Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clipped Wings

The Eagles thankfully released the two worst "football players" from their team today. Todd Pinkston and Koy Detmer got the axe to the delight of fans everywhere. Except, of course, in Minnesota, who reportedly has interest in Pinkston.

I'll never forgive Pinkston for being a sissy...his alligator arms against Washington, and his "lack of focus" against Carolina are forever burned in my memory as moments I was embarrassed to call myself an Eagles fan.

Koy, at least, provided a good memory or two over the years...the inexplicable spanking motions he made in Brett Favre's direction after he threw a TD pass, the fantastic half of play in a Monday Night game against San Francisco before getting injured, and the valiant almost-comeback he led in the playoffs (before he predictably threw a pick in the end zone.) You have to give the guy credit...he looked more like a water boy, or the guy that water boys beat up, than a football player. I've seen third-grade girls who were taller and had more arm strength, but he somehow managed a multi-year NFL career. He even had a bright moment here and there. While I have no hard feelings for Koy (unlike Todd, who I hope is hit by a bus on his way out of town), it's clear that his better days were behind him and it was time for the team to move on.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

NFL divisional previews

Just a heads up - this blog will be football-centric over the next couple of weeks as I write previews for each NFL team by division. I realize that approximately 0% of my readership cares, but it's amusing for me to make predictions in writing, so that I can revisit them later in the year. Normally I'm way off, and I'm sure that this year will be no different.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Deep speed

The Eagles traded for a wideout today, and they got themselves a pretty sweet deal. Donte Stallworth had 70 catches, 945 yards, and 7 TDs for a pretty bad Saints team last season. He has legitimate deep speed to stretch the field. Other than a history of nagging injuries, he's pretty much exactly what the Eagles needed to force defenses to respect the deep pass, and open up the shallow crossing routes.

They were forced to trade away Mark Simoneau, a back-up LB, and a conditional fourth-round pick. Simoneau will be missed, as he was capable of filling in admirably at all three positions.

Stallworth is no Deion Branch, but he's definitely going to help this team in a big way. He immediately becomes the most experienced, and most dangerous, receiver on the Eagles. This will cause a shake-up on the depth chart, and hopefully is the last episode in the career of Todd Pinkston.

Here's how I see the receivers shaking out: Brown and Stallworth starting, with Avant staying in his #3 role in the slot. Baskett drops to #4 on the depth chart, as the primary backup to either Brown or Stallworth. Greg Lewis and Jabar Gaffney filling out the roster, with Bloom on IR. That leaves no room for Pinkston, and that couldn't make me happier.

This team is poised to have a special year if they can stay healthy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Music gives you AIDS!

A new study finds a link, for young men, between listening to certain types of music and contracting AIDS.

I'm not sure what's funnier...the fact that someone actually bothered to do this study, and then publish the results...or the hilariously predictable results.

The first killer genre is gospel music. More proof that the surest way to screw up your kid is to never talk about sex, or better yet, teach them that sex is shameful. Kids of religious parents, who go to church and listen to gospel music, are far less likely to buy and use condoms (go figure).

The second killer genre is techno. Shockingly, there is a correlation between prancing around on a dance floor to sissy music and getting fucked up the ass. I never would have guessed, but luckily, science is there to point these things out.

While it is entertaining, I can't think of a single useful action to be taken as a result of this study. What new insight does this give us? How can we use this knowledge to prevent the spread of AIDS? I'd love to see more warning labels on CDs (WARNING: This music is known to increase desire for having your anus bruised by a cock. The FCC recommends that you listen to this only while staring at naked women.)

Maybe we need to change some lyrics. Include subtle safe-sex messages in gospel music (Angels we have heard on high/Screaming out with legs spread wide/Singing praises to the sky/A sheathed Johnson between their thighs) while encouraging heterosexual techno hits like Pussy Tastes Better Than Ass.

Seriously though, DMX on the iPod won't make you straight, and listening to NIN won't encourage you run to the drugstore to buy condoms (although it may lead to suicide, which has the fortunate side effect of slowing the spread of AIDS.) So what the hell is the point of this research again?

Another breakthrough study found that slapping your wife around in front of your kid may encourage aggressive behavior from your kid as well. Wow. My knees tremble in the presence of such breaktaking scientific genius. Finally, a reason to stop beating my wife.

Coming soon: a study that demonstrates a correlation between stab wounds and blood loss.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Eagle weaknesses

Even though the Eagles were winning 10-3 when the starters came out tonight, this game exposed some weaknesses.

  • The receivers were never open. They had no separation. As a result, the offense struggled to move the ball. Aside from a single broken play and some Balitmore penalties, the Eagles offense was stagnant. This is going to be a lingering problem. Speaking of receivers, where is Reggie Brown? I keep reading that he is having a great camp, but he's not even getting looks in the games. Are defenses actually rolling coverage to his side? Or is he just unable to shake a single defender?

  • The front seven did a nice job against the run, holding Jamal Lewis to 3 yards/carry. But they did not generate consistent pressure on McNair (14-18-180) and as a result, he completed a ton of passes and kept drives going on third down. Matt McCoy needs to work on his pass rush...the two times I saw him blitz, he was single-blocked by the RB. That's not going to cut it. I'd rather see Barber starting on the weak side, until McCoy is a little more polished.

  • The back-up OL, once again, looked horrendous. This is troubling, as I was expecting the Eagles to have great depth at this position.

My optimism has been tempered by this game. Clearly the dominating performances by the Eagles starters in the previous two contests were a reflection of the poor competition. Against a good defense, the Eagles will have trouble moving the ball all season. Westbrook is their scariest option in the passing game, and when he's injured, I expect them to struggle mightily.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I miss Saddam

So we have "peace" in Lebanon. Way to go, U.N. You're doing a bang-up job.

The terms of the peace agreement are already being broken. Hezbollah isn't exactly volunteering to be disarmed, and Lebanon's "army" sure as hell isn't capable of doing anything about it. France, meanwhile, after being some of the biggest pacifist blowhards at the U.N. meeting, is suddenly dragging its feet about sending troops. No great loss, though, as France hasn't had a military victory since Napolean marched on Russia. I'm not sure what U.N. troops would be doing there anyway, as they may not have the authority to fire on Hezbollah troops "engaged in warfare or gunrunning". Wow. So if they can't fire on troops engaged in warfare, when exactly can they fire? Only the U.N. could come up with an idea like that - troops that don't have the authority to fire their weapons. Why even give them guns? We can give them huge banners that say PLEASE STOP KILLING EACH OTHER. Or, even better, let's just send a division of cheerleaders to Lebanon. Scantily-clad ones, preferably, tempting Muslim boys to join in our Western decadence. Give them a reason to live instead of sacrificing their lives to a pointless jihad.

Saddam Hussein was a cruel and terrible leader. No question that Iraqis are better off without him, even though they can't find anything better to do with their new freedom than blow each other up. But he wasn't the real bad guy in the Middle East. While Saddam was prancing around, pretending that he had some nasty WMDs under the covers, Iran was actually gearing up for a fight. They armed Hezbollah with Russian weapons through Syria. Hezbollah created huge underground bunkers and weapons caches for a protracted battle with Israel. Meanwhile, they restarted their uranium enrichment program in an effort to make a nuclear bomb.

Side note: do you think that for one instant, these self-destructive terrorists would even hesitate to use a nuclear weapon against Israel? Israel knows this, and they will attack Iran if we can't find a way to stop the bomb-making. The campaign against Hezbollah was a pre-emptive strike, hoping to weaken the enemy on their flank so they could concentrate on a war with Iran. The whole invasion has been planned for months in joint discussions between Israel and Washington. War with Iran is coming, and sooner than you think.

Iran is the real bad guy in this region, the country that could do serious damage. They are skillfully manipulating diplomacy with Syria, Russia, China, Venezuela...buying themselves time to prepare for an all-out war with Israel, and ensuring that they have enough allies to make it painful for the U.S. to get involved.

Imagine, for a moment, if Iran's mortal enemy was still in power next door. Saddam's joke of an army had been giving them fits for decades, and they'd be a lot less anxious to pick a fight if he was still around. Imagine if we hadn't ruined our international credibility by lying about the presence of WMDs to justify a war with Iraq. Imagine if we hadn't inflamed Arabs all over the world by invading a country and occupying it, acting in accordance with their imperialistic views of America. Imagine if our troops weren't tied up in Iraq. We'd be in the perfect position to do some selected air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities - with full international support - and have the military might to crush any response. Instead, we are spread thin, hated by the world, and public support for fighting in the Middle East is non-existent. We are exactly where the Iranians want us, and they are pushing their advantage.

Don't mistake the peace in Lebanon for a sign that the crisis is passed. The world is going to war, and we're going along with it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Movie Review: The Aristocrats

A fascinating documentary about a joke that every comedian knows, but you've never heard. It's not even a funny joke, but this movie will have you laughing anyway. Interviews with an amazing range of comedians, from Phyllis Diller and Rip Taylor to Steven Wright and George Carlin, about the origins and lifespan of this joke.

Once or twice I felt like the movie was dragging, but a funny scene was right around the corner to pull me out of my malaise. If you like comedy at all, and you aren't easily offended, I'd recommend this movie.

Someone like Jeff Deppen would really like this flick. Too bad he didn't show up to watch it.

Eagles 20, Browns 7

Even though the score was better, the starters were not as impressive as the first game. Penalties were a real problem on both sides of the ball. A few notes:

  • McNabb was sharp again, although most of his passes were to the check-down back. Since Cleveland seemed to be rushing 3 and dropping 8 a lot, I guess that isn't surprising.

  • The starting offensive line was good, not great. McNabb had no pressure at all when he dropped back to pass. Garcia was sacked once while the starters were still in the game, as Thomas never got into position to pick up his man after the TE released. Running lanes were open, but the motley collection of RBs didn't take advantage (due to injuries, the Eagles were starting their 4th-string HB.)

  • The starting defensive line was good, but not dominating. Cleveland had a couple of nice gains on the ground, and Frye had too much time to pass.

  • Hank Baskett made a great catch with a defender all over him. The good news is that he made the catch, the bad news is that he wasn't able to get any separation from the DB. This will be his story throughout the year. He's an athletic receiver with a big body, but not much speed. Think of a less-talented Michael Irvin.

  • Jabar Gaffney continues to be invisible, but Darnarien McCants is making a strong push for a roster spot. I might keep McCants over Greg Lewis. Gaffney has to come around...he caught 55 balls in a horrific Houston offense last year, so he can definitely play.

  • The back-up OL was fantastic, giving Jeff Garcia time to throw.

  • The back-up DL was again strong, with great performances from Cole and Ramsey. Bunkley showed amazing strength on one play, bull-rushing his blocker directly back into the QB. McDougle finally had a sack. This DL is 10 deep and is going to create some real problems on cutdown day. (Maybe Cleveland would like one of them for Lee Suggs or William Green?) Even bottom-of-the-depth-chart Keyonta Marshall played well, and he should be on an NFL team this year.

  • I like Omar Gaither. Matt McCoy plays hard, but seemed to get caught out of position a couple times. Chris Gocong wasn't on the field again. Jason Short is a special teams animal, but I don't see how he makes the team with the young LBs they drafted.

  • Jason Davis and Thomas Tapeh both looked good running the ball, but where are the roster spots for these guys?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Eagles pre-season game #1

Slow getting this posted, but I can't wait much longer, since their second game is tomorrow already.

The Eagles' first team looked very sharp in limited action on Sunday night.

  • The defense held the Raiders to -3 yards in two series. The defensive line was dominating, both against the run and the pass.

  • The offense scored a touchdown on their only drive, running the ball effectively and completing all three pass attempts.

  • The starting offensive line had their way with the Raiders. Aside from one missed block on a running play, they were essentially flawless.

  • McNabb was very accurate. On two of the three passes, the receivers had very little separation and he threw it to the correct shoulder of the receiver.

The biggest negative was the back-up offensive linemen. Once the starters left the game, there were no running lanes and no time for the QBs to throw. Granted, there were a lot of in-game injuries, but the play of Max Jean-Gilles and Troy Darilek was especially disappointing. I'm expecting these guys to step up and be contributors this year, but they need to improve quickly.

Trent Cole and Juqua Thomas had great games, and look like the real deal at DE. Jerome McDougle continues to be unimpressive. I realize he hasn't played football for two years, but I keep waiting for this guy to show some flashes of the physical talent he's supposed to have. I just don't see it.

Matt McCoy and Greg Richmond were unspectacular but serviceable. Where was Chris Gocong? I didn't stay awake for the fourth quarter, but I didn't see him at all up to that point. Omar Gaither is better than expected, in spite of his mental error on the 27-yard halfback pass.

LaJuan Ramsey looks like a player, and he may end up costing Ed Jasper or Sam Rayburn a spot on the roster. Unless the Eagles keep six DTs, there's a good player at this position who is going to be cut.

The WR logjam may resolve itself through injuries. Jeremy Bloom and Todd Pinkston could both end up on the IR, or at least the PUP, to start the season. That leaves Brown and Baskett starting, Gaffney in the slot as the #3, Lewis #4, and Avant #5. Gaffney needs to improve or he's going to slide down the depth chart. The only pass that went in his direction on Sunday was intercepted, because he stumbled coming out of his break. I really thought he'd excel in this offense, but instead he's been invisible. The Eagles like the trio of Brown, Baskett, and Avant a lot, but they are obviously very raw. Ignore the rumors about Lelie...I can't see the Eagles adding another disgruntled receiver to the fold, even though he'd be a decent fit. This receiving corps does lack deep speed, and should Pinkston remain injured, Lelie would offer a vertical threat.

Anyway, looking forward to tomorrow's game against Cleveland. I expect the starters to dominate in another brief appearance. If the young LBs, WRs, and OL make some progress, I'll be delighted.

Aside: Great job extending Brian Dawkins' contract. I would have signed him to a two-year extension, and that's exactly what the Eagles did. Now get to work on Michael Lewis.

Foregone conclusion

Lost 8-1 (or perhaps 9-1, I stopped paying attention) in our brief playoff appearance. Our cause was not helped by the fact that our two best players were not in attendance, but we'd have lost anyway.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Humps

More proof that the media misrepresents scientific findings, by confusing correlation and causality.

Here's a quote from the article:

Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.

Here's the title of the article:

Sexual lyrics prompt teens to have sex

I don't claim to have any scientific insight into the results of this study, but I'm intelligent enough to understand the differences between correlation and causality. Yet the results of this study are misrepresented as proof of causality. Careless, or intentionally deceptive, reporting gives more power to the thought police.

How long before this study is used as "evidence" by some conservative group that demands expanded censorship of music, to protect our children? This is only a minor example of how our freedom is chipped away, but it's important to fight against even the smallest evidence of erosion.

Never mind that teens have been having sex since, oh I don't know, the beginning of fucking Time. Never mind that when you spend every moment thinking about sex anyway, a song about sex just might be something you want to listen to. Never mind that teens who hang out in certain social circles, or come from certain demographics, might be more likely to both listen to popular music and have sex. Never mind that this was a self-reported phone study, and teens are prone to lying about sex.

Just ignore all that mental noise and uncertainty. Take a prozac, slide your brain into cruise control, and let the media do your thinking for you. Instead of spending time with your kids, just make sure that Nanny Pop Culture is clean enough to raise them for you. Why go to the trouble of teaching them right and wrong, when you can just legislate away their exposure to anything "wrong"?

Friday, August 04, 2006

World at War

Israel continues to pound Lebanon and the West Bank on a daily basis. They've been backed into a no-win situation...the people of Israel rightfully demanded action by their goverment when rockets were striking their towns and soldiers were kidnapped from their own soil. But each day that Israel kills more civillians, the support for militant Islam grows in Arab countries.

So what is a nation to do? How can Israel possibly extract a victory from this situation?

The first step is this: a temporary, conditional ceasefire. Olmert should release a statement along these lines:

"As of midnight tonight, the IDF will pull back all troops to within Israeli borders, and all military actions on foreign soil will cease. If the rocket attacks into Israel stop, and the missing soldiers are returned, then the ceasefire will continue indefinitely. If the rocket attacks continue, or the kidnapped soldiers are not returned within seven days, Israel will be forced to defend her citizens through further military actions."

There are several reasons that make this the best option:

  • The strategic gains of additional military actions are minimal. All high-value, easily-identified targets have already been destroyed.
  • Each day that more Lebanese and Palestinian civilians are killed, support for Hizbollah and Hamas grows in the Arab world, and support for Israel in the non-Arab world continues to wane.
  • By acting first and extending the olive branch, the pressure now shifts to the Hizbollah and Hamas leadership. Seeing a way out of the conflict, Lebanese and Palestinian people should pressure these organizations into accepting the terms of peace.
  • Israel retains the option of additional military force if their terms are not met.
  • France could stop whining and start sending their forces to southern Lebanon.

We are on a dangerous brink. The U.S. and Israel are precipitously close to fighting multi-front wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Iran. While war with these insane extremists may be inevitable, it is important that we manage the engagement properly. The only way to successfully fight these wars is with united international support. And the daily bombing of civillians is not the way to garner support.

So what do you say, Ehmud? How about stepping up and making a bold move toward peace? Yes, you were quite justified to go after the bastards who attacked Israel, but at this point, any short-term military gains you might achieve are overshadowed by the long-term gains in support for militant Islam. You have proven the strength of Israel's deterrence, you've satisfied the populace's demand for an aggressive response, and you've destroyed the infrastructure of the enemy. Now is the time to pull back and think of the future.

Hockey update

We're in the playoffs! The Hounds tied on Wednesday, so we squeaked in. Our game is Monday night.

That's the good news. The bad news is that we are completely overmatched by the team we're playing, and on top of that, our leading scorer will be out of town and unable to make the game.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hollywood Ending

My hockey game last night had the climactic ending of a predictable Hollywood script.

Down 2-0, we score with 8 minutes left to pull within one. With 35 seconds remaining, we score again to tie it.

We are tied for the final playoff spot with two other teams, so we huddle up and decide to play for the win. We pull the goalie.

As we skate out to center ice, we notice that the other team, also in the race for the final playoff spot, has pulled their goalie as well.

We played the final 35 seconds of the game with no goalies at all. It's the only time in many years of watching and playing hockey that I can recall a situation like that.

We scored the final goal literally as time expired. I had to look at the ref to see if it was going to count. There was no faceoff after the goal, the clock ticked to 0.0 as the puck crossed the line. Absolutely incredible.

We're still not guaranteed a playoff spot, as we need either the Hounds or the Jolly Scots to lose on Wednesday. And even if we do squeak in, it promises to be a quick and ignominious exit. But it's nice to know that at least for one night, we came through under pressure, and clawed our way to a much-needed victory.