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Friday, February 29, 2008

There's Never Been a Better Time to be a Geek and a Sports Fan

Exhibit 2,254: The Schmap:

This widget creates a map-based view of your favorite team's schedule, free for posting on a blog, homepage, etc.

If only we could harness this technology to make the Johnnies' record somehow suck less.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bracket Busters

The standard NCAA Tournament bracket pool -- along with the weekly football picks and the "Superbowl boxes" -- is part of the holy trinity of American sports gambling. Even casual sports fans will participate in a betting extravaganza that has been estimated at $2.5 billion in wagers -- with only a little over 3 percent of that number handled by legal gambling outlets like the sports books at Las Vegas casinos.

That leaves over $2.4 billion dollars changing hands -- mostly in tens and twenties -- at offices nationwide. Which raises an important question: is any of this legal?

The simple answer is "No, but the FBI has better things to do than chase down cubicle-dwellers for dropping a ten-spot on UCLA." But simple answers are rarely satisfying, so let's examine the question in a little more detail.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Imperfect February for Houston

The Rockets' perfect February has suddenly developed some very deep flaws, with the news that Yao Ming will miss the remainder of the season and playoffs due to a stress fracture in his foot.

Fantasy owners will want to act quickly and put in a claim on Luis Scola. Scola was a decent pick even before this news – we wrote about his progress in last week's column. With Yao out of the mix, Scola likely becomes Houston's primary offensive option in the frontcourt. Scola is under 10 percent-owned in Ultimate Fantasy Commissioner – expect that number to rise quicker than the price of oil when the news of Yao’s injury really gets around.

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Memo to Zach Randolph...

You aren't going to get traded playing like this.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thanks for Nothing, Darby Conley

I read the funny papers as a means of escape... nothing harshes my morning caffeine buzz like a dose of reality in my comics.

This morning's buzzkill came from Darby Conley's strip Get Fuzzy. The panel in this post is the punchline... here's the entire strip.

Two observations about this:

1) Seriously, dude... if I wanted a harsh dose of reality on my comics page, I'd read Doonesbury. (For my money, nothing says "funny papers" like the amputee veteran visiting the wounded at Walter Reade.)

2) Is this the absolute low point for a sports franchise? Open mockery in pop culture? I mean, when a team is so well known for badness that it becomes useful for a punch line in a comic... well, that's pretty bad. Even worse than an appearance in Letterman's Top 10.

On the other hand, maybe ol' Satchel (the dog) has a point here. Why would Bigfoot want to play for the Knicks? They already have a big, slow-moving, rarely-seen phantom on the roster: Jerome James.

(In all seriousness... Get Fuzzy is one of the few consistently funny newspaper strips published these days... and since I stole art for this post, I feel I should give 'em an appropriate callout like this...)

Monday, February 25, 2008

NBA Barometer

As much as we love the trade deadline, it's sort of refreshing to stop dealing in conjecture and start dealing in facts.

That said, let's take a look at some of the early returns on last week's flurry of trades.


The Cavaliers wasted no time getting new arrivals Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak involved. Wallace and West started Sunday's game against the Grizzlies, and all four played 25-plus minutes.

Wallace put up a "Big Ben in Detroit" type line, with 12 points, 10 boards, two steals and a block. West scored five points and dropped six dimes. Smith scored 14 points with six boards off the bench, and Szczerbiak scored 10 and hit two threes.

In terms of fantasy value, Szczerbiak might be the best play; the Cavaliers have wanted to add a lights-out shooter to their rotation for forever, and LeBron should have an easy time finding Wally World on the perimeter. We'd rate West – who gets a value boost due to Daniel Gibson's ankle injury – ahead of Smith or Wallace, who might have to compete with Anderson Varejao for minutes very soon.

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