Friday, October 29, 2010

Week 8 picks: Let the Jon Kitna era begin

By Jeff

Well, the losing streak is over. Unfortunately, a winning record eluded me yet again. I finished 7-7 for Week 7, bringing my 2010 overall record to a pathetic 43-56-4. I did beat Mike in our fantasy football match this week. So at least I have that going for me.

As for Week 8, Dallas will be without Tony Romo, he was destroyed by the New York Giants Monday night. Well, at least his collar bone was. While I am never happy when players get injured, I'm loving the way this season is spiraling out of control for Dallas. They were supposed to be the first team to play the Super Bowl on their home field. Ha! Somewhere Jessica Simpson is happy and trying to right a song. Key word is trying.

Before I start flipping the coin for Week 8's games let's look back at last week's big miss. I picked the Denver Broncos to roll past the Oakland Raiders. Probably my worst pick of the season. The Raiders won 59-14 and had like a 28-0 lead after five minutes. And it was at Denver!

Let's hope the future is a little brighter. The home teams are in all caps.

Denver (+2) over San Francisco in London: It will probably rain and be a terrible game like every other game ever played in London. I wonder if the English feel gipped. They send us teams like Chelsea and Arsenal, while we send them the 49ers (1-6) and the Broncos (2-5). Whatever. They still owe us for the assists in The Great War and World War II.

One of Kitna's (Right) finest moments.
Is that Romo on the left?
Jacksonville (+6.5) over DALLAS: I may be over reacting to the loss of Romo with this pick. Jacksonville did get destroyed last week, but that was with Todd Bouman at the helm. David Garrard is back. While that usually isn't exciting, it's better than Kitna. On a quick side note; remember when Kitna was going to be a star in Detroit with Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator? That was fun.

Washington (+2.5) over DETROIT: Donovan McNabb is not having a good season. He has more picks (7) than touchdown passes (6). But I just can't pick the Lions. I don't care if Matthew Stafford is back. I'm not doing it!

NEW YORK JETS (-6) over Green Bay: Darrelle Revis says he's 100 percent and Antonio Cromartie has returned to the elite player who had 10 interceptions with the San Diego Chargers back in 2007. That's not a cornerback duo I would ever want to face. Aaron Rodgers is great, but even he is going to be struggling Sunday.

ST. LOUIS (-3) over Carolina: Flipped a coin. Not kidding.

How does it breath?
Miami (+1.5) over CINCINNATI: I love how the Bengals will have a good season, raise hopes of their fans and then turn to suck when the pressure is on. The Dolphins were one play away from beating the Steelers last week and will shut down Cedric Benson. Carson Palmer won't be able to pick up the slack.

KANSAS CITY (-7.5) over Buffalo: The Chiefs have me convinced. They are legit this year. And when I say legit, I mean they will lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Tennessee (+3.5) over SAN DIEGO: The Chargers are the reason you can't base all of your analysis on stats. Their offense is first in yards per game, seventh in points and third in touchdowns. Their defense is first in yards per game. But they give up a lot of points (22nd in the league), and they make mistakes in big moments. Until they show some kind of consistency, I'm not picking them. All they do is burn me.

Tampa Bay (+3) over ARIZONA: How can a team with Derek Anderson at quarterback ever be favored? How?

OAKLAND (-2.5) over Seattle: I'm banking on the Raiders carrying their momentum from last week into Sunday's game. That being said, it's the Raiders and I could easily see the Seahawks winning by two scores.

Steelers sack celebration should
be the Carlton Dance.
NEW ENGLAND (-6.5) over Minnesota: Reports say that the Vikings are leaning toward not playing Favre because of his fractured ankle. You'd think reporters would know by now that Brad Childress does not run this team. Favre does. If Favre wants to play, he will. End of discussion. Either way, the Pats will win.

Pittsburgh (+1) over NEW ORLEANS: The Saints probably won't even try to run that ball, which is a smart move on their part. Aaron Smith is definitely out for the Steelers, and LaMar Woodley might be out. So things are shaping up pretty well for the Saints. Too bad this is the best team they've faced this year and Ben Roethlisberger will keep pace with Drew Brees.

Houston (+5.5) over INDIANAPOLIS: Peyton Manning won't have Austin Collie or Dallas Clark. The Colts still can't stop the run. The Texans may be inconsistent, but Andre Johnson's ankle is almost 100 percent and Owen Daniels is getting better every week. Oh, and the Texans have Arian Foster, who ran all over the Colts in Week 1.

The Coasters - Down in Mexico

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This is pretty scary

By Mike Roarty

For Halloween weekend I might as well preview a game that is quite scary to me. The Spartans go into Iowa City on Saturday to take on the Hawkeyes. The fact that the Spartans are playing a relevant game in football (!!!) heading into November makes very little sense to me and much like the Omen, it scares me.

Michigan State has done some trick or treat shit with random special teams plays to get here this far. This team is eerily (scary words) similar to the Iowa team last year that won close games and even went into Spartan Stadium and won in a last second play. Iowa City will be rocking but they did lose to Wisconsin last week so the matchup won’t be quite as big. (I was going to do Oregon-USC but I think the Ducks will roll them, wooo, future Michigan.(Hopefully))

As for the game, expect a regular Big Ten game. In fact, it might be the same exact game Iowa played last week again the Badgers. Each team will pound the rock. Stanzi will make a good throw or two. Ferentz and Dantonio will have a stare off to try and figure out which coach lacks emotion more. (I thought Dantonio had the edge but he at least is grumpy, I think Ferentz is the albino version of emotion.)

If Iowa doesn’t screw up the time management like last week they will get it done and end Spartys unbeaten run and further cloud the Big Ten race. Iowa 28-24.

Enjoy your Halloween. I hope everyone has a sweet costume. I am keeping it simple and going with the Construction worker outfit. Halloween has never been my thing. In fact, I will be cheering hard for Michigan to win so I can watch them once again during the Holidays in December. A Bowl game! Wow!

Levels of Candy

By Joe

I have a soft spot in my heart for Halloween. A soft, nougat-filled, caramel-injected center of my chocolate, candy-coated heart. There’s something about carving a pumpkin, I just love it. It is Halloween. There is one Halloween memory that I’ve had in my head for a decade and a half. Lights, please…

I was in 5th grade, maybe 6th, I dunno. I was old enough to go trick-or-treating without my parents (not even tailing us from the street!). Me and about 14 other kids from my neighborhood met up to trick-or-treat the shit out of that night. Imagine Sherman’s March to the Sea, but with goblins and candy not armies and destruction. I dressed up as a “Mad Scientist”. I wore my father’s starchy white dress shirt as a lab coat and put sparkly blue tooth paste in my hair. Like I said, mad scientist.
Official trick-or-treat start time was 5:30. We started at 5:20 and didn’t stop. Trick-or-treating had never been attempted at such a ferocious pace. Sprinting from door to door in nearly straight lines. There was no time to walk all the way down the steps and out to the street, then to the next driveway, and then up even more steps. None of that. Flower gardens, low hanging branches, poorly lit retaining walls…it didn’t matter. We were on a candy collection coup.
I remember sweating through some stage make-up my Mom thought would really “top off” my costume. My pillow case was getting really heavy. The toothpaste warmed on my scalp. I panted, “Tricker-treat” as neighbors opened their doors. They wanted to chat and observe costumes. Can’t you see we’re on a mission to get as much candy as freakin’ possible?!?! C’mon lady!! Give me the loot and I’ll leave! (directly through your nice flowers).
This continued for more than three hours until we hit every house on every street in Trotwood Hills. I swear I must have had 30 pounds of candy by the end of the night. We sat in my friend’s front yard, absolutely exhausted from the evening, but excited and proud of the candy mountains we had amassed. We drank water and began the age old ritual known as The Great Halloween Candy Swap.

In candy exchanging tradition, like anything else in this world, there are levels. From candy you’d fight for to items you would give away for free.

The Untouchables
These items are completely off-limits to everyone else at all times. No negotiating, never ever ever. You earned these candies. It is your God-given right to eat these on your own schedule and you would only ever share with those people nearest and dearest to you. Scratch that, you’re keeping all of them for yourself. My Untouchable Halloween Candy: Anything King-Size, Twix, Snickers, Butterfingers, Reese’s Cups, and Peanut M&M’s.

Fantasy Football Equivalent: Chris Johnson 2009, Priest Holmes 2001-2004, Drew Brees 2008-2009

The Bargaining Chips
You liked these items and would eat them enthusiastically. You’re just not married to them. They could be traded, but only carefully. Bonus if you trade one of these for an Untouchable. My Bargaining Chips of Halloween Candy: Milky Ways, Regular M&Ms, Pixie Stix, 100 Grands, Three Musketeers, and Kit-Kats.

Fantasy Football Equivalent: Hines Ward entire career, Edgerrin James as a Cardinal, Donovan McNabb.
The Leftovers
You’d give these away for free about a week after Halloween, even to your little sister. They mean nothing to you. You’re pissed that people even passed them out. They occupied space in your bag that could have been filled with either level of candy mentioned above. You patted yourself on the back if you could somehow turn these into a Bargaining Chip. My Leftovers of Halloween Candy: Jolly Ranchers, Cow Tales, the potato chip bags specifically for trick-or-treating, Reese’s Pieces, Fun Dip, and Mounds.
Fantasy Football Equivalent: Tim Tebow entire career, Matt Cassel 2009, Tony Romo remainder of 2010.

What Halloween Candy would be in each of your levels?
The Groovie Goolies – The Monster Mash

MLS Playoff Preview

By Joe
The Background: The field is set. Eight teams will battle it out for one trophy and the title of MLS Champion. In Europe, the season champion is determined by the first place team at the end of the regular season. That’s it, no playoffs. The balanced scheduled (one home match and one away match vs. every other team in the league) makes this a fair way to determine a champion. But this is America! And we like to have a profitable little tournament at the end of the year to determine the best team.

The Format: The four first-round match ups consist of a home and home series. The team with the best goal differential moves on to the semifinals. (Think of it as a single game with each “half” played in a different city…6 days apart). Away goals is the first tie breaker, then PK shoot out. Let’s do an example. If Team A wins 2-1 at home, then team B wins 1-0 at home. The teams are tied 2-2 on aggregate goals, but Team B would advance because they scored more goals as the road team. Got it? Moving on. The highest seeded team remaining in each conference would then host the semifinal in a single winner-goes-to-Toronto match. MLS Cup Final is at a neutral site again this year, as Toronto FC has failed to make the playoffs again.

The Match Ups:

Best Friends
LA Galaxy (1W - 59 points) vs. Seattle Sounders (4W - 48 points)
Lead by perhaps the greatest American footballer ever, Landon Donovan, the Galaxy has had an impressive year. They won the Supporters Shield by having earned the most points throughout the regular season. They are in excellent form and one of the favorites. The LA club will be taking on Seattle Sounders FC, and their ageless goaltender, Kasey Keller. But Keller is a bit washed up, even for MLS standards. You all should pay attention to the young Columbian Freddy Montero. The guy is an offensive force. He’s creative, tireless, and he might be just enough to beat Buddle, Becks, and Landy.

Prediction: It will be a fun series to watch with all the young stars; Steve Zakuani, aforementioned Montero, and Omar Gonzalez. Sounders get insane support from their fans, but LA is too talented and too balanced.

Jamison Olave - badass RSL 
Real Salt Lake (2W - 56 points) vs. FC Dallas (3W - 50 points)
This is the best series of the first round. RSL has no big names. They weren’t even .500 last year and won the damn MLS Cup. The champs have been on fire ever since. They finished first in their CONCACAF Champs League group and almost won the Supporters Shield. They are deep and scrappy, but they won’t sneak up on anyone this year. Dallas is a tough team to beat. Not because they win, but because they tie. But this is the playoffs and drawing isn’t going to cut it.

Prediction: Dallas’ lack of offensive spark dooms them. Plus no one beat RSL at home. Kyle Beckerman’s hair be damned, Salt Lake wins.

New York Red Bulls (1E - 51 points) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (4E - 46 points)
Everyone knows Tierry Henry is on the Red Bulls. He gets paid a lot of money and used to play for Arsenal and Barcelona. He gets mad pub for himself, his team, and the league. I don’t even hold that whole handball that knocked the Irish out of the World Cup against him…mostly because France embarrassed themselves in South Africa by having a team mutiny and playing like rubbish. Red Bulls play in a fancy new stadium. They have a global corporation that is willing to spend lots and lots to help them win. They have a massive payroll, which includes Rafa Marquez and Juan Pablo Angel. They won the East and have been playing well as of late.

Wondo-ful season
And then there’s San Jose. They have a Brazilian guy that used to be good; Giovanni…he still is for MLS. They have an American guy that was supposed to be good; Bobby Convey…his career is revitalized somehow. The Earthquakes play in a 10,000 seat minor league baseball stadium! Their entire team (and season) is personified by Chris Wondolowski. He was an afterthought in Houston, signed with SJ and all he did was lead the league in goals and become an MVP candidate. (Sidenote: can a team or a season be personified by an actual person? Not an English major over here.)

Prediction: Can the Earthquakes’ storybook season carry on to the semifinals? Will the star power of NYRB be too much? Truth is, New York is a very good team even without Henry. They win and I’d be surprised if they didn’t reach the finals in Toronto.

Columbus Crew (2E - 50 points) vs. Colorado Rapids (3E - 46 points)
The Crew have been worn thin by competing in CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup, and MLS regular season. “Fixture congestion” is the term that gets used a lot. Tired legs have the offense looking anemic. Having surrendered the lead in the Eastern Conference to NYRB, Columbus is limping into the playoffs. Oh, and starting goal keeper Will Hesmer is out with a busted shoulder. It all looks pretty bleak for the MASSIVE Club. On the other hand, Colorado is flying high as this is their first shot at MLS Cup in 4 years. The Rapids are pumped to host their first ever playoff game in their gorgeous new stadium.
Can Columbus draw on its championship experience to beat Colorado? The teams split the regular season meetings, each winning on home soil. Is Colorado just happy to be there? Or are they going to pounce on a wounded Crew team and move on?

Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City Utah
Prediction: Rapids best Crew in hard fought 2 match series.

Leave your predictions, complaints, questions, and jokes about the French below. Enjoy the action.

Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NBA Western Conference preview

By Jeff

I don't care about the NBA. I don't really know much about the NBA other than the Miami Heat are supposed to be good and the Cleveland Cavs are going to be terrible without LeBron James.

So why am I doing a Western Conference preview? Because Kelson only did an Eastern Conference preview and I don't want my blog being accused of East Coast bias. I'm going to rank the team from best to worst. Don't take the rankings too seriously.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder: It pains me to give them this rank. Not because I don't like their players. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green are fun to watch, when I actually watch basketball. The problem with the Thunder is their name. I hate it when elements or natural disasters are used as team names. It's even worse when the team name doesn't end in "s". Despite having a terrible name, this is the year the Thunder make a big leap and win 60+ games. You know what? Let's be bold. They are going to win 70 games. Count it!

The look Adam Morrison tried
for, and failed to pull off.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are a good duo, Ron Artest is crazy and Derek Fisher is a savvy vet (AKA old). Put that together and you have a solid team that is missing one thing. Adam Morrison. Everyone laughed when the Charlotte Bobcats took him with the third overall pick, but clearly they gave up on him too early. Morrison has two rings, while the Bobcats have yet to win a playoff series. I bet they're regretting that move. Idiots!

3. New Orleans Hornets: Has anyone else noticed how Chris Paul doesn't look that fast when he dribbling by opponents. It's almost like he just skips through the hole, and no one can stop him. It's weird, or maybe I need to finally invest in an HD TV.

4. Portland Trailblazers: Seemed like the right place for them. Over/under 20 games played for Greg Oden this season?

5. L.A. Clippers: I just read an article by Bill Simmons where he proclaimed Blake Griffin in the greatest player in the NBA. OK, maybe he didn't go that far, but he was really gushing over a guy who hasn't played a regular season game in the league yet. I have to admit, I was sold. He and Byron Davis, who is really crazy, but really good when he harnesses the insanity, will lead this team to the promised land of a first-round playoff loss.

6. Denver Nuggets: They move down to 12 if Carmelo Anthony is traded at some point during the season.

7. Dallas Mavericks: Find me an uglier man in the NBA than Jason Kidd. Good luck.

8. San Antonio Spurs: They might actually have to try for more than half the regular season this year. Doing so will leave them tired and hurt when the postseason rolls around. Did you know Tim Duncan has never committed a foul?

9. Phoenix Suns: Grant Hill used to be my favorite player in the NBA because he got the Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal at McDonald's and a Sprite as the drink. This was what I always ordered. When he stopped those commercials, I started mixing it up.

10. Utah Jazz: Deron Williams is awesome. He might be the best point guard in the league. Not sold on the rest of the team. Mostly because after Al Jefferson I can't name another player off the top of my head.

11. Sacramento Kings: The last time I knew more than one or two players on this team is when they were choking against the Lakers every year in the playoffs. Tyreke Evans sounds like he's doing well, but I honestly have not seen the Kings play in a few years.

How have they not been in a
 movie together yet?
12. Houston Rockets: They'd be higher, but I completely forgot about them until now. I could copy and paste them to a better position, but if I didn't think of them in the first place, would they really be that much higher? This preview is going downhill fast. I'm sorry.

13. Memphis Grizzlies: Even I knew drafting Hasheem Thabeet No. 2 overall was a mistake.

14. Golden State: I used to watch Stephan Curry light up Elon University when he played for Davidson. I thought he was good then, but that was against Elon. Now he's succeeding against NBA players, confirming that he actually is good.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves: Like the Kings, I couldn't tell you the last time I saw them play. From everything I read, it sounds like they are going to be really bad again.

I'm shocked if you made it this far, and I'm sorry if you clicked on this post and thought it would have any kind of insightful analysis. Blame Kelson.

Jimmy Eat World - Crush

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Major injuries happening across the NFL

By Jeff

Lots of stuff to talk about and just not much time to talk about it! So here's another list of some of the major sports news from the past week or so.

  • The injury bug struck the Steelers this weekend. Aaron Smith tore his triceps muscle. He had surgery today and is probably done for the season. The first time he got hurt, the Jacksonville Jaguars ran all over the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs. The second time, the defense blew a lot of late leads. Not good.
  • Tony Romo is probably out for the season with a broken clavicle (Collarbone). It's not like the 1-5 Dallas Cowboys had much of a chance for the playoffs this year with Romo, but they are officially done. 
  • Brett Favre has a stress fracture in his ankle. His consecutive starts streak should end at 291 (315 if you include playoffs). He was playing poorly before the injury happened on Sunday. Watch the tapes of Vikings games and you'll see he has been playing scared all season. He sees a big hit coming and has been flinching on his release rather than just taking the punishment like he used to. Even if he isn't officially ruled out, he needs to take a seat.
  • In other Favre news, he admitted to leaving voicemails on Jenn Sterger's phone. He denied sending photos of his penis, though. Apparently Sterger has hired a team of former FBI investigators to assist other investigators in the matter? Maybe they will conduct that penis lineup after all. 
  • Wicked is a phenomenal show that you should see if you get the chance. 
  • Kelson owes me $5. I wagered that the Steelers would hold the Miami duo of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to less than 100 yards rushing. They had 62. Yet Kelson still tried telling me we tied.
  • Dolphins fans have a reason to be upset. If the situation were reversed, Steelers fans would be so pissed with the way that fumble situation went down. Dolphins fans should also be upset that their first two possessions were inside the Steelers' 25-yard line and only game away with two field goals.
  • Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez make a ton of money to hit the damn ball, not watch it for a called third strike. What were they thinking? With their Championship Series lives on the line they just watched as strike three went by. Protect the plate!
  • Try and find someone who predicted that the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers would be meeting in the World Series this year. You won't be able to.
  • Did you know Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton used to be addicted to all kinds of drugs? You're probably going to hear a lot about it in the next week and a half.
  • Why is baseball still being played in the last week of October? I would fully support a move to a 154-game season. 
  • I didn't see the game, but I can guess that Jaroslav Halak was once again the deciding factor against the Penguins. An overtime shutout in the current NHL is tough to do against any team. It's especially impressive against a team with Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on it.
  • I get that Eric Tangradi was sent down today because he has a two-way contract, but I'd much rather see him on the ice than see Tyler Kennedy skate down the right wing and hit a slap shot into the opposing goalie's chest three times a game.
  • Has anyone seen Eric Godard? Is anyone missing him?
  • The Pirates managing situation is down to a few names with almost no big-league managing experience. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure isn't sexy. Jeff Bannister, Bo Porter, Dale Sveum and Carlos Tosca are the men still in the running. I you know more about them than where they worked last year, you know more than me.
  • Maybe the reason voter turnout in this country is so poor is because the only ads candidates run are attack ads telling us how the country will die a painful death if the other person gets elected. I avoid TV and radio at all costs this time of the year because of these ads.
  • Why did the NFL praise the clean play of James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather this week? If that's what's expected of the players, I don't think they should be singled out for praise. I also think the league should make safer helmets mandatory. Are players going to boycott if their helmets make them look silly? No, they want the millions of dollars coming their way.
  • Is there a football team, college or pro, more fun to watch than the Oregon Ducks? If you blink during their possessions, there is a good chance you miss a touchdown.
  • Weezer is releasing "Death to False Metal", an album of older unreleased material, next week. It's going to be awesome. The "Pinkerton Deluxe" album seems to be more of a money grab. And I fell for it.
  • I'm hooked on the show "Numb3rs". I don't even like math. There was an episode where one of the bad guys from "Ghostbusters II" explains how Sabermetrics fail to calculate intangibles like heart, motivation and the human spirit. I wanted to put the clip in here, but it's not on YouTube. It's Episode 11 in Season 1 if you want to watch it. Mike, you really should.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pittsburgh’s best pizza tour: Beto’s

By Greg

This pizza is very special to me because it is my father’s all time favorite. My dad somehow isn’t overweight despite the fact that he eats pizza every chance that he gets. He grew up near Beto’s and it was always the most desired treat for him and his brothers. It has recently been renovated, which I have mixed emotions about. It looks great, but the old place had the same “pizza parlor” feeling that you get at Fiori’s and Campiti’s. Similarly to those restaurants, you will almost never find Beto’s empty. To complete this review I went at 2pm on a Monday and had to wait for a seat. There were about 25 people eating there and about 10 waiting for takeout. Beto’s has always done a great business and I believe it has a lot to do with the price. A slice of cheese is only $1.15 and it is huge. I’m not a big eater, but two pieces is enough for me. If I’m starving and order three pieces, I feel like I am going to explode afterwards (probably because I just consumed over a pound of cheese).

Ahh, the cheese. The primary cause of a wide variety of opinions about Beto’s pizza. Many despise it and I can understand this view. Beto’s does not put any cheese or toppings on the pizza until it comes out of the oven. When it comes out, the cheese and any toppings you order are then thrown on cold. Just to give you a hint of what this looks like, my dad and I have often said that it would be cheaper to go to Beto’s than Giant Eagle if you need mozzarella. It is seriously unreal how much cheese they put on their pizza. Furthermore, if you want toppings they only cost $0.50 and they load up a slice in the same manner that they do with the cheese. With this knowledge handy, my dad’s trick is to get one slice with black olives and one plain, then put half of the olives on the other slice because this will still provide him with more than enough toppings.

Back in our first pizza review, Jeff enlightened us with the three stages of cheese at Fiori’s. Beto’s pizza experiences a much different process that consists of the two layers of cheese. It’s not as sophisticated, but it still exists. The first layer (the top) is not melted because the cheese is thrown on cold. The second layer (the bottom) is melted because the hot pizza that just came out of the oven has warmed it. The first layer is about three times bigger than the second because they put about six ounces of cheese on each slice. The melted cheese has a much different (and in my opinion much better) taste and consistency than the cold cheese. Nevertheless, each layer is part of Beto’s pizza and that’s not going to change any time soon.

I’m not a huge fan of chunky tomato sauce and that is exactly what Beto’s uses. But for some reason it works. Since their pizza is cooked in a square pan, there are three varieties of crust at Beto’s. This is like a less dangerous version of Russian roulette. Sometimes there is no crust on the pizza. This is kind of a letdown and it also becomes a more messy eating experience. If you get two slices they pretty much always give you at least one piece with crust. The next type of crust they offer is the one-sided crust. This is just enough to keep your hands from being covered in cheese and tomato. One note about the crust is that I have never had it burnt or undercooked at Beto’s. They have this down to a science. The last type of crust you can get is the desired corner piece. This is the holy grail of Beto’s pizza. This piece is often bigger than the middle pieces because they want to make sure they don’t skimp you on the rest of the pizza. The corner crust is a perfect handle to the pizza and can also make up for not having crust on another piece.

The bottom of the pizza is basically the opposite of Sicilian style, thin and crispy. Again, this is never burnt and is always sturdy, which allows you to grip your pizza, especially if it doesn’t have crust on it. The only problem is that due to the insane amount of cheese, stuff falls off every time you bite into the pizza no matter how careful you are. I swear I saw Kardos use a napkin there once. For those of you that don’t know this man, he is the neatest eater I have ever met and the only thing I can compare it to is Inspector 34 from that episode of Pete and Pete.

I don’t really have a favorite style of pizza. If it tastes good, I like it. Sicilian style, Chicago style, New York style, thin crust, thick crust, normal crust, cheese injected in the crust. None of this really matters to me as long as it is delicious and they have their own identity. If a pizza is unoriginal, I don’t really look forward to eating it. What I like are the ones that separate themselves from the norm. Whether you like their pizza or not, Beto’s is definitely unique. No doubt about that.

Final grade: 8 out of 10.

String Cheese Incident – Dudley’s Kitchen

Will Werth stay or will he go?

By: RJ

After the Phillies surprising exit from the postseason, it is time to move onto the offseason business at hand, namely Jayson Werth. Werth is in my estimation the third best free agent on the market behind Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. He is a right handed bat capable of hitting 30 homers, driving in 100 runs, scoring 100 runs, drawing 100 walks and stealing 20 bases (something he did not do enough of this year).

The Phillies have a lot of money committed for next year, something in the neighborhood of $140 million, but Werth is their only real right handed protection for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Super prospect Domonic Brown is ready to fill-in but he would add another left handed bat to the mix.

Add in that Werth recently hired super agent, Scott Boras and is looking for a Matt Holliday (7 yrs-$119 million) type deal and things do not look good. The Phillies have indicated they would like to bring Werth back and seem comfortable with a Jason Bay type contract (4 yrs-$66 million).

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acts swifly and without hesitation. He makes a sound offer but if you do not show a willingness to want to take it, he will move on at the drop of a hat. This can be both a good and a bad thing. He offered Cliff Lee a three-year extension last winter, Lee hesistated. Amaro then pursued the Roy Halladay deal, signed him to an extension and boom, just like that Halladay was locked in as the Phillies ace for the next four years and Lee was on the west coast. He acted similar with the Phils third base hole. The Phillies offered Adrian Beltre and his agent, Boras a three-year, $24 million dollar deal, Beltre passed and Amaro moved on to sign Placido Polanco within the same week.

Werth has indicated he wants to stay but given the contract he is reportedly seeking, that seems almost impossible. I look for Amaro to make an offer early in the offseason for four years, with a fifth year option for around $70 million. Werth and Boras will pass, the Phillies will move onto to Plan B and will offer arbitration (remember all the offseason deadlines for filing and arb are moved up in an effort to give players more time to find work) and collect two picks when he signs with the Red Sox for 6 years at around $90 million.

I like Werth and think he is a very good complementary piece and he is about to be paid like the centerpiece of a franchise, something he is not and did not have to be in Philadelphia surrounded by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He will miss their presence around him in the lineup wherever his new home is.

Streets of Philadelphia-Bruce Springsteen

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two-headed monster shines, Fleury plays solid in Pens win

By Jeff

Last night was the best Pittsburgh Penguins game I've seen since the team rallied to beat the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the first round last year. It wasn't so much the overall quality of play, it was sloppy throughout, but more the energy and effort both teams put it. Nashville Predators fans might not look so fondly of the game, as they lost 4-3 in overtime, but no one can deny it was entertaining.

The stars of the night were Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Holy crap! The two of them were everywhere. Crosby recorded two goals and an assist, while Malkin tallied a goal and an assist in what was the first game that these two legitimately took over.

Malkin was causing turnovers all over the ice, while Crosby was making Predators look silly as he skated through the zone. They combined for a gritty goal (Malkin's dirty goal), a shot few players in the NHl would even try (Crosby's bank shot) and a great all around effort (Crosby's goal that came on a rebound off  of a Malkin shot). It was the first time in a long time where you saw those two playing, and you really believed they were not going to let their team lose.
The rest of the NHL better get used to this sight.

The only negative you could take from their play is when Malkin had a guarantee goal blocked by Crosby. Malkin made a sweet move to the backhand and flipped it past Predators keeper Pekka Rinne for a what appeared to be a goal. Then it hit Crosby in the chest as he was skating behind Rinne. No big deal. The Pens won.

As well as Crosby and Malkin played, the Pens probably don't win this game without the efforts of Marc-Andre Fluery. I'm sure some people will point to his stats for the game, .875 save percentage and 3 goals against average, but that doesn't tell the story of Fleury's night. All of the Predators goals were on tough shot. Chris Kunitz was late with his backcheck on the first goal, giving Fleury no chance. The second goal came on a powerplay and hit a man before it ever got to Fleury. Finally, the third goal was a great, quick shot that few goalies would have a chance at.

Those save percentage and GAA stats that Fluery stops two breakaways and made other key saves to keep the team in the game. Back to the breakaways for a moment. You can't overestimate the importance of those stops. Saves like those are what rally your team and change the momentum of the gain. How different would Game 7 of the Caps series in 2009 have been if Fleury didn't deny Alexander Ovechkin on an early breakaway?

So haters can point to his stats and keep hating on Fleury, but anyone who watched the game knows he played a very good game. I'm not saying he's one the starter's job back with one start, but it's a big step in the right direction.

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers - Sarah

Pittsburgh's best pizza tour: Giovanni's and Jioio's

By Jeff

Swan and I were at it again this week, and I kinda went behind his back and did another pizza place. I'm sorry, Swan. It was at work and I figured it would be OK.

First, Swan and I visited Giovanni's on West Liberty Avenue. Mike and Joe had told me multiple times that it was good pizza, but I had never been there. It's about 2 miles away from Fiori's, so if I'm out that way I take the extra few minutes and drive to Fiori's.
Giovanni's is good, but it's no Fiori's.

While the pizza is being graded, not the service, it has to be mentioned that ours was not great. Our server brought out the oil to dip bread in right away, but it sat there for about 10 minutes before she brought the bread. Swan and I actually thought it was just to dip the crust in until the bread arrived. And Giovanni's is not a big place. It's one dining room. Yet our server would disappear.

Anyway, we decided to be big spenders and get and extra large pepperoni pizza. And they did not go cheap with the topping. The pizza was covered, which is definitely a plus.

The sauce was sweeter than Fiori's, but a little too sweet. And I like sweet sauces. The crust was crispier than Fiori's, but not as crispy as Burgh's. It also had that nice oil to dip it in, which made it better. I wish they put more cheese on the pizzam, though. There were some slices where it seemed like they just didn't put cheese on it, or it was very little. Because of the lack of cheese, I didn't really taste it that much. The pepperonis were excellent, though. They were crispy, had a lot of flavor and were my favorite part of the pizza.

One thing I forgot to mention about Burgh's that also relates to Giovanni's is that unless you are a complete jerk, you have to tip your server. You don't do this at Fiori's, which is a plus. It does not change the taste of the pizza, obviously, but just something to keep in mind.

Final Grade for Giovanni's: 7 out of 10. You might as well keep driving and go to Fiori's.

The second place I experienced this week was Jioio's, which has locations in Irwin, Greensburg and Latrobe. Swan didn't hit up this place with me because it was a work lunch.

My coworkers played Jioio's up big time. They said it was their favorite and that I hadn't experienced pizza unless I had it. Well, I've now had it, and I'm not going to have it again.

Fiori's and Giovanni's have sweet sauces, but Jioio's sauce is on a whole other level of sweet. It was almost like I was eating one of those CiCi's dessert pizzas, only with tomato sauce and cheese instead of cinnamon and icing.

With the sauce being so sweet, it was hard to taste anything else. The cheese did nothing for me, the pepperonis were decent and the crust was really flaky. Actually, the crust reminded me a Domino's thin crust. If I do get chain pizza, I prefer think crust from Domino's, but that doesn't make if very good. So Jioio's really did nothing for me but clog my arteries and hurt my teeth.

Final Grade for Jioio's: 4 out of 10. It might have been lower if it wasn't free.

Weezer - Blowing My Stack

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NBA Preview - Eastern Conference

This is my Eastern Conference NBA Season preview, with my pick for playoff teams. I'll sort of be copying the NHL preview on here, kind of the like how that Vancouver Canuck copied Ron Artest by attempting to go into the stands the other night (attempting is taken lightly, he gently tugged on a fans' sleeve.) Grow some balls.

1. Miami - I cannot wait for this team to go 68-14 and sell out every single game they play home and away. You cannot tell me this isn't great for the NBA. If you are somehow still thinking, "how will LeBron and Wade play together" or "they only have 3 players" remember this fact: LeBron carried a team with no all stars for the past seven years. Even if Bosh and Wade both came down with Chlamydia on opening night, LeBron still has Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, who are better than Anderson Varejo and Grandpa Mo Williams.

2. Orlando - As much as I hate this team and don't buy into the Dwight Howard worked on his game this summer hype, they will pretty much dominant every team not based in the state of Florida. Big loss in Matt Barnes and no, Q Richardson (star of Van Wilder) does not make up for it. Also, I kind of want to see Vince Carter fake a seizure on court this year, since's he has faked every other injury ever.

3. Clev...oh wait Boston - Boston will roll out a roster with 5 players that have more than 10 years experience. Their top 3 big men, Shaq, KG, and Jermaine "Crowd Fightin'" O'Neal are over 100 years old combined. No joke. I can't imagine this team doing anything once they get to the playoffs, but the east kind of sucks. Bill Simmons claims this team is deep, yet conveniently forgets that their backup SG carries guns on motorcycles and bangs Lebron's mom (allegedly), causing the Cavs to lose to the Celtics last spring and LeBron to bolt Cleveland...wait a second, had he already secretly signed a contract...that son of a bitch.

The Celtics Big 3.

4. Chicago Bulls - Carlos Boozer is out for a few months, big deal. This team has Omer Asik, or as I liked to call him Turkish gold. It pains me to look at these rosters and rank teams this high when their starting guards are named Ronnie Brewer, but Derrick Rose is a top 2 PG right now and Luol Deng is good for 10-8 on a nightly basis, just disregard the fact that he makes 12 million a year to make 5 baskets a night. Once Boozer comes back they will be fine. Also, if you were wondering where wunderkind/team cheerleader Brian Scalabrine ended up this year, look no further. I am concerned about whether or not his red hair is going to clash with the Bull uniforms though.

5. Milwaukee Bucks - Earl Boykins is back in the NBA and backing up Brandon Jennings, how can things go wrong? The Bucks have a reliable big man in Bogut and the rest of the team is basically a crapshoot. Let's run this:

Jennings (PG) - Great for about 35 games last year. Maybe he'll avoid the sophomore slump. I like him because he drives a Ford Focus. This man is savvy.

John Salmons (SG) - Awesome last year, but it was a contract year and Mr. Wesley Snipes might get a little lazy with some money in his bank account.

Michael Redd (SG) - I was sure he was dead.

Corey Maggette (SF) - Can't hit threes, awful defensively. Cranky.

Drew Gooden (PF) - 8 teams in 9 years. Yeah...I get the feeling he is unwanted.

Ersan Ilyasova (PF) - I know he can ..thats good?

Larry Sanders (PG) - The Jewish HBO legend?

Seriously, this is the 5th best team in the conference.

6. Charlotte Bobcats - First playoffs ever last year (I was at the first home game) and we came back with a bang this summer...Oh what's that? We didn't improve at all and made some questionable moves like signing Darius Miles (Van Wilder star) and waiving Erick Dampier's $12 million contract rather than trading it for at least a 2nd round pick. We reunited Kwame Brown with Michael Jordan? Our backup PG blew out his knee 3 seasons ago and has only played 2 solid months of basketball since? Our coach is leaving soon? Michael Wilbon wants us to sign Allen Iverson. Yikes. Fortunately DJ Augustin and Ty Thomas have stepped up in pre-season and this team will be right around .500. Good enough for 6th in the east!

7. Atlanta Hawks - I hate this Hawks team so much. A bunch of better than average players who are extremely lazy and privileged. I'd rather make out with a contest on Biggest Loser than watch this team play. Joe Johnson proved he can't carry a team, even if the team is paying him too. I like Jordan and Jamal Crawford (not related), but that's about it.

8. I'm leaving this spot blank because no one else deserves to be here, every other team will be well under .500.

Let's run thru the rest in no particular order (although Cleveland will definitely be last).

New Jersey Nets - A lot to like here in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. Fun fact Joe Smith will be digging out of his grave and suiting up for them.

New York Knicks - I love to hate the Knicks and now, they have Raymond Felton, 4th quarter team killer. Him and Amare probably get them to the playoffs and I bet Galinari is awesome again, but isn't fun to hate?

Philadelphia 76ers - Doug Collins was just admitted to the hospital with migraines. This team stinks. Andre Iguadola? Stinks. Elton Brand? Stinks. Don't let John Hollinger's PER numbers fool you on Mareese Speights, he is NOT the best PF in the league.

Toronto Raptors - I think they are probably the 2nd worst team in the league. Their best player is Leandro Barbosa and he hit his peak around 2007. They probably deserve to suck though, since they didn't trade Bosh when they had the chance.

Detroit Pistons - I cant shake my head enough at this team (note, I learned "smh" from athletes on twitter and it means shakin my head. Just a weird lineup, their best two players play the same positions - Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon - and only one starts. Also, it's fun to get lost in Charlie Villenueva's face.

Indiana Pacers - Ah, the annual whitewash team. ...wait what? Only 4 white players? Gah! They do have a player named Magnum Rolle though - I bet someone's dad has a large penis. Also they may start Roy Hibbert at center, which is fun because I was dying for the Bobcats to take him 2 years ago and now he's like a slower version of Greg Oden.

Washington Wizards - I like this team even if they have 2 all stars at PG in Arenas and John Wall who won't coexist together. Fun offseason fact: they resigned Andrey Blatche to a long term deal, even though he openly quit on the team last year and had to be benched. Great management skills!

Cleveland Cavaliers - They changed their uniforms to look like a high school basketball teams, probably because that's how they will play. Here is their starting 5. Varejao, Antwan Jamison, Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Mo Williams. If you were wondering, yes Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker would be 8/9 rotation guys on most other teams.

Western coming soon!

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) - I am a Snail, and You Are A Pace I Cannot Match

Week 7 picks: Harrison not retiring, Henne enters witness protection

By Jeff

Week 6 was so ugly for me I'm mind of ashamed to share my tally. It was 4-9-1, dropping me to 37-49-4 on the season. Vegas would love it if I gambled! I'm doing so poorly, Swan told me I should just stop doing the spread and just pick games straight up. As tempting as that is, I must press on. Maybe I'll have a big second half.

Week 6's big miss was thinking San Diego would play well enough on the road to not only beat the St. Louis Rams, but cover too. Neither happened.

As for Week 7, I'm excited to see what James Harrison does to Chad Henne. If you hadn't heard by now, Harrison was fined for killing a few Browns last week and thought about retiring. Not because of the damage he did. No, he was talking retirement because he is concerned the NFL won't let him hurt people anymore without fining him. Well, Harrison returned to practice today, meaning Chad Henne is probably having nightmares of the Silverback decapitating him on a blind side blitz. I can't wait.

Week 7 picks are below and the home team is in all caps.

Pittsburgh (-3) over MIAMI: Kelson and I have a $5 bet that Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams won't combine for 100 rushing yards. Unlike most of my picks, I have a lot of confidence that I'll win this bet. The Steelers have surrendered 58, 46, 75, 70 and 69 rushing yards in their first five games for an average of 63.6. If I were Miami, I wouldn't even try to run. Of course, if they don't run at all, Harrison and LaMar Woodley are going to destroy Chad Henne. It's not going to be pretty for Dolphins fans.

ATLANTA (-3.5) over Cincinnati: Has anyone watched "The T. Ocho Show"? I hope not.

KANSAS CITY (-7) over Jacksonville: David Garrard is out and the Jaguars looked terrible Monday night. But they have looked terrible before and rebounded earlier this season. But they didn't have Todd Bouman starting those rebound games.

Philadelphia (+3) over TENNESSEE: The Eagles had an impressive victory against the Falcons last week. They won't have DeSean Jackson for this contest, but Kevin Kolb seems to be gaining confidence with the deep ball. I also see Tennessee struggling after a short week.

Washington (+3) at CHICAGO: No reasoning, really. Both teams are inconsistent, which seems to be a running theme in the NFL this season. The question is, will Jay Cutler or Donovan McNabb make the big plays or the big mistakes. You know how I feel about Cutler. He's going to get beat up by the Washington defense and McNabb will not cost his team the game.

NEW ORLEANS (-13) over Cleveland: I'm 1-5 in predicting New Orleans games this season. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

BALTIMORE (-13) over Buffalo: Expect the Ravens to have a big rebound from their overtime loss to the Patriots last week. Ray Rice is going to have a lot of fun running around and through the crummy Buffalo defense. On the other side of the ball, Ed Reed is back. He's not 100 percent, but who can actually name the Bills' receivers after Lee Evans? I'm out after Roscoe Parrish.

San Francisco (-3) at CAROLINA: Steve Smith returns for Carolina and Matt Moore will be behind center. Smith returning is exciting for Panthers fans. Moore and his sub 50 passer rating? Not so much.

St. Louis (+3) over TAMPA BAY: I wanted to pick St. Louis last week against San Diego but wussed out. Consider this my way of making it up to them. They'll never forgive me.

Arizona (+5.5) over SEATTLE: Call me crazy, but I just don't understand how the Seahawks can be favored by more than 3 points in any game.

New England (+2.5) over SAN DIEGO: The 2-4 team that has lost to the Oakland Raiders, Seahawks, Rams and Chiefs is favored to beat the 4-1 team that just came off a big win against the Ravens? I get that the Chargers are home, but they are not playing good football right now. Their starting receivers will also be Craig "Buster" Davis and Patrick Crayton. Is home field really so much of an advantage that they can overcome these obstacles?

DENVER (-8.5) over Oakland: Kyle Orton was held in check last week. It won't happen again this week. Would you have ever imagined reading that statement two years ago?

GREEN BAY (-2.5) over Minnesota: Until Brett Favre actually plays a good or great game, I just don't have confidence in the Vikings.

New York Giants (+3) over DALLAS: I'm definitely going with my heart on this one. I'd love to see Dallas finish the season at 4-12 or 5-11 after all the hype they got in the offseason. It would be beautiful.

The Beatles - The Long and Winding Road

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Harrison contemplates retirement

By Jeff

Remember two years ago when Kurt Warner saw a crushing hit on Anquan Boldin and immediately considered retirement out of fear? Well, James Harrison is contemplating retirement because he wants to keep delivering big hits to offensive players without worrying about the NFL fining and suspending him.

This could happen to you.
The story from the Post-Gazette is here.

At first, I thought this was just Harrison being a drama queen. I figured he was just blowing off steam and there was no way he'd retire. But then I remembered that it's James Harrison we're talking about. The man is crazy! He's not the biggest or the strongest player in the league, but he would be the man I'm most afraid of. If I were a player in the NFL, not only would I fear Harrison wrecking my face, but I'd be afraid of him wrecking my face and then showing up at my home and destroying my family too.

No one knows what's going through Harrison's head but Harrison. And I don't even want to take a guess at what goes on in there.

Prince - Let's Go Crazy

NFL admits mistake, take down photos of fined hits

By Jeff

The NFL claims that it was a mistake that photos of fined hits were up for sale on their shop Web site. Here is the ESPN story.

Mistakes happen, but with all of the recent attention these hits gained, it's kind of hard to believe this was a mistake. Just my opinion.

Mark Morrison - Return of the Mack (I always thought it was titled "You Lied to Me".)

NFL looking to make quick buck

By Jeff

The NFL wants you to think they are concerned about hits to head. That's why they fined James Harrison, Brandon Meriweather and Dunta Robinson yesterday, right?


While telling everyone that they are concerned about player safety, the NFL is actually trying to make make money from the same brutal hits they are condemning. I'm not talking about the fines themselves. Those actually go to charity. I'm talking about the NFL selling photos of the Harrison hit on Mohamed Massaquoi.

That's right. For $16 to $250 you can order a picture of Harrison destroying Massaquoi. Does that seem a little hypocritical to anyone else? How can the NFL preach safety, but then profit by showcasing hits they are trying to eliminate in the game. Seems counter productive.

The Jam - Going Underground

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some are just smarter than others

By Mike Roarty

Well that makes three in a row wrong. This game of the week is turning into my Thursday night pickem from years past. O well. This week I will channel my inner Les Miles and try to pull a win out of my brain. (hat? (Hatbrain?)) That leads us to the plains as the LSU Tigers will take on the Auburn Tigers. (Since they are both Tigers I have to use their school’s name and can’t use Tigers to describe them, good work unoriginal SEC.)

Each team was overshadowed by Alabama at the start of the year but now thanks to Les and Cam Newton this game will be front in center on Saturday. The lead in the SEC West is at stake and so will the sanity of everyone watching what Miles does next. He does crazy things and says even more inane stuff but the guys wins. If he pulls off the upset Saturday we should all start walking around with a white hat and with our shoelaces untied. (Michigan is going to dominate the bye week btw.)

As for Cam Newton, he has lived up to the hype. As the good doctor points out, he is taking college football by storm. Every Florida fan must dread watching Auburn games wondering what might have been with Newton running the show. Terrell Pryor might watch and see himself had he chose to play for a spread coach like Malzahn. The scary thing is I don’t think he has touched what he can do in that offense. Newton can take charge of the ever changing Heisman landscape as well although who knows at this point what might happen. (Tate Forcier anyone?)

The clear story in the game will be can LSU’s offense do anything to keep up with Auburn? LSU’s defense is solid and I could see them stymieing Auburn for a few series. But if LSU can’t move the ball then their defense will become tired and angry and eventually sad.

Look for Newton to be slowed for sure but much like Novocain, the Malzahn offense will wear down LSU and the Auburn Tigers will continue their march towards an unbeaten season. Auburn 28-14.

CCR- Midnight Special