Random thoughts about my interests which include (in no particular order) poker, finance & investing, politics, football and whatever else I happen to see that piques my interest

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No longer a zombie

Wow after doing 3 games last night I came home looking just like this guy up above.  And feeling like him too.  A cold shower did a lot to at least cool me off as it was huuuuuuuuuumid yesterday and last night.  At least it cooled off some as the sun went down.  The games themselves went off fine and I only was hit pretty good once in the back, but when we finished I was ready to get off the field. 

I woke up this morning looking better but still feeling zombieish and my legs were sore but I felt better than I did last night.  The PQ and I took her mother out to breakfast.  Some steak and eggs, toast, and homefries with plenty of coffee and tada, no longer a zombie. 

Just got back after picking up a couple of prescriptions and some things at the store.  I got out of cooking breakfast today by using some referee cash and buying it but the PQ has already told me I'm not getting out of cooking dinner for her.  So I had to pick up a few ingredients and some salad stuff.  Chicken piccata at 5:30.  Drop by if you want a bite.

Time for some picks.

There isn't a lot I like today on the NFL slate but here's a couple I may play.

I'll take the over 54.5 in the New England/Buffalo contest.  I don't see either defense doing enough to stop either offense.  I figure we might see a score like 38 - 28 in this one.

I like Houston +4 in New Orleans due to injuries to both Marques Colston and Jonathan Vilma. 

Give me the Raiders +2.5 vs the New York Jets.  This game should be a walk for Sanchez against the weak Raider secondary but this is the type of game where Sanchez has been known to lay an egg, especially if he is pressured.  The Raiders can get to the QB and NY lost their center, All Pro Nick Mangold.  This Raider offense has a lot of weapons, even with injuries to Murphy and Ford and may have found a star in Denarious Moore. 

I was looking at the Steelers -10 (now -11) vs Indy but something about Pittsburgh doesn't seem right to me.  I expected them to completely blow out Seattle last week and 24-0 is a blowout but not to the extent I expected.  Yes Indy is pretty bad without Peyton but I just think this will be closer than that.  I also thought about taking Miami -1.5 vs Cleveland as I think they will play better on the road than at home.  I may still take that one.

Had a decent day on my short term investments yesterday.  LSU proved to me they are for real by thrashing West Virginia but it was a close game until the 4th quarter.   Alabama easily covered, Middle Tennessee St stayed right with Troy before losing by 3 and easily covering as well.  UCLA was the best of the picks as they won outright at Oregon St as a 4.5 point dog.  Wish I had played that one on the money line instead of taking the points.  But it was nice to finish in the money again this week.  Not sure if I want to put any of my profit on the table in today's games, maybe I'll just take the over in the Patriot game.

That's enough for now, almost kickoff time.  Stay lucky you nuts and remember, bet with your head, not over it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

No poker for you

It's another Saturday night of poker for some in my household but my participation is limited solely to staking the PQ in a tourney.  While she is sitting in air conditioned comfort raising and bluffing the locals, I will be chasing the kids around a football field 5 miles down the road and most probably sweating my ass off.  The way I feel right now, I probably won't be running too fast.

Thursday night I had to do  JV ball game just down a few miles from the house.  The sky was ugly when I got to the game and I figured we'd be lucky to get the game started.  But we got going and actually got most of the way through the first quarter before some lightning strikes convinced us to suspend the game for a while.  Everyone trooped inside to wait it out.  There was a fair amount of thunder and lightning but it really didn't rain hard.  About 45 minutes later we went back outside as the rain and lightning had stopped at least for now.  We gave the teams some time to warm back up and started up again.  The home team was far superior to the visitors and the game became a blow out.  Lightning appeared in the distance to our west (the storms had come in from the east it seemed) so it looked like everything was blowing out into the Gulf.  As the game progressed though, the lightning to our west got stronger and the storm didn't go away, it just kind of sat there.  We came close to stopping the game a couple of times but the storm didn't get nearer either though the lightning was impressive a couple of times.  Fortunately the game was a blow out, we cut the halftime break short and had a running clock through much of the 2nd half so we got out of there pretty quickly.  It wasn't a hard game to ref and though I got run into pretty good on one play, I came out of the game feeling pretty good.

Friday was not so kind to me.  We had to go to Admiral Farragut to do their game with Keswick Christian.  Farragut is a good time, and they were expected to compete for the state title this year in their class.  No team from this county has won a state championship in football in 30 or 40 years so if they got there it would be a pretty big thing.  But last week, Farragut had suffered injuries to their QB and a couple of other big players and lost a game they were expected to win.  The QB is still out so we weren't sure what kind of game we would see. 

When the game began I could tell Farragut was a good bit better than Keswick and they marched down and scored fairly quickly.  About midway through the 2nd quarter Farragut was up 14-0 and hadn't been threatened.  They were pretty undisciplined and took some stupid penalties though.  Farragut had to punt from their own 40 yard line and the center snaps it over the punter's head.  The punter goes back to pick up the ball on his own 15 and muffs it but then finally picks it up.  Keswick is all over him and he gets the bright idea to pitch the ball to a teammate.  The ball hits the ground and a mad scramble begins for the ball.  By the time it's finally recovered, the ball is on the 2 yard line.  Keswick punches it in from there and is only down 14-7 at the half. 

I was ready for half time by then.  A guy had hit me in the side during one play when there was a fumble right in front of me.  I had also turned my knee a little as my foot got caught up in some soft ground when I turned to follow a play.  The third quarter starts and there's more undisciplined play.  Farragut goes to punt from their own 30 and the center snaps it over the punter's head again.  This time someone must have talked to the punter because this time he picks the ball up at about the 10 and heaves a pass out of bounds.  The play might have worked in the NFL.  Here in high school it didn't.  There is no rule in high school ball about throwing a ball away if you're outside the tackle box.  The rule in high school is, this is intentional grounding.  So instead of Keswick taking over at the 30 yard line due to an incomplete pass, we have intentional grounding from the 10 yard line.  Loss of down and half the distance to the goal, Keswick takes over at the 5 yard line.  They punch it in for the TD but the extra point is blocked and they are still down 14-13. 

Keswick tries an onside kick and almost gets the ball but Farragut takes over on their 40.  A great catch on 3rd down gets them inside the 10.  The next play they run to the right and runner gets close to the goal line.  I'm trying to get close to the play to see if there is a fumble or the ball breaks the plane but guys are running into me and one guy gets blocked into me and gets me with his cleats in the shin.  That hurt.  The runner goes down just before the goal line and I'm hobbling up to the ball after that.  The next down Farragut punches it in.  At the end of 3 its 21 - 13 and we still have a ball game.   The 4th quarter is still more of the same undisciplined stuff from Farragut.  Midway through the 4th Farragut is driving on the Keswick 35 still up by eight.  After a short pass the receiver and a defender start jawing at each other.  Me and another ref go to break them up and as their starting to separate, the Farragut player pushes the other player in the face.  Up goes my flag, 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Another stupid penalty.  Undisciplined.  Game finishes out as Keswick never threatens another score and Farragut doesn't snap any more balls over the punter's head to set them up.  Still it was a decent game to ref outside of the hits I took.  I know why the NFL moved the umpire to the offensive backfield.  Even in high school it's a jungle out there, you got the lions fighting the water buffalo and I'm just caught alone in between them.

Here's some picks for the college games today:

I like West Virginia +6 over LSU today.  LSU is very good but WVU is no slouch and after 2 big wins over good teams the last few weeks, LSU is due for a non conference let down.  Also Morgantown WV is a tough place to play.  If LSU goes out and whips them, I really want to see their game against Bama later on this year. 

I'm also taking Alabama -11.5 over Arkansas.  Arkansas is young, Alabama returned 10 of 11 from their terrific defense last year.  Yes they lost some offensive players but it's not gonna matter.  Alabama takes this down by 3 tds. 

I'll take Middle Tenn St +12.5 against Troy St.  Troy is pretty good but MTSU plays them tough.  I expect this game to be a lot closer than the spread. 

One other one I'm looking at and may play is UCLA getting 4.5 at Oregon St.  Oregon St lost to Sacramento St and is favored against anyone?  Not to say UCLA is all that but at least they beat San Jose St and played tough with Houston who is pretty good this year. 

So that's my story today.  I'm gonna spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon rehydrating and thinking about a dream I had last night - actually this morning.  When I got home last night, the PQ was nodding out in her recliner and I sent her off to bed.  I had picked up a bite to eat on the way home.  While I was eating I started watching the Orlando Edgewater football game from that night.  I guess it carried over when I went to bed.  Somehow I dreamed I was refereeing that Edgewater game.  At halftime we're leaving the field and I look in the stands  and see Casey Anthony in the stands.  I called out to her that I knew someone who was a big fan of hers.  She said, "well why don't you give me his number and I'll give him a call." but I told her he had recently had heart problems and talking to her (or more) would probably do him in.  Sorry Light.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.  I hope I survive my 3 games tonight relatively unharmed.  I also hope I win the lottery tonight.  I think my chances are slightly better on the first than the second hope.  Have fun y'all and stay lucky. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday night fever

Since we hadn't played any live poker lately, the PQ and I had a bit of a fever to tangle with the sharps at the local card room and try our luck.  I was pretty tired after refereeing a couple of games so I had napped for about an hour before we got going and felt a little lethargic but a lot better when we left. 

Let me break for a moment but putting my picks in for today before the games get all going.

I like Dallas -3 over SF - Dallas has a lot of firepower and SF has Alex Smith.  Nuff said.
San Diego +6.5 over New England.  New England should win but last week, SD played a game they would have normally lost and managed to pull it out. They look different this year.  They have the offense to stay with NE.  NE has a defense that can give up points.  Might want to look at the over as well, but 53.5 is high for the NFL.
Chicago +5 over New Orleans.  I'm not sold on NO this year, defensively they do not look good.  Chicago does look good defensively.  I liked this line a lot more at +7 but will take it at 5.

Ok back again.

So we hit the 6pm tourney that my wife and I like so much.  It was bigger than usual with about 50 players.  Not too bad.  PQ got out to a hot start and knocked out 2 or 3 players at her table.  I was coooooooooooooooooooold.  Could not get much to play with and spent the first 1/2 hour watching my table mates.  One guy would push any good hand no matter how bad the flop was for him.  One lady was new to tourneys and she would play anything against any raise.  If she hit any part of the flop you couldn't get rid of her.  This guy pushed AK against her and she called him down and then raised the river when he bricked out.  He fold AK face up and she had Q4 and flopped a Q.  She hit him up for a good chunk but he got her back when he had AQ and flopped QJ4.  She called him all the way with J2.  Then I finally get AK myself and raise in middle position to 400.  This lady calls from the button and her nemesis then raises to 1K from the big blind.  I put him on a good hand but nothing better than what I had and maybe AQ or AJ.  Her I had no idea about.  Flop is 10-10-8.  Guy checks, I check, lady bets 1K.  He calls, I'm outta here.  She has something, maybe a 10.   Guy goes with her all the way to the river and loses another chunk to her when she flips over JJ and he has AK again.  He calls a completely blank river and is shocked she actually has something.  Dude everytime she bets she has something and you're shocked??  She later gets busted when she gets all in after flopping a pair of Jacks on a QJ2 flop in a raised pot.  Unfortunately her opponent had KK and she gave him all her chips.  She had J6 and called his preflop raise.  I never got a big hand against her so never got to take advantage.

After the first hour I've managed to lose just over 1/3 of my starting chips.  I've had no other good hands and the few position raises I've made have been met with numerous calls and no good flops.  I've maybe played 4 hands all told and lost over 2K.  I get dealt 88 on the button.  Mr AK raises to 500 and I debate going over the top of him but figure on waiting to see the flop as I'm pretty sure he has 2 big cards and will call me preflop.  So I'm the only caller.  Flop is 10 high, no help to me but I don't think it helped him either.  He bets 1K and I put in my last 3200.  He thinks for a minute and I know he has nothing.  Then he calls and flips up......AK.  Man loves his AK.  Turn and river did not help him and I double up.  He is down to 600 after that. 

Next time I'm on the button I get 6-2.  3 people call preflop so I decide to call as well.  Normally I dump but Arnold Snyder said you should almost always call here even when you have trash.  Arnie is right. Flop is A22.  Everyone checks to a guy on my right who bets 300.  I call and the others fold.  Turn is a 10.  Guy checks and I put 600 in.  He calls me.  River is an 8.  He checks again and I think for a minute then put in another 600 like I'm just trying to buy the pot for the same bet.  he calls me and is shocked when I flip over the 2.  He had a low ace and though he might have kicker problems.  He had more than that.  This puts me up over 9k and I'm feeling a lot better even though the best I've had is AK once and 88 once.  Our table breaks and I get seated between 2 chatty ladies who are both drinking a bit.  This table is a bit wild, a lot of raising back and forth so I figure on taking my time to wait on something and establish a table image.  I take down a couple of pots with some position play as I still am not getting much and my raises are at least getting some respect.  I hit the break at about 12K which is double my stack and am pretty happy at that, especially as my cards have been pretty much crap.  PQ is sitting at over 20K and is one of the chip leaders.

Guy in seat 2 is a bit loose and wild and will raise just about any 2 cards.  I figured on picking him off but never got the chance.  One time I took a shot, and he put me to the test for all my chips.  I figured I was ahead with 88 but also figured he had a hand this time as he showed a weak hand last time he raised so even if he had KJ I was at best 50/50.  I could afford to lose some chips there so I took the hit and moved on.  Chick to my right goes bust when she pushes all in after flopping 2 pair with J6.  Too bad for her the guy in seat 2 flopped two pair with A6 and he took her out.  Gal to my right is playing tight but as the alcohol hits her she loosens up.  I take a couple of pots off her though when she calls my position raises but flops nothing and gives in to my continuation bet.  I noticed too late that she loves to play any ace.  I get KQ which is the best hand since 88 and raise and she calls.  Flop is unfortunately Ace high.  I debate checking but put in a continuation bet which she calls.  I know she has an ace.  Turn is a 10 giving me an inside straight draw and we both check.  River is a blank.  I'm debating pushing all in and making her decide but I know she has the ace and after this much alcohol, doubt she will lay it down and check again folding to her river bet.  She takes out another guy soon after when she gets KK and he pushes all in over her raise with AQ.  She got KK 3 times in the next hour or so.  I can't get crap.  Sometimes poker is not fair.

We get broken to again and are down to 2 tables.  I'm sitting 2 seats to the left of PQ now with the drinking gal in between us.  She hits another big pot with KK (of course) and people are going bust.  PQ has a decent stack but is not doing anything with it but calling a few times. She isn't getting much to play obviously but she has a big enough stack to push people around and has a pretty tight image.  I'm getting short now after my last debacle and though I steal a couple of pots, the blinds and antes are getting up there.  But I watch my fellow players and have a pretty good read on their play.  I get AJ in first position and push all in.  Gal just to my left debates calling and I know she has a hand as she is pretty tight.  She eventually dumps and I get a walk when everyone else does too.  The drinker got moved to another table to even them up.  A few hands later I have A9 on the button.  Guy in early position raises to 2200 and I don't put him on anything too big, probably 2 face cards or a small-mid pair.  Figure I'm ahead or only a little behind so I push all in.  He calls the 3K more I put in and he is reluctant so I know he isn't too strong.  He flips over QJ and I am ahead but it's a race.  Flop has both a Q and a 9 so I'm behind but river is an Ace and I have life again.  I manage to take down another pot with the legendary 4-2.  PQ is losing chips but gets healthy in a hurry when she gets AA and some guy pushes all in with 33.  Good night to him as he doesn't improve and she almost doubles up from it.

I get moved to seat 10 sitting on about 18K.  Average stack is about 25K.  PQ has over 30K.  Drinking gal is over by her with a big stack as is the wild guy from my second table also with a big stack.  I figure my luck has to turn soon and I'll start getting some big cards but it never happens.  Play starts out pretty tight and I should have jumped in here to steal some pots.  I got a few but I could have been more active.  Eventually blinds are getting harsh.  I raise in mid position with A7.  Everyone folds to the big blind who pushes in and has me covered.  I have enough chips in there that I figure I have to call hoping he has KQ.  He has KK.  Everyone gets that hand but me.  He flops a king and I get back door straight and flush draws which get better on the turn but I get nothing on the river and am out 8th.  PQ hangs in and ends up making the money in 5th.  Drinking gal pisses away all her chips and is bubble gal in 6th. 

Wrapping it up, I am satisfied.  I had no cards, took mostly good shots to chip up.  Played a bit too tentative early at the final table when I could have chipped up some.  Not happy about that.  But otherwise I felt pretty good.  PQ was happy to hit the money.  It was a semi successful tourney, would have been better if we both made it but still not bad.  Next time with a few cards, I'll take the damn thing down.  Well enough about me.  Hope everyone is having a good weekend.  God the Bucs are playing bad football right now.  This team will improve in the second half of the year I think but the linemen are so young they are getting beat up on in the trenches right now.  No playoffs for them I think, be a good year to hit 9-7.   Stay thirsty my friends.  I sure am.


Time to eat some crow.  The Bucs/Vikings game just ended.  The Buccaneers went into the locker room at halftime down 17-0 and looking like a beaten team.  Peterson ran all over them, the Vikes lines were beating the tar out of them, and they just looked BAD.  Josh Freeman went into a phone booth outside the dressing room, turned into Superman, and led the team down to a TD on their first possession.  Then a gutsy onside kick call gets them the ball back and even though Superman throws a pick in the end zone, the team buckles down, stops the Vikes again, and gets the ball back.  A TD is nullified by an illegal shift penalty and they have to settle for a field goal but they dominate the entire second half and score the winning TD with a minute left.  Viking fans were VERY unhappy.  I heard a lot of cheers for the Bucs up there as well.  Surprising.  I'll take my crow lightly breaded and broiled with some fava beans and a nice chianti. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Morning Quickie

Gotta ref early today at 11am so I only have time for a quickie today.  Figured on putting a few short term investment choices out there so I can embarass myself again.  Lately I'm lucky to pick one right.  I am in a dead pool at work where I somehow made it through a treacherous week 1 (barely) and this week's pick is the NY Jets.  I hate the Jetskis but they shouldn't have any problem winning this week. 

My college picks for today are

Washington St +5 over San Diego St
Army +6 over Northwestern
Navy +16.5 over South Carolina
Tennessee +9.5 over Florida
Oklahoma -3 over Florida St.

I had a game Thursday night.  That was a busy game, a lot of scoring and we were shorthanded as one of the refs was removed from the game.  I don't know what happened there but I'm not happy doing games short handed, especially since we have plenty of refs.  We did a lot of running that day and I was pretty tired when it was over.  But I've had plenty of time to rest and only 2 games today so all should be well.  No rain it looks like either.  About time I stop refereeing in quagmires. 

Rays lost a disappointing game last night, one they could have won.  They lose one of the next 2, I think their shot is over but I still think the Red Sox have their work cut out for them too.  They are not the same team that was ripping through the AL all summer long.   Beckett was decent last night but not dominating.  They need him to be a lot better than that to make it to the post season never mind going somewhere.  Still an interesting end of the season coming up.   Well gotta go get ready.  With a bit of luck I'll be playing some poker tonight.  It's been a while.  Till then, stay lucky.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are we gripping yet???

Boston fans are annoying.  Often times very annoying.  It didn't used to be that way.  After all, prior to 2000 there were no recent sports memories for Boston fans to be all that proud about.  They had endured a stretch from the last Celtic championship in 1986 to the 2002 Patriots before a world championship was won in Boston.  And the Red Sox, who have always been the most popular team in Boston, hadn't won a World Series in over 80 years.  Red Sox fans had endured Pesky's hesitation, Armbrister's Interference, Buckners Legs, and enough Curse of the Bambino to choke a horse.   And worst of all had to be Bucky  Dent and the 1 game playoff in 1978.  Ask any Red Sox fan around my age and he or she will probably call him Bucky Bleeping Dent. 

The Sox started out hot that year with a veteran lineup who had just missed winning it all in 1975.  Their biggest rival the Yankees started poorly and after the All Star break the Sox were sitting on a 14 game lead.  People in Boston were talking World Series again.  Then the roof caved in.  The Yankees got hot.  The Sox got cold.  NY came to Boston in early September still down 4 games and swept the 4 game series outscoring the Sox 42-9!  Red Sox fans were freaking out.   A week later NY was 3 games ahead after taking 2 more from the Sox.  But Boston sucked it up and went on their own run to tie the Yanks at the end of the season and force a 1 game playoff in Fenway Park for the AL East crown.  People forget today that Boston had to go 12-2 to make up 3.5 games against the Yanks in the last few weeks of the season.  NY didn't give it to them going 8-5 and winning 6 of the last 7 games but Boston went 7-0 down the stretch to tie the season up.  Only to lose the playoff game, at home, when Bucky Dent and his 5 home runs a year put one over the Green Monstah with 2 on.  I felt for Red Sox fans, I really did.  Hell I used to be one.  Was at work listening to the playoff game on the radio when Dent hit it out.  I still hate the Yankmees.  Always will.

Which brings me to my point.  Red Sox fans in their 20s and 30s didn't live through all the heart ache of fans my age and older saw.  After the fantastic comeback against NY in 2004 and then finally winning a World Series then winning it again only 3 years later, along with the 3 Super Bowls the Patriots won, the Celtics winning the NBA championship, and even the usually underachieving Bruins winning the Stanley Cup this year, younger Red Sox fans have become about as obnoxious as Yankee fans.  The expectations that they are going to win it all and all of their (recent) championship history just brings out the worst in a lot of them.  And man did they get uppity.  Last year all I heard was "Better take your pictures of Carl Crawford in Rays gear now cuz next year he'll either be playing left field for us or the Yankees"  Which is why I am deriving so much joy from the September swoon the Sox are going through now.  When Boston came down here last weekend with a 6.5 game lead for the wild card and left with a 3.5 game lead, I just had to chuckle.  Even guffaw a time or 2.

Now many of the younger set are just shaking it off, saying they're not worried.  After all who do they have to fear on Tampa Bay?  They're just going through a little slump like they did at the  start of the season and they'll get untracked.  But you older folks, and you know who you are, you people are GRIPPING.  You remember Bill Buckner.  You remember Bucky Dent.  You remember how every break seemed to go against you when you really needed one.  I know you're feeling it, I have proof.  The Boston Globe has a poll out now.  See the results here.  Almost 70% are extremely worried and only 6% are not worried at all.  Or check out this blog.  He doesn't seem very concerned does he? 

These younger folks, they may not believe it, but they're hearing it from you.  And finally its starting to mess with their minds a little.  Now all we need is for the Sox to totally collapse and their education will be complete.  They will be ready to join you on the Dark Side.  I will be sitting in my recliner rubbing my hands together like Emperor Palpatine laughing my evil dark side laugh. 

The Sox are suffering one of the curses of a veteran team, injuries.  Even though they aren't a particularly old team, many of them are not spring chickens anymore.  And the people that are out right now are the ones you cannot replace.  Youkilis, Bedard, Lowrie and most importantly Beckett are all banged up.  Youkilis is important to the team but losing Beckett is killing the Sox.  He does what no one else on the team seems able to do, he stops losing streaks.   As good as Lester is supposed to be, he couldn't get it done when they needed him to.  And right now, they need someone to step up and take control. 

Sports like baseball and golf that demand a high level of skill are the ones that also have a high mental aspect as well.  Confidence plays a crucial role in winning and losing.  When you are playing well and your confidence is high, you believe you'll win and you usually do.  When you're confidence is not high, a bad break, a bad call, anything can set the downward spiral going and before you know it you've lost another game.  A lot like poker when you think about it.  Lately the Sox have been living this.  If they don't get out of it soon, it'll be too late.  The Rays went through this in July and early August and only recently have really put it together but now they are loose, they feel good and most of all, their best players are all healthy.  The Beantown natives are getting restless.

My thoughts, 3 games are still a lot to make up in a short amount of time.  After playing Baltimore, the Rays go up to Boston - not the house of horrors Seattle and Oakland often are for them as they are 4-1 there this year - but still they have to go there, then NY then come home to play a good Toronto team and finish with the Yankees.  A very hard finish for them.  If they make the playoffs, they won't have backed in.  So you have to give the edge to the Sox who have 7 more games with Baltimore after the Rays series this weekend.  They do have a series with the Yanks as well and you know NY would love nothing more than to knock out the Sox.  Obnoxious Yankee fans live for those moments.

Personally, I still don't think the Rays get there but the Sox better watch out anyway. If Beckett doesn't get healthy, they could beat out the Rays and still not make it when the Angels sneak into the wild card.  They are also playing good ball now and even though they trail Boston by 5.5, it's not out of the question.  Improbable, yes but not impossible.  I know I'll be rooting for the Rays until the bitter end.  Considering how much I didn't expect the Rays to contend this year, especially after the Manny disaster and Longo's early injury, I have to say I am impressed.  The starting pitchers except for Price, have been better than expected, the relievers have somehow gotten it done with cast offs and nobodies, and the hitting has wavered between timely and putrid, lately timely.  They've done it with good starting pitching and smoke and mirrors but they're doing it.  What a way to finish the season.  If only the Yankees could go on a 15 game losing streak, this would truly be a season to remember. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Taking a beating

I'm a bit tired and a bit sore today.  Feels like I've been through a mugging or maybe reffed a few football games.  Which is what I did.  And I feel it.  It started Wednesday night when I went to Shorecrest (a rather expensive private school with some nice facilities) to referee an intrasquad game they were playing called the Green/Gold game.  Much to my surprise, the head ref for the game was Jayme, the guy who had gotten into that big melee the weekend before in Sarasota.  I thought he wasn't in our association anymore as I hadn't seen him at any meetings but it turns out he just hadn't gone to any.  On Saturdays, he refs for another association but he still doesn high school games for us. 

Jayme was ok but pretty sore.  His shoulder is pretty messed up from the tackle and the only reason he isn't wearing a sling for his arm is because he told the doctor he wouldn't.  His left arm is almost useless right now and I heard him gasp when a kid bumped into him on the left side during the game.  But other than that he is the same irrepressible guy who just loves to referee and we had a good time at Shorecrest.  The weather was a little cooler than normal as it was cloudy with a little drizzle most of the game.  It was a nice night to ref for the most part. 

Thursday night I had to do another game at Pinellas Park.  It was a really nice night, perfect for football here.  About 10 degrees cooler than normal.  The field unfortunately was not in great shape.  We've had a lot of rain lately and a lot of the ball fields are pretty wet.  Many of them don't drain too well and you add in a few practices and games on a wet field and they get pretty torn up.  I would charitably call this field sloppy.  We didn't have any rain Thursday night but this field just didn't drain well.

On the first scrimmage play, a kid runs into me from behind.  That hurt a little.  Welcome to the game ref.  During the game it happened another 2 or 3 times.  Needless to say I was a little sore after that game.  It was a good game though.  The visitors (Osceola) matched up with Pinellas Park pretty well.  We were almost to half time and it was still a scoreless game.  The last play of the half the Osceola quarterback hits a receiver cutting deep across the middle of the field.  He gets away from his defender and it looks like a sure TD for them (good because I really prefer not to go to overtime) but a defender who was covering another receiver runs him down and swats the ball out of his hands on the 2 yard line.  The defender goes for the ball and knocks it into the end zone where it rolls toward the back line.  Another Osceola player dives for the ball in the end zone but by the time he gets it, he and the ball have slid across the end line and out of bounds.  So we are still 0-0 at the half. 

In the third quarter the Osceola quarterback fumbles the snap and it gets kicked around a little.  I'm trying to move forward to cover the fumble and get run into by 2 different players.  Pinellas Park recovers around mid field and moves the ball downfield to score a little before the end of the 3rd.  Late in the 4th quarter Osceola moves downfield - with the help of a 15 yard penalty for a horse collar - and gets down inside the Park's 15 yard line.  The next play the complete a short pass to the 5.  They have second and 1 from the 5 and it looks like we might be heading to overtime but instead of running for the first down they tried a pass play.  The quarterback faded back, got pressured by 2 guys and fumbled when he tried to pass.  Pinellas park recovered and that was the ball game.  It was a good game outside of the field conditions and the guys constantly running into me.  But it was fun. 

The next day I woke up sore a bit and tired but managed to autopilot my way to work.  I had the night off from football and figured to recover a little.  Or so I thought.  I get a call from one of the referees while I'm at work and he asks if I knew I was working the clock for him that night.  I looked at the schedule and saw the guy who schedules games for us had added me to this game on the night before.  Not even a call.  Of course maybe he called the head ref and had him call me.  I don't know but I was none too pleased.  Still I knew most of this crew pretty well so I opted to do the game.  I hadn't blocked off the day on my schedule so they can give me a game at that point, still I'd like a call if it's gonna be last minute.  So after work Friday I went home and gathered my referee gear and went back to Shorecrest again.  Good thing the game was there and not one of schools thats far away from my work.  I had time enough to head home and change up and head over there. 

The game was a blowout and for me it was no big deal.  When I am the clock operator/score keeper, my main objective is to be invisible.  As long as I don't attract any attention to the clock for some reason, I've done my job.  I managed to not screw up anywhere, we made it through the game, and I booked it home.  I had 2 games to work the clock and 3 on the field Saturday and I definitely wanted to get a decent night of sleep.

Saturday dawned cloudy and rainy.  My first game wasn't until 2 and rain is no problem except for sloppy conditions but rain here usually means thunderstorms and we can't play in that.  About 11:30 it started pouring here at my house.   Lightning, thunder, the whole works.  Not good.  I checked the weather radar and though it was raining here, the Azalea field was about 6-7 miles south of my home and it wasn't raining there.  But I could see it was going to hit there a bit later as the line of storms was sliding in from the west and the line went northeast to southwest so it was goinna push in there in the next hour or so.  Hopefully without all the lightning and thunder I was getting.

When I got to the field I could see they were behind.  It was half time when I stepped into the field complex and I was hoping it was half time of the last game before I started working.  I talked to the refs and they said they had to delay an earlier game for 45 minutes.  So they weren't in bad shape, maybe 20-30 minutes behind.  Fortunately the game turned into a blowout in the second half and they were able to go to a running clock.  In the youth league, if one team is ahead by 30 or more in the second half we go to a running clock to get the game over faster and avoid the games getting too far out of hand.  So they finished up about 15 minutes late on the game.

The field was a mess.  The home team sideline was all muddy between the 30 yard lines and the field was really muddy near that sideline.  The far sideline was not too bad but I could see muddy areas in the middle of the field and down in one end zone.  We got started and and it was cloudy and warm but not hot and it looked like the rain was done for the time being.  As the game went on the clouds started to dissipate and the sun peeked out.  By the time my second game on the clock started the sun was fully out and it was getting warm.  It was drying out the field a little and I was hoping by the time I got out there it would be decent.  The first game was a blowout so we went to a running clock and the game ended only about 10 minutes late.  The second game was also a blowout (Azalea usually has pretty good teams and Seminole usually doesn't) so we got to a running clock late in the third quarter and that game ended almost on time. 

I went down from the press box for my first of three games on the field.  It was really warm by then, and the humidity from the field drying under us was really high.  Ed the head ref is a guy I worked with on Thursday and have worked with plenty of times.  We get along well and have some fun while we're out there.  One of the linesmen was Sean, a guy who started when I did so we know each other pretty well and have worked together in youth games quite a bit, though not high school as both work as umpires there.  The field had dried out a little and some parts were close to normal.  Some parts were a quagmire however and the area from the 20 yard line into the end zone on one end were pretty bad.  Near the 50 yard line on the home team side was practically a quagmire.  I told Ed if he heard me yell I was sinking there to throw me a line or even a snake. 

First game was 9-10 year olds and these 2 teams were very closely matched.  I thought Azalea was a little better but not by much.  Neither team was able to mount much of an offensive threat as the defenses really dominated.  Azalea was a bit surprised by that as they expected to dominate but both teams were close to equal and both worked hard.   We ended 0-0 after 4 quarters and had to play one overtime period.  If we're still tied after that it's a tie game.  We play a modified Kansas tie break in high school and youth football.  One team gets 4 shots from the 10 yard line and then the other team does and whoever is leading wins.  Seminole got the ball first and on the second play a big hole opened and the kid went in for the TD.  Azalea got close, down to the 5 on their chance but couldn't punch it in and Seminole won.

Next game is the varsity 11-12 year olds.  Seminole had 3 JV teams for this level last year and I had heard they were pretty good this year.  Azalea is always very good and hadn't lost a game at this level in a couple of years so they were really primed to play.  Ex Buc Mike Alstott has a boy playing for the Seminole squad and he coaches them.  I did a number of their games last year when he was on the JV team and his dad coached then as well.  My wife has always been a huge stalker, secret lover fan of his.  He's a nice guy though sometimes he doesn't understand there is a difference between NFL and high school rules.  We had an offsides on a kickoff which in the NFL is just a flag and play on and let's see what happens.  In high school an offsides penalty kills the play right then.  It was a bad kickoff by Azalea and they would have gotten the ball in great field position but we had to call it back and replay it. 

A little later in the game there was an injury and Mike came out to check on his kid.  He then went toward his team huddle which is a no-no as high school rules prohibit coaches going to the huddle for an injury time out.   We warned him he couldn't do it and he came by and said he was sorry, he didn't know that rule.  I told him it was ok, we'd cut him some slack and he pats me on the chest on his way by.  After the game, they got beat like 25-6, I told him they played hard and good luck and he pats my shoulder and thanked me on the way by.  When I got home I mentioned I had run into her not so secret crush and he had touched my shirt twice.  She swore she would never wash it and even put it on her facebook page. 

During the second game my lower back started getting really tight and painful from a shot I took there in the first game.  The president of the Azalea association saw I wasn't doing well and asked me about it and I told her what was up so she got me some ibuprofen which really saved my ass.  I hadn't eaten anything since that morning so taking them on an empty stomach after running around out there almost made me vomit but when the kicked in, my back eased up and I was fine until the end of the last game.

The last game was a pretty good game.  Seminole came out and played hard nosed football and scored first.  They really dominated a good part of the first half and went into the half even at 6.  Second half was a different story though and Azalea put up a few TDs to take the game but both teams played pretty well.  I was glad to be done though.  I was hot, sweaty as hell, muddy, dirty, and still in some pain.  I got home about 10:30, ate a bite and talked to the PQ for a bit.  We were both beat and she went to bed while I hit the showers.  When I got done I headed to be but I was too hot after taking a long warm shower.  So I went back to the living room and put the ceiling fan on above me while I reclined for a bit.  I woke up in bed this morning but I don't remember leaving the recliner at some point last night.  Guess I was pretty tired.  Used some of my football earnings and took the PQ out to breakfast this morning. 

Even though the NFL started on Thursday - what a barn burner offensive game that was - today is when it really feels like the season starts.  Since everyone else knows who is gonna win I figure I oughtta take a few guesses myself.  Here goes

I like Tampa Bay -1.5 over Detroit.  Every year lately they hype up Detroit as the next great team but they still have some major holes though they also have some great players.  The Bucs feel they owe the Lions after last year.  TB by 3

I'll take Philly -3.5 over St Louis.  I like Sam Bradford.  A lot.  I thought he was too brittle coming out of college but he proved me wrong last year.  He has some weapons though he needs more.  Philly has all the weapons and Vick has another year to get used to them.  Philly by 10

Tennessee -1 over Jacksonville.  I was surprised Jax dumped David Garrard but they've proven they aren't married to any QB and as long as they have MJB they will run.  Tennessee gave Chris Johnson a new contract and dumped Vince Young.  They did bring in   dinosaur veteran Matt Hasslebeck and while he's old he still knows how to QB.  I'll take Hasselbeck, Johnson, and psycho Kenny Britt over MJD and a cast of thousands.  Tenn by 7

Arizona -7 over Carolina.  I just can't see a decent Arizona team not spanking Carolina today.  Unless they forget that Cam Newton can run like the wind and let him get away enough to make big plays.  I'll go with Kolb, Fitzgerald and some clown named Beanie over Cam Newton, Deangelo Williams, and teammate beater Steve Smith.  Arizona by 14

Seattle +6 over San Fran.  Seattle is starting Tavaris Jackson at QB and I'm taking them?  Yes because Jackson won't help Seattle but he won't kill them either.  Alex Smith is starting for San Fran.  He might kill them.  Everytime I'm ready to give Smith a break, he plays a Rex Grossman game (more on this in a minute) and kills his own team.  He'll probably throw for 300 plus today and they'll win by 20 but at some point he'll pull a Rexy and kill his own team.

I hate Rex Grossman.  At least in fantasy and betting terms I do.  I still kind of like him since he was a UF Gator but Rex killed me one week in Fantasy Football.  I was winning my game by 2 points and had Rex going for me Monday night.  My opponent had nobody else to play so I basically have it won.  Until Rex got under center.  In a little over one quarter Rex managed to lose a fumble, get intercepted, get hurt tackling the returner and be knocked out of the game.  He throws up a -3 and I lose my game.  I hate Rex Grossman.  He's starting for Washington today.  Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Washington Redskins. 

Judging from my college picks this week, you may not want to take my picks to heart.  I was right with Auburn over Miss St and TCU over Air Force but I blew it with Duke +22 vs Stanford and ND over Michigan.  How does Notre Dame lose that game.  Knute Rockne must have spun in his grave. Maybe he's still spinning.  First the blow a 24-7 lead late in the 3rd quarter then they make a great comeback in the last minute to score a TD to take the lead again only to let a bad QB take his team down and score in less than 30 seconds.  Having said all that, what a finish to that game.  That may have been the most exciting last quarter of football I've seen ever.  I gotta give it to Michigan, they fought through and never gave up and won a game they shouldn't have.  Still the ugliest helmets in football.  And my word were they lucky.  The QB was from the Brett Favre school.  Chuck it up in the air and maybe good things will happen.  And in the last quarter they did, in spades.  He didn't care his receiver was double covered or more, he was gonna throw it there and that's it.  He can run like the wind but throwing is not his best point but on this night it worked and boy it was exciting.

Well enough for now.  I need a nap.  Have a good afternoon everyone pick better than me.  And don't get in the way of blitzing linebackers or charging running backs. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bad news all around

Late last night the sad news came out that former Tampa Bay Buc and NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon had been taken to the hospital after a massive stroke.  Some reports were even saying he had died while others only said he was in the hospital.  News of his death were apparently premature but outside of that the news has not been very good.  His brother was quoted as saying there was only a 20% chance of recovery.  Lee Roy is 56 years old.

I never saw him play in person as he retired a few years before I moved here due to back trouble but I remember what a defensive force he was first at the Univ of Oklahome then as the only star for the expansion Bucs.  He took them from 0-26 to the NFC championship game in just a few years.  But more than his football prowess, Lee Roy was known for the man he was.  Though he grew up in the small town of Eufala, Oklahoma, he adopted the Tampa Bay area as his home and retired here.  He was instrumental in helping the Univ of South Florida start their football program as the assistant athletic director then becoming the AD of the school in 2001.  He took them from a fledling program to membership in the Big East conference where they are today. 

As great as his accomplishments have been, you never heard it from him.  He was always a humble man, grateful for what he had achieved solely through hard work and dedication.  A quiet and thoughtful man who never gave offense but a fierce competitor on the field.  After retiring he worked in banking until USF called and he joined their athletic department.  He gave so much to the community they even changed the name of the Crosstown Expressway to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.   Stress led to his retirement from the AD position but he still maintained strong ties to the university as president of the USF Foundation Partnership for Athletics.  Everyone who knew him commented on how gentle and kind he was away from the football field.  Though reports now say he is responding to family he is still in critical condition.  Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

This week also brought news of a different sort, and again not the good kind.  You may have seen a story this past week about a referee who was attacked in Sarasota during a football game.  Not a good situation.  Of course being near to the action, I have followed the story very closely.  If you haven't seen the video yet, you can see it here.   The referee at a youth game last Saturday was attacked by some coaches of one of the teams playing.  When this all started, one of the players actually grabbed the ref and flattened him.  Reports since then have stated the ref was ok and that he had a broken shoulder.  He had a press conference yesterday and didn't appear to be injured.

I've worked with the ref before, he used to be in my association.  Jayme is a good guy and a pretty sharp ref though he has a low tolerance for bullshit and he doesn't put up with much talk from coaches.  According to all I can gather, Jayme threw one of the coaches out after he disputed a call.  The call was actually against the other team.  After he tossed the coach, the coach threw a water bottle at him and came toward him.  And Jayme unloaded on the guy.  And then the brawl started.  And it got ugly.  

Right now 3 coaches and the player who tackled him are being charged.  About 5 years ago, Florida passed a law changing battery on a referee to a felony offense which means these guys are all in some serious trouble.  According to the Sheriff's office, though Jayme took the first swing, he was allowed to defend himself and that guy throwing the water bottle then coming toward him constituted a threat.

Anyway, it was bad. No one looks good in a situation like that.  And it got pretty dangerous.  I've never been in a situation that bad but I can see how it gets that way sometimes.  Just thankful I wasn't in that one. 

Work was another tough slog this week.  A lot of people took time off, we still have people testing the new stuff so they aren't involved with the daily work.  Not that big an issue as the amount of new work has been doable with a shorter staff BUT the daily reports are unchanged and there are a limited number of people to handle them.  That is an issue.  Everyday a number of reports are assigned to us.  Since many of the people who handle these reports are in testing, there are a limited number of people who can do the reports.  We are basically shuffling these reports between us every week.  So instead of doing a certain report for 1 week out of every 5 or 6, I'm doing it every other week.  And the next week I'm doing other reports.  Which takes time away from doing everything else.  It gets a bit annoying, even more so when someone else is out and I have to cover another report on that day.  But enough of that crap. 

This week with end of month, we had a number of things we had to knock out by the end of Wednesday.  Then on Thursday we had statement Q&A.  We produce a bunch of statements right after the month ends to ensure there are no systematic problems that will cause a big issues.  I had that duty this month which meant a few more hours of OT this week as well.  I can use the cash so you get no argument from me but it was a tiring week.  But now I have a long weekend to recover.  I do have a wedding to attend on Sunday for my nephew.  That should prove interesting.  Other than that I have no real plans as I have no football this weekend.  Next week should prove a different story.  Well enough about me.  Next weekend I might even get some poker in.  Till then, stay lucky you nuts.