Friday, September 30, 2016

PIGSKIN 2016: Week Four

Week Four


Week Three Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  15-26-1
Schmear of the Week:  1-2
BAGELS in the Basket:  -15

Coin Toss:
  • Danny Amendola actually takes a snap from center for the Patriots.
1st and Ten:
  • The Furious Five - Patriots, Ravens, Broncos, Eagles, Vikings
2nd and Short:
  • Back in his second tour of duty with the Eagles, Doug Pederson has the entire NFL doing a double take.  The Eagles are 2nd in the NFL in points scored on offense, and have allowed the least points on defense.  What?
No Gain:
  • Out for the Season - Dez Bryant (DAL), Shane Vereen (NYG), JJ Watt (HOU)
  • The NFL extended Dallas' Randy Gregory's suspension for substance abuse to 14 games.  No season for you.
  • The New York Jets ... no really.  For better or worse, punter Lachlan Edwards will be the Jets MVP this Sunday.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Seahawks -2 1/2 (JETS)
Not because Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six INTs last week ... because the Jets are losing weapons in bunches.  Decker, Marshall, Forte ... all compromised.
WIN 27-17 Seahawks

COLTS -2 1/2 (Jaguars)
I really, really, want to pick the Jags.  But I'll give the Colts the benefit of the doubt coming off last week's victory over the Chargers.
Loss  30-27 Jaguars

D.C. HOGS -8 (Browns)
I'm laying the points and hoping for the best.
WIN 31-20 Hogs

PATRIOTS -6 (Bills)
What are you looking at me for?  I picked against them in the first two weeks and got burned.  I know they have yet more QB problems now.  The Bills should blow them out..!  Whatever...  BTW, Sammy Watkins is out for Buffalo.  Just saying.
Loss  16-0 Bills

Panthers -3 (FALCONS)
Even with their top receiver back in the fold, the Falcons (at home) are still not the Vikings.  Carolina will make that distinction very clear.
Loss  48-33 Falcons

BEARS +3 (Lions)
Picking against the Bears has been working for me.  Picking in favor of the Lions, not so much.   Detroit is still too banged up on defense.  Time to buck a trend.
WIN  17-14 Bears

TEXANS -5 (Titans)
I started the season down on the Texans even before JJ Watt's injury.  Can't quite put my finger on the reason why.   Last week's Titans loss to Oakland spoke volumes to me.
WIN  27-20 Texans

Raiders +3 1/2 (RAVENS)
It's time these birds lost their first game.
WIN  28-27 Raiders

Broncos -3 (BUCS)
Until the Broncos prove otherwise....
WIN  27-7 Broncos

Cowboys -2 (49ERS)
First Tony Romo ... now Dez Bryant.  Yet, I still say the Cowboys pull this one out.
WIN  24-17 Cowboys

CHARGERS -4 (Saints)
The Chargers need to hold on to a lead for a change.  The Saints will have to wait at least another week before achieving their first victory.
Loss  35-34 Saints

The Rams have done nothing but piss me off this season.  I'm not sure what happened to the Cards last week, but I'm anticipating a major rebound.
Loss  17-13 Rams

Chiefs +5 (STEELERS)
I'm still a little astonished by what the Eagles did to the Steelers last week.  Otherwise I like the Chiefs defense ... period.
Loss  43-14 Steelers

Seahawks -2 1/2

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday everybody!

Post Game
Week Four Record:  7-6
Overall Record:  22-32-1
Schmear of the Week:  2-2
BAGELS in the Basket:  -11

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WBC Qualifier: Team Israel completes sweep of Brooklyn tourney

Israel's victory over Great Britain this past Sunday officially concludes the Qualifying Round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Teams finishing last in their respective pools during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, along with 12 other qualifiers were grouped into four pools of four teams each.  The winner of each pool would advance, joining the 12 teams holding automatic bids in next year's tournament.

Qualifying Round: 

Qualifier #1 - February @ Australia
  • *AUSTRALIA - New Zealand - Philippines - South Africa
Qualifier #2 - March @ Mexico
  • *MEXICO - Czech Republic - Germany - Nicaragua 
Qualifier #3 - March @ Panama
  • *COLUMBIA - France - Panama - Spain
Qualifier #4 - September @ CONEY ISLAND, BROOKLYN
  • *ISRAEL - Brazil - Great Britain - Pakistan

World Baseball Classic
Australia - Mexico - Columbia - Israel
Canada - China - Chinese Taipei - Cuba
Dominican Republic - Italy - Japan - Korea
Netherlands - Puerto Rico - United States - Venezuela

Great Britain  1
Israel              9

They Came to Brooklyn ... They Saw ... They Conquered.

And just like that, Team Israel is heading to their first World Baseball Classic.

The more polished team of the pool, Israel swept the field while outscoring their opponents by a 15-3 margin over three games.

After turning back Great Britain 5-2 in Thursday's opener at MCU Park in Brooklyn, Brazil and Israel engaged in a brilliant pitching duel on Friday, limiting one another to just three hits all game.   Gaining a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Israel made it hold up for their second victory.

Meanwhile, Great Britain successfully negotiated the loser's bracket to gain a rematch against Israel in Sunday's finale.

After pitching three innings on Thursday, Jason Marquis made his second start on short rest, and was opposed by Great Britain's Spencer Kreisberg.

Jason Marquis delivers first pitch.

The two exchanged zeroes through the first four innings.  Jason Marquis allowed no hits and no walks, and fanned five before yielding to the bullpen.  Kreisberg similarly threw four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and three walks.  He received a quick hook in the fifth after allowing a lead-off single to Israel shortstop Scott Burcham.

In came reliever Al Knowles, whom was promptly greeted by center fielder Blake Galen's high arching home run to right.  Then after walking right fielder and lead-off hitter Zach Borenstein, Great Britain replaced Knowles with reliever Rei Martinez.  Next up, Israel catcher Ryan Lavarnway wasted no time introducing himself with a majestic home run to left, giving Team Israel a sudden 4-0 lead.

Blake Galen (left) and Ryan Lavarnway (right) round the bases in the fifth inning
after hitting a pair of two run home runs.

Zach Borenstein's triple in the sixth inning further extended their lead to 5-0 over Great Britain.  Then with two outs in the seventh, Cody Decker's home run to left made it a 6-0 lead.

Cody Decker hits Israel's third home run of the game

All the while, Great Britain was being no-hit through seven full innings of play.

That finally changed with two outs in the eighth, when Albert Cartwright singled to right field.  Great Britain would not only break up Israel's bid for a no-hitter, but they would go on to ruin the shut out as well when designated hitter Chavez Young's RBI single finally put Great Britain on the board.

By the bottom of the eighth, however, the rout was on.  Three more runs ensured Israel a 9-1 victory, and a berth in next year's World Baseball Classic.

Final play ... Israel wins.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Atlantic League: Ducks Migrating to Texas for Championship Series Opener

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Long Island Ducks
Sugar Land Skeeters
The Lone Star State

Long Island Ducks: Flock overcome two game deficit with three straight victories at Bethpage Ballpark; eliminate former champion Somerset Patriots to capture Liberty Division crown.

Sunday's game marked the year's 25th clash between the Long Island Ducks and Somerset Patriots.

The league's two most successful franchises split their regular season series right down the middle with ten victories apiece.  Entering Game Five of the Liberty Divison series, the playoffs had played out no differently with the Patriots sweeping two games in Bridgewater, New Jersey, then with the Ducks regrouping and taking games Three and Four at Bethpage Ballpark.

In other words, through five months worth of regular and post-season baseball, nothing had really changed.

But there sat Long Island's 500 lbs. gorilla in the locker room still pointing to last year's Game Five whitewash at the hands of these very same Somerset Patriots.

As if Long Islanders need reminding ... Somerset captured last year's Liberty Division title with a 4-0 shutout in Game Five over John Brownell and the Ducks en route to winning their sixth Atlantic League championship.

The disappointment no doubt remained fresh on the minds of many of these Long Island Ducks, but perhaps none more so than John Brownell who pitched poorly that day, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings pitched, from which the Ducks could not recover.

One year later, John Brownell and the Flock gain sweet redemption.  The Ducks completed their unlikely comeback ... all the way back ... winning Game Five and capturing the Liberty Division crown with a 5-1 victory over the Patriots.

First-Half Champions
Liberty Division Champions
Ducks win series over Patriots 3-2
I - SOM 3; LID 2*
II - SOM 10; LID 0
III - LID 7; SOM 1
IV - LID 2; SOM 0
V - LID 5; SOM 2
*11 innings

John Brownell, the Ducks' all time ace, pitched 5.2 masterful innings during Sunday's series finale, retiring the first 12 Somerset batters he faced.  He surrendered a lone run in the fifth, otherwise allowed just three hits, no walks, and fanned two batters before exiting on the winning side.

Coach Baez then handed the ball off to the bullpen, whom continued pitching 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing a pair of hits and a walk, while fanning six batters to close out the victory.

Long Island jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.  Eight Ducks hitters stepped in against Patriots starter Will Oliver, immediately turning Somerset score keeper pages into scribble.  Many little details needed squeezing into those little boxes:
  • a lead-off single, a catcher's interference, a fielder's choice, two wild pitches, a double, a strikeout, yet another wild pitch, another double, and one last base hit all led to Somerset's early deficit.

Will Oliver's control failed him again in the second, as Anthony Vega scored on yet another wild pitch, giving the Ducks a 5-0 lead.

Somerset finally scored off John Brownell in the fifth, on second baseman Eric Farris' sacrifice fly to center scoring first baseman Bryan LaHair, but managed little else.

Long Island now faces the Freedom Division champion Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League championship series


Games One and Two will be played at Sugar Land, while games Three through Five (if necessary) are to be played at Bethpage Ballpark.

Sugar Land captured the second-half Freedom Division pennant with a 39-31 record, two games ahead of the first half champion York Revolution, whom in turn were then swept in the Freedom Division final by Sugar Land.

The Skeeters finished the regular season with an overall 74-66 record.  Now in their fifth year of existence, they'll be making their second Atlantic League finals appearance.  They first advanced in 2014, but were swept by the Lancaster Barnstormers.

Long Island concluded their regular season with a 72-68 record - the worst of the final four.  They are nevertheless attempting to win their fourth league title, and their first since capturing back-to-back titles during the 2012-13 seasons.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

World Baseball Classic Qualifier: Brazil Eliminated After Costly Base Running Gaffe

World Baseball Classic Qualifier

Brazil              3
Great Britain   4

The looks on the faces of hitting coach Steve Finley and manager Barry Larkin said it all.

Prior to the ninth inning, Brazil had spent their time stranding 11 runners on base, and going just 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, Brazil promptly surrendered it, allowing three runs in the bottom of the frame to Great Britain.

In the bottom of the seventh, Brazil allowed a key insurance run, as Kyle Simmons' RBI single put Great Britain ahead by a 4-2 margin.

Brazil picked up a run in the top of the eighth off Britain reliever Chris Reed, setting up what would become a ponderous finish.

With Brazil trailing 4-3 in the ninth, designated hitter Juan Carlos Muniz lined a two out double to center, putting the tying run in scoring position.  After a pitching change by Great Britain, and with Brazil's number six batter first baseman Reinaldo Sato at the plate, Muniz inexplicably took off for third base on an 0-2 pitch to the plate.  He was easily thrown out by Great Britain backstop Chris Berset by a wide margin.

Game over.

Juan Carlos Muniz is 39 years old, born in 1976, which is to say he's no stranger to baseball.  One can only guess as to what he was thinking.  Perhaps Barry Larkin, and coaches Steve Finley and LeTroy Hawkins may prefer not to know.  In any event, this is a devastating way for Barry Larkin's squad to go down.

With a 2-1 record, Great Britain will face Israel (2-0) Sunday evening to decide the final participant in next year's fourth ever World Baseball Classic.

In a very entertaining contest, Israel defeated Great Britain in Thursday's tourney opener by a 5-2 margin.

Thank you for the baseball, Team Brazil


L.I. Ducks: Jarret Leverett's Gem Forces Game Five

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Series tied 2-2
I - SOM 3; LID 2*
II - SOM 10; LID 0
III - LID 7; SOM 1
IV - LID 2; SOM 0
*11 innings

Somerset Patriots
Long Island Ducks

Long Island Ducks: Flock win second straight; force decisive Game Five Sunday at Bethpage Ballpark.

Home is where the wins are.

Long Island and Somerset have now won two game apiece on their home grounds.  The resurgent Ducks hope to continue putting their home field advantage to work on Sunday during the fifth and deciding game of the Liberty Division series from Bethpage Ballpark.

On Saturday, Ducks starter Jarret Leverett made a decisive Game Five possible by allowing six scattered hits over six scoreless innings, issuing one walk and fanning five batters to gain a do-or-die victory for Long Island.  He faced 28 batters, and threw 98 pitches with 67 going for strikes.

Relievers Amalio Diaz and Todd Coffey pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to close out Long Island's 2-0 victory.

First baseman Tyler Colvin led off the bottom of the third with a double to left off Patriots starter Shaun Garceau.  With one out, left fielder Anthony Vega connected off Garceau for a two run home run.

Otherwise, Shaun Garceau limited the Ducks to only four hits.  Somerset, on the other hand, stroked eight hits off Ducks pitching which yielded no runs.

Pitchers John Brownell and Will Oliver are tentatively scheduled to start Sunday's game on four days rest.  Each earned no-decisions for their efforts during Game One in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

The Ducks and Patriots have now played 24 combined regular season and playoffs games this season, with both winning 12 games apiece.

Game Five ... here we go again

John Brownell also started last year's Liberty Division series finale, but only lasted 4.2 innings before receiving the hook.  He allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk, with just two strikeouts in taking the loss.  Roy Merritt pitched a complete game for the Patriots, limiting the Ducks to just four hits and a walk, while fanning three for the clinching victory.

The Ducks and Patriots split the first two games of that Liberty Division series at Bethpage Ballpark.
Long Island then took a 2-1 series lead in Game Three at TD Bank Ballpark.  The Patriots, however, stormed back in games Four and Five, turning back the Ducks in back-to-back shutout performances and advancing to the championship series.

In the championship series, Somerset bowed in Game One to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, then rolled to three consecutive victories and capturing their sixth Atlantic League championship.

The Patriots and Long Island Ducks are the league's two most successful franchises.  As such, they have now played 24 combined regular season and playoffs games this season, with both winning 12 games apiece.

N.Y. Giants: Revamped Defense Seeking to Establish a Trend

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Reese's Defensive Pieces Making Him Look Smart ... Again

New York Football Giants: Revamped defense must validate last week's strong peformance against the Saints with an even stronger effort against Kirk Cousins and division rival Washington.

The Giants enter this year's first clash against Washington undefeated, while the Hogs are still seeking their first victory.

That makes Washington a desperate team, in turn giving this superstitious fan enough reason to believe things can go completely wrong Sunday ... if only just because.

My anxieties aside, Week Three is about legitimizing two weeks of play ... or not.

The defense has played well, and is improved from one game to the next.  In Week Three, they'll either take another promising step forward, or experience their first real setback.  Which will it be?

Since actions speak louder than words, this year's defensive performance so far reflects very well upon Jerry Reese's off-season improvements - a small sample size, but nonetheless.

Big Blue allowed the Cowboys 328 net yards in Week One, but held them to under 20 points.

They followed with a rather impressive Week Three effort against New Orleans, holding them
to 13 points and 288 total net yards.  Brees was limited to just 263 yards on 44 attempts, was sacked twice, and hit on six other occasions.  That in itself was an accomplishment, considering Brees threw for 505 yards against last season's inferior defense.  A good New Orleans running game was additionally held to just 41 yards rushing.

After two weeks, the total splits reflect nicely, and the dividends even more so for Jerry Reese.  The Giants have allowed a total of 31 points and 616 net yards, which averages to 15 points and 308 yards per game (only 71 yards per game on the ground).

All we can ask now is for them to keep improving.

There's a saying - once is an occurrence, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend.  And so we'll see if the defense can establish a pattern, and perhaps even create a defensive identity, again.

They'll be up against Kirk Cousins, whom scuttlebutt says is not the most loved member among his D.C. team mates.  If the Giants continue bottling up the run as they've been, Kirk Cousins will be forced to put the ball in the air perhaps more than Washington is comfortable with.

With the defensive line playing well so far, look for them to force up many 50/50 balls.  That's where Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rogers Cromartie, and Eli Apple come in.


The Giants enter Sunday with a 1-0 division record.  If history has taught us anything, it's that they must continue gaining every division advantage possible over their arguably weaker division rivals, or be haunted by potential failures later in the season.

Last season, the Giants defeated the Hogs 32-21 in Week #3 at home, then fell 20-14 in Week #12 at Washington.

I like the match-ups, and if the Giants play smartly, they should end the day 3-0 and in firm control of the NFC East.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

World Baseball Classic Qualifier: Day Two Recap


Friday's WBC qualifier games ranged from classic pitching duel to all out romp.  Israel was home team in the early game versus Brazil, while Pakistan played host to Great Britain in the nightcap.

Brazil   0
Israel    1

Israel starter Corey Baker exited on the winning side of a 1-0 game after five strong innings of work, in which he allowed just one hit and three walks, and fanned five.  Baker faced 19 batters, and threw 85 pitches with 52 going for strikes.

Four members of the Israeli bullpen combined on the remaining four innings, allowing no runs, two hits and two walks, while fanning six.  Brad Goldberg pitched the ninth inning for the save.

Brazil, likewise pitched superbly.  Starter Bo Takahashi pitched well, allowing a lone run on just two hits and a walk, with five strikeouts over four innings of work.  The bullpen followed up with four scoreless innings of one hit baseball.

Israel scored the lone run of the game in the fourth inning.  Designated hitter Nate Freiman led off with a double, then advanced to third when Ike Davis reached on an E4.  With runners on the corners and no outs, third baseman Cody Decker's sacrifice fly to center soon plated Freiman.

The victory, Israel's second, punched their ticket to Sunday's final game.

Great Britain 14
Pakistan          0

For a second time in this qualifier, new team on the block Pakistan bowed in abbreviated fashion.

On Friday, they managed a 4-0 deficit through the first four innings of play.  But Great Britain blew the doors open with six runs in the fifth, and another three runs in the sixth.  When they tacked on yet another run in the top of the seventh, play was called (mercy rule).

Pakistan previously suffered a seven inning 10-0 defeat in Thursday's opening game against Team Brasil.

Pakistan is eliminated after being outscored 24-0 in just 14 innings of play.  These games however, should rightfully be viewed as a small step for Team Pakistan, and one giant leap for Pakistani baseball.

To the victor ... the spoils.

Great Britain center fielder and lead-off hitter Champ Stuart went 3 for 4 with three RBI.  Second baseman Albert Cartwright was 2 for 2 with a walk, three runs scored, and two RBI.

Starter Greg Hendrix tossed the first four innings, allowing a hit, and fanning three.  Three relievers contributed an inning apiece in closing out Great Britain's first victory of the tourney.

WBC Qualifier Semi-Final

Great Britain
Coney Island, Brooklyn

L.I. Ducks: The Flock Strike Back

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Patriots lead series 2-1
I - SOM 3; LID 2*
II- SOM 10; LID 0
III - LID 7; SOM 1
IV- @ Long Island

Somerset Patriots
Long Island Ducks
Central Islip, L.I.

Long Island Ducks: Pond Sweet Pond; Flock Stave Off Elimination with 7-1 Victory in Game Three.

With pitcher Nick Struck providing the Ducks a much needed proverbial shot in the arm, Long Island was able to stave off elimination, and force Saturday evening's Game Four at Bethpage Ballpark.

They say necessity is the mother of all invention...

Long Island's starting rotation suffered a series of major blows back in July when the contracts of Mark Blackmar, Jack Snodgrass, Darin Downs, and Jim Kern were all purchased away.  Nick Struck, therefore, was transitioned out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation by Aug. 9, when he pitched five innings in a winning effort against Somerset.  In nine regular season starts, Struck went 4-3 with 2.50 ERA, allowing 15 runs, 48 hits, and 19 walks, with 43 strikeouts over 54 innings pitched.

Friday evening in Game Three, Struck limited the Patriots to one run on just four hits and two walks, while fanning three batters for the must-have victory.  In facing 25 batters, he threw 95 pitches with 63 going for strikes.

Reliever Amalio Diaz struck out the side in the eighth inning, and Todd Coffey closed out Long Island's first victory of the series with a scoreless ninth.

Playing without top slugger David Vidal, Somerset's lone run of the game came in the seventh inning on a lead-off home run by Bryan LaHair.  Nick Struck then retired the next three batters to complete his final inning of work.

Ducks batters, however, struck for seven runs on 12 hits off Somerset starter Alexis Candelario and reliever Randy Boone.  Both Lew Ford and Tyler Colvin went yard.  Fehlandt Lentini went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI, while Long Island's four, five and six hitters combined on 6 for 12, with three runs scored and three RBI.

Starter Jarret Leverett will tow the rubber for Long Island at Bethpage Ballpark in Game Four, and will be opposed by the familiar Shaun Garceau for Somerset.
  • Southpaw Jarret Leverett was acquired from the New Britain Bees, and finally shipped over on Aug. 28 to complete an earlier trade.  He squeezed in four regular season starts for the Ducks, going 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA, allowing 11 runs on 23 hits, with 18 strikeouts over 22 innings pitched.  In 28 appearances and ten starts for the Bees, Jarret compiled a 4-7 record and 3.55 ERA, with 68 strikeouts over 93.2 innings pitched.  
  • The Patriots acquired Shaun Garceau from the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs early in the season.  He made 25 combined appearances and 24 starts this season, including 19 for Somerset.  Shaun went 4-6 in the regular season with a 4.97 ERA.  He allowed 128 hits and fanned 74 batters over 132.2 innings pitched.


After winning the first two games of the Freedom Division finals in Sugar Land, the Skeeters completed their three game sweep of the Revolution on Friday with an 8-6 victory in York.  Sugar Land returns to the Atlantic League finals for a second time.  They were swept by the Lancaster Barnstormers in the 2014 finals.

PIGSKIN 2016: Week Three


Week Three


Week Two Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  10-17-1
Schmear of the Week:  1-1
BAGELS in the Basket:  -8

Coin Flip:
  • Loading up on Hate-O-Rade ... Who throws the first punch, (NYG) Odell Beckham Jr., or (D.C.) Josh Norman?
1st and Ten:
  • Denver Broncos?  No Peyton Manning?  No problem.
2nd and Short:
  • The Patriots have already gone through two back-ups.  Danny Amendola is warming up in the bullpen.
No Gain:
  • So much for seizing the moment.  The AFC East might as well hand the New England Patriots the division flag.  Team Belichick is now 3-0 without Tom Brady.  The Jets can only hope to stay close in the standings this Sunday against Kansas City.

Week Three
Friday Line ~ NYDN

GIANTS -4 (d.c. hogs)
Homer Alert!!  Outside of anticipating a continuation of last week's defensive effort, you'll be getting no objectivity from me ... not today.  Sorry.  Otherwise, my overwhelming sentiment is just get this done!
ICYMI: Revamped defense Seeking to Establish a Trend 
ICYMI: Coach McAdoo Earns Game Ball for Week Two
Loss  29-27 Hogs

CHIEFS -3 (Jets)
Week Three is what I call the Sunday of corrective pigskin.  By now, every team has fingerprint files on the opposition piled six feet high (I just dated myself).  In any event, that means teams are starting to get stuff figured out.  Three or four of my picks are based on this thinking.  With regards to the Jets, Kansas City will no doubt attempt to negate Matt Forte first, then >>> !!make!! <<<<  Ryan Fitzpatrick put the ball in the air.
WIN  24-3 Chiefs

Broncos +3 (BENGALS)
Fresh meat!!!  The only way the Bengals will be able to protect their quarterback is with a restraining order.  Andy Dalton's body already feels like it's Week Twelve.  Don't expect much out of the Bengals this week ... not against the Broncos defense.
WIN  29-17 Broncos

TITANS -1 1/2 (Raiders)
I like the Raiders this season.  But this will be one of those corrective games, as if to say don't get too high on them just yet.  There's plenty of room (in the spread) for the Titans to make mistakes, and still cover comfortably.
Loss  17-10 Raiders

Cardinals -4 (BILLS)
The wounded Buffalo is now in critical condition.  Rex Ryan's brother is on board.  In plain English, that spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.   Just ask Dallas and New Orleans.
Loss  33-18 Bills

Ravens -1 (JAGUARS)
Baltimore is the weakest 2-0 team on the planet.  Meanwhile, Jacksonville just might be the most promising 0-2 team on the board.  I'm just not willing to say the Jags win this game outright.  See the Raiders ... sometimes you gotta pay your dues.
WIN  19-17 Ravens

DOLPHINS -9 1/2 (Browns)
After games against the Seahawks and Patriots, there's enough going on with Miami to warrant such a line.  They're a true hard luck 0-2 team.  The Browns on the other hand, are just soooooo inconsequential.  In fact, they should be made to pay an NFL retention fee to the other 29 owners just for keeping them around.  RG3 leads a long list of Cleveland injuries, and wounded fans.
Loss  30-24 Dolphins  o.t.

Lions +5 1/2 (PACKERS)
The Lions haven't exactly fallen off a cliff in the post Megatron era.  But this is definitely called striking while the iron is hot.  The Packers do not have their act together ... yet.
Loss  34-27 Packers

PANTHERS -7 (Vikings)
Another half point on this game would make life much easier.  I like Minnesota's chances of keeping this close.  And even though Adrian Peterson hasn't been running like Adrian Peterson, the opposition still had to plan for him.  Carolina doesn't have that problem this week.  They can focus on getting after whats-his-face.
Loss  22-10 Vikings

SEAHAWKS -9 1/2 (Niners)
This is the opposite of Raiders and Ravens.  Even without a running game, this will be Seattle's way of reminding everyone they're the Seahawks.  The Niners will be exposed as a bad team.
WIN  37-18 Seahawks

BUCS -5 (Rams)
Turnovers ... if Tampa limits them, they have the best shot.  Speaking of shots, Tampa's tight end was fired from the team after his recent DUI arrest, making this is my flakiest selection of the lot.
Loss  37-32 Rams

Steelers -3 1/2 (EAGLES)
I'm ready for some good 'ol Pennsylvania on Pennsylvania crime.  I am so rolling with the Steelers.   There's something about this line, though, that screams too good to be true.
Loss  34-3 Eagles

Chargers +3 (COLTS)
Bad Luck ... I'm strictly throwing San Diego a bone here.  But I'm getting sick and tired of throwing them bones these last three years.  This is the last time.  I swear.
Loss  26-24 Colts

COWBOYS -7 (Bears)
Even without Tony Romo, Dallas will own a preponderance of talent when both teams take the field Sunday.  This is the one game that wreaks of PUSH.  Can't trus it.
WIN  31-17 Cowboys

Schmear of the Week: 1-1
Cardinals -4

Guten Appetit
The last days of the backyard harvest ... basil, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, etc., so I'm making use of what my dirt provides.
  • Morning - using peppers and tomatoes in omelettes.
  • Day - pre roast, and stuff remaining green peppers with diced chicken, tomato, onions, rice, a little sauce, topped with provolone, bake and broil to finish.  Still plenty of tomatoes for Italian bread pizza (bruschetta, basil, garlic, fresh mozzarella, sprinkles of parmesan), and of course a big mixed salad w/tomato and cucumbers.  
  • Next week I pickle whatever green tomatoes remain for the winter months.

Good luck, and have a great Football Sunday everyone!

Post Game
Week Three Record:  5-9
Overall Record:  15-26-1
Schmear of the Week:  1-2
BAGELS in the Basket:  -15

Friday, September 23, 2016

The World Comes to Brooklyn: WBC Qualifier; Israel vs. Great Britain

Great Britain  ~  Israel

Pre-Game Introductions
Traditional Exchanging of Caps

Israel Starting Pitcher Jason Marquis Delivers First Pitch to Great Britain

Todd Isaacs RBI single in the top of the second put Great Britain ahead.
Cody Decker promptly doubled leading off the bottom half of the frame for Israel, and would soon score, tying the game at one (pictured above) on Rhett Wiseman's fielder's choice to first base.

Former Met Josh Satin bats for Israel

Champ Stuart led off Great Britain's top half of the seventh with a double to center, then scored on a one out sacrifice fly to right by Todd Isaacs.  But Israel answered right back again in the bottom half of the frame.  Rhett Wiseman led off with a single, and advanced to third on Scott Burcham's double to left.  Wiseman then scored on Mike Meyers' sac fly to left.  RBI singles by Zach Borenstein and former Met Ike Davis, and an RBI sac fly by Cody Decker lifted Israel to a 5-2 advantage, 
and their final margin of victory.

Great Britain   2
Israel               5