|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Friday, March 26, 2004
Detroit Lions Blog
For my two readers that care, a couple of Lions tidbits came across the wire recently that are worth mentioning. As a matter of fact, let's take a look at the whole of the Lions' offseason, and see where we are.
Lions sign DB Fernando Bryant - This was a nice pickup. I really appreciate that Detroit didn't feel that they had to overpay like Minnesota did for a guy like Antoine Winfield. Bryant is young, has adequate size, and will be a good compliment to Dre' Bly across the field. I really didn't see DB as a priority this offseason, but frankly you weren't going to spend money to get a top tier WR, TE, or RB in this FA class. Grade - B+
Lions sign G Damien Woody - So what if we just set the bar higher for interior linemen? Woody is a young, Pro Bowl caliber player at a position of serious need in Detroit. He also comes from a winning organization. Don't minimize the impact that could have. He seems like he'll be a good locker room guy, and I'm thrilled we got him and not the freaking Dolphins or Redskins. Grade - A
Lions sign WR Tai Streets - This one had me considerably upset and perturbed initially. I thought that by getting Streets, it was some sort of acknowledgement that we were going to go a different direction in the draft than picking up an offensive playmaker. However, keep a couple things in mind. First off, Streets is only on a one year deal. Secondly, Lions brass has hinted strongly that they aren't necessarily content to just keep status quo at WR at this point. Third, they didn't spend a lot of money on Streets. If he ends up our #2 guy, I'll be a little disgruntled. If he's our #3 behind Rogers and a WR taken in the top two rounds, I'll be thrilled. Grade - B-
Lions sign G David Loverne - Is this an upgrade or downgrade from Tony Semple and Eric Beverly? Well, Loverne is young, but he's obviously not starting caliber. I'm glad to see them addressing depth through free agency, so all in all this is a good pickup. Grade - B
Lions sign S Brock Marion - On one hand, he teams with Brian Walker to give us two guys in the defensive backfield who are flashing their AARP cards at Old Country for their free cup of coffee with every buffet discount. On the other hand, even at 80% of what he once was, he's an upgrade. I am distressed we signed him to a four year deal though. To me, that says we probably overpaid on the signing bonus to bring him aboard. Anything is better than Bracey Walker or Corey Harris though. Those guys were like using toothpaste instead of spackle to fill the hole in the wall I punched repeatedly every time those guys were burned deep on a five yard slant (welcome to the NFL Anquan Boldin!). Grade - B+
Lions sign DB Dainon Sidney - One of our two young guys, either Cash or Goodman, didn't have a leg injury, so they should be rehabbed effectively. Assuming the other is back, and adding Babers in the mix along with the possibility that Chris Kern could make the roster, and all of a sudden we've got a log jam of nickel and dime backs. I don't like spending money unnecessarily, and this seems grossly unnecessary. Grade - D
Lions re-sign RB Shawn Bryson - The news reports all referred to him as Detroit's "leading rusher from a season ago." Ugh. True, he was the only capable looking back on the roster, and it was also obvious that we couldn't stretch the field, giving defenses an opportunity to gang up on him, but we gave him a two year deal to stick around after last season? My god. At least I have hope that they'll cut Olandis Gary off the team before I have to watch him tote the rock in the preseason. Grade - C
Lions lose LB Barrett Green, QB Ty Detmer, G Eric Beverly, DT Luther Elliss, RB James Stewart, WR Bill Schroeder, S Corey Harris, LB Jeff Gooch - Beverly was good for depth, Barrett Green was young and coming along. We've addressed Beverly's loss (Loverne), but really haven't fixed the holes created by the departure of two of our LBs (Green and Gooch). The rest? All old rubbish. Good riddance. Grade - B (for not overpaying to keep Green)
My hope here is that these pickups alter our draft strategy effectively enough to look for playmakers on the offensive side of the ball with our first two picks. In a perfect world, here's how the first six picks should shake out:
1 - San Diego (or whoever trades for this pick) - Eli Manning QB
2 - Oakland - Larry Fitzgerald WR (unless they're smart and move down to let someone grab Robert Gallery here)
3 - Arizona - Roethlisberger or Rivers QB
4 - NY Giants - Robert Gallery OT
5 - Washington - either Tommie Harris DT or Kenechi Udeze DE
6 - Detroit - Mike Williams WR
Then, in round 2, perhaps look at Tatum Bell or Chris Perry in the backfield, or perhaps a TE like Ben Troupe falls. In any event, we're now in a great position to look to pick up a stud WR at the top of this draft, as we've addressed any needs now that Sean Taylor from Miami could have filled.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
I’m having one of those “fairly confident I turned the coffee pot off before I left the house” kind of mornings.
I know that it’s due to a general feeling of discombobulation. I’ve had kind of a strange last day and a half, and thankfully I am fairly certain I’m on the other side of it at this point.
I don’t know what kind of telepathic sixth sense my ex-wife has, but she and I will go months (in this case, about five, which has been about par for the course lately) without contact, and then I’ll get bcc’d by accident (legitimately) when she sends some sort of mass email to her contact list. The thing is, she only seems to find those times where I’m in that brooding, introspective sort of mood to commit these accidents.
If you noticed my post on Monday about “Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind,” you’ll probably have gleaned that the movie kinda screwed me up a little bit. So I get home on Tuesday from work and there’s an email from her to her address book that notifies everyone that her work email will be down a few days, and that her personal email address should be used. Of course, that gave me her domain name, and on that domain were all sorts of family pictures and such, which just deepened my brooding, introspective mood.
So I did what I usually do, and that’s email her back asking politely to be taken out of her contact list. I really don’t have any need to talk to her, as it always has degenerated quickly into argumentative bullshit.
Well, she emails me back… you know what? How about I just post the thread?
Disclaimer: When writing these emails, I was half crocked and in that brooding mood…
----- Original Message -----
OK, so you see why Tuesday night got me a little edgy.
Actually, to relax I ended up playing in one $10/$1 SNG on PartyPoker. Iggy had it right in last night’s post when he mentions that patience is the key to winning these things. Even half drunk (on a pretty nice Montepulciano) and still reeling a little bit from the above conversation, I committed to myself to stay focused and try to win the damn thing.
I couldn’t believe how many hands I was folding. And the other players were taking notice too, pushing me off my blinds left and right in early action. I stayed patient, willing to take a hit of 10 or 20 chips in the first two orbits if it meant that I’d stay away from playing that 6To.
We’re down to nine players, and I’m in the SB. I’m sitting on 690 in chips, and get dealt Cowboys. UTG comes out with a raise of 3xBB. I’m thrilled when a couple call, as I take that raise, and bump it up to 150. UTG raises again! Now, I never put AA on aggression like this on these low-limit games. 90% of the time you’re looking at high suited cards or a middle/low pair. But damned if another player comes in over the top of that raise, moving his entire stack (totaling about 650) into the pot.
Now’s as good a time as any to triple up I figure, so I raise the additional 45 all-in, and UTG follows.
UTG: 44 (!)
Other Dude: AKo
You want an amazingly scary flop? How about 235? Now UTG is looking much better than Other Dude. The Ace can’t help him anymore, so it’s me and UTG. The turn is a 2, so we both have two pair. The river is a T, and I go from 5th to 1st in one hand (up to about 2100).
We’re down to seven, and I tighten up. Fold, fold, fold. I do manage to see a couple other decent hands, and by the time we’re down to five players, I’m personally responsible for knocking four players out, and have the 3500 in chips to prove it.
As I’m the only player left at this point (nearest stack = 1950) who isn’t really affected by the blinds, I continue my aggressive regimen of folding. The dude on the button every time I’m in the BB sees me folding to even the smallest marginal raises, and makes it a point to make sure he’s the one cleaning up.
Of course, what is a smart play for a little while can come back to bite you in the ass.
I’m still hovering around 3500 when the blinds hit 150/300. There’s four left, I’m in the BB, and the guy on the button (stealer) sees UTG fold to him. He raises to 600. Unfortunately, that was about half his stack. As he’s been doing this every single time, after the SB folds, I push all-in with my KQs. Hoo boy did that tilt the poor kid. I guess I was supposed to keep folding. He didn’t call, but was blinded out in the next rotation.
Down to three with a huge chip lead, I made it my business to raise up with just about any marginal calling hand. It wasn’t until both stacks were under 1000 that they bothered to call.
Let that be a lesson people, you can’t just sit and wait for AA. I knocked someone out earlier (he had 450, I had 2400) when I called his all-in with 89 after catching a 964 flop. Sometimes, you just have to play the hands you’re dealt.
And so I won. It was beautiful.
There’s not much really to say about Wednesday, except that my boss was in town. It’s actually quite nice to have him all the way on the other side of the state, although it makes our personal interaction a little awkward in person. Maybe it’s because I’m so tightly wound sometimes that I always figure I’m going to get a lecture or a bad review or fired or something, even though I think I’m doing a pretty capable job here for my company.
Anyway, the challenge yesterday was to appear productive with my boss over my shoulder all day, even though it was slow to the most epic of proportions. My phone rang twice all morning. I had about three emails to which to respond. It was dead.
Nerve-wracking, but dead. Thankfully, by 230PM he was involved with other meetings onsite, and then back on the plane out of town. And it never got any busier.
So it wasn’t until after my evening obligation yesterday (which I’ll touch on in a second) that I could finally wind down a little bit.
Except that I have a lot to do today, but can’t seemingly get either the people I need on the phone, or the computer to work properly to get it done.
Hence, one uber-post, coming up.
I really hope I turned my coffee pot off.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Page 2 - Back in action and ready to scream: "Why don't trailing teams know who to foul in the final minute? For God's sake, how does someone like Gerry McNamara or one of the 19 Diener brothers ever get fouled at the end of the game? Shouldn't you be triple-teaming them and forcing the ball somewhere else? Don't coaches tell them this? Or do guys blank at the end of games and forget the scouting reports? And if that's true, why even call timeouts then?
(Here's a helpful hint for the fouling thing: Stay away from the point guard with the crewcut and the Mark Price poster in his room, and just look for the seven-footer with no neck and Tom Boerwinkle's body. Just trust me on this.) "
Great article. Gotta love the Sports Guy. Mark Price poster (snicker)...
I've gone a little Ebay happy over these last few days.
With my big victory on Friday night (in what LG thought was a less-than-interesting game apparently), I was able to open up the spending gates a touch.
First off was a trip to the local grocery store to get my mom her birthday present, which was going to be two bottles of wine. Lucky for me, they were having their 15% off a six pack of wine (mix and match, not grouped together with plastic rings or something) sale. Basically, for $100 I got six bottles. Two for my mom (@ $20-$22 each), and the rest for me. It was a great deal, because for just shy of $60 beyond what I would have spent on her anyway, I got four $22-$38 sticker price bottles, including the Estancia Meritage that I haven't had in ages. I popped open a $30 Montepulciano by Cecci last night that's pretty good too.
I then put a bid in on a pair of shoes on Ebay. I'm a little worried about buying shoes online, not so much for the ripoff factor, but because due to flat feet I have these rigid plastic orthotic insoles in my shoes, and I usually should test drive before I buy. However, I couldn't find these anywhere locally, and I got them for $60 instead of the $90+ sticker price.
I also picked up the Alligator Records sampler (blues) that I used to own on CD for $10, and two decks of KEM cards that will hopefully be in by this weekend for $13.
Ain't That a Kicker
I've been running into severe Kicker problems on PartyPoker recently. I haven't really been spending a lot of time playing, but my last three or four SNGs all told the same story on my way off the table.
Sunday night I joined a $10/$1 SNG and was in the SB on the first hand. It folds all around to the button, who comes in with a 3XBB raise. I'm holding suited AT, and feel pretty good about it. I bump it up to twice his raise, hoping to scoop the chips right there. He calls. It's just the two of us.
Flop comes AA6. Now, even if he's holding an Ace, I have to feel good about my kicker, right? I check, he bets marginally, I call. Turn pops an 8 on the board. No flushes this hand. I check and call a pretty decent bet at this point, but I'm fairly confident he doesn't have the boat. I'm positive it'll be kickers. The river turns a 4, and I push all-in with my last 500. He hems and haws and calls.
I made the right read, no boat. But I played it as if I had it and he still called. With AQo.
I played really well in another $10/$1 SNG last night, placing third after going down a nice chunk of chips (down to 460) over the course of one orbit where I was dealt hands good enough to raise pre-flop, good enough to call marginal bets into the turn, but just bad enough to throw away when the action got serious. Luckily, I stayed patient and caught two consecutive monsters, turning 460 into 1900 in two hands. It was beautiful.
The hand on which I busted out third was really quite depressing. I had JTo in the BB. Dealer folds, and SB raises marginally. I call. Flop comes out 66J. I'm guessing he didn't raise me with pocket sixes to make quads, so when he checks, I push all-in. He calls instantly.
Bonus points if you said he had JK. Freaking kickers.
Hopefully I can find the time to get on and play a bunch tonight. I don't know why, but Limit is scaring me a bit lately. Maybe it's just that my cards online have been so freaky cold for so long that I'm afraid of getting into that "just good enough to call a raise pre-flop, just bad enough to fold before showdown" type of habit on the Limit tables. That can be an expensive habit.
Look for me on the SNG circuit. Hopefully, I can continue to exhibit good patience and catch when I need to on those tables.
How Bizarre Is This?
Back in the early days of college (circa 1992-93), all Michigan college students, at least at the state colleges and universities, were given free access to Michnet, a dial-in Internet provider.
I haven't used Michnet since leaving school back in 1997. Nearly seven full years later, I'm at my desk at work, have my work laptop handy, and have finally been given a land line here with which to connect to my company's VPN.
But I don't want to surf aimlessly on the company's VPN, and I know I can't surf aimlessly on my client company's network either.
So I find an access number to Michnet online, and use good ol' Dial-Up Networking here on this antiquated laptop to give her a shot.
Unbelievably, I still have a login account. Seven years later.
I guess technically if I wanted to save money I could simply use Michnet for all my Internet needs, and conceivably not pay a red cent for the service. I just can't imagine playing poker on this laptop hooked in at 115,000 bps though. That would be brutal.
Monday, March 22, 2004
I don’t think I’ve ever been more emotionally affected by a movie than I was last night seeing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
In “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” “…Sunshine,” and even “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” to some extent, Charlie Kaufman really nails the particular collection of self-loathing neuroses based on finely tuned but warped senses of inadequacy that make his protagonists immediately identifiable to me.
Joel Barish (the Jim Carrey character) was dead-on right up my alley. It was actually unnerving for me to watch Carrey navigate that area of emasculating uncertainty where the woman he loves is suddenly and puzzlingly distant (to say the least – no spoilers here, go see the movie). Life isn’t a roller coaster for someone like Barish. Nothing is a risk. His cards are held quite close to his chest, not wanting to give anything away that could expose his perceived inadequacies. Between when he realizes Clementine (the Kate Winslet character – and damn, did she look good in this movie) is no longer feeling anything towards him, and when he figures it out, he’s not exactly sent reeling. That would indicate that he has an emotional high or low to hit. He’s actually sent more into that whining “woe is me” sort of mentality.
Kaufman’s protagonists, especially Barish, Chuck Barris, and his own “self-portrait” in “Adaptation,” are a peculiar brand of socio-phobes. These are men that are too scared to feel. Too afraid of being discovered as a fraud to be aggressive. The world happens to them, they aren’t really quite active participants.
So to see a character as eerily close to my own perceptions of myself as Joel Barish be put into a circumstance where his pain over lost love can be relieved, well, that hit awfully close to home.
In the interest of closing a few loopholes here, I just want to mention that I don’t sit and agonize over my ex-wife and failed marriage. Not anymore at least. But a movie like this gets you thinking about whether it would be a good idea to wipe all traces of memory away from that part of your past that caused you the most pain and heartache.
In my circumstance, I can’t seem to find the happy memories anywhere in my head. Even when I’m trying to be positive, I feel that what I’m saying is loaded anyway. For example, if you were to ask me why I married her in the first place, I’d tell you that it’s because she has such a magnetic personality when she wants to use it, that she can basically make you fall in love with her. Which, of course, is a statement loaded with all sorts of manipulative undercurrents.
Would I wipe all the memories I shared with my ex-wife clean out of my head?
You know, I probably would. Being taken advantage of and discarded callously is the type of thing that can really effectively cover up any sort of illusion of happiness that might have been there.
The counter-argument is that a man is simply the sum total of his experiences. And that somehow I would be cheating myself out of the whole Nietzschian “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” idea.
Screw that. If I had a foolproof way of flat-out eliminating 1998-2002 from my memory, I think I’d probably jump at the chance.
As far as the movie is concerned, I’ll just say that it was really very good. I hope that it isn’t forgotten when awards season rolls around. It’s the only movie I can remember seeing that really left me re-examining my own life on the way out of the theatre. I highly recommend it.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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