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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday night's all right for fighting

Let's hope not as I'd prefer not having to deal with that in my games tonight.  Looks like it's gonna be another rainy day today.  We got rain off and on last night and its really wet out there today.  This morning has been more of the same.  I wouldn't be too worried about it for my games tonight if I was in Seminole but I gotta ref in Pinellas Park.  Seminole's field is in good shape and drains pretty well.  Rain all day would make it a bit messy but nothing bad.  Pinellas Park's field is not in great shape.  It drains poorly.  Last time there was major rain on a game day, the field was a quagmire and a good part of it was under water.  If it keeps raining today, I don't want to see what the field will be like when I get there at 5 tonight.  Well, I can pray for some sunshine still.  Won't dry the field but will keep it from getting worse at least. 

I just checked today's forecast and this afternoon should be partly cloudy with a high in the 70s.  It could be worse.  I could be back in Rhode Island where they're expecting a high in the 40s and snow tonight.  Snow in October?  I remember some flurries that early a couple of times growing up but not anything that stuck.  Never had to ref in the snow thankfully.  Late last year we had to do a game at night when it was windy and in the 40s.  That was cold.  But it wasn't snowy or rainy.  That would have been ugly. 

Congrats to the St Louis Cardinals on another World Series win.  I was half rooting for them as I admired how they had come back from the dead just like the Rays and made it to the playoffs.  I was also half rooting for the Rangers as I used to be a fan of theirs when I lived there and they've never won one before.  But since the Rangers knocked out the Rays from the playoffs in both the last 2 years I was also rooting against them.  I've heard the ESPN talking heads call game 6 of this series one of the greatest games ever.  Really??   Exciting, yes but great game??  I don't think so.  3 Cards errors leading to Ranger runs.  And I'm not talking about a booted ground ball or a bad throw, I'm talking a pop fly to left turning into "you got it,  no you got it, no I got it, no nobody's got it"   A bunt fielded and thrown into centerfield.  Wild pitches.  The works.  Then in key positions the Rangers can't get the final out to end the game including Cruz not catching Freese's drive to right that ends up being a tying triple in the 9th.  That was a very catchable ball.  A good right fielder makes that play.  Guys like Cesar Geronimo or Dwight Evans made that play routinely in the 75 series.  Still it was very exciting.  Too bad I was too beat to watch the last couple of innings.  Or maybe a good thing as I got some sleep instead.

Well this has been a quiet week on both the work and referee fronts.  I haven't done any games since last Saturday and my hip now feels fine.  It was a good time for a little break, my body was really feeling it and this rest gave me a chance to recover.  Work settled down a little this week.  And the market rocked.  Europe finally got off their ass about the Greece issue and put out some semi concrete plans on how to deal with it that made some sense to the powers that be.  It is no real solution, just kicks the problem down the road a ways but it brought some stability to the issue and the markets responded really favorably.  It worked out well for a number of my holdings.  Gold was up nicely (I'm sure Mojo is please that Goldcorp went from $45.50 to $50 this week), Sanofi which is the French drugmaker who makes a lot of the flu vaccines, took off for me this month, going from 31.88 to 37.50 this month.  Doesn't happen if a deal isn't announced.  Transocean (RIG) really went up as well.  It started October at 46 and finished Friday at 60.  That was a nice month.  I almost bought more when it got down that low but I had no extra cash and didn't want to sell anything then.  I probably should have. 

Now time for some short term investment information.  I'm looking at a few games today.  College has really been good for my bankroll this year, much better than the past 2 years.  First off I want Wisconsin -7.5 over Ohio St.  OSU has been improving but they're not in Wisconsin's class yet.  Wisconsin has to be disappointed about the way they lost to Mich St.   Are they mad about the loss?   If so, they spank OSU.  If not, they play a sluggish game and hopefully still cover.  I'll take them.

Next I like Penn St -5.5 over Illinois.  Illinois is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games.  Their only cover against a woeful Indiana team.  Penn St has been improving as the year goes on.  Lets take them at home on a day likely to be pretty sloppy. 

Give me Arkansas -10 at Vanderbilt.  Vandy is 4-3 and playing at home but lets look at who they've beaten.   Elon?  A bad Mississippi team.  An ok UConn and an ok Army team.  Nothing much.  Arkansas has played much tougher competition and had their scare at Mississippi last week.  They won't overlook Vandy. 

I kinda like Kansas St +13 at home vs Oklahoma.  OU cannot be happy about last week's loss to Texas Tech but KSt is playing really well especially at home.  3 teams in common so far this year with similar results from both teams.  I can't see OU winning that big as much as Stoops wants to.

Finally give me the over 61.5 in the USC/Stanford tilt.  Both offenses put up a lot of points.  Should not have a problem exceeding the number.  

That's all I got today.  I'm gonna wrap this up by hoping everyone stays warm and dry up there in the northeast.  I will write again tomorrow as I've been working on a different post but have a lot more to do with it.  Till then I hope you all stay lucky.  Make good picks everyone.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yep, this is what we have become

From referees getting beaten up to referees who deserved to be beaten up.  I posted about a fellow ref who was hurt in a brawl down here a few weeks back.  He is doing well now.  Well due to all the work I've been putting in on field, I missed this one last weekend. 
Hey give me the damned ball ref
Arizona was playing at home and whipping UCLA 42-7 just before halftime when a student decided he would make a spectacle of himself by repeating the glory of the 70s and streaking down the field.  Here is a link to that bit of nostalgia.  Of course a second video in this link also features the 80s era brawl that broke out right after that trip down memory lane.  Yep fun times in Arizona.  Now it turns out the referee impersonator is being charged with a felony called  "criminal impersonation" that can put him in jail for 18 months. Wait a minute, impersonating a referee is a felony in Arizona? Really? A college prank is worth 18 months in jail? You can't blame him for that brawl starting can you? Maybe.  According to this report the guy admitted to streaking so he could put it on his application to be on the game show Wipeout.  Really dude?  Putting on a fake ref uniform and streaking in a televised football game to get on a game show?  Maybe you don't deserve 18 months in jail for that but maybe the cops should have tased you when they took you down so you can feel a little bit of pain to go along with your stupidity.  Now I wish the head ref had handed you the ball when you went on the field.  Then one of those players would have an excuse to flatten you (a la Mike "Maddog" Curtis in 1971) and really make me chuckle.   BTW, can you really charge someone for that if they are actually refereeing a game?  Hope not, I'd hate to have a few cops putting the cuffs on me when I'm walking off the field.  This is what we have become isn't it?

I'm feeling a bit like damaged goods here today.  It's been another busy week between work and football and I am one tired puppy right about now.  At work, a number of people were on vacation or out sick this week.  That crud I had is still making the rounds it appears.  I know I'm still coughing occasionally.  Kept those of us still in the salt mines busy mining and such. 

Thursday night I had a JV game at Northside Christian.  It was a typical small school JV game and I had a good time with the guys.  The weather was just starting to turn chilly.  Nice night.  Nothing much to talk about otherwise.  Friday night was a bigger game as I had Largo at Boca Ciega.  Largo has been one of the best teams in the county over the past 5 years while Bogie has been a perpetual underachiever but I figured this game would be fairly close.  It was a perfect night for a football game with temps in the 60s at game time.  As we got out on the field pregame to check the field and talk to the coaches we got to see a beautiful purple and pink sunset.  Made it worth it to be out on that field. 

The game started with a bang as Largo took the opening kick off to the house.  7-0 ten seconds into the game.  Bogie drives down the field later on and ties the game up.  Then kicks off to the same guy on Largo.  This time they managed to tackle him on the 16 yard line.  Their 16.  Largo punches it in and goes up 14-7.  In the second quarter, Largo ran a halfback option with a throwback to the quarterback from around midfield.  The QB juked out the one defender with a shot at him and took it all the way.  21-7.  Good thing the coach warned us they might run this play.  Late in the quarter Largo scores again after a Bogie turnover and at the half they lead 28-7.  By the score it looks like Largo is killing them but really, Bogie had been able to move the ball on Largo and mostly stop Largo's running game.  Largo's QB was not really effective passing.  Some big plays had led to most of Largo's points. 

In the second half Bogie continues to stop Largo, who does no favor to their cause by continually trying to pass instead of running and taking time off the clock.  Midway through the quarter, Bogie hits a couple of big passes to go from their own 20 to a TD and is down 28-14.  Largo then fumbles a few plays later deep in their own end and Bogie punches that in for a score.  On the TD play a few players get into it in the end zone.  No punches are thrown so we don't have to toss anyone (throwing a punch is automatically an ejection, even if it doesn't connect) but we ended up calling 2 personal fouls on Bogie and one on Largo.  The Largo coach wants us to enforce the penalties on the next kickoff but because these were dead ball fouls that occurred after the TD was scored and not live ball fouls, we had to enforce them on the extra point.  So Bogie had to kick the extra point from the 18 and got it blocked.  Still we are in the 4th quarter and it's 28-20.  Late in the game Largo got moving a little and Bogie was desperate to stop them when a guy for Largo breaks a run and gets the clinching TD.  On that play I got bumped from behind and my left when I turned to follow the play.  It wasn't much of a hit but I guess I stepped wrong when it happened because I felt this pain in my hip.  Felt  kind of like a pulled muscle but I didn't think much of it. 

The game ended soon after and as I was walking back to the locker room, I felt the pain in my hip.  "This isn't good" I thought as I walked to my car later.  It hurt to do anything much.  I just hoped it was a bruise and would go away over a short time.  I got home a bit before 11 and after eating a bite the PQ rubbed some Ben Gay like stuff on my hip and I went to sleep.  6:50 came awfully early Saturday morning.  I had another 4 game set to work, all on the field.  I felt ok but still sore a bit.  Unfortunately I still felt pain in my hip.  I hoped it would loosen up while I worked.

When I got outside to go to the game I felt how really cool it was outside.  It was maybe 55 degrees.  Chilly by Florida standards.  I was in my usual shorts and short sleeved referee shirt but I brought my long sleeve shirt with me in case it stayed chilly.  Fortunately when I got to the field it was already starting to warm a bit.  I was working the first 2 games with a very experience group of guys.  Not a problem, I figured we would knock those games right out easily.  Young kids, only 8 minute quarters, should be quick games.  Yeah right.  As I warmed up and stretched I felt more pain in my hip.  Not good.  Stu the guy on the clock told me if I couldn't go, he'd be willing to fill in for me.  I told him he might have to as I just didn't know how long I could go. 

The first game would have been hysterically funny if it hadn't been so long.  2 teams of 7-8 year olds who mostly hadn't played football before this year.  Even though this is week 8 or 9 of their season, they still are all over the place.  We could have thrown penalty flags on every play.  The visitors were all over the place, the home team was a little better.  And anytime someone got tackled hard it seemed, they got hurt.  We had so many injury time outs where the kid got removed then was back playing in 2 or 3 plays.  Instead of this game being done quickly, it just kept dragging on.  Late in the game I turned to the head ref during a time out and said, "Jim, this is like herding cats out here."  He agreed.  Surprisingly the team mother for the visitors heard my remark and told me "You don't know half of it.  The whole team are 7 year olds.  Getting them all to do the same thing at the same time is impossible."  Mercifully the game finally ended with the home team winning 19-0.  But we are already behind after one game time wise and the home team is doing parent appreciation day so before every game they are introducing all the players and their parents and family while they walk on the field.  Fortunately I didn't have to run much so my hip didn't trouble me too much.

The next game is the next age group up.  Not so new to the game but a little bigger and faster.  Even so, we make up a lot of time during the game.  Unfortunately, the game ends 0-0 and we have to play overtime.  Just one overtime and we do the KC tiebreaker like they do in college.  Both teams get the ball on the ten yard line and get 4 plays to score.  The visitors score and run in the extra point.   The home team scores on 4th down but gets stopped short of the goal line for the extra point and loses.  So we don't make up much time in the end.  My hip is hurting a bit more but I still didn't have to run much.  The only thing saving me right now.

The third game are JV Pee Wees.  That's the next age group up, kids around 12 years old.  These kids run and pass a lot more.  Again both teams are pretty evenly matched.  The home team scores in the 2nd quarter but misses the extra point.  Still it looks like we'll avoid overtime and the game is going well.  Not many penalties or big plays making me run too much.  Passing to a minimum.  Unfortunately that changes in the 4th quarter.  The visitors hit a couple of passes and a big run.  I had to chase the plays a bit and I'm hurting, especially when they get a first down inside the 5.  I'm hoping for a turnover to keep the visitors from scoring but it's not to be as they get the tying TD.  Now I'm hoping they hit the extra point.  Wrong again.  We are tied 6-6 when the game ends and go to OT again.  The home team has the ball first but throws an interception on 3rd down.  The visitors run on first down and get to the 6.  The home team jumps offsides the next play and the visitors now have 2nd and goal from the 3.  They punch it in the next play for the win.  I'm pretty much dragging my leg behind me now and I tell Stu up on the clock that I can't go any more so he comes down to take over.  Dragging my ass up the stairs to the press box was no picnic but I made it.  Good thing I did.

The next game had a lot more action and long plays in it.  I'd have melted out there.  Late in the first half we had another one of those muffed kicks I mentioned a week or 2 ago.  One team kicks off and the ball kinda rolls around for a bit.  The receiver goes back to get it and drops the ball when he tries to pick it up.  A guy on the kicking team picks up the ball and sets off for the end zone.  The head ref chases the play to the end zone and when the guy gets in he gives the touchdown signal.  I'm up in the press box telling the announcer that they're blowing the play.  When he asked what I meant I told him, that was a muffed kick, not a fumble and the kicking team gets possession at the spot they recover the ball but they don't get to advance it.  Luckily Stu was on top of the play and marked the spot of possession.  After the TD signal he calls the head ref over and they talk a second then spot the ball on the 24 yard line where it was recovered.  And the announcer looks smart telling the crowd why that wasn't a TD.  We don't always get the calls right, but we try to.  When the game finally ended I slowly dragged my way down to my car and called the PQ to see what was up for lunch.  It was about 2:30 and I still hadn't had a bite all day.

I met up with the PQ, her sister and my niece for lunch at 5 Guys.  Best burgers and fries ever.  If you're unlucky enough to live in an area without 5 Guys, you are missing out.  If you do have them around and go to any other chain, you are being extremely foolish and your taste buds will revolt eventually. After lunch we made it home and I basically passed out.  I barely got my picks in by 4pm for today's NFL games, the PQ had to keep waking me up as I was snoozing in front of my computer.  I did get in 2 good short term investments taking Michigan St +7.5 over Wisconsin and the over in the Penn St/Northwestern game.  The over hit before halftime and Sparty did me proud in a wild finish.  I trooped off to bed and slept for about 2.5 hours.  Could have gone a lot longer but had to get me and the PQ some dinner.  I really wanted breakfast so we went to IHOP and I got me breakfast while the PQ had the more traditional dinner at night. 

Today I woke up feeling a good bit better.  My legs are a bit sore but my hip hasn't bothered me all day.  I will go outside and jog shortly as we're going to get our flu shots in a few minutes.  We'll see how the hip feels then.  So I guess I'm off.  No NFL bets today though I might take GB over Minnesota.  I am putting something down on Baltimore over Jax tomorrow though.  Gotta think what to make for dinner tonight as well.  So I'm off.  I hope you guys stay lucky.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bruised and battered

It's been a rough week this past week.  My cold hasn't done me any good and though it is better, it still bugs me.  I took both Monday and Tuesday off from work as I was just coughing too much.  I couldn't imagine working like that, especially handling phone calls and other questions.  Plus I didn't want to infect my coworkers with this crud as well.  I know, I know, when did I become such a magnanimous man?  After all, part of the joy of working in a cube farm is passing on the assorted gossip, rumors, and germs to your fellow farmers.  But I've turned over a new leaf here.  I want to be a better person and a good example for my fellow man.  Besides it's in my best interest for my fellow co workers to show up to work healthy and hearty.  The more they do, the less I have to do.  I believe De Tocqueville called that "enlightened self interest."  Yup, that's me, Mr Enlightenment.

Even though I wasn't feeling great, I went to work on Wednesday.  My coughing was way down and I was actually able to sleep in my own bed on Tuesday night, albeit not particularly well.  It was still more restful than sleeping in my recliner was.  I didn't think I'd make it through the whole day on Wednesday but I did.  People could tell as the day went on that I was pretty far gone though.  They commented on how quiet I was as the afternoon went on.  When I got home I ate and coughed for awhile then put together my gear to ref on Thursday as I had a JV game to referee.  

I was still pretty tired on Thursday after another fitful night of coughing and sleeping.  The medication my doc gave me was helping but I was still waking up in the middle of the night coughing a couple of times.  Figured the times I wasn't awake were not the most deep sleeps either.  Again by the time I got out of work I was pretty tired but still had to get to the game.  I managed to get through that with the mininum of fuss and not too much effort.  Fortunately the game started at 6 so I was home by 8:30.  The wife made me a bite to eat and sent me off to bed when I started falling asleep by 9:30.  I slept hard till about 4 am then off and on till I got up a bit before 6:30.  I was still dragging a bit when I headed off to work even after a pretty good night's sleep.  I had another game to do on Friday night at Anclote High School, a relatively new school just north of Pinellas County in Pasco.  I had never been there before but knew it would take a while to get up there.  Going anywhere north of here after work is a major pain so going to schools like Tarpon Springs and East Lake which are in the far northern part of the county are a long ride time wise.  Anclote was a bit further than Tarpon making it even more fun. 

Friday was another tiring day at work.  I left work a little early, went home and gathered up my gear, then took PQ's car and drove up to Anclote.  It took me a bit over an hour to go a little over 20 miles to get to the school.   What a nice school.  Though I was a bit surprised at the location.  If we have a hurricane, even a relatively minor one is gonna flood that area.  The school is about 3 feet above sea level and maybe 3/4 of a mile from where the Anclote River meets the Gulf of Mexico.  So let's lay out a ton of money on a new school that will be completely destroyed if we ever get a big hurricane through here.  Besides which you'll never be able to use it as a shelter as most people there would be in more danger than staying in their own homes.  Brilliant use of money Pasco County School Board.  And we wonder why municipalities are short on money.  Once the big one comes, they'll be the first ones to plead poverty because they have to repair all the buildings that they put in the wrong spots.  I mean this is not 1940, why are we building new schools in areas that we KNOW will be flooded.  Admittedly, building a school anywhere in Holiday is going to put it an area that's likely to flood as I doubt any part of the city is in an area that won't flood in a major storm but still, why not build up the land you put your brand new school on so that it won't be flooded by just about any hurricane?

I wasn't with my normal group for this ball game, I was filling in for a guy on another crew who was off camping with his family for the weekend.  I'd worked with this crew before so it wasn't a big deal for me to work with them and they were used to me so I don't think they had an issue either.  It was a nice night for football, temps in the 70s with a bit of a breeze.  Anclote had a fair amount of players but they were not a very big team size wise.  Not unexpected as the school is still mostly freshmen and sophomores due to it's newness.  The visitors from Zephyrhills only had 27 or 28 players but these guys were BIG. 

The first quarter was without much action but the home team got a drive going and hit a field goal to take the early lead.  The next drive, Zephyrhills drove down the field pretty well and then they got me pretty good.  There was a running play to my left and I turned and started moving that way to cover it.  The left guard for Zephyrhills came through the line and hit the linebacker to my right and bounced him into me.  The edge of the linebacker's shoulder pad scraped my arm just under the shoulder and I thought "That's gonna leave a mark."  I was hoping I wasn't cut as I didn't want to have to stop the game so I could get myself attended to.  Can't have a player or referee bleeding on the field.  Bloody players we send off to the sidelines and continue the game but a ref has to be fixed up (or carted off in some cases) before we can continue.   I was hurting but didn't feel any blood so we kept on going.  Zephyrhills finished the drive with a TD and never looked back after that.  At the half they were up 20-7 and we went inside to discuss the half and drink something.  I managed to suck down a bottle of water and most of a Powerade while we talked.  I checked out my arm and it had a nice looking scrape but nothing too bad.  But it did hurt. 

The third quarter was more of the same.  Zephyrhills scored a 49 yard TD on a broken play that Anclote defended well, then the runner turned back the other way and it was all green to the end zone.  They kicked off to Anclote and the returner goes 90 yards for a TD.  Anclote kicks back off to Zephyrhills and their returner takes it 80 yards for a TD.  Three touchdowns in less than a minute.  I turned to the head ref after the last extra point and told him, "If this next kick goes coast to coast, it's definitely coming back for an illegal block" and we laughed about it.  Luckily the next kick was not a TD. 

In the 4th quarter Zephyrhills took a 35 point lead when they hit a short field goal and we could then run the clock without stopping for the rest of the game.  They kicked off and the same guy for Anclote again goes coast to coast.  85 yards this time.   We get set up after the extra point and Anclote kicks off to Zephyrhills and damned if their returner doesn't take it to the house as well!  I've been in games with multiple kickoff returns for TDs but I've never been in a game where both teams did it back to back twice.  Just crazy.  The final score was 51-16.

Needless to say by the time that game finished I was pretty beat.  I had 4 games to work Saturday starting at 8am.  Why that early I have no idea.  All year I've been working the last 3 games of the night starting at 5pm.  This time I was scheduled originally to work the games at 11 and 12:30 and on Wednesday my schedule was changed and I was given 8 and 9:30am as well.  Not exactly what I was planning for my Saturday morning.  So after the game Friday night I headed straight home.  I got home about 10:30 ate a bite and then headed to bed.  I was asleep about 11:30 and had my alarm set for 6:50 am.  Didn't need it.  About 6:10 I woke up and even though it was earlier than I planned, I felt good.  I felt better than I had in over a week.  I figured I ought to be pretty tired and sore but outside of my shoulder/upper arm, I really felt great.  I went into the bathroom to look at my arm and this is what I saw

Not a pretty sight huh?  That's about as bad a bruise as I've ever had, even during my ball playing days.  Anyway I got ready for my games and was out the door about 7:10.  Even though the first game wasn't slated to start until 8, if we can start them a little early, I'm all in favor of it.  It was a nice morning, cloudy and cool with a good breeze blowing.  I got to the field just as the sun began rising to the east.  The clouds were streaked with pink and orange and the field was still covered with dew.  I was working the first 2 games with a ref I had worked with occasionally and a couple of new guys I didn't know.  It was good to work a bit with the newbies.  I had to show one how to handle the 1st down chains for the changeover at the end of the quarter.  He got it reversed the first time, but he'd never done it before.  I remember my first games refereeing. 

The first game was the youngest kids and they were the JV youth team as well so these are almost all kids who never played before this year.  They actually played pretty well though I let a lot of holding calls go or I would have thrown a flag almost every play.  The second game was much the same thing as these were slightly older kids but still pretty small.  And inexperienced.  We called this one a little bit tighter but still let a lot go.  Both games were close and played pretty well all things considered.  After the second game, both the head ref and one of the new guys were finished and 2 new guys took their place.  Jack was the head referee and I knew him pretty well.  I was telling Evan the other new ref that Jack was the referee of the first game I ever did.  I brought that up to Jack before the coin flip and we got a good laugh out of it.  I was not a very good referee when I started.  Probably drove Jack crazy as he worked a number of games with me. He on the other hand is a very good ref.   

Both of our next 2 games  went pretty well.   They were closely contested and nothing ugly happened during either game.  By the 2nd half of the last game though, I was getting really tired.  Seems like my energy was just about gone.  It took all my strength just to walk to my car and drive home.  When I got home I had a quick lunch and took a shower.  By 3 pm I was nodding off trying to watch football and maybe figure out a few short term investments.  It was too much for me so off to bed I went.  3 hours later the PQ woke me up as she wanted to play in the 8pm poker tourney that night.  I was so groggy I didn't want to think about it but I went off with her and since they had an Omaha table going when I got there, I decided I would play that while I tried to wake up.  Unfortunately most of the players had been there a good while and they packed it in not long after I got there so that was out.  My choices then were between the tourney and playing hold em.  I eventually decided on hold em.  Should have just not played anything and bet the dogs or something.  I ended up giving up $60 and missing out on winning a big pot when I folded AJ preflop to a raise/reraise and seeing the flop come out JJJ.  The raiser had 10-10 and I was all set to call her raise to $4 but the reraiser had KK and when he came over the top to $12 I put him on a big hand and dumped it.  Much to my dismay.  That cost me a big pot as they continued betting post flop.  Also I would have won $100 for hitting quads at that time.  It's been forever since I've hit quads playing NLHE.  After that just about nothing went right but I did manage to keep from going down completely with a couple of timely raises and a decent bluff.  Losing $60 beats losing $120 anyday.  The PQ did not last long in the tourney as her AA ran into 55 that rivered a straight and then she played some hold em as well with not very good results.  Just a bad weekend all around I guess.  Enough for now.  Stay lucky people, luckier than I.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Excuse me sir

I believe that's my lung.  I managed to cough it up at least 5 or 10 times today.  No work for me today, not because it's Columbus Day as the markets were still open today.  Nope, it's because I didn't want to infect the rest of the office not to mention I barely slept last night.  I was coughing so much I couldn't lay down and so after trying twice and coughing like a madman when I laid down, I spent the rest of the night trying to sleep in my recliner.  I got some sleep but it was pretty fitful.  There was no chance I would be able to work today so I called off.  Went to the doctor and got a couple of prescriptions to help me with the coughing and help me sleep but nothing else she can do for me as she believes this is a virus and there aren't any drugs that will take care of it.

Sunday did give me some good news at least.  Besides the Jets covering by 1/2 a point anyway.  I am in a death pool with some guys at work and a bunch of other guys.  All told 61 people pitched in $10 and the payouts are $310 for first, $200 for second and $100 for third.  When this weekend started there were still 31 people left.  I barely made it out of week 1 myself as I had Arizona over Carolina and Carolina led that game for a good chunk of time.  But Az did come back and save me unlike KC and a few others.  Since then I've had some pretty good picks like GB last week.  This week there weren't a lot of games I looked at and felt comfortable with.  One of the biggest lines was Seattle at NYG.  I really thought about taking the Giants, a lot of other people did take it, but in the end I just do not feel comfortable with Eli Manning in a game he should roll in.  So I took San Diego over Denver instead. 

And I was right.  Seattle led much of the game then the Giants took the lead and knocked out Tavaris Jackson who was lighting them up pretty good.  Figure this one is over.  Nope, Seattle comes back
The greatness that is Charlie Whitehurst takes them 80 yards downfield in a little over 2 minutes and punches in a TD to take a 4 point lead.  I wasn't really paying all that close attention to the death pool as I was feeling so lousy and watching my fantasy teams more than anything.  Still there was more than 2 minutes left for Eli and the GMen to take this one down.  Eli lead them straight down the field mostly using his new favorite toy, Victor Cruz instead of my guys, Nicks and Manningham.  1st down NY on the Seattle 5 with 1:27 left.  Plenty of time for NY to run a couple of plays to try to punch it in but on 1st down they get a false start penalty to get moved back to the 10.  Bad teams do that, get false start penalties at home in key situations.  First and goal from the 10 and Eli tries to hit Cruz in double coverage and leads him just a little too much, tips off his hands and is grabbed by a Seahawk who goes coast to coast for the TD.  Game over, thanks for the memories Eli. 
Something stinks in NY

This was such an important game because 27 of the 31 players remaining had taken NYG.  While this is going on I'm watching the end of the Houston/Oakland game.  I looked at the death pool then to make sure I hadn't taken NY as I had thought pretty hard about taking them early in the week.  When I saw how many people got knocked out I looked at who was left.  3 of us had taken SD and one guy had Houston.  I watched Oakland sitting on a 25-17 lead try to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory.  I really thought they would lose it as Houston moved almost at will down the field late in the game.  But Richard Seymour got a big sack and forced them to take a FG.  Houston kicks off to Oakland who does a quick 3 and out and here comes Houston again.  This time Seymour roughs Schaub on an incomplete pass and Houston is down on Oakland's 26,  I know this time they're gonna punch it in and it looks pretty good as with 8 seconds Houston is down on the 5 but Schaub scrambles out of trouble on the next play and throws an inexplicable dead duck with no pressure on him that is picked in the end zone.  Game over.  We're down to 3. 

Now all I have to do is depend on Norv Turner and the Chargers to beat Denver in the late game.  I hate depending on untrustworthy coaches in big games, but if SD pulls it off, we're in the money.  I like being in the money.  San Diego jumps on Denver early and it's 23-10 at the half.  I'm feeling pretty good.  We're 26-10 in the 4th quarter but I see Denver has finally brought in Tebow to play QB.  Now do I think Tebow is a young gun who will light up San Diego, not really.  But there is something about the kid.  He is a winner and he makes things happen around him.  He runs a ball in from 12 yards out and they get the 2 point conversion to close to 26-18.  Next series Rivers gets sacked and fumbles and Denver has the ball on the 33.  Couple of plays later Tebow throws a screen to Moreno and he takes it all the way in.  I can see it now, Denver gets the 2 point conversion, ties the game then wins it late.  But they just missed a pass in the end zone and SD still leads 26-24. 

SD takes the kickoff and for some reason starts passing.  There's only 3 minutes left, is it too much for me to expect you to run some time off the clock.  Incomplete, Incomplete.  2 plays and they take 9 seconds off the clock.  But somehow Rivers hits a 42 yard pass on 3rd down and they take it down field and chew up clock finally kicking a field goal w2ith 28 seconds left.  SD kicks off and Denver starts on the 20 with no time outs.  Tebow hits Lloyd on the sideline for one of the nicest catches I've seen this year.  Originally called incomplete but reversed and Denver is on the 40.  He hits Fells in the middle of the field for 31 more yards and they're down on the Charger's 29.  I can't look. Tebow spikes it with 1 second left.  Oh no.  One last play and they are easily in range.  San Diego is not the most imposing pass defense either.  Tebow takes the snap, runs around some, gets away from some tacklers and unleashes one into the end zone.  It hits a Charger then a Bronco but fortunately falls incomplete, game over.  And the 3 nicest words pop into my head, In the Money.  Amazing that if Denver catches that TD, all 31 people remaining lose on the same day in the death pool and everyone is still alive.  I know 28 others were rooting for Denver at the end.  But it was not to be.  We might do a split and everyone get 200 or we might play it out, I don't know yet.  Since I wasn't at work today I didn't do anything about it. 

So I want to thank ole Eli Manning for pulling defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday and killing off 27 players in the death pool all at once.  I heard the screams.  Damn Chicago just missed scoring the back door cover at the end of the Detroit game so I went 1-1 on the pros.  Well it's bed time for me.  Doubt I will be working tomorrow unless my cough is a whole lot better.  I hope you all had a better weekend than I did, but knowing I cashed the death pool makes me feel so much better. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thirty bucks.....that's it???

What word best describes how I feel today?  Bad doesn't quite do it justice, but horrible may be too much.  I guess lousy is the closest I can come to it.  I'm a little chilled, pretty sore and coughing quite a bit.  Not a fun way to spend Sunday.  Good thing the NFL is on as that's about all I can handle today.

Last night I had 3 games to referee.  The weather was pretty crappy.  It was cloudy and very windy when my first game started a little after 5.  Temps were around 80 so it wasn't cold but the wind was blowing pretty good, around 20 miles an hour with gusts over 30.  We could see dark clouds coming from the east so we felt it was a pretty good bet we would get wet.  We were right.

The first two games went without a hitch.  I had a really good group of guys to work with and that makes it a lot more fun to do.  Everyone had a good bit of experience which is not always the case for the late games.  A lot of the experienced refs don't want to do the games late on Saturday.  They have a point as most of them do games on Thursday and Friday nights and their wives and families would like to spend some time with them.  The problem is the late games on Saturday have the oldest and best players and you really want to have more experienced people doing the games.  So some weekends we have some pretty inexperienced people doing games but last night was not the case.  Everybody there had been refereeing for quite a while and I had worked with all of them many times before. So we were having a pretty good time but by the second game it started raining.  Not too hard but with the wind, it was a bit chilly and a pain to ref in.

The third game started and we knew this was gonna be some work.  The teams were not too far apart talent wise but they were kind of sloppy.  I had a couple of unusual calls in this game.  Early in the game I was covering a kickoff.  The home team kicked it deep and as the return was developing I watched a blocker on the receiving team coming back toward the ball carrier to block for him when one of the kicking team hits him dead in the back.  So I flagged the kickers for blocking in the back.  The home team coach was quite unhappy about that one.  In truth I have only thrown that penalty maybe 3 times in 9 years but it's never a good idea to ignore a block in the back, even away from the ball.  People who get hit in the back and knocked down want to retaliate unless you give them a little penalty justice in my experience.  Before you know it you have guys out looking to take cheap shots all over the field.  And we can't police everything. 

At the half, the home team is leading by 14-0 and looking pretty good but they've picked up a fair share of penalties for holding, block in the back, etc.  A couple of them were completely unnecessary and cost them TDs.  So they aren't real happy with us.  They kick off to start the second half and kind of pooch the kick over the first couple of lines of players.  The ball lands and then hops toward a receiver and bounces off of him and right to one of the kicking team.  He plucks the ball out of the air and sets sail for the end zone.  He's gone.  Except there I am whistling the play dead and giving the kicking team the ball on the 33 yard line where the guy caught it.  The coach (and fans) start yelling and we have to explain to them that a muffed kick which is what this was, cannot be advanced by the kicking team as the ball has never been possessed.  If the receivers catch and run with the ball then fumble, anyone can advance the ball, but a kick cannot be advanced unless it has been possessed and fumbled.  A muff is not possession.  It took me a moment when the guy first caught the ball and took off but I realized it pretty quick.  I have seen that miscalled on kickoffs and punts a number of times.

The next play the quarterback rolls to his left and is looking to pass.  I run forward to cover the line and make sure he doesn't step over the line before he throws.  While I'm rushing forward, a receiver is coming across the field from the right side to either catch a pass or block, I don't know which.  Didn't matter because he hit me right in the small of the back.  That stopped him but it didn't do me any good either.  That hurt.  The head ref stopped the game for a couple of minutes to make sure I could continue and though it hurt a little, it wasn't too bad.  I'm surprised it isn't really sore today but the way my knees feel right now, I'm pretty glad it isn't. 

Late in the third quarter I was covering a punt and as the return went on a kid tried to tackle the runner and got hit and broke his arm near his wrist.  He just laid on the ground screaming and we had to have the paramedics come take him to the hospital.   That delayed the game for about 20 minutes all told.  When we started the game up again, it started pouring.  The wind was blowing and water was just dripping off my hat.  I was not unhappy when that game ended and I made my dripping way home. 

The daughter was home from school this weekend.  It wasn't planned that way but she was having some car trouble and brought it home to be fixed.  She is starting a job soon so this was probably the best time to get her car fixed.  It turned out to be a relay for her engine fan and all is well now so everyone is happy.  She is preparing to head back to school and said she was hungry and my wife suggested I give her a little cash to get a bite and some gas as well.  So I gave her $30 and her reply became the title of my post. Since when is $30 not enough to get a bite to eat and some gas.  I'm not talking about filling her tank, I know that's more but still.  I looked at her and said "Hey I worked hard in the rain last night for this $30."  And she smiled at me and I gave her another 20.  I'm just a sucker and she knows it.

Well back to football for me.  I have 2 pro picks this week.  I'm taking the Jets +9.5.  I hate the Jets and Mark Sanchez but lately they have either beaten or played close with the Pats.  Every time they look like they are in trouble they put a good game together. Kinda like Pittsburgh. 
I'm also taking Chicago +6 over Detroit.  Detroit has played well but also been lucky to come back from big deficits.  In fact they ought to send a check or 2 to Tony Romo after that last fiasco.  If they fall behind big again, I don't think they get back in this one.  I'm not sold on Chicago being a good team but give me the points on this one.

I went 3-2 in college yesterday fortunately taking the over in the Texas/OU game and not playing a side.  Nebraska did their best to lose to OSU but came back to win but unfortunately not cover.  That hurt.  And GTech surprised me by only winning by 5 over Maryland.  But the rest went well as UGA's defense came up big and Arkansas put the wood to Auburn.  Hope your picks were better than mine.  Stay lucky

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What can I say?

Not much to talk about today as I'm just not feeling it.  Actually I'm not feeling overly well at this point.  I started coughing a bit yesterday and by last night it was a full blown cold.  At least it mostly waited until I was done refereeing but when I got home last night I started hacking up a storm. It's not better so far today either.

I've been a busy referee bee this week, had a JV game on both Wednesday and Thursday nights and then a varsity high school game last night.  I can feel it in my knees this morning.  Tonight I'm supposed to do 3 youth games and I hope I can hold up.  I didn't think I'd make it through last night at one point.  I was watching a play develop in front of me and to my right and as I started to turn I caught a blocker coming at me from my left out of the corner of my eye.  He slams into a linebacker to my left and both of them end up into me.  I really thought I was about to get flattened and to make matters worse, the running back turned upfield and gets hit right in front of me. I barely kept to my feet and that was a good thing as the whole pile of tacklers and running back end up at my feet.   That was a close one.

I've been run into, blocked into,  and a few times I've been knocked off my feet in games.  Fortunately I've never found myself in the pile of people where the ball carrier gets tackled.  That's where a lot of bad things happen.  I even managed to tackle a kid earlier this year.  It was one of the youth games a few weeks back.  Down near the goal line a kid comes tearing through a hole and heads right at me.  Now in those situations, I have nowhere to go and if I try I'll probably make things worse.  I can't see where the tacklers are behind and to my side so if I step one way or the other, I may be stepping into more problems than I have in front of me.  So my best bet is to stand there and let the kid decide whether to cut left or right then step the other way.  I wait and this kid doesn't cut.  He comes right at me and hits me in the thigh then falls to the ground.  And then he's pissed I didn't get out of the way.  Guess the kid never got the message.  Maybe next time he will.  Good thing he wasn't any bigger or I might have ended up in one of those piles.   Anyway last night was the closest I've come to being in my own disaster.

Work has been the usual disaster lately.  Seems like almost everything I touch turns into a huge mess that takes me hours to repair. It keeps me busy and gives me job security at least.  I've been getting a bit of a reputation in my department for being a go to person for certain issues such as issues involving AT&T (figuring cost information for this company is a complete disaster if it goes back any time at all) and complex problems involving corporate actions.  So one of the guys asks me about looking up an old price on GM.

One of the stocks I will never buy as well as one of the vehicles I will never again own is General Motors.  Besides being disgusted by how the whole GM bankruptcy was handled and the money the taxpayers forked over for that, I am really a bit peeved over how the current General Motors almost ignores the company history prior to 2009.  Everything that happened prior to then was another company and they have gone out of their way in my opinion to disassociate themselves from their previous selves.  And the way they tried to reorganize after the bankruptcy - with our governments assistance and insistance - and cut out the people who had a legal claim to GMs assets in favor of the unions who had no legal claim just made it worse.  It got so bad the bond holders rebelled and threatened to back out of the deal.  That would have forced the GM to dissolve and pay off the creditors rather than reorganize.  Eventually bond holders were given a better deal in the new GM and they relented and the reorganization went through.  Once the IPO for the new GM came to pass, old GM bondholders were given shares in the new GM as well as warrants allowing them to purchase more shares at set prices.  There were a lot of bond holders so we had to process a lot of corporate actions to convert the bond holders shares to new common stock and warrant shares.  I did much of that work as well as determining what the proper quantities and cost basis percentages would be. A bit later on I was trying to look up info on old GM and went to the corporate website where I found they basically ignored all of their history prior to 2009.  Which I thought was pretty crappy of them but not unexpected.  Some companies embrace their history, others ignore it and then repeat it.

Because I was pretty involved in the corporate actions surrounding the reorganization, I've got a fair amount of GM info trapped in my noggin.  So one of the reps had a question on getting prices for old GM shares and I gave him what the old GM stock symbol was as well as what I thought the old cusip.  A cusip is a 9 digit number used to identify a stock in the US and every stock, mutual fund, and bond has a different one.  When a company goes through a corporate action like a reverse stock split, a merger, or a name change they usually get a different cusip and to look up info on the old security, you need to know the old cusip.  There are 3 stocks I have dealt with on a regular basis that require a lot of work to untangle sometimes, AT&T, Verizon, and GM.  I know the cusip of the original AT&T stock by heart as well as Verizon's and I knew most of GM's cusip and guessed the rest.  Which impressed a few of the people around me, though I don't know why.  It's a 9 digit number, almost like knowing a phone number.  So I know 3 phone numbers by heart.  Or maybe I'm a bit anally retentive on numbers.  I still remember my family phone number from when I grew up and we haven't lived there in 30 years.  Anyway, because of this and a couple of other things, I've been getting a lot of requests for assistance on some complex issues.  It eats into my time a little but I'm glad to share a little knowledge and help out my fellow man (and woman) on occasion.

No poker for me this weekend.  The not so little girl is home from school for the weekend while we fix her car up.  Her engine fan and a relay appear to be bad and the car runs hot when it sits in traffic too long.  I'm so busy reffing this weekend besides coughing up a lung that I have no desire to play.  I guess I'll get my gambling jones out by placing some short term investments today.   Here's what I like today.

Give me Nebraska -10.5 vs Ohio State.  Ohio State is in disarray and you know Bo Pellini is going to run the boys ragged after the pounding Nebraska took from Wisconsin last week.  This is their Big 10 home opener and I figure they want to open up right in front of the home town fans.

I'll take Ga Tech -14.5 over Maryland.  Since their season opening win vs Miami, Maryland has been in disarray winning only once over might Towson St and losing to West Virginia as well as getting pounded by Temple.  GT has been a juggernaut offensive though their defense is not so great.  You almost can't get a high enough line to not hit the over in their games. I'm tempted to play the over at 63.5 but I don't trust Maryland enough. 

I'm looking at Texas +10 vs Oklahoma today.  It's Texas/OU weekend today which means the State Fair of Texas is wrapping up again.  I do miss Texas.  Anyway though I like the spread a bit, I like the over/under a lot more.  Both teams put up bunches of points.  For Texas this is another revenge game as they have pounded both UCLA and Iowa St after losing to them last year.  I doubt they pound OU but I do anticipate a shootout and I'll take over 56 here.

I also like the under in the Tennessee/Georgia game today.  UGA is playing good defense and the only good defense that Tennessee played was against Florida where they were shut down completely.  I look for UGA to do the same and score enough to carry the day.  I'll take under 55.5

I'm looking at Arkansas -10 vs Auburn today.  I'm not sure if I want to play it here but I like Arkansas and don't care for Auburn.  Still Arkansas had an emotional come from behind win last week and maybe has a hangover this week.  But they are a good young team playing at home. 

That's my weekend in a nutshell it seems.  I'm gonna take it easy until it's time to referee and make it through the day I hope.  I may put in a couple of picks for the pros tomorrow as I'm looking at a couple of games.  If I survive tonight.  I hope you all stay lucky.  Hope I do too. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My oh my, what a beautiful day

Actually what a beautiful week.  What an incredibly wild and wacky week it has been.  But first today. 

It is absolutely GORGEOUS outside today.  Low 70s, low humidity, cloudless skies with a cool breeze.  A near perfect day and a day that should be good for reffing tonight.  The high today is only supposed to be in the low 80s and it should be down in the 60s tonight.  Perfect football weather.  I almost can't wait.

Now for the rest of the week.  I must wish my heartfelt condolences to all of the Red Sox nation this week.  To watch your most hated rival blow a 7-0 lead to a team you need to lose then watch your own ace closer go out and blow a ninth inning lead.  That has to sting quite a bit.  Congratulations Red Sox, you've introduced a whole new generation of fans to the pain of being Red Sox fans.  The younger folks thought cheering for the Red Sox was gonna be all sweetness and light, like being a Yankee fan is.  Sure there is the occasional set back like blowing a 3-0 series lead, but there's always next year for a Yankee fan and he knows his team will be in the mix.  Old Red Sox fan never had that certainty.  Next year was just another chance to get your heart ripped out. 

Then "The Idiots" blow out 86 years of futility by first sticking it to the Yankees in historic fashion, then winning the World Series.  And do it again 3 years later while having some epic battles with both NY and getting a surprising challenge over the past few years from TB.  The modern Red Sox fan, stalwart of the Red Sox nation, had not known the kind of heartache that those over 30 or so had lived through time after time.  Losing in 7 to the Cards in 67, losing the AL East in 72 by 1/2 a game because a strike shortened their season by 7 games (but only 6 for Detroit), losing in 7 to the Reds in 75, losing in 7 to the Mets in 86 after the final out slipped through Buckner's legs, and maybe worst, losing a playoff game to NY in 1978 after leading by 14 games in July.  And then came this past week.  And they watched a team with no heart slowly toss away a sure playoff berth and probable match up with NY for another world series trip, over the course of one month.   They got to feel the agony of an entire month of heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss.  When so many of their heroes just didn't seem to care and the ones that did care just couldn't carry those who didn't. 

All of this culminated in Wild Wednesday.   Boston and Tampa Bay, tied at 90-71 and playing one final game to see if they would have a play off for the wild card spot.  After work on Wednesday I was playing poker at Derby Lane while the PQ was at Universal Studios in Orlando with her friend Kim.  Every year they go for a couple of days for Halloween Horror nights.  They get a hotel room there at the park, go to all the haunted houses and drink and carouse heavily.  So with no one here I decided to play some cards after work.  There were 2 tvs on the wall above my table so I could watch both NY/TB and Bos/Balt playing at the same time. 

I started off playing Omaha 8OB.  I love playing the game but they don't always have it going when I want to play.  Wednesday night they surprisingly had it going when I got there at 7.  I only recognized a few players which was also surprising as most of the people who normally play there are the same group of mostly oldtimers.  When you're one of the youngest at the table and you're over 50, you're at an old table.  This table had a mix going.  My cards on the other hand were not mixed.  They were almost all bad.  I had to dump most hands as they just didn't work.  In 2 hours I never had a hand with A2 and only twice had A3 in my hand.  Most of my hands would be like K-10-7-2 which doesn't get you far.  But I didn't push things and just kept folding hoping things would turn around. 

The Rays at the same time are doing their best to not make the playoffs.  David Price is pitching and he just doesn't have it.  Gives up a run in the first inning and then Texeira hits a grand slam off him in the 2nd.  After 4 innings it's 6-0 and definitely not looking good.  At the same time Boston and Baltimore are going back and forth and Boston takes a 3-2 lead on a Pedroia homer.  Baltimore is getting guys on every inning but can't get runs.  Scutaro turns one of the sweetest double plays you'll ever see and also makes a nice throw home to save a run.  A few people decide to leave after a couple of hours and I'm down almost half my buy in.  I haven't won a hand yet.  In fact I haven't even split a hand.  I finally do win a low part of a hand with a 3-8 but only for a few bucks.  I was in the big blind, the cards were terrible for us all and no one bet or I would have dumped that as well. 

2 more people decide they are leaving and we play one more hand.  I finally get something worth playing AA48 with A4 of spades and A8 of diamonds.  Not a fantastic hand but a good hand and better than almost every other hand I've played.  I'm on the button and just call preflop.  The flop is 983 rainbow and it's checked to me so I bet it and get 3 callers.  Turn is a K and again I bet and get 2 callers.  River is a 5 and it's checked to me a 3rd time.  I bet and get one caller and somehow scoop the pot with my A4 low and AA for high.  That put me almost back to even as the table broke.  Which is a lot better than my Rays who are now down 7-0 after Texeira hit another homer.  Baltimore is still down 3-2

Since it's only a little after 9 I decide to play some 1-1 NLHE while I watch the bitter end of the ball games.  After all, the Rays don't come back for 3 down too well, 7 down is looking pretty hopeless.  But this team is getting guys on base, they just can't get a hit when guys are in scoring position.  They get to the 7th inning in Baltimore and the deluge happens while the Rays strand 2 again in their half of the 7th.  Hold em is not starting well for me.  I get dealt JJ in late position and get 5 callers to my raise to 5.  Flop is king high and I make a continuation bet hoping no one has a king and will give me credit for one.  3 call.  No mas for me, especially after a queen hits the turn.  A little later I call a small raise from the small blind with 4-5 of hearts.  Flop is 10-4-5 with 2 diamonds.  I check, original raiser who I have already seen will raise most anything in position puts in a small bet that that button calls.  I raise them both up with a pot sized bet and the original raiser calls.  Turn is unfortunately another diamond.  I make a 1/3 pot bet and my opponent pushes all in.  It's not a large amount more and I have to make a decision.  Did he have AQ maybe or did he fill his flush.  I can see him making this play with A of diamonds and an offsuit queen but also with a made flush or a set of queens. 

I think for a while.  I doubt he has QQ by his bets but even if he has the flush I've got outs for the boat.  I'm not getting quite the odds for it but I think it's 30 or 40 percent that he pushed at me without the flush hoping it scared me off.  So I call and he has the flush.  I don't fill up and now I'm down a goodly bit.  But I buckle down and watch myself and my opponents.  This guy apparently likes his flush draws.  I see him make some odd calls and hit flushes.  I also see him chase to the river and give up a lot of chips chasing draws that don't hit.  He would call with almost any 2 suited cards and not let go no matter the bet.  If I had known that earlier I would have dumped my 4-5 to his all in.  Maybe. 

I get some revenge on him later on.  I call his raise preflop with KQ suited.  No flush draw for me but the flop was king high.  I bet into him on the flop, turn, and river.  He dumped the river and I got back some chips.  It's the 8th inning on tv and the Rays seem to be rallying along with me.  I get 6-6 in the small blind and call a lady's preflop raise to $4.  Flop is AQ6 with 2 spades.  Looking good but I'm not gonna go wild with it.  So I check and call her $6 bet as do 2 others.  Turn is another A.  I check again but everyone else checks as well.  River is a blank.  I decide to bet out this time.  I make it 8 wondering if I shouldn't have made it more.  Folded to the lady who calls me.  She flips over AK and is not happy to see my full house.  The Rays load the bases on 2 hits and a hit by pitch.  The next guy walks in a run.  Then another hit by pitch and it's 7-2 and still no one out.  Jennings strikes out but Upton rips one to left.  Unfortunately right at the left fielder but another run comes in from the sac fly.  Then Longoria comes up and blasts one into the left field seats.  7-6 baby!!  Could this really be a come back?  Jaso pinch hits a single and Maddon brings in Elliot Johnson to pinch run as he's quick.  He steals second on a pitch out and makes it easily.  Damon at the plate with runner in scoring position.  But he pops out to end the inning.  Oh great, now they've really sucked me in. 

Cards keep coming.  Mr Flush chaser chases one too many flushes and busts out.  I check in the small blind on a hand with 10-6 off.  Flop is K-10-6.  Bingo.  I bet and get 2 callers.  Turn is another 6.  I check to try and get a bettor into me but no go.  River is a blank, doesn't complete anything and I put out $10 to see if I can get some action.  Guy to my left calls me with a K.  Doesn't like my full house.  Only half my attention is actually on the game now as the Yanks go down in the 9th.  Rays come up and 2 go down quickly.  Mad man Maddon brings in Dan Johnson to pinch hit.  Johnson was the opening day starter at 1st but never panned out.  He did have some key pinch hits over the past few years at least.  But he only hit .115 this year.  He looks bad getting to 2-2 and then turns on a pitch and laces it down the right field line.  If it stays fair its gone and it does sliding just inside the foul poll and over the wall in the right field corner.  The poker room erupts except for a couple of Sox fans.

Now I have to stay and watch what else happens.  It's good that I'm almost back to even at least.  I lose some chips on a flush and straight draw that doesn't pan out while the Rays and Yanks get through the 10th and 11th.  Baltimore and Boston start up again and while Baltimore doesn't seriously threaten in the 7th or 8th, they do save a run when the cut down Scutaro at the plate to keep it 3-2.  But we all know Papelbon is coming on in the 9th so Tampa Bay has to win their game to have a playoff the next day we figure.  I get dealt 77 in the big blind as the 12th inning starts.  I call a small raise along with 4 others and get to see a flop of J-7-4 with 2 clubs.  I bet out $6 and get 3 callers.  Turn is a lousy 5 of spades.  Not what I wanted.  So I checked the turn and the lady I had taken down with 6-6 bets out for $8.  I think about dumping as I'm sure she has the flush but I don't want to give up this nice hand.  So I call and a guy to my left calls as well which surprises me.  I'm wondering what he has when the river comes out with a beautiful 4.  Now I'm thinking if I should bet or not.  I figure the paired board might scare someone off so I bet out for $14.  I'm surprised the guy to my left calls as well as the lady.  She is very unhappy with me when I flip up 7s full and dumps her flush.  Other guy didn't show but I think he had the straight.  I feel much better until I look up at the TV and see the Yanks get the first guy on when Longo can't make a play on a ball and the next guy singles him to 3rd.  Oh no first and 3rd and no one out.  It doesn't look good.  It's also about 11:45 and I gotta work in the morning so I decide I'll cash out almost even and head home.  If the Rays are gonna blow it in 12 and the Sox win their way into the wildcard spot, I'd rather hear it on the radio rather than see it.  And if I'm really bummed it's a lot easier to crash into a bridge abutment that way.  Boston goes down in the top of the 9th and Papelbon is coming on to close it out.

I get out to the car just in time to hear Longoria make a truly heads up play.  Rays killer Jorge Posada comes up to bat and grounds to 3rd.  Longoria fields it, sees the runner has taken a step toward home, and dives to tag him out before he can get back to 3rd.  Now it's 1st and 2nd with one out.  McGee shuts down the next 2 batters and the Rays still have life.  The announcers report that Papelbon got the first 2 batters while the teams change positions.  They report the next guy doubled and while Upton is batting, the crowd starts cheering as the score changes to Boston 3 Baltimore 3.  Upton strikes out and Longoria comes to bat.  I'm getting close to home when the announcers report Baltimore scored again to beat the Red Sox.  The crowd at Tropicana starts cheering when they see the final score posted then Longoria scorches a low line drive up the left field line that barely clears the wall inside the foul poll and the Rays are in the playoffs.  You gotta have heart said Gene Hackman in The Replacements, "Miles and miles and miles of heart"

Are the Rays a team of destiny or just another team that gets lucky to make the playoffs due to the ineptness of someone else and then gets blasted out like the pretenders they are?  I was really interested to see how they would come out last night against Texas, a team that has done pretty well against them this year.   Though the Rays were 4-5 against Texas, Wilson had been dominant the last 2 times against TB and only Shields had really been successful against Texas.  And he couldn't pitch game one.  So Maddon the Mad Hatter decides to start youngster Matt Moore who had only started 1 major league game.  A gutsy move but it turned out just right for him as Moore was masterful through 7.  The Mad Hatter also moved catcher Kelly Shoppach and his .176 batting average up to 6th in the order,  moving Sean Rodriguez to first and dropping budding star Desmond Jennings to 8th.  Jennings had really cooled off in September after a scorching August and Shoppach had actually gotten kind of hot over the final weeks of the season.  Though Rodriguez doesn't get any hits, everything else pays off as Moore shuts down the big hitting Ranger lineup and Shoppach hits 2 bombs as the Rays win easily in game 1.  Now they have Shields going in game 2 and that has to put them on the advantage.  Pessimist that I am, I don't yet believe in the destiny tag but if Shields wins today, I may change my mind yet. 

When I said the Sox had no heart, that of course does not apply to all of them.  Dustin Pedroia is full of heart and should be made the team captain for years to come.  Jacoby Ellsbury, not withstanding his drop of Andino's drive on Monday when he hit the wall, also has plenty of heart and has my vote for MVP as well.  What a season and unlike Granderson, he played great down the stretch.  Scutaro played with plenty of heart as well.  But there were too many JD Drews and John Lackeys on this team and a lot of other guys who haven't been there long enough to establish a heart like Gonzalez, Crawford and Aviles.  I did have to change my opinion of one Red Sock on Wednesday.  John Lester pitched with plenty of heart.  He didn't have great stuff, struggled all night long and got bailed out by some great defense a few times, but on 3 days rest he did all he could to give his team a shot at the playoffs.  That my friends is heart.  But apparently this was not the same team as the Idiots who did everything together.  This team didn't get along all that well. 

Getting along is not a necessity for winning in baseball.  Hell the Yankees have proved for 30 years that you can buy enough players to win even if you don't get along.  But when times are rough and you need to pull together to win, you gotta know the other guy is gonna do his part to win.  It helps to have a team that gets along, that holds each other accountable and doesn't want to let each other down.  One thing I discounted about the Rays this year was how well they got along.  These guys really like playing with each other.  They have a leaders in Longoria and Shields who are among their hardest workers as well and as talented as David Price is, he is also their biggest joker as well.  A guy who gets a game winning hit and is interviewed after the game almost always got a pie in the face on air from one of those 3.  And the camaraderie infected them all.  If Terry Francona had one failing this year, and I have always considered him one of the best managers in the league, it's that he didn't put his foot down on his guys enough.  He viewed them all as pros able to take care of business but there are pros and there are pros.  Admittedly you have to manage a team of vets like Boston differently than a young team like Tampa Bay, but sometimes you gotta do things a bit different to get the results you want.  Maybe Francona thought it would look like panic if did some things differently and maybe he was fed up with having to deal with some of the egos he had been stuck with over the past few years.  Or maybe he just figured they would work out of this just like the funk at the beginning of the year.  He may have been right and they just ran out of time.  Now he is gone and it looks like the Sox may implode the whole thing and start over.  Which is a big help to the rest of the AL East in my opinion.


Time for some picks then I have a few things to do before I referee today.  And here are my college picks for what its worth.  I have done ok so far this year, a far cry better than early last year.  Here's what I like

Give me Alabama -4 at Florida.  I think Bama's experience wins out over UF's speed this year.  Next year may be a different story but Bama looks like the real deal as much as I hate Nick Satan Sabin.

I'll take Michigan St +3 over Ohio St.   I think this is a close defensive game and the under may also be worth a play as well.

And give me Wisconsin -10 over Nebraska.  Nebraska has not been impressive at all against pretty weak opposition.  Wisconsin hasn't played the stiffest competition either but at home I think they roll over Nebraska.

I'm also looking at Georgia Tech -10 over NC St.  -  NC St got ravaged by Cincy and Ga Tech is better than Cincy.  Injuries are killing NC State this year.  I might play this one. 
And I'm looking at taking the over 60.5 in the Boise St/Nevada tilt.  These guys can score and both give up points as well.  I expect Boise to blow out Nevada after last year but they'll give up 3 TDs while scoring over 40. 
Take a look at Iowa St +9 at home against Texas as well.  Iowa St has covered every game so far and Texas just ain't that good.  I don't see them being all that motivated against a team they beat 56-3 last year.

So as I leave I hope you all stay lucky, as lucky as the Rays.