Okay first my picks, which have usually been late...
WAS vs HOU
NYJ vs BUF
GB vs. DET (Roy Williams: You Owe Me STUMMIES!!)
JAX vs. IND (I buy the Struggs)
CHI vs. MIN
TEN vs. MIA
CIN vs. PIT
CAR vs. TB
BAL vs. CLE
NYG vs. SEA
STL vs. ARI
PHI vs. SF
DEN vs. NE
ATL vs. NO
There's something marvelously huge about the fantasy sports thing. I mean terrifically big. Fantasy sports has basically given meso-America the ability to achieve vicariously through their favorite superstars. For me personally, it's been giving me an opportunity to expand my drama-sensitivity past the one or two teams per season that I've always chosen to care about.
But what about fantasy drafts beyond football? Well I had never been involved with any previously, but this year I'm tentatively looking at up to 3 new ones...
Wrestling. Thus far the small fantasy league I'm in with Stev and Danno is looking to be kicking my ass. My occasional lack of attention, as well as an almost total lack of being able to watch wrestling ever has left my coaching at a low score percentile. It is only the chess/smash player in me that keep me attempting power moves like this week, for which I sold a bunch of guys from my roster in order to purchase the entire TNA tag team contenders, and with a TNA PPV this weekend I flooded my roster with TNA competitors, 3 of them in contention for titles. This gambit could pay-off hugely, and hopefully even if it flops I'll still be left with a strong roster which will give me a lot of options in the future.
Stock Market. First of all, ever since I've fallen in love with a show called Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer, which is basically just another ESPN sports show expect it happens to be about the stock market, I've had about 3 grand in Under Armour (UARM). And every few weeks like clockwork, Jim Cramer gets on the show and screams about how Under Armor is a terrible stock to own due to the fact that it's a poorly run company and currently trades at like five hundred times earnings (which means basically it's insanely over-valued, and will soon be plummeting). But every time I go to an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, or walk inside a Dick's sporting goods store, or go anywhere where I can find athletes or active adults, I see nothing but Under Armor. Shirts, spandex, even plain old t-shirts and visors. It's the new Nike swish. Under Armor also had two huge victories in the pro-sports world. They signed an agreement with the NFL to provide their players with cleats.. and they got banned by the NBA. Which is HUGE! Anything that gets banned by the NBA for being to thugg-ish (as you know, their players are required to wear ties when they show up at the arena) is going to be hugely trendy with the youth. And as my inner-city school teacher roommate Chris Panna will tell you, lower class urban families will still spend money--at the expense of food, college funds, etc--on trendy clothing. BOOYAH! Seriously, I defy you to go to Dicks and find one fucking flip-flop that doesn't have that UA symbol on it. It's everywhere you look, starring at you like a pair of shining teeth lurking in the shadows. And I'm NOT Selling! Not until it's worth 45 dollars apiece, at which point I will be selling and cashing out basically at about 4 grand. (Today its down to 39.50 from 41.00). And the daily checkup to see how it's doing is great fun as well as classic blor. And anybody that wants to join an traditional portfolio style fantasy draft with me is well welcomed, 5 stock portfolio, each week points distributed by increase and decrease. Which will be the first over-all pick, Google, or G.E.?
Colbert Rapport. The idea is that each week we do snaking picks of his guests to see basically how badly he owns them in the interview. The guest that gets owned the hardest gets us the most points, based on number of questions asked, number of questions answered, and number of times a guest gets 'nailed' by a question. Look forward to doing this, as Colbert Rapport is probably my current favorite show. (By the way, this week of unemployment has led to late-night TV watching that I haven't been able to enjoy since Highschool).
Tecmo? This is a real cluster-eff as the plan is to get together for an entire weekend to do an entire season of original 8-bit Tecmo Superbowl. This will be an administrative nightmare in itself. The second idea is for all the participants in the season to do a fantasy draft, picking players from the season and manually tallying their points. Who will be the first pick? Jerry Rice or Bo Jackson? The problem is that the tecmo season is based on pre-existing stats, so we may have to download the Rom for the current NFL season (!!!). I'm not exactly sure how this is all gonna go down, or if this would even be worth the efforts... It would definitely speak to our insanity to go through with it all, but once in a while you have to stare life down the barrel and say, "eh, I'm not in college anymore..."
A few other notes on video games...
Spawn (Goldeneye).. A video game craze I haven't seen since Frank Koehl brought over the original Smash Bros is sweeping the South Jersey basement scene... Remember during highschool how when you're playing Liscence to Kill in the Stack (which was almost every time) and someone respawns in front of someone with a gun and begins to yell, "No Gun! No GUN!" and then the person honor systems him up and leaves him alone (or stalks him around until he picks up a gun before busting one in his crown)? Well we've come to find a certain satisfaction in killing men as close to their respawn point as humanly possibly. I definitely had the thrill of killing Kevner (somehow the poor recipient of a large percentage of all our spawn kills), afterwhich he respawned directly behind the spot where I had shot him originally. I didn't even have to re-align my aim. I may not even have needed to even pull the trigger, as the second kill may very well have been from the same hail of bullets that just riddled his body a split second ago 5 feet in front of him.. (I just lost the game...) Now we get together like squirrels and play Goldeneye (or Spawn, as we now call it) for 5, 6 hour periods, yelling 'Spawn!' and giggling like jerks all the way through. Each time we re-spawn, we announce what room we're in if possible so that our fellow players that happen to be in an adjacent room can run in and get their rocks off all over your freshly spawned sprite (not giving it up easily of course, dancing circles and slapping is the standard hard-to-get play when starring down the barrel of a silenced PP7 or Destovei). I can think of 2 or 3 separate occasion whence we were simply meeting at someone's house as a launch point to go do something we had planned to do... and after a round or two of Spawn-Tack-Toe simply realized the reality that it's impossible to turn off the spawn-box and get moving. We almost didn't meet up with Danno for lunch in Philly during his stolen truck kleptacular cuz we needed it in-vein so badly. (SPAWN! SPAWN!... spawnspawnspawn!)
Smash... Anybody who knows me well knows that I'm so-so at Hackeysack, I'm not terribly great at ultimate frisbee.. My knowledge of trivia is nowhere near where it was during highschool, and when it comes to NFL or other pro-sports knowledge, I can barely hold my own.. I can hold my own at Spawn-Tac-Toe to a certain degree, but truthfully I've always been slightly below average at that, and other first person shooters. I can hold my own at Tecmo, but every time a football game gets released with more bits of animation per second, it cuts down my effectiveness by half (Madden 2006 is gonna be a disaster). Street Hockey I'm not bad, billiards, Ping Pong, chess, beer pong--these are all things that if I can seriously concentrate and stay focused for 30 minutes straight (which I can't) I would be a real contender... Standup comedy I'm not bad, I do a little better than your average post-openmike pre-regularEmcee, but I don't have the work ethic or real marketability to excel much ahead of the Philly pack (same goes for music, guitar, bass and keyes... it's really my work ethic and lack of overabundant natural talent Tom Margeretta style that holds me back). .....But I can tell you this... If you are reading this, whether you know me or are just out there surfing the internet by keyword... You will NEVER beat me in Smash. If I had to make an ascending list of the things I'm good at in life, Smash would be number 1 with a bullet. I'm at least 5 times better at Smash than I am at whatever my 2nd best skill is. And by Smash, I mean the original Super Smash Brothers released for the Nintendo 64 around the same time as Star Wars Episode I. The sequel Smash Bros melee, despite being on a higher level platform technology wise... actually took leaps backwards as far as gameplay goes towards the button-mashing mindlessness of its Space-Invaders and Mortal Combat I ancestors. At the LaSalle Melee Smash tournament my sophomore year I only finished in third place, playing cocky with the finesse Ice Climbers instead of more proven tournament winners... Original Smash was an advancement, a single-malt scotch which allows you to explore the subtleties of each character like a blossoming martial-arts super-genius. I spent the entire ride home from the Koehl mansion lecturing my roommate, who made some naive comments about how stupid it is that everytime we get together with our old highschool buddies we immediately glue ourselves to the Smash machine and need to be peeled away hours later by our new jobs or new wives... What I had to explain to him is that smash expands our minds; it's quite seriously a game of chess that creates a conduit between your mind and the mind of your opponents creating a dance that expands your minds. Like Bobby Fisher we create; and Smash happens to be the first discipline since music where your technical skill and your creativity are not limited by each other but rather feed each other in a synergetic symbiosis that creates growth every time you play. Like the guitar or piano, it's impossible to play around creatively without learning something about the instrument--and it's impossible to train technically on the instrument without expanding that techne into a personal groove creation. In addition to making us smarter though child-like adapting and learning to each environment and specific-to-round combination of circumstances...
Smash also offers a topographical profile into your friends' psyches. Frank plays the same way he goes through life. Aggressive and an absolute killing machine. Married, a home-owner, and the information technology manager at his company earning 40+ grand a year by age 25, he cuts the crap and looks for the combos that will set up for the maximum destruction of his opposing forces. Chris is silly, works as a teacher, loves working with kids mostly because of their youthful attitude. He plays the characters that have the silliest moves and he looks for the most fun ways to get kills while embarrassing his opponent for maximum taunting... Nick is a high-flier, a risk taker. A former Bag-Winner at U of Delaware's Sideshow ultimate team (meaning defensive player of the year; translation most high-flying layouts for blocked discs). He always plays Ness, the lucho-libre of the crew whose moves cater to the persona of doing the impossible where pin-point accuracy when applied exactly will make you go WTF and rack up points sky-high. I myself am a wise-ass and prank-puller. I like using the unexpected in order to create kills in smash which, in fine style, pisses off the squares. Also a former chess club captain and blue mage in Magic: The Gathering (meaning frequent use of trickery and counter-attack style) I play defensively and look to set up the combos that might not be the biggest killers number-wise in order to throw off opponents for later in the match. Mike Panna pretty much sucks, just like he does in real life, but he's Chris's brother so we let him hang around cuz he has a cool drum set. BEON! Just kidding (FUCK I just lost the game!). The fascinating thing about it though, is that the 4 of us are the 4 best Smash players in the entire universe, and will guarantee victory against fucking anyone. We're pretty evenly matched amongst ourselves (each player will have a higher percentage rate given a certain set of circumstances like number of players in a match.. or Nick is more likely to excel on certain stages, etc... although truthfully Frank has always been the best. He is at least 20% better than us, and at most 10 times better than us [as demonstrated last night to my personal mortification]). The depressing this is it's a hard game to spread currently because not only are your common video gamers not really willing to work on getting their weight up... But they simply don't have the sheer number of years necessary to compete at our level... the would have to get in a timewarp where they go back and play five hours a week every week since highschool just to meet up with us.
The funny thing about all this (as I find my way back to my original point) is that it kinda sucks not being the best at anything. And the one thing that I am the best at, Smash, there's a guy that can at times be 10 times better than me... So to all of you who are the fucking man at something (and most of you are... at SOMETHING...) cherish that.. I watch my roommate own people in Ultimate so hard that it blows my mind... he may be one of the top 5 individual players in the Philadelphia area. Knowing I'll never be in the same league as far as ultimate play (awkwardly, I do currently play fall league with him on the same team, which is not only in the same league but... the same.. team...) makes me feel a whole lot better about the fact that when we get home to a game of Smash to settle an important matter like the FACT that his precious XPN morning show host Michaela Majoun really sucks (almost as bad as David Dye)... I'm going to have the opportunity to pull out the magic when it counts.
Before I close, a quick fun anecdote to let you know just how good we are at Smash. And how serious we are about the guarantee... Chris is the chess club administrator at his school. He started the chess club there and comes from a strong St. Joes Prep team background. He's a fabulous player and can make mince-meat out of me on a pretty regular basis. Smash is similar to chess in so many ways that I'm only gonna have time to mention like the top 8... (just kiddding.. one or two...) The first and most obvious way is because you have to know your opponent... you have to make your moves based on what they're going to do. You have to know your opponent's knowledge of the game and use your knowledge of how they play to your advantage at all times. Secondly, and more importantly... there's no ceiling for how good someone can be at chess. When I was in highschool, the best chess player in the school, Mike something... could easily beat any other student hundreds of times over... He was so far away the best, and the rest of us were quite good at the time, but he could beat us with his eyes closed. If he were to play Mr. Waters, our chess club moderator... Mr. Waters would beat him a thousand times with his eyes closed. Smash is the same... over the years, our skills have exponentially grown far out of control, like a Roth IRA. And Chris, after mouthing off to his students about how good he is at Smash, got some challenges from original Smash players in his class (the lucky ones, whose parents couldn't afford them a GameCube). Needless to say he wiped the floor with them just as he wipes the floor with them on the chess board. Frequent smack talk goes back and forth even today about how his students still plan on beating him mercilessly in Smash. Chess talk is a lot more toned-down, because the nature of the game is slightly less bombastic. Chris was telling me that one day he was playing one of his students in chess, and after beating the kid pretty handily, he told him about the things he did right and the things he could do better next time (very Ed Coen style). And he also told the kid that his game had gotten a lot better... he said, "You're play is improving greatly... I want you to keep working on it, because you definitely have the talent to be better than me, probably even before you graduate..." And then he gave the kid a seriously look in the eyes before adding one more thing... "but seriously... you will NEVER beat me in Smash..."