Friday, October 30, 2009

Ranking the Sports Months

Below are, from worst to first, my favorite months of the year for sports. (And therefore, from first to worst, the months Lindsey and I have the least fights.)

12) July - Hands down, the worst sports month. All there is to watch is baseball. Well, and the Hot Dog Eating Contest. Linds and I do great in July.

11) August - Football's in sniffing distance, but baseball's still the only game in town. Bump August ahead of June if your team's still in the pennant race. But I root for the Mets, so that's not usually an issue.

10) June - Gets the slight edge over August thanks to the NBA Finals, which have been pretty fun the last few years. And don't forget the Scripps Spelling Bee.

9) April - The home stretch for NBA hoops, and -- for this month, at least -- I'm excited there's a Mets game on every night. Lindsey doesn't share my sentiments.

8) May - An underrated month, thanks to some great playoff basketball. TNT boasts of airing "40 Games in 40 Nights", and boy, do they mean it.

7) February - Starts with the Super Bowl, but then it's off to depression-city. NBA, great college basketball, and the Westminster Dog Show help. But let's face it, this is the month girlfriends start slapping each other five under the dinner table. Football's gone 'til September.

6) January - The big bowl games, and the NFL playoffs. But remember, playoffs means teams are eliminated. And when teams are eliminated, that means less football.

5) October - Football's in full swing, but the novelty of September's worn off a bit, and you realize that during the week, there's not that much to watch. If May is underrated, October's a bit overrated.

4) March - I know what you're thinking: This is high for a non-football month. But it's March Madness. And March Madness is the best event in sports. Looking for a good time to fake sick? FVG recommends the third Thursday and Friday in March. Actually, even if you really get sick, it's still probably worth it.

3) September - The month that makes girlfriends everywhere cringe. FOOTBALL'S BACK!!! The pure joy of it is what makes it so great. Like if someone's been dangling a cupcake in front of your face and then finally lets you take a bite. As Homer Simpson would say, "Mmmmm, Septemberrrr...."

2) December - The NFL plays more games this month than any other, as it adds Saturday to the docket. But that's done to compensate for an inexplicable lack of college football. (I know, I know. There's an explanation: Players are studying for finals.) Sure they are.

1) November - Now you see the point of this post?! We're entering the best sports month of the year! NBA and college hoops kick off, college football has its most exciting month of games, and the NFL adds Thursday to the lineup, which includes the year's greatest holiday. It began in 1609, when a group of Pilgrim men decided their wives had become too overbearing since they arrived in the New World. So they declared the final Thursday in November a day of uninterrupted eating and football.

They called it 'Thanksgiving'.

Saturday Picks

West Virginia (-3)
@ South Florida (Friday 8:00 ET). This line seems low, but don't overthink. USF's looked horrible the last two weeks.

Syracuse (+15.5)
vs. Cincinnati (12:00 ET). I smell an upset here (or at least a close game). Not sure why.

Georgia (+15) vs. Florida (3:30 ET, in Jacksonville). A HUGE spread for the World's Largest Cocktail Party That I Can't Believe I've Never Been To. Florida might be 15 points better this year, but that's too many points for a game like this.

Texas (-9.5) @ Oklahoma St (8:00 ET). I know it's in Stillwater, but Mack Brown's 11-0 in this series, and the 'Pokes are missing key players on offense.

Oregon (+3) vs. USC (8:00 ET). I'm excited to see the scene in Eugene before the game starts -- they've been waiting all year for this. Hopefully I'll still be excited when it ends.

Last Week: 3-1-1
Record to Date: 14-14-3

Friday, October 23, 2009

Better Late Than...On Time?

In 1976, while his girlfriend (and future wife) Pattie was taking forever getting ready for a night out, Eric Clapton didn't get angry. He grabbed a notepad, and started writing.

The result was "Wonderful Tonight".

Now I'm not suggesting any of us should, would, or could do such a thing. But it's something we can learn from. Getting mad at your girlfriend for taking too long is like getting mad at rain for falling: There's nothing you can do, and it won't change anything. So instead of making ourselves crazy, why not be like Clapton, and use the time positively?

(Which, in our case, of course, means watching more football.)

It's a simple two-step program:

STEP 1: Plan ahead. Learn to anticipate when she's gonna be late, and make sure you'll be waiting somewhere with a TV. This means no more meeting up at the restaurant, subway stop, etc. Offer to pick her up at her place, or have her come to yours. "It's OK babe, take your time. (Baltimore and Minnesota are in a ridiculous 4th quarter shootout!)"

STEP 2: Discover your petty side. Now that you've earned points for waiting so patiently, you can spend those points on even more football. Just note to yourself how late she was (say, 25 minutes), and then use those 25 minutes at a later time when YOU want (need!) to stay late to watch the end of a game. If she complains when you show up late (which she won't, because she'll be late too), remind her that she had been 25 minutes late that other time, and men can't always be on time, either. Like I said, it's a petty move. But when Buffalo's driving to pull off the overtime upset against the Jets, it's also a smart one.

With this simple, easy, two-step plan, her being 25 minutes late gets you 50 extra minutes of football.

Now what have we been complaining about all these years?

Saturday Picks

Pittsburgh (-6.5)
vs. South Florida (12:00). Dave Wannstedt, aka Dumbest Coach in America, could easily find a way to blow this, but I think freshman sensation Dion Lewis runs all over the Bulls.

Michigan (+4.5) vs. Penn St (3:30 ET). Penn State was ranked high to start the year, and I think that's the only reason they're favored here. I like Michigan to cover at the Big House.

Tennessee (+14.5) @ Alabama (3:30 ET). I'm rollin' against the Tide again, not just because I hate Nick Saban, but because Tennessee's D keeps it close.

Iowa (-2) @ Michigan St (7:00 ET). A lot of people think this is a trap game, but Iowa's too good to get trapped.

Boise St. (-24.5) @ Hawaii (11:00 ET). Hawaii isn't an easy place to play. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Last Week: 3-2-1
Record to Date: 11-13-2

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lessons from Bill Cosby

My favorite Cosby Show episode is the one where Rudy's the star running back of her pee-wee football team. Toward the end of the episode, Cliff's on the couch watching the Bears-Giants game, when Clair walks in and asks if she can watch, too. Cliff can't believe his ears. She's never wanted to watch football before in her life. He happily invites her to take a seat.

But before he can even get comfortable, daughter Denise joins them on the couch, and all the women can talk about is how cute the players' butts are, and how Walter Payton isn't as good as Rudy because "he keeps getting tackled". Ultimately, it's Cliff who ends up leaving the room.

It's a hilarious scene, but to dismiss it as comedy misses the brilliant insight. Because in real life, I don't think Cliff leaves the room. I think he's ecstatic, and doesn't care what the women next to him are saying. Because he's just stumbled upon the ultimate Football vs. Girlfriend scenario: Putting in quality time WHILE watching football, and having her be perfectly happy about it.

So, using this as a jumping-off point, let's explore some ways we can convince our girlfriends to want to watch football:

1) Find a heartthrob.
Devin's girlfriend Michelle has a weird obsession with Tom Brady. Chad's fiance Morgan thinks Mark Sanchez is 'hot stuff'. Do Chad or Devin care? Of course not! Their girlfriends are talking about football. See if you can get her to 'fall for' a player. Don't worry, they won't run away together. (But if they do, I apologize.)

2) Make a connection to US Weekly.
ME: "Hey babe, I'm just gonna turn on the Dallas game for a sec." HER: "But babe, I really don't-" ME: "Look! It's Tony Romo. Doesn't he go out with-" HER: "Jessica Simpson? No, that ended months ago." ME: "Really?" HER: "Yep. She still wants him back though. It's kinda sad. She wrote this thing on Twitter that said (etc, etc)..."
See how easy that was?

3) Get your kid to start playing football.
Far and away, the best solution. When I started playing in 5th grade, my mom became a new woman. Now she'll watch any game, anytime, whether her sons are playing or not.
What if your kid's a girl? Well, Rudy Huxtable did it.

4) And if all else fails...
There's good old-fashioned bribery. Put a hundred dollars on Michigan, and tell her that if they win, you'll buy her a pair of shoes, and if they don't, you won't. Desperate? Absolutely.

But you'll never see a woman learn "Hail to the Victors" faster.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Football IS Girlfriend?

Tonight, the feisty San Diego Seduction host the top rated Dallas Desire. They're calling it "David vs. Goliath". Dallas is a 7-point road favorite.

Never heard of either of them? Well they're not two bottom-feeding teams from the WAC. They're two of the 10 charter members of the Lingerie Football League.

Yes, the LFL is what you think it is, and no, it's not a gimmick. Check out the video: It's not patty-cake. There's some HITTIN goin on!

First of all, let me be clear -- I think this is a fantastic, innovative idea. And as a copywriter, I even love the tag: 'True Fantasy Football'. And I'm telling you, these girls are GOOD. The LFL founders didn't half-ass this one. They thought of everything, from overtime rules to play clocks to playoff formats. They've even got TV deals with local broadcasters.

From a Football vs. Girlfriend perspective, however, I just don't see it working. Because if your girlfriend already isn't crazy about football, you can go ahead and double down that she's not gonna like this. Girlfriends resent football for dominating our time, money, and thoughts. But at least the culprits are large, scary men. Now it's sexy women?

Also, the LFL has (smartly) scheduled their games for Friday nights, so as to never compete against college or pro. But, as we've been over, boyfriends are on a weekly schedule, and they only get so many nights a week allotted for football. How are you going to explain to her that you need to add another night...for this?

So, I guess the LFL fails the FVG test. It never really had a chance. But there's a lot of single guys out there.

And if you're one of them, what's not to love?

Saturday Picks

Dallas Desire (-7)
@ San Diego (Friday Night, 9PM PT). Home 'dogs usually play well on Friday nights. But these are women in shoulder pads and garter belts, so I think you have to throw trends out the window. I'm going with Goliath.

Oklahoma (+3) vs. Texas (12:00 ET). As Robby mentioned last week, sometimes I bet with my heart. But this line is lower than most people thought it would be (given OU's tough start), and I'm hoping that, as Lee Corso would say, "Somebody knows something".

USC (-10) @ Notre Dame (3:30 ET). I think the "Bush Push" game four years ago where ND almost pulled the upset is the only thing keeping this line respectable. USC won every other game in the last 7 years by more than 30.

Virginia Tech (-3) @ Georgia Tech (6:00 ET). In the battle of the Techs, I like the Hokies. I know it's on the road, but the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five games between these two.

South Carolina (+17) @ Alabama (7:45 ET). I've bet against Alabama three times this year, and lost all three times. Guess I haven't learned my lesson.

Arizona St. (-6.5) vs. Washington (10:15 ET). I needed a late game, and this is as late as it gets. The favorite's covered the last five spreads in this series.

Last Week: 3-2
Record to Date: 8-11-1

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some. Except When You Don't Win Any.

Wow. 0-5 last weekend. I never claimed to be good at betting, but 0-5 is impressive.

Nevertheless, I'm all smiles today, because tomorrow Football vs. Girlfriend hits the road for beautiful Oxford, Mississippi, for the Alabama-Ole Miss game. I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED FOR THIS TRIP. Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to:

1) Two New States. Tennessee (we fly in and out of Memphis), and Mississippi. I love new states. You get to see what the people are like, and what fast food chains they have.

2) Southern Accents. I've always envied a hard-core Southern accent. I try and sneak a y'all in every now and then, but it never works.

3) Buying Ole Miss Stuff. I'm obviously not an Ole Miss fan, but as soon as I get to Oxford, I'm gonna buy myself a T-shirt, wear it the whole time, yell until I lose my voice, and nobody's ever gonna know. Plus, like my dad, I'm a sucker for anything with a college logo on it.

4) Checking in with Lindsey. OK, so maybe I just included this one to stay on blog-topic, but checking in during trips like these has really been painless, and even enjoyable. She just cares that I stay safe, and put product in my hair when I go out.

5) Sunday in Memphis. Apparently there's a bunch of cool stuff to see in Memphis. So we're gonna find a sports bar, sit inside, and watch football all day.

6) Walking into the stadium right before the game, and taking it in. I will NEVER forget walking into the Cotton Bowl minutes before last year's OU-Texas game, wearing my roommate's fake binoculars filled with rum, and seeing 95,000 fans perfectly split down the middle -- half crimson, half orange -- and getting the feeling that every single one of them had never been more excited for anything in their life.

Doesn't get any better than that.

Bounce-back Saturday Picks:

Hello FVG Fans, this is Matt's brother Robby (I apologize for not being the good-luck charm Matt referred to me as in his first set of picks). Anyway, since Matt doesn't have internet access in Mississippi, he hired me to post his "much awaited picks to be posted Friday once I get to Oxford". Honestly, though, after going 0-5 last week, the only way to get value from this post is probably to pick against whatever Matt picks.

Louisiana Tech (+10.5) @ Nevada. (Friday Night) I'm not gonna pretend that I've seen either of these teams play this year, and I'm not too discouraged about it. Frankly, I don't even know why Matt picked this one.

Arkansas (+3) vs. Auburn. (12:00). I love SEC teams at home, and the Hogs looked great against Texas A&M last week.

Ole Miss (+5.5) vs. Alabama. (3:30) Has Alabama been the most impressive team in the nation so far this year? I think so. Does Matt often pick games solely because he's rooting for that team? Yes. But I actually agree with him on this one. Again, SEC team at home.

Oklahoma (-25) vs. Baylor. (3:30) Robert Griffin's done for the year, and I think the OU defense will take out their anger against Griffin's backup. You might be reluctant after OU's ugly showing last week, but with Bradford likely back, the Sooners might be running up the score.

Florida (-7) @ LSU. (8:00) DO NOT PICK THE GATORS IN THIS GAME. Even if Florida goes to Death Valley at night and wins (which they won't), there is no way it's by more than 7. Plus, Tebow is very questionable. FLORIDA HAS NO CHANCE OF WINNING BY 8 OR MORE. Remember, Matt did go 0-5 last week.

Although you're probably reluctant to use Matt's picks (and for good reason), I am in first out of 10 in my pick'em league, and I agree with the Arkansas, Ole Miss, and OU picks. Don't bet on the Louisiana Tech game..are you really gonna want to watch it? And BET ON LSU. They are a lock.

Have a happy College Football Saturday.

Last Week: 0-5 (it hurts even to type it)
Record to Date: 5-9-1

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Clothes Make the Schedule

(Lindsey's alma mater, The University of Oklahoma, has a BIG game tomorrow night against Miami, which I'd assumed we'd watch at Overlook, the OU alumni bar. Then Lindsey dropped this bombshell on me...)

LINDS: So...(Bracing for a freakout) I don't think I'm gonna watch the whole game tomorrow night.

ME: (Freaking out) What??? Why?

LINDS: I need to get ready for Lauren's party.

ME: What? But it's a huge game!

LINDS: Yeah, but there's no time to get ready between the game and the party.

ME: So? Why can't you get ready before the game?

LINDS: I'm not wearing my going-out outfit to the bar.

ME: Why?

LINDS: I'm not gonna watch the whole game, OK?

ME: But it's a huge game!

LINDS: (Gives the "this discussion is over" stare)

ME: Well can I watch the whole game?


ME: Phew.

Saturday Picks

Kentucky (+16)
vs. Alabama (12:20 ET). Alabama looks great so far, but I don't think Kentucky gets blown out of the water at home two weeks in a row.

Georgia (-3)
vs. LSU (3:30 ET). Both these teams are 1-3 ATS. I'm hoping LSU's the more overrated of the two.

Cal (+6)
vs. USC (8:00 ET). I thought Cal would be favored in this game. Seems like an overreaction to Cal's blowout loss. USC hasn't looked dominant at all so far.

Oklahoma (-7)
@ Miami (8:00 ET). Time to see how Landry and his "molestache" do against big-time competition. My (biased) opinion is that he does pretty well.

Washington St. (+35) @ Oregon (9:15 ET). I've seen both these teams play, and they're not 35 points apart.

Last Week: 2-3
Year to Date: 5-4-1