Archive for October, 2010

Joie de Vivre: Halloween Candy

On this all-important American holiday, Tim and Josh decided to dive into one of their tastiest debates: candy. So give them a break while they chew it over with Twix, avoid laying a finger on each other’s Butterfinger, and taste the rainbow. You may find that first they’re sour, then they’re sweet.

TIM: Well, it’s Halloween, Josh, and that can only mean one thing. Well, it means one thing at our age, and a different, more innocent thing when we were younger: candy. You have to hand it to whoever decided this was how Halloween would be celebrated, with little kids prancing around the neighborhood in costumes collecting mass quantities of candy. But of course, we’re greedy as kids, and there’s a definitive candy hierarchy, with certain candies frowned upon (Mary Janes, anyone?) and others received enthusiastically. So Josh, what candy were you most excited to get on Halloween as a kid, and has that changed at all since?

JOSH: Well, first, let me say that the main appeal of Halloween for me is still candy. When else can I go to CVS and have an option of purchasing more than ten bags of candy that each combine at least three different individual candies? Second, if there’s one video to link to on Halloween and candy, it’s this one. To answer your question, as a kid, I was most excited for sour candies, namely Sour Patch Kids. If you went to three houses, you’d almost be guaranteed one of those mini-Twix or Snickers bars, so chocolate bars were in high supply. But, you don’t see those mini-packs of Sour Patch Kids frequently, so, when I did stumble upon them, I tended to freak out a little. I still think sour candy is in undersupply on Halloween and Sour Patch Kids are the pinnacle of sour candy, so I’d venture to say I feel the same today as I did as a kid. Except now, I could just buy a jumbo pack of Sour Patch Kids at the store; eating them unsupervised, though, does present an issue. What about your favorite? And, do kids in New Jersey really prance around the streets?

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Talkin’ Baseball: The World Series

Tim and John S already proved their baseball knowledge by issuing World Series predictions that were proven wrong within moments of the series starting. Now, with Game 3 moments away, they reconvene to discuss the series in progress.

TIM: Two games into the World Series, John, and as everyone expected, the Giants are just bludgeoning the Rangers’ pitching. I don’t think I’m telling any tales out of school when I say that everyone knew Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson could handle the Yankees, but neither one really stood any chance against this San Francisco lineup, right?

JOHN: Surely nobody expected Cliff Lee and his 1.26 postseason ERA to shut down a lineup that included Juan Uribe and Freddy Sanchez, but did anyone expect a dazzling 5.2 IP, 4 ER shutdown performance from Tim Lincecum? In all honesty, I think a lot of people were prepared for that matchup to disappoint after the relative anticlimax that was Lincecum-Halladay, but it was obviously shocking to see Lee pulled in the 5th for Darren O’Day. I think what Game 1 showed, though, was why the idea of a “great postseason pitcher” is kind of a flawed notion. Most of the time, Lee has excellent control and is masterful, but when he starts missing spots, even slightly as he did in Game 1 (only 1 BB and 1 HBP), he becomes a mediocre pitcher. The reason his playoff numbers were so great was that he simply hadn’t had a game like in the playoffs yet.

TIM: Well, I think you can say it shows why the idea of calling Cliff Lee a “great postseason pitcher” is flawed, but not the concept in and of itself — with the caveat, of course, that most great postseason pitchers are great pitchers, period. Even the best postseason pitchers — such as Bob Gibson and Curt Schilling — have had bad outings somewhat like Lee’s the other night. One bad outing may hurt his reputation, but it doesn’t tarnish it.

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Every Game Counts…Week 9

In my neverending quest to rail against the BCS, I am calculating week-by-week how many games this college football season really “count” (as in, influence the national title picture).

After eight weeks, 101 of the 120 FBS teams cannot make the BCS championship (a refresher on my criteria), including pre-season No. 5 Texas. We can start breaking it down a little more now that we’re reducing the field.

Teams Who Can Afford a Loss:

These are teams that are undefeated in a BCS conference or who have one loss while having started the year in the Top 10 (and so can conceivably, like LSU in 2007, make the title game with two losses). I’d like to point out how lenient I’m being here. The way this season is going, Alabama and Ohio State are likely the only schools on this list that could make the title game with a loss. Furthermore, we’re getting to the point where we have to mathematically consider whether it is even conceivable for a team to make it with two losses.

Alabama

Auburn

Michigan State

Missouri

Nebraska

Ohio State

Oklahoma

Oregon

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The Return of the Pooch Punt!

About a month ago, watching Arkansas and Georgia meet in a fairly exciting SEC football game, I saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time. On a fourth down in that “no-man’s land” (about the Georgia 40), Arkansas quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Ryan Mallett took a snap in the shotgun, and pooch punted inside the Georgia 10.

This got me thinking about how effective the pooch punt can be when used properly. And it also dawned on me that now, more than ever, certain elements are in place to promote a renaissance — if a brief one — of the pooch punt.

Here’s why:

1. Teams go for it more on fourth down now.

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Survivor Survival Guide: “What Goes Around, Comes Around”

“I want the cake, I want to eat it, too, and I want those two to go home.”

—Jane

There are often early, subtle clues in a Survivor episode that hint at its basic structure: “What Goes Around, Comes Around” had an especially long “Previously on…” and the full intro sequence, which accurately portended a rather light episode. The Reward and Immunity Challenges both ran a bit longer than usual, and there wasn’t much time at all dedicated to strategy and camp plotlines.

After a brief shot of Espada, with Dan thankful to be back yet again and Chase saying Alina should be the next to go, the action went back to La Flor, where Marty was upset Jane (bless her soul) had turned on him last Tribal. Marty told Jane that he never lied to her, never misrepresented himself, and never wrote her name down, and he confronted her about voting for him last time. Jane responded to this about as non-confrontationally as possible, by laughing off the idea while simultaneously making it very clear that she had indeed voted for Marty. This is what passed for early tension.

The Reward Challenge involved castaways leaping off a platform and trying to throw a ball into a net past a “defender,” standing on a pole halfway between the platform and the goal.* It looked fun. JudFabio and Chase served as their tribes’ respective defenders, and Espada was able to win despite the fact that Dan’s attempt — weak as it was — didn’t count because he was unable to jump off the platform. At this point, I think it’s reasonable to call him the worst participant in Survivor history.

*Calling the position “the defender” is a more subtle than usual way for Survivor to market another CBS show: The Defenders.

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Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Cutthroat, Week 4 Power Rankings

“I think it’s something with fire” —Brad


“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say if it’s against the Geneva Convention, they’re probably not going to make us do it in a challenge” —Dan

 

Man, all TJ Lavin has to do is show up and it scares the crap out of the contestants.*

*Speaking of TJ, reports say that he is getting better and should make a full recovery in time.

Before last night’s Gulag, TJ stopped by the house and mysteriously told Eric and Luke to shave their faces, leading to a rash of speculation about what the actual Gulag event would involve. Brad pointed out that any hair on your face could catch fire, so they’d probably ask you to shave… Continue reading

MLB Postseason Preview: It’s the World Series!

OVERVIEW

It’s the matchup we all expected as far back as Game 5 of their respective League Championship Series. Two teams filled with traditions (largely of losing, but that’s beside the point) that will each be looking for their first title in at least a half-century. It’s Rangers-Giants on the baseball diamond, and not some odd cross-promotional hockey-football battle royale in New York. Tim and John S, who were all over this matchup by reverse jinxing it into fruition in their LCS Previews, provide their take hours before Game 1.

LINEUP

While Josh Hamilton’s ALCS heroics got most of the attention—from fans and Joe Girardi alike—the Rangers were not a one-man show against the Yankees. Guys like Bengie Molina, David Murphy, and Matt Treanor all homered in the series, and they got big hits from Vladimir Guerrero and Mitch Moreland. In fact, everybody on the team who got more than three at-bats in the ALCS had multiple RBIs. That may say more about the Yankee pitching staff, but it also shows that the Rangers’ lineup is as deep and as versatile as the one San Francisco just faced. And unlike in a lot of World Series past, the Rangers won’t be hurt much by losing the DH (at least not offensively)—since Ron Washington has already stated that he plans to play Guerrero in the field at least in Game 1, the Rangers will only be losing the platoon of David Murphy and Jeff Francoeur.

The Giants, meanwhile, outscored the Phillies primarily by not letting the Phillies score. As Tim said in his preview to the series, San Francisco would need someone to unexpectedly step up, and Cody Ross—contrary to all the time spent talking about Jose Guillen in that preview, even when Jose did not even make the NLCS roster—turned out to be that guy. Ross hit three home runs in the first two games of the series and finished with as many extra-base hits (6) as the rest of the team combined en route to series MVP. Of course, it was Juan Uribe who had the biggest hit of the series: a stunning in every way opposite-field home run to win Game 6. The formula for the Giants stays the same in the World Series: They need Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey to anchor the lineup with someone else getting hot. Contributions from Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez—Torres has been, as OutKast would say, “ICE COLD” since his September appendectomy while it seems as if Sanchez hit better than .268 in that NLCS—would go a long way toward helping. All this is complicated, though, by the fact that San Francisco will need to add another below-average bat to the lineup in Games 3-5, with Pablo Sandoval likely getting the nod against the two righties in Games 3 and 4 and, who knows starting Game 5. Travis Ishikawa? Mike Fontenot? It’ll be ugly.

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