Saturday, October 29, 2011

Widdoes Preview of the Pats/Steelers Football Game

Bring it.
Sheesh, after reading the Hendrie's game preview I feel like I've been standing in line at the Cask 'n Flagon, getting heckled for not wearing black boots, a leather jacket and a head full of grease (covered up by a backwards Red Sox cap).  Rap sheet this, tabloid innuendo that, can we talk about football, please?

I mean, everyone knows the Pats haven't won a Super Bowl since being convicted of cheating...there just isn't much more to say about that. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Steaks were Ray'sed

The RFH Collective is connected not only by the man whose initials form its name, but also by two sets of birthdays that are miraculously close together.  Charlie and John were born about a month apart, and Sam and Dave two years and one day apart.  The latter tie brought the entire Collective together in our nation's capitol last weekend for the first annual RFH Summit, a celebration of birth, food, all things athletic.  Like any convention of influential power brokers, we made sure to fit wholesome meals in between informative seminars and spirited, occasionally contentious meetings of the minds.  Indeed, we needed to fuel the fire.

It began on Friday night, when Dave and I prepared for the brotherly arrival with a couple Taylor Gourmet subs.  No doubt they provided a nice base layer for the night ahead, but our chicken cutlet subs were decidedly too bready.  But worry not, the grub would only improve.  The next morning, Charlie and I awoke to fulfill his only demand during this trip: the bacon, egg and cheese croissant at Firehook Bakery.  I promise you, it beats the crap out of any bacon, egg and cheese you've ever had.  Why?  Freshly scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, fully melted cheddar cheese, and a perfectly flaky, just-greasy-enough croissant.  Anyway, it had to be good -- we wouldn't eat again for nine hours.
Our last meal....until like 9 p.m.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Barack Obama: The Jobs President

It is a human travesty that I have not gotten to talk about politics yet on The Collective. Politics represents one of the three major pillars in my life (the other two being sports and food). Since The Collective has done an admirable job covering the first two, I decided to complete the triumphant. This will not be a regular occurrence because many times political blogs digress into snarky, annoying, and whining forums for people who would rather prognosticate than work towards solutions. That being said, I do want to occasionally touch on critically important political issues and debates as they come up.
The first issue I decided to discuss is jobs, and more specifically, how our President's administration has fared in regards to creating and saving them. This issue is especially poignant to most of our readers because they are young, recent college graduates, looking to find their way into the job market. When looking at the job market it is hard not to be pessimistic. The recent labor department employment numbers show that despite the economy adding 103,000 jobs, the unemployment rate is still staying at a stubbornly high number of 9.1%. This number has been above 8% for over a year, and should remain high for the foreseeable future. At this moment many of you are probably wondering how these dismal numbers translate into a post about our President being the ultimate jobs chief executive. Let me tell you why.

NFL Draft Revisited: AFC East

Over the course of the season I will take a look at how each draft class is progressing for each NFL team. Since this is an ambitious undertaking, it will be done division by division. I will also include some small snippets from my instant draft analysis.

17  Nate Solder: Starting right tackle in place of Sebastian Vollmer
33  Ras-I Dowling: 3 tackles in two games played.
56  Shane Vereen: Injured
73  Stevan Ridley: 148 yards on 18 carries (8.2YPC) and 1 TD
74  Ryan Mallett: 3rd String Quarterback
138 Marcus Cannon: Injured (PUP)
159 Lee Smith: Cut
194 Markell Carter: Cut
219 Malcolm Williams: Cut

What I said in April:  "In addition to the trading mastery, the Pats also picked six players who we are confident will be rotation players eventually....Solder is a franchise left tackle, he is a man mountain with great arms and hands....Dowling is great value at pick 33 considering he would have been a top 15 pick if he wasnt injured this past season....Vereen is a young Kevin Faulk while Ridley will be a solid first and second down power back...We did not rate Mallett very high, but the more information coming out about him, the better he seems...Maybe the best pick for the Pats was Cannon at 138. He was slated to be a top 50 pick before a cancer diagnosis."

What has happened so far: Solder continues to show us that he can one day step in for Matt Light and become the teams next left tackle. During the first four games he has struggled at times, but has also shown some flashes of dominance in pass protection. His performance in week one against Cameron Wake should excite Pats fans about the future. Injuries have taken a toll on the depth of this draft class. Neither Vereen or Dowling have been healthy hardly at all either during the pre-season or regular season. Due to this, their performance deserves an incomplete. Ridley could end up being the gem of this class. As RFH contributor John Hendrie noted in a past article, he has the ability to step into a pretty awesome situation. With Danny Woodhead going down, look for Ridley's numbers to explode. Cannon, as expected, will sit this season. One sizable disappointment was Lee Smith. Expected to fill the blocking tight end role, Smith never lived up to expectations and was cut.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wings and Things Power Rankings: Week 4

This is what the first place Dream Shakes are doing right now.

1) Dream Shake -- Another week, another 1st place team.  This time it's the Dream Shakers leaving no doubt with a whopping 221 points and a commanding lead of 60 points over the next closest team.  31 points for Forte and Beanie, 30 from Nicks, 28 from Megatron, and on and on.  Well done, my young son.  Keep having fun partying with Matt Leinart and those Southern California babes... and the girl on the right.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Centrally Isolated: Therapy for a Syracuse Fan

Denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are the 5 stages of loss and grief. Typically this process is associated with the loss of a loved one and I fortunately have not suffered that and do not wish to make light of anyone who has. However, this process can also be associated to losing anything that has been a big part of one's life.

I am sure everyone the reads The Collective knows by now I am from Central New York. Being from CNY is a rusty badge of honor. Central New Yorkers like to say we are "centrally isolated", just far enough from New York City to not feel any true allegiance and 4-6 hours away from about 6 major American cities. For the most part CNY is pretty neutral territory in the sports world except for one thing; Syracuse Orange Basketball. We own 'Cuse basketball. Jim Boeheim is our whiny, grumpy Uncle that we love because he paid for our college tuition. We don't see Derrick Coleman as an underachiever. We laugh when other schools talk about having "good crowds" as we pack 35,000 people into The Dome. Year after year 5-Star recruits pass up smart weather and dumb girls to play in front of a community that makes them feel like they never left the comfort of their high school gyms. Although Syracuse, New York is a worn-out notch on the Northeast's rust belt, we have a top flight Division 1 basketball program and everyone in the country knows it. We may be in the middle of nowhere to some, but to the basketball world we were in the heart of something special; The Big East.

Denial and Isolation
When I first heard about Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving the Big East and joining the ACC I thought it was joke. Literally, I thought it was a joke headline because of all the shuffling in major conferences someone was trying to be funny. When I realized it was for real I shut down for a day. A whole day. I didn't even think about it

Pure, unadulterated, dropping F-bombs to my Mom anger. How could this possibly be happening. For football?!?!? Are you serious....FOOTBALL!! Don't get me wrong I respect the SU Football program and I understand the revenue it generates, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. I should have know something like this was going happen when they hired a soft, west-coast Athletic Director from USC. I was seriously considering ending my relationship with SU cold-turkey.

I started to tell myself "hey, this could be sweet, I hate Duke...and UNC would come through every year, that could fun" and "The ACC will be an unbelievably good basketball, awesome". I started to convince myself that when UConn got accepted to the ACC it would be all good, we would have BC, Pitt, UConn, it would be like nothing ever happened! Hey we don't want to be left in the cold for football. Mega-Conferences are where all the cool kids will be!

Then it hit's over. Big East basketball is all I know. I only know bad-ass, punch-you-in-the-mouth, attack the rim basketball. I only starting shooting jumpers when I got to college and realized I was 6'1 and 6'1 guys have to shoot jumpers. I hated it. When I started coaching my teams defended hard, attacked the rim and didn't take any shit (even if they were in 7th grade). I thought about it and realized that even though I love Syracuse at different times of my life I owned apparel from Pitt, Georgetown, St. John's, PC, and UConn. When John and I saw Ryan Gomes and Donnie McGrath court side at the Mohegan Sun I was just as excited as a Providence native would be. They were OUR guys...Big East guys. When the Big East added those weirdo Conference-USA schools it was strange at first but to me it just meant the gang we started got bigger and stronger. It's over now. Growing up there was only one thing I knew for certain about my life. I would NEVER live south of the Mason-Dixon line...EVER. You could never pay me enough money to live in the South and now because of the move to the ACC I feel like I have duel residency. To make matters worse, PC and St. Johns are getting good again and I am not going to be able to enjoy it with them. And to make them even worse than that the conference championship is in Greensboro, North Carolina. Not exactly a hotbed for Syracuse alumni.

Acceptance This past Saturday I went online and bought season tickets for the 2011-12 Syracuse Orange basketball season. Two seats to all 21 homes games and a parking pass. I have never had season tickets before and no one in my family has either. They weren't cheap but I had to do it. For the first time in 20 years I am not playing or coaching basketball on an organized level and this will be the first opportunity I've ever had to truly submerge myself into a season with the Orange. I will enjoy it with my friends and family, for better or worse, and then it will be over. Syracuse will more than likely be gone from the Big East next year and join the ACC.

I will still love Syracuse basketball and support them no matter what. I will never support ACC Basketball and we don't need them to support us. We will still be a tough gang but it will never be like it was. In the Big East we are a tough gang with our own turf but have always felt an allegiance to a larger organization, our own gang culture. Now we are on our own, much weaker and in a different world...centrally isolated.

NFL Recap: First Quarter Review

Now that the NFL season is a quarter of the way done, I figured that I should revisit some preseason predictions as well as adjust some projections going forward.

The "Elite Eight"
The NFL is a peculiar beast. Worst to first is common, and guaranteed locks fall by the wayside every years. Lets take a look at the status of the "Elite Eight" after the first four weeks.
Bryan Bulaga likes the Cold, Jim Beam, and protecting Aaron Rogers
"Your the best around"- Karate Kid Voice
Packers: 4-0
Although there defense has some room for improvement, the Packers are a perfect 4-0 and looking virtually unbeatable. Aaron Rogers has a seemingly endless array of targets at his disposal. A repeat is very much in their grasp.

"Winner Takes it All"- Over the Top Voice
Patriots: 3-1
Saints: 3-1
Ravens: 3-1
Each of these teams just know how to pull out wins. The Patriots and Saints do it with superb quarterback play while the Ravens defense never disappoints. Although they are on the right track, these teams have some question marks that could derail their superbowl aspirations.