Thursday, June 30, 2016

Draft Projections: When you get one wrong.

I admit it, I was 100% wrong about Johnathan Manziel.

I didn't think he would be great, but I did think he had enough physical ability to be a competent NFL quarterback and I said so publicly.

What I did not take into consideration is the fact that the man seemingly has both the impulse control of a child, and is possibly the stupidest quarterback since Ryan Leaf.

Take this recent photo of Mssr. Manziel in Mexico:

An idiot and his weed
 Pillock, is the first word that comes to mind, followed by waste of space and raging moron.

Here's a guy that had no business being close to Millions of dollars showing us that, in the game of life, some people don't have any ambition at all.

Manziel got paid the big bucks and went off the rails. He's digressed from a QB prospect in the NFL to a never-was who had one good season in college and parlayed it into a multi-Million dollar contract from the Cleveland Browns.

And his career is kaput.

He's never going to play football, at the professional level, again and the chances of him emerging from this as a productive member of society are growing slimmer by the day, much like his frame. He looks less like an NFL quarterback now than he does a frat guy.  A dope-smoking, hard-drinking frat guy at that.  You don't find many of those playing quarterback for professional football teams.

Unfortunately, we're going to continue to be subjected to Mr. Manziel's antics because the world loves a train-wreck, and Johnny is the best train-wreck to come down the pipe since Lindsey Lohan went off the rails in a cocaine-fueled fireball.

Sure, he says that he's going "totally sober" after this one, last blowout in Mexico but you really don't believe that. His check-in to 'rehab' didn't do any good so I'm curious why we think that a pinkie swear is going to stick where professional help didn't.

Contrary to the tone of this post, I'm not mad at Manziel. I'm neither a fan of aTm or of the Browns, and I certainly didn't (and don't) want him on my team.

But I am a little bit sad, because one the field, when properly coached and motivated, he displayed some incredible skill.

What he has never displayed is a sense that none of this is owed to him.  For that I blame his parents, his dad's protestations and pathetic pleas for someone to help Johnny to the contrary.

If anything, Manziel is the poster-boy for all of the wrong ways we treat athletes. He was coddled, and probably passed through, every challenge he faced. He was never forced to face down adversity or overcome a challenge like the rest of us. He was thrown into a world for which he was totally unprepared, full of booze, drugs, women and God knows what else. It's a world that I don't pretend to understand, and honestly have no desire to.

But, it's all he has left.

Because of that I blew it on projecting his career and life goes on no poorer. So did many others. To be fair, many got it right.

Out of all of this the sad thing is there are going to be no repercussions for the paid prognosticators that got it wrong. They won't have to admit blame and, if they're also idiots like Skip Bayless, they can throw their incorrect analysis down the memory hole and pile on shamelessly.

Such is life in the consequence-free land of sports media.  Be as wrong as you like, no one will remember.

All I can say is this:  I HOPE that I remember, when analyzing prospects, that character matters, a lot. That's why I'm still luke-warm on the future prospects of Laremy Tunsil and others.

Is that fair?  I don't know. But since we have no perfect crystal ball it's all we have to go on.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In the matter of RJ Bell vs. Deadspin.....

Last week I mentioned a Deadspin article surrounding and, more specifically, site founder RJ Bell.

In the interest of being fair, here is Mr. Bell's rebuttal claiming 28 factual errors in the Deadspin story.

My view has been very clear from the beginning: I see no value in so-called "tout" pick-buying services and my opinion has not changed.  Caveat Emptor and all of that.

All that said, I DO have issues with the transparency of ALL sites when it comes to

1. Who it is exactly that's making the picks, and how verifiable their backgrounds are. I post here under my real name, am 100% honest about my record and don't sell my picks. They're published free for everyone to read well before game time. You also know who I am, or I'll tell you if you ask. I'm not a so-called "expert". I'm just a guy who likes to wager.

2. Why are historical picks so difficult to track. Again, ALL of my prior picks are still here, to be searched, without using a CAPTCHA or other technology, just look back in the history.

I would recommend frequenting a so-called "tout site" even just for entertainment purposes if they could follow those two rules.

Oh, and...

3. Don't make deals with sportsbooks where you take a share of referred player's losses. That's just dishonest as hell.

Anyway, read the Deadspin article and then read Mr. Bell's rebuttal and make up your own mind.

You're all adults. (I think)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Groove. Or, getting back into it.

Football season is coming and that means a whole new chance to make bad football picks for the coming year.  To try, hopelessly, to break the magical 53% barrier that is necessary to book a profit against the vigorish of the sports books.

I've already started looking at schedules and games for the 2016/2017 season and even taking a peek at the early lines.

One change from last year, I'm swearing off fantasy football (and daily fantasy) to focus on old-school sports betting this year.  As a reminder, I don't always make the bets that I post, they're for tracking and entertainment purposes only. (In my day job it would not be wise for me to risk gaming in a manner that's anything but 100% legal.)

That said, I will be making some trips to Vegas this year so many of the bets that I talk about I WILL be actually making.  So that's one change.

As an aside, if you haven't read this article about and RJ Bell's pick-selling operation you should. As always, my mission is that you don't need to buy picks, you can do just as poorly on your own.

The good news is that we're getting closer and closer to legalizing online gaming across the country so pretty soon lurking about the shadows (or posting picks for entertainment) will be a thing of the past.

I cannot wait for that day.

Until then, I will keep working on my week 1 "Five" and try to avoid my early season slump this year.

Happy Gaming!

Friday, June 3, 2016

BadSports: If Baylor won't self-regulate, the NCAA and Big XII should regulate for them.

You should not be shocked that Baylor is now refusing to release recruits from their Letter of Intent pledges in the wake of Art Briles' firing, and the scandals that have rocked the athletic department.

Baylor Recruits Still Waiting to be Released from their Letters of Intent. Bruce Feldman,

He is not optimistic that Baylor will relent and "do the right thing." Last week he tried to get Baylor to release his son. Then on Tuesday, Grobe called and said if the Cobbs still aren't satisfied after they meet the new coach in person (Wednesday night), he'd sign the release. 
However, after meeting with Grobe, Collis Cobb informed him and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett that his son's mind is made up that he no longer wants to go to Baylor, since there is too much uncertainty about the program. 
"Bennett told us that we'd have to follow through with the appeal process," Collis Cobb said. "What I took from that is they're not going to release anybody."

This should not surprise anyone.  At no point, up to an including now, has Baylor demonstrated that they've learned any lesson, that they're willing to clean up their house and that they are ready to act in a fair, honorable fashion.

This is an athletic program that has lost not only their way, but the guiding faith that supposedly makes it against the rules for non-married students to kiss on campus (Rape, or sexual assault by Football players notwithstanding).

While I have little sympathy for, as Baylor alums are harping, the "players there who did not sexually assault co-eds (they contributed to the 'see something, do-nothing' culture that thrived under Briles) my concern does extend from the victims (who I hope all receive fat financial settlements from Baylor at least) and to the players who signed letters not realizing that they were agreeing to play for a combination of Sodom and Gomorrah, and to whom all of this came as a shock. (To be fair, however, I do doubt that few of them are wanting to leave due to concern over sexual assaults, and more out of fear that the team is going to suck, and suck royally, over the course of their careers.)

That aside it appears through all of this that Baylor has still not learned their lesson. Lest we forget, this is the second time a Baylor program has faced allegations of covering up, and ignoring, serious criminal offenses. So while it's easy to write this off as "Something that festered under the current administration" it's starting to get pretty clear that there's something rotten on the East bank of the Brazos River and it's festering.

In the above article Collis Cobb states that he hopes Baylor will "do the right thing" and release his son from his LOI. To me this seems like a false hope because there's little evidence that Baylor has had any proclivity toward 'the right thing' athletically for a while now.  Because of this, it's time for both the NCAA and Big XII to step in and begin to make things right.

First, the Big XII.  It's an open secret that the only reason Baylor was included in the initial Big XII was due to the political pressure of then-Texas-Governor (and Baylor Alum) Ann Richards. In fact, Baylor always seemed like the "odd man in" considering that Texas Christian University (a school of similar size, make-up, but with a far better TV market (Ft. Worth vs. Waco) was left out, as was the University of Houston. With Ann Richards (sadly) gone it makes no sense for the powers of the Big XII to act as if Baylor serves any further function within the conference. They should begin preparations to eject them immediately.

Pushing out Baylor and adding back in BYU, Cincinnati and either UCF or UH makes way more sense than allowing Baylor to stay. They've proven that they are incapable of handling big-time college sports and should be immediately shown the door.

Second the NCAA, who gave Southern Methodist University the so-called "death penalty" for paying athletes, should consider the same for Baylor Football. I realize that the common-perception is that the NCAA will "never" issue the death penalty again, but I can think of no better reason for doing so than for an institution that now has a police blotter that included teammate murder, drug dealing, and several convictions and indictments for sexual assault.

While paying players is against the rules, the violations for which Baylor is charged (and, in some cases, has been convicted of) are against the law.  Baylor is not being accused of illegal cash payments, they're being accused of covering up allegations of rape and sexual assault, of failing to suspend players and conducting sham investigations designed to allow players to play, and wins to keep coming.  If they are found guilty of these things they should lose the ability to contest athletic events for a couple of years.

I realize that these prescriptions may seem harsh (and unfair to Baylor alums and fans) but apparently harsh is the medicine that Baylor needs.  In their charter, they are a Baptist University that promotes Christian morals and missions. They've clearly lost their way, falling victim to idolatry as they worship at the feet of the Idol that is McLane Stadium.

The Isrealites, having constructed a gold cow to worship while Moses was in the hills, were forced to burn their cow, pour the ashes in a nearby river and drink from it, which made them all sick, in repentance for the act. In the same vein Baylor needs to see their athletic department burned to the ground, and the ashes poured into the Brazos, while Baylor leadership and students become sick from the loss.

The good news is, on the heels of that the Jewish nation built the Tabernacle, which was used to house the Ark of the Covenant, which was installed in the Promised Land after they spent time in the wilderness as punishment.

Baylor needs to have their athletic program torn down, burned and the ground salted from which it sprang.  After they spend some time in the wilderness they can begin to rebuild.  Hopefully whatever they wind up with is built on stronger, more guiding principles than what they have now.

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