Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rugby for fairies...2015 conference championships

Bokolis rolls into the conference championships 6-2-1.  Since I figure to be shoveling snow until like Wednesday and the lines don't figure to be going anywhere, I'll enlighten the world while I still have my faculties.  In both of these match-ups, one side has a decided advantage at QB over the other.  I will play it that way.

Patriots (-3) over BRONCOS - To take New England here is to disregard that, allegedly, Tom Brady is 2-6 in all competitions in Denver.  Is it altitude- there has to be a deflated ball joke in there somewhere.  Both of Denver's QBs have taken him out.  What's worse, not only have his two victories have come against sides QB'ed by Tim Tebow and Danny Kanell, but I remember a team led by Jake Plummer defeating him- though, to be fair, I think that one had more to do with Champ Bailey.

Even so, Bokolis was stuck trying to remember whether it was Kanell who kept throwing the TaINTs for the Giants (it was Dave Brown).  Quite frankly, ever since Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys, it's all been a blur.  I'm also stuck trying to figure out whether the current version of P.Manning is any better than Tebow and Kanell.

Hey, the guy is still the grandmaster at calling a game from the line.  But, he is essentially a statue and, without an arm or the ability to make things happen outside the pocket, the Patriots figure to crowd the box and the middle of the field to dare him to throw outside.  Since he probably won't have that pop-up slide throw in the game plan this week, Peyton is going to need some serious help from his line and running backs to weave some magic.

More likely, the Patriots will be warm to his plan.  Last week's game was just a warmup for this week.  Just like last week, the Patriots will do what the have to do to win this game.

PANTHERS (-3) over Cardinals - With the later starts for the conference championship games, the Cardinals won't fall out of bed like the Seahawks did.  That said, Newton and the Panthers have shown all year that they will score when they need to, and Carson Palmer will not get away with trying to throw the ball to the opponent this week.  Either pick would imply disrespect for the other's record.  But, from what Bokolis has seen from the Panthers this season, the only thing that sinks them in this game is a letdown.

The Waybach Machine: We don't need no water let the mutha...

Courtesy of the BBC, Bokolis jumped into the waybach machine to revisit the Bradford City stadium fire at Valley Parade, 1985, years before I'd venture into the English countryside. The fire killed 56 and, when I first read about this many years ago, immediately triggered my hood senses. I've linked to Wikipedia, but there is plenty out there on this.

Now, it's highly doubtful that it was the arson many are claiming but, callously negligent, while the simplest and most convenient explanation, may not be enough to describe this; this is a screaming case of LIHOP. Ownership had been warned that the place was a tinder box- even provided the most likely cause of a fire- and did next to nothing about it. The program explains that Heginbotham had a firebug past but, given that it wasn't exactly a secret at the time, I'm surprised it doesn't explain that the stand was scheduled for upgrade/renovation- because of Bradford's promotion, not because it was a tinder box- over that summer (at least, I didn't hear them note it...for all I know, Bokolis' attention span may be slipping). Those renovations would've cost much more than they invested into the club- back in those days, clubs saw fans as a liability, rather than something to harvest/monetize. So, leaving aside that they actually made out on the exchange, it doesn't take a cynic to speculate that ownership wasn't excited about such an expenditure.

That the fire occurred on the final match day is an incredible coincidence and, depending on your perspective and motives, good/bad luck. To boot, the guy claiming to have accidentally started the fire lived half a world away and had been in town visiting family. The program doesn't say what became of him, other than he has since died. Bokolis would presume that he fucked off back to Australia, far enough away so as not to be hounded for any followups.

It's all circumstantial evidence to be sure, but when viewed from that perspective, the official story does not pass the smell test. Since we've seen the lengths to which they went to cover up, frame even, the Hillsborough Disaster- it took 28,000 people to shout at a politician, as infuriating as it is inspiring, to gain the impetus to finally cut through the bullshit- looking the other way on an insurance job, even paying him off, isn't farfetched. If nothing else, it should have taught us all that the authorities' word can NEVER be blindly trusted.
justice for the 96
justice for the 56

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Going for two and the overtime bounce

So, for the balance of Monday, the divisional round post-mortem was mainly focused on the events leading up to the end of Packers-Cardinals.  There were other items, but Arians' playcalling, going for two after the hail mary, the coin toss and changing the overtime rules dominated.

On the Cardinals final drive in regulation, up by four and in virtually certain field goal range, the second down call was to loft a pass to Fitzgerald up the left sideline.  The play wasn't there, but Palmer wanted to throw him open.  Essentially, Palmer wound up throwing it away.  The incompletion ultimately gave Rodgers extra time- enough, as it turned out, for a successful heave into the endzone.

The second-guessers- and those who bona fide disagree with that strategy- were out and chirping.  While Bokolis is of the Jimmy Johnson you play to stick it in their ass philosophy of protecting a late-game lead, I nonetheless raised an eyebrow.  Not because of the riskiness, but because of the type of play.  Fully realizing that the thinking may have been that Fitzergald was having a very good second half, I wonder why even bother when the play is such low-risk low-reward.

But if he caught it, it would've been a touchdown and game over is the cunt's refrain.  If my Aunt Sally had balls Implicit in the low reward is that he had virtually no chance of catching that ball, as he was blanketed by a quality cover guy who likely had a good idea what was coming.  It's not like they had Fitzgerald isolated on some rookie corner.  If you're going to pass, put them on the back foot by having three or four guys in the pattern.  Palmer can always fall to the ground without ceding too much field position.

Now, if you tell Bokolis that Palmer can't be trusted in that situation- heh- I've got nothing.

Driving around yesterday, when I got into range, Bokolis was listening people calling Francesa to prod him about going for two after the hail mary.  Francesa initially dismissed it with the air of heresy, though he made the valid point that no coach would risk the entire season on a 50-50 play.  There was subsequently a parade of callers, alternating between the unknowledgeable and those looking to prod Francesa.  For his part, Francesa, as he does when he is at his worst, alternated between hanging up on them, shouting them down or, where he thought he could, belittling the callers.

Even where callers intimated (Bokolis' stance) that, while it's maybe not the proper call in that situation, it's not as outrageous as Francesa would have us believe.  One caller suggested that, after the hail mary, it was a good time to sucker punch the Cardinals because they were reeling.  Francesa disingenuously replied that they weren't reeling three plays later, ignoring that there were about 10 minutes to regroup in the interim.

No one saw fit to say compare it to the best time to squeeze in a baseball game is when a big or crazy play- ideally, a run-scoring play- brought the runner to third because the pitcher/team is reeling or, in the opposition's best case, psychologically willing to concede a run for an out.  Bokolis certainly isn't going to do it, as there is no way I'd engage that muthafucka on his turf and terms.  But, if I did, in a bit of psychological engineering, I'd've asked him beforehand what degree of certainty- I'd need at least 70%- would he need to take the risk in that situation.  It would allow him to play lord, and this ego-stroke would likely make him more inclined to humor the caller.

Along those lines, the callers whinged that they should change the overtime rules so that both teams get possession, even when the team with the ball first scores a touchdown.  Francesa sort of skirted the issue, even while acknowledging that the current format is not perfect, with the ad hominem rebuke of the callers, saying that the only reason they were whinging about both the OT rules and going for two was because they were butthurt that Rodgers never got the ball.

Now, Bokolis has virtually no compassion for a team that had 60 minutes to sort it out, but was burned on the first drive of OT.  But, let's say this- the current overtime format is a consequence of the NFL moving to an arena football format and the kickers getting better.  The ringmasters realized that, increasingly, teams would win the toss, get the opening kickoff, complete two passes to the opponent's 35 yard line and kick a 52, 53-yard field goal on second down to win the game, which is a cunty way to decide a ball game.

Bokolis is not going to debate any format that involves a coin toss, as they are all flawed, except to say that, in a championship game / super bowl, they should play to a defined extra time period- quarter or half, doesn't matter- and, if the game is still tied, turn on sudden death mode*.

* - if still tied, the team holding the ball when the clock runs out on the extra period would cede possession to start sudden death.  This would lead to cynical play, such as punting the ball with the clock running down.  The rules would have to be adjusted to prevent such a derby.

The right way to do a sudden death overtime format is to have some kind of face-off/scrum for opening possession. Bokolis suggests something akin to the Aussie Rules opening bounce, where the recovering side gets the ball, either at a pre-determined spot or the spot of recovery, and first score wins.  In this way, the outcome is fully determined by what happens on the field, even if the bounce of the ball will play a part.

Which brings Bokolis to the coin toss itself.  The referee voided the first toss because the coin never turned over, even after hitting the turf.  There was some clamor, as there is nothing in the rules that states that the coin has to turn over, that the referee was wrong to toss the coin again.

Aside- it's amazing and sad that, in addition to a you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin' society, we've become so bureaucratic and such slaves to the rules that we are disturbed when something is left up to critical thought.  While the referee was technically incorrect to call for a second toss, it was the right decision.  People forget that the (holistic) purpose of rules is supposed to be to counteract cynical actions- we didn't need as many when people could be counted on to try to do the right thing- not to preserve the sanctity of process.

I highly doubt that he thought of it in the moment- if he did, he is a greater man than given credit for- but, given that it was proven possible to toss the coin up like a pizza and have it plop down on the same side, if he had let it stand, there would have been no end to the conspiracy rants.

Monday, January 18, 2016

chalk week and NASCAR football

Bokolis banged out a 2-1-1 divisional round- allowing for a push in Steelers-Broncos- bringing the playoffs to 6-2-1.  There is time to brag, but I'm trying to tell you a story.  The story is about how the endings of these games are becoming more like NASCAR (aka the NBA) and professional wrestling, for that matter.

When making fun of both entities, Bokolis uses NASCAR and NBA interchangeably.  In both cases, the contestants go around in circles, essentially doing the same thing two hundred times.  Yet, it's typically only in the last 10 laps/possessions that the outcome gets decided.  In NASCAR, they rig all the cars so they are essentially equal.  Even when someone manages to open up a half-lap lead, a caution flag invariably bunches everybody back up, leading to the proverbial dusty finish...and the ringmasters want it this way.

In the NBA- all forms of basketball, really- it takes the form of a fouling derby, peppered with time being called a half-dozen times.  While Bokolis can understand that the money grubbers want to maximize revenue by getting the viewer to hang in as long as possible, why is there a need for the rest of the game?  If that's the case, each game should be four minutes, each race should be 10 laps.

To boot, NASCAR has created a playoff system to decide its (insert whatever the name of the Winston Cup is these days), which essentially discounts the advantage the top driver(s) has/have accumulated for the sake of late-season drama.  Similarly, the NBA has a four round postseason.

aside- remember that year when Kobe was injured, so the Lakers snuck into the playoffs as one of the bottom seeds?  The NBA ringmaster, figuring this would give the moneymaker a better chance of advancing, changed the rules on the fly to make the first round a best-of-seven.

Now, Bokolis does not support most playoff setups.  I can tolerate playoffs when playing a balanced schedule is impossible, like the NFL.  As it concerns the NBA and NHL, I can accept a split into conferences and having the respective champions meet.  However, I see no reason they can't decide a conference champion by playing a balanced regular season schedule within the conference- 14 teams x 4  games = 56, plus 2 games x 15 non-conference teams = 30 (exhibition) games, for a grand total of 86 games.  In a final matchup of conference champions, there is no need to play the same game seven times...that only works in baseball because a different guy is pitching in each game.

It's bad enough that the NBA and NHL let half the league in the playoffs and play four rounds of best-of-seven.  But, NASCAR- and golf!- have now adopted similar setups to decide their annual champions.  This is even more insulting to the fans' intelligence, as the contestants either decide to play or have to qualify for the events in with they participate.

...reeling it back in...

This weekend's games reminded Bokolis that, too often for my sensibilities, occurrences very late in games are quite divergent from the general tenor of the game seen in the first 95%-97% of the elapsed time.  It is the necessary consequence of a stopped clock and multiple opportunities for the coaching staff to gather the troops, rather than having the players sort it out on the fly.  Just like the playoff systems defeat the purpose of a regular season, the late-game drama insults the viewer for having watched the rest of the game.

It must drive coaches batshit crazy, but Bokolis is looking at it from the point-spread perspective.  I'd like to also point out that this doesn't happen in (world) football, where the clock is always running.  That is for another time.

If you had the Pats or the Panthers, you were comfortable pretty much from the start.  The Patriots did as Bokolis expected and the oddsmakers were nice enough to not have the Pats giving a bigger number.  Instead of the Seahawks wearing down, they fell out of bed, making it close but never threatening.  When Seattle held, down 31-17 with 3 minutes and change remaining, I couldn't figure out why they kept their last time out.  My thinking was that, if Carolina gets the ball again, the game is over, so you may as well use it and save clock.  That was not discussed by the carnival barkers; I guess they wanted to reserve the appearance of surprise should Seattle do the unthinkable.  Also left unsaid was all the little extra holding let go for the sake of making it interesting...hey, when one team spots the other 31 points, there is nothing much to discuss about the game.

As for the others, Bokolis remembers thinking, right about the second play from scrimmage of Packers-Cardinals, what the hell am I into here.  This is likely because the comfort, felt immediately during the earlier game, did not recur in the nightcap.  The same thing happened on Sunday, albeit the discomfort came a little later.  On Saturday, I remembered that I was banking on Carson Palmer- he of the playoff cherry- while Sunday was chicken-armed P.Manning.

Despite the referees nullifying an interception return for a touchdown by calling an inconsequential foul on a defensive lineman being held and Palmer trying to throw the ball to Packers defenders, the Cardinals managed to get the game to a push.  After having given Aaron Rodgers a bit more time by trying to get cute, they had him 4th & 20, dropping back into his own end zone and Bokolis, knowing fully well that they'd never call it, trying for a safety by looking for holding in the line.  Whether you chalk it up to Rodgers' brilliance or a defensive breakdown, he completed a 60-yard pass.

Everybody now had to double-time it up to the line.  Logic dictates they would- as per the above rant, a relatively recent allowance in the rules- spike the ball to kill the clock.  Instead, likely with the coach(es) chirping in his ear, Rodgers calls a play, going so far as to change the formation.  This took, I don't know, about 10-12 seconds longer than a clock play, but it seemed like forever, especially with a running clock.

Ironically, they didn't wait one more second so the tight end could re-set, resulting in a penalty.  The two announcers offered that this penalty would also result in a forced 10-second runoff- a wrinkle added as a consequence of teams cynically taking penalties to stop the clock.  The announcers, likely advised so, explained that the runoff didn't apply because the imfraction wasn't one that would blow the play (and clock) dead.  Bokolis can't lambast them, for the NFL has more (ever-changing) rules than Soviet Communism.

Because Rodgers had already pulled off a hail mary in the regular season- irrespective of the result there, the throw itself was marvelous- the Cardinals figured that they'd blitz and make him uncomfortable.  That left them more vulnerable in coverage but, even with some uncalled cattle roping going on in the line, they essentially ended up with Rodgers heaving into double-coverage.  The Cardinals CB was camped under the throw, but neither he nor his help boxed out, allowing the receiver to get position, in position to wreck the push, as it turns out.

After posting the predictions, Bokolis spent time with people who listened to me crow about laying 6.5* because I got in early, yet made me more comfortable on the Panthers and less comfortable with the Broncos.  The prevailing thinking on the latter was that a blowout seemed too obvious, that some freakish stuff was sure to occur.  My paranoia kicked in, and I added that the biggest problem would be it turning out that Roethlisberger would have more heat on his throws than P.Manning.

* - this was noted in the post, but, for these purposes, we'll call it a push.  The line ran to 7.5 and settled on 7.  I can't say that I hit the middle, but there were surely people who did.  The bookies definitely took a beating on this one.

Since Bokolis can't fast-forward to the good parts, upon watching the two QBs operate at diminished capacity, I took a nap that took me into the 3rd quarter.  My outlook didn't change with my re-emergence.  With Denver down by 4 points, I'm thinking that the best I can do is a push- and for that field goal has to come first, as the touchdown has to come late enough so that they'd go for two.

The Steelers playing with a third-string running back finally jumped up and bit them in the ass with the fumble.  To boot, the Broncos finally came up with a brilliant drive, yielding the necessary TD and conversion to get the game to 7.  The Steelers turned the ball over to Denver in scoring territory.  The resulting field goal was unwelcome, not because I had 6.5, but because a 10-point lead brings the backdoor cover into play.

While Bokolis was assessing how many shots the Steelers would get at the end zone, they trotted out the field goal kicker to get the 3 before the 7.  The thinking was to save enough time to get a viable shot at the end zone, should they recover an onsides kick.  At that point, scoring the TD first would've amounted to a Pyrrhic victory, as it would've likely burned through the clock.  I was totally fine with that, of course.  But I'd've even been fine with getting back to a push.

In the end, for all the chirping about this being wide open, the top two seeded sides will play for the conference championships.  A quirk was that each game was decided by a touchdown, even if the sudden death aspect of overtime meant that the Cardinals' margin of victory was six rather than seven.  Along those lines, both conference championships are currently 3-point spreads.  Bokolis is already rather certain about the picks, but we'll both have to survive the week.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rugby for fairies 2015 postseason - divisional round

The divisional round is widely considered the best NFL weekend of the year, as it is the last weekend before the games become productions.  Bokolis has done well in past years, and I feel reasonably good about three of these games.  I'll be into other shit this weekend, so I'll hit y'all off all at once.

PATRIOTS (-4.5) over Chiefs - Plenty of uncertainty here, as the Patriots downshifted into the end of the season, awaiting the return of Gronkowski, Edelman and Amendola and to heal in general.  In the process, they almost got Brady killed.  The Chiefs have won 11 straight, but will be missing their main WR.  There are all sorts of stats out there trumpeting the Patriots' record in the divisional round when having the bye week.  The thinking here is that, if the Patriots put up the expected points, Alex Smith will have trouble keeping up.

CARDINALS (-7) over Packers - So, allowing for rust from the Cardinals tanking the regular season finale, Palmer having not broken his playoff cherry and the Packers being more focused, Bokolis will allow that the Packers will be three touchdowns better than they were in the first meeting a few weeks ago.  That still results in a comfortable victory for the Cardinals.

PANTHERS (-1.5) over Seahawks - This is the toughest one to break down, as, no matter who anyone picks, it is widely expected to be a close game.  This time, Beast Mode will make the trip east.  Even if that gives the Seahawks enough to muster some offense this time around, neither side figures to impose its will on the other, as both QBs are well capable of pulling their struggling offenses out of trouble.  Bokolis is telling myself that I am not deciding based on the Seahawks backing into the win last week.  I probably am, but I also think the second trip east will eventually take its toll on Seattle.

BRONCOS (-7) over Steelers - Another team fortunate to be here, the Steelers won't have the Bengals to bail them out.  Granted, -7 won't be available at game time, but this is because this pick was apparent well before Bokolis- I picked this up when it was still 6.5- brought it to you.  Roethlisberger will have to take better stuff than they gave Barry Sanders- that time he came back from 4 weeks on the shelf from a wrenched knee to crack ankles, knees and a hip or two- to be fully functional.  Even so, he won't have his deep threat and will be up against a more disciplined defense.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A dress of pylon and laces

As Bokolis tells anyone and everyone when it comes up, the golden rule of football- yes, I actually say "football"- is, never leave the game up to your kicker.  Given the misleading name of the game, this may seem quite ironic.  But, when you consider the mechanics of the game, if you can run the ball and throw the ball as you see fit or as the opponent will allow, whythefuck would you resort to kicking it unless you had to?

Bokolis has been saying that shit for years.  In this case, the expected refrain, surely from some insufferable gen-Y fuckstick who was varsity soccer teammates with some kid who went on to play in college as a place kicker, making him an expert on field goals, and who happens to be sitting not far enough down the bar, is, dude, it's a 27-yarder; that's less than the new extra point.  I can kick a 27-yarder.  He made the last one from 43 and that was with the laces in.

Statistics claim it's a 98/100 deal here.  But, just like there's no such thing as a cakewalk in Brooklyn, there's no such thing as a chip shot when the game is on the line.  Even Bokolis, with some bird named van Pelt holding in an empty park, made them from 45 on the regular back in the day. When you throw in the conditions- it was so cold, this holder didn't have the nerve to try to rotate the laces out and, to boot, he cocked the ball in such a way that encouraged it to draw left- and that a kicker is involved in, what, 5% of the plays, it introduces an element of risk sufficient so that this tactic places an awful lot of faith in someone who hasn't lived the game to the degree that the other players have.

If Bokolis remembers correctly, the Vikings got (only) three points with the field position gained from Seattle's punter not handling a snap.  The Vikings should be more upset that they lost a game where the extent of the other team's offense was a big play where the ball was snapped past the QB's shoulder.

The Redskins spoiled Bokolis' perfect weekend by making the game too easy for Aaron Rodgers.  Now, it may well be that the Packers coaching staff needed two or three series to figure out how to pick apart the Skins.  Nonetheless, between DeSean Jackson dangling the ball outside the pylon- you know, that stupid muthafucka is a waste of speed...if Bokolis were that fast and that dumb, I'd be begging God to trade .10 off my 40 time for some game IQ- and the PAT hitting the upright, it kept the Packers close enough so that at 11-0, there was no panic.  At 16-0, there's no ruling out that panic may have set in, or that a Packers run would have deflated the Skins as it did.

Then again, while Bokolis sensed danger even up 11-0, by halftime, I was sure the Skins had lost.  So sure, that, at the end of the 3rd quarter, with a line of Packers -.6.5 dangling out there (score was 24-18 and the Packers had the ball going with the wind in the 4th quarter), I texted my homeboy to send it in full force on the Packers (this guy had the Steelers on the money line, so his luck was used up...especially if he did the same thing with Seattle).

So, Bokolis is in the unfamiliar position of a 4-1 wild card week.  I will now spend the week figuratively jerking off all over myself, taking breaks to figure out how to win Powerball.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ready for for fairies 2015 postseason - Sunday Wild Card

Turns out, Alex Smith wasn't under pressure to produce any points.  The Chiefs got all they needed on the opening kickoff.  Not that Bokolis watched any meaningful part of the game after that...but I gather it showed the importance of having a QB who knows what he's doing in the playoffs.

Which brings us to the second game, where, until Tebow 4th quarter scramble time, the extent of the Bengals offense was a pass interference call on an underthrown deep pass.  The Bengals managed to dump Roethlisberger on his shoulder, at which point the Steelers offense seized up.  When Roethlisberger gutted it out and returned for the final drive, he dinked and dunked his way into position, and the Bengals got him the rest of the way.

In between, Bokolis sneered at my Powerball tickets, found out there were no winners, and the Bengals fucked themselves out of a victory.  I'm sure all the fuckheads will spout on about the stupidity, specifically about Burfict.  Enjoy reading that.  No one will examine why the Bengals allowed the Steelers to gang-tackle their running back during a part of the game when the strategy is, essentially, to mug the ball carrier.

But, enough for now about the AFC.

The NFC has two non-traditional powers as top seeds, including Carolina, 15-1 and having run off 18(?) consecutive regular season victories, undersold the whole way.  Cam Newton is proving impossible to handle, even when his receivers play with the grease from Bojangles still on their hands.  Similarly, Arizona threw up a whatevs 13-3.  There are plenty of seats on either bandwagon.

The Vikings will also have to show us whether they are the team that won the division, or the team that got run by the Seahawks.  The Seahawks themselves are no longer the Legion of Boom, but they've gotten better- Russell Wilson most of all- after Jeremy Shockey Jimmy Graham went down to injury. The Skins, perfectly useless halfway through, have seemingly gotten it together with Cousins and are flying under everybody's radar.  The Packers have had the reverse type of season.

Bokolis finally stepped up in the wild card round, banging out all three of the picks. The game apparently went off at Steelers -2 in places.  As Bokolis said to buy the half- hey, I got 3 on the Bengals, so...- those that got 2 on the Bengals were taken.  I came in with the under on the Steelers game both because it was screaming at me and I didn't really have faith in the Bengals winning the game.  Having my suspicions confirmed while still hitting was a small window to have to climb through.

VIKINGS (+4.5) over Seahawks - Bokolis had this gag all ready for y'all...It's going to be so cold, Bokolis is predicting that, Beast Mode will tell Erin Andrews- pretend that she's not working the later game for a moment- that, like Bruno Kirby in Donnie Brasco, the good news is his dick is now a popsicle.  Marshawn Lynch apparently has not made the trip.  FOX isn't even doing the game.

To acknowledge that the line has moved, I'm entering +4.5 here even though Bokolis was in getting 5 (I see 4 out there, but 4.5 is far more common).  So, how is Minnesota going to make up 30 points on the previous beating from a month ago?  Beats the shit out of me- I don't like this game, so I'm going for value.  Having locked in +5, I was hoping for it to drop to 3.5 so I can come back with the Seahawks and try to hit the middle.  I'd venture that, after seeing what happens to inexperienced QBs in these games, money will now come in on the Seahawks.

REDSKINS (PK) over Packers - As of Friday, you can find lines with either team getting one; Bokolis writes PK to split the difference.  While the Skins giving a point is a more common line as of Saturday night, similar to above, money should come in on the more experienced QB.  It may be a mistake.  These teams are going in opposite directions.  The Packers have gone 4-6 after winning the first six, and one of those four was pulled out of their ass.  I will also throw out that first game versus the Vikings as an aberration, as I still don't believe that happened.  For those that want to make this a Rodgers vs Cousins thing, I submit that Rodgers isn't the same guy.  How much of it is from not having a line or receivers, how much of it is Rodgers slipping and how much of that is having a Hollywood girlfriend?  I don't care, as I see it summing up to a Skins victory.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ready for for fairies 2015 postseason - Saturday Wild Card

When we last left off, Bokolis was scratching my head, wondering why the Seahawks didn't run the ball into the end zone.  I've decided that these coaches- and players, for that matter- like to outsmart themselves, seemingly to rob the other side of the satisfaction.

Between thinking that Seattle had that game done and dusted, had blown it, then that catch put them back in prime position to pull it out, combined with having watched the game as part of a party hosted by a Pats fan, it was a lot to take.  The upshot was that Bokolis ended up with a 7-5 postseason, rather than a stellar 8-4, but secured a 5th consecutive year of coming out ahead.

We now move to the postseason following the 2015 season.  The league was top-heavy, so we we had a good idea of the participants well before the end of the season.  While there was hierarchy in the league, there is little hierarchy among the playoff teams.

The AFC is wide open, as the top two seeds have serious questions.  Tom Brady figures to be recovered from the thumping he took in the season finale, but he's waiting on a reliable WR to surface.  Denver dusted off P. Manning, back himself from injury, to rally a listless offense.  While he succeeded, this was more a function of the Raiders, who put up enough fight, staring at the pinstripes.  Peyton's arm didn't suddenly get stronger.

This makes the other teams live money.  The Chiefs are on a 10-game winning streak, yet will have to overcome that their last playoff victory (against the Houston Oilers) came back when Joe Montana and Marcus Allen were playing out their days.  The Bengals might have the best team, other than at QB, but will have to overcome an even longer drought than the Chiefs (last victory...against the Houston Oilers!).  The Steelers are not much more than a QB and a deep threat, but that could be enough to take out a few teams.

For a change, Bokolis would like to put up a respectable wild card weekend- not easy when everyone's a dark horse.  As always, keep in mind that this is worth what you're paying to read it.  Let's go.

Chiefs (-3) over TEXANS - Bokolis doesn't think that the Texans will be a pushover, but this is the type of game that fits the Alex Smith typecast.  He shouldn't be under pressure to produce many points, so he can be what we say he is.

BENGALS (+3) over Steelers - You should probably go shopping for a half point, even if you have to buy it.  Fully realizing that the Bengals have been absolutely shit in the playoffs, working with a QB with no experience may not be a bad thing.  Bokolis never had any faith in Dalton as it is, and Pittsburgh's weak secondary should yield enough points for the Bengals to pull through.  On the subject of enough points (under 46), they won't make it.  With both their proven running backs on the shelf, establishing a running game will be a problem, and I can't see the Steelers moving the ball without a running game.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Waybach Machine: Another visit to the Screwjob

Way back when, Bokolis wrote about how UNLV was jobbed by the refs- the whole NCAA, really- in the 1991 semifinal against Duke.  When ESPN did that I hate Christian Laettner piece and, while making sure to portray Laettner as anything but the product of White privilege that he came off as being, wondered how so much venom could be directed at him by so many, it could have answered its own question by examining this game.

Of course, be it rugby for fairies (that's gridiron football) or storytelling, ESPN is in the Disney business of fantasy, not deep-dive analysis.  Without going off the deep end on analysis and speculation, Bokolis would gather that the guy who made the 30 for 30 saw some of himself in Laettner, or saw some of Laettner in himself.

He could relate, I guess.  But, it didn't answer the question so much as it pitched the other side.

Well, Bokolis is from the 'hood, so, back then, I could relate to UNLV basketball and to the University of Miami football.  In both cases, I already liked them before they became the hood teams; it was serendipity that they became the hood teams (fleetingly, as it turned out, in UNLV's case).  But, the organic origin of my fandom isn't relevant.  I came to view these teams as antagonists/anti-heroes to what I perceived as a rigged game, a rigged society, even.

The harder the old boy network cranked to destroy them only served to shed light on its ugly existence.  The lengths to which they went to bury UNLV- by 1991, Bokolis had noticed that I wasn't alone in my sentiments- surely sowed some resentment, which was focused on the perceived beneficiaries:  Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, et al., and Duke in general.  For Bokolis, the hate started with Danny Ferry.  If I ever find the clip of him mushing the cheerleader...

{reeling it back in...}

A few weeks ago, someone (Mickie Krzyzewski?) left a comment itemizing the shafting.  While a sane person would tell this dude to let it go, Bokolis was fascinated that, after all this time, someone was/is more heated than I was over this.  It spurred me- I felt I owed it as tribute to his fury- to "fact-check"- both on myself and this dude.  Those comments are left as is and my comments are in RGB (11, 83, 148).  I was even diligent enough to link to the plays described.

In all cases, it should be assumed that none of it would matter to a flunkey official.  Some of these calls can only be understood if the assumption is that the officials have their marching orders.

To put names to the faces, the one with the dark hair is Tom O'Neill; the one with the gray hair is John Clougherty, whose quick whistle- putting it kindly- decided the 1989 championship; the black guy is Ted Valentine, who has gone on to get himself- just ask the internet- on the short list of most horrible officials of all time.  While hardly anyone is ever going to speak glowingly of officials, it appears that Clougherty has, by far, the best reputation.  It will play out that Valentine is the chief villain here, as he makes the lion's share- and the most scandalous- of the calls.

The UNLV-Duke game was the 2nd FF game.  Well, I'll be fucked- it sure was. 

...Stacey Augmon played with a severe migraine... That's code for, his hands were doused in a special motor oil (20-50?) that only wiped off with $100 bills...just like fat Ronaldo's convulsive fit on the eve of the 1998 World Cup Final was code for a alcohol/coke binge.

And the 2nd half of the UNLV-Duke game was the most one-sided officiated game in Final Four history. A few of the examples of the biased officating:<<< ok, just a few...we are all biased; these guys were corrupted.

Approx. 17:45 left in the 2nd half, Hurly converted a fast break layup and got a free throw on a foul on Anthony where it clear as day Anthony did not touch Hurly.  Correct.  Anthony made it apparent that he would play the matador there- not that it would matter to someone looking to make a call.  Valentine made the call.

Approx. 17:15 left in the 2nd half, an out-of-bounds call occurred that the refs said it went off LJ but it clearly went off on Laetner. Correct, and quite apparent...a piss-poor call, again by Valentine. 

Approx. 17:10 left in the 2nd half, there was a b.s. goaltending call on Gray that even Packer said was a poor call.  Correct.  This call was scandalously bad and, as it gave Duke free points, maybe the most egregious of the bunch.  Bokolis has a better chance at hitting the rim than that ball had.  This was on the possession retained by the previous call.  The whistling referee is off-camera; it is not Valentine this time, more likely Clougherty.

Approx. 16:06 left in the 2nd half, an out-of-bounds call gave the ball to Duke altough the ball went off Duke's Palmer.  Technically correct but, in 1991, the player in Palmer's position was usually given the call under the reasoning that, when it was close enough to be deemed simultaneous, it was considered out on the guy whose contact was causing the relevant impetus.  Notice that, while the UNLV players squawked at several of the calls that went against them, no one batted an eye on this call, made by Clougherty.

Approx. 15:36 left in the 2nd half, an out-pass to Laetner was overthrown. Anthony jumped up straight up to grab the ball, Laettner ran into him, and the officials called a foul on Anthony.  Agree.  Even though it was subjective, more nuanced and subtle, this was a shit call that would convince a knowledgeable neutral- given the phantom foul just over two minutes prior- of chicanery.  Valentine again makes the call- see the pattern here.

Approx. 15:36 left in the 2nd half, Anderson Hunt is about to dunk on a fast-break, and Duke's McCaffrey undercuts him. Hunt crashes down hurting his shoulder. Officials refuse to call an intentional foul.  I cannot agree.  This was the ensuing play out of the TV time out...Laettner threw the ball right to Hunt.  While I'm not inclined to sanction a hard foul as it is, the defender kept his hands down.  This was just a foul, an effective use of the dark arts.  Valentine also makes this call, so it's mildly surprising that he didn't call a charge.

Approx. 15:05 left in the 2nd half, the officials call on intentional foul on Augmon for bumping into to McCaffrey (yet no intentional call on Hunt a few seconds earlier)  The next trip down after Hunt sank 1 of 2, this was a bad one.  Augmon gets his forearm into McCaffrey's chest, but not with any real venom.  It seemed unremarkable.  It was within the subjective realm of a foul, but far from intentional.  Fittingly, the call is made by Valentine.

Approx. 11:05 left in the 2nd half, Anderson Hunt is about to dunk on a fast-break, and Hurley grabs him. Clear as day intentional foul, the refs refuse to call it even though Hurley grabbed him with both arms. LJ complains to the refs and the officials give a technical on Johnson - giving Duke an extra point. This is an interesting one.  The call is made by the Valentine, who whistled Augmon for the intentional foul, so it is unavoidable that this be viewed in comparison to that one.  In this case, Hurley comes down with two hands/arms on Hunt.  He wasn't trying to hammer Hunt, but it was without any sort of grace that could give it the appearance of being anything but intentional.  Again, while I'm not inclined to sanction a hard foul, this was certainly worse than Augmon's.
Further, Johnson is given a technical by O'Neill for whinging while facing away from him.  The same official allowed Greg Koubek, who was not involved in the play (and not the captain), some white boy privilege to lobby against calling it intentional.  Leaving aside that Koubek put two hands on the official, these are cardinal sins of officiating.  In more polite circles, they may say that this causes players to lose respect for officials.  Bokolis will say in no uncertain terms that the official has shown himself to be a cunt. 

Approx. 8:35 left in the 2nd half, Thomas Hill literally dribbled the ball out-of-bounds without an UNLV player near him.  Inconclusive.  O'Neill makes the call.  There are two items here.  I'm not entirely convinced Hill dribbled out of bounds.  But, after picking up his dribble, it certainly seemed like he lost the ball out of bounds.  I couldn't see where any UNLV player forced the ball free but, from the angle, this was also not conclusive. 

Approx. 8:25 left in the 2nd half, Thomas Hill went up for a three point shot, came down on the ball in a clear travel, and the officals inexplicately called the foul on Anthony for his fourth foul. The above cascaded into this possession, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.  Anthony hit Hill's right (non-shooting) elbow before Hill landed.  This is within the subjective realm of a foul.  However, with even a modicum of critical thought, Clougherty would've realized that Hill was hung up in the air and to not bail out Hill.  To the contrary, Clougherty put some flair into the call; he must have been aching to bust out that drop to a knee move.

That said, they could've had Anthony on a tricky-tack foul a minute earlier, where he was tangled with a Duke player while trying to deny a pass to the post that ultimately went out of bounds.  O'Neill and Clougherty were in position, but chose to let the play go.

Approx. 3:50 left in the 2nd half, Anthony hits a running jumper, but the officals waive it off the basket and call Greg with his 5th foul on a charge on Brian Davis. An absolutely horrific call.  This is probably the most scandalous of the calls.  Davis was hopelessly late and did not have position.  Realizing he'd be late, he also thrust into place, making this an even more obvious blocking foul.  The most scandalous part of this is that, it wasn't the official(s) on the sidelines, with better angles, making the call.  It was the official under the basket, Valentine, who had a shit angle, making the call in that staccato whistle that asserts prerogative.  They'd succeeded in fouling out Anthony, and heisted an and-one in the process.
Having done the deed, they saw no need to call a bonafide charge on Ackles.  Again it was Davis, again he tried to sell the charge by grunting as contact was made.  That time, it was O'Neill under the basket, who was either not as moved as Valentine, or making up for Valentine's call.

Approx. 3:40 left in the 2nd half, Brian Davis double-dribbles in the paint, but no call.  Indeed he did- all three of them could call it, but Valentine seemed to have the best view- but it came to nothing.

Approx. 1:30 left in the 2nd half, Laetner blantantly fouls LJ on the Rebels 2nd to last possession. Deliberate, if maybe not blatant, Laettner hit Johnson halfway up the forearm.  Laettner, behind the play, came up on Johnson from the side and swipes downward.  It is virtually impossible to get all ball from that angle.  Further, the ball goes up and out of bounds, which would also not happen if Laettner got all ball; this only happens when the player's arm his hit.  There is also the circumstantial evidence of Laettner subsequently flexing out his hand, smarting from having knocked it on Johnson in a way that couldn't have happened if he'd gotten all ball.  O'Neill called UNLV ball out of bounds and Augmon ran out the shot clock dribbling at midcourt.

Approx. 1:15 left in the 2nd half, the officals call a terrible foul on LJ on Brian Davis.  By this point, the officials must have been of the mindset that they had to get Duke home and, if the audience has tolerated all the previous bad calls, it wouldn't mind this one.  Clougherty likely makes this call.  He is not seen making it, but he is under the basket and he is seen subsequently heading to the scorer's table to give the particulars.

This should be a no-call, but it isn't cut and dried.  If you're (really) looking for a call, you can claim that Johnson leaned in with his left side to cause contact.

Then again, what you don't notice is that, Grant Hill slipped into the lane after making the pass to Davis and gained rebounding position on Augmon, who gives him a two-handed shove in the back.  This wasn't called- Augmon did it early, while Davis was still on the ground, when officials are staring at the impending shot and aren't focused on rebounding fouls.  Bokolis used to do this shit all the time, that's how I know.

Approx. :13 left in the 2nd half, although Gray has inside position, the officals call a loose ball foul on Gray which gave Laettner the two free throws that provided the difference in the game.  The coup de grâce, fittingly applied by Valentine, again from a bad position, while the other two ignored Laettner pushing Johnson in the back.  After the missed shot, the ball is flicked by Grant Hill to a point where Laettner is in a better position- which is why he wound up with the ball.  However, the contact is incidental, shoulders bumping as arms are raised.  Like the foul on Davis above, you don't make that call unless you are looking for calls.  In this case- tie game, little time left and a loose ball- there is no call.

In summation, Bokolis shows, from calls above I deem to be egregiously bad, Duke getting 6 points from converted foul shots, net +2 points given or taken off the scoreboard, net 3 extra possessions, 3 fewer UNLV free throws, two fouls on Greg Anthony.  It's a safe bet to estimate that this translates into +13 point swing for Duke.  Mind you, that's just the second half.

That's all the fuck I got.