The Seahawks Won While I Was In Hawaii

While I was by no means cut off from the outside world during my week in Hawaii, my GiveAFuck levels were pretty depleted as far as maintaining this blog is concerned.  And, as I return to normality this upcoming Monday, with various BYE weeks happening, and what I’m anticipating to be a fuckload of work waiting for me at the office, posting might be a little light this month.  I hope to settle into more of a regular writing routine for November and beyond, but for now the quality might be a little ragged.

Shockingly, the Rams/Seahawks game wasn’t televised in Hawaii when I was there.  Since they don’t have a team, they generally get slotted with whatever the national audience gets, and FOX saw fit to go with Packers/Cowboys (I can’t imagine why).  Even though Rams/Seahawks was televised on CBS, the Hawaii affiliate opted to televise infomercials instead of trying to compete against the juggernaut that would be Aaron Rodgers vs. America’s Team.  I mean, what was this, WWII France???

Anyway, I could’ve gotten dropped off at a sports bar, but this was Rams/Seahawks, not the moon landing.  It’s the Athletics/Mariners of football games; we’ve seen it a million times and it’s never satisfying.  I could live with myself not seeing this game.

And, as it turned out, I really didn’t miss much.  The Seahawks threw two picks (one by Tanner McEvoy on a botched gadget play), Jared Goff threw two more, and the Rams tacked on three more fumbles to give the game away.  The Seahawks couldn’t run for shit, Russell Wilson did NOT play one of his better games, and in the end it came down to a few key factors.

For one, Blair Walsh made all three of his field goals (35, 48, & 49), while Greg Zuerlein missed 1 of 2.  Had he been perfect, the Rams likely would’ve been down only 3 points instead of 6 in that final drive (though it’s impossible to know for certain how the rest of the game would’ve changed had he made that miss), which means they could’ve easily forced overtime.  And the other factor is that Cooper Kupp drop in the endzone that would’ve put them in position to win the game in heartbreaking fashion.  Yes, Goff rushed the throw, possibly due to our pass rush, but that was still a catchable ball, and one that Kupp gave away.

Of course, it’s not all his fault.  Earl Thomas had that Hall of Fame play, punching the ball out of Gurley’s hand before he got into the endzone, forcing a touchback as the ball hit the pylon.  I still think it’s a miracle that the refs overturned what was originally ruled a touchdown, as they seem to give every opportunity to at least have the call “stand”.  Earl also had a late INT on a poorly thrown ball to seemingly put the game away, before our inept offense gave it right back to the Rams.  Granted, Sheldon Richardson was in the right place at the right time for a fumble recovery that led to the field goal that gave us a 6-point lead, but had we gotten just a couple first downs at any point late in the game, it would’ve ended it for good right then and there.

All that matters is we got the win.  We’re 3-2, as are the Rams, but we hold the tiebreaker over them for now.  We’re 2-0 in the division, we’re on a BYE this week, then we go to New York to face the hapless Giants.  Let’s just sit and enjoy it for a while.

Monday Morning Long-Snapper: What I Did Over My Christmas Vacation

Almost Famous goes from being the perfect movie to watch on a long, cross-country flight, to maybe one of the worst?  On my way home, I watched it for only the second time in my life.  It should be – and absolutely IS – right there in my wheelhouse, so I try not to watch it too much.  Better to stave off yearnings that I’ll ever be a William Miller, or that I’ll ever find myself a Penny Lane to pine over to my last breath.  Now that I’m sensibly in my 30s, those naive pie in the sky dreams are sucking fumes in the wake of my lost 20s, so maybe I won’t wait another decade or so before watching this movie again.

Hey there blimpy boy, flying through the air so fancy-free …

***

My break started earlier than anticipated, and on much more of a downer as a result, as I had a funeral to attend in the days leading up to Christmas.  The alcohol was endless and my hangover was relentless, but it was a lovely ceremony and it was good to catch up with family I rarely get to see, in snowy Yakima no less.

This led into Christmas Eve, and a Seahawks performance we’d all rather forget.  That night, we played beer pong and listened to Christmas music like our lives depended on it.  A good time would be had by all, if it fucking killed us!

The next few days harbored a lot of sleep, up to 12 hours per day in many cases.  Almost like a year’s worth of working 5 days per week, with diminishing returns on slumber had finally caught up to me.  Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so refreshed.  Some people need to work or else they feel their lives have no meaning; I just need a fucking paycheck.  I could EASILY spend my days doing absolutely nothing, as long as I can live as comfortably as I do right now.

***

I bought my plane tickets and hotel reservation the day it was announced the Huskies would be playing in the Peach Bowl.  I’d made a promise to myself that I would FINALLY go to a Husky bowl game this year, as long as they made it to either one of the playoff games, or the Rose Bowl.  And, unlike a lot of people, I didn’t want to hedge and say I’d only go if the Huskies made the National Championship Game.  It didn’t matter to me that the opponent was Alabama.  It didn’t matter that we’d be facing probably the best Alabama defense of all time – and maybe the best Alabama team in general of all time – nor did it matter that the game was taking place in their backyard.  It didn’t even matter that every fiber of my being was screaming out that the Huskies would lose this game.  As I’ve said before, this isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve gone to plenty of Husky road games where we had no chance of winning.  Much worse Husky teams have been blown out by many more points than what would eventually transpire against Bama, against much worse opponents to boot!

None of that mattered.  All that mattered was that Washington was there.  They were in the thick of things.  They were one of four teams remaining in the chase for the college football championship.  They were the talk of the nation (even if the overwhelming majority of that talk was how they had no chance of winning) in the weeks and days leading up to the game.  And, quite frankly, even though I didn’t believe the Huskies would win, I had to acknowledge there was still a chance, however remote.  There’s a reason why they settle these things on the football field.  On any given Sunday Saturday and whatnot.  And IF the Huskies could pull off the upset, I had to be there.  I had to see it in person.  It would be the greatest win in the history of the program, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NCAA, and the single greatest sporting event in my lifetime.  I’d give ANYTHING to be there in person, to share in the joy with thousands of other die hards who braved the trip.

Well, “ANYTHING” ended up being about $900 for the plane tickets, another $600 for the 3-night hotel stay, $175 for the seat, around $80 for the Atlanta City Pass (so I could get into all of the touristy things I wanted to see while I was there), and various other expenses for food and whatnot while I was in the city.  It should prove to be a pretty lean January when it comes to the ol’ budget.

***

My dad dropped me off at SeaTac the morning of the 29th, where I realized I’d forgotten to pack my ticket to the game.  I knew right where it was:  on the front seat of my car, parked in front of my dad’s house.  But, since I don’t think I ever left the house after Christmas Eve, I never got into my car, and as such I never noticed it was still in there and needed to be packed into one of my bags.  Seriously, I had at least 4 days to do this!

I called my dad when he got home, and he was able to get the ticket and scan it for me.  So, that was one crisis averted.  The flight to St. Louis was uneventful (if a little bumpy upon entry), the layover was relatively short, and the flight to Atlanta was relatively short and uneventful (if a little bumpy upon exit).

By the time I touched down, I was into the 6 o’clock hour.  I flew Southwest, which I haven’t done in quite some time, so I forgot about the whole thing with the groups and no assigned seating.  I gather that some people don’t like this feature, but I think it’s great!  Usually, you have to pay more for a seat in an exit row; with Southwest, you just have to be in the A-group (or at the top of the B-group) and as long as you’re flying solo, you should be able to get the extra leg room you desire.  That was the case from St. Louis to Atlanta, and it was a G.D. delight!

Took a cab to the hotel in Midtown, ordered a room service burger and apple crisp, and called it an early night.  This was always pegged to be a wasted travel day, considering I was losing 3 hours on the flight, and considering we’re talking about a lot of hours on a plane and walking through airports.  Plus, since I was going it alone, I could do what I damn well pleased.

Be it ever so humble …

Travelling alone has its benefits and draw-backs, as you can well imagine.  Having total control of the itinerary is nice, because I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.  But, having someone else do all the planning and logistics is nice too, considering I’m a lazy, lazy man.  But, given the shortness of this trip, I really only had to plan activities for one day, and then I could go with the flow the rest of the time.

Flags and whatnot …

I woke up at 6am on Friday, walked over to Walgreens to pick up some deodorant and a razor that I’d also forgotten to pack, printed off my game ticket at the little office next to the hotel lobby, and settled into breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  From there, it was about a mile’s hike to Atlanta’s Olympic Centennial Park.

Isn’t it Christmassy, you guys …

First stop:  the Georgia Aquarium.  I can’t recommend this place enough (as long as you try not to think of it like an aquatic animal prison).  Lots of different fish exhibits to walk through – including one area with a moving floor, and glass all around, so it’s like you’re moving underneath the sea – as well as a bomb-ass dolphin show.  I spent the most time here, and even had lunch in their little cafe (pulled bbq chicken, spinach, mac & cheese, and corn bread).

Hi guy …

Next stop:  World of Coca-Cola.  Upon entry, they herd you into a lobby where they hand out free mini-bottles of a Coke of your choice.  This is where having the City Pass comes in handy, as I was ushered around the long line of people waiting outside and got right in.  From there, you wait a bit in this giant cluster of people until they open the doors to the next room, which has a ramp and a little open area at the bottom.  There, one of the employees talks you through all the memorabilia on the wall and gives you a bit of a history lesson on all things Coke.  After a few minutes of that, we were led through some more doors, where there was a movie theater.  We sat through, I want to say, a 5-minute Coke commercial.  Once that was finished, more doors, and the rest of the 2-story museum.  Lots of memorabilia, an opportunity to take a pic with a guy in a polar bear costume, a giant gift shop, and probably the main reason to go:  a big room full of soda fountains, with Coca-Cola products from around the world.  It was pretty overwhelming, to be honest, and absolutely jam-packed with people (mostly kids), so it was tough to get to most of the sodas you might want to try.  I did end up trying something called Beverly soda, which is a (discontinued?) European product and tastes like dead asshole run through a puke factory.  I ended up cleansing my palette with some pineapple Fanta before calling it.  I mean, this room would’ve been my jam when I was in my teens; I’m pretty sure I would’ve made it a point to try absolutely everything they had to offer had I been 20 years younger.  As it is, who has the time?  Plus, I had other things I wanted to do that didn’t involve shoving a bunch of kids out of the way as I plowed through the sugar-water orgy.

One of MANY pics I took of all the crazy crap on the walls …

Next stop:  The Center For Civil & Human Rights Museum.  I chose this over the Atlanta Zoo mostly because I find the civil rights movement much more interesting.  Plus, I’d already been to an Aquarium that day, and anything to get away from another giant throng of kids.  Lots of cool info laid out in a really cool way; I highly recommend it, particularly now that we’re fully into Trump’s America.

Next stop:  Coffee.  Because I was fucking exhausted from walking around all day, dehydrated as all hell (got a bottle of water too), and needed some time off my feet to recharge and re-energize.

Next stop:  College Football Hall of Fame.  I chose this over the Natural History Museum because I’ve already been to the New York Natural History Museum, and there’s no way Atlanta’s version would be able to top it.  This was pretty great.  There was a mini-Fan Fest going on, what with the Peach Bowl happening the next day and whatnot.  You could run the cones, kick an extra point, throw footballs through a hole, the whole deal.  They also had all the trophies (from each major bowl, as well as the Heisman, among others), an interactive part that showed each College Football Hall of Fame class, where you could use the giant touch-screens to find the coach/player of your choice and read about their achievements.  They had all the helmets of all the college football teams.  Lots of old memorabilia, you name it.  It was pretty sweet.  Not a lot of Husky stuff there though, which I found odd, considering they were playing in the God damn city’s bowl the next day, but what are you gonna do?

So many helmets …

Next stop:  Stats Sports Bar.  Because I didn’t feel much like doing the CNN Tour (which is the final component of the Atlanta City Pass), which is just another hour or more on your feet walking through their giant building.  Considering I don’t even like WATCHING the news on TV, there really wasn’t a great interest to see how the sausage is made.  Also, let’s face it, I needed a beer and some fried pork dumplings!  I needed to sit down, watch some sports on TV, and gather my thoughts.

I ended up leaving around 4:30pm.  I had many options at that point, one of which was a live broadcasting of Softy’s radio show at the German bar next door to Stats.  But, that wasn’t going to start until 6pm.  Which would have been fine under normal circumstances, but I didn’t totally feel like sitting in a bar by myself getting shitfaced for 90+ minutes.  On top of that, I kinda had to poop, and that’s not really an enticing practice at a sports bar, what with all the piss everywhere on the floor and on the seat and whatnot and so forth.  This really ended up dictating my entire evening, as I had planned on going to a bar/restaurant that was playing jazz music, which was closer to all the touristy stuff I was seeing than it was to my hotel.  Given how tired I was from walking around all day, as soon as I made it back to my room, I knew I wasn’t leaving again the rest of the night.

So, I ordered some pizza from a local place, kicked off my shoes, and watched a lot of football and South Park in the room.

***

I opted to sleep in and eat leftover pizza for breakfast on gameday.  Considering the damn thing cost $40 with tip, I was going to make sure that large pizza lasted me a few meals the rest of the way.

When I was finally ready, about two hours before kickoff, I hailed a cab, who got me close to the Georgia Dome.  From there, it was relatively painless getting in.  Frankly, I’d expected more of a hassle getting through security.

I got my ticket through a friend who has season tickets and wasn’t going to the game.  I had no idea where it would be or how much it would cost until it arrived at his home in the days before Christmas.  It ended up being in the Club level, 3rd row, just above the Husky band.  I opted to keep it sober at the game, primarily because I wanted to actually REMEMBER the game, but also because stadium beers are fucking expensive as hell and they were cutting off beer sales at the end of halftime.  Not having to get up to pee and buy more beer every 30 minutes was also a nice little draw.

I guess you could call where I was sitting the “Husky section” of the stadium, but there were still plenty of Alabama fans scattered throughout.  If I had to pull an estimate, I’d say it was 75/25 Alabama fans in attendance overall.  It’s really interesting to see how they watch a game, compared to what I’m used to.  Now, this might have been a result of them playing a Washington team they had no fears for whatsoever, but they were pretty quiet when Bama was on defense.  I’d say if anything, they sort of got it up whenever the Huskies were faced with a 3rd down, but other than that, the atmosphere wasn’t really overwhelming.

That is, until Alabama scored, at which point the place erupted and my eardrums throbbed.

I didn’t run into any unruly or rude Bama fans.  They were mostly friendly and chatty and generally curious about a Washington team they knew absolutely nothing about.  What can you do?  They’re an SEC team whose entire world revolves around the SEC.

The funniest part of the game was listening to the Alabama fans bitch about Lane Kiffin.  “God dang it, Lane!” was shouted whenever Bama went away from the run game.  Suffice it to say, they like Lane Kiffin about as much as any other fan base who has had to have him as their coach/coordinator, or any other fan base who has had their team go up against his, or just anyone else in general, because Lane Kiffin seems like he’s really unpleasant as a human being.  I’m sure Florida Atlantic will regret hiring him in no time.

***

So, all right, let’s get into the game itself.

To start, I couldn’t be prouder of this team and especially this defense.  The 2016 Huskies have, without question, a world championship-calibre defense.  Are they better than Alabama’s defense?  Probably not; that was probably the best defensive effort I’ve ever seen in my life.  What Alabama was able to do with five and six-man fronts in stopping the run, while doing what they did to shut down our passing attack, was legendary.  Nevertheless, Washington’s defense wasn’t that far off.  Had our offense come to play, we had a legitimate shot at winning this game.

I’ll always wonder “What If” with this one.  I mean, it’s absolutely remarkable how we were able to march right down the field in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead, followed by how we were totally and completely shut down the rest of the way!  We went 64 yards on 8 plays, in just under 4 minutes, and at that point – when Pettis made the fantastic catch in the endzone – it looked like the Huskies had the blueprint to beat this Bama team!

Then, Alabama showed everyone why they’re so highly regarded.  On the very next drive, they ran on 8 of their 9 plays, moving the ball at will to tie the game at 7.  From there, you had to wonder if we’d ever stop their run game.  I mean, they did it like it was nothing!  Like we weren’t even standing there!  If they would’ve replayed that game and just ran the ball on every down, you could’ve talked me into Alabama winning by 50 points, just based on that one drive alone.

But, it’s a testament to how stubborn Lane Kiffin is that he’d continuously go away from the one thing that was working for his offense.  Alabama’s quarterback, Jalen Hurts, wasn’t able to do much through the air, completing 7 of 14 for 57 yards; and we even held him in check on the ground, with 50 yards on a whopping 19 carries!  If you’d told me he’d have that type of output before the game, I would’ve bet on the Huskies shocking the world.

This game came down to field position and 3 key plays.  There wasn’t much we could do about the field position.  Our offense couldn’t do a damn thing to flip it, and even the few times we did, Alabama was able to get enough yards to get to around mid-field, where their punter was able to pin us inside the 10 yard line more often than not.  I mean, I get that Alabama gets all the best high school players from around the country, but how is it fair that they also have the best punter in college football to boot?

On a related note, the one thing the Alabama fans around me were impressed with when it came to Washington’s football team was our own punter.  They were mesmerized with how many yards he was able to get – with his rugby style of punting – on the bounce, when their return man kept coming up short on the fair catch.

The field position thing could’ve been overcome – I’ll always believe that – had we not suffered the 3 key plays I referenced above.

Play 1 – The John Ross Fumble.  We’ve since come to learn what was plainly obvious all year:  John Ross has declared for the NFL Draft.  It was pretty brutal how much of a non-factor he was in this game, considering he’s the best player on our team (I was honestly shocked it didn’t come out that he’d already declared for the draft midway through the first half of the game).  Compared to all the athletes on the Crimson Tide, John Ross looked slow as shit on his kick returns; no impact there.  He ended up with 5 catches for 28 yards on offense; no impact there.  And, with Washington once again moving the ball near the end of the first quarter, immediately after the Alabama touchdown to tie the game, near midfield, Ross caught a short pass and had the ball knocked out of his 1-handed grasp.  It was obviously pretty demoralizing – because all anyone is thinking about if you’re a Husky player or a Husky fan, is that you CAN’T CAN’T CAN’T turn the ball over against Alabama if you expect to win (indeed, you probably have to play a perfect game, and even that might not be enough) – but our defense was able to hold Bama to a field goal, so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  At that point, as a Husky fan, all I was thinking was, “John Ross will make this up to us somehow.”  Of course, he would not, but I don’t know how much of that was his fault necessarily.

Play 2 – The Pick Six.  This was the back-breaker.  I’m going to have nightmares about this one for a good, long while.  The Husky defense had settled into their dominating performance, having forced three punts on the last three Alabama possessions.  You had to believe, from a Husky standpoint, that if we’d just kept it a 1-possession game, we’d be able to break through at some point.  Then, Jake was pressured, and threw out into the flat before taking the sack.  Unfortunately, he was throwing to Lavon Coleman, who isn’t an ideal target in that scenario.  And, he was wildly off-target on top of that, throwing it right into the waiting arms of the defender who had an easy touchdown in front of him.  When you factor in we were under 2 minutes left to go in the half, and we had a little momentum with a couple of first downs to that point in the drive, and there aren’t any words to describe my despair at that moment.  Scoring on that drive would’ve been huge, but going into halftime down just 10-7 would’ve at least given us hope for a second half run!  But, going into halftime down two scores felt like the game was over.  I wanted to go home right there.  At that point, it felt over to me.  Alabama’s defense had hardly given an inch aside from our lone scoring drive, there was no way we’d be able to make up the difference unless there was some freaky defensive score on the horizon.  But, I mean, Bama could’ve just knelt down three times and punted on each of their second half drives and let their defense do all the work and it would’ve ended up with nearly the same result.  Nevertheless, I stayed all the way to the bitter end, which was made all the more difficult after Play 3.

Play 3 – The 68-Yard TD Run.  Bo Scarbrough was the offensive MVP of this game without question.  He had 180 yards on 19 carries and 2 TDs.  Even without this run – where he broke about a million tackles en route to crushing our hopes and dreams – he still averaged over 6 yards per run the rest of the day.  And, mind you, that’s a day where – as I said before – the Husky defense played out of their minds!  At this point in the game, we still had most of the 4th quarter left to go.  Had we stopped him, I don’t think the Huskies could’ve come up with the 10 points they needed to tie the game.  But, we didn’t stop him, and with that it was decided.  A 17-point lead for Alabama with a little over 11 minutes to go is absolutely insurmountable.

I should’ve left right there and gotten a jump on the nearly 2-mile walk back to the hotel, but I sat and suffered.  I mean, when would the Huskies ever get back to this point again?

***

It’s at this point that I’d like to take a minute to address all these Husky fans who keep saying that we’re “ahead of schedule” in this thing.  Look, I’m as guilty as anyone of “just being happy to be there” when it comes to being in the final four and in the College Football Playoffs.  I could never honestly believe that Washington was going to beat Alabama, and quite frankly it was hard to even imagine a way we’d win this game without the Crimson Tide starters suffering simultaneous heart attacks on the way to the stadium.  And, aside from that, I can appreciate how far we’ve come from how low the program was after the 2008 winless season.  Chris Petersen has done a PHENOMENAL job in his three years, and I absolutely believe he’s the right man for the job.

We came into the 2016 season hoping for some improvement – maybe even an outside shot at the Rose Bowl – but we never expected all this.  We set our sights – probably wrongly – for the 2017 season as the target season to start thinking about national playoffs and whatnot.  In that sense, sure, you could say we’re “ahead of schedule”, but the thing is:  there IS no schedule.  There’s no guarantee the Huskies will even be within a game or two of the Pac-12 Championship next year!  There’s certainly no guarantee we’ll be better next year than we were this year!  Sure, you figure the guys we’ll still have around – particularly Browning, Pettis, and Gaskin, among many of our young studs on defense – will be improved with another year’s experience.  But, do you realize the impact we’re going to face with all of the guys leaving for the NFL draft?  On top of John Ross, and the obvious outgoing seniors, we’re also talking about almost the entire starting secondary!  That’s the strongest part of the team we’re going to have to fully refurbish!  In a conference that prides itself on its high-flying passing attacks!

The 2016 Husky defense is the best defense we’ve had since those early-90s Don James teams.  It’s certainly the best one we’ve had since I’ve been a fan, and it might be the best defense Chris Petersen EVER has!  Which is why it’s so frustrating to have to look forward to next year, when our chance was NOW!  It’s fine to be pleased with the direction of the program and look forward to the coming seasons.  Husky football should be in the national conversation for at least the next two years, if not much longer (however long Coach Pete wants to stick around, anyway).  But, these playoff appearances don’t grow on trees.  You have to grab your opportunity by the horns when it comes, regardless of whether or not you’re “ahead of schedule”.  Even if the Huskies win the Pac-12 next year and even if they somehow manage the same record in the process, there’s no guarantee we’ll be invited back, considering it’s still a committee of human beings who decide the top four teams.  This might be the ONLY team Coach Pete ever takes to the college football playoffs; we won’t know for many years probably!

That’s why I’m taking the loss as hard as I am.  Even though this Alabama team was a lot like the 1996 Bulls and our Huskies were a lot like the 1996 Supersonics, this still may have been our only opportunity for a National Championship in my lifetime, and to get so close, only to have three plays dictate your defeat … it’s just a lot to take in as a sports fan.

***

In the closing minutes of the game, a couple of Huskies were taken out by some cheapshots from a couple Alabama players during an interception return.  I didn’t see what happened, but it looked pretty shitty to see a couple of our players on the ground in a game that was clearly over.  It was doubly shitty when the majority of Bama fans in the stadium were chanting something afterward (S-E-C, I would come to learn later).  I was too demoralized to really get in much of a huff about it, though.  It was pretty funny to see a very large individual, with a very large red beard, in a Husky jersey with the number 69 on it, and his very large father, with very large white hair, both standing in the first row of our section, saying nothing, but holding two furious middle fingers in the air towards the Alabama bench.  I don’t know what they were hoping to accomplish – getting on the jumbotron maybe? – but I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen two people quivering with so much rage.

It should probably come as no surprise after the clock reached double-zeroes, and the confetti started blowing around the stadium, when a drunken Alabama couple ran down the steps of our section, waving their red & white pom poms around, dancing next to the large front row seat dwellers, when the younger one – like a rampaging rhino – bulled into the couple, knocking the female over in the process, as he ran up the stairs and out of the stadium.  It happened in an instant, and I was too flabbergasted to turn around and see if anyone stopped him, but if I’m being honest, I don’t know if anyone – or even a group of anyones – could’ve slowed the beast.  It was quite the spectacle, to be sure.

I didn’t stick around much longer after that, so I don’t know what came of him or his father.  It was a long, cold, hilly walk back to my hotel.  By the time I got there, the Fiesta Bowl was on and Ohio State was in the process of getting blown out twice as worse as we did.  So, you know, at least they knocked the Huskies off the front page.  And, in the end, more people came away impressed with our defensive performance than they did rubbing it in about how we “didn’t belong”.  Considering Michigan and Penn State both lost their bowl games as well, it’s hard to make much of an argument for the Big 10 this year.  Were they the nation’s best conference?  Hardly.  They just had the most highly-ranked batch of over-rated losers come bowl season.

I spent New Years Eve in the room, with two bottles of wine and more leftover pizza.  I couldn’t move.  Not after all the walking the last two days.  Not alone in a strange city, where quite frankly there were more nearby police sirens going off on the reg than I like to hear.  But, it’s okay.  I wasn’t really in a partying mood, and New Years Eve is the Big 10 of holidays.  Plus, I had a flight to get up for the next day.

I was up by 8am, no worse for the wear from the wine, and I left shortly after to get to the airport for breakfast and sitting.  A short flight to Baltimore and an insanely long flight to Seattle later, and my dad was picking me up.  They DVR’d the Seahawks game for me, so I got to see us settle for the 3-seed while enjoying a few holiday Bud Lights.  Not much of a consolation, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

We’re Still Playing Keno: A Loser’s Guide To Losing

Looks like we picked the absolute worst possible weekend to bet on the NFL.

Tahoe Bucket O' Shame

Tahoe Bucket O’ Shame

Every year, for the first weekend of March Madness, my friends and I go down to South Lake Tahoe, stay at the Montbleu Resort & Casino, make a bunch of ill-advised bets on the college basketball games, and then follow that up by playing slots, black jack, roulette, and whatever else catches our fancies, to try to recoup all that we lost when we made all of those ill-advised college basketball bets.  See, the thing is, as a collective, we really don’t watch enough college basketball throughout the season to be even remotely aware of where we should be putting our money; and I probably watch less college basketball than anyone!  Inevitably, when we’re ripping up our tickets, someone will always say, “Why don’t we come down here during football season?  We’d surely clean up THEN!”

Well, this year, we decided to make good on that threat.  This past weekend, we flew down on Friday night (where our flight was delayed an hour, as if that wasn’t our first foreboding clue), set up shop at the Montbleu, and readied ourselves for a weekend with a massive amount of sports betting.

Saturday early morning started off pretty promising.  I had Florida -7 against South Carolina for a small winner.  I had Kansas +46.5 for a big winner against TCU.  But, things took a dark turn in the afternoon.  I had SMU +20 against Navy (loss), Baylor -2.5 against Oklahoma parlayed with the over (loss), Washington State +11 against UCLA parlayed with the over (loss), and every God damn one of my multi-team parlays and teasers all went down in flames.  In an attempt to recoup some money and salvage the day, I decided to put a bunch of eggs in the New Mexico basket.  To start the day, Boise State was favored by 30 against New Mexico, so I put $20 on the Lobos to cover.  Believing that bet to be a sure thing after our Afternoon of Terror, I put a very large amount on the Lobos again, this time with the line moving to 30.5.  Not only did the Lobos cover, but they won outright, and I thought my weekend would be saved.  After winning a moderate amount on one of the UFC fighters (one of the undercard fighters in the Rousey debacle), my friends and I set out to test our luck at some of the other casinos.

The order of events might be wrong, but I know this was the night where three of us dumped $100 each into one of those $5 slot machines and ended up each of us winning about $300 in profit.  Then, we decided to play some of that Texas Hold ‘Em table game where you go up against the dealer.  We didn’t really know all the rules, but fortunately the four of us were the only ones at this particular table at Harrah’s, and Sandra was a more-than-willing tutor to three drunken jackasses.  Of course, she ended up giving way to Tom The Fuckstick, this humorless old cunt, who couldn’t have been less friendly or engaging with four guys just begging to give their money away.  Anyway, he ended up making a mistake (which I still don’t fully understand, because it seems like both dealers had been making that same “mistake” all night since we sat down), didn’t really explain it properly, which led to us calling for the pit boss to come over.  Long story short, there was a showdown over a grand total of $15 ($5 from three players) that they wanted to take away from us because of a mistake their dealer made.  Now, had we been dealing with Sandra, all probably would have been forgiven.  But, since we were dealing with Tom, a fucking asshole, we all stood up, kept our $15, and walked away to have our money cashed in.  Suffice it to say, their utter lack of customer service (combined with a ridiculous hard on over taking each of our five dollar chips) has left me with a lifelong passion to boycott Harrah’s from now on.  Pity too, because I’m a reckless and foolish gambler, and I don’t plan to stop going to Tahoe anytime soon.

Our night ended back at the Montbleu, recounting our horrific experience to the black jack dealer as each of us won a minimum of $100 over the next hour or so.  Saturday, it would seem, turned out quite all right.  We’d end up waking 5 hours later to an entirely new day.

My plan for the NFL portion of the weekend seemed to center around the “Go Big Or Go Home” credo.  I ended up making nine 8-team parlays against the spread, and they all fell apart in the morning.  Not to worry, though.  Each card only cost $10 (which would’ve won me many thousands of dollars had any of them won); these were long shots I put out there to test the waters, see if I could come home a big winner.  I put an obscene amount of money on the Dallas Cowboys beating the Tampa Bay Bucs, though, which had me moping around all morning and sent me into a tailspin once the game ended (the Bucs, on a last-minute touchdown, to go ahead 10-6; the Cowboys unable to do anything in that final minute).  For some reason, I had all the confidence in the world that this would be the Romo-less game the Cowboys would win.  I compounded that by betting on the Raiders (favored by 3) over the Vikings and the Patriots (favored by 7) over the Giants.  That sufficiently ruined my afternoon; the only bet I ended up winning was a prop bet (Eli Manning over 1.5 touchdowns) for a very moderate gain compared to all my huge losses of the day so far.

My one saving grace was the Arizona at Seattle game.  One of the reasons I chose this weekend, aside from it working out for everyone from a scheduling standpoint, was that the Seahawks were coming off of a BYE, playing on Sunday Night Football, against the Cardinals (who, while good, is a team we tend to beat more often than not).  The Seahawks were -3, and the sports book was paying out even money on the Seahawks to cover.  So, my thought process from the very beginning, when I proposed this weekend, was that even if we got knocked around during the day, we could always double down on the Seahawks and get all of our money back.

So, here’s what I did:

  • In two separate bets (one in the morning, one in the afternoon after I’d lost almost every other bet of the day), I put down $300 and $200 on the Seahawks to cover the -3 spread.  This would have won me my money back plus $500.
  • In a point spread prop bet, I put down $100 on the Seahawks covering a -10.5 point spread (meaning the Seahawks would have to win by 11 points or more).  This would have won me my money back plus $255
  • In another prop bet, I put down $200 on Larry Fitzgerald getting under 76.5 receiving yards.  This would have won me my money back plus $181.80

All told, if the Seahawks would’ve come through on each of those wagers, I would have walked away with $1,736.80.  And, if I could have managed to NOT go out and party until 4am that night with my friends after such a windfall, I would have walked away from Tahoe entirely with more money in my wallet than I flew down with.

Well, since the Seahawks opted to NOT have Richard Sherman follow their best receiver all over the field, Larry Fitzgerald was able to beat that prop bet by halftime.  And, since the Seahawks’ offense was a collosal shitshow from their first drive of the game, the point spread prop bet also had almost no chance of succeeding.  Luckily, the defense kept us in it by forcing turnovers that directly led to 14 points for the Seahawks, so covering the 3-point spread was still in play for a while there in the fourth quarter (with a very outside chance of the Seahawks covering 11 if everything happened to go our way).  But, ultimately, the Seahawks were too shitty, and I walked away from that game a broke and downtrodden man.  As I may have gotten a collective 9 hours of sleep the previous two nights, I ended up going to bed right after the Seahawks game, so I missed out on another 6 hours of gambling that my friends took part in.  But, it’s just as well.  You don’t want to be wandering around the floor of a casino after having a shit-ton of money ripped from your grasp.  Sad gambling is no good for anyone.

When all is said and done, I couldn’t have picked a worse NFL weekend.  Counting the Thursday and Monday night games, all told there were 10 of 14 games where the underdog won outright.  When you tack on the Pats only winning by a point, that’s 11 underdogs making life miserable, with only 3 favorites covering their spreads.  Why we chose to have faith in so many favorites is beyond me, but it all adds up to all four of me and my friends walking out of there with our pockets turned inside out.

Tahoe, you got us this time.  But, we’ll be back in March, to fight again, with honor.

And, who knows?  Maybe we’ll be hundred-thousandaires when we get there!  See, at the Harvey’s casino, they have a little Keno area.  Harvey’s is really old school, which might make it my favorite (even though it’s owned by the same company that owns Harrah’s).  Anyway, Keno is the most boring thing to bet on at any casino, which is fine if you need to get away from all the flashing lights of the slots, or all the breathtaking action of the sportsbook.  You just sit, drink your drink, smoke your cigars or cigarettes, and watch the little numbers light up on a bingo-esque screen.

We didn’t really have the will to play Keno when we got there on Friday night, but we saw they had penny-Keno.  1,000 games for $10.  Between three of us, we bought 5,000 games.  We each picked a random sampling of 16 numbers.  Every Keno game has 20 numbers selected.  If we hit all 16 of our numbers out of that 20-number sampling, we’ll win $250,000.  We thought, yeah, okay, we’ll buy 1,000 games, then we’ll come back on Sunday to see what we won (believing they played approximately 1,000 games in a day, so by Sunday we’ll SURELY have our answers).  Except, when we got there on Sunday, we found out that they only play about 200 games a day, and so it’ll be a few more days yet before our 1,000 games have concluded.  As such, technically – as of this post publishing – we will STILL be playing Keno.  And, when we go back in March (assuming we all managed to not lose our Keno tickets), we can have them scanned and see if we’re big winners.

So, there’s still a chance!  Look, every time I go to Tahoe, I make a futures bet in sports.  And, every time I’ve gone back to Tahoe, I’ve collected on at least one futures bet.  Well, this time, they didn’t have any futures bets I liked.  So, I’ve got this.  I’ve got Keno.  And, dammit, I’m going to have some money waiting for me when I get there!  Even if it’s only 40 fucking cents!

It’s Not Looking Good For An NHL Expansion Franchise In Seattle

At least, not right now.  Maybe not ever, I dunno.

I don’t necessarily have my finger on the pulse of this situation, but I know this much:  no group from the greater Seattle area (aka:  please include Tukwila & Bellevue) submitted a bid for an expansion franchise by the deadline earlier this week.  Part of it probably has to do with the $10 million fee that was involved (all but $2 million would be returned if you didn’t win a new franchise), but most of it probably has to do with the $500 million charge to BUY that God-foresaken franchise, which doesn’t even take into account all that needs to be done to build a proper arena.

It kinda feels like Seattle is fucked in this situation, and everyone is at fault.  An owner can’t simply buy a new stadium with his own money, because the leagues (NHL & NBA) won’t allow that precedent to happen (because they’re money-hungry monsters who need to suckle at the public teet while giving back relatively little in the way of monetary compensation).  The Seattle city government is at fault because they’re bumbling boobs and apparently the whole world knows about how much our local government sucks.  The public at large is at fault because they allow these morons to stay in power; it’s a wonder how Seattle EVER managed to get professional sports franchises to come here!

This is what I think I know:

  • The NBA isn’t expanding anytime soon (i.e. in the next decade, probably more)
  • Seattle isn’t getting its SoDo arena without a tenant
  • The NHL could be that tenant, but we would have to change the MOU
  • The Seattle city government probably won’t change the MOU
  • If they did, the hockey owners would have to pony up on some of the risk
  • The hockey owners probably don’t want to pony up more risk
  • If we don’t find a tenant soon, the MOU will expire and the whole process would have to start all over again
  • Hockey could figure out a way to get an arena done in Tukwila or Bellevue
  • For obvious reasons, having an NHL franchise in Tukwila or Bellevue is less ideal than in Seattle
  • We probably won’t be getting the Sonics back if we can’t find a way for them to play in Seattle
  • The best way to get the NBA back would be if the NHL was already here and the arena is already built
  • But, again, see all the previous bullet points for why this is unlikely to happen

It would be great if we could just get everyone on the same page, but I guess that’s asking too much.  It sounds like Seattle is lacking in that financial big whale (a la Steve Ballmer) who’s willing to be the backbone of an NHL franchise.  Not shocking, since Seattle isn’t really a hockey town to begin with, so it’s not like we have this great history.  Seattle has plenty of millionaires, but again, not hockey fans.  So, if we’re to get a franchise, it’s going to be with out-of-town money.  And, these guys don’t know the area, don’t have ties to the area, don’t know how things work politically.  These guys just see a chance to own an NHL franchise and see a market with tons of growth potential.  An IDEAL scenario would have all these prospective NHL buyers conglomerate under one ownership group, under one arena plan (preferably in SoDo), and do whatever it takes to get us a team.

With the NHL in place, we get the arena going.  With the arena in place, maybe we can FINALLY hope for the NBA to get its shit together and give us what’s rightfully ours.  Of course, the catch 22 in all this is that Seattle might be less enticing of a market with the NHL already entrenched here.  I’d like to think 40 years of NBA history, combined with the ever-growing hotbed of prep talent would be enough to make Seattle viable, but I’m probably living in a dream world.

In a lot of ways, I’m addicted to sports and would have a tough time adjusting to life without them.  But, on the flipside, they can also be the bane of my existence.  Speaking of which, I’m going to be taking a break from writing about the Mariners on here.  I just, like, can’t even right now.

My Review of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay

Just so we’re clear:  I’m not a golf fan.  So, don’t expect this to be riddled with insight on the game.  Before this tournament, if you asked me to name all the golfers I could name, I’d be able to come up with the usual suspects pretty easy – Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els – and if you gave me a list of the full field, I’d probably be able to recall another few handfuls of names.  But, I couldn’t tell you where anyone ranks, what their strengths or weaknesses are, or how many tournaments they’ve won.  At best, I’m not even a casual viewer of golf.  Whenever I watch golf, it’s because I’m too hungover to even use a remote control and I just want background noise so I can take a nap.  And, considering I’m a semi-pro in the art of Weekend Warrioring, those types of all-encompassing hangovers don’t happen too often.

I’m writing about golf today because the U.S. Open just took place at Chambers Bay, which is sort of in my backyard.  I live in Seattle, but I grew up in Tacoma, and I still go down there frequently to hang out with my family and friends who live there.  Chambers Bay is about 6 miles from my dad’s house, so it’s pretty cool to think that the elite of the elite golfers in the world were all congregated RIGHT THERE, so close to my childhood home, for the better part of a week.

To backtrack a bit, my disdain for golf doesn’t stop at the boredom induced by watching it on TV.  I also hate the physical act of going out there, schlepping a bag of clubs around, and whacking a little white ball to and fro.  I don’t hate it the way most golfers hate it, but still go out there every week for whatever God-foresaken reason; I hate it in the way that a true American patriot hates golf!  I tried it out a few times, tagging along with my dad to the driving range and a few courses, I sucked DIIIIIIIICK at it about as hard as anyone can suck at anything that you’d think would be relatively simple, and I formally gave it up forever.  Because, as I said before, I suck at it.  And because it’s a stupid game for stupid-heads.

The last time I golfed was for a friend’s bachelor party.  I got sloshed on homemade Jack & Cokes, spent most of the time driving the golf cart like a maniac trying to Tokyo Drift, and even spent one hole trying to see how many “strokes” it would take to throw a golf ball on a Par 4.  I’m more of the Calvinball school of golfing.

I also readily admit that I MUCH prefer watching tennis to golf.  So, yeah, that’s me.

But, when the U.S. Open comes to town, it’s not something as a sports fan I could just ignore.  That’s a BIG deal!  The Pacific Northwest has never hosted a major golf tournament for the PGA!  And now it’s here, just south of Tacoma.

I ended up watching about 2-3 hours of it on Thursday, none of it on Friday or Saturday, and then almost all of it on Sunday.  Here’s what I gleaned as the major storylines:

  • Tiger Woods sucked HARD and missed the cut
  • Jason Day has vertigo and struggled with that for the duration, yet was tied for the lead going into the final day
  • Rory McIlroy made a hard charge on the last day to try to catch up to the leaders, but ultimately fell short
  • Jordan Spieth won his second consecutive Major, putting him on pace to win the single-year Grand Slam
  • Dustin Johnson blew it BIG TIME
  • And, just about everyone has a negative opinion of the course

I’ll say this about Chambers Bay:  it has potential to be one of the most beautiful and amazing golf courses in the country.  The view of the water, the train, the single tree, all the hills and bunkers, the length of the course:  it’s all great!  But, I’m sorry, that grass is a fucking disaster!

As I said up top, I don’t know anything about golf.  I’m sure the fescue is just like what they have in British links courses (whatever that string of words means), but I don’t care.  What I do know is what’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and a bunch of dead looking grass surrounded by taller, deader looking grass is not what I expect to look at when I’m watching ANY golf tournament, let alone a Major.  And those greens?  I have no opinion whatsoever on how they played – though, by most accounts, they were pretty crappy (including that one time where the dude putted and the ball literally bounced up in the air for no reason other than the fact that the green was bumpy as shit) – but the greens LOOKED terrible.  All discolored and splotchy, it was like the greens had fucking lupus!

Photo by Erick Smith ...

Photo by Erick Smith …

Again, maybe that type of grass is supposed to look like that.  Maybe it’s authentic as fuck and golf purists get huge boners over it.  But, to the average fan just watching because it’s a Major, or because they live in the area, it’s grotesque.  Fool us!  Bring in the type of grass that stays green all the time!  Make it look nice!  Don’t embarrass the region all in the name of authenticity.

And, speaking of embarrassing sycophants, the local media should take a long look at themselves for their rampant homerism this week.  Don’t defend that grass!  It’s horrific!  It’s okay to make fun of crybaby golfers like Billy Horschel for acting like a loon out there on the course, but don’t pretend like these guys don’t have a point.  Everyone sees it – everyone with the ability of sight anyway – and everyone thinks it’s ugly as sin.  The ol’ “face only a mother could love” in full effect.  So, don’t pretend you think it’s aesthetically pleasing when it’s so clearly not.

Of course, that being said, it sure made for some interesting game play.  The quality of the greens and the course itself, I’m sure, got into more than a few golfers’ heads.  Watching the cream of the crop rise to the challenge and finish with amazing final rounds was really something to behold and appreciate.  Hell, the fact that Jason Day was even able to finish the four rounds at all deserves a round of applause!

I haven’t seen many tournaments, but I can’t imagine a more exciting finish.  Spieth (with a 2-stroke lead) double-bogeyed the Par 3 17 to fall to a tie for first with Louis Oosthuizen (who’d already wrapped up his round and was in the clubhouse) and Dustin Johnson (who would go on to birdie 17 as he was a hole behind Spieth).  Then, Spieth turned it right around to birdie the Par 5 18 to take a 1-stroke lead (missing a reasonable – though by no means easy – eagle attempt).  THEN, Johnson had an even easier eagle attempt on 18 (though, to be fair, at a slight decline, and of course on the crap-quality greens) to win it outright.  He missed that, then missed the birdie attempt to force an 18-hole playoff, and ended up in a tie for second.  Absolutely electrifying intensity all the way around.

All in all, despite the looks of the grass and the near-constant complaining by golfers and non-FOX pundits alike, I thought it was a great success.  The course itself is different, that’s for sure, and I think it’s something to take pride in.  That having been said, if Chambers Bay ever wants to grab its very own annual tournament (of the non-Major variety), they better compromise on that grass and get something a little more green and professional looking.  Because, there’s one thing even the homerest of homers can’t deny:  if this wasn’t the U.S. Open – if this was just the Taco Del Mar Invitational or whatever – I can guarantee most of the bigtime golfers would’ve skipped it altogether.  They would’ve heeded the advice of advanced scouts, reporters, whathaveyou, and they would’ve said, “No Thanks” to Chambers Bay.

I mean, let’s face it, you’re already talking about a huge challenge just to get people to want to fly all the way up here in the first place.  It’s Washington State!  Unless you’re a golfer who lives on the west coast, you don’t want any part of a cross-country flight to SeaTac.  Then, it’s a buttfuck of a drive from SeaTac to Chambers Bay or anywhere else that’s cool and exciting.  On a good day, it’s taking you about 45 minutes to get there from the airport, and when are there ever any good traffic days in Western Washington?  Then, you want to pile those puke greens on top of it?  I guarantee none of the good golfers would show up and we’d be stuck with the likes of Numbnuts McGee.

Then again, if it means a tournament without Sergio Garcia, could it be THAT bad?

Finally, I’ll end on this:  did the U.S. Open change my views on golf?  I’ll admit, I’m a little more open to it now.  You still sure as shit won’t catch me playing it anytime soon, but I could see myself partaking of more weekend tournaments on the TV.

Especially since my brother and I crafted the perfect drinking game!

  • 1 drink for every birdie
  • 2 drinks for every eagle
  • 1 drink for every bogey
  • 2 drinks for every bogey (and keep increasing drinks for every shot a player hits over par)
  • 1 drink for every time someone says the name of the grass (which would’ve had everyone blacking out for all the times they said “fescue”)
  • Start a “waterfall” (see King’s Cup for the definition of a waterfall) whenever someone in the crowd yells, “Get in the hole!”  You can’t stop drinking until the ball stops rolling.  And, if it’s said on a drive or any shot outside the green – and that shot ends up going in the hole – you have to finish your drink

We’re thinking about doing this next Saturday.  I hope they have golf next Saturday …

Real G’s Move In Silence Like Lasagna: Tahoe, Year Three

One year is a vacation.  Two years is a trend.  But, back-to-back-to-back years going to south Lake Tahoe for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament?  That shit’s a tradition!

I've yet to lose a futures bet and I don't plan on starting now ...

I’ve yet to lose a futures bet and I don’t plan on starting now …

The first year was actually a bachelor party, of which there is no written account.  Here’s what happened in year two; and damn, looking back on it, if I’d put $100 down on Felix to win the ERA title, I’d be sitting on another $800!

As it stands, my Robinson Cano bet came through with flying colors.  $550 to win $500, as he outlasted Adrian Beltre in total Hits, Home Runs & RBI.  The first thing I did after checking in to the Montbleu Casino & Resort was try to cash it in.  Of course, since the baseball season last year ended over 120 days ago, the sportsbook couldn’t honor my ticket.  Apparently, computers have limitless possibilities.  They hold the power to harness just about anything you could possibly imagine!  But, if you’re a sportsbook, computers apparently can’t hold ANY MORE BETTING INFORMATION after 120 days.  So, that’s fucking annoying.  Anyway, all hope is not lost.  I’m told if I simply mail in the ticket, they’ll mail me a check.  It’s not the way I wanted to do it, but I guess I don’t really have a choice in the matter.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on the topic, I like to make at least one futures bet on my way out of Tahoe, just so I have something to look forward to.  Since sports gambling is illegal in Washington state and everything.  In my first Tahoe year, I put $100 on the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl at 7 to 1 odds.  When they beat the Denver Broncos, I was a happy camper in more ways than one.  Last year, I decided to up the ante with my Cano bet.  This year, not only did I up the ante again, but I upped the number of futures bets.  To wit:

  • Seattle Mariners Over 87 Wins, $110 to win $100
  • Seattle Mariners Win 2015 World Series, $100 at 14 to 1 odds
  • Seattle Seahawks Win Super Bowl, $100 at 6 to 1 odds
  • Most Regular Season Strikeouts For A MLB Pitcher Over 260.5, $550 to win $500

As you can tell, I’m banking on a Seattle Sports Renaissance the likes of which we’ve never come REMOTELY close to seeing.  The only one I really feel confident in winning is the strikeouts bet, but I was more confident when the number was 257.5 (what that bet means is:  I just need any pitcher in the Major Leagues to have 261 or more strikeouts by the end of the 2015 season.  Last year, two people achieved this feat – David Price with 271 and Corey Kluber with 269 – but I’m really banking on Max Scherzer’s move to the NL carrying a huge spike in his strikeouts.  Also, for the record, Felix ended last year with 248, which was a career high).

Thanks to last year’s horror show at the roulette table, where I lost $1,600 in the matter of a couple minutes, I decided to take a step back and gamble on other stuff.  My primary weapons ended up being sports bets and slot machines.  My first big wager of this year’s trip was $300 on Hampton +34.5 against Kentucky.  Just needed Hampton to lose by 34 points or less, and lo and behold they did just that!

I did most of my sports gambling on Friday.  Virginia was heavily favored over Belmont, so I took Belmont and the points and won.  Louisville was favored by 9 over UC Irvine.  I took the Cardinals and a bath on that one as they only managed to win by 2.  My big winner of the day ended up being North Dakota State vs. Gonzaga.  The Bulldogs were favored by 17.5, so I bet on the Bison to beat that spread.  Thanks to their crazy barrage of three pointers, I ended up winning that bet, and a parlay with Belmont.  I also won on a prop bet on Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer.  He needed to get over 22 combined points and rebounds to win me $100 and he CRUSHED IT.

My sports gambling on Saturday was the turd in this year’s punchbowl.  I took the OVER on total points in the Kentucky/Cincinnati game (I think it was around 123.5 points combined) and got nowhere near winning that one.  I took Ohio State +10 points against Arizona and they ended up losing by 15.  I slept in too late and missed my chance to bet the OVER on total points in the UCLA/UAB game (which I would’ve crushed).  And, for good measure, I bet on the Mariners to beat the Cubs with Felix on the mound and most of our regulars playing.  YES, it was a Cactus League game, but when in Rome, assholes!  Anyway, the Mariners lost 12-10 and I decided to cut myself off for the rest of the weekend on sports bets.

Luckily, my slot machine game was on point.  I hit a couple of good-sized Wheel of Fortune progressives, winning around $700 each time.  The last time – at about 2am on Saturday night – was the difference between a winning and losing weekend.  I pumped in $300 into the same machine, just waiting to hit one of the big spins.  It took a while, but I got mine.  I entered Tahoe with $2,500 and left Tahoe with $2,900.  Plus, my Cano bet from last year that I need to mail away for, plus the futures bets mentioned above.  All in all, one of my better gambling weekends.

For the record, I’m already locked in to Year Four.  I kinda sorta got suckered in to sitting through a 90 minute timeshare presentation next year, but I think I got a pretty good deal.  For $149, I get four nights and five days at the Montbleu Casino (which is where we always stay anyway).  The guy gave me $100 in what I can only describe as “fun money”.  Brown chips that could only be used on black jack or craps.  Since I don’t play craps, I took it over to black jack.  I would bet only with my brown chips.  If I won a hand, I’d put my winnings aside and let the brown chips ride.  If I lost, they took the brown chips and I’d bet more brown chips until I was out.  I ended up turning $100 in fun money into $125 in real money, so for all intents and purposes, I’m going to stay at the Montbleu next year for four nights for less than $25 (and a 90 minute timeshare presentation).  On top of all that, once I finish the presentation, I get a $100 Visa giftcard to use on whatever I want, so I might have happened upon the deal of the century (assuming, of course, there isn’t some hidden thing waiting to fuck me over).  Bottom line:  I’m 34 years old and I’ve never been involved in one of these things.  I feel like it’s a rite of passage in First World Problems to get suckered into a timeshare presentation at least one time in your life.

Now, it’s only a matter of sitting back and rooting on the home teams.  For the record, if I win my Mariners and Seahawks bets, I might just blow the whole blog up and start fresh with a brand new one.  Why do we put ourselves through this?  For the hundreds of gambling dollars coming our way, that’s why!!!

P.S.  Also, I feel like I need to put this down for the record, because it’s important to me and my people.  While in Tahoe, on Thursday, we retired to one of our hotel rooms to play some beer pong.  My friends and I like to partake in the occasional beer pong session – particularly during tailgate season – and I like to think we’re all pretty good at our favorite drinking pasttime.  Anyway, a buddy and myself were controlling the table.  About two or three games in, we took our first turn of the game against two fresh opponents (as is our right, as we had yet to lose).  In a 6-cup game, on our first shots, we nailed the same cup (which, according to our house rules, means they have to pull & drink three cups, as well as give us balls back for an immediate second turn).  They pulled all the interior cups, leaving us with the three corner cups and huge gaps between each one.  On the same turn, we each nailed the same cup to effectively end the contest.  Without the other team having a turn!  As we play with the troll rule, if you lose a game without ever making a cup, you have to sit under the table during the entirety of the next game.  My buddy and I ended up going undefeated on Thursday, and would go on to troll a second team not too long after.

I just thought you should know:  this was the single greatest achievement in beer pong in my entire life.  Go on about your business.

Seattle Sports Hell Shuts Down For Christmas

Consider me firmly in the camp of people who love Christmas.  Well, I guess secular Christmas?  The part of Christmas that glorifies presents and Santa and over-eating and TV specials and shitty movies and presents and candy and days off of work and decorations and trees inside the home slowly dying and presents and egg nog and, if there’s time, family and togetherness and all that crap.

If you’re reading this on Christmas morning, then rest assured I’m battling a heroic hangover after a night of revelry with my brother and father.  Unless something huge happens in the local sports world, the site is going dark for the weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday, but since I’m taking all of next week off of work, I wouldn’t expect my best effort.  Or, if I’m bored, maybe I’ll go overboard and write thousands upon thousands of words on some really interesting topic (don’t count on it).

As per the usual, I’ve got some links to tide you over.  You know, in the event you need something to read on the shitter while avoiding your family or whatnot.

I never liked All That or Kenan & Kel because I was JUST starting to mature beyond Nickelodeon at the point these shows were popular (plus, they sucked all kinds of dick compared to You Can’t Do That On Television, Salute Your Shorts, Hey Dude, and Clarissa Explains It All), but Kenan Thompson has consistently been THE best part of Saturday Night Live over the many years he’s been there.  Oh, and I’m well aware of all the bigger stars featured in their cast that have come and gone in that time.  I like Bridesmaids as much as the next guy (so, “somewhat”), but Kristen Wiig’s presence on SNL was almost always nails on a chalkboard with her never-funny recurring characters.

Wasn’t the finale of Sons of Anarchy fucking crazy?  Here’s an article from way back in September, before the season started.

Umm, you can count me squarely in the camp that’s fucking STOKED about the return of Twin Peaks.

I got a real Love/Hate thing with Weezer, and I think I’m not alone among Weezer fans.  After the atrocity that was Beverly Hills, I gave up on them forever.  After listening to the Red Album in a time of weakness, it only reinforced my resolve.  Never again, I don’t care how much they try to return to their Blue Album ways.  Also, that line in the article, “Listening to this record felt like being suffocated with a Hawaiian shirt,” is brutal and awesome.

So far, Whiplash is my favorite movie of 2014.  I’ve been on a movie kick recently, so I sort of know what I’m talking about (I also managed to avoid practically every movie from the blockbuster summer months, so don’t come crying to me about Guardians of the Galaxy, because I’m waiting for it to come out on video so I can download it).

Love me some Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and TV show.

If you haven’t been to a Pearl Jam live show, you should.  Even if you don’t really have strong feelings about them one way or the other; their shows are Must See.

Can you imagine The Boz if he just came out of college today?  I think Twitter would implode in on itself.

Finally, I’m going to close with this.  If you asked me for my Top 5 favorite movies of all time, my answer would probably alter slightly depending on my mood at that moment, but in just about every incarnation, The Big Lebowski would show up.  (for shits and giggles, my top five right now – in some order – would be The Big Lebowski, Bloodsport, The Shining, There Will Be Blood, and Pulp Fiction).  Anyway, I came across this recently and I cringed so hard I think I broke a rib.  See, I love The Big Lebowski, but GOD DAMN it’s tough to take a movie seriously when you read about themed weddings and conventions and so forth.  Maybe it’s just me, and I can’t stand being in any club that would have me as a member, but these cult phenomena really suck all the joy out of something for me.  I mean, it’s a fucking miracle that I can still even TOLERATE the film after all the times I’ve quoted it since college (I even used “The Dude Is Not In” as my voicemail greeting for the better part of a decade).  I wouldn’t be caught dead going to a public viewing of the movie, or dressing up as one of the characters.

Seriously, if you want to do a cool, creative movie-themed wedding, why not go with The Shining?  The bride could hold a bat; the groom an ax.  Instead of “walking down the aisle”, have someone build giant Big Wheels to ride.  The cake could be in the shape of the hedge maze.  The wedding programs would be variations on the “All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy” manuscript.  The vows could be actual quotes from the movie (Wendy?  Darling?  Light of my life.  I’m not gonna hurt ya.  You didn’t let me finish my sentence.  I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya.  I’m just going to bash your brains in.  Gonna bash ’em right the fuck in!).  After that, all you need is the musical score playing in the background and someone to dress up as Dick Hallorann to administer the vows (with a little kid to play Danny and do that little finger-talking thing with the rings around it as the Ring Bearer).  Either I’ve just created the perfect theme wedding, or I’m going to die alone, your choice (also, you could substitute all of this for The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Terror segment, “The Shinning”, and it would be equally as amazing).

And, since it’s Christmas, here are my top five Christmas-themed movies (meaning Christmas is a major part of the movie’s theme and plot, and not just the time of year that the movie happens to be taking place; so NO DIE HARD!):

  • It’s A Wonderful Life (an all time classic that still gets me choked up at the end)
  • A Christmas Story (still holds up, even after the millionth viewing on TBS every year)
  • The Ref (by far the funniest Christmas movie ever made)
  • Elf (dangerously getting close to that Big Lebowski “too popular for its own good” territory, but not quite there yet)
  • Scrooged (my favorite take on the Dickens classic, with a manic Bill Murray knocking it out of the park).

Honorable mention goes to The Family Stone (it’s the perfect blend of cliche, preachy, treacly, and white bread that – for whatever reason – works for me for no good reason whatsoever).

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Seattle Sports Hell Goes To Disneyland

If you’re reading this right as it’s posted to the Internet, then I should be on a plane headed to southern California.  So, what’s up with a grown man going with his grown family to Disneyland?  BECAUSE IT’S THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH AND YOU CAN SUCK IT THAT’S WHAT’S UP!

It just sorta happened to fall on this weekend, but it really couldn’t have come at a more perfect time (if you don’t count the fact that the Mariners are involved in a playoff series for the first time since 2001 fucking blew it, so nevermind), what with the Huskies on a BYE and the Seahawks not playing until Monday night.  Anyway, as per usual, the blog goes dark while I’m away, because I’m a control freak and I’ll cry if I want to.

Here are some things for you to read while I’m gone:

This is my favorite thing Bill Simmons ever does.  One of these years, I’m going to go to this sports collector’s convention, I’m going to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars, I’m going to regret most of my purchases, and I’m going to vow to never buy another piece of memorabilia ever again.

Damn, next year’s convention is in Chicago.  Chicago is a place that’s actually WORTH visiting.  Might have to set a reminder to purchase tickets.

As I got into them late in their career, I was never the biggest Outkast fan in the world.  Which is why I didn’t break the bank to go see them at one of the dozens of festival shows they did this year.  Andre 3000 is my jam, though, and I’m pretty excited about his Hendrix movie (even if they weren’t allowed to use any of Hendrix’s songs).

Faith No More is one of my favorite bands of all time.  It’s truly impossible for me to rank my favorites in a definitive order, but they include the likes of:  Faith No More, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Radiohead, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions In The Sky, LCD Soundsystem, and The Flaming Lips.  Before I make this look like my old MySpace account profile too much, I would like to point out that Faith No More has a new album in the works.  And possibly a tour.  With the exception of Aerosmith, PJ, LCD, and the Lips, I missed out on seeing all of these bands play in their prime (I’m counting the early 90s as one of two prime periods for Aerosmith), as I was truly born about 10 years too late.  So, to get a chance to see FNM even 20 years past their prime, will be an opportunity I won’t be able to pass up.

Look, I love Patton and his comedy and many of his movie & TV roles.  And I love the idea of taking a break from the Internet and social media.  I even frequently leave my home without taking my phone with me.  But (aside from that previous sentence), you don’t see me going around writing fart-sniffing articles or blog posts about it.  WHO CARES?

I can be a drunken jackass with the best of ’em, but even I would be too afraid to run out onto the field during a ballgame.  MAYBE if the guarantee of sex was floated out there.

I found this to be way more interesting than I thought it’d be.  In theory, the idea of a rock n’ roll cruise headlined by one of my favorite bands sounds like a cool way to get away from it all.  Until I remember that I generally dislike other people and can’t stand mingling or small talk.  For me to enjoy such an event, I’d have to be wall-to-wall drunk from the minute I stepped onto the boat until the minute I left.  And, I just don’t think my body could withstand the hangover.

Boy, that whole Ray Rice thing is fucked up, huh?

Sarah Silverman is my favorite.  That’s it, just my favorite.

Daily Show Good.  Washington Redskins Fans Bad.  Or, at the very least:  Washington Redskins Fans Crybabies.

I’ve got a lot of issues with these Cosby opening credits rankings.

I always said my fourth tattoo would be of the local team’s logo whenever said team won its first championship.  Well, the Seahawks did that, and yet here I am, with only three tattoos on my person.  This is why no one takes me seriously on my threats!

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Seattle Sports Hell Goes Camping 2014

It’s that time of year again.  Four days:  me and my family in the woods somewhere, drinking lots of Bud Lights, eating shitty hot dogs, playing card games until it’s time to play beer pong, then passing out and starting all over again.

We’re not hikers.

But, it does mean I’m going to be away from the Internet for a while.  I’ll be back in town on Sunday, so maybe I’ll write something then.  Or maybe not.

In the meantime, here is the usual bag of links for your enjoyment.

Top Five MTV Unplugged shows of all time:  #5 – Stone Temple Pilots, #4 – Jay-Z with The Roots, #3 – Pearl Jam, #2 – Alice In Chains, #1 – Nirvana.

This is that Grantland post with all the cool Felix GIFs.  And, some words, I guess.  Also, more Felix Is Awesome.

If you missed the new Comedy Central show “Review”, I REALLY suggest you give it a chance.  If you haven’t seen the pancakes episode, you are missing one of the funniest episodes of television in 2014.  Also, if you’re not watching Nathan For You, then you’re truly missing out on a master at work.

Maybe I’m an idiot, but I really do think Gus Bradley can turn around that Jaguars franchise.

Anybody catch the Steven Hauschka profile in ESPN?

I immediately went home and downloaded a bunch of Steven Seagal movies after reading this.  For the record, Under Siege IS the best Seagal movie, but that’s no fun.  It’s the obvious choice!  As much as people clown on it, I’ve always been into Hard To Kill and that coma beard.

Shit, I really would’ve watched the shit out of Timms Valley!

Tool was the best bad on the planet for a hot minute, but after the genius of Lateralus, they were never the same (there, I said it).

I watched all two hours of this Dave Chappelle / Neal Brennan found-footage documentary about the end of Chappelle’s Show and everything surrounding it.  You need to be a certain kind of comedy nerd to manage that.  Also, for the record, check out Neal Brennan’s latest special; he’s a great stand-up in his own right.

Seinfeld had a recent 25th Anniversary.  My friends and I recently went to a Seinfeld Trivia Night.  We’d all seen the show, seen all the episodes, but I’ll tell you what:  unless you’re a mentally defective, obsessive personality, DO NOT go to one of these themed trivia nights!  Because, unless you can remember this one specific thing that was said one time in one episode in season 3, and unless you can get every single question correct, you might as well not even bother.  There are always people who are trivia-smarter than you out there when it’s narrowed down to one specific topic over the course of the entire night.  Also:  The Lost Seinfeld Episode?

At the height of my dementia, I had well over 1,100 CDs.  Maybe on up to 1,500; I forget the final count.  Had to sell them off when I moved across the country, but now that I’m back, my collection is slowly building again.

Who wouldn’t watch the shit out of a Breaking Bad sequel featuring Slash and Val Kilmer?  Yeah, THAT Slash and THAT Val Kilmer.

Seems pretty crazy that Mike Holmgren doesn’t have a job in football.  But, at least we get him on the radio sometimes.

Being a warm-up comedian sounds like it’s one step above Mime.  And, if you’ve seen Shakes The Clown, you know what I’m talking about.

Those Denver columnists sure are tired of hearing about how great the Seahawks are, aren’t they?

Captain Janks is the man.  I wish I still had access to the Howard Stern show in the mornings instead of the dreck they’ve got here in Seattle.

There must have been a way to squeeze the Foo Fighters in there somewhere in the last decade.  Seriously, give me a fucking break with Deerhunter!

You CAN masturbate to memories!  I’ve done it!

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