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The Idiot Box

Posted by Jeff on July 18, 2012

In case you missed it, Saturday Night Live is losing two cast members (so far) that have, in their own ways, had a profound effect on the show over the past seven years.  Rumors continue that a third long time cast members may be leaving but no official word has come as of yet.  As most of you know I am a true SNL fan.  I have been since the mid eighties when Eddie Murphy was holding court.  Since then I have suffered through some stinker years but SNL also has good years, mediocre years, and great years.  While this past season has not been what I would classify as great, it was good (hopefully you saw the incredibly well-written and perfect SNL skewering of the Jeremy Lin press coverage) and it caps off the SNL run of the incredible Kristen Wiig and the game-changing Andy Samberg.  This edition of the Idiot Box will highlight these two and also cover those that remain (or might be leaving) but truly this will be my love letter to Kristen Wiig.  I admit this so… you were warned.

Note:  Most of these links are to SNL sketches featuring the performers or sketches described.  As SNL normally airs after kids go to bed, most are pretty much… NSFW.

Confirmed Leaving

Kristen Wiig (2005-2012)

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig will go down as perhaps the greatest female performer on SNL ever.  Seventies purists will argue Gilda Radner or Jane Curtain but they just did not have the ability to create completely unforgettable and hilarious characters like Wiig.  I don’t recall any repertory player getting a sendoff like hers back in May.  A fitting tribute.  I can’t wait until her first time back as host.

Memorable characters:  the rabbit hunting A-Hole from the Two A-Holes sketches, the neurotic topper Penelope,  the hideous, baby-handed sister from the Lawrence Welk sketches, the Target Lady,  Michelle Bachman and Nancy Pelosi

Already miss:  Lawrence Welk sketches

I’ll never miss:  Gilly… The only character she ever did that I unequivocally cannot stand.

Andy Samberg (2005-2012)

Andy Samberg actually came to SNL as a package deal. Normally that would strike fear. (Ever had a new boss that brought a “trusted former

Andy Samberg as Mark Zuckerberg with Zuckerberg

colleague” with him?)  But in this case, Samberg came with his long time comedy partners, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone.  Samberg became a featured player; the latter two were writers for the show.  Together they created the now legendary Digital Shorts which started with “Lazy Sunday” and then completely blew up with “D*ck in a Box.” (Unedited version – NSFW.)

While his Digital Shorts were clearly his best work, Samberg really come into his own with impersonations.  Towards the end of his tenure his impressions of Mark Zuckerberg and Nicolas Cage were spot-on hilarious.

Memorable characters:  singer from D*ck in a Box, T-Shane from Deep House Dish, Zuckerberg and Cage

Already Miss: Digital Shorts

I’ll never miss: Blizzard Man, his tragically bad R&B backup singer character.  Wasn’t funny.

Rumored Leaving

Jason Sudeikis (2005-present)

Jason Sudeikis (left as Pete Twinkle) with Will Forte

The rumors of Wiig and Samberg leaving that started back in April invariably included Jason Sudeikis.  Sudeikis actually started at SNL as a writer in 2003.  He made spot appearances but did not become a featured player until 2005 when he first made people howl as the male A-Hole in the aforementioned 2 A-Holes sketches with Kristen Wiig. Sudeikis’ characters are usually more straight man roles but his Pete Twinkle character has stood out as one of his best as he rambles through feminine hygiene ads during play-by-play for 80’s and 90’s fringe sports like women’s bowling on ESPN Classic.

Sudeikis has hinted recently of a departure but the reason that Lorne Michaels and company may be trying to keep him around is that he is currently portraying Mitt Romney in political sketches which usually serve as the cold open for the show.  For many people this is the only sketch they see before going to bed.  Sudeikis has honed his Romney pretty well and presidential election years are typically the best for SNL. He could be replaced of course (Darrell Hammond took over for Phil Hartman as Clinton) but I think this may be what’s holding him back from leaving.  Perhaps they can work out a deal like Tina Fey had when she left but still came back to do her diabolically funny Sarah Palin impression.

The Old Guard

Seth Meyers (2001-present)

Did you know that next year Seth Meyers will become the second longest tenured cast member ever? (Behind Darrell Hammond)  Meyers serves mostly as head writer but he still anchors Weekend Update as well. Current rumors also have him as a finalist to take Regis’ spot next to Kelly Ripa.  He says no. We’ll see.

Fred Armisen (2002-present)

Fred Armisen as Stuart from The Californians sketch

Fred Armisen burst onto SNL with a Show Biz Grande Explosión! character named Fericito.  Since then he has established a number of other memorable characters like Garth the woefully unprepared singer on Weekend Update, Nicholas Fehn, the news commentator that doesn’t really ever say anything and most recently as Stuart in the Californians, a Soap Net parody.  Armisen also does a serviceable job as President Obama.  He has the voice and look down but Obama does not provide the kind of opportunities that his predecessors did in terms of giving a satirist something to work with.

Kenan Thompson (2003-present)

Keenan Thompson as Tiger Woods

This former Nickelodeon kids show actor has grown up a lot on SNL. Kenan Thompson has gotten stronger in both characters and impressions over the years.  His Tiger Woods impression during the divorce year was funny enough to excuse his lack of physical similarities.  Thompson is not great with voices but his comedic timing is unmatched and the writers are giving him more and more good material to work with.

Bill Hader (2005-present)

Bill Hader as Stephon on Weekend Update

Now that Kristen Wiig is gone, Bill Hader is my new favorite on the show.  Hader started out mostly as an impressionist with James Carville and Clint Eastwood being two of his best.

He did have one good recurring character, Vinny Vedecci, the chain smoking Italian talk show host who struggled through interviews with the guest hosts that didn’t speak Italian.  But lately it has been 80 year old curmudgeon news reporter Herb Welch and Weekend Update’s City Correspondent, Stefon that leave me laughing.  Hader’s Stefon is the one charatcer/skit that has consistently made me laugh until I could not breathe.  It requires numerous pauses on the DVR.  Hader has incredible range too.  He is just as funny in satirical roles like the Jeremy Lin sketch referred to earlier.  To top it all off, Hader is notorious for cracking up in character. Much like Jimmy Fallon used to be, when the joke is great even Hader can’t stop himself which just makes the whole thing funnier.

 

The New Guard

Bobby Moynihan (2008-present)

If I wrote this in the summer of 2010, I would have predicted that Bobby Moynihan was gone.  His first two years were fairly unremarkable.  Then came Snooki.  Moynihan started portraying the over tanned Jersey Shore cast member on Weekend Update and people responded.  Now he has two more recurring W.U. characters, Anthony Crispino and Drunk Uncle.  He also did a nice job as Newt Gingrich and Guy Fieri.

Abby Elliot (2008-present)

Another cast member I was ready to write off.  The daughter of former cast member and David Letterman writer, Chris Elliot, Abby is more of an impressionist than a character player.  Lately her Zooey Deschanel impression has been fun.

Nasim Pedrad (2009-present)

Nasim Pedrad is falling into the same hole that so many other female performers on SNL have.  She plays tons of characters but none stands out so at the end of the season you wonder, “who is she again?”

Vanessa Bayer (2010-present)

Vanessa Bayer is similar to Pedrad in terms of not standing out except for her impression of Miley Cyrus.  It is dead on and funny.  Unfortunately unless Cyrus gets into a Lindsay Lohan lifestyle, there won’t be much opportunity for ripe satire. (See Armisen as Obama.)

Taran Killam (2010-present)

There are two heirs-apparent on SNL in my book.  Taran Killam is the first.  Killam stepped up big time this past season with great impressions of Piers Morgan, Tim Tebow, and Rush Limbaugh.  He also shows off some fancy dancing moves in the “Les Jeunes de Paris” sketches.  SNL is Killam’s second run at sketch comedy.  He starred on MADtv previously.

Jay Pharoah (2010-present)

The second heir-apparent might be Jay Pharoah.  When he was first cast last season the internet was buzzing based on his impression of Barack Obama which was popular on YouTube.  Since being cast, he has demonstrated dead-on versions of Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Jay Z.  Until Armisen leaves the show (and provided Obama is still president) we won’t get to see his work as the leader of the free world.  But until then we seems to be willing to stick to what he does and take on straight man roles in other sketches.

Kate McKinnon (2012-present)

Kate McKinnon joined the cast late in the 2011-2012 season after the departure of Paul Brittain.  She only appeared in one month’s worth of shows but she skewered Penelope Cruz in this hilarious sketch.

The loss of Wiig and Samberg is going to be hard on SNL at first.  Samberg will be missed but mostly in the loss of the digital shorts.  Wiig’s dependability, sheer comedic originality and energy will be hard to replace.  Longtime Executive Producer Lorne Michaels has done pretty well over the past 10 years in finding new talent and with two openings, I am sure he will be excited to find the next Not Ready For Primetime Players.  I’ll keep an open mind but I know I am going to miss Kristen Wiig.

I miss Kristen.
(Bumper Sticker Idea!)

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Posted in Entertainment, Pop Culture | Comments Off on The Idiot Box

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Posted by Adam Butler on September 19, 2011

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To Our Readers

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 18, 2011

BlogHawgs.com will undergo some maintenance tomorrow, Monday September 19 beginning at 6:00am and lasting roughly 24 hours. While our site will be visible we will not be able to add new content until Tuesday. Please take time to check out some of our older posts while we get ready for Bama Week. We have plenty in store for you.

Brett, Adam, and Jeff

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments »

Sunday Blitz

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 18, 2011

I’m with The Wife and The Daughter visiting family this weekend, so please forgive me for a very abbreviated NFL picks column. We’ll give it a better effort next week. For now:

Picks in ALL CAPS

NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) v. Chicago
NY JETS (-9.5) v. Jacksonville
PITTSBURGH (-14.5) v. Seattle
OAKLAND (+4.5) at Buffalo
DETROIT (-8) v. Kansas City
WASHINGTON (-3.5) v. Arizona
TENNESSEE (+6) v. Baltimore
CAROLINA (+10.5) v. Green Bay
MINNESOTA (-3) v. Tampa Bay
CLEVELAND (-2) at Indianapolis
SAN FRANCISCO (+3) v. Dallas
HOUSTON (-3) at Miami
San Diego (+7) at New England
DENVER (-3.5) v. Cincinnati
PHILADELPHIA (-2) at Atlanta
ST. LOUIS (+6) at NY Giants

Last Week: 10-4-1
Season: 10-4-1

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One for the Road

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 16, 2011

Another week has flown by here at BlogHawgs.  It’s been a great week, and as always we are grateful that you chose to spend some of your time with us.  This is the calm before the storm.  Bama Week kicks off on Sunday, and we’ll be ready to roll.  We’ve got some excellent stuff in the works, so please be sure to check back next week.  You’ll be glad you did.

Here are a few of our most popular stories from the week:

BlogHawgs Razorback Rewind – Week 2

Spirit, Mullen Both Confused on Saturday

NFL – Evaluating Week 1

The Idiot Box – Emmy Preview

Should Texas Change from Burnt Orange to Yellow?

Arkansas Football Team to be Featured Next Month in ESPN TV Series

BlogHawgs Week 3 College Football Preview – Twitter Style

Free Money – Week 3

For this week’s One for the Road, we return to Grantland.com for an exceptional look at college football — but not the games we watch on Saturdays.  Chuck Klosterman looks at small schools and the games they play.  These teams operate in a completely different reality than the Division I fellas.  From facilities, to players, to schemes, it’s a night-and-day difference.  For example:

Last October, Maine Maritime Academy defeated Westfield State University, 42-21. That score was probably mentioned in a few newspapers, but that doesn’t make it news; this was a Division III game between two members of the New England Football Conference, hosted by a town with a population of 1,300 and a community aesthetic matching Cujo. But there’s one detail about this contest that made it unlike almost every other college football game from 2010: Maritime won by three touchdowns while passing for exactly 0 yards.

They rushed for 435, but they passed for none (they threw the ball just five times, and the only one that didn’t hit the ground was an interception). Even weirder, the Mariners managed to win without controlling the clock — Westfield had a greater time of possession. Yet as unorthodox and lopsided as those numbers seem, they were only slightly crazier than most of Maritime’s 2010 schedule: The Mariners went 6-1 in their conference, scored more than 46 points a contest, and somehow averaged 16 passing yards a game. The week after beating Westfield, Maritime defeated Framingham State 50-26, again throwing for 0 yards. The week after that, they knocked off Massachusetts Maritime by a single point — and here, again, they won without a single passing yard. They went 5-0 in October with 63 total passing yards (not 63 per game, but 63 for October). Half their team stats seem like misprints; last season, the Mariners’ starting quarterback appeared in 11 games and completed a total of 17 passes. But this is how the Mariners want it. This is the design. This is the most reactionary offense in America.

You can check out the rest of Klosterman’s piece here.  I encourage you to do so.  This is the type of story that reminds me why I love the game.

 

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Pulaski Academy Bruins Receive National Publicity on SI.com

Posted by Adam Butler on September 16, 2011

The Pulaski Academy (Little Rock) Bruins are once again receiving national attention for their head coach, Kevin Kelley’s extremely unconventional football philosophy, which helped P.A. jump out to a 29-0 lead over Cabot last week before the Panthers ran a play from scrimmage. PA eventually won 64-34 in a “remarkably close” (SI’s words, not mine) game after the initial outburst.

The funny thing about Kelley: He’s not a mad scientist or an iconoclast, zigging where everyone else is zagging, for the hell of it. Rather, he’s a relentlessly rational sort whose methods have backing in data.

The decision not to punt? According to Kelley’s statistics, when a team punts from near its end zone, the opponent will take possession inside the 40-yard line and will then score a touchdown 77 percent of the time. If it recovers on downs inside the 10, it will score a touchdown 92 percent of the time. “So [forsaking] a punt, you give your offense a chance to stay on the field,” he said. “And if you miss, the odds of the other team scoring only increase 15 percent. It’s like someone said, ‘[Punting] is what you do on fourth down,’ and everyone did it without asking why.”

That’s all good and fine, but what I do not understand, and have never heard a valid explanation for, is why Kelley continues to opt for onside kicks and deep passes late in games (often with starters) in which his team has built a clearly insurmountable 30 or 40-point lead–just as it did against Cabot  (although the decisions were not mentioned in the article).

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

War(y) Damn Eagle–Lovers

Posted by Adam Butler on September 15, 2011

Strangely, this sign is neither an official nor unofficial live mascot of the Auburn Tigers

As we relayed Monday, “Spirit” the Eagle, Auburn’s flying mascot (despite the fact they’re the Tigers), had a little run in with a window at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday. Now, on cue, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is squawking.

Chuck, BlogHawgs Stat Front Man, Brain, called that PETA letter, and it was a good call, brutha.

UPDATE: Sources indicate the cost of construction of an eagle sanctuary would require several $180,000 dollar donations.

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Free Money – Week 3

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 15, 2011

Two winning weeks in a row means everyone should tread lightly this weekend.  Everyone but us, of course.  Adam and I both maxed out all 8 plays, our parlay, and our teaser options for Week 3.  I don’t see a lot of games I love, but I see a lot I’d sleep with.  This is a fun NFL week because we’ll begin to see which teams are real and which are really lucky (or really bad).  It makes the NFL a bit more difficult to handicap this week, but I see several winners on the board.

Once again, here is a quick recap of the rules:

  • Maximum of 8 single plays during the week
  • One option teaser and one optional parlay also allowed
  • Minimum of $50 wager
  • Players must include at least one CFB and at least one NFL game in the picks
  • Both started the season with a $1,000 bankroll but can buy back into the game if they go bust

For the first time this season, Adam and I are butting heads.  The funning thing is, we’re butting heads on a dog game that we neither one should probably be playing.  Kentucky has looked mediocre at best this season, stumbling to a 2-0 start.  Louisville has been even worse, losing at home to Florida International.  I think I’ll just check for that score on the Internet rather than actually watch the game.

 

Free Money!

Brett ($1,093)

  • Kentucky (-5) v. Louisville, $55 to win $50
  • Oklahoma St. (-13.5) at Tulsa, $55 to win $50
  • Arkansas (-22.5) v. Troy, $77 to win $70
  • Arkansas St. (+24.5) at Virginia Tech, $55 to win $50
  • Detroit (-9) v. Kansas City, $66 to win $60
  • NY Jets (-9) v. Jacksonville, $66 to win $60
  • New Orleans (-6.5) v. Chicago, $66 to win $60
  • Washington (-3.5) v. Arizona, $66 to win $60
  • Parlay: NY Jets (-9), New Orleans (-6.5), and Washington (-3.5), $50 to win $250
  • Teaser:  Navy (+23) v. South Carolina, New Orleans (-0.5)

 

  • Total Wagers:  $616
  • Max Win: $760

 

Adam ($1,210)

  • UNDER 50 – LSU/Mississippi State, $55 to win $50
  • Louisville (+5) at Kentucky, $55 to win $50
  • Wisconsin (-17) at Northern Illinois, $55 to win $50
  • Tennessee (+9.5) at Florida, $55 to win $50
  • Navy (+17) at South Carolina, $55 to win $50
  • Ohio St. (+2.5) at Miami (FL), $55 to win $50
  • Green Bay (-10) at Carolina, $55 to win $50
  • Dallas (-3) at San Francisco, $55 to win $50
  • Parlay:  Ohio St. (+2.5) & Arkansas (-22.5), $50 to win $125
  • Teaser:  Green Bay (-4) & Navy (+23), $60 to win $50

 

  • Total Wagers: $550
  • Max Win: $575

 

Wager accordingly. As usual, BlogHawgs.com is not responsible for missed mortgage payments or repossessed vehicles.

 

 

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

BlogHawgs Week 3 College Football Preview–Twitter Style

Posted by Adam Butler on September 15, 2011

It’s Thursday afternoon, so that means it’s time to devote our full attention to this weekend’s college football slate (NOTE: Bama Week starts Saturday night at about 10 PM, so we will begin devoting our full attention to Bama at 10:31 p.m.).

And, per the usual, there are plenty of interesting games (READ:  I am obsessed.). Unfortunately, though, in reality it’s just a “so-so” week of games, leading me to try something new this week. Rather than picking 4-5 big games and breaking them down, I thought I would list several, and comment on them in 140 characters or less, Twitter style, using obnoxious, fake (but probably already taken) Twitter user names.

But, since I don’t even have a Twitter account, and I am only vaguely familiar with hash tags (#stubbornlystuckinthedarkages) it will undoubtedly be an adventure. Nonetheless, here goes:

LSU at Mississippi St. @morecowbell: MSU wins unless Mullen again channels his inner The Mississippi Coach, again. #2.65milpershouldincludeclockmanagement

Ohio St. at Miami: @ncaacheats: THE Willful Ignorance Bowl–The Tatts beat The Rats. #bowlban

Mississippi at Vandy: @excusesrlikeHDN: It’s hard work getting one of these, ya’ll!!! Seriously! #winsoverVandy

Michigan St. at Notre Dame: @coachescardio: A battle between a coach who had a heart attack last year after this game and another who is on pace for one after this year’s game. #BayerAspirin

Auburn @ Clemson: @h8troopertaylor: Maybe deals with the devil don’t expire after all. #charmed9lives

Tennessee @ Florida: @wishitwas1998: How did Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey each  get 7 years of eligibility? #leavealready

Navy @ USCE: @dontsleeponnavy: 22 Men go out on the field, 11……points is a good tease. #notgoingthere

OU @ FSU: @snapntoslmjimbo: Winner gets an SEC invitation. #ifyourescaredbuyadog (Tm DP Show)

Troy @ Arkansas: @isitBamawkyet?: No cupcake, but expect a cover. #welcomebackDJ

####

Thanks for reading.

Posted in Commentary | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Thursday Night Lights

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 15, 2011

How many times in your life have you heard this statement?  “I sure wish I was in Starkville tonight.”

Believe it or not, that’s a true statement.  Tonight’s game between LSU and Mississippi State is the first critical game of the SEC West slate.  No, critical is not an overstatement.  This is a huge game that will have season-long implications on both teams and the rest of the division.  An LSU win solidifies the Tigers as one of the teams to beat in the conference and the nation.  A Mississippi State victory puts the Bulldogs back in the SEC West race after a humbling setback last week at Auburn.  The oddsmakers list LSU as a 3-point favorite on the road, meaning Vegas thinks LSU is at least a TD better than MSU on a neutral field.  But this game is not on a neutral field.  It’s going to be in an electric atmosphere, under the lights at Davis Wade Stadium.  I sure wish I was in Starkville tonight.

Why LSU should win:  The Tigers have a defense that may be as ferocious as the one in Tuscaloosa.  They have allowed just 91 total yards rushing in two games.  The secondary is under construction, but John Chavis has plenty of talent to rotate.  Mississippi State uses the read-option to set up its play action passing attack.  If the Bulldogs cannot run, it makes Chris Relf a drop back passer – hardly his strength.  Offensively, LSU has been good enough.  Jarret Lee is your classic “game manager” quarterback, controlling the offense largely by handing the ball to LSU’s latest stud running backs, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware.  Lee simply needs to hit enough passes to keep the Bulldogs safeties honest, creating space at the second level for Ford and Ware.  A steady rushing attack coupled with the Tigers front seven should keep the cowbells quiet and the Tigers unbeaten.

Why MSU should win:  The Bulldogs fell behind early last week before correcting some mistakes and making a late push.  But for atrocious play-calling in the last 20 seconds of the game, Mississippi State may have pulled out a victory at Auburn.  The MSU defense is not as bad as it showed Saturday, and they certainly have enough talent to contain a vanilla LSU offense.  By eliminating the big plays (Auburn scored on 2 plays over 30 yards) Mississippi State will force Jarrett Lee to engineer sustained drives for LSU to score.  Offensively, Chris Relf has the ability to take over a football game.  He’s got the potential to put up 400 yards of total offense each week, especially with the emergence of Vic Ballard.  Reducing chunk plays for LSU while putting the game in Relf’s hands will have the cowbell nation clanging loudly well into Friday morning.

And the Winner Is…

My love for Dan Mullen is well known.  I want to take the Bulldogs.  All the intangibles are on their side tonight.  Road games in the SEC are brutally tough, and night games are even more difficult.  So … I’m going to take LSU.

Defying the odds, Les Miles appears to have his team focused on a run at SEC and BCS championships.  Jarrett Lee has shown maturity in the past 2 games, bolstered by the confidence that his defense can win the game.  Lee needs to not lose the game.  He will throw at least one interception tonight, but he will also make a critical third-down conversion in each half.  Ford and Ware will wear down the Bulldogs defense in the second half, and the LSU defensive line will eventually win the war of wills.  This has the markings of a slobber-knocker SEC showdown.  I think this will be a game that reminds us all why we love SEC football.  In the end, it’ll be a big road win for the Tigers.  LSU 23, Mississippi State 17

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Arkansas Football Team to be Featured Next Month in ESPN TV Series

Posted by Adam Butler on September 14, 2011

The University of Arkansas Football team is one of four (along with Oklahoma State, Auburn and Wisconsin) that will be featured next month in an original ESPN TV series, Depth Chart, which is  part of the network’s Year of the Quarterback initiative.

The series begins Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN and will air on consecutive Wednesdays in the same time slot. Arkansas will wrap the series on Oct. 26. The series will be narrated by ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit.

So much for the ESP*I*N bias against Arkansas (unless of course the series casts Arkansas in a bad light–in which case I reserve the right to complain incessantly).

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Should Texas Change from Burnt Orange to Yellow?

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 14, 2011

Great column today from Clay Travis at OutKicktheCoverage.com (a ridiculous name because outkicking the coverage is a bad thing) regarding the timid, scared Texas Longhorns.  Travis writes about Texas and their new flirtation with the ACC, noting that the most sensible location for UT long-term is the SEC.  Yet, the Shortwhorns apparently have no interest in competing with the big boys.

The reason is simple, the Texas Longhorn administration, would-be bullies, are scared to play in the nation’s best football conference. As the Longhorns latest soap opera destination appears to be the ACC — Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com had this story first — this means that the Longhorns have four potential destinations right now: remain in the Big 12 with new teams added, leave with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for the Pac 12, join the ACC, or go independent.

Adding Texas would be a coup for the SEC, but as Travis notes the arrogant, elite Texas boosters could not stomach being treated equally.  Sure, Bama still has a lot of sway at the SEC office.  But financially the Tide gets the same cut as Vanderbilt.  Texas could never stand for that.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Wakefield Finally Gets Milestone

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 14, 2011

After trying the entire month of August and half of September, Tim Wakefield finally nailed down his 200th career victory last night.  It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying – and Wakefield-like – win for a team that entered the game on a 5-game losing streak and suddenly in the midst of a Wild Card race long thought to have been done.  I have long been a Wakefield admirer, if for no other reason that I think it’s fun to watch a knuckleballer in action.  That admiration went to a new level last month after I finished his biography, Knuckler, that details one of baseball’s most unusual careers.

The book won’t win any major awards, but it’s a very good read for any baseball fan.  You don’t have to be a Sox fan, a Pirates fan, or even a Wakefield fan to enjoy the book.  It’s simply a good book that tells a great story of a utility infielder on his way out of baseball when a minor league coach noticed that Wakefield threw a knuckleball for fun during warmups.

Wakefield got his first victory as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992, en route to a sensational rookie campaign.  Win number 200 comes twenty years later for a team that needed him to do exactly what he did – eat innings and keep it close.  An interesting tidbit about last night’s game.  Red Sox backup shortstop, Jose Iglesisas, was just 16 months old when Wake won his first game.

For those wondering, Wakefield is not the last of his kind.  R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets developed a knuckleball a few years ago, and he has settled into a very nice career.  Playing at Citi Field, Dickey has a chance to put together a successful, long career.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The Idiot Box – Emmy Preview

Posted by Jeff on September 14, 2011

It is almost Christmas time for TV Junkies…  Emmy Awards and Fall Premieres.  This week I am going to break down the Emmys.  Next week my annual column about what I am looking forward to in the fall.  Here we go!
***
Not a lot of surprises in the nominations this year.  Conan got one in its first year on TBS.  Conan is good but not as good as when he was on at 11:35 (CDT).  I think the Emmy voters just wanted Jay Leno to see who they really support.  (Like it was some secret.  Jay knows he’s hated.  He dries his eyes with the $100 bills he rakes up.)
***

An Emmy to top off a long, brilliant career?

Betty White got a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy nod for TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.  This is just a tip of the hat to White.  Her show’s jokes are as old as she is.  What a waste of talent.  This is a cast of very talented female comediennes.  HIC was as much a vehicle for the Snickers-Commercial-hot White as anything.  Jane Leeves (Frasier) and Wendie Malick (Dream On! And Just Shoot Me) have been so much funnier on TV.  Kristen Wiig got a surprising nomination here as well for SNL.  Most Saturday Night Live Actors are ignored by the Emmys.

Modern Family will dominate again this year. Seventeen nominations went out to the ABC sitcom – four of which are in the same category. Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill and Eric Stonestreet (who won this last year) are all nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen were also nominated in the Actress category. The fact that every actor and actress other than the kids was nominated ought to wrap up why Modern Family is the best comedy on television. The question is not if they win but who will win.

Lots of trophies going home with the cast of Modern Family.

I’ve never hidden my delight in the fact that SNL is having a great decade.  As I mentioned above, Kristen Wiig is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy.  On top of that, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Timberlake were both nominated for their guest roles as host.  Timberlake relishes his time on SNL.  He truly is amazing on the show.  I foresee him giving Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin runs for their money as long-serving hosts.  Wiig is by far the funniest cast member to come along since Will Ferrell.  Every character she creates (except the detestable Gilly) is unique and hilarious.  I would love to see her win an Emmy.  I’d also like to see SNL win but it won’t.  My money is on Jon Stewart but I’d be thrilled if Late Night with Jimmy Fallon won.  If you haven’t seen this show, you need to.  Fallon works.  He is getting better and better and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels has surrounded him with talent and genius writing.  Hit Hulu or YouTube to see either of his rapping sketches with Justin Timberlake or any of his Thank You Note bits.  Funny.

I am once again getting weary of most reality shows.  I watched Top Chef again this year but I am afraid it didn’t have the zing to win the Emmy again.  It was nice to see Richard Blais win though.  I just can’t get into drama right now.  Last year I shared my desire to start watching The Good Wife but I just didn’t.  The only drama I watch now is In Plain Sight on USA.  No nominations for them so…  I guess I’ll just be happy if some of my favorite actors win.

Well Adam and Brett have their Free Money.  Here’s mine.  Good luck in Vegas.

(I am only posting the biggies)

Outstanding Drama Series
Should Win: Boardwalk Empire
Will win: Mad Men

(BK loves Boardwalk.  That’s why I put them here.)

Outstanding Comedy Series
Should Win: Modern Family

Will win: Modern Family
(See above.)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Should Win: Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Will Win: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
(Bates is good but she’s becoming pretty predictable.)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Should Win: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Will win:  John Hamm, Mad Men
(I don’t think Emmy voters watch dramas anymore either.)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Should Win:  Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Will Win:  Tina Fey, 30 Rock
(Fey must send $100 bills in her Christmas Cards.)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy
Should Win:   Sofia Vergara, Modern Family or Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Will Win: Betty White, Hot In Cleveland
(White will be honored for decades of hilarity.)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Should Win: Steve Carrell, The Office
Will win: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

(Parsons was consistently funnier but Carrell has been nominated 6 times and never won.  That’s a travesty that the Emmys will fix.)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy
Should Win:  Ed O’Neill, Modern Family  or  Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Will Win:  Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
(With too many choices from one show, lazy voters will go with last year’s winner.  O’Neill has never won an Emmy or a Golden Globe as an individual actor.)

Outstanding Variety, Comedy Or Musical Series
Should Win:  Late Night With Jimmy Fallon  or  Saturday Night Live

Will Win:  The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

(Did you know that SNL has the most Emmy Nominations (142) ever?  ER is second with 124.)

Outstanding Reality Show
Should Win: Top Chef

Will win:  The Amazing Race
(See above)

Want to play TV Scene It? I'll win.

Posted in Commentary, Entertainment | 18 Comments »

OU, Ok St. to Apply for Pac 12 Admission?

Posted by Adam Butler on September 13, 2011

Buh-Bye.

Reports have surfaced today that indicate the Big 12 Death Knell will soon be ringing. Those same reports also indicate Texas went begging, but Boomer Sooner was having none of it.

Texas president Bill Powers and athletic directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky flew to OU on Sunday, but, according to sources, Oklahoma and its board of regents had already made their determination.

“There’s nothing Texas could have offered Oklahoma that would have changed their mind,” the source told the Statesman. “They were set on leaving the Big 12 before Texas got there.“The Big 12’s done. Oklahoma wasn’t open to creating Big 12 stability.”
What does this mean?
 
A. Texas went “All In” with the Longhorn Network on  a draw; and
B. The College Football landcape is about to change drastically.
 
Greed seems to have gotten the better of Texas. It had a great setup in the Big 12, but rather than count its lucky stars that the Longhorns’ Big 12 minions were willing keep the terribly inequitably conference together last season when the departure of Nebraska and Colorado nearly resulted in the league’s implosion, Texas decided it wanted to have its cake and eat it, too (again).
 
This time, the conference’s other superpower (OU) and its step brother (Ok. State) apparently had finally had enough once Texas A&M (re)broke (is that a word?) the conference dissolution seal.
 
Does this really mean that Texas’ “options” are the Big 12 ( soon-to-be kaput), Pac 12, ACC or  becoming an independent? Do any of them sound even remotely as cushy as the setup Texas has enjoyed for years in the Big 12 ?
 
Now, the Oklahoma schools allegedly have no guarantee of an offer from the Pac 12, but presumably have  the SEC salivating with the thought of adding Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and School X (from the East).
 
Don’t scoff at the notion. The SEC certainly isn’t going to sit around idly and relinquish college football supremacy to a bunch of Left Coasters and Big 12 nomads.
 

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NFL – Evaluating Week 1

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 13, 2011

The NFL kicked off with a bang on Thursday, had plenty of entertaining games on Sunday, and ended with a record-tying FG and a Razorback running roughshod in Denver.  Welcome back, NFL.  We missed you.  I’m not sure the league could have scripted things much better.  Every game this season will be measured against the Thursday night opener, a game that proved to be as exciting as any game I can recall watching in recent memory.

The Good

  • Former Arkansas Razorback Darren McFadden thrashed the Broncos defense last night, picking up 150 yards on the ground.  While Run DMC did not find the endzone, McFadden looked every bit the part of a thoroughbred NFL running back.
  • Baltimore proved they can score on anyone, and the Ravens defense looked as good as ever.  Ray Rice may emerge as one of the premiere running backs in the NFL.
  • Does anyone look like he’s having more fun on the field than Aaron Rodgers?  The reigning Super Bowl MVP threw for 312 yards and 3 TDs on Thursday, only misfiring 8 times with no picks.  Who would you take ahead of Rodgers if you were starting an NFL franchise?

The Bad

  • The Pittsburgh defense looked slow and old, giving up 385 yards in their opener.  The offense looked inept, turning it over 7 times.  If the Steelers hope to repeat in the AFC – beating out a very strong field – they need to get things corrected immediately.  They did not look like a Super Bowl caliber team in any phase of the game.
  • You can’t blame the loss of Peyton Manning on the Indianapolis breakdowns on defense and special teams.  Houston gouged the Colts on the ground (without 2010 leading rusher Arian Foster) and Jacoby Jones knifed through the Colts punt coverage for a 79-yard TD return.  The Colts looks like a 4-win team after one week.
  • What the hell happened to Matt Ryan?  The Atlanta quarterback looked lost on Sunday, taking more than 40 yards in sacks including a fumble returned for a touchdown by Brian Urlacher.  Ryan did manage over 300 yards passing, but so did a dozen other quarterbacks.  What he did not manage to do was throw a TD pass.

The Ugly

  • Led by new-old quarterback Kerry Collins, the Indianapolis Colts managed only 236 yards of total offense in a 34-7 loss at Houston.
  • Kansas City suffered its worst ever opening game loss and biggest home loss in 35 years.  Those are both bad.  Losing 41-7 at home to Buffalo, though, is ugly.
  • Chris Johnson made one team look foolish on Sunday.  It was not the opposing Jacksonville Jaguars, though.  Johnson – who missed virtually all of training camp, holding out for a new deal that he ultimately received – “gashed” the Jags defense for 24 yards on 9 carries.  That new deal?  Tennessee handed Johnson a $53.5 million extension with $13 million fully guaranteed.

BK’s Picks – Week 1

It was a good week at the wagering window on Sunday.  I’ve got to figure out which of these games to put in my Free Money picks.  After a mediocre beginning, I ripped off four winners in the last five games of the weekend.  I expect Vegas to figure things out soon, but hopefully I can put together another solid week before that happens.

Week 1 Results — 10-4-1

2011 Season — 10-4-1

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Free Money…but Not Much

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 13, 2011

Better Than Losing

It was a grinder of a week for the Free Money this week.  Both Adam and I won more than we lost, but the payouts were hardly worth noting.  Two consecutive profitable weeks, though, is worth noting.  My NFL picks turned out pretty well, but I didn’t have enough of those winners in my Free Money picks this week.  Hopefully that can change starting this week.

Adam picked up winners on Saturday with TCU (-1) and Arkansas (-36) but suffered losses with Purdue (-1) losing at Rice and Memphis (+15) taking it on the chin against Arkansas State.  Memphis really tripped up AB this week, as their loss ruined his all-Arkansas teaser with the Hogs.  He bounced back on Sunday and Monday, most notably with a New England cover for $100.  The extra wager covered Adam’s losses this week, proving that it’s not how many games you win but how well  you wager.  Adam was smart to double up on New England.

I had a better Saturday than Sunday, a feat that is unlikely to duplicate itself too often.  I managed three wins with Wisconsin (-20.5), Florida (-23.5), and Army (+9) while losing my Penn State wager.  On Sunday I managed to push on two games (Tennessee +2, Carolina +7) and dropped the Tampa play.  My weekly teaser did hit, though, with Minnesota and Philadelphia each covering easily.

The net result?  I picked up $28 while Adam profited $20 on his plays.  To date we are both in the black.  My cash on hand stands at $1,093 – a $93 profit on the season after two weeks.  Adam is still slightly ahead with cash on hand of $1,210 – a $210 profit so far.

The third week of the college season and second week of the NFL promise better games and tighter lines.  That’s usually how it works.  By the middle of October you’ll see Vegas putting out ridiculously accurate lines, increasing the degree of difficulty for degenerate gamblers like us.

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UA’s Bailey Named SEC OL of the Week

Posted by Adam Butler on September 12, 2011

Arkansas sophomore Guard Alvin Bailey was named SEC offensive lineman of the week for his performance in the Razprbacks 52-3 thumping of New Mexico at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

This is the first time Bailey, a Broken Arrow, OK native, has been so honored by the SEC.

Posted in Sports | 1 Comment »

Arkansas/Alabama Game to Air on CBS

Posted by Adam Butler on September 12, 2011

and fill the coveted 2:30 time slot on Saturday, September 24th. This will be the 3rd consecutive season in which CBS has chosen this game for its de facto “Game of the Week” spot.

Last year the game drew a 5.2 rating and 12 share, which was the highest-rated college football game on CBS in seven years. How’s that for proof that the Hogs’ national relevance is on the rise?

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Not a Strong Start

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 12, 2011

It could be worse.

I hate it when I’m wrong.  It’s rare that I admit that I’m wrong.  I will debate for hours on end, even if I know I’m not correct.  Today I have to admit it, though; I was wrong – at least so far.  That’s about as much as you’ll get out of me in September regarding preseason predictions.

Heading into 2011 I was very high on the Georgia Bulldogs.  I anticipated Mark Richt’s squad would win one of their first two games – and honestly thought they might win both – against Boise St. and South Carolina.  The Dawgs hung with Boise for a half then wilted late.  They showed tremendous heart against South Carolina, but ultimately talent won the day.  As much as I respect Richt, I must admit that coaching plays a huge role in both of those losses.  His kids simply didn’t have what they needed to get the jobs done the past two Saturdays.

Here is what I wrote about the Georgia Bulldogs on September 2:

Georgia – Mark Richt will turn it around this year, and it could be a remarkable turnaround at that.  While I see a path to an unbeaten season, I’m not about to go down that road.  All the Bulldogs road games are ones they can win, but the lack of depth at RB and development of new receivers creates too much doubt for me to make the big, bold prediction.  They’ll probably end up dropping one of those roadies and stumble at home against Mississippi State.  Predicted Finish:  9-3, 6-2

What I seem to have overestimated was the Georgia growth on defense.  I really expected to see some maturation this year under Todd Grantham.  The results have been very similar to what Bulldogs fans have expected the past few years.  Their first two opponents have churned out just short of 800 yards of combined total offense, while scoring an average of 40 points per contest – ranking Georgia 111th in the country in scoring defense.

Offensively the Bulldogs have shown some life.  They put up 436 yards last week against a quality SEC defense and topped 370 yards against Boise St.  The Bulldogs are scoring points.  Like the last few years, though, they are not stopping the other team from getting on the board.

The problem for Georgia – in addition to the obvious – is the schedule looks quite less friendly than it did 2 weeks ago.  They catch a breather with Coastal Carolina this weekend, but then host Mississippi State before back-to-back road games against Tennessee (and their suddenly high-powered offense ) and Vanderbilt (2-0 to start the year for the first time since Jay Cutler).  Sprinkle in a trip to Ole Miss, and Georgia now looks to be in desperation.

I’m not counting the Bulldogs out just yet.  There is a lot of football to be played.  But I must admit that I’m not seeing the type of Georgia team I expected to see.

Auburn is another group I misjudged pretty badly.  Their win over Mississippi State can hardly be described as a shocker, but I fully expected the Bulldogs to go win that football game.  We learned that MSU isn’t quite the team I expected, but more importantly we learned that Auburn has the spirit of a champion.  As much as I dislike the Barners, I must admit that I am very impressed by the work Gene Chizik has produced.  The team is far from as talented as they were last year, but these guys fight.  I still believe they will struggle for bowl eligibility, but a win on the road at Clemson will force a full out mea culpa from yours truly.

The good news – for me at least – is that we’re only 2 weeks into the football season.  September predictions are good for little more than an exercise in futility come December, but no one like to see his predictions get torched so early.  I think Georgia will rally, but winning the SEC East looks like a long shot at this point.  And Auburn is probably still going to struggle to win 7 games this year, but they do have the heart of a champion.  It’s time we all recognize that and start to give Chizik the respect he deserves.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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