Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Morning After: Phillies Win Game 5... 48 Hours Later

The drought is over, Philadelphia. You and all of your crazy phans can phinally rejoice.

The Phillies won the Series 4 games to 1, and won Game 5: Part 2 Wednesday night 4-3 over the Rays. Cole Hamels took MVP honors after going 1-0, with a win in Game 1 and starting Game 5 when it began Monday night. Brad Lidge was clutch, as usual, notching his second save of the Series, and going unscathed in save opportunities on the season. Quite a feat in its own right.

Cheesesteaks for everyone! Except you, Shane Victorino. You get Spam, and you'll love it.

Another amazing feat in the wake of the Phillies' second World Series title, (and the city's first major sports championship since the 76ers won the NBA title in 1983) was that the fans didn't burn the city down. A tip of our cap goes to you Philadelphia sports fans for your restraint...



EDIT: It seems the embedding on this video was disabled on YouTube. So here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MufTb-D4AcE

Oh wait... never mind Philadelphia, we take that back. Stay classy.

On a parting note today, we would just like to put things in perspective for those Phillies fans out there: Your team is now tied with the Florida Marlins in World Series titles. Congrats, it only took you 125 years!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008 NBA Preview: From A to Z

With the NBA season tipping off tonight, we here at 4th and Fail bring you an A to Z list of what to look forward to this season.

A is for Artest. Yes, Ron Artest, now with the Houston Rockets. Artest, T-Mac and Yao in the same lineup, that’s impressive. Artest himself said that with those three together, if they don’t win a title, it’s a failure. Let’s see how he adjusts to his new surroundings.

B is for Boston. After a year in which the Pats went 16-0 in the regular season, the Red Sox won the World Series and the Celtics won the NBA title, the Patriots lost Tom Brady for the season (maybe longer), and the Sox were ousted from the playoffs by the normally futile Rays. Is this a bit of karma for the city of Boston?

C is for CP3. Chris Paul is coming fresh off a breakthrough season. Can he be this year’s MVP, or more importantly, can he navigate his team through the Western Conference and into the NBA Finals after a semifinal loss to the Spurs?

D is for D-Wade. Dwyane Wade is coming off of a turbulent season where the Heat went 15-67, and he underwent season-ending knee procedures. He looked like the best player on a stacked USA Olympic squad, and wants to prove to the league that he’s still the Flash from the 2006 NBA Finals.

E is for Erik Spoelstra. Speaking of the Heat, this season they are being led by Erik Spoelstra, the youngest coach in the league, and the first Filipino-American head coach in the league. He’s got a lot of young talent to work with, with Wade, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. Throw in Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem, and the Heat will definitely improve form last season’s disaster.
Bold
F is for First Round, as in, the first round of the playoffs. Mentioning T-Mac again here, but can he make it past the first round now that he has Yao and Artest?

G is for Gregg Popovich and his beard, in all of its bushy glory. He’s been letting it grow all through the preseason, recently giving it a trim. I believe Tony Kornheiser has an over/under on how long it will get this season.

H is for Hair. Joakim Noah, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao and now Robin Lopez are nominees for craziest hair in the league this year.

I is for Iguodala. Andre Iguodala and the 76ers reloaded with their new addition of Elton Brand in the front court. Can they be a threat in the East this year?

J is for Jesus Shuttlesworth. Jesus Shuttlesworth, quite possibly the best name in basketball, ever. You may know him as Ray Allen though. So now that he and Kevin Garnett have their rings, do they become complacent? Or do they manage a repeat?

K is for Kapono. Jason Kapono, that is. He’s the two-time defending three-point shootout champion. Can he go for the threepeat at this year’s All Star Game?

L is for LeBron. Does this one really need an explanation? The man is the best driver of the basketball the league has ever seen, just ask Skip Bayless. With a solid point guard this year, this might be his year to make another run at a title.

M is for Mamba, as in Black Mamba, as in Kobe Bryant. He’s a scoring assassin, and finally made it back to the NBA Finals without Shaq last season. Now he has Andrew Bynum healthy, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom filling out his front court.

N is for Nets. Sure, they’re impending move to Brooklyn has been pushed back, but this offseason they’ve been working on making cap space, moving Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson in the past year, probably preparing to make a run at the King James sweepstakes in a couple of seasons.

O is for Oden. Greg Oden, who has yet to play an NBA game since being the first overall draft pick in 2007. Is his presence going to push the youthful Trailblazers over the hump and into contention in the West? Oden can be a force for years to come, a true big man. You can’t teach being seven feet tall.

P is for Playoffs, as in Western Conference Playoffs. There are eight playoff spots in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, and ten high quality teams: Lakers, Spurs, Hornets, Jazz, Blazers, Warriors, Rockets, Mavs, Suns and Nuggets. How many wins will it take to clinch a berth this season, and who will be the odd men out?

Q is for Question of the Year: Is Pat Riley really done coaching? He handpicked his successor this time around (Spoelstra) just like he did last time he stepped down from the Heat’s head coaching position (Van Gundy). But have we seen the last of the Armani suits and slicked back hair on the sidelines, or will Riley usurp Spoelstra’s position at the first sign of promise, like he did to Van Gundy.

R is for Rookie of the Year. So many quality candidates this season: Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, and let’s not forget that Oden is technically still a rookie, despite being drafted in 2007. Can the 2007 draft class win a second Rookie of the Year award, or will the 2008 class hold off Oden and claim what's rightfully their's?

S is for Sir Charles. Charles Barkley recently said in an interview that he would consider running for governor of Alabama, we here at 4th and Fail would vote for him, but then we wouldn’t be able to listen to his priceless rhetoric with EJ and Kenny on TNT all season. The Round Mound of Rebound, what a knucklehead. We look forward to another great year of quotes from you, Chuck.

T is for Thunder. Yes, the Oklahoma City Thunder. So long Seattle, we’ll miss all those cuts from the cameramen of the fish markets in town. Will this change of scenery really help Kevin Durant and Co.?

U is for Usurping. We just want to reiterate the fact that we are convinced that Riley will undoubtedly replace Spoelstra as soon as the Heat begin to succeed.

V is for Vinny Del Negro. How does the first year Bulls coach do this season? Can he lead a talented young group, led by Rose and Ben Gordon into the Eastern Conference’s elite?

W is for Win. Who will walk away this season as champions? Can the aging Spurs pull off another run, for their fifth title since 1999?

X is for X-Factor. Yes, we’re talking about James Posey. Everybody seems to be making such a big deal of his move to New Orleans with the Hornets. Yes, he was a key contributor to two of the last three NBA Championship squads. Can he do it again this year with Chris Paul and company?

Y is for Youth Movement. With stars like Shaq, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen all aging, is it time the league’s youth movement truly takes over with the likes of LeBron, Wade, Oden, Paul, Rose, Beasley, Mayo, Deron Williams, etc.

Z if for Zero, as in Agent Zero: Gilbert Arenas. When he does make his eventual return to the court for the Wizards, will he be the Agent Zero of old, or will he have a tough time recovering from knee surgeries?

That being said, enjoy the tipoff of the 2008-09 NBA season, folks!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Look At The Day Ahead

'Morning, all! We'll try to be quick here today with the look ahead at the day's events.

Noon: Texas Tech at Kansas. The Red Raiders get their first real test of the season as they enter a 4 game murderer's row: at Kansas today, Texas next weekend, Oklahoma State November 8 and at Oklahoma following a bye week. Let's see if Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree and Co. are for real.

12:30: Kentucky at Florida. Homecoming weekend in The Swamp, hopefully the Gators don't look past the Wildcats like they did with Ole Miss. Kentucky has been bitten by the injury bug lately, losing RB (and indoor track All-American) Derrick Locke to torn knee ligaments, leading WR Dicky Lyons, Jr. (knee), DT Myron Pryor and LB Micah Johnson out with ankle sprains and FS Marcus McClinton, who also might miss today's game. The Gators have beat Kentucky 21 straight meetings, look for it to be 22 after today.

3:30 : Georgia at LSU. The Bulldogs roll into Baton Rouge one week before the annual Cocktail Party with Florida in Jacksonville. This is going to be another physical SEC game, but in the end, the Dawgs will have too much fire power on offense for LSU to stop. I think Georgia escapes with a win here.

3:30: USF at L'ville. The Bulls appear to be the conference favorite in the Big East this season, though the race is still wide open at this point. The Bulls are 0-2 in L'ville, avoiding 0-3 could solidify their spot as conference favorite. Interesting fact: The Bulls are the only Big East team to be ranked in the Top 25 each week this season.

3:30: Oklahoma State at Texas. Another week, another matchup up Top 10 Big 12 teams, jeez. Each offense is averaging over 45 points per game, each defense allowing under 21 points per game. Lookout for another shootout here.

7:00: Ole Miss at Arkansas. Sure, both teams are below .500. But Houston Nutt returns to face his old team in Fayetteville. Should be interesting.

7:45: 'Bama at Tennessee. Tennessee has been going through a rough patch this year, but heading into the big rivalry game with the Tide, Vols Defensive Coordinator John Chavis isn't afraid of anything. Rivalry games bring out the best in teams, even if they have been struggling the rest of the season.

8:00: Penn State at Ohio State. In a weekend of big games, this one narrowly takes the cake. The Nittany Lions haven't won in the Horseshoe since they joined the Big Ten. The Big Ten, as a conference, needs Penn State to win if they want a team in the BCS title game. College football fans everywhere hope the Buckeyes pull of the upset, if for no other reason than to keep a Big Ten team from another national championship massacre.

Also tonight: Game 3 of the World Series. Garza takes on the ageless wonder himself: Jaime Moyer. Rain threatens the biggest game IN Philly since Allen Iverson had the 76ers in the NBA finals. We like the Rays here tonight, and in the series. The pitching matchups line up favorably for the Rays the rest of the way, except against Cole Hamels. Plus the Phillies have been hitting an abysmal 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position. Yikes.

One last note: UF is holding a pregame ceremony in honor of the legendary George "Mr. Two Bits" Edmondson, Jr., who is retiring at the end of the season.

Well folks, enjoy another great Saturday in sports. We won't be catching most of the mid-afternoon games, as we will be doing some casual labor in Miami. We leave you with this clip of Mr. Two Bits doing his thing.


59 years strong, Mr. Two Bits. We commend you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Because Sports-Related Halloween Costumes Are Always Fun!

It's that time of year again, folks! Halloween is just around the corner. We know sports fans often like to sport (weak pun) a sports-related costume on this particular night of the year, so we here at 4th and Fail went out of our way to compile a list of 10 such costumes that are guranteed to be a hit at that Halloween party you've been waiting all year for.

So without further ado:

10. Manny Ramirez. Buy a dreadlocked wig (or if your a resident Dodgers fan, you could've copped one at a game this season), carry a bat and limp around on your right leg for half the night. Then randomly switch it over to your left leg. Hey, it’s just Manny being Manny.

9. Pacman Jones. This one’s pretty simple. Just carry around a wad of singles (or Monopoly money, whichever you please), have an iPod with speakers blasting Lil Wayne and Fat Joe’s “Make It Rain” all night and throw the singles in the air. Do your best Ollie Williams Family Guy impression too: "It's gon rain!"

8. Alicia Sacramone. Prance around all night in a leotard, and then fall at random moments, when no one is expecting it. Too soon?

7. Michael Phelps. You can rock an Aquaman costume, Poseidon’s trident, or just the traditional Speedo. Be sure to find 8 gold medals, minimum, and act like a jerk with a lisp. Right, Dan LeBatard?

6. Bill Belichick. Just go out and buy a Darth Sidious costume. Done and done.

5. Bandwagon Rays Fan. Get a Rayhawk. Wear a shirt that says "9 = 8" and drag a little red wagon around with you.

4. Greg Oden. Do your best to look like a 50-year-old man with the full grown beard, even if you’re just 20. Bonus points if you walk around all night singing *NSync’s “It's Gonna Be Me



3. Ed Hochuli. This referee costume is quite fitting, don’t you think?

2. This SEC official. Striped referee shirt: check. Whistle: check. Just strap on the helmet and grab a mouth piece and you’re set. Don’t forget to give the forearm shiver to anyone headed your direction.

1. Chicago Cubs Fan. Go on, sport your finest Cubbies jerseys. Since it IS October, just walk around all night pretending to choke. For added effect, wear a brown paper bag over your head with eyes and mouth cut out to hide your shame. You know you want to.


Well we hope this was helpful to some of you out there trying to figure out what to wear on Halloween. Whatever you choose to wear, be sure to be safe, and above all: have a blasty blast!

Special thanks to our boy Wooj for helping us compile this list.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Devine Intervention

Wow, Noel Devine, simply wow. 17 carries for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers' stingy defense, which came into the game ranked 9th nationally in scoring defense. Devine and WVU QB Pat White, 174 yards passing and 3 touchdowns, sparked the Mountaineers to 31 unanswered points against the Tigers. It's about time Devine was let loose. We've all known for years about this kid's talent, as he was a YouTube sensation since his sophomore year in high school.

While WVU coach Bill Stewart got some Devine intervention tonight, it's looking like Auburn might need some Divine Intervention to recover following it's first three-game losing streak since Tommy Tuberville's first season in 1999. Tuberville, too, might require some Divine Intervention if he wants to keep his job. He's been on the hot seat before at Auburn, and no doubt that a three-game losing skid, coupled with offensive ineptitude this season, will put him back on that seat.

Good luck Auburn, and good luck to you too Mr. Tuberville: I'm sure you both will be having nightmares of Noel Devine running wild for the next week, that is until you have to visit Houston Nutt and the Rebels next weekend in Oxford. Let's hope that you don't slip up again, and drop below .500, or else you might be looking at unemployment, Mr. Tuberville, and you'll have plenty of time to watch time-consuming YouTube clips, such as this one:



Sit back and enjoy the highlight that was Noel Devine's high school career.

Terry Tate Wants You To Vote

Today we bring to you a message that doesn't completely revolve around sports. Our apologies, but it is of great importance.


Yes, that's right, Terry Tate: Office Linebacker is back, folks. This time around though, he has a new message for us: get out and vote this year.

Early voting started in Florida this past Monday, and Election Day is November 4th. I voted early yesterday. Two and a half hours in line, give or take a few minutes, but it was worth it knowing that my vote will make a difference this year. In 2004, according to the U.S. Census, 64 percent of citizens over the age of 18 voted in the presidential election. I wouldn't be surprised if it was closer to 80 percent this election, by the looks of voter turnout the past few days down here in Miami.

Here at 4th and Fail, we're not going to tell you who to vote for, because we trust you will make the right decision. However, Terry Tate might give you a hint on who you should elect:


"Don't bring that weak ass stuff up in this humpty-bumpty! WOO!"

We suggest you listen to Terry Tate, or else the Pain Train will be comin' for you, complete with a year's subscription to Tate's Journal of Pain.

I'm El Tomas Verde, and I approve this message.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled sports blogging. Thank You.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Say 'Hitler,' I Say... 'Hitler'?? Sports' Double Standards

In wake of Lou Holtz’s recent H-bomb while speaking of Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez on ESPN, and subsequent NON-suspension, while ESPN columnist Jemele Hill was seriously reprimanded for a similar comment in a basketball column, we here at 4th and Fail take a look at some other notable double standards in sports.

So here they are, in no particular order.

5. The Spain Basketball Photo. Just this summer the Spanish men’s Olympic basketball team posed for a photo prior to the Games in which they used their fingers to slant their eyes, giving the impression that they were mimicking the Chinese. No action was taken against the team. However, if it were the U.S. “Redeem” Team, then we guarantee you that NBA commish David Stern, and the media, would’ve been all over that, particularly with the already poor image of Americans overseas.


4. Notre Dame Football. Honestly folks, we know they invented the forward pass, but c’mon, what do they do every year to deserve such a high preseason ranking. True, the last couple of seasons have been more reasonable, but in general, even when they are unproven they garner national attention and votes. Notre Dame gets treated like no other team. We think this video puts it best:







3. Steroids in MLB. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get blackballed by the league and shredded to pieces by the media. Miguel Tejada, Andy Petitte, Paul LoDuca, etc., are still playing in the majors today.

2. Brett Favre vs. T.O. Favre said that teaching Aaron Rodgers as a backup was not his job; that it’s not what he was paid to do. He holds the Green Bay franchise hostage this past offseason. There are allegations that he tried to sabotage the Packers against the Lions this season. All of this, yet the media ADORES him (That includes you, Peter King!). T.O. on the other hand, is a “big distraction” and “not worth the risk.” Even in week 6, when after the game he said nothing wrong, ESPN lashed out at him for his loud wardrobe. The media detests the “Team Obliterator,” and has an unhealthy crush on Favre. Yes, this one is aimed at you, Skip Bayless.

He may have been quiet postgame, but his outfit was loud.

1. The Great Conference Debate. We admit that we too, have been guilty of this double standard. The media loves the SEC and the Big 12, as they are typically regarded as the best conferences in college football. Each year, the SEC and the Big 12 suffer from “conference cannibalism,” and it’s usually accepted that rarely will a team make it through their schedule unscathed. So whenever they lose a game, the media says it’s a testament to the conferences depth, however, any other conference does the same, and it’s just further “evidence of how weak the conference is as a whole.” The fact of the matter is, “conference cannibalism” happens in every conference. Bottom line.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An ExtravaGARZA in Tampa Bay

All that we know is at an end, folks!

The 2008 World Series will be between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Yes, you read that correctly, the Phillies and the Rays.

Before we get to that though, let's discuss Game 7 for a moment:
- WOW. That's all we have to say about Matt "Extrava-" Garza's pitching performance. 7 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run allowed. Garza went 2-0 in the series with a 1.38 ERA and 14 K's, garnering the series MVP.
- ERROR! ERROR! Honestly, at the time that it happened, it felt like Jason Bartlett's error in the 8th inning was gonna cost the Rays this series, but the Rays' bullpen stood strong and got out of a jam.
- Unsung Hero. Rays' DH Willy Aybar. 2-for-3 on the night, 2 runs scored, including a home run in the bottom of the 7th.
- The Lester, or rather Lesser Man. Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester, who lost back-to-back starts for the first time in his career. He gave up 3 runs in 7 innings: a solid outing, but definitely overshadowed by Garza.


Anyways, back to the World Series. For one, as a resident of the great state of Florida, gotta love that Florida teams are now 8-0 in MLB postseason series all-time. That's impressive. On the other hand, Marlins fans everywhere will cringe for the next couple of weeks as the World Series plays out. The Marlins' division rival: the Phillies, against the in-state rival: the Rays. Ouch.

Also, this World Series will, in essence be a contest to see which franchise sucks less. (Huh?!?)
Let's rephrase that: The 2008 World Series will be between the losingest team in professional sports history, the Phillies, and the MLB's symbol of futility for the past decade, the Rays. The Phillies are the first professional franchise to ever lose 10,000 games (TEN THOUSAND!). That's a lot of losing. Though, to be fair, they have been around since the 19th century, but who cares. The Rays on the other hand, have never had a winning season, let alone make the playoffs, prior to this year. That's not to say that neither of these teams aren't good, but we're pretty sure a Phillies-Rays World Series is one of the seven signs of the apocalypse.

Congrats, Tampa Bay. Tonight you bathe in champagne. Enjoy it.

The Fans At Buffalo Wild Wings Didn't Want The Game To End



Really? An official blatantly going for the tackle in the South Carolina - LSU game last night. There's no room for that in sports, this guy needs to be fired, no excuses there. That being said, it was a solid hit, I'm sure he played some ball in his day. He also saved Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia from being swallowed whole by LSU's defense. After watching Florida dismantle LSU last week, I wouldn't have even known LSU had a defense. Must've been why the ref made the play, someone had to.

Sebastian Janikowski and Nigel "The Leg" Gruff: Separated at Birth

That would've been an interesting household growing up.

I just watched the Jets and Raiders come within 2 minutes of a tie (yes, tie. Yes, we're talking about Football and not Futbol.), and it's just more proof that the NFL needs to adopt the NCAA's overtime rules and procedures, but that's another story.


Anyways I have no doubt in my mind that Sebastian Janikowski and Nigel "The Leg" Gruff from the 2000 film The Replacements are separated at birth.

- No, they look nothing alike.

- Yes, they are both from Northern Europe.

- Yes, they are both known as much for their kicking ability as they are for their partying.

- And YES, they both definitely have certified steel boots for kicking legs.


Did you see Janikowski's game-winning 57-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Raiders past the Jets? That thing would have been good from the other side of the Raiders logo at midfield! Ridiculous.

The Morning After: An Anticlimactic Saturday Night

Good morning, all! Hope you all enjoyed last night's much-hyped matchups. We sure didn't. While we did hit the over/under for Texas-Mizzou as promised by vegasinsider.com, it wasn't what the game was hyped up to be. However...

Here are a few of our observations from last night's Texas-Mizzou game and ALCS Game 6.
Texas-Mizzou: Texas 56 - Mizzou 31

- The Real McCoy: The Heisman Trophy is now Colt McCoy's to lose. Bottom line, the kid has played great this season, and his team's record and performance on the field has shown it. Barring some major collapse, or season-ending injury, McCoy is the front-runner.

Strike a pose, Colt (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

- Chased from the Chase: On the other end of the spectrum, Chase Daniel's Heisman candidacy took a critical blow, as did his team's BCS hopes (though they can still win the Big 12, it doesn't look good for them at this point).


- You Don't Mess with Texas: Ask Oklahoma and Mizzou. Texas is the number one team in the number one conference this season. They still have quite a road ahead of them, but they've looked impressive so far.


On a side note: Did anyone OUTSIDE of Texas expect Mizzou to be manhandled in such a manner? We here at 4th and Fail sure didn't see the game getting that out of hand, that quick.



ALCS Game 6: Red Sox 4 - Rays 2

- Mr. October: In response to our earlier post about which Josh Beckett we would see in St. Pete: we got Mr. October of playoffs' past. While his velocity was down, and he only pitched five innings, he was effective, giving up only 2 runs on 4 hits. Most importantly, he got the win for the Sox, tying the series up at 3 games a piece. That being said...

- On the Brink: The Rays now have their backs up against the wall, as the momentum has shifted to the more experienced Red Sox. Earlier we mentioned that if the Sox won Game 6, we would look for them to advance to the World Series. We still think the Sox have the advantage, with history on their side:

"On 32 occasions, a team that has taken a 3-1 lead has lost Game 5 of a post-season series. Of those 32 teams, 17 have won the series in six games, four have won the series in seven games and 11 have lost the series" (Thank you, Baseball Prospectus!)


- Big UPs: To Rays Outfielder B.J. Upton, who hit his seventh home run of this post-season, the first playoff appearance of his career. Let's put that into perspective, shall we? Manny Ramirez, the MLB post-season career home run leader with 28 playoff longballs, has never hit more than four in a single postseason. Upton has that many in this year's ALCS. He's one shy of the single-postseason record, held by Carlos Beltran. The man is playing out of his mind at the plate. If the Rays manage to hold off the Sox in Game 7 at home, look for Upton to break Beltran's record in the World Series.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Late Afternoon Game Roundup: A Tale of Two Halves

Watching the great slate of games this afternoon I found myself cheering for Ole Miss... and Michigan. That's not something I would normally do, but upsets are what make college football so great (when it's not your team being upset). I've got to say, it looked promising for both Ole Miss at Alabama, and for Michigan trying to crash Penn State's homecoming. But it was a tale of two halves for both the Rebels and the Wolverines. Let's start with the Rebels.

Ole Miss trailed 'Bama at the half, 24-3 after jumping out to an early 3-0 lead (the first time 'Bama has trailed all season) and being outgained 219 yards to 99. In the second half however, the Rebels essentially shut down the Tide outscoring them 17-0, and holding them to 95 yards of offense. Had it not been for some costly turnovers by the Rebels, we're looking at another Top 10 upset on the road by Houston Nutt and Co. And to answer my own question from my previous post: I guess today we got the 'Bama that showed up in Athens a few weeks ago. A strong first half, and then a second half in which they struggled and nearly allowed a big comeback.

As for Michigan, they came out of the gate strong in the 1st half, jumping out to a 17-7 lead with just under 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter behind 94 yards and 2 touchdowns from running back Brandon Minor. That's when Penn State decided to show up, ending the game on a 39-0 scoring run. The win ended Penn State's 9-game losing streak to Michigan, and set them up for a decisive matchup at Ohio State next weekend. With a win there, fans could likely see yet another Big Ten team in the BCS National Championship game (we all know how well that worked out for them last year and the year before. Yikes!), especially with the cannibalism in the Big 12 and SEC.

Bottom line of the day: what's with the bipolar disorder of these teams? If 'Bama plays like it did in the 1st half today against Ole Miss and a few weeks ago against Georgia, and Penn State plays like it did in the 2nd half against Michigan, then I like both of these team's chances of booking a trip to Miami in early January. By no means though, does this mean either team is bulletproof.

Now: Bring on Texas-Mizzou and ALCS Game 6. I'll be back in the morning with my thoughts and reactions from those games.

A Few Thoughts On The Day Ahead

- How entertaining has Big 12 football been this year? The teams have been putting on offensive clinics weekly. This week we get treated to another huge matchup between #1 Texas and #11 Missouri. Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel square off in a game that quite possibly could decide the Heisman. The winner, at least, will likely be the frontrunner. I know Mizzou hasn't won at Texas since 1896, but this Missouri team is certainly capable of it. Talk about a tough bounce-back game for the Tigers though, having to visit the nation's current #1 team.

- In the SEC, #2 'Bama hosts upset-minded Ole Miss. We all know Ole Miss is capable of the upset, and 'Bama has been playing down to its lesser opponents this year. Which 'Bama will show up: the one that dismantled Georgia between the hedges, or the one that barely escaped Kentucky?

- Finally, tonight's ALCS Game 6. "Big Game" James Shields takes on "Mr. October" Josh Beckett. Beckett hasn't been his typical post-season self this year, so let's see how he does with the season on the line. If the Sox win tonight, look for them to complete the comeback in Game 7 and another trip to the World Series. If the Rays win, however, then who would've thought that exorcising their demons would be as easy as dropping the "Devil" from their name...

Enjoy what should be a great day for sports!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Morning After: ALCS Edition

With these "Morning After" posts here at 4th and Fail, we will bring you our thoughts and reactions from the previous night's big games.

Last night's ALCS Game 5 was pretty epic. An epic comeback for the Nation (2nd biggest comeback in playoff history), and an epic late inning collapse by the Rays. But let's be honest here, in the back of our minds didn't we all expect something of this nature from the Sox?

-2004 ALCS, down 3 games to 0, trailing the Yanks heading into the bottom of the 9th... and well, we all know the rest.
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-2007 ALCS. A similar scenario to this season, down 3 games to 1 to the Indians only to comeback thanks to brilliant performances by Beckett, Schilling, and Dice-K, respectively, to clinch the pennant.
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Could last night's "7-outs-away-from-the-offseason" comeback boost the Sox to a third trip to the Fall Classic in 5 years? Is Tampa Bay's lack of experience going to rear its ugly face? Or are the Rays going to bounce back Saturday, with James "Big Game" Shields?
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We'll have to wait and see. If the Rays do manage to clinch the pennant and overcome a decade's worth of futility to reach the World Series, we here at 4th and Fail, just hope to see Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn sporting a rayhawk (He said on the show earlier this week that he would consider doing so if the Rays made it to the Series).

Maybe call it the JayHawk?

Thursday Night, Where Ranked Teams Go To DIE

The title of this post pretty much sums it up. There's not much else to say. But I'll tell you one thing, if I were the coach of a ranked team, and we had a Thursday night game scheduled, I would call in sick or something. Dr's appointment, house burned down, maybe even an undisclosed illness. SOMETHING, ANYTHING to avoid a Thursday night game.

Let's take a look at this season's victims:
- TCU 32 - #9 BYU 7
- The WANNSTACHE 26 - #10 USF 21
- Oregon State 27 - #1 USC 21
- Colorado 17 - #21 WVU 14
- Vandy 24 - #24 S.Carolina 17

8 weeks of college football, 5 ranked teams upset on Thursday night. Only two teams, I repeat, TWO teams have escaped Thursday night with their rankings and their pride: Wake Forest (Twice. Once against downward-spiraling Clemson in the Tiger's loss that sealed Tommy Bowden's fate, as the Deacs needed a late TD to win. The other in a season opening blowout of Baylor). The other Thursday night survivor: Utah, who needed a last second field goal to beat hyped up Oregon State following the aforementioned win over the Men of Troy.

Based on this week's rankings, and the season's remaining schedule, there are 5 games involving 4 different ranked teams still scheduled for a Thursday night showdown:
- #19 USF at Cincy in week 10.
- #14 Utah hosting TCU (already with an upset on their resume) in week 11.
- #17 V-Tech hosting Maryland the same week.
- #17 V-Tech visiting The U the following week.
- #1 Texas hosting Texas A&M in week 14

Word of advice to those coaches: Either be PREPARED for that game as if it were your last (because a loss like that could very well be your last, especially if you're already on the hot seat), or approach it like a bowl game. Make it count. Jim Leavitt of USF already knows the sting of Thursday night, and if his team wants a shot at the Big East title, they cannot afford another Thursday letdown. That goes for all of those ranked teams still scheduled to play: If they want a shot at their respective conference titles, and potential BCS births, they cannot afford losses on Thursday night.

But it IS college football. Week-in, week-out, crazy things go down, and history leads us to believe that atleast a couple of those remaining ranked teams will be let down on Thursday night.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Where to go from here, Pacman

Story of the day, as ESPN’s Ed Werder reports, is that Pacman Jones is weighing his post-suspension options. One of which includes checking into an alcohol treatment facility. With his NFL career in limbo (Commish Roger Goodell would look foolish if he gives Pacman another chance), we here at 4th and Fail take a look into Pacman’s next potential career moves.

1. Since it’s been reported that Pacman is looking into checking himself into a treatment facility, why not try to catch some good publicity from it? Jones should be a part of Season 2 of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which begins airing next week. It’s not like the show has had any strippers or adult film stars that could get Pacman in trouble…. Oh wait, never mind.

2. CFL. This one’s pretty obvious… it worked for Ricky Williams when he was suspended from the No Fun League. I’m sure there’s some team out there that would want Mr. Jones’ services.

3. Meteorologist. C’mon Pacman, we all know you like to “make it rain” on women. Why not make it a part of your daily job. I can see it now...today’s forecast: Slightly stupid with a 100% chance of rainfall!! ::throws c-notes into the air::

This would make local weather much more entertaining.

4. Owner of a “Gentlemen’s Club.” What better idea for you Pacman, you could even call it Pacman’s Palace. It’s got a nice ring to it, no? Just be sure to include the all-u-can-eat lunch buffet, for those businessmen stopping in before very important meetings. Just remember what Chris Rock said, there’s no sex in the champagne room, Mr. Jones. One problem with this endeavor though, you might actually be held liable for anyone getting paralyzed in your club.

5. John McCain’s new Vice-Presidential running mate. You can’t be much worse than the one he’s already got, right?

Hey, he'll be like Obama, and help spread the wealth!

6. Video Games. Develop your own video game. I’m sure NAMCO would have no problem selling you the rights to Pac-Man. Unless. of course, you would rather call it Mr. Jones and try to nix the whole Pacman thing again, for the sake of your good image.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

If the AP Poll's Top 5 Coaches were on Entourage...

I sure do love HBO's Entourage... even if it has been down lately. Also, I sure do love college football. This got me to thinking: what if I could combine the 2? What if the coaches of the AP Top 5 teams were stars on Entourage? hmmm

So without further ado....

This photo pretty much speaks for itself.



#5 Florida. Urban Meyer as Turtle.

Aside from the obvious reptile reference with Turtle and Gators... Some say you rode the coattails of another guy (Zook's recruits) to get to where you are today (2006 National title). But you're out to prove that you have some use. Loyal to a fault to your big name player (2007 Heisman winner Tebow), staying behind him no matter what.


#4 Oklahoma. Bob Stoops as Ari Gold.


Year-in, year-out you’ve been on the top of your game for most of the season. Then you inexcusably drop the ball (failing to get Vince a role in whatever movie he wants at the time, or refusing to listen to E, on the off chance that he’s right) by losing somewhere down the line to a school you shouldn’t have lost to (see: 2005 UCLA, 2006 Oregon and Boise State, 2007 Colorado, 2008: TBA).


#3 Penn State. JoePa as Drama.

Your “golden years” (Viking Quest, '82 and '86 National titles) are way behind you, and you probably should’ve been out of work years ago. But lo and behold! You make a comeback just when people begin to remember you more for being beyond your prime than for when you were in your prime. You’ve been given a second chance to resuscitate your career (5 Towns), however, I don’t see it ending well for you.


#2 'Bama. Nick Saban as Vince.

You were the big star a few years ago when you led LSU to a national title (Aquaman). You were the talk of the town, and felt you deserved to do a project of your choice by taking a deal with the Dolphins. But that was an epic failure (Medellin) and you were chased out of town as you took your current position. Now you’re back (in the SEC) and looking to make a name for yourself despite starting the season off of every one's radars with low expectations (a la Vince when he returns to L.A. looking for work).


#1 Texas. Mack Brown as E.


You’ve always played second fiddle to Ari (Stoops) in your own conference, and in the national spotlight. You made it big with a big hit as Vince (Young)'s manager. Now you're up and coming, showing up Ari (see: last weekend’s Red River Shootout) trying to make a name for yourself (The Murphy Group) without Vince (Young).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yeah, That's Why We're Still The Miami Dolphins... Or Are We?

Tough day to be a DolPhan. I'm not in Miami, so I don't get most (read: all) Phins games up in Gainesville, being that CBS covers the Jags up here and on Fox I get treated to Chucky and the Bucs. But I still follow my team, week-in week-out. This week, it was through ESPN GameCast. It was tough to watch on that, then, riding in my car later in the afternoon listening to ESPN radio's NFL recap, I heard the radio call of Matt Schaub's 4th and Goal touchdown with three seconds left to put the Texans up 29-28. That call sounded more devastating than I could've imagined from watching on GameCast (and that was pretty devastating).

Sadly, I can see this loss as one of those potential "send-a-team-spiraling-into-oblivion" type of backbreakers. The Phins have shown much improvement in The Mob Boss's 1st season, but a loss like this could require some damage control. I know the Texans loss a week before to Indy might have seemed more critical, but the Texans haven't shown the promise the Phins have at the quarter mark of the season. A loss like Sunday's for the Phins could be bad. Just look at it: 2-2 (double the wins from 2007), on the road against a winless expansion team that inexplicably blew a game a week before, with a chance to go over .500 for the 1st time since the end of the 2005 season... just to have the Texans march nearly 80 yards down the field in under 2 minutes and convert not one, but two fourth downs, including the game-winning one on 4th and goal. Now tell me, how do the Dolphins rebound next week against the Ravens usually parsimonious defense, and for the rest of the season? Do they fold into the Miami Dolphins of Nick Saban (read: Satan) and Cam Cameron and spiral into oblivion? Or do they bounce back, and try to contend in a Brady-less AFC East and continue to show glimpses of greatness and improvement?
For the sake of Miami, and all DolPhans out there, I hope it's the latter, and not the former.