Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Kids Club" Picks Week 4 Results: NO College Football wins - Oat Man wins the week

It was a rough week for Kids Club picks.  The biggest losses were in College, where nobody had a split sweep and nobody had even a *win* with college picks for Week 4.  Some of the wildness of Week 3 carried over to Week 4 and we had some unusual outcomes.

Take Florida State for instance.   Florida State fell behind NC State by double digits, then came back in the 2nd half and won by 15, but it was still not enough to cover the 19 point spread that Oat Man chose.  In all, Ottis had the best week of the 'Club, relatively speaking.  He went 1-2-1 and owns the better season record, breaking the tie between he and Ron in NJ, who also went 1-2-1.

"Better Season Record" is a forgotten tiebreaker, and we'll use this as our first tiebreaker, preceding "Most Individual Week wins".

As for the triple checker-on-a-checker, this week it didn't pan out, as Duke lost by 12 points to Miami.  The line was Miami -7 for the contest.  The other dual checker was Saints -3 and the game went completely the other way, with the Cowboys beating the Saints in blowout.

Head to Head, Baylor won by exactly 21, which means both Ottis and Ron were left with a push.   In the NFL, John and Ron went head to head with the Falcons/Vikings game, and the Vikings won convincingly.  That gave John the win to avoid 0-4.

One advantage of all these common picks is that nobody lost serious ground.  So here's how it all went down on a tough week 4…

Say Hello to Ottis (1-2-1) 
Hit with: Packers
Missed with: FSU, Saints
Pushes: Baylor

Ron in NJ (1-2-1) 
Hit with: Colts
Missed with: Duke, Falcons
Pushes: Iowa State

John in CT (1-3) 
Hit with: Vikings
Missed with: Duke, Indiana, Panthers

Andy in Seattle (1-3)
Hit with: Lions
Missed with: Duke, Cal, Saints

So, four weeks in, here are our competitive season standings!  Oat Man moves into first place, and John comes down just a peg to second.

Say Hello to Ottis: 8-7-1
John in CT: 8-8
Ron in NJ: 7-8-1
Andy in Seattle: 6-10

The Kids Club will go for some more W's as we head to Week 5… stay with us!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Preview: 2014 MLB Wild Card Play-In Games

If you missed it, check the blog entry below this one!  I posted some "thoughts of the day" here on the Daveblog.

We'll take MLB predictions one at a time this year.   I won't touch the Division Series til about Thursday morning although I just *love* the Nationals vs whoever emerges from that NL Wild Card.  I still like the Dodgers over the Cardinals but *again!!!!!!!*  NOBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION TO ST. LOUIS.  I did at least see some coverage of the Cards taking the division yesterday, but many feel like it's a mere formality to see the Dodgers beat them over the weekend.  I think that's a mistake.  Wainwright is incredibly good and he could match Kershaw inning for inning until the 6th, maybe the 7th.  Where does that leave us?  A battle of the bullpens, and guess what?  The Cardinals have a HAYUGE advantage in bullpen pitchers.  The Dodgers bullpen is a virtual disgrace, but I go back to an adage I thought of recently... as bad as it is, the closer is every bit as *good* so I still think I'd take my chances.  Nonetheless, the Cardinals bullpen is better and not by a little.  If a game were to go into extra innings, the Dodgers' chances of winning would decrease with every additional inning, IMHO.

Well, I suppose I can knock out one DS preview here.  Dodgers in 5 games.  They'll need all five to beat the Cardinals in this series, and if they lose out to the Cardinals, it really wouldn't be that big a shock.  Pitching wins and more than other teams in the senior circuit, the Cardinals have the pitching to match that of the Dodgers.  I'm expecting a far more closer series than many others would.  I wouldn't be surprised to see STL win Game 1 as a matter of fact.  I won't even worry about it.   Never expect more than you can chew, take the games one at a time, and this time around I'll have some fun with these games.

So on to the Wild Card Play-In Games...

The AL Preview: Athletics vs Royals

Athletics were playing .300 baseball from the moment of the Cespedes for Lester trade right through much of September.  It's simply a team that you can't trust right now.   My only argument in Oakland's favor is that the pitching favors their side.   The Royals can throw out James Shields, but Jon Lester betters him easily.  The issues for Oakland are with the offense.   Lately they just struggle to get runs on the board.  The Royals counter with a lineup that's fun to watch, talented, good with average, and young.  The problem with KC is that they don't have good power at all... a somewhat surprising development for a club with Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon.   Their .372 team slugging percentage is 22nd best in MLB, very VERY bad, and easily the worst of all AL playoff teams.

So!  As much as I don't trust the A's, I think they still have enough to win one game so I will select the Athletics to defeat the Royals in a low scoring affair.  The A's will survive, this time around, but I don't see them getting beyond this opening week of postseason.

The NL Preview: Giants vs Pirates 

One key development over the weekend was Pirates Catcher Russell Martin's pulled hamstring.  He tweaked it on Friday while the Pirates tried to beat the Reds to keep pace for the Division with STL.  The latest from the Pirates' twitter is that apparently Martin still is fighting hamstring tightness.  Not good... it's not good with a mere 2 days until the big game, and I felt like Martin was a big part of that Pirates' offense.  We came to find out that Pedro Alvarez was not a recent contributor, but Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer is.  Alvarez is still struggling with a foot injury according to reports, so his status is likewise up in the air.   Liriano tried to get in a start with the Pirates still playing for something, and he looked downright shaky, giving up hit after hit.  None of this is good news for the Pirates, despite an emotional postseason clinching, and back to back years in the 'offs.   I would be remiss if I did not bring up the runaway vote for team MVP, and possible NL MVP Andrew McCutchen... the Pirates would be nowhere near where they are without his valuable bat, great baserunning speed, and good defense.  This guy can play, and in his young career, he's played well in the clutch too.  One other bad break is that Garrit Cole had to start on Sunday with the division still in contention... in one sense, the Cardinals losing on Saturday actually *hurt* the Pirates more than it helped.  Getting a division title by that point was a long shot... if STL won that night, the Pirates would be strictly a Wild Card, and Cole would have been benched immediately in favor of a Wednesday start.  Now it can't happen, and the Buccos will offer Edinson Volquez.   That's a guy with a good fastball but while he's got a 3 ERA this year, he's a career 4 ERA pitcher, and not the showstopper you'd normally choose for a winner-take-all game.

So all of *this* is going up against Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' ace and one of the best pitchers in the GAME.  The Giants have some injury trouble too... Angel Pagan is out for at least this game, and not surprisingly Marco Scutaro is out of the picture due to his perpetual injuries.   In place of one of the two, Joe Panik put together a nice fill-in run at the plate, sent up from Fresno.   The Giants bullpen is my favorite aspect of this game:  Romo, Affeldt, and Cassilla.  These three are all rock solid.  It may be one of the better bullpens in sports.  You still have George Kontos once in a while, who is just dreadful, but overall, a very competent, consistent bullpen.  I laughed at Brian Sabean many years ago for signing Affeldt to big money, but give him credit, he's delivered.   For the Giants, their lineup still has good bats in the order, including the clutch Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt, and for now, the aforementioned Panik.   Gregor Blanco is a servicable bat with about a .700 OPS, but on the other end, Michael Morse proved to be a bust this year for San Francisco.  It's a lineup with some pop, some character, and probably not a lot of pizazz on paper, but these guys can play.

Ultimately this boils down to the pitching matchup and the Giants are just so much better in this area, that I can't pick against them in a winner-take-all game against Pittsburgh.  Even with the game at PNC Park, I just love the Giants in this spot, even as a Dodger fan.   This is my BASEBALL LOCK of the Week:

Giants will beat the Pirates in the NL Wild Card game.  I feel so good about this pick that I look forward to the days until the game goes down.  Now... with all of that said, I still root against the Giants, and if the Buccos find a way out of this one, it will be quite a *glorious* day, but I'm sad to say that #BUCTOBER is  going to end pretty early.

Whatever happens, these are going to be some terrific MLB play-in games.   I'm eager to see how it goes down.

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: September 29th

If you have glasses, never try to write with your glasses off.   Tried that tonight and got a huge headache.

This was a very enjoyable weekend.   I'd love to take my Camry around and have a camera follow me all over LA going to restaurants.  There are already 100 shows that do that, but I am hoping people would enjoy it anyway.  The point of that comment was that I got to go to this place called "Britt's BBQ" at last.  It's in sleepy, quiet El Segundo by the airport.  Boy was that terrific!  I had an original dish they call "Smoked Fried Chicken" so imagine BBQ chicken in the smoker, all that good flavor, nicely fired up wood aroma, but instead of putting barbecue sauce on it, they bread it, then fry it.   It's every bit as good as it sounds!  Yum, so delicious.  The people there are wonderful... but do give it a try if you're ever around there.

Smoked Fried chicken... and you eat it and it's like "how come nobody came up with this before?"  It's a logical, yet, luscious combination.

The night before I was by 3rd Street Promenade and found the local "Burger Lounge" location.   That burger blew my mind!   I could not believe an 8 dollar burger could be that good.  A freshly baked, then toasted bun, topped with grass fed, free range beef, fixings, and the thousand island sauce.  Fresh Onion rings that were fried lightly enough where you could taste the fresh onion flavor, and even a Lagunitas IPA to drink.  That was a great meal.  The "Lounge Burger" was my choice of burger on that night.   I've really got to go back... not only a great burger, but easy to order, short lines, and great value.  To put it in perspective, the burger even with the onion rings would cost 1/3 less than the burger at "Father's Office."  Now, don't get me wrong, Father's Office is the pinnacle of all burgers, but it's fair to say that Burger Lounge holds its own for a cheaper price.

The Burger Lounge burger is a smaller burger, patty wise.   I think it's about 1/4 pound or maybe a tad larger, but not in the 1/3 or 1/2 pound range.   I don't really mind that, so long as the prices are reasonable.  Everything really came together greatly.

I had this ongoing desire to order 30 dollars of donuts for delivery.  That didn't happen but I noticed as I was driving that the Dunkin' Donuts in town finally slowed down.  This time I went in and got the French Vanilla and some donuts, then I completed my taste test by getting similar donuts at DK's down the street and over two blocks.   DK's is still winning this fight.   The cake donuts DK's make are denser, more flavorful, and crispier to boot.  The whole experience is first class with every bite.

Dunkin'... their donuts are pretty good but it still doesn't hit that upper echelon for me.   Any donut I eat there is a bit softer around the crust.   I do like their chocolate glazed cake donut A LOT.   There are many glazed cake donuts around America, but most of them just have the chocolate frosting on the top.   Dunkin's version is a fully glazed, 360 degree coating of sugar.  I think the only other place that did this with chocolate cake donuts was Krispy Kreme.

Kinda funny to say that, because my go-to at DK's is their blueberry cake donut which IS glazed head to toe, but I haven't noticed any others like it there.   The DK blueberry cake donut is just a personal favorite for me.   As cake donuts go, it has no equal.  I love it so much.  Maybe too much!

I ate five donuts today while watching football.  Five donuts and a turkey sandwich.  Simple insanity.   I could feel it too after 5 hours.  It wasn't pretty fellas.   I usually crash right around 2 and take a nap on Sundays, but I found particular action in the late games around the NFL.  The lot of them were more competitive, collectively, than normal.  Even the Jaguars/Chargers game was entertaining for a while.  It was Blake Bortles' debut, and he had a nice throwing motion working.  I sampled all of this plus that Steeler meltdown earlier in the day while eating donuts.  Somewhere in the middle I had that turkey sandwich: Boar's Head pan roasted turkey and medium cheddar with a little Gulden's mustard.  Oh so good.

The cheddar of that sandwich might even be TOO good because the taste is so powerful it distracts you from some phenomenal tasting sliced turkey.  Boar's Head hits it out of the park.

So at any rate, I didn't crash at 2 due to the games being so good and the extra large French Vanilla coffee I drank from Dunkin'.  It was served black too, no milk or sugar.   I like it.  I like the French Vanilla, because it takes the guess work out of the coffee.  I can just drink it straight up and enjoy without the hassle of adding cream.

But that simple fact points to the obvious truth that Dunkin's coffee isn't terribly strong or bold.   So nothing about the coffee has changed my opinion of it -- it's simply different.  I'd take Starbucks and Peet's over it every time, but it offers a pretty good change of pace, and I do find a couple of their donuts delectable.  I forgot all about Dunkin's pumpkin donut, which let's face it, is pretty decent, and festive for the occasion.

Having THAT MUCH coffee at once is going to set you up for a disaster later, and baby it came around 4:45 after the 49ers survived their game against Philly.   My brain was yelling at me to sleep all fourth quarter, but it was getting so intense.  The Eagles had their chances and there were fantasy implications so I sat there and kept it going.

Once the 49ers won for good, I went right to bed and lied down.   I was so tired, SO tired by then, and I had six hours of sleep the night before and just got up too early the previous morning too.  Once I was on my back, I could feel myself going right into a dream.  Usually you enter dreams as you're waking up but my body was frazzled.  I was right into a dream and I was at Best Buy.  In the *dream* I was so tired I could feel my arms and legs getting grabbed by gravity, as if it were hands that dragged me down from the ground and I fell down, feeling all sorts of weird, and drunk... but in the back I heard my phone buzz... that was reality, so my immune system got *up* from all that and I rolled over to check the text.  Nothing serious so back to bed.

I was SO tired that I couldn't risk playing music during my nap so I left the windows open and let the breeze keep me cool.   That was a great nap.   Put me out cold right until 6:50... a two hour nap.  When I got up, I saw the Cowboys were up 24-0 against the Saints.  I was not sure if I was still dreaming.

Oh but I was not, my friends!   I went back to the living room to watch the second half.  Good times, good times.

My work buddies and I are in a fantasy league this year.  Many of our colleagues aren't into sports, but six of us do like sports enough so we gathered six people in our small league.   I added an extra wrinkle to make the league exciting, a Thursday Night Football "Fantasy Challenge."  It started about Week 2, when the Steelers played Baltimore.  I email the other fellas and remind them which players each of them has starting in the Thursday game.   The first player that scores a touchdown wins a 10 dollar Chipotle card.  If a guy is starting a QB that night, the QB has to get two touchdowns since most of them average 2 TD passes.  It was a VERY fun concept, but sadly, Week 2, nobody had players that scored a touchdown that night.  Owen Daniels scored 3 instead, out of the blue.  The next week, it played out better, and we got two touchdowns from Matt Ryan and one of the fellas won the card.  He deferred the card to next week and we rolled out the challenge again.  This time my buddy who started Alfred Morris won the challenge, and he offered to host the next prize, so he will either offer the Chipotle card or furnish another gift card.

The Thursday challenge is one of my favorite parts of our work league so far.  It's generated a lot of juice, and some minor smack talk, and without a doubt, it got me more interested in those otherwise dismal Thursday night games.  It's much like those football pools but with more tangible outcomes.   I mean rooting for the ones digit to show a "7" or a "3" is kinda weird, let's be honest here. 

So football is a big part of the week these days.  As is smoked fried chicken.  I hope one day Guy Fieri or G. Garvin heads down to El Segundo to try that out at Britt's.  I mean it is SO GOOD.  Hopefully soon.  Til then keep your gut at the table and keep reaching for the fork.

I'll have an MLB post coming up in a moment, so keep your blog tuned right where it is.

LOCKS of the Week Results: 2-2 this wk, 4-10 overall

A marginally disappointing Week 4 on "LOCKS of the Week" as our selections got off to a 2-0 start, only to tail off with the final picks going 0-2.  The worst part was Utah's 21-0 lead on Washington State at home, only to not only blow the -13.5 point cover, but blow the game altogether, losing 28-27.  I don't know HOW that happened, as I didn't see the finish, but what a disappointment for the Utes.   Having said that, there was more wildness in College Football, with Arkansas leading Texas A&M most of the day, Miami covering -7 against Duke, and Can and Utah going to overtime and scoring over 50 points each.

I still felt pretty good about the picks though, and in the case of Auburn, a 32.5 point favorite, I will not soon go back to them with big point spreads, but they really were only a touchdown away from covering and they had a couple looks at it in the 4th quarter vs Louisiana Tech.  So their game wasn't quite that bad overall.

My favorite pick of the week, less because I was confident about it but more because it affirmed my ongoing mis-trust of Arizona State football, was definitely UCLA -4.   I was a little worried that I didn't wait on it to get it at -3, but once it was done, that extra point would make no difference in a Bruins 62-27 blowout at Tempe.  Two games I had an eye on but laid off of were Michigan State -28 and Minnesota +9.5 at Michigan.   You don't want to go to the well too many times with the Big Ten, so I still felt like I made the right choice just letting those two play out.  Big Ten games often have teams favored by too many points, or so it seems.

So, here's how it all broke down...

Hit with: UCLA -4, Maryland +4.  Let me also add that I'm very proud of the Terps today going to Bloomington and mostly shutting down an uptempo team like the Hoosiers.

Missed with: Auburn -32.5, Utah -13.5.  The Utah game is going to stick with me for a while.  I can't believe Utah would blow such a big lead at home.  Hard to imagine.  Usually they're the ones doing the upsetting, but maybe once they're the favorite it's a different story.

So, 2-2 for the week, and we'll have to wait 7 more days until we cut into that deficit.  Could have been worse too, so another week on "LOCKS" ends.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mike Francesa's Week 4 NFL Picks: September 26th (8-5 record so far)

In the league where they play………………………………..  for pay.

Mike Francesa of WFAN says he's 3-0 last week and as I was not listening to the show, I will take his word for it.  So 8-2 since his 0-3 start.  (He says 9-2, but we calculated 5-2 from Week 2 and 3-0 he says for Week 3 so 8-2).   In total he is 8-5 heading to Week 4.  and HERE are his picks for this week.

Packers -1 at Bears
49ers -5 vs Eagles
Steelers -7.5 vs Bucs

Good luck to Mike Francesa's picks for Week 4, on we go!

UPDATE:  In week 3, per our friend Andy in Seattle, Mike took the following games:  Chargers, Cowboys, and Saints.   That would point to a 3-0 Week 3, thus rendering 8-5 as the correct record thus far.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dave's LOCKS of the Week: September 25th

We went 0-1 last week, and now we'll go in heavy on Dave's (bink!) LOCKS of the Week.

It's very tricky to take too many favorites, but this week there are teams I think will bounce back in a big way.

One of these games isn't a true LOCK, but I've been consistent about not trusting Arizona State.   I think they're playing not at all to their potential, and this time around they have their backup QB going with something to prove.  The man's name: Mike Bercovici.   A 3 year backup, now getting his big chance against the Pac 12 South division favorites UCLA, but!  Much like they've done most of the season, they the Sun Devils played uneven football.  One thing the Devs did very well thus far is limit turnovers, only one for the whole year so far, but it was in games against New Mexico, Weber State, and Colorado.    UCLA should present the toughest defense ASU played so far, yet, I sense this game is going to go back and forth.  I'm taking this pick under the premise that Hundley is healthy enough to start tonight and play a very good game.  We'll roll the dice and go with UCLA because, after all, they have the better coaching, defense, and health, so without further delay here it is:

LOCK #1 is UCLA -4 at ASU!

Here are the other games...

  • Maryland +4 at Indiana.  Here's what's most interesting about the Terps: Randy Edsall has constructed a very good offensive team that beat South Florida, and even gave West Virginia all it could handle in a very wild game they lost by only 3 points.  They also went to the Carrier Dome and put away an improving Syracuse 34-20.  Indiana, I'm much less impressed by.  I don't think their defense is that great (really neither team is, Maryland's D looks soft too).  The only thing is, Maryland is on the road, but covering 4, I like their chances.  A FG loss will still cover, so we are hoping for another building block for the Terps.
  • Utah -13.5 vs Washington State.  Washington State made big headlines channeling their inner Rocky Balboa against Oregon, but that game *was* at Pullman, and it wasn't consistent with the rest of their season.   Washington State has their signature Mike Leach bonehead coaching, stubborn moves, doing things just to do them, and I feel like Utah's always been a very tough out at their home.  Utah's beaten far bigger teams than WSU, and further, the Cougars are inevitably due for a letdown after what was their best game in a couple years.  A two touchdown margin seems reasonable, so we are taking the Utes.
  • Auburn -32.5 vs LA Tech.  Let's face it, LA Tech stinks.   Not much to analyze here.  The Tigers went over 10 weeks in a row, going back to last year, where they covered the spread until they finally failed to put away Kansas State.  KSU flat outplayed them at Manhattan, but this time around, Auburn is not only at home, but likely very motivated after that close call a week ago.  They also get an extra two days of rest coming off a Thursday night game.  The triple option will ride strong again and the length of Auburn's DB's and receivers is impressive to see, creating all sorts of matchup issues for lesser teams.  Tigers all the way in this one.
So, our LOCKS this week: UCLA -4, Maryland +4, Utah -13.5, and Auburn -32.5.   Keep an eye on Giants/Redskins tonight too, and while I didn't take it, the over under of 46 seems awfully small for two teams that don't look good defensively.   It looks juicy, but at any rate enjoy all the games!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kids Club Podcast Picks: Week 4 (Sept. 24)

We heard them on the @DITCOW podcast earlier tonight, also at daveinthecity.podbean.com, and here they are on the blog for posterity.  It's week 4 of the "Kids Club Podcast Picks."  We'll show you the season record next to each person's name.

John in CT (7-5)
Duke +7 at Miami
Indiana -4.5 vs Maryland
Panthers +3.5 vs Ravens
Vikings +3 vs Falcons

Say Hello to Ottis (7-5) 
Baylor -21 at Iowa State
FSU -19 vs NC State
Packers -1.5 at Bears
Saints -3 at Cowboys

Ron in NJ (6-6) 
Iowa St. +21 vs Baylor
Duke +7 at Miami
Falcons -3 at Vikings
Colts -7.5 vs Titans

Andy in Seattle (5-7) 
Duke +7 at Miami
Cal -14 vs Colorado
Saints -3 at Cowboys
Lions -1.5 vs Jets

Quite a lot of interesting plays this week, take a look:
  • We have back to back weeks with a triple Checker on a Checker(tm)!  This week, it's Duke +7 at Miami.
  • We also have two head to head picks.   Ottis and Ron will go head to head on Baylor vs Iowa State.   John and Ron also go head to head on Falcons vs Vikings.
  • Oat Man went to his backup Packers pick so as to avoid an NFL Checker on a a Checker with Checker (John).  
Good luck to all the picks, and here's to an exciting Week 4 finish!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dodgers Bullpen Tracker: 1-1

A way to express Dodger fans frustration with a generally awful, well mostly awful, actually incredibly, historically, amazingly, stupendously awful bullpen is to just break down all the bullpen losses the bullpen costs the Dodgers from this stretch run of the season through the postseason.  The Dodgers clinched a postseason berth last weekend.

So here's how "bullpen tracker" will work for the Dodgers this season.  When any Dodgers game is tied or close from the 6th inning on, we'll count it for our bullpen tracker.  If the Dodgers win the game, we'll give the bullpen a win, if they lose, we'll give them a loss.  Then we'll write a quick synopsis of how the Dodgers blew the game.  The bullpen *won* actually on Sunday, the best performance of the bullpen to date since they were responsible for the entire game, all 9 innings.  I'd like to be generous and award them a win despite the game not meeting the qualifications.  So!  The Dodgers Bullpen tracker is currently 1-1.

Last night, the bullpen was not really responsible for the loss.  The Dodgers were incredibly inept at the plate after the 8th inning and had I believe 3 baserunners at most.   The bullpen, for what it is, did a pretty good job keeping the Dodgers in the game, although in the process they gave up a lot of baserunners themselves and needed a spectacular throw from Yasiel Puig to not blow the game back in the 11th, but overall, they made it all the way to the 13th which could be enough to win a game at home, but last night it did not work out.  Kevin Correia was thrown in there at the end chucking batting practice fastballs and Andrew Susac walloped it into left field for the go ahead single.  Ultimately, the bullpen hung in there, finding a way to keep the game going for a good six innings after Haren had 7 innings.

Quite a game last night, but the Dodgers were the loser.   We'll update bullpen tracker again tomorrow, if necessary.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: September 23rd

Not many things beat the warm glow of a small lamp in the living room.   It's just enough light to make you feel comfortable.. 

Ahh, look at the glow of that lamp.   I have it on now as I write this.  I feel so warm and safe.  Just letting it go while I write and watch the Dodgers play the Giants.

Sometimes little things like that are what life is all about.   I see the Dodgers so close to a division title, and we won't know for sure how far they'll go but this year, unlike the last 5, 6, who knows how many Dodgers postseasons, I'm going to finally stop worry about them winning a title.  This team is so good, but the others in the playoffs are incredibly good.   I'll just sit back and enjoy it.

Nobody is going to win every game in the playoffs, so it's just silly to be fretting about "blowing the postseason" or anything.  I'll take any wins the Dodgers get, even if it's zero, in October. 

The whole year I've, well for the most part anyway, had confidence in Dodgers baseball, and look how they've delivered.  Lots of games and lots of wins.  The Dodgers had a rough start too... going back to April and May and I said, now just a moment fellas, this is a good team, and they have some of the best starters in the NL.   This team is going to make it interesting, and did they ever!  Their middle relief stinks, oh yeah, but so many things are going right: the lineup, the closer, the first three guys of the rotation when Ryu is healthy.   I love these guys!

It's just fun, man.   I want to have fun for once.  I spent all of last October getting hyped up and worrying and talking about how they'll never win anything, and then they'd surprise me with games like Juan Uribe's big night in Game 4 vs Atlanta, and a big start by unlikely heroes in Game 5 in the LCS against the Cardinals.   Whether you win or lose a postseason is ultimately not your call or your expectation.  I'd rather savor the good rather than dwell on the bad this time.  So let the light shine soon on October!

This seems like a good time for a donut.   I went to DK's just to stick it to Dunkin Donuts a few weeks ago, and it reminded me how GREAT that place really was!  I spoke of them so many times already in three weeks.   I can taste that blueberry cake donut now.  Ahh, so good.

Well I think I must end the blog entry early this Dodger game just got very intense... 'til next time!

"Kids Club" Pick Results: Week 3 - John a winner! The 'Bama Triple Bet Hits.

Pretty exciting week for the "Kids Club" Podcast picks in Week 3.   It was a really unpredictable week in College Football and nobody swept their two respective college picks, but, the great thing is that all four guys split their college picks.  From my point of view, that's a great feat with how unpredictable the weekend was.

One big reason why, the TRIPLE CHECKER ON A CHECKER of Alabama -14.5 hit convincingly.  It was rough for a while but Alabama poured it on by the second half and had full control of the game against Florida.  With three of the Kids Clubbers taking the Tide, everyone did reasonably well for the week.  John was the winner due to the "most weekly wins" tiebreaker, but otherwise both he and Oat Man went 3-1.  Ron went 2-2, splitting College and Pro Picks, and the Eagles were pretty close to covering for him, but instead they won by only 3 points instead of the 7 set by oddsmakers.  Andy was 1-3 for the week, but still in close range for the year.  Here's the breakdown.

John in CT (3-1)
Hit with Boise State, Saints, and Chiefs.
Missed with Akron

Say Hello to Ottis (3-1)
Hit with 'Bama, Bengals, and Chargers
Missed with Missouri

Ron in NJ (2-2)
Hit with 'Bama and the Saints
Missed with LSU and the Eagles

Andy in Seattle (1-3)
Hit with 'Bama
Missed with Arizona, Bills, and Panthers

After three weeks here are the standings:

John in CT: 7-5
Say Hello to Ottis: 7-5
Ron in NJ: 6-6
Andy in Seattle: 5-7

Everybody's right along side one another after three weeks.  It's been quite a competitive year so far for "Kids Club Picks."  Also of note:  no pushes so far!   We will count what I call "ties" as half wins, and the formula will be assessed for our season standings.

LOCKS of the Week Result: 0-1, Season Total: 2-8

Only one game picked last week, and in all honesty, I was happy to lay low.   The game I picked was Arizona -10.5 and it did not come close to hitting.  It was just a crazy week, and that was just a crazy game.  Arizona and Cal came down to a hail mary pass at the end by Arizona's Anu Solomon which *connected* for a last second Wildcats win!  A true sight to see.

…but no, Arizona didn't cover, and thankfully it was the only damage in a very topsy turvy week in College Football.  The NFL was equally unpredictable from a wagering standpoint, hence my continued non-participation in NFL LOCKS of the Week.

We'll try to get back on the winning track next week, stay with us!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Kids Club" Podcast Picks: Week 3 (Sept. 17)

The newly named "Kids Club Podcast Picks" for College and Pro football were announced earlier tonight on our "Dave in the City" podcast (blogtalkradio.com/daveinthecity).  Here are the picks we made on the show, two were on air and two were sent via txt.

For the record, everyone *is* tied at 4-4 I messed up the math when I announced the standings on air.  On we go:

Ron in NJ (4-4) 
Alabama -14.5 vs Florida
LSU -9.5 vs Mississippi St.
Saints -10.5 vs Vikings
Eagles -6.5 vs Washington

John in CT (4-4) 
Akron +9.5 vs Marshall
Boise St. -17 vs LA Lafayette
Saints -10.5 vs Vikings
Chiefs +4.5 vs Dolphins

Say Hello to Ottis (4-4)
Alabama -14.5 vs Florida
Missouri -14 vs Indiana
Bengals -7 vs Titans
Chargers +2.5 at Bills

Andy in Seattle (4-4)
Alabama -14.5 vs Florida
Arizona -9.5 vs Cal
Bills -2.5 vs Chargers
Panthers -3 vs Steelers

We have a TRIPLE CHECKER ON A CHECKER with Alabama, which in some circles is called a "Family Bet."   A lot of confidence in the Crimson Tide, and against an inept Florida offense, why not?  

Oat Man and Andy will go head to head on the Chargers/Bills NFL game with the Bills laying 2.5.  May the best team win!

Some good picks this week, good luck to all...

Dave's LOCK of the Week: September 17th

It's a very tough week to pick football games, so this week just one game.

Only ONE game!

This week we have Arizona at home against Cal.   Anu Solomon is simply a wonderful quarterback.   At home Arizona has been great so far, and I think a bunch of people are overvaluing Cal.  Some people got the message and brought the line up to 10.5 which is how I played it.  Since then, some more hype for Cal brought the line *back* down to 9 points.  That's a missed opportunity by me.

I think Cal's an improved team, in fact, maybe a well improved team, but it's not enough to take the Wildcats at home.  I like them big!   Arizona -10.5.

That is all!   There were some other fun ones like Oregon -24 at Washington State, and Alabama -14.5 at home against Florida.   None of them are slam dunks so just one LOCK of the week.  Good luck to U of A!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: September 17th

People think "ain't" is short for "is not."   If that was true, why is there and "a" in it?  For about 25 years I wondered this.  Then, over the weekend, while I was driving, it came to me.   "Am not" can be shortened to "ain't" too.  So "ain't" means "am not" for short.  So instead of "I am not going to that meeting," you say "I ain't going to that meeting!"

And then it all made sense!   Ain't is a proper contraction, but for "am not"  and people just got lazy and borrowed it for "is not." But ya know, I'm not the kind of fuddy duddy that would get on people for using "aint".  Ain't is fun!  It's good for emphasis or expression.

I am in utter shock that Jerry Lewis is still alive.  I honestly didn't know that.   How about that, fellas?   I apologize to Mr. Lewis for thinking he died earlier.

Funny moment from America's Got Talent's Mel B, the former Spice Girl.  She comes in from LA, where it is just bright and sunny and practically scorching, but we're getting used to it.  She lands in NY where they do the show and it is COOL and dumpy looking, and raining everywhere and she shows a pic of Manhattan on her instagram and goes "going from Sunny LA to rainy NYC!"

but how about that AGT finale last night?  Was that not spectacular?   I was so pumped at that show that I wrote a tweet praising the 6 finalists:

I mean... the #AGT finale was so good I make a genuine plea to just give ALL SIX acts 1million bucks and their own show!! That good.

The official America's Got Talent twitter retweeted that and now my twitter account *exploded.*  I am getting notifications from all over the country.  One after the other.  This is spectacular!  I'm really enjoying this.  And everyone agrees!!   If you saw the show you'd see why... it was truly impressive.

Congratulations to the Baltimore Orioles for winning the AL East division.  Enjoy your first round exit to a team with much better pitching!

A few weeks ago, when I drafted Adrian Peterson, on three fantasy teams, I thought "Finally!  A running back I won't have to worry about."  I was so excited to get him on a fantasy team at last!  


Peterson really seems like a despicable person.   At best he's a despicable parent.  Just terrible.   I would say this is for the best that he's getting hammered by everybody.   I will find a way to get by with the fantasy teams such as they are.

In the meanwhile, I turn to produce and look at the wonderful fruit and veggies entering stores nationwide.   Peach season is coming to an end, and as we say goodbye to peaches, we make way for Pumpkin Spice Latte season.  If Peach Season is my bag, Pumpkin Spice Latte season is Andy in Seattle's baby.   Every fall he lets us know that the Pumpkin Spice Lattes are once again in season.  I rather appreciate these announcements because like him, and some other fellas I know, Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks are the greatest.  Incredibly good!   I know we have our moments with the Gingerbread Lattes and the Salted Caramel Mocha but Pumpkin Spice has it all... flavor, texture, and context with the weather that is.

Doesn't really apply this week with it being 100 degrees in LA, but in a few weeks that latte and the crisp fall air is going to be just perfect.  I look forward to another one!  Had my first one a few days ago.

I finally and I mean FINALLY found a tall bottle of orange gatorade.  The local store refuses to sell those and only carries Lemon-Lime and Fruit Punch.   At this other grocery story in the area, a much bigger store, I went to the gatorade section and saw all three.   That's a good job by Gatorade and the nearby Ralphs.

That's all from here, enjoy your Wednesday.

Mike Francesa's Week 2 NFL Pick Results: 5-2 this week. 5-5 for the year.

Mike Francesa rebounded quite nicely with his large selection of picks for NFL Week 2.  For the week, he went 5-2, nearly getting the Colts -3 last night for a stellar 6-1 showing.  However, a great week for Mike as he now moves up to 5-5 for the season:

Mike hit with:


Mike missed with:


Just to repeat, both the Broncos and Colts games were in hand for a cover (-12 and -3 respectively) well into the fourth quarter.  A great week for Mike.  Now to see how he carries that momentum for Week 3.....

Monday, September 15, 2014

LOCKS of the Week Results: 2-1 this week; 2-7 for the season.

At last, a winning week for LOCKS.  Week 3 was good to us.

Hit with Bowling Green, Oklahoma
Missed with Central Michigan.

It isn't a huge season improvement, but a winning week is a big moment, and a springboard to hopefully a rebound this season.  For the week, we're 2-1.  For the year we climb "up to" 2-7.

Long way to go, but some more success could light the way.  Onward. 

Podcast Picks Results - Week 2: It's a Dead Heat! John rebounds.

For Week 2, John is the winner at 3-1.  Ron had a losing week at 1-3, and both Andy and Ottis hold steady with 2-2 for the week.  Here's the breakdown.

John in CT (3-1)
Hit with TCU, Bills, and Patriots.
Missed with South Florida.

Say Hello to Ottis (2-2)
Hit with Missouri and East Carolina.
Missed with Seahawks and Lions.

Andy in Seattle (2-2)
Hit with South Carolina and the Bills.
Missed with Utah State and the Seahawks.

Ron in NJ (1-3)
Hit with Cardinals -2
Missed with Louisville, Louisiana Lafayette, and Lions.

So, after two weeks, everybody is tied in the standings!  Here they are:

Ron in NJ: 4-4
John in CT: 4-4
Say Hello to Ottis: 4-4
Andy in Seattle: 4-4

A four way tie for first!   However, what I've done is arrange for several tiebreakers to determine who ranks above who.  Here's the breakdown of the tiebreakers in order:

  1. Winner of the most individual weeks to date.  This week John had the best week in picks so he wins week 2.  Ron won week 1.   At the moment THIS tiebreaker is tied so we proceed.
  2. When both players in first place are tied we go to who had the most split sweeps over the year.  When you go 2-0 in either College or NFL picks for a week, that is a "split sweep."  If this category is tied, we proceed.  A 4-0 total week gives you *two* split sweeps.
  3. In the case where split sweeps are equal, we look at who had best record for the past week.  If this is tied we proceed. 
  4. If both persons have the same record for the week, we go to the person with the most split sweeps that particular week.  
  5. If the above scenario were to occur, a 1 in 123943295832532325 chance of occurring, LOL, we will decide by coin flip as determined by the 'Cow.   
  6. At season's end, if there is such a tie, we can try to assign a Bowl Game "wager-off" for which either party will go head-to-head.  If the game is a push or no-action, we'll just give both guys the same place in the standings.

So, we have quite a nice setup so far… very competitive field.   On to Week 3!

Update:  I will also implement the "wager-off" if we 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mike Francesa's Football Picks: September 12th

In the league where they play………………………………..  for pay.

Mike Francesa's NFL Picks: Week 2 

Jets +8 at Packers
Panthers -2.5 vs Lions
Cowboys +4 at Titans
Browns +6.5 vs Saints
Texans -3 at Raiders
Broncos -12 vs Chiefs
Colts -3 vs Eagles

We cleared up an on-air error by Mike where he said "Jets +8" to start and then in his recap he said "Jets +12".  He got the "12" mixed up with Broncos -12 but vegasinsider.com corroborates his original call of Jets +8.  So SEVEN games selected this week!

Good luck to all the picks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DITCOW Podcast Picks: September 10th

Week 2 of podcast picks!  We'll start with our leader Ron.
Ron in NJ 
Louisville -6.5 at Virginia
Louisiana Lafayette +27 at Ole Miss
Cardinals -2 at Giants
Lions +3 at Panthers
Say Hello to Ottis 
Missouri -10 at UCF
ECU +11 at VaTech
Seahawks -6 at Chargers
Lions +3 at Panthers
John in CT
TCU -13.5 vs Minnesota
South Florida +1.5 vs NC State
Bills +1 vs Dolphins
Patriots -3.5 at Vikings
UPDATE:  Andy adds his picks to the contest.  Here they are:
Andy in Seattle
South Carolina +6.5 vs Georgia
Utah State -15 vs Wake Forest
Bills +1 vs Dolphins
Seahawks -6 at Chargers
Some checkers on checkers this week (common picks).   Good luck to all the picks!

Dave's LOCKS of the Week: September 10th

LOCKS of the Week!  (boom!!)  Week 3.

0-2 last week.  0-4 the week before, we are now 0-6 to start the year.  Due for ONE to hit, let's go:

Here's our four LOCKS.  First, we have Central Michigan +7 against Syracuse.  Central Michigan looked great on the road at Purdue and Syracuse might be a little overvalued.   Central Michigan is also at HOME.  Syracuse usually struggles to score points, but we haven't looked closely at their new recruits.  Nevertheless, getting 7 points at home to such a weak team is odd.   I expect good things from the Chippewas.

Next!  Oklahoma.  -20.5 at home against Tennessee.  This isn't a total slam dunk, as Tennessee is lookin' good lately, but the fact remains, the physical talents and speed on the Sooners will out-do that of the Vols.   OU has been a good cover team at home over the years, and early in the season is the best time to pounce.  Just look at what they did at Tulsa a week ago!  Total domination.   The QB matchup is a sure advantage for the Sooners with Trevor Knight.

Lastly, we have Bowling Green +7.5 at home against Indiana.   The most important part of LOCKS this week is that we took home teams.  Last week we took a chance that we thought we had in the bag, and it was Michigan State at Oregon.   Their second half was major disappointment.   We also got a little cocky taking Alabama on a *neutral* field and UCLA at Charlottesville.  This week, back to basics:  three home teams, and value picks.

In addition, we decided to pick Colorado +16 at home against Arizona State.   This will **not** count towards the LOTW standings.  I'll have some fun with this though.  This is both a home team AND a value pick.   Colorado's offensive line is getting better, and Arizona State just can't be trusted with such tactical mismanagement by Head Coach Todd Graham.  This will be a fun watch.

There it is!  LOCKS for the week of September 10th.   Back at it again next week.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DITCOW Podcast Picks: Week 1 Results; Ron in NJ leads

Here's our Week 1 DITCOW Podcast Pick Results.

Ron in NJ: 3-1  (Got SDSU, Missouri, and Chargers.  Missed PIT -7)
Andy in Seattle: 2-2 (Got Lions and Eagles.  Missed SCAR and CSU)
Say Hello to Ottis: 2-2 (Got Missouri and Vikings.  Missed Bears and Ohio State)
John in CT: 1-3 (Got Titans.  Missed Bears, Mich. St., and Colorado)

So, after one week here are our standings.

Ron: 3-1
Andy: 2-2
Oat Man: 2-2
John: 1-3

Join us at 10:30pm ET for our next edition of Podcast Picks.  You'll find us on youtube.com/user/ditcow or at blogtalkradio.com/daveinthecity.

Mike Francesa's Week 1 NFL Pick Results: 0-3. Season total: 0-3

Well folks, "big" surprise here!   Mike Francesa went 0-3 in his Week 1 NFL picks.

Bears -7, nope.
Jets -5.5, nope.
Chiefs -4, nope!

WFAN's own not off to a stellar start so far.  Tune in this week to see how he rebounds.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mike Francesa's Football Picks: September 5th

In the league where they play………………………………..  for pay.

Mike Francesa's NFL Picks: Week 1

Bears -7
Chiefs -4
Jets -5.5

And, to keep him honest, we will keep a season total for Mike's picks and update you throughout the season.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The thing about brisket...

I've been making the rounds picking up takeout brisket here and there, and you know what always is my sticking point between great and mediocre barbecue?  It's as simple as this… two things I look for in a quality barbecued brisket:

1. Moisture… is is juicy is it succulent?  
2. Crust… do you get that smoky aroma from the meat?

I've had some great success at some spots and less success at others.   I know, this is California so anyone in Texas or North Carolina is going to laugh at all of this and tell me to go home.    Within the context of what we have though, we do have some pretty good choices for brisket, and some less impressive ones.

Again, nobody believes me, but the Brisket at Whole Foods Market is simply very good.  It's not done medium rare, but its very tender, and man… the smoker they use is tremendous!  you get that smoky flavoring all over the meat.  Like you put a piece in your mouth and the mesquite taste or whatever it is fills the mouth.   It's a great aroma!   It would undoubtedly not be the *best* Brisket in LA, but as a quick takeout item its just wonderful.  The catch is that you MUST eat it fresh.  If its been cut open and sitting around for 6 hours its just not going to be that good, and it'll come out very dry.  Watch for it… to play it safe, just go to a Whole Foods early in the day.  Maybe around 11am and I think it will be safe.

The BEST?  I think many people out here can tell you Bludso's BBQ in Compton, run by a fella from Texas, is the pinnacle of all barbecue in the southland.  Think I'm exaggerating?  Read the accounts of those who've tasted it all… guys from Texas who go there, and I think they all can attest it's as good as it gets for Los Angeles.

I remember a few years ago I drove back home from jury duty down in Inglewood, and I saw a car with a bumper sticker advertising Bludso's.  The next two years I wanted to find out more and more about the place, and ultimately I went to their website.  It was over in Compton, actually not too far south from the border where Compton meets Lynwood.   It wasn't until last fall when I went down to check it out for myself.   It was so good… simply phenomenal.  It took an awfully long time to get the food because it's a haul from where I live plus the demand for their meat is so high that you're waiting a while for it to cook.  I got the 30 dollar sampler combo and it was worth it.  In fact there was so much meat in it that I had food for nearly a week.  The deets of this experience are in a previous Daveblog, perhaps a google search will find it.  Anyway, the best brisket I've had come from this fine establishment.  

Second best goes to a sit-down place that is pretty darn good itself.  Baby Blues BBQ over in Venice.   I've had the brisket and while it costs quite a bit for what you get, the brisket is just wonderful.  Everything checked out… smoky flavor, texture, taste.  Boom, boom, boom, it all hit home.

So, I sought out some other choices and happened upon Smoke City Market in Van Nuys.  I had high hopes.. unfortunately, I think it fell flat.   The thing was, while we had no issue with the texture and moisture, I didn't get the taste.  There were signs there dissuading me from using barbecue sauce because the meat was said to be flavorful… but… I gotta say, it did not hit the flavor levels I expected.   It's a little disappointing, although the sides were pretty well done, meaning mac and cheese and cole slaw.

--best Mac and cheese there is comes from a place called Dulan's Soul Food back in Inglewood… ooh I dare you to find me one better!  So good, ok back to the action.

It's too bad.  My friend went to a place called Dr. Hogly Wogly's also in Van Nuys, not that far from where Smoke City is.  I'll have to travel up to see the difference in brisket.

Also on the agenda, I'd lie to return to Jim's Fallbrook Market, which to ME still has the best pork barbecue I've had period.  That's way in the valley, so far in that I'm near Ventura County, but as I travel that way I shall check it out.   The question for me is whether they do brisket, and if they do, I shall try it out.  Their smoker is amazing.  The flavor, unforgettable.  

You know, I just answered my own question.  I don't think they do brisket because they specialize in Tri Tip which is the same meat but done a little differently… meaning it's the leaner portion of the roast whereas brisket is the fattier composition.  Jim's forte is tri tip and pork ribs.   On we go!

So the quest for brisket continues!   It's an easier assignment than my Tri Tip adventure a few months ago, simply because I'm in a market that caters to Brisket eaters.  It's a much easier find by and large than Tri Tip.  Tri Tip is a specialty where I'm from in Ventura County and also from its birthplace along the Central Coast.  So in LA proper, Brisket dominates the landscape.   I'll keep updating you all on my Brisket runs as time allows.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DITCOW Podcast Picks - John, Andy, Ron, AND Ottis: September 3rd

Here are the podcast picks for our panelists as delivered on the @DITCOW podcast:

John in CT

Colorado -17.5
Mich. St +11.5

Bears -7 (vs BUF)
Titans +4 (at KC)

Andy in Seattle

South Carolina -16.5 vs ECU
Colorado State +10.5 at Boise St.

Eagles -11 vs JAX
Lions -6 vs NYG

Ron in NJ

SDSU +16.5
Missouri -3.5
Stanford -2.5*
VaTech +11 at Ohio State*

Steelers -7
Chargers +3

*bonus picks, which won't be counted towards the season standings.  I'll check with Ron to see which of the four college games he wants as his picks of record, so the picks that count are subject to change.

UPDATE: Ron has selected SDSU and Missouri as his official picks, w/ the Stanford and VaTech games as the bonus picks.

SECOND UPDATE (Sept. 5th): The OAT MAN has joined our pick'em pool!  Here are his podcast picks for this week.  We will post them just in time before the games start.

Say Hello to Ottis 

Ohio State -11
Missouri -3.5

Vikings +3.5
Bears -7

Good luck to all!

Dave's LOCKS of the Week: September 3rd

Two LOCKS this week that I *love*.  Take these for what they're worth in light of last week. 

I will add that I made three additional picks over the weekend which played out much better.  For Sunday and Monday, I chose Utah State +4 (@TEN), Baylor -34 (home), and Louisville -4.5 (home).   The last two hit but we won't count that towards our season total.   I'll play it smarter this week and go with only the most obvious choices.  Here are my two LOCKS for this week:

Michigan State +12.5 at Oregon.   When you talk about Oregon's ineptitude against physical teams, I would think, despite Michigan State losing a handful of defensive guys this year, you're looking at a matchup that would play out much closer than 12.5 points, even at Oregon.  Stanford showed us this formula time and time again against the Ducks, and Michigan State did one better than that beating Stanford at, in essence, its own game at the Rose Bowl.  For that argument alone, it's incredible to think Oregon is favored by that much.  Even without Denard covering passes, I like Michigan State to make it interesting.

That is, however, why they play the games.  Onward.

My second pick is me being a goober with Arizona State's terribly coached, terribly disciplined team. Todd Graham is a miserable in-game coach and I think, yet again, they're giving way too many points at New Mexico.   I can't speak to what specifically they have returning for '14, but this pick is more about ASU not being a clean enough team to build a 26 point lead on the road.  26 points!!  I grant you NM is not a great offense but that is a ton for a sloppy team like ASU.  New Mexico +26 at home.

Two picks this week:   Michigan State +12.5 and NM +26.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Trials of the Stomach

It has occurred to me that I cant eat as much as I used to without hitting the saturation "wall".  Now is that me getting older or is that all the swimming tightening up the walls of my stomach?   Prob just me getting older.  I should be thrilled!  Less work to satisfy my nutrition... but somehow I'm disappointed because my brain has so many ideas for tastes.