The LamLogs

’07-’08 Lakers Preview

Posted by Phil Lam on November 7, 2007

Before we begin, here are some quick-hit thoughts about the debacle that is known as the 2007 San Diego Chargers:

· Phil Rivers is absolutely killing the Chargers this season. The Vikings– entering the game as the worst defensive team against the pass, dared Rivers to beat him deep and he couldn’t do it. I’ve been a Rivers backer the past three years or so, but I can’t believe how bad he looks right now. Rivers is missing wide-open guys and his throws look like crap. If he would have made a couple of plays in the first half of Sunday’s game the score would have been 28-7 and Vikings shouldn’t have even had the chance to run the ball they way they did. It was one bad throw after another on Sunday and although UT columnist Tim Sullivan disagrees, I think if he craps the bed against Indy, it may be Billy Volek time.

· It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the Chargers lose the next 5 games they play. They are going to lose to Indy this weekend. After that they to go J’ville (where they’ll get beat the same way the Vikings beat them), play Baltimore (and could very well get beat), go to KC (which means that they will most likely play in the rain or snow and get beat), and then go to Tennessee (where they will likely get beat). Would you be comfortable betting on the Chargers in any of those games? They can very easily go 0-5 or 1-4 over the next five weeks which would make them 4-9 or 5-8 and that would mean a 6-10 season is very, very possible. I will now eat a broken glass burrito.

· There is no doubt in my mind now that Norv Turner is the anti-Christ.

· Since this season is pretty much a lost cause, let me be the first to say that the worst thing the Chargers can do is bring back Norv Turner and Ted Cotrell for 2008. Watching an under-prepared, out-coached Charger team muddle through another season would be too much for me to handle. Who’s my choice for the next Charger coach? I’ll go with either Russ Grimm or Rex Ryan. The Chargers need to get back to running the ball and getting after the quarterback. Norv Turner has no idea what he’s doing and Ted Cotrell looks like he should be teaching at a community college. The Chargers look like hell right now.

Alright, now that I got that off my chest, the Lakers have started the season 2-1, they’ve easily defeated two playoff teams from last year (the Suns and Jazz) and had they made a few more free throws against the Rockets, they would be 3-0 against three of last year’s playoff teams. Needless to say, I’m bullish on the Lakers this season. Aside from the fact that I think the Lakers can get the 3rd or 4th seed in the Western Conference this year, here are some important questions about the 2007-2008 Laker season:

Are the Lakers going to trade Kobe Bryant?

They’d be smart not to. My friends who are Laker fans and I have been debating the Kobe Bryant trade topic over the past three months like law schools students debating Roe vs. Wade. Our conclusion: The dumbest thing the Lakers can do right now is trade Kobe Braynt. The guy can’t opt out until after the ’08-’09 season so it would be more advantageous if they just saw what they can do with this team this year, maybe try to get Jermaine O’Neal this summer to appease Bryant. And as my friend Gil regularly points out, if Bryant does leave, the Lakers can go with a young team and clear up cap space in ’09-’10 and then make a play for LeBron James that summer.

And while we’re on the topic, if the Lakers are going to trade Bryant would a deal wouldn’t it be better to ask for Kirk Heinrich rather than Luol Deng? For weeks now everyone’s been saying that Deng is the deal breaker, but the Lakers already have two small forwards in Luke Walton and Lamar Odom, so wouldn’t it be better if they got Heinrich, Gordon, Jokim Noah, and Ty Thomas for Bryant? If they swung that deal they would run with Heinrich, Gordon and either Odom or Walton with any combination of Noah, Ty Thomas, Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown, or Chris Mihm up front. A team like that would almost be better than a team with Bryant.

What was the offseason move that has been completely downplayed so far?

Without a doubt, the Derek Fisher signing. Think about this: The Lakers upgraded from Smush Parker and rookie Jordan Farmar to Derek Fisher and second-year player Jordan Farmar. If you watched the Lakers over the past two seasons and any of the first three Laker games you can see the difference. Parker was pulling a “2007 Phil Rivers” on the Lakers the past two years and absolutely killing them– especially on the defensive end. Now, they got a veteran point guard who plays defense, can hit some big shots, and mentor Farmar (who I think is going to be a real good player) and bring him along slowly. Plus, Fisher understands how to run the triangle so instead of just giving the ball to Bryant and watching him take on three defenders the Lakers are moving the ball around much better this year.

What’s the wildcard this season?

I’d say it would have to be Kwame Brown’s expiring contract. The Lakers could trade Brown to a team that’s out of the mix and looking to clear up cap space for a veteran player to help down the stretch. An interesting scenario would be Ron Artest who has a couple of years left in his deal with the Kings. What if the Lakers were able to trade Brown’s expiring contract and maybe Brian Cook to the Kings for Artest? Suddenly, the Lakers would have a lineup of Fisher, Bryant, Odom, Artest, and Bynum with Farmar, Walton, et al, coming off the bench. A lineup like that would match up very favorably with the Suns and the Mavs.

Who is the Lakers’ MIP (Most Important Player)?

That would have to be Andrew Bynum. If he continues to develop, the Lakers are going to be pretty gosh darn good. So far this season, Bynum is averaging almost a double-double every night playing only about 20 minutes a game and you know what? With most of the Western Conference teams going small these days, I don’t see anyone out there who can stop him. The only problem with Bynum so far is that he gets too many ticky-tack fouls– he fouled out playing only about 19 minutes on Sunday, but Phil Jackson has been able to neutralize some of that by brining him off the bench and starting Kwame Brown. But seriously, if he can play better defense, there’s no reason why this guy can’t get a double-double every night on just junk points and put-ins alone. And if he perfects that little jumper he has, WATCH THE FUCK OUT!

What are some key games this season for the Lakers?

The next important game will be Friday against the Timberwolves not because the Timberwolves are good or anything but because that’s when Lamar Odom is expected to come back from shoulder surgery (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Lakers have gone 2-1 against three playoff teams without the second best scorer). It will be interesting to see how Phil Jackson uses Odom. Watching the game against the Jazz on Sunday I thought an interesting option would be brining Odom as a second scorer off the bench as and having an energy guy like Ronnie Turiaf grab boards when Bryant is on the floor.

And since I just got the NBA League Pass and won’t be missing any Laker games this year here are some other games I’m looking forward to this season: 11/13 at Spurs, 11/14 (the BIG THREE-OH) and a rematch at Houston, 11/23 at Boston, 12/13 vs. Spurs, 12/25 (Christmas Day) vs. Suns, 12/30 vs. Boston, 1/17 vs. Suns, 1/23 at Spurs, 1/25 at Mavs, –what a stretch huh?– 2/20 at Phoenix, 3/2 vs. Mavs, 4/4 vs. Mavs, 4/13 at Spurs.

What is the best / worst case scenario for the Lakers this season?

Worst case scenario is that Bryant continues to be a cancer on the team, Bynum regresses, veterans like Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton miss significant time with injuries and the Lakers are a lottery team.

Best case scenario is that the Lakers continue to jell as a team. Odom comes back and the veteran trio of Odom, Walton and Fisher keep Bryant in check. Bynum continues to get better which allows them to shop Brown’s expiring contract for another veteran player. Amare Stoudemire misses significant time and the Lakers sneak past the Suns and the Western Conference shakes out like this:

1. San Antonio Spurs
2. Dallas Mavericks
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Denver Nuggets
6. Houston Rockets
7. Utah Jazz
8. Charlotte Hornets

Then in the Western Conference Semi’s the Suns (with Stoudemire back) upset the Spurs, and the Lakers beat the Mavs. The Lakers beat the Suns in 6 in the Western Conference Finals and beat the Bulls in 5 the NBA Finals.

Possible? Yes. Probable? No.

But it’s always fun to dream.

Posted in chargers, kobe bryant, lakers, nba | Leave a Comment »

Week 9 Picks

Posted by Phil Lam on November 3, 2007

After a couple of weeks of crappy games, we’re finally getting to the nitty-gritty part of the NFL season. This week, aside from the Pats-Colts game, we have Cowboys-Eagles which should be a great game and the Ravens-Steelers which should also be a slobberknocker.

Crappy NFL games = Pretty good times.

Excellent NFL games = Awesome times.

I’m officially excited.

Let’s look at Week 9 games (Team listed first is the team I picked):

Tennessee -4 vs. Carolina
Since the Giants are on a bye, I picked up the Panthers defense on my fantasy team this week. But now that I found out David Carr may start I’m thinking about picking up another D. That’s how little confidence I have in Carr. I don’t trust him enough to play a defense of a team he’s quarterbacking. And word on the street is that Steve Smith doesn’t trust him either. Smith apparently called Carr a wimp because he thinks Carr would rather check down than throw deep.

Signs that you’re a horrible quarterback: Your star receiver thinks you’re a whip and Phil Lam won’t play your defense on his fantasy team because you might be the starting quarterback.

Cincy -1 at Buffalo
I know, I know, Cincy is garbage this year. Chad Johnson is pissed off, Carson Palmer is pissed off, Houz is pissed off and the whole team looks like it’s pissed off at Marvin Lewis. But for some reason I see them making enough plays to win this week. I mean, for Christ’s sake, they’re playing JP Losman and the Buffalo Bills.

Detroit -3 vs. Denver
The 2007 Broncos are a team that (unbeknownst to their fans) are rebuilding. They have a young quarterback (Jay Cutler), a young running back (Selvin Young), and they seem to be retooling both their offensive and defensive lines. If I were a Bronco fan I would rather see this team go 6-10, get a top 15 pick and draft a receiver or a defensive lineman rather than go 9-7 and narrowly miss or make the playoffs and pick in the 17-20 range, but that’s just me.

Green Bay +2 at Kansas City
You know what? I liked it a lot more when Brett Farve was throwing interceptions at the same rate as Jay Z was going through bottles of Crystal. I really don’t like “rejuvenated” Brett Farve. I liked “boozehound” Brett Farve, I liked “gunslinger” Brett Farve, I liked “addicted to painkillers” Brett Farve, I even liked the “I don’t care if I already have four interceptions, I’m throwing it in there” Brett Farve. Those guys were endearing. Watching Farve playing quarterback now is like watching one of your drinking buddies getting whipped and start doing things like going to pumpkin carving parties instead of hitting the bars. In your buddy’s case you know he’d rather be stumbling around, slurring his speech and in Farve’s case you see him checking down and throwing the ball away, but know he’d rather be slinging it.

New Orleans -3.5 vs. J’ville
The Saints have won three straight and Drew Brees has realized that rather than try to be a real quarterback he’s better off just throwing the ball up to Marques Colston. J’ville on the other hand got blown out by the Colts, lost David Garrard, and now Marcus Stroud looks like he’s going to miss 4 games for failing a steroid test. These two teams are heading in the opposite direction.

San Diego -7 at Minnesota
Similar to the way a college team schedules a cream puff opponent before playing a big time team, this one going to be a tune up game for the Chargers. They only way the Bolts lose this one is if Adrian Peterson runs for 230 yards, scores 4 touchdowns and Phil Rivers throws four INTs. If that happens I’m going to put my arm in a vat of hot frying oil.

San Francisco +3 at Atlanta
The only interest I have in this game is the performance of Jerious Norwood. I have a huge game against my friend Matt this week in fantasy football and Torry Holt and Brandon Jacobs are on a bye so I need Norwood to step it up. So let’s here it:

LET’S GO NOR-WOOD! (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP)
LET’S GO NOR-WOOD! (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP)

Come on, everybody!

LET’S GO NOR-WOOD! (CLAP, CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP)

BTW: If Norwood doesn’t play well this week I’m going to pay a Thai hooker to give him the clap.

Washington -3.5 at NY Jets
You gotta imagine the Redskins are going to come out strong after getting rolled against the Patriots last week. Plus you have a Jets team that’s starting to revolt against Eric Mangini and Kellen Clemens making his first NFL start against the vaunted Redskins secondary.

Tampa Bay -3.5 vs. Arizona
The Bucs are losing some steam after dropping games to the Lions and J’ville the past two weeks. Combine that with the suddenly resurgent Saints, and things in the NFC South aren’t looking as great as they were a month ago for my 2007 Sleeper Team.

Cleveland -1 vs. Seattle
I love the fact that Cleveland’s offense is blowing up this year — I’m a big fan of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. and Derek Anderson is single-handedly saving my fantasy football season. And you know who’s the Brown’s offensive coordinator? It’s the Charger’s old tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski. So technically had the Chargers just Marty Schottenheimer immediately after they lost the playoff game, they could have just promoted Wade Phillips to head coach and (assuming Cam Cameron still would have left for the Dolphins) Chudzinski to offensive coordinator. Yup, that right there was the biggest mistake AJ Smith made this offseason. Let’s hope it doesn’t come back to haunt him.

Oakland -3 vs. Houston
The Raiders are hoping that the return Josh McCown will spark their team. Goes to show you how God-awful Dante Culpepper is now. Can you believe that it was only three years ago that he threw for 4,700 yards 39 touchdowns and had a 110 passer rating? Man, that seems like it was more like 7 years ago. What the hell happened to this guy? He was a freaking great quarterback and now he can’t hold off Josh McCown? Culpeppers Britney Spear-esqe fall is quite a freaking shame.

New England -6 at Indy
This is one of those games where if you’re not watching and you don’t have an unavoidable reason, you’re not really a football fan. To be honest with you I was leaning towards picking Indy in this one but then my buddy Walt wanted to put money on the Colts straight up so I took his action. Yeah, situations like these will be one of the things I’ll be talking about when I enroll in bettors anonymous.

Philly +3 vs. Dallas
I keep trying to convince myself that Philly is good, but if you look at their schedule they’ve beaten the Lions, Jets, and Vikings. So why am I picking the Eagles against Dallas? Well that’s another situation I’ll be talking about at bettor anonymous.

Baltimore +9 at Pittsburg
I think the Steelers are going to win this game but no way in hell are they covering a nine point spread against a Ravens team that historically plays well when they’re on national television.

Posted in betting, chargers, football, nfl, picks, predictions | Leave a Comment »

10 Thoughts on a Great Sports Weekend

Posted by Phil Lam on October 31, 2007

1. The Chargers laid the smack down on the Texans, cruising to an easy 35-10 win. The Chargers are slowly regaining their 2006 form. Phil Rivers only needed 11 passes to throw for three touchdowns (two to Gates, one to Chris Chambers), LT didn’t need to score — he only had 90 yards rushing and the defense forced five turnovers.

The only complaints I have is that the defense only had one sack, and the offense didn’t score any points in the second half.

The Chargers have a relatively easy game at Minnesota this week before hosting a HUGE game against the Colts on November 11th.

2. The thing I enjoyed the most about the Chargers win yesterday was how Antonio Cromartie just decided to be good. He’s always shown flashes of being good, but yesterday was the first day he put it all together. Cromartie had two interceptions, scored on one of his INTs and recovered a punt that was snapped into the endzone. (By the way, that Matt Turk “chase and tumble” was comedy to the nth degree) Finally the Chargers look like they have a cornerback that can make some plays.

3. The second thing I enjoyed the most was Arnold Schwaarzenegger’s appearance. He wore a pimp Charger leather jacket, yelled “Go Chargers, go!” after the coin flip, and said “Hasta la vista baby!” after Stephen Cooper knocked Matt Schaub out of the game.

(OK, I made up that last one)

4. Props to the Red Sox for winning the World Series and winning me $50. I’ve been in a betting slump lately so it was nice to get a win. A couple more weeks of losing and I would have had to pull a Tony Soprano and go to Vegas and take peote to break out of it.

5. In typical A-Rod fashion, Alex Rodriguez through his agent Scott Boras (who is to baseball what Satan was to heaven) announced that he would be opting out of his Yankee contract to become a free agent this winter. Reactions from blogs and columns I’ve read today call him everything from disrespectful to shameless to classless and they are all right. I heard the news last night while trying to catch NFL highlights in between innings on ESPN News and I didn’t even flinch. A-Rod is a certifiable jerk and jerks do jerk things like drawing attention to themselves during the middle of the World Series after their team has already been eliminated.

6. Speaking of jerks, Bill Bellichick and the Patriots ran up the score on another team, beating the Redskins this time by the score of 52-7. Hey I’m not one of those unabashed Patriot fans who drool over everything the Patriots do nor am I one of those people who are criticizing them for running up the score. All I’m saying is that they’re bordering on pissing off the football gods by shamelessly running up the score the way they’re doing.

Plus, I’d like to point out those high-scoring type teams –the 1998 Vikings, the 2001 Rams, those Colts teams from a few years ago and even the Chargers from the early 80s if you want to go way back– never, win the Super Bowl. Defense and the running game wins championships and right now the Patriots defense and running game haven’t been tested yet.

7. What the hell was up with the NFL TV schedule yesterday? We only got two games yesterday one of which was the dull-as-hell Giants-Dolphins game. I know the NFL is trying to go international and all but did they have to cram that snorer down our throats? San Diego got the shaft in the morning games especially when you think that there were more entertaining games out there.

8. I came in today wanting to ask what the hell was up with Shawne Merriman but after looking at his stats the guy always starts off slow. Last year he had 8.5 sacks in his first game before missing the next four with a steroid suspension then coming back and getting another 8.5 over the last five games. This year, he’s a little off his pace getting 5.5 sacks through his first seven games but if he can get another 10-12 over his next ten games he’s right back into the mix so I wouldn’t count him out of any Defensive Player of the Year discussion yet.

9. My first fantasy hoops draft was this weekend. I’m playing in a 9-team league. Key players on the “Black Mamba Lams” include: Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Baron Davis, and Shaq.

10. I’m going to try to work on a Laker Preview blog for Wednesday but in the meantime, can you believe this high school girl act going on between Kobe Bryant and the Lakers?

I think the Lakers should hold on to Bryant to see how they do this year, but I think they have to trade him if Bryant keeps taking shots at Laker management and the Lakers keep taking pot shots at Bryant. The deal I keep hearing about (Bryant to the Bulls for Ben Gordon, Kirk Heinrich, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, and a first round pick) makes sense for both teams. I think the Lakers would be pretty exciting with Gordon and Heinrich in the backcourt and a front court of Odom, Ty Thomas, and Chris Mihm with Luke Walton, Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar and Noah coming off the bench.

Here are all the things they can do if that deal were to go down:

They would have three guys would could score double digits each night (Heinrich, Gordon, Odom)

They would have three big men who can rebound and play defense (Noah, Thomas, Mihm)

They would be able to run with smaller teams (Heinrich, Gordon, Walton, Odom, Thomas)

They would have a total of five guys who could play center: (Mihm, Bynum and Kwame Brown in addition to Noah and Thomas)

They would have guys who can match-up with Steve Nash and Barbosa (Heinrich and Gordon)

And if Bynum emerges as a scorer they would have a pretty good inside presence.

I mean what’s not to like about that deal. As the team is right now they’d be lucky to get past the first round of the playoffs. Take away Bryant and throw in Gordon, Heinrich, et al and you have yourself a team that can actually match up with the Suns, Spurs and Mavs.

Posted in alex rodriguez, baseball, boston red sox, chargers, football, nfl, san diego, world series | 1 Comment »

Week 8 Picks

Posted by Phil Lam on October 27, 2007

Just to let you know right off the bat, I’m putting a 41 cent stamp on my picks this week. San Diego County smelled like a humongous ash tray this entire week and I was terrified of going outside and breathing in all of that crappy air so I stayed inside for three days. And since the news was so depressing and all, I wanted to avoid the outside world all together. So I didn’t watch the NFL Network, Inside the NFL, NFL Live, or read anything NFL related all week. Instead all I basically did was play Madden and eat tacos for three straight days. I’m not kidding. I ate 4 tacos for dinner on Monday. On Tuesday I ate 2 for breakfast, 4 for lunch and 4 for dinner. And on Wednesday I ate 6 for lunch.

(Tannia makes great tacos)

So if you’re keeping count, from Monday thru Wednesday I ate 20 tacos and must have played between 12-15 games of Madden.

And on a related note (and since Tannia asked if I was going to blog about it), on the way back from dinner at her parents house on Wednesday I had to crap so bad, I pulled over on the 54 and took a crap so big, whoever had to clean it up probably thought a bear took a dump there.

Yup, that’s just the kind of week it’s been.

Here are the picks…

St. Louis +3 vs. Cleveland

Detroit +5 at Chicago

Indy -6.5 at Carolina

NY Giants -6.5 over Miami (in London)

Oakland +7.5 at Tennessee

Philly -1 at Minnesota

Pittsburg -3.5 at Cincy

Buffalo +3 at NY Jets

San Diego -11.5 vs. Houston

Tampa Bay -3.5 vs. J’ville

New Orleans -3 at SF

New England -16.5 vs. Washington

Green Bay +3 at Denver

Posted in betting, football, nfl | Leave a Comment »

Week 5 Picks

Posted by Phil Lam on October 21, 2007

Three things before we get to my picks this week:

1. As predicted, the Red Sox won last night behind Josh Beckett. But Manny Ramirez set off a crap storm the day before in Boston. Check out what he said:

“We’re confident every day. It doesn’t matter how things go for you. We’re not going to give up. We’re just going to go and play the game, like I’ve said, and move on. If it doesn’t happen, so who cares? There’s always next year. It’s not like the end of the world or something.”

Of course that didn’t sit well in Boston where every pitch of every game is like life or death. If the Red Sox don’t win this series it looks more and more like this will finally be the offseason where they dump Manny. But that quote got me thinking: Wouldn’t San Diego be the perfect place for this guy? That’s exactly how fans at PetCo feel 85% of the time about every game. There’s absolutely zero sense of urgency at that place.

Ramirez is a great hitter in Boston. Imagine how good he’d be in a city where the temperature at night from April to October fluctuates between 75 and 65 degrees and the majority of the fans have the same approach to baseball as he does. Even the fans that do care about baseball would be so happy that the Padres have a good hitter, they wouldn’t care about anything else that he does. Plus — don’t forget that as a collective group our women make women in Boston look like livestock. Manny would absolutely love it here!

The Padres should offer Brian Giles and Chase Headley for Ramirez this offseason. Or if you want to do a bigger deal I would go Ramirez, Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia for Brian Giles, Khalil Greene and Chase Headley. Here’s what the team would look like if the latter deal went down:

1. Crisp- CF
2. Pedroia- SS
3. Ramirez- LF
4. Gonzalez- 1B
5. Bradley- RF
6. Kouzmanoff- 3B
7. Bard- C
8. Whoever they get to play second base- 2B

Of course this makes too much sense so the Padres won’t do it. Plus, Kevin Towers would never trade his goomah Khalil Greene– the only one of his like 15 first round draft picks that panned out. God, I hate the Padre front office. I hope they all get syphilis this winter.

2. What’s up with LaDanian Tomlinson quoting Terrell Owens? Check out what he has to say about the Chris Chambers acquisition:

“Very happy about it,” the reigning NFL MVP said. “I think we all know what type of player Chris is. He’s going to take the pressure off a lot of us on this offense. Obviously, the receiving group, meaning Gates, Vincent Jackson he’s going to take a lot of pressure off them guys, even Philip, having another target to throw to. As far as the running game, he’s going to help us out in that, too. Teams are going to have to really now choose. If you want to play eight men in the box and leave them guys one-on-one. In the famous words of T.O., get your popcorn ready.”

I love LT and all, but he already stole Lawrence Taylor’s moniker. Couldn’t he come up with his own line rather than quote T.O.?

3. California has decided to post the names of is biggest tax debtors online. Check it out. Deadbeats on the list include Dionne Warwick, Sinbad (not really that surprising if you think about it), and OJ Simpson (really, really not that surprising).

On to the picks (team listed first is the team that I picked):

LAY ON THE WAY TO YOUR BETTORS ANNONYMUS MEETING:

New Orleans -9 vs. Atlanta
I can’t believe how bad Atlanta looked last week at home on Monday Night Football. It was Monday Night Football for Christ sake and to steal a line from Snakes on a Plane, they went down faster than a Thai hooker.

NY Giants -9.5 vs. San Francisco
As predicted, Eli Manning had his typical Eli Manning game on Monday turning the ball over three times, but the Falcons bailed him out with their aforementioned Thai Hooker Performance. Even thought I picked the Giants this week, I’m not quite sold on them yet and am waiting for the return of the Eli Manning who looks like he just took a dump in his pants. Their schedule is pretty favorable in the next few weeks so unless it happens this week we may not see Eli looking like his depends leaked until December 2 at Chicago at the earliest.

Tennessee -1 at Houston
There are too many injury questions to bet on this game. Is Vince Young or Andre Johnson going to play? If one sits and the other plays it will incalculably effect the outcome of the game.

ALMOST TOO CLOSE TO CALL:

Oakland -1 vs. Kansas City
Both teams are a mirror image of each other. Both teams have good running backs (LaMont Jordan / Larry Johnson), both teams play solid defense, both teams have veteran QBs (Dante Culpepper, Damon Huard) and both teams have young QBs waiting in the wings (Brodie Coryle and JaMarcus Russell).

But now that I think about it, both teams also have a bunch of differences so I guess there not mirror images after all. Forget I said anything.

Detroit -1 vs. Tampa Bay
I debated this game in my mind like a drunk stoner deciding whether or not he should go on a late-night taco shop run. On one hand the Bucs don’t have a running game and they’ll be on the road against an offense that can put up some points. And on the other hand you have a Lions team who could be one of those crappy teams that no one realizes is crappy yet.

Seattle -9 vs. St. Louis
Both of these teams are crappy. With the Chargers on their bye week I’m just hoping we don’t get this game in the second half of the day. Talk about a buzz kill.

Philly -5 vs. Chicago
Devin Hester is sick. Check out what I wrote about him my Top 10 Draft Prospects blog prior to the draft last year:

“The problem with this guy is that he never found a position in college. Miami tried him at CB, WR, and RB and never really played him at any position consistently. Where Hester will make his impact in the NFL though is in the return game since he’s a quick little fucker. I wouldn’t mind the Chargers taking a flyer on him in the 3rd or 4th round, have him return kicks with Sproles and develop him as a CB for when they decide they’re done watching Jammer suck.”

UNDERDOG SPECIALS:

Buffalo +3 vs. Baltimore
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Baltimore is OVERRATED. With that said, I saw JP Losman in an interview this week after he got benched and have a question? What happened to ghetto LP Losman? Losman sounded like he went to the Allen Iverson School of Public Speaking when he first came into the league. Now, he sounds almost well-spoken, a little understated even. I wonder what happened? Was it because he lived in Buffalo the past few years? Did he marry a white woman?

Maybe ESPN can tackle this topic in its new show ESPN 360 or ESPN 60 or something like that.

J’Ville +3 at Indy
This is my chance to back my pick to win the AFC South and you know what? I’m taking it. Historically the Colts have struggled against the Jags and I don’t think they’ll be able to hang with a team as physical as the Jaguars coming off their bye.

SCOT WRIGHT SPECIALS:

Cardinals +9 at Washington
On paper, the Redskins look like they should win this one going away especially with Tim Rattay at the helm for the Cardinals. The problem is, the Skins have only ran away with one game this season — the game against Detroit.

Cincy -6 vs. New York Jets
This has the makings of a game where the Bengals run up the score on someone. Unless of course, they’re more dysfunctional than anyone realizes and lose again. I mean, I’m almost to the point where I feel bad for Carson Palmer. That guy deserves to be on a good, thug-less team.

Dallas -9.5 vs. Minnesota
You’d think the Cowboys should win this one going away but the thing with the Vikings now have the Ultimate X Factor in Adrian Peterson. Every time you pick against the Vikings moving forward you’d have to think in the back of your mind if this will be a game where he goes for like 250 and with four touchdowns. Look at the game last week. Without A-Pete (my new name for him) the Bears would have won by 4 touchdowns. Instead, they lose by 3.

On a side note, I drew criticism this year in my keeper fantasy football league by trading Chad Johnson and Tony Romo for A-Pete, Mark Bulger and Darrell Jackson. I’ve since released Bulger and Jackson but still, that deal sounds like a no-brainer right now. A-Pete is new LT.

FREE MONEY:

Pittsburg -3.5 at Denver
Can we rename the 2007 Denver Broncos the Denver Punching Bags? A couple of plays here and there and this team would be winless.

With nothing else to say, I think I’m going to John Elways restaurant when I go to Denver in a few weeks. I wonder if their specialty item will be horse. (Da-bum-cha). Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

New England -16.5 at Miami
The Chris Chambers trade confirmed that Miami is done this season and the Patriots beating opponents by a ridiculous average of like 26 points. While we’re here, check out what ESPN columnist and Patriot fan Bill Simmons had to say about the Chambers trade:

“For instance, 0-6 Miami knows the ’07 Pats could knock the ’72 Dolphins out of the record books in three months. But what could they do to stop them? They’re not beating them in a game. If they made a fishy trade to help out one of New England’s rivals — like, giving away Chris Chambers to San Diego for a late second-round pick, for example — everyone would find it fishy and the league would crack down, because, after all, you’re not supposed to cheat in the National Football League. They’re helpless to stop it. In fantasy, fishy trades happen all the time and you can’t stop them unless you have a commissioner who’s stronger and more powerful than David Stern at his peak. Unfortunately, 98 percent of fantasy football leagues have a Gary Bettman type.(Note: Thank God the NFL doesn’t work like fantasy and San Diego couldn’t steal Chambers away for a measly second-round pick simply because Miami wanted to take a dump on their fans, tank their season and preserve the legacy of the ’72 Dolphins. Because that would suck.).”

This coming from a guy whose team got Randy Moss for a fourth round pick. What’s fishier? Randy Moss sulking through an entire season with Oakland forcing them to trade him, then restructuring his contract so he could sign with the Pats? Or the Dolphins — a team who’s rebuilding, getting a second round pick for one of their few tradable players.

Bill Simmons is a great writer and all but comments like that make him sound like he’s a little frightened of the Chargers now that they have a good receiver on their team. Hopefully the Chargers go to New England in January with Norv Turner and give him and the rest of those smug jerk-off Patirot fans a nice big crap burger to eat.

Posted in betting, football, nfl | 2 Comments »

Rocky Mountain High

Posted by Phil Lam on October 16, 2007

Are you prepared to live in a world where the Colorado Rockies are the National League Champions?

I know I am.

I don’t care that they beat the Padres three weeks ago in that one game playoff. I don’t care that no one watched the NLCS this year. I don’t even care that– according to the K’ster, their entire team is really into Christianity and will probably turn their team logo into the Born-Again Christian Fish next year. The Rockies are on an incredible run. They’ve won 21 out of their last 22 games. They’ve won 10 in a row. They’ve become the first team to sweep through the NLDS and NLCS. And gosh darn it, they’re a pretty entertaining team to watch.

The Colorado Rockies are a genuine feel-good sports story. If this team were in New York or Boston they would have been hyped to death by now. ESPN would have done like three Outside the Lines on them, they would have been the lead story on every SportsCenter, their games would probably have been simulcast on ESPN Classic, and Skip Bayless’ head would have exploded while comparing this team to the 1995 Yankees.

We would have hated them.

Instead I bet half the baseball fans out there couldn’t pick Matt Holliday out of a police lineup right now. And since ESPN apparently thinks that the Yankees managerial position — a story that will have little bearing on anything until April 2008 (another seven freaking months from now) is more newsworthy, the Rockies haven’t gotten any of the overboard EPSN-hype yet. And you know what? That’s one of the reasons this team is so likeable.

My friend Matt and I were talking about the Rockies on Sunday and we couldn’t believe that this was the same team that seemed like they were 8-10 games behind the Padres the entire season. I mean, this team really came from nowhere to go on this remarkable run. Look at their record at the end of each month of the season.

April: 11-6; 5.5 games back, last place
May: 25-29; 6.5 games back, last place
June: 39-43; 8 games back, fourth place
July: 53-55; 3.5 games back, fourth place
August 68-65; 6 games back, fourth place

This team didn’t have a month where they finished with a record over .500 until August. How a team like that can go on a run like this is unheard of. And that what makes this team fun to cheer for. They’ve lost one game since September 16th. They pitch well, they hit in the clutch, they play spotless defense and by golly there just plain good.

Maybe it’s my general disdain for the Padres front office that’s making me like the Rockies so much. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m going to Denver in about a month. Or maybe it’s the fact that the only other thing I have going for me in sports right now is rooting for a 3-3 Charger team that is hanging on by hairs of its ass.

All I know is that next week the Rockies are going to play either the Red Sox or Indians in the World Series and they’ll most likely be the underdogs. If they somehow pull it off, maybe, just maybe, they’ll get more hype than a team that hasn’t won a World Series in seven years…

Here are 10 more thoughts on a solid sports weekend:

1. The Indians are the second best story to emerge this postseason. This team can flat-out hit. I watched them a lot this postseason and it seems like every time they’ve fallen behind they come back the next inning and score some runs. An Indians-Rockies series would be pretty sweet. Both those teams are just playing out of their minds right now.

2. What the hell happened to Manny Ramirez? He had a chance to drive in the go-ahead runs on Saturday night and he hit into a double play and again last night he came up in a big spot and AGAIN he hit into a double play. I’m going out on a limb a little here but if he keeps this up, I’m predicting this is the offseason the Red Sox finally trade Man-Ram.

(What about to San Francisco? That would be hilarious.)

3. Even though I’m not as big a baseball fan as I used to be, I watched that entire 6-hour marathon Saturday night. My thoughts? That was a looooooonnnnnng freaking game. And Eric Gagne sucks. The only good thing that came out of that game was the fact that I ate some carne asada chips earlier in the game (between the 4th and 5th innings) and got hungry enough to eat a California Burrito the size of Ryan Garko between the 9th and 11th innings. Good times!

4. I may be ready for life with the Colorado Rockies as the NL champs but I’m not ready for a world where the number top ranked teams in college football are Southern Florida and Boston College. I was watching the LSU game until they were up by two touchdowns in the third quarter and decided to play Madden until the Sox-Indians game and it turns out somehow Kentucky came back to beat them. And later that night Cal had a chance to claim the number one spot but they lost to Mike Riley’s Oregon State.

Mediocrity is killing this college football season. Once the regular season ends in early December is anyone going to wait around for six weeks to watch Boston College play South Florida? If it’s going to continue to be like this they definitely need a playoff system.

5. The Patriots are ridiculously good. Even if they lose to the Colts in a couple of weeks they could very easily be 15-1 with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The ironic thing is, the way it’s breaking it looks like the Chargers — with their defense and running game in a snowstorm that would limit the Patriots passing game, would have the best shot to come into Foxboro in January and beat New England. It’d take a heck of an effort though. The Patriots look unstoppable right now.

6. I just want to say that this past weekend was the second straight weekend that we brought back “shots for every Charger touchdown” and this was the second straight week that the Chargers looked really good. Maybe we’re on to something. After weeks of looming in mediocrity, LT rushed for 198 yards and is leading the AFC in rushing again. I’ll hold out to see how they do the next few weeks (especially during the Colts game) before I declare that the Chargers are back, but at least they look good again.

After the bye they have the Texans and then go to Minnesota — two winnable games that they can’t screw up. And then they have a showdown with the Colts. After that they go to J’ville, host the Ravens and go to KC and then Tennessee. They could go 7-0 over this stretch or 2-5 and I wouldn’t be surprised either way. I officially don’t know what to expect from these guys.

7. I’m thinking way ahead here, but ideally the Colts lose to the Jags next Monday, beat the Patriots in about 19 days, lose to the Chargers and then have another hiccup somewhere along the way. That would allow the Chargers to sneak into the number two slot setting up a potential SD-Indy rematch in January followed by another shot at the Patriots in Foxboro.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I’m just saying there’s a possibility of an Ali-Foreman-Frazier scenario developing here where the Chargers can beat the Colts but not the Patriots, the Patriots can beat the Chargers and not the Colts, and the Colts can beat the Patriots but not the Chargers and it just depends on who plays who.

8. Three weeks ago I went to get a Charger jersey– you know, just to mix things up a little since they were lousy and all. I wanted a jersey with the number stitched on so my choices were limited to LT, Phil Rivers, and Shawne Merriman. Since I already had an LT jersey and my friend Matt regularly wears his LT jersey over for Charger games I couldn’t go with Tomlinson. My next thought was to go with Rivers but you know what? I couldn’t do it. I mean isn’t that the ultimate litmus test for how you feel about a player? If this was last year I would have been confident enough in Rivers to throw down on his jersey without flinching. Instead I sat in the Chargers store and tried on both jerseys multiple times before finally going with the Merriman jersey. My reasoning was, there is no chance Merriman wasn’t going to be on the Chargers five years from now. I could have said the same about Rivers last year, but this year I’m not so sure. He looks shaky back there like he had six cups of coffee and three Red Bulls before the game or something. I don’t know if the new offensive coordinator or if he’s regressing or if he’s trying to do too much or what but he’s no where near the same quarterback he was last year.

Look at that interception he threw to Thomas Howard on Sunday. If you watch the replay you can see that he had an opportunity to check down to LT — which would have been fine since it was first or second down and they had a two touchdown lead. Instead he passes up LT, starts looking downfield, feels some pressure than lobs the ball in the middle of nowhere and gets it picked off. The excuses / reasons for his play are endless– new coaches, new receivers, new coordinators. But the point is, my confidence in him isn’t as high because he’s killing the Chargers with some of the plays he’s making. If he pulls this same crap against the Texans or in Minnesota they’re going to lose. They definitely can’t beat the Colts and would probably lose in J’ville, KC and Tennessee as well. So if you’re looking for a key to the rest of the Charger season it’s the play of Phil Rivers. Plain and simple.

9. Holy crap! Just found out that the Chargers just traded for Dolphin receiver Chris Chambers. This is a huge trade. Suddenly they have a receiving corps of Gates, Chambers, and Vincent Jackson which is a big upgrade over Gates, Jackson and the Buster Davis / Malcolm Floyd / Kasim Osgood pu-pu platter. If you look at it, everyone’s job will be easier now. Instead of drawing the main coverage (like he did in Miami) defenses will key on Gates first which should free up Chambers. And now, instead of going against the other team’s number one corner, Jackson gets their number two corner. And of course Chambers — a legitimate deep threat will take a tremendous amount of pressure off of Gates. What a HUGE trade! I’m giddy. Please excuse me while I spend the next five minutes high-fiving myself.

(OK, I’m back)

10. You want a prediction for tonight? I’m going with the Indians with the Red Sox pulling one out behind Beckett on Wednesday, and the Tribe beating Schilling or Dice K on Friday or Saturday. I’m genuinely excited for an Indians-Rockies World Series. New York-Boston is played out and their fans (especially Boston fans) are somewhat annoying and I wouldn’t nearly be as excited to watch the Sox win another World Series.

Posted in alcs, baseball, boston red sox, chargers, cleveland indians, college football, colorado rockies, denver, football, nfl, patriots, phil rivers, san diego | 1 Comment »

What We Know and What We Don’t Know

Posted by Phil Lam on October 12, 2007

It’s Week 6 in the NFL so there are some trends out there. For instance, home underdogs are 17-8 against the spread this year and underdogs overall are a whopping 43-28-5. So if you’ve been laying point against the spread you’re a much smarter person than me. And probably a whole lot richer.

Let’s look at the lines this week playing a game of “What We Know and What We Don’t Know” (team listed first is the team that I picked):

Kansas City +3 vs. Cincinnati
What we know: We know that outside of the game against the Chargers, the Chiefs offense has been dreadful this year. And outside of their game against the Ravens, the Bengal defense has been equally dreadful.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if a game against the Bengal’s defense will be enough to get Larry Johnson going. If it isn’t I think we can hold a memorial service for Larry Johnson’s 2007 season. The lesson of course is that it’s never a good idea to have your running back carry the ball over 400 times in a season.

Houston +6.5 at J’ville
What we know: We know Matt Shaub and David Garrard are capable quarterbacks. We know both teams have strong defenses and both teams play close games.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if either team is for real. The Texans have beaten the Dolphins, Panthers and Chiefs and the Jags have beaten the Chiefs, Falcons and Broncos. That’s not exactly a list of powerhouse teams right there. We’ll find out more about J’ville in next week’s Monday night game against the Colts. Until then, stay tuned.

Cleveland -4.5 vs. Miami
What we know: We know Cleveland can score — especially at home and that they’re a bona fide sleeper team this year. We know the Cleo Lemon (the Dolphins starting QB this week) used to play for the Chargers.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if Ronnie Brown can continue his magical fantasy football season– which is the only way Miami pulls off the upset. We don’t know if the Browns can win a game they’re supposed to. And we really don’t know why after suffering a severe concussion last year, Trent Green decided to dive head first into a lineman’s knee.

Chicago -5.5 vs. Minnesota
What we know: We know that there’s an Adrian Peterson on both the Bears and the Vikings. We know that the Adrian Peterson on the Vikings will be the only viable offensive player on either team this Sunday. We know that I have Adrian Peterson of the Vikings on my fantasy football team and last week picked up Adrian Peterson of the Bears and tried to trade him to my cousin Timmy hoping that he wouldn’t notice. We know that my fantasy team is sinking faster than Put Up Your Dukes and I’m desperate.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if Brian Griese is actually better than Rex Grossman.

Philly -3 at New York Jets
What we know: We know the Jets are a shell of the team they were last year. We know Chad Pennington can’t throw the ball over 15 yards. We know Thomas Jones is struggling this year. We know Philly always comes out strong after their bye week.

What we don’t know: We don’t know how much more losing Philly fans can take. Between the Phillies getting swept out of the playoffs, the Eagles 1-3 start and the beginning of a hopeless season for the 76ers there should be a mass suicide watch in that city right now.

Baltimore -10 vs. St. Louis
What we know: We know that ESPN columnist Bill Simmons equated this match-up to watching Sharon Stone and Mike Douglas getting it on in Basic Instinct 3.

What we don’t know: We don’t know what the hell happened to these two teams. The Ravens defense and the Ram’s offense used to be really good right? I guess the appropriate response would be so was Enron stock and the dial up internet.

eeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…… bong, bong, errrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…. bong, bong, bong…..

(In case you were wondering, that was my impression of the dial up internet.)

Tennessee +3 at Tampa Bay
What we know: We know that Vince Young wins games.

What we don’t know: We don’t know how he does it.

Washington +3 at Green Bay
What We Know: We know the Redskins have a good defense and we know the Packers can’t run the ball. We know that Brett Farve is officially rejuvenated. And thanks to Brett Farve’s wife and a botoxed-out Andrea Kramer, we know its breast cancer month or something.

What We Don’t Know: We don’t know if Jason Campbell can consistently play well.

Arizona -4 vs. Carolina
What we know: We know the Panthers signed Vinny Testerverde this week and he may start if David Carr can’t go. We know that Matt Leinhart is out for the year and Kurt Warner is starting for the Cardinals. That means this game could potentially feature a QB matchup between Vinny Testerverde and Kurt Warner.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if Kurt Warner’s comeback will include the comeback of his flat-top haired wife, Brenda. And since Christmas is almost just around the corner and since the Kurt Warner or Dough Christie jersey for the friend who’s whipped is almost played out, let me suggest this book by the Christie’s entitled “No Ordinary Love.”

Dallas +6 vs. New England
What we know: We know that this has been the most ridiculously over-hyped game this season.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if Dallas deserves the hype. If they were in the AFC they’d be the fourth or fifth ranked team at best. Would a team like the Jaguars or Titans trade rosters with Dallas right now? I don’t know if they would.

San Diego -10 vs. Oakland
What we know: We know that under Marty Schottenheimer, the Chargers always ran up the score against the Raiders so laying money on the Chargers during Raider Week was an easy play. We know the Raiders haven’t beaten a good team yet this year. We know that during the during the Charger-Bronco game last week sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein had ridiculously defined arms with veins popping out of them and had she been a baseball player there would be serious questions to how she came to acquire those guns.

What we don’t know: We don’t know where the hell Shawne Merriman has been this season. He only has three sacks two of which were meaningless ones in the Patriot game. Is Merriman hurt? Does he need the number of Bonnie Bernstein’s “personal trainer”? Do we need to start calling him “Lights Out” again? Is Ted Cotrell dumber than a box of rocks?

Note: If “Lights Out” comes through with a 6 sack performance this weekend forget I asked those questions.

Seattle -6.5 at New Orleans
What we know: We know the Saints can’t defend. And if you watch Inside the NFL, you know that Saints coach Sean Payton owns a hideous pair of disgusting purple jeans. What series of scenarios would have to unfold for a grown man to be at a department store and decide to buy a pair of purple jeans? It’s pretty disturbing.

What we don’t know: We don’t know if Shawn Alexander is a ballerina or a running back. Did you see him tiptoe through the line last week against the Steelers? God, I’d be really pissed if I cared about the Seahawks.

Atlanta +3.5 vs. NYG
What we know: We know Eli Manning is just about due for one of those midseason performances where he goes 12-for-36 with one touchdown and three interceptions that leaves everyone wondering how on earth he could be related to Peyton Manning.

What we don’t know: We don’t know how many times ESPN will show a stressed out Archie with his face in his hands. Chill out dude, you’re watching your son play football not getting tortured by terrorists or something. Is he really that stressed out or is he hamming it up for the cameras? My gut tells me it’s the latter.

Posted in betting, football, nfl, picks, predictions | 1 Comment »

Oktoberfest Weekend Recap

Posted by Phil Lam on October 10, 2007

Oktoberfest La Mesa was this past weekend so I took Friday off of work and skipped my NFL Picks blog. Sorry about that. But just for the record my picks sucked and they wouldn’t have helped you anyways. Needless to say, this past weekend was a crazy one. Not just because I ate a crap load of food or because I drank an inordinate amount of booze. It was everything else that happened. To prove it to you, here’s a Top 10 List of the Craziest Things That Happened this Weekend:

10. Stanford upsetting USC
Stanford was a 41 point underdog heading into the game at USC and pulled out an amazing 24-23 win. After watching the first few SC games this year I knew they were overrated. While everyone hyped him up as the Next Great SC Quarterback after Palmer and Leinhart, John David Booty just didn’t have the “it” factor going for him. Palmer and Leinhart just looked like a star quarterbacks. John David Booty didn’t have the look. Even his name is goofy. Wouldn’t he just sound better if he went by John Booty or David Booty. Even JD Booty. John David Booty sounds like someone who just tried to assassinate the President.

9. Me not being able to eat as much as I used to
I set the over / under for the number of meat-on-a-sticks I’d eat this weekend at 15. You know how many I ended up eating?

Five.

I know, it was almost as disappointing a performance as John David Booty’s against Stanford this weekend. The surprising thing was the chances that I continued to pass up. I deliberately ate a light lunch on Friday so I could get a meat-on-a-stick later but I passed on the walk home. And again on Saturday, on the way back from trolling around Oktoberfest all I was thinking about was hitting up the meat-on-a-stick stand and when push came to shove, I decided to pass.

What the hell is wrong with me? Would this have happened to Phil Lam 2005 or Phil Lam 2006? Back in the day I would have attacked that stand the way Tony Montana attacked a pile of coke. There would have been no end to me completely gorging myself. Now, I might as well be dead.

8. The Diamondbacks and Rockies advancing to the NLCS
Not only that, both teams swept their opponents in their respective division series. Not only that, but this means that either the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Colorado Rockies are going to represent the National League in the World Series this year. As a Padre fan, you can’t help but think that had the Padres gotten a decent hitter this summer they would have made it to the NLCS and possibly the World Series. Now, unless they make some major moves this offseason, they’ll probably be the third or fourth best team in their division in 2008.

I will now shave with a rusted steak knife.

7. The ungodly number of bad movies I watched
I was battling a little cold on Friday, was semi-hungover / sick on Saturday and drunk on Sunday so when I wasn’t drinking down the street from my house at Oktoberfest or watching football or the baseball playoffs I crashed on the couch, took cold medicine, recovered and watched movies. Here are the movies that I watched:

The Pursuit of Happyness
Freeze Frame
Silent Hill
Talladega Nights
The History of Violence
Babel

Babel is a good movie although it was my second time watching it and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first time (Initial Rating: 8, Rewatchability Rating: 4) and Talladega Nights is OK but outside those two the rest of those movies were below average to plain old bad. To make matters worse as I’m writing this I feel like there was another crappy movie that I watched that must have been so bad that my mind isn’t letting me remember it right now. Since I’m pretty picky about the movies I watch, I watch maybe one bad movie out of five. This weekend out of the six movies that I remember watching, I will never watch four of them ever again. I can’t believe how many bad movies I agreed to watch. Just a disturbing ratio, plain and simple.

6. LSU pulling out a win against Florida
This was the best college football game of the weekend. LSU was down 10 in the fourth quarter and came back and won on some gutsy calls by their head coach. After Florida pulled out to a 24-14 lead I thought the game was over. But somehow LSU came back.

With USC probably out of the mix the best national championship game we can hope for now would probably be LSU-Cal, LSU-Ohio State or LSU-Boston College. Yuck. Needless to say, college football has seen better seasons.

5. Notre Dame winning its first game of the season
Of course they had to knock out UCLA’s quarterback and Jimmy Clausen only threw for 84 yards but hey, a win’s a win.

4. The Cowboys coming from behind to beat the Bills on MNF
3. The Indians eliminating the Yankees from the playoffs
Last night was just a riveting night of television. I kept flipping back between watching the Indians putting away the Yankees and Tony Romo crapping the bed then bringing the Cowboys back to win in the final minutes of the game. To make things more intense, my fantasy team was a couple of points behind heading into the game and I needed Romo to score negative points for me so I was actually rooting for him to throw all those interceptions. It was completely nuts. A crazy night all around. Peter King does a good job of breaking down the night in the Tuesday edition of his MMQB column.

2. The Chargers embarrassing the Broncos 41-3
THE CHARGERS ARE BACK!!!

Err, I mean, they’re still alive.

The crazy part about all of this is that the Chargers play the Raiders this weekend and the winner will have sole possession of first place in the AFC West. So even after their atrocious 1-3 start the Chargers have a good shot at being in first place heading into their bye week. Let’s just hope they don’t screw things up this weekend.

1. El LamGal and I booking a trip to Denver for my 30th Birthday
Tannia wanted to get out of town for my birthday and had a credit at Frontier Airlines. So last night we were looking at places we could go and saw that for some reason all flights for Frontier out of San Diego had a connection at Denver — if we wanted to fly to Cabo, we had to connect at Denver. San Francisco? Connect at Denver. So we figured: What about going to Denver? When we were looking at restaurants and hotels around the area to see if anything there would entice us, we noticed a hotel that was near the Pepsi Center so obviously I wondered if the Nuggets would be playing the same weekend we were looking to go over there. Turns out, the Nuggets are playing the Knicks that weekend and they had courtside seats available for a reasonable price so I got the tickets, booked the hotel and before you knew it, we were going to Denver to watch the Nuggets-Knicks game on my birthday weekend.

Nuts huh?

There’s crazy and then there’s booking a random trip to Denver on a whim.

(PS- This will be my first time in Denver so if anyone out there knows any good restaurants or hotspots in the area send them my way. I would appreciate any recommendations.)

Posted in baseball, chargers, college football, denver, football, mlb, nfl, oktoberfest, padres | Leave a Comment »

Give Hoffman a Break!

Posted by Phil Lam on October 4, 2007

First off, let me get this out of the way: Trevor Hoffman cost the Padres a playoff birth when he blew two saves in the span of three days. He totally blew it. Had he been able to retire Tony Gwynn Jr. on Saturday or one of the Rockies on Monday, the Pads would be playing Game One of the NLDS in Philly today. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

I wasn’t going to weigh in on this because broke up with the 2007 Padres in late August and Monday was the first time I watched them play in six weeks but all those people on the message boards and talk shows vilifying Hoffman and calling for the Padres trade him or buy out his contract are just driving me nuts. I mean, I was at Nicky Rotten’s for lunch today and I heard some doofus say that they should move Hoffman to the setup role because you can’t have a closer who throws in the mid-80s. I mean, did this jerk even see any one of Hoffman’s 524 saves? Did it look like he could close out a game throwing in the mid-80s? Listen, you don’t get rid of a great closer after he blows a save ok? I don’t care how important the game was. Did the Oakland A’s get rid of Dennis Eckersly after he gave up the homerun to Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series? Did the Yankees cut Mariano Rivera after he blew Game 7 of the 2001 World Series? To get rid of Hoffman this off-season would not only be a total knee-jerk reaction, it would be completely ludicrous shoot-yourself-in-the-foot move.

People say “Hoffman isn’t a ‘money closer’ like Rivera.” Yeah, but who is? I take a look around the major leagues and I can’t even name half the closers out there right now. Let’s take a roll call of the five best closers outside of Hoffman and let’s see who we have:

Mariano Rivera: REC 3-4 SV 30 ERA 3.15

John Papelbon: REC 1-3 SV 37 ERA 1.85

Billy Wagner: REC 2-2 SV 34 ERA 2.63

Francisco Rodriguez: REC 5-2 SV 40 ERA 2.81

Jose Valverde: REC 1-4 SV 47 ERA 2.66

Rivera struggled at the beginning of the year and even the most ardent Yankee fan will admit their confidence level in Rivera is not as high as it used to be and Paplebon struggled to end the season — the second straight year he’s struggled in September. After that you have Billy Wagner, K-Rod, and Jose Valverde– who looks like he’s either going to be a great closer or go kill someone within the next few years.

What’s my point? My point is that there aren’t any great, lights-out, closers out there right now. They’ve either gotten hurt (Eric Gagne), have gotten old (Rivera, Hoffman) or haven’t arrived yet (Paplebon, Valverde, Joel Zumaya). I mean if you look at that list up there, there are two (TWO!!) proven closers in their prime in all of major league baseball. TWO! So to suggest that the Padres get rid of Trevor Hoffman is just plain absurd.

Does Trevor Hoffman have a penchant for blowing big games? Heck yes he does. There was a hint of it in 1998 when he was one save away from the consecutive save record and blew it by giving up a homerun to Moises Alou. Later that year he took the loss in Game Two of the World Series. And of course, he blew the save in last years All-Star Game (even though I wouldn’t really consider the All-Star Game a “big game”).

Obviously games like those — and there are many more, are indefensible. But think about this: Unlike Mariano Rivera who pitches for the Yankees where every game is life or death, Hoffman wasn’t really battle tested earlier in his career. Rivera, who was a set-up man for John Wetteland on the 1996 World Series team, has been in the postseason every single year of his career but one. Hoffman didn’t make it to the playoffs until 1996 (his fourth year in the league), was there again in 1998 and didn’t make it back until 2005 and 2006. I mean going from pitching in relative obscurity at Qualcom Stadium and PetCo Park to the postseason is a pretty big leap. It would be like grilling for your family and friends one day and then getting thrown into Hell’s Kitchen the next. I mean it’s really not the same right? I’m not making excuses for Hoffman but maybe if the Padres were a little more competitive earlier in his he would be able to handle these pressure situations a little better.

Whatever the case may be, the Padres are a better team with Trevor Hoffman. I mean, outside of Peavy and Hoffman what does this team really got? Hoffman’s one of the few somebodys in a team full of nobodys. Remember in 2003 when Hoffman missed most of the year and we were subjected to the catastrophe known as Brandon Villafuerte? Most Hoffman critics probably won’t because it was the pre-PetCo days and they probably weren’t Padre fans yet, but Villafuerte was billed as a guy who could handle the closers role for a year while Hoffman was out and he totally, completely, and utterly bombed. That guy gave it up so many times he would have put Paris Hilton to shame. Go see Villafuerte working at the local L&L and he’ll probably tell you that closing isn’t easy.

And who are the Padres going to go with if they get rid of Hoffman anyways? As we talked about above there aren’t too many options out there. Think about it this way: In 2008 they’ll have Heath Bell in the 8th, Hoffman in the 9th and Clay Meridith, Doug Brocail, Joe Thatcher and some transient Towers picks up in the Pilipino League and the Pads will still have one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Trevor Hoffman cost the Padres a playoff birth when he blew two saves in the span of three days.

Let’s not make this a bigger thing than it has to be.

Posted in baseball, mlb, padres, trevor hoffman | 3 Comments »

Wiping the Puke Off My Chin

Posted by Phil Lam on October 1, 2007

You wanna know how I feel today? I feel like puking my guts out, that’s how I feel. Every time that I’ve read anything about the Chargers over the past week and every time I’ll read something about the Chargers this week I feel like reenacting the “Lard Ass” pie eating contest scene in “Stand By Me.” It literally makes me sick to see how bad these guys are playing. Sick to the stomach.

Hold on for a second (raaaaaaaaalllllllppppppppphhhhhh).

OK, I’m back.

It’s like a bad dream every Sunday now. This week we were subjected to four turnovers (three by Phil Rivers) which directly led to 16 KC points and an embarrassing 30-16 loss to the Chiefs. The offense didn’t score a single point in the second half. The defense continued to stink up the joint. And the loss was punctuated by 65,000 or so pissed-off fans chanting “Marty! Marty!”

How embarrassing.

Up to this point, everything everyone who doubted the Chargers have said is true. Norv Turner can’t hack it as head coach, Ted Cotrell is less aggressive as defensive coordinator, Rivers has regressed… and so on and so forth…

Look at what Patriot fan and ESPN columnist Bill Simmons wrote about the Chargers this past Friday:

“The 2007 Chargers have clearly given away their ‘Super Bowl contender’ status and become this year’s test case for the time-proven phrase, ‘Coaching matters.’ Which reminds me …

1. A few readers e-mailed me about this: When Norv Turner was coaching the Raiders in 2005, I created a Norv Turner Second-Half Collapse Checklist. Three games into Norv’s tenure with the Chargers, we already have six of the nine categories checked.

• Guys arguing on the sidelines? (CHECK)
• Embarrassing losses at home? (NO)
• QB getting sacked and throwing the ball up for grabs? (CHECK)
• Just an ungodly amount of penalties? (NO)
• Steady stream of excuses? (CHECK)
• Players taking veiled shots at the coaching staff? (CHECK)
• General malaise and dissatisfaction within the fan base? (CHECK)
• Local columnists taking shots at him? (CHECK)
• Big coaching name looming in the background as a replacement? (NO)

(Basically, we’re a penalty-filled upset loss to the Chiefs, followed by rumors of Bill Cowher taking over the Chargers, from the entire Norv Turner Second-Half Collapse Checklist getting filled before the baseball playoffs start. I think this is amazing.)

2. A longtime reader named Jason created a Norv-related blog called The Coach is Killing Me, named after the story when my buddy Hopper drove Norv from a blackjack table in Vegas back in May ’01 because Norv kept staying on 16 against a 10. He’s been hired as a head coach not once but TWICE since I retold this story on ESPN.com. As Herm Edwards would say, clearly, more NFL owners need to have the Internet.

3. Everyone keeps blaming Norv (and with reason), but for whatever reason, defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell hasn’t been treated with the same level of scorn. Remember what the Guy Who Knows Things said before the season (in my NFL Preview)?

‘[San Diego] is the perfect storm for bad — Norv as a head coach and Ted Cottrell as the [defensive coordinator]. You cannot get any worse than that. Consider how Laveranues Coles described Belichick and Mangini this week and you’ll feel like Bobby Knight felt every time he faced Dale Brown by not picking Norv and the Chargers: ‘They have a very smart coaching staff and we have a very smart coaching staff. They basically use us as chess pieces. How they position us to play this game, that’s the main thing now. Whoever can make the adjustments the best and the fastest will probably have the edge.’ With Norv and Ted, they cannot beat enough of the good chess players. The game is in the details and they leave too many untouched.’

So what happens to this Chargers team the rest of the way? I see them rebounding with a 4-1 run over the next six weeks (KC, Broncos, OAK, bye, HOUS, minny) before the annual second-half Norv collapse kicks off in November (INDY, jags, BALT, kc, tenn) and we can break out the checklist again. We’ll have all the checkmarks filled before Week 15. I promise you.”

Well, after yesterday you can check “Embarrassing Loss at Home” off the list. And if / when they lose this Sunday at Denver they’ll be an unimaginable 1-4 to start the season. This season is quickly turning into a complete and total disaster. We’ve gone from rooting for a Super Bowl title in Week 1 to hoping for an AFC Championship rematch after Week 2 to now, just hoping to survive the regular season and somehow sneak into the playoffs.

I’d like to say it doesn’t get any worse than this, but I’d be lying to you. It could get a lot worse. Stay tuned, if you have the stomach for it…

As for the Padres, they failed miserably at salvaging the weekend for me. They had two shots to clinch a wildcard birth and crapped the bed both times. Saturday, Trevor Hoffman blew a save and they lost in extra innings and yesterday they just got blown out of the water. Hopefully the third time will be a charm as they have Jake Peavy going tonight in a one game playoff against the Rockies for the final wild card spot.

I haven’t been this excited about a one game playoff since the Indians and Yankees went at it in the original Major League. Had Bud Black gone with Greg Maddux while a bummed out Peavy got drunk at a bar and then slept with Brian Giles’s insanely insane wife the game tonight would have the similar feel of that game.

Here’s to the Padres making the playoffs!

And unless the chaotic happens (chaotic in this instance would mean Jake Peavy giving up like 25 runs on 53 hits), The Khalil Green All-Stars (the fantasy baseball team run by my Cousin Jimmy and I) will officially clinch our league tonight. Woot!

At least I will have won something this weekend.

Posted in baseball, chargers, football, mlb, nfl, padres, san diego | Leave a Comment »