Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year 2008!

I just wanted to wish each and every one of you a very, safe and Happy New Year 2008! 2007's been a great year, but 2008 promises to be even better!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hail To The Redskins!

Four weeks ago, did anyone really give the Washington Redskins a chance at making the playoffs? After the tragic loss of Sean Taylor and a tough 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills the following Sunday, the Redskins were left with a 5-7 record and with little hope of making the playoffs. A hard fought 24-16 Thursday night win against the Chicago Bears got them to 6-7 and still with faint hopes of playing into 2008... A week later, a very convicing 22-10 win in New Jersey against Eli Manning and the Giants got them to .500. Then came a dominating 32-21 effort last weekend in Minnesota against a Viking team that had won five straight games... At 8-7 and going into the final week of the regular season, the Redskins suddenly controlled their own playoff destiny. All that was needed to secure the #2 NFC Wild Card spot was a win against the Dallas Cowboys at home on Sunday.

The Redskins not only rose to the occasion they simply CONTROLLED every phase of the game, holding QB Tony Romo in check and rendered the Cowboys ground game useless as they could only manage a franchise record low of one yard rushing as a team in a 27-6 Redskins rout.

On the offensive side, Clinton Portis contined to carry the memory of his slain friend with him, wearing a Sean Taylor shirt under his jersey. Portis rumbled for 104 yards and two scores on 25 carries. Santana Moss also had a huge game receiving, catching eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Todd Collins was again a steadying force at quarterback, completing 22 of 31 passes for 244 yards. In four games now, Collins has completed 67 of 105 passes for 888 yards and five touchdowns, most importantly without throwing an interception.

Inspired and unified. I think those two words probably best describe this Redskins team. After making that huge mistake by calling back to back timeouts to ice the Bills kicker and turning a 51 yard field goal attempt into a the game-winning 36 yarder, coach Joe Gibbs has proven to be a resilient and steadying voice and force.

Ironically, the Redskins will now face the team that I've probably picked on more than any other in this blog in 2007: the Seattle Seahawks. Since winning their week one matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seahawks failed to defeat another team with a winning record this season. More than anything, the Seahawks are a team in search of an identity. Coming into the season, people took them as a "run first, pass second" team with a good defense... With running back Shawn Alexander suffering through an injury plagued season, the Seahawk running game has been virtually non-existant. QB Matt Hasselback has ignited the offense at times, but more often than not, that offense has sputtered. Yes, the Seahawks are 10-6 and have the home field advantage for the Saturday afternoon game, but the Redskins are the team with all of the momentum, and right now there is not a team playing better football in the NFC... Are you excited, well I certainly am! Go Skins!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Patriots Complete 16-0 Perfect Season

The New England Patriots made NFL history tonight becoming the 2nd team ever to go through a season undefeated with a 38-35 win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands in New Jersey tonight. Tom Brady also tossed his 50th touchdown pass of the year and Randy Moss caught his 23rd TD pass. Both set new NFL records. Congrats to the Patriots on their amazing 2007 season!


UCLA Names Neuheisel Coach!

The UCLA Bruins football team finally have named a replacement to Karl Dorrell, and to those of us who have followed Bruin football for a very long time like me, the name is a very familiar one. Rick Neuheisel is coming back to his alma-mater! Neuheisel quarterbacked the Bruins and led them to a 1984 Rose Bowl victory over Illinois. He also had successful coaching stints at Washington and Colorado before working the past three years as an assistant coach for the Baltimore Ravens.

Here's hoping that Rick can lead the Bruins to some better finishes in the coming years and lots of wins over those rival USC Trojans!


Friday, December 28, 2007

I Win Again!

Well, the week was a very busy one and I capped it off with my now monthly or so get-together at the Stornetta's home for a friendly game of Texas Hold 'Em poker... Five of us played for a little more than four hours and once again I came out on top! Is it just coincidence that I've been doing better now ever since my friend Dave Dixon moved to Thailand? I don't know, but whatever it is, it sure is nice to win even if the stakes aren't all that high. And of course the camraderie and friendship along with the friendly joking and ribbing never get old!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

R.I.P. Stu Nahan

The sports world lost one of it's great sportscasters yesterday in Stu Nahan. He passed away of cancer at the age of 81. Stu worked for many years in the same NBC Studios in Burbank that my late father did. As a youngster, I still always remember looking forward to the local news segment on Channel 4 and Stu's sportscasts around 5:20-ish every evening. Stu was someone who the athletes always looked forward to talking to, and his of humor even made the tightest of athletes want to open up.

Stu was not only a local icon, he was very well known nationwide. Stu appeared in over 30 movies including the 80's classic movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High. He was also the play-by-play announcer in all six Rocky films.

Memorial services for Stu are pending. He leaves behind his wife, three children and five grandchildren.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Week 16 NFL Rankings

The New England Patriots "only" beat on the Miami Dolphins 28-7 last week (no, they didn't cover that 22 point spread)... as it marked the biggest battle in terms of disparity of records in NFL history. Next Saturday, the Patriots try to become the second team in NFL history to through a regular season undefeated as they take on the New York Giants. The Giants are already locked into the playoffs as the #1 Wild Card in the NFC and basically have nothing to play for.

The other NFC Wild card spot is still up for grabs, but the Washington Redskins took a HUGE step towards securing that spot with a 32-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings on the road on Sunday night. The win was their third straight and got them back into the top 10 of my rankings. The Redskins face a Dallas Cowboys team this Sunday who has nothing to play for as they have the #1 seed in the NFC all locked up.

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (15-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (13-2)
3.(4) Dallas Cowboys (13-2)
4.(5) Jacksonville Jaguars (11-4)
5.(6) San Diego Chargers (10-5)
6.(3) Green Bay Packers (12-3)
7.(8) Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)
8.(7) Cleveland Browns (9-6)
9.(13) Washington Redskins (8-7)
10.(9) New York Giants (10-5)
11.(10) Tennessee Titans (9-6)
12.(12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)
13.(15) Seattle Seahawks (10-5)
14.(11) Minnesota Vikings (8-7)
15.(14) Buffalo Bills (7-8)
16.(18) Philadelphia Eagles (7-8)
17.(16) New Orleans Saints (7-8)
18.(17) Houston Texans (7-8)
19.(19) Arizona Cardinals (7-8)
20.(21) Chicago Bears (6-9)
21.(22) Cincinnati Bengals (6-9)
22.(20) Carolina Panthers (6-9)
23.(23) Denver Broncos (6-9)
24.(24) Detroit Lions (6-9)
25.(28) San Francisco 49ers (5-10)
26.(25) St. Louis Rams (3-12)
27.(27) Kansas City Chiefs (4-11)
28.(26) Oakland Raiders (4-11)
29.(29) New York Jets (3-12)
30.(30) Atlanta Falcons (3-12)
31.(31) Baltimore Ravens (4-11)
32.(32) Miami Dolphins (1-14)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Here's to wishing everyone a very safe and Merry Christmas. I will be off to my brother's place in a bit with my sister and brother-in-law just as soon as my morning coffee kicks in.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cash from CBS!

I knew I was going to be getting my cash prize for winning one of the three CBS Sportsline fantasy baseball leagues I competed in this year in the mail soon. Well, I just got today's mail and lo and behold there was my $600 check for winning the one league! And gosh, if Jake Peavy had managed to pitch just decently that final game of the regular season, well I could have won or tied for first in a second league... So close... but hey, I more than doubled my investment so I'm not complaining! Winning cash is so much better than winning t-shirts. Yes, I have a closet full of ESPN t-shirts from the fantasy baseball championships I've won over the years... next year I look forward to competing in even more CBS Sportsline leagues and winning a heck of a lot more CA$H MONEY!!!


As The BCS Ball Turns...

On this Christmas Eve day, the BCS controversy rages on in my office and offices nationwide. The general consensus is that Ohio State does belong in the BCS championship, and that LSU may have not been the best choice as an opponent. Personally, I still think the Georgia Bulldogs should have been in the championship game as they were #4 in the BCS standings prior to the final week when the #1 and #2 ranked teams lost. #3 Ohio State moved up to #1, while Georgia was inexplicably dropped to #5 despite being on a six game winning streak and beating three ranked teams.

Who do you think Ohio State should be playing in the BCS Championship? I've given four choices to choose from in my poll to the right.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Redskins Rout Vikings!

At 5-7 and with thoughts of Sean Taylor in their hearts and minds with every play, it wouldn't have been hard to see Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins just fold up shop and call it a season. Such as not been the case as the Redskins have played the past three weeks with a renewed vigor and purpose - almost as if the spirit of Sean is in them... In a must win game to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Redskins rose to the occasion again, jumping to a 22-0 halftime lead over the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, and then cruising in the second half to a 32-21 victory. Coming into the week, the Vikings had been one of the hottest teams in football, winning five straight games.

The Redskins defense opened the scoring in the first quarter, tacking Viking running back Tony Richardson in the end zone for a safety. Todd Collins threw touchdown passes to Chris Cooley and Santana Moss to make it 16-0 midway through the first half. Cliton Portis then threw a touchdown pass on an option play to Antawn Randle El late in the first half to make it a 22-0 Redskins margin.

Shane Suisham kicked a 26 yard field-goal just past midway through the third quarter to make it a 25-0 Redskins lead. A Tavaris Jackson two yard pass to tight-end Jim Kleinsasser gave the Vikings their first score of the game late in the third quarter to make it a 25-7 game. Jackson would score again with 10:18 to go in the fourth quarter on a six yard touchdown run to trim the margin to 25-14. The Redskins answered right back, driving the length of the field and closing the deal with a 13 yard Portis run to make it 32-14. Jackson scored again for the Vikings on a one year run just after the two minute warning to tally the final points of the game.

The Redskins now control their own destiny. A win over Dallas next week at RFK Stadium would give the Redskins second wild card spot in the NFC. The Cowboys figure to rest a lot of their regulars in the game as they locked up the #1 NFC seed today. Green Bay lost their chance to be the #1 seed in NFC as they were stunned by the Chicago Bears by a 35-7 score today at a snowy and windy Soldier Field. Even if the Redskins lose next week, they would still get in the playoffs if both the Vikings and Saints lose. For a team that was in mourning and seemingly out of the playoff race three weeks ago, it's certainly been an amazing turnaround for the Redskins.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

BYU Beats Bruins in Las Vegas Bowl

All I can say is the I was glad to be out at a Christmas get-together and ornament exchange with friends, rather than watching my Bruins suffer through one more tough, heartbreaking loss under the current era. The BYU Cougars held a 17-16 lead over the UCLA Bruins in the Las Vegas Bowl late in the 4th quarter. The Bruins drove down the field, 85 yards to the 11 yard line in just over three minutes. As time expired, the Bruins attempted a 28 yard field goal to win the game, but it was blocked by Eathyn Manumaleuna of the Cougars and with that it was over. With the win, BYU finishes the season on a 10 game winning streak and with a 11-2 record. The Bruins in the meantime finish with a 6-7 record.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

That is the way it's supposed to work in this country, but given the fallout that's happened in light of the findings of the Mitchell Report investigating the usage of steroids and other substances in Major League Baseball, you would hardly think that's how it is.

Witness the case of Roger Clemens. A story came out in the once respected, and now highly tabloidian (is that a word?) Los Angeles Times in October of 2006 regarding an affidavit in which several Major League Baseball players were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. The Times reported that Clemens name was on that list of players. Yesterday, it was revealed that Clemens name did not appear in the document as was previously reported by the Times.

As those of us here in Los Angeles know, you can't believe everything you read in the Times today - particularly the sports section. It's much like reading the New York Times or the Washington Post. An alamring number of the columns have a definite bias to the left of center, and a similarly alarming number of the stories found in these three "newspapers" have later been proven to be untrue. Seriously, Bill O'Reilly could probably write a book on all of the inaccuracies and false stories these three "newspapers" have reported the past few years.

My point is that you can't believe everything you read, and if it's in a source that's not going to give you a fair and balanced viewpoint, it's best to check out that information with another source first. Innocent until proven guilty? I sure hope people here still believe that. Let's let things play out before we start convicting everyone on that Mitchell Report. Can the sources be believed? Let's look further into this aspect, OK?


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Week 15 NFL Rankings

I'm not sure which was bigger news this week... the Miami Dolphins finally winning a game or the Dallas Cowboys suddenly looking very mortal the past two weeks??? What has happened to T.O.??? He's suddenly disappeared on the Cowboys offense, with only five receptions for 58 yards the past two weeks combined. With their stumbles the past two weeks, the Cowboys slide a spot to #4 in the rankings.

Speaking of stumbling, how about the Seattle Seahawks? Yes, they are the NFC West division champs, but they haven't played like champs the entire year. A week one win over Tampa Bay, and eight wins against teams with losing records. Was it really that surprising that they would finally lose a game they should have easily won last weekend? No. They do have a 9-5 record, but in the NFC West (aka: "NFC Least") that really doesn't hold much weight. And yes, the teams in contention for the NFC Wild Card are chomping at the bit to be their first round opponent in the playoffs.

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (14-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (12-2)
3.(4) Green Bay Packers (12-2)
4.(3) Dallas Cowboys (12-2)
5.(5) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)
6.(7) San Diego Chargers (9-5)
7.(9) Cleveland Browns (9-5)
8.(6) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
9.(8) New York Giants (9-5)
10.(11) Tennessee Titans (8-6)
11.(13) Minnesota Vikings (8-6)
12.(14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6)
13.(15) Washington Redskins (7-7)
14.(10) Buffalo Bills (7-7)
15.(12) Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
16.(16) New Orleans Saints (7-7)
17.(17) Houston Texans (7-7)
18.(19) Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)
19.(18) Arizona Cardinals (6-8)
20.(24) Carolina Panthers (6-8)
21.(20) Chicago Bears (5-9)
22.(21) Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)
23.(22) Denver Broncos (6-8)
24.(23) Detroit Lions (6-8)
25.(26) St. Louis Rams (3-11)
26.(27) Oakland Raiders (4-10)
27.(28) Kansas City Chiefs (4-10)
28.(30) San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
29.(31) New York Jets (3-11)
30.(29) Atlanta Falcons (3-11)
31.(25) Baltimore Ravens (4-10)
32.(32) Miami Dolphins (1-13)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Long December...

It's cold, dreary and rainy here in sunny Southern California as I write this... just the kind of weather which is perfect if you want to catch up on your reading. If you're into sports like me, and most especially into fantasy baseball then this time of the year has some added importance. You're probably thinking at this point why am I thinking about baseball when it's still almost 3 1/2 months until opening day??? Well, it's around this time of the year when the most important fantasy resource around is published - Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster. Now in it's 22nd year, Ron's methodologies have been the foundation of my (and many others') success in fantasy baseball leagues the past several years. The Forecaster is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be gained from Ron, his associates, and their wealth of knowledge and expertise. I strongly recommend everyone to check out and subscribe to his site at for an even more in-depth look into the world of fantasy baseball. The forums there also can be quite informative and interesting as well. Many of the outstanding contributors to the Forecaster make regular appearances in the forums.

Anyways, I've been perusing my copy of the Forecaster since this past Saturday when I received mine in the mail, looking for some hidden pitching gems that no one other than those of us in "Ron's world" know about. Last year's prize new find was probably James Shields of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who had a breakout season in 2007 and was a major contibutor to my successes last year. Shields put up a 1.11 WHIP (3rd best in the AL), a 3.85 ERA, 184 strikeouts and 12 wins. Great numbers for someone who, chances are, wasn't drafted in your fantasy league last year. Ron was also VERY bullish on Javier Vazquez of the Chicago White Sox and Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres (who suffered through an injury-plagued 2006) to have breakout years, and they both delivered... Vazquez won 15 games last year, while striking out 213 batters, allowed a miniscule 1.14 WHIP and perhaps unlucky 3.74 ERA. All Peavy did in the National League in 2007 was win pitching's version of the Triple Crown, as he led the senior circuit in ERA at 2.54, strikeouts (240) and wins (19). This success led to his winning the NL Cy Young award as well.

Who is going to step up and perform next year? It's too early to tell yet, but once I start doing some number crunching and working the spreadsheets I will have some guys I'll be looking target come next February and March.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Chargers Cruise, Redskins Roll!

Yesterday was certainly an interesting day in the NFL... the Dolphins finally got off the snide and scored their first win of the year, by a 22-16 margin against the Baltimore Ravens on a dramatic overtime touchdown pass - the same Ravens who were 20 seconds from beating the now 14-0 New England Patriots two weeks ago. As for the most interesting game of the day, that one had to be the Cleveland-Buffalo game which was played in a driving snowstorm. I sat pretty much glued to the TV for that one as both the Browns and Bills struggled to move the ball in the horrible conditions. You could barely see the yard markers, and at times, you could hardly see the players when the blizzard was at it's hardest. The Browns managed two Phil Dawson field goals, including a 49 yarder in the second quarter that barely seemed to get more than 10 feet off the ground. As with his game-tying kick a couple of weeks ago, the ball nailed the center post supporting the crossbar. This time, however, the ball went through (while knocking off a nice little clump of snow from the support). The Bills also gave up a safety after a bad snap over the head of punter Brian Moorman deep in their own territory. Moorman had the presence to kick the ball through the end zone, rather than try to recover it and/or give the Browns a chance at an easy score. The 8-0 final score was more than appropriate - an 8 is known as a "snowman" to those who play golf (it's never a good thing there though!)

Normally on a Sunday, when the San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts are playing, I'm pretty much going to flip back and forth between their respective games... the "snow bowl" though was just too much fun to turn away from. Also, the Chargers had pretty much complete control of their game against the reeling Detroit Lions from the start - LaDainian Tomlinson scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. Halfway into the second quarter it was 27-0, and it was in effect over. The Chargers managed to score on their first seven drives of the game, punting for the first time with 1:32 left in the third quarter. By that time, it was a 44-14 game. The Chargers would tack on another touchdown late in the fourth quarter to finish win a 51-14 win. For the Lions, it was their sixth straight loss after a 6-2 start. Remember that mirage? The Chargers clinched the AFC West title with the win, their fourth in a row and eighth in 10 games after their 1-3 start.

The Lions anticipated collapse has opened the door for many teams in the NFC who would like to sneak into the NFC playoffs as the final wild card. Going into last night, the New York Giants at 9-4 had all but sealed up one of the two wild card spots. The Washington Redskins at 6-7 were facing a must win to keep their slim hopes of nabbing the final playoff spot alive. Both teams came into the game with something to prove as well. The Giants had yet to defeat a team with a winning record this year, while the Redskins were looking to avenge a 24-17 loss to the Giants at RFK Stadium back in week three - a game the Skins led 17-3 at halftime. The conditions last night were horrible - freezing temperatures and a swirling wind that made passing and kicking an absolute nightmare. That said, Todd Collins managed to navigate the Redskins on five scoring drives (even though he only completed 8 passes on the night) in his first start in 10 years, and Shane Suisham judged the wind perfectly, hitting on field goals of 49, 31 and 28 yards. In conditions like yesterday's, moving the ball well on the ground was critical and Redskins RB Clinton Portis more than delivered the goods, churning out 126 yards on 25 carries including a 5 yard run early in the third quarter to give the Redskins a 22-3 lead. Brandon Jacobs moved the ball similarly well for the Giants, gaining 130 yards on 26 carries. The quarterbacks certainly struggled throughout as Collins was only 8-for-25 (32%) for 166 yards, while Giants QB Eli Manning was only 18-for-52 (35%) for 184 yards... When you consider that QB's typically complete about 2/3 of their passes, the stats on Collins and Manning certainly told the story yesterday night. Manning did manage to toss a touchdown pass late in the game to trim the margin to 22-10, but that was as close as they would get. With the win, the now 7-7 Redskins very much still have their playoff hopes alive!

Next Sunday is a critical game for the Redskins as they face the 7-6 Minnesota Vikings at home. The Vikings play the Chicago Bears tonight at home. If the Redskins could manage to beat the Vikings next week (regardless of what the Vikings do tonight), they would be the front-runner for that final NFC Wild Card spot. In their final game of the year, the Redskins take on the now suddenly mortal Dallas Cowboys, who lost at home 10-6 in a lackluster effort against the Philadelphia Eagles. Last weekend, the Cowboys had to rally to defeat the Lions by a 28-27 score in Detroit. Perhaps that victory against Brett Favre and the Packers the previous weekend made the Cowboys a little overconfident? I'm not sure what has happened since that game to them, but they certainly don't look like the same team as two weeks ago. Yes, Redskins fans, there is definitely hope!!! Speaking of Favre, some more congratulations to him as he broke Dan Marino's NFL record for passing yards yesterday with a five yard slant pass to Donald Driver.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tiger Roars, Rory Bails...

For Tiger Woods, Sunday was just another walk in the park so to speak, as he weathered a brief Jim Furyk challenge on the front nine and went on to dominate the tournament and finish with a record-tying score of 22 under par and a seven stroke win over 2007 Master's champion Zach Johnson at the Target World Challenge held at Sherwood Country Club here in Thousand Oaks. The turning point of the round came on the 10th hole as Furyk hit his approach to within about 4 1/2 feet. Furyk had pulled within two shots of Tiger with four birdies on the front nine and with Tiger about 10 feet away for his birdie putt, it looked like Furyk may trim the margin to one. That wasn't in the cards though as Tiger rolled in his birdie and Furyk inexplicably three putted for a bogey. The margin was back to four strokes. Tiger added an exclamation point to his day by draining a 25 foot eagle putt on the 16th hole.

Perhaps the bigger story though was the sudden departure of Rory Sabbatini before the round started. Sabbatini was 10 over par and 28 strokes behind Tiger after three rounds of play. He then informed tour officials that he was withdrawing for "personal reasons." This withdrawel left Brett Wetterlich to play his final 18 holes all by himself, and left the other 14 players perplexed. Fred Couples went as far to say that "Tiger deserves better than that," while others thought that he owed it to Tiger to finish the tournament. Another player probably echoed the sentiments of most in attendance stating, "the fans didn't miss him anyways, they were probably happy he was gone." Never in the nine year history of the tournament had anyone ever withdrawen. Don't look for Sabbatini to be invited back by Tiger anytime soon. After the fiasco he created with his now infamous "he looks beatable" comment, this weekend was a great opportunity for Sabbatini to mend some fences with Tiger and create some positive experiences for those in attendance. It's not really in my nature to root against any particular player, but Rory Sabbatini was a lone exception coming into this weekend due to his brashness... he had an oppotunity this weekend to pick up some "brownie points" in my eyes, but as with everyone else, he miserably failed.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tracking The Tiger (and Freddie) - Part Deux!

Though the Sherwood Country Club here in Thousand Oaks has been in existance for 18 years now, today was the first time that I actually took in a golf tournament there. I was up brighter and earlier than usual for a Saturday morning - 6 a.m. - so that I would be to the course nice and early and get a chance to see the 16 players hit the practice tee. Brett Wetterlich's caddy was the first person to make his way there, followed by Rory Sabbatini at 9 a.m sharp. The players and their caddies gradually kept trickling in, and then a very loud cheer came up as fan favorite Fred Couples made his way over at 9:25... I've been a big fan on Freddie's for a very long time, so getting to see him close and hitting shot after shot almost effortlessly with his picture-perfect swing was a treat in itself.

About 15 minutes later, Tiger Woods and his playing partner for today, Jim Furyk, came to the tee and lucky for me, Tiger (like Freddie) was directly in front of where I was standing. I guess I picked a good spot. The best part of Tiger's practice time was when he was going through his routine and taking very slow deliberate swings with his driver, striking the ball hard enough to only move it perhaps 20 yards. During the routine, Furyk chimed in "none of us knows what the 'heck' he's doing either!" - obviously making reference to Tiger's dominance and how he makes it look so easy on the course. The crowd, Tiger, and everyone else just busted up laughing... it was definitely an ice-breaker! Speaking of that, an ice-breaker could have been used on the golf course as there was a light dusting of frost literally everywhere even as late as 10 a.m.

As Tiger neared the end of his practice routine, the crowd started to thin out. The first group of the day - Sabbatini and Colin Montgomerie - teed off at 9:50 a.m. Given that I'm a big fan of both Freddie and Tiger, I figured I would try to follow them both as much as possible. Surveying the course, it looked like the 5th green would be an ideal place to catch a lot of play and a glimpse of everyone, so I parked myself there about 10:40 or so and watched the groups trickle in. It turned out to be a GREAT place to watch from as the pin was very close to the back edge of the green... Also, I have to admit the company there was great as well! A very nice couple from Orange County made the 45 minute drive to be there for a second straight year. For the next hour or so, that couple, along with about five or six others and I talked about all kinds of golf-related things and as we watched the players stream in. Seeing a few of the pros hitting balls into the trees and hazards made us all feel a little bit better about our own games! :)

Wetterlich and Niclas Fasth were the first pair we all saw there, followed by Couples and Lee Westwood. Henrik Stenson and Mark Calcavecchia were next and provided the first big highlight of the day as "Calc" drove the par-5 hole in two shots and narrowly missed an eagle putt. Minutes later, Luke Donald and Steve Stricker's group provided another highlight as "Strick" nearly holed out his third shot from the fairway, the ball stopping just inches from the hole as he spun it back from about 10 feet past the pin. About a half hour later, Woods and Furyk both drove the green in two shots. Both would two-putt for birdies, getting Tiger to 15 under par, and Furyk to 12 under for the tournament.

With the final grouping finished with the 5th hole, our little group disbanded and went our separate ways. I was hoping to catch back up to the Couples/Westwood group at the 9th hole, but they were already gone, so I watched Donald and Sticker play the hole before heading to the 10th green where I followed that twosome and three more as we all awaited Tiger. Woods drove the ball only about 320 yards and had a simple wedge shot to the pin, which he stuck to about two feet for a gimme birdie.

One thing that I quickly learned about Sherwood was that it takes a lot of walking to get from one hole to the next. Following a golfer isn't nearly as easy as it was at the AT&T in our nation's capital on my birthday... In another effort to catch up with Couples, I headed to the nearby 16th hole. Freddie had found the trees off the tee and scrambled to hit a great 4th shot to within four feet of the pin. It just wasn't his day today though as he missed the par putt. I followed the Couples/Westwood twosome to the 17th and 18th holes... They arrived to a rousing ovation on 18 - most of the cheers were obviously for Freddie. He settled for a 4 over par round of 76. After a year plagued by back injuries where the Masters was his only full competitive tournament of the year, it was nice just to have the opportunity to see him play.

As the groups arrived at 18, I noticed a very familiar face being interviewed by the Golf Channel - longtime resident and actor Tom Selleck of Magnum P.I. fame! Many of the fans in attendance (not me) actually got his autograph. I did get 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson's autograph, and also got to talk so Furyk for a few seconds after the round was over. Johnson gave all of us a thrill on the closing hole as he hit the flag with his approach shot. Unfortunately, the ball finished about 10 feet to the right of the hole, and he wasn't able to make the putt. He finished the day at 11 under par and in solo third place. Furyk missed his birdie chance on 18, but made a par to finish at 12 under and remain in the runner-up chair. What did Tiger do? Well, he hit his approach about eight feet under the hole, curled his putt into the left edge of the cup for his 7th birdie of the day (to go along with two bogeys) for a 5 under-par 67. At 18 under par, Tiger is now six strokes clear of the field and looks set to win his tournament again this year...

By 3 p.m., it was all over, though many of us hung around and hoped to catch one last glimpse of our favorite players - Tiger did come out about 3:45 p.m. or so, but only signed a couple of autographs... He's quite busy now that he's a father... A fun time was had by all in attendance and I look forward to attending again next year!


Friday, December 14, 2007

Tiger Torches Sherwood With Record 62!

It's the middle of Decemeber, the mornings here in Thousand Oaks, California have been in the lower 30's the past three days, yet one thing was as hot as the July sun today: Tiger Woods. Mr. Player of the year and all-everything else again looked as if he were in midseason form, as he poured in eight birdies and an eagle to set a new Sherwood Country Club course record with a 10-under par 62 at the 2007 Target World Challenge. Tiger's two round total of 13-under par is four strokes better than the world's #3 player, Jim Furyk. As for the other end of the scale, the argumentative and sometimes confrontational Rory Sabbatini shot a 9-over par 81, 19 strokes worse than Tiger. Rory, I think you must have looked a little beatable today. :)


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mitchell Report Out Today

In just another couple of hours, the content of the Mitchell Report and it's findings of up to 80 Major League Baseball players usage of steroids and other questionable substances will be made public. A lot of us have not at all been looking forward to this day. Hopefully, once the findings are made public, baseball and commissioner Bud Selig can take the steps necessary to clean up the game and it's soon to be very tarnished image.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

9th Annual Target World Challenge

While most of the Country is right in the midst of winter, those of us lucky enough to live out here in California are thinking about golf this week. Tournament host Tiger Woods leads an elite 16 man field in the ninth annual Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide.

World #3 ranked player Jim Furyk, 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh and fan favorite and 1992 Masters Champion Fred Couples are amongst those who will attempt to take the crown from Tiger. The Pro-Am event which preceeds the tournament begins at 9:30am today. The actual tournament starts tomorrow and runs all four days from 9:30am through 3:00 pm PST. Live, televised coverage of the tournament runs from 12 noon until 3pm on the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday and on your local NBC affiliate on the weekend. I'm planning on being there on Saturday and perhaps also on Sunday... no cameras are allowed though, so no pics! Oh well!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Week 14 NFL Rankings

There were certainly a number of very exciting and surprisingly entertaining games this weekend. The Dallas Cowboys had to pull a rabbit out of their hats to get a late 28-27 victory over the Detroit Lions at the Silverdome. Tony Romo drove the Cowboys for the winning score, hitting Jason Witten on a 20 yard scoring pass with just 19 seconds to play. It was sweet redemption for Witten who had fumbled at the Detroit 1-yard line on the Cowboys' previous possession. Witten tied an NFL record for receptions by a Tight End with 15 in the game. The great Kellen Winslow established the mark for the San Diego Chargers in 1982.

Speaking of the Chargers, they also stole a game last weekend by turning a 17-3 fourth quarter deficit into a 23-17 overtime win against the Tennessee Titans. Philip Rivers hit all-pro Tight End Antonio Gates on a 2 yard scoring pass with just 9 seconds to play in regulation. In overtime, LaDainian Tomlinson finished off the comeback, scoring on a 16 yard run to the left corner of the end-zone.

Was that the Seattle Seahawks finally coming up with an impressive win? Indeed it was. They beat up on the Arizona Cardinals by a 42-21 score on Sunday as they intercepted Cardinals QB Kurt Warner five times while Matt Hasselback led the offense, tossing four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Good for a move almost into my top 10. Maybe next week they will finally land there.

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (13-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (11-2)
3.(3) Dallas Cowboys (12-1)
4.(4) Green Bay Packers (11-2)
5.(5) Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4)
6.(6) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-4)
7.(7) San Diego Chargers (8-5)
8.(10) New York Giants (9-4)
9.(8) Cleveland Browns (8-5)
10.(12) Buffalo Bills (7-6)
11.(11) Tennessee Titans (7-6)
12.(14) Seattle Seahawks (9-4)
13.(13) Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
14.(9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
15.(15) Washington Redskins (6-7)
16.(17) New Orleans Saints (6-7)
17.(19) Houston Texans (6-7)
18.(16) Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
19.(18) Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
20.(20) Chicago Bears (5-8)
21.(24) Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
22.(25) Denver Broncos (6-7)
23.(26) Detroit Lions (6-7)
24.(22) Carolina Panthers (5-8)
25.(21) Baltimore Ravens (4-9)
26.(27) St. Louis Rams (3-10)
27.(23) Oakland Raiders (4-9)
28.(28) Kansas City Chiefs (4-9)
29.(29) Atlanta Falcons (3-10)
30.(30) San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
31.(31) New York Jets (3-10)
32.(32) Miami Dolphins (0-13)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Patriots & Dolphins Still Perfect!

Not to really anyone's surprise, the Miami Dolphins lost again early Sunday afternoon to the Buffalo Bills by a 38-17 score to continue their winless season. In the evening, the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to put the first blemish on the New England Patriots season. Early on, the game was close, and the Patriots only led 17-13 at halftime. But Tom Brady and the defense took control of the game in the second half and carried the Patriots to a 34-13 win.

The Dolphins are still the only team to go through a season undefeated. It's pretty ironic that they are in the midst of their worst season ever at 0-13 while the Patriots take a run at their 1972 record-setting season.

Next week, the Dolphins take on Baltimore Ravens at home. If they lose, they will equal the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccanneers at 0-14. The Patriots get arguably the second worst team in the NFL at the moment in the New York Jets next week. A win against the Jets will make them only the second team ever to go 14-0 in a season, equalling those 1972 Dolphins.

And guess what? In week 16, the Patriots take on the Dolphins. I wonder what the point spread for that one will be?? 30+ points? It could be a record for sure!


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Got Garth???

I just got my Saturday mail and look what I found in it... This is gonna be FUN!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

42nd Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights

It's Decemeber, and chances are you're probably pretty busy right about now worrying about who you still need to buy Christmas gifts for. Saturday night was a good chance to rest and relax as my friends Teresa & Heidi had a get-together last night at their home in Oxnard. It's a home which actually faces the Channel Islands Harbor with a balcony that has a perfect view of the harbor and of course, the annual Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights! Over 25 boats were out in the harbor and decorated with all kinds of different themes - some seasonal ones and some sea themes, while others were just kind of plain "random" so to speak. The big hit amongst many of those of us there was the "Rock Lobster" boat (below right) which loudly played the B-52's Anthem of the same name.

The parade was only part of the fun as about tifteen or so of us socialized, ate appetizers and even played a game called the "T-Shirt Game." The game actually was pretty interesting, and of course being the competitive person I am, I wanted to win, but alas I only came in 3rd out of the seven of us that played...


Friday, December 7, 2007

Rick Ankiel Exonerated!

As many of you know, the "feel good" story of the 2007 baseball season was the amazing comeback of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel. The pitcher who became a hitter due to "wildness" issues on the mound hit 11 home runs and drove in 39 runs while hitting .285 in 47 games last year after his August call-up from the minor leagues.

Late in the season, several media outlets reported that Ankiel had received Human Growth Hormone (not a steroid) in 2003 and 2004 to help him recover from an injury. HGH was legal at the time, and it was used for a valid medical reason. Many respected media outlets such as ESPN tried to convict him and bring him down on the spot. It was a sad commentary on the state of our sports media today and how it's become almost tabloid-like in many instances. From what I could tell, Ankiel had done nothing wrong and I vehemently argued this point on several other websites.

Yesterday, and not at all to my surprise, Ankiel was exonerated of ANY wrongdoing by Major League Baseball. For more on this story, go to this link.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dodgers Sign Andruw Jones

After what can only be described as a horrible "contract year" season for the Atlanta Braves in 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Andruw Jones to a two year, $36.2 million contract last night. Jones hit 26 home runs with a league-low .222 batting average last year, while scoring only 83 runs. These were all career lows (in 1999 he also hit 26 home runs). Two years ago, Jones hit 51 home runs for the Braves. He followed that up with a 41 home run effort in 2006. Last year, I saw many Braves games on the Atlanta Superstation, and it appeared to me that he was pressing an awful lot, chasing balls that he normally wouldn't go after. Jones also battled a variety of nagging injuries last year.

In Andruw Jones, the Dodgers did also happen to get one of the league's best defensive outfielders. The weak-armed Juan Pierre will presumably move to left field. If Jones is fully healthy next year and he stays patient at the plate, expect Dodger fans to be very happy with this signing... he's a proven run producer and a great talent!


Under The Weather (Again) :(

For someone who rarely gets sick (yes, I was my hands almost obsessive compulsively), getting two colds in the span of two months is a very rare occurance - actually hadn't happened to me in over 10 years! Unfortunately for me this time, everyone at work is or has been sick and try as I did to avoid catching the bug, it got me! I guess I can be thankful that I didn't catch this before my recent trip to Washington, D.C. and that it's happening now and not during Christmas like last year (when I caught a stomach flu from a co-worker). Also, this cold doesn't seem to be as severe as the last one (yet), so hopefully I can get over it quickly and be able to carry on with my weekend plans...


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Week 13 NFL Rankings

Three days later and people are STILL talking about the New England Patriots controversial 28-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens to keep their perfect 2007 season in tact. The Ravens players and staff have basically all but accused the officials of throwing the game. Referee Phil McKinnely has also been accused of taunting several of the Ravens players. The NFL is investigating the entire incident. Expect several Ravens players and the official involved to be fined and possibly suspended.

What has gotten into the Minnesota Vikings? After a stunning record-breaking second half performance by Adrian Peterson in a 35-17 win against the San Diego Chargers in week 9, the Vikes promptly got buried 34-0 by Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers the following week. Three straight victories over Oakland, the New York Giants and Detroit Lions have gotten the once 3-6 team squarely in the fight for the final NFC Wild Card playoff spot. Quarterback Tavaris Jackson has also been a steadying force. Coming to the season's final four weeks, this is the team that no one wants to play. Will they continue to play well and secure a playoff spot? Time will tell.

Speaking of those Lions, what did I tell you when they were 6-2? Yes, I said they'd have trouble finishing 8-8. Well, they've lost four straight now. A powder puff schedule and a little good fortune got them off to that mirage of a start... They face Dallas, San Diego and Green Bay (3 of the top 7 teams) along with Kansas City the season's final four weeks. Yes, they could wind up 6-10 very easily!

You want another team that is not as good as their record? Try the Seattle Seahawks. They are 8-4, but other than Tampa Bay in week 1, they haven't beaten a top-ranked team. #6 Pittsburgh blew them out 21-0 in week 5 and #8 ranked Cleveland beat them 33-30 in week 9. Four of their wins were by seven points or less, and their three blowout wins came versus #30 San Francisco and an injury-depleted St. Louis team. After they face #16 ranked Arizona this weekend, they don't face another team in the top 20... Yes, they could finish the season at 12-4, but trust me they aren't that good. Unless they really blow out some of these teams the final four weeks, they won't be in my top 10. As far as I'm concerned they are the Hawaii Warriors of pro football, without the undefeated season of course! A first round playoff loss awaits them (unless somehow they bumble things away starting with this weekend's game against Arizona).

Here are this week’s rankings with last weeks rank in (). Record is only one consideration. I also take into account strength of schedule, strength of victory (or loss) and other intangibles…

1.(1) New England Patriots (12-0)
2.(2) Indianapolis Colts (10-2)
3.(3) Dallas Cowboys (11-1)
4.(4) Green Bay Packers (10-2)
5.(5) Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4)
6.(6) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
7.(9) San Diego Chargers (7-5)
8.(7) Cleveland Browns (7-5)
9.(8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-4)
10.(10) New York Giants (8-4)
11.(16) Tennessee Titans (7-5)
12.(17) Buffalo Bills (6-6)
13.(23) Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
14.(14) Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
15.(13) Washington Redskins (5-7)
16.(15) Arizona Cardinals (6-6)
17.(12) New Orleans Saints (5-7)
18.(11) Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
19.(18) Houston Texans (5-7)
20.(19) Chicago Bears (5-7)
21.(25) Baltimore Ravens (4-8)
22.(26) Carolina Panthers (5-7)
23.(29) Oakland Raiders (4-8)
24.(23) Cincinnati Bengals (4-8)
25.(21) Denver Broncos (5-7)
26.(20) Detroit Lions (6-6)
27.(27) St. Louis Rams (3-9)
28.(24) Kansas City Chiefs (4-8)
29.(28) Atlanta Falcons (3-9)
30.(30) San Francisco 49ers (3-9)
31.(31) New York Jets (3-9)
32.(32) Miami Dolphins (0-12)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Got Carrie??? Got Keith???

Unless you're a Country music fan, or maybe an American Idol fan, you probably would have no idea by the title of this message what the heck I'm talking about... OK, so Country superstars Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban are teaming up to tour the U.S. early next year for 24 dates on their Love Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride tour, one of which is going to be here in the L.A. area - the Honda Center (formerly known as the Anaheim Pond) to be precise. Carrie was in studio guest for an entire hour this morning on our local Country station, KKGO (Go Country 105 FM)... Although she didn't talk about the pre-sale for the concert which happened today, she talked A LOT about football. Yes, she's a Dallas Cowboys fan and cheers for her friend Tony Romo, and she also likes the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. However, she's not a Tom Brady or New England Patriots fan - which is good as I'm not one either. By the way, just how did the Pats win that game last night against the Baltimore Ravens? They've been more than lucky the past two weeks in reaching a 12-0 record. If they play a subpar game for a third week in a row at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, expect the number 13 to not be so lucky for them.

But I digress... the main reason for this post is the pre-sale for the Anaheim concert was at 10 a.m. this morning, and I kid you not I actually had to pay someone $5 to get one of the computers in my break room at work so I could have an opportunity at getting the best possible seats. I got some pretty good seats on the floor, but I was hoping to do better - I actually didn't get logged in until about 10:01 am... argh! After the INCREDIBLE 8th row seats that I scored for Rascal Flatts, I guess I got a little spoiled. Nonetheless, I have many friends that also will be going to the March 13, 2008 show and I know it's gonna be an absolute blast even if I'm not quite as close to the stage as I'd like to be.


Monday, December 3, 2007

BCS Madness???

Given how my UCLA Bruins bumbled and stumbled to a 6-6 record this year behind now former coach Karl Dorrell, I didn't follow college football nearly as closely I might otherwise have. College basketball season couldn't come soon enough for me!

That said, I've still paid some attention to this crazy college football season where the top ranked teams lost much more often than usual. Only Hawaii (who played a very weak schedule) managed to go undefeated through the regular season. Ohio St. and Kansas both lost once. Everyone else lost at least twice this year.

This takes me to the BCS rankings. The top 10 stood like this as of last weekend:

1. Missouri
2. West Virginia
3. Ohio State
4. Georgia
5. Kansas
6. Virginia Tech
7. LSU
8. USC
9. Oklahoma
10. Florida

True to 2007 season form, the top two teams lost this past Saturday. #1 Missouri fell to #9 Oklahoma 38-17, and #2 West Virginia was stunned 13-9 by unranked Pittsburgh. #3 Ohio State, #4 Georgia, #5 Kansas and #10 Florida were all idle this past weekend. #6 Virginia Tech beat #12 ranked Boston College 30-16. #7 LSU got by #14 Tennessee 21-14. And #8 USC beat my unranked Bruins 24-7.

Other than Oklahoma's stunning upset of Missouri, where they completely took over the game in the second half, none of the other ranked team's victories was all that impressive. Virginia Tech was tied with Boston College with only 7 1/2 minutes to play in that one. LSU was tied with Tennessee with less than two minutes to play. In other words, both of these were close games which could have gone either way. USC didn't look all that great against UCLA - my Bruins just did not seem to be in that game at all from the opening kickoff.

With that said, you would logically figure that Ohio State would move up to #1 in the rankings and Georgia to #2 and be playing for the BCS Championship... but NOOOOO... Here's what we got with yesterday's BCS rankings:

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Virginia Tech
4. Oklahoma
5. Georgia
6. Missouri
7. USC
8. Kansas
9. West Virginia
10. Hawaii

All I can say is how? Ohio State should be #1. I have no problem with that at all. But LSU going 7 to 2 after a VERY unimpressive win? Virginia Tech going 6 to 3 after an almost equally unimpressive win? And why do we move Oklahoma up 9 to 4 after beating the previous #1 ranked team??? This is the same Oklahoma team that lost to unranked Texas Tech two weekends earlier and who had only beaten two ranked teams the entire season! In the meantime, Georgia sat idle and fell a spot. Why??? Arguably, the Bulldogs are playing the best football in the country at the moment, winning six straight games - three of which came against ranked opponents!!! Kansas sat idle too, and fell from 5 to 8... then again, they hardly played a good team all year save for now #6 ranked Missouri who beat them 36-28 the previous Saturday.

#1 vs #2? We didn't get it this year, and that's a shame! The only solace that those of us who think Georgia should be in the championship game is that they get a shot at putting a blemish on #10 Hawaii's undefeated season in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

NFL Remembers Sean Taylor

In a tribute to Redskins safety Sean Taylor, each of the NFL teams observed a moment of silence in memory of the slain player prior to the kickoff of each of today's games. Additionally, every NFL player has added a #21 logo onto their helmets in tribute to him.

In Washington, there was still a football game to be played today as the Redkins took on the Buffalo Bills this afternoon. The Redskins played inspired ball early, controlling the battle most of today against the Bills to take a 16-5 lead late in the third quarter. The Bills though would score four more field goals late, including a 36-yard one in the final seconds to give the Bills a 17-16 victory. Given how emotionally spent the entire Redskins team and coaching staff was, they put out a very valient effort, their defense managing to keep the Bills out of the end zone the entire day...


Saturday, December 1, 2007

I'm Going To Garth!!!

Yes, you heard it here first! This morning, tickets went on sale for what was supposed to be one and only one Garth Brooks concert on January 26th, 2008 at the Staples Center here in Los Angeles. Well, that show sold out reportedly in three minutes, and four more shows were added (two more on the 26th and two on the 25th)... I managed to secure a couple of tickets to the first show (1 p.m.) on the 26th! I've never seen Garth in concert before, but from what I understand he puts on an incredible show. Needless to say, this should be an amazing concert and one I very look forward to!!!



Last year, my "gutty little Bruins" upset the Trojans by a 9-7 score and ended their National Title hopes. Can we make it two in a row today? The game is at 4:30 ET/1:30 PT and will be televised on your local ABC network. GO BRUINS!!!