Sunday, November 15, 2015

Patriots-Giants drinking game: painful memories edition

One streak will end Sunday. Either the Patriots' 11-game winning streak, or Giants' 3-game winning streak against the Patriots.

Throughout the week, few people seemed to actually talk about this game in 2015, instead focusing on games played 4 and 8 years ago, by almost completely different sets of players. For the Patriots, this is a tough road game against a good opponent. And they probably won't make nervous mistakes like so many Pats' opponents have this season. Then again, a 5-4 record in the NFL this year isn't very impressive. Being slightly above average in an incredibly below average league is like repeating the 4th grade and then getting a B-. Who cares?

Speaking of who cares, who cares about my game analysis? Let's get to the drinking game!

The rules...

Anytime a commentator says:
"Super Bowl" = 1 drink of beer
"New York" = 1 drink
"Manning" = 1 drink
"Tom" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Coughlin" = 1 drink
"Malcolm" = 1 drink
"Chandler" = 1 drink
"Tyree" = 1 drink
"Manningham" = 1 drink (plus the 1 drink for saying "Manning")
"Streak" = 1 drink
"Undefeated" = 1 drink
"18 and 1" = drink beer for 18 seconds, then drink 1 shot of liquor
"Pierre-Paul" = 1 drink
"Fireworks" = 1 drink

Anytime this is happens:
DraftKings or FanDuel commercial = 1 drink (not allowed to do so in New York)
Odell Beckham Jr. catches something with both hands = 1 drink
DeflateGate is mentioned = 1 drink
Shane Vereen catch or carry = 1 drink
Brandon Meriweather dirty play = 1 drink
Tom Brady takes longer than 2 seconds to get rid of the ball = 1 drink
Julian Edelman seems to get concussed = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski breaks a tackle = 1 drink
Gronk scores a touchdown = finish your beer, spike the can/bottle (bonus points for spiking glass)
LeGarrette Blount breaks a 10+ yard run = 1 drink
Jamie Collins does something freakishly athletic = 1 drink
Chandler Jones records a sack = 1 drink
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff or punt return = drink for the duration of the return
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink

Anytime this is on screen:
Fall foliage = 1 drink, bonus points if it's pumpkin flavored
DraftKings logo = 1 drink
Highlights of a Super Bowl = drink for the duration of the highlight, then throw up if it was against the Giants
Roman numerals = 1 drink per set of numerals
Highlights of a Giants receiver making a ridiculous catch = drink entire beer, take a shot, snort a line of oxy
Clip of a former Patriots receiver named Wes dropping a catch = finish your beer, pop a Molly, and sign with the Rams
Bill Belichick as a NY Giants coach = drink a giant sized beer, like those Fosters beers
60 Minutes promo = 1 drink per clock tick
Jason Pierre-Paul's bandaged hand = 1 drink
Graphic about Pats' O-line injuries = 1 drink per injured player mentioned
A sign about DeflateGate = 1 drink
The New York skyline = 1 drink
The disgusting wastelands of north New Jersey = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink while he's talking

So enjoy the Pats-Giants game, get lubed up, and please don't play this drinking game because you'll probably die.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Clay Buchholz re-injures elbow celebrating $13 million option

You thought that was a real headline, right? That's how fragile Clay Buchholz is. And the Red Sox have picked up his option for 2016, worth $13 million. Buchholz, when healthy, is incredibly streaky. He can rip off 8 to 10 Ace-like starts, then suck for weeks. From season to season, month to month, start to start, you have no idea which Clay Buchholz will show up. Here is the roller coaster ride of his ERAs for the past 5 seasons: 3.48, 4.56, 1.74, 5.34, 3.26. He's never had consecutive seasons with ERAs within 1 run of each other.

The one thing you can rely on with Clay is that he'll get injured. He's 31 and he's only started 20+ games in 3 seasons. He's never started 30.

The argument for exercising the option is that $13 million isn't a ton of money, and it's only one year. And as I said, Buchholz when healthy is capable of brilliance. So why not? Minimal risk, potential for high reward.

But $13 million is too much for unreliability. I love low risk/high reward ventures. Not when the guy is as inconsistent as Buchholz, and ALSO as injury prone. The injury isn't even a risk, it's essentially a sure thing.

Another reason to not want Buchholz is that due to he unreliability, you're going to have to make sure you have 6 potential starters available. Either that or try to acquire one in June or July when his arm breaks down. And good luck finding a replacement for him if he falls apart in September. By keeping Buchholz, it forces you to also get some form of insurance.

It comes down to this: If he were a free agent, would you want to spend $13 million on him? I wouldn't.

Even as a back of the rotation guy, he's too unreliable. I'd rather have a mediocre innings eater that I could depend on to keep the team in games and preserve the bullpen. Give me 28 starts and 160 innings of decent pitching. With Buchholz it's 10 to 29 starts, and 100-200 innings, some great, some awful.

In 4 of Buchholz's 18 starts last season, he failed to go 5 innings. It was 6 times in 2014. About every 5 starts he'll drop a turd on the mound and you'll have difficulty clawing back to get into the game. Not to mention tax your bullpen in the process.

The only acceptable role for Buchholz is at the back of a rotation that's so strong up front that it doesn't really matter what you have as a 4 or 5 starter. In which case, $13 million is too much to spend on a guy whose role doesn't matter. And it's too much to spend on a guy whose only predictable attribute is that he will get hurt at some point and force you to find someone else to start for him.

DraftKings and FanDuel players should consider suing the Colts for falsifying injury reports

I don't think stretching the truth on an injury report is a big deal. Unless you're the Colts. Unless you're the team that measured an opposing team's footballs without realizing that air pressure is affected by temperature and humidity. Unless you're the team that leaked the story to your mouthpiece Bob Kravitz hours after you got the tar beat out of you (mostly in the half of the game played with "legal" footballs).

It's sort of like arguing with someone online, and correcting their grammar or spelling. Once you do that you'd better make sure you use the right your/you're, it's/its, and then/than. And if you don't, every little mistake of yours is fair game.

Once you open that door of publicly tattling on another team for possibly breaking a rule, you'd better make sure you follow the rules to the letter. All the rules. Each and every stipulation in the book. Such as fully disclosing the nature of your most important player's injuries. As the NFL says "This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game."

Integrity. The Colts violated a rule that is of "paramount importance" to the game's "integrity."

And it's not just the integrity of football games being jeopardized by the Colts' deception. With the explosion of daily fantasy sports on sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel, where millions of dollars change hands every week, the accuracy of injury information is now similar to the accuracy of publicly owned corporations issuing earnings reports. Huge amounts of money is at stake. And publishing false injury information is like a company failing to report a loss.

How many people added Andrew Luck to their teams in the past few weeks, under the pretense that he had recovered from an arm injury but was otherwise healthy? What about TY Hilton or Donte Moncrief? How would knowledge of his rib injury have affected people's strategies? And might Draft Kings and Fan Duel have possibly modified their salary cap number for Luck if they'd known the truth?

And who had inside information about the true nature of Luck's injuries? Did any of them have Draft Kings or Fan Duel accounts? Do their friends or relatives?

In this absurdly litigious society, the Colts have opened themselves up to huge legal action. And if you picked Luck for your fantasy team, or might have picked him at a lower price, then you should call your lawyer and file suit.Take it all the way to the 2nd Circuit if you have to.

The rules are the rules, Colts. You're the ones who made a big public deal about the rules a few months ago. Which was especially pathetic since the crux of the story was that the "illegal" footballs were removed from the game, which is also when you started getting stomped on.

You couldn't beat the Patriots on the field, so you decided to beat them with the rule book. And now we see that you suck at that too. Almost as badly as you suck on the field.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why is Tuukka Rask starting tonight?

You can't say anything negative about Rask without qualifying your remarks, or risk the scorn of his many defenders. And I don't know why. His play has been shabby and lazy this season. In his career he's never come up big in a playoff series when the Bruins have needed him to. His play was one of the primary reasons the Bruins lost a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in 2010. And the best thing to happen to the 2010-11 Bruins was Rask losing the starting job to Thomas.

Yet any legitimate criticism of his play is often met with excuses and my favorite "He's not the reason they lost." (even though his job is to be a reason the team wins, not to just not be a reason they lose)

But let's limit our scrutiny of sacred cow Tuukka Rask to October of 2015. And let's also not talk about his play as a percentage of the blame pie for the Bruins' struggles. It doesn't matter if he's only 10% responsible for the B's losses, or 5% or less than 1%. His quality of play is what matters, and it's below the standards of an NHL goalie, let alone one of the allegedly better goalies in the League.

He's been lackadaisical, imprecise, passive. He cuts off angles incorrectly, he handles the puck awkwardly, and his form has been allowing pucks to leak through. He's done the bare minimum of his job. He's not the cause of the Bruins' losing, but he's not doing much to cause them to win.

So why is he in net tonight instead of Jonas Gustavsson? J-Goose hasn't been amazing, but he is trying. Unlike Rask, who seems to be trying to be benched or traded. Don't the Bruins want to reward effort and punish apathy? Jonas Gustavsson has been playing the best that Jonas Gustavsson has been playing. Rask is playing nowhere near the best that he can play.

The Bruins have 3 wins this season, 2 of those were with Gustavsson in net. I'm not saying the B's should trade Rask, or permanently put Gustavsson ahead of Rask on the depth chart. But Rask shouldn't be starting right now. Send Rask a message and play the goalie who is giving you 100% and winning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I want the Cubs to lose tonight so I can stop rooting for the Mets

I don't like the Cubs. I don't like the general attitude that seems to define the essence of being a Cubs fan: Be happy to lose. It's not that they don't want to see their team win, it just isn't a priority to them. Or at best, it has no impact on their mood. There are more important things than winning: beer, summer afternoon sunshine, and having a good time at Wrigley is what matters most. If Cubs fans were told that moving out of Wrigley into a modern ballpark with luxury boxes would increase their chances of winning a World Series, I doubt they'd want to do it.

You know the phrase "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing?" Cubs fans are satisfied with just the first part.

I like Theo Epstein. I like Jon Lester. I outright hate Joe Maddon, and that hatred outweighs any positive feelings I have for Epstein or Lester. Maddon is obnoxious. His teams are obnoxious. If he wins a World Series, the obnoxiousness will only increase exponentially.

The Cubs are not kindred to the pre-2004 Red Sox. Even the nature of the team's two Curses are different. The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth and a number of other great players to the Yankees, and the Sox paid their penance for those sins for nearly 9 decades. The Cubs pissed off a guy with a goat, and then they weren't good for a century. Great story.

Cubs fans aren't frustrated or cranky or sarcastic enough to compare to the fellowship of the miserable that were Red Sox fans before 2004. Red Sox fans were tortured. Red Sox fans cared. Cubs fans do not.

Look at Red Sox fans' reaction to the waves of Pink Hat that infiltrated Fenway after 2004. The Pink Hats didn't care if the Sox won or who was on the team and what role they played, they just wanted to go to Fenway and take a selfie of themselves eating a hot dog. #WallyWave

All Cubs fans are Pink Hats! Their priorities are the exact same. Fuck that.

I don't want that content with failure Chicago fanbase to be rewarded with a World Series. I don't want Joe Maddon's already gargantuan ego to be augmented by a World Series ring on his finger. I don't want to hear about goats or Back to the Future II anymore. So let's go Mets.

And please, Mets, finish it tonight so I can stop hating myself for rooting for a New York team.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Patriots don't get revenge, but get a W and a few LOLs

It wasn't the embarrassing blowout that many Patriots fans had been hoping for and many sports pundits had predicted. But there's still embarrassment. There's still Tom Brady being amazing. There's still a Patriots win over the Colts.

You were never going to get "revenge" in this game, Pats fans. But the chance to reassert your superiority over the Colts while simultaneously laughing at their buffoonery carries with it a certain satisfaction.

The Patriots didn't let the hype around this game affect them. They played with focus and concentration. They made adjustments. They were patient. The Colts, on the other hand, played with too much urgency. They tried too hard to write the script of the game instead of just letting it happen. The fake punt Snapfu (term coined by Grantland's Bill Barnwell) was a perfect example of the Colts trying to force the game to play out a certain way. Just punt. Or fake.

Seriously, Pagano, you're going to go after the Patriots by trying to out-coach them? That was the "weakness" you attacked?

The Colts were able to keep this game close thanks to plays like Julian "Nine Fingers" Edelman bobbling a pass, giving Mike Adams an easy pick 6. Indy had a strong first drive as well, but even that series was a fraction of an inch away from ending with 0 points. It was a 21-20 Indy lead going into halftime, but at no point did the Colts have a firm grip on the game.

The Pats benefited from what was probably a bad call on an Indy onside kick. That was luck. What makes the good teams great is capitalizing on lucky bounces and calls. The Pats did that a few plays later when LeGarrette Blount ran for a 38-yard TD.

Danny Amendola had a big game, which was pivotal with Julian Edelman's bent pinkie finger. Edelman and Jamie Collins made the most athletic plays of the game, Edelman twisting inside defenders on a 4th down run, Collins leaping over a long-snapper to block a PAT.

And Tom Brady was Tom Brady. That interception that wasn't his fault was his first of the season. He was mobile inside the pocket, giving himself time to make plays. What continues to impress me the most about Brady is his inhuman ability to not be distracted by all the noise and the things that would affect normal human beings like us.

So the Indy game is over. And we're on to New York and the Jets. And it's for first place in the division. That's not a typo.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Patriots - Colts drinking game: DeflateGate Revenge Edition

It's time for revenge. Because somehow beating the Colts by 50+ points will make up for the months of misinformed "11 of 12 footballs being 2+ PSI under" bogus stories that the NFL leaked (what former Jets employees leaked, so the Day of Vengeance should be next Sunday when the Jets come to Gillette). Will beating the Colts by 7 touchdowns put all the BS back into the mouths of morons like Michael Felger? Will a thorough and complete beatdown of the Colts atone for the lack of fact-checking by ESPN and the rest of the sports media, and the subsequent lack of apology for being completely wrong, and allowing themselves to be used as the propaganda arm of the NFL?


This game isn't about revenge. It's about winning, and winning against a team you have comprehensively dominated for years. And if it's a win by 1 point, I think that'd be so much better than winning by 50. It would be more heart-breaking, more of a tease. Furthermore, it would also trick the Colts into thinking that they're close to the Patriots, just a few minor adjustments away from being contenders. That kind of false hope is priceless, and would be a true revenge. Let them think they're close so they don't fire their horrible GM or their foolish head coach, and don't tell Andrew Luck to stop turning the ball over. So while part of me wants this to be a 50+ point slaughter, part of me also wants this to be a closely fought struggle. Just to fool the Colts that they're in the Patriots' league. False hope is true torture.

Anyway, here's a drinking game you can play during the football game. Please make sure you do two things before playing this: #1. call out of work on Monday because you'll be quite incapacitated. #2. Put your last will and testament in order, because it will be needed.

The rules of the game (which must be strictly adhered to, or players will be suspended for 4 weeks, and there will be a loss of draught picks, which means you won't be able to pick which beer you drink)...

Anytime a commentator says...
"Deflate" or any form of the word - take 1 drink of beer
A word that ends with "-Gate" - take 1 drink of beer
Something about DeflateGate without saying "deflate" - drink for 12.5 seconds
"Air" = 1 drink
"Pressure" = 1 drink
"Goodell" = 1 drink
"Indianapolis" = 1 drink
"AFC" = 1 drink
"Championship" = 1 drink
"Revenge" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Gronk" = 1 drink
"Luck" = 1 drink
A stupid pun and/or play on words involving the word "luck" (e.g. "luck of the draw," if the Colts run a QB draw) = 1 shot of hard liquor
"Al" = 1 drink
"C(h)ris" = 1 drink
"Bob" = 1 drink
"Michele" = 1 drink
"D'Qwell" = 1 drink, 1 shot of Nyquil

Anytime this happens...
The Patriots score = drink for as many seconds as the Patriots have points (you must also drink after PATs)
A DraftKings or FanDuel commercial = take 1 drink
Air pressure is mentioned = drink 11 of 12 ounces of beer
A penalty = 1 drink
Tom Brady points out the "mike" = 1 drink, bonus points for drinking from Mike's Hard Lemonade
Brady says all or part of "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink, bonus points for drinking a White Russian
Brady holds the ball for longer than 2 seconds = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski throws somebody out of the club = finish your beer
Gronk scores = 1 drink
Gronk spikes = finish your beer, then spike the container (bonus points for spiking glass bottles/mugs)
Jamie Collins makes a big play = 1 drink
Julian Edelman makes a guy miss = 1 drink
Dion Lewis makes a guy miss = 1 drink
The Patriots run for 5+ yards = 1 drink
Kick or punt return = drink during entire return
Touchback = 1 drink
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink
Andrew Luck turnover = 1 whole beer

Anytime this is on screen...
A banner =  1 drink per banner (this will be a lot of drinking)
The number 12 (on jerseys, scoreboards, clocks, graphics, etc.) = 1 drink
Highlights from previous Pats/Colts games = 1 shot of liquor
Peyton Manning = drink for 18 seconds
Rodney Harrison = drink for 37 seconds
Ty Law = drink for 24 seconds
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking
Jim Irsay = 1 drink (please don't drive)
A shot of footballs and/or ball boys = 1 shot
Ernie Adams = drink a bottle of wine by the time the game ends

So enjoy the game, get lubed up responsibly, don't drink and drive, don't complain about air pressure unless you understand the basic laws of physics.

Friday, September 25, 2015

SVP vs DFS: Scott Van Pelt takes on daily fantasy instead of stupid gambling laws

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt wants daily fantasy sports to drop the "charade" that it isn't gambling. You can watch his short monologue on the subject here. Before I discuss the material of his argument, I want to applaud him for having the balls to make it. DraftKings and ESPN have a huge partnership deal, and daily fantasy sports has become a massive source of advertising revenue. I'll also compliment SVP on the pace and structure of his argument. It's very well put together.

And I don't disagree with his premises, just the conclusion, and just the fact that he makes the argument at all. The easy way to describe daily fantasy is to say it's gambling. So he's right. Personally, I'd argue that it's gambling and a skill game. I'd also argue that poker, sports betting, and horse betting are also skill games, but most people treat those as gambling. The skill involved is to capitalize on other players who don't know what they're doing as well as you.

So daily fantasy shouldn't be much different. So why can't they just admit that it's gambling? Drop the charade, right Scott?

Because in this country we have stupid and nonsensical gambling laws that force you to avoid the G-word at all costs. We also have pious institutions like the NCAA that despise the stigma of gambling while they simultaneously benefit from it. Instead of going after daily fantasy's charade, SVP should ask why the charade is necessary at all.

In Massachusetts, gambling is illegal. Unless it's through the state run lottery, or at a casino sanctioned by the state. As long as the State House gets a piece of the action, they're fine with gambling. Otherwise, it's against the law. The government might as well say "Gambling is wrong, unless we do it."

The NCAA recently announced that student-athletes who play daily fantasy will lose a year of eligibility. But when March Madness comes around and people fill out brackets with NCAA logos on them, I don't hear much preaching from the NCAA about the evils of gambling. After all, those brackets are used strictly for fun, and not gambling, right?

I used to play $5 games of online poker until Congress made it next to impossible to deposit or withdraw money from online poker sites. This caused the reputable sites to stop doing business with US players altogether. One of the major laws that began this crushing of online poker in America (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA) specifically stated that fantasy sports was not considered gambling. Fantasy sports was a game of skill. This is the law that allowed daily fantasy to one day grow into what it is today.

So I can buy $100 worth of scratch tickets, or play in a $200 million multi-state lottery, or go down to Plainridge Park and sit in front of a slot machine for 16 hours, and it's all legal, because the government has a stake in those games. I can also pick a fantasy football team for Sunday's games and risk $20 to potentially win $1,000,000, or risk $1 in hopes of winning $20, and it's legal. Because the law says it's not gambling. If it were gambling, it would be illegal.

So why the hell would DraftKings or FanDuel call themselves gambling sites if the reason they are legal and allowed to do business is because the law says they're not gambling sites? That's like demanding that CVS and Walgreen's call themselves drug dealers and not pharmacies.

Maybe, Mr. Van Pelt, you should go after the rampant hypocrisy found in this country's gambling laws. Maybe you should point out that sports betting is and has always been a huge ratings booster for the NCAA, NFL, and all other sports that ESPN covers, even while those leagues publicly condemn such activities. Maybe you should ask why Americans love to gamble, but America has a stigma against gambling?

But no, it's easier to go after the people who bombard you with commercials. It's easier to go after the "charade" they're trying to pull off, instead of digging deeper and asking why they need the charade at all.