Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Loser Picking the Winners, Week 12

Turkey Day Edition
Since there will be the traditional Thanksgiving Day games in Detroit and Dallas, I've moved up the weekly picks to today. But before talking further about my unheralded midseason turnaround, here's a couple of thoughts:

The Steelers don't play until Sunday, but it's already been quite a week for Ben Roethlisberger. First they unveil the "Big Ben" t-shirts that sold out faster than Mark Madden can inhale a box of donuts, and last night Roethlisberger appeared on David Letterman. Now it looks like the only thing left to do is to make a guest appearance on Gilligan's Island a la the Harlem Globetrotters (I have this weird visual of Cowher as the skipper, Plax as the professor, Casey Hampton as Thurston Howell III, and of course, Roethlisberger as Gilligan; to finish out the cast, Ray Lewis is Ginger and Kyle Boller is Mary Ann).

And what's the deal with the Big Ben t-shirts anyway? It looks like one of those airbrushed deals you get at the county fair, but instead of it being a self portrait of you in front of a Ferris wheel and a bale of hay (or whatever your favorite county fair motif might be), in the foreground is the Pittsburgh skyline, the actual "Big Ben" clock tower and the words "Big Ben," while in the background is "Big Ben" the person.

If on the busy-shirt scale from 1 to 10 the Houston Astros uniforms from the 1970's were a 10, this has to be a 35. There should be a warning on the shirt that reads: "prolonged viewing from close range will result in nausea, severe headaches and possibly blackouts." OK, maybe I'm overstating it a bit, but it's still a goofy shirt. Which reminds me, why does MLB license t-shirts with players' names on them while the NFL for the most part, does not? If you want a Troy Polamalu t-shirt you have to make your wife sew the letters on for you (um, I'm speaking hypothetically of course; I don't know of any grown man so engrossed in sports that he would ask his wife to make him a shirt with the name of his favorite player on the back -- what a sad sack that guy would have to be).

I mentioned that Roethlisberger was on Letterman last night, but since when did Wheel of Fortune start asking athletes to appear on their show? Roethlisberger had to decline an invitation to kick it with Pat Sajak and Vanna White because they tape the show in L.A., but I suspect he would have declined if they taped it at the Steelers practice facility, but who knows, maybe he's a Wheel Watcher.

Now I have to admit, I haven't watched Wheel (the ardent game show nerds just call it Wheel, and I always like trying to fit in with that crowd) in a long time, so maybe they've changed the format to appeal to a younger audience. That said, of all the game shows to go on and still come out with any of your street cred intact, Wheel of Fortune might be last on the list. Not only is there no cool way to spin the wheel, you also have to be able to spell and have some knowledge of geography, people and places, and dopey phrases that only your grandparents would use. I'm not convinced everyone in the NFL can (a) spell, or (b) has a firm grasp of phraseology that was popular at the turn of the 20th century.

In terms of keeping all of your street cred while appearing on a game show (and I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who has never been mistaken for having anything approaching street cred -- and that might explain my choice of shows), Press Your Luck might be the way to go. It's pretty innocuous in that you don't have to spell, learn, recite, or memorize anything -- all you have to be able to do is hit a buzzer and yell Stop! Plus, shows like Hollywood Squares and Family Feud are the last bastion of entertainers trying to revitalize failed careers -- not a place to show your mug if you're actually still in the limelight. Under no circumstances should athletes go on shows like Jeopardy or Millionaire because more bad than good can happen. You don't want to be remembered as "the dumb athlete who got negative $50,000 on Jeopardy," or "the semi-retarded jock who missed the $100 question on Millionaire" (there should be one caveat however; you can go on these shows only if you (a) know that the other contestants are also athletes, and are certain they are dumber than you, or (b) get the answers to the questions -- or the questions to the answers if you're playing Jeopardy -- in advance).

This concludes the advice portion of this post. I encourage you to take it for what it's worth.

OK, now finished dispensing useless anecdotes, on to the picks...

Last week I was 11-5 and only by the grace of God am I again above .500. I see that for the second week in a row the Redskins are double-digit underdogs. This time it's the Steelers, but I'm not sure the results will be much different than last week -- despite a bunch of injuries for Pittsburgh. The Eagles stacked the line of scrimmage, held Portis to under 40 rushing yards and forced Patrick Ramsey to beat them deep. The result? Ramsey's longest completion was for 15 yards (of course Joe Gibbs called about 25 WR screens, so I'm sure that didn't help either), and the Eagles won in a blowout. Staley may be back this week, but even if he's not, the Steelers will pound the ball on the ground, eat up clock and try to wear the Redskins' defense down. Plus, if they can get the Bus 400 yards next week, he'll move into 4th place on the all-time rushing list. Just something to think about.

Here are the picks:
Season: 80 - 76 - 4
Last week: 11 - 5
Earnings to date: - $360

Week 1 picks Week 10 picks
Week 2 picks Week 11 picks
Week 3 picks
Week 4 picks
Week 5 picks
Week 6 picks
Week 7 picks
Week 8 picks
Week 9 picks