Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Gravy

Oakland Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey scored his first NFL touchdown in a 24-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. But it was like having some tasty gravy over dry bland turkey. The Raiders offense was error free but ineffective against a Cowboy defense that had something to prove in their house.

The Raiders loss should have been expected against simply a better team. But with Dallas coming off a lucky 7-6 win over the ........., my hopes for a win were flying very high. Unfortunately, other than the DHB touchdown, I have to settle for the reality of being a fan of a team that is not that good, regardless of its potential.

Win, Lose or Tie!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bruce Almighty Leads Raiders To Victory

Oakland Raiders' Bruce Gradkowski (5) in action during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Oakland, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009.(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Oakland Raiders upset the visiting Cincinnati Bengals 20-17 with a two minute touchdown drive and a stunning special teams fumble recovery to avoid overtime.

Yes, the Oakland Raiders put themselves in position to win yet another game, however, this time they didn't chase the gift horse away. Led by new starting quarterback Bruce "Almighty" Gradkowski, the Raiders made offensive plays when it counted. Though Gradkowski isn't ready to be crowned the next Peyton Manning, he showed leadership, toughness, poise under pressure and generalship of the field in making the right reads and decisions when passing. Sure sounds like Peyton though doesn't it?

It was so obvious to us fans that the Almighty led Raiders offense showed rhythm and confidence with the game on the line. The return of WR Chaz Schilens to full health was evident in this second week of his return. Chaz didn't catch many passes, but the one or two that he did catch gave the Bengal defense another offensive weapon to worry about. Wide receivers actually caught the ball this week. I credit the catches to the softer touch that the Almighty puts on his throws as compared with Jamarcus Russell.

You can't say enough about the leadership of Bruce Almighty. The young quarterback had the entire team rooting for and supporting him every step of the way. It was reported that QB Jamarcus Russell was on the sideline waving a rally towel in circles on the final drive of the game in support of the Almighty.

The Defense played spectacular. They kept Bengals QB Carson Palmer under pressure most of the day as well as shutting down WR Chad Ocho Stinko after the first quarter. The defense may have allowed some big plays, but when it mattered most they put a stop to the Bengals potent offense and limited them to a field goal in the second half. Effective defensive schemes and blitzes put in by Raiders coaches to shutdown Carson Palmer.

Of course no Raiders special teams play has been bigger this season than the strip and fumble recovery by Brandon Myers. With 33 seconds remaining in a tie game the Raiders kicked off to the Bengals. Bengals kick returner Andre Caldwell, the goat of the game as far as Cincinnati fans are concerned, was hit by rookie TE/Special teams player Brandon Myers, who then stripped the ball out and recovered at the Bengals 17 yard line. The Raiders had enough time to setup a Sebastian Janakowski winning field goal, leaving the Bengals to try an unsuccessful hail mary pass that Nnamdi would intercept to end the game. Once Sea Bass nailed the fg kick and the crowd went wild, I knew the game was ours.

A great win for a team that's grown by leaps and bounds since benching Jamarcus Russell. Credit also goes to Tom Cable and his coaching staff for putting them in position to win the game. The offensive line protected the Almighty all day allowing no sacks and only one hurried throw where the Almighty had to take a vicious hit. The tough young quarterback stayed on the turf for a little while before getting up and shaking it off.

Today's game was dedicated to the late Raiders special teams player Marquis Cooper, who died in a boating accident earlier this year. Cooper's family was on hand to watch a game that ended fittingly with a special teams game winning play for the Raiders.

I also spotted the WBA super middle-weight championship belt being displayed on the field before kick-off. Oakland native Andre Ward won the belt last night at the coliseum by beating Denmark's Mikkel Kessler. Ward won it in the 11th round by TKO. Ward was at last week's Raiders game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Final Score
Raiders 20
Bengals 17

note: Raiders had a total of 3 penalties for 13 yards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bruce Almighty?

The Oakland Raiders have named backup Bruce "Almighty" Gradkowski as the starting quarterback for the rest of this season. And if the Almighty doesn't get the protection from upfront, his season could be short lived.

Gradkowski showed up at practice Monday with a strained hamstring. The Almighty was 5 of 9 passing for 49 yards and 2 interceptions Sunday. And yet those numbers are an improvement over past Jamarcus Russell statistics, barely.

If by chance Gradkowski can't get the offensive Jalopy started, backup Charlie Frye, who was signed in June, is waiting in the wings for his chance at cranking up the model T.

Oh Well, there's always the WildCat.

Trade Jamarcus?! If I were a GM I wouldn’t trade a five dollar coupon for Pizza Hut for that guy! “Cut” is the only thing he will get!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanks For The Memories Capt. Jack

Stephen Jackson

The Golden State Warriors finally found a trading post to ship disgruntled forward Stephen Jackson to. The Charlotte Bobcats welcomed captain Jack with open arms where they're in need of his offensive point production. Good Luck Jack! Acie Law will accompany the captain to Charlotte.

In return the Warriors grab up swingman Raja Bell and once again add another European product to their roster, forward Vladimir Radmanovic, who once played for the L.A. Lakers.

Now let's see how this sounds:

VLAD-uh-meer Rahd-MAHN-uh-vitch


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bill Belichick's Patriots Choke On Offensive Arrogance

Bill Belichick will always remember the 4th and 2 call he made in going for it from his own 28 yd line with two minutes left in the game. Bonehead call for a coach on the road to make against a good offensive team, ever.

The Patriots were leading at the time 34-28. They led by as much as 24-7 at one point in the game. It should have never happened.

I'm always happy to see QB Payton Manning slice a win out of the Patriots. The game looked like the New England Patriots had it all under control. Brady and Moss were sparkling throughout. WR Wes Welker catching and running all through the colts defense. Petyon and the Colts had some missed opportunities early in the game and were trailing 24-14 going into the third quarter.

Then, with around two minutes left in the game, Patriot's coach Bill Belichick goes for it and is denied the two yards for a first down thanks in part to a bobbled catch. Home field advantage never looked so good as it did to the Colts on this play. The Colts took over from the thirty and scored the winning touchdown/PAT, leaving the Patriots with thirteen seconds to overcome a 1-point deficit. The Patriots couldn't overcome it. A foolishly arrogant call by a unrepentant coach cost the Patriots this one. Should the Colts go 16-0 they have a fool in New England to thank for it. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
(Bill Belichick)
Congratulations Indianapolis for the comeback game of the year and an undefeated record of 9-0.

Final Score
Patriots 34
Colts 35

Gone In 60 Silver & Black Seconds

No, its not the speed of the Oakland Raiders receivers that burn rubber in 60 seconds, its the speed of the Raiders offense to blow a chance at winning a game that begs the phrase, Gone In 60 Seconds, again.

On a crispy autumn afternoon where their opponent was the (1-7) Kansas City Chiefs, the (2-6)Oakland Raiders were looking a winning day gift horse in the mouth. The day was a day of defense and missed opportunities for both struggling teams. Raiders QB Jamarcus Russell passes were off at times and the times when he did get the ball on target the receiver simply dropped the ball.

After the #1 draft pick of 2007 (QB Jamarcus Russell) was benched and replaced by backup QB Bruce Gradkowski in the third quarter, the Oakland offense sputtered but looked like they wanted to finally play catch. So with less than two minutes left in the game the Raiders began an offensive two-minute-drill attack that teased the fans with offensive production.

Gradkowski got the team down to around the twenty-five yard line with a pass to WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. The huge play, ruled a completion on the field, could've easily been called back after replays showed Bey's foot landing out of bounds. Here was where that Raiders gift horse for the day came prancing up to the Raiders sideline with mouth wide open. Upon further review by the replay assistant in the press box, the call on the field stood and the Raiders could continue their march to a last second touchdown for the win.

However, something strange happened on the way to the end zone. With less than 30 seconds left, a lifetime from the 25 yard line, Gradkowski dropped back and found an open Darrius Heyward-Bey at the 10 yard line and threw the perfect pass. The fans were screaming with exhilaration as the pin-point pass lofted beautifully into the hands of our leaping 2009 #1 draft pick, with defenders closing in.

Then just as quickly as you could say "Touchdown Raiders" the football bounced off of Bey's hands as if tapped up into the air. Bey had a second chance at the pigskin but his hands seemed to magnetically repel, instead of attract, the ball. Fans watched as the brown leather projectile hovered in the coliseum air just long enough for a Chief defender closing to gain ground and position himself perfectly for the interception off Bey's deflection.

While Bey was being slung away from the ball by another defender, the other defender gracefully glided underneath the pigskin and cradled it like a babe in his basket curled arms, interception complete, game over. The Oakland Raiders gift horse moment simply chomped down on its bit and galloped off into the western sunset, poof, Gone in 60 Seconds!
Final Score
Chiefs 16
Raiders 10

Now Everyone Knows Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao, the quick fisted fighter from the Philippines, took a step up the ladder to boxing immortality with his annihilation of Miguel Cotto last night.

What began in the first round as a battle of speed and power on the part of both fighters ended in the 12th with victory for the pound-for-pound greatest fighter of today, Manny Pacquiao.

This had to be the hardest fought fight of Pacquiao's career. Manny showed that he could take the hard punches that Cotto dished out while delivering knockout caliber punches of his own. Although Cotto got in some good hard punches to Manny's head, snapping his head back at times, Pacquiao somehow kept a relentless attack of fast combination punches exhibiting power in both hands. Manny's knockdowns of Cotto in the 3rd and 4th rounds took Cotto out of his agressive gameplan and into be-careful-mode for the rest of the fight. That's my take on it anyway.

I've never seen a fighter with the speed, power and gut to do battle as Pacquiao. Someone mentioned to me last night that Pacquiao reminded them of Sugar Ray Leonard. I said 'yeah, but Pacquiao is better.' And he is. If you remember, Sugar Ray was quick, but he avoided more than he battled. Ray was all flash with some toughness but not as much as Pacquiao. If you recall, Ray never did give Marvelous Marvin Hagler a second shot at him. Hagler lost a close decision to Ray that many, me included, felt he won. I still believe Hagler would've ended Ray's career in a rematch between the two.

But this convincing win isn't about comparing Pacquiao to past fighters, its about recognizing that we have the privilege of seeing perhaps some of the greatest boxing of all time from a fighter gifted with speed, power and smarts, a rare combination.

The disturbing side of watching the Pacquiao vs Cotto fight last night was seeing Cotto's wife with their young son at ringside shockingly watching daddy get pummeled through 10 of those 12 rounds. At what point doesn't a mother say "Ya Basta!," that's enough. Mrs. Cotto was the big loser last night.

With the beauty of a Puerto Rican beauty pageant contestant and the brains of many a pageant entrant, Mrs. Cotto allowed her young papi to watch a bloodied beating of his father while she covered her own eyes in horror. Someone please tell me I'm wrong and that a child's viewing of a parent being bloodied and battered by another human being isn't a disturbing event that'll last throughout their lives. Sorry Mrs. Cotto, you lose as a protective and nurturing mom. Seek counseling immediately please.

I give Miguel Cotto all the praises deserving of a champion for his continuance in a fight where he was unexpectedly out skilled and over matched. In the last few rounds the referee had his eyes on Cotto like a shark on prey, waiting for the former champ to falter so he could stop the fight. But give Cotto credit, he continued to throw punches and effectively respond to Manny's attacks just enough to keep the fight going up to 55 seconds of the 12th round. Puerto Rico has nothing to be ashamed of in Miguel, only in Mrs. Cotto.

My favorite quote of the night, possibly of the boxing year: 'I Wanted To Taste His Power'

Okay, maybe he said 'Test' and not 'Taste', but the accented words of Manny describing why he took so many power punches from Cotto tasted courageous.

Manny Pacquiao
7-Time Boxing Champion

Pacquiao Ace-In-The-Hole Shawn Porter

Friday, November 13, 2009

Operation Panda

With baseball season in hibernation, there's one Panda who's outside his winter cave looking to shed some pounds before the spring arrives. SF Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval, dubbed the 'Kung Fu Panda' this season because of his resemblance in looks and size to the cartoon character, is on an intense offseason conditioning program that'll last three weeks. Yesterday was day 11 of 'Operation Panda,' and from the looks of it Panda has reached the mountaintop of his climb from rollie pollie player to solid size all-star.

Hang in there Panda, and stay away from the Triple Angus Burgers at McDonald's.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

R.A.I.D.E.R.S. Hire General Manager

Cuz I'm a Raider, Oakland Raider
From da bay to L.A. to Las Vegas
Cuz I'm a playa, a boss playa
and if you wit me pop ya colla shake dem hatas

Win Lose or Tie!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finance 101 - Creating Profit From Debt

I came across a word today that gave me better understanding of a banking practice that was partly to blame for the financial crisis in the banking world a year ago. The word:


The Meaning: A structured finance process that distributes risk by gathering debt instruments in a pool, then issuing new securities backed by the pool.

Wikipedia Example: XYZ Bank loans 10 people $100,000 a piece, which they will use to buy homes. XYZ has invested in the success and/or failure of those 10 home buyers- if the buyers make their payments and pay off the loans, XYZ makes a profit. Looking at it another way, XYZ has taken the risk that some borrowers won't repay the loan. In exchange for taking that risk, the borrowers pay XYZ a premium in addition to the interest on the money they borrow. XYZ will then take these ten loans, and put them in a pool. They will sell this pool to a larger investor, ABC. ABC will then split this pool (which consists of high risk loans and low risk loans) into equal pieces. The pieces will then be sold to other smaller investors, (as bonds).

Investopedia explains Securitization
Mortgage-backed securities are a perfect example of securitization. By combining mortgages into one large pool, the issuer can divide the large pool into smaller pieces based on each individual mortgage's inherent risk of default and then sell those smaller pieces to investors.

The process creates liquidity by enabling smaller investors to purchase shares in a larger asset pool. Using the mortgage-backed security example, individual retail investors are able to purchase portions of a mortgage as a type of bond. Without the securitization of mortgages, retail investors may not be able to afford to buy into a large pool of mortgages.

Article: The Problem With Securitization

Golden State Warriors Light It Up

Kalenna Azubuike (31 pts scored)

The sluggish start of the 2009 NBA season just picked up speed for the Golden State Warriors. Going into last nights game against the Minnesota Timberwolves the Warriors needed a win just to look like a team interested in playing out the season schedule. With one win and four losses the Warriors came out last night and lit up the scoreboard for 146 points and a win, bringing their early season record to 2-4.

Kalenna Azubuike had 31 pts to lead the Warriors in scoring. Amidst rumors of Stephen Jackson wanting out of the Warriors camp, the team played like a damn team for a change. Nobody's crowning them winners just yet, but last night's display of running offense gave Warriors fans a little something to hope for this season. If nothing else, they'll be athletically entertaining with all the young talent.

Final Score
Warriors 146
T'Wolves 105

Still Believing!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bay Bridge S-Curve Claims First Life

A truck traveling 50 mph, 10 mph over the posted speed limit, crashed over the rail of the bay bridge S-curve and plunged 200 feet landing on its wheels on Yerba Buena island below. The driver did not survive the crash.

This is the 44th accident on this new section of the bay bridge since it reopened on September 8th, with the newly civil engineered S-curve in place. Though authorities all point to driver error and excessive speed as the common denominator in these accidents many are questioning the S-curve design's safety.

I've questioned whether the civil engineer designing of the S-curve considered the habit of drivers traveling above the posted speed limit and using devices such as cell phones while behind the wheel. They claim the S-curve is safe at 40 mph with an alert and cautious driver behind the wheel. Well, pre S-curve driver habits across the bay bridge did not fit this spec of 40 mph, so why would they assume that post S-curve drivers would change their driving habits? Did they think drivers would know the S-curve becomes potentially deadly at 50 mph?

Bottom line, somebody screwed up. They allowed a deadly bridge design to be approved and put in place without including one important criteria in their safety study formula; human habit.

All it would've taken before S-curve implementation is to have put one of those fancy cameras in the prior curve, with radar like the one that catches you zooming through yellow stop lights. I've been traveling the bay bridge for years and experience tells me that cars travel above 50 mph on average over the bridge. I do not hold an engineering degree but the cautionary centrifugal pull of the old curve was enough to warn against making it sharper and/or adding a second curve.

So sure, the design might be flawless in a cyber world where cyber people abide by the laws and rules of the game. But the S-curve exists in the real world people, and in the real world real people sometimes ignore the laws and rules that are put in place for their protection. If this were not so then we wouldn't need cameras at traffic lights now would we?

So how do you fix a design that has attributed to 44 human mistakes resulting in accidents?

1. Toll Booth handouts to drivers to change their driving habits when crossing the curvy bay bridge

2. Post flashing 40 mph caution signs on the bridge in hopes that drivers will abide by them

3. Redesign the S-curve after performing a thorough safety study which includes driver habit

4. Put a radar camera in the S-curve with posted warnings of a $275 speeding fine

Its not about pointing the finger at who did what wrong or saving tax payer dollars. Its about saving lives. If the S-curve becomes a permanent structure, we might as well start the fatality counter just as the Golden Gate bridge once counted suicide jumpers. As of today the bay bridge fatality count stands at 00001 and counting.

See Article by Yobie Benjamin:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Difference Between Heaven and Hell

I found this paragraph written in one of my old books collected when I was in search of spiritual enlightenment. Its been years since I peeked its pages for healthy spiritual knowledge. This morning I rediscovered why I, and I'm sure many other readers, keep books we hold dear to our hearts on dusty shelves, awaiting our return to their pages. In revisiting a place we once frequented, such as a cafe, a town or a book, we find new meanings and receive different understandings of the place. It is us who have changed, hopefully evolved, and not the place.

Here is the paragraph that I revisited with this morning after first reading its wisdom some fifteen years ago or so:

The word heaven means harmony. The word hell is from the old English hell, meaning to build a wall around, to separate; to be helled was to be shut off from. Now if there is such a thing as harmony there must be that something one can be in right relations with; for to be in right relations with anything is to be in harmony with it. Again, if there is such a thing as being helled, shut off, separated from, there must be that something from which one is held, shut off, or separated.

In Tune With The Infinite
by Ralph Waldo Trine

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Astronaut Farmer - Not Bad!

5.0 out of 5 stars

A film that makes you reflect on your own dreams or the dreams of your loved ones. This movie, though a bit of a corny, family entertainment piece, touches something childlike in us. To be shown a man who holds onto his childhood dream while friends, community and the world are saying its time to let go of it, makes for a magical viewing experience. The fact that his family sticks through it with him, even though at times their belief in him is tested, was what I thought the bigger lesson in this movie. To support those in your family in attempting to fulfill their dream, through accomplishment and/or failure, is the sign of a healthy and happy family.

A beautiful movie with real people in excitingly unreal roles. Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen and the three kid actors capture the essence of a family living with an unfulfilled dream and the loving sacrifice to see that dream fulfilled. Grandfather, husband, wife, son, daughter, they all have so much to lose and gain by one's fulfillment of the dream. The southwestern landscape adds to the magic.

If you can remember watching a movie as a child that held you spellbound in a theater or in front of the television, this film can bring you back to that time and place.


Yankees Win World Series

They're Supposed To Win The World Series

New York Yankees Salaries - 2009
Player Salary (US$)

1. Alex Rodriguez 33,000,000
2. Derek Jeter 21,600,000
3. Mark Teixeira 20,625,000
4. A.J. Burnett 16,500,000
5. CC Sabathia 15,285,714
6. Mariano Rivera 15,000,000
7. Jorge Posada 13,100,000
8 a. Johnny Damon 13,000,000
8 b. Hideki Matsui 13,000,000
10. Robinson Cano 6,000,000
11. Andy Pettitte 5,500,000
12. Nick Swisher 5,400,000
13. Damaso Marte 3,750,000
14. Jose Molina 2,125,000
15. Jerry Hairston Jr. 2,000,000
16. Melky Cabrera 1,400,000
17. Joba Chamberlain 432,575
18. Brett Gardner 414,000
19. Phil Hughes 407,650
20. David Robertson 406,825
21. Alfredo Aceves 406,750
22. Phil Coke 403,300
23. Francisco Cervelli 400,000

Total Team Salary: 208,097,414

Team Payroll (US$)

1. NY Yankees 208,097,414
2. NY Mets 145,367,987
3. Chicago Cubs 134,058,500
4. Boston 122,435,399
5. Detroit 119,160,145
6. LA Angels 118,964,000
7. Seattle 112,053,666
8. Philadelphia 111,209,046
9. Houston 102,996,414
10. Chicago Sox 100,598,500
11. LA Dodgers 100,008,592
12. Atlanta 94,313,666
13. St. Louis 87,703,409
14. San Francisco 82,616,450
15. Kansas City 81,384,553
16. Milwaukee 80,182,502
17. Cincinnati 73,558,500
18. Arizona 73,516,666
19. Texas 73,439,238
20. Toronto 72,563,200
21. Colorado 72,428,000
22. Tampa Bay 68,230,934
23. Minnesota 67,634,766
24. Cleveland 66,757,366
25. Washington 62,001,000
26. Baltimore 61,885,566
27. Oakland 56,089,250
28. San Diego 37,800,800
29. Florida 35,774,000
30. Pittsburgh 25,197,000

Note:Team salaries do not represent full team payroll. Amount listed includes current salary for all players currently on the roster.

Raider Nation Mutiny - Al Must Walk Plank

Well its finally come to fruition. Disgruntled Raider Nation fans have put together an on-line petition of protest asking the Raiders organization to immediately implement a four-point plan, or else!

At the top of the proposed list is removal of Al Davis as General Manager of the Raiders. Of course we all know Al won't bat an eye toward this fan petition. But let this petition and protest grow to its projected 50,000 strong fan base with billboard Ads featuring "Mutiny In The Black Hole," and Al just may have to pay attention or risk losing revenue big time.

Just this week Cleveland Browns fan "Dawg Pound Mike" and one other dog pound pup met with Browns owner Randy Lerner to discuss the future of Browns Football. The Browns fans have planned to show up late to games as a sign of their disapproval and disappointment with the organizations years of ineptitude. I don't see this type of protest causing the owner any loss of revenue, but at least it got his attention and he's talking.

As for Al Davis being forced into retirement, I believe the article about the petition said it best:

"Only way he will surrender control will be when he is lowered into the ground by the undertaker."

As of this posting, 1,124 people have signed the Raiders fan petition. Many more pall bearers will be needed to guarantee change .

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I checked into the game long enough to see QB Jamarcus Russel throw an interception. The game highlights make it appear the Raiders may have had a chance. But then again, maybe not.

Final Score
Chargers 24
Raiders 16