Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reflections from a 14-day journey through Israel

It’s been a while since I’ve written here; as you can see, over three and a half years. This blog was created during my pursuit of becoming a sports writer, so please excuse the content below, laden with sports-related banter and weekly NFL picks.

I’m choosing to rekindle my journalistic tendencies in order to pour my feeling out into the blogosphere. I haven’t felt this strongly about any given topic in a very long time, maybe ever…

I sit here 96 hours removed from a 14-day journey through the land of Israel, which has finally been enough time for me to digest and reflect upon the emotional roller coaster that ensued and has subsequently continued since landing back in the States last Sunday morning.

I sit here literally sick to my stomach over the conflict in the Middle East, a conflict driven by hatred and extremism among neighbors. Ignorantly, before taking off for Tel Aviv on July 7, I was unaware of the true hatred and anti-semitism that exists not only in the Middle East, but all over the world, as demonstrated by this week’s anti-Israel “die-ins” that took place in my own childhood backyard: Boston, Mass.

Perhaps I knew that anti-semitism existed, but I didn’t realize how tangible, how real it is, even today. After visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, I posted a picture on Instagram with the hashtag, “prayforisrael”, materialistically trying to maximize my “likes” in hopes that people would enjoy the picture and perhaps add pro-Israel comments to contribute to the flavor of the post. Instead, a user with a Hitler-based username, a Nazi residing in Belgium made an anti-Semitic comment, followed by the emoticon of a knife, insinuating that all Jews should be killed. I quickly took down the post, as I realized just how serious this conflict had become. I am fully confident that given the opportunity, that man would gladly kill myself, along with the 40-plus others on that bus with me.

In so many words, that’s when shit got real for me.

Without being there, it’s hard to comprehend what’s going on in Israel today. As an American, it’s nearly impossible to understand what it’s like knowing that the vast majority of your neighbors want to literally kill you and all of our family and if you lose just one battle, it could end the existence of your entire nation. But I’ll tell you what; the 19-year-olds manning Israeli tanks at the Gaza border know what that feels like, much like their fathers and grandfathers did on the Syrian border decades before, defending against those whom were determined to rid of the state of Israel merely because of their existence and heritage.

Despite visiting at what most would consider an inopportune time, I feel privileged to have been able to experience what all Israelis feel on any given day, and more recently, every day. I feel privileged to have met and spent time with Israeli people (Yuda, Itay, Nadav, Omry, Rotem and Virginia, among many others) who have such a strong sense of patriotism and love for their country. Having spent time with them and listened first-hand to the way they describe the ongoings of this war, I know that what they want is peace and the ability to live lives without the fear of being hit by a rocket launched from Gaza or blown up by a terrorist who snuck into their country through a secret tunnel, built with materials sent from Israel to help grow Gaza’s infrastructure.

Not since 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing have I felt such patriotism, such passion about defending one’s backyard in honor of freedom and peace. But fortunately for America, those two events were isolated incidents (not to diminish either one), whereas this continues to happen day-in and day-out in both Israel and Gaza.

Five times during my 14-day journey I heard sirens and had to flee to a nearby “safe area” while rockets fired from Gaza sailed toward me and my friends. To your average American, that thought sounds terrifying. But oddly enough, as almost all the rockets were blasted down by the Iron Dome (an anti-missile defense system greatly funded by the US), that sense of fear was quickly replaced by a stronger sense of pride and comfort. I never felt unsafe, and neither did the five-year-olds dancing and singing in the basement of our Kibbutz as the sirens rang overhead. It’s difficult to explain, but in Israel, fear is replaced by senses of unity and family, knowing that everyone is feeling similarly, hoping to find peace and recognition among neighboring countries filled with hate.

I don’t know what it was like to live in America in the 1940s, and before this journey, I never thought I would. You look at black and white pictures from the Holocaust and they seem ancient, outdated, surreal. It’s literally terrifying to know that many of those same feelings exist today, especially in cities like Boston and Paris, Western cities renowned for their culture and social liberalism.

Despite 9/11 and the Marathon bombing, we Americans tend to take freedom for granted, not necessarily to a flaw, but because here, that sense of liberty is assumed. Canadians aren’t digging tunnels under the Michigan border to sneak into our country and kill as many of us as possible in a flurry of martyrdom and self-worth. Mexicans aren’t launching rockets into Texas during so-called humanitarian ceasefires while we send aid to their people.

The same, unfortunately can’t be said about our allies in the Middle East.

I feel fortunate to have met such amazing people during my two weeks in Israel. But I feel saddened and sickened about what continues to go on over there. Sadly, this war is fueled by severe hatred and the inability to coexist with others of different viewpoints and opinions, many of which are religious-based.

More so than I ever have before, I’m proud to be an American and I’m proud to be of Jewish descent. Thankfully, I feel safe and confident in both remarks.

But despite going from black and white to color, HD and 3D in a mere 70 years, not everyone can. That’s a somber, scary thought.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How you can help me at work in 2011

In June of 2009, I wrote a blog post hinting that -- my employer at that time -- was about to launch a new version of its Web site. Days later, my boss stumbled upon the post, which led to a mild scolding of me, warning me to be careful about divulging internal, easily-accessible information to the public. Needless to say, I'm going to be more cautious this time.

My current employer -- Coyote -- is a Third-Party Logistics firm; in other words, a "freight broker." We serve as a middle-man between customers with freight and trucking companies that can move that freight.

My job as a customer sales representative is to get freight from clients (clients that I must acquire myself) so we can effectively move that freight for them, based on our relationships with carriers (trucking companies, essentially) across the country. "Freight" is basically anything that can be moved on trucks. (I'd rather not give examples in order not to hint at any of our current clients. Yes, I'm being super safe here for aforementioned reasons.)

That said, I've realized a few things about business over the past few years. In order to be successful, you have to network as much as you physically can and you have to market yourself, which is what I'm doing now.

In 2010, I spoke to longtime friends Ryan Fannon and Danny Sullivan about moving freight for their respective companies, and I've been in touch with Missy Owens's company as well (I'll keep them anonymous for obvious reasons). I've also been in contact with several leads given to me by family members, one of which turned into my best customer in the fourth quarter of last year.

I've thought about posting this for a long time now, but figured that the first business eve of the new year was the most appropriate time for it.

In the past, I typically get 100-200 readers per blog post when I post it on Facebook (thank you, Google Analytics and Mark Zuckerberg), so I figured there was no better way for me to network and self-market than here.

So I ask you, if your employer, family friend, uncle, brother's neighbor or cousin's college buddy knows someone that moves freight, please let me know. Warm leads are always the best kind of leads.

In the same light, I'd love to help people with their own businesses, portfolios or job situations. Contrary to semi-popular belief, I'm actually a pretty selfless guy; I've hooked several people up with jobs at Coyote and have helped others with their business as well (the name Sean Goldfaden comes to mind).

I have a good feeling about 2011, especially for young people in the business world. I think there will be many places for hard-working, motivated young people fresh out of college.

So I ask for each of your help with my current, personal portfolio as we head into 2011. And if there's anything I can do to help you, please let me know as well. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Sounds like a fair deal to me.

Thanks, guys. Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 7 Picks

Last Week: 7-6-1

Overall: 49-37-4

Simmons Last Week: 7-6-1

Simmons Overall: 47-39-4

Pretty sure I screwed up the math somewhere before this week, so I'll trust that Simmons' overall numver of games is right, considering his picks are edited and posted on and mine are done here when I'm usually hungover. Simmons and I tied last week, so I hold a two-game lead over him heading into Week 7. What a matchup.

Steelers -3 at DOLPHINS -- The Steelers are the best team in football. They'll show why on Sunday.

FALCONS -3.5 Bengals -- If the Bengals weren't coming off a bye, this line would be Falcons -6. Do byes really help that much? We'll find out.

CHIEFS -6.5 Jaguars -- I normally hate -6.5. And I hate betting against teams that sucked on national TV the week before because everyone wants to bet against them. But the Chiefs are for real and after blowing it in Houston last week, they're on a mission. KC by 13.

TITANS -3 Eagles -- Short week for the Titans. Good thing they have that short running back who's faster than Brett Favre's decline from popularity. He sucked last week and had over 100 yards rushing. Isn't this about the same time he started averaging 278 yards and three touchdowns per game last season?

BEARS -3 Redskins -- Are they really going to lose two straight home games to the Seahawks and Redskins?

SAINTS -13 Browns -- Drew Brees and Co. finally found their rhythm last week against the Buccaneers in Tampa. The Browns at home shouldn't hinder that progress.

Bills +13 RAVENS -- Ryan Fitzpatrick has played relatively well since being inserted into the starting lineup. The Harvard boy has to keep it within two touchdowns coming off a bye, right? Definitely not, but I'll take the Bills here anyway.

49ers -3 PANTHERS -- Can the 9ers make the playoffs after starting 0-5? It's possible in the NFC West. Let's find out.

BUCCANEERS -2.5 Rams -- Dome team on grass with a rookie quarterback against a team who just got blown out against the defending champs. Duh.

Cardinals +5.5 SEAHAWKS -- Max Hall, anyone?

Patriots +3 CHARGERS -- No Vincent Jackson. Antonio Gates is banged up. No more LT. Dei0n has the game-winner in the 4th quarter. I think we've seen that one before.

Raiders +8 BRONCOS -- Eight points in a divisional game with Darren McFadden coming back from injury? I would have said 6.5 and still taken Oakland.

Vikings +3 PACKERS -- This is why they flew down to Mississippi to get Favre back. For this game alone.

COWBOYS -3 Giants -- NFC East road games are so tough. Can the 'Boys really go 1-5?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 6 Picks

Last Week: 6-8

Overall: 42-29-3

Simmons Last Week: 9-5

Simmons Overall: 40-33-3

Simmons smoked me last week, but I still hold a three-game edge heading into Week 6. I didn't have time this week to write out a column, but I did email myself picks on Friday so I could post them late today, Sunday. Right now, the late games are in the second half, so I'll write what I was thinking (if anything) when I made them, then what actually happened in the games that are finished in italics.

Chargers -8 RAMS (L) -- Rams suck; Chargers don't. Uhh, turns out the opposite is true.

Chiefs +4.5 TEXANS (W) -- Part of me thinks this is a sucker bet; the other part thinks the Chiefs are for real. I'll go with the latter half. Thank god for that half-point.

PATRIOTS -2.5 Ravens (W) -- Never bet against Bill Belichick after a bye. Uhh thanks for the half-point. Again.

Saints -4 BUCCANEERS (W) -- The Saints have to click at some point, right? Yup.

EAGLES -2.5 Falcons (W) -- Kevin Kolb is better than he's getting credit for. Man, he has something to prove. Yup again.

GIANTS -10 Lions (L) -- Lions haven't won a road game since the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007. Yes, that's a fact, brought to you by none other than Jeremy Hyman. What a second half for Calvin Johnson. Lions cover, but still a goose egg since '07.

BEARS -6 Seahawks (L) -- NFC West teams can't win on the road out of the division. Uhh, yes they can.

PACKERS -3 Dolphins (L) --Packers don't lose at home, as long as A-Rod's healthy. Apparently they do.

STEELERS -13.5 Browns (W) -- Prediction: 38-3. Close enough.

Jets -3 BRONCOS -- You know I love home teams against teams on short weeks. Maybe if I pick the Jets and use reverse psychology, it will actually happen. Nah, I just think the Jets are that good.

Raiders +6.5 49ERS -- Have you ever seen an 0-5 team favored by 6.5 points? Ever?

Cowboys +1.5 VIKINGS -- Favre's toast.

Colts -3 REDSKINS -- Am I really supposed to bet against Peyton on primetime? Really?

Titans -2.5 JAGUARS -- I also love home teams +2.5. But I think I love Chris Johnson a bit more.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 5 Picks

Last Week: 9-5

Overall: 36-23-3

Simmons Last Week: 6-8

Simmons Overall: 31-28-3

Slowly but surely I’m digging Simmons into a deeper and deeper hole. A blowout performance last week gives me some breathing room here for Week 5. But I show no mercy; time to bring the heat!

RAVENS -7 Broncos – Kyle Orton has looked more like John Elway than Kyle Orton through four weeks. Kyle, this is Ravens defense. Ravens defense, this is Kyle.

BILLS -1 Jaguars – The 0-4 Bills are favored at home after the Jags took down the Colts in Jacksonville. Love it!

COLTS -7 Chiefs – Never bet against Bill Belichick after a bye week. Oh wait, the Chiefs have Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Scott Pioli, Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel, but no Belichick. I’ll take Peyton Manning coming off a loss to the lowly Jaguars.

LIONS -3 Rams – Another 0-4 team favored? Wins against fellow NFC West teams don’t count in my book. Lions roll and Megatron leads my fantasy team to another victory, this time over Matt Magnani in my Framingham FAM keeper league.

Falcons -3 BROWNS – The Browns can’t win back-to-back games against winning teams, can they? Prove it!

Buccaneers +7 BENGALS – Man that’s a lot of points for a 2-1 team coming off a bye. Remember the name: Mike Williams.

PANTHERS -2.5 Bears – This line has shifted five points since Monday. Todd Collins at quarterback on the road? No thanks.

Packers -2.5 REDSKINS – Man I hate -2.5 on the road. But the Packers looked shitty against the Lions at home last week and the McNabb took down the Eagles in Philly that afternoon. Packers roll; that’s just how the NFL works.

TEXANS -3 Giants – Just like he did with “Shutter Island” for Tyler Fishbune last semester, Brian Walesa ruined Simmons’ Texans pick by posting it on my Facebook wall. Unfortunately, I agree with him. Playing the Bears after a Monday night battle with the Packers was a gift for the G-Men. This week, not so much.

Saints -7 CARDINALS – The Super Bowl champs haven’t quite clicked yet. A little dose of Derek Anderson and the Cardinals should do the trick. And by the way, Drew Brees, how about throwing the ball to Marques Colston, your best receiver? Could that help, perhaps? Jesus Christ, you’re killing my Bro Haus fantasy team! (That and Andre Johnson and Ryan Grant’s ankles, respectively).

Chargers -6 RAIDERS – For some reason I hate betting against the Raiders on late home games. I have no stats to back it up, just a gut feeling. But the Chargers are rollin’, and Darren McFadden is out. Go Phillip, go! Did I really just say that?

Titans +7 COWBOYS – The Cowboys Line Inflation Theory, brought to you by Jordan Russum. I mean, he did patent the Sucker Bet Theory with me in 2007. Seven points? I like it.

49ers -3 Eagles – Three 0-4 favorites at home. No more Michael Vick for Philly, at least for now. I’m calling it; Kevin Kolb actually poops in his pants when Patrick Willis stares at him at the line. Just remember where you heard it first.

Vikings +4 JETS – Ugh, I have to root for Randy Moss THIS week? Scratch that, I’m rooting for a 0-0 tie.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 4 Picks

Last Week: 9-7

Overall: 27-18-3

Simmons Last Week: 10-6

Simmons Overall: 26-19-3

Once again, it came down to Monday night, but this time Simmons got me, taking the Bears at home over the Packers. What an impossible game to take, as the Pack shot themselves in the foot with 18 penalties on the road, never a recipe for success, especially away from home. I still have Simmons by a game overall, though. Now on to Week 4.

Broncos +6.5 TITANS – I love +6.5 lines, as most people think, “They’ll win by at least a touchdown.” Such an enticing line to take the favorites, but I won’t bite. Kyle Orton seems to have found a new weapon in Brandon Lloyd. Horses cover on the road. And don’t be surprised if Laurence Maroney has a significant impact either.

STEELERS -1.5 Ravens – Kind of weird they’re not -3 here; a little scary. But how can you bet against that defense right now? At home!

Bengals -3 BROWNS – Hate this game. Just can’t bet on the Browns getting only three.

Lions +14.5 PACKERS – Short week for the Pack. Too many points. I think?

Panthers +13.5 SAINTSNew Orleans hasn’t clicked yet. Pierre Thomas is banged up, Reggie Bush is out and Mike Bell is gone. That might just be enough for the Panthers to cover two touchdowns. Maybe.

49ers +6.5 FALCONS – 49ers were on a short week on the road last week. Falcons are coming off a huge win over the Super Bowl champs. Watch out for Frank Gore.

Seahawks -1 RAMS – Can the Rams really win two games in a row? I’ll take the under.

Jets -5 BILLS – Mark Sanchez actually looks like an NFL quarterback. That’s scary.

Colts -7 JAGUARS – I know they always play them tough. But I told you I refuse to bet against Peyton Manning.

Texans -3 RAIDERS – Ugh what a trap. You might find me at the bottom of the ditch.

CHARGERS -8 Cardinals – Phil Rivers doesn’t seem to be missing Vinny Jackson much. Can you say blowout?

Redskins +5.5 EAGLES – Can you say “Chip on your shoulder”? Does he get booed or cheered? That’s the million-dollar question.

GIANTS -4 Bears – Short week on the road. All day baby!

DOLPHINS pick Patriots – Obviously picking with my head here, not my heart. Pats never play well when they take their talents to South Beach.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week 3 Picks

Last Week: 10-5-1

Overall: 18-11-3

Simmons Last Week: 9-6-1

Simmons Overall: 16-13-3

For the second straight week, Senor Simmons and I were tied going into Monday night. And for the second straight week, I came out on top, after the 49ers covered at home against Drew Brees and the Saints. What a pick. Now, on to Week 3.

GIANTS -3 Titans – Gmen looked terrible last week against Big Brother Peyton. They bounce back with a win at home over Chris Johnson and Tennessee.

SAINTS -3.5 Falcons -- Brees and Co. take care of business at home.

PATRIOTS -14 Bills – I’d probably take the Pats -20 here. 31-3, homies. I swear that’s a partial opinion.

Browns +10.5 RAVENS – Too many points for a defensive-minded team in a heated rivalry game. Am I really betting on the Browns?

Steelers -2 BUCCANEERS – It’s a simple formula: when Troy Polamalu is on the field, the Steelers win.

Bengals -3 PANTHERS – Ugh, -3 on the road. The line is really only three with Jimmy Clausen making his first career start? Something’s fishy here, but I’ll take the cats, of the orange and black variety, that is.

CHIEFS +2.5 49ers – Love the Chiefs here. 9ers just impressed everyone at home against the Saints. Now they head to Arrowhead on a short week. No brainer.

Lions +11 VIKINGS – Detroit will be 0-3 leaving Minnesota, but 3-0 against the spread. Here, that’s all that counts.

Cowboys +3 TEXANS – The sucker bet of the week. The 0-2 Cowboys visit the red-hot 2-0 Texans. And the line’s only three. Vegas knows what’s up here. I’ll take “America’s team.”

Redskins -3.5 RAMS – Donovan McNabb looks refreshed in a ‘Skins uniform. I just can’t get myself to take the Rams getting less than four points against anyone. Although that didn’t serve me very well last week.

Eagles -3 JAGUARS – Man I’m taking a lot of road teams. I hate that. But Michael Vick will prove why he deserves to be the starter in Philly. He’s just got too much to play for.

Colts -5.5 BRONCOS – Every time I bet against the Colts, they cover. I just can’t do it anymore!

SEAHAWKS +5.5 Chargers – Do I have to take this game? Fine, Seattle is a much different team at home versus on the road. I’ll take the home dogs.

Raiders +4.5 CARDINALS – Ew. I’ll take the points.

DOLPHINS -1.5 Jets – With Revis out, Brandon Marshall goes off. Fins win at home and there’s a three-way tie atop the AFC East.

Packers -3 BEARS – Man this is a tough one. A-Rod for MVP. And I’m not talking about Alex Rodriguez.

Ugh, I took 10 away teams, six away favorites. Damn, I’m screwed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week 2 Picks

Couldn't post this until my pool picks were in, obviously.

Last Week: 8-6-2

Bill Simmons Last Week: 7-7-2

It feels good to beat my nemesis who knows nothing about our heated rivalry in Week 1. We were tied at 6-6-2 heading into the Monday Night slate, but The Sports Guy took the Jets at home while I had faith in Joe Flacco and the Ravens on the road. We both had the Chiefs covering at home over the Chargers, so after Ray Lewis and Co. made Mark Sanchez look like Ryan Leaf, I had Week 1 locked up.

Now it’s Jay-Z time: On to the next one (man, I’m a dork)…

Chiefs +1.5 BROWNS – This smells like a serious sucker bet. Browns lost to Tampa. Chiefs beat the Chargers on Monday night, now heading on the road on a short week. Still, can’t bet against Patriots West until they prove me otherwise.

PACKERS -13 Bills – Not scared about laying 13. Not scared about no Ryan Grant, even though I’m pissed I drafted him in the 2nd round of my Bro Haus fantasy league. Pack in a blowout.

BENGALS +2 Ravens – Bengals didn’t even show up in Foxboro last week. Ravens on the road on a short week. Home team wins this tight division matchup.

Steelers +5 TITANS – Best defensive player in the league (not named Revis) against the most explosive offensive player in the league. I’ll take the points and Rashard Mendenhall; Big Ten love.

LIONS +6 Eagles – Calvin secures the ball with two hands this time. Lions lose another close one, assuming former Badger DeAndre Levy relatively successfully QB-spies Mike Vick.

Bears +7.5 COWBOYS – Over a touchdown? Are the Bears really that bad? Are the Cowboys really that good?

PANTHERS -3.5 Buccaneers – Bucs on the road getting less than four points? I’ll take the Panthers, with DeAngelo Williams at quarterback and Jonathan Stewart at tailback. Matt Moore can rest up for this one.

FALCONS -6.5 Cardinals – Cardinals barely escaped the Rams last week. And now they’re getting less than a touchdown in Atlanta. Roddy White goes off with 185 yards and two scores in this one.

VIKINGS -5.5 Dolphins – Lot of rest for ol’ Brett. This time they’ll let their best player touch the ball in the 2nd half. And I’m definitely not talking about No. 4.

RAIDERS -3.5 Rams – The Rams are really getting less than four on the road? Wow.

BRONCOS -3.5 Seahawks – Last week was a fluke. Let’s see of Pete Carroll can win on the road in the altitude.

TEXANS -3 Redskins – Texans score 34 points and Matt Shaub and Andre the Giant barely contribute. I’m scared to see them actually try.

CHARGERS -7 Jaguars – No way they go 0-2. Jags get jet-lagged in So Cal.

Patriots -3 JETS – Is LT really going to lead the Jets over the Pats? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Giants +5.5 COLTS – Big brother squeaks one out against lil’ bro on national TV.

49ERS +5 Saints – I took the 49ers against Arizona last year on Monday (or Sunday?) night after the Cards demolished the Vikings the week before. History always repeats itself.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Diarrhea of the Mind, Episode 5: Thoughts From Week 1

This week is my last week of training at Coyote, meaning it’s the last time I can justify fucking around during lunch instead of trying to book hot loads of freight (perhaps I’ll cue you in on some industry jargon in a future post).

So since all I can think about it football, now seems like an appropriate time for Diarrhea of the Mind, NFL style…

Jesus Christ, Arian Foster. I just drafted in two new keeper leagues; how the hell did I not draft him in either? God damnit, Tyler Fishbune and Jeff Park.

At least I drafted Matt Forte in the fifth round of my Bro Haus league.

Speaking of the Bears, as much as I wanted them to lose, Calvin Johnson’s “catch” was not a catch. It’s like the Tuck Rule; it’s a shitty rule and it should have been a touchdown (and eight more fantasy points for me against Danny Sullivan), but based on the rule that’s written, it was the right call. How hard would it have been to keep two hands on the ball? Come on, man!

Are the Redskins for real or did the Cowboys just suck? Didn’t watch; I was too busy getting my wallet, credit card, debit card, license, cell phone, boxers and new Coyote t-shirt stolen from the gym. Yeah, awesome night. At least he spared me my iPod.

Along those same lines, what the hell happened in Seattle? Are the Seahawks actually going to contend in the NFC West? Sure looks that way after 60 minutes of football.

Man the Pats looked good. The Bengals didn’t even show up, but boy Tom Brady reminded me of his 2007 version. Jets next week; oh baby!

Speaking of the Patriots, does Randy Moss really need to go on a 16-minute rant about his contract after embarrassing Cincy at home? Just play, Randy; your agent will take care of the rest. That’s why he gets a percentage of your salary, homie.

The Texans really scored 34 points and Matt Schaub only threw for 107 yards? Oh yeah, Foster.

How much did Vegas clean up on that game, by the way? Colts -2 at Houston. Is this the year of the Sucker Bet?

I’m tied with Bill Simmons (6-6-2) heading into the Monday Night games. Come on, Ravens!
OK, Michael Vick. As much of a thug as he is, man is he fun to watch.

Twelve-of-25, no touchdowns, two picks, one fumble for Mark Sanchez tonight. Did I mention I was rooting for the Ravens?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zet vs. Simmons/Vegas: Week 1

Allow my sports dorkiness to continue. For years I have studied football not just from a win-loss perspective, but against Las Vegas' odds. I've dabbled with some mild gambling, hovering around even. Throughout college I discussed ad nauseum weekly lines with my roommates, while helping Danny Tuckman with his picks with Uncle Howie and Russell Thaw with his weekly teasers.

Now it's my turn, for no money. I will pick each game each week against the odds and see how I fare. I'll compare it to Bill Simmons of ESPN's picks, for I am him, 15 years younger in a world where New Age Journalism just doesn't make any sense.

So here we go; Week 1. Let the games begin:

SAINTS (-4.5) Vikings – If it weren’t for his Cal Ripken games streak, Favre would be sitting on Thursday. His ankle + no Sidney Rice + Percy Harvin’s headaches + banner being raised = blowout. Saints by 13.

Panthers (+7) GIANTS – Too many points for a team that can rush for 250 yards and control the clock. I think the Matt Moore/Steve Smith combo will turn some heads this year, too.

Dolphins (-3) BILLS – Ugh, I hate -3 on the road in a division game. That being said, the Bills might not win five games this year. And one won’t come against the Dolphins, at least while Ronnie Brown is still healthy.

STEELERS (+2) Falcons – Dome team on the worst turf in football. Rashard Mendenhall controls the time of possession for Pittsburgh. Steelers win ugly by a field goal.

Lions (+6.5) BEARS – Welcome to the Jahvid Best Show. Ndamukong Suh also makes Jay Cutler his bitch with a pair of violent, blood-curling sacks.

Bengals (+4.5) PATRIOTS – Terrible matchup for the Patriots’ corners who have a combined five career starts between them. Bill Belichick knows that. Pats play possession ball and win the chess match by four.

BUCCANEERS (-3) Browns – Why not? Are people in Cleveland and Tampa even going to watch this game?

JAGUARS (-2.5) Broncos – Who is Kyle Orton going to throw the ball to without Brandon Marshall? I’ll take the home team with the best player on the field: MJD.

Colts (-2) TEXANS – Texans always play the Colts tough, right? I thought so, too, until I saw that the Colts are 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 against Houston. I bet against Peyton Manning too many times last year and got burned. Fool me once, shame on you…

Raiders (+6.5) TITANS – No one was watching, but the Raiders sneakily kept games close in the second half of last season. I’ll take the points.

Packers (-3) EAGLES – Ugh, another road favorite -3? Packers are too explosive not to cover.

49ers (-3) SEAHAWKS – Wanted to take the Hawks at home with the points. But Mike Singletary vs. Pete Carroll? Really?

RAMS (+4) Cardinals – Again, why not?

Cowboys (-3.5) REDSKINS – My roommate, Mike Clair, says the Redskins always suck on national TV. That’s good enough for me.

Ravens (+2.5) JETS – Too many weapons. Mark Sanchez sucks. Darrelle Revis is rusty. No Santonio Holmes. I swear that’s a non-biased opinion.

CHIEFS (+5.5) Chargers – Patriots West cover at home against the Vincent Jackson-less Chargers.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Commissioner's Analysis

Before I get started, I want everyone to know that I am aware that I am a huge nerd. I love fantasy football, but even more than that, I love to write, make fun of my close friends and compete against them. Fantasy football allows me to do all of the above. So I spent my free time (of which I've had little since I now wake up at 5am and don't get home 'til 7pm most nights) analyzing "The Real Keeper League's" fantasy draft from Sunday night. Hey, I admitted I was a nerd.

Jerry Po

I thought Jerry drafted the best out of everyone. He has depth for this season and legitimate keeper options for the future. Three legit starting running backs plus C.J. Spiller makes him a favorite this season.

Solid Picks

Pierre Thomas (Round 3, Overall Pick 25) – With Mike Bell gone, that means more touches for Thomas and Reggie Bush.

Arian Foster (4, 48) – The Texans seem to hate Steve Slaton and Ben Tate is out for the year. Huge value for a No. 1 back in round four.

C.J. Spiller (5, 49) – Huge upside in our keeper format. Too good to pass up here.

Santana Moss (8, 96) – Still a No. 1 wideout with a huge upgrade at quarterback in Donovan McNabb. Could Donovan make him this year’s DeSean Jackson? Definitely worth finding out in round eight.

Mike Williams (13, 145) – Having himself a solid preseason. The better Josh Freeman gets, the better Williams’ value becomes.

Sketchy Picks



Chris Johnson could single-handedly make him a contender this year. Especially if Brett Favre has half the season he did in 2009.

Solid Picks

Miles Austin (3, 26) – One of the best route runners in the NFL. Can’t believe he fell to No. 26 overall.

Visanthe Shiancoe (7, 74) – Without Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin’s migraines, who is Brett Favre going to target in the endzone? Has to be Shiancoe.

Vincent Jackson (12, 143) – Should he play at all this season, this is a steal. Regardless, there’s huge sleeper value here for 2011.

Donovan McNabb (11, 122) – Good backup to Favre, after stretching for No. 4.

Sketchy Picks

Brett Favre (4, 47) – Bum ankle makes this pick a stretch. Plus Rice and Harvin’s question marks. Can he really repeat his performance from last season?

Mike Sims-Walker (5, 50) – Has "one-year wonder" written all over him.

Garrett Hartley (9, 98) – Everyone knows you don’t pick a kicker until the 14th round at least. What the fuck were you all (not just Brooksie, as you will see) doing drafting them this early?


You’d think he grew up down the street from my new apartment. Jahvid Best, Jermichael Finley, Matt Forte, Sidney Rice in consecutive picks. What, was the NFC North blogger your homepage?

Solid Picks

Jermichael Finley (4, 46) – Once Killer Mike took Vernon Davis, this was a gimme.

Eli Manning (10, 118) – I like the strategy. Huge value here in round 10.

Alex Smith (14, 166) – Good value with Davis and Michael Crabtree, especially as a keeper. Plus he plays in the worst division in football.

Darrius Heyward-Bey (15, 171) – Al Davis has to try to justify taking him before Crabtree, right? Maybe Jason Campbell gets him the ball. Why not in the last round?

Sketchy Picks

Jahvid Best (3, 27) – Kind of early for an unproven rookie coming off an injury on the Lions. But there is a lot of keeper potential.

Sidney Rice (6, 70) – Out at least six weeks. Better hope you’re no worse than 3-3 when he comes back.

Nate Kaeding (9, 99) – Really? In round nine?!


Your two best wide receivers are Hakeem Nicks and Robert Meachem. That's not good.

Solid Picks

LeSean McCoy (4, 45) – If he’s half the man Brian Westbrook was, this is a great pick.

Braylon Edwards (12, 141) – Who else is Mark Sanchez going to throw to with Santonio Holmes out four weeks? Assuming he can hold onto the ball, that is.

Anthony Gonzalez (15, 172) – Huge value here. Solid route-runner. Just has to beat out Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. That could be tough having not played in two years. Still, why not?

Sketchy Picks

Hakeem Nicks (5, 52) – Kind of early for a No. 2 wide receiver. You wouldn’t rather have Crabtree? Or Wes Welker?

Robert Meachem (6, 69) – Also kind of early. Would way rather have Dwayne Bowe or Pierre Garcon.

Lawrence Tynes (11, 124) – Need I say more?


Decent overall draft. I love Joe Flacco this year. Now you just have to pay the league entry fee and you'll be all set.

Solid Picks

Joe Flacco (6, 68) – The addition of Anquan Boldin could be huge for him. Plus, every time Ray Rice runs a screen pass for a touchdown, that’s four points for Flacco.

Carson Palmer (10, 116) – Good value here with the addition of T.O.

Darren McFadden (11, 125) – Tough to pass up on this much talent this late. They’ve invested so much in him, if he can stay healthy.

Todd Heap (14, 164) – Solid for the sole purpose that Owen Daniels is coming off an injury. Good filler ‘til the ex-Badger is back at full strength for the Texans.

Sketchy Picks



A lot of questionable picks, but that's why there's a waiver wire.

Solid Picks

Chad Henne (12, 139) – Brandon Marshall could help him put up solid numbers.

Chester Taylor (14, 163) – Should Matt Forte suck again, Taylor is a solid backup. Plus he’ll get some goal line touches.

Leon Washington (15, 174) – Pete Carroll has been raving about him all preseason. Can’t be a bad thing.

Sketchy Picks

Joseph Addai (3, 30) – Jonathan Stewart, McCoy and Foster were all still on the board. Not to mention both Steve Smiths, Jennings and Marques Colston.

Stephen Gostkowski (8, 91) – Hmmm, Santana Moss or a kicker. Come on, Benji!


Beanie Wells in the fifth round was a gift. Love Frank Gore this year, too.

Solid Picks

Beanie Wells (5, 55) – Can’t believe he fell this late. One more pick and I had him!

Malcolm Floyd (7, 79) – No Vincent Jackson. Philip Rivers needs a new weapon.

Terrell Owens (10, 114) – Maybe Palmer resurrects Owens with Ocho streaking deep.

Sketchy Picks

Mason Crosby (9, 103) – At this point, I could do nothing but chuckle.

Ben Tate (13, 151) – Never good to draft players who are out for the season.


Really wanted Frank Gore, Michael Turner or Andre Johnson at No. 8. Took Shonn Greene by default. I like my running back/wide receiver depth. Wish I had one more real solid running back, but maybe that will emerge from my bench or a trade.

Solid Picks

Greg Jennings (3, 32) – Has to have more touchdowns than last season. He’s the No. 1 fantasy quarterback’s No. 1 receiver.

Dez Bryant (8, 89) – Figured there was good keeper potential here. Jerry Jones wouldn’t have wasted a No. 1 draft pick on someone he wouldn’t use.

Zach Miller (10, 113) – ESPN's Matthew Berry said he loved Miller if he was around in the tenth round. So that’s what I did.

Tim Hightower (11, 128) – Still might be the starter in Arizona. He’s a platoon at worst for this season, with Beanie on the horizon.

Bernard Berrian (13, 152) – Should be Favre’s No. 1 wideout ‘til Rice gets back.

Sketchy Picks

Shonn Greene (1, 8) – May have been a stretch here, but who else would I have taken? Had to show my Big Ten loyalty.

Philip Rivers (4, 41) – No Vinny Jackson may hurt his numbers. But he has to perform with a rookie running back behind him. May have been a stretch, though.


Team rides a lot on Knowshon Moreno and Kevin Kolb. If they perform, you will contend.

Solid Picks

Kevin Kolb (8, 88) – Good value here. Andy Reid loves to throw the ball.

Sketchy Picks

Percy Harvin (6, 64) – The migraines are a legitimate concern.


A bunch of decent picks. If Justin Forsett and Jerome Harrison play like they did at the end of last season, you will definitely contend.

Solid Picks

Nothing out of the ordinary.

Sketchy Picks

Rob Bironas (10, 111) – I wanted him. But in round 14.

Kevin Smith (12, 135) – With Donald Brown on deck, this was an interesting pick. At least he knows it.

Killer Mike

A lot of question marks but a lot of upside. You better hope Donald Driver plays like he did in '09.

Solid Picks

Ahmad Bradshaw (5, 59) – Brandon Jacobs is toast. I like it.

Demaryius Thomas (13, 155) – Huge upside for the first rounder in Denver.

Sketchy Picks

Vernon Davis (4, 38) – Not terrible, but can he really have 11 touchdowns again? I’ll tell you who could: Jermichael Finley, who was available here.


Very solid mid-round drafting. I wanted The Rapist and Santonio Holmes when you took them.

Solid Picks

Wes Welker (6, 61) – Seems to be healthy. If that’s true, he’s a Top 15 wideout in the Pats’ offense.

Reggie Bush (7, 84) – He’s running hard this preseason without Mike Bell ahead of him.

Ben Roethlisberger (10, 109) – Good insurance for A-Rod. Lots of keeper potential here, too.

Santonio Holmes (11, 132) – Should be a solid No. 2 fantasy wideout after his suspension. If so, what a keeper for ’11.

Sketchy Picks