|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, April 09, 2005
From the comment section below my last post, reader Homersolo asks, "So, I admit I'm a Duck. Bear that in mind. From an outsider's perspective is QB the Lions biggest need?"
Good question. The easy answer is "no." A team could do worse than a young QB with potential (Harrington) backed up by a wily veteran who knows the coach's offense inside and out (Garcia).
The Lions are a young team that is perceived to be "on the rise." For the last few years Detroit has had top picks in the first two rounds, and the Millen regime has actually done a pretty good job identifying talent in those spots. Not only that, but some of the lower round picks have become solid contributors as well. A quick list:
2004 Draft - Roy Williams, WR (starter)That's 12 starters out of the last four drafts, not even counting some of the backups I'm glad we've got (Alex Lewis, Keith Smith, James Davis). Add some solid free agent acquisitions (Damien Woody, Marcus Pollard, Dre Bly, Kenoy Kennedy) to the mix as well, and it's hard to make an argument that there's a single glaring piece of the puzzle the Lions are missing at this point. Right Tackle might be one, and our pass rush is still a little anemic, but for a team picking this high in the draft, the Lions are actually in pretty good shape.
Maybe the better question would be, "Given the talent the Lions would likely be in position to pick at #10, would any of the available players fit a distinct need for the Lions?"
At #10, you want to get a player who can step in and contribute right away, but you're also in a spot where you need to pick a player "worth" taking at #10. Alex Barron (tackle, Florida) might fill a need, but he's a reach there. The pool of available defensive ends also don't get anyone too excited. Shawne Merriman is a versatile athlete, but no one can figure out if he's a workout warrior or real blue chip talent. Erasmus James is the other rush end, but his injury history is going to push him lower than #10.
Here's the short and the long of it. If you're Millen, you've collected some young talent and recognize that there's probably yet another year of growth necessary by these guys to be in a position to make waves in the playoffs. You could reach in this spot at #10 for a position of need, or you could take a player (Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas for instance) you don't really need and shuffle your positional alignments to accommodate.
Or, if you're ready to cut your ties with Joey Harrington...
See, the most popular athlete in Detroit at any given point is always the same guy: The Lions' backup QB. If Joey starts the season with a lukewarm performance, the media and fans will be calling for Garcia before night hits that opening Sunday. He's going to need to come out lighting up the scoreboard, or he's going to need a fresh start somewhere else. There's no in between here.
Not that I think this is going to happen, but here's how this will play out should it get to this point... Lions trade with Cleveland and acquire the #3 pick in the draft. They select Alex Smith. Joey Harrington is due a roster bonus on June 1st, and is cut in the middle of May. Millen tells Lions fans that they now have their Elway, but he's going to sit and learn behind a savvy veteran for a year - maybe two. Everyone around Garcia gets better this year, the Lions make the playoffs, and next offseason the Lions hand the starting job to Smith, who's got a much better team to drive than what Harrington was given a couple years ago.
I think it's a longshot at best, and may just be posturing to insure that if Smith does fall to #10 in the draft, that the Lions have "showed interest" in him enough to convince a trade partner to overpay for taking that draft slot.
OK, some Lions talk to digest with your morning coffee...
The Lions brought Utah QB Alex Smith in for a workout this past week. What's curious about this is that they did it in a cloud of misinformation. See, there's a Tight End named Alex Smith from Stanford that also came in for a visit, and when the Lions discussed "Alex Smith" coming in to workout, they were insistent that it was the Tight End that was coming.
Now we know it was the QB too.
Alex Smith, the QB, had a great career topped off by a pre-draft workout a few weeks back that received a standing ovation. Joey Harrington has been lackluster at best under center for the Lions to this point. Time to cut losses?
Let's look at the top ten in the draft first, doing a quick mock under the assumption that the Lions might believe Alex Smith could fall to them:
1) San Francisco 49ers - Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal
2) Miami Dolphins - Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
These two picks are becoming as close to foregone conclusions as you can get
3) Cleveland Browns - Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
Cleveland is the first spot on the board where Alex Smith could possibly go. That being said, they've screwed up so many drafts in Cleveland since returning to the league that taking the acknowledged top prospect in this draft is not a bad move. They could use a #1 WR anyway. A likely trade partner for the Lions should they want to go up to get Smith.
4) Chicago Bears - Mike Williams, WR, USC
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn
6) Tennessee Titans - Antrell Rolle, CB, Miami
7) Minnesota Vikings - Shawne Merriman, DE/OLB, Maryland
All four teams from 4-7 highly unlikely to need a QB. With two RBs and the top two WRs off the board, I gave Minnesota an edge rush end. I have no idea where they take this pick in reality. The #3 WR or RB isn't an improbability.
8) Arizona Cardinals - Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, CB, West Virginia
Another danger spot where Smith could be selected. QB is unsettled at best for Arizona, and their local press could villify the front office should they pass on a blue chip QB at #8. That being said, I'm picking Jones for them under the assumption that they make the Travis Henry acquisition and look to improve their defense in this spot.
9) Washington Redskins - Derrick Johnson, OLB, Texas
I'd think they'd be unlikely to take Smith here. OLB isn't as big a perceived need for them as CB and WR are, but their mock pick here is based on best available player.
10) Detroit Lions - Alex Smith, QB, Utah
OK, so this is (roughly) how the dominoes would have to tumble in order for this to happen "naturally." I think, however, the more likely scenario is that we're going to have to go up to get him. So with whom do we trade, and what is it going to cost?
If Millen really believes Smith is the pick here, he's going to go get him. It's one of the things about Millen I really dig. They've had good drafts under this regime, and Millen has always felt comfortable trading up to get someone who may have slipped.
This is a different sort of trade though. The trade to the top. Those picks up top, even in a perceived weak draft, cost you quite a bit of equity.
We aren't going to trade with San Francisco. That's not happening. Miami wants to move down, but I think they're looking for more picks in this draft, not next. If I were Millen, I'd be willing to give up #10 and next year's #1 if I really thought I had my guy. I wouldn't be happy giving up #1 and #2 this year.
Maybe it's Cleveland. In order to absolutely insure you get Smith, you have to leapfrog or replace the Browns. Staying at #10 is too risky. There are too many teams ahead of you that could trade out to another team moving up for Smith.
So let's assume we need to go up and trade with Cleveland. I'd do it for my #1 this year and #1 next. I think they'd consider that package. So then you land Smith. Why would they get rid of Joey Harrington?
Well, Harrington is due a big roster bonus in June. Cut him, you save some cash (which you'd just spend on the signing bonus for your #1 pick anyway), and you go into this season with Garcia as your #1 and Smith watching and learning.
The more I think about this, the more it makes sense to me. There are only a couple guys at #10 I get excited about (Derrick Johnson, maybe Alex Barron, either Rolle or Jones should they slip), so if I'm Millen and I've fallen in love with Smith, the smart move is to go get him.
I'm really intrigued and can't wait to see how this plays out.
So I'm audtioning a new brand of underwear right now.
It's not going well.
Actually, let me back up about 40 hours here. I'm really having a hard time figuring out whether the last 40 hours could be considered "a good day" or "a bad day."
I'm pleased and flattered PokerProf asked me to write for PokerPlayerNewspaper Online. That absolutely falls under "good day." I'm happy that Anna's (of "Anna and the King Queen Suited") parents are pleased and not weirded out that a story about their daughter appears on the Internet. Good day.
Then, I get to work yesterday. I had one of those straight out of "Office Space" sort of afternoons, and it drove me nearly insane.
I work for a big corporation, and we changed our billing software in the middle of 2004. Billing reference numbers for everything changed along with it. Someone tried to invoice for January stuff in October, and did it with the new reference number. Someone or something caught that and made the assumption we wanted it invoiced under the old reference number.
Now, for 99% of what my corporation does, that's the right move. Problem is, I work for a very small arm of the company, and we needed it billed under the new project number.
So I have to file a form - actually, seven of the same form, but whatever. My boss sends me the form, and it's so confusing that it doesn't even seem to directly apply. However, he'd know more about this than I would. I want to make sure I fill the form out correctly the first time, so I need help.
I call my contact at corporate who could very easily have helped me, but she pushed me off to the toll free help line for support. I get into the menu tree of the help line, and there is absolutely no cue that sounds remotely like what I'm trying to figure out. I choose the cue that pertains to troubleshooting problems with the old billing system, and get to an operator. After he takes my contact info, we have this exchange:
TECH: So how can I help you today?Calling tech support is always an adventure. Problem is, 99.9% of their calls come in from the corporation's main line of business, which has a uniform process to follow. Makes things easy. Our line of business uses bits and pieces and workarounds from that process, and the tech support guys are always in need of reminder of that fact. They're good at what they do, don't get me wrong, but they usually start out under a set of assumptions I have to back them out of before I can get a solution to my problem.
Anyway, I explained my issue, and the tech support guy said he didn't know what to do to help and didn't know to whom he could direct me. I should have bet him money on that one.
So he sends me up the ladder to his manager. Again, I explain my problem. This guy does happen to know of the process for filing forms to make billing corrections though, which is half the battle. The other half? Ten minutes backing him out of his set of assumptions that he knew what my problem was already.
"Oh, so you guys in that division of the company do things differently?"
Uh, yeah. I'm not just dropping a dumbass problem that doesn't need fixing on your desk. Help me out, would you?
So we dig in and he finally begins to understand that the corporate assumption that was made in regards to my billing problem needs to be reversed. I tell him I have the form in front of me, and we start talking about what we have to do to correct it.
TECHMGR: OK, so the old billing reference number goes on top.Yep. My boss sent me the wrong form.
The right form? Self-explanatory for making the changes.
By the way, I did remember to put my cover sheet on the TPS reports this week.
So maybe yesterday wasn't such a good day. I mean, I have this issue that I spend half the afternoon wrestling to the ground, and then I finally acknowledge defeat and decide to go to Kohl's to buy a new pair of khakis with a 38 waist.
Yes, you heard me. I'm more comfortable in a 38 than a 36 now. Please pass the donuts.
I've also been on a mission to find a lightweight pair of khakis that I can wear in Vegas in the early Summer. It's a dry heat. So this is the two birds/one stone shopping trip. Tackle one problem, acknowledge another.
I grab some $39 pants (Dockers Pro Khakis, very lightweight, stain resistant too), two packs of the aforementioned underwear, some more black anklet socks (summer sock of choice - I don't wear sandals due to fallen arches), and a $29 shirt. I bring it up to the cash register and the total is $67. I don't think much of it then, but reviewing the receipt later shows that the cashier missed scanning my shirt, and I'm either lucky or an unintentional shoplifter.
I then get home and grab a seat at the $.50/$1 limit tables at PartyPoker, winning the first two hands into which I'm dealt and doubling up from there.
Basically, between poker and inadvertant thievery (is there a difference playing $.50/$1?), I'm up $54.
I'm wearing the shirt (and pants) today, so let's see if my karma is affected in either direction. I can't file the free shirt under "good day" or "bad day" until I figure out if it's my new lucky shirt or Bobby Brady's Tiki Idol. If I wake up late tonight with a tarantula on my chest, I think we'll have our answer.
This brings me back to the underwear. I have the worst time finding underwear with which I can be satisfied. Problem is, between the mild psoriasis from which I suffer and the fact that I can't fucking stand clothing that bunches up on me, I think the only underwear that could possibly work for me would be briefs. Not standard briefs either, but special seamless briefs in a non-abrasive material. Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to underwear shop that hard for these things. I'm sure they're out there (and save the smartass "yes, and they call them panties" comments... I beat you to that dig already, so shove it), but I'm also reasonably sure they are going to check in at about $15 a pair. For $5 a pair, I'll suffer thankyouverymuch.
The underwear audition is the perfect microcosm of my last 40 hours. A type of tagless "comfort-fit" underwear goes on sale, and I give it a shot. Good day. It bunches and wants to escape into my ass crack. Bad day.
Let's just hope it all gets better from here.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Sheesh, well I guess I'd better start writing about poker again, eh?
I'm pleased to announce that PokerProf has offered me a spot as a writer for his new editorial endeavor Poker Player Newspaper, the online sister publication to the print magazine.
I accepted, and have posted an oldie, but a goodie up there in the fiction section.
For all of you newer bloggers who've been wondering why the hell I'm considered a poker blogger, I guess it's show and prove time now. Big thanks to Dr. Pauly for his support and recommendation on this one.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Visualizing the Realism of Life in Actuality
I had a single moment last week, late last week in the office, where I felt as on top of my game as I could have possibly imagined.
It was nothing. A nothing meeting with one of my clients that wasn't important in the small or the wide scope of things. It wasn't going to bring me more business, it wasn't going to make my boss or my company stand up and take notice. It was just a feeling as I walked out of the client's office that everything had gone dead right. For ten minutes my counsel was spot on perfect.
Ten minutes where I did my job and then some beyond all expectations including my own.
Although I'm absolutely positive I was a forgotten consiglierie to this client by the time lunch rolled around, I haven't forgotten.
I've held on to that feeling.
If you recognize the phrase that I used to title this post, you get bonus points. If you see where I'm going with this based on that phrase alone, well, you've obviously had this on your mind before.
What if most of us only get that one great moment?
The line "Visualizing the realism of life in actuality" is the beginning of AZ's contribution to Nas' "Life's a Bitch" off his classic Illmatic. From The All Music Guide's artist bio:
Born in Brooklyn as Anthony Cruz, AZ first came to the greater rap community's attention in a big way after his stellar performance on Nas' "Life's a Bitch" in 1994. Given AZ's similarity to Nas and the overwhelming response to Nas' Illmatic album, it was just a matter of time before AZ would score a record deal, a feat he accomplished in 1995. The resulting debut album, Doe or Die, shook the New York hip-hop scene as Nas' Illmatic and Mobb Deep's Infamous had done shortly before it. Like those albums, Doe or Die reveled in the street life -- hustling for cash, peddling drugs, violent encounters, mandatory boasting, struggling daily just to maintain -- but took a literate and thoughtful approach to the often exploitative gangsta motifs. Furthermore, like Nas, AZ had Pete Rock crafting the beats, which won the young rapper instant credibility among the hip-hop community.One moment of lyrical brilliance, on someone else's debut album no less, and it was all downhill from there. Not only that, but he clung to that rhyme like a life preserver as his career slipped away. I know of at least two songs where he trots out the opening line to that rhyme as if to say, "See!?! Remember me? I'm the 'Life's a Bitch' guy!"
Don't forget about me.
Life's a bitch to be sure, but it is also full of the potential of a little tiny moment swinging the pendulum, breaking the inertia and jarring a soul in an unexpected direction. Otis was the beneficiary of what was ostensibly a missed or passed opportunity from Wil Wheaton. Turned him from a TV Reporter busting chumps for cutting mattress tags into a globetrotting, e-published, and self-editing paid poker writer.
Most of us don't just get a glowing referral from a stranger and see an opportunity to try something new, dangerous, interesting, or exciting. Even if we have continually proven ourselves capable and worthy of said referral, as is the case with Otis.
Most of us are responsible for recognizing the moment, and finding that opportunity that might lie inside.
What if most of our moments of perfection don't sum up to anything greater?
I'll be the first one to acknowledge in no uncertain terms that they don't. I can put my truly perfect moments on a rather short list:
Ten Minutes Last ThursdayI'm sure there's a half dozen or so I'm missing.
It's not that I have a lack of pride, or don't feel as if I've accomplished anything in my thirty years. Far from it. There are a ton of things I'm proud of, and you're reading one of them right now. I kick ass at a number of things (including, on most days, my job), but I'm talking about those moments of perfection where maybe that one moment has the potential to change your life.
For ten minutes on Thursday, I was perfect. And I'm concerned it won't ever get more perfect than that again. I can be good, maybe even borderline great, but without perfection, maybe I miss my Wil Wheaton moment and that's not acceptable.
If nothing else, I'm hungry to taste that feeling again. And I hope to god that I don't walk away from that moment with nothing more than that sigh of satisfaction over a job well done.
Sometimes, in the afterglow of perfection, that can be enough. It's beginning to not be anymore.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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