Friday, August 25, 2017

The Unwritten Rules

So, the Yankees and Tigers had themselves a couple of dance parties on Thursday.  There were hit batsmen and benches-clearing incidents, allegedly to clear the air of lingering issues.  Bokolis would say this happens about once or twice each season in Major League Baseball, where the tension becomes an issue with whole teams, rather than between a pitcher and hitter.

However, it is inevitable that the writers will not distinguish between the Yankees-Tigers situation and what happened with Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland.  It is partly because the writers see what they want to see and partly because it is too difficult and/or inconvenient for them to distinguish between benches-clearing incidents.

This is surely the case with Jeff Passan's post-mortem on Thursday's events.  Passan uses pitch data* to decide that Dellin Betances was clearly trying to put one in James McCann's earhole, but doesn't stamp it as such.  Instead, he takes all of the most likely possibilities and throws that blanket in the hopes of capturing the truth.

Passan then goes on to bemoan the way baseball and its players handle this kind of shit.  The first few comments accuse him of whining and, right on time in this day and age, comments come in that attribute his whining to it being inherent in his supposed liberal leanings.  Bokolis didn't stick around that long, but I imagine the Jewish train came in just behind it.

But, he did whine.  The writer must've set his Word to auto-whinge on this one.  Rather than take a position on what this was- a botch- he throws several possibilities out there as if to find out which one passes the smell test or which one sticks.

Let's back up- Bokolis has decided this is the most proper point to tell the backstory.  This goes back- which Passan does not acknowledge- to a game on 7/31 at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees hit Mikie Mahtook with two pitches, the second in the head.  One of the unwritten rules of baseball is, while two hit batsmen in a game could possibly be overlooked, if you hit the same guy twice, I don't give a fuck if it was by accident or with two curve balls, there is going to be a response.  So Michael Fulmer duly plunked Jacoby Ellsbury.

At that point, the prevailing sentiment from both sides was surely, all right muthafucka, all right...all right, we'll see wassup.

Of course, these days, things don't blow up during the next game between the two.  It usually gets left to the final game of the series and, in this case, the season series.

Gary Sanchez was the driving force in the Yankee wins in the first two games of the series.  After another HR in the third inning of this game, Michael Fulmer, again on the mound, decided it was time, and put one right on Sanchez' hip.  It was about as intentional as intentional gets.  But, just as he did with Ellsbury, Fulmer did it right.  Nonetheless, Sanchez shot a little look...all right muthafucka, Dominicans don't play, puto you gonna see

Mind you, the umpires are a step behind here, as they likely didn't know the priors, or didn't care.

Now we get to Miguel Cabrera thrown at in retaliation for Sanchez.  Kahnle missed, but got tossed anyhow.  Gerardi, who didn't get tossed with Kahnle, came out to argue and Austin Romine went after the HP umpire.  Cabrera, who has been seen before involving himself in affairs that were not his own, tried to involve himself in their argument, and was apparently told by Romine to mind his own fucking business.

This is what led Miggie to ask Romine, upon returning to the plate after Chapman had warmed up, if he had a problem with him.  Romine still had his mask on so, the best Bokolis can figure, Romine summoned Samuel L. Jackson and told Miggie something he should have already known- this ain't about you, muthafucka!

There is no other plausible reason for Miggie to say anything unless he was looking to start some shit.  Romine's mask came off- his lips revealing that he told Miggie that it wasn't about him- Miggie set it off.  Sanchez fed one to Miggie while he was engaged on the ground, then fed one to Castellanos- the equivalent of the third man in- while he was engaged on the ground.

Back to Betances.  By 'botch,' Bokolis means that Betances was trying to send a message- to jackknife or flip the batter, to hit him somewhere below the shoulders, to start a full-scale brawl- that didn't work as planned because he hit the batter in the head.  I''m guessing they couldn't parse the data for Passan to see how Betances fared when he was trying to make a batter wear one.

The Tigers' reaction indicated to Bokolis that they knew it was a botch and were too shocked and/or disgusted to even brawl about it- when a botch like that occurs, the issue goes beyond something that a fight will resolve.

When the Tigers next hit Todd Frazier in the thigh, it was almost as if to say, that's how you fucking do it, assholes.  Frazier's body language indicated that he knew he was supposed to go out, but that he's getting too old for that shit and he isn't going to be on the team next year anyway, so why bother.

Passan didn't tell us any of that shit, opting instead to politic against the baseball's 'antiquated' ways of policing itself.  The problem isn't with any antiquated unwritten rules; it is with baseball players being unable to fight without tons of backup.

The unwritten rules indicated that their last meeting of the season was the day to settle all lingering issues.  The unwritten rules is why Romine- even though Miggie was the prick here- didn't throw a punch at Miggie's face, even after Miggie threw a couple (of what looked like show punches) at his.  Don't downplay that.

The unwritten rules also mean everyone in a logo has to run out- not a good look when it means 70+ people- and (at least) show the flag.  More often, someone is grabbing someone to pull them away or latching on to someone to deter involvement, and the first one there is often a middle-aged base coach, about to get hit by the swarm of arriving ballplayers.  Unfortunately, it's going to take someone rolling over a by-standing star player's ankle to break it for MLB to react and set brawl protocol.  As it is, more guys get hurt in those stupid walk-off celebrations.

Sure, MLB could've made a rule prohibiting anyone but the managers coming out of the dugout/bullpen and impose penalties accordingly, made it 50 years ago.  That potentially leaves 9 defensive players against (most often) one player and two coaches.  Even if no one from the defense jumps in, it means that the umpires are going to have to break up the fight, or risk having one guy pummel another.  Do you have faith in Joe West or (name your fat fuck) to jump on a pile without hurting himself?  MLB, together with the player's union, have decided to let it play out.

Of course, one guy- Sanchez, who clearly isn't the sharpest tool- didn't understand the rules, thinking instead that the point of this fight is to beat up the other team.  So, business is not settled, as Sanchez will likely answer (to the Tigers) for throwing punches at Miggie and Castellanos while they were otherwise engaged.  When Castellanos took his next at-bat, he turned toward Sanchez and told him, you throwing joints at me when I'm on the ground? all right, muthafucka, all right.

It's almost always the Latin guys, not having grown up in America, who don't understand the point of the brawl.  Bokolis refers you to the fight between Derrek Lee and Chris Young, then of the Cubs and Padres, respectively, on 6/16/2007.  Young comes up and in to Lee and hit's him in the hand.  After throwing junk to get the count to 1-2, Young clearly had a purpose to bust Lee inside.  It was highly unlikely that he was trying to hit Lee.  But, he missed upstairs and hit Lee, knocking him down in the process.

These are two big, but pretty low-key guys.  They were talking on Lee's way to first.  It seemed calm enough, but Young kept walking toward Lee.  Maybe Young found it innocent, but walking toward a guy you just hit is a major breach of protocol.  In fact, Young was in the middle of, I wasn't trying to... when Lee threw a haymaker.  Young responded with his own haymaker and was prevented from throwing another by his teammate, Marcus Giles.  In an instant, it seemed as both men decided, I've done enough here, and allowed themselves to be covered by their teammates.  The only guy amped up was known hothead Carlos Zambrano.  Not to pick on Latin guys, as Alfonso Soriano was laughing like a drunk socialite for most of the episode.

It is cowboys like Sanchez who do things that lead to the legislating of rules, (way) too much of which is what they did in Soviet Communism- Fascism in disguise- or what they do in the NFL.  It the street, guys like that didn't last long, so he's lucky it's baseball.

So, when you hear a young guy who thinks he knows it all- and, as young guys, didn't we all think we knew it all?- bemoan these unwritten rules, remember that, in 10 years, that same guy will have come to understand that those rules serve as a steam valve; they exist to prevent shit from happening when it isn't supposed to happen, and to let shit happen when it must so that a worse incident doesn't happen, so your dumb ass doesn't get smoked.  When they eventually legislate all that out of the game, just as outlaws find other ways, the players will dig deeper to find ways to take shots.

Try telling that to a muthafucka with an agenda.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sooner or later, all our games turn into Calvinball

The good folks at BBC have summarized a strategy document recently put forth by the possibly shady characters at International Football Association Board (Ifab), who, on the surface, are seeking to streamline and liven up the game.

You just know that they spent millions on this.  It’s only missing its Nickelodeon logo.

Of course, we have repeatedly seen, but have rarely learned, that the best course of action with madness is to nip it in the bud.

That is almost certainly not going to happen.  But, with this missive, Bokolis will always be able to say, hey, I told y’all muthafuckas.

The stated purposes (in bold- rest is Bokolis’ take) are:
·      Improving player behavior and increasing respect
o   Improving player behavior can be done with cattle prods and more rules; each with its own slippery slope
o   Bokolis would argue that, in a win-at-all-costs world, there is no such thing as respect when between the lines.  Respect is something you can afford when you play for fun.
·      Increasing playing time
o   Apparently reasoning that world class players don’t do enough during the 90 minutes, the board are looking to have them spend more time running at full speed
·      Increasing fairness & attractiveness
o   Well, they couldn’t just explicitly state:  We want to make more money, so let’s figure out how to sell this shit to more people.

Bokolis bristles at the pregame handshake lines.  It is the players’ prerogative whether to shake hands before, during or after the game.  By all means, do it for friendlies or charity matches.  There is no way this should be done in competitive matches.

Besides, wouldn’t it be savage to have Wenger and Mourinho in a hockey-style scrap for 15 seconds instead of a hollow handshake?

To be fair, even if my pet cynic can see right through the purposes, not all of the proposals are horrible.  One of the decent and necessary ones involves making the captain the main point of referee communication.  Too often, we see the players of the aggrieved team swarm the referee to whinge about the call, or players from the rewarded team swarm so they can lobby for cards.

Bokolis would have to say the most famous recent instance was Chelsea-PSG in the Champions League a few years back, where Ibra went in hard on (what turned out to be) a late challenge on Oscar who, was making his own sliding challenge, but pulled back before he could make maximum contact, or do serious damage.  Immediately, seven Chelsea players mobbed the referee, with Hazard making eight and the late-arriving Diego Costa making it nine.  The only players not mobbing were Oscar, who was busy selling it, and the keeper.

It was so quick and coordinated that it seemed rehearsed.  Would anyone really put it past Mourinho to have his team practice mobbing the official?

Forget that PSG won the tie and that Ibra (self-)righteously called them “11 babies.”  Ibra does enough shit that he had an unjustified sending off coming. 
As a referee, Bokolis would never stand for that.  There'd've been 7 booked muthafuckas, 8 with Ibra, with Hazard and Diego Costa probably getting a pass.  Why does John Terry get one if he's the captain, one may ask.  For failure to control his mates, he's lucky Bokolis doesn't send him off.

Of course, I would make it abundantly clear during the pregame discussions that I expect to hear from the captain, and only from the captain.  Subject to my discretion, I would let the sanctioned player blow off a little steam (I’d allow one oh fuck off!, but if he says cunt, he better be facing away from me).  But, some guy not involved in the play- hey, if I want to hear from an asshole, I’ll fart.  I’d have them playing 7v7 if I had to, with no shame.

If the players understand that they don’t have a voice unless the referee grants it, they’ll surely know not to take any further liberties.

Because there is a running clock doesn’t mean there must be continuous action.  There is going to be a given amount of dead ball time.  It's sad to have to explain this but, “stoppage time” arises from when there is more dead time that you would expect.  In the past, we’ve been led to believe that “stoppage time” arises from goals (more from the resulting celebrations), from substitutions, from injuries (both legitimate and “tactical”), from the unforeseen.

While the paper states the most common stoppage times are one minute for the first half and three minutes for the second half, these are really best case scenarios.  Let’s focus on the second half because, if we short the sides a minute or two for the first half, they still have a second half to sort it out.

In big-time football, second halves have more than three minutes of stoppage time just as often as they have three minutes or less.  While Bokolis cannot offer statistics, this seems particularly true when the match/tie hangs in the balance, as more tactics are employed to slow down (the pace of) the game.  This 'three minutes' has leaked to four and five minutes.

If you follow the lower English leagues as Bokolis does, you know that five minutes of stoppage time is a good day.  I don’t get to watch enough matches to conclude whether this is due to restarts taking longer than they do in the top-flight, or whether they have expanded criteria for which to add time.  Bokolis would like to believe it’s the former, because the latter could get us into trouble with what follows.

In tossing around ideas, the board is fumbling between expanding the criteria for stopping the referee’s watch- thereby adding more stoppage time on the back end- and going to something akin to a NBA/NFL stopped clock.  Nowhere is it discussed to get things re-started more quickly.  Bokolis will take the ideas individually before laying out why the stopped clock deal is a bad fucking idea.

The board proposes stopping the referee’s watch:

·  from a penalty being awarded to the spot-kick being taken – They do take a long time these days, especially since, as explained above players are allowed to bunch up and complain to the referee en masse.
·  from a goal being scored until the match resumes from the kick-off  - Don’t they already do this?  That is what we’ve been led to believe from the commentators all these years.
·  from asking an injured player if he requires treatment to play restarting – Isn’t that why they call it injury time?
·  from the referee showing a yellow or red card to play resuming – Doesn’t the referee already do this?  Again, just like the penalty decision, this takes a long time because of the players bunching up, both the punished team and the rewarded team, the latter to defend against a reversal do to pressure from the penalized side, and the sanctioned player finally skulking off.
·  from the signal of a substitution to play restarting – See goal scored above…don’t they already do this, no matter how long the player takes getting off the pitch?  That is what we’ve been led to believe from the commentators all these years.
·  from a referee starting to pace a free-kick to when it is taken – Only if it takes longer than usual.

As far as Bokolis knows, these things were always left to the referee’s discretion.  I don’t see why we can’t continue as such and simply emphasize the point to referees.  Doing this will simply allow for "Fergie" time to bail out the bigger clubs.  The superior fitness level of the bigger side often shows itself at the end.  Adding a few minutes on the back end increases the chances that the smaller side will sputter.

If they make it that far, that is.  Trying to squeeze a few more minutes of action into the 90 minutes necessarily implies trying to squeeze a few more minutes of running out of the players.  It’s not a giant leap to reason that the increased energy expended by the players will lead to increased breakdown and injuries.  This would be quite ironic, as the football lords want as much star power as possible for every match of an impossibly congested fixture list, including those summer exhibitions where they trek to faraway lands to milk the marks (of their Marks) to watch football at 70% effort.

Bokolis has a sense that the players would adjust and create additional downtime to get them back to their current workrate and avoid breakdown.  If so, the football lords would have unwittingly created more drag on the game.

Since the typical game wraps neatly into a two-hour time slot, it is almost imperative that it is kept within that space.

The stopped clock would surely violate the two-hour slot and will prove to make the game unwatchable to the reasoned mind.  The easy argument is that it will destroy the flow of the game.  Sure, a stopped clock decreases incentive to move the game along, as even the winning side will not clamor to get on with it just for the sake of the pace of play.

That's not nearly the worst of it.  A stopped clock will provide opportunity for coaches to interject themselves into the game at every turn, for late stages to matter more than all the time before them and for endings contradicting to proceedings to be orchestrated.  Bokolis thinks the coaches (and lords) are quite involved as it is.  Clock stoppages will almost assuredly take us down a slippery slope that leads to time-outs and, horror of horrors, commercials.  That would be too much for Bokolis to bear.

We can speed things up by adding two linesmen- yes, linesmen, not assistant referees- and a second referee.  You cannot expect one referee to keep a grip on 22 players, each intent on getting every edge, permissible and impermissible.  Further, you cannot expect one linesman to determine passive offside- Bokolis does not believe there is such a thing as passive offside- and active offside from about 35 yards away, especially when players are deliberately going into offside positions to cause the back line to break down so that someone in an onside position can run in behind the line.

Covering both sides provides an extra set of eyes and would seem a no-brainer, as it would make such moves and calls far easier to determine and make.

There was never a need for those officials on the goal line.  With the quick resolution available through goal-line technology, the only plausible reason to have them is to call dodgy penalties for Barcelona.

This would get us to six officials, not quite in line with american football, but closer to it.

While the topic is not mentioned, if you had the prescribed officials, there wouldn’t be a need for Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR).  Besides, if you went to the replay for possible penalties, half of Barca’s penalties will prove to be dives and the other half will prove to be embellishments (however legitimate).  UEFA have no courage to sanction them- hence the term Uefalona- so it will be better if the referees are not empowered to know in real time.  To be somewhat fair, while Barcelona may be the prime beneficiaries / worst offenders, this is essentially true of most teams.  Everything looks like a dive in slow motion.

This compulsion to ensure that every call is correct is in the process of rendering other sports unwatchable.  It might play in sports where there is downtime, but downtime will render football into some other sport.

This may be the plan.  If the half-measures above don’t shake it up, someone may just resolve to turn it into Calvinball.  Here are some more proposals: 
  • passing to yourself at a free-kick, corner and goal-kick – This will lead to dodgy goals, which, whether it’s your side scoring or not, leaves a sour taste on the game.  The South Americans would love this shit, as they love to take advantage of the relative confusion after fouls, while Europeans see it as unsporting.  Unfortunately, my pet cynic informs Bokolis that it would just lead to clutching the fouled player well after the whistle- or, simply kicking the ball a few yards away- so that he cannot sneak off.  Cards will follow.
  • a stadium clock which stops and starts along with the referee's watch – Doesn’t the referee have enough to deal with without the crowd going crazy every time he forgot and let 10 extra seconds run or stopped his watch for the same?
  • a "clearer and more consistent definition" of handball – Since this is not absolute, this will never have a consistent definition or be an objective decision.
  • a player who scores a goal or stops a goal with his hands gets a red card – even if by accident?
  • a keeper who handles a backpass or throw-in from a team-mate concedes a penalty – That’s harsh, as it is not presently punishable by a direct free kick.  Besides, this doesn’t happen enough to warrant consideration.
  • the referee can award a goal if a player stops a goal being scored by handling on or close to the goal-line – This should have been enacted from the first time someone ever did it.  Luis “Handball” Suarez would’ve been lost to memory and might well have done less biting.  To send the team to the spot to have to convert (again) is scandalous.
  • a penalty kick is either scored or missed/saved and players cannot follow up to score to stop encroachment into the penalty area – Lacking a second referee to watch for it (or for the keeper coming off his line early, which is also never called), Bokolis might suggest moving them all further back, say 30 yards, so that the effect of any encroachment is muted.  If the penalty taker gets his own rebound and scores, that’s part of the reward.
In closing, it just seems like the football lords want to sneak an extra goal or two into games any way they can.  It is already the shame of football that marginal contact on players looking to fall earns a free kick 12 yards from goal.  This is a product of a bygone era, when it took far more to earn a foul and scoring was sufficient so that such a decision did not decide a match.

While the proverbial cagey affairs of today don’t make for an attractive show, it’s all right to swallow one here and there without inserting a dodgy goal to wind everybody up.

That’s all the fuck I got.

Friday, June 2, 2017

GOAT or goat?

Bokolis had put this down immediately after the Super Bowl.  I had thought to let it marinate before hitting send, but it would up marinating for four months because I checked off for a while.  This travesty reminded me of how rigged many championship matches often are, especially several of the recent NFL championship games.  I had to get away.

Through a combination of tragically switching off way too early, poor playcalling and coaching decisions, and having the officials turn a blind eye to the Patriots holding on virtually every play during the comeback, the Atlanta Falcons pissed away the NFL championship.  In the process, a whole sporting nation is doing the brick-pointing on Tom Brady's status as the greatest of all time.

Bokolis has stayed away from all the subsequent blathering.  The narrative will either focus on the incredible choke job and paint Brady as some sort of master for coming back from a 28-3 deficit.  So some extent, both of those are true, especially the choke job.  It will all ignore that the referees let the Patriots do whatever they wanted so that they could get back in the game.  I prefer to keep and crystallize my own opinion on what happened.  Hearing otherwise might tempt me to engage these assholes on their own terms.  As such, I gather that it will be quite the job for the folks at NFL films to edit out all the holding when they put together one of those super bowl episodes.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

rugby for fairies...bowl 51

6-5.  It all comes down to this...whether Bokolis is going to send everybody to the window yet again.

Falcons (+3) over Patriots - The prevailing thought from the pundits- Bokolis realizes that those words are dripping with incongruous juxtapositions- is that the Falcons have the better players, but Brady and Belichick, Belichick and Brady...  This is in the vein of what Bokolis brought up in the conference championship predictions.  Sure that holds water, that this pair, with so much championship game experience, would rise to the challenge and the moment.

Then, on the heels of Matt Ryan being awarded the league MVP, they hit you with the nugget, that the league MVP has had a shit time of it in the ensuing super bowl.  So, whythefuck do you award this thing the night before the super bowl?!  To debunk such a statistic, since the MVP is a subjective award, maybe the guy wasn't the real MVP.  Didn't Bokolis say it was the E-Double?  I forget.  Regardless, my cognitive dissonance is screaming that it's high time for mean reversion.

Bokolis can point to the Patriots' soft schedule; someone else can point to Brady being 11-1 against that schedule.  Someone else can point to the Falcons' inexperience; Bokolis can say that it doesn't mean shit and these Falcons have lit up every team they've played, including the Broncos, whose defense didn't slip all that much from last year's vintage, yet pounded the Patriots.  Pundit A will say that Belichick will look to take away the Falcons' biggest threat; pundit B will tell you that the Falcons were 6-0 and lit it up when Julio Jones was not a factor.

With Brady/Belichick, of the Patriots six super bowl games, five have come down to the last minute.  All of them have been decided by three or four points.  The Patriots are 4-2 straight up, but 2-4 ATS.  They have not scored in any of the opening quarters.  Of the 17 times the underdog has won, the average point spread was 6.6.  Of the 19 games in which the the line settled at 4 or less, the underdog has won 9 of those games outright, but did not cover in any of the losses*.

This assumes 49 was pickem and 13 was -4 and the game was a push.

The point is, supporters of both sides can make compelling and confusing cases with statistics and conjecture, but it doesn't mean much.

It seems rather clear that the Falcons do have the better roster.  What we don't know is whether turnovers will factor, whether Belichick will carve out a large enough tactical advantage to overcome this, whether the Patriots' defense will continue their red-zone stinginess.  Bokolis believes all of those variables will have to come up for the Patriots for them to win this game.

Bokolis' view is that, the Falcons defense is being sold short, and that the Pats receivers will be proven to be shaky.  If the Falcons score three TDs, the Falcons will likely win; if they score four TDs, the Patriots are fucked.  I'm leaning towards that latter one.

Bokolis is only cosigning the Falcons, but here's some other stuff that is worth what is being paid to view it:  the Pats should stay below 30 and the Falcons are about 50-50 to reach their 27, but will not cosign any position on the total number.  The play will be to buy two points on the Falcons and lay the -150 on +5.  Even though the lines on the prop bets are ripoffs grabbing the Falcons to win the first quarter is also likely.  Of course, if they don't win the first quarter, they are unlikely to win the game.  Since the Pats have all fallen on 3 and 4-point margins of victory, I'm also going to look into margins as well.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rugby for fairies 2016 conference championships postmortem

Both of the conference championships went as Bokolis said they would.  The third game proved beyond both the Packers and Steelers, and they both laid eggs.  Of course, both had drama- flu drama, plane drama, etc., and other loser's excuses.

Both totals fell right by their numbers, also pretty much as Bokolis said they would.  Fittingly, had I cosigned them, I would've split.

The Packers didn't so much as crack as they shriveled up.  Nonetheless, this wasn't the anticipated shootout, even if the total did manage to climb above the number.  But, the lads took a bath on this game.

The problem was, these muthafuckas wanted to play a middle instead of using the Packers as a hedge.  Bokolis was in the car and I couldn't micromanage the process.  From a distance, I couldn't talk them out of it.  They cocked it up on both sides of the play, putting too much on the Packers and not enough on the Falcons.

The thing that infuriates the fuck out of Bokolis is that they do these {redacted} teasers.  In (gridiron) football, this means that, in this case, you can take 4 teams and buy yourself 13 points of leeway, but all four have to win.  I hate them because they always put too much on them, it always works out that, with all that buffer, far less consideration is taken in the decision making process and, invariably, one of the picks is simply to make up the numbers, because there's no way that can happen.  This time, the no way was the Packers losing by more than 18.5.

The only smart thing Bokolis managed on this game was to have them take the Falcons to win the first quarter.  I correctly speculated that, one way or another, the Falcons would have the ball to start the game because the Packers would defer if they'd won the toss.  At 31-0, I tried to get them to take the Packers in-game, that the Falcons would not keep focus.  By this point, they were shaken and they refused...should have sold it harder.

Undaunted, the boys laid the hammer on New England money line, but took the Steelers at +8, again looking for the middle.  This time, Bokolis was settled and made sure they got in as a hedge.  After all, of all the happenings on Sunday, I was most certain of a Patriots victory.

After New England opened by taking the field goal on 4th & 1, Bokolis told the lads that, if it were any team other than New England, I'd say to rip up the tickets.  Ruthlessbuggerer didn't hand it over, at least not while the game was still in reach.  But, losing Bell was always going to be the problem, even with a capable backup.

Notwithstanding, even when the Steelers missed the extra point on their first TD, it seemed more like cause for ridicule than relief.  Brady had three very easy passes to make for his touchdowns, as the Steelers only had blips of pressure and were quite soft in coverage against an ordinary receiving corps.

When the first half ended on 8, Bokolis had the boys lift the hedge by taking the Pats second half at PK.  I have to lament that we didn't lay the hammer on New England in the second half.  We spent most of the second half looking for early super bowl lines (NE -3) and wondering whether the under that we didn't take would hit.

Hitting both games gets Bokolis to 6-5 for the playoffs on this channel, nominally ahead, but effectively even.  Getting y'all to the window for another year will hinge on the bowl.  I already know who will win.  But, why do anything before we have to?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

rugby for fairies 2016 Conference championships

Bokolis likes both favorites, even if I think the lines are a bit steep for comfort.  There will certainly be points bought, even some hedging with the Packers, which sounds great at 7.5 or 8, even at -150.  The Pats will be bought down, as I don't think the Steelers will have it.  I'm leaning over on the early game and under on the later game.  We'll see what the in-game action offers.

FALCONS (-5.5) over Packers - This line started and 4/4.5 and has walked upwards and the total has similarly walked up to 61.5 from 60.  There is plenty of -6 out there.  It's a big number to have to lay, especially when the prevailing thought is that the last team with the ball will win.  But, Bokolis isn't going to pick a Packers loss and cover because I won't take credit for any Packers victory.  If you believe in karma or some other bullshit, you might believe Rodgers has got some magic going on.  He's had a hail mary change a game.  He's made a pinpoint throw on the run in a high-pressure situation.  He's played at a level that Bokolis has only seen from Montana and dome-Brees.

So, what rationale can any maniac have for picking against Rodgers?  People may treat these games as completely independent events, but winning a third playoff game takes more than a great player.  His magic is going to run out and this time, he won't be able to carry his ordinary teammates.

This time around, he's going against an offense that has lit up everyone they have played this year.  While the Cowboys put up 31, they did most of it playing catch-up, and did a lot of it because the Packers are not equipped to close out the game.  The Falcons will put up 31 because they feel like it and, if they feel like putting up more, they will.  Maybe Rodgers won't crack, but the Packers will.

Even though we're almost obliged to do it, Bokolis is not going to advise to go over such a big number.

PATRIOTS (-6) over Steelers - The Patriots have been at this for so long that dealing with their games involves its own dodgy rationale.  If you pick with them and lose, the lament is, how could I pick a team with that receiving corps.  If you pick against them and lose, the lament is, how could I pick against Brady and Belichick.  If you can get past that, you'd see that the Patriots have been rather predictable:  they bog down in Denver, have dogfights with Baltimore and handle the Steelers.

Accordingly, Bokolis sees that, similar to Green Bay, a third victory will be beyond the Steelers.  While I don't think Brady will light up the Steelers, I'm going to rely that the Patriots will again be able to confound Ruthlessbuggerer and that he will make some mistakes.  Bell should do well enough, but won't run roughshod.

Monday, January 16, 2017

rugby for fairies 2016 divisional post mortem

Well, Bokolis scrounged out a winning week, splitting the matchups and picking up the over on the Seahawks.  The 3-2 week leaves it at 4-5 for the playoffs.  The trends I offered went 7-1, including all four totals...16 of those plus signs up, 3 down.

The plays Bokolis settled on with the lads are not exactly the same- and sometimes contrary- from what gets listed here.  As with last week, the in-game action helps tell the story of the weekend.

Right off, the Seattle play hurt a bit, as the line ran all the way to 6.5 and we bought two points to run it to 8.5.  Bokolis expected a tight game, but it totally changed on that bullshit penalty that nullified the massive return by Devin Hester, who nonetheless blessed us with one more- possibly his last- show of brilliance.  To call a penalty when two guys are on the ground tugging at each other as the ball is being kicked smacks of over-regulation...that's the nice way of putting it.  This is the playoffs!

That said, the Seahawks secondary was lost.  Bokolis must say that Atlanta did an excellent job of wearing and breaking them down, getting better as the game went on.  How much of that was because of a momentum change after the penalty, we'll never know.

The saving grace was that the over hit- Bokolis cheekily told the lads beforehand that, while I didn't expect them to get to 60, I was certain they'd get to 54 (the number was 51.5).  We had designs on taking the Falcons -1.5 for the second half.  However, with the Falcons already up 9 points, that would've exposed us to getting fucked both ways if the game fell on 9 or 10.  That was enough to ditch the idea.  The over was the bigger play, which was virtually washed out by the odds on the Seahawks play.
When the Texans were down 14-3 and failed to convert that 3rd & 1, Bokolis was just about checked out.  I was thinking, call me later with the 35-6 result.  Then, a bunch of nonsense happened, and the Pats were held on a goal to go situation, so it was a scramble to get to the half up by 4.  Nonetheless, I cheekily told the lads that the Pats would still cover.  Though I didn't cosign it, I suspect they cheekily took the Pats in the second half.  One of my guys took the Texans/under reverse for both the first half and the game.  I tried to get him to hedge after he hit the first one, but he has some serious ADD and hedging would've played games with his central nervous system, especially when he's not following the rest.

Again, Bokolis got -15, but told y'all -16 and the line ran to -17 as the late money scrambled to the home side after the fifth convincing home victory of the playoffs.  Order was restored in the second half, but the Pats needed that last field goal to cover- that incongruous noise level you heard as the ball went through the upright is known as the gambler's cheer.
This GB-Dal line settled on 5 so, despite Bokolis giving y'all the Cowboys, we grabbed the Packers at +7 (buying two points at a cost of -150) and took the Cowboys ML at -220.   The late switch-up was the expectation of mean reversion from the home teams being 6-0 against the spread to that point.

The amount of Cowboys fandom/sentiment in the inner group and their connections also spooked Bokolis- I didn't have much conviction in them anyway- but this play was the only happy medium I could achieve with these guys.  Not surprisingly, there was way more money laid on the Cowboys ML than the Packers at +7.

There was plenty of time to hedge in-game, but we took the over (53.5, Bokolis instructs never to buy points on combined totals) as a semi-hedge because I expected a Packers cover/victory to be accompanied by them scoring over 30 points.  After the Cowboys early field goal, we grabbed the Packers at +7.5 without having to lay further odds.  aside- I always raise a people's eyebrow when the first score is a field may not mean much, but I always see it as a sign of weakness.  After the Packers scored on their opening possession, we grabbed them again at +3.5.  Seeing poor body language on the Cowboys during their second possession, we grabbed the Packers one last time after the next change of possession at +1.5.  Again, I'm dealing with Cowboys fans, so this is NOT an easy thing to do.

Despite what Bokolis saw and thought, the Cowboys managed to drag themselves level at 28.  Despite being soft most of the day, they toughened up in a few key moments, and the referees, who let the Green Bay offensive line hold with impunity, let the Cowboys defensive backs off on a few holds of their own.  At this point, the lads are texting, they're gonna win! we should've never did that last one...I knew they'd come back.  It's called hedging for a reason, you muppets.

They called a pass interference on the Cowboys on a foul that clearly occurred before the pass.  Given the leeway typically afforded in those situations, that was another brutal call.  The Packers banged home a long field goal after being held, so those extra yards gave them just enough to poke their noses out front...sort of a big deal.

Leaving everything aside, the Cowboys biggest mistake on their last drive was spiking the ball on first down from the 40.  There was not so much urgency that, with a timeout remaining they needed to burn a down in that situation.  As it turned out, they were held on downs and banged home a long field goal of their own to tie at 31, but they left Rodgers time.

They get to 3rd & 20 with like 12 seconds left.  On the prior play, Rodgers gets sacked on a clean hit from behind, which left everyone surprised that Rodgers didn't fumble.  Bokolis' instant analysis was that he didn't fumble because the white boy that sacked him didn't go for the strip sack, because white boys don't go for the strip sack.

Rodgers leaves the pocket and rolls left.  Because these guys have no game awareness, they always fail to realize that, when a QB breaks the pocket, you are allowed to check the receivers for loose change.  It is imperative that you throw them off their routes because you are not going to be able to mark them for the extra time that Rodgers has bought.  Guys closer to the line of scrimmage have a dilemma, because they will have to choose whether to leave coverage to tackle the QB.

But, DBs 25 yards down the field are committed to coverage.  They have to latch on to a receiver and throw him off his balance so that he cannot roll with the QB.  Rodgers has been regularly doing this for...all of his career, really, but with regularity in the last month, for all of the NFL universe to see because he's been the standalone game.  He flicks his wrist and shoots the ball 30-40 yards; it's uncanny.

The Cowboys failed to tend to this, Rodgers burned them for 35 yards and the kicker banged home another long one at the gun.

At least we hit on all those hedge plays.  No muthafuckas, at least you had Bokolis to save you from yourselves.  I didn't count on winning, nor want to win, the last one.  For all they dumped onto the Cowboys, all those hedges didn't even get them even.
One of Bokolis' homeboys is on vacation in Mexico- it IS MLK weekend- and sent me a picture of the people in the room next to him.  They are Chiefs fans, and they decorated their room- and left the room open- for the game.  They actually hung a lighting fixture that lit up "KC" on their balcony.  Don't worry, it's a resort; the pirates aren't coming to get them.

Since he was complaining all through the Cowboys game about having to listen to the Spanish broadcast, Bokolis told him to ask those people about an English broadcast...because those muthafuckas don't look like they speak Spanish.

Silliness aside, this line went off at Steelers +2.  Bokolis caught all sorts of flak about having these guys piece in at -1.  The action is also in on the ML (+110), +2 and +3.5 (-140).  There was no hedging here, as I took a stand against the Chiefs.  That I had these guys in 7 days ahead of time should have made this abundantly clear.

Of course, we had the under, for both the half (22.5) and the game (45).  Despite Pittsburgh racking up yards only to settle for field goals, the aberration of a quick strike by the Chiefs had Bokolis thinking trouble.  I thought it was done for when the Steelers were on the 5 at 9-7, but Ruthlessbuggerer matched Alex Smith's interception with one of his own.  Still, since the Chiefs went 3-and-out, I had to keep the Steelers at bay.  Thankfully, they took their sweet-assed time.  Not only did they take a delay of game penalty, they ran the clock when the play clock restarted, which the Steelers ran down to :05 before running the next play.

The Steelers did get into field goal territory by the 2-minute warning.  But, they then pulled out some playbook they must have found after Herm Edwards left it behind years ago.  They got conservative and settled for another field goal.  With 55 seconds left, keeping the Chiefs out of the endzone was never going to be an issue.  But, the cunts go and fumble the ball with :03 left.  Pittsburgh lined up for a 58-yard field goal attempt, which had Bokolis thinking of a Kick Six by the always dangerous Tyreek Hill.  Not only did the Steelers come to their senses but, instead of a hail mary, they simply dumped it off to Antonio Brown, who ran for 20 yards before running into a checkpoint of Chiefs.

Bokolis gave the best stripper Thank you I could muster.  I packed it in on the in-game action at that point.  Picking up the first half under gave enough of a buffer and there was no hedging to do.  I was certain the Steelers had this, and the lads were pot-committed enough.

As far as the larger game, Bokolis was not worried about the quick strike on the Chiefs first drive, even though, as you heard Al Michaels say, almost on cue, that the Steelers hadn't allowed a touchdown on their first defensive series all season.  It is not all that uncommon for any shit team to look great on its first drive, especially when the plays are scripted, which Andy Reid usually does.  The Chiefs walked to the locker room with just those seven.

Just like Bokolis told y'all, the Chiefs were good for 17 points.  With the Steelers trying to get to 21 the hard way, 17 points wasn't going to cut it.  So the Chiefs had to go for one extra and missed.  Thank you.

Early lines for the conference championships are Falcons -4 (60) and Patriots -6 (51).  Not feeling anything just yet.

That's all the fuck I've got.