Playoff Week #2 Tuesday, Dec 22 2009 

So let’s recap what I thought were the Key Factors leading into this week’s matchup against the #1 team in the division:

he has 3 NE players: Brady, Moss nad RB Lynch. In Buffalo. Weather may play a huge factor for yet another team that has the ‘overload on one team and ride them to victory’ approach. Plus, Moss is pouting. I do have Welker that will alleviate some of the damage that Brady might do.
Well, the RB was actually Maroney….anyway, the weather was not a factor. No wind, perfect conditions. Fortunately, Buffalo has a stout secondary and so this triple threat fared ‘good’ but not ‘great’. Brady: 115 Pass Yards and one TD. Poor. Moss: 70Yd, 5 Recpt, 1 TD. Average. Maroney: 81RuYd, 1 RuTD : above average. I was more than happy to sacrifice my Welker to this mediocre outing: 40ReYd and 4Recpt – by far the worst of the season. But a small price to pay. Chalk this factor up to Ruddigers.

he has Dallas Clark, who I traded to him earlier this season. He is having a monster season – but Indy has clinched homefield. So will he play a full game? Or just enough to still do damage?
This player went on Thursday night to open the week. I went to my buddy Ian’s house to check out his newly finished basement and watch the game in HD on his 50″ Panasonic (you had to outdo me!) along with Pat. This game was a worst case scenario for me and was a very poor way to start things off. Poor enough that I was preparing myself for inevitable defeat. Clark came to play for the whole game and it was a close one a high scoring. He was involved to say the least: 95Yd, 2TD, 7Recpt. That is a 15.1 pt monster. And as this is the guy I traded to him earlier this year, you might was well call this a 30pt swing in the scoring. Ouch. Even though I fared well in that trade at the time, it is a clear reminder to me that I should think twice before trading within division. Besides, now that V.Y. is back, I don’t even need the QB he traded to me, I don’t even play the TE he gave me, and the only value I see in his draft pick he sent me is that he is forced to drop 4 players next year to satisfy the agreement. But wait, this might be more value than I initially thought: I’m certain he is going to have a very big problem trying to find 4 players to drop without giving up a great player. He probably doesn’t want to draft next year. I’m thinking I can probably offer him back that draft pick so he can avoid this altogether. Since his pick is going to be 10th, I can either offer to delay the pick for a year hoping he does worse next year and/or trade that pick for a couple of guys I see on his team that could go before I would get a chance at them with his 10th pick (my personal draft pick will be no higher than 11th for reasons to be revealed shortly)

he has Andre Johnson, the primary receiver for my QB Schaub. This may limit the damage I can do to him. But since they’re up against the lowly Rams, I have to ride my QB.
Well, I rode my QB and he played to his average, which is top 3 QB scoring caliber so not complaining. Unfortunately, as expected, everything was offset by the fact that he threw most of his yards and his only TD pass to Johnson. We effectively negated each other. Which in the end was probably a plus for me since my Welker effectively did the same to his Brady. I’m loving the fact that his 2 best players were offset by these two players. The remainder of my team is by far better than his.

I have Grant going against Pitt. Not a great matchup. Could be a bust, but I don’t have viable alternatives because…..
Well, I played Grant, and it was looking like a serious bust with only 5 carries with 6min left in the game. 13 yds rushing = 0.4 pts. The Pack was constantly trying to keep up with Big Ben’s record 500+ passing yds. By the time this was playing out, I had the towel in my hand and was about to throw it in. Then, and truly it is one of those miraculous fantasy moments: even though behind in the game with 6 min to go (i.e. not ever likely to be another running play), they hand off to Grant and he busts through the #1 rushing defence known as ‘The Steel Curtain’ and breaks out a 24 yd Rushing TD. That, my friends, was THE pivot to the game. After being down all day by 20-25 pts (thanks to Dallas Clark), I finally clawed over the top and took a slim 3 pt margin. A couple of late game passes to S.Holmes (same game by the way…next drive in which Pitt took the ball down to the endzone and made a game ending/winning TD) and I was 5.1 points ahead going into Monday night.

Steven Jackson may not go this week. This is the most critical point. Without him going, I’m in serious trouble. Already scrambling for alternatives and deciding if my backups are viable.
I lost the most sleep with this one: I flip-flopped between Hightower and Jackson right up to game time. But when Jackson was listed as starter avoiding both H1N1 and playing through herniated discs, I opted to roll the dice on my stud and let the gods decide. Hightower unpredictably ended up with more points, but S.JAX did not disappoint and finished with a strong 82RuYd and 41ReYd on 4 catches. A very respectable outing that made a difference.

My kicker has a dream outing against DET. Unfortunately, he has a groin issue and will likely be a game time decision. Which means I may need to scramble minutes before the game.
Well, that kicker was actually held out so I had to scramble for an alternative. I ended up picking the right one off the waiver: the one who is kicking in a dome against a poor defence. Tough to say no, even though he is having an awful season. True, he ended up missing a 52 yarder, but he more than made up the miss with 3 FG and 1 XP. A very strong outing for a kicker.

So, in the end, every key factor was a winning choice for me. And then, well, there were key factors that I hadn’t even thought about that played an even bigger role in winning:
1) Even though my Packers defence had a better matchup on paper, I swapped them out last minute for my Eagles defence (both are #1 and #2 fanasy wise BTW, nice problem to have) and avoided certain demise. The Pack were smoked by Big Ben and ended up -0.5 while the Eagles enjoyed a robust 14 point outing agains the surprising 49ers.
2) What will likely be talked about as the luckiest move of the week: at the last minute I sat my TE from the trade and started an unknown Fred Davis from Washington that I grabbed from the waiver. Owned by <40% of leagues and started by few, I made a gut call and sat my proven #1 for this apparent wildcard. This brought about the biggest drama of all…..

So after clawing all Sunday to absorb the Dallas Clark debacle, with the help of a dream last minute TD from Grant, I was finally in a lead. A slim lead of 5.1 points. a very magical number indeed.

With his kicker yet to go, 5.1 points covers even a 50+ fieldgoal (5pts). My last second TE replacement also yet to go. Very uncomfortable security. I was anxious the entire day for this game to go. Thinking about all the hard-luck loss scenarios that I might encounter. It would suck to lose by mere tenths of points.

Pregame: weather ideal for both kicking and passing….narrowly avoiding a blizzard that just came through. Game in WAS gives me some hope that my hometown TE can produce enough to stave off whatever his kicker will produce: 9-10 points is a typical outing.

What proceeds to happen over the 1st half I would consider to be on the verge of WORST-CASE-SCENARIO: By half time, the kicker’s team has accumulated 24 points: 1FG and 3XPs = 6 pts. Enought be .9 ahead of me with 30min to go. My TE MUST produce and improve upon the 0 points thus far. Aside: My other TE that I swapped out had ended up with 2.3 pts…enough to be still on top if I had stayed pat. At the end of the 1st half, to add insult, I was a hare’s breath away from a TD score. I’ll never forget the feeling: a dropped pass that brought me from exultation down to ‘what could have been’. This, of course, is the reason for Fantasy Football. The feeling of winning pitted against the agony of defeat. If you don’t know what I mean, watch ‘The League’.

This game was going poorly. Washington’s offence was ridiculously inept and I was certain I was toast. I had studied this TE and felt he had other wordly catching skills. Useless skills if the QB cannot get the ball out of his own hands, or, at least on target. The only positive thing to take from the 1st half is that he was the primary target for most inept pass attempts.

Then, as it happens after many halftimes, Washington changed strategy and went to a playaction strategy and lo’ they started clicking….and Fred Davis was the focus of the attack. Just as I had planned it! Soon into the 3rd quarter, he received a 5 yd pass on the 5yd line and, what felt like an eternity, he dodged two apparent tackles and dragged 2 defenders into the endzone. One of those moments where you can’t believe what your seeing as it unfolds in your favour. To a limited few in the world, that play was as exciting as any sporting play ever to have happened. To the rest of the world, it was a meaningless TD in a meaningless game where the game was already way out of reach.

This score placed me back up in front with a 4.5 point lead. Enough to cover a 30-49yd FG. With 1.5 quarters to go. Without going into gorey details, the next 1/2 hr was a see-saw of emotions where situation after situation unfolded where there was a great possibility that a FG was likely to happen. And this is when watching football gets weird. You start hoping for certain plays to succeed or fail depending on the situation. Sheer confusion for somebody who watching with me but not vested in the game….sorry Pat, but I’m sure you enjoyed watching the agony. One minute your praying for a reception. The very next play, at the same yardline, you are praying for the exact opposite. You want whatever scenario to unfold that minimizes points.

And, when all is said and done, it unbelievably worked out in my favour. The Giants continued to score TDs instead of FGs which resulted in my team preserving a lead that was never less than 3pts. Everytime an XP was scored, I countered with a reception. It was always tight, but I never relinquished the lead. Fantastic!

Now I’m off to the finals….and, I think I may have my TE for the future. Fred Davis has skills and is only in his 2nd year. Definitely softens the *mistake* I made trading away Clark.

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Playoff Week #1 Tuesday, Dec 15 2009 

Well, against my instincts – I ended up demolishing my week 1 opponent. Even though his big three in Baltimore went nuts against a weak Detroit defence. It was frustrating at the time to turn to that game and see bizarre play after bizarre play that resulted in huge outings for him.

Thankfully the pain was offset by my team coming out strong. Within the 1st 20 seconds of the games, Schaub had already thrown a 64 yd TD and Ryan Grant ran off a 62 yd rushing TD.

The final score was 107.7 – 80.3. I’ve been on the other end of these outings where you score enough to beat EVERYONE ELSE but the guy you went up against. I gather he, along with many other owners, is infuriated by the display put on by Brandon Marshall. I had the pleasure of owning this WR who set an NFL record by catching 21 passes. And then to add 200 yds receiving and 2 receiving scores results in a monster to beat all monsters. He netted 35.3 points. Without that outing, I lose.

My friend Pat was over so I didn’t have the computer on until after halftimes. After seeing Baltimore go crazy on Det, I figured I was a goner. Very nice surprise to boot up and see the huge margin I had. Coming into last nights MNF, I was 38 pts up. He had TE and ARZ DEF/ST to go. So it was not out of reach.

A little anxiety early on in that game as his TE quickly gets a TD and his DEF a couple of picks. By half he narrowed the margin to 18 pts. That’s the closest he got as his DEF crumbled and my kicker made 1 FG.

So now I play the #1 position in the division. I squeaked one out earlier this season. Some keys to deciding this match will be:
- he has 3 NE players: Brady, Moss nad RB Lynch. In Buffalo. Weather may play a huge factor for yet another team that has the ‘overload on one team and ride them to victory’ approach. Plus, Moss is pouting. I do have Welker that will alleviate some of the damage that Brady might do.
- he has Dallas Clark, who I traded to him earlier this season. He is having a monster season – but Indy has clinched homefield. So will he play a full game? Or just enough to still do damage?
- he has Andre Johnson, the primary receiver for my QB Schaub. This may limit the damage I can do to him. But since they’re up against the lowly Rams, I have to ride my QB.
- I have Grant going against Pitt. Not a great matchup. Could be a bust, but I don’t have viable alternatives because…..
- Steven Jackson may not go this week. This is the most critical point. Without him going, I’m in serious trouble. Already scrambling for alternatives and deciding if my backups are viable.
- My kicker has a dream outing against DET. Unfortunately, he has a groin issue and will likely be a game time decision. Which means I may need to scramble minutes before the game.

So, if everybody were healthy, I would be a slight favourite. Because they are not, I’m certain I’ll be going in as an underdog. This is going to be a tough one. But now that I’ve defeated that one team I thought to be undeserving of a playoff berth, everything is pretty much gravy from this point on.

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Ha Monday, Dec 14 2009 

Olivia gave me a good laugh on Saturday. We were listening to ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ by Queen. The unique thing about this song is that it features a lot of unusual instruments and sounds like kazoos and dampened trumpets. That 30’s sort of sound. During the instrumental ‘jam’ part of the song she said: “I like this part of the song. It reminds me of Mario game”. Nice.

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A New Camcorder just in the nick of time for Olivia’s first Xmas concert Friday, Dec 11 2009 

Our 4 year old Canon Digital camcorder went kaput. It uses the Mini digital tapes….the load mechanism on the camcorder failed and we can no longer load tapes for viewing or recording. Which leads to the problem that I have a bunch of used tapes that I need to somehow get the data off of and onto PC and DVD for archiving. But that’s another story.

I went and purchased a Sony XR200 HD AVCHD camera yesterday. In a rush since we needed it for Olivia’s school concert last night. Very slick piece of hardware. Do not purchase a camcorder unless it is HD!

After fiddling around with it, I’m still confused about a couple of things: 1) What does the ‘easy’ button actually do and if I use it, will it wipe out all my customized settings? 2) What is the technical difference between the HDSD (which is default) mode, HDHQ and HDFH? I’m assuming HDFH is highest quality as it takes up more storage. But when I view it on my TV it all looks the same to me. I wish I could find more about this stuff, including the benefits/disads of most of the features. Another example is the ability to change the sound capture from standard to this mode that reacts to the zoom in/out and the panning away and to subjects. Also, the face/smile recognition. The manual is horrendous in explaining anything and I haven’t yet found anything on the web that describes these features in more detail and provide guidelines for setting them in various situations.

Anyway, the concert was a very special experience for all of us. A benchmark in our lives: the first time one of the kids has performed onstage and in public. Olivia was part of her class in singing ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth’. I’m so glad we captured the moment in HD. When watching it on the TV last night, it really felt like being there again.

One thing I’ll always remember: the weater was atrocious. We live only 5 minutes away on a good day. 15 minutes last night. With the horrendous weather conditions, I was shocked to discover the parking lot was packed full and spilling onto the road 20 minutes before the concert began. It appears that parents are fanatical when it comes to their children. Go figure.

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The inevitability of finishing strong Tuesday, Dec 8 2009 

In the first season and only season that I won the H2H football league, I won the championship. Even though I managed to sneak into the playoffs. The plus side was that I had a healthy team and *probably* had really good matchups for my players. I can’t remember. Ignorance is bliss.

The next two years I continued to strengthen my team depth enough to stave off injuries and again sneak into the playoffs (all 3 past years I’ve managed 7-6 records). But those two years were 1st week eliminations. Due to poor decisions made on my part along with good matchups for my competition.

This year it’s a different story, but I am expecting a heartbreak. I finished 2nd in an extremely strong division this year: 10-3 to the leader, 9-4 for me, 8-5 for 3rd and 6-7 4th. So not much difference between me and my 1st round competitor. I narrowly missed 1st place and a much easier 1st round matchup due to the leader squeaking out a narrow narrow win this week. I

The sad news is that because of this, I’m up against an owner who has 3 players pitted against THE weakest defence. And they are 3 of the more significant players on his team….in fact, they are basically the reason why he is where he is. A team that lives and dies with the matchups. A team therefore that I simply cannot respect as the strategy is very limiting. But, alas, it just so happens that this week bodes well for him if it unfolds as it’s supposed to. A team, also, that ‘doubly’ annoys me because he has snatched up two castaways that I had drafted in previous years but dropped for various reasons.

The good news is that although finishing a strong second as pertaining to record, I have the fortune of owning a very productive team that runs very, very deep. I have a very young roster that is not even entering its prime. And some strong dynasty keepers waiting in the wings. So my future is bright and I can withstand significant injury issues. Which is probably why I finished with the highest power rating: a combination of record (2nd overall), points for (1st overall) and competition breakdown (1st overall)….competition breakdown means toughness of schedule, which I had the pleasure of owning.

I outscore everybody on average which means, that given the likelihood my opponent will likely score better than his average, that number may not even reach my average. Add that to the fact that my projected roster has decent matchups means I should score well.

So, some mixed feelings: on paper this will not be a walkover for me. Which adds a level of anxiety. But, if the alternative were that I were a serious heavy favourite (as opposed to the slight favourite I am currently) – I may be overconfident and set up for the big fall.

Barring any of my players hitting the injury report and missing next week ( my QB and #1 RB are both banged up, my #2 receiver is already listed as doubtful), I expect a tight match. And I usually don’t end up on the winning side of tight matches. If I do lose one of my key players, that may be enough to tip the scales. I do have depth as I mentioned, but that depth introduces a bit of a wildcard in predicting my score.

The playoff format of H2H inheritly produces sudden heartbreak. That’s what makes it exciting. Even though I had a spectacular season that was dominant, it all comes down to who’s hot. The parity in the league is such that I can and have lost to almost every team at some point over the last couple of seasons. So on any given Sunday….

But I’m due for some playoff fortune. Two previous close and tough losses. Can’t have 3 in a row. At any rate, the regular season was much fun. I have 2 1st round draft picks next season due to a wiley trade I made, and I like the looks of my team for many years to come. So losing won’t be the end-all be-all.

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Time for arcade machine maintenance Wednesday, Dec 2 2009 

It’s been exactly 4 years since the completion of the arcade cabinet. Wow, it is only a few months younger than Olivia! My new phaze I’m going through is Joust. Man, Williams made the best games: Robotron, Joust, Defender, Ladybug. Sure they reused some sounds and graphics but the playout of these games are awesome and unique.

Anyway, I wanted to play centipede the other day and realized that my trackball is kaput. So, it’s finally time for a tuneup. Some of the buttons need tightening as well. I’m impressed how well the machine has held up. Barring replacement of the CPU and probably the monitor, the joystick console itself looks like it’ll withstand many many years…..or until Christien spills a beer that fries it’s motherboard. But that won’t be until he’s 19, right?

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20 words for the past while Wednesday, Dec 2 2009 

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done this and my memory is fuzzy but….

- won our league ending golf tournament by shooting 1 over. Raked in some nice prizes including GPS, golf jacket and cash
- won the fantasy baseball league in a tight race.
- watched Olivia progress through her first few months of school. Wow
- watched Christien star walking waaaayyyy too early (11 months). That boy is a lean machine. And strong!
- moved my Mom out of my childhood home. Were some sad moments walking through it and around the property. Also sad at times throwing away memories – the new condo doesn’t have enough room for everything. Once settled into new place by the river, not sad anymore. Don’t have any desire to drive by the old place at all.
- went to a lot of Jays games with the kids. Once with Luc as well. Gotta love that Spaghetti Factory!
- basement finished and loving it! Got the dart board up last weekend. We spend most of our play time down there. Especially just before bed to get the yaya’s out.
- replaced old CR-V with new RAV-4. I miss the old girl. But not that much.
- swimming lessons, swimming lessons, swimming lessons. These kids will be fishies
- The annual cottage trip in Sept. Finally a warm weekend there. Also discovered the baseball pool website is accessible via mobile browser.
- Halloween: Christien in the same BumbleBee costume as OG was: they might as well be twins when you compare pictures. Had a blast watching Olivia go door-to-door with her friend Sydney.
- going through the first true round of both kids being sick and on antibiotics. Oh man, that was rough. 2 words: Chocolate sauce.
- trip to North Bay. Been a while
- Kaastra’s wedding
- did not play baseball for the first time. Helped my golf game reach new and improved heights. It’s all about putting in the time, really, it is.
- enjoyed summer mainly at home watching the kids grow. Got a climber in the backyard courtesy of Willie and Pam.
- garden wasn’t as bountiful this year thanks to cold and awkward weather. Tomatoes were a bust as were my scotch bonnet peppers. Some highlights were abundant leeks, onions and for some reason the green peppers. Zucchini was outrageous. I don’t think we should grow so many next year. Gotta rotate crops next year too.
- new bicycle for Olivia. she’s on trainers now. Also loves her little scooter. So does Christien. Funny to watch as he stands solidly on the scooter while I push him around. Gets very angry when it’s time to stop. He has a temper that one.

Sonia, anything else to mention?

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Shawarma anybody? Wednesday, Dec 2 2009 

I just finished sending a message to my friend Chris regarding a Shawarma that is second to none. I realized that I must let everybody in on KW’s best kept garlic secret.

There is a little hole in the wall near Highland and Belmont aptly named “Shawarma”. It is really just a hole in the wall. Visited by devoted customers that are mainly comprised (it seems) of construction workers and desperate computer jockeys. Oh how often those two circles meet.

The menu is robustly composed of Shawarma and Falafel. I’ve never seen anybody order Falafel so I figure they offer it just to beef up that menu.

Why is this shawarma better than any other? The answer will vary depending on who you ask but here are some primary reasons:

1) The spiced chicken is incredibly tender, juicy and tasty. A big reason is that the owner uses 2 gi-normous spits that each hold (to quote Alex) A dinosaur thigh sized amount of sliced chicken. My guess is that they close on Mondays to load up this ridiculous amount of chicken and fire up the flames. Then, they go through the week serving off these spits until they run out, which according to my sources, is usually late on drunk Saturday or mid hangover Sunday. If you haven’t guessed, the shawarma is the ideal drunk/hangover food. At least, that’s what Ian says.

2) The garlic sauce. Probably the primary reason why most people order a shawarma. Well, this place is superior to all others when it comes to the garlic sauce. I’ve been told by some that one should only order a shawarma from here that contains double to triple garlic sauce.

3) The hot sauce and the pickles. The unique combination of these two ingredients takes this shawarma to new heights. I order my shawarma with ‘regular’ amount of garlic sauce and then double hot sauce and pickle.

So take 1,2 and 3 in whatever proportion and the whole combination provides the perfect texture and consistency that delivers a product that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Anyway, I’m hungry now. See you there!

NOTE: the owner has indicated he is working hard to open a new store near the university. Oh to get in on that investment!

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