Our first reader email!

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How I feel right now

There are important milestones in every blogger’s life. The first post. The first return reader. Inevitably selling out to the first offer that comes your way. And with apologies to my friends at Halls and Vicks, without whom I couldn’t possibly be fighting off the intense cold I’m currently dealing with, I haven’t quite reached that level of success. However, I did just receive an important gift: my first reader email. Granted, it was actually a text, but reader email sounds better. He (you didn’t really think it would be a girl, did you?) has a Burning Question that he needs answered. It’d be rude to keep him waiting any longer.

Reader WhiteKong asks:

“Idea for blog: something about the unwritten rules of switching sports teams. Like how you have to have a team picked before you’re 10 and you can’t ever switch it. And if you do the stigma surrounding it.”

Great question, WhiteKong, and thanks for reading! The murky waters of sports fan ethics can be difficult to navigate, but luckily for you, an expert helmsman is guiding your ship. There’s a lot to parse through here, but let’s start with the obvious. If you earnestly switch allegiances after being public with your old one, you do deserve to be cast out into the leper colony that is the bandwagon jumping community. However, it’s not always that easy.

For example, if your favorite team relocates, and, this is important, if you’re from the general area, you can switch teams. However, if you picked the team at random (a topic for another time), only the most egregiously unethical move (Colts, Thunder) can reopen your allegiance. For example, if you’re a Rams fan who was born and raised on the East Coast with no connection to St. Louis, you’ve got to stick with them even though they moved to L.A. The team stinking is not a valid excuse for team switching.

Poor performance does present another challenge, though, that tests your resolve as a sports fan. How do you hold off the temptation that the eye candy around the league gives? I struggle with this constantly, not necessarily because of poor team performance (literally none of my teams have been bad in like, 20 years) but because of appealing or new playing styles, exciting players, cool jerseys, really anything that can catch the eye. In college I a crisis of faith as a proud Celtics fan. I had to convince myself to root for the team when Rajon Rondo was the best player. They played slow, couldn’t shoot or run any kind of offense, couldn’t really defend, and were just generally horrible to watch and destined to finish with 44-48 wins. Meanwhile, the Spurs were crushing teams with the ball movement that’s commonplace today. The pre-title (and bandwagon) Warriors were running and gunning, casting up ill-advised 3s at will. Even the Grizzlies, who played a nearly identical style to the Celtics, were more appealing because of their passion and infectious personalities. It was the toughest challenge I’ve faced as a fan, but I held true. I looked at it this way: A married CEO may bring in a new secretary every week. Each one hotter than the last. But, at the end of the day, his wife is who he comes home to. At the end of the day, I knew that the Celtics winning the championship would still, even with such an unlikeable team, give me the most joy. It’s up to you to muster up the fortitude to stick around through the lean times. Look for beacons of hope, like Kristaps Porzingis or a good Color Rush jersey. Because I guarantee a lifelong Lions fan will get a lot more respect than a “lifelong” Warriors fan will.

Which brings up to the final obstacle, and one that I, unfortunately, have no secret to overcoming. What to do when your team becomes good after being bad? More specifically, what to do when the actually win a championship? How do you avoid that most feared of insults: accusations of bandwagon jumping? Luckily for 10 year old me, Twitter wasn’t around when the Pats won their first Super Bowl after decades of being mostly futile. Otherwise I myself may have had to fend off such charges. If, for some reason, you actually are a lifelong Cavs fan, how do you separate yourself from the legion of Lebron fanboys that fill your timeline with non-stop and unabashed bandwagon drivel? How do you separate yourself from the crowd that refuses to be anyone but Real Madrid when playing FIFA online? (No joke, one of my friends in college bragged that he was great with the 49ers in Madden 14. I’m pretty sure at least half the roster was 90 overall.) Well, there is no foolproof strategy. Besides abstaining from sports arguments that expose your rooting interests (unrealistic, I know), the only thing you can do is always have proof of your fanhood. Make your Twitter avatar a picture of you in Cavs gear that was clearly taken in 2002 or earlier. Make sure you have a physical copy of that picture with you at all times. Always have backup. Never leave the house without bringing someone that can confirm that you did, in fact, like the Seahawks before Russell Wilson. Never go online unless you know that person is there with you. Unless you already have one, don’t go out and buy a retro jersey, especially if it’s for an ironic player. Nothing exposes a hipster poseur faster than an Adonal Foyle Warriors jersey. And never, under any circumstances, try to intimidate your accuser by talking about how much you know about the old teams and how they were better. Because if your accuser is a bandwagon jumper himself, nothing will satiate his desire to declare the new better than the old ad nauseam. It’d be a never ending argument. And, if your accuser is not a bangwagoner, you’ve just insulted their fandom and intelligence. Other than that, the only solution is waiting until the team stinks again. Sometimes it’s fast. No one remembers that Heat fans used to be exactly what we view Cavs fans as. In fact, they’re probably the same people. Other times, like in my case, the teams are dominant indefinitely. Just be patient. Eventually, your declaration of fanhood will be met by the same apathy as 95% of professional teams. Other than that, it’s kind of a dilemma you have to solve for yourself.

So there you have it. About a tenth of my thoughts on sports fan etiquette. WhiteKong, I hope your questions are answered. All others, I hope your worldview is just a little clearer. Keep the reader requests coming. I’m more than happy to be your pilot through the rough skies of life. Now all we need is a comment section.

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Which Pokemon would be the best at football?

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With the NFL playoffs starting up and the college football playoffs wrapping up, it’s safe to say football has been on my mind non stop recently. It’s seeped into all facets of my life, and all of a sudden I’m seeing zone blitzes in my morning cereal. So, naturally, I was looking for a way to tie football to everyday life for the next Brian’s Den exclusive. Luckily for me, I already had something I could do. So, on this most joyous of days (my birthday), I figured I’d bring you people something special.

I’m pretty sure it started when I was home on break during my freshman year of college, but the founding doesn’t matter. What does matter is that me and my buddy Steve asked the question: what would happen in Pokemon played football? And so, we created the Pokemon Football League. We would assign everyone positions, simulate games, and progress the players from their type-based colleges through the first pro draft. (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I have talked to a girl before. It was only once, but it happened none the same) On PFL nights, it was the place to be if you liked eating a bunch of pizza and talking about fake football scenarios.

Anyway, after years of film study, countless pro days, and meticulous analysis, I, the Mel Kiper of Pokemon, am ready to present my first mock draft. Keep in mind, this only covers the first draft class. I will neither confirm nor deny that I have put together a full ranking of all 802 Pokemon, along with big boards for all seven generations. Without further ado, I present my rankings. This is an NFL-style top 32, or four rounds of the 8 team PFL draft. Your life may never be the same.

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1. Mewtwo (QB/FS)
Cam Newton. Ever heard of him? He can be pretty good, right? That’s what Mewtwo is. Big, strong, fast, a transcendent mind, and, as one of the few Pokemon with something resembling hands, the perfect quarterback for any offense. He’s almost always the best athlete on the field, and his football acumen and dedication to preparation and proving critics wrong mean he can always get better. He has no ceiling.

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2. Machoke (WR/TE/RB/QB/OLB/MLB/DE/DB)
The ultimate athlete. If Curt Hennig was a Pokemon who was pretending to be a football player, he’d be Machoke. Any position on the field, he can play and dominate. His best position on offense may be tight end, where he is an instant mismatch. Prime Vernon Davis crossed with Earl Campbell. Creative offensive coordinators will have no problems getting him the ball and watching him go. On defense, he can be a one man wrecking crew, capable of setting the edge or controlling the middle, either as linebacker or safety. A jack-of-all-trades sent from God to control football games, Machoke could be the best second pick ever.

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3. Blastoise (OL)
Ask any coach: championships are won up front. Blastoise is the best offensive line prospect ever evaluated, able to play any position on the line. His smarts and game awareness make him the perfect center, his speed and strength and ideal guard, and his quick feet and hand placement the ultimate tackle. No matter what spot he’s playing, he’s always a leader and coach on the field. He’s the type of player who will be a captain from the moment he shows up as a rookie until his Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.

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4. Golem (DT/C)
He’s the defensive version of Blastoise. An immovable object in the middle of the defensive line, Golem can control a game without making a single tackle. His mammoth strength and lightning quick first step allow him to destroy offensive lines and opposing quarterbacks. He’ll often occupy two or three blockers, freeing up his teammates to make plays. On offense, he’s a true road grader who can make the most mundane running back an All-Pro. He’s another rock solid leader (get it?), and isn’t plagued by the character issues and poor decision making most rock-type Pokemon suffer from. Whereas Blastoise is a pure technician on the offensive line, Golem represents pure power and strength. He’s a great cornerstone for a successful franchise.

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5. Dragonite (TE/DE)
If Gronk had wings, he’d be Dragonite. A beast with a matchup advantage against anyone, Dragonite’s size means he’s always open. A guaranteed touchdown in the red zone, Dragonite will leave defenses scratching their heads and licking their wounds as they pick up the bodies he’s left in his wake. On defense, he’s a solid 3-4 defensive end, good against the run but not much of a pass rusher.

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6. Alakazam (QB)
The second quarterback on the board, Alakazam had the highest Wonderlic score ever measured. He has Alex Smith-level scrambling ability and can process the game two steps ahead of everyone else on the field. He’s got a decent arm, but his otherworldly accuracy more than compensates. A true film junkie, Alakazam can act as his own offensive coordinator. Has some durability issues. Future coach.

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7. Aerodactyl (SS/WR)
If you don’t see Rodney Harrison when you see Aerodactyl, then we aren’t looking at the same thing. A true headhunting safety, Aerodactyl is known just as much for his late hits as his playmaking ability. He exemplifies rock-type players: dirty hits, big celebrations, and the ability to get it done when it matters. His range is unmatched, and his ball skills are far better than most strong safeties. He’s comfortable in the box and loves stuffing the run or blitzing, and holds his teammates accountable. If you can handle the antics and poorly timed penalties, he can be the centerpiece of a dominant defense. As a receiver, he won’t win games for you, but he’ll move the chains. A good third option in the passing game.

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8. Arcanine (DE)
When evaluating players, a key question is do you place more value a player who is good at everything and great at nothing or a player who is great at one thing and okay at everything else? When the singular skill is as good as Arcanine’s pass rushing, the choice is easy. Arcanine won’t do many things, but the one thing he does do he does better than anyone in this draft class. He’s got only one goal every play: hit the quarterback. He led the college ranks in sacks the last two seasons, and though the evaluation process showed some serious flaws in his run defense, his pass rushing can totally take over a game. He has a nose for the ball and is always making big plays. He’s a game changer on the edge of your defense.

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9. Hitmonlee (QB/MLB/K)
The only kicker on the big board, Hitmonlee is the traditional strong armed qb. He’s got a cannon for an arm and loves to go deep, which can get him in trouble sometimes. Will throw plenty of interceptions. If he ever pulls it down and runs, tackle him early, because this long strider is gone if he hits the open field. Doesn’t have the best pocket awareness, and can run himself into sacks sometimes. A rare quarterback/linebacker combo, Hitmonlee is a rangy 3-4 middle linebacker who racks up tackles and interceptions. Has a massive leg and can hit field goals from anywhere. Questions as to whether he has already reached his ceiling after winning the Oak Award (the Pokemon Heisman) last year.

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10. Charizard (TE/DE)
The most popular player in America rounds out the top 10. Though some undoubtedly wanted to see him a little higher, his poor combine performance and slight reputation as uncoachable hurt him a little. Still, his on-field production and pure talent speak for themselves. Though not as dynamic as Dragonite, Charizard is a metronome of a tight end, slicing apart defenses up the seam with a steady diet of 15 yard gains. He won’t make you miss, but he’ll run you over and is an excellent blocker, better than many offensive line prospects. Defensively, he looks more imposing than he actually is, and he often freelances and gets himself caught out of position. With the right coach, he can be a consistent All-Pro and possible Hall of Famer.

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11. Mew (RB/CB)
Mew doesn’t look like much, but he’s a true difference maker on the field. He’s a shadow on defense, raking as the best cover corner in the draft. His anticipation and ability to quickly diagnose plays makes it seem like he’s in the opposing huddle at times. On the off chance he gets beat, his recovery speed and ball skills allow him to shut down any pass thrown his way. He’s a shifty running back, probably best suited as a third down receiving back.

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12. Pinsir (MLB)
In today’s game, not many middle linebackers can rank this high. Just shows how skilled Pinsir is. He’s best in a 4-3, where he can patrol the middle of the field, coming up to stop the run or dropping back, where he is an athletic, instinctual coverage man. He brings the wood every time and is the quarterback of the defense, reading plays and making adjustments. He doesn’t really have a role on offense, but he never leaves the field on d.

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13. Charmeleon (WR/LB)
The prototypical number one receiver, Charmeleon is the perfect weapon to build a passing game around. With great hands and athleticism, he is capable of making the spectacular catch, but his route running ability usually means he doesn’t have to since he’s so open. He’s got below average speed, but that doesn’t stop him from creating big plays. He’s a beast after the catch and can go around or over defenders. On defense, he’s best positioned as a 4-3 outside linebacker, where he can use his athletic ability to shut down entire halves of the field. Slight character concerns off the field.

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14. Abra (WR/CB)
Underestimate Abra at your own risk. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s the fastest and quickest player in this class. He’s a devastating kick returner, flipping field position or taking it to the house every time he touches it. He’s an ace route runner as well, befuddling defenders from either the slot or outside the numbers. You can try to keep him from going deep, but you’ll fail. On the other side of the ball, he’s a good cover corner who has a tendency to jump routes. He’ll generate a lot of big plays, but he’ll get beat a lot, too. His size produces obvious durability concerns.

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15. Nidoking (G/T/DE)
One of the most imposing looking prospects on the board, Nidoking’s physicality is his greatest asset. As on offensive lineman, he mauls people in the run game. His pass protection footwork can be inconsistent at times, but he’s strong enough to cover it up. He’s a super aggressive defensive end, which can lead to him being caught offsides or out of position. Still, his penetration can kill an opponent’s game plan.

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16. Machamp (DE/DT/TE)
A top 5 talent with huge upside, Machamp’s litany of off-the-field issues keep him this low. He essentially splits his time equally between being suspended and being eligible, but when he does play, watch out. With almost superhuman strength, Machamp is an absolutely dominant force on the defensive line. He can shed blockers at will, beat double and triple teams like nothing, and has mastered the art of batting passes down at the line of scrimmage. He racks up quarterback hits like a middle linebacker gets tackles. He’s even a good tight end on offense, good at blocking and in space. But again, pick him at your own risk. In the right environment, he’s a steal and a future Hall of Famer. In the wrong one, be prepared to crash and burn.

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17. Kabutops (OLB/DE/TE)
Kabutops is a versatile and athletic edge defender. His greatest assets are his speed and length, which allow him to be a pass rushing force and strong in coverage. Lacks strength in the run game, but can be a constant game wrecker for opposing passers. Has skills with the ball in his hands, but good luck getting him the ball. Has the worst hands we evaluated.

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18. Zapdos (FS/WR)
A rangy and instinctual safety, Zapdos is the ultimate centerfielder. Diagnosing plays before the snap, Zapdos is always in the right position to make a play. With great speed and athleticism, can break up passes and take them the other way. Willing, if unenthusiastic run defender. Deep threat as a receiver, but lacks refined route running ability.

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19. Snorlax (DT/T)
The strength of this class is in the trenches, and Snorlax is yet another top line prospect. A massive space eater, Snorlax is a premier nose tackle. With the size and strength to be a defensive line unto himself, Snorlax rates as the best run defender on the board. He needs to be double teamed every play, if only because he’s so much bigger than every offensive lineman. He’s doesn’t have the quickest feet, and has serious effort problems. With his size and strength, he’s been able to get away with taking plays off against lesser competition, but he won’t in the pros.

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20. Hitmonchan (QB/WR/OLB)
A bit of an odd player, Hitmonchan is the rare physical quarterback. Forced to play receiver in college, he displayed good athletic ability and hand eye coordination, but his true calling is as a power running option quarterback. Blessed with a huge arm but not with accuracy, he can be a frustratingly inconsistent passer. Long strides and an eagerness for contact make him a weapon in the run game. Has shown ability as an edge-setting outside linebacker, but probably best to focus on quarterback. Very emotional player with a knack for getting in scuffles.

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21. Raichu (RB/OLB)
The first true bell cow running back on the board, Raichu is a talented ballcarrier. His college numbers suffered because of dismal offensive line play and the coaches’ foolish devotion to his more popular backfield mate, but his true talent will shine in a professional offense. Very good speed and quickness as well as vision add up to an explosive runner who will constantly rip big plays. Comfortable catching the ball and in pass protection. Has slight conditioning concerns and could do with some time in the weight room. Defensively is best served to be a 4-3 outside linebacker, but he’ll most likely be too burned out to contribute on that side of the ball.

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22. Rhydon (T/DE/DT)
He looks like an identical clone of Nidoking, but Rhydon has his own skill set. Rhydon is a great run blocker and consistently good pass blocker. He has a good base and strong hands. He’s a versatile defensive lineman, able to play 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end. He’s not an explosive pass rusher, but he is good against the run. He’s not an elite athlete, so he may not have much of a ceiling, but his floor is a Pro Bowl player.

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23. Tauros (OLB/DE)
There’s a logjam of talent in this part of the draft, but in today’s game, elite pass rushers get top priority. Tauros is relentless, going full speed every step he takes. Though he’s a glorified situational pass rusher, Tauros can pack tons of production into limited snaps. Effort is a skill, and Tauros gives more than anyone. He’s a bit of a hothead, and don’t expect him to contribute much in any other facet of the game, but put Tauros on in passing downs and watch him go.

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24. Mankey (RB/MLB)
A bulldog of a player, Mankey doesn’t let his physical limitations stop him from making an impact. A grinder of a running back, he’s a tough runner who fights for every yard between the tackles. When he gets to the second level, defensive backs will be wary of trying to tackle this bowling ball. Lacks top end speed and isn’t great in the passing game. Can be a blur on defense, flying around sideline to sideline from his middle linebacker spot, but often overcommits and is left out of position. As his game is based on effort, he may not have much of a ceiling.

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25. Graveler (DT/G)
A player that could be the steal of the draft, Graveler is way too talented to be this low. However, his role in the embarrassing hazing scandal at Rock University lead to a season long suspension, during which he had multiple run ins with the law. However, get him on the field and he’s a menace. A true mauler both blocking and defending the run, Graveler moves bodies at will and is a terror as a pulling guard. Quick enough that he’ll rack up a fair amount of sacks from the middle of the line. Very likely that he’ll face another suspension after being drafted. If you’re willing to put up with that, and the probable later suspensions, he’s one of the most talented players in the class.

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26. Golduck (WR/CB)
A great pro day puts Golduck ahead of other prospects in this range. Golduck is a technician of a receiver who can break ankles with his route running. Though he doesn’t have elite speed, he’s very quick and can get in and out of his breaks in the blink of an eye. He’s got great hands and always seems to get open on third down. With the ball in his hands, he can make defenders miss with ease. He’s a solid cornerback, but his lack of athleticism will prevent him from shutdown status.

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27. Rapidash (OLB)
Another pass rush specialist, Rapidash is a thoroughbred athlete. Doesn’t have the most fluid hips, struggles with side to side movement, but straight line speed is almost unmatched in this class, let alone among outside linebackers and defensive ends. Breathtaking plays can mesmerize, but make no mistake: this is a one dimensional player. Ask for anything outside of rushing the passer at your own peril.

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28. Poliwrath (MLB/FB)
An old school middle linebacker. Will stuff the run with big hits and intimidation. Arrives at the ball with bad intentions. Decent in zone coverage, but man coverage is usually a problem. Lacks speed but has elite strength and instincts. Willing to do the dirty work and is a born winner.

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29. Poliwhirl (QB)
Benefitting from a dearth in quarterbacks, Poliwhirl is an average signal caller at best. Doesn’t have a good arm but is accurate underneath, he is best served in a run first offense. But, teams need quarterbacks, and, in this class, anyone will do. He is a smart and high character player who will embrace a role as game manager. It would be unwise to ask him to do more.

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30. Electabuzz (WR/TE/OLB)
A bit of a tweener on offense, Electabuzz is somewhere between an h-back and a full blown wide receiver. Lacking the elite speed of an outside receiver or the size of a tight end, he makes his living using guile and his incredible combination of leaping ability and length. Split him out wide in the red zone for jump balls or drop him inside where he is a surprisingly tough blocker. More of a 4-3 outside linebacker than a 3-4 one, he is a steady, if unexplosive, defensive player.

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31. Machop (WR/CB)
Though many give more credit to the pass-heavy system than his ability for his eye popping reception totals in college, Machop has talent as a slot receiver. A crafty route runner, he lives over the middle and feeds off contact. Not a lot of speed to burn. Good hands, but not on the same level as Machoke or Charmeleon. Best served as a cover 2 corner, as his lack of speed can leave him vulnerable in man to man.

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32. Primeape (MLB/OLB/FB)
The ultimate grinder, Primape won’t stop until the last echo of the last echo of the whistle, and has justly earned a reputation as a player that lives in the margins between playing hard and playing dirty. Much like his cousin Mankey, his lack of athletic ability doesn’t stop him from leaving everything on the field. Can play 4-3 outside linebacker or middle linebacker. Plays mostly on emotion and instinct rather than preparation and intelligence, and it can show at times. Not a lot of room for improvement: what he showed in college is exactly what you’ll get in the pros.

NEXT FIVE

Magmar (WR/SS), Nidorino (OLB), Pikachu (RB/WR/CB), Drowzee (C/DT), Charmander (RB/CB)

Top Coaching prospects

Magneton, Magnemite, Porygon

Future Red Zone host

Mr. Mime

So there you have it. However long that took you to read, I’m sure it was the best time you’ve ever spent. If you disagree with my rankings, we’ll just see how the draft shakes out. I know people will be upset about Pikachu, but serious toughness and durability concerns lowered his rankings. Now, time to see what I got for my birthday.

Grayson Allen trips someone one game after coming back from a suspension for tripping people

This isn’t even going to be about Grayson Allen. This is just who he is. Like how Draymond Green can’t help but kick people in the balls. It’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just in their DNA. So no point in getting mad about it anymore, because it obviously isn’t going to stop.

I really just wanted to post this so I could go on a rant against Coach K. Coach K is the fakest, most sanctimonious and holier-than-thou dickhead in recorded history. We’re bludgeoned by stories about how a great father figure and molder of men he is every ten seconds, but everything he does is so self-serving. He shamed his players that wanted to leave early for the NBA because it made his team worse, until he figured out that getting all the awesome one-and-done guys gave him the best chance to win. Now he’s fine with it. He has the gall to lecture another team’s player on “class,” the most Coach K move in the history of Coach K moves, but is fine with his long history of dirty players (Laettner, Paulus, Dahntay Jones, now Allen). (By the way, I love the fact that K denied lecturing Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, only for the audio evidence to come out saying that he had. So, he’s a liar and a cocksucker.) And, to bring it back to the first point, he hated when his kids “quit” on the program, but it’s totally fine when he does it. How many times has he been “injured” and taken a leave of absence, only for the team to struggle. Guess who’s hallowed win-loss record is unaffected by the losses? And you know he had to make one last appearance at Cameron Indoor before this latest “surgery.” Got to soak up one last ovation and get his balls washed a bit by the media. Because it’s all about class and humility. Coach K can go straight to hell.

Old Brazilian lady prays to statue of Elrond thinking it’s Saint Anthony

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So this made some Internet noise the other day, but I’ve been too busy to get to it until now. Basically an old Brazilian lady had no idea the figurine she was praying to was Lord Elrond of Rivendell, not Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost things, among other distinctions. Pretty embarrassing.

Now, the easy thing to do here would be to pile on and make fun of her for being so wrong. I’m not going to do that though, for a couple reasons. First of all, Elrond isn’t a horrible guy to pray to. He’s the oldest and wisest elf in Middle Earth, for crying out loud. Literally nothing on the whole continent happens without his knowledge or approval. He lead the army that beat Sauron the first time, then orchestrated the creation of the Fellowship that beat him the second time. People have prayed to worse people.

Secondly, and most importantly, that is the most saintly figurine I’ve ever seen. That’s clearly a religious figure. I’m not knocking anyone who gets fooled by that. Plus, I’m pretty sure elderly South American women will treat almost anything as an idol, especially a figure of a saintly looking man in a long robe. This little mix up was clearly not her fault. If anything, this woman’s family is to blame for embarrassing her like this and breaking up her prayer routine.

Picks for Wild Card Weekend

This weekend is one of the best times of the year. It’s a new year. It’s almost my birthday. And the NFL Playoffs have officially arrived. The pizza and wings taste better. The beer is more refreshing. And your bank account will be full if you follow my advice betting this weekend’s games. Normally, I’d be throwing out some advanced stats and research to wow you with my football knowledge. Luckily for me, these games are all slam dunks, so I don’t need to this week. The latent prognosticating powers that fill the Brian’s Den won’t need to be summoned just yet. Or will they? On to the games

Oakland Raiders vs Houston Texans (-4.5)

Dear God, why? What the Atlanta Hawks are to NBATV playoff games, the Texans are to the afternoon wildcard Saturday kickoff. Make no bones about it. This will be the worst game of all time. Connor Cook vs. Brock Osweiler. A clash of titans. I’d say it’s the worst quarterback matchup in playoff history but it’s an insult to quarterbacking to call Brock a quarterback. I’ll say this loud and clear: the Texans STINK. S.T.I.N.K. They’re horrible. The fact that they went 7-1 at home is a minor miracle. Everything in this game favors the Raiders. Raiders can’t stop the pass. Well, the Texans have the worst passing game since the 1930s. Raiders are good against the run. Texans can’t really run it, either. Texans can’t rush the passer without J.J. Watt. Raiders have the best offensive line in the league (yeah, I said it. I know it’s sacrilege to imply the mighty Cowboys don’t have the best group of five people ever assembled in the history of Western Civilization, but someone has to do it). Raiders will score, at most, 17 points. That’s 16 more than it will take to win this abomination of a game.

PICK: Raiders +4.5

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Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks (-8)

The Lions predictably blew it at the end of the regular season, so now instead of a home game and possible first round bye, they get to travel to Seattle for a night game where they have to deal with all the “12s”. (Side note: If you identify yourself as a “12” I hope you die a painful death. They’re so annoying and have such a persecution complex (Hey, aren’t you a Patriots fan? Yes, but we’re not talking about me). They’re more a fan of being a fan than the actual team, who the majority of the “12s” probably didn’t know existed before 2010. They’re always the people who throw out the word classy, even though it’s such a lame, wet blanket argument and their beloved coach is a confirmed 9/11 truther. And these stupid noise competitions they have with other stadiums are just so vomit inducing. Hey, 12s, you know 90% of stadium noise is artificial right? God, I hate them. Go sip your artisanal IPA and tell me about how no one respects Bobby Wagner you loser. But I digress.) Despite the Seahawks penchant for randomly blowing seemingly easy games, this game is pretty simple to predict. Matt Stafford hasn’t been the same since his finger injury and this Seahawks team will eat him alive.

PICK: Seahawks -8

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Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5)

It’s easy to point to the game back in week 6 and say that it won’t go the same way now that Matt Moore is quarterback instead of the immortal Ryan Tannehill. But people keep forgetting that Ryan Tannehill sucks. Matt Moore has done okay as the fill-in starter, and this Dolphins team is just as hot as the perennially dangerous Steelers. Most likely due to their rich history and standings as two of the three most popular teams in the NFL, the Steelers and Packers are always talked about like one win makes them terrifying. The Steelers could be 0-15 but win their last game and people would be like “Watch out, here come the Steelers! Don’t let Big Ben and the boys get hot!” The Packers get the same treatment, and neither team has done much of anything since they met in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers have so many crazy playmakers on offense, but their defense isn’t good and they never win big games. Jay Ajayi completely shredded this team earlier, and the Steelers haven’t exactly become the 2000 Ravens since. I’m not sure if the Steelers even win. They sure aren’t covering.

PICK: Dolphins +10.5

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New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers (-4.5)

The easiest game on the board. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn’t be hotter, going against a Giants team that finished the season decently, but hardly hot. 15 touchdown passes during this 6-game winning streak. The defense is playing less bad, which is all you need against this sputtering Giants offense. Eli couldn’t look worse. The game is in hallowed Lambeau Field, where opposing teams never win playoff games. Except when they do. Which, lately, is all the time. This is the most perfect Giants playoff scenario of all time. Giants are winning this game. If you don’t think they are, you don’t pay attention and I hate you for adding to the Giants mythos. If you think this is a ploy to try and jinx them, you’re wrong. My mush powers have nothing on the Giants playoff juju.

PICK: Giants +4.5

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NBA says Giannis Antetokounmpo committed a five second violation on his buzzer beater

I just had to go on a mini rant here. The NBA came out today and said there should have been a five second violation called on this play. Yeah, no shit. He was backing down for like 10 seconds. But the point of this is the NBA pulls this move all the time. The day after a questionable call they say that it should have gone the other way. Well, if it should have gone the other way why wasn’t it called? The last two minutes report is always saying more things should have been called, so why do refs always swallow the whistle? Adam Silver has come out and said he wouldn’t mind eliminating the hack-a-player to improve the viewing experience. Well, if you want that, don’t then tell me about all these fouls that weren’t called in the last few minutes. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have the exciting finish that’s decided by the players then release a report saying the refs were wrong about everything. Make up your mind. My thoughts have always been a foul is a foul no matter when it happens. A travel is a travel no matter when it happens. A five second violation is a five second violation no matter when it happens. So either train these refs, who do a good job for the most part, to actually call the game in the last two minutes or stop with this last two minute report charade. Have some respect for the intelligence of your fans. Rant over.

My Birthday wishlist

With the all-important date less than a week away, not a second goes by where my birthday doesn’t cross my mind. Though January 10th isn’t yet a national holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with me. The best way to celebrate this most blessed day, of course, is to lavish me with gifts. Here’s a few things I wouldn’t mind seeing come my way.

Guy Fieri’s friendship

fieriA few years ago, some dude paid like $100,000 to be Guy’s friend for a day. I need this like I need air to breathe or water to drink. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I genuinely love Guy Fieri. I’ve spent at least 25% of my life watching Triple D. Guy can clearly be bought, so someone get me a one-way ticket to Flavortown.

A bed that has a toilet built in so that I don’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night

This may be a stretch since I don’t think it’s been invented yet, but work with me here. How annoying is it to be peacefully sleeping, only to have an overactive bladder disturb your slumber? You have to get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, relieve yourself, then walk back. By the time you get back in bed, it’s practically morning already. A toilet in the bed eliminates the whole production. Just hook the plumbing up to it and it’s a perfect idea.

A car seat that’s also a toilet

Kind of piggybacking off the last wish. I have the worst bladder of anyone under the age of 70 of all time. If I drink anything I have to pee like 10 seconds later. It makes driving long distances really annoying because I have to stop all the time and go to the bathroom. Put a toilet where the driver’s seat is and I’ll be sitting pretty. A mobile throne eliminates all my problems and opens the door for my truck driving career. Replace the carpool lane with a tank emptying lane and everyone’s happy. You know what, the more I think about these last two ideas the more I realize how much money they can make. Forget you ever read about them.

A roster spot in this year’s NBA Celebrity All-Star Game

as17_new_orleansAll I’ve ever wanted in my life is to someday be famous enough to play in this game. Considering some of the names they’ve been throwing out there recently, I may be there already. If I played, you’d better believe I’d go all out. I’d be boxing out, keeping my hands up on d, and diving for loose balls. More than anything, though, I’d get my shots up. I’ll take it hard to the rack calling for and-ones like I’m Carlos Boozer. I don’t know how many points I’d finish with, but I know for a fact I’d set the shot attempts record by halftime. I’m ready to pick up where Michael Rapaport, Tom Cavanagh, and Kevin Hart left off. I’m ready to be the Celebrity All-Star Game MVP.

Tickets to this new Jamie Foxx movie

mv5bnjewmdayotm4ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzc4mjmymdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Although the movie I’m looking forward to the most in January is clearly the new Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, you and I both know I’ve already got my ticket. But I just saw the trailer for this Sleepless movie and it looks awesome. Like some combination of Taken and The Equalizer. That’s the definition of must-see. Get me in the door opening night and I may forget the fact that you didn’t buy me Guy Fieri’s friendship.

The Brooklyn Nets to lose every game then not have the league rig the lottery for the Lakers to win

largeThis might be tough to get, but it should be easy enough to ensure the Nets finish with the NBA’s worst record. Someone just needs to take out Brook Lopez. Even then, he’ll probably just get hurt on his own. So, thinking about it, the Nets will probably finish with the worst record in the league on their own, giving the Celtics the best chance for the top pick. However, the Celtics always get screwed in the lottery. They should have Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, and a bunch of other guys that they would have had if they had gotten one or two spots higher. They’ll be battling against the Lakers, whose pick is top-3 protected. If you think they’re losing their pick, I have some African princes to introduce you to. The Sixers are apparently liked by the league again now that they foolishly abandoned The Process, so they’re always lurking for the top pick. And it’s been three years since the Cavs won the lottery, which is far too long for the league’s taste. So, all I’m really asking for is for someone to infiltrate the cabal in charge of the draft lottery and make sure the Celtics get their fair shake. Now getting involved with conspiracies such as this usually result in torture and death, but know that your sacrifice will be appreciated.

A pet seahorse

rainbow-colored-seahorseJust think it’d be kind of awesome.

A trip to Japan to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom

cherry-blossoms-japan-international-tefl-academyA true picture of natural beauty. An experience so spiritual and magical that it has to be seen to be believed. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I would start weeping if I was finally able to witness to petals falling to the ground in person. Make fun of me all you want, but I’d die knowing I saw the most majestic sight known to man. Plus, I need to restock my supply of tentacle porn DVDs.

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A nice cake

ss13_cakeplanner_lion_p_new_0Everyone should have some cake on their birthday. I’m not picky about it, any flavor will do. The only requirement is that the frosting to cake ratio is right. Too much or too little frosting ruins a cake. If you’re curious about correct ratios, I’d be more than happy to try any samples you send my way.

Just a few ideas for everyone out there. This list isn’t exhaustive, so I can always come up with something else should you be unable to fulfill any of the requirements for the above gifts. I’ve got the Thank You cards ready to send out already.