|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Hey Kids! An actual thoroughbred selection!
Today's 10th race at Hollywood Park is a 5 1/2 furlong Maiden Special Weight race, featuring a 2 year old colt named Roman Jake. Roman Jake ran two weeks ago at Hollywood in a similarly valued 5 furlong MSW race against a very promising Kentucky Derby quality colt named Roman Ruler (no relation, I think), and placed in the race.
But it wasn't that he placed, it was how he did it.
Roman Ruler won the race handily. But had Roman Jake had another 1/2 furlong ahead of him, he would have won the race by a couple of lengths. It was only his first race, and his rally down the stretch was impressive and mature.
Morning line 7/2, he'll probably be bet down.
I have $19 to win on him, and put $5 to win on him for Pauly (what I owe him for this week's wager). I'll let you know in a few hours what happened.
Pauly vs. BG Challenge Week Seven Results
I'm out. I lost. 347th out of 1082 or something like that. I made a miraculous comeback when my all-in on pocket nines stood up with three callers, pumping my stack (that sounds dirty) up to 1900. Another orbit later, and I had wired tens down, and made a steal play from late position, pushing 1700 all-in. Aces called me, and A33 flop gave him the unbeatable boat.
Pauly's still alive as of right now, but who cares? He's already won Week Seven...
Friday Night, or actually very early Saturday morning...
Just a couple quick things before I go to bed:
1 - Finished second in our home game. I'm horribly unhappy with the way I played heads-up, but the cards did go ice cold (no Kings, no Aces, no pairs) for quite a long time. But that's no excuse. It's because I'm a big pussy wimp. I lost pushing all-in with QTo after a raise from the guy I was playing against. We were folding left and right, so any raise was a signal of some sort. It was less "dumb play," and more "Fuck it, I'm done."
And if you were to guess where I was in chip count, you wouldn't have figured it to be something like 60/40. That game was winnable, and I did something dumb. Grrr... JS got off the schnide with his victory tonight. He needed that, and played good cards. We've been playing home games at least twice monthly for over a year now, and when we started, JS and I were the ones who "got it" first. None of the others, initially, dove in and just practiced and read up, so we had a nice advantage. He has been through a hellish cold streak at the game, so it's great to see him win. If I can't, at any rate.
2 - I saw David Sedaris on Letterman, and he wasn't who I pictured when I read his book. I mean, it's not the "gay thing," because I've read some of his stuff, and you can't miss it. I don't know... I'm just going to be hearing a different voice in my head next time I pick up a book of his. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
3 - I don't flip around on the TV as much as I used to, thanks to TiVo. If you don't turn channels (which resets the recording buffer), you can rewind live TV.
I haven't yet found a good reason to rewind live TV. I'm sure it exists, and I'm afraid I'm going to miss it. So I don't turn channels.
4 - I'm going to make an early guarantee that Flavor Flav in the "Surreal World" house will result in at least one truly memorable moment in reality TV history. This is why TiVo was built, so you don't have to just tell your kids you were there when Flav was the first contestant in reality TV history to get busted for crack possession.
5 - Happy 18th to Lindsey Lohan. Lindsey, if you're reading this, I'd like to get to know who you are, not just use for your body.
That was just in case she stumbles here Googling herself. It's a lot less creepy a way to attract a famous actress than this site, which you should seriously spend a few minutes clicking through. If I were Kathleen Robertson, and I Googled myself, this would be link number one at the top of the page. And I'd be mildly frightened.
Must get some rest - big multi ahead of me tomorrow. Must. Beat. Pauly...
Friday, July 02, 2004
No, you didn't blink and miss it...
Week 7 of "The Pauly vs. BG Challenge" has been issued.
I challenged Pauly to the $5 Multi at 1030AM tomorrow on PartyPoker, he who lasts longest is the winner.
If you're online, drop in and say hello...
Suffering from mixed-feeling retrospectia
I drove home from work yesterday with all my windows down and the air conditioner going full blast.
If my dad were dead, he’d be rolling over in his grave.
I can’t tell you how many short, medium, and long rides in the car in warm summer months were marred in my family by my dad’s insistence that “it’ll get cool eventually,” and that you “can’t have the windows down and run the air, that’s wasteful.”
Excuse me for a moment while I throw away my leftovers and light a cigarette with a $20 bill while putting my head in the freezer to stay cool. It never got comfortable in that car, and a slight breeze might have kept the “he’s touching me, make him stop touching me” portion of the ride more palatable.
The new bane of my existence is the radio commercial for Auto Zone. It features one of those over-emotive singers (similar to the Def Leppard guy doing “Pour Some Sugar”) ham-handedly delivering the following lines:
Get in the zone / Auto Zone / Anything you want / Anything you need…Anything? Really?
In that case, I’d like a German U-Boat and some Strawberry Shortcake. Chop chop. I don’t have all day.
I played one $10 SNG last night on PartyPoker. Came in third. I’m suffering from mixed-feeling retrospectia in regards to how I feel about my play in this one.
I went up early (nine players remaining) when, UTG, I found AJs, and raised. Short stack raised all-in (nominal amount over my initial raise), and two players matched. I think (with blinds 15/30) I went to something like 90, short stack made it 145, and two called. Back to me, and I pushed it up to 450. Point being, I felt good that I wasn’t facing pairs in the hole here, and I was hoping all would fold to me and Mr. All-in.
Oops, one caller.
Thankfully, board gave me a rainbow with a high card J. I bet out about 100, got raised, and pushed it all-in. It was still 200 or so to call for the other guy, but he pushed it in anyway. He had A9, and had paired his 9. No help, Mr. Short Stack’s A3s didn’t benefit him either, and I jumped up to about 1800.
As the field began to get whittled down, I made a couple of suspect plays that represent a portion of my mixed feelings about this tournament. In the realm of “can’t believe I called that bet,” I had nothing but high card Ace, good kicker twice, saw ragged low boards checked to the river, and still managed to call the dude whose J7s paired up on the last card (both pots went like that). What ticked me off is that somehow it made sense to me at the time to call a bet of 200 with only 400 or so in the pot to see if my nothing-but-high-card made me a hand.
I did make one play, though, that really must have chapped the hide of the guy who lost the pot. I was on the button, and was dealt A4s. With only five of us left, I liked my chances with this hand. UTG called, and UTG+1 raised nominally. With 1400 or so, and with the raiser sitting on a big stack (2800 or thereabouts), I pushed all-in, figuring I’d get folds and pick up the pot.
Nope, the raiser called and showed KK.
How mad would you be if you were holding KK, had another guy all-in, knew you were ahead, and then saw the board fall like this:
That’s right, I made my straight to his set. I was chagrined.
All of a sudden, I’m sitting on T4200 or so, and am a substantial chip leader.
We’re now down to three, and here’s where I made the boneheaded move that cost me a chance to be a factor for the win.
I’m in the BB holding T3s. Ugliness. Blinds are 50/100, and UTG makes it 450 to go.
I call – logic being, I thought that 450 put him all-in, and with a big chip stack, what the hell, right?
Oh, wait… how did I miss that he didn’t have 250, but 2250? Flop comes, he bets, I scurry away. I’m such a freaking retard. I never would have called that bet without an all-in, and really shouldn’t have thought about it if there was.
Problem was, two hands later I look down and see AA. Same guy raises substantially, I push all-in, he calls.
He hits his set on the flop, I’m down to 200 chips. Instead of 550 or 650 or whatever, had I not called that previous bet. I push all-in on my BB with Q2s, catch nothing, and get bounced in third.
Not a real satisfying experience.
What I am satisfied with is that my understanding of some of the theories of raising in a no limit game are starting to solidify in my head. I think I’m already a fairly decent NL player, maybe equivalent to a guy that goes out and shoots low 90s on the golf course, but hanging an 85 once in awhile. In other words, I know what I’m doing, I can make the occasional good-to-great play or read, but I’m a dozen or more strokes off the PGA Tour, that’s for sure.
Anyway, raising was the topic. Last week’s home game featured Lord Geznikor, who is a player prone to raising the pot. I think I take for granted playing with my usual crew. In that game, I can play within my own feel and my usual rhythms, if that makes sense. I know enough about everyone’s game there where it’s not a challenge. I don’t mean “these guys don’t present a challenge,” I mean that “I don’t have to worry about what bets, calls, and raises mean” from the rest of the crew. It’s like being a batter than can hit fastballs and curveballs, but throw a knuckler out there, and he really has to concentrate. That’s me.
So playing with LG got me thinking a lot about raising. Why, wherefore, how, and when?
I’m usually something like “aggressive tight” if that makes any sense at all. I wield a big stick, and I know when to get out. Where I think I’ve been weaker than I should be is in using raises to try to either narrow the field or take the big pot down. Plus, the whole idea of giving free cards should torture me more than it does. You’re never going to let someone wander into a hand if you take away their ability to get infinite odds.
Dictate their pot odds. That’s going to be my new mantra.
Home game today, so here’s hoping I don’t experience the same sort of vapor lock that plagued me last night online around my table tonight. I’m going to spend my whole day at the track tomorrow if I can take down the pot.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Muddying up the waters
Sometimes I feel like I’m teetering on the brink with this blog of being that guy from “Throw Momma From The Train” who wrote the book for his creative writing class called, “Women I’d Like To Pork.”
Or, whatever euphemism he used instead of “pork.” You know what I mean.
Actually, I feel like I’ve been at my worst lately with my writing. I’m a highly critical person, especially when rating myself, and I’m in this grey area between “uninteresting” and “stuck.” And I suck. And blogging sucks. And I can’t seem to dislodge some of the thoughts I have and just flow like I’m used to.
I’m really going to try with this “In the Final Strides” thing, which I might, at Bob’s suggestion change to “The Whip.” But for now, I’ve gotten two paragraphs each into three different posts intended for that site, and I’m getting stuck. And I am so dissatisfied with getting stuck that I’m not writing the usual volume of blog content.
I’m not used to mental vapor lock. I don’t always have something good to say, but I always have ten to twelve paragraphs on the topic. It’s a major confidence blow to watch that blinking cursor on MSWord, and not have anything flying off my fingertips to make it move.
In an attempt to “unstick” myself, I’m going to try doing justice to something I saw a number of years ago on TV, and tell a story.
No Justice, No Peace
I was wasted.
Not wasted in the room-is-spinning-please-make-it-stop sort of way, but wasted in the giggling-on-the-couch-watching-QVC type. There’s something I really love about QVC, particularly when the products being pitched approach points of absurdity. I’m not, for instance, going to be interested in watching two women talk about a dress or a pair of earrings, but when they’re trying to sell me 347 knives and swords for $400? Sign me up. I’m not actually in danger of being talked into a ridiculous purchase, but these salespeople are the true unsung heroes of television. They wouldn’t have a job if they couldn’t push the product, and with all the inherent costs associated with running a TV network, you’ve got to push a lot of knives and swords in twenty minutes to earn your keep. My favorite part is when the guy is handling a big Bowie knife and keeps twirling it in his hand. It’s part hypnotic, and part sideshow carnie barker, along the same level of impressiveness as the Mexican guys slapping the porno/hooker booklets into their palms on the streets of Vegas.
When I’m in that giddy state of inebriation, whatever you’re selling, I’m willing to hear your pitch.
On yet another of my aimless 2AM trips up and down the channels of my local cable system, looking for anything remotely funny to keep me entertained, I landed on the Public Access Channel, where you too can be a TV star.
What drew me in was his hat. “No Justice, No Peace,” ironed on to a “trucker hat,” a few years before the kitsch value of plastic netting made a comeback. It was obvious he had the same slogan hastily added to a just slightly small T-shirt from the bottom of his dresser, as “O JUSTI” was visible in an arc across the top of his chest.
This was a man with an axe to grind.
The man, or Roger, as I came to know him, was one of those old gruff-looking ex-Marine types. He was sitting onscreen with nothing but the top half of his torso and that hat visible, with a plastic fern just behind him. While the homemade hat got me to stop, it was his impassioned pleas that kept me tuned in.
“This is a group,” Roger began, in very vague terms, “of so-called ‘professionals’ that are not regulated by any single body. Not by the AMA, like our doctors. Not by the government, like the people who are responsible for investing our money. These are people with unchecked power who are absolutely not accountable for their actions.”
I’ll admit, he had me hooked. Who was he talking about? It was obvious he was upset, and with a demeanor like his, I was glad I wasn’t full of unchecked power with zero accountability.
“We put our confidence in their hands, and they will make mistakes. All human beings make mistakes. But what can a man like me do when he is wronged by these people, this group, this cabal of untouchable ‘professionals?’ If you think there’s a board I could report them to, you’d be wrong. If you think my government cares about the common man over this powerful lobbying interest, you’d be mistaken. If you think the courts see what they took away from me as any more than a possession, with a price tag on its head that doesn’t go one one thousandth of the way of valuing the intangible things I lost, you’d be in error.”
I was on the edge of my seat. Who were these fat cat power brokers, and what the hell did they do to whatever it was that he lost? For nearly fifteen minutes Roger grew angrier and angrier, and continued to rage against the machine in completely vague terms, never once cluing the viewer in to what his issue really was.
“What I lost meant more to me than anything in this entire world. I’m just a man, who put his faith and confidence in a system that has stolen my heart and my life away from me, and laughs in my face when I try to bring their problems to light.” Roger was obviously starting to choke up a little. “I have something I’d like to read now.”
That’s when it all made sense. Or, rather, made sense only in the most absurd way possible. The image onscreen changed from the angry gruff ex-Marine to that of a slideshow of pictures of a fluffy cat. And Roger, choking back the tears, was reading a poem while these pictures flashed by.
Yes, it rhymed, and yes, it was as much about veterinary malpractice as it was a glowing love ode to his beloved cat. He was nearly bawling by the end of his poem.
It was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen, with a man willing to shed real tears on camera on behalf of this cat. I had to get this on tape.
I called the cable company that morning, and was transferred to the person in charge of the community access portion of the company. I asked her if I could get a copy of the show, and she let me know that she couldn’t provide one herself, as the cable company didn’t have the production rights, but she could put me in contact with the guy responsible.
Without thinking, I gave her my name and number.
A few days later, I came home to a message blinking on my machine. “This is Roger Johnson (name changed to protect the nutball), I got your name from the lady at the cable company. I’m glad you watched my show, and I’d like to talk to you. Give me a call at…”
All I wanted was a copy of this guy crying over his kitty cat, and all of a sudden he’s thinking he’s found a kindred spirit. Another two days passed, and another message popped up. “Hi there! Roger again, you’re probably out of town or just really busy, ha ha… Just wanted to see if I could talk to you for a little bit, and I can give you my address so you can get that copy of my cable show. We’ll see ya!”
It was disturbing me how casual he was on the phone. I was sure that when he found out I was laughing at him, not crying with him, that I was in for a Korean War style ass kicking.
It wasn’t until I got home that next day from work and found another message that I figured out that I had to call him back at some point. With trepidation I picked up the phone and dialed the number he had left.
A familiar voice answered, “Hello?”
“Is this Roger? This is BG. The lady at the cable company gave you my number.”
“BG! It’s my pleasure to talk to you. I’m really glad you were interested in what I had to say.” Captivated is more like it. Engrossed in an embarrassing public spectacle is probably what was most accurate.
“Uh, yeah. I’m sorry about Fluffy,” or whatever his cat’s name was – I forget, “I was interested in seeing if I could get a copy of your show on videotape…” I didn’t get any more words out of my mouth before an excited old man jumped right into his big pile of assumptions.
“I’m guessing you had a pet too, and that there was an issue with a vet, am I right?”
Where do you go from here? Well, certainly the truth has no business in this conversation at all.
“Yeah, I, uh, had a dog growing up,” so far so good, “and we brought him in to get fixed and the vet screwed things up and the dog died of complications.” It was a true story, although it happened to someone I know, not my family.
“Oh no,” Roger sympathized, “what kind of dog was he?”
“Great Dane. We called him Buddy.”
“What did you do? Or were you too young?”
“It was my dad,” I couldn’t just quit here, right? “the MSU Vet School did the surgery and screwed it up. He sued them, and the judge awarded us half of what it cost us to buy the dog in the first place, and told us we didn’t have to pay for the surgery – which we didn’t have to anyway.” I threw this last part on the end for good measure, thanks to my finance background, “It was as if the courts depreciated my dog.” I was pretty happy with that last line. Thought that might get the blood pumping on his end a little bit.
“That’s horrible, those veterinarians think they can get away with anything. There’s no checks and balances, there’s no board to report them to, if these guys screw up, it’s just another dead dog to them. They don’t care.” I know a vet or two, and I certainly didn’t believe that last assertion.
“Well, I’d like to show your tape to my dad. Can you mail me a copy?”
He agreed, so long as I sent him $3 for a video tape and a prepaid mailer in return. Thankfully, he left me alone after that. Still, I got quite a bit of enjoyment out of that videotape over the next year or so, although no one ever found a sobbing Roger quite as funny as I did.
What’s Wrong With You People?
First of all, can we just all agree to understand that despite Maria Sharapova’s natural good looks and long legs, she is nowhere near the smoldering sex kitten that is Anna Kournikova? I know it’s the natural inclination of our media to find the “next” something or someone, just like Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant were all the “next” Michael Jordan, but there is absolutely no case to be made that Sharapova is remotely close to being as blisteringly hot as Kournikova.
I’m just going to come right out and say it: There may not be a more perfect looking woman on this planet than Anna Kournikova. Certainly, in the discussion you’d have to include Laetitia Casta (Victoria’s Secret model) and maybe Rebecca Romijin-Stamos, but there’s a reason men rabidly scour the internet for pictures of Kournikova while Sharapova hasn’t seen modeling contracts.
And no, it’s not because Sharapova just wants to be a tennis player.
Now, I said Kournikova is “perfect looking,” and I’m not sure that’s up for dispute. But when you factor personality and reputation into the equation, she takes a major tumble down the list. There are “hotter” and “sexier” women than Anna out there, but if you take basic factors (attractive face, long hair, athletic – yet shapely and feminine – physique) into account, good luck trumping her.
Speaking of female athletes, I’m really tired of the NBA shoving the WNBA down the throats of basketball fans. Women’s sports will never have more than niche interest in this country for a couple of reasons. First, they’re not entertaining. I don’t care what the so-called “basketball purist” says about the below-the-rim game being more “fundamental” than the NBA game. I’m not buying it. The dichotomy between the amazing athleticism of Amare Stoudamire and any of the WNBA’s power forward counterparts is staggering. Secondly, I don’t believe the casual male sports fan has any interest in generally non-attractive women in competition. We’re a sad lot, sure, but I would bet a weekly 3AM lingerie pillow fight buried on an obscure cable channel would get better live ratings than a 4PM Sunday WNBA playoff game.
Now, the Olympics and the Women’s World Cup prove those explanations wrong, but what you have there is the interest generated by these athletes representing their country. If another Mary Lou Retton or Kerri Strug story comes out of the Olympics, great. But if the WNBA or the women’s pro soccer league has a story on par with the Willis Reed playing through injury situation? No one would ever notice.
Are sports important for young women? Without question. Building self-esteem, competitive spirit, and learning good sportsmanship are all benefits that boys historically have gotten from sports that girls are just starting to receive on the playgrounds and soccer fields. And while it’s a noble thought to give these little girls (and high school girls, and competitive college athletes) an opportunity to see athletic women with whom they can identify on TV, it just isn’t working. The fact remains: no one – not even women – watches this stuff.
You know what I’m fascinated by though? It’s no secret that women’s sports have an extremely high lesbian participation level. Whether it’s the LPGA, college basketball, high school field hockey, or the WNBA, there are a lot of lesbians on the playing field.
What fascinates me is that no one ever talks about the locker room dynamic that exists in women’s sports. I’m not talking about wondering about all the lurid things that could happen behind closed doors. What I mean is that I’m confident that openly gay and straight athletes couldn’t coexist peacefully in men’s locker rooms. Does subtracting the male machismo dynamic in these women’s locker rooms allow the straight women to shrug off their teammate’s orientation? Or do the sheer numbers of lesbians (I would bet some – not all – WNBA teams have a majority of lesbians on the roster) in women’s sports just make it something common and usual for the straight athlete? And beyond the locker room, the WNBA and LPGA have enormous lesbian followings. Is it uncomfortable for a reasonably attractive straight athlete in sports to run the lesbian groupie gauntlet?
Yes, these are the things I think about.
One more note on the title topic, and hopefully my last birthday related post until June 2005… At no time over the past two weekends did I blow out a candle on anything. Actually, no one bought or prepared for me anything resembling a birthday cake, or in my tradition, a turtle ice cream pie. What’s wrong with people? I don’t get a birthday cake?
I got gypped.
Monday, June 28, 2004
In a nutshell…
In precisely seven words, I’ll be describing…
My life’s history: “Smart kid with mayonnaise aversion, now divorced.”
My marriage: “Depressed woman buys bullshit solace from British.”
My dog: “Napoleonic Corgi can catch Frisbees, very loveable.”
My apartment: “An old oven and hot neighbor: $585.”
First impressions of Pauly: “New Yorker unable to park car efficiently.”
My unrealistic career option: “Job security, little pressure for lefty relievers.”
My current poker rut: “Scared of Limit, recklessly daring with none.”
My major faults and quirks: “Smoking, biting nails, plucking nose hair, etcetera.”
What I look like: “Take my senior picture, add forty pounds.”
What prompted the best night I ever spent naked: “Locked out? She lied to stay over.”
Typical of my ex: “Wouldn’t do it in graveyard, chickened out.”
First serious girlfriend (junior high): “Not attractive, but smart with huge rack.”
Girl who was my first: “Seemingly couldn’t have enjoyed sex any less.”
Girl who was my second: “Jewish stripper with major self-esteem issues.”
My favorite of them all: “Sexy young Hispanic restaurant hostess adored me.”
What I do for fun: “Twenty to one something other than gambling.”
One of my biggest regrets: “Courtney and her torpedo tits – no confidence.”
Of my many talents: “First to be picked for Trivial Pursuit.”
Of things I do rather poorly: “Wheels under my feet? Imbalance and ineptitude.”
What I want before I die: “Lions Super Bowl is all I ask.”
In the Final Strides is a new addition to my blog here at good ol’ RTATS. On this page, I will be developing a horse racing blog that, hopefully, will grow and get better as time goes on.
What inspired this?
Jay Cronley at ESPN on the horse racing page did. Cronley has got to be one of the worst writers currently collecting a paycheck on this planet. For years now, I’ve felt like I could come to the table with more consistent and interesting content than Cronley, and I’m setting up In the Final Strides to prove that, mostly to myself.
I have this area of my blog to write about anything, but I really feel that if I can commit myself to keeping up with racing at a much more involved level than I currently have, I can be informative, opinionated, and hopefully continue to be honest and funny at the same time.
I really believe that there is an “old guard” of writers for horse racing (concentrated at the DRF, mostly), and that while they are very well connected and good at what they do, this sport needs youth. Young people at the track, at the windows, and at the media outlets (while few and far between) that choose to carry coverage of horse racing.
In a perfect world, I’d like to be somewhat like ESPN’s “The Sports Guy” as far as being entertaining through analysis, but obviously thoroughbred-centric in my approach. This goal is far from being realized, but I’m hoping that over time I can provide interesting content, good commentary, and a little bit of entertainment value along the way.
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta believe…
So what if it was only a $5 SNG? When you go three handed into the 150/300 blind level, you know you’re playing with a couple people who are taking things seriously.
And I played brilliantly for the last half of the tournament.
In the first half, I essentially folded outside the blinds, took a check/called pot with a middle pair of eights with 78s in the big blind, and otherwise just bided my time.
About halfway through, I made a mistake. I limped in with the hammer, as I have a hard time throwing that hand away most of the time (thanks Grubby), and tried to make a play at the pot with bottom pair, but lost a lot of chips when another player came back over the top. There was a Queen on the board, and I guarantee you he was holding Q9 or Q8.
So, with six of us left, I was only holding 555 chips, and still held roughly that same amount when two more players fell.
We had a chip monster on the table. Everything was going his way. He had well over 4k with four of us left in, and my 555 represented low stack (by about 400).
That’s where I started going all Mean Gene on their asses. I pushed the pace unmercifully, folding the absolute junk outside the blinds, but still catching enough on the fringes to push all-in at least once per orbit, usually taking the blinds down with me.
It was beautiful. Without contesting a hand, I worked up to about 900. That’s when Lady Luck started flopping the cards my way.
KQs? I’ll push all-in. Low stack calls, he’s got AT, I catch the straight to his two pair. Buh-bye. I was killing these guys. They were folding off to me left and right, but even when they felt able to call, I just kept catching.
I went from 555 with six to go, to big time chip leader in the final three. The third place finisher was ticked off, when my QJs beat his big slick by rivering a Queen. Things were just going my way.
That’s when the decisive hand hit. 27s.
How many times do you get a hand that you’d normally fold, but you have such a commanding chip lead that you convince yourself you’re going to catch? This was one of those times. I knew I’d land with that hand. That’s the way it had worked all game, all I had to do was move the slider to the right and click “raise.”
With his last 2000 in chips, he turned over AKo.
I caught my two, he caught nothing, game over.
It was beautiful. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta believe.
The Free Ride Is Over…
…and it’s probably my fault, too.
About three months ago, just on the off chance that my account at Michigan State hadn’t been deactivated, I tried dialing in to the old Michnet number from my work laptop here at my desk.
Amazingly enough, it worked.
Yes, it was dialup, but it wasn’t sitting on a corporate network where my web tracks could be monitored. I’m not confident enough, as a vendor to the company at which I reside, to push limits of acceptability by visiting anything outside of a few core sites (Amazon, ebay, my bank, some news outlets), so I wasn’t able to visit blogs or update my own before realizing I still had my account.
Of course, all good things come to an end. As of 6/23, all access for non MSU students ended. As did my ability to aimlessly surf in my downtime. Damn.
Maybe they noticed the aberration of my six hours online daily, nearly ten years after leaving school. If I spoiled it for anyone out there, my apologies.
Some Fantasy Football Thoughts…
Besides their position, what do the following eleven running backs have in common:
Clinton PortisGive up?
At what is historically the most important position in fantasy football, these are the only eleven guys who are guaranteed to go to camp as an undisputed #1 guy.
I’m about to pose a radical notion to fantasy football draftees: Getting two running backs early is not necessarily the way to go anymore.
Assuming a ten to twelve team league, there will be only a lucky few teams that will be able to put Barber and Lewis, or Green and Alexander in the same backfield. Securing one of these top eleven should be paramount to your draft’s success.
But if you can’t get two? Don’t worry about it.
Let’s take these eleven guys off the board, and go team-by-team around the league to see where the running games for the rest of the league stack up.
AFC East: The Jets running game showed its age last season, but a distinct weakness over the top in the passing game really allowed defenses to stack up. New York is in a situation where they are going to have to really see what they have out of the under-utilized LaMont Jordan, as CMart won’t be around forever, and it is Jordan’s contract year. To this point, it’s unclear as to who, if either of them, will be garnering the bulk of the work. The Patriots solidified their backfield with the acquisition of Corey Dillon, who has the all-around skills to be an every-down back. However, this is an inventive offense that creates mismatches with personnel, and I would bet Kevin Faulk catches more balls this season than Corey does, and will certainly see his fair share of carries. Buffalo’s situation is interesting as well. Travis Henry has done everything Bills fans could have hoped. He provided stability and a 1200 yard presence in the backfield, and should have been a ten year starter behind Drew Bledsoe. The first round choice of a year ago, Willis McGahee, is my nomination for the “boom or bust” award in every draft. He’s either going to fully unseat Henry, or they’re going to provide a solid 1-2 punch with neither player outshining the other. I believe it will be more to the latter. Best Bet: Corey Dillon / Feast or Famine: Willis McGahee
NFC East: Cowboy fans have little reason to be optimistic. Troy Hambrick was less than serviceable, but was replaced by the two headed monster of Aveion Cason and Julius Jones. Maybe Jones will be the real deal, but I wouldn’t count on seeing much production right away. The Eagles saw Brian Westbrook blossom into an impact spark off the bench last season, but still found reason to re-sign Correll Buckhalter to a new deal. I believe Westbrook is probably too small to be an every down back, and will lose goal-line carries and short yardage opportunities to the bigger Buckhalter. Best Bet: Brian Westbrook / Feast or Famine: Julius Jones
AFC West: Who can figure out anything the Raiders are doing? Subtract Charlie Garner, but add Amos Zereoue and Troy Hambrick to compete with Tyrone Wheatley and Justin Fargas. While chances are slim all four will make the opening day roster, chances are slimmer that a 1200 yard / 10 TD back comes out of that group. Denver is going to get burned one of these years with this blind confidence that they can take any 4.4 40 guy and turn him into a 1500 yard back. I don’t dislike Quentin Griffin, Tatum Bell, or Ahmaad Galloway, but I dislike having to pick a starter from that group. These guys should all be terrific third down backs somewhere, not fighting for first down carries. Then they sign Garrison Hearst. Who will bubble to the top? And more importantly, will we be confident enough to pick one on draft day? Best Bet: Quentin Griffin / Feast or Famine: Justin Fargas
NFC West: While you think you can confidently say Marshall Faulk is the man in St. Louis, think again. Faulk is still a dangerous weapon, but the Rams will find good reason to get an aging star to the sidelines from time-to-time. Lamar Gordon might not ever be more than a complimentary piece, but he’s a decent one, and will be the closest thing to a platoon back with Faulk without actually going over that line. The Cardinals just made the puzzling decision to appoint Emmitt Smith their #1 guy before training camp, which is as much of an indictment of Marcel Shipp as it is an endorsement of Smith. Shipp may never see enough carries to make 1000 yards with the savvy veteran in front of him. San Francisco just promises to be terrible this year, and without wideouts to take the heat away, Kevan Barlow will find a hard time finding the light of day. There may not be a #2 guy pushing Barlow hard from behind, but with a suspect attitude and work ethic, we’ll see what happens to Barlow after his first 30 carry / 47 yard performance this season. It’ll happen. Best Bet: Kevan Barlow / Feast or Famine: Marshall Faulk
NFC South: Will the Falcons please just give the ball to TJ Duckett? Warrick Dunn is the answer to a question no one is asking. Without a strong push up the middle, defenses can collapse from the outside, which is going to limit Vick’s ability to be effective. Unless Duckett breaks out, this isn’t a situation you want to draft into. Carolina’s running game was solid last season, but Stephen Davis tires easily, and DeShaun Foster really showed some talent when he got the chance to tote the rock. I’m guessing about a 60/40 split between them for carries this season. Tampa Bay signed Charlie Garner and Jamel White, and the only hope for fantasy owners is that Michael Pittman does something else dumb to keep him off the field this year. Add to the mix Mike Alstott’s apparent health, and no one is likely to stand out of this group. Best Bet: Stephen Davis / Feast or Famine: TJ Duckett
AFC South: Is he staying, or is he going? That’s the Eddie George dilemma the Titans have before them. Regardless, an inexperienced Chris Brown and a slow but sturdy Robert Holcombe will see quite a few carries. If you’re gambling on the success of Domanick Davis this year in Houston, well, good luck with that. He’s got a talented Tony Hollings behind him, and is small enough that one solid Ray Lewis lick could knock him out until next September. I’m not pinning my fantasy hopes on Davis. Best Bet: Domanick Davis / Feast or Famine: Chris Brown
AFC North: Can anyone tell me what to think about Cleveland’s running game? William Green showed flashes, but seemingly can’t stay out of trouble. Lee Suggs had a brilliant game late last season, but do we expect the same this year? And there’s always James Jackson back there too sucking carries away. Pittsburgh returns Jerome Bettis, on his last legs, and the unspectacular Duce Staley. Good luck with all that Steeler fans. The situation is murky in Cincinnati this year as well, as the heir apparent to Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson, now has first round draft choice Chris Perry to battle with in training camp. Best Bet: Rudi Johnson / Feast or Famine: Lee Suggs
NFC North: My Lions finally appear to be putting together a running game, but have three guys who will be seeing carries in Shawn Bryson, Artose Pinner, and Kevin Jones. Steve Mariucci has a history of using a running back platoon, so don’t bet on a big year from any of those three. Chicago is going to be atrocious this year, as befits any team that is willing to put the ball in Thomas Jones’ hands. Anthony Thomas ain’t exactly chopped liver, but he’s barely ground round. And I don’t envy anyone picking a starter from between Michael Bennett and Onterrio Smith in Minnesota. Don’t forget too, Moe Williams looked awfully sharp early last season, and will score 4-5 TDs that should have went to the #1 guy. Best Bet: Michael Bennett / Feast or Famine: Thomas Jones
In the majority of these platoon situations, it’s nearly impossible to predict who will be the breakout player, let alone who will get the bulk of the carries.
Do you gamble on Rudi Johnson being a clear-cut favorite over Chris Perry? Do you assume that Emmitt Smith will be an undisputed #1 in Arizona? Can you confidently pick a Bronco running back?
The better question is, do you pick one of these guys instead of going for a top WR or QB?
The answer, in my opinion, to all of these questions is a resounding “no.” Take the top eleven guys, and make sure you get one. But if you have a choice between Domanick Davis and Randy Moss, what makes sense? If you’re sitting in round two with Daunte Culpepper or Duce Staley staring you in the face, do you take that second running back because you feel you have to?
After the top eleven guys there are forty four running backs across twenty teams that will see the ball. You’ll have ten percent of them ascend into the top tier, you’ll have thirty percent of them be absolutely worthless to your roster, and you’ll have sixty percent of them that are just about as valuable as any of the other sixty percent.
The salad days for running backs are over. Elite WR groups are taking over this game. Don’t be left behind.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
BG's Thirtieth Birthday Veal Chop Extravaganza
I've had nothing but the title typed in this spot for the last four hours. I blame Pauly and Shakedown Street for my sluggishness and unabashed laziness this sunny Sunday afternoon.
So, where to begin?
Pauly rolled into town in his rented Dodge Stratus with the Mississippi plates (doesn't it just put a spring in your step to say, "Mississippi?") about 2PM on Saturday from his overnight stay with friends in Chicago. For my birthday, I received an authentic Pauly Painting, and I didn't even have to crack aces with the Hilton Sisters to make that happen. Nice!
Anyway, I'm not a big drinker or anything, so instead of lining up shots for my houseguest for the night, I decided to show Pauly the town. My town, Grand Haven.
"It's so quiet out here," and "This must be a great place to raise kids" were the two most overheard phrases over the next hour or so, as we took the dog for a walk downtown. There was an art festival going on, the streets were packed, and the seawall was lousy with boats from all corners of the... well, from Chicago and Milwaukee at least. My town may not have a lot of "flava" or anything, but it's quaint, quiet, and it's mine.
Dinner was only marred by one unfortunate event. Our waiter, my neighbor, had told me earlier in the week that it would be OK to bring my own bottle of wine to the restaurant, they'd just charge me a corkage fee. Well, thank god I brought it in opened after letting it breathe all day, because we damn near gave the manager a coronary when he saw me pouring my own wine at the table. Apparently, I got some bad information. So, from my good bottle of Brunello, I had a glass and a half. Thankfully, there wasn't anything stupid like a confiscation or a pouring-of-contents-down-the-sink, as they would have had to take me away in cuffs before I gave up that bottle of wine. It was just Pauly and I for dinner, and he encouraged me to explore the writing angle I've been looking to take on for awhile now, which would have a serious horse racing bent to it. If I start to put my plans into action, maybe you'll see a new area of GamblingBlues open up in the near future.
As mentioned in the title, I had the Gorgonzola Encrusted Veal Chop (which came with a gorgonzola encrusted tomato, and gorgonzola potatoes au gratin), prepared rare, and Pauly had a T-Bone, prepared medium well.
I don't get medium well, but it wasn't my steak, so I should probably just shrug my shoulders and move on.
We returned to stately BG Manor in time to, uh, mentally prepare for the poker game. I hadn't mentally prepared in quite awhile, so it was a real nice welcome happy feeling to be back on that wagon. Or does that mean I fell off the wagon? Why does it always have to be a wagon?
The parties started arriving just before 8PM for the poker tournament. Nothing but Hold 'Em, $20 to get in, tournament style, with top three places paying. Because it was my birthday, everyone except Pauly, Lord Geznikor (link goes to his blogspot site, which I did just to drive him nuts - the real link is in my link list at right), and I were drawing for seats. I wanted these guys at my table.
So, at the "black table," we had:
Seat 1: BGFor the early part of this game, I'm going to defer mostly to Pauly, as he took notes, while I just sucked on a Cherry Stout, and bided my time.
I actually lost a pretty big pot early to LG, going down something like 250 right off the bat. LG then spread his chips to Gil, and Pauly swooped in near the end of the first level and managed to deal a crippling blow to Gil, who didn't make Pauly for the nut straight he flopped.
I must mention that Pauly got a call from Al Can't Hang, calling from the Borgata at the Maxim magazine party. I'm not going to spoil Al's writeup, other than he did compare the atmosphere to "whorehouse" while on the phone. There are some days where I'd trade places with that sonofabitch in a minute, and last night was one of those. Go Al!
Shortly thereafter, Gil pushed a draw a little too far against my pair of Kings, and was first out. Within the next couple of orbits, LG tried to go over the top of me while also on a draw, when my Hilton Sisters saw a low board hit. He pushed all-in over the top, and I couldn't wait to get my chips in the middle. To add insult to injury, LG had four to an open-ended straight before the river, caught the 6 that made him his straight, but it was the fourth heart matching my Queen of hearts, giving me the flush.
From that point forward, the cards went ridiculously cold. I literally (not in the sixth grade girl usage of the word, in the "didn't land a hand worth playing" sense) folded my way into the money (top three). Problem was, MH was responsible for taking out the last six players. After Ms. Third Place Finisher bounced out, and I went heads-up, I had 3200 to his 10000. With blinds at 100/200, neither of us were hurting for needing to make immediate moves, so MH just sat there and waited for the right all-in preflop of mine to call. My 97s versus his ATo. He caught his Ten, and that was the ball game.
Still, second place without raking a legitimate pot over the last two hours isn't bad. It does ruin my perfect record playing heads-up in the home game though. I've finished third, but I've never finished second.
Pauly took off this morning, and I would assume you'll be reading more of his exploits tomorrow afternoon. It was great to have him here, and once again say for the record that this little corner of the web in which we all reside is home to some really terrific, genuine people, all of whom I'm glad I get to know through their writing, and am proud to get to know personally when I have the opportunity. Thanks again for coming out Pauly, you've always got a place to crash in West Michigan.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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