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Just Call Me "Scoop" Stampler From Now On

The other day I came to a crossroads. It was either do some homework for one of the five different classes I've been neglecting like they were Britney Spears' children or watch a Spurs preseason game on tape delay.

I think we all know how that played out.

So yes, for the first time in my life I watched an NBA game in October. It's been so long since the Spurs have played, I couldn't even remember if what I was seeing should make me happy or sad. I mean, yeah they had like 15 turnovers in the game, but is that a bad number for them? There was some sloppy defense from the big men, but isn't there always? I just don't know what to think or feel. Is this what being stupid is like?

That about sums up watching (or even worse, paying for) a preseason right there: Is this what being stupid is like?

Anyway, here are some notes/observations/predictions I made and feel totally comfortable with on the basis of one preseason game. Who needs perspective? I want to work for ESPN some day.

1. Man, that French guy sure does love to shoot. And shoot. And shoot. Now most people would say, "Dude, relax, he was just trying to show off for the home folks." I'm not so optimistic. I think TP will average at least four more shot attempts than Tim, the next closest Spur this year. And his ratio of offensive to defense effort on the floor will tilt to Iversonian levels I'm afraid.

2. Manu looked healthy! Running, jumping, blocking, dunking! For 20 minutes. And then came the inevitable back injury. I'm as shocked as you are. At this point I might as well just call him Manu Westbrook. Or El Gimpo. Might have to make it a poll.

3. It looks like Tim is coming around on the idea of playing the five spot. It's really not a big deal since the only center in the Western Conference is Yao. And if we want to win, we're not gonna do it on the backs of Francisco Elson and Jackie Butler. Pop's gonna play his best 7 or 8 players in May and June until they drop and that'll be that.

4. That reminds me, you know how the Spurs have built their reputation as a great defensive team? Um... that's over now. Tony won't guard anybody. Manu will have his olè moments. Bruce will be another step slower. And Francisco Elson's defense will have me openly pining for the days of `Sho Nesterovic by December. Did y'all see that one French dude cram it on him on Thursday? Well that's gonna rinse, lather, repeat about a thousand times this year. We have to outscore people this year folks, that's all there is to it.

5. That reminds me - I think Bruce's minutes will drop this year, to around the 27 range. The defensive rules are so harsh these days; the league has almost made Bowen obsolete. And without a shot blocker behind him, he's not that effective anyway. Findog's PT however will go up, up, up. Probably his final year here, his last shot at a ring, so we're gonna squeeze every ounce out of him.

6. Another bold playing time prediction... Fabricio Oberto will get more minutes than Elson or Butler. At least for the first 30 games or so. He's the only big on our roster besides Tim who is remotely interested in rebounding or defense. Not sure if it'll last all year though. Pop will get tired of him being in foul trouble all the time.

7. One more... Matt Bonner will average more minutes per game than Robert Horry. Until the playoffs anyway. Not too hard to figure which of the two will give more effort for the first six months. Why yes, I am down on RoHo, thanks for asking.

8. Until further notice, Bones Barry is our backup point. Only took Coach Wino Zitface three years to figure that one out. Beno Udrih is hurt again, so I don't know if he'll ever play again for us. But on a positive note, I heard he's dating Sheryl Swoopes.

9. I don't care if Tony and Eva have broken up or not. I don't care. I don't. I really don't. I don't. I'm telling you I don't. I don't. Okay? Are we clear on this? Cos I really don't. No.

10. I don't know how to casually mention this, so here it goes... you heard of Dime Magazine? The one about basketball that basically rotates its cover between AI, BronBron, Flash, and the guy in LA who had to buy his wife a 4 million dollar ring because she wouldn't give him anal?

Well, apparently I'm going to be in it for the preview issue coming out soon. I was sent an e-mail by one of their editors a couple of months ago telling me that they were going to do a feature about team previews from a blogger point of view, and that they had liked what I'd written last year. They asked if I was interested.
Obviously I said yes. They wanted a blurb between 50 and 100 words, and of course I sent them something 150 words long because I ramble. I ramble a lot. I just ramble, ramble, and ramble some more. I spend all day rambling. Have you noticed how much I ramble?

Anyway, I didn't hear back from them, so I figured whatever I wrote (and I have no godly idea what I wrote anymore) didn't go over well. Then yesterday I got another e-mail and the guy said to send him my address and he'd send over a free issue with my little Spurs preview in it. So go buy Dime Magazine everybody and check it out. Scoop Jackson used to work there and he's...

Well it's really a swell magazine.

I'm hoping this isn't some genius ploy by Dime to get new subscribers. Like, if they promise to publish 100 words you've written about basketball you have to buy a three year subscription or something. Mainly I'm looking at it as a way to get on Mom's good graces for a month or two and maybe shove it in the faces of the sports guys at the Daily Aztec who are total fucktards.

Who knows, maybe it'll get more hits on this site, or maybe Dime will ask me to do more in the future. I have all sorts of questions I'd like to ask them. Like is their magazine called "Dime" everywhere in America, or is it titled "Assist" in like Montana and Iowa and Nebraska? Do they have a swimsuit issue featuring team dancers and groupies? Do they airbrush tattoos onto the arms and necks of guys on the cover if they don't have enough of them already? And most importantly, will I see an actual "dime" out of this?

Stay tuned.

I guess the other big story this week is the Armageddon Bowl coming in Philly between the Eagles and Cowboys. Stallworth is gonna be out for my guys, and our RB, Brian Ginobili, is questionable at best. Still, I think we're gonna win it, and fairly easily.

Why? Because the league offices will make sure we do, that's why.

Let's face it the big shots are just as interested in putting T.O. in his place as the Eagles are. There has been a lot of negative press about the NFL lately with all the Haynesworth stomping incident and all the arrests to and whatnot. The last thing the league needs is an Artest type riot on the field to happen if the Cowboys win and T.O. has a big game.

So the Eagles will get A LOT of calls. McNabb's linemen will be allowed to hold as long as they have to make him look good and our defensive backs will be allowed to give a very liberal interpretation of the "5 yard chuck rule" on Owens. Bill Parcells won't even bitch about it afterward. He's a smart guy, he knows the deal. Games like this are the reasons he wanted to cut Owens in preseason. They've lost before kickoff. I'm positive in his heart of hearts Parcells has penciled this in as an "L" on the team calendar already.

Not that I think my team needs the help by the way. I absolutely think we're good enough to beat these guys, especially at home. I'm not telling you I WANT the favoritism. I'm just saying it's GOING TO happen. Don't worry if this sounds unfair and casts the NFL in a poor light. The league will pay us back the week after when we play the Saints in the KatrinaDome. We're not gonna have a chance to win that one, believe me. Conspiracies aren't just for David Stern's league, kids.

Speaking of corruption, I lost money betting illegally last week. As long as gambling exists, the league could be filled with mass murderers and people will still watch. It's sick but it's true, you all know it. I could act just as haughty and self-righteous about the Eagles as I do the Spurs because so far they've managed to avoid the police blotter this year, but frankly, I know it's only a matter of time.
You can't be all that right in the head to collide full speed into people for a living.

So far the pattern has been odd numbered weeks good, even numbered weeks bad, so it's time to get paid tomorrow. Svetlana my future Russian bride won't wait forever.

Last week was so poor for yours truly (9-5 winners and losers, 7-7 vs. the spread) that even the insipid Peter King edged me out by going 7-6-1. That asshole keeps picking scores to finish right on the line so he can tie, like he did last week with KC-SF and twice in week 1. What an annoying twat. Just pick `em one way or the other, huh?

Anyway, he's 27-31-2. I think. He might be 26-30-4. I'm not sure. He is wrong about the league though. Often. And he's got the Jared from Subway syndrome. He was fat, now he's just ugly. And that show he's on, Inside the NFL on HBO... UN. FUCKING. WATCHABLE. Cris Carter may in fact be the creepiest man on television.

The Sports Guy isn't doing any better. He went 6-8 last week to bring his record, by my count, to 32-27-1. He says he's 29-29-2. I'm all confused. I guess his spreads are different or something. He's on his way to being humiliated by the Sports Gal who was a smokin' 10-4 to boost her record to 36-23-1. Or 35-23-2.

Whatever. All I know is I'm 42-18 picking the winners and 33-26-1 vs. the number and I intend to improve upon it. No way I'm letting some hoochiemama from Boston get the better of me.

Here are the picks...

Tennessee at Indianapolis (-18.5) Our first truly insane spread of the year. The Colts are almost three touchdown favorites just because it's Vince Young's 2nd career start? I don't like it. Too much drama with the Corey Simon situation and there are probably some guys on the team pissed off because the front office doesn't want to pay him. Besides, coach Dungy probably wants to get their running game going in the absence of Titan DT Albert Haynesworth and take it easy on Peyton for a day. Colts to win, Titans to cover.

Washington at NY Giants (-4.5) I'm going to make this very simple. I picked the Giants to finish 2nd in the NFC East and to be a Wild Card team. I picked the Redskins to absolutely stink. This game will be the last chance for either of these clubs to prove that I'm not a moron. I'm also hopeful that the bye week helped New York get some of their pass coverage issues ironed out because so far that secondary has been horrendous. Giants to win and cover.

Detroit at Minnesota (-6.5) You've gotta laugh at the hapless Lions. When their defense is flying around, their offense can't move the ball a lick. Now lately their offense has gotten on track, playing Martzball, and the D is getting torched. Didn't I tell you those safeties were terrible? Huh? Huh? Still, I don't think Minny's cookie cutter offense is good enough to blow away anybody right now. There's just too many drops and too many running plays going nowhere. Vikings to win, Lions to cover.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-7) Rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski makes his first career start for the Bucs, so expect them to keep it simple with a lot of runs to Schwinn Williams. The Saints showed against the Falcons that they can stuff the run when they sell out on it completely, and I see no reason why they can't do it again. Saints to win and cover.

St. Louis at Green Bay (+3) I give up. It appears, in just this one case; that Simmons was right and I was wrong. The Rams are definite WC contenders and might even give the Hawks a run for the NFC West crown. Their schedule is just too easy and they're taking advantage of it where as Arizona is not. I totally expect them to beat up on Green Bay, even at Lambeau. The Monday Night game was a lot closer than it looked. The Eagles got 0 points on three first half possessions in the red zone. The Pack could've very easily had 50 hung on them last week. Rams to win and cover.

Miami at New England (-10) God does Culpepper suck. There have been mumblings that maybe Joey Harrington will start here. First game for a new team and it's at Foxboro? Thanks a bunch coach. And of course I took a hit in the wallet underestimating the Pats last week. I'll never learn I guess. Some how, some way, with my luck picking Fins games, I'm going to get both of these wrong, you watch.
Patriots to win, Dolphins to cover.

Buffalo at Chicago (-10) Aren't these two the exact same team? Good defense, good backs, young QB? I'm supposed to give Grossman 10 points because he throws a pretty deep ball? Nuh uh. I don't care if they look like the best team in the NFL, it's only Week 5 and they're still Chicago. Bears to win, Bills to cover.

Cleveland at Carolina (-8.5) Slowly but surely, the Panthers are getting their shit together. They would have had a much easier win over New Orleans than the score suggested if the zebras called an impartial game. Seriously, the Saints are getting every call this year, it's gone beyond ridiculous. Maverick home games vs. the Spurs weren't this much of a farce. I know everybody feels bad for the people of New Orleans, and they should, but where's the integrity? Sorry, I'm just rehearsing my rant for two weeks from now. Where was I? Oh yeah...Carolina is good again. Panthers to win and cover.

NY Jets at Jacksonville (-6.5) I think the Jags D must have had one seriously grumpy week of practice after that abomination in Washington last Sunday. I know the Jets are awfully spunky, but I can't see their 30 carry gameplan working out quite as well here. In the battle of the Marshall QBs, the pupil will get the better of the mentor, thanks to a better supporting cast. Jaguars to win and cover.

Kansas City at Arizona (+3.5) I'm thoroughly convinced the Cardinals defense didn't watch any film the week before of the Saints-Falcons game in their preparation for the Atlanta game. I would need video evidence to change my mind and even then you can't prove to me the guys weren't sleeping. How can RE Bertrand Berry allow Mike Vick to bootleg left 8 times and never contain the backside once? Is he the stupidest man on the planet? Can he even spell his own name? Ask anyone who knows me; nothing gets me more incensed than a team that lets Vick run left. Absolutely nothing. IT'S ALL HE CAN DO. Throw in a rookie QB making his first start for Arizona, and I'm taking my chances on Herm Edwards on the road. Chiefs to win and cover.

Oakland at San Francisco (-3.5) I'll be betting against Oakland every week until they give me a reason not to. Blowing an 18 point lead at half to Cleveland at home is a joke. I don't care that the Niners lost a billion to nothing last week. At least the A's are going well. And they don't even have to deal with the Yankees in the ALCS. Niners to win and cover.

Cowboys at Eagles (-1.5) If there is a God. Eagles to win and cover.

Pittsburgh at San Diego (-3) I know I'm probably going to lose this one, but Christ, I haven't picked an underdog to win outright yet, and it's only happened 22 times in four weeks already so far. I mean really, what underdog would you feel comfortable picking to win so this week? Arizona? Detroit? Green Bay? Maybe Washington, I guess. But I'm not crazy, am I? Plus Martyball makes me giggle. I wonder if some professional gambler ever ran into Schottenheimer one day, gave him a hug, and whispered in his ear, "I love you man, don't ever change." I would so do this. Steelers to win and cover.

Baltimore at Denver (-4) While on the surface it looks like both quarterbacks will be feasted upon by the opposing defenses, I can't help but think that the Ravens luck has to run out sooner or later and they're going to actually have to drop a game before they pull their heads out of their asses. They've been playing like crap for three weeks and they don't seem to care. Denver to win and cover.