Monday, March 28, 2005

Quick Thoughts - Entering the Final Four

Returned from Texas, and so much the wiser. Listen, I’m not quite ready to discuss my “business trip” to the bowels of humanity known as Northeast Texas. Let’s just say this – I left on Wednesday and returned on Friday; they found my bags on Sunday. And that wasn’t the worst thing to happen…

Therefore, today will be spent on some quick thoughts heading out of the best weekend of college basketball I’ve ever gotten the chance to watch, and heading into the Best weekend of Major League Baseball since, well, since last season…

Quick Thoughts while recalling the 80-degree temperatures at takeoff in Dallas…

- Michigan State made the Final Four. Hmmmm. I seem to recall saying that they wouldn’t make it out of the first round, falling victim to the dreaded 12-5 upset at the hands of Old Dominion… Yep, nailed that one.

- I’m 2/3 of the way through my fantasy baseball drafting season, holding one last Tuesday while packing for Texas, and one yesterday while searching my newly rediscovered bag for my toothbrush. I think I made out well in both leagues. I’ll post my rosters for all three leagues once I finish my last draft tonight.

- Oooh, one other fantasy note – you know you’re playing in a league full of Red Sox fans when Curt Schilling goes #1 overall, A-Rod falls to FIFTH, and there are loud cheers when Dave Roberts makes the leap onto a roster in the 12th or 13th round. Somehow though, John Halama remains a free agent…

- In the league that I’m running, my friend Don missed the draft and still ended up with Johan Santana & Randy Johnson as his first two picks on the wrap-around at the end of the first round. Impressive. Personally, I used my first round pick in both leagues to nab Bobby Abreu. And I’m quite happy with that.

- Better fantasy starting rotation – Don with Santana & Johnson or me with Jason Schmidt, Ben Sheets & Tim Hudson in the same league? Got Gagne closing, too.

- OK, enough fantasy baseball. For now. How about some poker? Will that satisfy you?

o So I won a free entry into a WSOP Main Event satellite tournament yesterday. 1750 entrants, #1 got a seat in the Main Event in 100 days plus $2000 spending money to get to Vegas for the week. #’s 2-5 got a free entry into a $2Million prize pool online event next month.

o An hour and a half in, I’m #3 overall (with about 400 left) and get A-10 suited diamonds. I raise the Big Blind after 2 calls from 150 to 750. There is a call, then an all-in for about 1700. Three calls.

o Flop is Ac-10h-3d. Flopped top 2 pair. Checks around. Turn is 7-d. Now I’ve got top 2 pair AND nut flush draw. I bet out 1000 chips. Two folds, and an all-in for about 8000 chips from the button. I doubt he has a set, and think he’s just trying to buy the pot. I call (had about 12k in chips). I was right.

o First all-in has pocket 8’s; the guy who just moved in has K-J of spades. Maximum, he has 3 outs (any Queen except Qd which would give me the flush).

o River falls Qc. I fall from 3rd overall to about 280th. Very next hand, same guy busts my pocket kings with an 8-9 suited when he flops a set of 9’s and knocks me out. Ridiculous. I watched the rest of the tourney, and that guy pulled a river queen to win a hand five more times. He ended up finishing 5th. No WSOP for me this year. Oh well.

- I actually spent time last week online researching all of the low buy-in (<$500 entry fee) No-Limit tourneys that happen weekly in Vegas so I can plan accordingly for my August trip. As it stands, I’ll probably be in about 15 tourneys in four days – smallest buy-in at $20 plus re-buys, biggest at about $200. That should get interesting…

- Back to NCAA Basketball… I’ve gotta be totally honest here – once Wake Forest got knocked out last weekend, I had no doubt Louisville would end up in St. Louis. Washington just wasn’t a strong #1 seed, and Louisville was horribly undervalued at a #4. They’ve got a good chance to take out Illinois next weekend.

- I’m 2-4 on my Final Four picks, and my Championship Game (UNC over Illinois) is still intact… Doesn’t mean I’ve got a chance in hell of winning any of my pools, but hopefully those of you using my picks are still at least marginally alive in your offices…

- Woke up this morning just in time to catch a promo for Opening Night Baseball on ESPN next Sunday… “Their first meeting since The Greatest Comeback in Baseball History is this Sunday… Red Sox. Yankees. It begins, again.” Wow. Got goose bumps just writing that.

That’s it today. I’m still searching through luggage trying to find my razor. Maybe next week I can muster up the courage to relive that trip. I tried to keep a journal of the three days, but I gave up after day one. If I reprint my thoughts, you’ll understand why.


Monday, March 21, 2005

2005 NCAA Tournament Update - Into the Sweet 16

Sorry. Seriously, I can’t think of anything else to say other than “Sorry”. I guess that serves me right for gloating about a 16-0 first day of the tourney.

At this point in the tournament, with 2/3 of the field eliminated, I have 2 Final Four teams still alive (UNC & Illinois – my Championship Game pick) and of the teams in the Sweet 16, I had only picked 9 of them to make it this far. Still above .500, right?

So how did we get here? Well, let me say this: Bucknell. Where the hell is Bucknell?!? I had never heard of Bucknell before they decided to actually learn to play basketball and knock off Kansas, thereby destroying just about every bracket in the land.

Vermont – not so destructive for most people. Anyone who listened to my advice last week probably took Syracuse out of their picks and went with the Catamounts, considering that I told anyone who would listen that UVM was winning that game. In both posts (1 & 2) I told you that Vermont would take it. Naturally, I didn’t take my own advice (mostly because my brackets were already locked).

Now come the excuses: I was drinking. I was tired. The backcourt call on Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara in overtime was a bogus call that should have been a kicked ball on Vermont. But here’s the plain, simple fact: Vermont is a very good team. Syracuse is a very good team that played very, very poorly Friday night. At least I got BC out in Round Two correct…

In the interest of full disclosure, I filled out two totally different brackets before posting my picks last week. The first one was the bracket that I filled out immediately after the Selection Show last Sunday, and the one I posted was based on picks made about halfway through the day on Tuesday.

Bracket #2 – well, you already know the gory details.

Bracket #1 had Vermont winning their first game, as well as the NC State upset of UCONN yesterday. It did not account for UW-Milwaukee upsetting BC, or the basketball giant that is Bucknell taking out Kansas. Nor did it plan on Bobby Knight resurrecting his coaching abilities and dismantling Gonzaga. It did have Louisville advancing to the Final Four by beating Wake Forest in the Elite 8.

Luckily, I threw Bracket #1in the trash after filling out Bracket #2. Wouldn’t actually want to be RIGHT, now would we?

So, since I have nothing new to add to the discussion, let me finish by saying this: Go Duke.

I’ll be traveling to Texas for most of this week, and I will try to update from the DeepInAHarta. Doubtful, but who knows – I’m sure I’ll have to vent to somebody after UW-Milwaukee makes the Final Four…

Um, no.


Friday, March 18, 2005

2005 NCAA Tournament Update - Day 1

Before we get into a quick update of Round One of the NCAA Men’s tournament, I would never forgive myself if I didn’t pass this little pearl along to you. As if there haven’t already been enough awful, awful movies made that prominently featured NBA players (Kazaam spring to mind), this summer, you can watch as one man makes his incredible journey to the top of the NBA. Get ready for…

The Year of the Yao”.

No, I’m not kidding. Click the link to see the trailer. Go ahead; I can wait. I’m wondering if Yao has any major speaking roles? I still can’t get over the translator at the end of the trailer:

“How do I thank my family – my homeland? How does a blade of grass thank the sun?”

Now, if that isn’t top 10 quote material in your book, then you’re on the wrong webpage my friend. From now on, anytime someone asks me a tough question, I’m responding with “How does a blade of grass thank the sun?” I think that could get me out of some tough situations.

By the way – the Yao trailer just jumped ahead of the trailer for “Comedian” (the documentary about stand-up comedy by Jerry Seinfeld & Colin Quinn) as my favorite comedy trailer ever. Yes, I spend lots time on watching movie trailers. I’m a movie geek – deal with it.

So anyway…how many of you used my bracket picks to your advantage in your own pool? Since only one person joined my Tournament Challenge division, (shame on you all), I don’t have the pleasure of looking down with disdain at the rabble below me. Luckily, I also submitted my picks at and in’s Daily Quickie division.

I ask because, had you followed my lead, you would probably be the envy of your office right now. My friend Jay has already called to tell me that people are pissed at him, since he followed my lead pick-for-pick (without telling the rest of his office of course), and is now reaping the rewards of going 16-for-16 on Day One.

Now, not to jinx it or anything, but I doubt that this will keep up. I’m still leery about the GW / Georgia Tech game this afternoon, and in the back of my mind something tells me that Vermont is going to stun Syracuse (and eliminate one of my Final Four teams in the process). But I’ll take 16-16 any day of the week.

Oh, and to pass along one more note for you… since I know how much pleasure you all derive from my gambling mistakes. Two days ago I checked the lines on the first day’s games, just in case I decided to drop $200 on them. I made my picks and then got the odds on two 8-way parlays for the 16 games being played, just for the hell of it.

I rechecked my picks today before I left for work. All 16 hit. I would have hit two $100 8-way parlays. Translation? I’d be buying a new house today. The two 8-ways that I had checked out, at $100 each, would have paid about $15k each. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the extra $200 to put on the games, so I just made picks and wrote them down for future reference.

I mean, how many times in my life could I go 16-for-16? Once? Twice? Yes, you already know what comes next…

I’m a tool.

Until the second round…


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

2005 NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney Picks

Yes, there is a method to my March Madness. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually do pay attention to what I pick. It’s not like I just throw darts at the brackets and see who they hit. Does that make my picks any more reliable than anyone else’s? Nope. Does it mean that I have a good chance at beating you when you sign up for my Division on’s Tourney Challenge? Well, keep reading and find out…

By the way… to enter, go to the Tourney Challenge home page and enter “The View From The Couch” as the division you wish to join. The password is “D” (obviously no quotes).



IllinoisNevada – UW-Milwaukee – Boston College – UAB – ArizonaS. IllinoisOklahoma State


Washington – Pacific – Georgia Tech – Louisville – Texas Tech – Gonzaga – West Virginia – Wake Forest


Duke – Mississippi State – Old Dominion – SyracuseUtahOklahomaCincinnatiKentucky


North Carolina – Minnesota – Villanova – Florida – Wisconsin – Kansas – North Carolina State – Connecticut

Wow, not one, but TWO 12-5 upsets this year! To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Georgia Tech getting their heads on straight and getting past George Washington in Round 1, but I don’t have the Yellow Jackets going very far, so if I’m wrong there, no biggie. No other real surprises here. UAB is a solid team, and is better than LSU. The Michigan State/Old Dominion game will be fun to watch, and I would take the Spartans most times. But there’s just something about ODU and those 28 wins – I mean, they couldn’t all have been cakewalks, right?

The one game that could bust my bracket into many, many little pieces is Vermont and Syracuse. I love ‘Cuse this year – I said earlier that they would be the best representative of the Big East in the tourney. But Vermont is a very good team, with a high RPI (15ish) playing against a team that they’ve probably gotten the chance to watch on TV many times. If the Catamounts can find a way around Jim Boeheim’s half-court trap, the Orange could get crushed… (sorry; had to)



IllinoisBoston CollegeArizonaS Illinois


WashingtonLouisville – Gonzaga – Wake Forest


Duke – SyracuseUtahKentucky


North Carolina – Villanova – KansasConnecticut

Two more upsets to add to the pile, both costing only one state. Maybe I just have something against the state of Oklahoma. Something tells me Utah can beat the Sooners, and I’ve liked Southern Illinois since last year’s tournament, when I had them going to the Final Four. This year, not so much. But I do think they can handle the OK State Cowboys.

I also realize that as recently as two weeks ago I said BC wouldn’t make it out of the second round. Well, I don’t think Alabama will be able to win their first round game, and even if they did, I don’t think they’d be able to beat BC in Round 2. Don’t worry – the Eagles aren’t flying past Illinois anytime soon…



(1) Illinois – (3) Arizona


(4) Louisville – (2) Wake Forest


(4) Syracuse – (2) Kentucky


(1) North Carolina – (3) Kansas

Look at those seedings there… Nothing lower than a #4 seed has a chance to make my Final Four? I must be doing something wrong.

In all fairness, I think Duke has the only chance to stop UNC this year. Unfortunately, they’ll draw a hot Syracuse team early, and I don’t think they can get by the Orange. As for the other #1 that I’ve got gone before the Elite 8, well Washington certainly deserves that #1 seed. But Louisville was good enough to get a #2 somewhere else (think… Austin bracket), and has the talent to take the Huskies out.

To me, Kentucky got the biggest break of all the major teams in this seeding process. At 25-5, they were probably worthy of their #2 slot. But they didn’t even win their conference tournament, something that Louisville did, albeit barely. But the Wildcats were rewarded with the #2 in the Austin bracket, meaning that they’d probably have to face the winner of the Duke/Syracuse slugfest, a game that will leave the loser eliminated and the winner teetering on the edge. Kentucky could win that in a walkover. But…



(1) Illinois


(2) Wake Forest


(4) Syracuse


(1) North Carolina

So that’s my personal Final Four. No huge surprises, since we almost never get four #1’s in the final two games. Like I said last week, I still believe that Illinois and UNC will meet in the Championship Game. UNC has the fourth best winning percentage in this tournament, behind Illinois, Louisville and Pacific. Luckily for the Tar Heels, none of those other teams is even in the same half of the bracket. Of course, they still have to worry about the possibility of facing either Oakland, and their stellar 13-18 (.420) record, or Alabama A&M at 19-13 (.621).

And I still believe that this is the year Roy Williams punches his ticket into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s only got one more thing to do…

…win six more games.

My pick for the Finals? UNC over Illinois, 84-77.

So now you have all of my picks. Join up on and prove what you’ve got. We’re playing for pride and for bragging rights. Good Luck to you all.


Monday, March 14, 2005

For What It's Worth... March 14th, 2005

I had a choice to make about an hour ago. Either take two ibuprofen, lie down for a little while and hope that my splitting migraine headache would fix itself, or take two ibuprofen, sit on my couch and fill out NCAA brackets. Of course, my other option was to drive right past my house this afternoon instead of actually going home and just continue six miles down the road to my old High School where the World Series trophy is being shown.

Now, I can’t think of anything better than touching the Commissioner’s Trophy, and maybe even taking a picture with it. But the last thing I want to do is drive to a building that I hated when I was forced to go there, only to stand in line for two hours for nothing more than a chance to see the display for a fleeting second, all the while being subjected to the people of this city that I try to avoid every other day of my life.

In the end, it wasn’t much of a choice. Guess I’ll have to wait until my first Fenway pilgrimage of the year...

So... there’s actually a lot for me to try and write about this week, from steroids to March Madness. That’s why I’m breaking this down into two posts; one today, one tomorrow.

In order to truly get my point across in today’s post, I’m going to start a new running theme for posts. It’s called “For What It’s Worth”. Most of the stuff I write on here is just the rambling (and gambling) thoughts of one idiot with nothing better to do than write 3000 words about a poker tournament or a bunch of Quick Thoughts about nothing at all. When I actually try to sit down and focus on one topic, I often get led astray, kind of like I am right now. That’s why I’m starting this theme. Hopefully I will be able to take a topic every so often and actually say something worthwhile about it.

And what better topic to start with than Major League Baseball and Steroids?

In three days, a handful of current and former Major League stars are going to be forced to testify in front of the United States Congress about performance enhancing drugs. Among them is a former player hawking a “tell-all” book, a pitcher who is built more like someone using performance de-enhancing drugs, and a collection of hitters who have all put up amazing numbers through their careers, and therefore must have been cheating. More on this in a second.

Conspicuously absent is the biggest name in the discussion, Barry Bonds. Others involved in the BALCO probe have been “invited” (read: subpoenaed). Bonds was not. No biggie – I don’t think there’s really any debate left surrounding Barry Bonds, and especially not after his Grand Jury testimony (where he admitted to using steroids, albeit “unknowingly”) leaked out.

So what can we expect from these hearings? Unlike the Grand Jury, Congress doesn’t even pretend to keep the questions and answers secret. C-Span is about to garner their highest ratings ever, because everyone wants to hear three little words:

“I did it.”

Will we hear them? Maybe once, from Jose Canseco. But the rest of the players will mostly speak in vagaries and “Lawyer-ese” – namely that they’ll be invoking their Fifth Amendment Rights. For most of us, we’ll know what that means.

As for the assumption of guilt and of cheating. Really? Anyone who juiced was a cheater? Not before 2003 they weren’t...

I’ll hold here for a moment while you collectively scream at your screens... Take your time... get it all out of your system... send me a nasty e-mail if you must... OK, feel better now? Good.

Pre-2003, Major League Baseball couldn’t have cared less whether or not players used steroids. As long as home runs flew out of parks at record rates and fans bought anything bearing the official hologram of MLB, everyone looked the other way. And in doing so, they as much as said “We Don’t Care.”

We Don’t Care about the record books.

We Don’t Care about the integrity of the game.

We Don’t Care about the health of our players.

We Don’t Care about the future.

We Don’t Care about our fans.

As fans, we talked ourselves into believing everything was OK. How many times did we say “the ball is juiced” in 1998? Or 99? Or any year from about 1986-2002? We actually talked ourselves into thinking that by winding a little piece of twine tighter we could explain away the undeniable fact that players were hitting the ball harder and farther than should be humanely possible.

I’ll admit, I did it too. I never really doubted that a few players were using, but I looked the other way. I thought that the home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 was one of the best things I had ever seen. I can distinctly remember getting angry at a former High School teacher who dared to suggest that both players were on the juice. And yet, I think I always knew.

So do we start handing out asterisks like candy at Halloween? Do we turn our heads yet again and say “Can’t prove it – why try?” I don’t know. It’s not my decision to make. And I’m glad, because I don’t think I would want that type of responsibility. But if you held a gun to my head and said “choose”, here’s how I would handle it:

- Any records set before 2003 stand. Period. If baseball was willing to essentially endorse steroid use, then they will have to live with the consequences. The records will not be worth the paper in the books they're printed in.

- If someone ever hits more than 61 homers in a season again, they get my nod for Single-Season champ.

- If someone ever hits more than 73 in a season, he damn well better piss in a cup before he even crosses reaches first on his 74th trot...

- Barry Bonds’ chase of 714 & 755 should be handled like this: He admitted in Grand Jury testimony to using steroids in 2000 & 2002, but conveniently not in 2001. OK; I don’t buy it, but we’ll have to take his word for it. Therefore, his 73 homeruns stand as the “single-season” record (hold for laughter), and can be counted towards his All-Time chase. But his 49 in 2000 and 46 in 2002 do not. That puts him at only 608 career home runs, and probably out of the running to ever pass Ruth or Aaron. And that would satisfy me.

In the past, I’ve written that people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. And I think that still holds true here. I don’t think there’s any way to prove that Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Rafael Palmeiro, Pudge Rodriguez, or anyone else actually used steroids short of hearing him say those three magic words. I don’t care that Jose Canseco is willing to sell out everyone he’s ever met in order to turn a buck. I don’t presume guilt.

But sometimes, ya gotta wonder...

Tomorrow I will put up my NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament breakdown, as well as the information on how you can challenge me directly. I have reserved a league on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge (free to join), where you can all prove how much smarter than me you are.

Tomorrow is also the night of my first Fantasy Baseball Draft. Ahhh, it’s Spring!


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Quick Thoughts - Spring Training and such...

I have heard your pleas, I have seen the overwhelming support for my MLB Preview post, and I have discussed with some of you (at length) why you think I suck. So now what?

Guess I’m forced to write something new up here until baseball season starts. Maybe I can get an entire post out of the NCAA tourney next week…

And so, without further ado…

Quick thoughts while deciding what the hell to write about next

(hey, I’m not gonna lie to ya…)

- Welcome back to relevancy, NBA basketball in Boston! Enjoy it while it lasts (you know, like until next week). I should admit, I took a long hard look at my past history with the NBA, and I realized that my “fandom” was at it’s peak when Jordan was shrugging his shoulders at Magic in the announcer’s pit, and then again when he finally gave up on Baseball and came back to the hardwood for three more titles. But my interest really faded after that, and it was almost completely gone after the Celtics traded away Antoine Walker two years ago. Now he’s back, and suddenly the Celtics seem like the team they were when I was most interested in them. No Larry, Kevin, Chief or Reggie, but Pierce and Antoine are the guys who made this team while I was following it the most. Glad to have ya back #8…

- Now, if the Celts could have found a way to land a legit big-man to face Shaq in the playoffs, I’d feel a lot better. Raef LaFrentz and Mark Blount… I get a little chill when I think about that…

- Tickets for last night’s split-squad Red Sox – Yankees Spring Training were going for $400 through scalpers and eBay at game-time. Are you kidding me? And people were paying this? I’ll admit – I don’t think there’s any amount I wouldn’t pay for tickets to the April 11th game in Fenway, provided I actually had the money to start with. But for a Spring Training game? Uh, no.

- Caught the premiere of The Contender on NBC last night. Strangely entertaining. I’ll admit – I’ve watched maybe five boxing matches in my lifetime, the last being Lewis/Klitchsko for the Heavyweight title three years ago. This show is pretty damned good, and it just might return boxing to the forefront of American sports. Or at least put it ahead of hockey…

- Speaking of hockey – oh wait. No we weren’t. No one was.

- Tiger vs. Phil on the back 9 at Doral. Wow. If you’ve ever played golf seriously, then you can probably appreciate the magnitude of those nine holes. I’ve been a big fan of Lefty for years, primarily because I’m also a left-handed golfer, and I know how hard it is to play most courses since they favor right-handed players. But that half round of golf might have vaulted the PGA back to #3 in TV ratings behind football and baseball. Or at least until…

- The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. I don’t think I’ll be running a pool again this year, considering that I actually would like to have my own entries and there’s too many conflicts of interest in running a contest that you’re actively competing in. But let me give you a little sneak preview of my very own “Bracketology” thoughts…

o UNC and Illinois will meet at some point in this tourney. And if it’s in the Championship Game (as it should be), UNC takes it.

o Duke will be done by the third round, and it really hurts to say that. If I’d had any basketball skill at all aside from being able to shoot free throws really well, I’d have been a Cameron Crazy. In fact, growing up, my top four colleges that I wanted to go to were Michigan, Duke, Syracuse and Miami. Actually almost ended up at Syracuse…

o BC will be the biggest upset of the tourney, when they go out in the second round. Syracuse will represent the Big East the best, probably advancing as far as the Elite 8 or Final Four.

o Dark Horse Final Four teams – Southern Illinois and Louisville. And keep an eye on Villanova. All three teams are playing well when it counts.

o I’ll have a full breakdown next week after the brackets are actually released.

- Playing a lot of freeroll poker lately (no more cash games online – too many bad beats). Finished 7th in one a couple days ago, out of 1771 players. I was happy with my play, especially with my discipline after flopping trips four times and waiting players out. But a hand in last night’s freeroll really showed me how far I’ve come as a player in just the past six months…

o I got moved to a new table, and on the first hand I was under-the-gun with pocket 8’s. I was also third in chips at the table after being way ahead at my last table, so I decided to play safe, raising the blind from 50 to only 175. I got two callers, including the Big Blind.

o The flop came out 8c-3c-Ah, giving me trips. The Big Blind checked and so did I. The third player bet out 150. Big Blind called (he had about 1000 more chips than I did) and so did I.

o The turn came out 8h. Now the Big Blind bet out 200, making me think that he had a flush draw, probably to the king. I called with my quad 8’s, and so did the other player.

o The river was another low heart. The Big Blind checked (now I KNEW he had the flush and was slow-playing it) and I bet out 250. The third guy folded (he told us later that he had been chasing clubs) and the Big Blind raised me to 1000. I had about 2500 chips left, but I didn’t want to scare him away. I wanted him to call with his flush, and if it was the king flush, I knew he probably would call a re-raise, but not an all-in. I raised to 2000.

o He used his entire “Time Bank” that PartyPoker gives players to think over a tough decision, and finally called. He had K-10 of hearts, and was unbelievably mad when I showed quad eights. PartyPoker uses “XXXX” to block out profanity in their chat module – I’ve never seen so many X’s in my life.

- NFL update – OK, I asked a Jets fan friend of mine about this, but he never responded, so I’ll post it here for open discussion. Two years ago, the Jets let Laverneus Coles walk to Washington in order to keep the younger Santana Moss and to be able to pay Chad Pennington and John Abraham in long-term deals. Now, two years later, they have traded Moss (who is still younger than Coles…) to Washington for Coles, with Pennington locked in to a long-term contract and John Abraham designated as their “Franchise” player for the second straight year after failing to agree on a long-term deal again. How can this possibly make sense? I know the Patriots are having a relatively bad off-season to date, but for the most part the salary cap forced their hand. The Jets moves just don’t make sense to me.

- Of course, the Redskins’ moves make even less sense. Didn’t Dan Snyder learn about big signing bonuses and ludicrous contracts after he signed Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, et al.?

- The Cowboys could be a legitimate force in the NFC next year (8-8, maybe even 9-7!). They’ll probably be stuck as a wild-card team at best though, because the Eagles haven’t gotten any worse… yet.

- Losing Ty Law hurt, but we all knew it was coming. Saying goodbye to Roman Pfifer was a bit of a shock, but understandable. But Troy Brown? That came out of nowhere! I understand his cap number was just way too big for a player of his caliber ($5M in 2005), but so far it doesn’t seem like New England has any interest in bringing him back. That could be a mistake…

And finally, a travel update. My Vegas trip got pushed back to August due to unforeseen circumstances (the flight was full), which is probably for the best. I plan on making a Jersey Pilgrimage sometime in late April or early May to finally go to Atlantic City – who’s in?

And then there’s this news. My company has decided to send me to Texas for three days of training in two weeks. In order to confirm the schedule, I had to call a woman in the Texas office last week for flight numbers, hotel reservations, etc.

Now, I have a friend from Texas. He has an accent. But even on the first day I ever met him, it didn’t sound that foreign to me. Speaking with the good people in the offices in Gatesville (which I have been informed is a true redneck town – great), I felt like I was calling a totally different country. The woman I needed to speak with – Cheryl (or “Sherrrrl” as the secretary called her) spoke like a cross between Dolly Parton and Tommy Lee Jones (wow, that’s a disturbing mental image) while trying to give me my flight itinerary and hotel address.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up at the airport looking at flight numbers like a lost puppy trying to figure out where it all went wrong. And if I’m lucky enough to board the right plane (two stops on the way to the puddle-jump endpoint at Gatesville/Killeen Interstate Airport – Philly and Dallas. I’m thinking about wearing full NY Giants regalia just to try and cheat death), I know there’s absolutely no way I’m finding my hotel. I’m the same guy who once got lost driving home from work – a job that was 2.5 miles from my house and only one street away.

But the best part of the conversation (or at least the parts that I could understand) was the verbiage. I’ve seen enough Spaghetti Westerns that I could probably speak like the gun-slinging cowboys of the late 1800’s. Of course, I’d probably get my ass kicked in the process. But I always just assumed that the dialogue in those movies was made-up.

Not so. At one point, Sherrrrl told me that she would “check those numbers and get back to you right quick, now don’t you fret.” Huh?!?

Did someone just use the terms “right quick” and “don’t you fret” in succession? And I’m supposed to meet this woman and keep a straight face?

I’m screwed. I’ll be fired before I even get back.