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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Best/Worst Commercials While Watching Hockey

I've been meaning to do something like this for a long time now and since I've got the time, I'm doing it. With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, commercials are starting to be on everyone's mind.

With that said, I felt compelled to talk a little about some of the best and worst commercials on television before the big game. I must credit Gopher for this idea which stemmed from a recent conversation where a vein in my forehead nearly exploded while watching the number one hated commercial below.

Let's take a look at the worst ones to begin with. Note the spiffy links to the actual commercials. I care that much about you all to force the good and the bad on you, enjoy.

Worst 5

#5 - Head On - There's not much to say about the commercials for Head On. Here's a quick synopsis.

Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead,Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead, Head On Apply Directly To The Forehead.

If that doesn't explain why these ads are terrible, I don't know what does.

#4 - ASPCA - I might be on thin ice for even saying this is a bad commercial, but the ASPCA ad featuring Sarah McLaughlin needs to go off the air A.S.A.P.

Don't get me wrong, I like cats and dogs and think anyone who abuses them (Michael Vick) deserve everything that's coming to them, (Don't drop the soap Mike). Anyway, this ad had no chance with me from the opening frame. I'm not a big fan of pop music at all and have seen better try-outs gone wrong on American Idol than her. If you like her music, good for you. I don't and it's my blog and there's a comments section for a reason.

Problem number 2? If you watch closely, the same two ASPCA members are in every shot of an animal being rescued. This got me thinking and here's what I came up with. There is no way they could put a disclaimer up of "No animals were hurt while filming this." The whole thing was staged and they planted the cute kitties and puppies in those "squalid" conditions to make you and I feel bad and then open our wallets.

This isn't meant as a knock on the ASPCA, I think they are a wonderful organization and do great things for animals. I just don't like the commercial.

#3 - New York Instant Lottery - This ad for the new scratch ticket game called Bada Bling

At first I was OK with the rapping and such, but come on. The stereotypical Italian mob men singing "Bada Bling" like your best buddy who stutters when he talks to women? Brutal. The first time I saw this, I just looked on in awe of how pathetic this was and then had trouble sleeping because I couldn't get that jingle out of my head.

#2 - Jeep Liberty - I've got a great idea on how to make this commercial for the Jeep Liberty epic.

You mean to tell me that the coyote that magically ends up in the backseat and has that bird in its mouth, wouldn't eat the bird? Please, it's a friggen coyote. I'm sure it could use a small snack before the main course. What's on the menu for the main course you ask? The driver who started singing "Rock Me Gently" to begin with.

Just picture it, coyote blasts through the back window, glass flies everywhere. He swallows the bird whole, lets out a bellowing howl, then peaks his head around the seat and gives a menacing smile to the annoying driver. Driver freaks out and tries to stop the car to get out and run as the coyote jumps in his lap and tears him to pieces. Sounds pretty graphic right? I'd watch it 100 times in a row just to erase this garbage from my mind.

#1 - IO Digital Cable - There are very few things in this world that have annoyed me as much as this commercial for the IO Digital Cable Triple Play

Where do I even begin with this one? I'll admit it, at first I thought this was a catchy even borderline cool commercial until every channel around here decided it would be a grand idea to play it at every commercial break 24 hours a day. If you think I'm kidding and you live or are planning on visiting the N.Y. area, watch CBS, NBC, ABC, or Fox for 2 hours. You will see this as at least 5 times and you won't think it's wonderful anymore.

It's gotten to the point where I start tapping and humming this around the house. My darling girlfriend has even picked up the phone a couple of times to call the men in white coats to take me away. Even she is at her wits end with this. If you work for this company or know someone who does, PLEASE TAKE THIS OFF THE AIR FOR GOOD. Put a commercial of a penguin quacking on a phone next to a computer for all I care. Anything is better than this.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's get on with the good commercials.

Best 5

#5 - Budweiser - Going a little retro with this pick, but it's a timeless classic remake of the WAZZUP! ads by changing to What are you doing?

The commercial is funny from beginning to end and I'm especially a fan of the two guys from the original ads sitting on the couch at the end. My college suite-mate for three years, Bricks, could have been one of the "What are you doing?" guys hands down. Boy did we have fun with him in those three years, but I digress maybe in another post.

#4 - Geico - I'm not currently insured by Geico, but there have been very few of these commercials I haven't laughed at.

I will admit the cavemen ads from the link got a bit old, especially "Tina's here. We're getting back together." With that said, here's why it makes the list. I cannot remember any ad campaign that spawned a television show as awful as "Cavemen." If you know of any, please let me know, but the fact that these commercials became a television show deserves some credit. Congrats Geico.

#3 - Umbro - Breaking the rules a little with this one, but Umbro knocks this one out of the park.

Wait for it...

Now that you've seen the ad, you can appreciate the "out of the park" line. This would be a guy our friends at the ASPCA would go after had this been a real event, but I still think they should have put the "No animals were harmed.." disclaimer on it just to be safe.

Just had this conversation with Gopher:

Me: Umbro ad is number three on the list.

Gopher: The Umbro ad is my favorite ever, especially because I threaten to drop kick small dogs like that. Plus, the fact that he put it into the upper right corner of the bus station making the old lady poop herself just scratches me right where I itch.

#2 - Stanley Steemer - If any of you have a dog, this ad for Stanley Steemer will make you laugh.

I have personally never owned a dog, but many friends and other family members have. Seeing the dog drag his butt on the carpet makes me laugh every time. Combine that with the stepford wife mother screaming at the dog and it's instant gold.

I'm pretty sure if my cat Max every tried doing this same thing, I'd be hosing him down while laughing hysterically. How could you not?

#1 - Amp Energy Drink - If you were waiting for the NHL reference in this blog, here it is with the new Amp Energy Drink commercial.

The first time I saw this ad I nearly fell out of my chair when Ryan Miller went foreign on J.S. Aubin. This brought back many memories of the school yard growing up and watching Aubin when he was with the Penguins. I'm not going to clutter this blog with my personal feelings about which team I follow, but I will say as a Pens fan I was happy when Aubin left the 'Burgh. I'd seen that red light come on behind him far too many times and this commercial became that much funnier as a result.

This is a genius commercial if for no other reason than people love goalie fights. Who doesn't remember where they were when Dan Cloutier went nuts on Tommy Salo and then offered to take on the entire Islander bench? I was in my living room screaming for my father to come witness one of the greatest goalie fights ever.

Looking back on this endeavor, I had a lot of fun putting this together. If you have any suggestions of your own let me know and I'll throw something else together. Maybe a fan's top 10? Let me know and thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fantasy Team In Shambles

The title on this should be self explanatory, but let me explain.

This isn't my first go around in fantasy sports or even in this competitive league with friends. This is the third season of our league on Yahoo because we're too cheap to pay for a keeper league.

(Note: I took a poll of the 10 owners before the season about changing sites and getting a keeper league going. Three decided it was a great idea and me being the commissioner stupidly decided to go with the majority vote and stay on Yahoo rather than build a fantasy dynasty and squash the hopes and dreams of the other 9 owners for years to come.)

Draft day approached and I sat in front of my computer talking smack and going over my 35 pages of info from the sites listed on the right of this blog. Yes, 35. I had more information in front of me than I knew what to do with.

As usual I landed, what is in my humble opinion, what I affectionately refer to as the Black Hole pick at No. 6 overall. Before the draft, I was hoping for a 1-3 pick or an 8-10 pick so I could utilize the wrap-around effect of the draft.

For the last three seasons I've been in the Black Hole of picks from 4-7 and at least twice in every draft have let someone slip one round too far only to see them comeback and bite me in the rear at some point during the season.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing about this is because I took a look at the list of people I drafted and who is currently on my team right now and wondered if any of you experienced such a dramatic change of personnel by the mid-point of any given season.

2007/2008 Draft Class For Runner Up Superstar

Quick explanation of team name. Year 1 of league I head into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and lost in the finals to Greg who was the No. 2 seed. Wasn't even close. My team went into a state of funk unseen since the 70's.

Last season I head into the playoffs as the 4-seed and pull off a miracle comeback on Sunday in the semi-finals with a game winning goal by Milan Hejduk in overtime to break the tie in my match up with J.O.

Things seemed great going into the final day of the championship round against Gopher. At the conclusion of the final game of the NHL regular season I had earned a tie with Gopher and what would have been a win due to my superior numbers on offense. We even exchanged good ol’ fashioned scathing remarks back and forth online for a good 30 minutes, only to see a scoring change in the Avalanche's final game that saw a critical assist be taken off the board from Hejduk and handed to John-Michael Liles, who Gopher just happened to have on his team. It was the unheard of two-assist fantasy championship deciding swing that nearly left me in need of a new computer.

So to do the math, two years with these guys and two second place finishes. Hence, Runner Up Superstar. Now onto the opening day roster.

1. Jaromir Jagr RW
2. Marc-Andre Fleury G
3. Pavel Datsyuk C
4. Ray Emery G
5. Ryan Smyth LW
6. Michel Ouellet RW - Had him as a sleeper pick and somehow hit the wrong button taking him obviously way too early.
7. Henrik Sedin C
8. Brendan Shanahan LW
9. Brian Rolston LW,RW
10. Ryan Getzlaf C
11. Vesa Toskala G
12. John-Michael Liles D
13. Roman Hamrlik D
14. Marc-Andre Bergeron D
15. Ladislav Nagy LW
16. Patrik Elias C,LW

Now let's take a look at the roster at the All-Star Break.

Evgeni Malkin C,LW
Ryan Getzlaf C
Brian Rolston LW,RW
Brendan Shanahan LW
Jaromir Jagr RW
Daniel Alfredsson RW
Tobias Enstrom D
Mike Green D
Marek Zidlicky D
Dan Boyle D
Pavel Datsyuk C
Henrik Sedin C
Mike Knuble RW
Jean-Sebastien Giguere G
Ty Conklin G
Ray Emery G
Marc-Andre Fleury G (Currently on the IR with an expected return sometime around half-past never.)

With that roster someone please explain to me how as of this second I'm unofficially in 5th place? I trail first-place Gopher of all people by 50 points! I don't get it. I've made trades and stud waiver moves like Enstrom and Conklin and nothing is helping me get out of a dogfight with 5 other teams for a playoff spot.

Our league only allows 6 teams into the quest for glory and right now 8 teams are alive and kicking while the other two have been dead since before the draft even started. You know who these guys are, every league has at least 1 guy who says he's wicked excited to be in the league and may even talk some trash, but really you just allow him to participate because if gives the rest of the league a bye week every time they play him. Of course this sets everyone up for the ugly law of averages' face to show up and lay an embarrassing defeat on some poor soul. Fun for everyone else and yes I'm the guy who goes into every week thinking "Can I possibly avoid contact with everyone in the league for a month if I lose to this guy?"

In theory I should be able to gain some ground in the first couple of weeks after the break as I'm playing one of the aforementioned owners this week. If you don't hear from me until June, you'll know why.

NHL Predictions Gone Awry

Well, it's officially All-Star weekend and the playoff picture is still as blurry and murky as it was before the season started. As you'll recall, before the season I made team by team predictions and looking back on them, it seems I'm around the .500 mark.

As a side note, these predictions played more of a role in my competitive fantasy hockey league. As a result, I took Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan thinking to myself "With the new scoring talent on that team, these two stand to benefit."

I don't care that Jagr has turned it on a little bit as of late, 46 points for my 1st round pick is unacceptable. That sort of mediocrity should be illegal, though I suppose being mediocre gets some people elected as president of the United States but that sort of talk doesn't belong in this blog.

Oh and Shanahan, awful. I've been trying to pawn him off on any of the 9 other owners since Dec. 1. I had an offer on the table from my friend Gopher for the once struggling Alex Tanguay, but he got greedy and tried to use Tanguay as leverage to land Sergei Zubov and Henrik Lundqvist from another owner. No, I'm not bitter just pointing out the obvious. I won't even go into detail about who else he was offering, but let's just say 4 attempts got vetoed down faster than the dorkiest kid you knew in school asking out the head cheerleader. (Not speaking from personal experience, just simply stating a fact and if you try to bring up that whole "Beauty and the Geek" show, you don't deserve to watch hockey anymore.)

Anyway, let's just take a quick peek at the predictions from before the season for the East. (Actual place in standings in parentheses)

#15 - New York Islanders (8)
#14 - Washington Capitals (10)
#13 - Boston Bruins (7)
#12 - Atlanta Thrashers (11)
#11 - Florida Panthers (12)
#10 - New Jersey Devils (5)
#9 - Montreal Canadiens (4)
#8 - Tampa Bay Lightning (15)
#7 - Philadelphia Flyers (2)
#6 - Buffalo Sabres (13)
#5 - Toronto Maple Leafs (14)
#4 - Pittsburgh Penguins (6)
#3 - Carolina Hurricanes (3)
#2 - Ottawa Senators (1)
#1 - New York Rangers (9)

First thing that jumps into my head is how pathetic the Rangers have been for all but 5 games this season. About a week ago it dawned on me that I was an absolute idiot for buying into this team. Didn't management do this same thing in the late 90's starting when the brought Wayne Gretzky in and failed to make the playoffs? Seems to me this happened for a few years in a row and yet here it was happening again and I was like an alzheimer's patient doing something they always hated, but never remember they hated it until they were doing it once again. For that prediction I am ashamed. They could still turn it around, but it's going to have to happen fast.

Next on the blown picks list, the lowly Leafs. I've tried to look at this and find out the main reason for why they've been terrible all season long and all I can come up with is that Paul Maurice has lost the team. From watching their games when they've actually had a lead going into the third period, it's hard not to notice the lack of effort in the final stanza. The team comes out afraid to play and looks to just sit on a lead for 20 minutes. If anyone one the Leafs somehow comes upon this post, take note: YOU'RE NOT THE DEVILS! CONTINUE TO DO WHAT GOT YOU THE LEAD IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

Sorry for all the caps there, but it needs to stand out. Would this train of thought work out well in any other aspect of life? I don't think so. This is how fights between friends over the hot girl at the bar happen. If you wouldn't do it in the bar, don't do it on the ice. I'm considering alerting the authorities about my buddy Greg who should be on suicide watch after for being a fan of this team.

For pleasant surprises let's look at the Islanders, Bruins and Canadians. With the amount of big names that left the Island last season, who would've thought that they would pull together and be right in the thick of the Atlantic Division race?

As for the Bruins, the emergency signing of goaltender Alex Auld may have saved their season to this point. With Manny Fernandez on the shelf for the rest of the season and with Tim Thomas missing time, Auld stepped in and did a commendable job. We also got a couple chances to see young Tuukka Rask who came to Boston from Toronto in a deal for Andrew Raycroft. Did anyone see the 30 save stonewalling he put on the Leafs in his first game? Recently fired Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. must have been kicking himself hard for letting that kid get away.

The Canadians have been solid for most of the first half. Alexei Kovalev just keeps plugging along and sniping corners with that patented wrist shot off the rush. Due to his strong play (21G, 23A) the Habs are sitting with 60 points and are starting to reel in the struggling Senators who jumped out to a huge lead in the conference.

As for the West, my picks were slightly better. Let's recap.

#15 - Phoenix Coyotes (11)
#14 - Edmonton Oilers (13)
#13 - Columbus Blue Jackets (9)
#12 - Chicago Blackhawks (14)
#11 - Nashville Predators (10)
#10 - Los Angeles Kings (15)
#9 - Minnesota Wild (3)
#8 - St. Louis Blues (12)
#7 - Dallas Stars (2)
#6 - Calgary Flames (6)
#5 - Colorado Avalanche (8)
#4 - Anaheim Ducks (4)- I got one right!
#3 - Vancouver Canucks (7)
#2 - Detroit Red Wings (1)
#1 - San Jose Sharks (5)

If you'll recall I said I was going out on a limb with the Blues and I'm sticking by it. There's still plenty of time for them to get right back in this thing.

One thing I didn't plan on was the Red Wings being as dominant as they are. Henrik Zetterberg (28G, 33A) was on a tear and helping my fantasy stud Pavel Datsyuk (17G, 41A) become the great player we knew he could be. I wouldn't quite call this a miracle like the one Joe Thornton performed with Jonathan Cheechoo two years ago, since Datsyuk has been a consistent scorer for the last three years.

(Side note: If you have Cheechoo on your fantasy team, I don't know what's preventing you from dumping him. He's not going to be a consistent 40 goal scorer, let alone hit the 50 goal mark again. If he ever evolved into a consistent 30 goal scorer I'd be shocked.)

The Wild have had me impressed for the last month or so. I didn't think they would have the success they are having right now, but they are quickly looking like a force no one would want to see in the playoffs.

(Another side note, for some reason I cannot bear to part with Brian Rolston and while talking to Gopher a few days ago, I vehemently stated that I was done with him. I even went as far to be one click from having a replacement off the free agent list and convinced myself to let him have one more week. In that week, he's played three games and has three goals. Who says players don't pay attention to their fantasy value? Certainly not I. Keep it up Rolston or you're gone. Yes, I'm hoping it has the same effect again.)

Looking ahead it would appear that the pre-season picks may still have a chance at panning out better than they are at the halfway point. Unlike some analysts who actually get paid to do this (hopefully me someday), I'm going to stick by every pick
from above except for the Leafs and Bolts.

The team that will be best served by this All-Star break is the Penguins. Granted they will not be getting Sidney Crosby, Gary Roberts, Marc-Andre Fleury, etc. back after the break, it will give the younger guys who have been called up from Wilkes-Barre a little more time to get used to playing at the NHL level. This is a team that if they can remain in the hunt until they get healthy, that no one will want to face come playoff time. As for Ty Conklin's resurgence, I've watched him play since his college days at UNH and I've never seen him play as well as he is right now. He is the biggest reason for the Pens turn-around and being one point out of first in the division. Bravo TC!

I know the Rangers won't get back to lead the East, but when the season is over we can all look back on this and laugh.

Keep checking back as I now will have some more time to update this more frequently. I am planning on getting a new post up at least once a week.