Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday A.M. Quickie:
Weekend Chokery!

Astros a half-game back! Cards choking it all away! Playoff races that go down to the final weekend are cool enough.

To have one of them involve one of the great standings choke-jobs in recent team-sports history makes it all the more compelling.

Fans nationally can be ambivalent about the Astros but still find themselves rooting like hell for them (and against the Cards), if only to see this choke happen. To review:

The Cards led the Astros by 8.5 games...

Only 9 games ago!

The Cards are on the verge of shattering the baseball record for chokery: No team in history has ever blown a September lead of more than 6.5 games.

I just read that it's possible that the Cards might have to play a sort of "playoff-playoff-playoff." What the hell does THAT mean?

A playoff would be the LDS, of course. Standard stuff.

A "playoff-playoff" would be one game against the Astros to decide the NL Central division winner, head-to-head.

A "playoff-playoff-playoff" (or "playoff-cubed") would be a make-up game against the Giants on Monday, to force a playoff (or win the division outright?).

If the Cards are a half-game ahead (or behind) the Astros after Sunday, St. Louis would play the Giants on Monday to figure out whether a Cards-Astros "playoff-playoff" game on Tuesday is necessary.

Can you imagine being the Giants in that scenario? You could play the ultimate spoiler – or, alternatively, wonder what your motivation could possibly be? (I'm guessing the latter.)

Either way: Cards fans must be f-r-e-a-k-i-n-g.

Twins tie Tigers for AL Central lead: I'd say that it doesn't matter, because both teams are already in the playoffs, so who cares?

(Well, how about that Detroit's likely Game 1 starter Kenny Rogers was throttled last night? Or that the Twins got a gem from Brad "Running-on-Fumes" Radke?)

T.O. fires his personal trainer: Wouldn't you, if your trainer yapped to the media about all of your personal business?

So either the trainer WANTED to get out, getting a little glory for himself along the way, or he lacks such judgment that it's questionable why T.O. would have such a dope on his payroll anyway.

Hell, I think it's the most sensible thing that T.O. has done all week.

Pedro out for entire postseason: I'm almost ready to say that the Mets are done as NL contenders.

Not just because Pedro would have been such a huge advantage in the playoffs by being on the mound – he's just such a presence.

Maybe he can still be that team leader from the dugout, but it's not the same as having him out there actually pitching.

The Mets' playoff pitching rotation is pretty sketchy. They're going to have to score a ton of runs to be competitive.

Was Frank Robinson fired by the Nats? He was the right guy for the inaugural season, but a new owner means a new direction.

(Like I said yesterday: They should make a play for Joe Girardi.)

Larry Brown vs. Knicks battle: If I was David Stern, how much would I give Larry Brown in his grievance vs. the Knicks?

I think I came up with a novel plan in the Quickie when this story first broke:

*Give Larry Brown nothing.
(Not a freaking nickel.)

*Fine the Knicks the $40 million remaining on Brown's contract.
(For being so stupid to hire him.)

No. 2 Auburn wins at S. Carolina: Was it dominant? No. But in conference play, on the road, it was dominant enough.

I fully expect all of you to throw that back in my face when I'm criticizing Ohio St. for winning ugly at Iowa on Saturday night.

TCU (finally) loses: Well, now THAT was a little unexpected. I know BYU was considered a "tough" game, but it WAS at TCU. And wasn't TCU supposed to be underrated?

The biggest impact? The most likely non-BCS team to go unbeaten (and crash the party) is now out of contention. (Was TCU looking ahead all the way to bowl season? Perhaps.)

The hope was that the new "5th" BCS bowl -- specifically created to placate non-BCS conferences -- would have at least one unbeaten non-BCS "Cinderella" (that was MY Big Idea for it, at least).

Now, TCU might be the best of the non-BCS-league teams, but by Monday, they'll be lucky to find a spot in the tenuous "20-25" range of the Top 25 poll.

Coming later today: Complete college football weekend preview!

NFL Notes: Is the NFL going to play more regular-season games outside the U.S.? I'm all for globalization of the NFL, but isn't it a little unfair to fans who only get 8 home games a year, as it is?

Trent Green out another two weeks? How many KC fans are with me that the best strategy is to tank the rest of this inevitably abysmal season to get a QB of the future, like Brady Quinn?

I love that Bill Belichick was able to lighten up and talk a little playful trash about Chad Johnson. Johnson is the anti-T.O. – an egomaniacal superstar WR who still manages to come across as a fun-loving guy.

You know what? I think I'm ready to nominate Chad Johnson as the "Face of Football."

Today's Must-Read: David Roth worked at Topps, and tells all about the experience. I met David at a party this spring. He's a great guy, and this is a great piece, written for Slate.

Did anyone else catch Deadspin Hall of Famer Carl Monday being profiled on the Daily Show last night? I was kind of hoping they'd interview Will Leitch for it, or at least name-check Deadspin. Ah well. I have to be satisfied with them humiliating Monday himself. -- D.S.


Christian Thoma said...

Wow, did anyone have Kansas City in the Weekly "Which Team Will Shanoff Suggest Tank for Brady Quinn" pool? I had Detroit this week.

Although technically this is the second pick in one week, with the Bucs being called earlier. How do we count that?

My pick for next week, btw, is the Miami Dolphins.

Steve said...

BigRicks said...
Auburn-Cocks isn'ta conference game, SEC vs. ACC, different than Ohio State vs. Iowa Big 10 Battle.

You might want to check your conferences again there. South Carolina is in the SEC East.

Jon said...

I'm glad I'm not a Mets fan this morning. Good luck getting out of the first round without Pedro.

Gary said...

Now I have egg on my face, here I am in the last posting commenting how Dan was sleeping in, and no more than two minutes later, boom, quickie style post.

Well, this apology is over, I now have 14 reasons per hour to keep working

mrmom61 said...

Are you jackin it.

T-Mill said...

Enough about teams tanking for Brady Quinn already!!! Why would you want a QB who wets his pants when he faces college quarterback pressure in the pocket? Mark my words, Drew Tate of Iowa will have a much better pro career simply by facing tougher competition week in, week out over the course of his collegiate career.

D. Ling said...

No matter how hard they try there is no way the Chiefs can tank as bad as the Buccaneers are going to tank. The Bucs schedule is viscious for the remainer of the season, with a 6th round rookie at QB... forget it. The Bucs have a serious chance to go 0-16 this year.

That said, do the Bucs give up on Simms and go with Quinn? Or do they go with the most awesome 2 man backfield in the league with Cadillac and Peterson? Or do they trade down to replenish their D with some youth?

Unsilent Majority said...

Iowa looked crappy against ISU and then they failed to cover against Illinois (fucking pathetic). Ohio State is gonna wax 'em.

Brave Sir Robin said...

What Lenny seems to forget is that Iowa would have to pick apart the OSU defense more than OSU will pick apart the Iowa defense. It's going to be a shoot out.

thistlewarrior said...

I think that Chad Johnson is already well on his way to being the "face of football". He is on TV/radio/etc even more than TO (well, until this week...maybe THATS why the pills!)AND hes is deffinitely much more likable. Have you seen his Madden '07 commercials? Plus, I think that his new sportscenter commercial debuts today.

Christian Thoma said...

A couple things re: Iowa-OSU

Texas is a much harder away game than Iowa.
Texas has a much better team than Iowa.
The crowd in Texas was phenomenal.

Ohio State won easily.

The only advantage Iowa has over Texas is the QB. That's not enough of an advantage considering the OSU defense has improved.

Ohio State wins easily.

jhawkjjm said...

As a native New Englander who now resides in KC, there season was over when they hired Herm Edwards. I was never impressed with him as the Jets coach. Even with Trent Green they weren't going to do anything this year.

My question is this, if the Cards complete their collapse and the Astros make it in, now that Pedro's out, would the Astros then become the favorites in the NL with that pitching staff?

Brave Sir Robin said...

Yes, Lenny, drunken fans make more of a difference over sober fans. How could I forget that?

Unless the conditions are as bad as they were during PSU game, OSU wins by 2 touchdowns

Gary said...

I think we've all seen in recent years that the hottest team going into the post-season has a HUGE advantage.

The Astros are obviously the hottest team, if they make the playoffs their confidence will be so high, they won't even consider the prospect of losing.

Look at the last few years, the White Sox looked like they were falling apart, then got hot the last couple of weeks, carried that momentum into the playoffs and only lost once. In 2004 the Sox had a phenomonal run in August and September and rode that to the World Series win. In 2003 the Marlins did the same, playing well down the stretch and grabbing the wild card, and playing well, winning the world series. In 02 the Angels did the same.

No one wants to play the Stros if they do get in, they'd be easily the hottest team in baseball, not to mention that NASTY pitching staff, with Rhode Island native Dan Wheeler closing out games, ok, well maybe that doesn't help them, but still.

Plus, you don't think Clemens would love winning a World Series against the Yankees. As a way to prove he can do it without the best team surrounding him, like he did while in NY.

CYGNUS003 said...

virgil said...

Lenny, Lenny, Lenny...I admire your optimism, however for you to say O State's defense has looked OK is insane. The defense has given up an average of lets see 12+7+7+6= 32/4= 8 points per game. last I saw Iowa had a difficult time beating a woeful Syracuse team.

Steve said...

Considering Iowa should have lost to Syracuse who is god-awful, Iowa has no chance in this game.

Trent said...

Tate is composed? Last year, he spiked the ball like a 12-year old throwing a tantrum because the OSU D had him totally confused.

Christian Thoma said...

To be fair to Iowa, Drew Tate didn't play in the Syracuse game.

Of course, the rest of the team did, and the rest of the team will have to play Ohio State.

thistlewarrior said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TBender said...

I think I'm going to be physically ill.

Is Jason Marquis the biggest waste of pure talent ever? He's got stuff to die for and is in a contract year, but he refuses to use his pitches in the way they're most effective every time he pitches. Is it wrong of me to wish harm to him?

Christian Thoma said...

We could always do this with Math.

Ohio State 24, Texas 7 (+17)
Texas 34, Iowa State 14 (+20)
Iowa 27, Iowa State 17 (+10)

So Texas is ten points better than Iowa (20-10), and Ohio State is 17 points better than Texas, therefore Ohio State is 27 points better than Iowa.

Ohio State 38, Iowa 11 (that's right, I'm predicting a score of 11)

Christian Thoma said...

Wolfe, who's a Heisman trophy candidate, gained 171 yards. Of course, he had no TDs, for no one on Northern Illinois did. Sadly, teams don't win based on yardage gained.

Did someone actually try to make the defense of Iowa sound good by saying they stopped Syracuse on the goal line?!?

Brave Sir Robin said...

That would be Lenny making that argument.

Brave Sir Robin said...

You know what would be even more impressive? Not letting them get to the goal line since they suck!

Brian in Oxford said...

Dan, you really gotta hold out hope for the Reds. Let's say they win out (82-80), Cards lose out (81-80), and the Astros win one more (82-80)....then you've got The Cards playing the Giants Monday to force a THREE-WAY tie.....that means play-in games Tuesday AND Wednesday just to see who gets the Mets....on Thursday!

Christian Thoma said...

Lenny makes a convincing argument. We'll say Iowa has one great goal-line stand against OSU. So we'll change the predicted final score to 34-11.

Wait a second. 7 times? Consecutively? Does that mean Iowa gave up an automatic first down penalty on the goal line? Whoops, that'll cost you; good defenses don't make bone-headed penalties. Back to 38-11.

Christian Thoma said...

@brian in oxford: that would be too awesome.

Unknown said...

Drew Tate is not a bigger advantage than Troy Smith. I'd call that, at best, a wash. The rest of the Hawkeyes? Not quite on the level. That defense will be destroyed.
Ohio State 38
Iowa 13

I am still hoping, hoping, hoping that the Cards lose out..Houston only wins 1 more..and the Reds sweep Pittsburgh!! It's possible!

Auburn was not impressive. South Carolina was. Spurrier will own the SEC again in 2-3 years.

Dan Shanoff said...

OK, OK... look, on this OSU-Iowa debate going on:

Lenny ain't going to change anyone's mind, and he certainly isn't going to change his own mind.

Let's all agree to disagree on this one. Okay?

There's so much other stuff to discuss. (And there will be an entire post dedicated to the CFB schedule, coming later this a.m.)

-- Dan

thistlewarrior said...

@brian in oxford: That's what I'm rooting for. Go Reds!

Unknown said...

One thing on Ohio State, which is true for a few other college programs, is that you never ever have to worry about the defense. Especially in the Tressel era, but even through the Cooper years.
The offense? sure. One can worry about that each season. But Ohio State just unwraps a new top 10 defense every year.

Iowa can't do that.

Unknown said...

Oops. Sorry.

I'll focus on my Reds pulling the improbable!

And I wonder if Belichick will laugh when Chad Johnson does 3 celebration dances during the game.

CYGNUS003 said...

Ok Lenny you say everything starts with the QB, well as we all know Troy Smith is one of the leading candidates for the Heisman, Tate is good, but I do not hear his name mention in Heisman talk, and if Iowa struggled against a sub-sub par Syracuse team, and an Illinois team having an off year, how do you think they are going to fair against an Ohio State squad that boast three(Smith, Ginn, Pittman) legitamate Heisman candidates...OH, did I forget to mention Anthony Gonzales.

thistlewarrior said...

@ rafael: No. He will pull that hood closed a la Kenny of South Park. Can't wait to see it!

Christian Thoma said...

Let's all agree to disagree on this one. Okay?

Yes dad. We'll be good.

On to Baseball.

As a Mets fan, I'm not yet concerned. Yes, Pedro not being there isn't great, but remember, he's been not there for a while now. And based on his post-injury starts, No Pedro > Injured Calf Pedro.

As for starting pitching in general, the Mets rely on bashing the crap out of the other team to win. That means they match up well against the Phillies, Cards, or Padres ... but not so much against the Dodgers or Astros. So an ideal situation for the Mets would be for the teams to be Mets-Cards-Dodgers(Div)-Padres(WC). Then if the Cards can beat the Dodgers, a Mets-Cards NLCS. So while I'd love a Cards collapse (still hate them from the ol' NL East days), right now they're a better option from my Mets.

...just realized: I didn't include the Reds in my analysis, and that's because I'm not sure about their pitching (they haven't been on most people's radar for awhile now). What's the word, Reds followers? How do you see a Reds-Mets matchup?

Brave Sir Robin said...

How big of a September lead did the Angels blow back in '95? I thought it was 10...

Christian Thoma said...

@benvious: I *was* being tongue in cheek on that. Obviously raw scores don't take into account weather, home field, injuries, etc. I just thought it was interesting that there was actually a way to calculate using multiple intervening teams (a simple a>b>c relationship, like Montana St/Georgia, is usually less correct than an a>b>c>d relationship because the impact of an aberrant result is greater with a smaller sample size)

And how do you know Montana St. isn't better than Georgia?

Christian Thoma said...

Tiger update:
He's -4 through (um, 11, 12, or 13 holes, I'm suddently drawing a blank) to be -12 for the tournament. 2 strokes ahead of Paddy, but Jim Furyk has been en fuego today-- -6 so far -- and also sits 2 back. It'd be funny if Furyk and Woods were partnered this weekend.

thistlewarrior said...

In head to head matchups, the Reds and Mets were pretty even (4-3,adv. Mets). However, imo Reds pitching has been rather inconsistent this year. Overall, I think that the Mets would have the advantage in playoffs, but I momentum can be a funny thing...

john (east lansing, mi) said...

Dammit benvious, you just stole my thunder - I was working on a solid and unrefutable proof that Michigan State is 98 points better than Georgia.

My real point was for chrth, though - first, I could tell to begin with that you were joking about the points (a clue for everybody who misses jokes when written in sans serif - the score of 11 made it obvious that those numbers were for entertainment purposes only); second, although I appreciated your humor the first time around, your defense of your abcd method was what I can only call ludicrous. It's the fact that there are outliers in the data that makes the data weird; adding extra cases does very little to fix that (especially if the extra cases are outliers too).

Florida might actually be 18 points better than Cal (transitively through Tennessee).

Is Tennessee 45 points better than ASU, transitively through Cal? Y'know, I have what I'm gonna call doubts.

Would Florida score 63 points more than ASU head to head? There are more steps, is it closer to true?

I know you aren't pretending this is a good way to do things, but you did claim mildly that your way was better than his slightly shorter way. I hope we're done with thoughts and/or claims like that.

All that said, I don't mean anything by it; I respect a high percentage of your posts.

Christian Thoma said...


Yeah, I should've qualified my a>b>c>d comments a tad. It really doesn't work in college football because talent disparity causes 45-3 games. What I really should've said was, the ISU-Iowa-UT-OSU 'appears' to have greater validity because none of the score differentials were greater than 20. Of course, that would be an arbitrary number, thus rendering an analysis invalid. I'll shut up now.

Besides, anyone knows you can't work stuff out like that in College Football. Wasn't it last season that MSU-UM-ND the home team lost every matchup? A>B>C>A?!?

Jen said...

I LOVE this Ohio State-Iowa debate!
I am no longer paying attention to's football season, the Indians took a dump (although they did help out some of their AL Central foes by beating others) and I'll start watching when the playoffs begin, if nothing else is on.

Pleeeease don't say "Brady Quinn to the Browns". I do think he is overrated in some aspects, and he seems like a nice kid...I don't want to see him physically harmed because there is no OL to protect him (he'd be thrown out there right away since he's overrated and people will think he's the answer). Send him elsewhere.

Hmm, I had more comments but work keeps interrupting continue this OSU-Iowa debate.

Kurt said...

"The Astros are obviously the hottest team" - Gary

Hey Gary, sorry to knock you back to reality, but the Astros with their 728 runs scored this season would be hard pressed to score 1 total run in a 4 game sweep by the Yankees.

Mega said...

The NFL will do everything in its power to get Brady Quinn in a Jets jersey. The same as the NBA made sure that Ewing went to the Knicks. Book it.

Jake C said...

Don't worry too much about the Mets yet. Remember two things, Pedro has missed half of the season. And two, they were actually 11-12 in his starts (including his ungodly ERA of something around 17 his last 4 starts). They have been the best team in the NL all season without him...still the same team as always.

Jake C said...

Oh and Dan, if you read this...I am BLAMING this Mets/Pedro thing on you. I remember when we were doing our picks, and I said A's & Mets, and then immediately asked you to change yours to prevent the jinx. There is still time...PLEASE!

Steve said...

Dan Mega said...
The NFL will do everything in its power to get Brady Quinn in a Jets jersey. The same as the NBA made sure that Ewing went to the Knicks. Book it.

If the Jets weren't willing to draft Leinart, a better qb than Quinn, they sure won't draft Quinn. Besides Quinn will be gone long before the Jets are on the clock.