Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, there is an outrage being perpetrated as we speak. According to Bill Simmons, anonymous posters and bloggers are slandering famous people all over the internet. He has a long history of problems with blogs and bloggers, just look at this. I have seen a negative mention of my blog, and it upset me. I thought about posting my own response on the site, then I had a few beers, then I had a few more and eventually I got too lazy to do it. Then I got too drunk to do it, eventually I woke up hung over in a few hours and didn't really feel like responding.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't go overboard on this point, but I have something to say about the Sports Guy's whining that I mentioned in a recent post that has been weighing on my mind over the last few days. Seeing him whine about bloggers who slander people makes me wonder what exactly he thinks he does in his writing.

Is he entirely fair to Art Shell? I admit, Art Shell didn't bring images of George Patton to mind as he prowled the sidelines. But Art Shell is also an NFL Hall of Fame left tackle, and one of the best offensive linemen of all time. Is it worse to call a sportswriter a tool from Connectitcut who never slid into second base than to run down Art Shell for being a bad coach on a bad team?

And then there is Isiah Thomas. Isiah certainly doesn't think Simmons is very fair to him. Coach Thomas went so far as to call out the Sports Guy. I liked Simmons suggestion that the two meet in a more mature setting to hash out their differences. The more I look into this story arc, the more I see a few of Jay Mariotti's character traits in Bill Simmons. Perhaps Simmons shares the opinion of his physical prowess evident in the Deadspin poll of his odds of success in a fight against Mark Cuban.

I could talk too, about Doc Rivers, whom Simmons has criticized a number of times and for whose Celtics tenure Simmons even provided a premature obituary. And Danny Ainge, who has assembled a team that could not win even if Red coached them in his prime. Simmons has not called for his dismissal, even though the Sports Guy professes to love the Celtics.

What really bothers me is the slander on Springsteen. I grew up loving Springsteen's music. Like a lot of people at the time, I misinterpreted Born in the USA. In my defense, I was 5 when it came out in 1984. I was a bit more aware of contemporary music at that age than most children because I grew up in a house with four older brothers. Plus I like to think that even at that age my obvious natural superiority to my peers was well evident. NB- This blog isn't a very representative sample of my intelligence or writing ability. My laziness, anger issues, misanthropy and drinking habits are much more evident in this space.

To imply that Springsteen would consider selling a song of his to Verizon shows a fundamental ignorance of the man and his principles that cannot exist in an intelligent child of the 1980s. Springsteen came out an aggressively criticized the incumbent President of the United States for attempting to appropriate Born in the USA. He allowed Kerry to use No Retreat, No Surrender, but the Boss had campaigned against the current President as well. Springsteen also refused to allow American car makers to purchase the rights to the song for commercials.

As steamed as I am about that, it's still not enough to make Simmons the tool of the week. That honor goes to me today. As I looked over a few of my posts from earlier in the football season, I came across a sentence or two that I really want to delete. I actually questioned whether Florida was good enough to win the SEC championship game. I badmouthed Urban Meyer as a coach. I was right about Michigan as a team whjo whined a lot about their bowl position and then got killed. But I was wrong about BC on the same prediction. That and my track record in the NFL with the Bears and Cowboys.... Yikes.

A lesser man, or at least a less arrogant one, would have given up on picking the outcome of games. I am not one to accept it when I've been humbled. I'll continue fighting on in the face of every instinct that tells me to cut my losses. So this week, I think the Bears will beat the Seahawks.

It has all the telltale signs that I should have noticed last season when I picked the Bears over the Panthers. Last year, the Bears beat up on the Panthers in the regular season at Soldier Field. The defense dominated that meeting. Then the Bears had a quarterback change at the end of the season. Then they went on to play abysmally as the home team coming off a first round bye in last season's playoffs.

This season, the Bears played the Seahawks (who were without Tiki Barber's stunt double) and beat them convincingly. Their defense dominated the Seahawks. Now they come into this week's matchup against Seattle with a QB controversy, injuries and fatigue on defense (losing Tommie Harris hasn't helped, nor has Tank Johnson with his close friend's shooting death and the alleged arsenal at his house). But I think the Bears will win this one, even though Matt Hasselbeck's mom will be doing her best to care for the team in the hostile environment. I'm bound to be right sooner or later.

Then there is the much anticipated matchup between the Pats and the Chargers. In spite of my friend from San Diego and his man crush on Marcus McNeil, I have to take the Pats. Yes, I know that 75% of LDT's yards and TDs have come over the left side of the offense this season. I know McNeil is the left tackle, but is his mere presence enough to account for that. Without access to the entire season's game film and play calls, I can't speak with 100% certainty on this phenomenon. All I can do is ask questions.

For instance, where is Antonio Gates lined up when Tomlinson runs behind McNeil? Surely the presence of a receiver of his caliber impacts the alignment of the secondary. If he is on the other side of the field, the secondary must be lined up to reflect that and might, then, not be in ideal position to react to a back of LDT's talents quickly enough to stop him. LDT must get to the second level of the defense for this theory to come into play, and it's not likely that even the great LDT can do that without help from his left tackle. However, that might make McNeil A piece of the puzzle, as opposed to THE piece.

Another valid question: "Is Brandon Manumaleuna in the formation?" Manumaleuna is a great blocking tight end. He is valuable, both as a front side blocker and a decoy. If he's lined up next to McNeil, he's helping him out. If he's on the other side of the formation, he's drawing the focus of the defense away from McNeil's side. Again, it makes McNeil important, but not the end all be all of the scheme.

Finally, what was the ratio of yards and TDs gained over the left side last year, with the immortal Roman Oben (the same Romane Oben who flopped in Tampa Bay) holding the fort. Unless LDT got a lot more of his yards and TDs over the right side in 2005, I think the rush to crown McNeil was a bit premature. He is a very good tackle, especially playing left takcle as a rookie. Not quite rookie of the year, and no Willie Roaf, Jonathan Ogden or Orlando Pace, the dominant left tackles of the last generation.

Marcus McNeil is important in this matchup, since he will face two of the best defensive ends to play San Diego this season in Richard Seymour and Ty Warren. Is he ready for a Pro Bowl player like Seymour? I don't know, but it might be the least of San Diego's problems if Marty reverts to his past playoff form.

But there is also the question of Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams. Can the Patriots handle those two Pro Bowlers? Jason Taylor ate the Pats tackles alive, and Merriman would have beaten Taylor for Defensive Player of the Year, but for the big if (the 1/4 of the season lost to the "false-positive" test for a banned performance enhancing substance). Jamal Williams is the best nose tackle in football, with apologies to Vince Wilfork, who turned out much better than I thought he would after watching his early seasons. I thought his bulk would keep him in the game, since he can't be pushed back too far, but now he's making plays. Only time will tell.

In the end, I'm picking the Patriots. It's win-win. Either the jinx holds, and the Patriots go down, or I'm right for a change. I'm not touching either of the other games. I want Baltimore and New Orleans to win, but I don't want to go out on a limb on either game.

TO fired his publicist today, finally. She would have been tool of the week, had she been cool enough to be a tool. I don't have words to describe what a bust she was/is. That was a weird situation. Just one more reason to make me tool of the week... I have Rosanna by Toto on my iPod.

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