Don't Call it a Conversion & Week 8 Post-Mortem

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the beginning of another week. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Mine was okay. I think that my sinus infection/plague may finally be starting to work it's way out of my system (insert Dan knocking on every potentially wooden service in Studio 6 at WCCO here). So hopefully I'm back to my usual entertaining, coherent self. Although admittedly, I'd settle for coherent!

So today it's time to catch up with things that happened over the weekend, including my mother thinking for a second that I had become truly religious. And then it's the Post-Mortem on my Week 8 College Football Picks. So let's get to it!

"To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level."
- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, historian, logician and mathematician

I think we can safely include ourselves in the "very few people who've reached that level", don't you?

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Wow, what a weekend. Numerous big wins in college football. A weird, wild shootout between the Vikings and Bears. And the Wild won their 4th straight game to open the season.

But all of that pales in comparison to what happened in the American League Championship Series.

Dial back your clocks to Thursday night. Tampa and Boston (whom I hate) had reached the 7th inning stretch with the Rays leading 7 to 0 and contemplating the first World Series run in franchise history.

And then the unthinkable happened. Suddenly the Red Sox (whom I hate) of last season showed up. A Big Papi home run here, a J.D. Drew home run there and a Coco Crisp single to cap it off and in 3 innings, the Red Sox (whom I hate) had scored 8 runs and won the game.

I can't even describe how painful this was to watch. After Ortiz's home run to make it 7-4 it wasn't difficult to read the writing on the wall. And not just in terms of Game 5. Not only did it appear likely that the Red Sox (whom I hate) would win that game, but suddenly what had seemed a sure thing series-victory for the Rays was seriously in doubt.

Saturday was Game 6. The Rays were back at home. Surely their fans would pump them up and push them over the top and save the club from having to face a Game 7 for the first time ever.

Or not.

Tied at 2, Kevin Youklis came to the plate and with one swift stroke sucked all the life out of Tropicana Field and gave the Red Sox (whom I hate) a 4-2 victory.

So now the series was 3-3 and nobody, yours truly least of all, would've been surprised if the Rays folded up shop and rolled over in Game 7. When you've never been in a series of that magnitude before, and you lose a game like the Rays did in Game 5 (one of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons, calls it a "stomach-punch game". That seems pretty apt to me) you're allowed to sit there in stunned disbelief as your opponent punches their ticket to the World Series.

But a funny thing happened along the way to the Red Sox (whom I hate) coming back from their second consecutive 3-1 deficit in an ALCS. Namely that Matt Garza wouldn't allow it.

Yes, former Twins prospect Matt Garza started Game 7 and gave an MVP performance. Holding the Red Sox (whom I hate) lineup to 2 hits over the course of 7 innings. Knowing it was all or nothing at that point, Rays manager Joe Maddon then used every bit of his bullpen to match up against Boston (whom I hate) hitters and shut them down the rest of the way.

Included in that cavalcade of relievers was David Price, winner in relief of Game 2, who came in to finish the game. The trick? It was only his 6th appearance in a Major League game in his career! And in picking up the save, the dominant left-hander became only the 3rd pitcher in history to pick up a win and a save in a single LCS.

In microcosm, Game 7 was the story of the Rays season. Nobody's quite sure how it happened, but just when you were sure the Rays were down and out, they came back with a brilliant team performance and won their way into their first ever World Series. Absolutely incredible.

My last word on this series will be a series of text messages I exchanged with my mother:

Dan: Red Sox lose! There may be a God after all!

Mom: You've seen the light! Hallelujah!

Dan: Well let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Mom: Do the Rays have to win the world series for you to have your conversion?

Dan: No. If the Red Sox's (whom I hate) plane had exploded in a fireball on the way to Game 6, that might have done it.

Mom: Sometimes you frighten me a bit.

Dan: That's probably fair.

Moving on...

Time to check how I did on my Week 8 College Football Picks. Last week was rough. Would I rebound? Would I come back and right the ship? Or had the bad mojo from last year already returned with a vengeance? Let's find out!

Georgia Tech -2 vs. Clemson: Final Score - Georgia Tech 24, Clemson 17

This was an interesting game. Had Clemson not shot itself in the foot repeatedly they certainly could have won.

When a team fires their coach mid-season it can result in a modest turn-around, or in the players quitting on the club completely. I don't think the Tigers' kids quit. I think there's just not enough talent there to get the job done.

What Dan Learned: Georgia Tech is going to be a huge pain in the tail for the rest of the ACC in years to come. As well as they've done so far this year, it's clear that they've got a ways to fully assimilate head coach Paul Johnson's offense. But when they do, look out. We'll be very careful with them the rest of this year. But we'll keep a close eye on their improvement for next year!

Okay, 1-0. That's a good start to the weekend. Now let's see if we can get things turned around for the Badgers!

Wisconsin +3.5 @ Iowa: Final Score - Iowa 38, Wisconsin 16

This was this week's Sports Take Flier Pick of the Week. Thank God.

Oof. This just sucked. Yes, Iowa running back Shon Greene is good. But the Badger defense made him look like a Heisman Trophy candidate.

The scary part as a Badger fan is that you're not sure where the next win is coming from. If you look at their schedule: vs. Illinois, @ Michigan State, @ Indiana, vs. Minnesota and vs. Cal Poly, I can only see 2 wins in there right now (and no, one of them *isn't* Minnesota... dammit). And 2 more wins won't get Wisconsin to a bowl game.

What Dan Learned: How to weep silently.

The only saving grace of this game is that it was the Flier Pick. So I don't have to count it. So, still 1-0 and moving on...

Penn State -23 vs. Michigan: Final Score - PSU 46, Michigan 17.

This one almost didn't work out. I mentioned in my preview that there was some chance that Penn State would be looking past this game to their big tilt with Ohio State next week. Turns out there was more than some chance.

There was no doubt that the Lions came out flat and the Wolverines took full advantage running out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and 17-14 lead at halftime.

Unfortunately for Michigan, the second half score was 32-0 in favor of Penn State. Hmmm, I wonder how that halftime speech in Penn State's locker room went? I'm setting the over/under on curse words at 52.

What Dan Learned: Combined with Ohio State's 45-7 thrashing of Michigan state, this game set up an enormous show-down next week at the Horseshoe. Currently the Lions are a 2-point favorite. This one appears so close, that I'm not sure you'll be seeing it in the Week 9 picks!

Back on the horse! 2-0 and trying to go undefeated on the week!

LSU -3 @ South Carolina: Final Score - LSU 24, S. Carolina 17

Yes! 3-0 baby! Woo!

Okay, admittedly this one didn't go how I figured it would. I thought that LSU would jump all over South Carolina as payback for the drubbing they took from Florida last week.

That turned out not to be the case. In fact, the game went right down to the wire and it was a 4th quarter touchdown that gave LSU the lead for good.

What Dan Learned: South Carolina's better than I thought. One of the big SEC contenders is going to slip against this team and it will be very costly. Florida, I'm looking at you!

So I finished the week 3-0. I'd feel a lot more celebratory about it if it wasn't for that stinkin Badgers game. I may need to see counseling from a Gopher fan on how to get through a season where your team sucks the bag. Unfortunately, I've yet to meet one that's interested in doing anything more than rub their success in my face. Oof.

This week's 3-0 makes me 19-12 (.613) on the year. I'm back to feeling quite comfortable. Will I take some risks this week then? Tune in on Thursday and find out!

That's all for today folks. I'll be back on Wednesday with my World Series Preview. Will the ST offices be decked out in red (Phillies) or blue (Rays)? Some of you may have an idea, but tune in Wednesday to find out for sure! Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. Counseling from a Husker fan, on how to get through a season where your team sucks the bag:

    1. Once conference play starts, start reciting, "Well, there's always next year."
    2. Get a hobby. One with no sharp instruments (woodworking = not so good...knitting = marginal...coloring books = good)
    3. Follow the local small-town papers in the state, who tout their local talent as "Ready to help the College team next year."
    4. Become fans of your conference's biggest rival. Then, after you cheer them to victory, you can say, "We beat the stuffing out of them 30 years in a row, you know."

    ...I really wanted a 5th, for 5 years of Coach Alienation (Callahan), but other than "learn how to mask weeping with hysterical laughter", I couldn't come up with anything.

  2. That's some solid advice. With Nebraska's long history of success I didn't think of Husker fans in terms of seeking advice.

    Thanks Lon!