Much like the stock market in the past week, my picks have taken a nosedive. I hope you weren't surprised by this however. All the signs were there: my hedging on Oakland picks; my inexplicable love for the Lions to cover anything; my constant rantings that I don't know what I'm doing. Unfortunately, I also have to tell you that it's only going to get worse before it gets better.
But it will get better.
You see, I'm a Phillies fan, and right now, with them in the playoffs, I'm just not that interested in football. It's not where my mind is. I'm in playoff baseball mode, and there's nothing to get me out of that. So, I won't blame you at all if you head over and dip into Cline's picks. After all, he's doing much better than me, and his favorite team is whoever is currently selling the most merchandise. And I can guarantee you he's not rooting for the Phillies. Which is why I'm also including this video:
If you're not a Phillies fan, than it's hard to explain why these playoffs are so important. Philadelphia doesn't have a great history when it comes to playoffs. The last championship in the city was from the 76ers back in 1983 - and that was at a time when the NBA was about as popular as a speed skate-barrel jumping on Wide World of Sports.
So when the Phillies not only make the playoffs, they advance a round, the excitement in the city rises. So, even though Philadelphia is often considered a football town, right now, a lot of people have baseball playoff fever. So I ask you to give me this small pardon.
Anyway, while I'm obviously still making my picks, know that in about an hour or so, I'll be down at the ball park screaming like a baby on fire for the Phillies to beat the Dodgers and take a 2-0 lead in the series. As a tribute, I've decided to compare each game with a former Phillie of the past. I doubt more than 4 people will get all the references, but that's how we roll here so check the flip side for my picks...
As always, picks are CAPITALIZED and Bold...
The 1983 Phillies game
Baltimore @ INDIANAPOLIS -1.5
Indy at home? Only 1.5? Yes, I know they didn't win last week so much as it was handed to them on a plate with a side of Sage Rosenfeld, but c'mon, it's still the Colts. This feels like they have one more shot in them to do damage, and 1.5 isn't that much to cover. Just like the Wheeze Kids of '83, before losing to that asshole Cal Ripken. Don't get me started.
The Rick Schu Game
DETROIT @ Minnesota -11
Ok, I really don't want to talk about it. Yes, I know I'm stupid, but no way is Detroit going 0-16, right? Right? And, much like Rick Schu was annointed the heir apparent Phillies 3rd basemen after Schmidt, I don't think the Vikings are as good as all the pundits do. Time will tell.
The Darren Daulton game
Oakland @ NEW ORLEANS -7.5
Daulton's crazy. Al Davis is crazy. I'm crazy. I wouldn't be shocked if the final score was 4-2. Still, I'm taking a Saints' squad that seems to at least be clicking on offense.
The Ivan DeJesus Game
CINCINNATI @ Jets -6.5
Feeling they needed to get over the hump and get some production out of SS, the Phillies traded for "superstar" Ivan Dejesus. We see how well that move turned out. Much like Favre is currently doing for the Jets. Oh, and the players given up for him? An aging Larry Bowa and a low-level prospect named Ryne Sandberg. And you wonder why Phillies fans hate their life?
Because I'm a Phillies fan and don't know what it feels like to win, I'm taking the Bengals.
The Ricky Otero Game
Chicago -5.5 @ ATLANTA
Right now Atlanta's frisky. They're scrappy. Not thought to do much, they're surprising everyone. In the end, the house of cards will surely fall, but I think they have a few more good performances left. Just like Ricky Otero. Now if only Matt Ryan would come out in a disproportionately large helmet, much like Otero's glove was to the rest of his body, we'd all be set.
The Travis Lee Game
Carolina @ TAMPA BAY +2
Quick, name both starting quarterbacks for this game - exactly. Just like many people are hard pressed to come up with the Phillies starting first basemen in 2001. The key piece in the Schilling trade to the Diamondbacks, the jury's still out on who made out better in that deal.
And you wonder why the Phillies in the postseason is such a big deal?
The Tyler Greene Game
ST. LOUIS @ Washington -13
Tyler Greene made an all-star game once, and he threw a knuckle curve. Destined for greatness (in the eyes of the Phillies' fans) he promptly disappeared. I see similar patterns with the Redskins and their season.
The Alan Knicely Game
Miami -1.5 @ HOUSTON
Who? Exactly. Much like this game. No one knows, no one cares. Although Knicely does have one of my favorite baseball card pictures of all time...This is the guy the Phils traded for Bo Diaz (who later tragically died trying to install a satellite dish) and went 0-7 in September of 1985. Great acquisition.
The Greg Jefferies Game
JACKSONVILLE @ Denver -2
I'm taking Jacksonville, which most likely means Denver will blow them out. It always seems to work like that. You see a team continue to cover, and finally decide to jump on the bandwagon and they procede to kill your chances. Exactly like when the Phillies signed Greg Jefferies.
The John Kruk Game
PHILADELPHIA -3 @ San Francisco
Who else thought John Kruk would have a heart attack every time he rounded first? Slightly out of shape for a church softball league, Kruk still managed to play and succeed in the big leagues. Looks can be deceiving. The line is begging you to take San Fran this week, (especially after the Eagles' past two weeks performances) which is why I'm going the other way, if that logic makes any sense.
The Tony Barron Game
Green Bay @ SEATTLE +7
Seattle is not very good, but they're playing at home, and Green Bay is not as good as its fans, the media and themselves think they are. Tony Barron was not very good either. In fact, he was a scab during the '94 strike, something Curt Schilling spoke frankly about as saying he hated scabs. However, Tony Barron also made one of the single greatest catches I've ever seen in person to preserve a Curt Schilling win at the Vet, laying out horizontal to catch a ball in right field. Afterward, Schilling waited to high five him on the field.
Tony Barron also got knocked out cold hiting the shortstop's knee with his head in an Astros game going in hard at second. At the time watching it, I thought it was the first death I had witnessed in professional sports. Somehow he got up. This has nothing to do with the Seattle/Green Bay game, but does paint a richer picture of my weird obsession with Tony Barron, a career minor leaguer who got a cup of coffee with the Phillies.
The John Felske Game
Dallas -3.5 @ ARIZONA
I love John Felske. in 1986, he led the Phillies to a second place finish in the NL East. That they were 21.5 games out of first is besides the point. Felske earned my devotion by employing the "Felske Five Man Infield™" bringing Glen Wilson into to play behind second late in a game to preserve a victory. No idea if he's the first to do this, but it doesn't matter; it was the first time I ever saw it. Of course, Felske was fired the next year after winning only 29 of the first 61 games of the season. So while I might love him, no one else does.
Kind of like Wade Phillips. A coach without a country. The Cowboys' success is attributed to assistants; their failure attributed to him. He can try to lead his team to victory, but I think at the end of the day, he's soon going to become a forgotten Cowboys' coach.
Take the Cardinals here. There's no five man infield gimmick here that can save the Cowoboys.
The Dave Hollins Game
New England @ SAN DIEGO -3
Pretty sure the Chargers have circled this game on the calendar. Nothing is going to derail them from trying to exact revenge against the Patriots. 3 points seem low, but I feel a rout. They're not getting distracted by anything - they're going in there to hurt the team that knocked them out and danced around in victory. Dancing isn't for football players (unless you're on Dancing with the Stars), and no one NO ONE will dance after beating the Chargers.
The Pete Incaviglia Game
GIANTS -7.5 @ Cleveland
Hate to give a home team more than a touchdown, but it's the Browns. That the Giants have nothing to prove will only motivate them more. They sailed through the Burress controversy. They'll sail through this game, looking to show a national audience they're still the team to beat. Chests out, the Giants offense might not look pretty, but it will strut around and toy with the Browns Monday night.