Manafort Plea Agreement Weekend Trash Talk

Okay, this post will have nothing to do with Manafort’s plea. But this is the big weekend after the Friday of Manafort, and Trash must be talked. This will be a bit of truncated Trash because , well, I am tired after an early morning yesterday and then spending the rest of the day, and much of the night, trying to settle a couple of things as to the day job.

As to the Joes: I dunno, most of the college games this week look uninteresting. Can Florida State regain their footing and beat Syracuse in the Cuse Dome? You would think so, but FSU has stunk it up so bad to date that you have to wonder. I guess the Irish can handle Vandy at home, but you never know. BYU at Wisconsin could be a lot tougher game than the Badgers want. Probably most think LSU at Auburn is the early game of the day, but Boise State at Oklahoma State may be it. Ohio State may run into a buzz saw visiting TCU deep in the heart of Texas. USC at Texas is getting big buildup, but not sure it is deserved. Washington at Utah may be another curious game. Rice Stadium is not always particularly hospitable (though it sure was when I was there with the Stones in 1994!). Locally, and late, we will be watching ASU at San Diego State. The Devils somehow, miraculously, beat Michigan State last weekend. Can they make it to 3-0 tonight against the Aztecs? I will not bet on that.

As to the The Pros: Cinci already beat the Ravens, and did so rather convincingly. That is surprising. Cleveland is undefeated for the first time in forever, but don’t think they can win a shootout with Brees and the Saints in NOLA. The Chargers will kill Buffalo, which is just seriously bad. The Chefs at Steelers should be interesting. Still no Laveon Bell for the Stillers, but James Connor kicked ass last week. I’ll take the Stillers, but young Mahomes and the Chefs offense look like the real deal.

Miami at the suddenly explosive Jets Jets Jets looks fascinating. I think the Sammy and the Jets keep it going at home. Vikings at the Cheeseheads will be interesting IF Rodgers and Adams are on the frozen tundra at home. If not, then Kirk Cousins gonna win that game. Cardinals going to get humiliated for a second week in a row against the Rams in LA. The Cards billed this as the Year of New Hope, instead is the year of nope.

New England Pats at Jacksonville could be highly entertaining. Brady and the boys were not really in synch last week in a win against the Texans. He hooked up well with Gronk and Dorsett, but the whole effort, especially the run game, looked suspect. The Jags may be without Leonard Founette, but their defense is almost as good and bit as Jalen Ramsey’s mouth. Seattle at Bears is a tossup.

F1: Not a lot of comment from me on the circus this week. They are in Singapore at the Marina Bay Circuit for the famous night race. Personally, I find the night race on the heavily cemented in pit at Marina Bay kind of flakey, but they run it nevertheless. The starting grid is Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen in P1 through P5 respectively. Not easy to pass at Marina Bay, so take your cues from the starting grid.

And, with that, we are off! Also, last week a new commenter by the name of “Bill” suggested a Canadian band called The Big Wreck. I said I would check them out, I did, and they are indeed quite good. Do check them out. So they are this weekend’s music. We are a full service blog here at Emptywheel!

Baku, Belichick and the NFL Draft

Okay, it has been a while since we had a real Trash Talk. So here we go. Not a particularly deep one, but between the NFL Draft, which has been pretty interesting, and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, it seemed like a decent opportunity for one of our off season points to talk a little sports trash.

First up, Baku. Frankly, Azerbaijan has made significant and important strides since the breakup of the USSR. While I am not totally comfortable with the support that a continuing Grand Prix provides, it is nowhere near as troublesome as F1 bucking up truly oppressive and evil middle eastern nations like Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. At any rate, it is what it is, and the street course in Baku is truly beautiful. Extremely so. It does not, however, allow many opportunities for overtaking and passing.

Starting grid position is at a premium, and Vettel of Ferrari and Hamilton of Mercedes are on the front row. Kimi Raikkonen was on pace to be the pole sitter through early sectors in Q3, but had a blip. Was amazing driving to pull his butt out of it without shunting his car into a wall, but the time blip cost him dearly and he will start in P7. The race looks to be very promising, even if a tad processional, especially at the front. Alonso, seems slow, and could not even get his McLaren out of Q1.

Now the NFL draft. Rounds 1-3 are in the books. Many teams seem to have done quite well for themselves, including the Brownies and Jets. I figure I will totally jinx the local Cards by saying this, but I think their first round to move up and get Josh Rosen, the best pure, and pro style ready QB in the draft, was wonderful. They followed up by getting a fantastic long term answer at slot receiver, local Scottsdale prep product, later of Texas A+M, in Christian Kirk. Very much a Julian Edelman/Danny Amendola kind of talent, but maybe slightly faster and shiftier. Oh, and the Cards’ next pick will, seriously, be announced by a dude standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona.

You cannot really rate a draft class until it is over, but, so far, the Cards are having a very good year. And, for Scribe, I think it is extremely notable that the Steelers maneuvered to select Mason Rudolph. Groomed right, Rudolph is very much a Big Ben clone successor. Will need the grooming, but sure looks like a great value pick, and with incredible upside, to me. And Pittsburgh did not stretch to get him, at all, either.

As to the Belichick angle, the Pats have been all over the board moving around and trading up and down repetitively. The national sportswriters seem to be joking that it is so much that nobody will ever know the real value of the Jimmy G trade with San Francisco late last year, because it is all too confusing. That may be true! Belichick loves to obscure things. My question is whether Bill Bel will take Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta with the fifth pick in the fourth round if he is there, and he may well be. The Pats seem like they are going to take a QB somewhere, even if just for camp fodder. Lauletta seems like a real prospect though, and a perfect flyer for the Patriots. We shall see.

Alright Wheel nuts, let loose with your draft, F1 and general sports and other thoughts. Let’s let our hair down and have some fun. Music by Pink Floyd from Obscured By Clouds, one of the great under appreciated albums ever, for Floyd and in general. So, bring some chatter about your NFL team, what they have accomplished in the offseason and draft, and about F1.

Down Under F1 Trash Talk

Welp, we have not had a Trash Talk thread here in a while. Since the Super Bowl by my guess. So, maybe it is time, and consider this an open thread because I know not all share the historical love of Formula One that this blog does.

The Circus season is about to open. As usual lately, it will be in Albert Park in Melbourne. And it is a fair and fast circuit to open the season with. Last year provided a shocker with Vettel and Ferrari taking the opening win. The rest of the season devolved into another Hamilton coronation though. Sadly. All things racing are better with better competition.

So this year, coverage of the Circus moves from NBCSN, which was abominable, back to ESPN from whence it came long ago. Personally, I loved Leigh Diffey, Steve Matchett and David Hobbs. But other than that, the always changing, and unpredictably located coverage by NBC was shit. As was their babbling and unctuous on scene pit row “reporter” Will Buxton, who is distressingly still present on the Sky feed ESPN uses. Can we swap Buxton for Leigh Diffey somehow?

ESPN may be doing it on the cheap, but they are doing so by utilizing a far superior European feed. Frankly, I am good with that, so far, so much the better. And we are not even into qualifying yet.

Okay, off we go for qualifying. We shall see that out before I post this, but the race, like The Dude, will have to abide.

And Qualy is off! The start of the season is always pretty exciting. Albert Park is a good spot, but not necessarily one of the classic circuits in F1. Probably a little warmer there than ideal, but still a decent track.

Wow. Just wow. The difference in the feed from the NBCSN years, as well as Fox/Speed, is like night and day. Incredibly superior. Hamilton takes pole, but Raikkonen and Vettel are in P2 and P3, with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo right behind.

Sadly Fernando Alonso in the McLaren starts out the season once again out of the top ten in qualifying. Couldn’t even make it into Q3. At some point he will no longer have it, and that day is quickly approaching, but Alonso is not done yet and the fact he is not in competitive equipment is a tragedy in the Circus. Put Fernando in Botas’ seat and Hamilton might pucker. But that is not happening, which is a sad thing for F1 fans.

So, we are off with a new season of Trash. It will be inconsistent until football really starts again, but will pop up every now and then. This weekend’s music is by Jimmy Barnes, a great Aussie import (for the Australian GP) that never got enough cred here in the states. In this clip, with Joe Bonamassa, but it is totally a Jimmy Barnes song (and it is awesome). Give it a listen, it is pretty great. Other than that, keep rolling, we have a long way to go yet.

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