogwash. Hence the **GRAIN OF SALT** alert. But this juicy tidbit is too good not to share. Mostly because it's the only Redskins-related news that has made me anything besides murderous for the past, oh, decade or so.

There seems to be a sliiiiiiight sliver of a chance that - get this - Snyder might have had it with his "VP of Football Operations", Vinny Cerrato:

We're hearing that there's a strong belief within the Redskins organization that the fates of coach Jim Zorn and V.P. of football operations Vinny Cerrato are tied together.

So if/when Zorn goes, Cerrato could be dumped, too. (There's a chance Zorn would go after the Eagles game next Monday, and that Cerrato wouldn't be fired until after the season ends.)
If you haven't been following the Redskins, it's crystal clear that Zorn won't make it past this season (or peraps even next week). If this "rumor" is true, and Cerrato later follows Zorn out the door, let the Super Bowl Parade commence!

The only question then becomes, of course, What Does Snyder Do Next? It appears as though Dannyboy can't rip a fart without the "yes-man" approval of his football eyes, Vinny Cerrato. So will he find another ass kissing stooge? Or will he man up and admit that he has no clue what he is doing and hire someone with the courage to say no to the little twit once in a while? As in "no Dan, a wife-beating 30-year-old flash in the pan does not deserve a $250 million cap-crippling 12-year contract. If you want a shiny new toy, here is a nice Tonka truck."

Week 6: Chiefs 14, Redskins 6 - Knee Jerk Reactions

Football season is in full swing! The hair pulling, TV-screaming, remote control throwing and furious cigarette smoking is in full force. Before I let rationality cloud my judgment, here are my knee-jerk reactions from the sixth game of the season:

-Channeling Conan O'Brien here: "Watching the Redskins. Some say a waste of time. Others say: an incredible waste of time."

-I no longer have the energy to feel anger. Only sadness. At this point, what do we have to hope for? That one day Snyderrato will magically flip the switch from "incompetent meddling idiots" to "patient efficient and clever"? That our ridiculous long-term salary commitments will disappear, or that the players with these contracts will improve as they inch towards football senility? It's going to be a long and brutal 5-10 years at least. Probably longer. Hence, sadness.

-If Zorn makes it past the bye week still employed, I will post a naked picture of myself on this blog. And I'm not saying that just to attract more readers, even though that's a probable consequence (I am a beautiful specimen).

-Haynesworth and Golston were beasts inside, and Carter played great again. And the silverware on the Titanic was top-notch.

-Orakpo rushing from end is a beautiful thing. We've said it before, we will say it until we're blue in the internet face: it's not rocket science. PLAY HIM AT END PERMANENTLY. Christ on a crutch.

-Did you see that play where D******* Hall tackled a slow, plodding QB late in the game before he was dragged 8 yards for a first down? I nearly peed my pants.

-Campbell was absolutely horiffic. And all you Collins-lovers out there, how'd he do replacing JC17?

-Heyer does not belong in the NFL. Mike Williams is not completely awful though.

-Portis not getting in the end zone on the long run is another in a long line of signs that he is washed up. Why can't he cut it inside and take it to the house? You and Sellers and one guy to beat and you can't get past him????? And did anyone NOT foresee a field goal after he was tackled?

-Speaking of Portis, I was a big fan of benching him to light a little fire under him. Lasted for one play.

-Landry is a clown. I'm not really on the fence with him anymore. He overpursues more than a cougar at closing time.

-Did anyone else see that the TAMPA BAY BUCANEERS SCORED 21 POINTS? And that the Saints put up 34 on the Giants in the first half alone? We have to have the longest streak without 20 points in the NFL. I know, I'm so greedy.

-How 'bout that CBS feed cutting out for a solid 15 minutes? Feel free to share in the comments what you did during these 15 minutes. Or any jokes about why it happened.

-2-14 is the goal for me now. High draft pick, and an ever-so-slight chance that Snyder wakes up and realizes how bad Vinny Cerrato is, and actually fires him. That's when the next adventure starts. Remember, adventures can often suck, though they can also end in glory.

[Image via Mr. Irrelevant]

Week 6: Chiefs @ Redskins, 1 ET

Prepare for another Skins' EPIC with another one of Danny Rouhier's brilliant videos. This time, group therapy.

"Give us the grace to accept with serenity this team we cannot change; courage to not care when we challenge an obvious play that there is no way we should challenge; and it's like, come on bro, we're gonna need that timeout."

Prediction: Chiefs 16, Redskins 9. Get out your paper bags, boys. It's fixin' to be a very long day.