Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Top 3: Most Responsible Parties for Economic Crisis

Over the last few months, we’ve all been watching as the economy has made like the body of a European runway model: fed on itself and slowly disintegrated. I’ve seen and heard quite a bit in the papers and on television about the causes of this crisis and who is to blame. It appears that many blame Wall Street. I cannot totally disagree with that. Much of the proliferation of the economic downturn was caused by the investment banks and their “greed is good” philosophies; however I would not be so quick to make Wall Street such a convenient scapegoat. With an economic crisis so widespread it’s impossible for the blame to go to one group. Many are responsible for this problem, and by my estimation, the most culpable might have even lived next door to you:

3) The Clinton Administration: You remember these folks don’t you? They can hardly escape this list. Before they were caught stealing the silverware on their way out of the White House in 2000, they spent the better part of the 90’s pushing housing policies that made home ownership more affordable to lower income Americans. These policies helped create such conditions as: increased lending to people with poor credit history, borrowing with little or no down payment, adjustable rate mortgages with irresponsibly low teaser rates.

The Clinton administration pushed housing policies (with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as an accessory) that helped create a sector of the population that a)simply could not afford the homes they lived in or b) could only afford the homes they lived in based on favorable market and interest rate conditions (which were allowed to get to recklessly low levels under Alan Greenspan). This faction of homeowners might as well have acted as the pin that eventually popped the housing bubble.

2) Wall Street: If you think of the economic crisis as a breakout of poison ivy, Wall Street’s influence would not be involved in the initial infection, but rather the scratching that makes it ten times worse. Investment banks, hedge funds, brokerage houses, and most all financial institutions were guilty of not seeing the inherent risks in betting the house in financial instruments tied to the housing market.

Individual home mortgages do not exist in vacuums. They are often sold off and packaged into securitized and collateralized bundles that can be bought and sold in the markets. A bundle might include thousands of individual mortgages. Without going into too much detail here, the common wisdom was that an individual mortgage is riskier than a package of them. Basically, because your exposure to delinquent payments is mitigated averaged out many mortgages. Agencies that rate financial instruments failed to see the danger of the interconnectedness of the housing market (a potential wide-spread reason/cause that would have mortgages going bad) and rated the mortgage packages based on historical mortgage repayment levels. They were given high ratings. Many even as high as AAA.

Even though they were rated as high as AAA, these mortgage securities often “paid off” slightly higher most AAA securities. Historically Wall Street smells a potential arbitrage like this like a shark smells blood in the water. They threw huge sums of money at the opportunity to make small percentage points on a single trade. It was not uncommon to risk something like $1 Billion, on a securitized mortgage related trade, with the hopes of making like $10 million….which sounds like a lot, until you realize that’s only 1%.

When the housing market started to fail these financial instruments failed, these banks were left open to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of exposure. Moreover, each Wall Street firm is/was so heavily invested in the other banks and funds, as one failed they all failed….like a house of cards.

1) Your friends and FORMER neighbors: Conventional wisdom had once held that the housing market would always go up and was an impregnable investment. However, blood-letting was also once conventional wisdom as well.

People bought houses that were way out of their means. Don’t want to stomp on the American dream, but it’s very simple: people with bad credit and 30K yearly income should not own $3 million dollar homes. What’s more people knew that they couldn’t afford these homes, but because of the low “teaser” rate mortgages and nearly zero-down loans they were allowed to enter in mortgages. The thinking was, “Well, I can afford the mortgage payments for right now….when the rates go up and I can’t make the payments anymore I’ll just sell the house. By that time it will have appreciated in value and I’ll just make ten grand or so off the difference. No harm no foul.”

Little thing happened on the way to the bank: the housing market back-tracked. The impregnable investment became pregnable. People failed on their mortgage payments and sold their homes at a loss (if they were able to sell at all). This happened at widespread levels and (with aforementioned help of financial institutions) permeated the entire economy.

Lack of controls in the credit market was a problem….super low interest rates didn’t help…politicians grandstanding for more home ownership wasn’t the greatest either….but individual people should have been more responsible in buying homes and entering into mortgages that they could reasonably afford.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Predictions

You’re most likely reading this Monday morning, but I wanted to make sure I got this up before tonight’s Academy Awards Show. That way you can grade my predictions.

Most year’s I don’t really have a take on who should win an Oscar and why, however this year I am very interested in making predictions for one reason: I haven’t seen most of the nominated movies. Most years I’ve seen nearly all the movies nominated in the relevant categories, had an idea about who should win an award, and then been completely baffled when they gave another one of those statues to some “Judi Dench type“ (more on this latter).

Now some of you might be thinking: “Isn’t it ridiculous to make predictions on movies and actor/actresses performances when you haven’t seen them?” How silly of you to think that matters. I would contend that in the years that I saw all the films I was TOO informed, and therefore too biased to actually predict winners. From what I can tell, the Academy voters aren’t identifying the best movies and best performances, but rather trying to show you how progressive and informed they are about “the art of film”. Think of them as an art critic looking at you cross-eyed because you think an abstract painting looks like crap.

With all that said I’m going to use ridiculous backdoor logic and reasoning to predict winners and losers. I promise to use as little information about the performances from the movies I have actually seen as possible. Lets see how close I get.


Amy Adams (Doubt)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Maria Tomei (The Wrestler)

I’ve actually seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but so have a lot of other people. Too many in fact for Henson to win this award. I haven’t seen any of the other movies represented in this category. I wanted to see The Wrestler, but it has only been playing in small art-house theatres and hasn’t gotten a full release yet (probably to give the film some mystery so its actors can win awards). Tomei can’t win because she already won a best supporting actress award she shouldn’t have (My Cousin Vinny) and won’t be given another one. Really this category comes down to Viola Davis and Cruz. Viola Davis has a chance to win because I’ve heard she has a VERY small role in Doubt, and the academy has some history of giving awards to actresses who have small and “impactful” roles (Judi Dench won and award for 7 minutes in Shakespeare in Love!). However, I’m going to give this award to Penelope Cruz because she is nominated for a Woody Allen movie. Oscar votes love for people to think that they get Woody Allen movies. By giving her an award there is also a chance that Woody will be in attendance. People just want to publicly view Woody, and want to see his reaction when she thanks him in her acceptance speech. Also, I heard she does her role in Spanish. Doesn’t make it a better performance, but it does increase her chances of winning.

WINNER: Penelope Cruz


Josh Brolin (Milk)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

These actors are nominated in this category for various reasons. Robert Downey Jr. because he had a “comback” year and the Academy LOVES a comeback story (more on that later). They also want to show the public that they have a sense of humor by nominating him for role in a movie likeTropic Thunder. Hoffman, who I actually like a lot, gets nominated every time he is in a movie about a serious topic (as he is in Doubt). So that’s why he’s in here. I haven’t seen Revolutionary Road (and have exactly zero interst) but heard Michael Shannon plays a partially mentally-handicapped individual. That’s worth a nomination because he (to quote Downey’s character in Tropic Thunder) “didn’t go full retard. People can’t identify with full retard.”

Oh and by the way, if you didn't know, Ledger wins this category by a landslide. I’ve seen Dark Knight, and his performance is inspired,transcendent, and deserves an Academy Award….but that’s not why he wins here. Most years he would not have gotten this nomination because he was in a comic book movie. Usually too low brow for the Academy. However, this year he had an ace up his sleeve…..he died. It’s not like he can win next year. Sympathy is a powerful thing. Enough so that the Oscar voters do the right thing here and inadvertantly award the best performance in this category.

WINNER: Heath Ledger


Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionare)
David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)
Stephan Daltry (The Reader)
Gus van Sant (Milk)

How presumptuous is this category? How is anyone supposed to know who the best director was if……you weren’t on the movie set everyday! To me that’s akin to people making Joe Torre the Manager of the Year a bunch of times, when all the voters ever saw him do was pick sunflower seeds out of his teeth. As far as predicting a winner,...sorry Ron Howard but you have no chance to win. You're too famous. Usually famous directors get hosed, because its not fun to pick them. It's like picking all #1 seeds in NCAA basketball office pool. Most famous director in the group wins like once every ten years.

I’m going to go with Danny Boyle, because 1) I don’t know who he is and 2) I’ll bet Slumdog Millionare wins best picture and the movie didn’t have any name actors. So his perceived role was so much greater. Plus its just so neat and clean to package those two awards together.

WINNER: Danny Boyle


Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Like I said, I’ve seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was pretty good, maybe a 3 star movie, but not nearly as deserving of all the nominations it has gotten. One of the nominations that it didn’t deserve is this one. In my mind Pitt and Angelina Jolie (nominated for best actress) are nominated so as to ensure they will attend the ceremony together. Any time they are both on tv, the ratings basically double.People just like to view them. I’m also going to make a prediction within a prediction: Some time in the next 12 months Pitt will get tired of living with half the third world and dump Angie and all those kids he “loves”. I’d bet a million dollars on it.

In most years, Penn would win this award because he was “daring” enough as a heterosexual actor to play a homosexual role. Is his performance really that great in Milk? I dunno…. haven’t seen it. But that hardly matters.

Rourke wins this category in a landslide because, as previously mentioned, people love a comeback story. I ask you this: how much of this movie was really acting? Rourke is an over the hill broken man hanging on to past glory who plays: an over the hill broken man hanging on to past glory. The only real acting you might see out of Rourke is if he cries during the acceptance speech. The Oscar people would love that.

WINNER: Mickey Rourke


Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)

This is a fun category to predict. First off, I haven’t seen any of these movies. Not one. (so I am completely unburdened by the actual acting performances). Also, Frozen River I have never even heard of. Seriously, someone prove to me it actually exists. I bet you can't.

Secondly, I think a few different schools of thought are at play here. On the one hand, you have Meryl Streep, this years requisite “Judi Dench type”. By that I mean an older actress that has an impressive body of work whose EVERY performances is lauded, celebrated, and then nominated. She would normally win this category going away, however this year she is up against a juggernaut. She has to contend with: the hole in Kate Winslet’s resume, her British accent, and her naked butt. Let me explain.

Kate Winslet has been nominated for 5 other Academy Awards and won zero! That’s important for the sympathy factor, and Oscar voters will be looking to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Also, although I have not nor will I ever actually see The Reader, I hear that Kate Winslet does a fair number of nude scenes in the flick. Don’t underestimate the power of nudity. When a woman actress does “tasteful and artistic nudity” people view it as a “daring” move. She'a pro at this too. She managed to score a nomination for Titanic basically for dropping trough.

Another reason she’s going to win: women generally like her. They like her because she’s good looking, but not so good looking that they can’t relate to her. This is the same reason Reese Witherspoon gets $20 Million a picture and a six-foot former model like Charlize Theron only gets like $5 million and often has trouble finding work. Its very important to garner the sympathy of women because 80% of them in this country will be tuned in to the Oscar’s show. Therefore Winslet = ratings.

Also, be on the lookout for Winslet pretending to be shocked and overwhelmed by winning then feigning a loss of composure.

I think they call that acting.



The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

I don’t know about you, but the best film I saw this year was The Dark Knight. It was a complete film with a terrific and complex story, great characterizations, great performances (Bale, Ledger, and the underrated Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent), great action, great effects, and perfect ending. Unfortunately, the Academy is not quite ready to nominate a comic book movie for its highest honor.

Among the nominated movies I’d say Slumdog Millionaire has to win.

Why? Because it’s was the best movie (not named The Dark Knight) made this year and the most deserving? Maybe, but that’s not why I’m picking it to win. I’m picking it because if Slumdog in an underdog of sorts. Independent film with a small budget up against, among other things, Brad Pitt and his square jaw. People like that. Makes them feel good. Also best picture is handed out as the last award of the evening. If it doesn’t win people will be unhappy and left with a bad taste in their mouths. Hey you got to give the people what they want.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


Q: What are you’re thoughts on the woman who had the eight babies?

-Colorado Springs, CO

DG: You mean “Octo-mom”. The more details I hear about this woman the more disturbing this story gets. I’ve seen this woman in interviews, and she clearly has that crazy look in her eyes. Also, I was watching a “legitimate” news program the other day and they flashed a picture of “Octo-mom” eight months pregnant….by FAR the scariest picture I have ever seen in my life. I haven’t slept a full night since then.

I suppose there would be a slim chance this “having eight babies at once” thing might be a cute story if any of the following were true: A) This was even close to a natural occurrence B) She didn’t already have six toddlers all conceived through in-vitro fertilization C) She wasn’t having babies as a “cash business” directly (from government aid) and indirectly (through publicity) D) Her major purchases of last year weren’t a nose job, collagen lip injections, and jet black hair-dye…. all in an effort to transform herself into Angelina Jolie (really not unlike Buffalo Bill trying to transform himself into a woman in Silence of the Lambs) Oh and by the way, if you’re reading this you helped fund her plastic surgery: all paid for with government subsistence aid funded with tax money.

Another important question that needs to be asked: What kind of doctor implants a woman with eight fetuses? Especially in a woman who already has six kids and is clearly mentally unbalanced. This doctor no doubt saw dollar signs when "Octo-mom" walked through his door, and took full advantage of it. I cannot imagine a more clear-cut case of malpractice. I think this guy would make a perfect cellmate for Bernie Madoff.

Another thought: Any chance she at least got a discount for buying in bulk? Come on, in this economy, she would have been crazy to pay the same for fetus #1 as fetus #8. Especially since she had the ultimate ace up her sleeve: she could always have threatened to take her business elsewhere the next time.

Q: What is the dumbest thing you have ever done?

New Jersey

DG: Typical procedure for drinking Tropicana carton orange juice:

1) Shake
2) Peel open at tabs
3) drink

What I did mindlessly while answering the phone and checking emails about a year ago at work (an open trading floor of roughly 500 people):

1) Peel open at tabs
2) Shook vigorously
3) toweled off

Q: What do you think about Obama’s first 30 Days in office?

New York, NY

DG: I think its often tough to grade a President on a small sample size, and it’s really tough to have any sort of perspective this early on. Also, I’m rooting for the guy to succeed because if he doesn’t we all have to deal with the consequences. Having said that, I have a couple of critiques thus far (in no particular order):

1) Appointing Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State: For starters, I wouldn’t appoint a woman with no foreign policy or foreign relations experience to be…basically the United States Ambassador to the world. Moreover, I don’t exactly envision a scenario where the leaders of North Korea and Cuba are sitting across the negotiating tables from Hilary C. quaking in their boo-….wait, did you hear that? I’m pretty sure that far off sound is Vladimir Putin and his top advisors cracking open yet another bottle of vodka in celebration of the Hilary appointment.

I should also admit I find Ms. Clinton a little unsettling on a more superficial level as well. There is something innately disconcerting about a person who has botox strategically injected in her face, in order to form… what can only be described as…. the makings of very primitive smile. I’m willing to guess I’m not alone in this sentiment.

2) Stimulus Package: When the economy eventually rights itself, the main driver will be consumer confidence. Obama’s Economic Stimulus Package was always destined to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. If the public had bought into it, it would serve to boost the economy. If the public rejected it, it would not help (possibly even further stifle) the markets. Even before the bill was signed, polls had shown that it was not well received in the court of public opinion, therefore making it destined to fail. I’m not even a little surprised the market sold-off 300 points when the President put his signature on this bill, and see it doing little good from here on out.

3) Not properly vetting Timothy Geithner: I have no problem targeting this guy to be Secretary of the Treasury. Based on his career accomplishments he would seem to be a good fit for the job. However, with the economy in the proverbial “dumper”, you want to make sure to do your homework and properly vet the guy who is going to be in charge of monetary policy in this country. At the very least to ensure you don’t find yourself in a public relations nightmare. A couple of things I expect in my life: a butcher who isn’t a vegetarian, a garbage man who doesn’t litter, a dentist with a full set of chompers, and a TREASURY SECRETARY WHO PAYS HIS TAXES!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


As promised I give you my take on the first round of the NFL draft. This is just a guess as to what direction some teams will go. Also teams will trade in and out of draft positions, but for this exercise I also assumed that team will pick in their allotted spot. Enjoy.


1) DETROIT LIONS: Matthew Stafford (QB, Georgia) – I don’t really think this is a good pick, but I think this is the way the LIONS are leaning. I’d like to see a team coming off an 0-16 season, with so many needs, build from the inside out. A solid left tackle prospect, like Andre Smith out of Alabama, would make sense here. Having said that Stafford is my favorite QB coming out and has a HUGE arm.

2) St. LOUIS RAMS: Andre Smith (T, Alabama)- St. Louis picks #2 for the second year in a row. They have been looking for a good long-term replacement for Orlando Pace at left tackle the last couple of years. They would have taken Jake Long a year ago had he fallen to the second pick. Smith is a safe pick that makes sense for them here.

3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Aaron Curry (LB, Wake Forest)- A lot of mock drafts will have QB Mark Sanchez here, but KC just hired Scott Pioli as their new GM. He comes from New England and the Bill Belichick school where they make smart, conservative draft picks. They will not use a first round pick on a QB (and an underclassman at that), and will most likely fill a major need at OLB with Curry.

4)SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech)- Most talented player in this whole draft. Perfect match of need and player. I believe Crabtee will be a Larry Fitzgerald-type player down the line and there is a good chance he ends up having the best career of any player in this draft.

5) CLEVLAND BROWNS: Brian Orakpo (DE, Texas)- New coach Eric Mangini will probably want to run the 3-4 defense and be looking for someone to in that jumbo OLB/DE mold. I think Orakpo will put up ridiculous numbers at the combine and beat out Everette Brown for the number one DE spot. CB is another consideration here. Local product Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State could be a consideration.

6) CINCINNATI BENGALS: Eugene Monroe (T, Virginia)- Another team with a ton of needs. Monroe could go at #2 to the Rams, and the Bengals would be lucky to get such a solid tackle here (although he could start his career on the right due to Stacy Andrews on the left side). Running back is another thought with local product Beanie Wells out there.

7)OAKLAND RAIDERS: B.J Raji (DT, Boston College)- No one, including the Raiders, have any idea what they are going to do. Al Davis has a history of making wild, reaching, poor value picks (like kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round in 2000). Also, no player really wants play in Oaklan. They will take Crabtree if he falls here, because WR is a need, but if they happen to go with a defensive lineman Raji is beast, and a good value here.

8) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Jason Smith (T, Baylor)- With the recent release of Fred Taylor ,the Jags have a need at RB, WR, and TACKLE. Jeremy Maclin is a possibility at WR here, but I think Smith from Baylor is a really good value with the potential to be a Pro-Bowler.

9)GREEN BAY PACKERS: Vontae Davis (C, Illinois)- Corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson are getting older and slower, they need a youth/speed infusion. Davis would provide both.

10) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Mark Sanchez (QB, USC) - The 49ers will sign a veteran QB during the offseason (probably someone like Jeff Garcia) to compete with Shaun Hill for the starting spot. Sanchez will be in a perfect situation to sit for at least a year and learn.

11) BUFFALO BILLS: Everette Brown (DE, Florida State) - I like them to take a DE or a TE in this spot. Since Brian Orakpo is off my board in this mock draft, I think they will go with the next best DE.

12) DENVER BRONCOS: Rey Maualuga (LB, USC) -The Broncos just hired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan who will look to install a 3-4 defensive front, and Denver will have to draft players accordingly. If Raji is here he is a no-brainer pick to play nose tackle. Since he is gone in this scenario they’ll go for a big linebacker Maualuga to play the outside backer spot.

13) WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Aaron Maybin (DE, Penn State)- A player whose upside far exceeds on the field production at this point, but DE is a big time need for the ‘Skins.

14) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Brian Cushing (LB, USC)- All signs point to the Saints taking a linebacker here. They have Jonathan Vilma to play the inside, so Cushing would be a perfect pick for the outside.

15) HOUSTON TEXANS: Larry English (DE, Northern Illinois) - Don’t be surprised if the Texans trade up to get one of the three defensive ends (Orakpo, Brown, or Maybin) to play opposite Mario Williams. If they have to pick here they could take English who will likely be the next highest rated DE but he would be a bit of a reach at pick#15.

16) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri)- Good team that can afford to make a bit of a luxury pick with this selection. Can you imagine how explosive this team will be on third down with Darren Sproles and Maclin on the field at the same time?

17) NEW YORK JETS: Malcolm Jenkins (CB, Ohio State) - No other QB in this year’s draft will warrant a first round pick. If the Jets take Josh Freeman out of K-State here they will be making a big mistake. Most glaring need is at corner. Malcolm Jenkins is big and physical at 6’1 200 pounds, and could form a formidable tandem with Darrell Revis playing the other side. Jets would LOVE to see him still available this late in the first round.

18) CHICAGO BEARS: Percy Harvin (WR, Florida) - Game changing WR who should impress in his individual workouts and move up from being considered a late first round possibility to a good value with the 18th selection.

19) TAMPA BAY BUCS: Darious Heyward-Bey (WR, Maryland) - Run on WR’s continues. Could also take Hakeen Nicks or trade up to get Maclin or Harvin, but Heyward-Bey is a good value here and offers them a legit downfield threat to succeed Joey Galloway (who they may cut during training camp).

20) DETROIT LIONS: Alphonso Smith (CB, Wake Forest) - Second of two first round picks for the Lions. I think they will take the best corner available. In this case I think it' Smith. He is a bit undersized at 5'9", but has very refined coverage skills.

21) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: “Beanie” Wells (RB, Ohio State) - Dear Andy Reid:
If you do not select a RB here to compliment Brian Westbrook, Eagles fans will ROAST YOU with a little red apple in your mouth! I mean that literally. People in Philly are nuts.

22) MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State) - Best TE in this year’s draft, and a good value late in the first round. Gives whomever is the QB a big red zone target.

23) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Sean Smith (CB, UTAH) - Known for picking smart, versatile football players. At 6’3 and 215 pounds, Smith fits that mold as he could play corner or either safety spot.

24) ATLANTA FALCONS: Peria Jerry (DT, Ole Miss) - Although a bit undersized for a DT, carries a late-first round grade after impressing at the Senior Bowl.

25) MIAMI DOLPHINS: James Laurinaitis (LB, Ohio State) - A linebacker that can play the inside backer spot and go sideline to sideline is a need for the ‘Fins. I’m not big on Laurinaitis but I think he could go here to Miami.

26) BALTIMORE RAVENS: D.J. Moore (CB, Vanderbilt) – They just cut Chris McCalister, and will target a corner in this year’s first round. Might also trade up to get a Vontae Davis.

27) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Sen'Derrick Marks (DT, Auburn) - Desperately need a DT, and may trade up to assure they get Peria Jerry. If they pick a DT here, look for them to take Marks, the type of quick undersized player the Colts covet.

28) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Michael Oher (T, Ole Miss) - Great chance this guy will be long gone by pick #28 to a team moving up from the second round to get him. Eagles would be thrilled to get Oher here.

29) NEW YORK GIANTS: Clint Sintim (LB, Virginia) - Big athletic linebacker to play the outside edge. Clay Matthew from USC would be another option, but he isn’t quite the athlete Sintim is and doesn’t have nearly the upside. Depending on what happens with Plaxico Burress, the Giants might also think about a big WR here. An option might be 6’4” Kenny Britt from Rutgers, but I think he would be a reach for round 1.

30) TENNESSEE TITANS: Hakeem Nicks (WR, North Carolina) - Would really love for Harvin, Heyward-Bey, or Nicks to fall to them here because WR is a big-time need.

31) ARIZONA CARDINALS: Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia) - Need a RB to replace Edgerrin James. This pick could also be LeSean McCoy out of Pittsburgh if Moreno runs a slow 40 time (which I expect he will).

32) PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Duke Robinson (G, Oklahoma) - Offensive line was a soft spot for the Steelers, even in a Super Bowl year. They will look to shore up the interior of their line and take a guard or center with this pick. I would go with Robinson, the best G in this year’s draft. Another thought would be a SS to compliment Troy Polamalu. William Moore from Missouri has seen his stock slip in recent weeks but might be a good pick here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 Best Sports Movie of All Time

“Greatest sports movies” is one of my all-time favorite barstool debates. Really any conversation boils down to criteria. What makes something a great sports movie? In compiling my list I accepted all applicants: dramas, comedies, documentaries, etc. I also asked myself a number of qualifying/disqualifying questions: Is the movie really about sports? (a simple yet very important factor. Even if it’s a fringe sport the movie has to be ABOUT a sport, and cannot simply have sports in it. Goldfinger and Finding Forrester have sports in them, but aren’t sports movies. I also tried like hell to justify putting Best in Show on this list but I just couldn’t make a case for it) How are the action scenes? (The actors have to be at least somewhat believable when they are playing athletes. This is where Tim Robbins almost disqualified Bull Durham and Charlie Sheen DID sink Major League). Does the film stand the test of time? Is it well acted? How is the overall story irrespective of the sports scenes? I also considered a films “intangibles”. This factor includes but is not exclusive to this scenario: It’s 2AM and I’ve just gotten home from the bar. I turn the television on and a given sports movie is half-way thru. What are the chances I stay up the extra hour to watch the end of the movie? (I loved Million Dollar Baby but I’m sorry, not staying up an extra hour to watch Hilary Swank try to swallow her tongue. Once was enough).

Without any further ado, the list:

25. Cinderella Man (2005) – The story and pacing are predictable, Rene Zellweger as Jim Braddock’s wife is the ultimate wet blanket, and the Max Baer role is littler more than a caricature…however this film makes the list on the strength of Russell Crowe’s turn as Jim Braddock. He looked and sounded every bit the part of a down and out Depression-era Jersey fighter. Seriously, I’ve met guys from Hoboken with less believable Jersey accents than Crowe. Terrific individual performance.

24. Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)- Unknown movie but has the best raw story on this list. True story: in 1913 a 20 year old unknown caddy named Francis Quimet won the US OPEN in a playoff against the two greatest golfers in the world.

23. Pumping Iron (1977)- Documentary that shed light on subculture of body building. Only makes this list because the main subject went from being a dirt-poor Eastern-European immigrant, to Mr. Olympia, to the Terminator, to the Governor of California. Wouldn’t you have liked to buy some Arnold stock back in 1977?

22. The Rookie (2002)- Little corny and little predictable (hey it is a Disney movie), but its well acted and the role fit Dennis Quaid.

21. 61* (2001) - Longtime Yankee fan Billy Crystal’s greatest turn was behind the camera in this HBO movie he produced and directed. He got every detail right. Barry Peper looked like Roger Maris. Thomas Jane WAS Mickey Mantle. He made old Tiger Stadium look like Yankee Stadium from 1961.

20. Pride of the Yankees (1942) – “Today….I consider myself….the luckiest man….on the face of the earth.”

19. Slapshot (1977) – Does it bother anyone else that Paul Newman isn’t around anymore?

18. Talladega Nights (2006)- Highest rated film in terms of the “intangible” factor. I’ll never get tired of watching this movie. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Every time I watch it I pick up some subtle line that I missed previously. Not sure how Ricky Bobby would view being 18th on this list however, seeing that “If you’re not first you last.”

17. Tin Cup (1996)- The “Bull Durham” of golf movies. Looses points with “O Cmon!” moments. The wooden driver with the metal driver sound effect….O Cmon! The 3-wood shot on the last hole that hangs in the air for 15 seconds and then SPINS back into the water…O Cmon!!!

16. Riding Giants (2004)- Documentary about big wave surfing. Amazing visuals. You could watch this flick with the sound off.

15. Jerry Maguire (1996)- This film is humming along like a top 10 all-timer in the first hour, until a sappy Tom Cruise romantic movie breaks out in the second half (Thanks Cameron Crowe) Question….in 1996 was there a 22 year old Terrell Owens watching this movie somewhere taking the Rod Tidwell character a little too seriously?

14. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)- An unknown Robert De Niro before he was typecast. This movie is 1 and 1A with Brian’s Song for movies with “man-cry” moments

13. Millon Dollar Baby (2004)- Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank. Brilliantly acted movie that should warrant loftier positing on this list, but as stated earlier, it’s strictly a one time viewing for this movie.

12. Bull Durham (1988)- I don’t like this movie as much as most. Tim Robbins is at best laughable as a fire-ball hurler, and Susan Sarandon just doesn’t do it for me. But this movie does seem to capture the collective psyche that makes baseball players….well baseball players.

11. Heaven Can Wait (1978)- Can we please move the Rams back to Los Angeles?

10. Friday Night Lights (2004) – Is it melodramatic? Yes. Is it overly sensational in parts? Yes. But does it perfectly capture a fascinating culture in West Texas that glorifies high school football and venerates 18 year olds kids? Absolutely.

9. Caddyshack (1980)- I cannot remember the last time I played or watched golf that I didn’t quote this movie. It doesn’t even have to be golf. I “Noonan” David Ortiz every at bat.

8. Raging Bull (1980)- This black and white film is more of an art house flick than a sports movie and more impressive than enjoyable. The portrayal of Jake Lamotta by De Niro is total transformation.

7. Hoop Dreams (1994)- A documentary shot over 5 years following two inner-city black high school students in Chicago and their dreams of becoming professional basketball players. Way more real than any reality tv will ever be. You watch this film rooting for the two kids to make it, yet fully aware that the writing on the wall says they probably will not.

6. Rudy (1993)- “You're 5 foot nothin', 100 and nothin', and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for 2 years. And you're gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself.”

Admit to yourself you’ve cried when he runs onto the field at the end? Yeah I know.

5.Rocky (1976)- The real Rocky story was behind the camera. Sly Stallone wrote, directed, and starred in this Best Picture Winner from 1976. He also personally funded the movie almost down to his last dollar. Stallone built up goodwill with Rocky and then went about trying to give it all back over the next 30+ years (Stop! Or my Mom Will Shoot, Over the Top, Rocky V, Cliffhanger, Driven, Get Carter, Cop Land….and this is just to name a few!)

4. The Natural (1984)- The story has a few holes (“Where did you go for all those years?....I just went away for a while”) and maybe its a little bit of an idolatry piece to Robert Redford. But Redford looks completely comfortable with the bat in his hands (he was a scholarship baseball player at the University of Colorado), Robert Duvall plays the perfect newspaper man, and dammit in Little League I drew a “Wonderboy” lightning bolt on my aluminum bat.

3. Hoosiers (1986)- A very good movie and terrific underdog story that has been a little over-hyped through the years and ends up being #1 on a lot of sports movie lists. Quick question: with Dennis Hopper in this movie….what are the chances the producers handed him a bottle of gin, let him loose in rural Indiana, and just simply followed him around with hidden cameras?

2. When We Were Kings (1996)- Documentary film about the lead up to Ali and Foreman’s 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire. Shows Muhammad Ali at the height of his pied-piper-like power captivating the entire nation of Zaire without even speaking the language. Then at the height of his ring power using the ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy to beat Foreman.

1. Field of Dreams (1989)- It’s got everything. It’s got a great story, terrific acting down to the smallest roles, Burt Lancaster, "Shoeless" Joe and "Moonlight" Graham, James Earl Jones’s deep baritone, Kevin Costner at his peak, its got Iowa, corn, and a touch of the supernatural, and most importantly it’s got “baseball Ray….America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mailbag #4

Q: How come you haven't written anything about Chris Brown and Rihanna?

-Staten Island, NY

DG: I thought about putting my take in the Grammy Review, but pulled it last minute. There were two reasons: 1) I thought it might be a little heavy in terms of subject matter 2) Perez pulled a real diva move on me and didn't call back with all the relevant details. Therefore, I couldn't run it come press time (press time = 10 AM when I'm on the couch with bed-head eating fruit loops).

But since you asked, I do have a few thoughts. Assuming all I'm reading in the papers is true, this is pretty messy stuff. For a man to strike a woman is absolutely despicable. No question. Nothing she could have done would justify his behavior. Not even if she sucker punched him, with a closed fist, from point blank in a confined space (think back of a taxi cab)…..on his birthday. You just hope she’s ok.

Having said that, people’s next thoughts are: how does this affect their careers? I would think that Rihanna’s career should not be affected negatively by this incident at all. If anything, having been through this type of adversity might make her more popular with the public. Think Tina Turner.

As far as his career….you’re going to have flush that sucker twice to get the stink out. This guy might as well be radioactive now. What’s worse career suicide than beating up your famous singer gf? There are so many others things you can do to screw up that the public will eventually forgive you for. How many stars have had a drug problem, DUI, backed into paparazzi with their cars, or done other bizarre things, and later been pardoned in the court of public opinion? Robert Downey Jr. once got so drugged up he took a cab to the wrong house and fell asleep naked in it. Right now he’s everyone’s darling. For god’s sake R.Kelly has been caught taping himself urinating….. URINATING on girls like a million times and people still really dig him for some reason (seriously take a moment and let that wash over you….gross… sorry bad pun).

Picture this….lets say your Chris Brown, and you’re standing in a room with half a dozen or so doors. Behind each door is a personal mishap that will negatively affect your career. Maybe behind Door #1 is a DUI, Door #2 is walking off the stage at SNL like Ashlee Simpson, Door #3 is…I dunno….a sextape, and so on down the line. Do you know where the door for “beating your superstar singer gf in a rented Lamborghini after a Clive Davis Grammy party” is located? Underneath you…because it’s a trapdoor.

Goodbye Chris Brown. Enjoy county lock-up.

Q: This year is the best season of Friday Night Lights ever!

-New York

I’ve got to say I’m pretty partial to the first season, but last Friday’s episode was probably the best individual episode I’ve seen on network TV all year. My favorite episode of all-time, however, is still the end of the first season. This is the one where Coach Taylor pulls a Tom Osborne and goes for two to win the State Championship….with the TMU QB coach job speculation in the air…..and because the show is not your run of the mill “cookie-cutter show” you honesty have no idea if they are going to make it or not.

Also, does anyone else want Coach Taylor to be their coach? How good are some of his speeches? I would run through a wall for that guy.

Q: With spring training right around the corner, who does DG like as early division winners this season?

-Tempe, AZ

DG: At some point I really want to give this a full write up. For now I think if I go too far into it I’m going to loose my entire female audience to Perez Hilton. Without picking wildcard teams, here’s a quick prediction for now:

NL EAST: NY METS - sorry Philly fans but don’t expect 16 wins from Jamie Moyer. I think this is the year he finally gets old.

NL CENTRAL: CUBS – overall pitching is too good not to win 90 games, however I think 85 would win this division.

NL WEST: DODGERS – I make this pick assuming they get Manny signed up. I figure he’ll pull a Michael Strahan and come back right after spring training is over.

AL WEST: OAKLAND – I might have a bigger man crush on Billy Beane then the Bob’s in Office Space have on Michael Bolton. What he does year in and year out with a miniscule payroll is amazing. If you have not read Moneyball do yourself a favor and pick it up. Team with the most wins since 2000: the Yanks…team with the second most wins: Oakland.

AL CENTRAL: DETROIT: Last year, only one team consistently scored more runs than the Tigers: whatever team was in the opposing dugout. This year, I think they get enough pitching help to win this division. By the way, baseball reference lists Miguel Cabrera at 185 pounds. Does anyone think they might be undercutting that by at least 80
pounds? If you throw the sport out the window and allow me to pick my “All-Fat” team I put C.C. Sabathia and LenDale White on it straight away….and I think Cabrera is my third pick..... followed by Eddy Curry and Sebastian Janikowski.

AL EAST: YANKEES: $200 million dollar payroll and a new multi-billion dollar stadium have got to buy you something right? If all else fails they can just buy the entire Rays roster at the trade deadline.

College Basketball Update

Some questions answered last night:

- UConn passed a major test last night. Not only did they rack up another quality win against an NCAA Tournament caliber opponent (Syracuse), but they also answered some questions about their biggest weakness. The Huskies were able to beat a team that excels at playing a 2-3 zone defense. The book on the Huskies had been that they aren’t able to knock down outside shots, and you play zone defense to force them outside and make them shoot three pointers. This also allows a defense to play recover and help defense on UConn’s bangers 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien. Anytime, as they did last night, where the UConn guards make enough outside shots to keep a defense honest the Huskies will be tough to beat. In fact, if the season ended today I would call them the number one overall seed.

-The UNC/DUKE game from last night helped reiterate a few of the points from my Mid-Season Report. Ty Lawson is the fastest player in the nation end to end and really makes that team go. No player in the country is of more value to his team then Lawson is to the Tar Heels. Not only is he able to score on the fast break, but when he pushes the ball up the court he gets the other players easy shots. It’s simple yet overlooked: closer shots to the basket make teams more efficient….which is a perfect segway into my point about the Blue Devils. Like I had stated in a previous entry, the Dookies live and die too much by the three point basket. They shot 67% from behind the arc in the first half , scored 52 points, and had an eight point lead….yet in the second half couldn’t buy a three, scored 35 points, and ultimately lost by 14. If they have to rely on shooting almost 70% from behind the arc to beat a good team, than they are in big time trouble.

-Blake Griffin is the best player in the country, but I would really like to see him play against some quality big men. The Big12 is almost void of any decent big men outside of maybe Iowa State’s Craig Brackins or Kansas’s Cole Aldrich. You would have some epic match-ups if you stuck Griffin and Oklahoma in the Big East where he could go against players like Thabeet, Adrien, Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, and Pitt’s DeJuan Blair on a nightly basis. I would also LOVE to see him expose the overrated Mr. Luke Harrangody at Notre Dame.

By the way, I’m calling it right now….the Big 12 will struggle in the NCAA’s. The league is down this year and teams like Kansas, Texas, and Missouri will get over-seeded and loose early.

-Villanova gets the best guard play in the country and no one is talking about them. They handled another guard heavy team the other night then they beat up on Marquette. If Nova gets favorable match-ups and just enough out of Dante Cunningham inside they will make a deep postseason run. I like them A LOT in March. Remember I said that.

-If I had to make the 1-4 seeds right now it would look like this:

1’s: UConn, UNC, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma
2’s: Louisville, Villanova, Duke, UCLA:
3’s: Marquette, Wake Forest, Memphis, Clemson
4’s: Xavier, Florida State, Michigan State, Missouri

Monday, February 9, 2009


At this point everyone and their mother has gotten a chance to see the Alex Rodriguez interview, so without touching too much on the specifics of what he I want to make a few quick notes:

- Obviously, this was a very well crafted public statement, in which he admitted wrongdoing but nothing too specific so as not further incriminate himself. I know it’s very common for someone in this situation to have an attorney present, however I was little taken aback by the number of times Arod looked over to check with his attorney before answering some of the questions. I know the guy has got a lot to loose, but this spoke volumes to me in terms of insecurity in what he said, and takes away somewhat from the message of sincerity that he was attempting to convey.

- I was also a little shocked by the unintentional vanity. It gave a little insight into the man. Rodriguez answered many of the questions in terms of awards and numbers, and very little about winning and losing. There was a lot of talk about where he was certain years in terms of MVP voting, HR totals, and consecutive games streaks. I believe he feels truly injured and is sincerely sorry for taking steroids, but I think maybe the reason he is so hurt is that it diminishes the value of his most prized possessions: his numbers and his awards. Maybe that’s the reason he seems not to produce in the clutch. If a home run is just one of the 800 or so you are trying to accumulate for your pretty little personal collection, something to polish and put on your impressive mantle, what does it matter if it occurs in the second inning or in extra innings? This might have spoken volumes about the man and his motivations.

-Who would have ever thought that Jose Canseco’s book would be the gospel? Everything that man has said or written about steroids in baseball has been right on the money. He’s batting 1.000 in outing players on steroid use. He has taken on all these guys who have questioned his credibility, questioned his facts, questioned..hell the messenger in general and proven them wrong. Amazing isn’t it? Who would have ever thought the man most responsible for restoring the sanctity of baseball would be the greasy guy from the Surreal Life who fought Danny Bonaduce on pay-per-view? Are we really going to look back forty years from now and be able to say that Jose Canseco is the man most responsible for saving baseball? Unbelievable.

Grammy Review

Whoa…did you guys feel that? If at any point today you feel the ground rumble a bit underneath you it’s not an earthquake. No, it’s not the result of tectonic plate movements, but rather aftershocks from Katy Perry’s “bouncy” and…uhh…rousing? (get it?) performance from last nights Grammy Awards. Yeah I admit I watched an embarrassingly large chunk of the show last night, and in no small part because CBS dangled that Katy Perry carrot in front of me. Hell, if I really was a horse I probably would have followed that carrot right into the glue factory.

Some other observations from last night’s show:

- I’m not exactly sure when it happened, maybe he was in the studio, maybe he was on stage performing for Obama, or maybe he was on the pot, but at some point in the last year I think Bono had a moment where he totally bought into the fact that he was the lead singer of the biggest rock band in the world. Kind of a, “Holy crap I’m Bono” moment. It turned U2’s opening number last night into a vanity piece; spirited performance to the celebration of Bono and his “quest” to save the world with his mere presence. What was that song choice? I hate it when a band that has so many tunes people like, sniffs a big worldwide audience and they try to plug their “new stuff”. Not even the Stones would have tried to get away with that. Come on, at least give us a taste of “Beautiful Day”, “City of Blinding Lights”, or even “One Love”. Sounded terrible too. Did they even do a sound check? I could swear they didn’t have the mikes turned all the way up. I’m a big U2 fan too, but I’m sorry but that was a D- performance from a first class rock band.

- Coldplay should not win a Grammy for best rock anything…because they don’t play rock music!

-Stock up: Taylor Swift. I’m not exactly a fan of her music, nor did I even knew she existed three months ago, but when I saw her perform acoustic with her guitar and Miley Cyrus on the Grammy’s, I have to admit she had a pretty good voice. I’m also impressed anytime someone can play an instrument and sing at the same time. She has legit musical talent, whereas I had thought previously she was little more than a media creation. Speaking of media created monster…..

-Stock down: Miley Cyrus. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “’Tis better to be silent and thought be a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Let me channel my inner Derek Zoolander when I ask, “Earth to Miley, what were you thinking?” If you’re a girl who is a phenomenally popular cash-cow that can’t really sing a lick, you don’t put yourself on-stage in front of the whole world singing acoustic with anyone who is a real singer (Taylor Swift). The contrast was stark. She was totally exposed. I can see why she is so popular with the Disney crowd…her singing voice actually sounds a lot like Mickey Mouse.

It left me wondering if her Dad wasn’t the achy break-y heart guy (can you believe you live in a world where this actually gets your foot in the door anywhere?), how far she would get on American Idol…and what would Simon say about her? I’m curious what you guys think about this, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she’d make it to Hollywood, but never make it to the main TV rounds. Just a guess.

One more Miley thought….what’s the ETA on her Michael Phelps moment? Assuming this is inevitable, how far off is her very own “bong-like” camera phone picture followed by the requisite “I’m sorry if I let down my fans blah blah blah” apology. I’m going to go ahead and set the over/under at six months. Let the wagers begin. I’ll go ahead and take the under.

-Is Neil Diamond cool again? I really hope this is the case because “Sweet Caroline” is one of about five non-Journey songs I know all the words to. I really need it as my go-to song for do or die karaoke situations. And yes…I am embarrassed I just wrote that. Seriously though, I was caught in a spot not too long ago where I was forced to sing “Jackson” at a karaoke bar with my buddy’s gf. I had no idea what any of the words were and was a complete mess. I managed to embarrass not only myself, but her at the same time. Some advice for anyone who is caught in the same predicament: It’s a duet. Do not attempt to sing every word that comes up on the screen. It will keep you from singing this line: “You’re goin’to Jackson, you BIG-TALKIN MAN.”

Back to Neil Diamond for a moment….he was great last night. I believe he has had happen to him what happens to a lot of old stars. They’re huge in their prime, and then as they get older, liking any of their songs gets to be pretty lame. Not quite Wayne Newton lame, but in some cases pretty damn close. And then at some point its like someone sprinkles them with “David Hasselhoff dust”…and POOF…they are so lame, they’re almost cool again. I hope Neil Diamond had his ‘Hoff night last night.

You might be laughing at me, but look at some things that used to be lame and are now cool: computers, comic-book movies, Transformers, just to name a few. Neil Diamond could very well be next….and thus elevating me to karaoke-hero status.

It could happen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mailbag #3

I haven't got a brain... only straw…..but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don't they?”

The Scarecrow (Wizard of Oz)

Q: What should I do about flowers for Valentines Day? Should I do roses? What color/colors?

New York City

DG: From where I’m standing (which is as single as they come…by the way that’s also my disclaimer), it’s all about strategy. You first have to ask yourself: how long am I going to be with this girl? If you are thinking less than a year you only have to worry about one Valentines Day, in which case, what does it matter what kind of flowers you get her? Just don’t be a total putz and show up empty handed.

Now on the other hand, if you’re thinking more than a year, you have to prepare a flower strategy for more than one V-Day. Basically, Valentines Day is a practical joke that women have bought into so whole heartedly that it’s become a real thing. Now men have to “play along” with the joke, and flowers are very important in this charade.

The most important thing to remember is, you are going to be graded on a relative scale….with yourself. So don’t be a moron and be the guy blows it out of the water with 500 roses and the singing chocolates (they exist) in year one, because then in year two you’ll have to out-do yourself. If you don’t the little lady is going to be disappointed, and you’ll be in the doghouse. Be smart and leave yourself room to improve.

Let’s assume you are entering your first V-Day. You have to do roses. I would suggest getting maybe a dozen roses. Not so few that she’ll be disappointed, but not so many that you can’t get more next year. As far as color I would go with a three color assortment. Red is basically the “Cadillac” of rose colors, but if you do all twelve red this year, how do you top it next year? You want some red in there, so I would do: four red, four pink, and four white.

There is one caveat to getting the three color assortment. Say, for instance, that your lady friend’s favorite color is yellow. Then you have to get her all yellow roses.

“But DG what do I do if they don’t grow roses in my gf’s fav color?”

If you’re gf’s favorite color is black…dump her right now and change your phone number. What the hell are you doing dating Goth chicks anyways? If it’s a legit color like, say, blue, get white roses and see if you can’t get someone to dye them blue. Is that even possible? I have no clue, how should I know…. but if it is and you get this done….you’ll be like a Valentines Day MVP. I’m thinking that will be worth it come say very early Feb. 15th….if you know what I’m saying.

Q: DG, is it difficult to keep coming up with stuff to write about. I mean is it really hard?

Washington D.C.

DG: That’s what she said.

Speaking of The Office, is there a more likeable character on television then Pam Beasley? She’s cute, funny, and so cool it makes you believe she’d be almost be as much fun to hang out with as your guy friends. She’s the best thing that team “red head” has had going for it since….i dunno the invention of hair dye? I kid, I kid…(as if any red heads actually read this silly blog anyways)

I’m pretty sure I’d never want to meet the actress who plays Pam (Jenna Fischer) in person. There is that chance she wouldn’t be as cool as the character Pam. That would totally ruin it for me.

I also think they need to have more Creed on the show. I can’t get enough out of that guy, but maybe that’s just me.

Q: You’re extremely good looking and funny. Also, did you happen to read Sports Illustrated this week? I think SI writer Seth Davis might be a “fan” of your blog.

DG’s New York City apartment

DG: You’re a sharp and talented guy yourself. As a matter of fact I did catch that
It’s very curious that four days after I release my Midseason All-American picks that Seth Davis (a highly-paid college basketball “authority”) would release his, and that they would be exactly the same. Same five guys….must be a coincidence right? Couldn’t be that old Seth is “reading” my blog is it.

Actually, I think quite a few guys would have had the same team. However, it is nice confirmation of my ability to analyze basketball, that a guy like that would have the same observations as me. Would be nice to make the “Seth Davis money” though….oh and Seth if you’re reading this call me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Broadway Joe

Brett Favre is the most overrated quarterback playing right now. At one point he was a great quarterback, but he’s 13 year’s removed from winning a Super Bowl, 12 years removed from winning an MVP, and about 10 years removed from really giving a s**t. Honestly. I also love how announcers applaud him for his consecutive games streak. Have you seen him play recently? I think I know how he keeps from getting injured. Any time he feels any sort of pass rush he throws one up for grabs. A lame duck high over the middle of the field. Not many wide receivers play a full season with Favre because he gets those guys killed.

The reason I bring this up is, I was driving around listening to some show on WFAN (NY Sports-talk radio) the other day and some loud-mouthed Jets fan called in talking about ole’ Brett. He was screaming about how Favre was a “punk” and the most overrated QB of all time and this and that. They eventually cut him off. I figured the host (also a Jet fan) would correct this dude and reveal the obvious answer to the long-debated: most overrated quarterback of all time. However, the host agreed it was Favre and then went ahead and took a call about Omar Minaya.

If take away the guarantee, gushing reporters, the pantyhose commercials, the endless line of bimbos, strip off the mink coat, and basically all the glitz, the most overrated QB discussion begins and ends with one name: Joe Namath. I know this is serious taboo to bring it up, but just take a look at the
numbers. They’re putrid.

Broadway Joe led the league is passing yards three times (’66,’67,’72) and once led the league in TD passes (’72). However, he led the league in interceptions four times: 1966,1967,1974, 1975 with 27,28,22, and 28 int’s in each of those years respectively. Keep in mind back then they only played 14 regular season games.

The Super Bowl winning year of 1969 was the only year Joe managed to throw more td’s than interceptions in a season (19 TDs vs 17 int’s). Of all of Namath’s bad years, the 1975 season was especially rotten. In only 13 starts, he managed to complete just 48% of his passes, throw 28 interceptions, and be sacked 27 times. If you want to take it even a step further, Namath’s 28 int’s in 326 pass attempts in 1975 amounts to an 8.5% completion percentage…..TO THE OTHER TEAM! The career numbers don’t exactly paint a pretty picture either: 173 TD’s vs. 220 picks and a career completion percentage of 50.1%.

“Yeah but ‘dem numbuhs’ don’t mean nuthin’. Namath was a winna!”

Not exactly. His career record as a starter: 63-63-4.

Based on the fact that Joe Willie was a first ballot Hall of Famer and lauded as one of the all-time greats, despite a mediocre win/loss record and putrid numbers, my list of most overrated QB’s of all-time looks like this:

1) Joe Namath
2) (vacated)
3) Brett Favre
4) everyone else

Namath is by such an overwhelming margin the most overrated QB of all time, that I’ve been forced to vacate the #2 most overrated position.

So when Vinny from Flushing calls up the FAN and tells Mike Francesa that “Favre is a bum. He ain’t no Joe Namath or nuthin’.” He’s right on both counts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Viiiivvvvvaaaaaaaaaaa Viagra!!!!

I can’t believe this is happening to me. They say it happens to every guy at some point….but not now. Doesn’t this only happen to old guys? I’m 25 for god’s sake. Am I less of a man then? Don’t you judge me…for all you know this could be you at some point.

I suppose you want the details huh? Ok here goes….it happened the other night…. I was on the couch…and a certain commercial came on. Now I can’t remember exactly which commercial it was, the whole situation was kind of a blur. It was like a dream, but yet I was wide awake. Maybe it was the commercial with the fake Elvis singers (Viivvvvaaa Viagra!!) or maybe the one with the man and woman in separate bathtubs holding hands (maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t they be in the same tub?) or the old guy doing the tango with his wife. It doesn’t really matter. The calm and unruffled commercial voice bombarded me with side effects like headache, night blindness, and stroke. I didn’t even flinch. I kept staring blank faced at the screen until whatever program I was watching came back on. About a half hour later, when I finally broke from my trance, I realized what had just happened. I had officially been desensitized. I am desensitized to the little blue pill….advertising. What did you think I was talking about?

Next time you’re watching TV for an extended period of time, do me a favor and count up the number of “male enhancement” pill commercials you see I could swear it’s about
every third commercial. By the way, “male enhancement” might be my new favorite euphemism. It replaces calling these pills what they really are, which is b______r pills (for those of you who are a little slower, and by that I mean anyone who religiously watches Deal or No Deal, the b word rhymes with donor). The companies that make these are spending tens of millions of dollars a year on TV commercials, radio spots, and billboards. Hell there is already a PGA Tour Event called the Cialis Western Open. Is it completely crazy to think the Mets could open the season at Viagra Field?

I suppose these “donor” pills must be flying off the shelves to pay for this media blitz. My screwy mind leads me down kind of a murky path please bare with me. Now I’m assuming these blue pills didn’t just appear out of thin air…. and they’re a medical product for public consumption right? Someone had to develop it in a lab. That means at some point there was team of doctors, medical researchers, and scientists (you know guys who got like 1500+ on their SAT’s and went to Ivy League Schools for seven years) huddled in some sterile laboratory, wearing long white coats, mixing chemicals, and by enlarge doing typical chemistry “doctor-y” stuff. And to what end? Not to cure cancer or alleviate human suffering in any way…no no it’s a much nobler cause to which they sought a remedy. These brilliant men of medicine and science spent the better part of their professional lives trying to artificially produce an erection. That would be a good one to have on a grave stone huh? Maybe it could read: “Here lies Dr. Green, the man who helped pitched a million tents”.

Now you can’t just come up with these pills, distribute them right to the public and say “have at it Sparky”. You have to test them first. That’s right. At some point a bunch of guys were rounded up, handed a glass of water and a couple of blue pills, and then told to drop ‘em. I can just imagine a dude standing with his pants at his ankles, suffering the “effects”, surrounded by fifteen guys with lab coats and clipboards all scribbling notes. And if you think that’s sick, think about this: they can’t test anything on humans before they test animals first.

You can tell a higher than average percentage of those who participated in clinical trials suffered side effects. Just look at the commercials. If a typical “male enhancement” commercial is 30 seconds, the last 20 or so is that unruffled voice-over rattling off a list of horrible side effects with a huge disclaimer on the screen. I alluded to some of these side effects above. However, there are like fifty more, and each is worse than the next! Did a quick Google search and netted these possible side effects. From what I can gather, basically the best side effect you can suffer is a stroke:

Viagra (sildenafil)- side effects: headache, flushing (o really?), impaired vision and loss of peripheral vision, seeing in tinted blue, sudden hearing loss, stroke, severe hypotension, heart attack, ventricular arrhythmias, and priapism

Levitra (vardenafil) – side effects: nausea, abdominal pain, back pain, photosensitivity, abnormal vision, eye pain, facial oedema, rash, itch, hypertension, heart attack, and priapism.

Cialis (tadalafil)- side effects: headache, indigestion, back pain, muscle aches, flushing (seriously can you really call this a SIDE effect?), impaired vision, vascular problems, hypotension, anginal chest pain, sudden hearing loss, and priapism.

As a whole these pills appear to be about as safe as swallowing a live grenade. I wasn’t quite sure what priapism was until I looked it up. You know when the commercial says, “…if erections last for more than 4 hours seek immediate medical attention” that’s priapism. OVER four hours!? Are you freaking kidding me? So if I go to the hospital after say three hours and fifty minutes I'm a hypochondriac? I got news for you if I ever had 4+ hour woody; I’d need a psychiatrist more than anything else, because I would be seriously emotionally scarred.

Wanna know the scariest thing in all this? There is going to be a whole generation that grows up not knowing a world without little blue pills. If you were born in 1940, you’d never know a world without the automobile. If you were born in 1960, you’d never know a world without television. If you were born in 2009, you’d never know a world without.... instant erections? Progress. Nice.

Just trying to wrap my head around that idea made me a little woozy….whoa…kind of light-headed. Feels like all the blood in my body is rushing to my….well…nevermind. Probably just the pills talking.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Postscript

Few quick notes on the Super Bowl from yesterday:

Almost a psychic…..If you read my previous Friday mailbag you’ll remember that I made a handful of Super Bowl predictions. I correctly predicted that the Steelers would win…which they did. I predicted that James Harrison and Woodley would each cause turnovers….which they did. I even correctly predicted that Kurt Warner would commit exactly two turnovers and Big Ben would have one interception. However, despite getting all of those minor details correct I missed one major one…margin of victory. I thought the Steelers would cover the 7 points….which they did not, and I’m out a few bucks. Thus is gambling. I still think it was a better investment than the stock market.

Madden dropped out after the seventh grade…. John Madden said something that really got to me during yesterday’s broadcast. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Steelers went all the way down the field and Ben Roethlisberger appeared to run the ball into the end zone. After a Cardinal’s challenge, it was determined that he was actually down by contact about a foot short of the end line. Coach Tomlin elected to kick the field goal instead of going for it on fourth down from a foot. Madden agreed with decision and called it “the percentage play”. I HATE IT WHEN ANNOUNCERS SAY THAT!!! They are completely wrong. Kicking a field goal from the one yard line is not the percentage play. Although taking the three points might be “conventional” wisdom, anyone who is has taken math through the eighth grade can attest to the fact that it is not the percentage play. The probability of scoring a touchdown from the one yard line (let alone inside a foot) is about 80-85%. So therefore, you have a have an 80% chance of scoring six points. The extra point is converted about 97% of the time. So some quick math tells me that if the Steelers had gone for it from a foot their expected outcome would have been roughly 5.77 points ( 6(.80) + 1 (.97) = 5.77 ). The expected outcome of attempting a 12 yard field goal is about 2.94 points ( 3 x .98 = 2.94; its about a 98% likelihood of converting a 12 yard field goal). What do all these simple calculations tell me? Despite what the John Madden’s of the world will tell, the real percentage play is going for it from a foot.

Referees should change their colors to black and gold… The fact that my wallet was rooting for the Steelers to win big should make me pretty unbiased when I ask the question: Were the refs throwing yellow penalty flags or were those Terrible Towels?
The most terribly officiated game I have ever seen is still the Super Bowl three years ago, when the refs ran the Seahawks right out of Detroit with penalty flags and blown calls, but the officiating in this Super Bowl was pretty slanted as well. A few glaring plays come to mind.
During the first half Edgerin James was called for a questionable 15 yard “chop-block” penalty on a second down that killed a very promising Cardinals drive. In the second half, when the Cardinals D-fense was poised to get off the field on a third down, Karlos Dansby was whistled for another 15 yard penalty roughing the passer penalty for merely bumping into Roethlisberger as he let the ball go. The back judge said he hit Big Ben late. No way. The two very worst calls were saved for the last few minutes. After Santonio Holmes made a great catch on the go ahead touchdown, he walked to the ten yard line and preceded to do a premeditated and rehearsed celebration with the football (he seemed to have been channeling Lebron James pre-game chalk exercise). This should have resulted in a fifteen yard penalty against the Steelers on the kickoff because any celebration where you use the ball as a prop is suppossed to be beyond individual referee interpretion, and an automatic 15 yard penalty. However, this celebration that was broadcast into the homes of no less that 150 Million people went unnoticed by the refs. The biggest gaff occurred on the very last play when Kurt Warner was ruled to have fumbled. To me it looked like an incomplete pass. It looked with Warner’s arm coming forward. At the very least you need to stop the game to review it. Most important play of the year and they don’t stop the game to take a look at it? What’s worse is the fact that the Steelers were whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play for celebrating. Since this was a dead ball foul, no matter what the result of the review, the Steelers would have been penalized 15 yards. If the play was review and overturned the Cardinals would have had first and 10 from the Steelers 20 yard line and would have been able to run one maybe two more plays. To cover their asses the NFL issued a statement at 2:30 AM in which they claim to have reviewed the play in the booth. 2:30 AM! This was four hours after the end of game! Even if this were the case, than that means they looked at the play for less than 25 seconds since the Steelers snapped the ball with about 20 seconds left to go on the 45 second play clock. By comparison, they stopped the game to review the Holmes go-ahead touchdown for close to five minutes.

The Cardinals faced a pretty daunting task going up against the guys wearing black and gold yesterday. Little did they know they’d also be up against the guys wearing black and white stripes.

What a terrific role model…and hey he’s going to Disney World! Santonio Holmes was named MVP of the Super Bowl and immediately became America’s new darling. This is the same guy who on Tuesday admitted to being a drug dealer as a teenager and this year has been arrested on at least one drug related charge and suspended for a game. Let’s look at a timeline of the rise of Santonio Holmes:

- Born: March 3, 1984
- (1999- 2003): Dealing drugs and occasionally playing football at Belle Grade High School in Florida
-(2003-2005): Played wide out at Ohio State; leaves school after three years and is taken in the first round by the Steelers
-May 27, 2006: Arrested charged for disorderly conduct in Miami Beach
-June 18, 2006: Arrested charged for domestic violence and assault in Columbus, Ohio
-October 23, 2008: Arrested for possession of marijuana (legal and NFL disciplinary charges still pending); suspended for one game by the team
-January 27, 2009 - During Super Bowl media day, freely admits to dealing drugs as a teenager. His motivation?.... to feed a starving family? No. To help his single mother working three jobs pay the bills? No. To get himself some fancy Air Jordans? Bingo.

- February 1, 2009: (about 9:30 PM) Caught four balls on the Steelers final drive Each catch was punctuated with an elongated "look at me" celebration with the ball (preventing its immediate spotting by the referees) while the Steelers were trying to run their hurry-up offense.
(about 9:35 PM) Makes spectacular go ahead touchdown catch, and then makes one of the most selfish plays in Super Bowl history by celebrating with the football which he knows is an automatic 15 yard penalty. However, he is bailed out by the refs when they swallow their whistles.
(about 10:30 PM) Named MVP of the Super Bowl and sets record for using the pronoun “I” in the acceptance speech.

-February 4, 2009 - Will ride the float at Disney World with Mickey and Minny waiving to the little kids at Disney.

What a role model.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

College Basketball Mid Season Report

Few quick thoughts on college basketball half way thru the season:

The most complete team in the country right now is…PITTSBURGH. UNC and UConn might have the most potential, and Wake might be the most athletic, but the team most ready to win six games in March run right now is Coach Jamie Dixon’s squad. They play terrific team defense, don’t turn the ball over late in games, and have a deep and stable rotation. In addition they have the three components most great teams have: a low post banger in DeJuan Blair, a reliable scorer in Sam Young, and most important a veteran point guard in Levance Fields. Pitt will also benefit from being battle tested week in and week out in a tough and deep Big East.

Team that will disappoint in the post season is….DUKE. Look for them to be watching the Final Four from their Durham dorm rooms again this year. Don’t get me wrong they will win a ton of regular season games, get a high NCAA tourney seed, and maybe even split the season series with Carolina, but without any semblance of an inside game they hardly have the makings of a team that will make a deep postseason run. Duke relies far too heavily on perimeter players and their 3 point shooting. They struggle anytime they don’t shoot the three-ball well or if they play a team with size.

The most frustrating team to follow will be…. WAKE FOREST. Blessed with a roster that includes four player 6’11 or taller, probable All-ACC players Jeff Teague and James Johnson, and a future lottery pick in forward in Al-Farouq Aminu, the Demon Deacons have the talent to beat any team in the country (see wins this year over UNC and Duke). However, on the flip side they are also a very young and inexperienced team that can loose to teams they shouldn’t, as evidenced by losses to Virginia Tech and a putrid Georgia Tech team. They have problems closing out games which can be attributed to youth and inexperience on the roster and on the sideline. It’s unpopular to say, but I think Dino Gaudio may have become the head coach of a big time program a few years before he was ready. This is a team that will make some noise this year, but more than likely is a year away from hoisting any hardware.

Whatever happened to….OREGON. This team which has been a perennial contender in the PAC 10 over the last decade, sent half a dozen players to the NBA, and has more money than most medium-sized countries (on account of their close associations with Nike and Phil Knight), has gone completely in the toilet this year. Coming off an Elite Eight run in 2007 and a #9 seed a year ago, they currently stand at 6-14 overall and 0-8 in the PAC 10. Even more embarrassing than Joey Harrington on the guitar, they’ve lost home games this year to Oakland, Portland, and a “neutral” court game to San Diego at the Rose Garden. Don’t look now Duck’s fans but the Oregon State Beavers, coached by President Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson, are now a better basketball team. Coach Ernie Kent better get his resume ready.

Also whatever happened to…..CALLING A TRAVEL! It has long been the standard in the NBA that the ref’s swallow their whistles with regards to traveling, but now it’s starting to seep into college basketball. Next time you catch a game, go ahead and watch the player’s feet. Every player that catches a pass, comes to a jump-stop, pump fakes, or uses a pivot foot has “happy feet”. Across the board they all shuffle their feet. In addition, every player’s drive to the basket or post move includes more than the allotted two steps. One hundred percent of all a spin moves should be whistled. Go ahead and try it. Try to spin all the way around while moving and take only two steps. It’s impossible. I was watching Carolina last week and I’m pretty sure Tyler Hansbrough used this up and under post move and took AT LEAST four full steps without ever dribbling.

Don’t be surprised if…Bobby Knight takes over one of the two jobs that just opened up in the SEC (Alabama and Georgia) next year. He’s been keeping his finger on the pulse by doing analyst work for ESPN the past two seasons, plus he is not afraid to coach basketball at a football school (as at Texas Tech 2001-2008). Another possibility might be the University of Maryland if Gary Williams is let go or retires following this season. Despite his antics and personal failings “The General” can and will maximize the talent he’s given and win a ton of games.

Keep you’re eye on…. Keiton Page. VERY generously listed at 5’10 and 165 pounds, and looking like far more like the team manager than a basketball player for a big time program, this true freshman guard for Oklahoma State is hustle personified. Possessing little to no athletic ability, Page has used an out of this world motor and tremendous basketball IQ to average 10.5 points a game in only 24 minutes per. He is a kid among men on the court, but is really fun to watch. If you get a chance to see him play I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. It will also be interesting to see how he does next year, when point guard Byron Eaton graduates, and he gets the lion’s share of the minutes.


Player of the Year: Blake Griffin (OKLAHOMA)

First Team All-American: Blake Griffin (OKLAHOMA)
Tyler Hansbrough (UNC)
Stephen Curry (DAVIDSON)
Jeff Teague (WAKE)
James Harden (ARIZONA STATE)

Freshman of the Year: Samardo Samuels (LOUISVILLE)

Most underrated player: James Harden (ARIZONA STATE)

Most valuable player: Ty Lawson (UNC)

Tim Tebow Award
(most over-hyped player):
Tyler Hansborough (UNC)

Coach of the Year: Mike Montgomery (CAL)

Coach most resembling mascot: Coach K and the Blue Devil

Most overachieving team: Butler
Most underachieving team: Notre Dame/Gonzaga

Two teams I would not like to play come March: Louisville and Marquette

Please get a room: Dick Vitale and the Cameron Crazies