Brad from Chicago writes, "Do a mailbag you [expletive]! Enough of this Doc Rivers sucks crap. Mailbag! Mailbag!!!!!!!!!"
All right, fine. We'll skip the NFL column this week and try to bang out as many mailbag questions as possible without making the column so long that you can't read it on the john without both legs falling asleep. Please note: We won't be answering any e-mails relating to one Vincenzo Testaverde today. I'm not emotionally prepared to discuss him yet. As for everything else, as always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
Q: I expect a full column on Daisuke Matsuzaka. There is no way you can not devote an entire column to this, and just lamely mention it in a mailbag.
--Sue Taylor, Boston
Actually, I'm just going to lamely mention it in a mailbag. The Red Sox have gone in so many different directions over the past two seasons, I can't summon adequate reactions to their transactions anymore. No move seems to have any correlation to the last one. They claim they have a budget, then they toss $10-million-a-year contracts around like it's the year 2056. They claim they want to build something substantial for the long haul, then they deal quality prospects who end up thriving on other teams and keep ones who look positively terrible when they get called up. They claim to care about clubhouse chemistry, then they keep allowing popular players like Pedro, Damon, Lowe and Roberts to leave. They claim to value at-bats, on-base percentage and pitch counts, then they trade for a free swinger like Wily Mo Pena. They claim to understand which players would succeed in a baseball city as tough as Boston, then they keep bringing in players who aren't mentally tough enough to play there (Renteria, Suppan, Kim, Crisp, Clement and hopefully not J.D. Drew). They claim they don't want to overspend like the Yankees do, then they blow everyone else out of the water in the Matsuzaka bidding.
They're all over the place. They really are. My head is spinning just from writing that last paragraph.
Here's what you missed this week from the Sports Guy:
• Farewell, Doc
• Beat The Sports Guy
Do I like Matsuzaka? Absolutely. I would have been disappointed if any other team acquired a pitcher good enough to earn a "Japanese Pedro" tag. Consider me on board with the initial $51.1 million bid and imminent contract. Still, this doesn't feel like a slam dunk like Pedro did in '97, or even Schilling in '03 -- those were no-brainer, jump-up-and-down, "my team has been transformed before my very eyes" moves. This one didn't make me feel that way at all. Can he adjust to America? Can he handle the pressure? Is his arm in good shape? Is he overrated? We just don't have definitive answers to those questions. For upward of $20-25 million per year, shouldn't you know?
Anyway, assuming he signs for something like $40 million over four years, if you include one-fourth of the negotiation fee, that means they're paying $46 million for three starters next season (Matsuzaka, Schilling and Beckett, none of whom are sure things, especially the last two) as well as another $15 million to Clement and Wakefield. That's more than $60 million for starting pitching -- $60 million!!!!!) and we haven't even mentioned the potential ace of the staff yet (Jonathan Papelbon). Doesn't that seem a little excessive? Didn't the Cardinals just win a World Series with Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver as their Nos. 2 and 3 starters? We also know that there's no way in hell they'll be able to accommodate the gigantic Japanese press corps at Fenway when they can barely accommodate the American reporters and cameramen now, so that's going to be a major behind-the-scenes issue all season and a potential negative for the players. And if that's not enough, they needed to improve their team chemistry (dangerously depressing last season) so they just signed a top-flight player who doesn't speak English; we're edging dangerously close to the whole "25 guys in the clubhouse, 20 of whom have nothing in common" problem that doomed the Yankees this decade.
Is it a dunk? Absolutely. Is it a slam dunk? Potentially ... but not definitely. And that makes me nervous. If this guy works out, fantastic. If he doesn't work out? Good God. This could be Theo's version of "Howard the Duck."
Four thoughts over everything else:
1. My favorite part about their $51.1 million bid was that they originally wanted to bid $50 million, then they decided on $50.1 just in case someone else bid $50, then they decided that someone else might go through the same logic, so they upped it to $51.1 million ... and then, nobody else bid more than $42 million. I thought that was hysterical. Listening to them recount the process was like hearing a hung-over buddy describing a 3 a.m. eBay bid from the night before.
2. I don't mean to sound like an old fart, but I never thought I'd see the day when box seats at Fenway cost more than $100 a game. Well, it's happened.
3. Back in the day, I liked being the underdog to the Yanks -- they were the ones that broke the bank, we were the ones that played by the rules, and even though we were spending crazy amounts of money, it never really felt that way. Then the Manny contract changed that perception, followed by Schilling (everyone forgets this now, but Boston was one of only two teams that could afford him) and all the ridiculous contracts that followed over the next 3-4 years. Now we're conditionally spending $51.1 million just to bid on a Japanese player. We're no different than the Yankees anymore. We've become what we always despised and resented. It's a little disconcerting.
4. We need to come up with a nickname for this guy -- pronto -- because there's no way in hell my dad is ever going to correctly say "Daisuke," or "Matsuzaka," much less "Daisuke Matsuzaka." And I refuse to call him D-Mat. Right now, I'm leaning toward just calling him "Sookie." Although my dad might be onto something by calling him, "The Japanese Guy." Any nickname suggestions are more than welcome.
Q: Mark my words! This will happen this season. A player will be taking it to the rim and will be fouled and pushed so his neck gets stuck between the rim and the backboard. His head will be separated from his body and the game of basketball will be changed forever. Mark my words!
--Brad L., New York
SG: Consider them marked. Plus, I'd be excited to see how they called the foul. Wouldn't that have to be considered a Flagrant 4 or a Flagrant 5? Also, if this actually happens in a game this season, the odds-on favorite would have to be Josh Smith.
Q: At what point does Lions WR Mike Furrey become the Fur Burger?
--Kevin, New York
SG: How 'bout right now?
Q: Actual quote from "The Bachelor: Rome": "I'm a strong believer that every year that goes by, life gets shorter." Who is Lorenzo's dating coach, John Madden?
--Alex, San Diego
SG: We'll know for sure during the season finale if he says, "This is what this final rose is all about, right here."
Q: There is nothing more enjoyable than listening to Tommy Heinsohn's amazingly biased commentary of Celtics games. How great would it be to have him do the color commentary of your daily life? You would be the greatest at everything you do and nothing you do wrong would ever be your fault. You'd never be wrong in a fight with your wife. Your production at work would always be the greatest level ever achieved. And if you actually ever do something good, you get a Tommy Point. Is there any other announcer out there that would instantly improve your life like this?
--Scott, Stoughton, Mass.
SG: You know what, Scott? You're getting a Tommy Point for that e-mail! Look at that hustle from Scott in Stoughton!!!! I have to say, the best Tommy moment happened on Monday night against Orlando: Wally Szczerbiak dribbled into the paint going right to left, was completely out of control, knocked into his defender for an offensive foul that wasn't called, then lost the ball and it nearly rolled out of bounds ... only he ended up saving the ball before colliding into the press table. And what happened? Tommy screams, "That's a Tommy Point for Wally!" Going to Tommy Heinsohn Basketball Camp would be the most positive experience a young kid could ever have.
Q: Bill, what's the sports equivalent for your girlfriend wanting to "see what else is out there because it's college?" (Which sucks for me.)
SG: I'd say J.D. Drew stabbing the Dodgers in the back and opting out of his contract -- maybe it hurts when it happens, and maybe you didn't see it coming, but you'll be better off in the long run.
Q: The other night I was at dinner and the guy at the next table over orders a sirloin -- and proceeds to knock it down with about four Bud Lites. I have nothing against Bud Lite, but if you're going to invest in a good meal, why be cheap on the drinks? Of course, then I realize that the sports equivalent of this is giving Tom Brady a huge contract to have him throw to Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel.
SG: You know why I'm in pain right now? Because the truth hurts.
Q: Your NFL picks suck. I feel like the guy in the phone booth toward the end of "Two For The Money."
--John, New York
SG: Still in pain.
Q: There isn't a single real football fan outside Atlanta there who was fooled by Bizarro Vick those two weeks. It's so nice to have the real Mike Vick back. The Mike Vick who can't hit a five-yard slant to save his life. The Mike Vick who has skipped the ball a yard in front of his receiver on every out route he's ever thrown. The Mike Vick who can be counted on to give us a sizzling 9-for-19, 105-yard, no-TD, 1-INT, 8-rush, 90-yard, 1-fumble performance week in, week out. I know I am excited!!
--Chris Johnson, Chicago
SG: My favorite part of the annual Mike Vick rooster tease -- when somebody in your fantasy league buys into it and ends up making a ridiculous trade for him. In my West Coast league, our commish (Elliott) traded Anquan Boldin for him right after his two huge games in Weeks 7 and 8. High comedy. On the bright side, Elliott was immediately hired as Matt Millen's new assistant GM.
Q: I just want to know why you and all of ESPN are racist to all St. Louis sports. You all think everyone only wants to watch the Yankees and Sox.
--John B., St. Charles, Mo.
SG: John, I can't speak for everyone at ESPN, but I promise to be a little more open-minded and a little less "racist" toward St. Louis sports.
Q: I was watching the Sunday Night football game with Michaels and Madden. Toward the end of the telecast they start to just get plan wacky. I tend to notice this on all late-night sporting events. College, pro, football, baseball, basketball, it doesn't matter. Do you have any theories on this? I find it hilarious and very entertaining.
-- Justin, Detroit
SG: I covered this phenomenon with baseball announcers in extra-inning games in a "Why I Like Sports" column back in 2001 (scroll down to Reason No. 451). But here's why I think this happens: Whether you're announcing a game or hosting a radio show, you have to sound professional, edit yourself from making inappropriate/candid remarks, fake laugh at other people's jokes, concentrate on the game/show while producers are talking in your ear, seem gregarious and enlightening ... basically, you're playing a character the entire time. It's a shtick. And it's strangely debilitating from a mental standpoint. You have to believe me. Whenever I co-host radio shows, I'm always punchy by the fourth hour. So you can imagine what happens to these baseball guys by the 15th inning of a game, or even to Michaels after staring at Madden's eyebrows for three straight hours.
Q: How many words are they gonna give you for the "I owe Isiah an apology" article in the spring?
--D. Robinson, Oxon Hill, Md.
SG: Probably none, since the apocalypse will have happened and we'll all be dead.
Q: OK, so I was watching "Rocky IV" last night on Spike and something occurred to me that has probably occurred to everyone but I needed an answer. Can you tell me why the ref didn't stop Drago and Apollo's exhibition fight? Why wasn't the ref brought up on charges? Was he? Will we find out in "Rocky VI"? Apollo wasn't even defending himself, and you would think in an exhibition fight they would have stopped it? Even in the Rocky/Drago match, it should've been stopped in the first round. Rocky, like Apollo, wasn't even defending himself! (I wonder why I'm single.)
--Michael Necci, Rochester, N.Y.
SG: How did you get through that e-mail without typing, "It was supposed to be an exhibition! An exhibition!!!!!!" By the way, we're coming up on two major Rocky-related events next month: Not just the sixth Rocky movie, but the 20th anniversary of Rocky ending the Cold War with his "If I can change, and you can change" speech. Hey TNT, I think you need to throw your hat in the ring with another Rocky marathon! And could you edit the beginnings of "Rocky II," "Rocky III" and "Rocky IV" so they slide seamlessly into the previous movie? Thanks. Consider it your Christmas present to me.
Q: I'm 99 percent positive that Randolph and Mortimer Duke recently wagered $1 that they could turn the funniest, most successful stand-up comic into a disturbed bum on the street and turn a random unfunny guy off the street into the hottest comic in the land with TV specials and a feature film. How else can you explain the fall of Dave Chappelle and the rise of Dane Cook? It is the only answer. Looking good Dane Cook! Feeling good Dave Chappelle!
SG: There's still a month left in 2006, but that's the E-Mail of the Year so far.
Q: Please tell me you have seen these commercials for the new O.J. Simpson special: "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened." Are you kidding me? How is this allowed? How can we as Americans possibly watch this and not say, "OK, we need some sort of common sense ruling on jail time for O.J." For being such an idiot and basically admitting guilt, you have to serve time. If I were a member of the Goldman family, I would go insane. I am in shock.
-- Matt S, Philadelphia
SG: I think O.J. was jealous of all my jokes about the Tyson Zone. Fine, O.J. You win. We'll call it the O.J. Zone from now on. By the way, let's pray that this doesn't lead a series of "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened" sports specials with Tonya Harding, Pete Rose, Kobe, Tyson and others, although it WOULD be fun to hear David Stern explain how he suspended MJ for 18 months and forced him to go play minor league baseball because of his gambling escapades under the "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened" umbrella. That would be riveting.
Q: Yo, Sports Guy, me and my friends tried to do a drinking game where we did a shot every time we saw the Melencamp commercial. Two of us died from alcohol poisoning, one choked on his own vomit and my liver exploded by halftime of the 4 p.m. game. This really is our country.
--Ken, Buffalo, N.Y.
SG: From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
This is ouuuuuuuur country
Q: I just saw the most depressing yet funny moment on "NBA Fast Break." The Nuggets lost Kenyon Martin for the season, and the host turns to Kiki Vandeweghe and asks something along the lines of "How big is this injury to the team?" followed by "I mean, you signed the guy ..." Kiki was absolutely obliterated and didn't know what to say. The look on his face was priceless. After scratching a few words together, he turns to fellow Fast Breaker Jamal Mashburn and proceeds to ask, "I mean, Jamal, you've been through these sorts of injuries before ..." And now Jamal is absolutely embarrassed in front of a national audience who was just reminded that Jamal should have been playing in the NBA right now rather than being on ESPN, and the two are staring at each other as if they were two convicts inside a jailhouse about to be hung in front of a huge crowd. It was the two guys who at least one entire fan base would like to totally eliminate from the face of this Earth, and in the case of Jamal's, three. It was brutal. It was awesome.
--Daniel, Studio City, Calif.
SG: That's "NBA Fast Break," every night on ESPN!
Q: The Sports Gal's article in the NFL power poll said you thought the best costume for Halloween you ever saw was your buddy Geoff's, him being a poop. That wins the genius and originality award somewhere. But the question is, where/how do you dress as poop, just throw a brown blanket on? It's too good not to know how to make it work.
--Jake K., Pottstown, Pa.
SG: There's no way I can possibly describe the outfit without making you want to throw up. Let's just say that you're definitely not hooking up that night. Just know that going in.
Q: My buddies and I were talking about appropriate punishments for dictators like Saddam Hussein, and we came up with an idea that works for everyone and could raise money for the International Criminal Court without using tax dollars. Why not charge admission for people to look at convicted dictators in their jail cells, kind of like a zoo for genocidal megalomaniacs? Think about it: you put them in small, basic cells behind plexiglass and charge 25 euros to watch them go about their day. Tourists could get baked at a local coffee shop and head over to the jail to gawk at Slobodan Milosevic sitting on a cot watching "90210" reruns. You could even charge extra to feed them falafel pellets and shawarma biscuits. This would be a far worse fate for a once-proud dictator then being executed. Who wouldn't pay 25 euros to watch Saddam Hussein in his underwear eating Cheetos?
SG: DeVito from Washington, you've been bounced! That's the new Greatest E-mail of 2006. And just for the record, I'd pay 200 euros to see dictators in zoo cages.
Q: I keep hearing that the Sox are drooling over Julio Lugo. This is like when a buddy goes after an ugly chick.
--Brian, Cambridge, Mass.
SG: Agreed. I went to a Dodgers game in mid-September when (A) Lugo couldn't crack the starting lineup, and (B) J.D. Drew struck out in a big spot and halfheartedly strolled back to the dugout, followed by all the Dodgers fans booing and hissing and my friend Tony explaining to me, "That guy has all the talent in the world, he just doesn't give a crap. He has the exact same demeanor in every situation." Now the Red Sox are ready to pay them $20-25 million combined? The Red Sox have hooked up with more ugly chicks than Ron Jeremy.
(Note to the Red Sox: Before we sign free agents, can you check with the fans of their previous teams before making an offer? If the prevailing line of thought is somewhere between, "I can't say I was upset to see him go" and "Instead of signing him, you guys should just set it on fire to see how $50 million smells when it's burning," that's probably not someone you want to be signing. Call me crazy.)
Q: Where do Jerry's outfits on the "Seinfeld" repeats rank on the Unintentional Comedy Scale? The purple turtleneck tucked into black jeans in the Keith Hernandez/JFK episode is phenomenal.
--Gavin Skeen, New York
SG: It appreciates every year, kinda like a tax-free savings account. Right now, it's an 8.7. Three years from now, it could be a 9.1.
Through 10 weeks, against the spread:
Favorites vs. spread: 59-79-5
Q: "Friday Night Lights," the show -- your thoughts? I figure it might be up your alley given your love for the "90210," "O.C." and such. I'm hooked and I'm not even into those kind of shows. Guilty pleasure.
--Jon Smith, Seattle
SG: I'm sure you're right. Here's the problem: I bailed after one episode because the ratings were so low that I assumed the show was getting canceled. After the Sports Gal's experiences with "Reunion" and "Love Monkey" last year, I didn't want to get sucked into a show, get attached to the characters, then have it get yanked after seven episodes. So I bailed. Naturally, NBC decided to stick with the show because it built a small but rabid fan base, and now there's no way to catch up on old episodes because it would be too logical for them to either rerun them two at a time on Saturday nights or on the USA Network so latecomers could catch up (or people like me who gave up because they thought they show would get axed). Now I have to wait to spend $30 on the Season 1 DVD to come out next summer, which is ridiculous because I never wanted to stop watching the show in the first place.
The larger issue: TV networks spend so many time/money/energy pushing their new shows (look at the "Day Break" commercials over the past few weeks), lack the patience to stick with those same shows once they're on ... and then they wonder why we aren't watching as much TV anymore. I mean, why would I start watching a serial show like "Kidnapped" or "The Nine" when I know there's a 90 percent chance it's going to be gone within four weeks, or even within a year? Would you buy a book in the store if you could only read one chapter a week and knew there was a chance the last 20 chapters would disintegrate within six weeks if there weren't enough people that bought the book? These stupid TV networks blame DVDs, video games, Internet, iPod downloads and everything else for declining ratings, but the real reason more people aren't watching them is because nobody trusts free networks to keep their shows on the air. At least with HBO, if they're launching a season of "The Wire" or "Rome," I know that I'm getting every episode from that season if I start watching. Like with "Friday Night Lights" -- if that was an HBO show, I never would have stopped watching after one episode. Since it was an NBC show, I bailed. What does that tell you?
Q: Just thought you'd like to know, I went to see "Running With Scissors" Wednesday night (do not let the Sports Gal drag you to this) and during the commercials, they played a 2007 Knicks "Go to the Garden" advertisement, complete with interviews from some players. It was soundly booed, and when Isiah appeared toward the end, someone threw some Milk Duds (or some kind of scattering candy) which hit him right in the face. Commercials at theaters are bad enough, but this one succeeded only in angering a crowd before a really bad movie.
--Shane, New York
SG: Ladies and gentleman, the 2006-07 New York Knicks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Q: I have an absolutely essential addition to make to your Rene Russo/Diane Lane All-Stars: Lori Loughlin. You know, Aunt Becky from "Full House." Being a grad student, I should know, since I spend every extra penny I have on cable and beer, and I'm home during the day often enough to catch the angelic Aunt Becky at least two or three times a week (usually at least twice in succession). I know, I know, I probably shouldn't admit watching that much "Full House," but the mute button and an iPod do wonders to dilute the saccharine waves emanating from my television. Besides, it's daytime television, there's never anything else on anyway, so I really don't have to feel that bad about it. Right?
--Wilson, Greenville, N.C.
SG: Let's just move on.
I always make the mistake of showing Bill an outfit and asking for his opinion. I don't know why I do it. Unless he loves the outfit, whatever his response ends up making me mad. Take last night for example. Bill compares his favorite shirts to baseball pitchers -- his best shirt is his ace, he has a couple of others that are "definitely starters," and if it's a knockaround shirt he calls it a "long reliever." I think this is funny so now he has me doing it. I'm going to an event next week so I asked Bill what he thought of a potential "starter" dress. Since I gave it the starter tag, he knew that either he had to be really excited about it and say, "That's great, I love it," or be honest and say, "I think that's too fancy for where we're going" or suggest another dress he likes to let me off easy. I just needed some sort of answer.
What does Bill say? "It's fine."
Fine? I can't think of an instance where the word "fine" has left me feeling good in any situation. But when I'm holding a dress that I might wear? That makes me SO angry! I never know what that word means! The dress looks "fine"? So I get to look "fine" next week? I guess I should have prefaced that story with the fact that Bill was simultaneously watching a basketball game, reading e-mails and looking at stats for his fake basketball team. Maybe "fine" meant "I'm too busy, so I'm saying 'fine' to appease you." Or it could also mean, "I hate it, but I don't want to fight right now." Or even "definitely decent, but I'm not totally sold on it." That's what makes it such an annoying word. Guys just suck sometimes. I guess the next time Bill asks me what I think of his next column, only one word will come to mind.
Here are my picks for Week 11: KC -9.5; Dallas +1; NO -3; Pitt -3; Tenn -13; Baltimore -4; Rams +6.5; Bills +2.5; Packers +6; Bucs +2.5; Bucs -3; Jets +7; Niners +3.5; Dolphins -3; Cards -2; Broncos -2.5; Giants +3.5.
Last week: 9-7
Q: We have to give it up for K-Fed. Yeah, he's getting a divorce. Yeah, he left his pregnant girlfriend. And yeah, he looks like a rat. But he turned a career as a greasy backup dancer who probably had nothing but his expenses paid for into half of Britney's fortune, a record deal, mainstream celebrity status and is now fighting John Cena in a WWE ring. This would be like me going to a Sixers' game, nailing the half-court shot at halftime and then securing a $40 million, five-year deal from Billy King to be an "ambassador" for the organization.
--Pete, Stoney Creek, Ontario
SG: I couldn't agree more. You know, we make fun of K-Fed, but if this was one of your friends, wouldn't you be high-fiving him right now? Three years ago, he had no career and no life ... now he's a multimillionaire with a record contract, and he can say he was married to Britney Spears and even had two kids with her that she gets to support. And if that's not enough, she's paying HIM alimony. And we're calling this guy a LOSER? He's a winner, I say.
Q: Don't know if you saw John Goodman on "Studio 60" this week, but my God the man must be pushing 500 pounds. Apparently Dunkin' Donuts has been paying him for his voice-over work in bear claws. Seriously, if you are preparing for a 2007 Dead Pool, Goodman is a first rounder in all formats.
--Mike P, Taunton, Mass.
SG: Excellent call. I kept expecting them to come back from a commercial with Goodman wearing those black wrestling trunks that Andre the Giant used to wear, the ones with the one strap going over the right shoulder.
But I'm glad you brought up "Studio 60" -- it might be the most frustrating, should-be-good show in the history of television. I know this has been brought up ad nauseam around the Web, but seriously ... how can you create a show about two guys who save a sketch comedy show and make it funny again, then be completely oblivious to the fact that the sketches aren't funny? It would be like watching Gene Hackman "turn around" Hickory High, only none of the players can dribble and Jimmy Chitwood is shooting jumpers like an 93-year-old guy attempting a half-court shot at an NBA game. It's such an unbelievable miscalculation, and it's so damaging to the credibility of the show within the show ... I mean, I have NEVER watched a TV show with the potential to be this good that had such a glaring flaw. It would be like watching "24" if Kiefer Sutherland was six inches shorter than everyone else. All right, bad example. But you get the idea.
Q: So, one day last week I see Sixers GM Billy King in a restaurant in Philly. I started thinking "Does he deal with ordering food the same way he signs NBA players?" If he ordered the steak, if it's an OK steak but nothing fantastic, does he offer to pay double or triple the market value for it? Maybe there could be a show where Billy King negotiates car prices for people who stand by dumbfounded as he offers $27,000 for a 1987 Toyota Camry with 167,000 miles.
-- Adam, Philadelphia
SG: I had a sarcastic follow-up joke here ... then I remembered that my favorite baseball team just spent $51.1 million for the right to negotiate a free agent contract for a Japanese pitcher who's represented by Scott Boras. I'll shut up now.
Q: What's your address Billy Boy? I'd like to send you a Peyton Manning jersey. Come on ... get on board ... we all know your hatred for the Colts is bred out of your envy of Peyton Manning. We all know you've got a Colts-era Vinatieri jersey hanging in your closet. And on the nights when the Sports Gal is out with her friends you put it on, smear lipstick on your face, pop "Silence of the Lambs" into the DVD, and dance like Buffalo Bill in front of a full-length mirror.
--Jeremy, Providence, R.I.
SG: Yup ... these are my readers. And on that note, since this was SUPPOSED to be a weekly football column and all, here are some scattered thoughts heading into Week 11:
1. Craziest play in that Giants-Bears game other than the déjà vu FG return: The Giants are leading by 10 near the end of the first half. It's pouring rain. As usual, Rex Grossman is stinking it up. The Bears have the ball and it's third-and-22 on their own side of the field. There's no way they're risking a Grossman INT; even my little daughter knows the draw is coming. So they run the draw ... and wouldn't you know it? The Giants are completely taken by surprise, Thomas Jones crosses midfield for a first down, the Bears get a TD two plays later and, suddenly, it's 13-10 heading into halftime. You deserve to lose the game if you don't see that play coming. Maybe you don't deserve to lose seven of your best 12 guys, but you deserve to lose the game.
2. I remember writing that (A) there should be a new level of losing for the Cardinals after they blew that Monday night game to the Bears, and (B) it was a catastrophic loss and they probably wouldn't recover from it. Then I picked them the next three weeks. I'm an idiot.
3. Reader Steve from L.A. makes a good point: "I thought the Belichick-Mangini handshake on Sunday looked familiar, then I realized it was the 'old boyfriend meets mom's pick' handshake from MTV's 'Parental Control.'"4. The Browns, Dolphins and Texans are the remaining contenders for "Sneaky Cover Teams In the Second Half of the Season" honors. Beware of all of them.
5. I have a friend that we'll call Someone Who Knows These Things. Let's just say he's connected with the league. I asked him how Marques Colston could slip to the seventh round last year and, apparently, SWKTT said that he would have gone higher but he feuded with his Hofstra coaches and they apparently bad mouthed him to all the NFL teams. This stuff happens more than you would think before the draft. Anyway, the day after he told me this, I was answering e-mails and watching "All The Right Moves" on cable, saw Craig T. Nelson bad mouthing Cruise's character to the college scouts and realized, "Wow, Colston is the Stefan Djordjevic of the NFL right now!" Those are the times when I miss having roommates. My old roommate Gallo would have totally appreciated that. Instead, I had the Sports Gal staring at me like I had three heads.
(HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
CHIEFS (-9.5) over Raiders
Last week: 7-9
6. Here's the 2006 NFL season for you: For most of this week, a 9-0 team was given even odds on the road against a 5-4 team. Now they're giving one. And you know what? I like the 5-4 team.
7. You can't even call the Ravens lucky anymore -- I'd go with "freakishly lucky" or even "ridiculously blessed." They're like one of those 75-year-old golfers who ends up hitting two hole-in-ones on the same day. We haven't seen anything like this since the 2001 Bears. By the way, they got crushed in the playoffs.
8. It's official: We're going to hear from Jay Cutler before everything's said and done this season.
9. That Pats-Jets game was no fluke. The Pats don't have any big-play guys and seem leery about giving Maroney the starting job because they don't want Corey Dillon to poison the clubhouse, which is exactly what would happen, even though he's so slow at this point that CBS decided to run two commercials during his 50-yard run last weekend. So they can only score with these elaborate 12-play, 80-yard drives where everything has to go perfectly -- no tipped passes at the line, no receivers falling down, no overthrows, no holding penalties, etc. -- or else the drive gets derailed. Through 10 weeks, they've only scored 24 points outside the red zone (one field goal, three TDs), the third-lowest total in the league. Everything's a chore for them, nobody can get open downfield and Brady is pressing because he feels like he has to be perfect on every play. And they still miss Charlie Weis. Just seems like they're easy to stop. Plus, the Jets are better than people think. The division race is not over.
(By the way, I'm serious. But the best part of the previous paragraph is telling it to a Jets fan, then having them pull the "Come on, stop pulling my chain" routine. The Jets could win the Super Bowl and their fans would still be conditioned to react by saying, "I'm not getting sucked in, I'm happy we're winning but I'm not getting my hopes up, we're not that good ...")
10. New York reader Scott F. pointed this out an unforgivable error in last Friday's column: "How could you make a 'Backhanded Compliment Scale for QBs' without including the ultimate classic: 'He knows how to manage the game?'" An excellent point. My apologies to Brad Johnson, David Garrard and Damon Huard.
11. Art Shell's rebuttal to Randy Moss' negative comments this week: "You hate to hear that. You hate to see that. You're paid to play a game you've played for many years and that you love and once you hit the field, you compete. That's the way Art Shell sees it."
(Note: Bill Simmons enjoyed that quote.)
12. For some reason, Marty Schottenheimer now looks exactly like the bad guy from "Body Double," only when he was dressed up like the homicidal Indian construction worker who ended up killing the woman with a power drill. He even has the same creepy look on his face, like he's quietly organizing a murder conspiracy. I'm a little freaked out by him.
13. I have no idea who the best team is right now. Or the second-best team. Or the third-best team ...
One final note: There will be no Friday column next week because of the holidays. The Week 12 picks will run on Wednesday. Enjoy the weekend.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His book "Now I Can Die In Peace" is available in paperback.