Friday, August 31, 2012

An NFL Preview, Andre Brown Style

Greetings RTS reader, it’s been awhile. I’m sorry I haven’t called. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been a horse’s ass, but I think we can still work things out. I got you a double-whammy of a post to make things right. What if I told you I have an Andre Brown competition mixed with an NFL preview? Does that scratch you where you itch? (If not, point to the place on the rag doll where you do need scratching and Graham will take care of it for you).

Here’s the complex game I devised in the doldrums of August to put Andre Brown up for grabs (and for those scoring at home, Graham has never possessed the coveted Andre Brown). We’re drafting NFL Teams, snake draft style. Each person will end up with 16 teams. You have to draft a team based on whether you think they are a Winner (like me) or a Loser (like Graham). Each person must pick 8 winners and 8 losers. Still reading? Each person will get 1 point for every win their winners get, and 1 point for ever loss their losers get. How we found women to marry us, we’ll never know? Below is how it went down:

So it's a snake draft right? So you want 1st pick or 2nd/3rd? I'm fine either way.
I'll take 2nd/3rd. And just to clarify- if I pick a winner, it's 1 point per win, and if I pick a loser, it's one point per loss, right? And admit it- you, as a Dolphins fan, want me to take the Dolphins as a loser so you don't have to.
Yep, winners get 1 point for the win and losers get 1 point for the loss. You can only have 8 winners and 8 losers, though, not mix and match. I'm taking the Dolphins as a winner with my number 1 pick. Wait, nevermind, I'll take the Patriots as a winner.
Alright, gotcha. Obviously, as a Green Bay fan, I'm taking Green Bay as my first winner, and I'm staying in the division to take Minnesota as my first loser. Do me proud, Christian Ponder!
Yeah, I was torn between New England and Green Bay. I figured I'd rather have a team that choked in the Super Bowl than a team that choked at home in the Conference Finals Semis. So normally this is where I'd take the Saints, but I'm not sure what the hell is up with them this year without a real head coach. So give me 2 losers - the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns...come on down!
I love how everyone is giving me crap about the Packers' playoff loss last year. How many teams would trade their situation for a Super Bowl, followed by a 15-1 season? Anyway, this is where things get tough on the winners' side. I think New England and Green Bay are both locks for 12+ wins, but I can't say that for any other team. I'm leery of New Orleans, but I'm taking them anyway. The roster is mostly intact from last year, and Brees really controls the offense on the field, so I think they can remain strong. On the flip side, I'm taking Arizona as a loser. They just seem like a disaster to me.
This is legit exciting. I was "hoping" that my next 2 picks would fall to me. The Tampa Bay Bucs and the Atlanta Falcons. I figure Tampa Bay sucked last year, they have a rookie head coach from Rutgers, and their offense consists of Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson and no one else. As for Atlanta, they seem like the ideal regular season team that beats up on bad teams and struggles against good teams. But I'm almost positive they have the easiest schedule in the league, so I'm thinking 11 wins might be pretty easy for them.
You can have Tampa. Tough division, but I think they have potential. I'm taking Houston as a winner in this round- 6 games this year vs. Indy, Tennessee and Jacksonville. They could go 6-0 in the division. On the flip side, let's hear it for the Chiefs! I hate that team, and not just because Jamaal Charles torpedoed my fantasy team last year with his ACL tear. Matt Cassel hasn't shown much, Dwayne Bowe just got to camp, and the Charles (coming off ACL injury)/Peyton Hillis (he's Peyton Hillis) backfield combo does nothing for me.
Houston was on my radar, but I believe in the Bucs ability to suck more than the Texans ability to blow (teams out). See what I did there. Now is where it's starting to get tough. I think I'm going with the Ravens (10 wins pretty much every year) and the Giants. What does it say about us that the Defending Super Bowl champs, and winners of 2 super bowls in the past, what 4 or 5 years, go so low.
Everyone throws around the word "disrespect" way too much in sports, but the Giants might have a legit claim. The core of two Super Bowl teams is intact and the response is "meh". Anyway, time to pick two teams who are usually good regular season teams, and terrible playoff teams: let's hear it for San Diego and Chicago!
Man, this hurts. Give me the Steelers and the Dolphins.
Terrible strategy on your part right there. Why not just wait for me to take Miami as a loser? Are you actually going to cheer for them to win? I figured if anything they'd be your eighth winner. This is a new low. But yeah, definitely keep making fun of me for the Packers losing the playoffs last year. Anyway, back to my picks. Taking Dallas as a winner and Tennessee as a loser. I think the Titans might be really bad this year. Good luck, Jake Locker.
See, I figured you thought that I would never, ever, dare take Miami as a loser, so you figured one of two things would happen. Either A) you could get Miami as your 8th loser, which would be a steal, or B) you would force Miami to be my 8th winner, which would be dumb. I'm never going to cheer for Miami to lose, and I hope they prove me wrong and win 10 games. But you know what, if they're sitting at 2-7, I'd be hoping they'd lose for a better draft pick anyway, so this doesn't really change anything. If there's one thing being a post-Marino Dolphins fan has taught me, it's that we suck. No point in screwing up Andre Brown with blind faith. Give me the Broncos and 49ers as winners.
Interesting part of the draft now: what do you do with teams like Washington and Buffalo? Anyway, time to take two more losers: Oakland and Indy. And remember when I said I have a lot of work to do and might not be able to do this quickly? This has been way more interesting than I'd anticipated.
Yeah, this has been fantastic. I think if you put the words NFL and Draft into a sentence, I'm going to like it, well, except for the actual NFL Draft. Anyway, did the Rams slip all this way? Did I miss something? Also, I was debating picking Dallas here as a loser, and then low and behold, saw you had them as a winner. That made me smile. Give me the Rams and Bills as losers.
I like Dallas this year, they have a great defense. I'm reluctantly taking Philly as a winner, and not reluctantly taking Seattle as a loser.
Yeah, Seattle was the last clear loser left. I'm going to go against the grain here a little and take Carolina as a winner, and the Bengals as a loser.
OK, that leaves us Washington, Detroit and the Jets. I'll take Detroit in the winners category (three teams in one division, lovely), and the Jets as losers. That leaves Washington as your last loser.
I'm going to put this on my fridge and can't wait for Margie to try and understand it. I love my first 5 losers (Jaguars, Browns, Bucs, Dolphins & Rams). I honestly think JAX and Cleveland could end up with a total of 4 wins. They suck. And man, the Dolphins were 0-7 at one point last year, and now they have a rookie head coach, rookie QB and lost their best offensive player last year. FML, they might win 2 games as well. I think the winners shook out pretty well. You got 6 of your 8 winners in the NFC. How did that happen? Mathematically, that can't be good, right?
We really are idiots. Anyway, I'm more worried about having 3 NFC North teams as winners. Green Bay was a no-brainer, Chicago was the best available at that time, then I avoided Detroit until I got stuck with them at the end. Now I can't wait for Andrew Luck to take advantage of a crappy division and lead the Colts to 10 wins just to screw me.
I think Indy does well this year. Something like 7-9 and respectable in a lot of games. I've got Reggie Wayne pegged as a fantasy sleeper. I mean, he had Curtis Painter throwing to him last year and he still got 900 yards. That's more impressive than any of his Peyton years.
I'm actually psyched about my Tennessee loser pick. I think they could be awful. Chris Johnson might just storm off the field in Week 3 and never return.
At what point do we cheer for injuries?
Arian Foster is furious with you right now.
What happened?
His meltdown last year when he got hurt and was pissed at everyone saying he was killing their fantasy teams.
(Editor’s note: I’m an Arian Foster fantasy football owner in my serious keeper league) You scared me. I thought he got hurt. I started googling frantically. I have problems.

So, to recap, Graham said, “we are idiots,” and I proclaimed, “I have problems.” That can only mean 1 thing – the NFL is back!

Here are the final picks:
Graham Winners:
1. Green Bay
2. New Orleans
3. Houston
4. San Diego
5. Chicago
6. Dallas
7. Philly
8. Detroit
Graham Losers:
1. Minnesota
2. Arizona
3. Kansas City
4. Tennessee
5. Oakland
6. Indy
7. Seattle
8. NYJ

Chris Winners:
1. New England
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. New York Giants
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Denver Broncos
7. San Fran 49ers
8. Carolina Panthers
Chris Losers:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Cleveland Browns
3. Tampa Bay Bucs
4. Miami Dolphins
5. St. Louis Rams
6. Buffalo Bills
7. Cincinnati Bengals
8. Washington

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Artist Killed My Will To Live

Back in February, Chris and I made a wager on the Oscars, with the loser forced to watch The Artist and write a review.

I lost.

For months, in between his trips to Chick-Fil-A, Chris has been pestering me about it, and my day of reckoning came Monday night. I paid the $5, downloaded the movie and proceeded to waste my night. Here's a diary.

8:25 p.m.: As the opening credits begin, it occurs to me I have no idea what the plot of this movie is. I know it’s a silent film, in black and white, about a guy who’s a movie star or something. I already don’t care.

8:26: It’s not really a silent movie, is it?

8:27: John Goodman is in this? His name’s in the credits. I don’t care how many Oscars this movie won, I’ll bet he was better as the dean of the Air Conditioning School at Greendale. Even if he was going through some stuff.

8:28: Holy crap, it really is a silent movie.

8:31: Already decided that if my kids wake up, I’m not pausing the movie to go tend to them. This marks the first time I’ve ever rooted for my kids to wake up.

8:36: My wife knocked out our wifi connection, causing the screen to go to black. Best part of the movie so far. We’re back up and running, unfortunately.

8:37: So far the main character is a silent movie star who mugs for the paparazzi. While doing so, a woman in the crowd bumps into him and they ham it up and pose for pictures. Apparently this is a big deal.

8:38: The mystery groupie, with her photo everywhere, is the talk of 1920s Hollywood. Inasmuch as anyone can be the talk of a silent movie.

8:39: Wait, he’s married, and his wife isn’t happy about the pictures. I guess the one benefit to this being a silent movie is that we won’t have to listen to his angry wife.

8:41: It’s Sloan’s dad from Entourage! Even the last season of that show was more entertaining than this.

8:42: Mystery groupie is apparently an aspiring actress. I also realize I don’t know the name of either the main character or the mystery groupie, so I’m going with Mike and Betty. Seems easier.

8:45: John Goodman is a movie producer annoyed that Mike’s meeting with Betty is overshadowing the movie. I wish Goodman would turn to the camera and just blurt out, “You are out of your element!” Because I am.

8:46: Here’s a shock, the movie Betty is auditioning for is the one Mike is currently working on. Let me guess…he leaves his wife for this woman.

8:48: Wait- if there’s no talking, can’t I just watch the whole thing in fast forward? What will I miss?

8:50: Mike and Betty have a scene in the movie where they dance. He keeps blowing the scene on purpose so they can keep dancing.

8:52 Wifi must be slow tonight, because the movie keeps stopping to buffer, thus dragging out an already awful night. Oh, and yeah, pretty obvious they’re in love. And he just drew a mole above her upper lip to make her more distinct or something.

8:57: Mike just mimed shooting himself in the head. My thoughts exactly, pal.

8:58: Turns out her name is Peppy. I guess I’ll call her that now.

8:59: Last night at this time I was watching Breaking Bad. I could use some of Walt and Jesse’s blue meth right now.

9:00: Look, it’s not that I’m some idiot who can’t understand the concept of this whole thing, I just don’t see the point of a silent movie in 2012. If I moved out of my house into a cabin with no plumbing, everyone would call me an idiot. So what’s the difference?

9:01: Update on the plot: Mike’s marriage is faltering, Peppy is getting more and more famous. So…the silent film era will end and she will get more famous than him. As predictable as a Nickelback song.

9:05: Yep, John Goodman wants to do talkies. Oh, and the main guy’s name is George. So it’s George and Peppy. George doesn’t want to do talkies. He and John Goodman are at odds. George leaves convinced he’ll always be a star.

9:07: Peppy and George pass each other on a staircase. She’s going up, he’s going down. Symbolism! Oh, and the romance is on the backburner, apparently she’s almost as famous as him now.

9:10: George is now directing, producing and financing his own silent movie. This will get worse before it gets better. For him and us.

9:12: Uh-oh. George and Peppy have movies coming out on the same day. A referendum on silent movies vs. talking movies. We know how this will go.

9:14: George’s wife threw a newspaper at his dog, expressed her unhappiness with their marriage, then stormed out. What did the dog do?

9:15: Peppy, now a big time celeb, is eating at the same restaurant as George the day before the movies come out. She doesn’t notice him at the next table, and is bad mouthing silent films. Between his dog getting hit with a newspaper and this, I’m downright sad for George.

9:17: George gets the news of the stock market crash. This means he’s broke, unless his silent movie does well.

9:18: The movie doesn’t do well.

9:18 (cont.) Peppy’s one of 15 people watching his movie- is there hope for these two still? The suspense is not killing me even a little bit. It’s not even maiming me. I wouldn’t even say suspense is part of the equation here.

9:19: In George’s movie, his character drowns in quicksand. Symbolism! Peppy is shedding a tear for him.

9:20: He goes outside, and people are lined up for blocks for Peppy’s movie. Oh, and it’s called Beauty Spot. Remember the mole he drew on her to help distinguish her? Symbolism!

9:21: George’s wife leaves him a note to pack up his things and move out. Peppy comes to visit. She liked his movie and is sorry for bad mouthing him. OK, here’s how it ends: he realizes he needs to embrace talking movies, becomes a star again, they do a movie together and live happily ever after. Let’s just get there already.

9:26: We have montages of Peppy being on top of the world and George down on his luck. Can I just fast forward? I already know the ending.

9:34: This is not a good movie. And not just the whole silent black and white thing either. Hackneyed symbolism, predictable plotlines, and turning what should be a one-hour short film into a full length movie. Just not good.

9:38: George yells at his shadow after watching one of his old movies (seriously), destroys  the projector, film, everything. Including my will to live. He lights his old movies on fire, just like I lit $5 on fire by renting this.

9:40: George is trapped in the fire. His dog makes a run for it without him. Smart dog.

9:41: Wait, dog went to get a cop. Cop runs in and drags George to safety. The dog is officially the most interesting character in this movie.

9:43: Peppy reads about the fire and leaves a movie set to visit George in the hospital. Here comes the scene where they reconcile, realize they were meant to be together and he starts to bounce back, eventually culminating in them doing a movie together, him getting his mojo back and them becoming a power couple.

9:45: Peppy finds the one film reel George saved: the one of them dancing. Here it comes.

9:46: They’ve reconciled.

9:47: She’s pitching a movie with the two of them to John Goodman. He’s skeptical, thinks George is a has-been. She threatens to walk. This is too easy.

9:48: John Goodman’s on board. But will George put his pride aside and do a talkie? Uh, yeah, obviously. Episodes of Friends have had more suspense than this.

9:51: George is wandering through the charred remains of his house. He doesn’t want to do the movie. He finds a gun and puts it in his mouth. His dog is barking furiously, probably because he went to the trouble of saving him from the fire, and now he’s going to blow his head off. The dog is by far the most likable thing in this movie.

9:53: Peppy shows up, he doesn’t kill himself, still doesn’t want to do the movie.

9:54: She has a compromise…cut to a producer’s office where they’re dancing. John Goodman loves it. So I guess they’re Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Now they’re on stage doing an elaborate dance number. He’s set to be famous again.

9:55: This wasted night is mercifully over. I’m never betting Chris again.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Catching up

It's been a month since my last post here at RTS. That was a preview of the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Of course, that implied further predictions for subsequent rounds would be forthcoming. And if you thought that was going to happen, clearly you're new here.

You see, Chris and I aren't what you'd call "consistent" when it comes to blogging. Either of us, or both of us, are prone to dropping out for six months at a time. Thus when we start something, we aren't likely to finish it (/Chris's wife nods).

Plus, considering I went 4-8, it's not like I was Nostradamus or anything. Even Hank Goldberg couldn't believe how bad I did.

But aside from my incompetence, real life interrupted as the hockey team I work for made it to the league championship, necessitating three trips to Edmonton in the span of two weeks. Meanwhile, Chris has been busy with buying a house, or synchronized swimming lessons or something.

Speaking of hockey, we're getting into the worst part of the year. Not only is the temperature creeping above 80 degrees here, but the Canucks are out, the Mariners suck, my fantasy baseball team is trending downward, I don't care about the NBA and the TV season is coming to an end.

Screw you, summer.

Because now what's happening is this: I'm starting to get a hankering for some NFL. And I don't like it. Between the bounty scandal, the lawsuits and Junior Seau the sport has gone completely off the rails. And yet here I am already getting excited for it, and already planning out a trip to Seattle for the Packers game in September.

Why should the sport have any impetus to change when there are millions of people like me who see the problem, but just don't want to hear about it? It's a classic "I don't want to see how the sausage is made" situation. And I hate it.

Anyway, a few other things I want to bitch about:

-Tim Lincecum and Yovani Gallardo: you guys are killing my fantasy team. Just destroying it. And Alex Rodriguez, don't think I'll be sparing you from my wrath as well.

-NBC moves Community to Friday, and only gives it 13 episodes. On the one hand, I guess I should be grateful we get anything. But this is reminiscent of CBS giving Jericho a second season, but only seven episodes. It's a way to shut up the fans while killing the show.

-Hell yeah I'm still bitter about Jericho.
-Hey, remember that time that flash mob happened and it totally changed everyone's mind about whatever cause they were promoting? Of course you don't because it's never happened. So stop with the flash mobs, idiots.

-Another downfall of summer: women bringing out the capri pants. Ladies, it's time to stop. These awful pants have been making you look ridiculous for 10 years now, and it's time to put them away. Either wear shorts or pants, but the hybrid combination just look stupid. You're really that proud of your shins? Capri pants are the El Camino of the clothing industry.

-Seriously, anyone seen Chris lately?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NHL Playoff Preview

If there’s one thing Chris and Graham can agree on, it’s this: Bacon is greatest food in history. If there’s another thing Chris and Graham can agree on, it’s this: the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the highlight of the sports year.

As such, consider this your official RTS first round NHL playoff preview. Sadly, Chris was too busy watching video of the Florida Panthers to get his picks in on time, so you’ll have to make due with just Graham’s. Here we go:

Eastern Conference:
New York Rangers (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (8)

I think this would be a fun game: show Chris a map of Canada, and see if he can figure out where Ottawa is. I can’t help but think it would end up exactly like this.

Anyway, why am I making fun of Chris instead of analyzing this series? Because as much as I’d like to pull for my Canadian brethren to pull off an upset, it’s not happening. No way the Senators are beating Henrik Lundqvist four times.

New York in 5 games.

Boston (2) vs. Washington (7)
As a Canucks fan, I hate the Bruins. I hate that the Bruins beat the Canucks for the Cup last year. I hate that they did it in Vancouver. I hate that Aaron Rome got suspended four games for a check that came half a second late, while Johnny Boychuk nearly paralyzed Mason Raymond and got a slap on the wrist. I hate that the Canucks’ power play dried up against Boston in the final. I hate that Brad Marchand sat there punching Daniel Sedin while the refs did nothing. I hate that Marchand then tried to end Sami Salo’s career with a cowardly low bridge back in January. I hate Marchand’s nose. I hate Bruins fans. I hate that in 1986 the Canucks traded Cam Neely to Boston for some magic beans.

But most of all, I hate that Washington sucks and I have to pick Boston to win this series. Boston in 5.

Florida (3) vs. New Jersey (6)
Ugh, whatever. New Jersey in 6 I guess.

Pittsburgh (4) vs. Philadelphia (5)
In this day and age, there aren’t many teams that legitimately hate each other anymore. The players move around too much, they’re all buddies away from the ice and the league does the best they can to neuter any possible intensity that could boil over on the ice.

But man, these teams frigging hate each other.

This series is going to be wild. Pittsburgh has for more skill, but even without Chris Pronger, the Flyers can take their pound of flesh. And they will.

In the end, the Penguins will win in seven. But this will be a brutal series.

Western Conference:
Vancouver (1) vs. LA (8)

Hang on, I’ll get to this one in a minute…

St. Louis (2) vs. San Jose (7)
Every so often I order a sandwich for lunch from the Jimmy John’s by my office. The great thing about them is they have delivery guys on bikes who get your sandwich to you really fast. It’s awesome. The other day, there were two guys there to deliver my sandwich. I’m guessing one was a trainee. Now, I’m sure they rode separate bikes to get there, but I spent the better part of my afternoon hoping that maybe, just maybe, Jimmy John’s now had guys delivering sandwiches around town on a tandem bike.

I bring this up because St. Louis is boring to watch and San Jose has no chance to win this series, and I needed to fill this space since I already mailed in the Florida-New Jersey one.

St. Louis in 4.

Phoenix (3) vs. Chicago (6)
Gotta hand it to those plucky Coyotes, they just keep winning despite being an orphaned franchise owned by the league.

However, Chicago’s going to win this series in six games for two reasons: primarily, because they’re a better team. But there’s a second reason I’ll get to in just a second…

Nashville (4) vs. Detroit (5)
“Nashville loaded up for the playoff run”. I said it to myself, but it didn’t sound right. So I wrote it down and it still looks weird in print, doesn’t it? This team was in a perpetual cycle of bringing up prospects, getting as much as possible before their big payday and then trading them or letting them go. And for their trouble they got bounced in the first round every year.

But how to explain this? Locking up Pekka Rinne long-term, trying desparately to get Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, trading for one of the Kostitsyns (can’t remember which and too lazy to look) and Paul Gaustad, while also scamming lucking their way back to Alexander Radulov.

Of course, just their luck they draw Detroit in the first round. Like Pittsburgh-Philly in the East, this one’s going to go seven games. And, ohbytheway, only Nashville’s future for the next decade is at stake this spring. So there’s that.

I’m taking the Preds in seven. But like Pittsburgh, I can only wonder what they’ll have left if they do manage to get out of this one.

Vancouver (1) vs. LA (8)
Vancouver in six.

There is no way Vancouver loses this series. I don’t say that because I’m overconfident, or overlooking the Kings, or because I believe the power play will magically heal itself.

I’m saying it because if they win, and Chicago beats Phoenix (which they will), then for fuck’s sake it’s Canucks-Blackhawks in the playoffs for the fourth (!) straight year.

Is there any way that doesn’t happen? Of course not. It’s pre-ordained.

And with that next Vancouver-Chicago series will come a whole new round of daily misery and stress. The playoffs, folks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Greatness of The Wire in Three Minutes

Over the past few weeks, there's been something of a renaissance for The Wire. Whether is was Grantland's Smacketology bracket or Vulture having it in the Final of it's Greatest Drama of 25 Years Bracket, a show that went off the air four years ago is still top of mind.

Look, The Wire is the greatest TV show of all-time and the Internet doesn't need one more blog entry declaring it as such.

But one of Grantland's blogs during Smacketology had its writers linking to their favorite scenes of all-time.

There's some obvious ones in there, the show's opening scene, McNulty's wake, the balcony scene, etc. And in fairness, there are 100 scenes that could stand as a favorite.

In the interest of full disclosure, I came to The Wire late, although I'm hardly alone on that front. I'd heard all the raves, had my friends on my case about it, and finally gave it a chance.

Sadly, that chance was when BET started airing it. With commercials. And the profanities bleeped out. You might find this shocking, but it didn't take.

Then about two years ago, the 101 Network on DirecTV did it right: completely uncensored with no commercials. I tried again and was hooked.

It's not a TV show, it's a masterpiece. So when thinking about my favorite scenes, how do you pick just one? The chess scene? Bodie and McNulty at the arboretum? Omar and Mouzone in the alley?

No, for me, it's when D'Angelo's mom Brianna confronts McNulty about her son's suicide.

This scene might be the best showcase McNulty has in the entire series. It shows his self-destructive need to always be right when he investigates a case no one cares about, along with his equally self-destructive hatred of the police establishment for not caring the same way he does.

In the span of three minutes, he convinces Brianna that not only did D'Angelo not commit suicide, but lays the groundwork to lead her back to Avon and Stringer (I agree, no one would have dared. Unless...).

With a chilling air of nonchalance, in 180 seconds he completely breaks down her idea of what happened to her son and destroys the false security that her role in convincing D'Angelo to take the fall and take the prison time to save the drug ring had nothing to do with his death.

And with Brianna reeling, and the guilt setting in, she asks him why he went to D'Angelo's girlfriend and not her with his findings. And with that, he spits out the knockout blow: "Honestly, I was looking for someone who cared about the kid. Like I said, you're the one who made him take the years, right?". And with that, he walks out.

That line might be the most devastating exchange between any two characters in the show.

And for me, it encapsulates what makes the show so damn perfect.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RTS Oscar Preview

The prestigious Andre Brown is up for grabs again. Instead of dominating Graham with my sports foresight, we’ve decided to give him a fighting chance….OSCAR picks! I gave Graham the following direction before we started, “I want to make sure this is high quality Oscar review. You know, just in case we become the next Siskel and Ebert. I don't want this review to come back and haunt us.” So you know you’re getting A+ effort from the both of us. Without further ado, here’s the 2012 RTS Oscar Predictions.

Best Picture - The Artist
Every year it seems like one movie wins about 2-3 of the major categories. I have no real evidence of this as I didn't look up past results, and I don't know when the last time I watched the Oscars in its entirety. I think this theory is based loosely on Titanic winning a shitload years ago. Anyway, The Artist had some hype on The Twitter and I think it also did well at another awards earlier. Again, I don't have evidence of this, other than the fact that I skimmed The Golden Globes and Screen Writers Guild winners before I made my picks.

I can't wait for Sunday night when the Best Original Song category comes up, I lean forward in anticipation, and explain to Megan that the outcome of this award could determine whether I receive an autographed photo of a former Grizzly washout. I should just tell her now so she can get the divorce papers ready.

Our readers (Hi Dad!) should know I saw exactly three movies in theaters this year: Cars 2, Hangover 2, and Moneyball. The first two were terrible, but Moneyball's up for a bunch of these awards (even if the movie glosses over the fact that much of the A's success on 2002 can be attributed to Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito). Of course, it's a sports movie, and those only win if the main character dies in the end.

So I make my picks with about the same amount of knowledge if I were picking the best wine of the year, or best Belgian short story of the year, or best blog post by Chris. I keep hearing a lot about The Artist and The Help, so I went with those movies. Very scientific, I know.

Here's my reasoning for The Help getting Best Picture: If The Artist wins, then it could mean a renaissance for silent movies. The only time I want to see a silent movie is if Rob Schneider is starring in it.

We both picked the same guy for Best Actor. I don't even know who he is. By the way, it's not that I don't see movies, or even see quality films, it's just this years movies sucked. I used to see about 3 or 4 of the best picture nominees each year. This year, out of 10, I've seen 1, Moneyball. The two best movies I saw this year were The Ides of March and Warrior. Anyway, Best Actress, I picked Meryl Streep. Doesn't she win every other year, her and Judi Dench just rotate right?

I'm going with Viola Davis because I am probably the only the person who still remembers her appearance in the ill-fated ABC show Traveler from a few years ago. I even wrote about the show right here. Everyone has at least one show they got way too invested in, only to have their heart broken when it got canceled. For me Traveler is that show. Now, anytime I see Viola Davis, Matthew Bomer and anyone else from the cast somewhere on TV or in a movie, I smile and remember the heart-pounding action of Traveler. Good luck, Viola. (-You wouldn't believe how long it took me to find that Traveler link in our blog. Seriously, could our blog titles be any more vague? We're an SEO nightmare.)

It took me 10 seconds to locate Traveler in our blog. I went to the top left search bar, typed in Traveler, and it appeared. Print that our for future reference. Or if you want to fly me to Portland for a hands-on tutorial, I’m game.

So I picked Meryl Streep because I was too lazy to do research and just figured she was a favorite, sorta like picking all number 1 seeds as your Final 4. And you picked Viola Davis because you were one of the 75 people that watched Traveler. Chris and Graham deliver an Oscars preview for the ages.

I picked Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor simply because he won it for the Golden Globes. Anyway, I just googled him cause I didn't even remember who he was. I like that guy! So that's pretty exciting. Also, do you think that Paul Walker and Vin Diesel cancel each other out in Fast 5 and that's why they didn't get nominated? Furthermore, which one is the main actor and who is supporting? I would go with Paul Walker is Best Actor, Vin Diesel is Supporting Actor. But then what about The Rock? All this confusion cost these guys a shot at the Oscars. You'll never convince me otherwise.

I will never understand your fascination with The Fast and Furious franchise. If it's action you want, go on to YouTube and watch Traveler. Speaking of which, if Viola Davis wins, I'd love it if she turned her acceptance speech into a rant about how unfairly Traveler was treated by ABC, especially since ABC is broadcasting the Oscars. It might be one of the great moments in TV history.

Anyway...I picked Max Von Sydow for Best Supporting Actor because...uh, I have no idea.

Yeah, I'm sure Viola Davis bashing ABC for canceling Traveler would rank somewhere between Johnny Carson's goodbye and Seinfeld's "The Contest" on the greatest moments in TV history scale. Also, I'm sure that she'd use her 3 minutes to discuss the travesty of Traveler's unjust demise at the hands of corporate suits instead of talking about the theme of The Help, which I think was about how racism is bad. I don't really know, I didn't see it.

We picked the same for Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Adapted Screenplay (Moneyball), Best Original Screenplay, (The Artist) and Best Animated Film (A Cat in Paris).

So really, it might come down to Best Song. Why in the hell did you pick against The Muppets? Everyone loves The Muppets, including Oscar voters. Do Canadians not like puppets? Also, why is there only 2 nominations? Was there not another original song out there?

Lastly, I like how you picked The Artist as Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actor, but not Best Picture. Bold move there.

Why did I pick against the Muppets? Because I knew you'd pick them, and thus I knew we'd be different on this one. As for my voting pattern, you're supposing that I put much thought into this. I did not.

"You're supposing that I put much thought into this. I did not." If that doesn't sum up the 2012 RTS Oscar Preview, I don't know what does.

If that doesn't sum up everything we do, then I don't know what does.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Ballad of Corey Maggette

I sometimes wonder if in his quieter moments, maybe on a midnight flight traveling between games, or maybe in a hotel room, just somewhere away from the daily noise of his NBA life, if Corey Maggette ever looks at his career and wonders what happened.

Does he possess that kind of self-awareness? Does he allow himself those moments of introspection? Or is every waking moment of his day spent finding ways to avoid those difficult questions?

After all, how hard can it be to fool yourself when you've had a pro basketball career for over a decade? One that's earned you over $70 million? Financial security for generations to and adults asking for your autograph on the street...attention from women...I mean, we should all be so lucky, right?

So I wonder if deep down, Corey Maggette truly knows just how sadly forgettable his career will end up being.

Understand, I don't feel bad for him. I'm the guy that wrote this.

I shouldn't have said that I hate Corey Maggette. That was unnecessary. I don't hate him. But as I no longer have a vested interest in the NBA, my mindset has changed and now I consider his career to be a fascinating study in athletic irrelevance.

Corey Maggette is in his 13th NBA season. At his peak, he was a slightly above average player at the league's most dime-a-dozen position: the scoring wing player.

Unless you possess the ability and maniacal desire of Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, the wing player will never be the best player on a championship team. More often, notoriety comes in the form of a Vince Carter-type: highlight-reel dunks that spawn a semi-clever nickname and a few moments of fame in an attention span-deprived world.

But Corey Maggette is not Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. He is not even Vince Carter.

Instead, Corey Maggette is the worst type of wing player, a ballstopping monstrosity whose only concern is the next shot.

So it is then that he has played in the NBA for over a decade with absolutely no noteworthy accomplishments to his credit. His finest professional season came in 2004-05 when he posted career-highs across the board: 36.9 minutes, 22.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists. And during this season, the pinnacle of his career, his team finished 37-45, 25 games out of first place in their division.

One year later, injuries limited him to 32 games. That season, without Corey Maggette for most of the year, the Los Angeles Clippers won 45 games and made the playoffs for the first time in a decade. In that postseason, Maggette played 12 games, coming off the bench in 10 of them.

It's been the only playoff appearance of his career.

His is a career spent chucking shots on losing teams, a connection I wonder if he even makes. Orlando, the Clippers, Golden State, Milwaukee, and now the Charlotte Bobcats, losers of 16 consecutive games.

As he heads into the twilight of his career, one has to think this is all there is for him. He will never be the final piece a championship team trades for. He possesses no skill that separates him from other players of his ilk. He's just there, on the perimeter, looking for the next shot, and the next paycheck.

It's not a bad life, but toiling away on the pathetic Bobcats with one playoff appearance in 13 years can't be what Corey Maggette thought his career would be like when he entered the league. And now that it's slipping away, I wonder how he feels about his own career.

Maybe all the selfishness and all the losses weigh on him. Maybe he walks out into the Charlotte arena every night, sees 10,000 empty seats, looks at the D-League players around him on the court, sees DJ Complete futilely trying to get what little fanbase there is pumped up for that night's inevitable 25-point loss, and just can't figure out how it got to this point.

Because that's the only possible explanation for this fucking play.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The End of Football?

I love football*. Probably too much. I love football Sundays. I love fantasy football. Chris and I waste a lot of time during the season emailing about football. I have the Green Bay and Milwaukee newspapers bookmarked, and check their Packers sections every day, even in June.

*For purposes of this blog, I refer only to the NFL. College football sucks.

So what will happen when the sport dies?

I read this article on Grantland that examined that very question, one that's been rattling around in my mind for the last few years as we learn more and more about the effects of concussions on players as they age.

The article looks at the economic impact, starting with lawsuits that will leave insurance companies balking at covering players.

But even if the financial model survives, what about the talent?

I have two boys, who in May will be 5 and 2. The older one loves sports, and since the younger one idolizes him, he loves sports too. Without me even forcing them into it, they have adopted sports and will have sports play a big role in their lives.

But as we start looking at what we want them to play, for me, football isn't even in the equation. If they came to me and begged me to play, I'd probably relent. But if they don't ask, I won't be suggesting it. And so far, to my relief, they haven't asked.

A few months ago I had lunch with a local sports radio host. He played football in college and bounced around NFL practice squads for a few years before calling it quits and going into radio. He's about my age, and by all accounts is doing well. He has a good career, he's lost all his football weight and is at a normal size, and is a well-grounded guy.

But physically, he's had surgeries on almost every joint, on almost every part of his body. He says he feels 20 years older than he is. And he considers himself lucky. I asked him if he'd want his son to play, and he didn't even think twice: no.

We just know too much about the impact of the sport now. Where I used to love the huge hits, now they make me cringe. I can't imagine subjecting my kids to that.

As more and more players reveal the impacts of the game, I can't help but wonder how many other parents will be like me: loving the game on TV on Sundays, and hoping like hell my kids don't want anything to do with it.

How many parents will start to steer their kids elsewhere? How many athletic kids will go into basketball or soccer instead? Where will that leave the game?

It will leave it in a scary direction. Kids from the suburbs will have other options. Kids from the inner city won't. Is that what football's destiny is, middle class suburban guys like me cheering on a league comprised almost entirely of inner city kids who are shortening their lives for my enjoyment?

The NFL is a juggernaut, a license to print money. But when you have a sport parents are afraid to put their kids into, the clock is ticking

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lowering the Bar

I am the master of lowering expectations. Seriously, I could give lessons. When you lower expectations, you put yourself in a no-lose situation: do something well, and everyone's pleasantly surprised. Do something poorly, and no one's all that disappointed.

So far that position has gotten me through high school, college, work, marriage and parenthood. And most importantly, blogging.

Is it a crappy attitude to take? Probably. But I'm not driven or ambitious enough to care all that much. Do enough to get by, and the rest takes care of itself. I'll never have the corner office, but I'll have more peace of mind.

Why am I telling you all this? Because of the 2012 Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners have caused me no end of anguish over the years. I won't get into the myriad details why, mostly because if I go down that road there's a good chance I end my own life before I end this blog post.

But, like I do every year, I had started to talk myself into them for 2012 after making the trade for Jesus Montero. Not that I thought they'd win the World Series, or even make the playoffs, but to at least be interesting.

It was going a little something like this: "If Montero's as good as advertised, if Smoak and Gutierrez are healthy, if Ackley continues to improve, if Ichiro has a bounce-back year, if Figgins can give them anything, if Carp can really hit, and if they can get anything from their back-end starters, then they can play .500 baseball!"

Well, just when that admittedly misguided optimism had me looking forward them at least being watchable, along comes their GM with this magnificent quote this week:

"This is going to be a challenging year at the big-league level for us," Jack Zduriencik said.

In other words...the GM might as well have the team change their website from to this.

How about that for their 2012 marketing slogan: "The Seattle Mariners: This is going to be a challenging year." Quick, get my credit card, I'm buying season tickets!

That quote had me tempted to stand outside Safeco Field and put together a rant reminiscent of this guy.

But you know what? I realized that my man Jack Z is just doing what I do- lowering expectations. If the team sucks- ok, when the team sucks- at least no one will say he got their hopes up.

But if by some miracle the Mariners achieve mediocrity, or even show a hint of being just a bit above average, then everyone will be excited. Getting people excited for a 75-win team? That's how you do it.

Jack you sly little genius, I see what you're up to here, and you're not fooling me.

Friday, January 6, 2012

RTS NFL PLayoff Preview

Above: Chris and Graham ponder their picks.

Alright readers, here it is. Forget Adam Schefter, Peter King and Chris Berman. Especially Berman. This is the only NFL playoff preview you need. Your two trusty experts (and in Graham's case, an expert who forgot how the seeding system works) look ahead to the playoffs. Forget the Mayans, we really know what's going to happen in 2012.

Give me 1 good reason why the Packers won't win the title.

One reason why the Packers can't win? Defense. They generate a ton of turnovers, but also give up a lot of yards. If they run into a team that holds onto the ball and drives the field on them, and it happens to be a day where the offense doesn't put up 35 points, then it's trouble. Is that splitting hairs though? I hope not. I don't have much hair and can't be damaging what's left.

The Packers defense is suspectible to a ball control offense, but really, what team in the NFC would do that? Your first game should be against Atlanta or New York. I think you'd smoke Atlanta in Green Bay. More likely, you'll play the Giants. That team would scare me because they do have a defense that can get after Rodgers, but still, their offense isn't really ball control. They are at their best with Eli throwing. Honestly, the only good defense/ball control offense in the NFC is San Francisco. Do they concern you at all? I find them laughable.

And where do the Saints fit in to all this?

San Fran concerns me in the same way that earthquakes concern me. I know I should be ready, I know they're a real threat, but I just can't see it happening. Their defense is incredible, but Alex Smith is, at best, adequate. Adequate quarterbacks don't get it done anymore (hear that, Falcons fans?).

New Orleans on the other hand, holy crap. Can you imagine a Packers-Saints game? What would the final score be, 71-65?

San Fran seems like they'll flame out in their first game. I just don't see them beating New Orleans and then the Packers. As for Packers-Saints, I think the cold weather will keep the game lower scoring, you know, something like 49-45.

Are you concerned about the Giants at all? I think they're the sleeper in the NFC.


I'm mildly concerned about the Giants. Packers just beat them earlier this month, but it was close. With Eli, you never know. Will he throw 4 picks? Or will he go for 350 yards and 3 TDs? Here is how I rank the NFC teams by how concerned I am:

Saints: Terrified
Giants: Concerned
Lions: Troubled
49ers: Meh
Falcons: Hahahahaha!

Here's how I rank the NFC:

Packers - hard to repeat, but most likely will make Super Bowl
Saints - I just don't trust them away from home.
Giants - streaky, hit or miss, bipolar. They'll either lose the Falcons by 24 or go the Super Bowl. I have no clue about this team.
Lions - Maybe next year
49ers - meh
Falcons - 1 win if they are lucky.

So AFC, it's hard to go against the Pats, but they do have the worst D in the league. Who's beating them?

The Pats and Packers have basically the same D, so if you're picking the Pack despite their D you have to consider the Pats as well. Especially since Pittsburgh's lost Mendenhall and Roethlisberger is gimpy. As for Baltimore, is Joe Flacco going into New England in the AFC title game and outplaying Tom Brady? Doubt it. And Cincy, Houston and Denver are just there as first round filler.

The last person that dismissed Tebow so quickly was sent directly to hell. Just thought you should know that.

Yeah, the Steelers seem too hurt, but then again, their run game sucked half the time anyway. I think they can win without Mendenhall, but the Clark injury sucks. The best thing about being NE is that they won't have to play Pitt and Baltimore, right? Wait, how dumb it this. It Pitt and Houston win, since Houston is the "better" team, they will play Baltimore. So NE could have to play Pitt instead of Houston, even though they are the number 1 seed. Baltimore is pretty much a lock for the conference finals at this point. So, here's what could happen. Pitt beats NE (already did this once this year), Baltimore beats Pitt at home (already did this once this year) and you get a Baltimore Super Bowl team.

The NFL should let the top seed pick their opponent instead. NE would rather play Houston 8 times than Pitt once.

I'm not wasting any more valuable Internet bandwidth on yet another Tim Tebow debate, but I will leave it at this: if he beats Pittsburgh this week I will buy a John Mayer album. I[m not kidding.

The seeding system is so stupid. 7-9 Seattle hosted a playoff game against New Orleans last year because they "won" their division. And Denver gets a home game against Pittsburgh for the same reason. It's completely insane. Why are mediocre teams from bad division getting preference over good teams from tough divisions?

So let's get down to it.

Who do you have in the conference finals, who do you have in the super bowl, and who is champ?

Here we go:

Houston over Cincy
Pittsburgh over Denver

New England over Houston
Pittsburgh over Baltimore

New England over Pittsburgh

New Orleans over Detroit
NYG over Atlanta

Green Bay over NYG
New Orleans over San Fran

Green Bay over New Orleans

And in a Green Bay-New England Super Bowl, of course I'm taking Green Bay.

Congrats. We had an entire email chain yesterday discussing how New England would have to play the lower seed, Pittsburgh, if both Pitt and Houston won. So what do you do? You predict Houston and Pitt to win and then have NE playing Houston. It would be NE-Pitt and Baltimore-Houston. I assume you'd pick NE over Pitt in the semis, Baltimore over Houston and then NE over Baltimore. Sigh, shaking head, other forms of condescension.

Son of a bitch! This is why I hate the seeding system. I was doing this quickly, had Pittsburgh as the higher seed since they had the better record but forgot Houston won the division. FML.

Here's how I see it.

Cincy over Houston
Pitt over Tebow

NE over Cincy
Baltimore over Pitt

NE over Baltimore

NO over Detroit
NYG over ATL

NO over San Fran
NYG over Green Bay

NO over NYG

And in the Super Bowl I see NE over NO.

Honestly, I just don't think the Pack got it this year. They peaked too early. Then again, maybe they were just doing the rope-a-dope, in which case, I'm the dope.