Monday, October 29, 2007

Taking a Deep Breath

Lots to talk about today, first and foremost:

The Red Sox

It's amazing how something can go on for more than 6 months, night in, night out, and then be over in a flash - like the previous 6 months never happened. That's how I feel today after the Sox swept the Rockies. Forgotten are the calls to bench Pedroia for Cora, to trade for Jermaine Dye at the deadline and bench Drew, to go back in time and reverse the Beckett/Lowell for Hanley Ramirez/Anubal Sanchez trade, to inquire whether Ortiz and Manny have been juicing all these years. Forgotten are the picayune and picky - whether Beckett should have pitched Game 4 of the ALCS, whether Tito should have pulled him in Game 1 after 5, whether Julian Tavarez should have been on the postseason roster instead of Gagne. Today, there is just joy and relief and the fulfillment of expectations. That is the biggest change since '04 and the reason why many people now think the Sox are the new Yankees. Becuase we expect success and are gratified when it is achieved, instead of hoping for success and overwhelmed and surprised when it happens. A great change.

some wrap up thoughts:

-- This team was built, as Joe Posnanski so aptly pointed out before the ALCS, on imrpoved starting pitching, an improved bullpen and an improved Mike Lowell. Those three things, plus the emergence and contributions of Ellsbury and Pedroia were on full display the last week.

-- Someone at MLB - PLEASE order FOX to replace McCarver and Buck with an announcing team that actually is involved in the game, doesn't just promote the hot storyline and isn't reduced to spouting totally empty platitudes (actually Buck was not that bad this year, but McCarver has been reduced to a caricature of his already shopworn self).

-- I was not at all interested in the World Series last year - partly because work was absolutely insane, but more because the Sox were not involved and my dad had just died. I didn't think of him a single time last night. I'm not sure if that's progress or just life, but there it is.

The Blogs

Soxaholix are note perfect

Jere has his head in the clouds and has a really cool recording of the call of the end of last night's game. Give it a listen. Man, I miss Castiglione.

Away Team has a cool set of pictures celebrating last night's win.

If this video doesn't bring tears to your eyes, I don't know what to tell you (via Sox & Dawgs)

That's it on the Sox. I'll leave you with one picture (woke up this morning and had this greet me on the cover of the NY Times):

The Bills

Is it o.k., as a fan, to be extremely happy your team won, but still have dissatisfied, wondering how they did it, and worried for the rest of the season?

That's how I felt about the Bills 13-3 win over the Jets yesterday.

It's as though Jauron and the coaching staff (more Fairchild than anyone else) was trying to take away the Bills' chances of succeeding as well as screwing up. It's like when you're raising a kid (I can say this now that I have one) - you can't put them in a bubble - yeah, they'll fall, bump their heads, get hit by a car, whatever, but they'll also have a chance to succeed. Watching the first 3 quarters, it was apparent that while Edwards had been designated the starter, he wasn't "A Starter". Some examples:

-- Calling a shovel pass on 3rd and 8 in the Red Zone on the Bills' first successful drive. Yeah, they were in field goal range, but again, what is the risk of taking a shot at the end zone there? You throw a pick, you throw a pick - they're not making the playoffs so they should take more chances (note, this is exactly the OPPOSITE of the horrible call against the Cowboys when they were AHEAD by two scores to pass on a similar down, distance and situation).

-- Another conservative call in the third quarter when they were driving - 3rd and 4 and they call a flanker screen - it was busted anyway.

-- 3rd and short late in the game, and they run straight up the middle for no gain - the third consecutive handoff up the middle. A run is the right call, but why not a sneak, or an inside handoff (they got a FG to go up 6-3, but could have sustained the drive with a better call).

Luckily, they called a few downfield passes for Losman which put the game away - one which Roscoe Parrish should have hauled in, one that Evans improbably did.

Like I said, I like the result, but I doubt the plan.

The Bills blogs:

Goose's Roost has a great picture of Losman.

The prolific Brian Galiford over at Buffalo Rumblings has the game story and a piece on the "QB controversy".

My take on the "controversy" is that the team was built to run an offense that features a lot of downfield passing and a power running game. It was not built for a game manager, dink and dunk style game such as they have tried with Edwards. That woudl argue for Losman to start; however, either way, they HAVE to pick one guy or the other and run the offense they think gives the team the best chance to win WITH THAT GUY.

I'm happy they're 3-4 with the injuries they've had, but they should be 5-2, and that failure is due to a failure of process.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quick NFL Picks

Real quick this week, I have $hit to do around the house...

Browns (-3) over RAMS. Norm van Brocklin is spinning in his grave.

BEARS (-5) over Lions. I believe in the power of Griese.

BUCS (-3.5) over Jags. Yes, feel the power of the favorites this week.

Panthers (+7) over COLTS. I really want the Colts to lose to take some of the craziness out of next week's Pats-Colts matchup.

Bills (+3) over JETS. Seriously, how could you ever root for a team that presents this guy as the face of the franchise?

Also, this is the first real "test" for Trent Edwards as it seems he now really has a handle on the starting job. I'm worried about Kelsay possibly not playing, but I like the Bills to come on strong in the second half this year and get to 6-10.

(by the way, the Goose's Roost had this excellent piece on the whole QB "controversy", which was ridiculous in the first place.

BENGALS (+3.5) over Steelers . Pittsburgh was exposed last week and Cincy has been playing better. By the way - there haven't been any stories this year about how the Bengals are staying out of trouble, have there?

Eagles (-1) over VIKINGS . Because Philly just can't be this bad.

Raiders (+7.5) over TITANS. I don't think Tennessee is built to blow teams out.

Saints (-2.5) over 49ERS. So who was the Saint who posted this craigslist ad? (link via deadspin). My money's on Aaron Stecker.

Dolphins (+9.5) over Giants. (neutral field). I'd say the Dolphins win outright if the Jason Taylor robot can find a way to get into the game.

PATRIOTS (-16) over Washington. 7-0 ATS this year and this is the week everyone is giving up on them. Um, inexperienced QB on the road against Belichick? check. Richard Seymour getting back into the game for the Pats to stabilize run defense? check. I say DC pots no more than 10 points on the board. 31-10 Pats.

BRONCOS (-3) over Packers. Farve continues his seasonal transition from God to Moron - as the leaves turn, you can count on it.

CHARGERS (-9) over Texans. QB situation is nasty in Houston, otherwise I would take them. I don't see Norv as a "bring the boys together" coach - he's more a "what play do I call again?" coach.

The Baseball Update

Last night, for only the second time this postseason (first was right before Game 5 of the ACLS), I was nervous that the Sox would not win the game. That did not last long. Ellsbury and Pedroia said "oh yeah?", kicked dirt in the faces of the Rockies and their fans and walked off with their girlfriends and the win.

I opened my big mouth in the third inning and asked the Taxwife whether it was too early to start considering WS MVP. After she punched me in the face, she said "yes". She was right. Although this morning - let's look at the candidates (As you will see, I take into account intangibles):

Jacoby Ellsbury: .417/.500/.667, 3 2B, 4-5 last night and the Stolen Base that Launched A Million Tacos.

Dustin Pedroia: .357/.438/.643, 1 HR, 4 RBI, clutch hit last night and the worst hairline I've ever seen on a 24 year old.

Josh Beckett: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9 Ks, 1 BB and a huge set of huevos.

Jonathan Papelbon: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 Ks, 2 SV and some sick dance moves.

Hideki Okajima: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 6 Ks, 0 BB and a head jerk to third (thanks, Timm-ay).

I think if it goes 5 and Beckett gets another win, he'll be the MVP. If it's a sweep and Paps saves a close one tonight, it will be him. Otherwise, it's wide open and a clutch hit by Pedroia or Ellsbury (or Lowell or Drew (!) for that matter) will win it.

Of course, the Rockies could come back.

Some random thoughts from last night's game:

-- The best Rockies fans could do was a sign that said "Big Papi eats boogers"? That seems more appropriate for College Gameday.

-- Ditto the Halloween costumes - the Cat in the Hat and the Jolly Green Giant? WTF?

-- McCarver busting out the phrase "a bevy of fastballs" - I prefer a "veritable cornucopia" myself.

-- Okajima worked through trouble like the pro he is and struck out Atkins in the bottom of the 7th with an absolutely nasty splitter. I read time and tie again how breaking pitches don't break as much in the thin Colorado air, but Dice-K's curve was working and Okie's splitter was nasty.

Cruising the Blogs:

Red Sox Chick had this up pretty quickly after last night's game. I'm not sure anymore who McCarver and Buck root against. They seemed relatively fair and balanced last night - McCarver even gave Manny props on the slide into home (after I yelled at the tv for a minute or two).

Peter has his summary of last night's game - including mad props to Dice-K who was in command throughout (although I didn't realize until this morning that he topped 100 pitches).

Joy of Sox has all of the Sunday morning headlines.

NFL Picks in a bit.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Always wanted to do that.

Anyhoo, crazy work day on Friday and G-D computer problems today delayed the bloggin' goodness.

So what did I miss?

-- Schilling coming up huge again. I didn't get the people who said he was washed up - he only had the one bad start against Cleveland. Otherwise, here is his postseason line:

19.1 IP, 16 H 3 ER 3BB 13K 3-0, 1.40 ERA.

F U Curly Haired B, I don't care how he's getting it done. He's getting it done.

-- McCarver again informing me about the length of various players' strokes. Keep it to yourself Timm-ay.

-- One worrying trend - lots of guys left on base by the Sox. This team loses games it shouldn't when it gets guys on and can't drive them home. Happened a bit in the Cleveland series (DPs) and happened in Game 2. Luckily the pitching was strong enough to overcome it. It won't be tonight.

My prediction for tonight - Dice-K goes 5+, but first guy in (Delcarmen) allows two inherited runners to score. Rockies win 5-3.

I hope I am wrong, but I did pick the Sox in 6.

Some blogs before I leave to finish my third drink of the night:

Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory has a good post taking apart CHB.

Red Sox Chick went to Game 1. Hereare the gory details.

Joy of Sox has the open thread and the headlines for tonight's game.

Peter notes that if the NL had home field, the game could be rained out, and Dice-K is the first starting pitcher from the land of the rising sun in the World Series.

That's it. Enjoy the game. Off to change into the lucky "Why Not Us" t-shirt. To wit:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Baseball Update

Once again, I am late this morning with the update, but what a game. Even Buck and McCarver couldn't ruin my enjoyment (although they still caused me to talk to myself a lot more than I normally would).

Like Jere, I thought the Royce Clayton/Coco conversation was the humor highlight of the game, at least until McCarver told me that "usually the bigger you are, the longer your stroke". I think he meant it in terms of Matt Holliday's impressive short swing, but I could be wrong.

Three Things I Noticed: (1) Ed Montague was decent behind the plate, but actually had a rather small strike zone, except in the first when Beckett was pitching, and then toward the end of the game when he started calling the belly-button strike. He was giving Francis a few calls he wasn't giving Beckett which just shows you how great Beckett was last night. (2) I know from statistical data that Troy Tulowitzki is an excellent defensive shortstop, but did you see the highlight reel that Fox ran? You could not have come up with a mor anodyne set of clips if you tried. Basically they were "run to the left, plant feet, fire to first". None of the leaping grabs that he's actually made in the NLCS. Anyway, it immediately reminded me of Letterman's "Close Plays of the Month" when Marv Albert would come on and narrate a ridiculolusly average play as though it was something special. Unintentional comedy - thy name is Fox baseball coverage. (3) I was openly rooting for Tito to pull Beckett in the 6th. I mean, 13-1? I guess he's already made up his mind that Lester will be the game 4 starter, but that was a little curious. Allowed me to set up the TaxWife for a good joke, however. I told her that they should bring in Gagne in the 6th. She said no matter the score she doesn't want Gagne coming in in the 6th of any game. So she went to bed before the 9th inning and when she woke up asked me what the final score was. I told her, "you wouldn't believe it, they brought in Gagne and he gave up 6 runs. Paps had to close". She immediately yelled "I told you, I knew it, that guy sucks... etc". (she didn't actually say "etc"). I said, actually it was 13-1. 1-2-3 inning. Good times.

Some Good Blogs

The aforementioned post from Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory.

Keep Your Sox On is rocking Freddy Mercury this morning.

02145 says to keep a little perspective, Red Sox Nation (I agree, this is how we started the ALCS, remember?)

Joy of Sox has the front pages.

Soxaholix. No words necessary.

Pinto says it came down to throwing strikes. See above on the ump. Tight zone last night.

That's it. Busy day. Huge Tax Update should be due, but not sure if I'll get to it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh Yeah

Sox in 6.

MVP: Manny just like in '04.

Number of dumb things McCarver will say? Too many to count.

World Series Limerick:

They've conquered the Angels and Tribe
Down three to one they survived
With the Rockies in town
Even if they get down
We know they will come back and thrive.

Sorry - I only had 10 minutes.

Enjoy the game!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Day Late...

But we'll do the Bills update anyway.

I knew it would be a close game, but I had it coming out the other way - with Baltimore grinding away at the Bills D and coming out on top on a late FG. I was pleasantly surprised.

Overall, Edwards did fine given (i) the defense and (ii) the playcalling. As I thought, they took about 3 shots downfield. One connected with Evans. One resulted in a pass interference play. One was woefully underthrown.

He's still not crisp on intermeidate routes - especially to the sideline - what got him in trouble against Dallas and caused his 1 INT in this game. As the TV guys noted, he doesn't look off coverage and so gives defenders time to jump routes (although his INT was just a bad throw).

I was originally of the opinion that they should stick with Losman. He showed enough down the stretch last year to get another shot. But he clearly isn't Levy's or Jauron's guy and Ralph himself seemed to have ordered the switch. He won't himself beat any good pass defenses, but he'll pull a Trent Dilfer and allow Lynch and the D to keep them in close games. All that said, I agree with Brian Galiford at Buffalo Rumblings that they need to stick with one guy or else Jauron should be fired.

Speaking of Lynch - that kid is going to be good, especially once the Bills get a good O line. He has excellent patience for a rookie, sticking behind the line until a hole opens up. Excellent draft pick.

Playcalling and clock management? Meh. Not nearly agressive enough on the drives in the red zone (a draw on 3rd and 10 from your opponent's 10? Really?) And then once again, down the stretch, much too conservative on offense (running out the clock is fine, but contrary to Easterbrook, repetaed runs right up the middle won't get it done - especially with this O line) and on defense (it was more a case of Boller missing plays - Bills were once again willing to give up yards). It worked because Baltimore's defense is so inept, but they've got to be more agressive when in TD territory.

Game recaps:

Goose's Roost

Buffalo Rumblings

Bills Gab

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tito is a Good Manager

I was not among the Tito bashers when he went with Wakefield over Beckett in Game 4. The numbers were on Tito's side. Wakefield was fresh. Wakefield did not pitch a gem in Game 4, but he also was not the reason the Sox lost. Beckett then went on regular rest in Game 5, Schill was Schill in Game 6 and the Sox blew the Indians out of the water in Game 7.

And then there is this (from Buster Olney's ESPN chat today)
brendan(ny): What happened to Travis Hafner? How come he doesn't get the same treatment as ARod despite a miserable postseason?

Buster Olney: Brendan: His bat was incredibly slow the last three games. And there is some thought in the Cleveland family that facing Wakefield's knuckler may have fouled up some of the Indians' hitters for the last few days of the series

Excuse? Doesn't matter. Good call Tito.

The Baseball Update

Really, just a tour of pieces from the interwebs this morning. They're all saying it better than I can.

Charles Pierce defends Manny better than anyone I have seen so far.

You knew Keep Your Sox On would choose "Don't Stop Believeing" for their tribute to last night's game.

Peter is overjoyed.

Soxaholix has the first Flowers for Algernon reference I have seen in a long time.

Call of the Green Monster has the scoop on baseball lessens for Rockies fans.

Bills update and maybe Death and Taxes Updates later. I'm behind the 8 ball at work after watching so much baseball over the weekend.

This is nice

Evidence that Sox fans generally are good people, like fans everywhere. From Art Martone's indispensible ProJo Blog
BOSTON -- As the Indians' players made their way from their clubhouse to the team bus, which was parked in right field, they found themselves being honored by an unlikely group of people.

Red Sox fans who had stayed behind at Fenway Park for the post-clinching celebration stood to the sides and created an alley for the players to walk through. And as they passed, the fans applauded, making comments like, ''Good series,'' and ''Good luck next year.''

Ex-Sox right fielder Trot Nixon was the first to pass, and he seemed surprised by the ovation. The other Cleveland players passed stoically, but Travis Hafner had a smile on his face.

It all occured at around 1 a.m.

And at 1:04 a.m., with the field finally clear of Red Sox players but the lights still on and the grounds crew beginning its work, the Fenway Park organist began playing ''The Impossible Dream.''

Stay Classy, Boston

Job Well Done

Squanders in the first 3 innings. Nail biting in innings 4 through 6. Dodging a bullet in the 5th - with a little help from the second base ump. Then a breakthrough in the 7th, aided by an error and some luck. Then the floodgates opening in the 8th.

The Sox did it with a little more execution (specifically the pen), a few breaks (the Manny grounder off the lip that went for a single instead of a DP) and one bad call by the second base ump and an historic mistake by Joel Skinner.

Check the archives. I was never more than moderately nervous, and was actually pretty confident all through the series. Even in the dark day after going down 3-1. Team has too much talent and the breaks were due to even out. Now, the Sox get to face God's team. Good luck to them.

Enjoy the celebration. I am f-d at work tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quick NFL Thoughts

The Bills play the Ravens today in Buffalo. It's homecoming for Willis McGahee. There has been quite a bit of trash-talking by Bills fans this week, in anticipation of McGahee's return. Some of it has been over the top. However, let's take a look at what this classy guy said on his way out of town last year:
Coming from Miami, I was used to partying, going out, just having something to do every night. Restaurants, whatever. Going to Buffalo, it was like hitting a brick wall. Like, Damn. Can't go out, can't do nothing. There's an Applebee's, a TGI Friday's, and they just got a Dave & Busters. They got that, and I'm like, 'What the' And, you know, the women?

You see, when I was in college that's what I used to thrive off of. The better you do, the more fame you get. So you know, it was like, I was used to that. And then you get to Buffalo and no matter how you do, it's the same. It's no big city. You know what I did every day? I came home and played video games.

That's nice. Typicl grad of The U. Anyway, hopefully the Bills' Run D will get up for the game - unlikely given their record thus far, but a fan can hope.

BfloBlog has the tailgate report.

Buffalo Rumblings breaks down the Ravens.

Goose's Roost has a better takedown of McGahee than I could muster.

My prediction? This will be a close game. The Ravens offense, McGahee notwithstanding is gross. Boller has his last week in there and will be pressing to try to get another week as the starter. This will result in some takeaways for the Bills.

On the offensive side, Edwards will throw deep and hopefully link up with Evans for a couple of long plays. If he connects, they will win. If he doesn't they will lose. The game will come down to one or two big plays (because the Bills will not be able to move the ball with any real regularity) and takeaways.

The score: Ravens 16, Bills 14

The Quick Picks

COWBOYS (-9.5) over Vikings

BILLS (+3) over Ravens

Bucs (+2) over LIONS What have the Lions done the last 3 weeks to inspire any confidence?

Patriots (-16.5) over DOLPHINS

SAINTS (-9) over Falcons

GIANTS (-9) over Niners This is the week that Eli reverts to last season's Eli, of course.

WASHINGTON (-9) over Cardinals Well there goes my theory that the SG doesn't use the racist nickname. Wonder why it said Washington last week and Redskins this week.

Titans (-1) over TEXANS

BENGALS (-6) over Jets I hate the Jets

Chiefs (+3) over RAIDERS

Rams (+8) over SEAHAWKS I thought Qwest Field was supposed to be a tough place to play?

EAGLES (-5) over Bears Wow, I am taking a lot of favorites this week.

BRONCOS (+3.5) over Steelers For avoidance of doubt, I also hate the freaking Steelers.

Jags (+3) over COLTS I hope.

That's it - enjoy the games.

Also, Paul Byrd is a cheating cheater.

6 Down, 1 to Go

Just. Wow. This is why I love baseball. Well, this and the dingers. J.D. Drew, a guy who couldn't buy a big hit all year, who had fans mocking him, actually pining for Trot Nixon (!) after Game 2, who apparently had personal problems off field that may have contributed to his relative lack of production this year, was redeemed in a big way. All of a sudden, curtain call, standing "Os", possible chants of "Drew, Drew" (I couldn't quite hear them).

Some commenters on Deadspin were complaining about "Sox Fans" - to quote one:
You Red Sox fans are f*cking pathetic - rip J.D. Drew and then he saves your season like that so he's a God.

Yeah, that's about right. But you see, that is a fan's prerogative. I don't necessarily agree with booing your own players (well, I will make an exception for Gagne), unless they have come out and maligned fans or teammates, or generally acted like jerks. However, fans are absolutely entitled to complain about a guy, whine to talk radio, bitch and moan and then, when the moment is right, turn on a dime and cheer cheer cheer.

It's not two-faced. It's called being a fan. And last night Drew got to experience the good side of the equation. As did Sox fans everywhere.

Three things I noticed: (1) Schilling was actually pretty masterful. The picture of efficiency. He threw 90 pitches over 7 innings, never more than 18 in an inning. He never was in any real trouble, despite Joe Buck and Tim McCarver's fevered hand-wringing in the third inning when Cleveland cut it to 4-1 and had the tying run at the plate. He was the epitome of crafty. The only people who should have been surprised are people with poor memories. He pitched the exact same way against Anaheim. Too many people let the one bad start against Cleveland color their views.

(2) Speaking of McCarver. He's become downright unlistenable (I know - this is news?) What I mean is, I used to be able to listen to him at least for the unintentional comedy effect - like the other night when he expressed surprise that a lead-off home run will lead to more big innings than a lead-off walk. Something has changed, though. I don't know what - seems like he's forcing himself to find things to say. He actually said last night, apropos of nothing that the word "gameplan" has been used in football for a while and is now being used in baseball. Huh? What does that even mean? That people use gameplans in baseball now, or just the word? There were countless other examples, but he's not even funny anymore. He's just sad. Like the drunk uncle who goes from funny to quiet and distant. Sad.

(3) I've talked about it over and over again, but it was finally nice to see it acknowledged by a real baseball person. After the game, Eric Wedge noted that the breaks that had been going the Indians way, went the Sox way last night. Some borderline pitches by Carmona were called balls. A couple of little infield hits in the first loaded the bases. Drew's grand slam cleared the wall by about a foot. And then the late miscues came - lack of execution. The series has done a 180 since i wrote this, and I think it's 25% execution and 75% breaks falling in a different way.

Touring the blogs

Jere is luckily going to Game 7 tonight. He's too fixated on the Yankees though for my taste. I did not once think of the Yankees last night.

Sox Nest knows the meaning of redemption.

Keep Your Sox On echoes the theme of little moments making the big difference.

Peter has the money quote from Schilling about Dice-K ready to go out there tonight.

That's all for now on the baseball front. Unfortunately this is a work day for me, but I'll be back in a bit with quick NFL picks.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Randomness

1. Sabres I have not had the time to really get down and dirty with the Sabres this year (wait, that came out wrong) - to really follow the Sabres this year. I had expected they would be down following the loss of Drury (Go BU) and Briere. After the first two games, I looked to be right, but they bounced back nicely.

Of course, Goose's Roost and BfloBlog cover the Sabres much more closely (and betterly) than I could hope to.

For example,

Goose's Roost has this excellent breakdown of the Jochen Hecht deal - a great signing, and great sign, that Drury and Briere notwithstanding, Regier is going to try to keep the young core together.

And BfloBlog has this hilarious Daily Show-esque mock interview. I don't want to spoil it - just check it out. The funniest thing I've read all day (especially since Deadspin has turned into one hell of a whine and bitch-fest the past few days).

2. Bills The enterprising soul who set up the Fire Dick Jauron blog has a new post tying the potential Toronto games and the benching of J.P. Losman (and his flowing locks) to the ineptitude of Mr. Jauron. (Note: Goose's Roost also weighed in on this)

As far as this weekend's game is concerned, the Bills D should keep it close - there will be some revenge factor against McGahee and Boller is atrocious. The Ravens D is still scary, but not the stout squad it has been in the past. I'd take the Bills and the under - then again - I am a horrible handicapper.

3. Miscellany Joe Posnanski's blog is tremendous, although the commenters are crazy.

In local news, TaxBoy is nearing 9 months now and is standing - not unassisted - he needs to hold on to something to keep from falling. I can't believe it. He also weighs about 20 lbs - so now he's noticeable when I carry him around.

St. John - 5 weeks away. Can't wait.

The Taxes Update

The bill I mentioned yesterday was introduced today by Senator Kerry - S. 2199, the "Offshore Deferred Compensation Reform Act of 2007". Rep. Emanuel's bill apparently will be introduced in the House later with identical language.

(note - haven't found the bill yet online, but here is a press release from Kerry's office)

In substance, it is as I described - it would prevent nonqualified deferred comp arrangements by companies located in low tax jurisdictions. The definition of low tax jurisdiction for this purpose, however, is not quite clear. The bill requires that:
substantially all of the income of [the offshore] corporation is subject to an income tax imposed by [the offshore country]

It is not clear whether this means that a corporate income tax must be on the books of such country, or whether the corporate income tax must actually apply to the actual income of the company. In either case, however, it does not say that the rate needs to be high - so the idea I mentioned yesterday - domicile in a country with a legit corporate income tax, but negotiate for a low rate (Zug, Switzerland comes to mind) could still work. Treasury regulations (which are authorized) would be necessary to refine details like this.

I know that someone did a client alert on this yesterday, but I have not found it. I do not expect to do another one. There's nothing new here that I didn't already mention in my prior alert.

The Baseball Update

Ahhhhhh... back to business, back to Boston.

I watched the game last night from the bar at Morton's here in the city with a good friend from Boston who was down. Reminded me of the '04 ALCS when I watched the comeback games in San Francisco with the same guy, plus some other guys. Good transplant karma, I guess.

It still started out frustrating - like games 2-4 - the Sox were getting lots of chances, but not capitalizing - the Manny throwout at home, the long single, Lugo's DP (which I called). But the worm obviously turned and some of those breaks I've been talking about went the Sox' way - miscues in the field, ball 4 calls that were close - and timely hitting (not clutch, just timely).

Three Things I Noticed: (1) It was the curveball that did it for Beckett. The hook was nasty all night and the Indians just couldn't figure it out, even upon third viewing in the 7th and 8th. (2) Lugo is just terrible. I didn't get the infatuation last year when the rumors were heating up that the Sox would not resign Gonzalez and go after Lugo. He doesn't hit. He doesn't field. He's a 30 steal guy with a penchant for GIDPS. The only entertaining thing about him is his passion for cup adjustments, which he doesn't even seem to be doing as much. Ah well, I shouldn't be negative after a game like last night. (3) Joe Buck and McCarver were actually excellent last night. I had the sound off and can say that they have never sounded better.

Let's go to the Blogs....

Jere has a typically passionate take on the game and golden goblets.

Keep Your Sox On says that Beckett goes to 11.

Peter says that Beckett was Santa Claus (he has a lot of Mrs. Clauses, apparently).

Surviving Grady is calling for the Randy Johnson move from Beckett if it gets to 7. He also finds the hidden meaning in the art of holding a microphone.

Soxaholix say let the "real Indian" play.

Back later. Busy morning.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Baseball Update

Here we go...

In under 4 hours, Dustin Pedroia will step into the box against CC Sabathia in the biggest game of his life. For all of the "we've been there before" stuff we've been hearing from Yoooooouk and others, for some of the key players (Pedroia, Lugo, Coco, Papelbon, Okajima), they haven't been there before. This isn't a post about pressure though. It's a post about how, in a season that lasts more than 6 months, over two hundred games, counding pre- and post-season, that goes from cold to hot and back to cold again, everything comes down to three or four chances at the plate and a half dozen chances in the field. How exhilirating must that be?

Mike & Mike this morning (shut up, I was getting dressed) were talking about this phenomenon - how casual fans sitting in the stands say things like "I'd kill for that guy's job" or "those players don't know how good they have it", when the player's perspective is, well, it's a job. Still, Golic admitted that there were times when he would step back, look around and say, "wow. This is pretty damn cool. I'm in the NFL."

I imagine tonight is one of those nights. Even on the road, even with the expectations. You have to think that when Pedroia steps in at 8:07 to face the real Hefty Lefty (sorry Jared, CC has you beat), he'll close his eyes and shake his head, as he does, step out, adjust the batting gloves and wait, just for a second, before stepping in and getting back to his job.

Bring it back to Fenway, guys.

Some pre-game blogtalk:

The Mighty Quinn reminds us that the Sox have faced this situation before. Often with worse odds (who thought Schilling would be able to pitch again in '04 Who thought the Sox would beat the Indians in '99 after going down 0-2 with that dead-ass pitching staff?)

Joy of Sox has the salient quotes for tonight.

Peter says it's Beckett or Bust and (rightly) defends Manny. Let's give the Manny-bashing a rest and YES, Mike No Talent Adams, I'm looking at you.

Triumphant Red Sox Fan thinks we need more Millar.

Red Sox Dad (wait that could describe me as well) thinks the Sox look nice and loose.

Go Sox.

The Death Update

There hasn't been one in a while.

A very sad day in Macedonia, Croatia and the greater former Yugoslavia as Toshe Proeski died Tuesday in a car accident. He was 26.

Proeski was an extremely popular (apparently) pop singer who, in 2004, participated in the prestigious Eurovision singing competition (think Idol, then multiply by the EU).

He was buried yesterday in Macedonia with full state and religious honors.

Here is a sample of some of his work.

Here is an excellent article explaining better than I can why Proeski was an important figure in an area that has suffered extremely.

And here is the obit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Some Common Sense

From David Pinto writing at the Sporting News. Basically, the series has come down to timely hitting by the Indians, lack of same from the Sox and superb fielding by the Indians.

Hopefully those trends will reverse themselves soon.

(via Baseball Musings)

The Taxes Update

I referred to this a month ago when it first came out, but Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), along with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) tomorrow will introduce legislation in the House and Senate that would limit deferral by hedge fund managers (among others) of compensation paid offshore. The bill would impose a limit equal to the amount people are allowed to defer into 401(k) and Roth IRA accounts (approximately $20,000).

Some background - Hedge fund managers receive management fees for operating their hedge funds equal to 2% of the NAV of the funds. In addition, they receive a performance based fee equal to 20% of the net appreciation of the funds (called, "2 and 20" in industry parlance).

It is common practice for fund managers to defer receipt of the 2 and 20 fees, avoid current tax on these amounts, invest them back into the funds they manage, and then receive them later, having compounded tax free in the interim (kind of like what happens to your 401(k) - you defer tax on the amounts you contribute into a 401(k) account, it earns a return tax-free while it is in there and then you pay tax at ordinary rates when you pull it out).

The perceived abuse is that this deferral opportunity is not available to regular taxpayers - only managers of offshore hedge funds. From a tax policy standpoint, so long as the deferred amounts are at risk and may be lost (which they are - the amounts are usually reinvested back into the hedge funds the managers run), I do not see how this is any different than any other deferred compensation plan. It's simply a matter of quantum.

Here is the press release from September when he first announced his intentions.

And here is my client alert on the same topic.

Update: I should have mentioned in the above that one of the reasons given for the "fairness" aspect of the bill is that deferrals of comp made by employees of US-based companies result in a economic detriment to the employer, as the employer loses the deduction until the employee is ultimately paid. By contrast, the deferrals that Kerry's and Emanuel's bill will apparently target, are made by employees of hedge fund management companies domiciled in tax havens (Cayman, Bermuda, etc). Thus, there is no lost deduction and no economic detrminent to the employer of allowing the deferral.

However, this grossly misunderstands why hedge funds are set up offshore in the first place - they are set up offshore to allow tax-exempt and non-US investors invest in hedge funds without becoming directly subject to US tax. Tax-exempt and non-US investors, of course, would also have no use for the tax deduction associtaed with payments of compensation to hedge fund managers, because they do not ordinarily pay US federal income tax. Thus, even if the hedge fund managers engaged directly with investors in these deferral arrangements, there would be no lost deduction.

It's a function of the nature of the taxpayer, not the domicile of the management company that creates the mismatch.

My personal view on the topic (which I should have included above) is that this is a small issue in the larger scheme of taxation of private equity funds and their managers and is a distraction from the larger debate. This bill (along with Rep. Sander Levin's bill on UDFI) would probably at least encourage hedge funds to come back onshore.

It's all moot, however, because no tax raises will be signed by President Bush, in my opinion.

Further update: The bill apparently has an easy workaround - organize the fund and management company in a country that can be low tax, but not a tax haven (e.g., Switzerland). The summary of the bill (no actual text yet) says that the cap on deferrals does not apply where the corporation is domiciled in a jurisdiction that imposes an income tax on corporate income, has deductibility rules that work similarly to the US rules and has a tax treaty with the US. Thus, an offshore fund manager could be set up in Switzerland, obtain a ruling to negotiate a low local rate of tax, and continue deferring as usual. There would be some tax slippage, but presumably the tax benefit would outweigh the slippage if the return on the deferred amounts was high enough.

The Baseball Update

Well that was frustrating. Really, in both games 3 and 4, the emotion was one of frustration. Frustration that the Sox were not coming through in big moments like they seemed to have in the regular season. Frustration that the breaks in the game were not going the Sox' way. Frustration that each game lost was there for the taking, but for a mistake in strategy (Game 2 - bringing in Gagne, leaving Tavarez off the playoff roster), a mistake in execution (Game 2 - the pen, Game 3 - Dice-K and the Double Plays, Game 4 - Wakefield knocking down the grounder that could have ended the horrendous 5th and Youk dropping the popus), or breaks gone the other way (Lofton's home run that barely made it over the fence, Wakefield's gaffe last night, the wide strike zone that cause Dice-K's pitch count to soar).

Still, after being down 3-1, I am disappointed, but still cautiously optimistic. Beckett goes in Game 5. If the Sox win tomorrow, Schilling goes at home in Game 6 (and don't forget, he was dominant in Game 3 against the Angels). I still firmly believe that the Sox bats will come back, in moments that matter (not the backtobacktoback or Varitek's homer), and that the breaks will start to even out. If the Sox lose, they will lose because of the lack of execution and the lack of breaks, not, because of some ridiculous half-baked "Sox have become the Yankees" hypothesis. Please.

This is the comment I left on Deadspin's page when i read that post.

Why does every sporting event need a meta-theory? This series does not need one.

Touring the Sox Blogs:

Jere is relatively optimistic, and points out something ridiculous McCarver said last night, reminding me of the time Steve Lyons said he'd rather a batter hit a triple than a home run in an inning because it "keeps the rally going".

Over the Monster is asking for it from the baseball karma gods. The Taxwife would not approve.

That's it for now. Taxes update and Death Update (really) t/k.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One more quick link

Check out this post on the always good Bflo Blog. It's a 5 minute youtube compilation of last night's Sabres-Leafs game (which the good guys won 5-4).

Not Alot of Time This Morning

So this will be a quick one.

Kenny Lofton -- Really?

Dice-K -- Actually did not pitch that badly. The Lofton Home Run was just barely over the fence, and the 4th run scoring on the Hafner fielder's choice was similarly unlucky. Pedroia missed the DP by about 6 inches. That said, he had a case of Scott Kazmir-itis throwing over 100 pitches through less than 5. At times I was yelling for him to throw more fast balls, but his curve was his out pitch in the 3rd and 4th. I am not too worried, but I am hoping the Sox can take it in 6th so we don't need to see Dice-K out there in the 7th.

Brian Gorman did a horrible job behind the plate. YOu know the ump is lousy when Joe "Milquetoast" Buck is openly questioning balls (heh) and strikes. I do think that Fox's strikecast, or whatever the hell it is called, is not an accurate representation of the strike zone.

Silver Lining? The bullpen was once again nasty, going 3 1/3 of scoreless ball.

Sox Blogs:

Keep Your Sox On with a tour de force post from last night's game. I especially liked the joke about "Grady's Ladies". They were so ugly even McCarver wouldn't throw them a bone.

Sox Fan In Hell advises calmness. Serenity now! (note - I agree 100%).

Red Sox Chick is also trying to stay positive (after an angry post last night - I felt the exact same way during and after the game.

Peter, I think, wants Francona to skip Wake. He also has some choice words for Dice-K's start.

More to come.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Morning Updates

The Baseball Update

Well, you win one, you lose one as the Sox swapped 7 run wins and losses with the Indians. To be honest, I went to bed as soon as I saw Gagne come out to pitch the 11th.

Three Things I Noticed: (1) Schilling actually did not pitch that badly, except for the mistake to Jhonny "don't spell my name right" Peralta. Unfortunately "not that badly" doesn't cut it in the ALCS. He wasn't his "all time best ERA in the postseason" best last night. (2) Papelbon was a stud as usual, which is good to see in case the Sox ever have a 9th inning lead needing protecting. (3) Manny Ortez is still hitting the cover off the ball. Ortiz is hitting .615 with an OBP of .783 and Manny is hitting .429 with an OBP of .652. Unfortunately, Manny blew a goldent opportunity in the first inning to bust the game open early (and get Carmona out of there early) by GIDPing.

Bonus Thing I Noticed: MEMO TO TITO, JAVIER LOPEZ CANNOT GET OUT LEFTIES. They hit .293 against him in the regular season. He's not a LOOGY. Stop using him as if he were one.

Bonus Bonus.... Varitek? Must be hard catching with that fork sticking out of his back. He is totally lost out there - 8 Ks in 21 ABs. Unfortunately, we have no other options unless Youk gets out the big glove again (would be nice to have Kelly Shoppach right about now - If we hadn't taken back bard in '05 in the Crisp trade, we might still have him. Big mistake by Boy Wonder).

A look at some blogs:

Soxnest wishes that Game 2 (like Rocky V and the 1994 NBA season) never happened.

Keep your Sox On has a typically lucid recap of last night's debacle.

Peter's Red Sox Forever had the same sick feeling when Gagne came in.

As an aside, it's hard to know why Gagne has been this bad since joining the Sox. Pitching coach? Injury? Mental issues playing in Fenway? Whatever it is, I have zero confidence that he'll be able to straighten it out this season. He should simply not be a late inning option.

Sox & Dawgs are also scratching their head at bringing in Gagne in a 6-6 game. Maybe in addition to my sister site, I should start Fire Tito soon.

Game 3 tomorrow night in Cleveland. Dice-K (yikes-K) vs. Westbrook. Should be a slugfest, although the way the series has gone so far, who knows.

NFL Picks

Once again, quick picks as the Taxwife has breakfast ready. (as a reminder, using the same lines as the SG and Home Teams in ALLCAPS). Edited to note that the Saints are on the road and Seahawks at home this week

CHIEFS (+3) over Bengals

Jaguars (-6.5) over TEXANS

BROWNS (-4.5) over Dolphins

BEARS (-5) over Vikings

Eagles (-3.5) over JETS

Rams (+9.5) over RAVENS

Washinton (+3) over PACKERS I like that the SG uses the team nickname for everyone except Washington. Not sure if that's an ESPN editorial choice or not, but I like it.

Titans (+3) over BUCS

CARDINALS (-4.5) over Panthers Let's see. Delhomme out, Carr questionable. Oh my god... That.. that's Vinny Testaverde's music!!!

CHARGERS (-9.5) over Raiders

SEAHAWKS (-6.5) over Saints

Giants (-3.5) over FALCONS

Patriots (-5.5) over COWBOYS After last Monday night's disaster, I'm hoping for 38-3 Pats, but I'll expect 27-17 Pats.

That's all for now, taxes and death update later today.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Late Thursday Night Update

First off, again, a shout-out to my boy Kevin Pritchard at Bflo blog for slapping a link to the Taxman up on his site. For those of you from WNY, I grew up in Newfane (north of Lockport), went to HS at Willy North (go Spartans) where my dad was an English teacher (Mike Naylor) and now live in NYC. Still root (painfully) for the Bills and Sabres and want to hear thoughts and suggestions for coverage of Buffalo sports. Please email me.

No posts yesterday as I was out golfing.

Please head over to Fire Dick Jauron to see my breakdown of how Dick Jauron, despite all evidence to the contrary, still has a head coaching job. It's a sordid story of secret societies and school ties (with apologies to Brendan Fraser).


The baseball Update

Just linking around tonight to some friendly blogs.

Jere at Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory is talking about Suzyn Waldman's crying jag.

A good back and forth from Fire Brand of the American League between a Sox blogger and Indians blogger. Y'all know where i stand - Sox in 6, mostly scoring early runs, the Sox win the battle of the bullpens.

Keep your Sox On's breakdown of the Sox-Indians.

An awesome post from Surviving Grady wherein he hopes that the Sox win the series so the Repo Man won't come take his furniture away.

And it comes with this awesome picture:

Go Paps.

So that's it for the baseball update for now. Again, for the hard of reading (i.e., Yankees fans), Sox in 6. Manny = MVP.

The Taxes Update

No Taxes update tonight as I have lost access to my work email with my summary of tax notes updates.

The Death Update

Red Shipley passed away last week. He was 70. I note his passing because of his promotion of bluegrass music, the same kind of music that led my dad to move to Missouri in 1973, pregnant wife in tow. He had some crazy idea that he and some buddies would start a bluegrass band and make their fortune (or at least fame). It didn't work out, and southwest Missouri was apparently desolate. Amish or fundamentalist Ozarkians ruled the area and my parents were woefully out of place (even though, as Vermonters, they should have been used to that). Anyway, he kept listening to bluegrass, but didn't live his dream.

As for Red, like my dad, he died from cancer, but lived a long productive life promoting the art he loved. The obit is here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rainy Tuesday Night Update

The Bills Letdown

It was quite strange when I turned to the Taxwife not 10 minutes after the Bills lost last night and said "well, they deserved to lose that game - if you can't win getting six turnovers, you deserve to lose". In other words, serenity now.

This morning, before even going on the blogs to check out others' reactions to the games (links below), I thought a little more critically about the game...

-- The Bills gave up an easy 3 at the end of the first half by attempting a 53 yard field goal on a 4th and 3. Not to go all Gregg Easterbrook or anything, but going for it on 4th and 3 has a higher positive outcome than attempting a 53 yarder. Punting may have been the best move there.

-- They sent Roscoe Parrish on an end around (it may have been a reverse) on 3rd and 2 in Dallas territory. It was predictably blown up and the Bills needed to punt. A simple run up the middle or toss over the middle to Lynch or Royal (who was a great weapon in the game (would have obviously been much more productive).

-- Jauron misused times out in the second half, resulting in a bad onside kick defense formation.

-- Defensive playcalling down the stretch was atrocious, giving up easy yards over the middle and then the inexcusable 8 yard sideline route with 7 seconds left. Again, they could have called a time out if they had the wrong personnel on the field, or to make sure the young defense was on the right page.

-- The decision to pass on third and medium deep in Dallas territory in the 4th quarter is inexcusable. That should have been a fireable offense.

I realize that most of the above decisions were not made directly by Jauron, they were made by his coordinators, Brian Fairchild and Perry Fewell (Dr. Z really tears Fewell a new one in particular). Still, Jauron is the HEAD coach and has to ultimately take responsibility for the overall schemes and the decisions to try trick plays on third and short. Most importantly, it is clear that the Bills young players are trying extremely hard and giving it all they have, but they are young. They need a solid gameplan that will not let them down and a coaching staff that knows when to take a breather, settle the troops down and focus that energy. That is sorely lacking this year and it is clear to me that Jauron is not the right man for the job.

Others' more precise takes on last night:

Bflo Blog (special thanks to BfloBlog for linking to the Taxman, by the way)

Buffalo Rumblings

The Goose's Roost

I guess the silver lining I was looking for is that Jauron can't screw up the Bills this Sunday.

In happier news....

The Baseball Update

The ALCS and NLCS are set. Word from Boston is that Schilling will start Game 2 for the Sox, with Dice-K going in game 3. This makes sense insofar as Dice-K has been about 3/4 of a run better on the road than at home this year; however, the way the series lines up, that would have Dice-K going in game 7. I'm not sure how I feel about that, except that the Cubs-D-Backs series showed the fallacy of planning too far ahead in the tournament (although fundamentally, I think Lou was in the right pulling Z).

I'm sticking by my previous prediction of Sox in 6 over the Indians. I only got half of the NLCS teams correct, but I'll stick with the team I did get right - Rockies in 7.

The Taxes Update

Senator Reid announced today that no carried interest legislation would make it through the Senate in 2008. No surprise. Makes for an interesting election year issue. Romney has already pledged no new taxes if he is elected.

The Death Update

A rather obscure one today. Nolan Herndon passed away Sunday at the age of 88 from pneumonia. He was a member of the famed Doolittle Raiders who engaged in one of the most daring aerial missions of World War II. The mission, a bombing raid over Tokyo in the Spring of '42 was memorialized in the book and film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, with a screenplay by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (ironic that a writer of a film known as borderline propaganda was later blacklisted for refusing to name names).

Anyway, back to Mr. Herndon, he retired from the military shortly after the war ended and passed away apparently at his home in South Carolina. The obit is here.


All I can say after last night's game is that the Bills' coaching staff is an abortion of an enigma of some bad sea urchin.

Go here for a blog advocating the termination of Coach Jauron, forthwith.

And take Fairchild and Fewell while you're at it!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Are You Ready for some.... Bleeech

Yeah, it's a nice story and all that MNF is coming back to Ralph Wilson for the first time since 1994, but let's be real, it's bound to be ugly.

Here's my humble breakdown:

When the Bills pass: It's hard to know what to expect. Edwards is starting his second pro game and although he looked decent last week, he was dangerously off-target with a lot of his completions - the WRs bailed him out. The Jets' pass defense was soft so he was able to get away with it - i.e., the WRs had room to adjust. Dallas is middle of the pack in passing YPG against (19th), but is tied for the league lead in INTs (9). Now, given they've faced Grossman, Trent Green, Bulger (last week) and Eli, we are talking mistake-prone guys, but still. Not auspicious. Inauspicious, even.

Conclusion: Bills passing need to throw deep early to try to loosen up the Cowboys' D and then try to push down the field with controlled middle-range passes. Hoepfully Royal will be a target.

When the Bills run: I got some flak on a Bills message board this week from a Cowboys fan for calling the Cowboys' run D "soft". Stats-wise, they are anything but soft, ranking 10th last year in rushing YPG and even better this year (4th overall). My point was more that they hadn't faced any legit offenses, but I guess the Bills would also not constitute a real offense. It's going to be a tough go for Lynch.

Conclusion: Bills need to get lucky.

When the Cowboys pass: Romo has not been particularly accurate this year, but Owens and Crayton have impressive YPC stats. Jabari Greer has the unenviable task of covering Owens (I would have thought he'd be on Crayton and McGee would be on Owens). Hopefully Schoebel and Kelsey can get some pressure on the edges, but then again, Romo's mobility could counteract that as he works well outside the pocket. Word is that the Bills practiced all week against a guy who continually rolled out, so hopefully that will help. But I doubt it. They are, after all, dead last against the pass.

Conclusion: Bills need to get serious pressure on Romo and LBs need to be disciplined in coverage. Also, Jabari Greer needs to be the Greer of week 4, not the Greer of week 3.

When the Boys run: It's all about MBIII. Bills' 22nd rated run D will probably have trouble containing him as his bruising style doesn't mesh well with the Bills' 4-3 setup which matches up better against quick backs. In addition, the Bills will constantly be dropping extra guys back in coverage to cover Witten out of the backfield which will give the linemen less help against the run. I predict that the Cowboys come out and run on 75% of the plays on their first drive.

Conclusion: Bills are facing the best RB they've faced all year. It probably won't be pretty unless they can strip him (but he's never lost a fumble in his career).

The Prediction: Cowboys 38, Bills 13

Other Bills links:

Bflo Blog's open game thread

The Goose's Roost also can't find many positives about tonight's game.

Buffalo Rumblings' open game thread

Buffalowdown's silver linings, such as they are.

Oh, and this is nice. Way to represent, Buffalo. MNF stayed away from Foxboro for like 20 years because of idiocy like this.

Enjoy the game!

Who Will Lose First?

Ed. Note: Normal programming will resume around 6

So the knuckleheads on Weei this afternoon (Smerlas, Ted DeOssie, etc.) were joking around wondering who would lose first, the Patriots or the BC Eagles? The consensus seems to be that the Eagles will lose first.

Not so fast my friend - let's take a look and add the Celtics to it for good measure.

Patriots: Upcoming schedule: 10/14 - at Dallas, 10/21 - at Miami, 10/28 - Washington, 11/4 - at Indianapolis, 11/18 - at Buffalo, 11/25 - Philly, 12/3 - at Baltimore, 12/9 - Pittsburgh, 12/16 - Jets, 12/23 - Miami, 12/29 - at Giants.

On paper, looks like possible losses are at Dallas, home against Indy, at Baltimore and home against Pittsburgh. My guess, assuming Indy has gotten healthy, is that the Pats lose at Indy on 11/4 and then run the table.

First loss: 11/4

BC Eagles: Upcoming schedule: 10/13 - at ND, 10/25 - at Va. Tech, 11/3 - Florida St., 11/10 - at Maryland, 11/17 - at Clemson, 11/24 - Miami.

Eagles should take care of ND, but the road game in Blacksburg should be tough. Ditto at Maryland. They're on fire now, though, so I'll say they beat Va. Tech, but lose an upset on the road at Maryland (bookies in Cleveland Circle will rejoice, however).

First loss: 11/10

Celtics: Upcoming schedule: 11/2 - Washington, 11/4 - at Toronto, 11/7 - Denver, 11/9 - Atlanta, 11/10 - at NJ

Enough. They'll get dusted by the Nuggets at home on the 7th. Garnett will blow out his achilles and the Celtics will head for another out of the playoffs finish.

First loss: 11/7

I'm predicting the first loss will go Pats, Celtics, BC Eagles (unless any of Indy's weapons are hurt in which case the Pats will lose to the Ravens on the road on 12/3).

I'll keep track as the season progresses.

The better question is whether the above 3 teams will have more losses combined than the Bills by the end of November. I say no. Unfortunately.

Update, 11/9: The Eagles lost to Florida State on 11/3. As of this writing, though, the Bills have double the losses (4) the 3 Boston teams have (2). Note also that I said the Pats would lose to Indy UNLESS Indy's weapons are hurt. Score

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Real quick

I've updated the link list to include Joe Posnanski's new blog. Good stuff. Check it out.

Also, Sox = Awesome. Yankees = Annoying. I haven't seen any game stories of the sox win, othert than the usual suspects. The Projo Blog, as usual, kicks the Globe and Herald's "blogs" asses. Go there to see post-game reaction.

My NFL picks (below) are horrible. Don't ever look to me for gambling advice. That said, take the over tomorrow and lay the points (despite the fact that I never bet against the Bills).

Enough tonight. More tomorrow. Go Bills.

Quick Sunday Updates

Poor blogging the past couple of days. Of course, the Sox are now up 2-0, the Yanks are down 2-0 and the NLCS is set with the old-school clash of the D-Backs and Rockies. I plan on doing an "ugliness breakdown" of the other series to see if my theory holds (that the ugliest team usually wins). That will come later. For now..

The Baseball Update

I've never experienced such a (so far) stress free playoff series as the Sox-Angels has been. Massive confidence going in, no stress when down or tied and a feeling of knowing they will pull it out in the end. Is this what it was like to be a Yankees fan from '96-'00?

Anyway, Game 3 is in 3+ hours - Schilling v. Jered Weaver. Again, from an uglieness standpoint, it is:


Come on. Who can resist those flowing blonde locks, and Schill, the Jack Bauer look ain't working for you.

Advantage: Sox

Three things I noticed: (1) The bullpen was sick. Thank god. Delcarmen has been pitching well for a while now, but it was great to see Okajima looking solid and Papelbon, while not getting strike calls he should have gotten, keeping it together and shutting down the Angels. (2) Dice-K looked awful. Some folks have been saying that he would have righted the ship, given the chance, but extremely hittable, still nibbling, missing spots. Not a Game 2 starter. If the Sox advance, he should be the Game 3 guy. (3) Again, the TBS crew was about a step or two behind during the game. Better than Game 1, but, for example, they made no note of the fact that Stephen King was clapping the back of 17 year old Joe Vinik when the latter stole a foul popup from Jeff Mathis. A detail that would have made the catch that much cooler went unnoticed. On the bright side, at least Jose Mota could string a sentence together. We'll see how they fare during Game 3.

Checking in with the Sox Blogs over the past couple of days:

Jere at Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory has another spectacular photo gallery from Game 2. Check it out - good quips on Joba falling apart.

Keep your Sox On has some help from Tawny Kitaen and David Coverdale in describing the feeling of watching this team. It's kind of like what I said above - supreme confidence so far (hope we're not Icarus).

Over the Monster has thoughts from Game 2.

Joe McDonald at the projo blog has the weather report from Anaheim (windy) and the lineup - same as Games 1 and 2.

Sox and Dawgs has the report, via that Torre will exit stage left (via the hook) if the Yankees don't win the ALDS. Stupid move, but understandable.

Quick NFL Picks

Seeing as how it is 12:30, just time for quick picks (same lines as the SG, home teams in ALLCAPS):

SAINTS (-3) over Panthers
CHEIFS (+2) over Jaguars
REDSKINS (-3.5) over Lions (I still don't believe)
TITANS (-8) over Falcons
TEXANS (-5.5) over Dolphins
Seahawks (+6) over STEELERS (Pittsburgh is not that good. I'll believe them when they beat someone good)
Browns (+16.5) OVER PATRIOTS (I mean, the Pats have to blow one of these big lines one of these days, right?)
Cardinals (-3.5) over RAMS (Frerotte? Frer-no)
GIANTS (-3.5) over Jets
Bucs (+9.5) over COLTS
Chargers (+1) over BRONCOS
NINERS (+3) over Ravens (Ravens offense falls apart this week). This one looks like a push to me
PACKERS (-3) over Bears
BILLS (+10) over Cowboys.

Bills are clearly not a good team, but (1) I always take them, and (2) I think their D will stand up and they will put enough points on the board to stay close - have the Cowboys really shut down a good offense this year?

On the Bills, here are the links (spotty so far since it's a Monday night game):

Nothing from BfloBlog so far.

Brian Galiford at Buffalo Rumblings has a breakdown of the Cowboys and confirms my assumption (above) that the 'Boys haven't really shut down a solid O yet (not that the Bills O is solid, but less to be afraid of).

Goose's Roost has no football news thus far, but does have a great photblog of the Sabres' home opener which, of course, they lost 6-4 to the Islanders (and they lost the second half of the home-at-home series last night 3-2).

Finally, in a post that warms my heart, Brian at Bflo Blog reports that longtime Buffalo sportscaster Ed Kilgore has a blog. Far be it from me to disparage anyone's blogging efforts, but I sense a little of "Kings Things" in this endeavor.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Morning Update

The Baseball Update

The Sox dominated the Angels last night behind Josh Beckett's historic gem, winning 4-0.

Three Things I noticed: (1) The TBS broadcast was an absolute train wreck. First, they repeatedly came back from commercial late and missed pitches or plays. Second, Ted Robinson should absolutely stick to tennis. He said some things that didn't even make sense - describing the right field roof seats as "temporary", calling a grounder a double play ball when there were already 2 outs, etc. Third, maybe Steve Stone was a good analyst once, but last night he made the kid from Major League seem incisive. Fourth, who let Guierrmo Mota's brother do sideline reporting? Just awful, I was waiting for him to yell "Boom goes the dynomite". The only redeeming part of the telecast was Tom Collichio doppelganger Cal Ripken showing us how Beckett's two seamer has nasty sideways motion (that sounds particularly dirty).

(2) Not new news to anyone who has followed the Sox recently, but Ortiz is back. He never really left, actually. His runs created the past 3 years are 136, 127, 136 and his win shares are basically identical over the past 3 years (I would do a chart to show this but for some reason I end up with huge gaps on the page when I do - help anyone?)

Update: I was able to figure out how to do the table - it is below

054047.397.604 136
062954.413.636 127
075235.445.621 136

Anyway, Ted Robinson was saying that it was a "down year" for Ortiz, looking solely at the HR/RBI numbers, not noting that he actually was more productive this year than last. Lazy, guys. More Dingers!

Second update - Joy of Sox had a good piece on this Tuesday.

(3) Varitek continues to look terrible at the plate, grounding into a DP and having a bad strikeout. He just looks lost. Hopefully he won't need to come up in a big situation.

Some Links:

Sox Nest wants Josh Beckett to hook up with Alyssa Milano after last night's effort.

Keep your Sox On is Thunderstruck over last night's game.

Art Martone at the projo blog has an unbelievable link dump with all kinds of coverage from last night's game.

Surviving Grady notes the awful umpiring.

A Sox Fan in Hell has an apt haiku summarizing last night's game.

Death and Taxes Update to come.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Late Night Updates

The Tax Update

No major news today (I'm not going to link to the tax cases the Supreme Court is hearing this term), so here are some blog posts from the past week:

Victor Fleischer on Senator Levin's bill to eliminate the book/tax disparity in employer compensation deductions for comp. paid with stock options (as a reminder, for financial reporting purposes, companies generally expense the cost of options upon grant, or sometimes over an exercise period, but can include the deduction for tax purposes only when the employee includes the comp. in its income - generally at exercise when the deduction will be greater than the initial financial reporting expense). I still am missing the "abuse" this is trying to get at there is tax parity on the employee/employer side for comp paid with stock options - not sure why GAAP and tax need to agree in all respects - GAAP is frequently a more realistic measure of economic reality than tax - there is nothing inherently wrong with that.

The Tax Policty Blog notices a bill proposed by Rep. Obey (D-WI) that would impose a "war tax" on the American people - progressively based. Good luck with that Obie.

And from Taxalicious is this clip from the Simpsons of Homer interacting with the IRS.

Check them all out.

The Death Update

Of course, the big name yesterday was Queens' own Al Oerter, who passed away from heart failure at 71. He, like Jim Ryun was frequently referred to as a "schoolboy champ" of his sport, the discus. He famously appeared in, and won golds in, four consecutive Summer Olympiads, a feat that has been matched only by Carl Lewis. The obit is here.

A less-known name belongs to Ralph Sturges. Anyone who has been to Mohegan Sun, however, has him to thank. He helped the Mohegan tribe achieve federal recognition, a precursor, in most cases, to receving a state license to construct and operate a casino on tribal land. I've been to Mohegan once - it was great (even if they stopped serving alcohol too early). Thank you Mr. Sturges. The obit is here.

The Football Update

A roundup of the Buffalo Bills blogs is here:

Bills Locker has the early injury report on Monday night's game against Dallas. Youbuty will be out again. Greer will get the start. He was tremendous against the Jets - we'll see how he fares against the Boys.

Brian Galliford at Buffalo Rumblings has the first quarter report card. Not too much to disagree with here - the Bills are, after all, 1-3 (albeit against 3-1 Pittsburgh, 4-0 NE and 2-2 Denver). I guess I'm not really as impressed with Lynch as Brian is. He's shown flashes, but has lacked consistency which has forced the offense into frequent third and long situations - of course, the QBs for the most part couldn't convert a third and 8 against the Dillon Panthers.

Bills Gab says Losman is worried about his job. He should give Drew Bledsoe a call for some inspiration.

And big props go out to the Goose's Roost for throwing a link to my blog up on their page. Go check them out (they're also over on the left). Right now, the talk is turning more to the Sabres - I need to dive back into hockey already? All I know is that my fellow Terrier Chris Drury is a punk.

and last, but not least:

The Baseball Update

Lots of great stuff from the Sox blogs over the past week celebrating the division. You've already seen my position by position breakdown - I predict Sox in 4 - here are what the other Sox blogs are talking about:

Jere from A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory had an assload of pictures from Friday night's clincher. Click here and keep scrolling.

El Guapo's Ghost rightly notes that the underreported story so far is the Angels injury issues - Gary Mathews and Bartolo Colon will miss the series and Vlad the impaler is dinged as well - could be limited to DH duty (which would pust Chone "Sean" Figgins to the OF and require Kendrick and Izturis to play in the IF).

Keep Your Sox On (which is an excellent blog) has the breakdown of the series - concluding, obviously, that the Sox are the better team statistically and on paper (although I don't put any stock at all in the season series advantage the Sox have).

Aaaand.. Sawx Blog has the roundup of the rest (conventional media, other blogs, Angels blog - seriously - just one). Go take a look.

That's it for tonight. Quick predictions I guess are in order (for the record, I predicted the Sox, Cubs and Angels as division winners and nailed the Yanks as the wildcard. Unfortunately the rest of my NL picks were a mess - Mets to win the East, Houston to win the WC and LA to win the west).

Cubs over D-Backs in 5
Rockies over Phils in 4
Indians over Yanks in 5
Sox over Angels in 4

Back to Regular Programming

The Baseball Update

Breaking down the Sox-Angels series

Seems like last week the Sox were taking the Angels to the woodshed in the '04 ALDS highlighted by Papi's blast over the monster in the game 3 8-6 shootout). The Angels are constituted essentially the same. The Sox have a bit more team speed, arguably a better bullpen (Papelbon>Foulke and Delcarmen/Okie>Timlin/Embree), but about the same quality starting pitching. Since comparing stats is boring (and will lead to the inevitable conclusion that the Sox are deeper on offense, deeper in pitching and have had a more effective pen (BORING)), I'll break this down pictorially. Ugliest team wins.... (we're taking some liberties in projecting the lineups, especially with the Angels)

I note (after getting 2/3 of the way through here) the Ladies... did a nice summary of what they referred to as the Boston "hotties". I am taking the opposite view, that the Sox, through their ugliness and dirt-dogginess are bound to prevail.

Leading off:

Dustin Pedroia vs. Chone "don't call me Sean" Figgins

Pedroia has a weird pig nose thing going on, while Figgins looks like Bernie Williams. Classy always loses in the playoffs. Just ask Joaquin Andujar.

Advantage: Sox

In the "Two Hole":

Kevin Youkilis vs. Orlando "why the $#!@ didn't we re-sign him" Cabrera

Jeez, I don't care if he has a season-long "and then some" errorless streak going, Youk is a dead ringer for David Wells, except without the actual sweaty t-shirt pits. Meanwhile, look at O-Cab. Damn, but doesn't his smile just light up the room?

Big advantage: Sox

Hitting Third:

David Ortiz vs. Vlad Gurrero

I will only say that this is closer than you think. I think Vlad Guerrero was Arnold's taxi driver in Total Recall.

Still, Advantage: Sox

Cleaning up:

Man-Ram v. Professional Hitter Garret Anderson

Now who looks like the ballplayer here? Jeez, is it a new Sox uniform rule that every guy needs to look like a weekend slo-pitch beer league player?
Advantage: Sox

The Heart of the Order:

Mike "the Stud" Lowell vs. Casey "I hate my parents" Kotchman

Hey, I wanted it to be a sweep too. Not my fault Lowell is a stud. I would have pegged him for a Hanes, or maybe Joe Boxer guy though. Unsubstantiated rumor - Casey is shilling for Tinactin.

Advantage: Angels

The Soft Spot in the Lineup (if not in your heart):

J.D. "zzzz" Drew vs. Maicer "the other" Izturis
Drew is showing off his batting stance here. Except for balls in the dirt. He swings at those.

Maicer is a gamer. Not much more to add here.

75 million reasons why the advantage is: Sox

Jeez, only the 7th guy? I'm getting tired here:

Captain Angry vs. Kendry Morales

It's not clear whether Howie Kendrick will play 2B which would move Maicer to 3B, Figgins to the OF and Vlad to DH, so I'll go with Morales at DH for purpose of this lineup.

I guess I have to give it to the Captain. I mean, hell, he smiled for the camera for this shot. (No, really, that's Varitek at his most gregarious). Also: Kendry is a mouth-breather.

Advantage: Angels.

Coming round the bend....

Covelli Crisp vs. Jeff Mathis

Who the ^!%@ is Jeff Mathis? Even in my 16-team 23 MLB team roto league, I don't think he crossed my radar. Anyway, Oscar Gamble lite has this one in the bag (even though I couldn't find a pic that accurately depicts the growth coming out from under his helmet).

Slight advantage: Sox

Last, and Ugliest:

Julio "I'll cut you man" Lugo vs. Reggie Willits

O.k. I was very disappointed with the dearth of good Julio Lugo pics out there. Ideally I would have found one where he is staring at the pitcher, adjusting his cup and looking like is he ready to cut that mothaf****r up. Anyway, Julio wins by default, because I'm not sure who in the other picture is Reggie Willis.

Advantage: Sox

So, that makes it 7-2 Sox. Reasonable minds can differ, but if it is close, I present to you, the tie-breaker:

Seriously, I don't think Julian Tavarez is human.

Certain photos via and

Taxes Update, Death Update and bonus football/hockey update to come.