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Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Lunch: NFL Week 8 Picks

 

Current Year’s Record

Dylan: 57-31

Evan: 48-40

Nick: 52-36

Will: 49-39

 

  MIA at CIN JAX at DAL WAS at DET BUF at KC CAR at STL GB at NYJ DEN vs SF TEN at SD
Dylan MIA DAL WAS KC STL NYJ DEN TEN
Evan MIA JAX DET KC STL GB DEN TEN
Nick MIA DAL WAS KC STL NYJ DEN TEN
Will MIA DAL WAS KC STL NYJ DEN TEN
  TB at  ARI MIN at NE SEA at OAK PIT at NO HOU at IND    
Dylan TB MIN OAK PIT IND      
Evan TB NE SEA PIT IND      
Nick TB NE SEA PIT IND      
Will TB NE SEA NO IND      

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Lunch: Watch the MLS Playoffs, Please

By Nick Gallaudet

 

I know, it’s almost blasphemous for me. A lifelong baseball fan asking you to watch Major League Soccer’s playoffs when the World Series just started, but please hear me out. First, let me clear a couple things up. I have never seen an MLS game. I hated soccer until recently, but then I made friends with people who live and breathe the sport, so I gave it a chance during the 2010 World Cup. I used to talk about how nothing happened, and that it’s a waste of time watching a sport where it routinely ended in ties. I was used to games ending with a winner, and I think that’s why, like a lot of Americans, I got sucked into the World Cup. If you’re reading this right now, you probably watched Landon Donovan show Algeria that Karim Matmour had nothing on us Americans. If you haven’t seen the Youtube clip of all the barroom reactions to his goal, watch it now (and note Davis’ cameo, starring some Sack Lunch writers). Soccer had legs in America after the World Cup, despite America’s exit in the Round of 16. The bottom line is that I learned something from the World Cup: Soccer can be exciting…and octopi are psychic.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the World Cup, so I thought it was about time for me to see what this worldwide obsession was all about. I tried so hard to follow the English Premier League this year, since it’s widely regarded as the best professional league in the world, but I just couldn’t for multiple reasons. The games happen at like 4 in the morning, they’re rarely televised in the U.S., only four teams ever have a chance to win, and there are no playoffs, so there are a lot of seemingly meaningless games. On top of all that, I had no allegiance to any of the teams. My interest quickly faded, especially with football starting up.

 

I had pretty much given up on my attempt to become a soccer fan, except I made a promise to fellow Sack Luncher, Evan that I would watch the MLS Playoffs. I was hesitant at first, because I really didn’t care about the EPL and thought MLS was a minor league version, but I am in no way qualified to decide how one soccer league stacks up against another. Plus, the four things that kept me from watching the EPL didn’t apply to MLS. All of the playoff games will be available to watch, eight teams are in the playoffs, and anything can happen in the playoffs. There are obviously playoffs, and all of these games will be important, so I decided to give it a try.

 

I’m actually pretty excited for them, even though I don’t have a team, hopefully that will work itself out as the playoffs unfold. Evan says the soccer is usually pretty good, and there are always fights, drama, and ridiculous comebacks, so without further ado, I would like to present to you, the Soccer Neophyte’s Guide to Watching Playoff Soccer (SNGWPS) and invite you to join me. I feel as though I need to explain to you how the playoffs work, though, since soccer apparently can’t do anything normally (but I have to be honest, I do like the way they seed the teams).

 

First, eight of the 16 teams make the playoffs, the first two teams from both the Eastern and Western Conference, and then the next four teams, regardless of conference, and it just so happens that those four teams are all from the Western Conference this year. The first round of games is a home-away series (each game is called a leg), and the team with the highest goal differential advances to the next round, and if it’s tied after both legs, it goes to overtime and then PKs. In the next round (stupidly called Conference Finals, since it’s possible that all four teams could be from the Western Conference), as well as the MLS Cup Final, it’s a one game, winner-take-all showdown, which I like because I think it creates a more exciting game.

 

I truly have no idea what to expect from an MLS game. I don’t know what the skill level will be like, I don’t know if I’ll even be able to tell the difference between these guys and national teams, but I don’t really care. I enjoy watching people play their hearts out for a title, and if the World Cup was any indication, it gets pretty exciting when both teams want something that bad, plus the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy is kind of cool looking, so join me as us soccer newcomers dip our toes a little farther into the pool of soccer.

Now that we got all that out of the way, it’s time for some expert analysis. These are your eight playoff teams: NY Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders FC, Colorado Rapids, and San Jose Earthquakes. The Galaxy won’t win, because Cobi Jones retired in 2007, and Landon Donovan is no Cobi Jones. The Crew won’t win because their team name stinks, FC Dallas won’t win because Tony Romo broke his collarbone, and the Red Bulls won’t win because the French tried to take over our colonies in the Seven Years War, and we haven’t forgotten, Thierry, plus we don’t allow handballs in America. We all know the winner will be the Real Salt Lake, because they linked the Sack Lunch to their official blog, so obviously they know a winner when they see one.

 

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Lunch: Another One Bites the Dust

By Dylan Davis
 
This is getting a little bit ridiculous. For the third Saturday in a row, the top ranked team lost on the road to a ranked conference foe. This week, AP #1 Oregon travels to southern California to face the Trojans; could the Ducks make it a four in a row? Oklahoma-Missouri was the biggest upset of the day, but it wasn’t even close to being the biggest college football game. It was overshadowed by the Giants game, which was on at the same time, but also by the ridiculous outing Cam Newton had against a supposedly stout LSU defense. Let’s get right into what we learned on Saturday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday Lunch: Put the Old Donkeys Down

By Will Robinson
 
Ugh. That’s all I have to say about NFL Week 7. Ugh. My beloved Broncos were trounced in a game with the same margin of defeat as this semi-important game one. Denver left Zach Miller WIDE open for a 43-yard touchdown, Kyle Orton threw a pick-six, and Darren McFadden scored a rushing touchdown… and that was the first six minutes of the game. Oakland was responsible for the first 38 points of the game, and Denver failed to score until 1:56 left in the first half. They opened up the 2nd half with a quick score, but then allowed Oakland to score the next 21 points, to end the game 59-14. I couldn’t turn off the game until after the 3rd quarter. Yes, it was a bit masochistic, but I was genuinely interested to see how many touchdowns McFadden could get. I wanted him to get another, for fun, to bring his total to 5. I was glad Coach McD took full blame for the game, but really, the players executed horrifically. I guess they’re trying to take the harder way to 11-5 (kidding…). Fortunately, they travel to London and play the Alex Smith-less and very disappointing 49ers.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Lunch: MLS MVP, Best XI, and Playoff Preview

By Evan Ream
 
Another MLS season is in the books, and with just the playoff games left to decide the Cup winner, it is time to hand out my post-season awards. There were many deserving candidates this year in David Ferreira, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Javier Morales, and Omar Cummings, but I have to go with the man, the myth, the legend, the WONDO. Chris Wondolowski had an MLS season for the ages. The man almost single handedly guided the Earthquakes into the playoffs. With 18 goals, Wondo accounted for over 50% of his teams goals. Wondo was one of only three Earthquakes to score multiple goals. Second on the team to his EIGHTEEN were Ike Opara (a rookie defender) and Arturo Alvarez (the most inconsistent player in the history of soccer) with 3 goals each. A lot of pundits have been pointing out the fact that Wondo only had 1 assist on the entire season, but with numbers like this it is clear that Wondo had no one to pass to. In addition, many of his goals came from either right midfield, or while he was partnered up top with the terrible Cornell Glen.
 
When it comes down to it, the way I define the Most Valuable Player award is the player that means the most to his team. FC Dallas scored eight fewer goals this year than they did last year; the reason for their success this year wasn’t their offense, but the improvement of their defense. Thus, David Ferreira is cut out of my vote. When Donovan and Buddle went to the World Cup, LA didn’t really miss a beat. In fact, their team didn’t really start to slump until they came back and even then, they still finished with nearly 60 points and set a franchise record with 18 wins (post shootout). Javier Morales was on by far the best overall and deepest team in the league and when he was hurt, they didn’t miss him. Omar Cummings had a good season as well, but you couldn’t key on just him because Colorado has Conor Casey as well. In the end Wondo, isn’t just the best candidate, he is the only candidate. Of his 18 goals, 9 were game winners and the Earthquakes only won 13 games. Pretty much the only difference between this year’s Earthquakes team and last year’s was the play of Wondo. I don’t know what else can be said, the man was a genius.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Midnight Lunch Special: NFL Week 7 Picks

 

Current Year’s Record (Recalculated, 100% accurate):

Dylan: 48-26

Evan: 38-36

Nick: 43-31

Will: 41-33

 

  CIN at ATL WAS at CHI STL at TB SF at CAR BUF at BAL PHI at TEN JAX at KC PIT at MIA
Dylan ATL WAS STL CAR BAL PHI KC PIT
Evan ATL WAS TB SF BAL TEN KC PIT
Nick ATL CHI TB CAR BAL PHI KC PIT
Will ATL CHI STL SF BAL PHI KC PIT
  CLE at NO ARI at SEA NE at SD OAK at DEN MIN at GB NYG at DAL    
Dylan NO SEA NE DEN MIN NYG    
Evan NO SEA SD DEN GB NYG    
Nick NO SEA NE DEN MIN NYG    
Will NO SEA NE DEN GB NYG    

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Lunch Special: NY Red Bulls Game Report

By Kenny Durell
 
Kenny Durell here, coming in from 3,000 miles to the East as an off-and-on again correspondent on live sporting events out here for my Sack Lunch-ers back in Davis. Well, it’s now a few weekends ago, but looking back, where I went and what I did was hands-down one of the best sporting events of my life, regardless of sport: an MLS game at the Red Bull Arena between the New York Red Bulls and the Kansas City Wizards. I journeyed out to the New Jersey hinter land (yeah, don’t let the New York name fool you; like the Jets and Giants, the Red Bulls play across the water in the Garden State) with two other Davisites, and hardcore fútbol fans, Isaac and Dot,  who also both go to school on the East Coast for college. 1
 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Lunch: Over and Over Again

By Dylan Davis

Another week, another number one team losing on the road. This college football season has started to gather momentum in the past few weeks and the losses of Ohio State and Alabama have been the headliners. There have been upsets and exciting games. Electric players and surprise teams. Let’s give out some first half awards, shall we?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday Lunch: NFL Week 6 Picks

 

Current Year’s Record:

Dylan: 39-21

Evan: 32-30

Nick: 35-25

Will: 30-32

 

  SEA at CHI MIA at GB SD at STL BAL at NE NO at TB DET at NYG ATL at PHI CLE at PIT
Dylan CHI MIA SD NE TB NYG PHI PIT
Evan CHI GB SD BAL TB DET ATL PIT
Nick CHI MIA SD BAL TB NYG ATL PIT
Will CHI MIA SD NE NO NYG ATL PIT
  KC at HOU OAK at SF NYJ at DEN DAL at MIN IND at WAS TEN at JAX    
Dylan KC OAK NYJ DAL IND TEN    
Evan HOU SF NYJ MIN IND TEN    
Nick KC SF NYJ DAL IND TEN    
Will HOU SF NYJ MIN IND TEN    

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Lunch: Fantasy Football – Week 6

By Nick Gallaudet
 
Week 5 was another perplexing week in the NFL. It looks like some teams just are not who we thought they were. Supposedly, good teams keep underperforming, and nobodies come out on top of the fantasy leaderboards, so here’s to a high scoring week.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Lunch: Livin’ on a Prayer

By Dylan Davis
 

Yes, we are halfway there and one of the most famous/awesome songs of the 1980’s could very well be the anthem for a lot of teams this college season. Boise State and TCU have to pray that the big teams ahead of them lose to make it to the title game. Nebraska and Auburn have to pray that their star dual threat quarterbacks stay healthy as they get into the meat of their schedule. LSU obviously already has divine help as they’ve come out on top of numerous games this year that they had no business winning. The entire Big East is praying that everyone forgets about them until basketball season starts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Lunch: …I Got Nothing

By Will Robinson
 
Sorry, no pun. Week 5 is in the books, and I cannot distinctly remember a weirder, more parity-filled start to a season. There are no undefeated teams remaining, which is apparently the first time since 1970 that there has not been at least one time standing through five weeks. Let’s get to the action.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Lunch: USA vs. Poland Recap

By Evan Ream
 
Before I start this column, I would like to give a shout out to the guys at Yanks Abroad Video Highlights. Without him, neither Will nor I would have been able to watch this game. Now that that’s over, on to the game!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Lunch Special: NFL Week 6 Picks

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Friday Lunch Special: Replay Needs to Happen for MLB

By Nick Gallaudet

 

Replay in Major League Baseball needs to happen right now. I am tired of hearing the argument that imperfect umpiring is part of the game. On Thursday, there were calls in each of the three division series games that ended up deciding games. A check swing by Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young was incorrectly called by first base umpire Jerry Meals, and Young hit a 3-run homer later in the at bat to put the game out of reach. The Yankees/Twins game featured one of the worst strike zones I’ve seen in an MLB game. Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt was giving pitchers the low and away strike to lefties, and wouldn’t call the inside corner. To be fair, the zone was consistent the entire game (which, as a baseball player, is all you can ask for) but the fact that clear strikes were not called is inexcusable. The zone ended up factoring majorly in the game’s outcome, as Yankee DH Lance Berkman took what should have been a called third strike, but was given a second life because of Wendelstedt’s poor zone. In the same at bat, Berkman doubled in the tiebreaking run in the top of the 7th. The worst call of the night, however, happened in the last game of the day. The Braves and Giants are both led by their pitching staffs, so everyone knew runs were going to be at a premium. The Giants won 1-0 behind a dominating performance by pitcher Tim Lincecum, but that is not the story. Giants catcher Buster Posey stole 2nd base in the 4th inning, and was clearly tagged out before he reached the bag, but he was called safe by 2nd base umpire Paul Emmet. Posey would have been the 3rd out of the inning and later scored on a single by Cody Ross.

 

The bottom line is that in all three games on Thursday, the umpires blew calls that essentially decided the game. The worst part, however, is that some people aren’t outraged. If you had the misfortune of watching the Yankees/Twins game on TBS, you were treated to former pitcher John Smoltz’s rant about replay. He argued that replay should only be used on plays where runs are scored, since runs are the only thing that matter in baseball. This is preposterous to me. Baseball is different than any other sport, runs can be scored on any pitch. None of the calls Thursday directly involved scoring a run, yet all of them led to runs being scored. Under Smoltz’s plan, none of those calls would have been reviewed, and we’d be in the exact same spot today.

 

There are some common arguments against the use of replay in baseball. One of them, and to me, the most nonsensical, is umpires mess up just like the players and managers, and the players and managers don’t get re-dos, so why should the umps? True, errors are part of the game, that’s why there is a stat category for them, but blown calls are not supposed to be. Umpires are there to get the calls right. People drop passes and fumble in the NFL, but referees are not expected to make mistakes as well. Officials are there to make sure rules are enforced and the correct calls are made, and replay should be used as a tool to ensure fair games.

 

Another criticism is that the games would be even longer than they already are, which, to be honest, is pretty long. This is ridiculous as well. People who stand by this argument are assuming every single close play would be reviewed, which is completely unreasonable. The simple solution is to do what the NFL did, and give managers a certain number of challenges, and then have a replay umpire review plays from the 7th inning on, just like with the 2 minute warning in football. This way, the integrity of the game would still be preserved, as the umpire error factor would not be completely removed from the game, and it would fall on the managers’ shoulders to use his challenges wisely… it works well enough in the NFL.

 

I do understand there are instances where replay cannot be utilized. Judgment calls, such as the strike zone, check swings, and interference cannot be subject to replay, as they are the umpires’ opinion. Two of the calls on Thursday would have fallen into this category, yes, but that is something that truly is part of the game. Safe/out, fair/foul, and homerun calls need to subject review, though. There is no excuse for letting blown calls impact playoff games, and a challenge system similar to the one in the NFL needs to be implemented. Reviews would not take that long, and replay has already worked so well in Major League Baseball. It is silly and irresponsible not to utilize the technology we have to ensure a fair and equal opportunity for both teams to win. The people that argue that replay would tarnish baseball’s historic legacy are full of hot air, and they clearly aren’t A’s, Tigers, or Cardinals fans.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday Lunch: Fantasy Football – Week 5

By Nick Gallaudet
 
The fantasy world was shaken Wednesday with the blockbuster trade of WR Randy Moss to the Vikings. What does this mean for your fantasy team? Well initially, one would think that QB Tom Brady’s value decreases, but I expect WR Brandon Tate to step into the burner role vacated by Moss, and while Moss is a huge weapon to lose, I think Brady will continue to put up consistently good numbers. Also, WR Brandon Tate is now a must-add off the waiver wire. QB Brett Favre will finally have a weapon at the WR position, but I’m still not sold on his value yet. He’s looked awful this year (if you have Favre, I would try to trade him, because I personally don’t think his value will get any higher than it is right now). Also, it’s hard for Moss’ production to go down from his zero catches last week, but I think he will be utilized a lot. Favre will force it to him, and while it may not be the best thing for the Vikings, it will be good for Moss’ numbers.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Lunch: A Moment of Clarity

By Dylan Davis
 
Every January, college football brings us a few teams that stand out from the rest of the pack. These teams consistently dominated their foes throughout the year and deserved to be mentioned among the elite for that season. In 2008, it was Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas who played at the highest level, and that showed in the final rankings. Last year it was again the Gators, Tide, and Longhorns that stood head and shoulders above the rest (you could also make an argument for Boise State in this group.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday Lunch: Let's Give Some Props to Kyle Orton

By Will Robinson
Kyle Orton Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos delivers a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 4, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.
Instead of writing my traditional weekly recap, I will be doing something different today. One, because I missed 83% of the NFL action while travelling, but two, I want to talk about Kyle Orton.

 
Yes, the same Kyle Orton I cursed many-a-time after the Jay Cutler deal. I absolutely hated Josh McDaniels for dealing Cutler in the spring of 2009, as he had franchise QB written all over him. For those that don’t recall, Denver traded Jay Cutler and a fifth round pick for the Bears’ 2009 1st/3rd picks, their 2010 first round pick, and Kyle Orton. After the drafts, the trade ending up involving these players:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Lunch: Making Sense of the USMNT Roster

By Evan Ream
 
As most of you will undoubtedly know, the roster for USA’s upcoming friendlies against Poland (October 9th) and Colombia (October 12th) has been released. As always with Bob Bradley, there were a few surprises. Before I go over what I think the roster means, here is the roster (note: Brek Shea and Heath Pearce, the only MLS players on the roster are not expected to play in the Poland game as they both play the Colorado Rapids that same night):

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Lunch: NFL Week 4 Picks

Current Year’s Record:
Dylan:   19-13
Evan:    14-18
Nick:    19-13
Will:     15-17



DEN at TENSF at ATLNYJ at BUFCIN at CLEDET at GBSEA at STLCAR at NOBAL at PIT
DylanDENATLNYJCLEGBSTLNOPIT
EvanTEN ATL NYJ CIN GBSTL NOPIT
NickTEN ATL NYJ CIN GBSTL NO PIT
WillDENATLNYJCINGBSTLNOPIT

HOU at OAKIND at JAXWAS at PHIARI at SDCHI at NYGNE at MIA

DylanHOUINDWASSDNYGNE

EvanHOU IND WAS SDNYG MIA

NickHOU IND WAS SD NYG MIA

WillHOUINDPHISDNYGNE