Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scorpio Season is Shake-Out Season

There’s nothing like November Football… I used to say that when I was a kid, some 25-30 years ago. This is the time when we separate the men from the boys… with a crowbar if you happen to be in San Francisco. The cream rises to the top. We thresh the wheat from the chaff on the football field. I used to say we learn who is what in November.

I no longer say this. November is no longer the object of praise in my football talk. There was only one problem with this theory on November: It never quite worked out on the calendar.

The shakeout always seemed to begin around the end of October. The shakeout is usually complete well before the end of November. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around each year, we usually have a lame-duck Lion team to skip over on Thursday. We also have a Dallas team that is (usually) headed for the playoffs.

As you well know, the season of a number of should-have-been contenders came to an end last week. Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, and Minnesota all died last Sunday. We were a full week away from the end of October as they lay prostrate on the field of battle dying.

In college football, ESPN openly advertised yesterday’s slate of games as “Separation Saturday”. Faint echoes of that mantra could be heard on the NFL Network this morning. It ain’t November until tomorrow. Mark my words, by the 21st of November, several teams will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the BCS picture will be pretty well set, and we will be talking about who might draft first in April. The last 9 days of November will be interesting, but the table will be set.

I have found the perfect name for shake-out season. Let’s call it Scorpio Season. Last Saturday, on October 23, our Sun entered the Constellation of Scorpio. [Of course it didn’t really move anywhere, but from the perspective of our tiny Earthly skies, our Sun is in Scorpio right now] All the babies born last Saturday are Scorpio babies. November 21 will be the last day of Scorpio. By the end of Scorpio, we will know who is what in football.

It is fitting that Scorpio season should be the time when we separate the men from the boys in football. Scorpio is a pretty intense sign. It’s a poisonous little critter with a mean sting. Scorpio people are described as gritty, intense, driven competitors. Although they have good powers of concentration, and good intellect, they tend to be very confrontational and emotional. Dick Vermeil, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman, Michael Strahan, Nick Saban, and the Rams’ own Sam Bradford are a few famous football figures who just happen to be Scorpios.

Interestingly, Scorpions happen to be regerative little insects. Scorpio people are said to have much greater than normal recuperative powers. There are legends about these guys making full recoveries from mortal wounds in battle. One thing is for sure: Sam Bradford doesn't seem to be showing any ill effects from that shoulder surgery he suffered last year. This surprised the hell out me.

In Astrology, Scorpio is a funny little sign. It is commonly thought to be the most intensely competitive signs, yet it is a female sign. It is also a water sign, which is strange as these critters call the desert home. This constellation is co-ruled by Mars and Pluto. Mars and Pluto metaphorically represent Aries the god of war, and Hades the god of Death. It is also the sign purported to have the highest absolute sex drive. This is not quite the same thing as sexy good looks or sultry heat, although many confuse it for these things. At the same time, Scorpios have a pronounced tendency towards life-long marriages and monogamy. They also have a penchant for revenge. The joke says that when Shakespeare wrote "Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned" he was describing Scorpio women. They are also supposed to be fascinated by mystery and solutions to mysteries. Astrologers joke that Sherlock Holmes was a Scorpio with his Mercury in Virgo.

Two things are certain this Scorpio season:

  1. It’s going to be red-war and death for a number of football teams besides the Cowboys, Chargers, 49ers, and Vikings.
  2. We’re going to go a long way towards solving the mystery of the 2010 season.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Week 7 Record and Week 8 Predictions

So week 7 was a 7-7 affair. Three massive upsets broke my gambit for a winning streak. Nobody but nobody saw the Browns and Saints turning out that way. I think very few expected the Titans to win in lopsided fashion without Vince Young. Nobody expected the Raiders to score the greatest number of points in their franchise history going against Denver last week.

Then we have the all-out robbery of the Miami Dolphins. I don't want to labor the point. This is all they have been talking about (aside from Lorenzo Favre) on the NFL Network, even rolling out the chief of officiating to discuss the issue. Most of us realize this was a near instant replay of Super Bowl XL. The Refs handed one to the Steelers.

This week we have a few filthy matchups that are tough to call. Who will be worse, the Broncos or the 49ers? Can the 49ers suddenly ignite with new QB Troy Smith? Who will be worse, the Jagwads or the Cowboys? How about the Bucs Cardinals? How about the Seahawks and Raiders? How about Rams Panthers? Filthy match-ups one and all.

Tough to know who is going to win this week.

The big matches are the Packers v Jets, the Saints v Steelers, and the Texans v Colts. These are good shake-out match-ups that will indicate who is for real, and who isn't.

The worst of the day is the Vikings v Patriots. It is interesting, as usual, for all the worst reasons. High melodrama there. If Favre plays, The Hoodie wins by 50. This is not really a competitive match up. It's soap opera. When and if the Patriots crush the bumbling Vikings, the media will certainly draw the fallacious inference that the Patriots are in the hunt for the Super Bowl, and the Vikings aren't out of it yet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Rams between week 7 and 8


Back in the early summer, as we stepping away from the draft, I wrote a series of four articles for in which I set a series of four team goals. Each was chosen and designed with the absolute objective in mind to produce a turn around in 2010. What were those four goals?

1. Reduce sacks to 20 or fewer

2. Score 20 points per game

3. Run the West Coast right, or don't run it at all.

4. Develop a running back committee.

The Offense was the Problem...

Not one of these goals was defensive. All of them were (are) offensive goals. Why? Several reasons, really. I lay the corpse of the 2009 season at the feet of the Rams offense. The defense was way ahead of the offense in 2009.

Spagnuolo's defense got better and better as 2009 wore along. Nobody noticed, because my Rams kept losing, but the defense was on a constant uphill trek. They looked organized. They looked disciplined. They looked like they had confidence in their coaches, and the game plan. They were learning to trust each other and handle their responsibilities in the system. They were certainly shy on talent. They were constantly betrayed by offense that couldn't stay on the field. Also that offense turned the football over on a short field, putting the defense's collective balls to the wall. I had great confidence that Spagnuolo didn't need any pointers from me defensively.

The offense? Well, that's another story all together. The offense looked like shit. They looked like the 1976 Tampa Bay offense: a pack of keystone cops at a Chinese fire drill. I had no confidence that Pat Shurmur knew what he was doing. We were supposed to be implementing the WCO, for the 3rd consecutive year, and I could find no trace of Bill Walsh in that 2009 Ram offensive.

As I mentioned in my earlier piece, Bill Walsh must have been spinning in his grave (at 7200rpm) at the mere suggestion that the 2009 Rams were running his offense. Shurmur’s scheme looked like a bad version of the Ground Chuck Knox offense. To be frank with you, I wanted Shurmur gone, but if that was not to be, I wanted to give Pat an ear full.

Overall impressions in 2010

I've held off on evaluating the team until (almost) mid-season, because I wanted a significant pile of data to examin before rendering verdicts. As you all know, things are going pretty well this year, and better than I expected. The Rams are basically playing something close to .500 football. We already have more victories than I expected us to get all year long. We have been extremely competitive in all but one game. This is a surprising turn around in just about every expert's view. Most of us didn't think things would improve this quickly... or maybe at all.

The report on the teams 4 goals is generally favorable. First, I was quite correct in not setting defensive goals. Spagnuolo's defense is coming along just fine, thanks, just as I thought they would. They are the strength of the team. Second, the offense is looking quite a bit better, but we are not meeting our goals offensively. We are closer than I expected to be in most areas, but we are not where we have to be to have playoff seasons.

Goal #1 reduce sacks to 20 or fewer.

First, we are not meeting our goal for QB protection. Through 7 weeks of play the Rams have the 22nd ranked offensive line in the NFL. We have allowed 15 QB sacks and 32 QB hits. To put that in perspective, the Chiefs currently lead the NFL is pass protection, having allowed only 5 total sacks. The Bears provide the worst passer protection, allowing 31 sacks already. The Rams' line is on pace to allow 34 sacks this season. That is 14 higher than the target figure and 70% over the limit. Naturally, 34 sacks is 10 less than the 44 we offered up last year, and we are throwing the football a hell of a lot more. We have seen improvement. Still, much more improvement is necessary. To be on pace, as of game 8, the Rams could only allow 10 sacks. The figure is 15 already as of game 7.

Overall, flushing Barron and Icognito paid dividends this season. Young Rodger Saffold is developing at a very nice pace. His development reminds me a lot of Marcus McNeil, another 2nd round left tackle who hit it big quickly. Saffold has to improve his pass protection, but he is already detonating defenders on the run. This is pretty much what several Big-10 experts told me to expect before the season began: Rodger has a few problems in pass protection, but he is a road-grater on the run. This off season, the Rams are going to need to acquire at least one devastating offensive guard, similar to Carl Nix of the Saints.

As you know, I didn't think Sam would make it 7 games without suffering a season ending injury. I am glad he has not suffered an injury. I worry less about that now, but I still worry. As we know from Tony Romo's experience last night: a season ending injury can cut-down your QB at any second if your line is bad. Our offensive line needs to step it up. No free-running blitzers in the pocket. One bad hit is all it takes.

Goal #2: score 20 points per game

In terms of point, we aren't quite on pace either. Through 7 games the Rams have scored 120 points: An average of 17.1 points per game. That is roughly 6.2 points more per game than the 2009 Rams scored. We are on pace to score 273.6 total points, which is nearly 100 more than last season. This is an improvement, and it has already won a couple of contests, but not enough.

We have to move up and get those extra 3 points. Just one more field goal per game would have won at least two (2) more contests by this point in the season. The Rams would be firmly on pace for a playoff-birth in the weak NFC West had we simply been able to kick one additional field goal per game. If we could reach 320 points by the end of 2010, most teams would have to fight like hell to hang with us, and most experts would sense a dramatic turn-around in Rams.

So why has there been an improvement? Much of the credit goes to young Sam Bradford, but it is not quite as simple as a change at QB position. The offense changed drastically between 2009 and 2010. The Rams of 2010 have the 4th highest pass-attempt total in the league. Sam Bradford has thrown the rock 260 times, only 27 less than Drew Brees, who is #1 in pass attempts. If he continues at this pace, Sam will throw 594 passes by season end, provided he avoids injury.

Bradford is 13th in completions with 146, yielding a 56.15% completion rate. Brees is at the top of the completion list (200), and the completion percentage list (69.7). Sam has the 28th highest QB rating with 71.4. This is just 1 point higher than Marc Bulger at the finish of 2009. It is about 32 points lower than Peyton Manning. His score is about 16 points off the bottom of the league.

The main thing hurting Sam's passer rating is not the 9 TDs vs 8 INTs. Rather it is the low yardage per attempt and per completion. Sam is 18th in yardage with 1,388 yards. This gives him the 2nd lowest average per pass in the league, with just 5.33 yards per pass attempt, and 9.5 per completion. Welcome to the world of the WCO, a dink-n-dunk, nickel and dime, small-ball offense in which you almost always throw short. The terminal point for most WCO pass plays is within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. The result is that Sam has a low yardage per attempt and per completion figure. Ergo, his rating is lower than it might otherwise be. More importantly, the Rams would certainly score a few more points if they could produce a little more yardage on every pass.

The good news is that we are beginning to play the WCO correctly. The bad news is that we are beginning to play the WCO correctly. It's a good news/bad news situation. I would not choose this scheme if I were the man in charge, but this choice does seem to be paying to some dividends. We are stepping away from Ground Chuck, and we are starting to score and win more.

Most experts have commented that Sam's productivity is amazing given (1) his rookie status, (2) his adjustment to the WCO, (3) the fact that the Rams started with few receivers, and (4) the ones we did have are dropping like flies. Surely this is true. If the Rams were to acquire a dynamic receiving threat in the 2011 draft, or perhaps in free agency, there is a good chance those yardage numbers will increase, despite the short passing game. Certainly, the WCO has always relied on dynamic receivers to run after the catch. This is how WCO teams have always manufactured yardage. Right now, the Rams really don't have such a RAC threat. Lacking both solid protection, and dynamic receivers, he's going be shy on competition yardage. It is lamentable, but this is probably the best we can do inside the limits of 2010.

Given a couple of dynamic receivers in 2011, it is probable that Sam's completion percentage, his yardage per attempt, and c will all rise, even if the passing system remains exactly as it is now. More importantly, point production should rise. With more point production, we should have more victories.

The Running Back Committee

This brings us to the final goal: A running back committee. For better or for worse, we do not have a running back committee in 2010. This is not as crucial as I suspected during the off season, as we are throwing the football much more than I originally expected. Also, Steven Jackson seems to be a lot healthier than I expected.

The good news is that 27 year old Kennth Darby from the Alabama Crimson Tide has proven himself a worthy backup. The bad news is that we rarely see him on the field. I just wish we would see him in action a lot more often. Sparing Steve a few downs every game would help his health, and it would help him to be more effective in those moments when we do have to have him, such as the 4 minute drill at the end of the Charger game.


A lot of progress has been made this season. The Rams are far better than I expected, especially in the offensive line department. This is why Sam Bradford is still alive, and possibly even in the running for rookie of the year, although I still expect this to go to Jahvid Best.

Much more improvement is necessary. Better pass protection is paramount. Better protection will not just reduce sacks and QB hits. It will lead to more completions, more yards, and more points. All of this will add up to more wins.

Given the decent start, I would be disappointed if the Rams do not continue to play .500 football down the stretch. At this point, I think the Rams should finish with something like 7 to 9 victories, if everybody stays healthy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some Random Thoughts on Sports this Monday Night

Both the Cowboy and Vikings seasons officially ended today

Towards the end of the off-season, most speculators believed that the Cowboys and the Vikings would be the two NFC Championship contestants come January. I gave a light and tentative endorsement to the Cowboy theory. I totally denied the Viking theory. It turns out that both teams are officially dead as of week 7 of the 2010 season.

Today, the MRIs revealed that Brett Favre has 2 fractures in his ankle and a chunk of bone & tendon that has ripped out of position. Get this, they have not officially ruled him out for Sunday’s game! BBAAAAHHHHAAA HHAAAAAAHAAHHAHAHA! That’s a funny joke. I get it.

Bullshit! Bull-fucking-shit! Brett’s career is now officially over. Call it quits. Just shut it down. Pack it in and call it a career. It is now over. He’s isn’t just officially out for this Sunday. He’s out for the rest of his life. The only thing that prevents us from calling a spade of a spade is pure media politics. In other words, denials and protestations to the contrary are absolute and complete bullshit.

Of course, this means Viks can pack it in and call it quits for the rest of 2010. They are officially no longer contenders, not that they were 27 hours ago either. Sure, they may go on to win 4-6 of their remaining games, but that will mean nothing in the playoff picture.

Then, as if things weren’t going badly enough for the Cowboys, catastrophe struck on ESPN Monday Night Football when Michael Boley sprinted through a gaping hole in the Cowboy offensive line and drove a chicken-winged Tony Romo into the artificial turf… hard. Tony suffered a broken clavicle bone in his left shoulder. He is expected to miss 8-10 games.

I categorically agree with owner Jerry Jones: There is no replacement for Tony Romo. The Cowboys may win 4 or 5 games down the stretch with Jon Kitna, but I seriously doubt it. Even if they do, it will mean poodly-squat in the playoff picture. The Cowboys are now officially done.

Hell widens its mouth for the Chargers

I am about two tens of a nanometer away from declaring the Chargers dead also. The only thing that prevents me from doing so is the presumed weakness of the AFC West. I think this presumption is extremely faulty. I am one tenth of a nanometer away from accepting the proposition that the Chiefs are the class of the West. I seriously doubt that the Chargers are going to have either a winning or a break-even record in 2010.

Early this afternoon, I heard Hacksaw Lee Hamilton raising hell over the Charger situation. He is not alone in raising hell, by any means, and his pain is genuine. He has been a Charger man for decades now. He drew a bulls-eye on the situation precisely and then said something very curious indeed. Hacksaw declared that he was thinking the unthinkable: The Chargers might not be a playoff team in 2010.

I laughed like hell at that line. Everything he had declared prior to that point pretty well proved that the Chargers were nothing resembling a playoff contender. Why soft-pedal the mandatory conclusion? Politics. It would be tough for such a prominent sports reporter in the San Diego area to hammer his favorite franchise so clearly on the air. It could cost him political capital. Better to sacrifice some honesty points, and appear loyal.

At this very moment, I am hearing Moochie spewing some horseshit about how the Chargers are still good enough to win the AFC West. No. You’re all wet there, coach. This has nothing to do with talent or the lack there of.

This has everything to do with labor strife. Hacksaw Lee Hamilton is correct, the Chargers have quit on A.J. Smith. Labor strife has reached a point now where the Charger players are playing selfishly to enlarge their stats and make a run at free agency with some other team. They are not playing to win.

Hell widens its mouth for the 49ers

I haven’t got the slightest idea of what is wrong with 49ers. I am inclined to blame Alex Smith, but that does not explain their inability to terminate last-minute game winning drives. They were supposed to have an elite defense. They have nothing of the kind. We have to look to Singletary for the reason why. Yes, he is one of the most respected dudes around, but something is seriously wrong with that defense.

I think the 49ers are also officially dead. If they make it to 8-8, it will be a miracle.

Giants vs Falcons in the NFC Championship?

I still believe the Saints and the Packers can factor in the NFC. However, it is getting clearer and clearer that the two most powerful football teams in the NFC are the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons. They are really starting to look good. They seem to be improving in every area, particularly in their ability to fight back into contention when they are down in the count.

I am really fucking sick of the East-Coast Bias

There is a clear law in sports: Your ranking is inversely proportional to your proximity to Bristol Connecticut. The closer you are to Bristol, the higher your ranking. The greater your distance, the lower your ranking.

As a UCLA graduate, I am no fan of Oregon, however, I cannot understand how they were cheated of the #1 ranking this week. How the hell did Auburn get it? How did they jump over Boise and Oregon? Ooooops! I forgot! Auburn is closer to Bristol than Eugene Oregon! That’s how they scored it. It is a clear-cut case of 100% pure unadulterated, unalloyed East-Coast Bias!

Let’s be clear: ESPN runs college football, both on their networks and ABC. Their impact on their BCS rankings is quantum. They are responsible for this travesty.

I love the World Series this year

Folks, I am not much of a fan of Baseball. I am no fan of the Rangers. I am no fan of the Giants. I am a life-long Dodger fan. With that said, I am going to watch every game of the series this year, and I am going to enjoy the fucking hell out of it.

Do you want to know why? ESPN has 982,288 tons of egg all over their collective face. I absolutely love the fact that the East Coast is shut-out of the World Series. ESPN analysts were utterly sure the Giants were (are) a team put together out of bubble-gum and duck-tape. They were also sure that the Rangers were no match for the mighty Yankees.

Why were they sure of this? Because Philly and NY are very close to Bristol Connecticut, that’s why. Their East Coast Bias was never stronger than in the run up to the World Series this year. They were so utterly sure that the Yanks would rematch with the Phillies this year it was pathetic. It made you wonder why they were even going to play the games.

I am so damn delighted that the Giants shoved a red-hot poker up ESPN’s arse that I am going to declare a temporary ban on my hatred for them. I am actually going to pull, gently, for the Giants. Again, ESPN’s bias is showing. They believe the Rangers will win the Series because Dallas is closer to Bristol than San Francisco.

Be assured, their logic is no better than that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 6 Record and Week 7 Predictions

So, I haven't had much time for blogging lately. I also see that my last attempt at a blog didn't post until just a moment ago. This is disconcerting.

I had one heck of a good week last week. 9-4-1. I punted on the 49er vs Raiders game. I will count that as a push. I was one of the few dudes who called the Rams-Chargers upset. I will confess that this choice was more gut than reason. However, it was not entirely irrational. Most of us close to San Diego and listening to the Mighty 1090 AM know that the Chargers have been spinning down for a couple of years now. We know A.J. Smith has run that franchise into the ground. They have missed their window and it is now closing in front of them.

I must say that the picks this week were pretty difficult. The Falcons v Bengals, the Steelers and Dolphins, the 49ers vs Panthers, the Packers vs Vikings and even the Giants vs Cowboys all provoked considerable sweat. All those games are closer than anyone wants to admit.

I wouldn't put it past the Jekyll and Hyde Bengals to rise up and do the Falcons. I doubt it, but it can happen. I have a heck of a lot more confidence in the Dolphins than everybody else. I still believe they are an AFC contender. Still, the Steelers give one pause. The 49ers and Panthers make you pull your hair out because these are two franchises going nowhere because of their dastardly QB situations. Who knows who will win that game? The Packers are badly wounded, but the Vikings are just plain bad. This is another pick'em type situation.

The biggest sweat buster of them all is the Giants v Cowboys. The Giant offense is better than it has ever been. They have a very underrated QB--yep I said underrated--and a fleet of wide receivers. I think they have the best young receiver corp in the business. The defense is flashing signs, but they are a bit inconsistent right now.

The Cowboys are pretty healthy and highly ranked on both sides of the field, but just keep finding new ways to loose games when it matters. As I mentioned before, I don't think the Cowboys are going to continue to lose at this pace. I do believe they are going to debug their shtick and go on a run, but will they begin this week against this Giants?

I don't know. It is certainly possible that they may hulk up and produce a ball buster of an effort like the one they did against the Texans.

When next I blog, I am going to blog about the Rams very surprising 2010 season, and we will go into some detail there.

Monday, October 18, 2010

There's going to be hell to pay in San Diego.

If you think things are bad in Dallas, consider San Diego. The fans there are prepared to riot and burn down GM A.J. Smith's house and neighborhood. In past two months, it has become commonplace for fans to refer to him as "The Lord of no Rings". This, of course, is a direct reference to the fact that the Chargers have been a quality team for some 8 years and have not even appeared in a single Super Bowl during this time. The fans are laying the corpse at Smith's doorstep, holding him directly responsible for their failure to get over the hump.

The count-down to Armageddon began with the Saints' victory in Super Bowl 44. People have a tendency to forget that Drew Brees was drafted by the Chargers. A.J. was never sold on him, and this is why selected Eli Manning and then traded for Philip Rivers. When Bress suffered his catastrophic injury, Smith made the decision to let him go, and make a run with Rivers. Rivers has become one of the NFL's finest passers, but the Chargers have not even sniffed the Super Bowl, despite being loaded with Pro Bowl talent. Ad meanwhile, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year.

I had no idea what impact this would have on the Chargers until I tuned into 1090AM XTRA sports radio and found one of their hosts under full war-siege. He was under brutal attack from fans in a damn ugly mood. They were all convinced that A.J. Smith had committed a deadly error allowing Breesus to get away. The host tried to defend Rivers performance--and rightfully so--which only enraged the fans more. They were certain the Chargers would have won the Super Bowl by now, if Drew Brees has simply remained. Well... let them have their illusions, but the coaching staff could never had gotten them there.

Then A.J. made the decision to release Ladanian Tomlinson. This was not greeted well by the fans. LT was the identity of the 2000 Chargers. He was the man most identified with their turn around and their quality years. The fans loved him.

The A.J. decided on a course of maximum labor strife with several of the Chargers' stars, most notably Marcus McNeil and Vincent Jackson. Most believe this is the root cause of the Chargers' bad start this season.

Then LT began running well behind the Jets' high quality offensive line. Charger fans could see the writing on the wall. I wasn't LT's fault that his production dropped over the past couple of years. The Charger OL isn't what it was. Their commitment to running the ball isn't what it wa either. Given good blocking, LT still has it. As you might imagine, this shoved a bee in the fans' collective bonnet. This did not sit well at all.

Two weeks ago, the Chargers lost to their arch-rivals the Raiders, ending a 13 game winning streak. Most understand the dominance the Chargers have enjoyed over the Raiders. Most understand what the end of that winning streak means. The loss came at the hands of a highly questionable, highly suspect Raider team. It was pregnant with significance for the Charger fans. Most believe their grip on the AFC West was broken by that loss.

Just last week A.J. made the decision to place Shawn "Lights Out" Merriman on the wavier wire. Charger fans have long regarded Merriman as their Lawrence Taylor; the key figure in their championship defense. Psychologically, losing him has great significance to the Charger fans. It signifies the closing of the Super Bowl window, period. Loosing Merriman means the official end of the Chargers' quality years and the beginning of the down slope into a rebuilding phase. This was the last BTU necessary to make the boiling caldron overflow. A ton of outrage was expressed over the Merriman move on 1090AM radio last week. To say the fans did not agree with this move is putting it very mildly. Figures such as Hacksaw Lee Hamilton and the Coach John Quintera did nothing to defend A.J. from the onslaught. Indeed, they were part of the onslaught. No one likes the direction the Chargers are headed in right now.

And now the Chargers have lost to their arch-rivals the Raiders, and to my Rams in back to back weeks. Some may not understand or appreciate the significance of the loss to my Rams. The Rams and Chargers used to be back-yard rivals. The Chargers were once the Los Angeles Chargers, powered by a former Ram coach named Sid Gilman. Then the Chargers moved south to San Diego. Then my Rams also moved south to Anaheim. They were a scant 60 miles apart for some 14 years.

Charger fans regard their history to be much greater than that of the Rams. They think they have a much greater organization. During the past 20 years, the Rams have not often given them a reason to think otherwise. We had a little 3 year run there, but 3 out of 20 ain't good. Losing to the Rams is a ghastly proposition for most long-time Charger fans. They never want to be on the losing end of that deal. For Charger fans, this was the final straw.

I heard a bit of sports talk this morning on 1090AM, and the hosts like Jim Rome are stirring the cauldron. When the open sports lines happen in the afternoon, I expect the Charger fans to be on-fire. A.J. is going to take a vicious shot to the shitter. They're not going to let up on him either. I think the Charger ownership is going to have to make a move. If they don't, the fans will stop coming to the stadium. If that happens, there will be many a blackout, creating a two-fold drop off in revenue. The Spanos family has always been highly focused of fiscal sanity and running in the black. Now they will have to consider the proposition that A.J. has become a financial liability rather than an asset.

The Spanos family is going to have to accept the fact that A.J. Smith has lost the good faith and confidence of the people. They no longer believe his goal is winning. There comes a point where you have to accept your losses and move on. With guys like Charlie Casserly out there hanging around, you might be better off making a move.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 5 Results and Week 6 predictions

So it was brutal week last week, not just for me but for everyone. I caught it on the chin hard. My final score was 6-8.

What can you do with so many upsets on the table? Who could have imagined the Bucs beating the Bengals, the Cardinals beating the Saints or the Raiders beating the Chargers? Brutal upsets one and all.

I had a hard time imagining the 49ers going down 0-5. Still this is precisely what happened.

The games this week are much tougher to handicap. Consider the complexity of the Dolphins' visit to Green Bay. Consider the chaotic natures of both the Ravens and Patriots. Consider the uncertainty of the Texans vs. the exposure of the Chiefs. Who is better: the Bears or the Seahawks? Who is worse: The 49ers or the Raiders?

I broke a hard sweat over some of these picks and I even threw down my first Pick'em. I can't decide who should win the 49ers and Raiders. I am done picking the 49ers, but I can't quite pick the Raiders. This looks like two turds floating around in a toilet bowl bumping into each other, with stinky results.

Of course, you will all chastise me for picking the Rams over the Chargers. I can hear it now "Only a goddamn baboon moron dumb shit would pick the Rams over the Chargers!" You know what? I totally agree with you. Only an absolute fucking idiot would take the Rams over the Chargers. Still, I am doing it anyway.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What it is to be a Virgo


So a friend of mine gave me a copy of “Astrology for Lovers” as a birthday gift a little more than a month ago. He correctly surmised that I was on an astrology kick, and having fun with my new ‘favorite video games’. At first, I thought the book was rubbish as it contradicted so many of the common themes I have heard from so many sources.

Then I read the chapter on Virgos. That was a real eye-popper. I have laughed my ass off at a number of the descriptions of Virgos that state we are neat and punctual perfectionists. With that quote in mind, check out this quote which opens the chapter on Virgo:

To begin with, we can throw away everybody’s favorite image of that eternal ashtray-emptier and furniture-duster. The neat, orderly, tidy soul with the perfectly balanced bank account and the immaculate kitchen is a picture which sends most Virgos into fits of cynical laughter. [Page 173, p1]

You got that right. I don’t have ashtrays in my apartment, the furniture duster is exclusively dedicated to the HDTV, my kitchen is messed up, and my bank account is almost perfectly balanced, but not quite. I do hope to have a perfect kitchen someday.

Liz Greene, the author of this book, went on to say about 100 things I totally relate to. I do see these attributes in myself, for better or for worse. After reading this chapter, she gained some street cred with me. I thought it would be fun to summarize the points I consider the most important attributes of Virgo-hood. Remember this comes from a quad-Virgo. I am a fully bonafide, genuine article source on this subject.

Key Associations with Virgo

  1. Mercurial, as in having personality attributes associated with the god Mercury of ancient Roman mythology. Namely, eloquence, shrewdness, swiftness, and thievishness.
  2. Realism, Pragmatism, Utilitarianism. Conversely, non-idealism and perhaps even anti-idealism.
  3. Observation, Discrimination & Discernment
  4. Analysis, Classification & Synthesis
  5. Expert craftsmanship, craftiness
  6. More inclined to lead than to follow; an invisible power behind the throne.
  7. Independent, self-possessed, self-contained, self-sufficient.
  8. Cautious, conservative, calculated, risk-averse, detests gambling.
  9. Sharply critical with a reputation for meanness.
  10. Great control of emotions; never shows emotional weakness publically. Cannot tolerate dramatic emotional outbursts and meltdowns in any circumstances. Detests drama queens.

The Legend and Lore

So how does Liz Greene and the Astrological world know all this? That’s always the great epistemological question. They rely on the legend and lore of the Zodiac as their source. Oh really? Yep. So just pray tell is that?

All things in Esoteric Astrology begin in Aries and end Pisces. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. Pisces is the 12th and last sign of the zodiac. We at Virgo occupy the exact middle at position #6. Esoteric Astrology is a religious world view based on Reincarnationism. Souls live in one body after another, transmigrating through time, experiencing the cycle of birth and death in a variety of times and places.

According to doctrine, new souls are born under the sign of Aries. They are in the most primitive, na├»ve, animalistic, and aggressive stage of development. Souls move forward, one sign at a time, one stage of development at a time. The next stage of development is Taurus. The next after that is Gemini. Then Cancer, Leo, etc. By the time you make it to Virgo, you are on your 6th life, and you are half-way (or more) through your journey. Souls can begin graduating from the system as early as Sagittarius, if they are precocious and highly evolved. You should graduate by Aquarius. If you don’t graduate after Aquarius, you are placed in reform/continuation school as a Pisces. You are a Pisces because you are problem child.

Living through the first six stages of the Zodiac is all about internal, personal development. They are not about external public life, or they should not be. The next six signs are about broader and more public roles. Interestingly enough, we have elected more Aquarian Presidents than any other sign. Presidents from early signs, like George Bush I (who is at stage three Gemini) get mixed reviews, and often get bounced with just one term. We’ll see what happens with Obama, who is at stage five in Leo.

According to the doctrine, Virgos are finishing their internal development, synthesizing everything they have lived before, and prepping for Libra, which is the first outwardly focused, public leadership-capable sign. We’re not close to graduating, but we are finishing the personal course of study, preparing for the public course of study. As such we are pragmatic, utilitarian, realists who are cautious and don’t like gambling. We are inwardly focused. We are cool and controlled. We are not into emotional outbursts or psychodrama.

Do I believe it? I don’t know if I believe anything anymore, but I find this all very interesting stuff.

Virgo in Love

Piles and piles have been written about how stogie, reserved, conservative and downright boring we Virgos are as love interests. There is a reason for that. Virgos just ain’t Don Juan. We’re not hasty to approve of an individual, or a romantic undertaking. We’re not into quick lays or a hot fling. Other signs, particularly fire signs, have drastically different expectations.

It takes us awhile to make up our minds about whether we are interested or not. We have to wait, watch, observe, evaluate, and determine whether a potential romance is a good safe bet or not. We’re not into shaking up the dice and rolling them. We’re rarely or never suckered by a pretty face. It’s tough to fool us. Mere emotion and sexuality are not enough to gain or hold a Virgo’s attention. You have to fit into the program, or we’re not interested. It takes time an evaluation to determine whether you will fit. It is a very rare Virgo that has ever had a true love-at-first sight experience with an ordinary stranger.

The highly emotional water signs will dislike Virgos’ detached, controlled, cool, non-reactive personality. Virgos cannot stand angry emotional outbursts, tempestuous scenes, and long weepy sessions with lots of hankies. A water sign like a Cancer, and especially a Pisces, may be infuriated by our contempt for emotionalism. Scorpios like to cook up some drama also. If you are a drama queen, it’s best not to fuck around with a Virgo. We won’t have it. You’ll get cut off quick. We don’t appreciate being destabilized.

With all that said, you might think we Virgos would do best with the three air signs: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. These are also cerebral, intelligent, human signs with a flair for emotional self-control. Well, not so, according to the Astrology doctrine, and not according to the scoring systems found in field of Synastry. The mass majority of Virgos find their highest scores in the other two earth signs Taurus and Capricorn. They also find very high scores in matchups with the three water signs: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

According to Astrologers, Virgos go for Pisces at alarmingly high rates. Pisces is the 12th sign of the Zodiac, 180 degrees (and days) about from Virgo (6th), and diametrically opposed to us. There are a hell of a lot of Virgo-Pisces couples in this world. According to the book, it is a common pattern for a Virgo man to select a female who represents all the irresponsibility, emotional instability, and foolishness he won’t allow himself to enjoy. He then lives a little vicariously through her.

What it means to me

Reading all of this doctrine has led me to some anxiety. I know for a fact that my highest combined Synastry score comes from a batch of Pisces girls born on 3/16/1986. They have my highest total combined score at 2088 points. I have their highest total combined scores at 2088 points. I checked it both ways, and the #2 score is some 488 points in the distance at 1600.

It doesn’t get any better when you see that my absolute hottest sexual & romantic scores come from the Aries clan. There are Aries females that can out-score even Pisces on the sexual meter. Their total combined scores are not as good, nor should they be.

Even if you are a skeptic, and I am, you can’t read these things and not wonder about them. I do often wonder if I will select a young, and obviously less mature female, who will exhibit all of the irresponsibility and emotional instability I do not allow myself… whether she be Pisces or otherwise.

If you accept the doctrines of Esoteric Astrology, if only for the sake of argument, it leaves a true Virgo shaking his head. How in the hell can we go after these troubled girls of the Zodiac? Why would we fall for (or get suckered by) a girl stuck in the reform school, who can’t graduate from the system because she has a propensity for drugs, alcohol, tobacco, Wicca, and assorted other problems?

The goddamnable thing is that I myself already experienced this fiasco once in 2006. My closest brush with love at first sight and marriage came at the hands of a 1981 Pisces female I scored 413 points with. Make no mistake about it: She was a problem girl. She had all those bad propensities I just mentioned. Fortunately, I came to my senses and terminated the affair after just one month. I realized that it was a very, very bad thing. I executed the logical maneuver, although I bled psychologically for nearly two years because of it. To this day, I know that I did the right thing, despite the fact that it hurt like hell.

Is it better to go after a primitive Aries woman, in the infancy of her soul, just because the sex would be insanely hot? I think not, yet the numbers are so high, they suggest I would go for it, if the option were afforded me.

The Air Girl Option

I am a very strange Virgo in one respect: I score fantastically well with the Air Girls. I enjoy infrared-grill scores versus Aquarius, my #2 total combined score comes from Libra, and I even have some nice Gemini matchups. Gemini is the least favorable of the three, but there are still workable options born on 6/16/1982.

Frankly, the more I read about them, the more inclined I am to go after the Aquarius girls. They have their own interesting problems, but as long as you get one that is heterosexual, you’re okay. I think I can do just fine with a highly evolved, ready to graduate, intellectually arrogant woman, bent on human psychology, who believes it is shameful to cry.

In a pair of upcoming pieces I intend to summarize what Liz Greene had to say about Pisces women and Aquarius women. Then you can just guess which one might be better for a guy like me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Texas Death-Match in the Steel Cage

The happiest guy in the world is Warren Moon. He is no longer the NFL's all-time leading fumbler. Brett Favre first tied and then broke then all-time fumble record set by Warren moon more than a decade ago. Frankly, he looked like shit. Yep, that is right. Brett Farve is the NFL's all-time leading fumbler in addition to the all-time leading interception thrower.

Now stick that in you penis photos and smoke it. Why you fuckers love this guy so much I will never understand. I just don't get it.

But this leads us to a truly delicious moment in the (so-far) disaster-bust season of 2010: An all-out death match elimination between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. The looser goes to 1-4, and realistic hopes of a Super Bowl are pretty well shot to shit at that point. I am smelling blood like a shark in the water. Let the bloodbath begin.

Now we all know it is a long season. We all know the NFC is an all-out mess. Both teams will still have 11 more games to go. One can finish 12-4, and the other can finish 11-5. In theory they can both finish 11-4-1. I seriously, seriously doubt it. Realistically, both teams are playing badly. The one who looses is will be the worst of two seriously under-performing football teams.

I'm going to make a prediction: The coach that looses get's the ax. Neither the Cowboys nor the Vikings are going to take going to 1-4 well. If Childress looses, he's out. If Philips looses, he's out. Death-match elimination!

Dallas must return to the hefty bag... errr.... Mall of America Field to play the Vikings where they were eliminated last year. Of course, this gives the Vikings something of an advantage. I am going to lay down a prediction: Dallas wins this one. Wade Phillips has a tendency to rise to the occasion when he knows it is a life-and-death situation. Chili does not have that rep, and for good reason.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It was one of those Goddamn days...

As you all know, the Rams got mauled by the Lions 44-6. It was just one of those Goddamn days.

The Rams opened the game by attempting an on-side kick, which failed. The Lions immediately cashed it in for a field goal. I guess we thought we would one-up the New Orleans Saints or something. This set the stage for quite an ass-raping.

Then the Rams lost Mark Clayton when he injured his right knee in the 1st quarter. Right now, they are calling it a sprain, but it doesn't look good. I was greatly heartened to see that Mardy Gilyard finally caught a few passes (2 for 22 yards), but the entire game consisted of short check-downs to Danny Amendola (12 for 95). You just can't come from behind with a passing game that looks like that.

That was a very crushing defeat. Just when we thought we had it rolling, guess what? Nope. This is quite a reversal. I hope this does not trigger a lapse.

You can bet there will be a chorus of chanters calling for a trade with San Diego for Vincent Jackson now. My feelings on the subject are quite mixed. I think Vincent Jackson is a big target, but he is a hot and cold guy. I think people tend to be overwhelmed by his physical profile and don't look hard enough at his mixed production figures.

I think he is quite over-rated. He cannot be mentioned in the company of guys like Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson or Roddy White. I don't think he fits in the 2nd tier category with guys like T.O. and Randy Moss either.

Jackson would not be my top choice for a franchise wide receiver to build around. I would be looking for Leonard Hankerson of Miami, and possibly Julio Jones of Alabama, should he come out. However, with the brewing crisis at WR the Rams are suffering from now, a deal for Vincent Jackson may be compelling.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Week 4 record, and Week 5 picks

I hit my target goal of 8-6 last week, but was disapointed it wasn't better than that. Had we not seen a few fluke laiden performances, particularly in Miami, I could have been 9-5,

This week appears to be easier than ever. There were only a few sweat-provoking choices on the board this week.

Chief among them is the Colts v Chiefs match up at Lucas Oil Field. I am taking the Colts. This is a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous pick. The Chiefs are undefeated, and the Super Bowl loser's jinx weighs heavy on the brows of the Colts. Make no mistake about it, the jinx is on. Ultimately, I am going with the Colts because I cannot see them dropping two in a row, with a home game, to a team winning with smoke and mirrors. I am sure they see an opportunity to dispel talk of the Hang-Over and silence the whispering campaign underway. Although I think they will win, it won't kill the Jinix.

Believe it or not, the Bears Panthers is also a sweat provoker. Cutler was sacked 10 times against the Giants and is now sidelined with a concussion. This could and should be the most unwatchable game of the weekend. Are you prepared to watch a pair of QBs struggle and fail all game long? He who makes less than 12 critical mistakes will win.

The 49ers v Eagles also produced some sweat. Ultimately, I am going with the 49ers. I don't the 49ers will continue to loose forever, and I have no confidence in Eagles with Kobb at the Helm. The Eagles will play a maximally outdated form of the WCO in SF, and I think this will lead to SF's first victory of the year.

Probably the most intriguing game of the week is the Vikings v Jets, and for all the wrong reasons. There is too much melodrama and bullshit surrounding this game for it to be a reasonably scientific football match up. This is a game for the slobbering idiots to enjoy. Ultimately, I just don't think the Vikings are as talented and solid as the Jets, but I am not sold on the Jets either.

For me, and perhaps for everybody in the West, the single most intriguing aspect of the weekend is this: The Rams could very well be in sole possession of the NFC West division by Sunset Sunday. The Division has been gift wrapped for the Rams in week 5.

The Seahawks are idle and cannot help their situation. The 49ers may win, but they are deep in a hole. The Cardinals have to play the World Champion Saints in the immediate aftermath of a stinging last-second defeat. In short, the Rams should have a half-game lead on the Seahawks come nightfall.

The Rams cannot overlook the Lions, and this is a dangerous match up. I have been dreading this match since draft day. This is Ndamukong Suh's opportunity to explain to Devaney why he made a mistake in passing Bradford over himself. I worry a lot about that. Given our weak guards, Center Jason Brown will have to allocated 100% to Suh.

We beat them last year for our only win. We are much strong this year, and they still lack their outstanding QB Matt Stafford. Shaun Hill is doing a solid job in relief, but I think we can confuse him. I have soft spot in my heart for the Lions. My last name means Lion. I have plenty of Leo in my chart and in my family. I still hope you will get up and make a run, but start the run when Matt Stafford comes back next week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Terry Bradshaw say "Break up the Rams!"

So my birthday buddy, Terry Bradshaw turned to Howie Long, whose grin was only exceed by mine, and said "Break up the Rams! They've won two in a row." Not only that, we are going be in a tie for first place in the Western Division of the NFC by sunset. The Chargers are doing us a favor and humiliating the Cardinals 28-7 in the first half of their 'battle'.

Of course, Terry made this statement during the post game show between the morning and afternoon games as Terry was recapping the action of the day for our benefits.

It's been a tough two years for Howie. It's probably been tougher for Chris Long. I have seen a look of bitter sorrow on Howie's face more than a few times. This look was only exceeded by the look or sorrow on my own face I remember the look of pride and joy on their faces when the Rams took Chris #2 overall in the 2008 draft. It's been rough. Chris has had no help, two different defensive schemes, and people all-to-eager to scream bust. The Rams are way, way, way too quick to give up on defensive linemen as I have often screamed.

. Now things are starting to roll. Hard to believe the Rams are 2-2, playing 500 football. Both losses were intensely competitive games we could have won. Now we have won two dominant victories over the Redskins and Seahawks, who are not exactly regarded as pansies this year.

Wow... imagine that. This game wasn't close. The Rams jumped on the Seahawks quickly getting the first TD bright and early. The defense strangled Seattle. They couldn't do much of anything all game long. The Seahawks never led at any point in the game. We left 14 unscored points on the field. It is the Rams first victory over the Seahawks since... 2004? Brutal.

Not only that but the Fan Rating was 73, making it the 3rd ranked game of the morning. We might just see the Rams on the NFL Replay this week. Don't ask me how that game got a 73. It very lopsided, and lopsided games usually don't.

I will have a more to say about this when the NFL updates it's statistics section to reflect the entire weekend of games. I want to have a close look at the pass protection stats for the Rams. I suspect our young twin bookend tackles are getting it done. Sam had nice stats today 23-41 289 yards 2 TD and 1 Int.

Right now, Scorpio is validating Devaney's decision to take him #1 overall. Maybe Devaney is a psychic Pisces after all?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Record on Week 3, and Picks for Week 4

It has begun. I did my shrink-o evaluation yesterday and passed with reasonably flying colors, so they are submitting a request for approval of gastric bypass surgery to my insurance company. Ergo I am now on a liquid diet. The transition has been tough. Very tired, very listless. Not trying to make excuses, but if this weeks picks tank, you know the reason why.

Last week I went 9-7, putting me at 1 game over 500. I hope to go at least 8-6 this week.

The picks this week were pretty easy. Only the Ravens v Steelers, Bears v Giants, and Seahawks v Colts caused me to break a sweat. Frankly, I don't think the Steelers can beat the Ravens without Big Ben, even though they are at home. I've gone against the Bears in three straight weeks and they have completely fucked me over for it. Even though the Giants are at home, I am taking the Bears. I'm going to be a homer and pick the Rams again.

There you have it ladies and germs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Okie-Doke Offense

Last weekend, I heard Phil Simms say it best. Phil is still one of the best analysts of the game, and he hit the nail on the head. Regarding offensive philosophies, Phil said something like this:

"Run first, pass second. Run to win, pass to score. Pass to setup the run. Dink and Dunk. All of these sayings represent false ideas we choose to confuse our minds with. The real objective of good offense is always the same: do exactly the opposite of what the defense expects you to do."

Amen brother. I would only add to that two more phrases:
1. Get to the line of scrimmage quickly so the QB can read the defense and check off. This allows him to hit it where they ain't.
2. Use motion and formation to isolate your best playmakers against the defense's weakest sister.

If you implement these three elements of offense, you cannot be stopped. I like to call this the Okie Doke offense. Okie Doke is football jargon for showing them one thing and giving them another. You get the defense to buy something you aren't selling. You employ constant trickeration, negative influence traps, misdirection, play action, draws, option reads, option routes. Nothing is ridged. The ultimate goal is to just hit it where they ain't. Incidentally, that final pharse is baseball philosophy. This saying is frequently mis-attributed to Yogi Berra, but most historians give the credit to an ancient 19th century baseball player named Wee Willie Keeler. Wee Willie may be the greatest philosopher of football offense we have ever seen. Sun Szu frequently said "attack emptiness, avoid fullness". This is a simple way of saying don't go into the teeth of the defense. Just hit it where they ain't. Find the weakness and penetrate it.

If the defense has 9 men in the box and zero safeties, you would be stupid not to throw it intermediate or deep. You would be stupid to run the football into the teeth of the defense. If the defense is in a dime with three deep safeties, you would be stupid not to run the shotgun draw. Just hit it where they ain't. Attack emptiness. Avoid fullness. Do exactly the opposite of what the defense has set themselves to stop.

If you do this enough times, uncertainty, indecision, doubt, and finally a lack of confidence begins to take over a defense. Everybody sits and reads, instead of shooting the gaps and attacking, because they don't know what you are going to do next. This is the moment when the defensive gameplan has completely broken down, and the defense is on its heels. The offense has won.

Right now, Peyton Manning is running the NFL's foremost Okie Doke offense, with the Saints in a close 2nd place. You might say that Mike Martz is the NFL's foremost coaching authority on the subject, with Sean Payton in a close 2nd place. These are the offenses that are currently doing the greatest damage around the league, with the Philadelphia Eagles starting an assault on the top rankings.

Incidentally, I have praised Michael Vick's style as being a night at the improv. When he is in the game, the defense has no clue what he is going to do next. Even if you steal the Eagles' signals, you still don't know what Vick is going to do next. He is quite likely to throw away the play call and do something totally unexpected on any given play. Believe me, that is a serious Okie-Doke situation. Vick will find the emptiness and avoid the fullness, and he'll do it dynamically in real-time.

Being radical and unpredictable makes you dangerous offensively. Attacking the empty spots in the defense makes you really, really dangerous. Doing this dynamically in real-time makes you deadly.

This is the ultimate reason why I utterly hate ridged system guys, and in particular, rigidly constructed West Coast Offenses. The WCO has been played for some 30 years now. We now know its structure and its philosophy. We know what these OCs are trying to achieve. We have studied their methodology. If you enter the game with one of those ridged 15 play scripts, the defense is going to hammer your ass. It's all fairly routine, stock, off-the-shelf, cliche, predictable screenplay stuff nowadays. We defenders know what you want to do, and we know how to defended it. Unless you have incredible stallions, who can simply beat defenders 1-on-1, you are in big trouble if you run a ridged WCO script.

Of course, the true WCO coreligionists will never, never, never listen to this criticism. Those who are ardent and fervent WCO fundamentalist will speak of the wonders done by Bill Walsh in much the same tone that Born-Again Christians speak of the miracles of Jesus. They will tell you about what Bill Walsh, the founder of their feast, has done for them. You cannot reason with these people about what Bill Bellichick has done to them. Those who have been raised in a faith, and hold to a blind faith, cannot be persuaded otherwise.

Just remember, you can never convince anybody of anything at anytime for any reason, so don't even bother to try. They will simply say "Don't confuse me with the facts" and stubbornly move along there merry West Coast way.