Archive for July, 2007

img_5057.jpgThe Extra P. summer of baseball continues to roll along in fine style. I attended the Danville Braves game a couple of weekends ago, then stopped by the field in Bristol, even though the Sox affiliate was out of town that day. This weekend, I took the whole family, including wife, son, and elderly mother-in-law, to a Salem Avalanche game.

The Avalanche are a Houston Astros affiliate, and are members of the Advanced-A Carolina League. The Saturday game was against another Virginia-based team, the Potomac Nationals, who I plan to visit in their own digs in August.

img_5106.jpgFirst of all, let me say that Salem’s stadium could easily hold a AA or even AAA crowd. It is a very nice civic stadium with no bleachers – every seat in the house is a permanent folding theater-style chair. It has hosted events as large as the ACC baseball championships a few years ago.

They also had a massive play area for the kids. Lots of inflatable moonwalks and slides and such. This is still what my son chooses to do at ballgames, if it’s available, but he’s only four, so I’m cutting him some slack.

img_5117.jpgThe Nationals absolutely pounded Salem in this game. Aside from their ease at the plate, the Natty Lights turned defensive plays with aplomb, keeping the Avs from mounting any kind of meaningful comeback. The final score was 8-2.

As with most minor-league games, it was more about the atmosphere of the park than it was about the game itself. The sun went below the rim of the stadium in about the second inning, so the evening was relatively cool and pleasant. The mountain views were excellent. The only annoying presence in the stadium was the vendor shouting “PEANUTS… AND BEEER!” with no variation, for seven innings.

img_5210.jpgAnd a major shout-out goes to the food. The hotdogs were typically smushed and wrinkly, but the BBQ sandwiches I brought to the fam were universally adored. The Virginia style is to ladle on a generous portion of vinegary pulled pork, and then top it with an equal amount of cole slaw. It may sound strange, but it is one of the most delicious flavors on earth. I highly recommend it to anyone driving through the state. Of course it was an absolute mess to eat, but that’s ballpark food for you.

img_5060.jpgFinally, as we were leaving, pushing Granny in her portable wheelchair, stadium employees accosted us with loaves of Sara Lee bread. Apparently giving away multiple slices of honey wheat was part of the deal – I had no idea. They insisted that each adult take one, so we have three loaves of bread at home. If someone would just drop by with some peanut butter and jelly, we’d be all set.

All told, it was a wonderful experience. Everyone had fun, and we were extremely comfortable. For locals, the game is the thing, but for a sports drifter like me, game action mixed in with the food, the atmosphere, and the people to form a perfect summer experience, regardless of the final outcome.


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Ted Bauer writes What We Learned every weekend, unless he’s drunk at a wedding, trying to hook up. And, really, who can blame him? Not me. Oh, and he also writes A Price Above Bip Roberts.

The world might end soon
Barry Bonds’ next two stops on his chase of the Utter Disintegration of Society as We Understood It are Los Angeles (of which he once said, “You gotta be pretty good at your job to have 50,000 people telling you that you suck”) and San Diego, the city that threw a giant syringe at him last year. If Bonds breaks the record on the road, we’re all doomed. Remember those two kids running behind Aaron? (Craig Sager was there too!) Well, they’ll be a few kids running behind Bonds – cockney pickpockets, straight out of Family Guy, and armed to the gills.

… but there is hope
gwynnripkenmobettah1.jpgTwo of the biggest class acts in baseball history got inducted into the Hall of Fame: arguably the best hitter of the last 50 years (TG) and the most consistent, durable player in the modern era (CR). It also represented two guys who stayed with one team for their entire careers, a rarity in today’s Russ-Ortiz-take-the-money-and-run culture. If Bonds had broken the record on the same day two natural, lovable guys got plaques in upstate NY, it might have been the ultimate ironic twist on the current problems with sport and society.

Michael Vick thinks he’s innocent
At this point, I’m just waiting for the sit down with Gumbel. I think that’s when the real truth will come out.

Columbus, OH is not good in big games
Consider: Penn State vs. OSU two years ago – prime time. Tamba Hali makes Troy Smith look like – well, like Smith would look in the BCS Title Game 15 months later. Florida destroys ’em on the hardwood. And now, the Columbus Destroyers lose the ArenaBowl to San Jose. SAN JOSE? That’s not a sports town; it’s a nerd factory doubling as a “cool destination” because people have money. Joey Galloway co-owns the Destroyers, by the way. I’m not sure where that ranks on the depressing continuum of all that’s gone on in sports this week, but it’s up there, I think.

David Stern has seen better days
… he even admitted it, in a direct quote. The NBA will recover from this, eventually. I could be in the minority here, but I really don’t care about Donaghy, provided it is indeed an isolated incident. I kind of figured things of that nature were happening anyway – I bet a similar college basketball scandal will develop in the next 5 years, Blue Chips style. As long as TD was a “rogue, isolated criminal,” I’m fine with it to an extent. And to the people who say Stern “knows so much more” and “rigs things anyway” – if he wanted to rig things, he wouldn’t throw the Suns under the bus the way he has. The Suns in the Finals would be the best thing that ever happened to that dude.

The Cubs are coming
I tell my friends that I think my bachelor party will be atop the roof of one of those brownstones behind Wrigley. This is presumptive, specious logic in the sense that I can’t close the deal with any girl I meet, so who really cares what I think I might be doing when I finally get the nerve to get down on 1 knee in front of one? Still – it would be cool if I was engaged right now (for a myriad of reasons, I think), because it’s a good time to be a Cubs fan. As of Sunday night, they are .5 games out of first place in the NL Central, and Carlos Zambrano has won 14 games. Ted Lilly, whom I always thought was cool because of his first name but whom I also thought was dead or in Independent Ball, has 11 wins. WTF?

The Diamondbacks are also coming
Walk-off Thursday (Eric Byrnes). Walk off Friday (Tony Clark). Tied for the NL West lead as of Sunday. Having fun out there with a bunch of young kids – and dealing with losses to their pitching staff like Randy Johnson (out for the season) and Brandon Webb (hasn’t been himself). So long as they don’t drive a nail in New York’s heart like it’s 2001 all over again, I’m cool with them going far in the Dane Cook October dance.


Adrian Peterson is a rich man
I have him slated to break his collarbone Week 3 at Kansas City. I think Tamba Hali will be involved in some way. Pat Summerall, on the call: “Peterson … going in there. *PAUSE* OK. *PAUSE* He ain’t coming out.”

Jose Canseco says he has “stuff” on A-Rod
I got some ‘stuff’ too. He’s a philanderer. He has more emotional issues than most drug-addled runaways. He’s the most prodigious talent of his generation, yet potentially also the biggest flop. He’s a pussy (the Red Sox slap) and a bitch (the Blue Jays holler). Oh, you were talking about drugs? Yea, he probably does that too. And I grew up a Yankees fan.

Mark Teixeira probably should put his Dallas home on the market
I suppose Teixeira is a catch; actually, my ex-girlfriend used to live in an apartment complex in Houston with this guy who was drafted by the Orioles outta Rice. He told me once, back in ’04, “Watch out for the Orioles in like, five years. They’ll have Teixeira.” Uh huh. They might. However, the Annapolis native has to go somewhere first – I think him to Atlanta might put the Braves in the thick of the wild card chase, and I think him to the Angels could make the AL a three-team race (Angels, Tigers, Sox) rather than a two-team one (Sox, Tigers). By the way, my friend last night, as we were imbibing (he’s a Sox guy): “I’m not worried about an ALCS against the Tigers. We’ll just hit it to their pitchers and let them f*ck up the game.”

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voodoosabermetricsbanner1.PNGVoodoo Sabermetrics reminds us that our love for the team includes our love of individual players. We usually have a favorite superstar hitter or pitcher or both. But what about those guys that you just… like (or hate)? Maybe someone who pinch hits or steals a base now and then. Maybe an aging vet who is like an extra coach in the dugout. Rather than judge everyone by their stats, we’re going to use unique categories and scoring methods to check out baseball’s characters.

Our High Voodoo Council are:

Jack Cobra from The Cobra Brigade Neighbor Quotient and Scrappiness
Texas Gal from Ladies… Hottness and Behavior
The Goldfish Cowboy and eDayStat from A Pudge is a Sandwich Clutchness
Adam from Bugs & Cranks Atomic Number and Exposure
Sooze from Babes Love Baseball Jollyness
TC from Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism Appearance and Quotability
Extra P. from The Extrapolater Name Quality (including nicknames)

This day had to come. How could we call ourselves professionals (OK, really dedicated amateurs) if we didn’t talk about this guy, now that he’s on the doorstep of baseball’s most hallowed record? It had to be done. TC, ever the contrarian, seems to actually like him. But what I’ve done to Texas Gal is borderline criminal. We pushed her out of the car for Cole Hamels, and then ushered her back aboard for this guy. To quote Joseph Welch from the Army-McCarthy hearings: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”.

Well, I guess I don’t. See what he’s done to American society?

Meet Barry *shudder* Bonds

bondsdurface.jpgName: Barry Lamar Bonds. With the middle name included, it kind of sucks, but when I was a kid, I kind of liked hearing “Barry Bonds”. It had a nice alliteration to it, especially when he and Bobby Bonilla were teammates. Back then, he still wasn’t likeable, but he hadn’t tipped the scale over to “flaming asshole” just yet.

Barry doesn’t really have a nickname, in my opinion. Sports nicknames are usually bestowed via clubhouse cameraderie, or public admiration, and Barry has intentionally and firmly closed himself off from both sources of appreciation. We hear derisive references like “BALCO Barry”, “Barroid”, and “Big Head”, but none of those will appear on his Cooperstown plaque, assuming he ever gets one. My current favorite is Sooze’s sobriquet for the man – Barry Lamar Cheaterface.

I guess I have to give him credit for the alliteration, but that’s it.

2 out of 10.


adam_godson.jpgAtomic Number: Barry’s atomic number is 5, which if you’re scoring at home, used to be the number for Boron. Now it just called Barroid, which is coincidentally a metalloid that expands over time when bonded with cream (Cr) and clear (Cl). It’s highly reactive, especially to media criticism, and is generally seem as a combustible substance.

300_barroid.jpgIn its most elemental form, Barriod begins small, quick and dangerous. Combined with Jealousy (Je), Barriod is strongly attracted to Cr and Cl, which causes dramatic physical changes most notably the growth of the cranium and feet. Oh, and your balls shrivel up like raisins.


I had never heard of this guy, but that’s because I only know about baseball through video games. The Giants have had some really awesome hitters like John Dowd, Wes Mailman, Joe Young, Dean Gibeau, and Reggie Stocker, but no Barry Bonds. Plus, those guys looked nothing like him.

Besides, Barry is waaaaay bigger than the players’ association , so why would he need to be involved in a half-ass operation like that? How could you capture all of his awesomeness on one baseball card or in one video game, or in any other officially licensed deal? Just not possible. Thankfully, though, he’ll finally get some exposure now that he’s stopped hiding from ESPN and they’ll cover every single at-bat until he either hits three home runs or his face caves in and he decides to host a late night horror show.

Bonds may have been related to some other major leaguers, but I knew him as Bobby Bonds, Jr.’s brother. I was fortunate enough to see BBJ play for the Waterloo (IA) Diamonds growing up and he’s still the only guy I’ve personally witnessed striking out 5 times in a game. A low A-ball game. And he was in his mid- 20s. Now he’s a forklift driver, which hopefully he’s better at. But back to BBJ’s brother.

Apparently it’s in vogue to write books about how Barry Bonds isn’t a very nice guy. Well that doesn’t seem very sporting, does it, kettle? For anyone that watched ESPN from say, 2001-2003, you might remember you couldn’t turn it on without some talking head giving Bonds a verbal BJ. But Bonds’ real exposure didn’t come until the steroids scandal began to unfold. People needed a villain, and no one filled that role better than Barry. Let’s just hope that Barry doesn’t follow his mistress into the realm of actual exposure.


Neighbor Quotient: I firmly believe that living next to ‘The Left Fielder from San Francisco’ would be very similar to living next to a Meth dealer. You know that he’s doing something illegal next door, but it’s being done in his basement so it will be hard to prove. Every time you talk to him he has the ‘crazy look’ in his eye, which makes you stop from confronting him. Still, you want to kick the living shit out of him every single day, especially since there are little kids around the neighborhood…..-4390 out of 10

Scrappiness: If ‘The Left Fielder from San Francisco’ died tomorrow I have to believe my life would change very little. Because his Father was MLB player, I have to believe he rarely had to work to hard to get ahead in life. While he somehow found a way to cheat his way into the record books, I still don’t consider that scrappy. In my opinion, the only time he’s been close to being scrappy in the last decade is when he was in that dugout altercation with Jeff Kent a few years back…..-86390 out of 10


texasgal-96.jpgHOTTNESS: n/a

Try as we might, all attempts to contact Texas Gal resulted in dead ends. Then we received the following teletype transmission in the wee hours of the morning (yes, I labor over my telegraph device long into the night, monitoring the status of the system of tubes.  Isn’t technology wonderful?), marked as originating in “Crazytown”:



mrthursday-96.jpgMy numerical scores will correlate to the alcohol contents of various beers. In case you care, here’s the scoring system.

Quotability. Barry comes off like an asshole, like a snake oil salesman, like a shyster, and and like an intelligent, genuine, charming guy, all at the same time. Barry does say what he thinks, though, at any moment. And his thoughts have been twisted and complex enough to warrant a lot of interest over the years. Willie Mays probably gets talked about a lot more now than he did a few years ago because of Barry’s frequent adulation for his godfather. Frank Robinson, too. And all that stuff is great. But I want to concentrate on one, oft overlooked Barry-quote: ” Thursday morning I went to see Star Wars Episode III and I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie.” Now, I saw Episode III in the theaters, twice. But I’m what you’d call a “fanboy” and I’m compulsively obliged to see Star Wars movies. But Episode III features the following lines:

Padme: Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo, so long ago when there was nothing but our love.
Anakin: Love won’t save you, Padme! Only my new powers can do that!
Obi-Wan (to Anakin): Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

I find the third one there especially funny. I mean, Star Wars Episode III is one of the most enjoyably terrible movies in recent cinema. And Barry likes it? Well, that’s okay by me. Barry, have yourself a Victory V-12.

Addendum to Quotability: Since the writing of the above section, Barry Bonds referred to Bob Costas–an arrogant “announcer” who stopped announcing non-Olympic sporting events a decade ago–as a “little midget man” who doesn’t know anything about baseball. This comes on the heels of an episode of Costas show, Costas Now, in which Bonds was lambasted. As the expression goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and though Costas is not my enemy, exactly, “He who hates what I hate, can have an extra Voodoo Sabermetrics beer on me”. Way to go, Barry.

bondspirates.jpgAppearance. The easy thing to talk about, regarding the appearance of Barry Bonds, is merely how he was so much cooler as a Pirate, with a moustache, than as a Giant, with a bloated, hairless dome. In the 1980 and most of the 1990s, Barry had a lean athletic look, an earring dangling off one lobe, and a strong, neat, moustache responsible for hitting doubles all over the place. Yeah, Little Barry was a sweet looking human.

But I’d rather talk about Big Barry. I’d like to tell you, briefly, my favorite Barry Bonds moment, ever. No, it’s not when he dressed up as Paula Abdul.

In the fall of 2002, I was a freshman in college. My hall–all dudes–was conveniently obsessed with baseball, and so we gathered in our RA’s room to watch most of the playoff games. My roommate–a diehard (and somehow lovable) Red Sox fan–was so overjoyed when the Angels defeated the Yankees, he ran through our small campus in a Speedo and giant rainbow, afro-wig, screaming. Such was his enthusiasm, that the rest of the hall, with no particular rooting interest, developed a minor fandom for the Anaheim Angels, in particular, their wild-eyed closer, Troy Percival. Troy, of course, was never clean-shaven, his clothes hung loosely from his frame, his hat was muffed and hung off his head. He was a relic. But, he also threw 95mph, and the Twins couldn’t touch him in the ALCS.

So, we come to the World Series, Game 2, after the Giant took the first game. The Angels held a two run lead going into the ninth, and Barry is scheduled to hit 3rd. Percival, looking hungover on the mound, induces a couple of sissy flyouts, and so, with no one one, two outs, and a two run lead, Barry Bonds stepped to the plate. Barry looked enormous. He hit 73 home runs the year before. In 2002, more than half his hits were for extra bases, even though Barry couldn’t run. Everything, for a moment that didn’t really matter, stopped.

He was the single most intimating presence I have ever seen in any sport. Pedro Martinez in the late 1990s, when people were lucky just to make contact wasn’t like this. Tiger Woods, a stroke back of the leader on a Sunday during a major, wasn’t like this. Ray Lewis, having been charged with murder, was like that while staring down a QB before the snap. Maybe, maybe, Michael Jordan, with the game on the line, seemed so imposing. But basketball isn’t such a game of moments. There are so many pauses when all the air gets sucked from an outdoor structure just because a guy who was better at his job than all the other guys who ever held his job before. Some idiot in the room, who probably blogs about athletes and offers them beers based on their appearance, remarked, “Troy’s got Barry here.” Naturally, just moments later, Barry hit a home run so far he was rounding second base when it landed.

Barry, you’re not a handsome man, and I imagine 12 years ago, you’d score much higher on the Hotness scale than you do now, but, in appearance, there’s been no one quite as imposing, terrifying, or memorable as you. A Utopias, for you. Enjoy it.




The attitude of Barry Bonds is a complex issue. There’s a formula which has to be precisely followed in order to induce any signs of jolliness in Barry, which include but are not limited to: smiling, chuckling and/or joking around.

First, Barry has to be on his home field. Second, there must be no sign of the media, hot dog vendors or rain. Third, you must never mention steroids, Hank Aaron or Jeff Kent.

All in all, Bonds is one of the most-unjolly players in the game. Actually, he was voted the unfriendliest by players in a SI.com poll this past May. Shocking, I know! I’ll give Barry a Walter Matthau as Coach Buttermaker on the jollity scale. And that’s me being generous.




eDayStat: I don’t think any conversation on Bonds should begin without mentioning his most significant trait. The man’s middle name is Lamar.

TheGoldfishCowboy: Well you know I have a fondness for Lamars. Lamar Alexander was a former president at the University of Tennessee.

eDay: I wouldn’t even let Bonds be president of GNC. But I’ll let that one hang. What we’re here to talk about is BB’s clutchness.

whosonfirst.jpgTGC: That reminds me of a time when I was having my clutch repaired and Bonds had blown a tranny. But that’s probably a story for a different time and place. The people really want to know about Bond’s baseball clutchness.

eDay: The only thing clutch about Bonds is what he does to those man-boobs he’s developed from years of needle abuse.

TGC: I don’t really mind the steroid abuse, but the guy is just a dick.

eDay: No actually Richard Bonds is a boxer from Ripley, Tennessee. But in my opinion clutch ratings are a comparitive study. You can compare to the best, but I’d like to compare Bonds to A-Rod because everyone sees him as a horrific clutch player.

TGC: I know I definately think Bonds is a bigger dick than A-Rod.

eDay: Point taken, but A-Rod always gets hammered because of his playoff results. Bonds hits .245 in the playoffs and only .194 in 13 All-Star appearances. A-Rod hits .280 in the playoffs and a shade over .290 in the mid-season classic. Both players have been in the playoffs and All-Star game enough to make those numbers statistically significant.

TGC: How could you even measure how clutch Bonds is when he’s played on a 75 win team most of his career?

eDay: Agreed, in 22 seasons he’s only been to the playoffs 7 times. A-rod has been in the playoffs 6 times in 14 seasons. He’s also hit over .300 4 times in a plaoff series. That’s something Bonds only did once. TGC, what do you think?

TGC: What was that? I wasn’t paying attention.

(editor’s note: for more great sports banter, tune in to the Super Monday podcast every Monday night at 9pm ET.  You can also hear archived casts, including the Extrapolater guest shot from last week.)


Ordinarily, I (Extra P.) write the postscript, or “coda”, if you will, for each Voodoo Sabermetrics. But during our email exchanges about Mr. Bonds, TC came up with a spectacular conspiracy theory that I believe trumps anything I could have written. Take it away, TC:

Has anyone else noticed that, cranially speaking, Billy Joel and Barry Bonds have aged very similarly?


I mean, is Billy on steroids? Or is Barry on softrock? The progression is uncannily similar. You can even find pictures from their middle stages of cranium enlargement with Billy circa ‘Storm Front’ and Barry right when he was making the move from Pittsburgh to San Francisco.

Oddly, entertainment value runs a similar course. Figure, years 1 through 6 for both included some impressive stuff, but not overwhelming adoration. Years 7 through 16 brought on possible Hall of Fame comparisons (Gold Gloves and homers for Barry, Gold Albums and Grammys for Billy).

16 through the present brought on immense entertainment through new means for both guys. Barry started walking 200 times a year and hitting millions of home runs while being booed everywhere he went. Billy drank enough to trash his voice, and toured so he could pay his drunk driving fines. Great stuff.

Great Stuff indeed! Thanks to everyone for helping kick a man while he’s undeservedly on top of the world!


Read past issues of Voodoo Sabermetrics here.

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If you’re looking for something to do with your lazy Sunday afternoon, and you can’t wait until football starts up, I’ve got just the thing for you. Blogroll stalwarts It’s Still Football are plying their press credentials at the Arena Bowl (I know, they don’t know how it happend, either), and are putting up fantastic posts on a regular basis, including this one-on-one interview clip with Matt Nagy of the Columbus Destroyers:

Check it out, they always do it with humor and… more humor.

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I’m all kinds of excited about this one. Michael Litos of The CAA: Life as a Mid Major has moved his blog from Blogger to WordPress. This is going to be great come basketball season.

Here’s the new address.

I’m a fan of the CAA, which is similar to the MVC in being a so-called High Mid Major (Is that like being Southwest Louisiana State or something?  Too many modifiers.), and I’ve been gettin’ some education at Old Dominion, so I’ve been a fan for a while.

Welcome, Mike!

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jorgedelarosa_1.jpgI know what you’re saying right now, really, I do. “Damn, Extra P. You still high from your Saltalamacchia post or something? Why the hell I got to meet this guy? I’ve never heard of him!”

I know, me either. And I grew up in KC.

But Jorge De La Rosa is my new hero, because he pitched 5 1/2 innings last night and blanked the Yanks, goading A-Rod into a hitless night as well. Kudos, Jorge. Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame, because for a guy like you, they don’t come around very often.

Now, big caveat here: I have always said that I would much rather see the Royals beat the tar out of AL Central foes on a regular basis than the Yankees, but I won’t lie, I still like looking up and seeing that pissy face the Yankees make when they have a rough outing against a clearly inferior club. It’s pure schadenfreude. I’m weak like that.

So far this year, Jorge De La Rosa has put together an 8-10 record and an ERA just north of 5. He is from Monterrey, Mexico, and was originally signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched middle relief for Milwaukee in the big leagues, and then K.C., before mysteriously getting a chance to start. That makes last night’s performance all the more astonishing.

I also love how Baseball Reference does the Similarity Scores thing at the bottom of each player’s page. Here are Jorge’s statistical doppelgangers:

  1. Ed Connolly (992)
  2. Ron Moeller (988)
  3. Bunky Stewart (983)
  4. Steve Searcy (982)
  5. Emil Bildilli (981)
  6. Roger Bowman (979)
  7. Ray Pierce (977)
  8. Curt Wardle (975)
  9. Stew Bolen (973)
  10. Willard Hunter (972)

That’s right, people. Stew Fuckin’ Bolen. The immortal Emil Bildilli! Don’t play when Jorge’s on the mound, he’s likely to go all Bunky Stewart on your ass.

So, hats off to you, Jorge De La Rosa. Now some poor sucker in Baltimore gets to go down in history as the guy who gave up A-Rod’s #500 (though this is up for some interesting debate, anyway). Seeing as how you already have your name written on #400 in indelible ink.

Now, if it’s not too much trouble, can you get some of this mojo working on Detroit, Minnesota, and Cleveland? The White Sox can take care of themselves, obviously.

Nosotros Creemos!

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footballcupcake.pngI’ll be pissing excellence over at Loser With Socks throughout college football season, with a new feature I call The Cupcake Report. Today I debuted the rules of the game and named the easiest and toughest schedules being played by programs with BCS dreams. A sample:

Arkansas is devouring more cupcakes than Charlie Weis at a toddler’s birthday party – they top the list of shame with a full four null games: Troy, North Texas, Chattanooga, and Florida International, all at home. Really going for the gusto down there, Hawgs!

Read the rest here, and then look for a weekly cupcake report starting in late August, when the schedulemakers start really cranking them out.

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