Saturday, April 15, 2017

NBA First Round Predictions

Eastern Conference:

Boston (1) over Chicago (8) in 6 games

Cleveland (2) over Indianapolis (7) in 5 games
Toronto (3) over Milwaukee (6) in 7 games <-- Best series of the first round
Washington (4) over Atlanta (5) in 5 games

Western Conference:
Golden State (1) over Portland (8) in 5 games
San Antonio (2) over Memphis (7) in 6 games
Houston (3) over OKC (6) in 6 games
Utah (5) over LA Clippers (4) in 5 games

Notes:

Utah-Clippers is the only upset I have.  And my gut tells me that this game doesn't go 6 games, in either direction.  The Clippers are such a Jekyll & Hyde team that they either win the series by game 5 or lose the series by game 5

If Milwaukee was playing Washington or Boston, I'd pick the upset.  By Toronto doesn't beat itself. Toronto survives- barely.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

NFL 2017 Draft Thoughts

NFL Draft hopes as a Cleveland Browns fan:

You can’t say we were shocked.  We knew the Browns were going to be bad. 

They were 3-13 the year before.  And then lost four of their top free agents hours after free agency began- including 2 parts of their offensive line (the best part of the football team).  We all knew RGIII was a gamble.  And they traded down in the draft, passing up good players (not only Carson Wentz, but Joey Bosa, Jack Conklin, Ezekiel Elliott…)  And while none of their rookies were busts… none of them overachieved, either.

So… yeah.  1-15 wasn’t that shocking. 

But hey- it’s 2017.  The Browns not only have the #1 draft pick, they have the #12 draft pick from Philadelphia.  And 2 second round picks.  And this is supposed to be a deep draft.

People keep focusing on the QB- but the Browns need help EVERYWHERE. 

Adding a curveball is that Mitchell Trubisky is not only the top QB in the draft… and from Northeast Ohio… but his father is a co-worker.  So regardless of where he goes in the draft, I’m rooting for him to succeed.


So here’s how I see things playing out:

There is a kind and benevolent deity and he wants me to be happy:   Browns grab  Myles Garrett #1.  No QBs go from 2-11… then someone (the Jets?) overpay Cleveland for the #12 pick.  The Jets trade this year’s 2nd round pick, next year’s #1, and next year’s #2.  Browns continue the process, drafting defense for the next five picks, see how Cody Kessler plays this year- if he thrives, great.  If not, look for one of the QBs in 2018.

What I am hoping will happen:  Browns grab Garrett #1.  No QBs go from 2-9.  Buffalo grabs Watson at #10, and Arizona trades up to #11 to grab Trubisky.  This causes Jamal Adams to drop for the Browns to grab at #12.  Browns continue going heavy defense with 4 of their next 5 picks on the defensive side

What I expect to happen: Browns grab Garrett #1.  No QBs go from 2-11.  Browns grab Trubisky at #12, then keep drafting defense. 

What I am worried will happen:  Browns grab Garrett #1.  Suddenly panicking over losing their QB, they trade up to #5, offering their #12 and #33 to grab Trubisky at #5 before the Jets


The Darkest Timeline:   Browns grab anyone not named ‘Myles Garrett’ at #1

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wrestlemania 33 Predictions

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match (Kickoff Match)
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
What Should Happen:  This might be the match of the night.  Neville is awesome, and Aries can still rise to the occasion.  I’d actually like Neville to retain until they build up a new challenger.
What Will Happen:  Aries finally dethrones Neville to win the title.
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Two minutes into the match, Brau Strowman obliterates both men and wants to start the battle royal now.

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match (Kickoff Match)
Champion Alexa Bliss to defend against all female SmackDown LIVE Superstars who are available to compete
What Should Happen:  Alexa retains; on Smackdown on Tuesday, announces she’s defeated all of her competition… and out comes Asuka to take the belt from her.
What Will Happen:  Natalya wins the title to start a feud with Becky Lynch
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Carmella wins the belt because the writers love her and Ellsworth.

The Fourth Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Kickoff Match)
Featuring Big Show, Sami Zayn, Braun Strowman, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley and more Superstars
What Should Happen:  Zayn is a giant killer, eliminating both Big Show and Strowman.
What Will Happen:  Strowman wins as his anointment as the next big man continues
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  The Ascension win and immediately begin feuding over which one is really the winner.

Raw Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
What Should Happen:  Gallows and Anderson retain; Cesaro and Sheamus split up the next night and both announce they are going after the US Title
What Will Happen:  Amore and Big Cass win the belts.
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  The crowd turns on Amore and Big Cass to the point that they turn heel by the end of next week

Intercontinental Championship Match
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
What Should Happen:  Corbin wins, and Ambrose starts a slow turn into a psychotic heel
What Will Happen:  Corbin wins the title
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Corbin wins the title when Dolph Ziggler costs Ambrose the title.  I like both Ziggler and Ambrose, but that feud feels stale for both men

United States Championship Match
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
What Should Happen:  Match of the night, with both men giving dissertations on how to cheat.  Owens wins, and the crowd chants “Thank you Chris” as he heads off on tour with Fozzy.
What Will Happen:  Owens wins using every heel trick in the book
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Samoa Joe helps Owens beat Jericho in a forgettable match

Raw Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
What Should Happen:  Nia Jax wins and forces the other three to work together to overcome her.
What Will Happen:  Flair wins the title when Sasha Banks turns heel
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Flair wins the title, and the program continues as it has for months.

Power Couples Collide
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
What Should Happen:  A glorious brawl that spends most of the match outside the ring.  Cena and Bella win, but Miz and Maryse look fantastic.  Cena proposes afterwards
What Will Happen:  A good match.  Same booking
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Miz and Maryse look like total chumps in losing.

SmackDown LIVE Commissioner vs. The Phenomenal One
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
What Should Happen:  Shane McMahon is attacked before the match, and Daniel Bryan announces a replacement- the returning Finn Balor. 
What Will Happen:  AJ Styles has had great matches all year.  He has another one, carrying Shane to a very good match, before winning cleanly
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Shane wins because… well, because

Non-Sanctioned Match
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
What Should Happen:  Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens come out with Triple H- and Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose come out to support their Shield brother to brawl/chase out Joe and Owens.  Triple H uses every dirty trick in the book- but Rollins emerges victorious.  On the next RAW, a furious Stephanie McMahon engineers a major trade (Rollins, Cesaro, Zayn, and New Day for AJ Styles and the loser of Wyatt/Orton) just to get Rollins out of her league.
What Will Happen:    An excellent brawl.  Triple H has learned when to give the face the moment to overcome the heel, and Rollins finally gets his revenge here with a clean win.
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Samoa Joe costs Rollins the match, and Triple H finally starts showing his age.

WWE Championship Match
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
What Should Happen:  Wyatt goes full Max Cady here.  Harper returns- and Sister Abagail (Crazy Mary Dobson) makes her debut as well.  Wyatt wins a wild, wild match- if any match is allowed to get blood, this one should be it
What Will Happen:  Orton wins, turning heel in the process
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Orton wins and the announcers try to get him over as a face

The Phenom vs. The Big Dog
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
What Should Happen:  Reigns turns heel and wins, telling both the fans and the McMahons to go to hell and making Undertaker go out on a stretcher
What Will Happen:  Reigns wins, there’s a handshake of respect.  The next night, Undertaker announces he’s retiring on RAW
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Undertaker wins, then takes the microphone and tells Reigns he’s the toughest man he ever faced in the ring.

Universal Championship Match
Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
What Should Happen:  Someone- Reigns, Owens, whoever- comes in and lays both Goldberg and Lesnar out, saying how sick they are of part timers taking their spots.
What Will Happen:  Lesnar wins, Goldberg goes back into semi-retirement, Lesnar and Reign stand face to face as the show fades out
What I’m Terrified Will Happen:  Match is less than three minutes


Other notes:
·         The New Day’s turn as host will involve a lot of jokes and ice cream giveaways- and right at intermission, they get interrupted by Christian, who is ticked off the New Day is being talked about as the greatest tag team of all time.  He points out that he and Edge were a great tag team, and the only reason they didn’t hold the record is because they had competition equal to them…  out come the Hardys to leave the New Day lying in the ring.

·         The big stories from RAW the next night are the major trade between RAW and Smackdown and the Undertaker’s retirement.  Asuka’s debut is held off for Smackdown

Baseball 2017 predictions

American League                            
EAST                           W            L
Toronto Blue Jays              92           70
Boston Red Sox                 90           72
Baltimore Orioles              88           74
New York Yankees               81           81
Tampa Bay Rays                 77           85
CENTRAL                        W            L
Cleveland Indians              96           66
Kansas City Royals             85           77
Chicago White Sox              80           82
Detroit Tigers                 77           85
Minnesota Twins                62           100
WEST                           W            L
Houston Astros                 93           69
Seattle Mariners               92           70
Texas Rangers                  88           74
Oakland Athletics              81           81
Los Angeles Angels             63           99

Notes:
Playoffs:  Seattle over Boston (Wild Card)
ALDS:      Cleveland over Seattle
           Houston over Toronto
ALCS:      Cleveland over Toronto

* Biggest story is that the Angels will consider trading Mike Trout and contending teams will offer a ton of young players and prospects- it may be the biggest trade in baseball in 50 years.



National League                            
EAST                           W            L
Washington Nationals           93           69
New York Mets                  85           77
Miami Marlins                  80           82
Philadelphia Phillies          70           92
Atlanta Braves                 70           92
CENTRAL                        W            L
Chicago Cubs                   96           66
St. Louis Cardinals            85           77
Pittsburgh Pirates             79           83
Milwaukee Brewers              75           87
Cincinnati Reds                66           96
WEST                           W            L
San Francisco Giants           92           70
Los Angeles Dodgers            89           73
Colorado Rockies               80           82
Arizona Diamondbacks           74           88
San Diego Padres               74           88


Notes:
Playoffs:  Los Angeles over New York (Wild Card)
ALDS:      Chicago over Los Angeles
           Washington over San Frnacisco
ALCS:      Chicago over Washington


World Series:  Cleveland Indians 4, Chicago Cubs 3


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Closing out 2016

2016- it's a cliche that people have been saying how awful 2016 was.  A lot of famous people died, and the election was both draining and caused a lot of friction between people.  In five years, I have no idea if people will blow off 2016 as "just one of those things" or it really was a portent for a worse future.

On a personal level- we lost our cat Smokey to cancer.  She will always be missed.  We have two new kittens- Dashiell and Mystery- joining Pippen in our household.  

Dashiell (left) and Mystery


Pippen

Meanwhile, Katie and I both started working as Detectives for the Dinner Detective show in Cleveland.  It's a fantastic show with great people that I'm thrilled to be a part of.

And Sports-wise...  Cleveland won their first title since 1964.  The Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908.  I wasn't sure I'd ever see either in my lifetime.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe New Year's Eve and a wonderful 2017.  




Saturday, December 10, 2016

Conversations with Lucifer

When most people think of the devil, they picture a large red-skinned fanged demon with a pitchfork.    The balding, chunky middle-aged man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and smelling like stale coffee didn’t match the image.  And yet…

“Why are we having this conversation?”  I asked.  “I’m not selling you my soul.”  I don’t remember how we met, or how we ended up at the beverage station of some local Barnes and Noble bookstore in Ohio- just that it was May of 2015. 

“Your soul?”  Lucifer chuckled.  “Nah, nah.  You’re a middle-aged white male American engineer.  In terms of souls, you’re pretty much a blue light special at K-Mart.  Not worth the effort.”

“Umm.. thanks?”  I said.  OK, not the most brilliant of responses- but what the hel… heck SHOULD I have said.

“Besides, I’m swamped.  Got plans for David Bowie, Muhammed Ali, Prince, Alice Rickman, Florence Henderson… no time to go trolling, I’m afraid.”

I raised an eyebrow.  “Wait a second… all of those people are still alive.  You mean next year…”

He interrupted and waved his hand in front of my face.  “Ah-ah.  No telling.  In fact, after this conversation you’re going to forget everything about this.  It won’t last forever- maybe a year and a half.”

I didn’t feel any different.  Maybe he was lying.  Of course, all this just came back to me now, so…  “OK- if you’re not trolling for souls, why are we talking?” 

He grinned.  “Cause I feel like BRAGGING, son.  2016 is definitely MY YEAR!”  He punctuated the last two words by pointing at himself.  “I mean, not only do a get a plethora of riches in terms of souls in 2016.  But then the election… ah, the election…”

I sighed and rolled my eyes.  “Yeah, yeah- Clinton and Bush.  Sequels are all the rage.”

His grin was ear to ear, his eyes sparkled, and he drummed his fingers on the table.  I was reminded of playing dungeons and dragons and looking at the GM right as we walked into a trap.  “Should I be congratulating you?”  I asked.

“Probably.  And I’m feeling magnanimous.  Haven’t had a year so good planned in a long time, and I like to give back.  Getting greedy leads to a backlash, you know.”  He pointed a finger at me, “So I thought I’d throw a bone.  Pick out something to go right.”

Pause.

“A cure for cancer.”  OK- maybe not the best answer.  But I was put on the spot, and it seemed like a safe answer that wouldn’t have any backlash- don’t these type of deals ALWAYS have a backlash?

But he shook his head.  “No, no.  Nothing real important.  Nothing that has any serious impact on the world today.  Something light, fluffy… something that you can look back on 2016 on and smile about.”  This time, the grin was more malicious.  “Trust me- you’ll need it.”

Thinking over it so more.  “OK, fine.  Cubs win the World Series.”

He grimaced.  “That is one of my favorite curses.  But I suppose 108 years is long enough.  Done.”

“… and Cleveland wins a sports title.”

“Going for a two-fer, kid?”  He thought about it.  “What the hell.  I’m in a glorious mood.  Hell, I’ll even make it an epic win over a dream team- get the people in California more reason to hate 2016.”

“… and the Browns…”

“Uh-uh.”  He shook his head and wagged his finger.  “What did I say about being greedy.  In fact… that one will cost you.” 

He stretched and stood up.  I turned to pay for the hot tea.  “All right- time for me to get back to work.  Get out of here, kid.  Forget this happened.  I’ll see you again in 2063.” 


“Wait, what?”  I turned around- and his chair was empty, leaving behind a faint smell of strong coffee and brimstone.

Friday, October 21, 2016

NBA Predictions 2016-2017


Eastern Conference:
1.     Cleveland
2.     Boston
3.     Toronto
4.     Indiana
5.     Detroit
6.     Milwaukee
7.     Washington
8.     Atlanta

9.     Charlotte
10.   Philadelphia
11.   Chicago
12.   Miami
13.   New York
14.   Orlando
15.   Brooklyn


Playoffs:
•             Cleveland over Atlanta, Boston over Washington, Milwaukee over Toronto, Detroit over Indiana
•             Cleveland over Detroit, Milwaukee over Boston
•             Cleveland over Milwaukee




Western Conference:
1.     Golden State
2.     San Antonio
3.     Houston
4.     Minnesota
5.     Oklahoma City
6.     Utah
7.     Portland
8.     Memphis

9.     New Orleans
10.   LA Clippers
11.   Dallas   
12.   Denver
13.   Phoenix
14.   LA Lakers
15.   Sacramento

Playoffs:
•             Golden State over Memphis, San Antonio over Portland, Houston over Utah, Minnesota over OKC
•             Golden State over Minnesota, Houston over San Antonio
•             Golden State over Houston



More notes:
•             I was really high on Milwaukee and Minnesota last year.  I’m still betting high on both
•             The Clippers are the team I think are going to fall apart.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Paul or Griffin are traded at the deadline. 
•             The Western Division from 6-11 is a crapshoot- it really could go in any order.  Same with the Eastern Conference 4-9
•             Early guesses on the Lottery:  (1) Boston (via Brooklyn)  (2) LA Lakers (3) Miami
•             Top 4 guesses for the MVP:  (1)  Karl Anthony-Towns (2) James Harden (3) Paul George (4) Russell Westbrook.  No way anyone on Golden State wins, because they are likely to ‘only’ win 65 games. 
•             NBA Finals prediction:  Golden State upgraded from Harrison Barnes to Kevin Durant.  Let me say that again- the Warriors, who were four points away from winning the title, upgraded from Harrison Barnes to KEVIN DURANT.  But they also sacrificed their depth.  So that’s why they won’t win nearly as many games as they did last year. 

But just as importantly, the NBA West will take a step back this year.  The Spurs have lost Duncan, their heart and soul.  While I still think the Spurs will finish with 55 wins, I don’t see how they get better than last year.  The Clippers are (in my humble opinion) going to fall apart.  Minnesota WILL be a serious threat- but this year will be one step forward, not five steps forward.  For someone to stop Golden State, they’ll have to be worn out- and I think the path to get to the finals will be easier this year than last year.

We’re getting Cleveland-Golden State in the finals for the third year in a row.  Each team has won once.  Barring injuries, Golden State takes the rubber match in 6 games