Saturday, January 09, 2010

As you'd expect, more bikini talk, and even some sports, plus how to make billions! (Analyzing the Playoffs, Day 4)(Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

You may wonder why it is that I "analyze" the playoffs this way -- viewing them through the (always 100% Correct!) lens of the NC! 100% System!.

I don't do it this way just because it's fun (for me, at least), and I don't do it this way just because it's 100% Correct!. No, I do it this way because this way is as good as any other way.

And that's because people don't know.

In any venture involving people doing things, and especially in any venture involving people doing things and other people doing things, the number one most important rule to remember if you're trying to guess what will happen is this:

You don't know.

You don't know, I don't know, nobody knows.

We don't know what's going to happen and trying to predict what's going to happen is an exercise in guesswork at best, and silliness at the worst -- silliness far worse than the silliness I engage in here.

There's silly predictions, like the Cardinals will beat Christian Faur in the World Series -- silly because Christian Faur is a seriously good ballplayer -- and then there's really silly predictions, like the kind you hear on the radio and TV every day as so-called "analysts" take time out from sucking up to Bill Belicheat and tell you what's "going to happen" in a game.

They're guessing, and they're guessing wildly. They're not even making educated guesses. They're taking a multitude of information, mixing it in with opinions and biases they may not even realize they have, and trying to apply that to an event -- in this case, a football game -- which has so many different factors influencing the outcome of the game that it's pointless to try to accurately predict who's going to win.

Think about the number of things that go into whether you do a good job at work on Monday. Not just big things like "the weather" or coworkers not doing their job or a supplier not showing up. But little things like did you get a good night's sleep the night before? Or things going on in your life. Maybe you have a sick kid, or broke up with your girlfriend, or are concerned because your football team is playing in a big game that week so you're distracted.

All of those things are going on in the lives of every single person on the field, from coaches to kick holders to refs -- and "analysts" have no way of knowing those things, let alone of predicting how they will impact the game.

In the National Championship game just played, everyone thought they knew what was going to happen. Then Texas Quarterback Colt McCoy went out with an injury, and in came Garrett Gilbert Grape, a true freshman who'd thrown about 4 passes before the season. Everyone was sure what was going to happen then, especially when Alabama was leading 24-6 at halftime.

Then Grape cut the lead to 24-21 in the second half, almost beating Alabama before a couple of big plays made the game into the blowout it was assumed to have been all the time.

Did any analysts predict that? I listened to sports talk all week and don't recall a single person analyzing whether Colt McCoy would get hurt -- even though McCoy had been hurt before. In fact, McCoy's had shoulder injuries going back to 2006. But nobody bothered to ask What if McCoy gets hurt in the National Championship.

You don't know. That's the rule.

We do a football pool weekly in our house: Sweetie, and The Boy, and I all pick who we think will win each week and bet a couple bucks, plus a jersey for the overall winner at the end of the season.

Sweetie, who has watched approximately 10 minutes of football in the time I've known her, and who routinely tells The Boy and I we're boring when we talk sports, has won for three years running. The Boy, who watches an estimated 100,000 hours of ESPN daily, has lost, for three years running.

You don't know. That's the rule. Sweetie picks teams based on this criteria: "I have a feeling." She also has a Vince Young jersey for winning this year.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an excellent article that crystallized my thinking on this issue. He wrote about Nassim Taleb, a man who decided that we don't know would be an excellent investment strategy, and put that into effect, buying options. Taleb, Gladwell says, didn't just buy stock options: he bought stock options based on the inevitability that something really big was going to happen, and the stock market was going to go wild -- either blow up, or blow down, but do something big and something that was entirely unforeseen.

Taleb bought those options for extremely low prices, in extremely high amounts, for years, and for years, Taleb slowly lost money, the money trickling away as he continued to tell himself we don't know and bet, gambled, on something big and unforeseen -- something no other investor could predict-- happening. If Taleb was wrong, he'd slowly bankrupt himself and all the other investors who thought they did know would laugh. But if Taleb was right and the one thing we know for sure is that we don't know, then something huge and unexpected would happen to the stock market and Taleb would make millions.

Last year, in an event that nobody really saw coming (or almost nobody), the markets blew down. Now, Nassim Taleb is a rich man who might get a Nobel Prize in economics, and who says this on his web page:

My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves & the quality of their knowledge too seriously & those who don’t have the courage to sometimes say: I don’t know...." (You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race).

So remember, as you wonder why I do the 100% System: You don't know. That's the rule to live by whenever people are involved. And since you don't know, why not get some entertainment and make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race?

And buy some football-related thong underwear, while you're at it?

Now, I'll do the analysis, while someone goes and looks up epistemic for me today.

Today's final two teams are the Colts and the Saints. Let's see how these two teams, one of which won't win the Super Bowl, stack up!

1. Team Nicknames: I once had an idea, over on The Best of Everything, to maybe write an article about The Best Saints You Wouldn't Want To Mess With. I never wrote the post, because it would have involved doing research and I'm opposed to doing research, or in any way backing up my opinions with facts. An opinion isn't supposed to be backed by facts. That ruins the fun.

My point in the article would have been the juxtaposition of Saints with people who are tough. See, saints aren't usually considered tough people, so the idea that you wouldn't want to mess with a saint would be a double-meaning: Nobody should want to hassle a saint, but a tough saint, now, would be doubly unhassleable.

What I'm trying to say, en route to inventing new words like unhassleable, is this: I like the Saints' nickname. They get a 5.

The Colts, on the other hand? Pleh, as Squidward would say. Colts aren't even tough horses. They're baby horses. It's the Indianapolis Cute Baby Horses. So, for cuteness, they'll get a 1, but that's it.

Saints: 5
Colts: 1.

2. Crazy Fans: I'd expect, from New Orleans, that there'd be supercrazy fans. Fans all hopped up on Bourbon and beads and Mardi Gras, or maybe fans who are vampires like in True Blood, or maybe drunk vampire fans. Something awesome, like this:

Only with more Saints gear and maybe wearing beads. Instead, I get this as the number one Youtube result for Crazy Saints Fan:

That guy's not even a Saints fan. And who tapes a video off a TV and uploads it that way? What is this, 2002? Zero points.

For the Indianapolis My Little Ponies, the number one video on Youtube is this:

That's advertised as "Random People Singing Random Things About The Colts," and honestly, I'm dumbfounded. I have no idea what to make of that. Was that a snippet of We're Not Gonna Take It in there? And what's with the sound quality? What is it that possesses people to make stuff like this, and how has America remained number one when we're inhabited by people like that?

We are still number one, right? I haven't checked the power rankings lately, so maybe we're not. Maybe the fact that our health care system is medieval and people are always publishing Lost spoilers, added to the existence of that video, has bumped us down. How low are we? Are we below Tobago? God, I hope not.

Minus one, Colts. Revoke that person's fandom, or we're through.

Updated Score:
Saints: 5
Colts: 0.

3. Best Name On Their Roster: I got to the third name on the Colts' roster before making my selection; I didn't even read any further. Hank Baskett is the best name on their roster.

If you're married to Sweetie, you know who Hank Baskett is, because Sweetie, way back when, watched The Girls Next Door, introducing her husband to Kendra Wilkinson:

Kendra Wilkinson then got dumped from the show in favor of younger, blonder, twinnier Girls Next Door, but that didn't stop her any more than Kate Gosselin can be stopped by the fact that every single person in existence loathes her, including her own kids. No, Kendra went on to get her own "reality" show, in which she got engaged to...

Hank Baskett, then a Philadelphia Eagle, but now an Indianapolis Smaller-Than-Usual-Horse. I saw a clip of the show on The Soup, and in the clip, Kendra was giving Hank's parents a copy of her Playboy magazine.

So I'm picking Hank because I'm hoping that at some point during the playoffs, one of the football announcers will be forced to mention Hank, and then forced to mention Kendra, and then each of the guys in the booth will do that thing where they pretend that they don't really know who she is, even though you know in preparing for the show each of them googled Kendra about thirty zillion times and know every inch of her better than they know the starting lineup. But they won't let on. They'll say something like "Hank's engaged to Kendra Wilkinson, or something. She's... I don't know who she really is. Some sort of reality show star?" And then they'll talk about Survivor and pray to God that somebody gets killed on the field before they have to go on.

Colts, you get a 5 for that.

The Saints ought to have really cool names on their roster, right? That New Orleans thing again, I'm assuming. Cool French quarter, Napoleonic code type of names. And maybe they do, but I stopped looking when I got to cornerback Randall Gay. I'm picking Gay because for a while there, nobody could get his jersey.

The NFL, as I mentioned the other day, has a list of words they won't let be put onto personalized jerseys. And for a long time, Gay was one of them, even though Randall Gay was a legitimate player in the NFL. The NFL, for a long time, thought a guy's actual name was an insult and derogatory term. So I'm picking Randall Gay to commemorate the NFL's amazingly progressive stance towards gay rights. I wonder if you could put homophobic on a jersey. (Apparently, you can -- according to that list. So you can, in the NFL, be homophobic, but you couldn't be gay. Another banned word? Interracial. But you know what's not banned? Racist.)

Saints, you get a 5 for forcing the NFL to confront its issues, a little, at least.

Updated Score:
Saints: 10
Colts: 5.

4. Craziest Thing For Sale In Their Shop: I'm going to just focus on underwear-related purchases to wrap this up. That's what we all want, anyway, right? I was going to search for Saints Underwear, but then I thought that might get me in trouble with the Pope, and also I got distracted by the headline "Mitt Romney's Underwear Cover Up." That little post said something about Romney not admitting or denying wearing "Magic Mormon Underwear," which, it turns out, has a whole site devoted to it, including a section on all the things you were afraid to ask about Mormon underwear. That sight claims it's not a secret at all. So Mormons go around showing their underwear to everyone, is what I've learned today.

Saints: 3. I don't know why, and it doesn't really matter, does it?

For the Colts, I googled Peyton Manning Underwear, 'cause, why not? Doing that kept me on the various lists of government agencies monitoring me based on my search history, and also led me to an article saying that Eli Manning was going to be an underwear model, which certainly puts a postmodern twist on the longtime dream little boys have of someday winning the Super Bowl. Imagine a little boy saying to his dad: "Someday, I'm going to win the Super Bowl and then use that as a springboard to model teeny-weeny bikini male underwear." It brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

But no Peyton Manning underwear, or underwear ads? He already advertises everything else in the world, so how'd he miss that? And why do we have Charlie Sheen advertising underwear, but not Peyton Manning?

Colts, zero on this. Get Peyton some boxers! (Underwear, not the dogs or the men-punching-other-men.)

Final Scores, today:

So the scores are:

Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings: 3
Cardinals: 3
Cowboys: 8
Eagles: 12.5
Saints: 13
Packers: 16

Jets: -3
Patriots*: -1
Colts: 5.
Chargers: 6
Ravens: 8

Which, in turn, leaves the Super Bowl as Bengals over Packers. The 100% System has spoken!

In closing, since this would ordinarily be the Hunk of the Week Day, I'll leave you with Eli Manning, shirtless. You'll have to imagine the Bikini Underwear:

Friday, January 08, 2010

Now I can't make up my mind: Metal Bikini, or... (Analyzing the playoffs, Day 3)(Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

You have to admire the dedication that I'm showing here, doing this for the third straight day, bravely ignoring all the work that I bravely ignored during the holidays, and also bravely deciding that the snow that we got last night was a "dusting" of snow and that therefore I don't have to go shovel it this morning but am instead free to do some 'puting before work and before going to wake up the Babies!, which I expect will be a chore today, given how much they kept waking up last night.

The Boy and I have an arrangement for the snow shoveling. It's an arrangement that's new to this year but has been working out pretty well so far.

The old system was "The Boy shovels snow." We came by that system through the application of the rule: I work, he goes to school, girls don't shovel snow. Since work > school, that left The Boy to shovel the driveway and sidewalk, which then left me to have a driveway that turned to ice and got smaller and smaller as the year went on, and a sidewalk that was a nightmare from a slip-and-fall liability standpoint.

The driveway got smaller and smaller because our driveway has landscaping on either side of it, so that the land rises up from the driveway. That means that the snow needs to be shoveled up, instead of just sideways, creating large drifts on each side. The larger the drifts, the harder it was to get the driveway snow up and over them and the more likely The Boy was to not try and instead to create new piles in front of the old ones, slowly narrowing our driveway throughout the winter.

I then invented a new system of shoveling. The new system was I'll just do it. That didn't last long, because after a few times of me coming home from work and going to shovel the driveway before dinner, and then hearing The Boy complain about how I was delaying dinner, I decided I'd have to revamp the system or sell The Boy. I revamped the system, with the new method being "I shovel in the morning before work if it snowed overnight. The Boy shovels after school if it snowed during the day."

And that system has now been modified to have the unwritten-but-very-important rule, if you can legitimately (?) claim that the snow that fell overnight is a dusting, then you don't need to shovel before work and can come back inside and do some 'puting.

You, my readers, are the true beneficiaries of that rule. I was able to legitimately (?) declare a dusting because I wore my Crocs to go get the paper and the snow barely got into them at all, so I'm free to get revved up and going on Day Three of the

NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner.

Today's teams from the AFC are the New England Patriots* and the San Diego Chargers. The NFC teams are the Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings, and the Dallas Cowboys. As with the others, each team will get from 1 to 5 points per category, or less or more depending on the utterly reliable scientific criteria I objectively apply, and the highest scoring team from each conference is the one that'll make the Superbowl, with the higher-scoring of those two teams being the one the 100% System says will win. And remember: The 100% System NEVER FAILS. Guaranteed. (*Note: Not a guarantee.)

1. Team Nickname/Mascot: Here's a question for you as we begin today's analysis: Is it Super Bowl? or Superbowl? All other Bowl Games are two words: Nobody ever says Rosebowl. Or OutbackSteakHouseBowl. Although, now that I think of it, they probably will begin doing that, the way some businesses are tacking dot com onto their names even if that's not their real name, so that you know where to find them on the Internet.

I've never understood that practice. There are maybe three sites that I go to by typing in the Internet address directly, and all three of them are my own sites, and even then, I rarely do that. Almost every site I go to regularly, and some I almost never go to anymore but think that I should, and some I desperately want to go to but if I do I'll never get anything done (like Magic Pen) are simply bookmarked on my browser. If I don't have it bookmarked, then I go to Google and type the name of the business I'm looking for.

Given that, it's kind of depressing to me to see businesses all over the place advertising by saying Don't forget to get your cupcakes for the holidays. Visit our bakery on 3rd street. Gramma's

I checked, as a service for you, and it's "Super Bowl." That's how the NFL puts it on their site, anyway, and they should know, since it carefully guards the right to use the words "Super Bowl," and the NFL will sue at the drop of a hat, provided that the "hat" that's dropping is a "hat" full of money being given to the players rather than to the league.

So. The nicknames, right? Patriots*, Chargers, Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings, and Cowboys.

The Patriots* get zero, because they have a cheater for a coach and many cheaters still on their roster. Videogate may have been shoved under the carpet by the NFL, but not by this dedicated blogger. As long as you're associated with a cheater, you get no respect.

Right, Elin? And her sister?

But the Patriots* would be downgraded anyway, because they caved into marketing pressure in the past, altering their logo from the great Revolutionary Soldier hiking a ball:

To the Comet Revere:

In fact, let's downgrade the Patriots* a point for doing that. -1, Patriots*.

The Chargers, on the other hand, have a great nickname, and more and more keep using those excellent powder-blue throwback uniforms, plus their helmets have that cool lighting bolt logo, making them look like a whole team of Lighting Lads.

Electricity, cool colors, name that does double duty (charging, like a bull, and charging, like electricity), and a vague reference to comic books? 5, San Diego. Put this on your helmet, though:

And I'll move you up to 50.

Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings? I'm not crazy about the Vikings nickname, and here's why: there was a little too much clinging to the old world when people moved to America. And by that I mean: why move all the way across the world, immigrants, only to select a region that's exactly like where you came from?

When immigrants came to America, as is my understanding, they tended to gravitate towards areas which they found reminded them of the areas they'd left. Since many of the early immigrants came from Europe, that meant that they gravitated towards areas with forests and plains and... snow and cold.

They had this whole great big new world to choose from, and they chose snow. Not just a little snow, but a a lot of snow. Nearly continuous cold and snow and ice and sleet and weather of the sort that makes my ankles feel cold and wet from November through April, every year, and that's a very uncomfortable feeling.

What was wrong with Florida? Or, for that matter, Guatamala? Honduras? Jamaica? Europeans ran over the entire world and subjugated indigenous people and otherwise made asses of themselves, and then, after doing all that, they settled in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and that meant that my family settled in Wisconsin and now I'm stuck here because this is the only state I can practice law in.

And then they go celebrate that by naming their team the Vikings? If you'd had any sense, immigrants, we'd all be living in the United States of the Caribbean, wearing shorts and watching football played in 70-degree temperatures and rooting for teams like the Trinidad Pirates, and Trinidad would be a state.

Plus, the pigta
ils on the Vikings gear look dumb.

Although this does look pretty cool:

Except then the guy has to go and ruin it with the soul patch. Overall, I was going to give the Vikings a zero, but they've got Brett Favre, so I'll give them a 1. And I'm still mad at my ancestors.

Then there's the Cowboys. I don't care for Tony Romo, Jerry Jones, or any Cowboy, really. Except maybe Woody, from Toy Story, and even he's not all he's cracked up to be. But Cowboys is an okay nickname. 3.


Patriots*: -1
Chargers: 5
Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings: 1
Cowboys: 3

2. Crazy Fans: From the Patriots*, we get this:

Which proves that the Patriots* (a) stage their crazy fan videos, and (b) have gotten a lot worse at recording things since Videogate. o points.

The Chargers give us this guy:

Who can't even be bothered to wear Chargers gear? But he does have a cape, of sorts, and a disemboweled Nemo on his head, sending a message that's both disturbing and hopeful at the same time, like a nightmare in which you win the lottery but the ticket is handed to you by a kangaroo wearing boxer shorts.

Not that I'm talking about any specific dreams I had. That lasagna was spicy last night, though.

I'll give Crazy Charger Fan a 2.

I had to listen to Crazy Viking Fan three times before I realized what he (?) was saying:

It sounds like let's get this party started, Go Vikes! But why is she (?) standing in the kitchen? Instead of by the TV? And why is it being filmed, at all? That whole thing had to be set up in advance, posed, a location picked out, and for what? A blurry 8 seconds that's been viewed by 464 people in 2 years? (Or an average of 1 view every day and a half.)

This, in case you were wondering, is what's supposed to have been the Most Viewed Video Ever on Youtube:

Over 134,000,000 people have viewed that as of this morning, and now I'm one of them. Frankly, I don't think it's all that funny. It amounts to nothing more than "referencing." "Referencing" alone isn't humor; it's not funny to simply make a reference to something nostalgic.

(Right, Diablo Cody?)

So saying, as that video does, "These are dances and songs you'll remember" isn't particularly funny, if you ask me. And, The "Chicken Dance" was around the 1950s and shouldn't come after Walk Like An Egyptian. Get it historically accurate, Comedian I've Never Heard Of.

Because I looked at them one after the other, I'm going to hold that video against Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings, too. I award them zero points.

Now, that's funny.

Finally, for Crazy Cowboys Fan, you'd think the nomination would be "every single person who pays $39 to stand in the hallway of that huge stadium and watch the game on TV," proving (as Jerry Jones probably wanted to prove) that Cowboys fans are suckers who will throw their money at a billionaire for no reason whatsoever. What's the point of watching a game "in person" if you're standing in a stadium hallway watching a TV screen? At least at home, you can take off your pants if you want. And sit down. In whatever order you'd like.

But that's not the crazy fan. Instead, it's this guy:

Wait... I thought Howard Dean was Eagle Man?

I gave Howard a 4 for being Eagles Man, so he'll get 4 for being Crazy Cowboy Fan, too.

Updated Scores:
Patriots*: -1
Chargers: 7
Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings: 1
Cowboys: 7

3. Best Name On Their Roster: Let's just not even bother with the Patriots*; you know I'm going to give them a zero. So, Patriots*, zero. (Too bad, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, the guy on their roster who would have been chosen for having a name that theoretically could be all-hyphenated: Ben-Jarvis-Green-Ellis.)

The Chargers don't have any particularly good names on their roster, and should be downgraded for having someone named Brandyn. (Rookie Tackle Brandyn Dombrowski.) While it's not his fault his parents couldn't spell, if I downgrade the Chargers for it, then maybe parents nowadays will stop that practice, saying to themselves, If I give my kid a weirdly-spelled name, then in 20 years he might grow up to play for my favorite team and end up causing that team to lose points in the NC! 100% System. I can't risk that. I'd better call him Don.

Every little bit helps, so, Chargers, -1.

The name that jumps out at me from the Brett Favres' Minnesota Vikings roster is defensive back Eric Frampton. Frampton, who appears to be mostly a special teamer, doesn't have any stats that jump out or mark him as a guy to watch. Instead,his name jumps out because the minute I saw it, I thought:

What's the deal with "Frampton Comes Alive," and why do so many people like it? That bugs me. I'm sick of hearing about Frampton Comes Alive from you people who are slightly older than me. You need to move on and listen to something made by a guy with normal hair and in the last two decades, at least. You don't see people my age going on and on about the definitive live album of our generation, do you?

That definitive live album, by the way, was Duran Duran's Arena. But you won't see people my age showing up on talk shows discussing how Arena "totally changed my life and made me look at the world in a new way, man." Even though it did. Just listen to this:

That's great. Try to not chant that all day as you work.

Seriously. Try not to. You're going to annoy your coworkers, and they're already probably upset about you playing that whole dance video above.

Where was I? Oh, yeah: Eric Frampton. Let's say 1.

And the Cowboys. I didn't look at their roster, since by law, every single thing the Cowboys do good is attributable to Jerry Jones. That's why they won those Super Bowls, that's why they were America's Team, that's why they have a breakfast cereal named after them (probably?). If something good happens to the Cowboys, it's solely and exclusively the result of Jerry Jones' brilliant management, whereas, if something bad happens, it's because of Terrell Owens.

That's the message I get, anyway, from Sports Illustrated, which this week credited the Cowboys' turnaround from last year to three things: Coach Wade Philips calling the defensive plays, the lack of Terrell Owens, and having a new stadium (which motivated the players a little more, according to SI.)

I'm not sure I understand defensive play calling in the NFL. Shouldn't the play be STOP THEM? And why are there different plays, anyway? On offense, a minimum of five players are generally ineligible to catch a pass or carry the ball. That leaves six players who could do something other than run into another player. The defense, meanwhile, has eleven players free to cover six players on the offense. 3 or 4 defensive players usually rush the quarterback, leaving 7 or 8 hanging around to cover the five remaining offensive players. Why isn't one of each of those seven or eight defensive, non-rushing players assigned to each of the 5 remaining offensive players, leaving 2 or 3 extra defenders to hang around a few yards back and serve as backups and safeties?

I've just revolutionized NFL defenses, and will soon join the ranks of legendary defensive coaches like Buddy Ryan, Rex Ryan, other people related to Buddy and Rex Ryan, and the guy who invented the "Double A Gap Blitz," a "revolutionary" defense that involves the entirely-novel idea of "rushing defenders into gaps in the offensive line."

Anyway, "Jerry Jones" isn't a very good or unique name, alliteration aside, so I'll give the Cowboys a 1.

Updated scores:

Patriots*: -1
Chargers: 6
Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings: 2
Cowboys: 8

4. Craziest Thing For Sale In Their Store: Again, Patriots*, zero. (Don't like it, Pats* fans? Demand that the cheaters be let go and start fresh.)

The Chargers' pro shop links to the Chargers' Auction, which the Chargers claim is "the best source of unique collectibles, memorabilia, one-of-a-kind items, and exciting fantasy experiences." But when you click through to the site, you'll find just autographed footballs and helmets for sale. The most expensive item? A helmet signed by the whole team, currently bidding at $605. The least expensive? A helmet signed by someone named "Shaun Philips." You can pick that up for $11.00. I'm assuming that the current bid is from Shaun Philips.

That auction does make me wonder if the Chargers' players use it to tease each other: "Hey, Shaun, how come you're selling for only $11, while Malcolm Floyd is going for $66?"

The auction's not very good, though, so I give it a zero.

At the Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings shop, you can choose from eleven different varieties of Brett Favre jersey, or you can get a Vikings' polka dot thong:

But you can't get a Brett Favre polka dot thong, and why not? You can, though, get a Vikings' cribbage board, to celebrate your love of the Vikings and old people's card games all at once. I give it a 1.

I didn't check the Cowboys' pro shop; instead, I got distracted by the concession stand menu:

A hot dog, fries, and a soda will cost $18.50. That's crazy, but, then, you Cowboys' fans are already paying $39 to stand in a hallway, so enjoy eating your $7.50 hot dog. Zero.

Final tallies for today:

Patriots*: -1
Chargers: 6
Brett Favre's Minnesota Vikings: 3
Cowboys: 8

Prior scores:

Cardinals: 3
Ravens: 8
Packers: 16
Jets: -3
Eagles: 12.5

Maybe I spoke too soon...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Motivation? Watchoo talkin' 'bout, Mozart? [Analyzing the Playoffs, Day 2] (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

Day one is here. Not a sports fan? Don't worry; there's only about 1% sports in this. And Mozart is mentioned!

Let's talk "motivation." This morning, in my local tiny newspaper, I read an article on how the Arizona Cardinals are using the two meaningless beatings the Packers gave them as "motivation" to win the playoff game between the two teams this week.

That article also suggested that the use of that motivation might itself be motivation for the Packers, who would be extra motivated to win by, I guess, the fact that the Cardinals were extra-motivated to win.

On my drive in to work, then, ESPN continued its ironclad policy of "Sucking Up To Bill Belicheat" by noting that the last-game, season-ending injury to the Patriots* number one wide receiver, Wes Welker, might not be very damaging to the Patriots*' postseason hopes. You might think that losing a star player on the eve of the playoffs would be a sign that maybe you're not the favorite, but if so, you would not be an ESPN "analyst" paid to promote Bill Belicheat's genius, because the ESPN "analysts" (played by Mike & Mike this morning) suggested that the injury to Wes Welker would motivate the Patriots* to prove that they could still win.

(That's what passes for sports "analysis" these days on ESPN; this blog has more actual sports thought than an entire day of ESPN radio, most of which is devoted to winning lifetime membership in the Bill Belicheat Fan Club by continuously claiming everything that happens to Belicheat is a good thing and part of his master plan. ESPN has [seriously] suggested, for example, that The Patriots* deliberately lost to the Saints in the regular season as part of a master plan to get the "right" seed in the playoffs.)

I don't get all the talk about motivation. Aren't football players already as motivated as they can be by the fact that they (presumably) want to win and by the fact that they make more than a quarter-million dollars even if they never get into the game? (That last part's true; the league minimum for players with zero experience this year is $310,000. For players with 10+ years' experience, it's $845,000.)

If a player needs extra motivation, if a player can be more motivated than he was for a playoff game, then doesn't that mean that the player wasn't playing to his full capacity?

So Cardinals, Packers, Patriots*, and your fans: why aren't you already motivated to win a playoff game and get to the championship? It's not enough to be paid thousands of dollars to play the game? (maybe not, according to one former Bills' player who suggested that some players have no interest in making the playoffs.) It's not enough to win a championship? Those aren't enough motivation -- you also need to have something personal to prove?

I don't get it. That's probably why I write this blog instead of spending my day at the ESPN corporate headquarters singing hosannas to a giant golden statue of Bill Belicheat. But the fact that I do write this blog means it's time for DAY TWO of the

NonSportsmanlike Conduct 100% Accurate, Never-Fail, Always-Right, Sure-Fire System For Picking The Playoff Winner.

Today, I'm going to go through four teams, quick, because there are ten teams left to review, and I've only got three days to do it; if these aren't done by Saturday morning, people will accuse me of rigging the picks to match what happens on Saturday night.

(The joke will be on those people -- I probably won't know what happens Saturday night in the NFL games until Sunday morning, because although I'll plan to watch a game or two Saturday night, I'm sure I'll be distracted by Sonic burgers and a rousing game of Hot Wheels with Mr Bunches, followed by Sonic Ice Cream and a rousing game of Lil' Einstein's Piano with Mr F, who likes it when his new piano plays Mozart's Symphony No. 40:

(The joke may also be on people who like Mozart. I heard a story the other day about Mozart that may or may not be true, but it's a good story. It does like this: A little boy approaches Mozart and asks him for help writing a symphony. Mozart says to the little boy: "Perhaps you should wait until you're older to work on a sympony."

The boy says "When you were my age, you wrote symphonies."

To Which Mozart says: "When I was your age, I didn't have to ask for help."

That story says something about someone. Probably about Mozart. It seems pretty arrogant, doesn't it? But it seems like if anyone could be arrogant, then it would be Mozart, but, then, it also seems that if someone is so talented that they can be arrogant, the better practice would be to still not be arrogant,wouldn't it, so that everyone thinks you're talented and nice? Like Tom Hanks, who's sort of the acting equivalent of a modern-day Mozart, except he didn't start young.

(Tom Hanks started at age 24, according to IMDB, playing Elliot in "He Knows You're Alone." Apparently that movie is entirely available, in segments, on Youtube. Here's part 1:

I've kind of lost track of my parentheses, here, so I'm moving on.

Today's teams are the Green Bay Packers, the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals.

One correction: yesterday, I claimed that the Jets were a six seed; it turns out they're seeded fifth in the AFC. While I regret the error, I do need to point out that it is far more likely that the movie 2012 is a documentary than that the Jets will win this year's Superbowl, so don't get too excited either way, Jets fans.

Another correction: The Boy made the false claim yesterday that the 100% System didn't work on the World Series, using as "evidence" the fact that the World Series was not (as the System predicted) Cardinals vs. artist Christian Faur, but was the Yankees against Somebody. While The Boy is correct about who played in the World Series, he missed the point: The 100% System worked perfectly; it's Major League Baseball that made the error. I regret that they did so.

1. Team Mascots/Nicknames: We've got Packers, Bengals, Cardinals, and Ravens. The former Jake Plummer commercial notwithstanding, we can downgrade the Cardinals right away; not only are they a tiny bird frequently featured on collectible plates from the Franklin Mint (the kind of thing you buy your aunt when you get her in your family gift exchange), but they share that nickname with a baseball team. And, the "Arizona" Cardinals changed their name from the Phoenix Cardinals, presumably on the belief that fans who live in Arizona, but not in Phoenix, would not root for the Cardinals based on geography. Arizonans, are you really that way? If so, stop. Cardinals, you get 1.

Ravens is a good nickname, because they took their name from an Edgar Allen Poe poem (The Raven, not one of the other poems), and I like it that there's a literary allusion in the NFL, especially one that's not immediately obvious. Also, the Raven is a pretty tough-looking bird:

Also-er, the Raven is a superhero of some sort that was in the Teen Titans. I'm not sure if they're still the Teen Titans, or if they're just the Titans now, but I'm sure that Raven is still around and the Titans are still around, since nobody ever comes up with new superheroes anymore, as I've previously pointed out. I've read exactly four comic books in the past 20 years -- the first four Blackest Night episodes, and every single one of the superheroes is an old one. In twenty years nobody has come up with a single new superhero.

is the other Raven:

So Ravens get a 4, but I'm going to minus 1 because I'm irritated about superheroes now, making it Ravens 3.

Bengals: Awesome nickname, cool helmets, and extra credit for going with Bengals instead of Tigers. I briefly wondered if there was some Cincinnati connection to Bengal Tigers, and it turns out that maybe there is -- prior to these Bengals, there was another Cincinnati team named the Bengals, and that team may have been named after a rare white Bengal tiger that used to be in the Cincinnati zoo. Which, in turn, led me to find out that apparently all of the white tigers you see nowadays originated from the white tigers in the Cincinnati zoo way back when, which in turn, raises this question:

If the Bengals in the zoo were white, why are the Bengals in the NFL orange and black? You'd probably guess that the orange-and-black colors were picked because they're tiger-y colors, and you'd be wrong. The colors were chosen on the same basis that all sound, rational decisions are made:


Paul Brown, who owned the Bengals (not the Browns), chose the same orange as the Browns to spite Art Modell.
That is sweet.

So, overall, the Bengals get 5.

And, lastly, the Packers. Everybody knows the story of how a Packing Company helped save the team and led to the nickname, but it seems to me that story is probably bunk. The Packers' own site suggests that two different companies, the Indian Packing Company and Acme Packing Company had a role in founding or owning the team, and notes that the Packers were also called the Indian Packers, the Indians, and, briefly, the Blues. (At one point, they were the Big Bay Blues, a very strange name for a team that plays in the city of Green Bay.) I'll give Packers a 5, though, on the basis of it's not a very hip or tough sounding nickname, and yet the Pack has stuck with it for nearly a century, not giving in to modern marketing pressures as to color scheme, name, or logo.

Cardinals: 1
Ravens: 3
Packers: 5

2. Craziest Fans: Off to Youtube we go, where stop one is Jarvis Cocker's single, "Angela," because Stanley Goodspeed got me into him today:

Stop two: Crazy Cardinals Fan:

That's titled "Red Zone crazed fan ARIZONA CARDINALS" and god dang it, Cardinals, can you do anything right? You cost me the Superbowl bet against The Boy last year, and now that's your crazy fan? Can't he at least wear a cape?

-1 point, Cardinals. -1.

Crazy Ravens fan:

That guy says "It's like this every week when they score a touchdown." I can't resist: When you score as few touchdowns as the Ravens do, that kind of celebration is warranted.

You set 'em up, I knock 'em out. That guy also needs to turn on the lights or open some curtains in that room. What are they, the Volturi?

(Having just gotten millions of 13-year-old girls and their lonely moms to find this site, let me take this opportunity to welcome you to my blog, and also to point out that Robert Pattinson is either too old or too young for you.)

Crazy Ravens fan, you get a 1. Anyone can jump up and down in a dark room. That's not crazy; that's aerobics for people who are part cave fish.

Crazy Bengals Fan: Here we go:

See what I mean about new superheroes, or the lack thereof? He's not Bengals man, or The Tiger, or something. He's just... Batman, who's been around for nearly a century.

My favorite part of that video? The part, beginning at 0:09, when Batman Bengal says "three years" but briefly holds up two fingers.

I checked; you can't, apparently, buy Batman Bengal masks, but you can buy Ringling Bros. Bengal Tiger pajamas. In case you wanted something to cover up your metal bikinis while you watch the game.

Batman Bengal, for at least having a cape, you get a 3.

The Crazy Packer Fan is one who was just at the meaningless (but still very motivation-y) game the Packers and Cardinals played on 1/3/10:

And he's not very crazy at all. A wig? A Packer jersey? You've just described the outfit I wore on my first date with Sweetie. Plus, he refuses to high-five the woman in the number-40 Cardinals' jersey, but then shakes her hand? Mixed messages, Crazy Packer Fan. You get a 1.

Running scores:

Cardinals: 0
Ravens: 4
Packers: 6

4. Best Name On Team Roster.

I'm going to give a threefer to the Cardinals: They've got the high-falutin', hoity-toity, hoi polloi trio of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. That's not a football roster; that's the British House of Lords.

Speaking of backup-to-the-backup quarterback, Brian St. Pierre, you've got to think there's a pretty good chance he'll play, given that Kurt Warner is 73 years old and Matt Leinart may at any point suffer an outbreak of stuff he caught from dating Paris Hilton.

But the Cards get 3 for names.

The Bengals, meanwhile, have very few really cool names (outside of Chad Ochocinco, that is), but do appear to be a family operation. There are five Johnsons on their team (ranging from Brandon to Tank), two Joneses, two Harrises, two Smiths (plus another on the practice squad), and the first and second string quarterbacks are actual real-life brothers: Carson & Jordan Palmer. You get the feeling that the Bengals were trying to save on jerseys: All you Johnsons, just share one jersey. Same with the Harrises.

I'll go ahead and give the Bengals a 5, because I encourage thriftiness.

The Ravens have two pop-culture names, by which I mean "they make me think of things other than football." In the Ravens' case, there's Willis McGahee:

And then there's Todd Heap, who always makes me think of Uriah Heep, for no reason other than that the last name sounds similar. I was never a fan of Uriah Heep, the 70s band. (They're still around, it seems, looking about like you'd expect.) I looked up the Best of Uriah Heep on CD, and didn't recognize any of the songs. But they do have a song called Bird of Prey:

Which should be used as a mascot for the Ravens, shouldn't it? Even if Ravens aren't birds of prey, which I think they're not. And that song is all right, for overly theatrical glam-rock excess Kiss knockoffs.

I was always more of a fan of Uriah Heep, the character in David Copperfield, which is to this day the only book that ever made me cry. So instead of watching Ravens' football, you should probably read David Copperfield. (I read it while I was in Morocco, during the times that I wasn't eating sheep eyeballs and being held at gunpoint.)

The Bengals get a 3, for making me like Uriah Heep music kind of.

The Packers Roster is the only one of the rosters I've looked at so far that puts the players' first names first, instead of the last names, and lists them by numbers instead of alphabetically. So if you're trying to find a player by last name, forget it. If you're looking to go by position, forget it. You've got to know their number, or just read the whole stupid list. That's typical of boneheaded Green Bay management.

The Packers do have "Atari Bigby." Atari's bio says that the name is Japanese for attack. Babel Fish says this:


Is the Japanese word for attack, but that hardly proves anything. Babylon, for it's part, says all of these:

(名) 攻撃; 発病; 着手

Are Japanese for attack. That doesn't help much, either, but they look cool. On the other hand, why do the Japanese need so many words for attack? Now, I'm nervous.

The AtariAge website, though, says this:

Q: What does the word "atari" mean?

A: The word atari comes from the game of Go, perhaps the world oldest board game. Several early 80's magazine references define atari as "you are about to be engulfed," but the FAQ denotes that word in this way: atari : A group of stones is in atari if it has only one liberty left.

I think Glenn Beck said last night that we have only one liberty left.

Remember "Super Challenge Football" on the Atari 2600? It looked like this:

And this is how the earlier version of the game played:

What I'm trying to say is, you kids these days are super lucky.

You'll have 3d sports broadcasts soon, and you have your ultra-realistic Madden NFL games that I can't even understand when I'm just watching.

We had video football players who appeared to be spastic poltergeists, and Lynn Dickey.

Let's go ahead and give Atari Bigby and his Packers a nostalgic 5.

Updated scores:

Cardinals: 3
Ravens: 7
Packers: 11

4. Craziest Thing In Their Team Shop:
I'm going to skip ahead to the Packers to open, and I'm not going to go with their team shop. Instead, I'm going to go with the jerseys that were on sale at a discount department store last night at the World's Saddest Mall. I had to go to that mall to renew my driver's license -- raising again the question of what kind of mall has a DMV in it? I did renew my license, despite two very serious problems that came up during the process, those problems being:

1. I could not pass the right-eye vision test. Remember, I'm a former fat-kid-with-glasses-and-an-eye-patch. The eye patch & glasses were for lazy eye, or amblyopia, a condition best explained via Peanuts:

My lazy eye has stayed lazy over the years - -maybe it needs more motivation?-- and as a result, I couldn't read anything last night on the vision test in my right eye. The DMV guy wasn't phased, though; he said "You pass based on your left eye." I'd chosen to read only the top line, which was in huge letters. People who drive in my city should sleep fitfully from here on out.

More alarming, though, was number two: The drastic increase in the size of my head and chins in the past 8 years. I knew I was bigger and had less hair and more chin fat, but that was never so dramatically shown as when Sweetie, last night, held up my two driver's license photos, side by side, one from yesterday, and one from 8 years ago. The one from yesterday looked as though it had eaten the one from 8 years ago, and had part of the remnants stored in my chin and cheeks.

I skipped dessert last night. (Then had a larger-than-usual breakfast this morning.)

Anyway, on the way out of the World's Saddest Mall, I passed a discount department store that had a sale on blankets and sheets. I decided to pop in and get Sweetie's Tuesday present, a day late, and selected a plush, soft, blanket, one that is identical in softness and plushness to the two previous blankets Sweetie has gotten, one from Middle and one which she bought; both of those were swiped by Mr F, who loves them more than anything except maybe the toy cow he took on the ride with him today. Mr F also took the blanket Sweetie bought specifically for him, and Middle's plush, soft green blanket, so he has four.

I bought the fifth and presented it to Sweetie last night ("Happy Tuesday!" I said. "Belated!") and Mr F took that one, too. But it's the thought that counts.

Anyway, while I was at the discount store, I saw they had Brett Favre Packer jerseys, leftover from the good old days when the Packers were run well, and I wanted to buy one because they were only $12.99 -- but the sizes started at 2XL, and went all the way up to 5XL. That's XXXXXL.

, I wondered, would need a 5XL Packer Jersey?


Anyway, a jersey made five times the maximum human size is pretty crazy, and I'm giving the Packers a 5 for that.

The Cardinals pro shop is disappointing, not just because there's not a lot of crazy or weird stuff, but because there's not a lot of stuff, period. No clearance items, no good novelty items. The best I could do was a pair of children's Crocs, priced at $29.99, but I can't copy a picture because it won't let me. It's just as well: They're just black Crocs, with an Arizona Cardinals strap. The team wouldn't even spring for red Crocs, for thirty bucks.

I'm giving them a zero.

The Bengals pro shop, on the other hand, is like a treasure trove. I couldn't make up my mind whether to go with the $12 Bengals calculator, or $12 Bengals screwdriver, or $12 Bengals tape measure. But then I saw that the Bengals would sell me a $400 Bengals-logoed executive-style leather desk chair, great if I wanted to watch the games at my desk, or I could buy a $5 photo of coach Marvin Lewis, except that the same five bucks would get me a set of Bengals Plastic Forks, or I could get a photo of ... um... Rey Maualuga, who may or may not be a Bengal:

Rey Maualuga 8x10 Thumbnail
Add to Cart
Our Price: $5.00
Photo seen may not be the one delivered. An 8x10 photo of the #2 2009 draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals

And, judging by the part in bold, I may or may not get the photo I ordered.

But the absolute winner was the Wilson Leather Briefcase:

for only $200, it's a steal, and I loved it because, for real, I have that briefcase. My mother-in-law found one at a rummage sale and bought it for me. I had no idea it was worth $200. I'm a two-hundred-illionaire!

Five points, Bengals, plus one for making me feel cool. 6!

I then looked for the Ravens Pro Shop with one goal: find some Edgar Allen Poe stuff, or they get no points. Unfortunately, the Ravens don't even have a pro shop. WTH?

BUT, at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum online store, you can get a "Lil Edgar" action figure --

Or a Poe Action Figure with Detachable Raven. Still, you can't get a Raven t-shirt, even there. So I'll give the Ravens a one, on the basis of I still like Edgar Allen Poe.

Final tallies:

Cardinals: 3
Ravens: 8
Packers: 16

Yesterday's totals were:
Jets: -3
Eagles: 12.5

So the frontrunners are the Packers in the NFC and the Bengals in the AFC -- but there's a lot of analysis yet to come.


Got a headache from trying to follow my logic? Why not check out the nearest online pharmacy for some remedies?