Monthly Archives: September 2011

MLB Playoff Predictions

Here’s some quick predictions from ThirtyandaBottle on what we’ll see in the MLB playoffs, possibly my favorite sporting event of the year. And if the playoffs are anything like the last day of the regular season, we’re in for some fun. You should all watch an amazing recap of the best night of baseball in the history of baseball here.

Also a big shoutout to Bud Selig (I’m sure he reads this) for eliminating unnecessary off-days and shortening the postseason. Game Seven of the world series is scheduled for Oct. 27. Last year Game Five was on Nov. 1.


Milwuakee over Arizona in four games.

The Brewers’ lineup is too strong for the D-Backs and Milwaukee should have enough pitching to shut down a Diamondbacks’ lineup, that outside of Justin Upton, is pedestrian. Game One features a very underrated pitching matchup of 21-game winner and Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy vs. Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo.

Series MVP: Ryan Braun (he’s good).

Philadelphia over St. Louis in five games.


Roy Halladay could carry the Phillies to a World Series title. (Len Redlokes/Getty Images)

Arvada West High School grad Roy Hallady could carry the Phillies to a World Series Title. (Len Redlokes/Getty Images)


In the MLB playoffs, often times the hottest team– not necessarily the best– wins. The Cards pulled off an amazing September comeback with plenty of help from the Braves that ended with Chris Carpenter 2-hitting the Astros in game 162. They have all kinds of momentum. Unfortunately, the Phillies have all kinds of pitching. Cliff Lee was a machine last October and Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in the world. Cole Hamels isn’t too bad either. A three game series against anybody is chump change for these guys, but look for St. Louis to make it interesting.

Series MVP: Roy Halladay


Tigers over Yankees in five games.

Justin Verlander wins twice in Yankee Stadium in games 1 and 5 (assuming he doesn’t come back on three-days rest in Game Four) and the Tigers win once in Detroit.

Series MVP: Justin Verlander

Rays over Rangers in four games.

Rays fans should stay calm if CJ Wilson beats rookie Matt Moore this afternoon. The Rays will counter with James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and David Price that I think will have success shutting down a very good Rangers’ offense.

Series MVP: Ben Zobrist


Philadelphia over Milwaukee in six games

I’m going with Philadelphia here, but not with much conviction. These were the two heavyweights in the National League all season. If there’s one NL lineup that can get after the Phillies rotation, it’s the Brew Crew. In the end I think starting pitching wins playoff series, and Philadelphia has plenty of that (pardon me if I sound like a broken record). The Phils’ offense isn’t awful either. Utley, Pence and Howard will make things tough on Milwaukee.

Series MVP: Hunter Pence


Detroit over Tamba Bay in six games

I think the Rays’ magic runs comes to an end against a more balanced team. Detroit has enough offensive firepower to light up the Rays’ solid rotation. Miguel Cabrera seems to have an MVP-caliber season every year (.344-30-105). Jose Valverde went 49-49 in save opportunities.

Series MVP: Jose Valverde


Philadelphia over Detroit

Too much pitching Phillies’ pitching. I am already drooling over a potential Halladay-Verlander showdown in the World Series. The Tigers starting pitching isn’t deep enough to hang with the historic cast the Phillies put together in the offseason. I’m afraid the 2011 season was won by the Phillies and their payroll over the winter.

Feel free to contact me when I miss all four matchups in the first round.


Is Colorado State’s Win over Utah State a Season-Changer?

Colorado State pulled off an unlikely, double overtime win with an unbelievable finish over Utah State in Logan tonight. If you missed it– and a lot of people did– you can watch the reply online here.

CSU recovered a fumble on a punt return, down 8 points with about 2 1/2 minutes left. Four Chris Nwoke runs later the score was 21-19 Utah State. After a timeout, Pete Thomas hit his favorite target, tight end Crockett Gillmore, for the dramatic, game-tying 2-point conversion.

Both teams scored easily in the first overtime. In the second overtime, the Rams had the ball first and Chris Nwoke scored another touchdown. Utah State scored in one play on 25-yard run.

Then Utah State head coach Gary Andersen tried to be a hero.

He chose to go for the two-point conversion and the win, a very rare call for the home team in that situation. CSU thought they won after an incomplete pass, but pass interference was called. So all the Aggies had to do was score from the one yard line for the win. The Rams’ defense stuffed the run, and the game was over.

I was excited. I texted my dad and he replied, “D ude. Utah State?” (and yes that unnecessary space inside the word “dude” was included. Still not sure if old people will ever learn to text.)

To be clear, Utah State did everything they could to lose this game. Andersen’s overtime call, coupled with four lost fumbles, were gifts that the Rams dearly needed, but CSU will not apologize for this victory.

Some people will look at beating a WAC team on the road and shrug their shoulders. But CSU was a 9-point underdog and it pulled off the win. On the road.

Rebuilding a program takes some serious work and it starts by beating mediocre teams in games that you’re not supposed to win.

If the Rams lose this one, the season starts to look a lot like the same old crap we’re all used to. I’m not saying CSU is gunna enter the top 25, or that they’ll hang with Boise State in a couple weeks. But this win should be a confidence builder. It dramatically changes the outlook of the 2011 season.

After this win, it’s not unreasonable to plan on beating UTEP in El Paso or San Diego State and Wyoming in The Fort.

Suddenly, after one very mediocre win, things are looking a quite a bit brighter for the CSU Rams.

My Favorite Rocky Mountain Showdown Memories

The view from Folsom Field

Note: (August 2013): This post was originally published Sept 16, 2011. There are numerous references to “thirties” and “bottles” which was an intentional reference to what was the name of my blog at the time. It’s also interesting to see how my writing style has subtly changed in the last two years. It’s the same post, but I am adding a very important update from the year 2011 and a few more pictures. Hope you enjoy.)

The annual outdoor kegger known as the Rocky Mountain Showdown starts bright and early again Saturday morning.  I went to my first Showdown in 2006 and I’m looking forward to attending my sixth consecutive Showdown this weekend; I’ll be providing a thirty and a bottle. I have a feeling some of the other 65,000+ attendees will bring some libations as well. I’ve been a CSU fan for as long as I can remember, so I recall the big time moments. I remember watching the Bradlee Van Pelt head spike on TV. I remember the Marcus Houston goal line stand. I remember the tear gas. I was a kid for those. The CU game took on a whole new meaning to me when I started to go in person.

I’ve had a blast at each of the last five contests between the Buffaloes and the Rams, although some years have been more fun than others.

My eyes were opened to the awesomeness of this game in 2006. My freshman year at CSU, a random mix of kids from 3NW Parmelee Hall piled in my bright red ’95 Buick Skylark (may God rest her classic soul) and headed down I-25. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting into. The traffic and parking thing was kind of a disaster but we settled into some good seats before kickoff. Surprisingly, I wasn’t much of a drinker at this time so we bypassed the tailgating experience, which seems like a heinous crime today.

Anyway, during the game I was blown away by the passion, intensity and vulgarity of the student section. The “Dir-Ty-Hipp-ies” chant never seemed to end. I remember thinking, “I can get down with this.” CSU won, 14-10 behind a 20-23 effort from Caleb Hanie and a big touchdown grab from Korey Sperry. Dan Hawkins was 0-2 as CU’s coach after losing to Montana State the previous week. Some CSU fans wore Blue and White Montana State shirts. Driving back to Fort Collins I kind of knew I wasn’t going to miss too many of these games.

In 2007 the TV networks rewarded our not-so nationally prominent programs with the coveted 10 a.m. kickoff slot. I wondered what the tailgating scene would be like at 7 in the morning. It was not hindered. We pulled up to see beer pong games already in hotly contested double-overtime. Thirties and bottles were being torn apart before most of the state’s alarm clocks had gone off. The game was exciting but disappointing. Down 31-28 in overtime, Hanie threw an interception in the end zone to end the last game Sonny Lubick coached against the University of Colorado.

One of my best friends got punched in the face in 2008. This might be my favorite off-field memory of these games. By this year, we were all-in, tailgating veterans. Grill. Truck. Music. Multiple thirties. Plenty of bottles. Prime Location. And the time-slot, though on a Sunday, was an ideal 5:30 p.m.

Naturally, it was our duty to accost and harass anyone who came through our parking lot in a gold shirt. After a few hours of drinking, Matt 3 (that’s just his name, don’t ask questions) decided a CU fan deserved to have some Keystone Light dumped on his head. Not like a celebratory, waving/spraying of beer, just a calm three-second pour as if the kid was balancing a cup on top of his head and Matt was just topping him off. The Boulderite shockingly did not appreciate this gesture and cold-cocked 3 (below, shirtless) right in his cheek.

Our 2008 tailgate was full of shenanigans.

Things got interesting at our 2008 tailgate for Matt 3 (shirtless) and Andrew (arms out, clearly intoxicated). I have no idea who the two females are.

Somehow a random CSU girl managed to calm Matt down– not a particularly easy task– and the situation did not escalate. It helped that she was a certified bombshell. Maybe she was an angel of peace. Anyway, the CU kid had some friends in green and gold that kept the rest of us from throwing down in fisticuffs, as Ron Burgundy would say.

That was the same year we saw people (not in our group) throwing full, unopened cans of beer at CU kids. That was the same year I had my brother Andrew’s (above, tongue out, one eye unintentionally closed) ticket. I never gave it to him and when we were going into the stadium he was nowhere to be found. He got into the game without a ducat, although he’s not sure how. I’m still waiting for him to pay me for that unused ticket. He did receive a different kind of ticket before the game, this one for public urination after relieving himself on someone’s CU flag that was laid on a grassy knoll. Looking back, that was quite the tailgate.

Inside the stadium ,things were equally chaotic for CSU in Steve Fairchild’s debut. An uninteresting 38-17 loss. There were back-to-back kickoff returns for each team, which was kind of cool I guess. Whatever. We left dejected and already hungover.

The game was in Boulder my senior year. A lot of CSU students didn’t go as some sort of stupid protest or something. It was a true road game, so there were no deals for CSU student tickets. My friends and I each dropped about $70 to get into Folsom. It was worth every penny. For the first time in the series, I admittedly drank a little bit too much, but I still remember the good parts.

As our group of about ten was walking into the stadium, we encountered a girl from CU. If I drank a little too much, she drank way too much. As her boyfriend looked on in embarrassment, she tried to fight a couple of us. She was stumbling forward attempting to land absolute haymakers on one of my friends. He calmly ducked under them as the rest of us were just cackling with laughter. She had a legitimate audience and, even though she didn’t know it, she was killing the crowd.

Andrew decided to come to the tailgating festivities this year without a ticket again. Naturally, by game time he had enough liquid courage to attempt to get into the game without one. After a few security guards had turned him away, his friend Travis, who was already inside, did something hilarious. Forgetting that he had his face painted in green and gold lettering, he found a yellow security jacket, put it on and tried to tell another security guard that Andrew had to come with him. It may have been the painted face, the plaid shorts, or the sandals, but that didn’t work. Andrew eventually found a ticket-taker who didn’t care enough to fight off a sea of drunk kids. He gave him a ticket that was already scanned and the dude let him in anyway.

CU Fans

The blurry picture I took of the CU Fans watching me dance on the midfield logo at Folsom Field.

Inside the stadium, things went pretty well. CSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead behind two John Mosure touchdowns. The Rams held on for a 23-17 win and the CSU students who are not lame left our seats and celebrated with the team on Folsom Field. We rushed the hell out of that field, and it was one hell of a party. Dancing on the midfield logo. “C-S-U!” chants. Waving to the gold-clad fans in their season-ticket seats as they angrily watched in disgust. Snow angels (minus the snow) in the endzone. That experience is probably once-in-a-lifetime and I was pretty lucky to be a part of it.

Last year was my first game as a graduate, but I went disguised as a 5th-year senior. This one was pretty uneventful. We got to the parking lot early and grilled and drank. I remember pouring 16 ounces of Vodka (Burnette’s of course) into a cup because I didn’t want to walk around with an open container. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I shared it with strangers who seemed to appreciate my kindness. The game was a blowout. Pete Thomas threw three pics; Tyler Hansen accounted for three touchdowns. We left pissed off sometime in the third quarter as CU handed us a 24-3 ass kicking.

I’m planning on taking a more grown-up approach to this game (I even bought my first non-student-section ticket!), but that might fly out the window after slamming a couple beer bongs and imbibing some Jim Beam. Just like that first game in 2006, I never know exactly what I’m getting myself into at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Very important update (8/31/13): 

“I’m planning on taking a more grown-up approach to this game.” Ummm… yeah. In 2011, we partied pretty hard and the tailgating was a blast. A couple specific moments stick out enough for me to share them with you.

Our group was posted up with a few cars on the edge of one of the CSU parking lots. Beyond the lot there is a curb, and a grassy hill that leads to a sidewalk. The hill is probably about 15 feet high and the sidewalk is probably about 25 yards from where my group was primarily positioned. Naturally, over the course of the tailgate, this sidewalk is a major thoroughfare with heavy pedestrian traffic from fans of both teams.

Eventually, we decided it was time to harass some folks in yellow shirts. Not sure why; I guess we were just sick of looking at that horrible color. At some point, somebody suggested to my friend Todd, that he take a hot dog off the grill and try to hit a CU fan with it. This quickly became the moment when Todd stole the show. We’ve known Todd for years and he’s a good dude, but there is no doubt at all that this sequence of events is truly his one shining moment.

There’s always a handful of unused burgers and dogs that go uneaten, and Todd grabbed one. With a smirk and an uncontrollable boyish giggle, Todd actually throws the damn thing. I think this was unexpected by most of us. Whoever suggested this brilliant idea probably didn’t think he would actually do it. But he did. He grabbed the dog with his thumb and forefinger and flung this wiener end-over-end on a high, looping arc, similar to that of the opening kickoff a couple hours later. The throw turned out to be an unbridled success as Todd hit the pretend bullseye on this grown man’s chest. He was clearly surprised that a cooked Oscar Meyer had come out of nowhere to bounce of his chest, but he kept his cool and didn’t really look over.

We had a subdued reaction. Mostly it was turning our backs and stifling our uncontrollable laughter. That was pretty awesome, but that was just the build up.

A little while later, someone suggested to Todd that he try the same feat, only with a burger instead of a dog. At this point it should be no surprise that Todd accepted this challenge. He grabbed a cooked patty that wasn’t going to be eaten and picked his yellow-clad target. Again most of us were surprised that he was actually doing this.

So as our large group looked on in excited anticipation with a sense of wonder, Todd flings this thing like a frisbee. Not an across-the-body, backhand frisbee throw, but an off-to-the-side, submarine style frisbee throw with a dip of the shoulder.

The flight of this hamburger is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, and I say that without hyperbole.

Keep in mind Todd’s intended target was about 25 yards away and up a 15-foot hill. Initially the burger is tailing to the right and it looks like this will be a letdown following the tremendous hot dog incident. But then… the burger starts to curve… like an intended hook on a golf ball or a frisbee floating on a gentle breeze….





And then…


The hamburger catches this dude precisely on the temple and absolutely explodes upon impact. Our tailgating group also exploded upon impact. Ohhhhhhh! There was about 12 of us jumping around like we were all on Maury and learned we arrrrrrrre NOT the father. Todd immediately rolled right into the “Cat Daddy” dance (fellas, you’ll want to click that link). Seriously though, the reaction was the best part of the entire day and it was eerily similar to this:


I mean, it was EERILY similar to that.

CSU lost that year, by the way.

Since I’m on the topic, here are some pics of my favorite tradition, The Group Shotgun. Pictures tell me it began in 2010. It will never die.

2010b copy 2011a copy2012a

Top 2010, Middle 2011, Bottom 2012.

Thanks for reading. Go Rams. Hope to see you all tomorrow.


Front Range Report: Week One

Colorado State

Week One Result: 14-10 win over New Mexico in Albuquerque

(Photo Courtesy Don Reichart for the Fort Collins Coloradoan)

Nordly Capi made a huge impact in week one for the Rams. (Photo Courtesy Don Reichart for the Fort Collins Coloradoan)

This game was hard to watch in the first half. Both teams looked like JV high school squads for most of the first three quarters. The Rams offense was stagnant throughout the game but managed to put a nice touchdown drive together in the fourth quarter. The defense looked pretty good throughout, but the secondary seems to have some holes. E.B. Smith and Shaq Bell need to improve in coverage. The Rams managed to put plenty of pressure on agile New Mexico QB Tarean Austin, recording ten sacks. The play of the game came when defensive end Nordly Capi forced a fumble with 23 seconds left and New Mexico driving toward a game-winning touchdown in the Red Zone. Capi set an NCAA record (think about that) with four forced fumbles and was named the Mountain West defensive player of the week.

My take:  Having watched the Rams over the past several years, I am encouraged by this win, despite the Rams, really not looking very good. These are the kinds of games that CSU finds a way to lose. Even against bad teams. Especially on the road. I can’t recall the last time an opposing team was putting together a serious threat and CSU stood their ground and made a big play. If this team continues to improve, it could have a nice season (thanks to that soft schedule).

Up Next: Northern Colorado at Hughes, Saturday at noon (the ol’ hangover special).

The first meeting between the Rams and Bears since 1986 shouldn’t be close. UNC just lost to an NAIA team named Lindenwood, which according to my in-depth research, does exist. The Rammies will be wearing their orange threads to celebrate ag-day, which usually excites dozens of people.


Week One Result:  34-17 Loss to Hawaii in Honolulu

(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

The Buffs couldn't stop Bryant Moniz in Jon Embree's first loss. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

The Buffs couldn’t contain the Warriors’ do-everything quarterback Bryant Moniz. He ran for 121 yards and threw for 178. Hawaii jumped out to an early advantage, leading 17-0 at the half and CU couldn’t recover. The Buffs made things interesting when the lead was cut to 7 points early in the fourth quarter, but Hawaii was in control from that moment forward. Rodney Stewart was a bright spot for CU. He only had 52 yards rushing, but also had 98 yards receiving.

My Take: People are pumping the brakes on the Embree lovefest a little bit. Right now Colorado is still a bad program. One offseason won’t change that. Patience is required to turn an entire program around. Embree could still prove to be a great hire, but the people who thought he was going to come in and lead this team to eight or nine wins in 2011 are delusional. Hawaii looks like a pretty decent team, but this was still probably one of Colorado’s more winnable games this season. (Colorado State, Washington State and maybe Arizona look like the others).

Up Next: California at Folsom, Saturday at 1:30.

The last line I saw had California as 7 point favorites. CU will have to play much better this week to beat a Pac-12 team in a non-Pac-12 game. That’s confusing. Anyway, Cal beat Fresno State 35-21 at home last week. I think the Buffs keep it interesting but I’d be surprised to see them pull off the upset.

Air Force

Week One Result: 37-20 win over South Dakota in Colorado Springs.

Photo courtesty Christain Murdock, Colorado Springs Gazette

Tim Jefferson and the Falcons had no problems with South Dakota, but Texas Christian comes to town Saturday. (Photo courtesy Christain Murdock, Colorado Springs Gazette)

The Falcons literally ran all over the Coyotes and this game was never really close. Tim Jefferson and Co. racked up 391 yards rushing. That’s impressive regardless of what conference your opponent plays in (South Dakota is in the FCS Great West by the way).

My Take:  This game was actually closer than most people thought it would be, but don’t be concerned with Troy Calhoun’s team. They’ll be just fine. They weren’t going to lose this one and they knew it. The Falcons seemed to let up a little when they took a 37-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Up Next:  #25 TCU at Falcon Stadium, 1:30 Saturday.   TV: Versus

One of the games of the year in the Mountain West happens early this season. The Frogs are 2 1/2 point favorites after losing 50-48 at Baylor. TCU’s always-stingey defense got lit up by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, leading some to believe Gary Patterson’s 2011 squad isn’t quite as talented as they’ve been over the past few years. You can bet Air Force had this date circled on their calendar after losing 38-7 last season in Fort Worth– the only time they really got their asses kicked in 2010. Look for Air Force to pull off the minor upset and enter the top 25.


Week One Result: 35-32 win over Weber State in Laramie

Brett Smith and the Wyoming offense looked fine against Weber State. The defense? Not so much. (AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang, Andy Carpenean)

The Cowboys needed a touchdown pass with 22 seconds left to pull out a home win over FCS Big Sky opponent Weber State. Wyo’s defense gave up 541 total yards. That’s a lot. The Cowboy’s led 21-10 in the second quarter but found themselves down 32-28 until the dramatic, go-ahead score. The quarterback position was a bit of a question mark for the Wyoming coming into the season, but Brett Smith racked up 294 yards passing and two touchdowns.

My Take: This is an unimpressive win. It can be a little silly to invest too much into the first game of the season, but the ‘Pokes have some work to do if they want to impress anyone and make moves in the Mountain West. A home game against a Big Sky team should not be so dramatic. It looks like Dave Christensen has a good offensive system, but that won’t do much if they can’t stop anyone.

Up Next:  Texas State at War Memorial Stadium, 4 p.m. Saturday

Another cupcake at home. The Bobcats played Texas Tech last week and lost 40-10. Wyoming is hoping it can treat their FCS Independent the same way Tech did. If they don’t, things will look very bleak north of the border all year long.