Warm summer thoughts

This is the last of my three posts for tonight (so read on below, there’s lots of new stuff.)

But I happened across an article by Dayn Perry that put a smile on my face about my ballteam, the Detroit Tigers. So I thought it was worth sharing after two political posts. The warm thoughts are especially needed after reading this about Detroit. (Hopefully my New Fallujah friends are snuggled by the fire. Tell me again why I miss Ohio?)

Shorebird flies away

During the offseason, hundreds of baseball players gain, lose, or change employers. The big name free agents make headlines, but a lot of young men are uprooted as they are released or traded.

Yesterday the Orioles made a trade with the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Corey Patterson. They sent two players to the Cubs, and one of them was a familiar name to me.

Carlos Perez, traded to the Chicago Cubs organization January 9.

Carlos Perez started the first Shorebirds game I saw last year, and it was a memorable performance – 2 hits and 10 strikeouts in 5 shutout innings. While he didn’t get the win that day, he did finish 11-8 on the season with 146 strikeouts in 151 1/3 innings for Delmarva. Even though he was 4th in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts, he was only 3rd best on the Shorebirds staff! But his 11 wins were also in the SAL top 10 and led the Shorebirds’ pitchers.

I would expect the Cubs to place him with Daytona in the Florida State League, one level up from Delmarva. He obviously has some good power stuff but I’m thinking he’s more suited to be a reliever on down the line.

A team like Delmarva, which is several steps away from the Show, doesn’t often get players who make it all the way up or get traded for big leaguers. It will be interesting to follow a player that another team coveted as he continues his career, knowing he once played ball for the hometown team.

The final week

Well, once again I’ll be glued to the TV next weekend. It’s really nice to have Monday off 2 weeks in a row because the Sunday night games are relevant to the playoff picture.

It all starts next Saturday night with the late game:

New York Giants (10-5) at Oakland Raiders (4-11), 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)

The Giants can win the NFC East with a win, but they did get some help from the Ravens tonight. By beating Minnesota, Baltimore knocked the Vikings out of the playoff picture and allowed the Giants to back into a spot despite losing to Washington yesterday.

At the moment, the Giants are the #4 seed in the NFC. They could finish anywhere from #3 to #6 depending on results of theirs and other games.

To be a #3 seed, the Giants must win and Tampa Bay must lose to New Orleans. If that happens and Carolina wins their finale over Atlanta, the Giants must hope that enough of their beaten opponents win to carry the “strength of victory” tiebreaker. Currently the Giants’ defeated opponents have 3 more victories between them than Carolina’s defeated opponents do.

If the Giants simply defeat Oakland, or if Philadelphia beats Washington, New York is assured no worse than a #4 seed and a home game next week.

If the Giants lose to Oakland and do not win the NFC East, their seeding is determined by the NFC South contests. If both Carolina and Tampa Bay win, the Giants would finish as the #6 seed. If one wins and the other loses (or both lose), the Giants most likely finish #5. That would depend on how Tampa Bay’s defeated opponents do, since both teams would stand with both their conference record and common opponent record in a tie.

Carolina Panthers (10-5) at Atlanta Falcons (8-7), 1 p.m. Sunday (FOX)

Carolina needs to win and hope Tampa Bay loses to win the NFC South title. They currently could get the #3 seed if they win and both Tampa Bay and the Giants lose. Even if they don’t win the NFC South title, a win would give them a playoff berth as the #5 seed.

If Carolina loses they could miss the playoffs entirely if both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington emerge with wins.

Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-6), 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS)

Cincinnati needs to win to hold on to the #3 seed in the AFC, or else they need New England to lose to either the New York Jets tomorrow night or Miami Dolphins next Sunday.

Kansas City may hold the largest contingent of Detroit Lions fans outside the state of Michigan next week since the Chiefs must win and the Lions must beat the Pittsburgh Steelers for Kansas City to sneak into the playoffs as the #6 seed – possibly setting up a rematch in Cincinnati. If I were running the FOX station in KC, I’d be putting the Detroit-Pittsburgh game on.

Late edit: According to nfl.com, a win by San Diego against Denver on Saturday would also eliminate the Chiefs.

Detroit Lions (5-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5), 1 p.m. Sunday (FOX)

For Pittsburgh, it’s very simple. Win and they’re in as the #6 seed in the AFC. Lose and they need help from the Cincinnati Bengals. But it’s possible this game becomes irrelevant if San Diego wins Saturday afternoon. (see above.)

Miami Dolphins (8-7) at New England Patriots (most likely 10-5 after tomorrow night’s game), 1 p.m. Sunday (CBS)

If New England chokes against the hapless 3-11 Jets, they deserve the #4 seed. This only becomes relevant as a game if they beat the Jets, otherwise New England is locked in as the #4 seed. Either way, I’m sure CBS is drooling over the possible matchups for the Patriots against either the Steelers in the first round or the Colts in the second round. The Steelers matchup only occurs if the Patriots win out and Kansas City wins over Cincinnati, while the Steelers knock off Detroit.

New Orleans Saints (3-12) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5), 1 p.m. Sunday (FOX)

If Tampa Bay wins, they are set as the #3 seed in the NFC race, as they will be NFC South champions and win the tiebreaker over the Giants on the basis of conference record.

A loss could possibly eliminate them, but it would be highly unlikely as they defeated Washington earlier this season and Dallas would have to win on strength of victory where they are 4 wins behind Tampa Bay. Basically all three NFC East leaders and Tampa Bay would have to finish 10-6.

Washington Redskins (9-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-9), 4:15 p.m. Sunday (FOX)

If the Redskins win, they’re in. If they win and the Giants lose, they’ll win the NFC East. But because Tampa Bay beat the Redskins earlier this year, there’s no way Washington could be higher than a #4 seed.

If the Redskins lose, they’ll become huge St. Louis Rams fans because they’ll need the Rams to beat Dallas later that night in order to make the playoffs.

St. Louis Rams (5-10) at Dallas Cowboys (9-6), 8:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN)

The final game of the regular season is only meaningful if Philadelphia wins earlier over Washington – otherwise they are both playing for pride.

So there’s 7 teams in each conference vying for 6 playoff spots. At the moment, their order is:


1. Indianapolis Colts (have won AFC South with a 13-2 record)
2. Denver Broncos (have won AFC West with a 12-3 record)

Both of those teams will get a bye through the opening round.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (have won AFC North with a 11-4 record)
4. New England Patriots (have won AFC East with a current 9-5 10-5 record)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (have locked up a wild card with a 11-4 record, 2nd in the AFC South)
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (currently have a 10-5 record, 2nd in the AFC North)

On the outside but still alive:

7. Kansas City Chiefs (currently have a 9-6 record, 2nd in the AFC West)

If the playoffs were held by the current standings, Indianapolis and Denver would get byes, Jacksonville would play at New England, and Pittsburgh would play at Cincinnati. I think this is the way things will shake out anyway after next week.


1. Seattle Seahawks (have won NFC West with a 13-2 record)
2. Chicago Bears (have won NFC North with a 11-4 record)

Both of those teams will get a bye through the opening round.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (lead NFC Sourth with a 10-5 record)
4. New York Giants (lead NFC East with a 10-5 record)
5. Carolina Panthers (currently have a 10-5 record, 2nd in the NFC South)
6. Washington Redskins (currently have a 9-6 record, 2nd in the NFC East)

On the outside but still alive:

7. Dallas Cowboys (currently have a 9-6 record, 3rd in the NFC East)

If the playoffs were held by the current standings, Seattle and Chicago would get byes, Carolina would travel to New Jersey to play the Giants, and Washington would be at Tampa Bay. Again, I think this is the way things will work out next week. But the team with the toughest game to me is Carolina, so it could be 3 NFC East teams in the playoffs.

Another interesting guessing game to me is who plays at what time and which day. The TV networks split the first-round coverage three ways. ABC gets the two Saturday games and FOX and CBS take care of Sunday’s. I’m not sure who picks the games covered, but I think FOX and CBS get their preferred games.

So let’s say the matchups above are the ones that occur. Here’s my prediction of the TV schedule.

Saturday (January 7th):
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 4:30 p.m. (ABC)
Washington at Tampa Bay, 8:00 p.m. (ABC)

Sunday (January 8th):
Carolina at New York Giants, 4:30 p.m. (FOX)
Jacksonville at New England, 8:00 p.m. (CBS)

I’d like that schedule if it panned out. I especially hope that they do play the late Sunday games, so I can watch bowling beforehand!

There was another thing that happened today on account of the games played. Those results almost locked up the 2006 schedules for my two favorite teams, the Lions and the Browns. There’s only one question left for each schedule.

Lions 2006 opponents will be:

Home: Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Miami, and Atlanta.
Away: Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Arizona, St. Louis, New England, New York Jets, and the 3rd place NFC East team (currently Dallas but possibly Washington).

I predict right now that the Thanksgiving game will be Miami at Detroit. The other turkey day game will be Washington at Dallas.

Browns 2006 opponents will be:

Home: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Denver, Kansas City, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and most likely the New York Jets (unless the Jets win both their remaining games, then the Browns would host Buffalo in 2006.)
Away: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta, Carolina, and Houston.

The great thing about Baltimore winning tonight is that it knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs (since I hate the Viqueens) and it assured Cleveland of getting the “easier” fourth place schedule even if they kick the shit out of the Ravens next week (which I hope they do.)

Of course, Green Bay losing earlier tonight did the opposite for the Lions – instead of easier games against New Orleans and Philadelphia, the Lions will get two teams who will finish at .500 or better this year in Atlanta and the NFC East team.

But right now the combined record of Detroit’s opponents for next season is 113-127. The teams of the NFC North get a big advantage playing full slates against two weak divisions (NFC West and AFC East) next season.

Cleveland’s opponents combined are 124-116. This is mainly because the AFC North draws two tough divisions for most of its games (AFC West and NFC South.) So all four teams are in the same boat, but it may hurt them if the Browns are in the playoff hunt next season.

It will be interesting to see what happens next week. Hopefully things will work out best for teams I want to get into the playoffs.

I’ll update this tonight as needed if New England runs into trouble with the Jets.

Premonition or coincidence?

On September 29, the Chicago White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2 on Detroit’s home field of Comerica Park to wrap up the AL Central title. Less than a month later, they celebrated a World Series championship.

Earlier today, the Cincinnati Bengals routed the Detroit Lions 41-17 to clinch the AFC North title at Detroit’s Ford Field. Will there be a repeat performance? I’m not sure I could stand that.

It’s truly odd how a city with four professional sports teams could have two that are so good (Red Wings and Pistons, who have 6 championships between them in the last 16 years) and two that are so wretchedly horrible. And of course, the bad ones are in the sports I like (baseball and football.)

I guess there’s no way I could be called a fair-weather fan, can I?

Saturday football is back!

I’m a huge baseball fan, so that whole season is my favorite time of year. But second comes the final few weeks of the NFL season, and when the Saturday games start, that’s the time when they’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Today is the first batch of Saturday games, and all three of them have some sort of playoff implication (unlike the remaining Monday night games.) For all the things the NFL is, they are the worst prognosticators of what teams will be in the hunt at the end of the season, so it seems like in the last several years they’ve had some real stinkers for MNF at season’s end.

And there’s something that really fascinates me about the math and gymnastics the NFL does to break ties in the standings. They set the schedule in a rigid fashion so each team plays the same number of division games, conference games, and a set number of common opponents for each team in a particular division. It’s rare that they have to go beyond the third stage of tiebreakers to determine playoff teams and scheduling position for the next season. The only time the tiebreakers get to the esoteric stage (like coin flip) is for things like draft order (which is based on standings in reverse order, except the Super Bowl teams draft last regardless of standing.)

But today is the first batch of Saturday games and they’re really all pretty good. So I’ll be sitting slack-jawed looking at the TV most of the day. First up:

Tampa Bay (9-4, 1st in NFC South) at New England (8-5, 1st in AFC East) (1:30 p.m., FOX)

What this game means:

For Tampa Bay, they can maintain their NFC South lead with a win regardless of what the Carolina Panthers do against New Orleans. If both teams win out, Tampa Bay would win the NFC South based on division record (5-1 vs. Carolina’s 4-2.) The loss to Atlanta last week hurt the Panthers badly, while the loss to Tampa Bay 2 weeks ago enabled the Buccaneers to split the season series.

For New England, a win and they’re in the playoffs as the AFC East champions. Despite it being possible to match New England’s overall record, Miami could not beat the Patriots in the next tiebreaker (division record, New England’s worst possible 4-2 vs. Miami’s best possible 3-3.) The Patriots would also maintain what is basically only a mathematical chance of getting a bye through the first week of the playoffs with a win, while a loss would end that possibility. (The top two teams in each conference get to skip to the second round of the playoffs.)

Other teams rooting for Tampa Bay:

Miami, because a win by Tampa Bay helps keep their flickering hopes of winning the AFC East alive for at least another day (the Dolphins host the 3-10 New York Jets tomorrow.)

Denver and Cincinnati, because a loss by New England helps their playoff chances by improving their seeding. Assuming they win their divisions, they can be no worse than a #3 seed, while the AFC East champion (with a New England loss) would be #4.

Other teams rooting for New England:

Carolina, because of the tiebreaker noted above.

Kansas City (8-5, 2nd in AFC West) at New York Giants (9-4, 1st in NFC East) (5 p.m., CBS)

What this game means:

For Kansas City, they can stay in the hunt for the AFC West title with a win, while a loss and a Denver win tonight would end their title hopes. It also puts pressure on San Diego (who plays at 13-0 Indianapolis tomorrow) and Pittsburgh (who plays at 8-5 Minnesota tomorrow,) both of whom share Kansas City’s 8-5 record as they fight for one of the two wild card berths.

For New York, a win keeps them on pace to win the NFC East title, as one of their closest two pursuers would be eliminated tomorrow (Dallas plays at Wahington, the loser would be out of the title hunt if New York wins.)

Other teams rooting for Kansas City:

Dallas and Washington, because a loss by the Giants helps their chances at the NFC East title. In fact, Washington needs the Giants to lose to either Kansas City or Oakland (in the season finale) to have a chance for the title. With a win, Dallas moves back into a tie for the division lead at 9-5.

Seattle, because a loss by the Giants brings them one step closer to a first-round bye – they could be no worse than a #3 seed and with more help this weekend they can be #2 or #1 seed.

Minnesota, because a loss by the Giants and beating Pittsburgh tomorrow puts them ahead of the Giants in any tiebreaker (they beat the Giants earlier this season.)

Other teams rooting for New York:

San Diego and Pittsburgh: both are in the 8-5 group with Kansas City fighting for an AFC wildcard.

Denver: (see below)

Denver (10-3, 1st in AFC West) at Buffalo (4-9, 3rd in AFC East) (8:30 p.m., ESPN)

What this game means:

Denver can clinch the AFC West title with a win in this game, coupled with an earlier win by the New York Giants over Kansas City and an Indianapolis win over San Diego tomorrow. But simply winning assures them a playoff berth, as that would eliminate Pittsburgh in a tiebreaker (at worst an 8-4 conference record compared to Pittsburgh’s best possible 7-5.) San Diego and Kansas City play next week, thus one of them could finish with no more than 10 wins and be eliminated from a possible tie with Denver.

Buffalo is playing for pride, they’ve been eliminated from the playoff race.

Other teams rooting for Denver:

Miami and the New York Jets: Miami would finish no worse than second in the division, and the Jets would have more of a chance to get out of last place in the AFC East. It’s down to pride now for them.

Other teams rooting for Buffalo:

San Diego, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh: all need a Denver loss to improve their division title or playoff chances.

Cincinnati: a loss by Denver would enable the Bengals to pass Denver for the #2 seed and first-round bye. Both have a 10-3 record but Denver currently holds the tiebreaker for conference record (best possible 10-2 for Denver vs. best possible 9-3 for Cincinnati.)

Rooting for weather.com to be right:

Me, because it’s fun to watch games played in the snow and the prediction for Buffalo is 1-3″ today with more snow showers tonight up to 1″. Too bad Buffalo plays on artificial turf, it’s even better when snow games are played on natural grass.

Lions lament

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

As a long-suffering Detroit Lions fan, this says it all. 21-56 since Matt Millen took over as Lions president, worse than even the expansion Houston Texans.

December 7, 10:58 p.m.

Here’s one set of fans “mad as hell and not taking it anymore.” Sean Baligian used to work at WSPD, the talk station in Toledo. I see he’s making national news now.

Welcome to monoblogue!

On my old site I somewhat confined myself to the political realm. But now it’s more about my passions on a lot of subjects.

I was actually trying to think of some serious weighty subject to do the “first” blog post on, but then a package arrived in the mail today. I’ve only waited 38 years for this shirt!

And there is a parallel in the shirt’s arrival to the purpose of monoblogue. On my old site I somewhat confined myself to the political realm. But now it’s more about my passions on a lot of subjects. (If you go to the “About” tab you’ll see something about my thoughts while creating monoblogue.) If you want to see my archives from the old website, I did place links to almost every one of my 100+ posts in the “ttrwc” section of the site. You’ll see that a lot of them are politically related. Politics is something I follow closely and will frequently comment on.

The post that may tell you a little bit about the 38 year wait for my shirt is the one called Joy in Mudhenville, part 2.

But tonight I’m just getting my feet wet here and making sure it all looks good. Tomorrow I’m going to catch up on my reading and start getting out the red meat. Actually, I’m watching the MAC championship and it’s tough to work back and forth while keeping focus. How’s that for honesty?