2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 9

pfootHappy Halloween citizens!! I realize that some may consider the holiday an evil tool of Satan, and I respect that viewpoint though I disagree. To me Halloween is just a fun night when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay. Anyway, last week was a good one (in my humble opinion), as I was a robust 6-1, bringing my season record to 30-14…a 68% winning percentage. Hey ESPN…call me!! Meanwhile, Zach was 2-5 last week and his overall record stands at 18-26. The college football season is…believe it or not…past the halfway point, with the national playoff picture and the various conference title races coming into focus. The NFL season is getting interesting too, with the playoff contenders beginning to separate themselves just a bit from the pretenders. So let’s look into the ol’ crystal ball and make some picks.

 

 

 

 
Ole Miss (-7.5) at Auburn
auburnSomewhere…I think it may have been in my pre-season rankings…I opined that I didn’t think the two Mississippi schools would ole miss2be really good like they were last year. I was wrong, as both teams are 6-2 and have an outside shot at winning their SEC division. The Rebels are coming off a big win over Texas A&M and need to win out to win the division. Meanwhile, it has been an up & down year for 4-3 Auburn, who lost an OT heartbreaker last week to Arkansas. The thing about an inconsistent team is that one never knows when they might lay an egg…or unexpectedly dominate. I’m going to give the Tigers the home field benefit of the doubt here and predict that this one will be decided by a field goal one way or another. On the flip side, Zach likes Ole Miss to win by 3 TDs.

My Pick: Auburn
Z’s Pick: Ole Miss

 

 

Florida (-2.5) vs Georgia
gatorsThey call this The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party…or atleast they used to. I believe there was a movement a few years agogeorgia to change that, and the TV folks seem to minimize their usage of the moniker. I suppose some politically correct morons think it glorifies drinking or paints southerners as a bunch of boozehounds. Those people are what I like to call stupid. College football is all about tradition and that shouldn’t be tampered with. At any rate, the Gators are a surprising 6-1 and aren’t out of the national playoff conversation. The Bulldogs are 5-2 and not in the playoff hunt, but could still make it to the SEC title game. As a matter of fact, this game will likely decide the SEC East and determine who will eventually lose to LSU or Alabama in that conference championship battle. Technically this is a neutral site game in Jacksonville, but since it’s much closer to Gainesville than Athens, GA the Gators should have the crowd on their side. Florida lost their starting QB to suspension and they are coming off of a bye week after losing to LSU a couple of weeks ago, so the Bulldogs are probably the smart choice. However, when it comes to these picks I tend to listen to The Vibes more than my brain. Zach’s gut is telling him something different. We’ll see which mysterious sense is more accurate.

My Pick: Florida
Z’s Pick: Georgia

 

 

 
Notre Dame (-10) at Temple
ndTemple is ranked in the Top 25?? Really?? What the heck is going on?? Anyway, I give credit where credit is due, but the owlsundefeated Owls haven’t really played anyone good since the season opener against Penn St. Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are 6-1 and still have an opportunity to sneak into the playoff if the dominoes fall their way. They certainly aren’t going to let a glorified 1-AA team like Temple ruin that chance. The points are a bit much for my comfort, but I think the favorites will cover. Conversely, Zach believes the game will be closer than 10 points.

My Pick: Notre Dame
Z’s Pick: Temple

 

 

 

Seattle (-6) at Dallas
seahawksIn my NFL Preview I said that the Seahawks might be even better this year than last. That definitely has not been the case thus far. They are 3-4 and in 3rd place in their division. They just can’t seem to finish games in the 4th quarter. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are 2-4 and have been beaten in four straight games. Losing QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant has really derailed their season. I think Seattle is more likely to turn things around than Dallas, so that’s the direction I’ll go. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Seattle
Z’s Pick: Seattle

 

 

Green Bay (-3) at Denver
broncosThis is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXII (that’s 32 for those of you saddled with learning math in states that use Common Core), but since that was nearly two decades ago it’s kind of a useless factoid. I suppose it could be a preview of the next Super packersBowl, but I won’t hold my breath. Rumors of Peyton Manning’s demise were…again…premature. Though he is undeniably not the quarterback he used to be even just 2 or 3 years ago Manning has somehow found a way to evolve utilizing his football IQ and making abundant use of the solid talent surrounding him. Conversely, Packers’ signal caller Aaron Rodgers is in his prime and is probably the best player in the game right now. Both teams are undefeated and hold first place in their divisions. Denver isn’t getting any home field love from the oddsmakers, but that’s understandable. I’m really torn because I like both teams, but The Vibes are telling me that somehow old timer Manning will find a way to pull off the upset. Zach thinks Manning is in for a long day and will be sacked atleast five times. He’s going with Green Bay in a blowout.

My Pick: Denver
Z’s Pick: Green Bay

Future Past: An Ode To Back to the Future

There is an amusing scene in 2006’s Clerks 2 where characters debate which is the best movie trilogy…Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings. One’s opinion on that particular issue likely comes down to several factors but is largely a generational divide (as are many pop culture discussions). However, as an 80’s child I must opine that too often another trilogy is erroneously left out of the dialogue.


A few days ago there was a significant fictional anniversary. In 1989’s Back to the Future Part II Marty McFly travels 30 years into the future (the film is set in 1985)…to October 21, 2015. As a teenager that date seemed so far away to me, as I’m sure it did to most everyone else. Typical high schoolers don’t really appreciate life’s special moments or understand the passage of time, but as one grows older those things become clearer and more valuable. As BTTF Day (as it came to be known) drew closer the past few months the anticipation grew and special events across the nation were planned. The cast & crew started popping up here & there in interviews, commercials, etc. And fans like me were reminded just how magnificent the Back to the Future trilogy is.


bt1In case y’all need a refresher, 1985’s BTTF is about a young man named Marty McFly who inadvertently goes back to 1955 in a time machine constructed out of a DeLorean by his eccentric older pal Doc Brown. It is there that Marty meets his parents as teenagers, accidentally messing up their first meeting. He must repair the damage before he can return to the present in 1985. In Part 2 Doc & Marty travel ahead three decades to save Marty’s future son from doom. 1990’s Part 3 finds Doc & Marty in The Old West in 1885, where they must prevent Doc from being shot & killed, which sounds a lot darker than the film actually is in its completed form.


Most of the focus in the days leading up to BTTF Day 2015 was about how accurate Part 2 was in predicting the future of bt22015, which is now our present day. I admit it is a fun analysis. We don’t have flying cars or real hoverboards yet, but we do have flat screen TV, fingerprint technology, video conferencing, drones, a MLB franchise in Miami, hands free gaming, 3D movies, & Google Glass. The two most ubiquitous technological wonders of our time…The Internet & smartphones…are nowhere to be found in BTTF 2. And though they had a great season and had started to get people excited about a possible huge twist of fate, the Chicago Cubs aren’t going to sweep the 2015 World Series as mentioned in the movie. Ironically they were swept out of the National League Championship Series on BTTF Day. So the answer to how accurately Back to the Future Part 2 predicted the future is a mixed bag at best, but I think we’re missing the point.


bt3What I have been reminded of the past few weeks is the awesomeness of the trilogy as a whole. A few years ago when I did my 100 Favorite Movies series I ranked the BTTF trilogy at #32, and in retrospect that seems a bit low. It probably should’ve been atleast 5-10 spots higher. Oh sure one can break it down and say that the original film was the best and Part 3 was the weakest, but that is somewhat unfair. I think we have to look at the trilogy as a whole and understand just how consistently good it is throughout. As a writer I’d do just about anything (within the law) to conceive such a remarkable premise. It is the time travel story to which all others are compared. On top of that the films were blessed with terrific actors & cool music. The stars aligned just right, and all the ingredients combined to make movies that…well…stand the test of time.


Marty-McFly-Stoltz-FoxAs BTTF Day approached I read a wonderful “behind the scenes” book george-mcflyscalled We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy. Most fans of the movies know that Michael J. Fox actually replaced the original Marty McFly…actor Eric Stoltz…about a month into production. We are also aware that Crispin Glover, who played Marty’s father George McFly, didn’t return for the two sequels, that the filmmakers tried to conceal that fact, and that there was some controversy about all of that. Those stories are covered in depth in the book, as well as so many other cool anecdotes. It’s a really fun, interesting, & easy read that I highly recommend to all BTTF fans.


zemA documentary was released on Netflix on BTTF Day called Back in Time, and it lightly touches on somedeloreans of the same points as the book, as well as interviewing several “superfans” who’ve done things like start websites dedicated to the trilogy, play in BTTF cover bands, participate in various BTTF themed events to raise money for Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s charity, & restored Deloreans into replica time machines. The documentary isn’t quite as comprehensive as the book, but it too is fun, interesting, & a great way to spend a couple of hours. It will be out on DVD soon.

bt4Of course on BTTF Day I celebrated in the best way possible…by heading to the local cineplex to watch the entire trilogy on the big screen. I briefly pondered the idea of staying home and watching the movies on TV, which would have been quite easy thru the magic of Roku. However. I don’t go out that much. I’m far from Mr. Excitement. And I realized that this was a once in a lifetime event. We may never again have the opportunity to see the entire BTTF trilogy in a theater. I wasn’t going to be doing anything else fun that night anyway, and I can watch the movies at home anytime & have multiple times over the years. So on 10/21/15 I spent more than 7 hours inside a dark theater eating popcorn & candy and drinking a vat of cola while enjoying movies that were a memorable part of my youth. The theater was about half full, and one family decided to bring their brood of very young children, among them a toddler in a stroller who intermittently cried at various intervals throughout the evening (at one point one of the parents briefly exited with the child and there was an audible smattering of applause behind me), but despite bt8that distraction it was an enjoyable evening. I was reminded of a crisp winter night in 1991 when my friends Greg, The Owl, & a couple of others sat in an historic theater in Huntington, WV watching Hook, starring Robin Williams & Dustin Hoffman. We had the entire theater to ourselves that night and may possibly have been intoxicated. I don’t recall exactly. At any rate, as I sat in a slightly more crowded theater on BTTF Day I did miss my friends. Their presence would have made the night perfect.


Jennifer-Parker-Wells-ShueDuring the same week that BTTF Day was arriving the biff2powers-that-be at Disney decided to release the final trailer for the upcoming & highly anticipated Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, and sadly I feel like that kind of stole a bit of thunder from Back to the Future. It’s nobody’s fault and Star Wars is an epically brilliant franchise that I dearly love, but BTTF is brilliant as well and deserved its day in the sun. I read a blog that was humorously critical of the commercialization of BTTF Day, but I really didn’t mind any of that. Back to the Future earned all the attention it has received lately and probably should have gotten even more love.


bt6So now the future that fans of the trilogy have anticipated for many years is in the rear view mirror. That bt7future is the past, which is strangely sad in a wistful, nostalgic way. Yet what we are left with is three films that have entertained us for almost three decades and will continue to do so. Young folks might not “get it” in the same way that we didn’t really understand some of the movies & music our parents enjoyed, but quite honestly that doesn’t matter to me. Each generation has their own unique stuff that they treasure for different reasons. The Back to the Future trilogy holds a special place in my heart and always will. I’m glad I was around to witness “the future”. I’m happy that I went to the theater to watch the movies. And I look forward to the real future, one that, as Doc Brown points out, hasn’t been written yet. Tomorrow is another day and I’ll do my best to make it a good one. Thanks for the memories BTTF…until we met again.

 

end

2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 8

football_goalThe college football schedule is so unappealing this week that ESPN’s College Gameday is headed to Harrisonburg, VA, the site of a 1-AA game pitting James Madison against Richmond. Nevertheless, not only did I find enough games to choose from, but y’all are getting bonus picks to make up for last week’s shortfall. You’re welcome. Speaking of last week, I went 3-1, while Zach was 1-3. Michigan wasn’t going to cover the 8 ½ points even if they hadn’t lost to Michigan State outright on what is sure to become a legendary last second play. LSU won by 7 points…not 7 ½…which was bad for both Zach and me. Conversely, the hated Patriots beat the Colts by only 7 points…not 7 ½…which was good for me (but not Zach). I don’t know how the oddsmakers come up with point spreads, but it is impressive just how accurate they often are. Anyway, for the season thus far I am 24-13, while Zach is 16-21. Like I said, we’re picking some extra games this week, so enjoy, and don’t hesitate to leave feedback and tell your friends about these picks and other content one can find here. We’re always looking for ways to expand The Manoverse and all are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

Pitt (-7) at Syracuse
syracuseThis just in…Pitt still sucks to those of us living in West Virginia, although I do miss The Backyard Brawl. I haven’t kept up shitwith these two programs much since they joined the ACC, mostly because they had become irrelevant years before that. But surprisingly enough the Panthers have actually snuck into the rankings with a record of 5-1. I don’t think they are anywhere close to recapturing the glory days of Tony Dorsett & Dan Marino, but I’ll give credit where credit is due. Meanwhile, the Orangemen still seem to be adrift in the wilderness that they’ve been wandering for most of the past fifteen years. I don’t know enough about either team to offer astute analysis, so I’ll just go with my heart, which is figuratively emblazoned with the slogan Eat Shit Pitt. Old habits die hard. On the flip side, Zach is young enough to not be jaded by decades of Panther hate and he likes their potent ground game.

My Pick: Syracuse
Z’s Pick: Pitt

 

 

Kansas at Oklahoma St. (-33.5)
kansasI chose this game simply because of the large point spread. Few doubt the Cowboys will win, but the question is by how much?? Again, it is amazing just how precise the folks in Vegas can oftentimes be, so I don’t doubt the final margin of victory will be somewhere in the 30-35 point range. I’ve won & lost picks over the years by as little as a half point, so that’s probably the kind of situation we have here. Oklahoma St. has only beaten one team by more than 30 points, while the Jayhawks have only lost twice by 30+, so I’ll go out on a limb and say that the favorites will win by four TDs and not cover the spread. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Kansas
Z’s Pick: Kansas

 

 

Iowa St. at Baylor (-37)
Iowa_State_CyclonesHere we have another point spread game, this one involving one of the top teams in the nation. The Bears have been baylormachine-esque in dismantling opponents by an average of 39 points/game. Conversely, the Cyclones are 2-4, although they’ve only been defeated by 30+ points once. At this point Baylor isn’t going to take anyone by surprise and have to expect that they’ll take each foe’s best shot. How good is Iowa St.’s best shot?? It won’t be good enough to win, but it’ll be within five TDs. Zach disagrees. He likens this to a David & Goliath kind of thing except without God involved. He believes Baylor might score 80 points and thinks they are the best team in the country.

My Pick: Iowa St.
Z’s Pick: Baylor

 

 

Utah at USC (-3.5)
USC_Trojans2The marquee college matchup this week is once again in the Pac 12. Fortunately for interested viewers on the east coast it’ll beutah a 7:30pm game which makes it easier to stay awake. I totally overestimated the Trojans in my pre-season rankings. Instead of being in the national title conversation they are riding a two game losing streak and playing under an interim coach after former head coach Steve Sarkisian was revealed to be a lush & consequently fired. Conversely, the Utes are on a roll at 6-0 and are firmly in the playoff hunt. However, both seasons could turn on a dime in this game. I really don’t understand why Southern Cal is favored. Sure they have the home field, but it is utterly disrespectful & dismissive for an undefeated Top 5 team to be underdogs to a 3-3 team in the midst of turmoil. Do the oddsmakers once again know something we don’t?? Why is it so darn difficult for folks (including me) to accept that Utah may be a legitimate contender?? I’ve got to assume that the points are meaningful and that USC will be motivated to prove something to those who have jumped off the bandwagon, so I’ll ride that crazy wave. Zach isn’t buying what the oddsmakers are selling and believes Utah might win by 5 TDs.

My Pick: USC
Z’s Pick: Utah

 

 

 

Minnesota (-2.5) at Detroit
vikingshelmet1The Lions are only 1-5?? Yikes. In my NFL Preview I predicted that the Vikings would be better than Detroit and might even Detroit_Lions_Helmetsneak into the playoffs. So far so good. Detroit has been mostly competitive but couldn’t get into the winner’s circle until last week, and even then it was in overtime & controversial. These two teams met a few weeks ago in Minnesota with the home team scoring a 10 point victory. It is unusual that Detroit isn’t getting the customary three point home field bump, but there is probably a good reason for that. I might regret it, but I’ll go with the flow and stay true to my pre-season prognostications. Conversely, Zach is predicting an upset.

My Pick: Minnesota
Z’s Pick: Detroit

 

 

 

Philadelphia at Carolina (-3)
carolina_panthers_logo-14336In 2014 I picked the Panthers to go 10-6 and make the playoffs. Instead they were 7-8-1 (although oddly enough they did make the playoffs). This year I said they’d go 8-8, so of course thus far they are undefeated. QB Cam Newton is an absolute beast. Meanwhile, the 3-3 Eagles may have actually figured out the right formula. Or not. No one really knows. Chip Kelly’s name is already being thrown around for collegiate openings at South Carolina and Southern Cal, and despite denials I tend to believe in the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” philosophy. Anyway, there’s really no compelling reason to go against the experts so I won’t. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Carolina
Z’s Pick: Carolina

 

 

 

Baltimore at Arizona (-7.5)
nflarizonacardinalsNo one is shocked that the Cardinals are 4-2 and leading the NFC West. But if you would have told me that the Ravens would start the season 1-5 and be AFC North cellar dwellers (worse than the 2-4 Cleveland Browns) I would have said that’s crazy talk. I did say that I expected them to “take a step back” from 2014’s 10-6 outcome, but I never imagined they’d be this inept. I think they’ll get things straightened out at some point, but not this week. Arizona should cruise to an easy win. Zach agrees.

My Pick: Arizona
Z’s Pick: Arizona

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 8.15

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I spoke too soon about Donald Trump. The Donald has now taken to bashing former President George W. Bush about W9/11 and bragging that, had President Trump been in charge on that awful day 14 years ago, it wouldn’t have happened. Sorry dude…you’ve stepped over the line this time. Was W. a perfect President?? Of course not. But I’ve got some news for y’all: none of them have been perfect. Not even Washington, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, or Reagan. I have long opined that history will judge George W. Bush much more fairly than he has been evaluated in the short term by the horrendous drive-by media and the idiotic Hollywood elite. Trump is completely misinterpreting a mistrust of Jeb Bush and the underlying desire to step away from a been-there-done-that Bush Dynasty. Many Republicans like & respect George W. Bush despite his flaws and attacking him is not a strategery that Trump should embrace.

 

 

head-scratch2It isn’t unusual for me to feel lonely in a crowded room. What is sad is that one of the places that I feel that way most often is…well no…I’m not going there. Forgive them Lord…they know not what they do.

 

 

McDonald’s you are nothing but a bunch of liars!! They spent all this time hyping “All Day Breakfast” but failed to mcmmention that the menu is limited. I stopped by my friendly neighborhood drive thru recently during the early evening hours. I was craving a simple Egg McMuffin. Well too bad for me!! Hey McD’s…do you realize that the Egg McMuffin is your signature breakfast item?? Why in the H#^% is it not part of the All Day Breakfast?!?!?!?? That’s insane!! The McGriddle…an admittedly unhealthy yet undeniably tasty option…is not available either. Essentially they are pushing their biscuit based items. I assume this is partly due to the fact that during normal breakfast hours most people with any sense are heading to Hardees or Tudor’s for biscuits. Bob Evans if they have time for a sit down meal. So now McDonald’s is trying to trick people into buying something we usually have no interest in simply because it is available past 10:30am. Sorry folks…I don’t care. I’ll just make time to get my Egg McMuffin earlier in the day. Thanks for playing.

 

 

With the release of the final trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens I expect that anticipation will crescendo over the next forceseveral weeks. Advanced ticket sales are already crashing websites. Some theaters will be showing a marathon of the entire series leading up to the release of the new film in mid-December. I might have been all over that idea two decades ago, but now spending 15 straight hours in a movie theater sounds like some sort of innovative sentence for a very serious misdemeanor. It is likely that I will take time to rewatch the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy in the days leading up to The Force Awakens launch, but I’ll do it in the comfort of my own home with a little help from Roku. Having said all that, the trailer looks good and does evoke certain emotions that take one back to childhood, when such trivial things as movies seemed so significant. I’m not sure I’ll be standing in line for the first midnight showing, but I’ll definitely hit the theater within a day or two of the film’s opening. I’m not going to analyze every frame of the trailer or parse every morsel of information out there about the production. I am not going to assume the movie will be terrible, but neither will I build it up in my mind to be the greatest thing EVER only to be disappointed. I’m just going to head to the local cineplex at some point when it is convenient, purchase a vat of cola & some popcorn, and enjoy a pleasant & entertaining experience. After all, isn’t that what movies are for??

 

 

I recently ate cooked spinach for the first time in…well, probably decades. And you know what?? I actually enjoyed it. I’ve heard spinachthat one’s palate changes every 7 years. I’m not sure that’s completely true, but maybe we all should be a bit more open to trying things that we didn’t used to like. One never knows how maturity & perspective may alter perception.

 

 

Rumor has it that a new Die Hard film is in the works. That, in & of itself, is fine by me even if mcclanethe last couple of sequels have been tepid & unworthy efforts. However, word on the street is that the latest installment will be a prequel, with just a cameo by Bruce Willis. That’s a terrible idea on so many levels. Willis’ Detective John McClane IS Die Hard. I can’t imagine how difficult it might be to find an actor up to the task of playing a young McClane. No one should have to endure the pressure of stepping into those shoes. The final Die Hard needs to be McClane’s retirement party…a perfect excuse to bring back all the supporting players from the previous films: Sgt. Al Powell, Capt. Lorenzo, Zeus Carver, Matt Ferrell, Argyle the limo driver, Det. Walter Cobb, and of course McClane’s wife Holly & his two grown children Lucy & Jack. Someone that McClane has ticked off in the past manages to hold his family & friends hostage and McClane has to save the day…again. That’s how Die Hard should end. A prequel will not work.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 5.15

We haven’t done W&M for a few months. I assume with the weekly football Picks of Profundity that The Manoverse has its fill of sports and would rather I focus on other matters. However, I have a few things I need to get off my chest and so I shall. Stay tuned though, as there are a few cool things on the horizon, including an ode to old friends Marty McFly & Doc Brown, a jumpstart to Literary Madness, the long awaited journey thru The Bible, ranking Batman, Sherlock Holmes, & Andy Griffith, and some Halloween & Christmas stuff. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 
ncaa-football-logoThe college football playoff committee will be announcing their initial rankings in a couple of weeks. They’ll announce a Top 25, which is stupid since only four teams make it into the playoff, and they’ll do this every week until the end of the season. This is also overkill. Do a Top 10 and announce it every other week. That’d be perfect. That’s how I’d do it anyway, but I’m not in charge. However, I am the Supreme Ruler of The Manoverse so here are my thoughts on the Top 4…who they are, potentially could be, & ultimately should be:

  • Ohio St./Michigan St. The two teams meet on November 21st in Columbus. I suppose it is entirely possible that both could sneak into the playoff…or neither. The winner of the head-to-head matchup will likely play Iowa or Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
  • Alabama/LSU. Same deal. They play in Tuscaloosa on November 7th, with the winner probably meeting Florida or Georgia in the SEC title game.
  • Baylor/TCU. They will do battle on Black Friday (11/27) in Fort Worth. There is no Big 12 title game, so barring a huge upset in another game on their schedule the winner of this one looks like a lock for the playoff.
  • Clemson/Florida St. They’ll go head-to-head on November 7th. The winner will still have a few games remaining plus the ACC title game, but unless there’s an upset along the way this contest could potentially decide a playoff spot.
  • Ready to pounce – Utah, Notre Dame, Stanford, Florida. Utah & Stanford may very well meet in the Pac 12 title game. Notre Dame plays Stanford in a de facto elimination game on November 28th. Florida is looking like they could battle the ‘Bama/LSU winner in the SEC title game. Any unexpected stumbles by the top contenders would open the door for one or more of these four teams…assuming they don’t stumble themselves.

 

 

 

I haven’t been watching very much of the baseball playoffs. My heart just isn’t in it after another crushing wildcard defeat for my Pittsburgh Pirates. The fact is that 30 fanbases begin spring training with various levels of hope & expectation. Knowledgeable fans generally have an inkling as to whether or not their team may be a contender, but even then optimism reigns. At the All-Star Break atleast 1/3 of those teams have been left in the dust. By the time the summer winds are growing slightly cooler maybe 15 teams are realistic contenders. As September winds to a close only 10 teams make the playoffs. Only 4 survive into the league championship series. Two do battle in The World Series. One team is left standing as the champion. Ultimately 29 fanbases are ppiratesdealing with some level of disappointment depending on what the expectations were. Am I upset that the Pirates aren’t going to be World Champions?? Well…yes, but the truth is that I didn’t expect that to happen this year anyway. They just aren’t there yet no matter what anyone says. Their pitching rotation is mediocre outside of alleged ace Gerrit Cole, and I’m not at all sure he is among the Top 50 pitchers in the game at this point. Their batting order…atleast anyone not named McCutchen…doesn’t scare opponents. The potential is there, but they need to stop wasting time, energy, & money on pedestrian pitchers like Charlie Morton & Jeff Locke and second-rate hitters/fielders like Sean Rodriguez & Travis Snider. A youth movement seems to be working for the Cubs…maybe Pittsburgh should give it a whirl. Having said all that, I would have felt a lot better had they won the wildcard game, even if they’d lost the next series. To go thru an entire season and see your team have the second best record in baseball only to have it all rendered meaningless in a single game is a huge kick in the ‘nads.

 

 

 

nflWhat exactly is a catch in the NFL these days?? Does anyone actually know?? Do the referees and league officials know?? I’m not sure they do. It seems like they kind of make up the rules as they go along. It didn’t used to be so complicated and shouldn’t be now.

 

 

 

It is undeniable that now former South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier bailed on his team. Lots of talking heads want to spurriergive him a pass given his near legendary status, and I suppose that’s a fair inclination. However, a coach is supposed to be a mentor…a teacher…a leader. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things most of the time, and, no matter what kind of sugar coating some may want to put on it, quitting six games into the season isn’t right. Essentially Spurrier threw a tantrum because his team was 2-4. No intelligent person can argue the point with a straight face, and Spurrier himself looked silly trying to justify the move in his farewell press conference. I have no doubt that some other team will try to talk him out of “retirement” down the line, but that team would be foolish. Steve Spurrier is a quitter. When the going gets tough he gets going. That’s not the kind of man I can respect, and it’s certainly not a guy I want coaching my team.

 

 

 

loserWhen is ESPN going to fire idiotic NFL Hall-of-Famer Cris Carter?? First he tells a group of NFL rookies that they need to have a “fall guy” that’ll take the rap if/when they commit a crime. And now he has the nerve to say that kickers aren’t football players. Carter was part of a discussion on Mike & Mike about the dramatic ending to the Michigan-Michigan St. game in which the Wolverines’ punter fumbled a snap allowing the Spartans to snag victory from the jaws of defeat. I don’t have a dog in that particular fight, but I do feel bad for the young man. He is allegedly receiving some pretty harsh treatment from overzealous fans on social media. I won’t be too harsh on the fans because I’ve been there and understand how an emotional loss like that can evoke a negative reaction. However, Carter is mirroring his colleague Skip Bayless’ disdain for punters & kickers. They put on a uniform don’t they?? They’re on the sidelines and participate in team activities, right?? Well, then they are football players. Is Carter smoking crack again?? He’s known just as much for being a junkie as he is a wide receiver, yet he is arrogant enough to act superior?? Just shut up. Or in parlance you may be more familiar with…come on man!! My boys Greeny & Golic lower themselves and the quality of their show by allowing Carter to besmirch it with his presence.

2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 7

laces-football-grassYou may recall that last week all five of our picks came from college games. That means that by Saturday night the results were in and by Sunday afternoon I had a good idea about what games seemed interesting on this week’s schedule. By Tuesday both Zach & I had made our picks. Which begs the question…why are you only now reading this in the early hours of Friday morning?? Well…to be honest…I’ve just been that lazy. I’ve had some other things going on and been distracted with other interests. I was tempted to take a bye week, but ultimately decided to power thru and save that for another time when my lethargic procrastination is a result of legitimately imperative reasons. At any rate, last week Zach was 2-3, while I was 3-2. A few games could have gone either way and were decided by a point or two. We did learn a few things in the process. Both Michigan & Utah are for real, although the Utes couldn’t cover the spread. Indiana…as I expected…didn’t have much left in the tank. Cal QB Jared Goff might have the measurables, but he’s not going to put a team on his back & carry them to victory…yet. And the jury is still out on Northwestern. So for the season our records look like this:

Me = 21-12            Z = 15-18

Out of curiosity I looked back at this time last year to compare where we stood then versus now. A year ago I was 15-18, while Zach was 16-16. Thus far in 2015 I seem to be doing a skosh better, while Zach is slightly behind last season’s pace. But hey…we’re not even halfway done yet, so we’ll see how it all shakes out. We’re only picking 4 games this week because one of the games I chose was UCLA vs. Stanford. Since it’s a Thursday night game that’s already started as I write this I think it’d be unfair to include it. That’s my fault. Oops.

 

 

 
Alabama (-4) at Texas A&M
Reports of ‘Bama’s demise were greatly exaggerated, as they have rebounded just fine from an early loss to Ole Miss. They’re riding a three game AlabamaCrimsonTide2winning streak and are right back on the fringes of the playoff conversation. The Aggies have flown under the radar thus far but are quietly undefeated and a Top 10 team. If they win this game all the sudden they are in the national title hunt. It’s really interesting that the Tide comes into this one as a road favorite. I guess a lot have people jumped back on the bandwagon pretty quick, huh?? I’ll go with that flow and Zach concurs.

My Pick – Alabama
Z’s Pick – Alabama

 

 

 

Michigan St. at Michigan (-8.5)
Michigan_State_SpartansLike I said, the Wolverines look like they are legit. I’m not shocked that Harbaugh has his alma mater back in contention, but I michdidn’t think they’d be this good this fast. Three straight shutouts?? That’s damn impressive. Can they do it again?? Ehhhhh. I know the game is in Ann Arbor. I know it’s a rivalry game. But the Spartans are undefeated and could break into the Top 5 with a victory. Either way it goes I think 8 ½ is just too many points. Zach disagrees. He loves the Wolverines and thinks they’ll win by two TDs.

My Pick – Michigan St.
Z’s Pick – Michigan

 

 

 

Florida at LSU (-7.5)
This game might have been a lot more interesting if the Gators’ QB hadn’t just been suspended for PED use. From what I understand the kid wasn’t lsu_logo-9547on the juice like Barry Bonds or anything, he just inadvertently took an over-the-counter medication that is on the NCAA’s Naughty List. Whatever the case, the fact is that he’s not going to be on the field this weekend, which makes it a pretty easy pick. Zach concurs.

My Pick – LSU
Z’s Pick – LSU

 

 

 

New England (-7.5) at Indianapolis
Indianapolis_Colts_HelmetThe lone NFL game amongst this week’s picks would have been way cooler if this were 2006 and Peyton Manning was still the New_England_Patriots_HelmetColts’ QB, or if current Colts’ QB Andrew Luck was healthy. Unfortunately though it looks like Indianapolis will likely be starting 34 year old Matt Hasselbeck under center. On top of that, it seems like the freakin’ Patriots are angry at everyone else because THEY cheated. Sadly that motivational technique is working quite well thus far, as New England has been mowing thru everybody on their schedule like Jason Voorhees at summer camp. Will this week be any different?? If Hasselbeck starts probably not. But what if Luck returns?? It’s a long shot, but I’m going to pray that Luck plays and it’s much closer than 7 ½ points. Zach is a little more pragmatic (as usual) and thinks the Pats will win easily.

My Pick – Indianapolis
Z’s Pick – New England

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 7.15

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

schumerI like to laugh and believe I have a keen sense of humor, but I really don’t get the whole Amy Schumer thing. Is she really a whore or does she just play one on TV?? Either way I just don’t find her shtick all that funny. Maybe mildly amusing in the right mood…but certainly not hilarious to the point that she should be a huge star. Of course we’re talking about a culture that has made people like The Kardashians and all those Real Housewives famous, so I suppose nothing should take me by surprise at this point.

 

 

Dang it…Donald Trump is slowly wearing me down. Part of me would like to see him elected President just to watch a bunch of trumppeople freak out. Some have already said they’d leave the country if he wins, and I think it’d be hilarious to call their bluff. Plus I sincerely do believe that we need a significant course correction in America, a total shakeup from politics as usual.

 

 

roccoI mostly feed my 7 year old pug Rocco regular old dog food (which he loves), but he also likes bananas, baby carrots, cantaloupe, apples, & broccoli.

 

 

Speaking of politics, here’s another one of my million dollar ideas…..
What if we scrapped the current voting system, specifically for President?? No more primaries or caucuses. No conventions. Whoever wants to run would still have to declare by a certain date, and after that we could still have debates, stump speeches, & all the regular butt kissing hoopla. However, at a certain point before election day voting would begin…American Idol style. Once a week, month, or whatever kind of time interval is decided upon the phones would open up and/or the website would be active for a finite time…hours, days, whatever it may be. After that the lowest vote getter is out. Eliminated. Off the island. Better luck next time. They don’t get to decide when to drop out of the race…we make that decision for them. This process would continue until only two candidates are left standing. One last debate. Closing statements. Final vote. Bada bing bada boom…we have a new President. No voting booths. No polling places. The rules would obviously have to be hammered out, but we have the technology BallotPicture_AKto do what needs to be done. Voting age?? Keep it at 18, or if you want to be adventurous let the teenagers vote. Set other parameters if you wish. Votes can be limited however we want. We can keep it one person one vote, or we can allow a certain amount of votes to come from a particular phone number or IP address. Perhaps everyone eligible to vote is issued an ID number that would need to be entered into the system. Whatever kind of details decided upon should be fairly easy to track so cheating can be minimized. There are two big advantages to this system. First of all, since there would be multiple votes & eliminations it is likely that people would remain engaged in the process rather than not paying attention for months & months. Secondly, I suspect voter participation would multiply exponentially. I mean really…no matter how lazy a person may be it is not that hard to pick up the phone or log onto a website to cast a vote. How does the Electoral College factor in?? Well, we can keep it as it is for the final vote. Or we can adjust the number of votes allowed from each household/phone/IP address/ID number. For example, folks in California, New York, Florida, & Texas could be allowed to cast less votes per household (or whatever criteria it may be) than a person in Rhode Island because those bigger states have more people. The possibilities are endless, but we can certainly achieve the same kind of “level playing field” effect that the Electoral College provides. The details can be discussed and even massaged over time, but the main idea is that we streamline the procedure using technology, allowing voters to cast their ballots from the comfort of home, work, or wherever they are, and also keep more people interested in the process with regularly scheduled elimination votes. What do y’all think??

 

 

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made in America over the past few decades is minimizing shame. When I do something wrong (it happens believe it or not) I usually know it…sometimes before I do it…and I am embarrassed & ashamed. I hope no one noticed or no one finds out about the stupid thing I did. Christians might call that the conviction of The Holy Spirit, and while I agree completely with that concept I also think that all human beings, regardless of their spiritual philosophy, have varying levels of instinctual awareness of right & wrong. Those instincts have been largely muted in our modern culture. Choices that once upon a time were dishonorable are now celebrated. People are encouraged not to be ashamed of their poor choices. shameThey are taught to fight for rights and have pride in their sin. Anything goes. It’s all good as long as no one gets hurt. If it feels good do it. Lots of people call this “progress”, but maybe…just maybe…we were a better nation when more folks felt embarrassed about their bad decisions rather than being proud of them. Being told you’re wrong and having others reject your “wrongness” might not be very pleasant, but it certainly instills a strength of character that will never be achieved by mass enabling. There are those that like to pit the ideas of love and judgment against each other. However, I think it quite possible that one of the most loving things one can ever do for another is tell them that they are wrong, that they are heading down a dark path that leads to bad places. Love isn’t “I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay, and everything is perfect”. Love is honesty and sometimes truth can be harsh. We’ve lost our nerve, all of us too scared to clearly define right vs. wrong. Or maybe we’ve gone so far into the abyss that our ability to distinguish the two is being numbed into oblivion. Forgiveness & redemption are two cornerstones of Christianity, but what good are they if no one thinks they are doing anything wrong??

 

 

Isn’t it sad that Russian President Vladimir Putin seems like he’s a better, smarter leader than the President of the United reaganStates?? Ronald Reagan would…as the kids used to say…have a cow!!

 

 

remoteThose apps & systems that allow one to control certain household features from afar make me very very nervous. If you can control your door locks with a cell phone and check in on your little doggy on a video cam while at work it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched that others could easily gain access as well. For God’s sake…there are people that hack the CIA and computer systems of billion dollar corporations. I assume that a remote monitoring system wouldn’t pose a huge challenge. No thanks.

 

 

This is my 400th post here at The Manofesto. When I do the math that doesn’t seem like a lot over the course of 6 ½ years. It is 400roughly 5 ditties per month. I am not nearly as productive as I could be, and that’s on me. I have spurts of creativity but also long periods of malaise. I’m not going to make any grandiose claims about doing better in the future. I’ve done that before and it was an empty promise. I am who I am and I’m mostly comfortable with that. I still enjoy doing this blogging thing. It is therapeutic for me, and I think we all need a healthy outlet of expression. I would love to see The Manoverse grow, and I’d like it to be more interactive, but I’m not going to force the issue. Please know that I deeply appreciate anyone who has ever stopped by and read even one thing that I have written. Thanks to all that have made comments over the years, even if you don’t exactly agree with my opinions. I’m not going anywhere and have plenty of ideas percolating, but I just wanted to take a moment to mark this milestone and say thank you.

2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 6

football-introducing-the-science_1Damn you Clemson!! Last week was another mixed bag, although it skewed toward the lower end of “mixed”. Both Zach & I went 2-3. Notre Dame was stopped on a last second two point conversion, otherwise things might have looked a bit different. I also screwed up one of my NFL picks. Three years ago I said that Miami Dolphins’ “ownership made a horrible mistake hiring Joe Philbin as the new head coach”, and that “Philbin seems like a perfectly nice man, but traditionally very nice men don’t make successful NFL coaches.” This week, one day after losing to the NY Jets in London, Philbin was fired. I really am smarter than I look, which makes it all the more inexplicable why I picked the Dolphins in that game. Ah well…c’est la vie. Anyway, for the season our records look like this:

Me = 18-10           Z = 13-15

This week we’re going strictly with college football. No reason…that’s just how I decided to roll. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana at Penn St. (-6.5)
penn-state-logoThe Hoosiers darn near upset the alleged #1 team in the land last weekend, but once again Ohio St. escaped. Still, Indiana’sindiana record is a surprising 4-1. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions are also 4-1, with only a season opening loss to Temple as a blemish on their record. If the same Indiana team that almost beat the Buckeyes last week shows up in Happy Valley the Lions are in deep trouble. However, that is the million dollar conundrum. Is Indiana for real or not?? And even if they are better than usual will there be a steep emotional dropoff after playing out of their minds a week ago?? Penn St. hasn’t played anyone good, so they are still a mystery as well. The home field is huge, and I’m not convinced that Indiana is legit, so I’m leaning toward the favorites. Conversely, Zach believes in Indiana’s defense and thinks they’ll get the job done.

My Pick – Penn St.
Z’s Pick – Indiana

 
Northwestern at Michigan (-8)
Northwestern_WildcatsI’m really intrigued by this game. I predicted that Jim Harbaugh would quickly fix a lot of what has ailed Michigan, and this is a tremendous opportunity to make a statement. However, the Wildcats are looking to make a statement as well. Sure they are undefeated thus far, but is anyone really buying it?? I suppose it’d be tempting for the Wolverines to look ahead to next week’s battle with in-state rival Michigan St., but I don’t think that’ll be a factor. This feels like a toss-up to me. I think the home field is a big advantage for Michigan…but 8 points big?? Probably not. Zach concurs.

My Pick – Northwestern
Z’s Pick – Northwestern

 
Wisconsin at Nebraska (-1.5)
nebraskaBoth teams are usually in the thick of the conference title discussion and oftentimes positioned for a national title run…but not WisconsinBadgersthis year. The Badgers are still adjusting to a new head coach & life without All-American RB Melvin Gordon. They already have two losses. The Cornhuskers also have a new head coach this season and have lost 3 games. This game might not mean all that much in the short term, but it might help the winner build to atleast a winning season and a solid bowl invitation. For the loser it will likely be another nail in a dismal year. I’ve got to go with the ‘Huskers to defend their turf. Conversely, Zach thinks it’ll be Wisconsin that bounces back to get a victory.

My Pick – Nebraska
Z’s Pick – Wisconsin

 
Miami, FL at Florida St. (-9)
miamiuIt’s a game that doesn’t mean as much as it did 15 or 20 years ago, but it still has meaning. The Seminoles probably aren’t going to make it to the four team playoff this year, but they are 4-0 so far. The Hurricanes have slowly been working their way back into relevance the past few years and are currently 3-1. This one is on ABC prime time Saturday night, so someone somewhere has high hopes that it’ll be entertaining & competitive. I think you can throw point spreads out the window when these two meet, and 9 points feels like a bit much. I have a feeling Florida St. will find a way to win, but it’ll be by a touchdown or less. Zach concurs.

My Pick – Miami, FL
Z’s Pick – Miami, FL

 

 

California at Utah (-7.5)
calApparently Cal QB Jared Goff is one of the top prospects going into next spring’s NFL Draft. I’ll just take the experts’ word on utahit since I’ve never seen the kid play. I have watched Utah and, like everyone else, am mildly surprised by how good they have been thus far. Both teams are undefeated, so it comes down to which one you believe in. If Goff wants to prove he’s an elite QB he’s got to lead his team to victories in games like this. I’ll roll the dice on that happening, and on Utah being overrated. Zach, on the other hand, believes the Utes will score another blowout win.

My Pick – California
Z’s Pick – Utah

2015 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 5

kickoff_footballLast week I swung for the fences…with mixed results. Both Zach & I went 5-3. I absolutely nailed the wacky Texas Tech/TCU finish, and The Vibes guided me correctly in a very close Colts/Titans game. Zach wisely picked the Utes of Utah, who mauled a shockingly inept Oregon squad, and also took the Green Bay Packers. I suppose the KC Chiefs aren’t as good as I thought they were. So far in 2015 the numbers look like this:

Me = 16-7           Z = 11-12

The schedule is a bit tricky this week. There are a handful of potentially good games, but I really try to have variety in these picks. I don’t want to focus on the same few teams every week. That’s difficult in college football because the cream tends to rise to the top and it is tempting to gravitate toward matchups featuring the same highly ranked teams over & over. It’s even harder with the NFL, which has only 32 teams and fans tend to lose interest in those that we can already see are going to be terrible, which narrows the pool even more. The point spread shouldn’t play a significant role in any of these games, but then again I could have said the same thing last week and I ended up winning two games in which the points did matter. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Minnesota at Northwestern (-3.5)
Northwestern_WildcatsIt seems like every few years Northwestern pops up with a solid season in which they take up residence in the polls and end up minnesotalanding in a nice bowl location. I always know when it’s that kind of year for the Wildcats since one of their biggest fans is my man Greeny from ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, a 1989 graduate of the school. Minnesota was a consistent Top 25 team last year and are off to a pretty decent start this season, with the only blemish being a close loss to highly ranked TCU in the season opener. I am far from an expert on either of these teams, but I would assume we can expect characteristic hard-hitting Big Ten football, a low scoring affair dominated by defense. There may be some concern about Northwestern looking past this game and ahead to next week’s battle with Michigan, but I’d actually be more worried about that if they were playing a lesser opponent. They won’t overlook Minnesota, and I think the home team wins by a touchdown. Zach disagrees and is picking Minnesota to win by a field goal.

My Pick – Northwestern
Z’s Pick – Minnesota

 

 

Alabama at Georgia (-2)
AlabamaCrimsonTide2This is the first game since 2009 in which Alabama has been the underdog. Wow. That’s impressive. The reason folks are georgiadoubting them is a surprising loss to Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago. They also don’t seem to have a QB that impresses anyone, which is an issue. Conversely, the Bulldogs are undefeated and just keep handing the rock to RB Nick Chubb, who is averaging nearly 150 yds/game. This is a must win for ‘Bama if they hope to make it to the playoff. Two losses would kill that dream. We’ll know a lot more about these two teams when this one is over. Is the uncertainty about the Tide valid?? Are the Bulldogs for real?? The question I have is whether or not Georgia has a Plan B if the Alabama defense stuffs Chubb. I don’t think he’s getting 150 yards this week. He may not get 100. Can they chuck the ball downfield and get the job done thru the air?? I’ll believe it if I see it. Alabama with their backs against the wall is dangerous. Zach is putting his mancrush on Nick Saban on the backburner, choosing Georgia to win by two TDs.

My Pick – Alabama
Z’s Pick – Georgia

Notre Dame at Clemson (-1.5)
NotreDameFightingIrishThe talking heads have been bragging on Clemson since before the season began, many of them predicting that the Tigers clemsonwould win the ACC. Meanwhile I have been much higher on Notre Dame than most. My enthusiasm has been tempered just a bit because of all the injuries the Irish have suffered, but they’re 4-0 without the benefit of as easy of a schedule as most have played thus far. This will be Clemson’s first real test and they do have the home field. The winner of this game will be nicely positioned for a playoff run, although it is far too early to really think in those terms. It may not be the wise choice, but I’m pretty stubborn about sticking with my pre-season vibes until I am proven wrong, so I have to lean toward the underdogs. Zach believes that Clemson is the real deal, and isn’t buying the luck of the Irish.

My Pick – Notre Dame
Z’s Pick – Clemson

 

 

NY Jets (-1.5) vs Miami
Miami_Dolphins_HelmetIt’s early, but it is entirely possible that I may have completely misjudged both of these teams. I thought Miami would be solid Jets-Pin-Proand in the hunt for a wildcard playoff spot, but they’ve gotten off to a 1-2 start. People are criticizing the non-impact of free agent defensive end Ndamukong Suh and there are whispers that Joe Philbin could be the first head coach in the unemployment line this season. Conversely, the Jets have already secured the 2 victories that I predicted they’d get for the entire season and the reviews have been much more positive than most expected. This game is in London, England which means that those of us on the east coast will have to watch it at 9:30am, and I can’t imagine that there’ll be anyone out west getting up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning for it. The NFL really needs to rethink this London thing. Anyway, I’m just not buying the good vibes coming out of New York and I still believe the Dolphins are the better team. Zach does buy what the Jets are selling and thinks they’ll win the game easily.

My Pick – Miami
Z’s Pick – NY Jets

 

 

St. Louis at Arizona (-6.5)
nflarizonacardinalsThe Cardinals just might be the best non-cheating franchise in the NFL at the moment. If QB Carson Palmer can remain healthy (a huge IF) they could be a legitimate challenger to Seattle for the division title. Meanwhile, the Rams occasionally show potential but something just seems to be missing. Whatever that something may be is unlikely to suddenly show up in the desert this week. Zach concurs.

My Pick – Arizona
Z’s Pick – Arizona