Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kristen: My Unlikely Ally

A few weeks ago, we were on Lindsey's couch watching Millionaire Matchmaker (It's in New York this season, if you were wondering. Patti's frustrated with the talent.), when I noticed Lindsey's younger sister and roommate, Kristen, surfing's basketball page.

"Kris,"I said. "What are you doing?"
He's not just Mr. Kardashian anymore...
"Oh," she answered, totally matter-of-fact. "I'm researching for my fantasy basketball draft."
My jaw dropped. "Huh?"

There was no, "Matt, you're not gonna believe this: I'm doing a fantasy basketball draft! This is as good as it gets for you, right? Every time you come over we can talk about Vince Carter's knee injury and Kevin Love's all-around improvement! Aren't you excited???" If I hadn't seen her screen, she might have not even told me. Unlike a certain big sister of hers, Kristen tends to downplay things.

But make no mistake, this was a big, big deal for me. I mean, imagine the potential! Kristen's heard of Kobe (because everyone has), Blake Griffin (because he went to OU), and Lamar Odom (because he's married to a Kardashian) -- and not much more. She'd need help, and what better place to turn than her sister's boyfriend who's over at the house all the time? During her draft, I helped her strategize and make picks, and now we happily discuss and root for her players together. It's not talking sports, it's bonding with the nearest and dearest sibling of the love of my life.

The topic just happens to be sports.

I'm not sure how this all will shake out yet. If Kristen's team drops a few games, she could lose interest pretty quick. But for now, I'm just gonna sit back, and enjoy getting frantic text messages like this one:

"Chris Paul's in a brace. Tyreke Evans rolled his ankle. Yao Ming has some 24 minute cap. Al Harrington has a foot injury! Have to see how it plays out but I'm sort of stressing!"

Ahhhh, so much to talk about.

Weekend Picks

Lions (+7) vs. Patriots (Thurs, 12:30 ET). The greatest day of the year is finally upon us. I hope the Lions and their fans are as excited as I am.

Cowboys (+3.5) vs. Saints (Thurs, 4:00 ET). I have a feelings the 'Boys might make a run now that it's too late. Seems like they like their new coach.

Alabama (-4.5) vs. Auburn (Fri, 2:30 ET). The one day of the year I wish I was in Alabama. 

Clemson (+3) vs. South Carolina (Sat, 7:00 ET). Tigers catch Gamecocks looking ahead to their first SEC Championship game ever. 

Oklahoma (+3) @ Oklahoma State (Sat, 8:00 ET). Linds and her friends are quick to point out that OU stinks in good games, but I'll take that over a team that's never been in one.

Colts (-3) vs. Chargers (Sun, 8:30 ET). Don't worry about eating too much tomorrow, and don't take the Chargers on the road. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Last Week: 3-2-1
Season: 32-33-2

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Disregard My Entire 11/5 Post

So happy things worked out for you, Michael.
Two posts ago, I wrote about how great fantasy was -- in some ways better than football itself -- because we foolishly think we can control it.

Then I go into Monday Night Football up 46 points with Ryan Torain going (or so I thought) against Michael Vick, only to find out that Torain secretly wasn't playing, and that even though no quarterback had ever scored 46 points in our league before, Michael Vick scored 51."I've had some great games in my day," Vick said. "But I don't think I've had one quite like this."
If you don't play or care about fantasy football, gloss over the italicized section -- it doesn't matter. It was, as Chad put it, "the most crushing fantasy loss I've ever seen". And from Robby: "I told Mom the chances of you losing were 1 in 100,000. I mean it." And as I sat in the hotel lobby (I'm in LA for work) sulking over six-layer chocolate cake, it became clear that even if there had been something I could do to prevent it, the level of pain I was feeling meant there was something very, very wrong with my approach.

Unfairness happens. Rain pours down on weddings, lead singers leave their bands, and quarterbacks score 51 points when you're up by 46. So what do we do? Do we change the subject and say, "Whatever, at least my six-layer cake is delicious"? That's not fooling anyone. Do we go for a walk along the Santa Monica pier? Sure, and what will we think about the whole time we're on the Santa Monica pier? There's really only one, simple way to prevent tonight from ever happening again.

Stop caring so much.

I need to learn to care less. I can still invest the time, I just won't invest the emotion. As Kate Hudson said in Almost Famous, "If you don't take it seriously, you never get hurt."

I realize this isn't a particularly profound concept. You're probably thinking, "No sh*t, FVG, you're just discovering this now? You're quoting Kate Hudson for God's sake! You really think you're blowing anyone's minds here?"

Whatever, I've had a rough night.

Weekend Picks

Boise St. (-30.5) vs. Fresno St. (Fri, 9:30 ET). TCU almost lost last week, and Boise smells blood.

Iowa (+3) vs. Ohio St. (Sat, 3:30 ET). Iowa caucuses their way to an upset home win.

Jets (-7) vs. Texans (Sun, 1:00 ET). I hope now we'll never again have to hear Tom Jackson say "Knock it Down!" on a hail-mary pass, because in the real world, catching it is your best bet. Anyway, count it another pass pattern Houston doesn't know how to stop.

Bills (+5.5) @ Bengals (Sun, 1:00 ET). Red-hot Bills make it two in a row.

Bucs (+3) @ 49ers (Sun, 4:00 ET). Bucs somehow still not getting respect. They're 4-0 ATS on the road (and the Niners are 1-3 at home).

Patriots (-3) vs. Colts (Sun, 4:00 ET). To this point Indy's opponents haven't figured out a way to exploit their injuries. Bill Belichick will.

Last Week: 3-3
Season: 29-31-1 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Moving Night (not to be confused with Movie Night)

Lindsey called me on Wednesday from work, and I immediately sensed hesitation in her voice.

LINDS: "So, I'm helping Elizabeth move tonight..."
ME:       "OK"
LINDS: "...And I volunteered you to help too."

I wasn't the least bit upset. We were hanging out Wednesday night anyway, and as I've said many times, what we do on a QTN is up to her.

If she wants to pack boxes, just tell me how high.

Having moved myself into a new place two months ago, I'm now keenly aware of the differences between a male move and a female move. Here are a few:

-Women KEEP everything. Men don't have separation anxiety like women do. They'd rather move 800 boxes today than be without their Wonder Woman costume four Halloweens from now.

-Especially SHOES. I have a fascination with women's fascination with shoes. There were two other girls helping Elizabeth pack up her 50-60 pairs, and both of them immediately knew which ones were "sooo cute", and which ones could be thrown out because she only wore them once to a wedding. I felt like the little boy pointing at the naked emperor. What are you all seeing that I don't see? They all look exactly the same!!!!

-Women aren't dogs, and don't want to be packed with them. It was also obvious to every woman that night that doggy-bed stuff can't go in the same box as people-bed stuff. Seriously? As soon as you get to your new place your dog's going to sleep in your bed and pee on the carpet. Is this really the time to be nit-picking?

-Men might be better than women at opening bottles of wine, but I'm certainly not.

-Men only think about one thing. We were going on our third hour of packing, and I have to admit, I was losing it. I was alone in her bedroom, packing up junk from under Elizabeth's bed that she'd clearly never used (or knew she had), and this terrible Matt and Kim song had become too much to bear. So I got up, grabbed her boyfriend's iPhone from its speaker, and looked for the button to shut it off. But before I could find it, an incoming text message flashed on the screen -- a message that would turn my whole night around. A message that reminded me that whatever might have been happening in my life at that given moment, there was some other man in America thinking the exact same thing:

"Which two should I start? Bowe, Maclin, or Mike Williams (Tampa)?"

Weekend Picks

Idaho (+35.5) vs. Boise St (Fri, 9:00 ET). Can't count out the Vandals in this Potato State Showdown. You know, relatively speaking.

Florida (-6.5) vs. South Carolina (Sat, 7:00 ET). Gators beat their Ole Ball Coach's brains out yet again.

Lions (+3) @ Bills (Sun, 1:00 ET). When you bet against an 0-8 favorite giving points, either they win, or you win. Gotta like those chances, right?

Jets (-3) @ Browns (Sun, 1:00 ET). Mangini might've gotten the best of his old boss, but he's about to get pummeled by his old team.

Bucs (-6.5) vs. Panthers (Sun, 1:00 ET). Part one of teams that still somehow aren't getting enough respect.

Rams (+6) @ 49ers (Sun, 4:00 ET). Part two.

Last Week: 2-4
Season: 26-28-1 

Friday, November 5, 2010

FVG Makes a BIG Confession

I held out on fantasy football longer than most -- This is my fourth year playing, whereas most people I know started 7-8 years ago. I resisted because I worried fantasy would hurt my appreciation for the game. But more importantly, I worried it would overtake my love for my favorite team -- the Dolphins.

Well guess what? It did.

I spend more time thinking about my fantasy team than I do the Dolphins, and I finally feel strong enough to admit it. Man Code deems it wrong to think such a thing, so most of us pretend it's not true. But deep, deep down, I believe virtually every guy who takes fantasy seriously cares more about his fake team than his real-life team.

The real men are the ones with the guts to admit it.

There's a legitimate, rational, undeniably male reason why it makes sense to care more about fantasy: We can control it. When the Dolphins have a critical conference game against Pittsburgh stolen from them by the refs (and yes, stolen is the correct word), there's nothing I can do about it. When Darren Sproles drops an easy fourth-quarter swing pass to take a win from my fantasy team, I can replace him with someone who won't. There's less useless complaining in fantasy, and more taking action. It lets us take credit when we win, and take accountability when we lose. Guys like it that way.

Now let me be clear: This doesn't mean I love my Dolphins any less. I still never miss a play of any of their games, no matter how many fantasy players I have going at the same time. I still know their entire roster two-deep. I still go to Florida every year for a home game. And (most importantly for any true fan) I still perpetually think they're better than they are. My love for the 'Fins hasn't waned, it's just been passed by a runaway train.

Can't say I didn't see it coming.

Weekend Picks

Oregon (-35) vs. Washington (Sat, 3:30 ET). Giving five touchdowns to a team that was supposed to be good this year is insane. But the Huskies ended up being terrible, and the 2010 Ducks defy conventional wisdom.

TCU (-5) @ Utah (Sat, 3:30 ET). Taking the Christians over the Mormons here.

Oklahoma (-3) @ Texas A&M (Sat, 7:00 ET). This line seems fishy, but I'm willing to be a sucker.

Texans (+3) vs. Chargers (Sun, 1:00 ET). After all of San Diego's road difficulties, and without all their receivers (and probably Gates), they're still favored???

Dolphins (+5.5) @ Ravens (Sun, 1:00 ET). Miami Road Warriors are 4-0 against the spread AND straight up. Get on board, people.

Seahawks (+7) vs. Giants (Sun, 4:00 ET). Gotta love Seattle getting a touchdown at Qwest, especially when the G-Men had the whole bye week to hear about how good they were.

Last Week: 4-2
Season: 24-24-1