Friday, December 23, 2011

2011-12 NBA Off-season Review/Season Preview

This post will also be appearing at The Hardwood Courtroom (where it is also much prettier).  The Eastern Conference is written by myself (Canaan Christ), while the head man over at the Courtroom, Phil Welsh, covers the Western Conference.  Each team is given an off-season recap, a grade for their off-season, a projected record, and then a haiku to encapsulate a key component or components of the team.  Also, I added my projected records for each Western Conference team in parentheses alongside Phil's.  Enjoy, and have a nice holiday weekend.



Off-season Recap: The Hawks haven't made a significant off-season addition since trading for Jamal Crawford. The firm belief in Atlanta has been that the core of Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Josh Smith will eventually develop into a championship contender, with no major additions needed. Marvin Williams is paid like he's part of that core, and his bloated salary forced the Hawks to wave goodbye to Crawford after two very successful seasons in Atlanta. Jeff Teague is being counted on to build on his promising series vs. the Bulls last spring and become the man at point, which he'll have to do considering Tracy McGrady is his lone backup with Kirk Hinrich sidelined following shoulder surgery. Vladimir Radmonivic was also brought in to provide three-point shooting.

Grade: C-

Projected Record: 41-25 (5th in the East)

Crawford cost too much
Hinrich hurt his shoulder
Teague must be the man

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ranking The Amnesty Moves (so far)

One of the big pieces of the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement was the return of the Amnesty Clause.  Called the Allan Houston Rule the first time it was implemented in 2005, the Amnesty Clause allows teams to use a one-time waiver that removes a player from their roster while also removing the player's salary from the hit against a team's salary cap space (ironically, the Knicks chose not to use the clause on Houston).  While the teams are still responsible for paying the remainder of a waived player's contract, albatross contracts that stymied payroll flexibility could be eliminated in a flash, granting owners and front offices that made crippling mistakes a reprieve.

Monday, December 12, 2011

NBA Transaction Round-Up: 12/12

This isn't every NBA transaction that's happened this past weekend, but just some that I found notable.  After getting burned by the Chris Paul non-trade, I've decided not to analyze a transaction until it's posted on the transactions page, which I assume means it's officially gone through the league office.  So, as of this writing, there won't be any thoughts on the David West signing, since it is not listed on the transaction page.

Toronto signs Jamaal Magloire, Aaron Gray, and Rasual Butler

None of these guys are going to make a huge difference, but Gray should at least provide replace some of the big man dirty work the departed Reggie Evans did, sans nut grabs.  That Gray is only getting a one-year deal is a testament to the fact that the NBA owners may finally be showing some restraint, since a seven-footer who showed the flashes of productivity Gray did in the playoffs last year used to be rewarded with 6-year, $30 million deals.  Magloire and Butler are fringe NBA players at this point, although Magloire does provide a little PR bump by becoming the first Canadian to play for the Raptors.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, and the Knicks' Commitment to the Four Seed

When Donnie Walsh undertook the epic feat of clearing the blight of the Isiah Thomas Era following his arrival in New York in the spring of 2008, it is doubtful that his ultimate goal was to re-bloat the Knicks' payroll with a collection of flawed "superstars," overburdened young role players, and past-their-prime vets eagerly gobbling up the league minimum salaries that the Knicks offer.  Unfortunately for the Madison Square Garden faithful, that's exactly where the Knicks find themselves following the sign-and-trade for Tyson Chandler and the unceremonious waiving of Chauncey Billups.

Friday, December 09, 2011

NBA Transaction Analysis: 12/9

Los Angeles Lakers acquire Chris Paul; New Orleans Hornets acquire Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragic; Houston Rockets acquire Pau Gasol

For the Lakers: I don't know how they managed to get Paul without parting with Andrew Bynum, but bravo.  Dwight Howard's move to LA is now inevitable, and will give the NBA a fourth power trio (to go along with Boston, Miami, and New York (which I'll get to later)).  Until Dwight is in purple and gold, though, I can't say I see this being a rousing success for the Lakers.  Chris Paul is one of the five or six best players in the league, and on paper, adding him to a backcourt that already has Kobe Bryant should be a slam dunk.  However, both Kobe and CP3 are at peak operating efficiency with the ball in their hands.  Can Kobe add and develop a Reggie Miller/Ray Allen catch-and-shoot skill set and (more importantly) mentality while Paul runs the show?  Can Paul become Derek Fisher times 1000 while Kobe does his thing on the wing?  And what exactly are the Lakers going to do up front?  As it stands right now, Derrick Caracter is the only power forward on the roster (although his salary isn't guaranteed), so unless Mike Brown wants to go small ball with Metta World Peace at the 4 and the newly signed Jason Kopono or Matt Barnes at the 3, Caracter is about to get a big-time promotion.  None of this speculation really matters, of course, since Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu (I'm assuming any deal involving Dwight will also have to involve Hedo's atrocious contract) will be in LA before the new trade deadline, and 50-year old virgin AC Green could line up at power forward and the Lakers would be fine.  Personally, I love Chris Paul, and I'm depressed that I'm going to have to hate him now.

Fixing College Football (yet again)

It's December, which means that the BCS has yet again screwed up.  Regardless of whether you think Oklahoma State or Alabama deserves to play LSU for the national title, the fact that there is even a question of who should be in the championship game is a failure of the system.  Instead of settling things on the field, the opportunity to play for the title is left to coaches who haven't seen 90 percent of teams ever play and Harris poll voters who somehow think Oklahoma State is the sixth best team in the country, not to mention the actual national champion.  Once again, I'm going to have to come to the rescue.

Unlike my previous proposals to solve college football, this iteration shies away from the Super Conference idea, and instead embraces more smaller conferences.  By more, I actually only mean one more, and by smaller, I mean ten teams per conference.  That would create a landscape of twelve conferences with ten members each, and thus twelve conferences champions.  Add in four at-large teams, and you have a delicious sixteen team field for a scrumptious college football playoff tourney.  Intrigued?

Friday, September 23, 2011


I forgot to pick the Buckeyes game in my college football picks, and I know Saturday just wouldn't be the same for you without that knowledge in hand.

Colorado (+16.5) over OHIO STATE
What?  This is one of the craziest lines I've ever seen.  I hope I'm wrong, but this seems like easy money to me.  I see a Buckeyes victory, but something more along the lines of 16-13 or some other ugly score.  This actually moved from -15 yesterday, so there must be something I'm missing.  Did Colorado's team plane crash?  Were Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel welcomed back to Columbus with open arms and forgiving hearts?  Bizarre.

NFL Picks: Week 3

Sorry things have been so slow around here.  I'm getting back into the swing of things at school, so I probably won't be writing much until I get my feet under me (which might not ever happen, honestly).  Other than the time I need to spend reading and going to class and such, school has also robbed me of my elixir, the sweet, sweet nectar that is Ron Rico rum.  Without my muse, I'm afraid I'm lost, so this is going to be another quick post.  Home teams are in CAPS, the odds are Danny Sheridan's, and I've included an extremely hastily put-together Power Poll Rankings at the end.  Enjoy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

College Football Picks: 9/22/11

LAST WEEK: 12-14
OVERALL: 33-33-1

#20 GEORGIA TECH (-6.5) over North Carolina
#9 Florida (-19.5) over KENTUCKY
#12 MICHIGAN (-10) over San Diego State
New Mexico State (-10.5) over #114 SAN JOSE STATE
#119 OREGON STATE (-4) over UCLA
#1 LSU (-6) over #22 WEST VIRGINIA
Vanderbilt (+16) over #7 SOUTH CAROLINA
#4 ALABAMA (-11.5) over #18 Arkansas
#15 BAYLOR (-20.5) over Rice
#17 VIRGINIA TECH (-20.5) over Marshall
#8 Oklahoma State (+4) over #13 TEXAS A&M
#16 NEBRASKA (-23) over Wyoming
#2 OKLAHOMA (-21) over Missouri
#3 BOISE STATE (-28.5) over Tulsa
SMU (-21.5) over #113 MEMPHIS
AUBURN (-33.5) over #11 Florida Atlantic
#25 Ohio (+4) over RUTGERS
#23 ILLINOIS (-11.5) over Western Michigan
#11 SOUTH FLORIDA (-29) over UTEP
Indiana (-6.5) over #115 NORTH TEXAS
#24 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (-17) over Louisiana-Lafayette
#19 Florida State (+2.5) over CLEMSON
WASHINGTON (-1) over #21 Cal

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jumping To Conclusions: Week 3

Classes start for me this week, so my write-ups aren't going to be nearly as wordy as usual (to the relief of everyone).  Next week I will debut this season's WHAM Rankings, so enjoy this last edition of the Jumping to Conclusions Rankings for 2011.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Joe Bauserman and the fear of failure

The most frustrating thing about the Buckeyes' 24-6 loss to the Miami Hurricanes mere minutes ago is that quarterback Joe Bauserman and his coach Luke Fickell showed how the fear of failure is a slippery slope to failure.  All night, Bauserman dropped back, scanned the defense, and scanned the defense, and scanned the defense, and scanned the defense, rolled out of the pocket, and threw it out of bounds.  I make fun of quarterbacks like Brady Quinn, Tim Couch, and Kevin Kolb for their propensity to check-down, but at least they throw the ball in play.  Bauserman is afraid to fucking play football.  He's so terrified of making a mistake, he decided at some point that he just wasn't going to throw the ball in play, ever.  Braxton Miller wasn't much better, but he's a true freshman, and he played like it.  Bauserman's shittiness forced Miller into a situation he clearly isn't ready for, so I blame Braxton's follies entirely on fuckhead Bauserman.

And then there's Fickell.  He clearly is in over his head, and I'm not just talking about him letting the game end with 3 goddamn timeouts in his pocket (which is a first for a team down 2 scores in the 4th quarter I would imagine and should be all the evidence everyone needs that Fickell is no long-term answer at head coach).  The penalties on fucking punt formations (punt formations!) and the sloppy tackling are evidence of a shithead who has no idea how to practice.  The Buckeyes were boring and ugly under Jim Tressel, but they always knew how to tackle and how to fucking line up for a punt.  Fickell's a joke, and so is this season.  Ohio State should just volunteer t to give up bowl eligibility this year since they're finishing 4-8 anyway, and hopefully avoid NCAA penalties that could affect the team when they have an actual coach and an actual quarterback.

As for the positives, punter Ben Buchanan overcame the punt formation fuckups to have a hell of a game booting the ball, and the defense performed pretty well considering they were on the field for 99% of the snaps.  The way they recovered from the sucker punch the Hurricanes delivered on their opening drive is the only reason Fickell shouldn't be fired tonight.  The running game also looked pretty awesome, especially considering how inept the passing game was.

This was a fucking joke.  I bought tickets to 5 games, and now I get to go sit in the cold and watch Joe Bauserman and his buddies try to score 6 points 5 times.  Is this a bitter reaction in the heat of the moment?  Yes, but it doesn't mean it isn't true.  The Buckeyes are in trouble, and their only hope is that Russell Wilson and Denard Robinson are the only two quarterbacks in all of the Big Ten.  4-8, no bowl, and a loss in Ann Arbor are haunting my visions of the future.  I pray that I'm wrong.   

Friday, September 16, 2011

Drunk Thoughts: A Theory On Why Zydrunas Ilgauskas Talks Like He Works For Avon Barksdale

This was written at 2:34 AM, after several stiff rum-and-Cherry Coke Zeros.

I don't know if you've ever heard Zydrunas Ilguaskas talk, but he sounds like an Eastern European version of Gary Oldman's pimp character from True Romance ("Is it white boy day?"), and I've always wondered why.  Sitting in the shower just now, thinking about Bob Sura (as I often do when sitting in the shower), I think I've finally cracked the code.

NFL Picks: Week 2

Holy shit.  I know I goof around about how awesome I am at picks, and then it's hilarious when I get a bunch wrong, but 5 correct picks?  Man.  As penance, I will try to restrict myself from getting too wordy this week and let the picks speak for themselves.  The home team is in CAPS, the lines are Danny Sheridan's, and the picks are most certainly not 100% correct.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

College Football Picks: 9/15/2011

Last weekend was not kind to me, but I did learn valuable lessons.  I now know that I must go against Memphis, UNLV, Akron, and Florida Atlantic no matter how large the spread, and that Florida, Stanford, Alabama, and Wisconsin are teams to ride until they prove otherwise.  For the uninitiated, I pick games involving the Bottom 10 and the Top 25 of my Jumping To Conclusions Rankings that are between two FBS teams (so no #21 California vs. Presbyterian pick this week) using Danny Sheridan's lines.  The rank numbers come from my rankings, not the AP or the Coaches' Poll, and the home team is in CAPS.  Oh, and all of the picks are 100% correct.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All-MAC NFL Team

With the signing of Brad Maynard (boy, does he ever look like a straight up creeper!) to be the Browns' new punter, I discovered Maynard went to Ball State.  This is big news, as it means I can finally complete my All-MAC NFL team, comprised entirely of active players who attended college at a school that is in the MAC (or, in the cases of Asante Samuel and Chris Crocker, who attended college at a school that was in the MAC while they attended).  I think this team would do alright, although I'm not sure Chase Blackburn is a great fit at middle linebacker, nor if Jason Babin is an outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense I've built.  The secondary may also be a little suspect.  I still think this team could win the NFC West.  What do you think?

NFL Power Poll Rankings of the 32 Best NFL Teams In The Land: Week One

It's Power Poll Rankings time, son!  Get your Jager and meet me under the bridge!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


With the SEC adding Texas A&M any day now, the term "superconference" is being bandied about quite a bit.  It used to be that the SEC already was a superconference with their 12-team membership and championship game, but times have changed, and now their is serious talk about 16-team leagues.  So what will this drastic change to the college football landscape look like?  Lucky for you, I love doing this.

Jumping To Conclusions Rankings: Week 2

I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for Michigan.  If it weren't for the Wolverines' miraculous comeback against Notre Dame, Saturday would have been a disaster for the Big Ten.  Purdue loses to Rice, Minnesota loses at home to New Mexico State (and almost loses their coach to a seizure), Indiana loses at home to Virginia, Alabama shut down Penn State in Happy Valley, Iowa lost the Cy-Hawk Trophy to Iowa State, Nebraska struggled against Fresno State, and, obviously, Ohio State barely beat Toledo.  Michigan State did what they were supposed to do against Florida Atlantic, and Wisconsin made Oregon State look like the 119th best team in the country (see  my bottom 10), but without the Michigan win, the Big Ten would look very weak.  Last week's rank is in parentheses, and, again, these rankings are based on the first two weeks only, and are not necessarily where I see them finishing the year.

Friday, September 09, 2011

NFL Picks: Week 1

This could be a long year.  First of all, I thought Mark Ingram was supposed to give the Saints the power back they needed?  I've never seen a running play stuffed as soundly as that last play was last night, and from the tepid way Ingram was hitting the hole, he wouldn't have scored even if the Packers hadn't guessed the play 100% correctly (it was like Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton both hit right and A in Tecmo Bowl).  Secondly, of the 15 games this Sunday and Monday, I picked eight underdogs, seven of which are on the road, which seems like a good way to dig myself an early hole in my picks competition against the universe.  Of course, if I'm wrong, I'm supposed to be, but if I'm right, I could be the best game-picker in the county!

NFL Power Poll Rankings of the 32 Best NFL Teams In The Land: Week Zero, Part 3

Finally, the 10 best teams in the league are here.  If you disagree, you are wrong.  This is truth, pure and undiluted.  Trying to deny it is trying to deny matter and energy.  You shall see.

10. New York Giants
A lot of people are down on the Giants this year, with Steve Smith gone to Philly, Kevin Boss gone to Oakland, uncertainty and turnover on the offensive line for the first time in years, and with a rash of injuries hitting an a seemingly non-stop rate.  Prince Amukamara, Justin Tuck, Jonathan Goff, and Osi Umenyiora are all out for week one, but I still feel confident the Giants can get back to the playoffs.  Eli Manning has thrown for over 4000 yards in back-to-back seasons, and his ridiculous interception rate (25 total, 4.6% of his pass attempts) should come back down to around league average, and Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham will do just fine without Smith and Boss.  The offensive line is in transition, but it is still talented across the board.  Losing both Tuck and Umenyiora would be a death knell for most clubs, but the Giants have Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul in reserve, who would both start for most teams.  The secondary will yet again be a problem, but Pierre-Paul and Kiwanuka should both exert enough pressure to keep things from reaching 2010 Houston Texans-level in pass defense.  Tom Coughlin's tenure in New York has been marked by its most successful seasons occurring when the rest of the league has written them off, and I like that trend to continue this season.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

NFL Picks Week 1: Quick and Dirty Thursday Night Special

New Orleans (+4.5) over GREEN BAY
This game has a Mason Crosby last-second field goal written all over it, and unless there's a new rule that allows field goals to be worth 5 points from certain points on the field (and how interesting would that make end of the game situations), that means the Packers win by 3 at the most.

NFL Power Poll Rankings of the 32 Best NFL Teams In The Land: Week Zero, part 2

And now, part two of my preseason power rankings...


20. Chicago Bears
The Bears offensive personnel finally fits the mold of a Mike Martz offense, but think San Francisco or Detroit Martz, not St. Louis Martz.  Tight end Greg Olsen has been jettisoned to Carolina, eliminating a talented target at a position that Martz has never seen the value in including in his game plans (for evidence of how badly Martz neglects his tight ends, look up Vernon Davis's stats during Martz's reign with the 49ers and then after Martz was let go).  The receiving corps is deep but lacks top shelf talent, while the offensive line will be porous once again, leaving Jay Cutler exposed in a system that feels no need to keep any backs around in the backfield to pick up blitzes.  Last year's 7th round pick, Marcus Webb, is the starting left tackle, which means Bears fans may be seeing Caleb Hanie featured prominently at quarterback.  Matt Forte has yet to live up to the massive promise he showed as a rookie, but, again, his offensive line isn't doing him any favors.  The defense should again be very solid, but Brian Urlacher seems due for an injury after making it through last year relatively unscathed.  Oh, and Lance Briggs wants a trade.  The Bears were out-gained in four of their wins last year, and they also were gifted that absurd opener when Calvin Johnson's game-winning touchdown was taken away due to the worst interpretation of a rule ever.  The luck runs out this year, and the Bears will find themselves in last place in their division for the first time since 2007.

College Football Picks 9/8/2011: NEVER FORGET Edition

Opening weekend was kind to me, as I even got a game I wasn't supposed to pick (Maryland over Miami) right even if I used the correct line (which I believe was Maryland (-4), not Maryland (+5), which I used).  This week gets trickier, as more teams face quality opponents, and some really bad teams are expected to cover some pretty big spreads (Arkansas State (-15); Minnesota (-20)).  These new challenges will just make it all the sweeter after I nail every...single...pick.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

NFL Power Poll Rankings of the 32 Best NFL Teams in the Land: Week Zero, part 1

The Indians are putting the final nails into their coffin versus Detroit, but I could care less, because the NFL season is upon us.  After getting a taste of football action last weekend on the collegiate gridiron, I am an open vessel eagerly awaiting Bengals at Browns to fill me with exhilaration, anxiety, and either angst or joy.  In order to prepare you (and myself) for the upcoming season, here's the first part of the first installment of my power rankings for you to consume, digest, and know in the most biblical of meanings.

Jer's Favorite Team This Week=My Least Favorite Fantasy Team Ever: A Fantasy Draft Retrospective

I love fantasy football drafts, or at least I used to.  Back when I was actually good at fantasy football, it was a blast stealing Chris Johnson and Ray Rice late in the draft while other suckers were taking Jamal Lewis and Rudi Johnson in the first round.  Now, though, I have lost my touch, and this year I am left with a team--Jer's Favorite Team This Week--full of players I hate.  If it wasn't for some late-round keeper possibilities, I would seriously consider punting on the season and ignoring my roster completely.  What went so wrong?  Join me as I attempt to find out.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Jumping To Conclusions Rankings: Week 1

Ranking college football teams before the season is an exercise in folly, and trying to evaluate who is really good or not after one, two, or even three games isn't much better.  Unfortunately, I will not have enough data to compile my deadly accurate WHAM rankings until after the fourth week of the season, so I'm going to have to wing it on some rankings for the beginning of the season.  Thus, the Jumping to Conclusions Rankings (previous rank in parentheses).

Friday, September 02, 2011

Here we go again: Steve Spurrier's contentious relationship with his QBs

Well, it didn't take long for Steve Spurrier to lose patience with Stephen Garcia this year.  Instead of waiting until the fourth quarter against the eventual national champions in a winnable game, Spurrier opted to go with Connor Shaw as his starting quarterback from day one, naming the sophomore the leading man for this Saturday's showdown with East Carolina.  While Garcia truly is a knucklehead, I still believe he gives the Gamecocks the best chance to win.  What if Shaw performs as he did in that 4th quarter against Auburn (2 INT)?  Does Spurrier go back to Garcia before the first quarter draws to a close?  And what message does that send?

College Football Picks 9/2/2011: GET PUMPED Edition Pt. 2

Well, night one of college football didn't go so well as I finished Thursday night 1-2.  Kentucky apparently does not know how to score without the departed Randall Cobb (he's on the Packers now, so if the 18 wide receivers in front of him on the depth chart ever retire or break a leg, you may get a chance to see how good he is), and Wisconsin didn't cover a 35 point spread by one point.  Man, no wonder Vegas makes money and I'm just typing these words to myself.  This weekend, I predict a big bounceback.  Just a reminder, I use my Diminishing Skills 120 for the rankings, and pick games involving the bottom 10 and the top 25 against FBS opponents only.

Diminishing Skills 120: The Top 25

Here it is, the final countdown.  This is going to be a sidebar heavy post, so forgive me, but there's a lot of info I need to cram in.  It's been a nightmare writing these, so I hope at least one person is reading them.  If you're out there, enjoy, you magnificent bastard, you!  (Also, a lot of you that get this in your e-mail have said you can't see the pictures.  Here's a solution: go to the website.  Bookmark it.)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Mitch Albom Can’t Get Enough of Brady Hoke’s Meat | The Big Lead

The Big Lead found some choice cuts from Mitch Albom's profile of new head coach Brady Hoke. Here's the highlight:

Mitch Albom Can’t Get Enough of Brady Hoke’s Meat | The Big Lead

Here’s the money shot.

Hoke is a steak. He’s a porterhouse. A former linebacker, he is beefy in stature, beefy in voice (he does sound like that Chris Farley motivational speaker guy) and beefy in Michigan tradition. He loved Bo Schembechler, who used to call him “Hokey.” He worked for Gary Moeller, who made him an assistant. He rose up under Lloyd Carr, who thought so much of Hoke he appointed him associate head coach.

The pedigree is there. The history is there. Hoke makes Wolverines fans feel like lost kids who have found their way home.

'via Blog this'

College Football Picks 9/1/11: GET PUMPED Edition Pt. 1

(Note: make sure SafeSearch is on before Google Image searching "pumped."  You will see things you cannot unsee otherwise.)

College football is finally here, and I know you missed my spot-on picks last season, so I'm back to fill that gaping hole in your life.  This year, instead of picking the AP Top 25, I'm going to switch things around and pick games involving the Diminishing Skills Top 25 (which should be up tomorrow for your greedy little eyes to IGNORE you ungrateful bastards) and the bottom 10 teams in the Diminishing Skills 120.  As soon as the WHAM rankings are out, I will begin picking the top 25 and bottom 10 of those.  The odds are Auburn-hater Dan Sheridan's, the home team is in CAPS, and these picks are righter than a 90 degree angle.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Diminishing Skills 120: 50-26

We're finally getting into the good stuff on the 120, as some of these teams are legitimate threats for their respective conference championships, or even darkhorse BCS contenders.  Enjoy!


50. Washington (6-6)

The Huskies lose Jake Locker, but they do return 15 other starters (7 on offense, 8 on defense) from a team with a bowl win and experience in tough non-conference games (at BYU, Nebraska).  Steve Sarkisian should have Washington in back-to-back bowls for the first time since they appeared in 8 straight from 1995-2002.
Key Game: Arizona, October 29
(Just a quick aside, but I've noticed a lot of my Key Games are occurring on October 29.  That should be a great weekend of football.)  This matchup falls in the midst of a tough stretch for the Huskies, with a trip to Stanford the week before and a run vs. Oregon, at USC, and at Oregon State to follow.  This is a must-win if Washington wants to avoid a 5-game losing streak.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Diminishing Skills 120: 75-51

Due to my laziness/alcoholism/videogame addiciton, I didn't make much progress on the 120 this weekend.  Therefore, I had to skip Monday and am now behind.  I'm going to try to get this thing wrapped up before the season starts, but no promises.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Diminishing Skills 120: 100-76 (or, Disaster Strikes)

It was my intention to continue the countdown today, but after writing up even more involved capsules for teams 100-89, my clumsy, fat fingers managed to somehow select and erase every team from 100-88, undoing my entire night of work.  I just got a new laptop, and goddammit if those mouse things on them aren't the worst things ever.  So, long story short, I'm going to just list the next 25 teams and try it again over the weekend.  Sorry.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Diminishing Skills 120: The Bottom of the Barrel

Hey there, college football fans!  I have some great news for you!  You know that football season you've been waiting all summer for?  Well, your wait is over, because I've gone through and predicted every single game correctly!  Now all you have to do is follow along with my inaugural rankings of all 120 FBS teams and you can see how each and every school will fare!  Plus, once I'm through with the rankings, I'll let you know how every conference and every bowl turns out, too!  How awesome, right?!!!

On a boring, letting-you-know-what's-going-on note, these rankings are loosely based on the premise of which team I think would win a head-to-head match-up on a neutral field.  Now, some of these don't necessarily fall under this premise, as I have ranked some teams ahead of others that I actually do see beating them during the season.  In those cases, it's just a gut feeling I'm going on, as well as the context of each team's individual season.  As for what I've written about each team, it can range from a musing about a past player or game I recall about a particular team to a micro-in-depth look at how I see a particular team's season playing out, as well as key game for each school.  I've tried my best not to repeat the same game between two schools, and have done my best to avoid listing annual rivalry games, since they are of course key games and don't really need me to point them out.  Also, I lack the computer knowledge to make sidebars, so instead I've just inserted large blocks of text in the middle of the rankings clearly marked *SIDEBAR*.  So read those accordingly.  And as always, enjoy the hell out of yourself, won't you please?

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 NBA Mock Draft Version Beta: Half Way Down The Shaft

With the NBA Finals concluding with the much-deserved vanquishing of Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James, it's time to start getting serious about the draft.  For a more cursory look at this year's lottery, check out Version Alpha here. 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LA Clippers)-Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
Despite my concerns regarding how important All-Star-level point guard play is to winning a championship, Irving is still easily the pick for the Cavs.  The disparities between his NBA comps are pretty jarring (Draft Express has his ceiling at Deron Williams and his worst case at "Rich Man's Eric Maynor," while compares him to Chris Paul...or Mike Conley), but I suppose that's to be expected when a guy only plays 11 games in college.
Alpha pick: Irving

Friday, May 27, 2011

Can An Elite Point Guard Win You An NBA Title?

With MVP and former #1 overall pick Derrick Rose's ouster from the playoffs Thursday night, and with the Cavs almost assuredly selecting Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the #1 overall pick in this year's draft, I began mulling over something that I have wondered for a few years now: do elite point guards win NBA titles?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2011 NBA Mock Draft Version Alpha: Just The Tip

 1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LA Clippers)-Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

Irving has been the consensus #1 pick since Jared Sullinger returned to Ohio State for his sophomore season, and was probably even the prohibitive favorite to be the top pick before Sullinger's decision.  The Cavs apparently love the kid, and in this draft, there's little reason for them not to.  Let's just hope they have better luck with this Blue Devil than they did with Danny Ferry and Trajan Langdon.  Also, what does it say about the quality of this draft that the overwhelming consensus best player would probably be the fifth best point guard of the last three drafts (behind Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, John Wall, and (maybe) Ty Lawson)?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft: The Rest of The First Round

Due to some oversleeping on my part, I'm going to be able to continue the rest of my thrilling mock draft.  The top 10 can be found here, as well as an analogy to poor children and ribbons that has apparently made some uncomfortable.  Therefore, there are no creepy analogies today, but instead only imaginary, uninformed draft picks!

2011 NFL Mock Draft: The Top 10

Hey gang!  It's late April, so that can only mean it's time for your favorite time of the year.  That's right, the 4th Annual Diminishing Skills Mock Draft!!!  Due to severe time constraints that leave me with little to no sleep each night, I'm unfortunately limiting this initial post to the top 10, which--even more unfortunately--may very well be the extent of this year's mock.  So, just as poor children learn to cherish the few shiny buttons and smooth ribbons they sneak from the art room at school to rub their cheeks against in their beds that they share with their 3 siblings, their mom, her mom, and their 8 cats, cherish these precious few trinkets of smooth, smooth wisdom.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Week of 1000 Trades: Carmelo Anthony Edition

With the NBA just days away, I figured I commemorate the occasion with 1000 (give or take) trade ideas venturing from entertainingly absurd to soberly realistic.  Today, Carmelo Anthony scenarios.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ranking The Careers of The Dunk Contest Winners

Today, I continue All-Star week at Diminishing Skills by ranking the careers--in actual games, not just dunk contests--of the past dunk contest winners.  Because aren't you just dying to know once-and-for-all who was better:  Harold Miner, or Fred Jones?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Cavs fans should cheer for an NBA lockout

On Monday's BS Report, NBA commissioner David Stern discussed the very real possiblity of the owners deciding to contract the New Orleans Hornets in the event of a lockout.  While I am almost positive this is just posturing by Stern to gain a little negotiating leverage on the owners' behalf, and while I most certainly don't wish any city to lose a sports franchise after what Cleveland went through with the Browns, if contraction is something that could happen, I definitely want it to happen this year.

 Why?  Dispersal draft, baby.  And, if things hold as they have, the Cavs would almost definitely be holding the first pick, which means hello Chris Paul (although that could then mean goodbye Chris Paul in 2012, but let's dream a little for now).  Going by the standings as of February 15, here's how I see a dispersal draft shaking out.

50 Most Wanted Jerseys Part 2: All-Star Edition

With the NBA All-Star Weekend coming up, Diminishing Skills will be dedicating an entire week to the festivities.  Today, we start things off with part 2 of our riveting 50 Most Wanted NBA Jerseys series.  Appropriately, this installment's focus is on desirable All-Star Game jerseys.  Enjoy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One and Counting: That was fun while it lasted

Yikes.  If there has been a play that serves as a microcosm of the nightmare that is the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers' season, it has to be John Wall's coast-to-coast layup with 4 seconds left at the end of the first half of the Cavs' 115-100 loss to the Washington Wizards Sunday night.  Wall's score came after a monstrous Christian Eyenga jam (whom some pals and I watched a minor league hockey game "with" one luxury suite over at the Q on Saturday night, and who by all indications does not understand the sport of hockey) that seemed to build some momentum for the hometown Cavs heading into the locker room.  And then Wall waltzed down the court to the opposite hoop, and the game was over, Eyenga's slam all but forgotten.  It was like Friday's exhilarating win over the Clippers (Eyenga's dunk) followed by Sunday's pathetic showing against the Wizards (Wall's layup) compressed into a 5-second sequence.  What a turd sandwich.

Bracket-OGRAPHOLOGY! 2/14/2011

Happy Valentine's Day!  As a very special valentine from me to you, dear reader, I present the 2nd installment of Diminishing Skills Bracket-OGRAPHOLOGY!  All projections are based on an average of ESPN's RPI, Ken Pomeroy's Ratings, and Jeff Sagarin's Ratings, and automatic qualifiers are in italics.  Enjoy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

One and counting: Let's celebrate!

By now, you should know how we like to celebrate here at Diminishing Skills.  That's right, trade ideas!  In honor of the Cavs' first win in over 50 days, I've decided to forgo the usual boring old salary dumps and instead present a couple of fantasy trades.  The first is my fantasy (well, one of my fantasies), while the other is based on Dan Gilbert's wet dream that this crazy win over the Clippers will propel his beloved Cavaliers back into playoff contention (they're only 15 games back!).  Enjoy.

UPDATE: The Cavs Win...because of witchcraft?

Via Ball Don't Lie:

19 Action News Meteorologist Jason Handman will be attempting to lift whatever curse has befallen Cleveland's beloved home town hoops team with the assistance of Kathy Curran, a local Witch and High Priestess. Curran is a self proclaimed expert in all aspects of the metaphysical realms, including Wiccan culture, astrology, fairies, magic, and an extensive knowledge of herbs and spell casting.
Jason and Witch Kathy will attempt to break the losing spell of the Cavaliers live today in today's 19 Action News at Four, Five, and Six. Fans from around the country can watch these newscasts as they are streamed live, online, at 19 Action
"Kathy has assured me that she has the perfect spell to lift this curse already prepared. If she proves to be successful, she will be forecasting the weather for us as well." Jason Handman says.
Oh, snood, is that Fred McLeod in the corner? (video)

At least that explains him speaking in tongues.

Cavs Win!

What the hell is Fred McLeod saying? (video)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Case Against Rajon Rondo

Last week, on his podcast the BS Report, Bill Simmons was discussing his upcoming NBA trade value column (here is last year's; it's an absolute must-read) with his buddy Joe House.  As they made their way through the list, I was not at all surprised that Rajon Rondo made his top 13.  While I allowed for the fact that he was probably 5-10 spots too high thanks to Simmons's Boston leanings, I accepted such a lofty ranking for Rondo thanks to his standing among Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook as the premier young point guards in the league and his relatively team-friendly contract.  The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered if Boston would really turn down a Chris Paul-for-Rondo deal (as Simmons ascertains*), or even a John Wall-for-Rondo deal.

INTERNET Road Trip: 2/11/11

Here's some interesting items to get you through the rest of your work week:

    Josh Cribbs Is Your Greater Cleveland Sports Professional Athlete of The Year

    I was alerted of this news mere moments ago by Diminishing Skills buddy and sometime-contributor MattyWill.  His reaction is the same as I'm sure yours is right now:  what?  Cribbs had a career-low in just about everything, averaging 20.4 yards per kick return and failing to reach the end zone on special teams for the first time in his career.  Since I'm working on a couple of big projects that are taking a little longer than anticipated, here is a lift of more deserving successful Cleveland pro athletes from 2010 to hold you over until I get that ish didz.

    1. Um....
    2. Didn't Hafner, oh, nope...
    3. Carlos Santan--shit, that's right, his knee...
    4. Christian Enyega?  No, too foreign...
    5. Joe Thomas?  No, too Wisconsin...
    6. Does (do?) the Force still exist?  How about the Crunch?
    7. Rick Vaughn?  Roger Dorn?  Jake Taylor?
    8. WWE World Champion the Miz?  He doesn't play here, but he is from Parma.  Wait a minute!  Home-grown boy, finding success elsewhere, I've got it!
    8.You're 2010 Greater Cleveland Sports Professional Athlete of The Year is...


    Congratulations, douche bag.