Archive for September, 2012

Mizzou Alumni Homecoming Weekend 101: Back to Basics

Posted: September 25, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in Misc.
Tags: , , ,

 

Last year was about selling it; this year is about affirming it. And make no doubt about it, Mizzou Homecoming is legit as it gets now. Last year we rang in the 100th in a major way, as anybody that made their way over to the corner of College and Stadium knows. Now it’s time for 101, and to find a way to take it up another notch.

The point was made last year: you make it to Homecoming early and you’re still running behind in the kickin it. From as early as Thursday night, it’s going down. It’s college the way it was meant to be: sans all those annoying books and telephone support jobs. It is pure partying, survival to party again and then the push to make it to home for work….on Tuesday. That’s HC at both its finest and most aspirin and Gatorade infused.

It’s time again to bring the mainstays back and push the folks on the fence off it towards CoMO. Last year, we had at rough count, about 100 folks come out throughout Friday night and all of Saturday for the official, unofficial Homecoming movement. For the old vets coming back, you already know what it’s going to be (and there’s a refresher below for our more mileage n’ alcohol run down minds). For our younger and first time Alums, this is what you need to be checking for.

 

****FRIDAY****

Straight off the Highway, Into the Fryer – WE AT TROPS (Downtown, 5-8): You know what this is, so get your first one in early. I know the one on the south is more popular, but we’re at the one downtown so the night can be close for the night’s events….

Checking out the scene – Downtown Pub Crawl (8 – until): A lot has changed in CoMO, but one good thing is there’s never been more places to get it in at. We’re going to be getting space at a few of the new and old spots downtown, and make some short appearances in all of em. Catch up and keep up if you can.

Late Night Shift – Eats: I don’t care if it’s Pickleman’s, Gumby’s or La Siesta, nourishment is on deck by then. We’re taking over a late night eats spot (you can catch me in the almighty El Rancho), and seeing how and where the night ends up (afterset is strong possibility, but the set isn’t getting burned up this early).

****SATURDAY****

DAY TRIPPER PART II – All-Day Tailgate (9 AM until the Coals go out, Corner of College and Stadium): The school may be new to the SEC, but the tailgate game been on its level (and way before the team decides if they want to be too).

We out there, early, and if you know what’s best for you, you’ll be right behind us. The ribs, fish, wings and brisket coming out first, with the hot dogs, brats and chips next, so meet the feasting horn first, and let the beers and vibe carry the rest of the way. There’s a new twist coming out this year, in pure throwback style: a daytime Battle of the Punches running all-day as well.

So if you’re in town already, be up and early. If you’re pulling into town on Saturday, head straight to the gate. We’re taking over the whole corner, right in front of the Hampton on the edge of campus. But, since this is an Alumni gathering, and I know for a fact that our college years are treating some of well, don’t be to put in! All contributions are accepted, and needed, in order to max out the event.

Night Trip – The Vault (9:00 to 1:30): Last year, the surprise of the weekend was the kamikaze move of the weekend. The Vault, underneath the old Tiger Hotel on 8th Street, turned up so much, it damn near stole the spotlight of HC weekend, so much so we gotta take the party back there to end this one right. Wind the weekend down in spot you can catch a table with your folks, get a dance if you got the legs for it or even hold the bar down if somehow you still have it in you. This time around, we’ll turn the music up, without having our shoes stuck to the floor in the process.

The Vault is UNDERNEATH the Tiger Hotel, on 8th Street downtown.

 

So there it is, Homecoming 101. We got up for 100 like never before, so why fall off the next time around? If you’ve got a hotel, I guarantee you won’t want to see much of it. If you don’t have one, you won’t need one. If you’ve got questions about what to expect, ask somebody who did it and you’ll know right away that college was great, but the after party is just as good.

If you’ve got any questions, follow @CheapSeatFan, @FranchICE06, @DaRealMattOates, @Tweet_on_Deez, @IDOKICKS @Gator_Bell and @B_Wash5 for the immediate word. And if you’re going to be there, make it known below in the comments. Get the movement going early!

 

For game tickets vs. Kentucky, check out Stubhub here: http://www.stubhub.com/search/doSearch?searchStr=Faurot+Field+Memorial+Stadium&pageNumber=1&resultsPerPage=50&searchMode=event&start=0&rows=50&geo_exp=1

For a hotel info, check back regularly with Priceline and Hotwire. Rooms open up even as late as the week of Homecoming (I landed one for $77 two days before last year).

Send contributions for the Alumni Tailgate via Paypal to Whitener.Matt@gmail.com

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It’s Thursday Night Football time again, a concept I’m really down for by the way (save for Cee Lo screaming at me like he’s lost more of his mind than his hair) . It isn’t quite the big game overkill the NBA can be, but it’s a nice bridge from Monday Night until the College FB takes over on Saturday.

At any rate, it’s time for the pick and it’s time to keep the perfect Thursday alive. After opening up right last Thursday with the Packers over the Bears, let’s turn it up again for a real battle of the QBs down in Carolina…

Eli may only be able to look for himself to pull it out with all the MIA Giants tonight.

New York Giants (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-1): It’s Eli vs. Cam, in what appears to be the Super Bowl Champs taking on what was the ultimate one man show a year ago. But things have changed, and in a hurry. The Giants are rocked with injuries right now, Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw, David Diehl, the Statue of Liberty, a few bridges in Central Park….bout everything out of NY is beat up, and they are actually coming in thinner than the Panthers. Having already struggled against the deep ball, they are playing the wrong squad in the Panthers who are finally developing a varied attack in open space, while still employing the league’s ultimate weapon in Cam.

The Giants are on their heels a bit, and the Panthers have one hell of a knockout punch driving them. The Panthers win, and wound more than just the G-Men’s bones and joints in the process.

The Cardinals’ War Hero Returns

Posted: September 18, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Chris Carpenter is coming back. Now granted, that’s not a new story; it’s been played over and over again since March in a variety of both minor and extreme circumstances. But now there’s finally not a date for a bullpen session or a simulated game or, thankfully, a surgery, there’s a date for a real start in Major League Baseball action. And there’s nothing this collection of St. Louis Cardinals could use more, because no matter how infrequently he may have played over the years, the quality is greater than the quantity, and the representation is everything. The Cardinals’ greatest warrior has returned.

This year’s team has been one that has alternated between establishing a new identity and searching for a lost one. From a focus on what’s gone turning into what’s wrong, there’s never been the one stake in the ground that said forget everything else, this is who “WE” are. Mostly because the only man that was capable of doing that could only enforce hope instead of his will.

On Friday afternoon, Carpenter will go from a beacon of hope into a truly guiding light. What’s to come on the field is an unknown. The 37-year-old has proved he’s got the chops to be game ready, but as was the case with Adam Wainwright early in his return, showing, and then proving, can be very different worlds. He’ll have to deal with having a mind that’s sharper than his stuff. He’ll also have to deal with a competitiveness that could overcome his approach. Making his return in nowhere less than Wrigley Field is assuredly a way to make sure he returns to an environment that matches how he feels inside.

It’s taken awhile, through the rigors of a season that was under an even closer microscope than usual. Carpenter’s return signals a resolve that the team has sorely lacked. Everything he’s gone through just to turn in whatever the outcome of his effort is on Friday is the statement of the year from the team, at just the right time. Friday and Saturday will mark the first time that Carpenter and Wainwright have pitched on back-to-back days in nearly two calendar years. What that symbolizes, the all hands on deck nature of that happening

Who knows what’s going to happen. It could be the push over the top, the momentum that gets another unstoppable boulder moving into the playoffs, just as easily as it could be the last punch thrown by a group of fighters that have lost their last leg. However, with Carp back one thing is certain: it will be a fight that goes the distance. No matter how pretty or ugly it is, this will be a team that is remembered for at least pushing it to the limit. That’s a spirit of competitiveness that can’t be lit by anybody who wears the Birds on Bat except for old number 29.

For more on Carpenter on the field and the Cardinals fight to the finish, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

The CHEAT SHEET in the CHEAP SEATS – Week 2 (pt 2)

Posted: September 16, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , ,

RG III blew up on the scene like I (didn’t) know he would. Time to head to the city he nearly landed in for week 2.

 

Week one had a few surprises for my initial call. There was no way I saw RGIII arriving the way he did, and even the 49ers showing up how they did was a big surprise. However, for the most part I made out well in week one.  The Rams, Cowboys and Seahawks were surprising effective, win or loss. However, I need to see more out of the Eagles, Saints and Jets this week. Bring it to the middle, although as you’ll see…this isn’t the week for one of them to do it. Yet.

This week has already started out well, with the Packers making prediction #1 ring true, so the hope of the perfect week is still alive. Here’s how the week 2 of 17 will play out.

Last Week: 10-5

Season: 11-5

 

Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1): KC’s defense is beat up already, and the Bills are suffering from a few crucial injuries as well in Fred Jackson and David Nelson, but Ryan Fitzpatrick still be able to exploit the deep defense for a Bills win.

Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1): A rebound week for the Bengals, who looked solid on O, but porous on D vs. the Ravens on Monday. These Browns are not the Ravens, and it’s the perfect O for Cincy to work the defensive kinks out again. Bengals win.

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1): Adrian Peterson put on in a way that only he could in his first game action in over a year. The Colts D is still rebuilding, and he should have another strong day this week. The Vikes will surprisingly open up 2-0 with this win.

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at New England Patriots (1-0): The Cardinals held out to win a last second win in week one and even got some inspirational play out of Kevin Kolb as a late plug in. Tom Brady and his 11th home debut are on deck this week, and he’s yet to exploit the full potential of his offense yet. That should take place this week in a Patriots rout.

Oakland Raiders (0-1) at Miami Dolphins (0-1): There’s not much to get excited about from these Dolphins, and Carson Palmer should be able to pick his shots as he sees them all day. Raiders win.

Tampa Buccaneers (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1): If Josh Freeman gets his line to hold, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams could definitely put up numbers on a shaky looking Giants secondary. But Eli Manning and company will definitely put up a big number on the board, and rebound to 1-1. Giants win.

Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1): Baltimore kicked in on Monday night, and didn’t even have to fully unleash Ray Rice to do it. The Eagles on the other hand survived around four picks into a last second W. That chance won’t be there this week, as the Ravens put this one away early.

New Orleans Saints (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-1): The Saints got blindsided by the Skins last week, in a big upset. They face a team this week with a similar type of attack and a stronger D. The Saints interim regime will start getting some pressure this week, after the Panthers win.

Houston Texans (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1): Jags looked better to start the year than they finished it last year, and MJD finally got some practice in this week. Too bad the Texans await all of this progress and an inevitable setback waits. Texans win.

Washington Redskins (1-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-1): RGIII made a debut that looked exactly like he did at Baylor, although it was versus an NFL Playoff team. The opposite awaits in the Rams this week, but an injury to Pierre Garcon, as well as a Rams defense that played much better in Detroit await, and the surprise win of the week for the Rams as well.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-1): The Cowboys looked as impressive as any offense in week one, but the Seahawks defense showed its preseason effort was no fluke. This game will be closer than it would seem, but the Cowboys have too many weapons. Boys win.

New York Jets (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1): The Jets offense scored as many points last week as many assumed they would this month. The Steelers ran into a vintage Peyton Manning last week, and still weren’t embarrassed on D. With Ryan Clark back and a home debut in store, the Steelers get right this week and win it.

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at San Diego Chargers (1-0): The Chargers tossed the ball around well last week, and will be able to stretch the field with ease against these Titans. And they’ll also grab an easy win.

Detroit Lions (1-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-0): Another tough offense awaits the Niners in week two, fresh off a big win in Lambeau. Megatron will show his foot injury was overplayed, and have a big day, but Alex Smith will counter by showing the new balanced Niner O is the real deal. SF wins.

Denver Broncos (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0): For a change, the best game of the week, or at least the most exciting, should be the last one. Peyton came back like he never left in week one, while Matt Ryan broke out a Falcons offense that looked to be ready to overwhelm anybody in its way. This will be a high scoring affair, but the Falcons have been one of the best home teams in football the last three years, and they’ll show why on Monday. Falcons win.

This is the short version, but I had to get my pick in before this newfangled week 2 early kickoff….

 

Chicago Bears (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-1): The Pack took a solid loss to start the season up, but still stunning because #1) it was at Lambeau, and #2) it was the Packers. They turnaround with not much better of a break, catching their oldest rival in the Bears, who now feature a high powered offense (never, ever, once, ever been said in history about them) with plenty off new toys. It’s going to be rough, and  it may take the full four quarters to squab out, but the Pack pull even at home and a fired up, yet constantly cool, Aaron Rodgers looks masterful in the process. The Packers defend their house.

 

Follow me tonight on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan for in-game commentary, sponsored in part by Captain Morgan & the Red Baron.

The CHEAT SHEET in the CHEAP SEATS – NFL Week 1 Picks

Posted: September 9, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , , ,

The league’s best player (and mustache) vs. the league’s best defense to open the year. I’ll take it.

 

America’s greatest fall festival is back, as the NFL kicks off it’s 2012 campaign this morning. While I haven’t had time to write much in the way of previews, predictions or anything much off the diamond this year (where I’ll actually be during most of these games), there’s always time to make the weekly prediction sprint around the league.

I missed the Dallas/New York game, so I can’t count that one, so the season will be short one in the end.

 

Season Record: 0-0

Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears: Andrew Luck has a tough spot to debut in, but he’ll get plenty of chances to air it out, as the Bears should run up the scoreboard, air and ground. Bears win.

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns: The Browns enter the regular season still working on roster like it’s the preseason. But it’s go time now, and the Eagles have a lot to prove this year. They’ll get started today. Eagles win.

New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans: The Pats weren’t the steadiest they’ve ever been in the preseason, but Titans don’t have the pass rush to shake them. Patriots win.

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs: Going to be closer than it would seem, if only because of Arrowhead. But it’s the regular season and the Falcons have more firepower. Falcons win.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings: This should be a matchup of the two of the best backs the game has in Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, but with both curbed for the most part, it won’t be much of note. But the Vikings still have a bit more, so they open with a W, and some hope from AP. Vikings win.

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints: NOLA isn’t the most hospitable place to visit, football-wise, on a usual week. However, with the Saints reveling from the justice handed down via the overturned suspensions this week, and emotions at a high, expect a rough intro for Robert Griffin III. Saints win.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: The Bills bettered their rush and are a team that has started quick out the gates the last few years. The Jets have been more circus than serious so far. Bills spring one on the road to start up the year fast again. Bills win.

St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions: The Rams are starting two rookies on the outside at corner. They’ll get baptized into their post-college life by Megatron. But at least it can go nowhere but up from here, even if their record doesn’t. Lions win.

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans: With or without Arian Foster, this should be the beating of the week. Texans roll and Matt Schaub makes a triumphant return from injury. Texas win.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers: Game of the week easy, with the league’s toughest defense taking on its most dynamic offense. This will be a tough go for both sides, but Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau isn’t what you want to try to start a year off that ended so startlingly for the Niners back in January. The Pack wins late in the fourth.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: The two teams with the most shocking QB decisions of the preseason tie up in week one. While it isn’t an attractive matchup on paper, this could be still be a tight one. Seahawks pull it off late.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Bucs: Cam Newton had a hell of a debut as a rook, and his sophomore start shouldn’t be too bad either. The Bucs aren’t anything exciting on D, while the Panthers could have one of the most improved offenses in the L. Panthers win out.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: It’s time to see what it’s going to be regarding Peyton Manning’s return, and the Steelers are about as gritty of a test as you’ll get. But these Steelers are slowing and shorthanded on D, running by committee and still jelling at receiver. For all of these reasons, the Broncos get the W.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are problems at home, major problems. And the Bengals will have to deal with being a target instead of a surprise this year. The Monday Night stage awaits them, and a 0-1 start does too. Ravens walk.

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders: The Chargers are without Ryan Mathews (or anything else on the ground) and are walking into an extra-hostile Oakland for the Monday Night week one finale. The Raider defense has some issues, and Philip Rivers can stretch the field with or without a run support. Chargers win.

There’s been a lot of stories to be had this season, but what’s really ran the course of the season is the youth movement that’s being served. Yet another highlight of it was served when the Chicago Cubs made a long-term deal with Starlin Castro, putting away the 22-year-old until nearly his 30th birthday last week. That follows on the heels of the rise of the Washington Nationals, Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates, all pushed by young pace-setters that have shook up the establishment in both leagues this year.

However, when it’s broken down, who really are the best of the best when it comes to baseball’s precocious youngsters? While previous early bloomers such as Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Justin Verlander are moving out of the youth movement stage and into perennial standard bearers, the more recently debuted ballplayers are arguably making the biggest impact of any age group across the game. So in my most recent leap of ranking-based faith, here are the 25 best players 25 years or younger in the game today.

Mike Trout has gotten off to as big of a debut as anyone ever, but is it enough to take him even to the top of his peer group yet?

Before we get started, here’s a few guys just claimed by their 26th year but who would’ve definitely found a spot on this list a year ago: Felix Hernandez, Mark Trumbo, Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Evan Longoria, Todd Frazier, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

 

25. Brett Anderson (24): There’s a reason he’s still been consistently considered the ace of the A’s despite missing most of the last two years. When he’s out there, he’s as good as it gets, as the one run surrendered in his first 20 innings back healthy shows. He has won all three starts since his return.

24. Mike Moustakas (23): The raw power of the Moose is clear, and he’s still figuring it all out. He’s come back from a light rookie year with 19 homers headed into the last month of the year for Kansas City.

23. Austin Jackson (25): The perfect centerfielder for the enormous outer territory of Comerica Field, Jackson has the highest average on balls hit in play over the last three years (.374) playing for the Detroit Tigers.

22. Alcides Escobar (25): It’s easy to not be noticed at being the best at something when you play in Kansas City, but Escobar has a rightful claim to the title of best glovesman at shortstop in baseball.

21. Wade Miley (25): The Diamondbacks’ surprise rookie lefty hurler has gone from last pitcher to make the rotation to being an All-Star and 20-win candidate in a few months.

20. Manny Machado (20): The second youngest player on this list, it’s eerie how much the Oriole resembles A-Rod at the same age in both frame (6’3, 185) and early impact (extra bases on 8 of first 15 hits).

Machado’s surprise promotion has been a big catalyst in the O’s shocking the world this summer.

19. Jeremy Hellickson (25): Last year’s AL Rookie of the Year doesn’t have a ton of wins, but still has nasty stuff that will let him pitch for a long time, which his 3.18 career ERA for the Rays is a preview of.

18. Eric Hosmer (22): There’s been a lot of worry about how his second year has gone (.240, 12 homers, .310 on-base %), but settle down. Being the by-far best player on an MLB squad at 22 is a tough haul on anybody, and the prophecy of The Hos as the leader of the Royal revival will be fulfilled.

17. Anthony Rizzo (23): He’s been everything he was billed as being as the Red Sox’s, Padres’ and Cubs’ top prospect over the last two years. After being traded for all the right reasons over the past two years, he’s finally settled in one place, where he’ll stay for awhile: third in the Cubs’ lineup.

16. Jason Heyward (23): In year three, his average is up over 50 points, and he’s pushed his homer total up 10 from a year ago. What’s more: The Brave has just as many home runs and doubles as the much more heralded Andrew McCutchen.

 

For the top 15 of the list, including what may seem like a shocker at the top, considering what’s going on this summer, head over to THE CHEAP SEATS at The Sports Fan Journal here: http://www.thesportsfanjournal.com/sports/baseball/youth-movement-baseballs-top-25-25-and-under/

 

And for more on the day-to-day of the game, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan