Friday, January 30, 2009
Handicapping Puppy Bowl V
I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a big fan of the Puppy Bowl. I mean let's face it, when it comes to diversions during the Superbowl, few can match the brilliance of watching a bunch of puppies jump on top of one another and trip in the water bowl every so often.
Seriously, who doesn't like puppies?
If you're unfamiliar with the whole concept, basically every Superbowl Sunday, Animal Planet ( a cable station you hopefully have) airs a 2 hour special of a bunch of puppies running around a box designed to look like a stadium, with a number of different cameras set up to catch all the action. Occasionally, chew toys will be introduced into the mix, and these baby dogs will do goofy things.
Still have no idea? Maybe this will help...
And that's pretty much it. On the surface at least.
Because there is more to it. First of all, Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas provides the play by play. Actually, if I had to guess, Kalas went into a studio 6 months ago and canned a bunch of corny, dog related puns which some 22 year old production assistant will then play during opportune times during the broadcast, but that's neither here nor there. The allure of the Puppy Bowl, aside from watching cute puppies is the absolute randomness of it all. Puppy Bowl is not designed for people to sit in front of their tvs for 2 hours straight watching nothing but miniature dogs frolick on astroturf. Puppy Bowl is simply meant to be an enjoyable diversion during dull moments and bad commercials of the Superbowl. And it succeeds in spades in that capacity.
But enough about that. Let's move on to handicapping this thing.
The hardest part of handicapping the Puppy Bowl is trying to figure out what there is to handicap. With no competition, goal, or objective of any kind, one might say it's impossible, silly or stupid to even try.
But that has certainly never stopped me before.
Look, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to do real work while I write this and tell you to use and of the following information if you and your friends have concocted some way to bet on the Puppy Bowl. What I will do is ask if I can get in on the action. But until you respond in the comments and invite me into your Xanadu betting parlor, I will forge ahead and create some sort of guidelines to use while you're flipping back and forth between PB and the SB (actually - you could watch both as Animal Planet runs the Puppy Bowl before the game, but whatever).
Let's say, for enjoyment's sake, the "winner" of the PB is the dog that shows the most friskiness. The one that most mixes it up with the other dogs...the one that sprints around like a maniac while the other dogs simply look for a way to get off this Truman Show stage they've been thrown onto...the one that gets the most flags for shitting in the water dish...you get the picture.
So, with the definition clearly explained, let's move on to your favorites...
Now, I don't have the ability to limp up to the paddocks with a Daily Racing Form in my hand to get a good look at the demeanor of these dogs the way I do at the horse track. Christ, we're not even given the luxury of knowing the gender of the dogs, aside from sly hints within their names. No, all we have to go on are age, breed and a photo, which makes it tougher, but by no means impossible.
The other wrench thrown in here by Animal Planet, is the huge number of dogs that are classified as "mix" breeds. Now how is any competent handicapper going to be able to do his job without knowing the bloodlines of these dogs? It almost makes you think Animal Planet isn't endorsing gambling on the Puppy Bowl.
There are 30 dogs this year which sounds borderline unmanageable, until you realize they won't all be out on the field at once. Which is an opportunity missed in my opinion, but no has yet to ask me how to run this. Had they, I guarantee bigger ratings than the Super Bowl. And possibly an moderate increase of blood. But you have to give the fans what they want. Before I drift too far out on this tangent, let's go to the puppies...
Smart looking, fit. The classic pose. Probably a great example of what a doggie Hitler would like to see all breeds become. That arrogance can go against him however. Pick him though and you have to feel good about your chances.
Sure, the "pit bull" might have you thinking about mortgaging your house to get action on this dog, but hold the phone (I can't believe I just used the phrase "hold the phone") - pit bull doesn't mean "crazed attacker." It might have a propensity for that, but at 12 weeks, I'm thinking it will be a little more timid than you think. Call it a gut feeling.
First of all, the name scares me. Braedyn? But these smaller type breeds can get in there and think they have something to prove with the larger dogs. Of course what happens next is the larger breeds lay down the law so risk it if you want.
Brandy looks like the "Life Goes On" version of Bradyn. I'd stay away.
You can't hide the Beagle in the "hound" name from me Animal Planet. Buster has some huge potential here for mischief.
Don't let the name throw you off. Candy Apple looks sleek, fiery and ready to poop in a dog bowl.
Same with Candy Corn. These two have to have the same owner right? The awfulness of these names can't span households.
Don't let the name fool you into thinking this dog is a loser. This dog has the look of a killer in his one eye. The other eye is just along for the ride.
Way too high maintenance to do any real damage. Stay away. Especially if he's named after the Giants QB.
The mottled look...the focused eyes...the playful pose...the big boobed horror hostess she's named after (I just wanted to type out "big boobed." Try it, it's fun.)
He's got lab in him, but looks so angelic sitting there. Tough to handicap. I think the field is too strong to get sucked in by this one.
Cocker spaniels will mix it up no matter what. Don't let the size steer you away. One of the best values on the board.
Way too gentle looking.
Issac and Jacob
At first, I thought Animal Planet had made a mistake by putting the same dog up twice. Of course, I'm not sure how easy it is to tell miniature pinschers apart in general. They look feisty. Size might be a factor though.
I love German Shepherds, but not in the Puppy Bowl. Too intelligent, they'll mix it up but not enough to factor in the decision.
There's that Beagle again. Beware the Beagle.
This Aussie looks like he/she came to play. Intense eyes and alert pose make it a favorite.
Everyone at your party will enjoy Moose's looks and hijinks, but at the end of the day he won't be on the field enough to warrant consideration. His owner probably has stipulations in the contract to keep him off the field...that coat gets dirty easy I bet and no one wants to brush it out. The T.O. of the Puppy Bowl.
A pekingese? The Chad Johnson of Puppy Bowl.
Terrier mix, and it looks like the mix part is the stuff needed to win this shit. A huge favorite. Won't win you a lot of money, but it's a safe pick.
Pretty, strong lines. One to watch. But I think in the end he might be overwhelmed by the talent out there.
Sarah Jessica Barker
I'm not sure how they did it, but the producers found the absolute perfect analogy to Sarah Jessica Parker in the dog world. Kudos.
Has to be the favorite here. Playful look, an exotic breed (Jindo Korean) and a cool name. The references to Lost are off the charts for this one, so don't be surprised if he keeps disappearing and reappearing throughout the broadcast.
A cool looking dog, but that's not going to do him any favors in the competition. Could be a nice little darkhorse pick though...
Sugar will have the energy, but her size is going to be her downfall. Can she shine through and be noticed amongst the bigger dogs. Her ugliness won't help either.
Don't be fooled...Sugar Rush is listed as a Weimeraner mix, but there's more mix than Weimeraner in this little guy. Not a lot of value at 3-1, but look for him to do some damage.
Don't sleep on Tricks. Dachsund's can get tough...they burrow and hunt more than the Viet Kong. Great value here.
Everyone likes to see a pug, but there's a reason you never see them chasing frisbees. Their breed is prone to all sorts of problems, and I'm guessing he's not going to be on the field very long.
So there you have it. If it were me I'd box Tricks, Sugar Rush and Schroder and hope for a huge royal rumble with them coming out on top. But then again, the Eagles lost a couple weeks ago, and I could give a shit about either the Cardinals or the Steelers.