Archive for December, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

December 31, 2009

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Happy 2010!!!



December 30, 2009

Jim Traficant is running for Congress.  Somewhere.

I sincerely hope he doesn’t pick my district, the 6th, which does include the parts of Mahoning County south of Youngstown proper.  If he runs somewhere else I can treat it as entertaining.  If he runs here it’ll just annoy the crap out of me.  And, while you wouldn’t think a convicted felon could get elected to Congress, Jim Traficant is, um, well, he’s a unique person.

Week 17 NFL TV Maps for Pittsburgh/Youngstown/Wheeling Markets

December 30, 2009

Hard to believe that another NFL season is down to its last regular season date already.  The neat thing about Week 17 is that we get treated to doubleheaders on both CBS and Fox, and this year there are a number of games with playoff implications, whether it be the wildcard situation in the AFC or the seeding situation in the NFC.    It appears that there is uniformity in the tri-state area in all 4 broadcast windows.  On CBS at 1pm will be Pittsburgh @ Miami which is the featured early game.  Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf on the call.  That is to say once again WKBN Youngstown is showing the Steelers and not the Browns, who are hosting Jacksonville at the same time.  At 1pm on Fox all local affiliates will get the Giants @ Minnesota with Kenny Albert, Moose, and Goose.  Anyone reading this in the Cleveland market should note that there is no 1pm Fox game in Cleveland because the Browns are at home on CBS but they will be able to come on at 4pm sharp with the end of an early game.  I also note that the coverage maps are already conceding the Lions will not sell out their home game w/ Chicago; eastern Michigan and NW Ohio is getting the Vikings game.  At 4:15pm all CBS affiliates are carrying Baltimore @ Oakland with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms and all local Fox affiliates will have Philadelphia @ Dallas with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.  And of course the NFL Red Zone will be on the air all afternoon with its customary continuous live whip around the leage.  Could be an especially valuable resource for Steeler fans looking to keep an eye on New England @ Houston at 1pm and Kansas City @ Denver at 4:15pm whose outcomes are also key to the Steelers playoffs hopes but not on local TV.  And the Sunday Night game on NBC is Cincinnati @ NY Jets with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.  As usual this info courtesy of and subject to change.  Enjoy the games!

Bowling Green Vandal-ized in Humanitarian Bowl

December 30, 2009

Apparently the Falcon defense thought college football games last 59:28, and not 60:00 like they actually do.  After a lax Idaho defense allowed Freddie Barnes to score on a 50 yard TD pass with 32 seconds left to give BG a 42-35 lead, Idaho ran the ensuing kickoff back to their own 39 with 26 seconds still remaining.  Should’ve been a simple matter of containing Idaho to a few short passes and defending a hail mary on the final play.  Inexcusably they allowed a deep ball to be completed to the 16, then a sliding and somewhat disputed TD reception with 4 seconds remaining.  At that point failing to prevent a 2 point conversion was practically a fait accompli.  No blitz and no one thought to cover the back of the end zone.  Game over.

That reprehensible defensive effort overshadows a fitting end to Freddie Barnes’ collegiate career; 16 catches to give him an FBS record 155 for the season.  He’s heading to the NFL, but the rest of the program is heading to an offseason of what if’s after pissing away what would have been the MAC’s first bowl win in 14 tries.  Oh well, it was a very entertaining game, perhaps the best of the bowl season thus far.  But its disappointing to see the defense look that awful in that key situation.

NFL Standings After Week 16 & Playoff Qualification Scenarios

December 29, 2009

Well, we are down to it now, only 1 game remaining as all teams will play this coming Sunday January 3rd. Below I will put the standings; please note that in the case of the AFC wildcard standings I will list them in the “if everyone wins this week” order, as the Jets are playing an opponent common to them and Denver and winning flips the final standings as opposed to how they currently are. Some standings I have seen currently have Denver 5th in the conference but I am not considering that “reality” for purposes of this posting. I will present the standings, then scenarios team-by-team with commentary below each scenario as I deem prudent. We shall start with the NFC:

1. New Orleans (clinched #1 seed)
2. Philadelphia (clinched playoff spot)
3. Minnesota (clinched division)
4. Arizona (clinched division)
5. Green Bay (clinched wildcard)
6. Dallas (clinched playoff spot)
Planning for 2010: New York, Atlanta, Carolina, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, Tampa, Detroit, St. Louis

Minnesota clinches a first-round bye:
1) MIN win + PHI loss or tie
2) MIN tie + PHI loss

Arizona clinches a first-round bye:
1) ARI win + MIN loss + PHI loss

Philadelphia clinches East division:
1) PHI win or tie

Philadelphia clinches a first-round bye:
1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie

Dallas clinches East division:
1) DAL win

Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
1) DAL win + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

The NFC is the simple conference this season. We know the 6 playoff teams, but the only seed we know is New Orleans at #1. The winner of the Dallas v Philadelphia game will win the East. If the Eagles win they will have the #2 seed. If they lose the Vikings get it. If the Vikings also lose the Cardinals get it. If everyone loses Dallas gets it. If Green Bay wins their game, or if Dallas loses, they will be the #5 seed. If Green Bay loses and Dallas wins, then Philadelphia will be the #5 seed.

Now for the AFC (get your popcorn ready)

1. Indianapolis (clinched #1 seed)
2. San Diego (clinched #2 seed)
3. New England (clinched division)
4. Cincinnati (clinched division)
5. New York
6. Baltimore
0 games back: Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh
1 game back & alive: Miami, Jacksonville
Planning for 2010: Tennessee, Oakland, Buffalo, Cleveland, Kansas City

A quick note on New England and Cincinnati before we dive into the wildcard situation. A tie between those two for the 3rd and 4th seeds, either at 11-5 or 10-6, would come down to strength of victory. Coming into this Sunday the Patriots vanquished foes have 4 more wins than Cincy’s, which is a definite, though I don’t believe, insurmountable, advantage. If the Bengals opponents do stage a rally and tie that number the next tiebreaker is strength of schedule. I didn’t do the math but my guess is that is advantage Pats also.

Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening. Jacksonville and Miami cannot make the playoffs with a tie.

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot:
1) BAL win

NY Jets clinch a playoff spot:
1) NYJ win

In the case of one of the five 8-7 teams tying their contest that can basically work for them so long as at least 3 of the 4 other teams lose, as 8-7-1 is obviously better than 8-8. If 2 or more of the 5 teams both tie their contest . . . Heaven help us.

For New York and Baltimore its simple. Win and in, lose and out. Losing for the Jets means they don’t claim their tiebreaking advantage on Denver and they would be behind the Pittsburgh/Miami winner. Losing for Baltimore also puts them behind the Pittsburgh/Miami winner and Denver in the multi-way tie that would ensue.

Denver clinches a playoff spot:
1) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
3) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + HOU win
4) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
5) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + HOU win
6) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss
7) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
8.) PIT loss + BAL loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
9) PIT loss + HOU loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
10) MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

Yes that is 10 different scenarios you see there. The major complications are that at 9-7 they, the Jets, and Ravens would have 7-5 conference records. They lose a tie to New York on common games record and lose a head-to-head tie with Baltimore and they don’t win the multi-way tie. Also, if they are tied with either Baltimore or Pittsburgh straight-up for the 6th seed they lose those ties on head-to-head. They need to be one of 2 (or fewer) teams at 9-7 or be in a 3 way tie with Houston and Pittsburgh, as they win that multi-way tie for 5th seed on conference record. Failing that, they can win a tie at 8-8 for the 6th seed in any combination of teams that would arise from 3 of the 4 other 8-7 teams losing provided Jacksonville is not involved, or if the tie at 8-8 is for both 5th and 6th, as in that case the Jaguars would be 5th then them 6th.

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot:
1) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie
2) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
3) PIT win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Relieved to see the official NFL scenarios agree with what I posted 24 hours ago! The Steelers get in in any scenario where they are one of two (or fewer) teams at 9-7 or where it can break that they are tied head-up with Denver for 6th. In scenario 1 Baltimore wins a tie with Denver for 5th then the Steelers do the same for 6th. In scenario 2 New York wins the 3-way tie for 5th and then the Steelers edge Denver for 6th. Substitute Houston for Denver in scenario 3 and the Steelers are the 5th seed.

Houston clinches a playoff spot:
1) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + DEN loss or tie
3) HOU win + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Houston gets in if they are one of 2 (or fewer) teams at 9-7 or if they are tied for the 6th seed with Pittsburgh, a tie they win on common games record. In scenario 1 Denver wins the multi-way tie for 5th then Houston edges Pittsburgh for 6th. In scenario 2 Baltimore is the 5th seed on conference record then Houston edges Pittsburgh for 6th. In scenario 3 New York is the 5th seed on conference record and then Houston edges Pittsburgh for 6th.   If all 3 other teams lose Houston is the 5th seed (see Pittsburgh scenario 3).

Jacksonville clinches a playoff spot:
1) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss
2) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + NYJ loss
3) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
4) JAC win + PIT loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
5) JAC win + NYJ loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + BAL loss

This is simpler than it looks. If Jacksonville wins and 4 of the 5 teams currently 8-7 lose, the Jaguars are the 6th seed. They win all ties at 8-8 as they would have a 7-5 conference record after being ahead of Houston (and Tennessee) on divisional tiebreaking, whereas anyone else involved would be 6-6 or worse in conference games. Their head-to-head loss to Miami is not a worry as they cannot be in a head-up tie with the Dolphins. If all five 8-7 teams lose the Jags are the 5th seed and Denver would be the #6 (see Denver scenario 10 above).

Miami clinches a playoff spot:
1) MIA win + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

They need what Jacksonville needs (winning obviously involves Pittsburgh losing as they play them) plus they need Jacksonville to lose. Denver losing doesn’t help them, but nor does it hurt them. The Broncos would be seeded 5th either way, but on strength of victory they win the multi-way tie for 6th.

Hope that makes things clearer for you! Enjoy the games!

Potters Battle Hard, Lose to Ursuline by 4

December 29, 2009

62-58 was the final score at Potter Fieldhouse in the championship game of the Potter Holiday Classic. But I think it important to note just how much better this team looks than it did 3 weeks ago. Marky Thompkins is a scoring force; they may very well have won tonight if he had not fouled out with 4 minutes remaining. And he’s only a sophomore; by his senior season he will be making All State lists. Jason Dickey is playing a complimentary role to him but he’s more than capable of stepping up also. Guys like Travis White and Christian Kyle are making huge strides off the bench. In general the team is playing with much better cohesion. They are only 2-4 right now but I look for a strong 2nd half of the season for the blue & white.

Steelers Playoff Scenarios

December 27, 2009

This is a quickie, as I am trying to watch the Sunday Night game and need to go to work in the morning. I apologize if I omit or miscalculate something. And I plan to have the fuller view of both conferences posted at the usual time Tuesday night.

After today’s narrow win over Baltimore (I would like to thank the Ravens team that played the 3rd quarter for promptly disappearing again) the Steelers are 8-7 and still alive in the AFC wildcard race. Currently they are ranked worst of the 5 teams tied at 8-7, w/ New York, Baltimore, Denver, and Houston being above them. It is important to keep in mind that they lose a tie to Baltimore within the division, so the only way they can get in if the Ravens win Sunday is if Baltimore is the #5 seed, leaving room for the Steelers to be the #6. Pittsburgh wins a head-to-head tie with Denver but they could lose a multi-way tie with others b/c the Broncos have a better conference record. They lose a tie with New York on conference record and a tie with Houston on common games record. But I think (leaving ties out of the equation) there are 3 different combinations of results that would work for the Steelers. Of course these all include Pittsburgh winning:

1) New York and Houston lose. In this case, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Denver are 9-7. The Ravens win a tie with Denver for the 5th seed on head-to-head, and then the Steelers win a tie with Denver for the 6th seed on the same basis.

2) Houston and Baltimore lose. In this case, New York, Pittsburgh, and Denver are tied. In the battle for the 5th seed Pittsburgh is dropped with a 6-6 conference record, while New York and Denver are 7-5 so those two are re-evaluated as a 2 team tie. They didn’t play each other so it goes to common games. New York wins that tie 4-1 to 3-2 for Denver. Then Pittsburgh wins the tie with Denver for the 6th seed on head-to-head.

3) New York, Baltimore, and Denver lose. In this case, Houston and Pittsburgh are the only 9-7 teams. The Texans are seeded 5th and Pittsburgh 6th. It is important in this scenario that Denver lose, as in a 3 way tie with Houston and Pittsburgh Denver would be seeded 5th on superior conference record, then as I said above Houston wins the tie for 6th.

And yes, there are ways Pittsburgh could get in as the 5th seed. If New York, Houston, and Baltimore all lose then the Steelers are the 5th seed, either head-to-head on Denver or as being the only 9-7 team and chaos sorts a many-way tie at 8-8 possibly involving Jacksonville (or not).

Like I said, if I forgot or miscalculated something, my apologies.

Catholic Hospitals Break with Bishops

December 26, 2009

From today’s New York Times:

The cynical way to look at this is the hospitals are willing to be flexible b/c more insured patients means they’ll get paid for their services more often. But I think it makes good ethical sense to live w/ the Senate language, speaking as a Catholic. I dislike abortion but take a less puritanical view than the Conference of Bishops. What they should work towards is a legal ban if they can get one. In the meantime its a legal procedure. We shouldn’t use disdain for it to hold up reforms that could help millions of Americans, including many uninsured pregnant women that may not be getting proper care for their unborn fetuses and children whose parents don’t have healthcare. I am sure those are larger numbers than the number of fetuses that get aborted and, to quote Mr. Spock, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Paul Brown, Great American Put Hamilton County in Financial Bind

December 26, 2009

From yesterday’s New York Times:

Of course, a lot of ancillary revenue would have been lost if the Bengals and/or Reds had not gotten new deals and had chosen to bolt town for greener pastures.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2009

By Clement Clarke Moore:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”