Who's paid the mortgage on zero for five? This is a tale of abject humiliation. I could regale you with the time that my wife and I carelesly left her engagement ring unprotected -- and got robbed of the $25,000 diamond. I could ruminate on my vast investments in Florida real estate, which rank only marginally ahead of a major position in Lincoln Savings and Loan. Maybe I could fantasize about a partnership in the Donald Trump empire. But this story is worse. Zero for five.
It rained this past Saturday at our ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn. It always seems to rain in Connecticut on weekends. I suspect this occurs in compliance with a city ordinance.
But it didn't rain enough for me. A small drainage creek runs between the twin buildings of the sports world's favorite network. If it had rained for another eight hours or so, I would have had a solution to all my problems. The creek would have been deep enough to drown myself in.
This complaint is not meant to be the official whine of the NFL. It does have one constructive purpose. We have all read the ridiculous ads in some local and even national newspapers in which 900-number touts promise "Monday Night Locks" or "Guaranteed Winners."
Locks? Guaranteed? I work hard at this business. So does my paid statistical guru. Last weekend, we were both squashed like grapes. We'll match our performance against anyone. But you'll never hear us -- or anyone reputable in the prediction business -- uttering the word "lock".
For those foolish enough to even pay attention to the industry's locksmiths, here is a rule of thumb. Or a rule to keep one's thumb from being cut off. If a tout claims 58 percent winners, he or she sounds pretty solid. If you hear 63 percent, you're listening to someone having a great year. When the claims get over 70 percent, you're talking to a liar. Do not dial the 900 number.
But enough lecturing. Let's get back to personal subjugation to the whims of the Goddess of Wagering.
Zero for five. It would be soothing to blame some zebras for horrible calls. It would be calming to accuse coaches of bad strategy. Bad luck, bad bounces -- I've tried them all. And the jury keeps filing into the courtroom to announce that the only guilty party is me.
My record now lists some of the most monumentally dumb picks since the papers gave Dewey the election over Truman. It is part of my religion that I must never pick against Miami; I did, and the Dolphins scorched the Jets. My power ratings told me the Broncos were simply a better team than the rising Chargers. My power ratings have now been placed with my latest junk mail real estate solicitations. I also liked those fighting Buccaneers. Enough said.
Now we come to the true keys to becoming a publicly exposed nitwit. Before the season, I picked the Eagles to go to the Super Bowl. But they had disillusioned me, and the Redskins had lost to nobody except undefeated teams. A MOTO -- Master of the Obvious. The Redskins still are counting the casualties. So am I.
Finally, I picked a team quarterbacked by Marc Wilson. The Patriots don't care anymore. Neither did their opponents, the Colts. Eric Dickerson rushed through the motions for 25 yards. Jeff George completed 25 percent of his passes. The pathetic Colts made five -- count 'em, five -- first downs. And the Patriots managed to lose. If Marc Wilson had been in General Sherman's job, nobody would have lit as much as a cigarette in Atlanta.
Moving along with great trepidation, to this week's clashes, let's start with the best game of the weekend. No, I'm not fooling with the Raiders and Dolphins. I've given up picking against either. And they happen to be playing one another.
More intriguing is the heavyweight title bout in Atlanta where the Falcons host the Eagles. Philadelphia is favored by 1. It gets the edge in stats. But the Falcons are tough at home. Call this one "Macon: The Sequel". These teams scrimmaged in Macon back in August. There were three bench-clearing brawls. And that was called a "controlled" scrimmage. There will be no controls this weekend. I can't wait to watch this game. I'd sure hate to referee it. Falcons plus the 1.
At Arrowhead, the Chiefs are 4 over the up and coming Chargers. Did you know that the underdog is 10-1-1 in San Diego games on carpets? The Chiefs are weak home favorites and the Chargers have owned this series in recent years. Chargers plus 4.
The Oilers are 3 over the Browns in Cleveland. New coaches tend to rouse clubs to higher levels. Jim Shofner may not be Knute Rockne, but I'm not William Faulkner, either. I'll ride once with him, especially since the Browns' two best games this year came after they had been blown out. Browns plus 3.
I have a vague feeling that the Vikings are coming alive. They are receiving 3 1/2 in Seattle. They have a terrible record at AFC teams, but they have won four in a row in road domes. They also want to salvage Jerry Burns's job. Vikings plus 3 1/2.
The Jets are favored by 2 in Indianapolis. They have lost seven straight after playing Miami, but they have won four straight on road artificial turf. They also seem to try. As mentioned above, the Colts don't. Jets minus 2.
Last week: This will be mercifully brief. The Patriots, laying 1 1/2 to the Colts, did a Marc Wilson, losing, 13-10. The Bucs, getting 7 from the Saints, were routed, 35-7. The Jets plus 3 succumbed to the Dolphins, 17-3. The Broncos getting 2 1/2 from San Diego, exposed themselves as has-beens, 19-7. And the Redskins visited General Hospital after the Eagles mauled them, 28-14.
Total for week: Do we have to belabor this? 0-5
Total for season: 26-24
Hardly a man goes from goat to hero.
Is it possible to contemplate five and zero?