28 September 2010

Tuesday Football: Oddities and farewells

I joined my father and my sister in visiting my oldest sister in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, so there wasn't time to update the Victory Weighting standings, nor much time to spend my fantasy-football teams. The actual football news only made things crazier this weekend. Fasten your seat belts.

Children of the Corn.  Huskers:  It's not difficult to describe the affection Texans have for their high-school and college football teams, or Hoosiers' similar love for basketball.  Nebraskans' dedication to the University of Nebraska football team is different.  It has to be witnessed in person.

It's not that the evidence can't be described.  The Cornhuskers' Saturday-night game with South Dakota State, for example, was televised... on a pay-per-view basis.  Sure, Boise State was on free TV, but I'm sure the PPV scheme worked.

Saturday night came, and there was cooking going on at my niece's house.  The cilantro supply having run out, my nephew-in-law and I went to the supermarket to replenish it.  What's playing over the store PA system?  Is it top-40 drivel?  Soft-rock drivel?  Alternative-music drivel?  Oh, no, it was a kind of drivel I thought didn't exist in the U.S.

It was the Nebraska-South Dakota State game, live on statewide radio -- and all over the supermarket.  That's dedication!

Victory Weighting update:  The Falcons-Saints overtime game this Sunday illuminates the central feature of the system.  On this week's VW Standings page, you'll see that New Orleans leads the NFC South with the highest Strength, even though the Saints lost to Atlanta.  Right now, the Falcons hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, with a 3-1 Strength advantage over the Saints.  Should they win the return game in regulation, however, the Saints would gain 4 Strength.  They would then win the HTH tiebreaker from the Falcons, 5-3.

Fantasy audibles:  With only one computer at my niece's house, I pretty much had to have my fantasy lineups set Friday night.

The Middlemen sucked up their reservations about Michael Vick's character and used him to replace struggling Alex Smith.  Against a high-powered No Clue 2010 team, I benched original starter Joe Flacco for Vick.  Flacco made me look bad by passing for three touchdowns, but Vick trumped that with four touchdowns.  His 33 points were barely enough, as the Middlemen squeaked by with a 117-114 win.  At 3-0, they stay atop their public-league table.

The Fluttering Horde also made a big deal, trading Wes Welker to shore up its bench.  That may hurt later in the year, but this week, the damage came from disastrous performances from the 49ers, Saints and Packers.  Flying Hawai'ian 3, run by my niece Amber's partner, dealt the Horde its first loss, 82-79.  With the Niners in coaching disarray, Vernon Davis heads to the bench, and Chicago's Greg Olsen will assume TE duties.  Despite this week's struggles, the 2-1 Horde remains in third place overall.

Last, but not least: Condolences to the family and friends of George Blanda, who passed away Monday at the age of 83.  Finding players better than Blanda is not difficult.  Finding one as versatile and persistent as he was is impossible, and will probably remain so.  As my friend Matty Boy has reminded me, QB/punter Sammy Baugh and punter/tackle Lou Groza came close; Danny White, a little less so.  But that's about it.  Godspeed, Mr. Blanda.

21 September 2010

Tuesday Football: Thanks for visiting Cowboy Nation

Blog buddy, birder and fellow Texan expat dguzman commented on last week's Tuesday Football post, fretting about her beloved Dallas Cowboys.  I assured her that my Bears were actually much worse, and that the 'Pokes should prevail at home in Week 2.  That prediction failed, and -- deeply as I hate Jerry Jones' outfit -- I'm worried, too.

It wasn't always that way.  As a kid growing up first in Austin, then in the Rio Grande Valley, I adored the Cowboys.  Somewhere in my family album live pictures of me, a seven-year-old decked out in a full replica of Duane Thomas's road uniform.  We had gone to my grandparents' house in San Marcos to watch the NFC title game.  Sadly, that was the game Dallas lost 26-3 to Washington's infamous Over-The-Hill Gang -- so one of those pictures shows me sprawled across the couch, bawling my eyes out.

My affection for the 'Pokes survived for a long time after my family moved to Illinois.  Eventually, I did adopt both the Bears and the Browns, but we made sure to catch the Cowboys.  [In return, CBS, which televised NFC games back then, made sure that watching Cowboy games would be easy.]  I even cared about them as new owner "Bum" Bright trashed the team in the mid- and late-1980s.

It was Jerry Jones who finally got me to abandon the Cowboys.  At that point, I had long since stopped being a kid.  Going 3-13 was one thing, but replacing Tom Landry with Jimmy Johnson, the Gordon Gekko of college football, was unforgivable.  The Cowboys I knew and loved had ceased to exist.  Better to fret about the Bears' interminable quarterback search than worry one more minute about Jones' new toy.  To hell with the new Cowboys.

Since mine is a Texan family by birthright, they Cowboys still come up every weekend in the fall and early winter.  One of my sisters still roots for them, but the rest of us have moved on, mostly to the Bears.  If the Cowboys do miss the playoffs this year, we'll be sad -- not because we once loved them, but because it will represent one of the worst wastes of gridiron talent we've seen in a long time.

Fantasy update:  Score two more victories this week.  The Fluttering Horde rode the Peyton Manning-to-Andre Johnson connection to a 95-78 win over Toothless, the team run by one of my twin nephews.  Meawhile, The Middlemen backed deadly receiving with a crushing Miami defense to roll over TheSDPackers, 108-95, and move to the top of the table.

Victory Weighting update: The Week 2 standings are up.  Washington lost to Houston, but the overtime period they played puts them alone atop the stunningly weak NFC East.

17 September 2010

AutoTune of the month

Up until now, I've despised AutoTune. It turns out that, until now, no one has made good use of it.  Enjoy this Quote of the Month nominee from Jacob Isom, Texan skateboarder and now national hero.


  • The Victory Weighted standings for the new NFL season are up.  Expect three updates every Sunday and a fourth late Monday night.
  • I learned of this video from Informed Comment, Juan Cole's most excellent daily notes on the Muslim world.  Not surprisingly, its emphasis these days are on the AfPak theater and Iraq.

14 September 2010

Tuesday Football: Nothing but net

More Scooter, with tennis:  Let it be known that Scooter has taste, or at least an eye for gridiron.  For the second Monday night in a row, my cat watched 30 minutes of gridiron with me.  This time, it was the second half of the Ravens-Jets game.  Instead of actually watching the action, though, she faced away from the TV and waited for me to scratch her ears.  Clearly, she recognized how horrible the Jets were on offense.  She went off to her nightly mousing well before the final gun sounded.

It wasn't much prettier to me, either, and I ended up switching to the last set of the 2010 U.S. Open men's tennis final.  That's champion Rafael Nadal at the left, pulling yet another incredible winner.  Everyone marveled at his tricks, including Novak Djorkavic, who managed to kick ass and still lose.

I bring the tennis up because it showed up on a channel where it normally doesn't belong.  Usually, the men's final at Flushing Meadows airs on CBS on Sunday afternoon.  That was the plan this year, too, but rain pushed the match back to Monday.  With an event so important to tennis, you'd think that CBS would preempt its normal Monday programs to show the delayed match live.  Unfortunately, this week's episodes of CSI: Modesto and Survivor: Northern Marianas Islands were more important; so the match ended up on ESPN2.

Even worse, ESPN2 warned that, if it hadn't ended by 21:15 CDT, the match would then move to ESPN Classic.  (Match point fell just after 21:00, so that didn't happen.)  In short:  the U.S. Open men's tennis final was about to fall from a broadcast network all the way to a channel that wasn't even on basic cable.  To say the least, this does not bode well for the sport of tennis (at least not in the U.S.).

A little personal landmark: The Chicago Bears opened Sunday with a 19-14 win over Detroit on a Calvin Johnson mistake.  It's worrying to see my beloved Bears struggle with the Lolcats Lions, but that wasn't the important part this week.  The big news is that, for the first time, I wore a Bears jersey while watching the game.  It's an orange Brian Urlacher replica, given to me as a birthday present last May.  I also got a coach's polo shirt, which I plan to wear for road games.

Yep, I'm now not just an NFL fan.  I'm an obsessed NFL fan.  Um, hooray?

Fantasy football update:  I opened with wins in both my leagues.  In the family league, Peyton Manning and Wes Welker combined for five touchdowns to lead the Fluttering Horde to a 99-73 upset of the defending league champions, the Smoking Popes.  Andre Johnson had only 33 receiving yards, but I didn't need him any more than the Houston Texans did.

In the public league, I left Bears RB Matt Forte and his 30 points on the bench, yet still coasted to a 102-88 win over the Dallas Drunks.  Woo-hoo!

07 September 2010

Tuesday Football: Of horses and butterflies

Scooter the BCS fan:  Last night's Boise State win over Virginia Tech was such a compelling game, my cat Scooter saw fit to watch the entire second half with me.  She made herself comfortable next to me as I watched the game, and she kept her eyes on the game the whole time.  When Virginia Tech missed its last fourth down, she up and left, returning to her nightly mousing duties.  To be fair, she was in an unusually friendly mood yesterday, but that doesn't explain her actually watching the game.  Very weird.

The game was close, and it made compelling drama, but it wasn't very well played.  Boise had to beat itself as well as the Hokies.  Now, some requests:
  • Virginia Tech:  Please, never let me see those black jerseys again.  In fact, the next school that wears black when it isn't one of its colors ought to lose a scholarship or two.  [See:  Oregon football, Duke basketball, and too many others.]
  • Boise State:  Neat helmets, but do your road uniforms really need 37 shades of gray?  Put some orange back, for heaven's sake!
  • Brent Musberger:  How stupid do you think the TV audience is?  "Boise State's not used to this weather"?  In the first place, the vaunted humidity in Landover was only 43%.  In the second, Boise is in Idaho, not freakin' Arizona.  On top of that, BSU is still in the same league as Hawai'i and Louisiana Tech, places where 43% humidity is often a relief.  Sheesh.

Behold!  The Fluttering Horde!  My original fantasy-football team is back, complete with new name, new logo and new players.  I named the Horde after another set of characters from the Venture Bros. cartoon, namely, The Monarch's minions.  The monarch-butterfly wings on the helmet are sure to strike fear into my opponents.  Otherwise, they will have to deal with Peyton Manning passing to Texan WR Andre Johnson and 49er TE Vernon Davis.  I did better in mock drafts, but those assumed 8- and 10-team leagues, and we ended up with two six-team divisions.

It'll be a tough opener, against my league's defending champions, the Smoking Popes.