The theme for Vegas Odds this year is “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Why? Aside from the fact that I’ve already done Hollywood Squares, it’s a time when most of us were actually in High School (I was between sophomore and junior year when it came out).
In fact it is not a stretch, to say that Fast Times at Ridgemont High was one of the most influential movies of the 1980’s. Think about it. How many of the catch phrases from the movie have you mumbled? How many scenes do you remember, even if you haven’t seen the movie since the summer of ’82. Who could forget Brad (JUDGE Reinhold, more on that in a moment) in that ridiculous pirate suit doing his, uh, personal business on the toilet? What about Reinhold practicing breaking up with his (hot) girlfriend, only to be dumped when he really needed her most? What about Jefferson (Forest “Fat Then, Fat Now” Whitaker) going apeshit on Lincoln H.S. after (presuming) that Lincoln H.S. had stolen and defaced his ride? How about the late Ray Walston clearly having a blast as the ornery, old-school Mr. Hand? Watch the movie – this is a man who, despite his sternness, is clearly enjoying himself. Or Mike Damone (the unsung hero of the piece) basically being TONY with concert tickets and a bad haircut? (Of course, Damone resembled TONY in more ways than one – remember the “money” scene with Stacy in the pool house?) And of course, any one of 100 vignettes with Jeff Spicoli. Pick one.
It says here that Jeff Spicoli was the most influential movie character of the 1980’s – and one of the most influential and memorable characters ever. Hands down. It’s remarkable to to think that the character of Jeff Spicoli only appeared in one movie (the ill-advised TV series, as far as I’m concerned, never happened.) Spicoli was to Fast Times at Ridgemont High what The Fonz originally was to Happy Days – a relatively minor character that somehow captured everyone’s imagination. I know in my high school, in the fall of 1982 every other guy had those checkered sneakers, or bleached blond hair. One dude even toted his skateboard around from class to class. (No one ever ordered pizza during history class, unfortunately.) Not to mention the short and long term effect that that character had on pop culture. Whenever a movie had a “surfer dude” type, he almost always seemed to be at least loosely based on Spicoli.
More significantly, was the fact that the two “Bill and Ted” movies were little more than de facto sequels to (or spinoffs of) “Fast Times,” where both lead characters blatantly and shamelessly aped Spicoli throughout the movie; the sad thing was that, inexplicably, it worked. (At least in the first one.) “Beavis and Butthead” also claimed Spicoli as, if not the primary inflence, at least part of the mix. As if that isn’t enough, when you think bleached-blond, California stoner/surfer dude, who do you think of? Even if you didn’t see the movie. That’s what I thought.
It is truly a testament to Sean Penn’s career path, that as recognizable as that character is, and as closely identified as he is with the character, that he has not been typecast as Spicoli, in the same way that, even today, we still think of Henry Winkler as The Fonz, or Keanu Reeves as Ted S. “Theodore” Preston, Esquire. Rather, he seems to be bent on making himself the Robert DeNiro/Marlon Brando of this generation – the brooding tough-guy, the anti-establishment guy who hates bullshit and all phoniness and, as a symbol of such disdain, always blows off awards shows like the Oscars as a matter of principle. Perhaps because of this attitude, he landed Robin Wright - an E-ticket among E-tickets - as his spouse. (Which raises another point: his ill-fated marriage to Madonna – something that dominated the tabloids in the mid-80s – has been all but forgotten. His briefly being jailed for assaulting a photographer - has also been all but forgotten as well. All quite unusual, when you think about it.)
Anyway, I digress. Presenting the 2002 Vegas Odds, bottom to top:
Odds to Win: About the same as TONY hooking up with Heidi Klum.
Odds to finish in the money: 10,000-1
While TONY and Phil’s fantasy team desperately tries to avoid last place for the third year in a row – surpassing P-Gar’s legendary run (even if they do have Bob SR to thank for them getting to play Brad Johnson in Week 9) - TONY is in the can, blissfully thinking of the runaway success of his fantasy basketball team…..
(cue The Cars, “Moving in Stereo” in the background) ”Tracy McGrady….For 3….GOOD!!! That’s 43 points on the night, a career high….” “Grant Hill, is 17-for-17 from the line tonight!!!”…..”…and Jamal Mashburn with another Board, that gives him a double-double!!!’ (Oooooooooooh…….) “…..”Eddie Griffin with another block – That’s a double-double for the second-year pro!!” ”You cannot stop Stromile Swift, you can only hope to contain him!!”
And then, here comes the Old Timer, with the Kristy Swason “Playboy” tucked under his arm, and…well, you know the rest.
Sorry Phil. Nothing personal; but you KNEW that with TONY, that this HAD to be the quote selected.
Odds to Win: 800-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 75-1
The scene where Brad Hamilton was fired from All-American Burger while standing in for Arnold (his prize recruit who had to use the bathroom, and then ducked back in there for cover when he saw Brad getting berated) after losing his cool at a surly customer who demanded his money back, goes to Mike losing Jay Fiedler on that last, desperate drive against the Broncos on an ESPN Sunday night telecast.
This is a game that Denver SHOULD have put away long before this, and their final drive, capped by Jason Elam’s 8-point field goal, by rights should have ended the game. Drive home safely. Yet, the Dolphins, and Jay Fiedler, go on this desperation comeback that would have been difficult to pull off on Playstation. This dramatic, frantic drive set up Olindo Mare for a game-ending 8-pointer of HIS own as time expired. Of course, that drive resulted in Fiedler breaking his finger, leading to him being out for several weeks, leading to Mike trading Fiedler (and, eventually, Ray Lucas) to Derek.
Kudos to Mike, though, for obtaining Amos Zereoue in a trade with Derek. I have to admit I was rather surprised by the trade when I first heard about it, and wondered if Mike got enough for what he gave up. However, with Bettis banged up and clearly nearing the end of the line, and Zereoue playing very well, it’s looking more and more like Zereoue is going to wind up being the full-time RB in Pittsburgh permanently. You can’t do much better for a buck. Plus, Drew Brees is going to get a lot better. Better days ahead.
Long Hill Peteriots
Odds to Win: 750-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 50-1
Quote: “You’re absolutely right, Mr. Spicoli. This IS our time. Yours, mine and everyone else’s in this room. But, it IS my Class. Hamilton, Brandt, Kornfeld, (clap, clap) up front. Mr. Spicoli has been kind enough to bring us a Snack!!…..Ahhh, be my guest. Help yourself. Get a good one!!!”
One of the most memorable scenes of the movie for me was Spicoli’s “brillant” move to have a pizza delivered to his history class. Mr. Hand, of course didn’t take very well to this, and asked Spicoli to explain himself. Fortunately, Spicoli had an explanation at the ready – “I just thought it would be good to have a Feast on OUR time.” Not bad. Unfortunately, Hand, wily fox that he was, used Spicoli’s own rationale as basis to take the pizza from Spicoli and turn it over to the entire class – and himself. Needless to say, Hand enjoyed this victory (and the pizza) immensely while Spicoli sat there, in shock and disbelief, unable to do a thing about it except look on like a sad puppy dog watching everyone else have fun - at his expense, no less.
In the same vein, no one – and I mean, NO ONE – has done more wheeling and dealing over the last twelve months than the inestimable Black Pete. He picks the guys out of obscurity, out of the pool, takes the risks. Then, just as they are about to fully realize their potential, he moves them on to everyone else, sometimes in what charitably might be called dubious moves – allowing others to enjoy the fruits of his efforts (and 20-point afternoons,) while Pete sinks ever closer to his customary place at the bottom of the standings.
Instead of Ladainian Tomlinson, Pete has William Green and Jonathan Wells. Note that Wells for most other people is a injury reserve and bye week guy, at best; for Pete, he’s a no brainer start. Instead of Peerless Price and Eric Moulds, he has Keenan McCardell and Joey Galloway. Yeah, THAT was a good swap……in 1998. And in-season trades are no exception. He trades for Eddie George, who does nothing, then turns him AND Plaxico Burress around for Corey Dillon. You will note how George’s stats picked up as soon as he got out of Dodge. If nothing else they’ve almost mirrored Dillon’s. And he forks over 757 Plaxico, for the privilege.
Still the year has not been a total disaster for our commissioner. Pete did score Tommy Maddox out of the pool, who’s clearly his best QB right now (with thanks to Greg for going 60 on Martin to make it happen; more on that in a minute) And, if you want to look at Pete’s trades another way, in the preseason there’s not a guy on the planet that doesn’t gladly trade Tomlinson, Price and Curtis Conway for Kurt Warner. Even if he has to wait until next year to enjoy Warner, when Warner’s in Dallas, or Arizona, or Seattle, or some other aerial circus waiting to happen.
Odds to Win: 200-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 20-1
Quote: “Excuse me, are you in my class?”
“I am today!”
The exchange between Mr. Vargas, the wacky and eccentric Science teacher, and Jeff Spicoli, who invited himself on a field trip to the hospital with Vargas’s class, goes to Tom’s mid-season pickup of Marc Bulger, who single-handedly is keeping Tom afloat and suddenly giving him a fighting chance at finishing in the first division.
Tom and the Rams have a lot in common this year. The Rams got no production out of their quarterback and lost their first five games when Kurt Warner went down. Likewise, Tom got little production out of his quarterbacks, then Mike McMahon and Kordell both lost their jobs. The Rams in Week 6 were forced to go with Marc Bulger, simply because there was no one else out there. After missing out on Tommy Maddox and Jamie Martin, Tom was also forced to go with Marc Bulger, and spend heavily for the privilege, simply because there was no one else there. And both the Rams, and Tom, have enjoyed a noticeable, palpable boost, thanks to the efforts of Marc Bulger. For the Rams, the margin of error to get the NFC’s third wild-card is still wafer-thin, as it is for Tom to finish in the Top Five. But the fact is that there is a chance, and it isn’t that much of a reach, which is a lot more than you could have said a month ago.
At 49 bucks, it’s highly unlikely that Bulger would be kept. But it’s not completely out of the question, and who the hell ever thought we’d be saying that.
Odds to Win: 75-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 8-1
Quote: “Look, I always stick up for you…..When people say, Oh, that Damone, he’s a Loudmouth – and they say that a lot – I always say, “Hey, you just don’t know Damone.” When they say “That Damone, he’s an Idiot,” I just tell them, “Hey, you just don’t know Damone.” Well, maybe I’m the one that doesn’t know you.”
Rat’s dramatic, wussy-coming-of-age rant against his best friend whom he had defended to any and all comers, only to have said best friend stab him in the back and get his girlfriend pregnant, goes to Cousin Brucie and Walt’s undying loyalty to, respectively, the Vikings and Redskins. In other words, the two teams that are the hardest teams in the NFL to defend year in and year out this side of the Bengals and Cardinals.
To their everlasting credit, Bruce and Walt are loyal to a fault to their teams. They bleed purple and gold, and burgundy and gold. They have for as long as I’ve known them (although there IS a picture of Cousin Brucie, as a young lad, in Giants gear, somewhere.) They’ll defend Randy Moss’s shenanigans, Cris Carter and/or Daunte Culpepper going off on the sidelines (“Hey, the guy wants to win!!”) They’ll defend the Redskins turning into Gainesville North, all but ignoring Stephen Davis, and Daniel Snyder making George Steinbrenner look hands off.
And what do they get for this? Getting pole-waxed by – shudder – the JETS? The very real chance that Danny Wuerffel and Todd Bouman might be leading both of these teams permanently? Either team looking up at the Jets or the Browns with something resembling envious admiration?
Then again, if the Patriots can rebound from their pathetic history to where they are now (arguably, one of the NFL’s model franchises), there’s no reason that the Vikes or ‘Skins can’t get back there too. You would think.
Odds to Win: 70-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 4-1
Quote: “C……D……F……F……F…..Three weeks we’ve been talking about the Platt amendment. What are you people, on dope?”
Mr. Hand berating his class of slackers on their poor performance on an exam about an obscure (and now obsolete) trade amendment, goes to Greg’s blowing his FAAB on Jamie Martin.
Martin, of course, is the newest member of the Derek Loville Memorial $60 FAAB Washout club. The club of course is named for Derek Loville who you will remember was dubbed the starting running back in Denver in the wake of Terrell Davis’s 1999 season-ending ACL injury. Consequently, TONY went 60 for Loville, who in turn accomplished nothing and promptly found the end of the bench and, not long afterward, the unemployment line. Instead, it was Olandis Gary who rushed for over 1,000 yards and who made the Pro Bowl.
You can add Jamie Martin now to the club. Handed the keys to the Ferrari that is the Rams’ offense, he immediately went out and got tagged for DUI. Yeah, THAT’S good for a career.
Keep in mind, though that Greg’s got top-drawer, cheap talent for next year: Chris Chambers, Donte Stallworth, James Thrash, Shaun Alexander. Most intriguingly, however, he’s got Marshall Faulk who, with a tight race for the top 5 positions, he can use to score a true cornerstone to build around for years to come (did someone say Michael Vick?)
White Pete Panthers
Odds to Win: 15-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: 6-5
Quote: “Sorry someone broke into your car and stole your tape deck.”
Damone stealing the tape deck out of Rat’s car, as “compensation” after Rat interrupted Damone from watching cartoons to go to Rat’s house to get Rat’s wallet, to bring it to the restaurant where Rat was wooing Stacy.
PGia’s stealing, in two separate trades, of Ladainian Tomlinson, Peerless Price, Plaxico Burress and Eddie George for Drew Brees and Corey Dillon from PGar, while PGar was apparently distracted by watching cartoons while looking for his wallet, which he probably left at the restaurant.
I don’t see any difference. Do you?
Odds to Win: 4-1
Odds to Finish in the Money: Even
Quote: “Can you honestly tell me that you forgot? Forgot the animal magnetism of Robin Zander or the charisma of Rick Neilsen?….”
“That’s kid stuff”
“Kid Stuff? How about the tunes? I want YOU…to want ME……(singing) The Dream Police (Dadadadadada)…Your mammas alright, you’re daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird….”
The constant, relentless, never-say-die peddling by Mike Damone of, in this instance, Cheap Trick tickets, goes to the constant, relentless, never-say-die peddling by Derek of anyone and everyone on his team. Just like in baseball, where anyone on his team – including Randy Johnson – was available for the right price. Who here has been offered Santana Moss, Troy Hambrick, Moe Williams, and/or Patrick Ramsey or any combination thereof? How many people got offered Kelly Holcomb before Mike Montagano took the bait? And how safe a bet is it that, as Week 13 approaches, some of us will be getting a phone call or e-mail about trading for Trent Green in a trade. (BTW Derek, you understand this is all in fun. Remember, I’m the guy who told you to sign Trent Green over David Boston. You’re welcome.)
Odds to Win: 6-5
Odds to Finish in the Money: 1-3
Sorry, Bob, no quote for you. Just the fact that the role of Brad Hamilton was played by JUDGE Reinhold. Not JUDD Reinhold. JUDGE. That’s JUDGE, as in Judge Lance Ito. As in “Here Come da Judge.” As in Brandeis University, whose sports teams are called the Judges. You get the idea. That’s what it says on the DVD Box, that’s what it says on his royalty checks, that’s what it said in the credits, and that’s what it says here.
By the way, nice team. If Brian Griese can stop tripping over dogs at barbecues you’ve got a shot to win it all.
Odds to Win: Even
Odds to Finish in the Money: 1-4
Quote: “Listen, Mister, if you don’t shut up I’m going to kick 100% of your Ass!!!”
Brad Hamilton’s snapping at a surly, sarcastic customer who demanded his money back for not being 100% satisfied with his Breakfast, goes to Bob SR’s ongoing frustration with quarterbacks and running backs not named Rich Gannon or Priest Holmes.
Aside from Rich Gannon, Bob’s quarterback situation has, to be kind, been a mess. Redman has been hurt, and when he’s played he hasn’t been all that. He hasn’t made anyone forget Trent Dilfer, let’s put it that way. Frerotte lost his job to Jon Kitna, enough said. Kerry Collins has been the best of a weak lot; but that’s much like saying Channel 3 has the best newscast in the state of Connecticut: really, what the hell does it mean. He’s been outpointed by Tommy Maddox and Marc Bulger, even though Maddox and Bulger spotted Collins a month’s worth of starts. More tellingly, he’s only 16 points ahead of Shane Matthews and 23 points ahead of Jake Plummer.
The running back situation is another pile of misfits. After Priest Holmes, SR’s next highest running back is Jerome Bettis, the Fat Assed, Broken-Down Bus. Next in the pecking order is Jamel White, who can thank All-Dunce Co-Captain to be William Green for his job by default. And Michael Pittman can’t even beat out Mike Alstott for a regular job. Enough said.
Even with all that, Bob is right up there in the thick of it. Donald Driver has been a revelation and Bubba Franks is the best tight end in the league that didn’t threaten to sign with the Miami Heat in the preseason. If Gannon and Holmes stay hot, with a few more breaks, he may score his repeat ring yet.
Odds to Win: 3-5
Odds to Finish in the Money: 1-6
Quote: “You know, a lot of people expected Marc Cutback Davis or Bob Jungle Deck Gerard would take the honors this year”
“Ho-oo-oo…..Those guys are Fags!!!”
Jeff Spicoli’s fantasy sequence, where he celebrates a surfing title surrounded by two beautiful, bikini-clad girls (one a Playboy centerfold, as it turns out) goes to Craig’s being the man to beat in this league this year – the guy everyone wants to be.
This is the best chance Craig’s had for a ring - better even than 1995, his last real run. At the three key positions, he’s among this league’s best. The best Quarterback situation in the league not involving Brett Favre and Drew Bledsoe: McNabb and Brady as the starters, with Chad Pennington waiting in the wings. The best running back situation in the league, maybe ever: Five deep in solid starters (Martin, McAllister, Tiki Barber, Clinton Portis and Kevan Barlow) with TJ Duckett at #6. And the deepest, if not the best, receiving corps: Conway, Holt, Jerry Rice and Troy Brown, with David Patten and Quincy Morgan as alternates. The icing? Adam “Money” Vinatieri at kicker and Green Bay’s defense.
To be sure, the race isn’t over yet. Craig hasn’t clinched anything yet and there’s still two months to go. But if there’s any guy in this league this year that looks to go Joe McCabe on all of our asses, it’s Craig. And who would’ve thought I’d ever be saying that. (Not that Craig would be the guy that would run away with the league title – the fact that I would be using Joe McCabe’s name as a euphemism for doing it!)
That’s it. Good luck down the stretch.