Monday, January 30, 2006

Official XL Predictions Ballot:

All questions are worth one point except the final question:

1. Pick one fantasy player (one point for every TD) ____________________
2. Who wins the coin toss? Steelers Seahawks
3. Who scores first? Steelers Seahawks
4. Will either team score in the first 6 minutes? Yes No
5. Who will score the last points of the 1st half? Steelers Seahawks
6. Who will be winning at halftime? Steelers Seahawks
7. Who scores first in the 2nd half? Steelers Seahawks
8. Who will score last? Steelers Seahawks
9. Will Shaun Alexander have 100 rush yards? Yes No
10. Will Big Ben have 250 pass yards? Yes No
11. Number of replay challenges (coaches and official) _______
12. How many touchdowns will the Steelers score? _______
13. How many field goals will the Steelers score? _______
14. How many touchdowns will the Seahawks score? _______
15. How many field goals will the Seahawks score? _______
16. How many turnovers will the Steelers commit? _______
17. How many turnovers will the Seahawks commit? _______
18. Will there be a 50+yard touchdown? (returns count) Yes No
19. Will the Steelers get at least 3 sacks? Yes No
20. Who will be the MVP? _____________________
21. How many commercials will have talking animals? _______
22. How many commercials will be self-referential? _______
23. How many commercials will reference death? _______
24. How many Bud and Bud Light commercials combined? _______
25. How many points will the margin of victory be? _______

Wager 1 to 5 points on the final question: _______
Final Question: Who will win? Steelers Seahawks

Tiebreaker: Total number of points scored ________

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Picture Extravaganza

Sports Corner

Hoagie Hut

Rocky at Wrigley Field

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blockbuster Online vs Netflix

So you've heard about Netflix for a while, and maybe you think that you don't watch that many movies...but with Chicago DVD rentals up to 5 bucks, if you pay for 2 movies a month, you could be getting the cheapest plan from either serrvice. So this column will serve to rate the dvd-by-mail idea and compare the 2 companies. The best analogy I could come up with for this was a baseball game: Netflix is the well established home team with 4 times the fan base, by Blockbuster is a strong road squad with some promising prospects. Both services offer 2-week free trials and Blockbuster was up first:

Both teams have the same prices, but BB offers 2 coupons for free in-store rentals. Also, BB ships on Saturday, while Netflix takes the day off. But Netflix has the possibility of faster shipping.

I tried Blockbuster first but only did 1 disc at a time, and wasn't paying enough attention to shipping speed. It seemed slow, but more on that later.

When I tried Netflix I upped it to 2 at a time. It was nice and seemed faster, but I'm not sure if it's actually faster. The last 3 rentals have all come the day after the email told me they would. Which is even worse than just being slow, because it got my hopes up. In light of this, I have decided to go back to Blockbuster, upping it to 3 at a time.

In Conclusion:
DVD's by mail are addictive; as soon as you get it you can't wait to watch it and return it. My recommendation if for every one to utilize their free trials at the 3-disc plan. You can cancel online easily so by using both services for 2 weeks you could watch about 15-20 free movies. You can compare how many movies you get from both services by having 3 at a time. Beware: you might love dvd's by mail and be interested in keeping it.

Sports Guy Eats Crow

For various reasons (commercials, desire to watch dvd's consectuively, missed the debut due to travel, still haven't seen season 2) I chose to not watch season 5 of 24 until it comes out on dvd. Naturally, this involves avoiding the spoilers of the weekly Fox promos, but I managed succesfully with season four. So I was quite shocked to find massive spoilers in the Sports Guy's mailbag. In that mailbag he definatly defended talking about key plot points because he said "what kind of true 24 wouldn't have seen it 3 days later?" Well, he has reversed the ruling on the field, citing a letter from a solider in Iraq. (There are no spoilers in this link.) Nice to know I can patrol without getting 24 spoilers.


Could anyone have predicted the blogging explosion? Who thought that ordinary Americans were content to sit at home and not only read what other people are saying, but write it themselves. Perhaps someone could have forseen that many people deisre attention, and like the idea of a limitless worldwide audience hanging on their every word.

So of course a lot of blogs range from "I got a haircut on my lunch hour" to "I had chicken strips today". Not exactly riviting stuff here. But I still see it as a positive. Technology has seemed to evolve to make things more conveinent, and thus turning us into couch potatoes. So it's nice to have technology that helps bring people together to communicate.

So what if I'm an idealist?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ad Man

As part of my new job writing on a weight-loss pill account, I was assigned a lot of reading material, from diet books to Vogue. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about vogue is that even though this issue is only 278 pages (downright slender by some standards), the letter to the editor is on page 78. Aside from the table of contents, which waits until page 38 before making an apperance, the first 1/4 of the magazine has no actual content. While the adman in me is glad that there is still a future in print ads, the pragmatist in me is shocked that companies are still willing to pay for that space. Because someone reading vogue for the content should easily be able to open to about page 50 and flip towards actual writing.

The trick is that (not unlike the super bowl) the readers of vogue are reading for both the content and the advertising. Speaking of sb xl, i still find it interesting how 99.5% of the days when america sees a commericial we flip the channel (unless i'm watching arrested and wouldn't dare miss a second) but when it's the super bowl, people tune in to watch the commercials.

Perhaps if agencies put as much effort (not money, but creative thought) into their everyday work, as they do the super bowl spots, then they would find that people can enjoy watching, remembering, talking about their products and their commercials throughout the year.

Espn State by State Polls

This is an incredibly interesting tool that gives more detail to the question.

For example, when questioned about who was going to win the Seahawks/Panthers game, you could see the Northwest favoring Seattle, and the East Coast favoring Carolina. Those votes essentially cancel each other out, and the results for a neutral state are usually the same as the overall country.

The poll that sparked my interest in it today was what sports person are you most sick of hearing about?
Artest, TO, Bonds, Bode, or Theo?

TO ran away with the votes with 45% (Artest 24%) but what was interesting was that in every state across the country and even international votes, TO was the winner. I figured that at least Artest could carry his own state of Indiana, where it was closer, but not enough. TO reigns supreme in levels of annoyance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hooray for Football

It's a shame that the best part of the NFL Season also marks the end. Don't you wish that there was some sort of football that could be played from April to August? How about a NFL rookie league? Each week AFC rookies play NFC rookies, with games starting immediately following the draft? Hmm...

Seriously though, Kobe scored 81. Should I care? It's not even a record. Call me when he breaks triple digits.

Anyways, I'd be more impressed for team scoring records. Like if the Suns put up 200 without overtime, that would be neat. But do I really care what percentage of the Lakers 120 points were scored by one man? Like if Kurt Warner threw the ball 60 times and got 500 yards, it would still be the Cardinals...


Kobe scored 81 points in one game.

SportsCorner: Unparalleled NBA Coverage!

Rave on

This is the first part of a series called Rave on. With so much negativity out there, I figured this could be a place to praise deserving items, from simple pleasures to things that improve our lives to things that just work like they're supposed to.

Finding the best price via the seems like a simple and useful idea. There have been many sites that have done this or tried to do it but none like I love amazon for the ability to find what I need -- detailed descriptions and user reviews make it easy. But is it the best price? Once I find what I want, I run it through Not only does it search a lot of sites that I would never have found, but it allows you to enter your zipcode and get the ultimate best price including shipping and tax. Because what good is finding a lower price only to have ripoff shipping costs? None.

Friday, January 20, 2006

West is Best?

But this week, I really have no idea. The homefield advantage is nonexistant in title games and of course every team is hot right now...

Seahawks 26-23
Broncos 27-20

That's right, I'm predicting an AFC West Super Bowl. If you don't remember, Seattle played in the AFC west until moving to the NFC West in 2002. As far as I know the Seahawks are the only team to switch conferences, making them the only team elgible to play a longtime divisional rival in the Super Bowl. This is the year.

But if you think you know better, I am throwing down the Gauntlet. Please make your predictions of scores and winners in the comments section.

Divisional Predictions Recap

A quick recap on the divisional picks:

Seahawks 20-10,
Seahawks 24-13
Steelers 21-18, Colts 20-13
Broncos 27-13, Pats 24-20
Panthers 29-21, Panthers 17-13

So I was as good as a coin flip last week...if I had it to do over again I would still make the same picks. Indy was so dominant this year, and the turnovers were uncharacteristic of the Pats. But that's why they play the games. Or is it for money? I always forget.

Last week 2-2
Playoffs 5-3

Regular Season 31-18

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Talk about an SI Jinx! All 4 people pictured in the rematch weekend box had miserable games. 3 of them lost, and Shaun Alexander won knocked out on the bench. Urlacher's monster D gave up 29 points, and Brady and Manning both through costly picks. And the main guy on the cover will be mostly remembered for his heart-stopping fumble.

Also, I think Shaun Alexander gets credit for the MVP Award jinx this year, as well. Last year Manning fell apart in New England, this year Alexander literally falls apart. And how could he have won the award win his team can do just fine without him. Maybe it should have gone to Steve Smith. Furthermore, Steelers fans cannot be happy with SI. This week Roethlisberger is on the cover...seriously, back to back Pittsburgh covers. It seems cruel

True Competition

Finding a job can be as competitive as the NFL. Here's a timeline:

Late October: Mailed portfolio. Called to follow up - no opening.
November: Followed up with 2 emails. Nothing going on.
Early December: Read about job openings. Sent more emails and calls. Brittany gets a feeling that something good is coming...the next day they call me and asked me to drop off my portfolio.
Middle December: I have the option to pick up my portfolio and interview at a lower tier agency. After talking it over with Brittany we decide to leave my portfolio there and forget about the lower tier agency...the next day they call me in for an interview.
Late December: Go to Interview #1 and meet with 3 different people...They like me but tell me that they don't have an opening.
Christmas Break: Get a call for another interview.
Early January: I have a dream that I get the job. I go to Interview #2 with a new person. They call me quickly after the interview but I missed the phone call.
Middle January: Get a call for another interview. Go to Interview #3 to meet with 2 new people. I have to wait a week and survive background checks and references that won't return phone calls before it becomes official...
Late January: Dave Fymbo, Associate Copywriter

Future of SportsCorner

As you, the imaginery reader, may or may not have noticed, SportsCorner has evolved into NFLCorner. As the season comes to a close, future posts may expand beyong the scope of sports.

Possible Future Topics:
Netflix vs Blockbuster Online
Exciting New Recipes
Do I need a Pepper Mill? drastic change

In the biggest change since 2001, has launched a new site. You can look back at how it's changed over the years here. The new look is better and more organized, but they lost a lot of color. And I don't like the font on the main headline. Change is constant.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Best Weekend of the Year

Seriously. 4 awesome playoff games back to back all weekend. In the NFL this weekend is #1a and last weekend was #1b. But in March Madness the first 4-day weekend is better than the next one. Sure deciding who goes to the Final Four is cool, but seeing 48 basketball games in 4 days is better.

Since it's the playoffs, I'll be giving my rationale behind the picks. Which just looks more foolish when I'm wrong.

Lock of the Week: Redskins at Seahawks

The Redskins have won 6 in a row and they don't stand a chance. They were lucky to win last week in Tampa and their reward is a trip to Seattle. The Hawks are undefeated at home this year and Shaun loves to run on that turf. Everyone in Chicago will be pulling for the Skins so the Bears can have another home game, but it won't happen.

Seahawks 24-13

Safe Pick of the Week: Steelers at Colts

They are the Super Bowl favorite and they have the #6 seed at home, who they already dominated earlier in the season. But Pittsburgh is a good team. They have running, reliable quarterbacking, and solid D: exactly what it takes to win in January. It's just too bad that this is the Colts year.

Colts 20-13

Gut Pick of the Week: Patriots at Broncos

The Broncos are really, really good at home. Bye week teams win 81% of the time. I think this game will be really good and really close. But when it comes down to the last 5 minutes, who do you want leading your team on the field? Plummer or Brady? Denver fans had better hope to have a 10 point lead at that point, and I don't think they'll have it. The Broncos are a fantastic team that could be the best in the NFC, but I'm picking the champs in a close one.

Pats 24-20

Pick that I'm really not sure about: Panthers at Bears

I happened to see a lot of the Bears games this year, more than I cared to see. And their defense is so good, especially at home, that they won most of their games in spite of their offense. And Grossman is much better than Orton, at least he provides a threat of a deep ball. So lets review: great defense, bye week, at home, why am I picking the Panthers? The playoffs are all about experience. The Panthers were in the Super Bowl 2 years ago. Grossman can count his starts on one hand. And this isn't a slight against the Bear's defense. They will create points and limit Carolina. But they can't prevent Sexy Rexy from throwing a key pick in the 2nd half. So to conclude, I'll make my pick with something I heard a lot during my job search:

I decided to go with someone with more experience. I hope you understand.

Panthers 17-13


The Bears are feeling disrespected. They're griping that they beat the Panthers earlier this year, yet some people aren't giving the Bears a chance to win in the playoffs against the Panthers.

We're a #2 seed! We are playing at home. Give us respect!

Here's the deal. You get respect only one way. Winning. Consistently. In the playoffs.

But we won a lot of games this year. We're a #2 seed!

Who has all the respect in the league. Brady, Belichik, and Co. Rings = Respect. Despite having a decimated team, having to go into a stadium that sits unfairly a mile above sea level, and playing in a situation where 81% of the time the home team winys -- despite all of that, no one is doubting the Pats. Why? Maybe that in the Brady era they are 10-0 in the playoffs with 3 rings.

But the Colts don't have any rings! No one disrespects them!

The Colts have 3 playoff victories in the last 2 years and almost went 16-0 in the regular season - a feat that's never been accomplished. The Seahawks ran away with the NFC, but everyone is still skeptical, well, because it's Seattle. They need to prove it.

So Chicago: If you want respect, take it. Show me you can win a playoff game - something you haven't done in 11 years. Show me you can tame a team that almost won the Super Bowl 2 years ago. Show me that you have a quarterback that won't make a heart-crushing interception in the 2nd half. Because I don't think that you can.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wild Playoff Picks

The actual scores are on the left, with my predictions on the right in italics. Correct picks are in bold, with games reading Visitor, Home.

Jaguars 3, Patriots 28 Jaguars 14, Patriots 24
Steelers 31, Bengals 17 Steelers 27, Bengals 20
Redskins 17, Bucs 10 Redskins 24, Bucs 23
Panthers 23, Giants 0 Panthers 16, Giants 23

I predicted 2 road winners and they were both right. But I should have picked another road team to rattle a playoff rook. I guess the Manning-Manning Super Bowl will have to wait til 07.
Experience counts. In the playoffs. A lot.

Playoffs 3-1
Regular Season 31-18

A Modest Tribute to Priest Holmes

Here's to Priest Holmes. He went undrafted coming out of Texas because he played in the shadow of Ricky Williams. After signing to the Ravens as a free agent, he won a Super Bowl playing in the shadow of Jamal Lewis. (Ironic that the two players that Holmes shared a backfield with were exactly opposite in terms of character.)

He came to Kansas City with a chance to finally shine as a star in his own right. He went to work quickly setting records and winning games. His performances dovetailed nicely with the boom of fantasy football and he became the premier player in this growing hobby. Unfortunately, as is the case with most aging running backs, injuries were the only thing that could slow him down.

But something unexpectated happenned. His backup, 3rd year RB Larry Johnson, who had only seen limited carries in the shadow of Holmes, was even better that the starter. Here's a look at the gaudy numbers that LJ put up, even though he was only the starter for the last 9 games:

1750 yards, 21 TDS

LJ ran for over 100 yards in 9 consecutive games. The only people with more are Barry Sanders and Marcus Allen. Johnson's streak is special because they were the first 9 games that he has started and it is still active. Shaun Alexander became the NFL MVP this year with 1880/28. Only Alexander and Tiki Barber ran for more yards than LJ. All of this left Chiefs fans wondering what could Larry Johnson could have done starting all 16 games. Although you can't prove that LJ could have taken 100 more carries without an injury, his pace through the 2nd half of the season would have broken both the NFL records for yards and touchdowns in a season.

So where does that leave Priest Holmes? Maybe he has minimal trade value, but my guess is that he'll come back and play in someone else's shadow again. It's a role he's used to. Here's to a great player and a great person. I bet he's truly happy for Larry and knows that he was able to teach a young back how to be patient and trust his blockers. I just hope that people don't forget that Priest is a pretty darn good football player.

Update: Jan. 19th: Herman Edwards names Johnson the #1 starting running back. It was the only move to make. Hopefully, he can star as Bettis has in a minimal role gaining key yards when called upon.

You might lose with me, but you can't win without me

As originally covered here almost 2 months ago, Herm Edwards has been confirmed as the next coach of the Chiefs for the next 4 years. Hopefully he can bring some more defense to the table. Although with the defense still not good enough, and an aging offense - not to mention the ultra-competitive future of the AFC - playoff success is not promising in the Chiefs future.

All season I was allowing for losses, hoping the Chiefs could get to 10 wins. In 2004, both the Vikings and Rams made the playoffs with 8-8 records. Ah, to be in the NFC...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Well, the playoffs are upon us.

A quick aside: I did attend Dick Vermeil's last game coaching in the NFL. It was a thorough butt-whipping, even if the Bengals took out Palmer - they didn't take out their defense. It certified that Larry Johnson is an absolute beast - he broke the Chiefs single season rushing record - but he only started 9 games. (It's hard to say that he could have kept it up injury free for 16 games, but if he had, he would have broken NFL records for touchdowns and yards in a season, and been the MVP.) Almost a shame that he was so good that people forgot that Priest Holmes had been pretty good the last few years, and no one wants him to come back. Except maybe for insurance/garbage time. I wouldn't mind seeing a Marshall Faulk situation with Holmes as more of a receiver. The best play was a cut back turning nothing into a touchdown with the help of a killer block by Trent Green - that's a big cut back. Too bad Chad Johnson didn't get in the endzone, he really is an elite receiver and will be for a decade.

Back to the playoffs. As predicted here, a full 2 weeks ago, when the wild card spots were still in the air, I correctly picked all 12 playoff teams. I even got the seeding correct on the AFC side.

But after seeing the Steelers get hot and the Bengals D, I'm seeing a 6th seed winner.

AFC Wild Card Predictions:
Jaguars 14, Patriots 24
Steelers 27, Bengals 20

NFC Wild Card Predictions:
Redskins 24, Bucs 23
Panthers 16, Giants 23

The NFC is so tight that anything could happen. Really all 4 of these picks could be wrong. That's why it's the playoffs.