Sunday, August 31, 2008

Two Funniest Moments Of The College Football Weekend

1. At one point--and maybe throughout the entire Alabama-Clemson murder--Alabama's two kick returners were named Julio and Javier. And just to save you the suspense, neither had a drop of Hispanic blood in their body. I can't get enough of the College Football Name Game.

2. While watching the Colorado-Colorado State match Sunday night, play-by-play man Joel Meyers told the story of Colorado freshman RB Darrell Scott, and why he committed to play for the Buffs. The reason? Scott's uncle is...wait for it...wait for it...a wide receiver at Colorado! Not the wide receiver's coach, but an actual wide receiver! Remember when you're uncles were thirty years older than you? Remember when they made you get them a beer at Thanksgiving? Remember when they made inappropriate comments when a 17-year-old Britney Spears was on the television? Oh, how times have changed...

-Brad Spieser (

Chris Wells + Foot Injury = Amputation

Facts: (1.) Times like these always have me thinking the worst. (2.) This Chris Wells injury has me wishing I had different hobbies.

Assuming he's physically able to stand up on September 13, Wells will be in the starting lineup - that much is obvious. And that's a good thing, right? Well, maybe. But I have a horrible feeling that OSU will fall flat--and USC will receive a sizable boost--if Chris Wells isn't really ready to play a Division I football match.

Again: If Wells' teammates think he's Superman, and if Superman tries to play at 50-60%, followed by Tressel pulling him...I just don't see how the Buckeyes could recover from that. At least not on the road, with the Trojans smelling blood.

Does this make sense to anyone?

(And yes, I realize I have no idea how severe the injury actually is.)

-Brad Spieser (

Friday, August 29, 2008

2008 Buckeyes: Predictions, Thoughts And Other Words (In English)

I waited too long to post this sucker, but whatever.

There won't be any consistency to what you're about to read. My goal here is to comment on everything going through my head regarding the 2008 Ohio State Buckeyes. Some of it will seem ridiculous, some of it might seem unkind and some of it might seem obvious. But I have to get it all out there - every last thought. Part of the reason I started blogging was to make preseason predictions about the stuff I'm passionate about. There's a simple formula working here, which I stole from FBI serial killer profilers: Throw out a bunch of ideas and (by and large) only your correct predictions will be remembered.

So I missed on a few things last year, but my accuracy was pretty impressive. Here's to hoping for the same success rate in '08...

Without further ado, I unleash Ohio State Football: Predictions, Thoughts and Other Words (In English):

1. I just have to get this out of the way: He's been gone a month, but I miss Antonio Henton already. If given the choice, sure, I'd rather have Terrelle Pryor, but I know Henton could've been a star in Columbus. He's a better runner than Troy Smith, but he was no one trick pony; the guy had a fairly accurate cannon for an arm. If Pryor committs to Michigan, Henton splits snaps (maybe 75/25) with Boeckman and prepares for a monster final two years at OSU. I really believe that. and I don't want to hear how Joe Bauserman had moved ahead of Henton, either - Henton was a headcase after Pryor came in and the writing was on the wall. Regardless, I can't help thinking how unlucky Henton was...Austin Moherman started more games at Ohio State than Henton. Zwick, too. Hell, Bellisari started for three years and never got any better.

So now I'm a Georgia Southern fan in the same way I'm a Texas Rangers fan. Antonio Henton = Josh Hamilton.

(By the way, I'll bet you $6.45 that Henton has a longer pro career than Boeckman...)

2. Terrelle Pryor. I try to keep my eyes wide open, but sometimes I just can't help myself. I'm like everyone else with this Pryor guy - I can't wait to watch him play and I believe he's capable of just about anything at this point. The great thing about freshmen is that they haven't revealed any flaws. Especially Pryor. Not only is he a genetic marvel, but he seems to be more humble than I ever expected. The vets have all said great things about him, and it appears he's a much better thrower at this point than anyone realized. The Tim Tebow/Vince Young comparisons are wildly unfair, but that's what sports have become - who's next?

Anyway, I'm curious to see how this experiment plays out in year one. This team has legitimate championship potential, and frequent fumbling/poor decision making can bring it to a screaching hault. Can Pryor be trusted in big spots? Will he be allowed to throw the ball in the red zone? A lot of questions need to be answered, and USC isn't too far away. Expect to see a lot of Pryor in weeks one and two, and if he can avoid being a deer in the headlights, he could make a real impact versus the Trojans.

Prediction: 450 rushing yards and no more than 75 pass attempts. 10 total TDS. Goal line nightmare for opponents. And one game-changing WOW! play against USC.

3. Dear Lord, please allow Evil Todd Boeckman to get lost on the way to California. Not that Good Todd Boeckman is anything special, but at least he won't start chucking the ball into quintuple coverage at the first sign of pressure. Note to Boeckman: There's nothing wrong with mimmicking Krenzel's abilty (yes, abilty) to take a sack or throw the ball away.

4. Chris Wells. There is nothing left to say about the man. He's the best back in Ohio State history. And he's definitely gone after '08. Appreciate the thirteen games you have left with him, boys and girls.

5. Brandon Saine will have more receiving yards than rushing yards in '08. He's a decent runner with great speed (which makes him effective), but he has great hands out of the backfield (which makes him quite the weapon). Besides...

6. Boom Herron is better than him.

7. Does Austin Spitler = Mo Wells? Wells now appears to have no role a year after being the main kick returner. Was he kept around for his senior year as insurance? Would he have transfered if he was stuck on the bench in '07? You never know, but one can only guess. I mean, Herron was better than him last year, but a No. 4 spot on the depth chart might have been Sayanora for Wells.

Which brings me to Spitler. Yeah, he's No. 2 at MLB, but Etienne Sabino could have a stranglehold on that position by spring. My guess is that Spitler never starts a game, and remains a special teams cog through '09.

8. Kurt Coleman's ankle injury interests me. I've gone on record as saying he is the weak link of the defense (with apologies to the DTs) and now Jermale Hines has been given the chance to give Coleman the Wally Pipp treatment.

Here's the deal: Coleman's no bust, obviously, but I don't see what he really brings to the table. He's undersized for a safety and doesn't bring the wood - plus, he's not a disrupter who forces fumbles and hauls in interceptions. He's a safer bet than O'Neal, but that's not saying much.

As for Hines, let's see: He missed the first half of last season and yet Tressel put him in there on special teams the second he was eligible; that says a lot. Also, he's only played safety for a short time but has already moved ahead of plenty of true safeties (Patterson, Gant, Oliver, etc.) and now is the starter while Coleman is down. I have no idea how this situation is going to play out, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hines cuts into Coleman's playing time after he returns.

9. It's probably unfair to lump these guys together, but it's time for Ray Small, Lawrence Wilson, Ross Homan and Rob Rose to make a splash. Let's look at each individually:

a. Small: One of the few guys I've been wrong about. I really expected greatness out of him, but maybe I put too much stock into what Ted Ginn, Sr. had to say about one of his former guys. Small still has two years to get his act straight--and he certainly has the ability--but I'm selling on him.

b. Lawrence Wilson: His ability is obvious, and his luck has been crappy. But it's not like he hasn't played at all. Anyway, a recent Sporting News article about breakout players quoted an anonymous scout as saying the following of Wilson: "Saw him a couple of times as a freshman, then saw him in the spring before last fall, before he got hurt in the first game of the season. Still have my notes: 'Wilson better than Gholston?' The complete package. He can stop the run, and his size and wingspan -- he's 280 pounds, for goodness sake -- are impossible for those poor (offensive) tackles."

Sure, Wilson excites me - but I'll believe it when I see it. I'm buying, though.

c. Ross Homan: Blew everyone away before injury in '06 preseason practice, and didn't do anything spectacular last year. Seems to have trouble staying out of the training room, but the coaches gush about him. He's a decent bet to be an All-Big Ten player in '09 and '10. I'm buying. I alos say that he'll be better than Freeman.

d. Rob Rose: Is he even that talented? Or did his shoulder injuries turn him into a shell of himself? Should he be playing inside? We'll find out soon. I'm selling.

10. Last year I predicted Hartline to have a better year than Robiskie. I saw Hartline as more athletic (which he is) and thought that would make the difference. While their stats were similar down the stretch, Robiskie clearly had the better season - and is the better college player. But on the pro level? I'm not high on either, but I'm taking Hartline...Robiskie's just not fast enough.

11. Something else I predicted last year, but was derailed by injury, was Dane Sanzenbacher being described as "deceptively fast" approximately a billion times as a result of his skin color. I also predict that such ignorance will enrage me.

12. I don't know why this is stuck at No. 12, but here goes: James Lauarainitis, Marcus Freeman, Malcolm Jenkins and Alex Boone are all (a.) pretty great, (b.) somewhat overrated. Maybe I've just seen all their flaws, I don't know, but I wouldn't bet my life on any one of them ever making a Pro Bowl. Again, and I can't scream this loud enough, the aforementioned guys are outstanding college players (especially Lauarainitis and Jenkins), but somewhat overrated. Which reminds me...

13. Cameron Heyward is the best player on the defense...and maybe the second best on the team (behind Wells, of course).

14. Not to offer advice to 20-year-olds I've never met, but Tyler Moeller should probably transfer to UC, where he would be an All Big East player. He seems to be lost in the LB shuffle, and Hines appears to be a better LB-turned-safety. He's obviously a plus athlete, and Tressel's only knock on him is that he goes too hard every play (nice problem to have). Add all that up and he might be better off at UC with his former high school coach, Kerry Coombs. Just seems like a perfect fit (not that I want him to leave).

15. Brian Rolle will be a star. Trust me. He blows up plays the way I wish Laurainitis and Freeman did.

16. If Curtis Terry jumped in Doc Brown's DeLorean and went back to 1992, he'd be a stud OLB. He was one of my favorite guys on the '06 team, but let's face it, he's not athletic enough to start at Ohio State. I wish he would have stayed at fullback.

17. 2002 saw below-average players like Llydell Ross (solid games, UC and Indiana), Maurice Hall (TD, Illinois) and Brandon Schnittker (reception, Miami - don't laugh) I'm wondering...who will come out of nowhere to make a contribution--if even for a play--in '08? Shaun Lane? Nick Patterson? Maurice Wells?

18. Devier Posey won't be the star he's projected to be. Not that he won't be solid, but I just don't see him as an explosive WR. (Note: This is based on a very tiny sample - HS tape, Army game, etc.)

19. Lamaar Thomas will be a superstar. When everyone assumed he would redshirt, I yelled NO FREAKING WAY! Athletes as special as Thomas don't redshirt, no matter the competition. Percy Harvin is one of the best players I've ever seen, and Thomas can do much of the same things. Expect him to be involved early, and expect him to make a few big plays down the stretch. He should be the punt returner from day one. Just trust me on this guy. Reagrdless of what happens with Thomas in '08, his versatility is going to terrorize opponents when teamed with Pryor in the spread.

20. Prediction: Jake Stoneburner redshirts and comes back next year as a TE. He could be turn out to be a good WR, but his size/speed would make him an incredible tight end. Remember, Kellen Winslow was recruited to Miami as a bigger receiver, too. Then he swallowed his pride and became the best college TE this decade (and maybe the last twenty years).

21. Is Taurian Washington destined to become the next Albert Dukes or Devon Lyons? All of them saw playing time as freshmen, but Dukes and Lyons got buried (albeit with poor attitudes), and Washington may not contribute much this year. I'm interested to see how this plays out.

22. The fullback position doesn't worry me, but it would have been nice to see a healthy Aram Olson in Scarlet and Grey. Did you watch his high school tape? That guy was a devastating blocker.

23. Which Anderson Russell is showing up this year? He wasn't the playmaker in '07 that he was in '06. I'm blaming the ACL injury, and banking on a return to '06 form.

24. Is Jake Ballard good? Or is he just best guy on the roster? Does he make big strides in year three? I gots no answers here, people.

25. I'm just going to come out and say it: I can't wait to see Brewster, Shugarts and Adams challenge the vets sooner rather than later. I can only imagine what the depth chart would look like if all three were healthy.

26. Remember when Iowa was down to their seventh RB a few years back? Well, if OSU gets hit that hard with injuries, I believe they could win most games with Marcus Williams. Call me crazy, but I think he'd be a decent MAC back.

27. Aaron Pettrey's comments after the kicking scrimmage suggest he's a headcase. He was pretty good as a true frosh, but I'm starting to think Ben Buchanan is your kicker in '09 and beyond. I'll also say that Buchanan will break all of Nugent's scoring records.

28. Speaking of kickers, what was the deal with Ryan Pretorious having so many kicks blocked in '08? Was that just a fluke? Why can't they all be Nugent? Questions, man. Questions.

29. Will the kickoff coverage be any better this year? Has to, right? They just have too many athletes (Rolle, Hines, Moeller, etc.) not to be a dominant unit. My guess is that Tressel won't allow a letdown for a second straight year.

30. Not-so-wild prediction: Chimdi Chekwa doesn't relinquish starting job when Donald Washington returns from suspension. As much as i love Washington, I think Chekwa is better. Regardless, Tressel's ability to pluck semi-unheralded corners (Jenkins, Washington, Chekwa) is truly remarkable

31. Does anyone step up at DT? Does Nader Abdallah have a Roy Hall/Jay Richardson senior year? Is Dexter Larimore the best DT on the roster? God, this position scares me.

32. Thaddeus Gibson spin-moves his way to seven sacks - I love when the best athletes move closer to the ball. I will say, though, I was sad to see him change numbers. No. 37 is just an odd look for defensive ends, and No. 90 is unoriginal. Shame on him

33. Does Mark Johnson smell like a transfer to you? He does to me. His entire time in Columbus has been spent injured and/or nowehre near meaningful playing time. Plus, and most importantly, he was a highly touted LB from Los Angeles...that just seems like a recipe for transfer.

34. Who's the off-the-radar true freshman? It was Jenkins in '05; last year it was Heyward. So who's going to be the truw freshman who not only avoids a redshirt, but contributes? I have no predictions here. How could I?

In the end, I think Ohio State cuts down the nets (or whatever) and officially removes the monkey off of the Big Ten's back (or at least for six months).

End of words. Go Buckeyes! Or something. (And forgive me for typos - the friggin' spell check ain't working.)

Brad Spieser (

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Massive Fantasy Football Q & A: Part Deux

Don't forget to check out Part One of my Q & A with Sons of the Tundra, which is located a few posts below this. Anyway, enjoy:

1. Brad: How would you advise Ladainian Tomlinson owners in Dynasty leagues? Are Marshall Faulk owners still beating themselves up for not selling high after 2001?

Wess: An easy question for rebuilders, but much tougher for yearly contenders. How do you stay competitive while trading away your best player? Would you be selling too early if you sold now? I'm getting very bad vibes about the Chargers 2008 season with most of their important players coming off significant injuries (or still injured). I think this summer was a great time to target the young stud of your choice and go after him. Start with Adrian Peterson and work down from there; package Tomlinson with draft picks and another player to woo the Peterson owner. Then to go to the Steven Jackson owner, and try the same thing. Beyond those two, it's a personal choice depending on which young RB you believe in.

2. Brad: Drew Brees has never thrown more than 28 TDs in a season - I say this year he goes for 35. You taking the over or under on that?

Wess: I'll take the under. I like the Saints offense to stay explosive (and the Shockey addition will help), but I don't think Brees is as good of a red zone QB as guys like Brady, Big Ben, and Favre.

3. Brad: Not necessarily a fantasy question, but don't you think way too many teams run the ball in 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1 situations? There's no doubt that RBs are getting stuffed behind the line at a much higher rate in 2008 than they were in 1998. (Note: I have no evidence to support my beliefs, but it certainly seems that way.)

Wess: Is that a long yard or a short yard? It matters. I do believe far too many teams go for the run on a long yard, and not enough teams do the quick QB sneak on a short yard. The Jags have it perfected. They have one of the best short-yardage backs in the league with MJD, and that opens things up for Garrard bootlegs and play actions. It's why Del Rio went for and converted more fourth downs than any other coach in the league last season - including Belichick.

4. Brad: I figured you'd ask me about Carson Palmer, but I guess you didn't want to serve me one in my wheelhouse; I suppose I'll tackle that one in my Bengals preview. Anyway, what are your projections for Palmer over the next five years? Will we ever see 2005 again?

Wess: I don't think we'll ever see 2005 again. My guess is Housh is coming off back-to-back career seasons, so we've seen his best. Henry is unreliable. Chad is now unreliable. The offensive line has obvious depth, but the unit's play has been in steady decline since '05. Plus, even though some of his stats are similar to pre-ACL stats, Palmer just hasn't been the same top tier quarterback.

I was just reading a Chuck Klosterman passage on underrated vs. overrated, and he made a point about Scottie Pippen that I wanted to tie into Carson Palmer . . . but it doesn't really work. He said Pippen is so underrated by the "He was less than clutch and only has 6 rings because Jordan made him what he was crowd" and so overrated by the "He was the best defensive player on the team and a better all-around player than Jordan" crowd. So in the end, he ends up getting ranked just about right - in the middle of both of those crowds. The odd thing about Palmer, though, is that nobody underrates him as a quarterback. He's rated highly by analysts, announcers, coaches, fellow players, and even fantasy geeks. Compare that to a better QB like Roethlisberger, who never gets mentioned as one of the top handful of QBs in the league even though he's clearly the third best and still improving.

5. Brad: Is there any chance Larry Johnson tosses up a 1,500-yard season?

Wess: Total yards or rushing yards? I think he has a chance at 1,500 total yards, but Brodie Croyle and the Chiefs offensive line are so abysmal that I think the rushing yards scenario is a pipedream. The best thing that could happen to LJ is for Croyle to play like himself for a couple of games to start the season, so it becomes obvious to even Herman Edwards that he has to turn to Damon Huard out of sheer embarrassment.

6. Brad: Is Donald Driver the most underrated or overrated player this decade?

Wess: Hate to beat a dead horse, but Ben Roethlisberger is the most underrated. The second most underrated is between Donnie Edwards, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Donald Driver. Donovan McNabb is overrated by 5% of the crowd, and underrated by at least 85%. Hines Ward is kind of like that too. He's overrated by 100% of Steelers fans and underrated by 99% of non-Steelers fans.

7. Brad: A backup who could be a star (don't mention the obvious)?

Wess: Is Chris Johnson the obvious? Because he's going to be star right off the bat. Is Brady Quinn the obvious? Could Colt Brennan become a star?

Hmmm . . . Ray Rice is probably my best bet for this question. I think it's very possible that he could take McGahee's job sooner than people realize. I like Pierre Thomas, but "star"? I don't know. Tim Hightower? I don't know how talented he is, but as you well know, opportunity counts for a ton in the life of a NFL running back. Ahmad Bradshaw looked awfully capable in the Giants' playoff run.

Sleeper pick = Mike Hart.

(Note from Brad: Now that the Colt Brennan bandwagon is picking up pride-swallowers by the second, it seems appropriate to mention what I said about the guy in our February Q & A, when his stock was sinking like Pussy Bonpensiero: "I know I'm basically alone on this, but I'm still a Colt Brennan guy. He's the most accurate college passer of my lifetime and has the quickest of quick releases. Yeah, his arm is weak, but it's better than Pennington's, and he's done okay. I'm not projecting greatness, but I do think Brennan will stick in the league for a number of years.")

8. Brad: Why didn't Houston get their hands on a good RB in the offseason? Who's going to get the carries there?

Wess: I keep hearing that Steve Slaton is a good RB, so somebody is wrong here. For what it's worth, I'm with you: I see change of pace back there.

Unpopular though he may be at this stage of his career, Ahman Green is still their best RB - and my choice to get the most carries in that backfield.

9. Brad: If asked, and with an above average receiving corps, could David Garrard be a top 8 fantasy QB?

Wess: In any given year, sure. Perenially, I'm skeptical. He's a very good, tough, heady quarterback, but he's not nearly as good of a passer as he showed last season. He gets more help from his running game than any QB in the league. With Fred Taylor and MJD both playing like Pro Bowlers, Garrard is enjoying a quarterback's dream of Boomer Esiason 1988 proportions. His YPA, completion %, and TD/INT ratios will all plummet if the running game stumbles.

10. Brad: Do you think San Diego should throw the ball more? Windows close in a hurry in the NFL and it might be wise to preserve Tomlinson in what could be his last great season.

Wess: No, I don't think should throw it more. Rivers is still way too inconsistent, and now he's coming off a late-season ACL injury. I don't want to see his happy feet routine more than I already do. If they want to preserve Tomlinson, then they should get creative with Darren Sproles and Jacob Hester.

11. Brad: In re-draft leagues: Tomlinson or Peterson first overall?

Wess: I swing for the fences, so the answer is Peterson. He could go for 2,000 yards, 20+ TDs, and more "Did you see that?!" runs than any back since Bo Jackson. It's more fun to have him on your team than any other player, and too many fantasy owners lose sight of that factor. Playing it safe is for robots.

12. Brad: Does Jay Cutler put it together this year? Do you still feel diabetes is a made-up syndrome?

Wess: Yes, Jay Cutler puts it together this year. I don't see anything holding him back from making "the leap" barring serious injury or another six Brandon Marshall arrests. I have no idea what your diabetes comment is referring to.

(Note from Brad: I wasn't referring to anything, was a joke...something intended to amuse. Thanks for ruining things.)

13. Brad: You and I would never target guys like Cotchery or Coles before this year...and then Favre shows up. What kind of numbers do you expect out of them?

Wess: I like Cotchery more than Coles. I'm not a projection guy, but if that's what you're looking for I'll say 80 catches, 1,250 yards, and 7-8 TDs for Cotchery. And 74 catches for 940 yards and 6 TDs for Coles - he'll probably miss a couple of games. I might consider Coles in a PPR league, but I'd still Cotchery over him.

14. Brad: Do the Vikings have what it takes to be one of those lousy Super Bowl teams?

Wess: Oh man, you really wanted to set me off, didn't you? What is with this new fad of NFL teams blowing Super Bowl windows on lousy quarterbacks? The Ravens showed that you could do it with a game manager, but you can't do it with a Rex Grossman. Maybe the new model is Eli Manning: not a game manager, doesn't deal well with pressure, isn't very accurate, but can get hot for a month while the defensive pass rush carries the team. Eli found a hot streak while Grossman simply melted under the pressure. Under the new model, the Vikes are set up just fine as long as Tarvaris Jackson gets hot at the right time.

15. Brad: Kyle Orton won (I think) eight straight as a rookie starter, but he was still pretty terrible. And then he was photographed seemingly every other day covered in vomit. And then he disappeared. So why am I getting a good vibe from this guy moving forward? Am I nuts?

Wess: Yes. You are nuts. The Bears offensive is going to be positively woeful this season, and Orton may lose the job more than once throughout the season.

16. Brad: As a consistently successful fantasy owner, is there anything more annoying than seeing your more-than-fair trade offer rejected simply because "you must know something I don't?"

Wess: No, there's nothing more annoying, but there are ways to work around it. To wit:

a. Never try to hoodwink another owner. It's not worth it because they already suspect you anyway, and you're good enough to win without burying another owner.

b. There's nothing wrong with overpaying to get the players you target. Build depth, and overpay with quantity and draft picks. Some owners just adore draft picks.

c. Deal with the core of owners in your league who are confident in the ability to judge comparative values. If you try to find common ground on a trade that can help both teams, you can keep going back to that well for trades over and over again.

d. If you know that an owner in your league is clueless on player values, then cross them off your list of trading partners. Only make an exception if you need that one last piece of the puzzle that resides on their roster.

(Note from Brad: This phenomenon reared its ugly head this weekend when--in my six-man keeper league--I offered my first five picks and Micheal Turner for the chance to take Calvin Johnson, who, for some reason, wasn't protected. My offer was turned down because it smelled fishy...then the dude drafted Thomas Jones. True story.)

There's nothing that can be done about the above scenario. That guy is simply an insecure dolt, and he deserves his annual 11th place finish.

17. Brad: Last year we discussed our favorite members of the Sean Dawkins All Stars - but I have a new one for this year: The Tommy Vardell All Stars. Who are your all-time most hated touchdown vultures (name as many as you'd like and feel free to share a particularly troubling story)?

Wess: Honestly, there are no stories. The only strong feeling I have about touchdown vultures is that the whole phenomenon is overrated. Outside of owning a young Warrick Dunn and wishing Mike Alstott would go away, there's not much to get worked up about. I suppose an especially greedy Barry Sanders owner could loathe Vardell, but come on, you already have Barry Sanders. Who's going to feel sorry for you? If you're dumb enough and lazy enough to draft Edgerrin James this year, then you deserve to have Tim Hightower plunge in 12 times.

Bonus Round:

18. Brad: You once told me you were attracted to Cal Ripken, so you should have no problem answering the following question: 2009 and beyond, Edinson Volquez or Johnny Cueto?

Wess: There's no way to explain that Cal Ripken story without coming off as a raging homophobe. The original point of the story was that it was almost impossible for straight males to tell you which other males were good-looking. I mean, I could tell you if a dude was ugly, but who (outside of obvious guys like Brad Pitt) is good looking? I backed my stance at the time by explaining that the late '80s / early '90s Cal Ripken seemed like a good-looking guy - and he was obviously in the spotlight several times throughout his career - but you never heard a woman go gaga over him like they do for other guys.

Now what that has to do with Johnny Cueto or Edinson Volquez is beyond me. But to answer your question, I would buck conventional wisdom and stand by a fully healthy Johnny Cueto over a fully healthy Volquez. Cueto's recent arm scare changes the picture somewhat because a pitcher with a bum arm is worthless. Give me Volquez over the current Cueto. If they're both healthy by next spring, I'll roll with Cueto and his dominant peripherals.

I will give you nine American dollars if you post a comment

-Brad Spieser (

Gambling 2K8: Part Deux (College Football Futures)

Part Deux of the Massive Fantasy Football Q & A should be posted shortly. In the meantime, take a look at the thirteen NCAA futures bets I'm playing for the 2008 season (all over/unders are regular season totals only):

1. Graham Harrell to win the Heisman (16/1 odds)

2. Graham Harrell OVER 45.5 touchdown passes

3. Noel Devine OVER 1,100 rushing yards

4. LeSean McCoy OVER 1,450 rushing yards

5. Sam Bradford receives more Heisman votes than Matthew Stafford

6. CJ Spiller (+100 rushing yards) vs. James Davis

7. Ohio State finishes regular season 12-0 (10/1)

8. Utah finishes regular season 12-0 (40/1)

9. Duke OVER 3 wins (Solid QB, good coach...that's a formula that works in college football)

10. Ole Miss OVER 5.5 (Orgeron, a bad coach, left Nutt, a good coach, with loads of talent)

11. Colorado OVER 5.5 (The Fighting Hawkins's's are on the come-up; Darrell Scott might be the best true freshman RB)

12. Arizona OVER 6.5 (Desperate coach + best passing offense in Pac-10 = 8 or 9 wins)

13. UC OVER 7 (Great coach + great defense = 9 or 10 wins. Grutza scares me, though)

14. Utah OVER 8.5 (I think they have a shot at going undefeated; this should be nothing)

There you go, boys and girls...your thirteen best preseason bets of the college football season. Feel free to piggyback my selections free of charge. You're welcome.

And by the way, regardless of the outcome of the wagers above, this has nothing to do with the Brian Vickers System - you'll know when I'm unleashing that sucker.

Also, my Ohio State preview will be posted before kickoff on Saturday. I hope to get that up in the next 24 hours or so.

best comment wins a prize

-Brad Spieser (

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Massive Fantasy Football Q & A: Part One

I've been in fantasy football leagues with my buddy Wess, of Sons of the Tundra fame, for (I think) twelve years. and since he's the best fantasy guy I know, and since he has a website that I can cross-promote with, it seems like a natural fit to do a fantasy football Q & A with him for the second consecutive year.

Enjoy Part One:

1. Wess: Ricky vs. Ronnie: Better bet for fantasy production in 2008?

Brad: I guess I'll say Ricky, although neither will be on any of my fantasy teams. The timeliness of Brown's injury (late October) combined with the shaky history of RBs having bounce-back years the following season is enough to keep me away. Plus, Ricky Williams is the strangest human alive, and it would somehow be fitting if he had a Curtis Martin-in-2004-type season. Ricky Williams will be one of the all-time what-ifs for me.

2. Wess: Perry vs. Rudi vs. Kenny: How will this play out in 2008?

Brad: Chris Perry has been one of the few bright spots of Bengals camp, but I think Bengals fans are getting a little too excited. Sure, he's been running hard, and he's still light on his feet, but I'm not seeing an impressive burst. This isn't to say he won't have a solid season--his reception totals will make him valuable--but I'm a little more realistic about a guy who is perpetually injured.

3. Wess: Best of the rookie RBs: Chris Johnson?

Brad: Might be. I'm on record as saying this could become the best RB class in NFL history. I love all the first round guys, and some of the second-rounders, as well. Matt Forte and Kevin Smith were placed in plum situations, but it doesn't mean they can't play - they can. I expect both to be solid contributors from day one. I would have no qualms about either being my RB2 in redraft leagues this year.

As for Chris Johnson...he's a special athlete, and aside from Calvin Johnson, maybe the most fun to player to watch on NFL Network's game replays this month. Michael Bennett and Tatum Bell were both incredibly fast coming into the league, like Chris Johnson, but neither had the feet to be anything more than an occasional homerun hitter; if the seam wasn't there, you could forget about either making a big play. Chris Johnson has the sharp-cutting ability to lead the league in 50-yard+ runs (although I'm sure Adrian Peterson has a stranglehold on that category for the next three years or so.) It's safe to say I'm excited for the Chris Johnson era. If I had to pick the best, though, I'd probably go with Jonathan Stewart, with Johnson, McFadden, Mendenhall, etc., fighting for the No. 2 spot. And just so you don't think I'm backing off, I still love Felix Jones...he will make very big plays for the Cowboys before the end of the season.

4. Wess: Calvin Johnson: The next Randy Moss? Can Detroit have a good passing offense with Kitna at the helm?

Brad: I keep hearing Randy Moss/Calvin Johnson comparisons, but I have a better one: Calvin Johnson is a Randy Moss/Terrell Owens hybrid. He has the vertical leap of Moss with the power of Owens. Now, Moss is the greatest threat to ever play the position, so I won't suggest Calvin Johnson is in any way better, but he can do everything that Moss could as a young'n. The problem is that Moss had two strong-armed QBs, Cunningham and Culpepper, heaving the ball downfield, whereas Johnson has Kitna. Big difference. As for the Owens comparison, Johnson has better hands than Owens, but is nowhere near the threat after the catch. That might be the most underrated aspect of T.O.'s game: his ability to make an 80-yard touchdown out of a 2-yard catch. It's one thing if little guys like Steve Smith or Santana Moss make something out of nothing, but for a monster like Owens to attempt to score every time he touches the ball...that's pretty rare.

(Note: Thanks to Borgs--circa '99--for pointing out that Owens tries to score every time he touches the ball)

5. Wess: Derek Anderson / Brady Quinn: How will this situation play out by early 2009?

Brad: I'm a Derek Anderson guy. He threw 29 TDs in his first year as a starter and led the Browns to a 10-6 record. Yeah, he was picked off 19 times, and yeah, he faded down the stretch. But, he's still a pretty good quarterback. However, I'm wondering if he might be a Jake Delhomme-type his whole career - a guy who makes you too nervous with his careless decisions in big moments...someone you can't completely trust.

(Note: It should be mentioned that you did compare Anderson with Jeff Blake. It should also be mentioned that I wanted to hang myself for not thinking of it first.)

As for Quinn, I think he's the guy in '09. He's someone who should be targeted in dynasty leagues yesterday. Worst case scenario involves Quinn being moved and immediately being named the starter. But I'm guessing he'll be the starter in Cleveland. He's proven not to be a bust (if you can do such a thing in seven preseason games and regular season mop-up duty), and he's far more polished than Anderson. He seems to be liked by his teammates, too (the anti-Charlie Frye, if you will). I always labeled him a choker at Notre Dame, but on second glance he wasn't surrounded with much talent (save for Samrdzija, who probably has a lot of sex, but anyway).

6. Wess: Aaron Rodgers, Phil Rivers, Matt Leinart: Who is your pick and why?

Brad: This question was obviously sent before Leinart was moved to No. 2 on Arizona's depth chart, thus making it easier to answer. Rivers is a bit of a psycho, but he showed me a ton in the postseason. I wouldn't be surprised if he won a Super Bowl in his career (and maybe even without Tomlinson), BUT...I'm going with Rodgers, at least as a fantasy QB. He has good young weapons around him, and IF he can get off to a hot start, you're looking at a top ten fantasy QB right away. I'm not sure Rivers will ever crack that list.

7. Wess: Does Drew Stanton have a chance to be a legit starting QB in the NFL?

Brad: The short answer is yes. But that's not what you're looking for.

Drew Stanton doesn't know it, but he and I have had a rocky relationship. The first time I heard about him was when he was a freshman, covering punts for Michigan State - that's the kind of athlete he is. He came on like wildfire during his sophomore year and I pronounced the Spartans to be a big deal in college football over the next few years. To me, he was a can't miss superstar - a good thrower and a great runner. And then he never got better. I'm still baffled by it. He was so shaky at the end of his run at MSU that I wasn't so sure he'd be anything but a late round draft pick. But the Lions, and others, saw what I did a few years prior, and all of the sudden he was an early second round prospect. Clearly, he has the ability, but that's never enough with QBs. The guess here is that he never makes an impact, but it's not because of a lack of talent.

8. Wess: Joseph Addai: Top 5 dynasty RB or 300 touches per year max?

Brad: Hard to say, for a couple of reasons. First, he plays for the scoring machine that is the Indianapolis Colts - that skews everything. Second, they've never really needed him to be a true workhorse, so it's kind of difficult to assess. Regardless, should he be taken higher than Peterson, Tomlinson or Stevie Jackson? Of course not. Gore, Jones-Drew or Westbrook? Probably not, but now you're dealing with preference. I'd put him in the class with Lynch and Barber, with some of the rookies on their way by the end of the season.

9. Wess: McGahee / Rice: What will happen here in Baltimore?

Brad: As you know, I'm not a big Ray Rice fan. But you can't argue with his preseason results or the praise coming out of Ravens camp. If McGahee is healthy, though, I can't see Rice getting more than about 120 carries this year. Not that I'm a McGahee guy, either...

10. Wess: How will Michael Turner do in Atlanta? Poor line, doesn't catch the ball, Norwood, etc.

Brad: Before slurping Turner, let me axe you a question regarding Jerious Montreal Norwood? Why has he never been given a chance to handle a bigger workload? In two years he has 242 combined carries and receptions...and he's gained over 1,600 yards. Seems to me Norwood deserves more touches.

As for Turner, you're right, he doesn't catch the ball, but that could change, I suppose (Corey Dillon once had a 43-catch season). Regardless, he has the speed/power of a really good player. I see him in the 1,300 yards, 10 TD range. (By the way, I have an odd feeling the Falcons are going to be more competitive than expected.)

11. Wess: Tell me about Justin Forsett.

Brad: Justin Forsett is good. Justin Forsett is capable of being a productive NFL back. The problem? He's not on a short list of mammals with "good" and "capable" on their resumes. I might be overstating this, who knows, but I believe there are around 75-100 people on this planet who could run for 1,100 yards and 8 TDs for an NFL team this fall. Look at what happened with Ryan Grant last year. He needed fifteen different breaks before being handed the keys. Look at Terrell Davis: He was mostly a fullback at Georgia before becoming the best back in the league. There are probably capable Division I graduates who never got out of the doghouse, and subsequently never got their chance to impress scouts. Think, do you remember Priest Holmes at Texas? Maybe, but probably not. He was incredibly lucky to land where he did, when he did.

That's not to say that every RB drafted is capable of becoming a solid back, but the number is higher than you'd think. But Forsett? He's capable. He slipped to the seventh round for some reason, but that doesn't mean he can't play. He was really good from day one at Cal, and often ripped off long runs. Seattle was a great landing place for him and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he impresses when given the chance.

12. Wess: Considering Brandon Marshall's potential to go Chris Henry, would you invest heavily in him in dynasty leagues?

Brad: Heavily? No. But I'm the resident Jim Bowden, and when I see a five-tooler like Marshall available for fifty cents on the dollar, well, I just can't help myself.

13. Wess: Will T.J. Houshmandzadeh be a Bengal in '09?

Brad: Things are getting late-90's messy in Bengals World. And Houshmandzadeh is a bright guy. So he might just take the bigger payday (and the Alvin Harper/Peerless Price drop in production), but maybe not. Palmer targets him about 2,275 times per game--especially in the red zone--so that might be too much to pass up. If I had to place odds on the situation, I'd say it's 60/40 Houshmandzadeh stays in Cincinnati. And 100/0 he blows his brains out by 2012.

14. Wess: Can Roddy White repeat?

Brad: I say yes. He's a former first round pick who was reeking of bust until early last year. The fact that he put it together tells me he wasn't content to cash his check and go through the motions. As previously stated, I like what's going on in Atlanta, and I see no reason why White can't remain a top 20 WR for the next half decade or more. Maybe I'll be wrong, but I think he's the anti-Germane Crowell (or is it the anti-Drew Bennett?).

15. Wess: What's up with young Virginia Tech WRs?

Brad: This Eddie Royal thing baffles me. I saw him as a fast guy and nothing else. As for Morgan, I always liked him more, but I wasn't gaga over him. As Lee Evans can tell you, it's kind of important to have an accurate QB trowing to you. At Virginia Tech, there is no such thing.

16. Wess: Which 2nd year WR do you like best: Robert Meachem, Ted Ginn Jr, Jacoby Jones, Laurent Robinson, or James Jones?

Brad: Robert Meachem. Every time I'm asked for a fantasy tip, which is often, I always tell people to target Meachem late in redraft leagues. He's talented, he dedicated himself this offseason to get in shape and he's in a great offense. He's a starter in New Orleans by year's end.

17. Wess: Which troublesome vet do you like best: Jerry Porter, Antonio Bryant, Javon Walker, Donte Stallworth, Deion Branch?

Brad: Is that like asking someone would they rather be shot in the neck or eaten by a jaguar shark? I suppose Porter, based on my similarities to Jim Bowden. And I suppose Bryant's a decent late-round flier. Stay away from the other two.

18. Wess: What do you predict for San Fran's offense in '08?

Brad: Sadly, Martz is no longer bullet proof. Far from it. Kitna threw for a billion yards last year and he was nobody you'd ever want to consistently start on your fantasy team. And while I'm pretty sure JT O'Sullivan is nothing special, you never know. Aside from kickers, quarterbacks often travel the strangest road to the starting lineup. So...although it doesn't look good that O'Sullivan has been a member of a million different franchises, it doesn't mean everything. If he has a couple decent games from the beginning, and if Frank Gore resembles his 2006 self, O'Sullivan has a shot to post respectable numbers. O'Sullivan might be terrible, but he hasn't proven it yet. We'll find out soon.

My guess: All three QBs play and the 49ers struggle to win six games. And Frank Gore is a beast in spite of lousy QB play.

Part Deux, with Wess answering my questions, will be posted soon.

Add a Comment

-Brad Spieser (

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Do You Believe In Miracles?" Has Been Surpassed

I hope it's not too late to comment on the Olympics. If so, tough. Besides, this isn't so much about the actual Olympics as it is about quite possibly the greatest moment in broadcast history - narrowly edging out Dave Lapham's blatantly biased "Go Stan! Go Stan!" from Super Bowl XXIII. But anyway...

As I've written several times in this space, there are few things I care about more than broadcasting. I'm constantly critiquing play-by-play guys, studio hosts, analysts, sideline reporters and especially talk-show hosts. In this case, the focus is play-by-play. I'm all for an excitable play-by-play guy, so long as it feels genuine (or at least unrehearsed). Which is why I think Gus Johnson is great and Kevin Harlan is often annoying.

Anyway, Dan Hicks took things to another level during the last fifty meters of America's remarkable come-from-behind Gold Medal swim in the 4 x 100 freestlyle. Since this video will undoubtedly be pulled from YouTube (because NBC is clueless), I hope you watch it one more time - and pay close attention from the :45 mark to the 1:10 mark.

From the solid delivery of "The United States trying to hold onto second - they should get the silver medal," his sense of the moment and rising inflection of "But Lezak is closing a little bit on Bernard" the hair-raising "HERE COMES LEZAK!"...Dan Hicks had his finest moment. It was a truly brilliant call - the best reaction to a spectacular feat I can ever remember.

While the 2008 Beijing Games will understandably be remembered for Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, I'll always remember them for Dan Hicks, and his perfect description of Jason Lezak's mad dash.

This one will stay in the vault forever:

Legitimate question: Do deaf people have their favorite closed captioning writers?

-Brad Spieser (

Who Doesn't Love The Shady World Of Recruiting?

My record last season picking college football futures was 5-1-1. This means that I am pretty great. It also means that I plan on dominating the NCAA scene once again in 2008. Which means I'll have to research a thing or two.

As I was considering Clemson as a potential team, I came across a gem from their defensive coordinator, Vic Koenning. (Note: Clemson plays Alabama Saturday night.) Koenning, who has recruited southern Alabama for years, was asked a generic question about the Crimson Tide's highly-touted freshman receiver Julio Jones (I pulled this from Bruce Feldman's blog, who did the same thing from something called The State):

"Julio? You know what, I actually ran into Julio in the spring recruiting. I said hello to him and said, 'I guess I'll be seeing you at the end of August.' Then he got out and got in his Escalade and drove off. That's (being) serious. And then I went over and watched (Alabama freshman) Burton Scott at Vigor High School at the track over there, and Burton Scott was running around. He went and got in his Escalade out at track practice and drove off. So I'm familiar with those two guys."

I'm guessing you didn't flinch when reading this. Isn't it funny how recruiting shenanigans are basically understood? Regardless:

1. Can you believe the balls on Koenning?

2. Is he suggesting the Clemson Tigers football roster is comprised entirely of student-athletes driving '89 Chevy Cavaliers? Clemson's head coach is still a Bowden, right? How do you spell the sound laughter makes?

(Important note: Julio Jones is the Randy Moss clone pictured above - he probably deserves his Escalade.)

-Brad Spieser (

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gambling 2K8: Part One (Changing The Game)

If you'd like to make thousands and thousands and hundreds and dozens of American dollars this autumn, then you've come to the right place. Explain.

My record picking football games against the spread last season was 20-20. Not good, but not terrible. Believe me, as a man who has been on payment plans with several bookies, there is nothing wrong with a .500 winning percentage. Anyway, I'm doing something differently this season - an experiment that is guaranteed to have roughly the same success as any other gambling experiment: The Brian Vickers System. Explain some more.

Forget Brian Vickers for a moment, and focus on Brian Roberts, the recently departed shooting guard of the Dayton Flyers. You may recall one of our better podcasts, dayton guard brian roberts has a big one, and how Craig and I knew--based on a fishy point spread--that Xavier was going to murder Dayton. Essentially Vegas was begging the betting public to wager on Dayton, but Craig and I were far too wise to take the bait.

Fast forward to a few months ago...

My roommate, who kinda sorta follows NASCAR, was checking lines for that night's race (I associate with a plethora of degenerates) and came across a proposition bet he thought was the lock of the millennium: Jeff Gordon vs. Brian Vickers. It was simple - wager on the driver you felt would finish higher. He proceeded to tell me how Gordon was a slam dunk, and I pleaded with him to take Vickers. And why? Because I'd never heard of Vickers, and Gordon is on Pepsi commercials, which means...the betting public is jumping all over Gordon. And in case you forgot, Vegas doesn't lose. Ever.

Long story short, Vickers easily finished ahead of Gordon (of course), and my roommate tried to swallow his tongue. In the end, a system was born.

The Brian Vickers System.

So Craig and I decided to each throw $300 into an online account and test this sucker. Every time we see what appears to be an obvious line (like Gordon straight up vs. Vickers), we go the other way (Vickers).

Stay tuned. And follow us to glory.

-Brad Spieser (

And Glenn Holt Gets Slapped Across The Face

Nothing I could write would be funnier than this:

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting the Bengals have made Rudi Johnson available for a trade and are looking for a "legitimate receiver" in return.

Good luck with that!

In related news, Chad Johnson has a torn labrum. Although you are probably pretty sure this is bad news, I happen to know for a fact that this is terrible news - as I once tore my labrum in grand fashion. Perhaps you remember this hilarious account, written by one-time contributor Cam. (Note: Cam writes in the story that I tore my rotator cuff, but it was actually my labrum. Enjoy.)

-Brad Spieser (

Sunday, August 24, 2008

John Cueto Injures His Arm (His Pitching Arm)

Shut Johnny Cueto down! No matter what! Even if his exit from Sunday's game redefined precaution! Even if he's ready to pitch tomorrow morning! Exclamation point! How loud do I need to scream? If the Reds are to play meaningful baseball contests in October in the immediate future, two things must happen: (1.) Johnny Cueto must be healthy, and (2.) Johnny Cueto must be healthy.

Cueto + Volquez = meal ticket - and I'm pretty sure Castellini/Jocketty/Baker get this. But you never know. This season is over and Cueto has been extremely impressive for a 22-year-old; he has nothing left to prove. Sure, he could probably sharpen his command or breaking ball, but you get my point: Cueto has proven that he has the ability to be a dominant starting pitcher...and thems are rare.

Especially in this town, where we long for the days of Pete Harnisch and Steve Parris.

-Brad Spieser (

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Problem With Olympic Basketball

Will you ever see the Team USA bench go bananas after cutting a nine-point deficit to six, just before the half in a semifinal basketball match against Argentina? Of course not. Which is why the Olympics need to go back to the old days of using amateurs.

Anyway, Argentina's bench lost their minds after cutting America's lead to six, at 46-40. Remember, Argentina's the defending Gold Medal winner.

And that's fine. It's fine that Team USA would never go nuts like Argentina did. Really, it is. And in no way am I suggesting that Dwyane Wade (or whoever) is unpatriotic (or too cool) because of this. But I am suggesting that it's hard when you're always the overwhelming favorite; it's hard getting up for games that you know you should win by twenty (just as they did today against Argentina).

It reminds me of a 3-14 game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament: If the No. 14 seed comes out unafraid and a little hot, they can make a game of it. If the No. 3 seed comes out somewhat bored and a little flat, they're in for a ballgame.

And again, I'm fine with this - it's human nature.

Consider what happened several times in today's contest, which is supposed to be a really big deal for everyone involved: Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant, two of the game's absolute best under pressure, routinely missed wide-open threes (at the International range of 20'6) against Argetina's soft zone. Anthony and Bryant simply don't miss open mid-range jumpers (which is what a 21-footer is to NBA players) in a game of any significance over here - they just don't. These two, and the rest of them, are missing shots because it's simply too easy; they lose concentration. Kobe Bryant is used to battling constant double teams to get the slightest bit of daylight, and now you're telling me he's able to routinely step into a 21-footer...and it's worth three points? Really? And he misses some of them? Huh?

Now, I know bringing in college players doesn't mean that said 21-footers will suddenly start dropping. In fact, they will probably miss with greater regularity. But the games will be more fun to watch. More importantly, the future of USA basketball will be in a much better place if you send the guys who will actually improve because of International competition (which, face it, doesn't happen for LeBron James when he spins past a Lithuanian small forward). Think about it, Bearcat fans, how much better would Deonta Vaughn be after playing a summer of Olympic basketball? And how much fun would it be to monitor his progress on tape-delay from China? See, everybody wins...even if the amateurs didn't always take home the gold.

Besides, what else does America have to prove on the basketball court? The answer is nothing. Team USA could finish sixth at the next ten Olympics and would still be considered the country with the finest basketball players in the world. Nobody would ever dispute that. This would be especially true if you sent a bunch of youngsters over there to compete. Again, LeBron James hasn't improved one bit during these Olympics (how could he?), but Deonta Vaughn would grow leaps and bounds--as a player and hopefully leader--with his time on Team USA.

Plus, it's always fun to be the underdog. Even if USA would still be favorite.

-Brad Spieser (

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Music By A Rock 'N' Roll Band

I realize I'm expected to comment on the Chris Henry situation. And I know I owe you Bengals and Buckeyes previews - but I haven't had the time. I'm working three jobs at the moment and it's all I can do to catch up on email and watch Johnny Cueto pitch. Feeling sorry for me yet? You should.

In the meantime, listen to "Babydoll," the only tolerable song off Here We Stand, the disappointing second album from the Fratellis.

What happened to the catchy, upbeat pop tunes that worked so well on Costello Music? You know, like this:

Good night.

-Brad Spieser (

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fact: I'm Successfully Pissing People Off

I lost a reader about a month ago. And by "lost," I don't mean that he stopped breathing. I mean that he decided to stop reading The reason? Offensive content on podcasts (read: Craig). A blow-by-blow account can be heard on our latest podcast, the true story of losing a reader.

Jerome Simpson is my hero.

-Brad Spieser (

Friday, August 15, 2008

Original Blogging And Whatnot

Weekend horniness from Anna Kournikova:

(Thanks to Egotastic)

-Brad Spieser (

It's Impossible To Set Your House On Fire

Ever leave the house as a burning candle is left in the middle of a table or counter top? Of course you have. Did you panic? Of course you did. But why? Was that candle going to magically fly off the table and start the Great Fire of '08? I don't see how, but that makes me part of the tiny minority. Also, what's the big deal with unplugging the iron?

Don't forget, boys and girls: Safety is stupid.

Thems are the types of things Craig and I discuss in our latest podcast, its impossible to set your house on fire.

Go listen, jerks!

-Yonder Alonso (

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

College Football Name Game: Part Deux (You Won't Believe This)

You have no business buying lottery tickets if you've already won the Powerball - I know this. Come tomorrow, though, I'll be the loathsome jackass in line at UDF waiting to buy Pick Three tickets and Scratch-Offs.

And why?

I just won the freaking Powerball! Explain.

The University of South Carolina football team currently has a human being on their roster by the name of Donte'e Nicholls (pictured above). unprecedented. Has to be, right? Donte'e? If Donte is pronounced Don-tay, then I have to believe Donte'e is pronounced Don-tay-ay.

This world is awesome.

Tomorrow will undoubtedly be a letdown.

-Brad Spieser (

I Will Not Comment On Adam Dunn For At Least Seven Hours

From Jim Callis' chat on

Rick (Boston): Hi Jim, Have you heard any rumblings about who the PTBNLs are in the Dunn deal?

Jim Callis: (2:20 PM ET ) Just the same thing you've probably heard, that one is Micah Owings. I've heard the other player is a 40-man roster guy not in the majors. I don't think it will be anyone like Max Scherzer or Jarrod Parker.

So there you have it...unless Dallas Buck turns out to be a stud, this deal likely won't benefit the Reds a great deal.

-Brad Spieser (
8/13/08 (the day after the day after my birthday)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

College Football Name Game: Part 1 (The Freshmen)

I'd like to punch my mother in the neck for naming me Brad - that lady has no imagination. Take a look at the names of eleven incoming freshmen across the nation:

1. Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers

2. Cal RB Covaughn Deboskie

3. Arizona State WR Kemonte Bateman

4. Penn State OL DeOn'Tae Pannell (my personal favorite)

5. Miami DL Micanor Regis

6. Alabama DL Undra Billingsley

7. Texas DL Kheeston Randall

8. Ohio State LB Etienne Sabino

9. Texas LB Dravannti Johnson

10. Florida LB Lerentee McCray

11. Oregon RB LaGarrette Blount (actually a juco, but a newcomer nonetheless)

This is unfair - I could've been named Undra Spieser. The Gin Blossoms don't know nothing about jealousy.

(Important note: This gimmick will be a mainstay throughout August.)

-Brad Spieser (

Did The Reds Receive Any Value For Adam Dunn?

In a rather large upset, Rob Neyer didn't mention the Adam Dunn trade in his blog today. He did, however, answer a few questions regarding Dunn in his chat on - not much was said, though. Here's the best of the lot:

Chris (Phoenix): Did the Diamondbacks make a good decision picking up Dunn?

Rob Neyer: Considering what they've been getting from their left fielders -- essentially nothing -- I don't see how it's not a good decision, unless they're giving up good prospects. Which I don't think is the case.

I am a blogger!

-Brad Spieser (
8/12/08 (the day after my birthday)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dunn Traded...Still Waiting For More Information

Like everybody else, I'm searching for information in the aftermath of the Adam Dunn trade. Thus far, Keith Law is really the only guy who offers up more than your garden variety AP report. Whether this deal is ever considered a success might hinge on the players to be named later (which Law mentions). Regardless, I'm happy it's over, but you probably already knew that.

More details on the way (I'm especially waiting for Rob Neyer to weigh in), but here's Keith Law's take for now:

I understand the Diamondbacks were looking to add a left-handed bat, but really, they just needed to add a bat, period, and they did it in a way that will address one of the weakest spots in their lineup by acquiring Adam Dunn from the Reds. The pickup was a no-brainer, and unless one of the players to be named later turns out to be right-handed pitcher Jarrod Parker, the price doesn't appear to be too high for a seven-week rental.


The one prospect we know of who is going back to Cincinnati is Dallas Buck, who was the best prospect in the Cape Cod League in 2004 as a rising sophomore, but who saw his stuff slip under heavy usage at Oregon State and ended up having Tommy John surgery in 2007. Buck is 10 starts into his return, too early to make any judgments about whether he'll be the 87-88 mph sinkerballer he'd become by the time he was drafted or the 91-94 mph sinkerballer he was before he wore down. He's still generating groundballs and throwing strikes, so even throwing in the upper 80s he has big-league value, and makes sense for the Reds as a prospect with some upside due to his injury status.

The Reds were looking at getting two draft picks for Dunn if he departed as a free agent, with zero risk of him accepting an arbitration offer; at the least, they will end up with three prospects rather than two, all of who are already in pro ball and closer to the majors than the two players they might select in next June's amateur draft.

Keep the change, you filthy animals.

-Brad Spieser (
8/11/08 (my birthday and whatnot)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Craig As A Parent: The Opposite Of George Papadapolis

Get married, have kids. That's the way the world works, right? But not with Craig. Of the thousands of hours I've spoken with Craig in the two years we've known each other, becoming a daddy has rarely been the topic of conversation. For a brief period, he and his wife considered adopting a black. But that idea, for whatever reason, faded away. Craig, to say the least, is ill-suited for parenthood. It's always funny to joke about psychotic Little League parents, but Craig would be the guy screaming at umpires about their abnormally large strike zone.

Anyway, Craig recently sent me the following text message: "The wife wants to have a non-pretend kid."

I didn't respond in any way to this earth-shattering development. I waited for our next podcasting session to obtain all of the details. And them details can be found in our podcast, what if craig became a parent.


-Brad Spieser (

RRRRRight Down Broadway: The Jeff Brantley Story

The Mississippi Wordsmith was at it again Saturday.

This is how Jeff Brantley described Corey Patterson's 7th inning at bat:

"...and Patterson's failed bunt attempt doesn't work."

Is it childish of me to call Brantley an idiot, or is it simply accurate?

-Brad Spieser (

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ohio State Football Is Consistently Overlooked

Because I'm insane, I will now write sentences about Ohio State's under-appreciated defensive end. Begin.

It started a month ago, when I purchased Phil Steele's College Football preview, the only preseason magazine that's managed to hold up during the Internet age. Remember Athlon's and Lindy's and all of those crap magazines? They were always crap, but we never knew it, because Bruce Feldman didn't have a blog, and there was no such thing as the Heisman Pundit. So we were forced to read about Tulane's backup QBs (or whatever) in one of the aforementioned crap producers. Those were the bad old days. Thank God they're over.

Except they're not completely over (see Phil Steele). I don't know how Steele remains relevant well into August when his magazine is published in the spring. But he pulls it off. Somehow. He goes more in-depth than the Street and Smith's of the world, and his preseason predictions come true more often than anyone else. Plus, almost everything he writes has a Vegas twist to it (Note: I can go back and find out Baylor's record against the spread in 2003!).

Anyway, along with predicting bowl matchups and postseason award winners, Steele also ranks the top players at each position. It's not a top twenty list, either: If you want to find out who the nation's 46th best punter or 69th best free safety is, Steele's your man.

Which brings me to Ohio State's under-appreciated defensive end, sophomore beast Cameron Heyward, quite possibly the best defender on a team that features James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins.

And a guy Phil Steele ranks as the 52nd best defensive end in the nation. Hogwash!

Listen, I try not to get myself riled up over stuff like this, as it's just one man's opinion. But the one man in this instance is Phil Steele, a guy who knows stuff about things. Regardless, I'll give him a mulligan, because others have made the same mistake (more on that in a minute). Besides, this isn't about Steele, it's about Heyward.

To prove that I'm an equal opportunity discoverer of nonsense, I should point out that College Football News, in their Ohio State preview, ranked the ten best players on the team. Guess what? No Cameron Heyward. They even listed the kicker and punter on the list! What gives? There's a very real chance that Heyward is the second best player on the team, behind Chris Wells.

Heyward contributed an eye-popping ten tackles for loss as a true freshman. At Ohio State. That doesn't just happen by accident. Look, you can tell me all you want about the double teams Vernon Gholston drew, or the playing time Heyward was given after Lawrence Wilson broke his leg, and I can't argue any of that. But the fact remains: ten tackles for loss as a true freshman at Ohio State is unheard of (and maybe unprecedented).

Heyward is a 6'6 monster, and approaching 290 lbs. He's light on his feet and he never takes a play off. The coaching staff always raves about his work ethic, while using words like like aptitude and intelligence and coachable. Heyward doesn't have the potential to be a star - he's a star right now. He might not have Gholston's upside (who does?), but he's almost certainly a future first round pick.

So why don't the experts see what I see?

I doesn't have the answers. But I know I'm right about this.

See me in three months.

-Brad Spieser (

Craig Loses His Temper Blah Blah Blah

You've already heard what happens when Craig misbehaves in a YMCA basketball game, so it's probably not impossible to imagine his reaction when Golf Galaxy screws up his order.

Funny thing, though: In this case screaming and yelling actually worked in his favor.


-Brad Spieser (

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fantasy Football Is Back (And The Nerds Rejoice)!

You waited. And waited. But now it's finally here, and you just urinated on the sofa.

With our first ever fantasy football podcast, hardcore fantasy football discussion and whatnot, Craig and I tell disastrous trading stories and hand out future drafting strategies (kinda); it's extremely helpful. We also break down the proper way to post comments on a league message board (sorta). Bonus: I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but Craig and I give an in-depth scouting report on the Kansas City Chiefs (but not really).

Maybe I went overboard labeling this thing "Hardcore," and should have called it a "How To." But it's a funny How To. Anyway, I think you'll find our advice (especially Craig's) to be helpful for your upcoming season.

Keep the change, you filthy animals.

-Brad Spieser (

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hi, Hello and Brantley (Again)

I was driving an automobile for seventeen hours Tuesday; suicide was pondered on more than one occasion. And then the Reds game started. Which means three hours of Marty Brennaman to pass the time. Plus, Volquez was pitching. Suicide can wait. But maybe not. I somehow forgot: Jeff Brantley's play-by-play is unlistenable.

The Mississippi Wordsmith was at it again Tuesday while breaking down Dave Bush's pitching style:

"...Bush with a slow deliberate delivery..."

What? Slow deliberate? Is he just guessing what deliberate means because he heard Marty use the word at one point or another?

That'd be like me, as a high-paid member of the media, saying the following sentences:

Chad Johnson is a fast speedy wide receiver.

Jeremi Johnson is a fat heavy mammal.

Vin Baker is a parched thirsty individual

John Amaechi is a gay homosexual man.

Nick Van Exel was a great wonderful basketball player.

Corey Patterson is a lousy terrible awful worthless horrible pathetic professional athlete (which is, in Patterson's case, grammatically correct on the Westside of Cincinnati).

Do I need to continue?

Listen, I'll stop banging on Brantley's shoddy grasp of the English language when it's no longer his job to speak for a living. The end.

-Brad Spieser (

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Snake Returns (Short Podcast)

Quick story: Within days of posting our award winning podcast, craig might not cry if his sister became a dead person, Craig's brother, The Snake, threatened our lives. I wasn't necessarily concerned, as The Snake (pictured above) didn't know where I lived. But Craig? He was terrified. He begged me over and over to pull the podcast from the archive page. I laughed in his face.

Fast forward a bit...

Craig told his side of the story last week during our recording session, but I kept interrupting, and it went way too long, so I kind of just saved the aftermath - which can be heard on fear and loathing on big run.

Stuffs heard on the podcast:

1. Craig grew up on a street called Big Run, in Lucasville, Ohio. But he (and many others) say they come from Big Run, Ohio.

2. A whole bunch of racism takes place on Big Run. Shocker, I know.

3. Nobody likes being made fun of, especially The Snake. Lesson learned.

-Brad Spieser (

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Giant Giant Commits To UC (To Play American Basketball)

I was elated after hearing that Sudanese tall person John Riek committed to play basketball for Mick Cronin and the Cincinnati Bearcats. And then I did some reading. I found a detailed article about Riek at (an Internet website) from January, when Riek was thought to be a first round pick in the upcoming draft. Within this piece you'll find a few nice things written about Riek, but not many. He plays hard and possesses a freakish wingspan, but that's about it. Among the bad: He's not very athletic (remember, Cronin wants to run) and his offensive game is nonexistent. And he generally has no idea what he's doing out there. This dude is a project.

See for yourself:

The first thing you notice about Riek is that he runs pretty awkwardly (think Nick Fazekas or Hasheem Thabeet). His feet strangely point outwards in his normal stance and he leaves an impression of being somewhat awkward and uncoordinated, running the floor fairly well with his big, long strides, but certainly not looking very graceful in the process. Defensively, his stance seems pretty strange as well, as he seems to stand in the paint looking more the way you'd expect him to offensively, with his elbows bent and his hands ready to catch the ball, rather than with his arms fully outstretched. Nothing about his game suggests that he's received very much coaching from a young age.


Defensively, Riek didn't make as much of an impact as you may have hoped considering his physical tools. Patterson's guards (especially future Arkansas guard Courtney Fortson) regularly took the ball fearlessly right at him and scored quite a few points in the paint, with Riek showing poor timing, awareness, coordination, and reaction time, being called for goaltending violations on at least three separate occasions, and picking up two fouls in the first eight minutes. The game just seemed to be moving too fast for him for the most part, and although he's mobile, he's not an athletic big man in the traditional sense, looking fairly limited getting off his feet for example.

Fundamentally, Riek is light years away. It appears at this point that he's gotten very little actual coaching at any point in his short basketball career, and from what most NBA scouts who have followed him the closest say, he's only regressing lately at Winchendon. Beyond his almost inexplicably bad conditioning, he has very little core strength, and thus almost no balance, causing him to fall over quite easily. He bites on pump-fakes, does not know how to properly use his body, and commits foolish fouls far from the basket, being mostly relegated defensively to standing in the painted area--which is not allowed in the NBA because of the new Illegal Defense rules (3 seconds in the paint). As a rebounder, he boxes out usually, but struggles to go out his area.

This doesn't mean he stinks, but it does mean that he likely won't be a consistent contributor as a freshman. So just because Duke was after him, and just because he was at one point considered a lock for the first round of the '08 NBA draft, doesn't mean he's a savior. That said, it's a good score for Mick Cronin.

-Brad Spieser (

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Desperately Want To Be A Credible Media Member

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Take that, ESPN!

-Brad Spieser (