Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Colts seem to have the ability to plug anyone into their offensive line and be successful, but it can't hurt to sign a player who is already familiar with the blocking scheme. This isn't the huge free agent signing some fans may be looking for, instead its another sign that this club looks not only for bargains, but safe bets at the same time. There aren't many players who qualify as both of these things, but DeMulling would seem to.
Friday, March 30, 2007
And thus you see why free agency is the most over hyped, over analyzed time in the NFL calender. Of the 8 teams identified as really doing well, only 2 made the playoffs this past season, and honestly one of those (the Colts) was on this list for basically sitting still and letting all their players walk.
Folks, first off the designation 'swimming away from the competition' was clearly a poor choice of words by CHFF, since most of these teams are desperately trying to CATCH UP to the competition. But secondly, the whole free agency debate is irrelevant. If you can afford to sign big name free agents, it's because no one on your team is good enough to get paid to begin with. Winners in March, losers in September.
Don't sweat it Horseshoe faithful, not even the threat of losing the great Aaron Moorehead will dampen our spirits this offseason.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
His idea is actually the best I've heard yet. He says the OT period should be a minimum of 7 1/2 minutes, followed by 7 1/2 minutes of sudden death. This would all but guarantee 2 possessions, and add end game strategy. I could buy that.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Following the horrible officiating that I witnessed in that Pistons series in 2004 I swore I would never watch the Pacers play again because of what David Stern had allowed. I threw a classic sports fit that only my wife could really describe. That was the year that defense ruled the NBA and the average scores in the playoffs were in the low 80s. Terrible to watch, especially when you lose because you get mugged on every offensive play. I could go on and on.
The irony here is that I didn't quit watching. I should have, but I didn't immediately. It took awhile. Early the next season the brawl in Detroit occurred and the Pacers began their three year downward spiral. No one remembers how good they were in 2004. Reggie is gone and the team is trashed. I say all of this because only 5 years ago the Pacers topped every fan poll (specifically the one the Indianapolis Star did every year which showed who the favorite team in the state was). The Colts for years struggled to pull in more than about 10% of the vote even in the fantastic-to-watch early Manning years. It actually kind of pissed me off because I was a huge Colts fan as well. Basketball really is everything in Indiana. Or was. The good news is that in-state college basketball is getting ready for another heyday.
Bill Simmons already wrote the definitive WNBA article a few years back, so I won't try to copy him. In the interest of full disclosure, I love women. I had a lot of friends who played women's sports in college. I went to many women's soccer games to root for my friends. I hope my daughter grows up to play high school and college sports. But I do NOT need her to find role models in professional athletes. In fact, I'd much rather she NOT look to athletes as role models, and I'm sure as hell not going to pay to prop up some sad sack pro league just so she can have someone to look up to. I'd rather invest that same money to help smart, competent, intelligent women working in any number of more productive fields. I want my daughter to grow up to be an amazing person, but not a pro athlete.
I'll burn in hell before they get 2 cents from me. And that goes double for you WNBA.
Also they linked to a funnyish article on alternative monologues for Peyton:
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Len Pasquarelli adeptly covers the Colts philosophy. They are doing this offseason EXACTLY what they do EVERY offseason. This year, they got three nice picks added to their ledger because of the free agent discipline last year. Next year, they'll probably get 2 or 3 more.
The original joke about Brady having 2 more rings than #18 was supposed to include a quip about 'that not being the only thing he has two more of', referring to recent rumors of Brady impregnating every woman he comes in contact with.
Though it's too bad this joke got cut, there is still time for SNL to redeem itself. I suggest a skit where Tom Brady goes to play in the NBA, because he would fit in so well.
Wait for it...
Monday, March 26, 2007
Let's be clear, I'm not happy about this injury. I want the Patriots to suck out of fear or ineptitude or late night feeding induced fatigue. I don't wish injuries on anyone. I only even point this out to rub it in the face of Peter King who less than one week ago said that Maroney appeared ready for a 300 carry season, despite no reasonable reason to say that.
Sorry, Pete. Not looking good. Sure hope Sammy Morris can carry the slack.
In other news the compensatory draft picks were announced today. Don't know what those are? Look it up! Or just read the article below. The short of it is the Colts get three pretty sweet picks. Here's text from Colts.com:
The Colts, who last off-season lost four unrestricted free agents and signed one, were awarded third-, fourth- and fifth-round selections, the NFL announced Monday at the 2007 League Meetings.
“It’s the best we could have expected, so that’s a positive,” Colts President Bill Polian said shortly after learning of the additional selections.
“We’re happy with it. That’s a plus.”
All in all, the Peyton Manning-hosted "Saturday Night Live" was probably the show's best episode of the season, and arguably the greatest athlete-hosted episode the program's ever had. The "United Way" clip will undoubtedly find its way to your office email inbox on Monday morning, and Peyton may even become a two-time host down the road. He passed every test with flying colors. Final report guard? An A!
Boo, as they say, yah
Because we here at 18to88.com believe that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the league, we have no fear of comparisons with Tom Brady. Especially not in the humor department. We are going to do a blow by blow of the skits that starred the two qbs. So without further ado, here is a skit by skit comparison of the two stints:
Tom Brady: song and dance about how he was good at everything.
Verdict: 3 stars
Peyton Manning: monologue focusing on giving ass-kickings to old Patriots fans and disappointment in his mom not making the NFL
Verdict: 2 stars. Peyton gets downgraded for using the same joke that was hilarious and funnier on Letterman.
Tom Brady: a sexual harassment video that focused on Brady being hot. It was funny.
Verdict: 3 stars
Peyton Manning: United Way commercial about Peyton being a bad influence on kids. One of the funniest things to appear on SNL in many, many years. "SHUT THE DOOR!"
Verdict: 5 stars. a true classic
Carnival Games: Tom Brady sucks at throwing a football. This was high comedy for me. It's funny 'cause it's true
Verdict: 4 stars
Bronx Talk: Manning plays a straight man to Pohler and Ruldolph.
Verdict: 2 stars
Dr Phil: Tom Brady is a dude who can't understand his woman's needs.
Verdict: 2 stars
ESPN pool party: Manning is a college bball analyst that gets beat by a woman. They both chide him for 'pulling a Manning'
Verdict: 3 stars for Manning having courage to make fun of himself big time
The Falconer: Brady plays a drifter. The Falconer is always funny/not funny/insane. This was no exception
Verdict: 2.5 stars
Half Time Speech: Manning plays a disheartened senior getting blown out in his last game. This sketch had it all: great lines, self deprecation, and a funny dance
Verdict: 4 stars
Tom Brady's Falafel city: ugh. A very unfunny retread that will never live up to Derek Jeter's taco hole
Verdict: 1 star
Meatloaf Mercedes: a bizarre and over the top parody of a Mercedes commercial. Maybe not as funny as it could have been, but very solid.
Verdict: 3 stars
Catlin: Brady worries about giving up the single life.
verdict: realistic given present circumstances but still dumb 1 star
300: Manning plays a dude that can't figure out how to throw a boulder. Wha??? The most inexplicable sketch of the night
verdict: 1 star
Last sketch of the night
Backstage: Brady runs into McNabb and Manning. Whatever.
Verdict: 2 stars
On the porch: One of the greatest last 5 minutes sketches in SNL history. Manning ruled hard core and delivered one of the funniest lines of all time-"I walked around with a piece of sliced ham in my pants for the past two days just so I could have my own secret". Out of nowhere this skit stole the show.
Verdict: 5 stars
Bonus: Manning starred in one more sketch than Brady did because he's funnier than pretty boy. The "Jenny the boasting friend" sketch wasn't hilarious, but was a funny take on that person we all know.
verdict: 2 stars.
THE FINAL TALLY:
Brady - 18.5 stars
Manning - 27 stars
Not only was Manning more funny on the whole than Tommy Boy, but he actually managed to be in several skits that were genuinely funny, while starring in a true classic in the United Way skit. Plus since he was clearly better in every way, they put him in an extra sketch.
So there you have it folks, when it comes to hosting a once relevant, past-it's prime sketch comedy show, Peyton Manning is better than Tom Brady. Add it to the list of things which Peyton does better than Tom. That list currently includes:
throwing for more yards
throwing for more TDs
having a higher qb rating even though Brady plays in a West Coast offense
Winning with a historically bad defense
Throwing the deep ball
not impregnating ex-girlfriends
Having a dad who is a quarterback
Now that he's started winning Super bowls, Manning is taking great strides to permanently erasing Brady's name from people's minds. Brady will be lucky to be remembered like Troy Aikman when he's done. Good, won some rings, but not really one of the best ever.
My favorite Joe Theismann quote: "You just don't have a play in your play book to pick up 3rd and 15." What? Does your play book only have like 5 plays? Apparently Joe's did. Joe also loves to talk up being a Super Bowl winner over making the Hall of Fame. Hmmmm, I wonder why, Joe?
#18 pulls in at #3 right behind Roger Federer and Tiger Woods at #1.
Basically, though the list is crap because it puts the incomparable Albert Pujols at #20 behind figure skaters, woman golfers, a college football player, and Kevin Durant. Pujols should have been #4. But whatever. Peyton Rules.
Content note: An SNL comparison with Tom Brady is forth coming. Be patient.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
CHFF operates under the concept that in free agency, a team is either swimming (good), treading water, or sinking (bad). In their recent review of the AFC South (check out our review of the AFC on the main page, 18to88.com), they list the Colts as swimming
Awesome right? Not so fast there, my friend. To this point CHFF has reviewed 6 of the 8 divisions in football. To this point they have listed ONLY the following teams as swimming:
Ouch. Suddenly, it doesn't look to be such an honor to be classified as swimming does it? With any luck, we can be right up there with the Texans and Browns next year! Now, we here at 18to88.com are nothing if not fair, (ok, you're right, we really are nothing!) and the analysis they gave for why the Colts are swimming is exactly what we said here, and they gave a shout out to Pete Prisco for his excellent column from Friday. I think we are all a little uncomfortable with this unholy alliance and will continue to eyeball one another with suspicion. For now though, we will continue to note which teams join the Colts as 'swimming' in the free agency waters.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Q: So in other words, you were handed your lunch by your wife making football picks, proceeded to rave about Miami for six days, ignored the Colts because you're such a pathetic homer, met Tom Brady, which led to damp stains underneath, then got your ass kicked in a go-kart race by another woman and a cheesy Hollywood schmuck. You just earned pole position as the star of the next Vagina Monologues.--Jon Picou, Paradise
SG: I've been waiting to run that e-mail for two months. One of the better mean-spirited slams I've ever received.
Here's another hilarious comment from Jason in Richmond:
Q: Why do I get the feeling that in about five years there will be a Buster Olney-esque book about the "Last Night of the Patriots Dynasty" written by Michael Smith. --Jason, Richmond, Va.
SG: See, this is what happens when I wait three months to write a mailbag. In January, this was a valid question. Then the AFC runners-up landed Adalius Thomas, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Kyle Brady, franchised Asante Samuel and managed to keep the Nos. 24 and 28 picks in next month's draft without losing a single valuable player from last year's team other than Daniel Graham, who couldn't catch a ball in traffic to save his life. I mean, their biggest crisis of the offseason was the star quarterback's ex-girlfriend pulling the goalie on him. (The lesson, as always: Don't date an actress.) Meanwhile, San Diego ushered in the Norv Turner Era, Miami lost Nick Saban, Pittsburgh lost Bill Cowher, the Bengals refused to clean house, Indy lost a number of key players and nobody else in the conference improved except Denver. I am EXCEEDINGLY optimistic about the 2007 season. So there.
So there you have it folks, Bill Simmons is a fan clearly in denial. And yes, should he choose to write it, I will be the first in line to buy that book by Michael Smith. The many parallels between the Yankees/Red Sox and Patriots/Colts are creeping me out. Here's the rest of his mailbag:
Friday, March 23, 2007
Currently the competition committee (which includes both Bill Polian and Tony Dungy) is suggesting moving the kickoff in OT to the 35. The winner of the coin flip wins about 60% of OT games, and that is too much for the committee. The idea according to Bill is to not give one team too dramatic a field possession advantage which would result in a win not on the first possession, but rather on a subsequent one. You can check out his comments here:
The major problem with most changes to OT is that they either destroy the integrity of the game, or don't really solve the problem of a coin flip advantage. Those methods are:
College football alternating possessions OT-Perhaps the most bizarre and gross of all solutions, this method leads to games that last forever and destroys all statistical continuity. I HATE NCAA overtime. It leads to games where QBs throw for 6 or 7 TDs, and turns 17-17 games into 45-44 psycho-fests. Please, let's not adopt this.
Normal NFL OT with a guaranteed possession for each team-This would actually have the exact opposite effect of the intent. In this OT structure the team who LOSES the coin flip would have a massive advantage. They would be able to see what the opposing team did and match it. Imagine that your team wins the flip. They march down field and kick a field goal. Now the other team gets the ball. Three snaps produce nothing. BUT, they know they have to score so they proceed to go for it on every fourth down, thus giving them an easier time scoring than the first team, because they have an extra down to work with.
Ending games with a tie in the regular season-Doesn't solve the problem at all. You still have to come up with a scenario that works for the post-season.
Weighted Field Goals-I have heard this idea go both ways. Some people like to give more points for long field goals (they're harder-say 5 points for a 50 yarder). This is insane and would lead to teams taking intentional sacks and trying NOT to gain yards. Other people want to give more points for FGs that are taken closer to the end zone. This would permanently end coaches going for it on 4th and one at the goal line. It seems like a bizarre solution to a problem that isn't that big a deal to begin with.
Must score a TD to win-I think this changes a key element of the game. People act like kicking isn't 'real football', but it dramatically adds to the strategy of the game. A FG attempt in OT is one of the most tense and dramatic plays in the game, especially from 45 yards or more.
Frankly, it doesn't bother me at all the OT can come down to a coin flip. After 60 minutes, there has already been so much luck involved, that one more coin flip is no big deal. Defense is part of the game. You can always pick off Grossman and run it back for TD. Moving the kickoff to the 35 is pretty innocuous and doesn't corrupt the game too much. Any of the other solutions are like using a nuclear warhead to kill a gnat.
Of course Bill Polian's strategy depends on the Colts having a great draft. Which they usually do.
Funny stuff. Although are we totally sure that Tom Brady couldn't impregnate a male goat?
they recently broke down exactly how useful Cato is and how is likely to do in Tampa. It's a great article about how dangerous it is to use tackles as the standard by which we judge defensive players.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
So Texas A & M loses by 1 after Law IV misses a breakaway layup in the final minute. My bracket is dead and I am officially in "OSU must lose" mode.
The Five year rule stats that if your team wins a championship, you cannot criticize management for five years afterwards. The idea being that championships are rare, and often you have to take chances that have future repercussions, so be fair, enjoy your win and lay off the guys who got it done. At least for a little while.
I think in the case of the Colts, the five year rule is more than fair. In fact, given our past history, here's how I would apply it to key players in the 2007 WORLD CHAMPION COLTS:
Jim Irsay: Unless 20 years from now he moves the team to Columbus, OH, he remains the owner of our hearts. Ok, so he sort of held the city hostage a bit to get a new stadium. He was one cool cat all the while and helped tornado victims in Florida.
Criticism Status: Untouchable for 10 years (he's rich, so he only gets so much slack)
Pros: 4 Super Bowl teams, built 3 franchises, a title, smart enough to avoid Ryan Leaf, 8 years of excellence in a city that used to think 9-7 was awesome, a kick-ass radio show
Cons: calls them the New England Paytrioughtts, shoves random employees from other teams (wait, that's in the wrong column!), annoys reporters in the press box by cheering too much (again, is that really a con?)
Criticism Status: Untouchable ever. Send him to the HoF, put him on the ring of honor, he retires a Colt on his own terms
Pros: One of the winningest coaches of all time, innovator who changed the game for 10 years by inventing a defensive style, a successful line of coaches, easy to root for, a trailblazer who humbly shoved the Lombardi Trophy down the throat of several old, rich, white dudes who didn't hire him all those years ago, best man many people know.
Cons: Hard to think of one. Lets Peyton push him around on 4th down sometimes. His lack of a SB in Tampa was as much about meddling owners firing his O.C. every year. He gets a pass for the Steelers loss because of all the stuff going on in his life.
Criticism Status: Again, untouchable. If you say a bad word about this man, you are going straight to hell. He revolutionized what GMs look for in a coach. He is a brilliant tactician. I did a dance when the Glazers fired him in Tampa, because I knew that he'd bring a title to Indy.
He said he didn't want 'a pass'. Ok, man. You asked for it. I admire that desire, and will honor it by comparing him to Tom Brady at every turn next year. Oh wait, I forgot, he DIDN'T want a pass...I'll have to think of someone else to compare him to then.
Demon Zombie-man Sanders-
Pros-Amazing performance, single handedly transformed a terrible defense into a Super Bowl wining one, hard core enough to go by 'Bob' even tough his given name has more street cred, his eating of Rex Grossman's brain directly led to several botched snaps and the pick to Hayden.
Cons-rumor has it that Monte Reagor's head injuries were NOT caused by a traffic accident, but rather an unfortunate incident involving a certain cerebrum chewing safety
He's a member of the walking undead, so there really isn't too much that he hasn't heard. Board up the doors and windows, because The Eraser is a permanent resident in the town of SAY A BAD WORD ABOUT HIM AND YOU WILL BE BEAT DOWN BY ALL TRUE COLTS FANS FOR THE REST OF TIME.
All in all, Simmons has it right. No matter what happens, lay off these guys. At least for five years.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Indianapolis Colts re-signed two restricted free agents and have agreed to terms with one of their unrestricted free agents. Guard Ryan Lilja has signed his one-year, $1.3 million contract while linebacker Gilbert Gardner has signed a one-year, $850,000 contract. Both players had been issued one-year tenders as restricted free agents.Meanwhile, defensive tackle Dan Klecko, one of the team’s unrestricted free agents, has agreed to a one-year contract, according to his agent, Paul Sheehy. Financial terms were not available, but Sheehy said the deal included “significant guarantees.’’
Klecko and Lilja coming back is good. Hey, they couldn't lose everyone on the team, right? Gilbert "the pride of Purdue University" Gardner, on the other hand, strikes fear in the heart of the true Colts fan.
Greg Rakestraw from ESPN950's SportsDesk in Indianapolis pointed out that the contract is not guaranteed (obviously) and perhaps the Colts plan on making Gilbert Gardner their Weakside Linebacker (his original position with the team, a spot where he played well in 2005). In theory Rakestraw's point makes sense, but do we really want to see Gardner take on a role that requires more responsibility and more *GASP* tackling? It is probably a risk worth taking because the contract is small and the need for LBs is great.
It would be kind of hilarious if at the end of the season we are talking about Gilbert for Comeback Player of the Year. Nawwwwww, not possible.
He states that the Patriots high profile free agent signings have moved them ahead of the Colts and Chargers in the AFC. He notes that while this seems to be a change in the highly successful strategy the Patriots (and the Colts) have used in the recent past of not signing high priced free agents, he claims it's just that the Pats never won any of the other players they bid on.
King seems to find himself very much on one side of a divide that is separating out football writers these days. Every year there is an issue that divides the smart from the stupid. This it's: Should we crown the Patriots as front runners or chide them for departing what worked? Are they smart or desperate? (By the way, the line of demarcation among writers last year was whether it was a mistake for the Colts to let Edge walk. Cold Hard Football Facts and Jeremy Green were among the geniuses that declared it to be death for the Colts)
My question is this: if they were so smart, why did they give away a Super Bowl title by playing all last year with old linebackers, no wideouts and millions of dollars of cap money left unspent?
There's no point in breaking down each player move the Pats made, but let's take for a moment the wideouts. I think that this will once and for all prove that "Manning has great numbers because of his wideouts. Brady never has anyone to throw to" is a load of crap. Brady's wideouts, until last year, were never that bad. Moreover, Tom Brady is who he is. No matter who he's throwing to these will be his numbers:
Yards-3800; Comp %- 62% TDs-25, Ints-15 Rating-88
I predict Tom Brady will throw painfully close to exactly those numbers next year even though the Pats have spent millions on wideouts. He will NOT break 4000 yards, 28 Tds or a rating of 92.
Why? Because that's who he is. Every year. That's their offense; that's his ability. King claims that Donte Stallworth is Brady's best deep threat ever. That's fine, but they play in an offense that doesn't throw deep. Brady's skills are clear: managing the game, playing behind a great D, and impregnating women.
King also claims that Laurence Maroney is ready to become a 300 carry back. He only made it through 14 games and 175 carries last year. By playoff time he was spent, averaging 2.8 ypc in the playoffs (87 yards on 31 carries) and only 1.4 ypc in his final two games (SD and Indy). This was against two of the 10 worst rushing defenses in the league. Laurence Maroney is NOT a 300 carry back. At least not an effective one.
There is a popular theory out there that says the Patriots won their Super Bowls because they were smart and had Tom Brady. I think the truth is that Bellicheck built a great defense and it carried the team. That defense is now old. They added one, albeit good player in Thomas on d, and a bunch of players on offense. This is not what made them good in the first place, and it is not smart.
The Patriots are at the end of their run and desperately trying to hang on. I predict that this run of free agency dooms the franchise after this year, and Tom Brady never makes it back to a Super Bowl.
1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defensive_driving Educate yourself, Monte.
2) With these recent departures, the Colts may be forced to implement their fabled "Ocho" defensive scheme, which Coach Dungy has been perfecting in secret since his days in Tampa. The ocho requires only 8 players, and utilizes a single safety, who also serves as a linebacker and defensive end.
3) Bob Sanders will play the Ocho position (Like I even had to say it).
He has come under some criticism by people who have accused him of, among other things, wanting to deny 'basic civil rights' to a group of people. Some observations:
1. Tony, and all US citizens, have a basic civil right to speak out on whatever they want. Whenever the left or the right try to limit or intimidate or impose consequences upon one another for expressing their viewpoints, they make a mockery of democracy. Personally, I find discourses of many types offensive but don't believe people should be silenced or pressured into toeing any ideological line.
2. No one is currently being denied a 'basic civil right' in the issue of gay marriage. All people are free to marry people using the same standards. No, gays can't marry 'whoever they want', but neither can straight people. There are limits on age and relationship embedded in the marriage contract. A gay man and a straight man have the same civil right. Both can marry a woman of a certain age that is not immediately related to them. There is no difference.
3. This fight is not about love, it's about money and power (most fights are). In the '60s many people chose not to marry, because 'we don't need a piece of paper to define our love'. Many of those same people realized later that there are legal and financial benefits to marrying. This fight is about those things.
4. I don't believe that Christians should invest time and energy opposing gay marriage. Gays cannot marry. According to Christian theology, marriage is not defined by the state, but rather by God. The state can declare a dog to be a cat, but that doesn't make it so. As soon as people of faith make the issue about what the government allows they have lost the battle. The issue has become whether society will recognize homosexual unions as sanctioned and protected. Frankly, I don't care. The State of Indiana has no more right to declare to people married than it does to declare them to be a fish. Marriage is a spiritual state instituted by God and the state has no place in it. If Christians really wanted to protect marriage, they would spend less on lobbying and more on programs to prevent spousal abuse. If Christians want to protest homosexual unions, they should wholesale stop filing for marriage licenses. This would show the state that they no longer recognize its authority in the matter. Ah, you say, this would have profound legal and economic consequences for Christian families. Maybe so, but conviction ought to have a price. Would you still marry your spouse if you didn't have any legal benefits? If not, then you probably don't have a real marriage anyway.
As I said before, this debate is more about power and money and who has it, and as such, it bores me. I applaud Tony for standing up for his beliefs, even though I think there are better causes to choose.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I know when I think of Brandon Stokley the word dependable always comes to my mind.
Nothing against Stokley, I have enjoyed watching him play in Indianapolis, but the Colts just weren't going to be able to sign a guy with a history of injuries. They don't have the luxury of risk-taking given their cap sitaution.
This move brings up an important situation. With Stokley's absence, #18 is going to have to find a new best friend on the team. I nominate Anthony "Booger" McFarland. I vote that Booger and Peyton go see Wild Hogs together this weekend, and afterwards they can hang out and talk about the benefits of new Gatorade AM. Remember: Nearly 50% of exercisers aren't fully hydrated before their workout. For those athletes who exercise in the morning, there's Gatorade AM.
I suppose this means that I don't have anything particuarly insightful to add. I can't figure out for the life of me what this team needs, but I suspect it won't be easy to find. The NBA builds it's champions out of superstars. We lucked into Reggie Miller who defined this franchise for years. Jermaine O'Neal has had his tenure as the 'face' of the franchise undermined by a series of nut jobs. The Pacers are going to have to find that guy who can push his teammates to the next level. Merely shuffling spare parts around (yeah, I mean you Dunleavy) isn't going help.
ESPN insider is freaking expensive (about 50 for the year), but comepletely worth it. Combined with the ESPN toolbar, you can have instant access to a ton of info about your favorite teams, as soon as it's available online. They do a nice job podcasting the key segments of their radio show throughout the day, so that when people are talking about the Horseshoe, you can hear it without having to weed through hours of pointless banter about T.O. or Tom Brady's illegitmate children.
Monday, March 19, 2007
this morning that revealed a fundamental gap in American society.
In this article, Chuck lists the startling numbers about Shawne Merriman's drug induced speed to weight ratio. He also argues that we have a selective attention span when it comes to drugs in our country. He states that when a writer or musician generates art on drugs that we don't view it as a lesser accomplishment, but when an athlete does the same thing, we are appalled.
There are several flaws in Klosterman's logic, but I believe he is correct in saying that a great number of NFL players are using roids, and we act like it isn't happening. The positive tests in baseball have shown us that ANYONE even slightly built short relievers can be juiced. You don't have to have Bonds head, McGwire's biceps, and Sosa's back achne to be juiced. He seems to imply that he doesn't know exactly why steroids offend us so deeply, when other drugs don't.
I can't answer for anyone but me, but drugs in general do offend me. I think it is debatable as to whether pot, LSD, and whatever other horse tranquilizers the Fab Four ingested helped or hurt their career. Maybe they were so brilliant, that we were all cheated out of amazing albums that they could have produced clear headed. The problem with using music and art as an example is that who is to judge? How can we know whether drugs actually made a given writer or singer better or just compromised what was the true greatness they already possessed? Rubber Soul may or may not be better than a mythical record the Beatles didn't make (though would they have let Ringo sing if they weren't high?), but 73 HR is better than 38. And we all know it.
Steroids make fools out of us. We ALL KNOW it's possible to hit a baseball 600 feet if you juice yourself up enough. What we want to see is someone do it who ISN'T drugged up. I saw McGwire twice in 1998. Once was early in the season where he clanged a ball off the face of the upper deck in Busch Stadium. The second time was in Cincinnati 2 days after he passed Maris. We went to BP, and he proceeded to hit 10 of 13 balls he swung at into the upper deck. It was stunning. It was unforgettable. It was mostly likely completely fake.
I love movies. I love Star Wars. I don't ever think that when I watch a Sci-Fi film that men can fly at light speed and wield lightsabers and use the force. I KNOW it's fake. I watch sports because I want something real and raw. I saw Bonds hit 2 homeruns (one in CO and one in Philly) the year he hit 73. He cheated me. And no, I don't care if he was hitting off a juiced pitcher. That doesn't make it 'ok'. The extra force with which that pitcher threw just added to the distance of the home run. If all I cared about in sports was the spectacle of the thing, I'd go to an FX show or a movie. The honesty of the competition, the reality of knowning that the accomplishment I just witnessed was the result of hard work, preparation, dumb luck, the will of God, whatever real thing you want to pick matters to me. It matters if Jordan could jump further and hang higher because he was a freak of nature and work ethic or if he just injected some hackneyed 'jump juice'.
Maybe I should care more about amphetamine use for 40 years in baseball like Klosterman suggests. It bothers me that guys that I listed as heroes early on this blog managed to produce because they got an extra jolt. At the time, and in the context they say they didn't know, they didn't realize what the piles of pills were really doing to them. There seems to be a difference between something that let guys party hard all night and still play the next day, and a drug that makes the physiologically impossible a reality. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. But today, and for the last 20 years, we ALL knew what steroids did. Since Lyle Alzado and the late 80s we all knew. Some people cheated anyway.
And by the way, IT WAS CHEATING, even in Baseball. Fay Vincent published a memo in 1992 stating that it was against the rules to take illegal performance enhancing drugs. No, there was no testing. Yes, the owners were complicit in the fraud. But there was a rule, and it WAS cheating. By the way, anything that is ILLEGAL by the laws of the USA doesn't require a rule by baseball to be cheating. There is no rule against kidnapping Pedro Martinez so he can't start against your team. There is no rule about stabbing the other team's short stop. YOU CAN'T BREAK THE LAW TO WIN AND SAY, "Oh, it's ok, there's no rule against FREAKING MURDER". Same thing with drugs. You can't say, "It wasn't cheating because there was no rule!" There were LAWS. Andro didn't bother me at the time in 1998 because 1. it was a LEGAL OTC substance and 2. Baseball had no rule about it. But if McGwire was on ILLEGAL steroids, then I have a HUGE problem with it.
This went on too long, so I won't deal with the Blue and Gold 'till tomorrow.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Demond said to me this morning that 2 crappy days of games would lead to a great weekend, because the better seeds won, which meant for good basketball. Nice call, man. Today more than made up for a lousy Thusday.
I think Polian has a tremendous amount of respect for what Freeney and Mathis does to the opposing team's gameplans. The question is will teams ever try to beat the Colts through the air again? We may be in for more of the same "run, run and run" gameplans in 2007, but we'll see how the draft goes for the horseshoe.
1) Hoosiers over UCLA. IU in the sweet sixteen would be huge. This team isn't that great as everyone knows, but they can beat the Bruins. If IU wins today, nothing else that takes place in the tournament will matter to me. Probability: 33%
2) Ohio State loses to Xavier. This would be sweet on three levels. First, I hate OSU and all it stands for. Two it would make my final four pick of Texas A & M all the more possible. Three it would be embarrassing for the university to lose to its in-state rival. Very embarrassing. Probability: 40%
3) Texas A & M beats Louisville. My pick to win it all will face a tough test playing the 6 seed Louisville in Lexington, KY. Not a fair location, but if A & M prevails it will get to play the next two games in San Antonio. Probability: 60%
Anyway, this year I did join an online bracket contest but intentionally picked games fast and other than the fact that somehow I wound up with Texas A&M winning, I can't remember almost anything about who I picked and why. I figured I'd play the role of the proverbial monkey with a dart board. This way, anyone who I actually beat would feel pretty stupid. Alas, said monkey must also have been drunk, because after round one, I'm in next to last.
Friday, March 16, 2007
For a long time I thought no one could top Reggie (more on him next), but #18 did it. He transformed football in central Indiana forever. Before him, we were a perennial loser franchise that many had tagged for relocation. Now 'it would take the Indiana National Guard to drag them out of there', to paraphrase Norman Dale. I'm not going to go on and on about all the great moments and the Super Bowl that was so long in coming. I most appriciate the discipline it takes to be so naturally gifted and yet work so hard. That's what I really enjoy. He's the best ever. 5 to 10 years from now, no one in the NFL will even debate whether or not #18 is the greatest of all time. No one will ever wear #18 in Colts blue again. No one, other than generation of fans celebrating his career.
2. Reggie Miller-
What can I say about Reggie? He did the impossible so many times. He was fearless and badass. He was the perfect Indiana hero-the long distance jump shooter. For the Knicks games, for the Nets game, for the Bulls game and for being part of the fabric of my youth, I salute you Reggie. If you had only hit that 3 against the Lakers in OT of game 4 (with Demond and I in the stands), you could have never been replaced. It's ok, we forgive you.
3. Barry Larkin-
Larkin's career almost perfectly coincided with my becoming a baseball fan. I started following the Reds as a kid in 1987, and was a real fan by 88 when Larkin made his first All Star game. Barry was great on D, dominant on the bases, could hit and hit for power. I was listening when he hit 5 home runs in 2 days. I saw him do the back flip after the NLCS in 1990. I listened to almost every game as he pulled down an MVP award and became the first SS to go 30-30. I witnessed games in person that he DOMINATED without getting a hit. He was a great player and when the Reds were bad, I could still follow him. Can't wait for him to make the HoF.
4. Johnny Bench-
Best player at his position of all time. Never saw John play until the 1975 WS was available on DVD, but I knew of him. I read books about him. I listened as people called him one of the greatest of all time. When my grandmother gave me for Christmas one year a baseball he had personalized to her, it was sealed. I'm a HUGE Bench fan.
After one particularly amazing Marvin game, I turned to Demond as we filed out of the Dome and said, "Can you believe we get to watch him every week?" With Marvin, that summs it up. He may not be as prolific as Rice (although in today's game, you never know), but as Chris Carter noted, he has amazing hands and makes catches Jerry never could. My all time favorite Marvin moment is the Tampa game where Keyshawn ripped him in the first half when the Bucs were up big. At games end, Keyshawn was out with an injury, the Colts had won and Marvin had 180 yards and a touch. He is amazing to watch.
6. Joe Morgan-
another classic Red that I never got to witness live. Amazing D, blazing speed, incredible power, and a brilliant mind. Maybe the greatest second baseman ever.
7. Steve Alford-
My first sports hero. I'll never forget him saying, "it's all worth it! It's all worth it!"
8. Chris Sabo-
one of my first baseball heroes. I loved the goggles and the speed. His 2 HR in game 3 of the 1990 sealed the deal.
9. Calbert Chaeney-
Absolutely unstoppable when he was on at IU. The Big 10s all time leading scorer, I'll never forget after they beat Louisville in St. Louis in the tourney, one of the Cardinals said, "All I could think was, 'Please God, someone stop him"
10. Demond "Bob the Zombie" Sanders-
His performance may have been illegally enhanced due to his ingestion of human brain, but no true Colts fan will ever forget him being the baddest man alive for four weeks when it counted.
Pete Rose-You broke my heart man
Marshal Faulk-he was crazy good
Jim Harbaugh-the Dallas win was hard core
Dale Davis/Rik Smits
Eric Davis-an absolute god in 1987
I make these disclaimers so that you don't think I'm being unfair when I vent over how terrible the first day of the tourney was. Considering that Butler (a school that was blocks from where we grew up) and IU both won, the day was still a loss. Sure Duke and Bobby Knight both went down, but on the whole the games weren't even tight. The fact that 2 teams I love won, and 2 I hate lost, and that my conference (the Big Ten) went 3-0 still wasn't enough for me to have truely enjoyed the day, says something about the quality of the games.
Also, how freaking awesome is the NCAA MarchMadness on demand thing? How is it possible that they give all the games for free on the net? Living overseas, you don't get almost any college sports. I get virtually every NFL game, 3 or 4 MLB games a day and the NBA twice a week. But college bball is virutally absent. But like a bolt from the blue, I suddenly get the WHOLE TOURNAMENT. That's pretty sweet.
BUT WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO ME IF EVERY GAME SUCKS???
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wha.....? 3 minutes into the game, a team gets a first down, and suddenly it's a dogfight? LAY OFF THE SPEED GUS.
Serioulsy, when an announcer oversells the first 3 minutes of a game, it gets old. Gus oversells EVERYTHING. Most announcers suck, it's true, but he wears me out in the first half. He's like a freaking Latin soccer announcer who is still screaming GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL when the score is 5-1 (and no, that's not a sterotype. I live in Argentina, and they really do shout GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL on EVERY goal).
On a related note: I think everyone probably has those weird dreams where, even if you have long since graduated, you think you are still in school and you are supposed to take an exam but you don't even know where you classroom is. I wonder if Indiana AD Rick Greenspan has reoccuring dreams where it's 10:15 pm and he's late for a tournament game in San Jose. Or it's 9:55 pm on a Thursday and his team is supposed to be playing in Sacremento but he can't find Arco Arena.
Who schedules this crap? Can the NCAA just get it over with and switch the Hoosiers to the PAC-10.
The pick: Texas A & M, mainly because I have rooting interests against most of the other top seeds. They played a wicked schedule and lost a lot of 2 point games. I don't know if they will win it all, but I see them in the Final Four.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
This episdoe of Jericho is mildly interesting.
Your wife is not completely unattractive.
Nick Harper is a perfectly adequate NFL cornerback.
Mike and Mike in the morning is mostly listenable.
Your kid is a solid B- student.
Gush on, Deshawn, gush on.
(What? They were being sarcastic? My bad, I wasn't prepared for humor from them not revolving around boobs).
1. Nick Harper was hurt A LOT this year. I was surprised by how much Kevin Hayden played. Harper was out for large chunks of the Jets game, and limped off briefly in the Denver game. His strength was that he was a solid open field tackler in the run game. Considering that he was not available for the AFC Championship nor for the Super Bowl (ok, he limped through part of the first half of both), I'm not torn up by losing him. If you don't think Peyton is happy to torch him twice a year, you're nuts. I think that there is a reason that in a weak FA market where even mediocre players get huge money that June and Harper were left for the end.
2. Gilbert Gardner was WORSE than I remembered (and I already called him one of the worst Colts ever on this blog). Against Denver, he came in UNBLOCKED and hit Mike Bell at full speed. Didn't wrap him up, Bel left cleat marks on his face and scored from 11 yards out. PATHETIC. On Bell's HUGE run for like 50 yards to set up Denver's tying figgie, Gardner inexplicably ran away from the gap (he did that all year), sprinting almost horizontally to the sideline. They ran right at where he had been. He tried to reverse field, but by then he was pancaked. Garnder spent the whole freaking year overrunning plays and not staying in his gap.
3. The Colts used Fletcher a LOT more than I realized in both those games. He caught a big TD against the Jets (on a freaky amazing play by 18), and caught 2 straight first downs on the winning 2 minute drive. He has a knack for making big catches.
4. Winning a Super Bowl changes EVERYTHING. I swear, watching those games felt like something out of 2004 or 5. Next year will be totally different. No agnst. Just excitement. I can't wait.
5. Cato June made not one play that came to mind in either game. Just saying.
6. The visible difference between Addai and Rhodes was startiling. It seemed like everytime Joe Addai had the ball, it was a sweet 5 yard run. Dom was repeatedly getting blasted for losses. Like I said, I'm happy for Dom that he got paid, but friends...we aren't going to miss him.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
As I said I think the Colts are doing well so far in keeping Freeney and Morris, and letting Rhodes and Harper walk. However June's departure will sting. I am holding out (false) hope that the 31 other teams realize that June is an undersized speedster with a penchant for missed arm tackles. He'll be gone by the end of the week.
Monday, March 12, 2007
I'll use this as an opportunity to comment briefly on my favorite football sites. Indystar.com is a must read for any Colts fan. The beat writers including Philip B. Wilson and Mike Chappell are excellent and the q and a feature by Chappell is great. Kravitz is a moron, but all Indianapolis residents have known that for years now. His opinions are often a hot topic among Colts fans though, so you have to read him.
Colts.com can be bland 'team approved' information, but the multimedia section with postgame locker room interviews, Tony's press conference and best off all, the Bill Polian Show makes it a must visit. I like the Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN.com as well, although Easterbrook isn't really an analyst, he's more of a fan with a witty take on football. Peter King's MMQB is alternatively awesome and putrid, but I read it anyway.
Deserving of their own mention for excellence in thought and analysis is the footballoutsiders.com. It's a great site, with excellent data. I'm primarily a baseball fan at heart (Go Reds), so their sabermetric bent is fascinating to me. They also post articles on foxsports.com thus providing the only reason to visit that site. If you are bothering to read this blog, you probably already visit many such sites and no doubt rarely miss these. We here at 18 to 88 will try to make interesting info we pick up here and there availble to you.
Analysits/pundits I like:
anyone affiliated with the Footballoutsiders
Joe Theisman (on radio)
Guys I dislike:
Jeremy Green from Scouts Inc as heard on ESPNs 1st and 10 (a raving moron)
Joe Theismann (print/tv)-yes I know it's the same guy, but he couldn't be more stupid on TV while sounding more smart on radio
KC Joyner the Football Scientist-his book may be great, I don't know, but his collumns always hit me as obvious
Chris Collinsworth-self important and smug. Widly overrated
Anyone who appears regularly on the Fox pregame show
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The truth is that they amuse me while angering me just a tad. Before we get to the reasons for my irritation with this team let's preface the conversation by noting that all time the Colts are 9-3 against the Jags. This is not exactly a nip and tuck rivalry. But starting with a hiccup against the Jholes (in a flukey game) back in 2003, the notion has developed that 'the Jags always play the Colts tough'. Since 2003, the series has been a slightly more balanced 5-3 with the two teams splitting thier games in 3 of the last 4 years. So with the facts in place...here is my list of why I find the Jags funny and yet annoying:
1. Jack Del Rio-possibly one of the least fear inspiring coaches in the NFL. He can be counted on making at least one major strategy error per game. He kicks FGs at the wrong time and goes for it at the wrong time. The man once responsible for nearly de-limbing his own punter presided over the most inconsisntent team in the NFL last year (according to the Footballoutsdiers variance stat in weekly DVOA-check out footballoutsiders.com for details). He had a team that could play D and rush the football, and coached them out of the playoff hunt. Smooooooth Jack.
2. Josh Scobee the cannon legged kicker straight out of a movie script-He killed the Colts with a game winner from long range in 2004, and terrifies you from 48 yards and beyond, but routinely shanks short kicks. A Scobee miss is a much a given in a Colts/Jags game as a Del Rio mistake.
3. Jaguar fans as sampled from the Ask Vic collumn-Thier fascination with the Colts both surprised and annoyed me. They are all covinced that the Colts cheat their way up and down the field. These view points are encouraged by the slight witty, partly paranoid, and mostly clueless host of Ask Vic-Vic Ketchman. Vic is convinced that the Colts pipe in crowd noise illegeally (don't get me started on one of the stupidest non-stories of all time), are headed for salary cap hell just like the Jags of the early 2000s, and manipulate the officials. I was put onto Vic's collumn by other Colts fans who found it hilarious how preoccupied the Jags were with us. I'll hand it to them, it's entertaining, but also annoying. I do appriciate that Vic isn't a company man and will question the Jags from time to time, but mostly he's clueless when it comes to football.
4. The Jags QB controversies-How hilarious can one franchise be? The Jags have a QB in Leftwhich, who is one of the toughest SOBs in football. I don't think he's a great QB, but I saw Freeney KILL HIM several times, and dude just limped up and hobbled back to the huddle. He's tough. He plays hurt. He's a leader. So Jack "Del Retard" decided to bench his ankle impaired QB in favor of David "the human turnover" Gerrard who somehow fooled some TV color announcers that he was a 'winner'. And then prompted turned their season into dog crap. So they yanked him and started Quinn Gray who managed to tear up the Chiefs (oooooooooh nice job Quinn! They are like the 85 Bears!) and prompted Jags fans to get in a tizzy over who should play QB next year. Of course none of this matters at all because their WRs are so horrible Joe Montana could be their QB and not get a passer rating over 90.
5. Black and Teal Jerseys? WTF?
We beat them too often for me to hate them. They are too funny to be scarey. Mostly, they just amuse and annoy me. Ladies and Gentleman...Your Los Angeles Jaguars!
Ask yoursef how much you would pay in real dollars to play for a team that could win a Super Bowl. Look at your children and ask yourself realistically how much. If Dom takes a pay cut to resigning with the Colts, that's real money that his family won't get paid. Unless you are really one of the super-wealthiest players and can afford the difference between a million dollars or not, any responsible man would have to do what's best for his family and future. How selfish would your kids think you were if you gave up a million dollars just to play for a ring? Now, for a first round pick like Edge was, a guy who is in some ways playing for a legacy and a possible HoF slot, you could argue that things are different. Dom Rhodes isn't that guy. I'm glad he made his money.
Having said that, as a football fan I'm glad too. Dom is a perfectly average back. For 16 games last year everyone in town was convinced that he was nothing special. We all saw how many drives he killed in the first quarter by taking huge losses that Addai would have turned into 2 yard gains. His fumble at Houston cost us that game. He's totally replaceable and we won't miss him.
I do hope that we come up with another solid back to spell Addai. This was the first postseason where we ran effectively. I loved Edge as much as anyone, but facts are that we ran the ball just as well without him in the regular season and our backs were fresh in January and ran down the opposition. I've seen us go from Bently (who was really underrated), to Dickerson, to Faulk, to James, to Addai/Rhodes in Indy. I've been saying for a long time that RBs are a dime a dozen (ask Denver). You pay qbs and to keep WRs (they take a long to develop...see Wayne, Reggie and hopefully Moorehead, Aaron), but it's a huge mistake to pay for running backs. If you can replace Marshal Freaking Faulk, you can replace ANYONE who carries the ball for a living.
Friday, March 9, 2007
This much is clear: We will never hear from Dominic Rhodes again and, much like Edgerrin, he has likely played in his last playoff game. Of course now that I say that he is a lock to run for 200 yds against the Colts in their game at Oakland this coming season.
FYI: John Clayton on SportsCenter just named Cato June as his most surprising unsigned player thus far. He said maybe this is good news for the Colts because June has not had much attention from any one team. In some ways this is expected because of how poorly he played much of the season, buut given the Super Bowl win, it would be a significant upset if Indianapolis could re-sign June to a reasonable contract.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
1) Rocky Boiman: LB, Backup and special teamer. No real opinion on this guy.
2) Mike Doss, DB: Don't really need him with Bethea on board. Had a very up and down career with the Colts.
3) Nick Harper, DB: Great player. Integral to the improvement of the D over the last five years. Too old at 32 to pay the money it would take to keep him.
4) Cato June, LB: This one kills. Is he really going to go somewhere else and make an impact? Maybe not, but someone will pay him. Can't wisely keep both him and Freeney.
5) Dan Klecko, DT: Useful on multiple fronts. He should be back.
6) Aaron Moorehead, WR: It would suck to lose him just when he's becoming useful. Other than hosting his radio show on ESPN950, he's done very little until the end of 2006. Pay to keep him.
7) James Mungro, RB: Edgerrin and Rhodes both blew out their knees and came back to play well after rehabbing. Not sure how much Mungro can really help less than a year after the injury.
8) Ricky Proehl, WR: Retired.
9) Dominic Rhodes, RB: Definitely gone. If they didn't keep Edge they definitely won't be keeping a guy who averaged 3.4 yds per carry in the regular season. You just can't pay RBs big money, when you can draft one with fresh legs.
10) Terrence Wilkins, WR: Overlooked element to the Colts' success this year. Had a quietly excellent Super Bowl. He was an improvement in both kickoff and punt returns over the Rhodes/Troy Walters combo in past years. Getting older though.
The interesting thing about this list is that there are really only two critical players on here: Harper and June. I think the defensive backfield will be fine. If the colts can draft a good LB and a decent DT they should field a very similar defensive team to the 2006 squad. Will this be good enough to repeat as AFC South champions? Yes. Super Bowl champions? Hard to say. Polian better do one heck of a job with his first and third round picks. As I have said before I see Polian signing Freeney to a big contract. Otherwise what was the point in letting Edge walk last year? You have to pay either June or Freeney, right?
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Rob Morris has managed to redeem his career from being a bust to being a solid guy who did what was need. He's in the mold of a Jason Belser or Jimmy Harbaugh. The Colts never used to have superstars (apart from Dickerson and Faulk), but they always had a player or two who hung around for awhile and the crowd pulled for. Rob Morris has entered that category.
After resigning on the cheap a couple of years ago and becoming a solid special teams player, he stepped in to help stabilize the team after the crippling performance of one of the worst Colts of all time...Gilbert Gardner. We here at 18 to 88 are pleased to welcome Morris back for a few more years of special teams gunning and filling in the gaps.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
As we all know the way to improve in the NFL is to sign aging veteran players with huge price tags. They also signed 35 year old Jaguar TE Kyle Brady and RB Sammy Morris who turns 30 this month. Congratulations to New England! One more free agent and you're officially the Redskins.
Updated: Ron Borges from the Boston Globe seems to agree: http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2007/03/04/more_of_the_same/
Friday, March 2, 2007
I'd feel worse for Monte (his agent responded to his release by noting what a 'horrible business' the NFL is), but Reagor did have at least one thing go his way this season: Instead of being remembered forever by me and others as that "idiot aggresive driver who completely screwed an already questionable run defense by getting himself t-boned," after the Super Bowl victory he'll instead be remembered as "the poor guy who's unlucky accident cost him a chance to play in the Super Bowl."