Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Pre-Free Agency Consensus Fantasy Football Rankings

Right around the time the lockout ended, I wanted to make sure I captured a snap shot of where players were ranked going into free agency for the 2011 FF season. I think it will be particularly interesting to see where the needle moves with a number of these players as the preseason goes on and as we close in on the 2011 regular season and drafts.

These rankings were compiled from averaging the rankings from about 9 different sources. As the preseason continues, I will update these rankings and provide a little more insight and analysis.

Fantasy football is back!
  1. Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
  2. Arian Foster, RB HOU
  3. Chris Johnson, RB TN
  4. Jamaal Charles, RB KC
  5. Ray Rice, RB BAL
  6. LeSean McCoy, RB PHI
  7. Maurice Jones - Drew, RB JAC
  8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
  9. Andre Johnson, WR HOU
  10. Darren McFadden, RB OAK
  11. Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT
  12. Michael Vick, QB PHI
  13. Michael Turner, RB ATL
  14. Roddy White, WR ATL
  15. Frank Gore, RB SF
  16. Calvin Johnson, WR DET
  17. Drew Brees, QB NO
  18. Matt Forte, RB CHI
  19. Peyton Manning, QB IND
  20. Hakeem Knicks, WR NYG
  21. Stephen Jackson, RB STL
  22. Tom Brady, QB NE
  23. Larry Fitzgerald, WR AZ
  24. Greg Jennings, WR GB
  25. Reggie Wayne, WR IND
  26. Philip Rivers, QB SD
  27. Mike Wallace, WR PIT
  28. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NYG
  29. Peyton Hillis, RB CLE
  30. Antonio Gates, TE SD
  31. Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
  32. Tony Romo, QB DAL
  33. Dwayne Bowe, WR KC
  34. DeSean Jackson, WR PHI
  35. Lagarett Blount, RB TB
  36. Ryan Matthews, RB SD
  37. Miles Austin, WR Dal
  38. Jeremy Maclin, RB PHI
  39. Mike Williams, WR TB
  40. Shonne Green, RB NYJ
  41. Vincent Jackson, WR SD
  42. Marques Colston, WR NO
  43. Dallas Clark, TE, IND
  44. Brandon Marshall, WR MIA
  45. Wes Welker, WR NE
  46. Santonio Holmes, WR NYJ
  47. Knowshon Moreno, RB DEN
  48. DeAngelo Williams, RB CAR
  49. Jason Witten, TE DAL
  50. Daniel Thomas, RB MIA
  51. Cederic Benson, RB CIN
  52. Dez Bryant, WR DAL
  53. Stevie Johnson, WR BUF
  54. Ben Roethlesburger, QB PIT
  55. Jermichael Finley, TE GB
  56. Brandon Lloyd, WR Den
  57. Vernon Davis, TE SF
  58. Javid Best, RB DET
  59. Felix Jones, RB DAL
  60. Fred Jackson, RB BUF
  61. Matt Ryan, QB ATL
  62. Mark Ingrham, RB NO
  63. Anquon Boldin, WR BAL
  64. Matt Schaub, QB HOU
  65. Percy Harvin, WR MIN
  66. Josh Freeman, QB TB
  67. Ryan Grant, RB GB
  68. Sydney Rice, WR SEA
  69. Kenny Britt, WR TEN
  70. Benjarvis Green-Ellis, RB NE
  71. Joseph Addai, RB IND
  72. Pierre Garcon, WR IND
  73. Marshawn Lynch, RB SEA
  74. Johnny Knox, WR CHI
  75. Santana Moss, WR WAS
  76. Mikel LeShore, RB DET
  77. Eli Manning, QB NYG
  78. Mario Manningham, WR NYG
  79. Joe Flacco, QB BAL
  80. Ryan Torain, RB WAS
  81. Steve Smith, WR CAR
  82. Owen Daniels, TE HOU
  83. Braylon Edwards, WR NYJ
  84. Michael Crabtree, WR SF
  85. Austin Collie WR, IND
  86. Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG
  87. Mike Tolbert, RB SD
  88. Zac Miller, TE OAK
  89. Mike Williams, WR SEA
  90. Michael Bush, RB OAK
  91. Beanie Wells, RB ARI
  92. Pierre Thomas, RB NO
  93. Ryan Williams, RB ARI
  94. James Starks, RB GB
  95. CJ Spiller, RB BUF
  96. Mike Thomas, WR JAC
  97. Deion Branch, WR NE
  98. Kellen Winslow II, TE TB
  99. Jay Cutler, QB CHI
  100. Roy Helu, RB WAS
  101. Jordy Nelson, WR GB
  102. Lance Moore, WR NO
  103. Mercedes Lewis, TE JAC
  104. Chris Cooley, TE WAS
  105. AJ Green, WR CIN
  106. Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
  107. Ronnie Brown, RB PHI
  108. Matthew Stafford, QB DET
  109. Sam Bradford, QB STL
  110. Jimmy Grahm, TE NO
  111. Julio Jones, WR ATL
  112. Derrick Mason, WR NYJ
  113. Malcom Floyd, WR SD
  114. Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL
  115. Thomas Jones, RB KC
  116. Brandon Pettigrew, TE DET
  117. Hines Ward, WR PIT
  118. Ladanian Tomlinson, RB NYJ
  119. Robert Mecham, WR NO
  120. Monterio Hardesty, RB CLE
  121. Matt Cassel, QB KC
  122. James Jones, WR GB
  123. Danny Woodhead, RB NE
  124. Mark Clayton, WR BAL
  125. Davon Bess, WR MIA
  126. Rashad Jennings, RB JAC
  127. Pittsburgh Steelers D
  128. DeMarco Murray, RB DAL
  129. Jacoby Ford, WR OAK
  130. Steve Smith, WR NYG
  131. Dustin Keller, TE NYJ
  132. Randy Moss, WR FA
  133. Donald Brown, RB IND
  134. Jerome Simpson, WR CIN
  135. Chad Ochocinco, WR NE
  136. Tim Tebow, QB DEN
  137. Green Bay Packers D
  138. Aaron Hernandez, TE NE
  139. Anthony Armstrong, WR WAS
  140. David Gerard, QB JAC
  141. New York Jets D
  142. Chicago Bears D
  143. Ryan Fitzpattrick, QB BUF
  144. Ben Tate, RB HOU
  145. Mike Goodsoon, RB, CAR
  146. Jason Snelling, RB ATL
  147. Danny Amendola, RB STL
  148. Jermain Gresham, TE CIN
  149. Nate Burleson, WR DET
  150. Justin Forsett, RB SEA
  151. Ricky Williams, RB BAL
  152. Mike Simms-Walker, WR STL
  153. Reggie Bush, RB MIA
  154. Mark Sanchez, QB NYJ

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This is Country Music

Off the heels of my first book review, I figured it'd be time for me to have a music review.

Let me start out by saying two things: 1) I rarely if ever buy music anymore. 2) I am the last guy in America that still buys CDs as his primary source of music. I own an MP3 player. It's not made by apple. It was a stupid purchase. It's worthless now. Every time I think of buying an ipod and putting my music on it, I find the task of transferring the music to be just absolutely dreadful. Ok, so that was like 7 or 8 things. Bottom line, I still buy CDs, so, thank you CD makers for continuing to throw me a bone.

Onto the review...

I have been a Brad Paisley fan from the beginning. Ever since I heard his first few CDs I've been hooked. His albums always have a good mix of ballads and good-time songs. He's got a little bit of everything on there for his audience and he is a guitar virtuoso.

One of the things you can count on Brad Paisley for is an album every other summer and so, this summer brought us This is Country Music.

The title track on the album is very well-written and very appropriate for the audience. Country music appeals to so many people because it tells a story, and there are a lot of people out there that can identify with the stories of struggle and triumph often found in country music. The title track accomplishes all of this and is very well done.

Another staple of Paisley's work is the guest-stars he has on his albums. His second track, "Old Alabama" features one of the best country bands of all-time, Alabama. He also has duets on there with Carrie Underwood "Remind Me" and Blake Shelton "Don't Drink the Water." He even manages to get a cameo from Clint Eastwood!

All of the songs on the album are very well written. He is one of those artists that I think sits down and says "let's write a song about Camouflage" and that's exactly what he does.

I would say that this album is a must-own for any country music fan. My favorite songs are:

Don't Drink the Water
This is Country Music
Old Alabama
Remind Me
A New Favorite Memory of You

At first I can honestly say I was not sold on the album, but after a few listens it is easily one of my favorites of his. As I said before, he gives you a little bit of everything, making it a very well-rounded album.

So turn it on. Turn it up. And sing along!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Last Lecture

If you knew you were not long for this world, and you had to deliver one or several key messages to those you loved and cared about most in this world, what would you say? What would you want people to remember most about you or what you had to say? What does it mean to leave a legacy?

This was the challenge, "brick wall", or better yet opportunity that Carnegie Melon professor Randy Pausch was presented with after he was diagnosed with cancer several years ago.

Pausch has been gone for three years now and while that may mean that I am late to the party as far as reading this book goes, its message is no less relevant today than it was when it was first delivered.

Pausche, then 47, was faced with the reality that his time on this earth was nearly over and that, among other things, he would not be around to be a husband to his wife and a father to his three children, the youngest being 18 months old.

It is with this backdrop and seemingly the weight of a family he would not be around to support that he delivered his last lecture.

Speaking to a large group, or writing something that many will read presents a profound challenge, and that is, the challenge to be profound. Sometimes the spoken or written word gives people the opportunity to pull something extraordinary out of the ordinary. To say or write something that will cement that person in the hearts and minds of those he or she touched with their words. This was the case with the book The Last Lecture that Pausch wrote, based on the presentation he gave at Carnegie Melon. What's most amazing to me is that the book is almost seamlessly profound. That he just lived his life in a certain way, because he knew no other way and would not entertain the idea of living some other way...particularly after his diagnosis. Leaving a lasting legacy of both words AND deeds that can pierce the hearts and minds of those who read his book, or listen to his speech.

In the book, there were several things that really stood out to me that I find to be quite meaningful pieces of advice and/or examples of how to handle both difficult situations and situations that we deem difficult (because we may not know how difficult things can truly be and sometimes can't see beyond the end of our own nose).

We cannot change the cards we're delt, just how we play the hand.

It's simple, and it has been stated before. In the movie Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams character Sean is chastised by Will (played by Matt Damon) the protagonist for "playing one hand and cashing in his chips" after Sean's wife passed. To this Sean replies "hey, at least I played a hand." The discussion goes on, but the principle remains the same, we just can't change what happens to us, only how we deal with it. Another book that address is this is called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." Under the main title in the book the words "and it's all small stuff" appear. It's a lesson that has great meaning for me and something I continue to battle and work on as I see what's in my hand.

When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody is bothering to tell you anymore, that's a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they love you and care about you and want to make you better.

The quote is a reminder that self assessment and improvement is not only a reality of life, but it is necessary for proper growth and perspective. One of the most challenging things to do as an adult with an ego is say "I could do such and such better" or, "I could improve my approach to this or that better." Even worse, if we are truly interested in self improvement, we should be asking the question of those that care for us most "what can I do better?" The context of the quote comes from a demanding coach he had...and at some point in all our lives, we'll encounter a Coach Grahm. There will be people that we meet in life both personally and professionally that will be hard on us...we just have to hope that these people continue to care enough about us to be hard on us.

My first boss was very demanding and very tough to work for...especially for a kid right out of college, but one of my managers and good friends reminded me that once you can learn how to deal with mean, you can learn to deal with a lot of other things. It's a good lesson and reminder.


There isn't one quote from the book that stands out to me about the many goals that Pausch was able to achieve in his life, but more that he worked hard to reach them. I feel like I heard or read a quote somewhere that said "Goals are stars to steer your life by, not sticks to beat yourself with." (Barbara Smith?).

Achieving goals as an adult  is a tricky thing. I have personal goals, professional goals, dreams and other such things I want to do or see in my life. Will I ever realize any of my goals or dreams? I sure hope so, but until I do, I'll continue to use them to steer my life, not negatively judge myself. Also, the older I get, the harder it becomes to balance work, life, and goals. Pausch is a good example of sticktuitiveness and drive in acheiving his life goals.

The Brick Walls are There for a Reason

Ain't that the truth!

One of the more poigniant parts of The Last Lecture is the concept of the Brick Wall. Pausch notes that the brick walls in life are there for a reason...they're there for the people who don't want things as bad as we do.

One of the benefits of being a kid, and I can even see this example shining through in both my 3-year-old and 1-year-old, is that kids don't know what they can't do. That's why kids dream so big. Somewhere along the way in life we learn our limitations. We either find them out through personal experience, or we find people that tell us what our limitations are, or should be.

When we find ourselves standing in front of a brick wall, it is up to us to figure out how to navigate around it. Some brick walls take more time to navigate, but when we get around them, we'll feel a sense of accomplishment and eventually understand why that brick wall was placed in front of us. As my dad once said to me, "if you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you're right."

Don't Obsess Over What People Think


Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

Several months ago I was asked to go shovel snow at my church. Typically I would've found a way out of the task. As I sat and thought about it, my thoughts turned to a specific friend of mine who is always thinking of and serving others. I thought, "what would he do?" I immediately realized what I needed to do and I loaded up my shovel and headed out. It's one thing to say you want to help others and do service. It's a whole other thing to actually follow through with it. Pausch, my buddy, and countless others have taught me how important actions are in determining who we really are.

This applies across everything we do, including the workplace. So many times, people say the right things, but when it comes right down to it, they find ways to place the blame on others and not be available to help when the solution is put in place. It's a measure of who we are, and we have to ask ourselves...who do we want to be?

Loyalty is a Two Way Street


Know Who You Are

The entire book is filled with examples of a man who knew who he was and lived his life in a way that reflected that. Whether it was fulfilling his own dreams, helping others fulfil theirs, showing strength and optimism when the situation did not call for it, and many other things, Pausch showed us time and time again what it means to live life to the fullest and what it most important in life.

If you haven't read the book, I would suggest doing so. If you've gotten this far in this blog post and have some time, please watch all or part of the embeded video of the Last Lecture.

Though he is no longer with us, I will always respect Randy Pausch for living his life the way that he did so that I could read about it and try to live my life better.

Thank you Randy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NFL Draft Preview: If I Were the Redskins...

I tell ya, there’s nothing like the NFL draft. It takes a lot of time and a lot of patience, but it is a joyous thing to behold at the end of every April. I can even remember a time when I was in 8th grade when I had to do a report on a sporting event and convinced my teacher to let me do a report on the NFL draft. I believe it was the year the Patriots took Drew Bledsoe number one. As part of that report, I listed out every draft pick…no copy/paste back in those days! Sufficed to say, I enjoy the draft. Even as an adult, I think that if I were given the opportunity to sit in a draft war room I’d take it in a heartbeat.

As a Redskins fan though, it has been hard to watch over the years because the picks have been few and far between.

With no collective bargaining agreement in place NFL fans all over have had to wait a few extra weeks for their hope springs eternal moments, but with the draft just a few short days away, and the schedule release behind us, we’re all about to get a little more optimistic. NOTE: Since I first wrote this, the NFL lockout has been lifted and it is possible that we'll see some player trades at the draft.

This year, the Redskins pick 10, 41, 144, 155, 177, 213, 224, 253 respectively. They lost their 3rd rounder in a trade with the Saints for Jamaal Brown, who ended up being a tomato can, and lost their 4th round pick (and a 2nd last year) for Donovan McNabb, who also ended up being a bit of a tomato can.

With so many needs and only two picks in the top 100 going in, it’s going to be difficult for the Redskins to make marked progress just through this draft, but progress can be made. The identified needs (in no particular order) are: OL, DL, WR, QB, RB, CB, LB (sheesh, maybe I should put new team…the lockout scabs aren’t looking too bad right now.)

Because of the McNabb gaffe, many draft experts have speculated that the Redskins will take a QB. They’ve been linked to all of them in one way or another. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be gone by the time the Redskins pick at 10, so any QB taken beyond those two in the top 10 would have to be considered a reach. The potential QB candidates at 10 are Jake Locker (Washington), Ryan Mallet (Arkansas), and Andy Dalton (TCU). Of the three remaining players at QB, Dalton is the safest pick and Locker probably has the most upside. IF, the Redskins picked a QB and Gabbert wasn’t there, I would take Andy Dalton. Whether he plays next season or three seasons from now, he won’t make very many mistakes and can be a guy that could manage the offense until he reached a point where you needed him to make plays and by that point (hopefully) you’ve added some weapons. Having said all of that, I don’t think QB should be the pick at 10 or 41. More on this later…

At 6-10 and with the current roster and no perspective on what free agents will be coming to town, I think the 2011 draft needs to be approached in total rebuilding mode. To me, that means you build from the inside out with the offensive and defensive lines , then linebackers or defensive backs, then the skill positions and hope that you manage to pull two full-time starters for the next 5-10 years at 10 and 41.

So, who does that leave for the Redskins to draft?

Let’s do a quick Mock and see who might be available:

1) CAR – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
2) DEN – Marcel Darius, DT, Alabama
3) BUF – Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
4) CIN – AJ Green, WR, Georgia
5) ARI – Bliane Gabbert, QB, Missouri
6) CLE – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
7) SF – Robert Quinn, LB UNC
8) TEN – Nick Fairly, DT Auburn
9) DAL – Tyron Smith, OT USC

I don’t necessarily think that the above players will go to the teams in this specific order, but I do think that this crop of players is the most likely to be off the board. So, given this group, here are some players that might be available for the Redskins to pick:

Jake Locker, QB Washington
Andy Dalton, QB TCU
Prince Amukamra, CB Nebraska
Julio Jones, WR Alabama
JJ Watt, DE Wisconsin
Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Cameron Jordan, DE CAL
Mike Pouncy, OT Florida

Of the listed options above, I’d go for Watt, Jordan, Amukamara, and Pouncy in that order. Either Watt or Jordan would give the Redskins a young 3-4 end that they desperately need and in Jordan’s case, he is fast rising up draft boards. Prince Amukamara would give them a young shutdown corner to play opposite DeAngelo Hall that would help mitigate the eventual loss of Carlos (board hands) Rogers. Pouncy would be a reach at 10, but if you cannot find a partner to trade down and you like a player enough, 10 is a spot where you could reach for a guy like Pouncy, who can play at either Guard or Center next season.

Bowers has a lot of upside but also has a dangerous injury history to be concerned about and Julio Jones is a luxury pick that the Redskins cannot afford to make right now. Build from the inside out, draft pass rushers, offensive lineman or corners, that’s going to help you compete in the NFC East.

My personal belief is that their best option is to trade down from 10. An ideal partner would be New England because they have picks to spare, but they didn’t acquire three extra picks in the top 100 by making bad trades, so it would be interesting to see what kind of offer New England came with, if any. If the Redskins let it be known that they were out of the QB business, a team like Miami or Minnesota could move up. If Julio Jones was still there, St. Louis or Atlanta could move up with Washington. Finally, if Prince Amukamara is still there and the Redskins aren’t enamored with him, there are plenty of teams that are and could make a play for him, Detroit at 13 being one of them. I hope that they move down, but if they are forced to pick, one of the four aforementioned players would be the smart way to go as they try to truly rebuild this team and not put band aids on fractures.
At 41 you can again move down and acquire picks, or, stay where you are and take the best player available, which could be an OL or DL that was a projected first round pick like Phil Taylor from Baylor or a LB like Akeem Ayers from UCLA. Go get a starter, you don’t *need* a QB!

Do I think that Rex Grossman or John Beck will be the answer at QB here in Washington? No, not necessarily, but what I do believe is that if you’re the Redskins, you have to do what you failed to do last year…you have to either say “we’re rebuilding,” or, you have to say “we want to win right now!” Last year was a mixed signal. This year, they cannot afford to make that same mistake.
So here are my predictions:

If they stay at 10: Pick I would like to see: JJ Watt or Cameron Jordan

If they stay at 10: Pick I think we will see Julio Jones, Jake Locker, or Andy Dalton

Best case scenario: Trading down with New England and acquiring the 17th pick and some combo of picks in the 2nd and 3rd round.

Should be fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cinderella, Kindly Return Your Slipper

“If the glass slipper don’t fit, it means Butler played like Sh…(hey now, this is a family blog!)

Well, the magical run of the Butler Bulldogs came to an end on Monday night in Houston. In what was one of the worst if not the worst national championship games ever played in the history of college basketball, Butler fell to the somewhat mighty UCONN Huskies. Anyone expecting Jimmy Chitwood of Hoosiers fame to come out and lead the small school team from Indiana to a victory over one of the big boys didn’t get to witness that, and really did not get to witness a good basketball game at all. And so, with the Connecticut win, my bracket sailed off into the sunset (trashcan) leaving me just a few points shy of a good-sized pay day.

I can definitely empathize with what Butler is going through. Like getting back to the national title game, getting back to first place in a bracket challenge is extremely difficult…particularly when the pool doubles in size and some folks enter more than one bracket. And yet there I was on Monday night looking to be a back-to-back bracket champion and to once again experience my one shining moment…but it was not to be. Throw out any Cinderella cliché you can think of here…the glass slipper did not fit, the carriage turned into a pumpkin, the clock struck midnight…really, any of those will work. Another good one I heard a while back is comparing it to the Jedi in Star Wars waiting for Obi-Won Kanobe to show up and save the day and when he gets there he’s drunk or hung over, stumbles around, robe flies open and he’s got nothing on underneath…you know a real disappointing finish when the expectations are so high.

When it was all over, I tried to console myself by saying “well, the money was never mine to begin with.” But darned if there wasn’t some iPad2 in some factory somewhere waiting for me to bring it home and give it a family with hours and hours of angry-bird play. Now I might have to spend my own money on one, which certainly does not warm the heart!
Back to basketball…

Watching Butler completely fall apart has made me wonder if the glass slipper will ever truly fit on a Cinderella team. Year after year we see teams make a run to the final four only to lose to a big and powerful school. We’ve seen it now with George Mason, Northern Iowa, VCU, and countless others. They’re good enough to win a few games, but fall short when it really counts. Do I think Connecticut was so vastly superior to Butler? No, I don’t. In fact, the Huskies were completely gassed at the end of the Kentucky game and had Kentucky not taken a series of bone-headed shots, we may have seen an entirely different outcome. But the point remains, year after year the big dogs fall and the little man rises up and year after year when it comes right down to it, David’s sling shot doesn’t come close to hitting Goliath and more often than not, Goliath walks out steps on David and goes about his business. It makes for an exciting few weeks of college basketball, but when you get right down to the final four, coaching and talent takeover and the big name teams almost always prevail. Even as I think back to the incredible run Utah made to the title game in 1998, taking a 12 point lead over Kentucky into the half and having a few eventual NBA players on its roster, the Utes just could not get it done.

The interesting thing here is that I think that years like this will be the rule, not the exception. In a one and done format, you’re more likely to see a team get hot like VCU did or ride a superstar like Kemba Walker (though he was not the best on his team during the title game and might have not been the second best either) carry a team all the way. The fact that all four number 1 seeds have made it to the final four just once is very telling.

And so ends another college basketball season. College basketball is funny because when it starts you don’t realize it until sometime in January usually and when it is over you feel kind of like “hey, I was just getting into this…!” And so we wait until next year when the brackets are printed and a whole new cast of characters creates their own shining moments, leaving us to rip our brackets into shreds once again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So You're Saying There's a Chance

Last week as the buzzer sounded on Pittsburgh losing to Butler, I resigned myself to my fate. I had been previously bounced from the playoffs in all of my fantasy football leagues and now, just a year after getting it right, I got it oh so wrong, picking Pittsburgh to win the whole thing.

What I did not account for, however, was how truly mad March gets...and in particular, this March. With teams like VCU, Richmond, and Butler advancing to the sweet 16, the potential for more upsets still remained. Going into the sweet 16, I still had three of four final four teams left.

And then, it happened...

Butler Beat Wisconsin, and Florida (and some questionable officiating in the Florida game).

UCONN up ended SDSU (they were jerks anyway) and Arizona.

VCU continued an improbable run with wins over Florida St. and #1 seed Kansas.

And Kentucky took out Ohio St. and UNC, the #1 and #2 seeds, respectively.

With Kansas, Duke, Ohio St., UNC, SDSU, Florida, and Notre Dame all out of it, many people's brackets are busted. I managed to get two teams into the final four...and if anyone but UCONN wins the whole shootin match, then I will win the bracket I put $10 (a $600 reward). 3/4 odds isn't bad at this time of year, but you just never know...but I'm saying there's a chance!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Better Luck Next Year

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Either way it's okay...

One year removed from getting it right, I very clearly and very loudly got it wrong. Like I said last year, there's nothing quite like making a prediction and getting it right, then coming back to pat yourself on the back.

Likewise, when you make a bad prediction, you've got to come back and own up to your poor predictions. So here I am, owning up to it all.

I think my first mistake was that I didn't see Butler getting out of the first round. They'd had a decent season, but nothing to write home about and with Gordon Hayward gone, I didn't see them advancing very far. That, and I have a man-crush on ODU's Blaine Taylor. I love the toughness that his teams play with. I've hoped that he would be in the mix at Utah for its vacancy, but I'm not sure they'll go that direction. So yeah, I didn't take Butler very seriously, and it cost me, big time.

My second mistake was overvaluing Pitt's size, experience, and conference affiliation. They were the best team in the regular season in the Big East, a league that got 11 bids (though only 2 remain, both of which knocked out fellow big east teams to advance to the sweet 16) and looked pretty strong going into the tournament. Little did I know that their big man was actually as soft as Charmine and their defense and decision making was awful. Combine that with Mack (Butler) having a career shooting night and it created the perfect formula for an upset.

As for the calls at the end of the game, I guess as an official you have to make those calls. The first one was a little more egregious than the second in my opinion only because the foul had an impact on the out come. A guy runs down the court and gets bumped out of bounds, I mean you have to call that. Now, a rebound with 1.4...not so much. But, I think the refs felt compelled to make any call they could in that situation simply because they'd done it to Butler just a few minutes earlier so in that regard, Bravo.

I did make some decent upset picks in the first two rounds that came to fruition. Most notably, Florida St. beat both Texas A&M and Notre Dame. Had I still had my champion in the hunt, that would've helped me, as would Arizona's win over Texas, which I don't think many people had. So, I sit here today with 8 Sweet 16 teams, 5 Elite 8 teams, 3 final four teams, and no champion, which means my bracket will likely slip further and further down the standings for this year.

So, who will I be cheering for? My boys from Virgina, of course!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bracket Runs Through It

Eventually, all teams merge into one tournament...and a bracket runs through it.

And so begins the 2011 NCAA Tournament...

Experts have called this year's tournament one of the most wide open they've seen in years...yet many of them have all or most of the number one seeds advancing. Will it happen? Only time will tell.

Last year, I picked Duke, Georgetown, West Va. and Syracuse in my final four and I had Georgetown knocked out on the first night of the tournament when the then 3 seeded Ohio Bobcats absolutely took it to the Hoyas. I thought my bracket was busted, but some savvy Sweet 16 picks kept me getting points and staying on top. One by one, the popular picks fell until Duke was left standing and I was left as the Champ (and with a few dollars in my pocket).

Before I unveil my 2011 bracket picks, I'll share a little bit of strategy that I've both used and that I've taken note of as I've seen the experts picks.

Many of the experts pick what they call "chalk." This basically means that they pick many if not all of the higher seeds to advance in the tournament. The problem with this strategy is that if one or two of the top 4 seeds in each region loses, you might be in trouble. It also doesn't really factor in upsets, which are typically rewarded in many pools. For example, if you pick a 12 seed to beat a 5 (happens almost every year) then you would get the point for the pick and some amount of bonus points for picking the upset. So, it behooves you on some level to pick upsets. Which takes us to my general strategy.

The only way to really keep yourself in it points-wise, is to pick upsets. There is an obvious risk-reward element to picking upsets and if you can hit big, then you can really help yourself out. For example, last year I picked Old Dominion over Notre Dame and St. Marys over Richmond. Both were picks that few others had and really gave me a leg up going into the second round. What you can do and probably should do with upsets however, is hedge your bet a little bit. So, for example, if I have the winner of Clemson/WVU losing to Kentucky, and I think Clemson could beat WVU, then I am going to pick Clemson. Sure, I don't get the point if they lose, but if they win, then I hit it big. You can't do that every time, but I found it to be effective last year and I'm giving it a shot this year again.

And now, the picks:

My Final Four Are:

Noteable Upsets:
Round 1:

12 Clemson over 5 West Virginia
9 Villanova over 8 George Mason
11 Missouri over 6 Cininnati
10 Michigan St. over 7 UCLA
11 Gonzaqga over 6 St. Johns
13 Belmont over 4 Wisconsin
10 Florida St. over 7 Texas A&M
12 Richmond over 5 Vanderbuilt
9 ODU over 8 Butler

At the end of the whole thing, the team that will cut down the nets in Houston is:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcoming Back the Madness!

Outside of the first weekend of college or pro football, for me, this is absolutely the best time of the year.

If you've been reading my blog for a year now, you'll remember that last year I boldy predicted that Duke would win the whole thing, and I got it right!

Last year, I had one of my final four teams bounced on the opening night of the tournament when Georgetown fell to Ohio, but because of my other picks (and obviously getting the NC winner right) I was able to hold on.

This year the bracket is as wide open as ever, and I suspect we'll see a lot of brackets busted before the end of the first weekend.

Stay tuned for my bracket tips, as well as my bracket.

Enjoy the madness!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No...I'm Not Scared....

A little over 10 years ago, I tuned in to a new show on FOX. It was called 'Beyond Beleif, Fact Or Fiction?' I used to love this show. It was hosted by Star Trek the Next Generation's Jonathan Frakes. The former number 1 of the Starship Enterprise was the perfect host. With his deep baritone voice and trusting beard, he made you as the viewer feel as though he was telling the truth when he told the stories featured in the show.

The stories that were told on the show ranged from conspiracy theories, to ghost/paranormal activity stories, out of body experiences and the like. One of my favorites featured a runaway  plane that was apparently piloted by the pilot's deceased father, who died in a plane crash. Another good one was a lady who dreamed about a house she was supposed to buy and when she went to buy it, the owner said "you're the lady that has been haunting my house for the last month."

For me, the show was always kind of a fun show to watch. A modern day Unsolved Mystories or Ripley's Beleive it or Not. It would usually recount 5 stories and at the end tell you whether or not they were true. Some of the classic lines that Frakes would say at the end were: "Is this story true? I'm afraid not!" and "So, is this story based on true events? Or is it just the work of our writers? Not this time!"

So, why am I telling you this?

Well, the show is back on TV in the form of reruns...and every single time I get sucked into it. The problem is, I'm a grown man and should not be scared of stories filmed 10 years ago with really bad acting...but somehow these stupid vignets get to me. I used to shower in the dark when I got up in the, I have to shower with the light on because of one of the shows having a personage show up in a mirror. Ugh! Also, the ghost stories freak me out...I don't want to go in my basement at times. In 10 short years, it has gone from a fun show to something that haunts me.

What the heck happened to me?

Friday, February 25, 2011


This is a shameless plug for my brother in law's new website, DisAnim.Com.

The concept is simple, he is going through all of the Walt Disney Animated Films in chronological order and breaking them down. For each film he analyzes the significane of the film, it's place and timing in history, key lessons learned, the potential time and place of some of these movies, their ties to folk-legendes and much, much more.

If you enjoy the disney catalog and want to dig a little deeper into some of these shows, please take a fewminutes and check out DisAnim.Com.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Up in the Air Part II

Coming back from a trip is a funny thing. The minute you walk in the door, and after the 3 or 4 subsequent days that you don't unpack, it feels like you never left. All that said, the gettin there and the gettin back can make for some fun times.

This post is a sequal to Up in The Air, which was posted after my last trip.

The flight out was pretty uneventful. Though while waiting in the terminal, I observed that people really seem to enjoy standing in lines, clusters, or bunches. Otherwise, why would they stand up there if there zone has not yet been called. In the case of the flight I was on, the people waiting for the plane quite literally created a wall around the door that made it very difficult for anyone in zone 2 and 3 to break through.

Boarding in Zones is kind of an interesting concept as well. One thing I've never really understood is why the plane gets boarded from the front to the back. Now I understand that those first class folks (and from what I can tell most of them are first class all the way -eyeroll) want to sit and sip their club sodas in their big comfy chairs, but don't they realize that all of us coachers are looking at them and just resenting them the whole time we walk by their 6-8 rows of in-flight bliss.

As my plane was getting ready to land, the fasten seatbelt sign flashed to signal to everyone "hey the plane is landing in like 5 minutes," which prompted one guy to literally get up, and sprint through first class to the bathroom. I thought, "we're going to land the plane with this guy in the bathroom...I hope he likes a dash of blue water on his clothes."

The trip back was a real life lesson in inefficiency. At the SLC airport, they have what is called a family line. The family line  is a seperate line set aside for two reasons: 1) to allow families traveling with small children to get through security without incident and 2) to prevent other passengers from being held up by families and their 75 things they're taking with them. In SLC, the line also serves as the means by which airport personnel get to the terminal. I cannot begin to express to you how dumb I think this is.

So, we get there and there are two "families" standing in front of us. One of them is a mother and daughter combo. The daughter is at minimum 14...small children? I had no issue with the other family, but during the time we were waiting to get to the security scanner, quite literally 20 airport employees walked through ahead of us. Then, a nice 18 year old kid who worked for the airline wheeled an older lady up to the front of the line. That's cool, I'm a fan of the elderly...but then we hear from the back "wait! wait! wait!" and up comes 4-5 people who are apparently traveling with said elderly women. None of them have problems mind you, and none of them cared enough to push her, but they were all apparently important enough to go to the front of the line.

Once we got through the first part of security, the cutting really began. Several airport employees were very litterally shoving my stuff backwards on the conveyor belt to make room for their stuff. After about 15 people did this, I got a hair irritated. I started forcing the issue with my stuff and stopped short of the ole talking loudly trick (you know, the one where you say something to someone else with you so that the offender can hear you loud and clear).

We finally made it through, and ended up sitting in front of someone who thought he was Larry the Cable Guy...he was just full of one-liners and whoppers...and really made me glad to be sitting in front of him. All in all it was another great opportunity for people watching...

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Rise and Fall of my Tooth Brush

This is a cautionary tale about cleaning the bathroom...

It also proves that no good deed gos unpunished...

Whilst staying with my in-laws this past week, I decided to be a good son in law and clean the bathroom we were using. I got all of the cleaning supplies out and ready made that sucker shine. As I was putting the finishing touches on it and throwing away the last piece of paper towel from wiping the glass. My arm grased the back of my tooth brush, sending it into a spinning motion and flying downward at a rapid pace. Given that it had a short distance to travel, it didn't take very long, but I still reached for it loudly proclaiming....NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It finally came to rest here:

We had a good run, but no amount of cleaning could've brough my toothbrush back to life. It was gone and it was time to move on to a new one.

And now for some cheap tooth brush humor:

Did you know the tooth brush was invented in West Virginia? If it had been invented in any other state, it'd be called a teeth brush. BOOM!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

FF Season in Review Part I: The Records

And so another season of fantasy football has gone by the wayside. It was an up and down year for me overall. I played in a total of five leagues and made the playoffs in four of them. Here's a league by league breakdown:

League 1: (12 Teams): Record; 9-4 (2nd place regular season) 4th place finish.
First round: (my pick in bold)

1. Chris Johnson (Ten - RB)
2. Adrian Peterson (Min - RB)
3. Ray Rice (Bal - RB)
4. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB)
5. Steven Jackson (StL - RB)
6. Randy Moss (Ten - WR)
7. Andre Johnson (Hou - WR)
8. Aaron Rodgers (GB - QB)
9. Michael Turner (Atl - RB)
10. Frank Gore (SF - RB)
11. Ryan Mathews (SD - RB)
12. Shonn Greene (NYJ - RB)

The player who picked 3rd in this league ended up winning it.

League 2: (12 Teams): Record; 7-6 (4th place regular season) 2nd place finish.

First round: (my pick in bold)

1. Chris Johnson (Ten - RB)
2. Adrian Peterson (Min - RB)
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB)
4. Frank Gore (SF - RB)
5. Ray Rice (Bal - RB)
6. Drew Brees (NO - QB)
7. Aaron Rodgers (GB - QB)
8. Michael Turner (Atl - RB)
9. DeAngelo Williams (Car - RB)
10. Andre Johnson (Hou - WR)
11. Randy Moss (Ten - WR)
12. Ryan Mathews (SD - RB)

The player who picked 7th in this league ended up winning it.

League 3: (10 teams): Record; 8-6 (4th place regular season) 2nd place finish.

First round: (my pick in bold)

1. Chris Johnson (Ten - RB)
2. Adrian Peterson (Min - RB)
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB)
4. Ray Rice (Bal - RB)
5. Michael Turner (Atl - RB)
6. Frank Gore (SF - RB)
7. Andre Johnson (Hou - WR)
8. Ryan Mathews (SD - RB)
9. Shonn Greene (NYJ - RB)
10. Rashard Mendenhall (Pit - RB)

The player who picked 4th in this league ended up winning it.

League 4: (10 teams): Record 9-5 (1st place regular season) 3rd place finish

First round: (my pick in bold)

1. Chris Johnson (Ten - RB)
2. Adrian Peterson (Min - RB)
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB)
4. Ray Rice (Bal - RB)
5. Michael Turner (Atl - RB)
6. Frank Gore (SF - RB)
7. Andre Johnson (Hou - WR)
8. Ryan Mathews (SD - RB)
9. Shonn Greene (NYJ - RB)
10. Steven Jackson (StL - RB)

The player who picked 8th in this league ended up winning it.

League 5: (team teams) Record 10-7 (5th place finish) - no playoffs.

First round (my pick in bold)

1. Chris Johnson (Ten - RB)
2. Adrian Peterson (Min - RB)
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB)
4. Michael Turner (Atl - RB)
5. Frank Gore (SF - RB)
6. Ray Rice (Bal - RB)
7. Drew Brees (NO - QB)
8. Rashard Mendenhall (Pit - RB)
9. Ryan Mathews (SD - RB)
10. Andre Johnson (Hou - WR)

Overall I think my first-round picks were solid. It was obviously a huge blow when Frank Gore went down. Had he not, who knows what might have happened. The one thing I learned this year is that I can draft a pretty solid squad, but I've got to do a better job of managing my team. I'll break down the teams in my next post.

Total win loss for the season: 43-28

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wrapping Up Christmas

On December 26th, my two-year-old woke up to see what presents Santa had brought for her that day. The previous day was Christmas, and of couse she was showered with gitfs so she couldn't wait to see what the next day held in store for her. When she realized that Christmas comes but once a year, and that that day had indeed past she said "time to take down the tree, Christmas is over." And so it was.

It has been very interesting, funny, and educational to see how others handle Christmas. From trying to figure out how soon is too soon for the tree to go up, or for Christmas music to start playing throughout the house, to when to take it all down and store it for another year, everyone seems to do it just a little different.

I've always loved the holidays. Growing up (and even while I was in college) it meant that I literally didn't have to do anything for about two weeks. I can remember as a kid getting up on Christmas morning one year and being done with my present opening and running to the neighbor's house to see what my friends got...but they were all still sound asleep!

Outside of the religious aspects of course, Christmas for me is about traditions. We're trying to establish our own family traditions and it isn't always easy. This year, I decided that I was going to read "The Night Before Christmas" and have that be something I do every year. Though my kids are still too young to sit through that kind of thing, it's still kind of fun to do.

One of my favorite parts about the holidays is all the Christmas movies that are on. The one that for me stands the test of time is Christmas Vacation. That movie is not only fantastic, but so quoteable and it just puts a smile on my face whenever it is on. "Surprised Eddie? If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn't be more surprised than I am right now." Classic!

We just finished our last Christmas/New Year's tradition of the season, Divinity! This stuff is so ridiculously yummy that I can't even handle it. I could eat my weight in this fact, I may have already! But that is what New Year's Resolutions are for!

I hope everyone out there had a safe and happy holiday. I look forward to more fun posting and sharing in the New Year.

-  The Loose Change Guy