Friday, September 14, 2007

Wii, the Mookie and the NFL

Well it's back to work on the most Sunday-feeling Friday I've had in some time. Thursday was the Jewish new year so I took some time away from the office (and from the blog) to be with my family and had a great day. My younger daughter K turns two years old today which is a special thing, so we've been having fun with that, and my days at home with the family are always worth about 84 times as much as anything I ever do at work, so I never lose sight of that in my daily comings and goings.

Speaking of which, I have been remiss in mentioning this here, but you would not believe how much fun my entire family has been having with the Nintendo Wii. That's right, the very same Wii that I won for my come-from-behind 4th place finish in the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments this past spring. The Wii is just incredible. The gameplay is so realistic for some of the games it is almost hard to believe the thing is even real. Take bowling, for example, on Wii Sports that came bundled with the Wii system itself when it was sent to me. Other than not having the tremendous weight of the ball to hold in your hand (a good change, as far as I'm concerned), that bowling game is without a doubt the most realistic sports game I've ever played on any computer or game system. You hold the thing just like a real bowling ball, you walk up to the line just like you're really bowling, and you swing your arm and release your fingers from the holes at the end of your swing just like IRL. And you can put spin on the ball just by flicking your wrist, again just like in real life bowling. It's incredible.

My older daughter M and I have had hours of fun hitting and pitching in the baseball game that came with the system as well. I've tinkered with golf, but the putting mechanism is IMO too tough, especially when it comes to very short putts, but again it is unreal how lifelike you have to swing the club -- both in direction and form as well as in the strength of your swing or your follow-through -- and the boxing game has been fun for me as well, but the thing with that game is that it is just too tiring if you really start kicking the other guys' asses. But my real love so far has got to be Tennis. The tennis is doubles-only against the computer, but the cool thing is it lets you control both the back guy and the net guy for your side, depending on where the ball is at the time of your swing. The swing is so lifelike, and just like in the other sports, you can put spin on the ball by flicking your wrist in a certain direction when you make contact, more or less exactly like in real tennis. It's like a constant high-adrenaline, high-activity festival of fun in our living room, and it has brought my daughters and I closer together more than I ever thought possible. And I owe it all to poker. :)

But that is the truly amazing thing about playing the Wii. Unlike any other game system ever created, I can honestly say that, after just half an hour of playing tennis against the computer, I am not just sweaty but downright drenched. Some nights lately I have even opted to skip my cardio workout at the gym entirely, and instead spend an hour raising my rank above Pro level by beating down on and learning how to get better and better at Wii Tennis. Anyways, gone are the days of your kids sitting home all day and getting fat while they play their Sega 1993 hockey (Jeremy Roenick scores!!) and sit on their asses. Give me less than 30 minutes with the Wii, and I am sweating. It's really an amazing experience, and not having played any kind of video games whatever since college, I am amazed at how much I myself have gotten into just the Wii Sports games that came with the system. I bought a carnival games disc for my kids which I played on Thursday afternoon with M and went well, but we have more to learn about how to maximize our performance in those games so I'll give it some time. Anybody else out there have a Wii and have a recommendations for cool games to get? I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts if you got 'em.

Before I forget, let me congratulate my good friend Julius Goat for two great accomplishments this week. First, the minor feat was the birth of Goat's third child, and I think his first girl, so go congratulate Goat on that. But the much, much bigger news for Goat this week is of course his win in the Mookie on Wednesday night. Now for starters how someone is playing in a 3-hour Mookie tournament like 24 hours after his wife had a baby is beyond me. That man obviously keeps his pimp-hand strong, and on behalf of all of us married guys out here, let me just say Wow! to him. But Goat not only played in the Mookie, but he wiped it up. Yes sure I was in the chip lead with 17 players remaining on Wednesday. At this point, that's no big deal anymore, I'm leading that thing with less than 20 players left every week nowadays. But after I admittedly donkey-called off my stack with A8s, failing to hit any of my 12 outs twice to get eliminated in I think 12th or 13th place this week, Goat built up a nice chip lead and he simply never gave it up. He had a huge lead at the final table, kept it more or less throughout, and went into 3-handed play with nearly 3 times as many chips as 2nd place. The lead never faltered and Goat made short work of his last few competitors on his way to victory. Since I can never win the Mookie (although I did finish second in another Dookie this week, a tournament that I think just ended finally due to its surprising non-turbo nature), I have to resort to living vicariously through my blogger friends, so when someone like Don or now Goat takes it down, I am always extra happy for them. So congratulations out to Goat, for winning the latest Mookie, and...wasn't there something else this week as well for him? Oh yeah, the new baby. Wow what a week! Won the Mookie and everything! Impressive.

So, it's a Friday which means NFL is coming up again this weekend. Without delving too deeply into fantasy football, let me just say that I already have one of those leagues this year where there is this one pussy guy who keeps making totally one-sided trade offers to everyone, and then gets truly angry and insulting in emails, in the message board, etc. when people refuse to accept his silly offers. You give me Cedric Benson and I give you Steve Smith? No thanks, ass. Jon Kitna for Antonio Gates? I no think so. God how I tire of people like that.

Anyways, after going 1-0 in my posted picks for you in Week 1, I've got two more picks coming at you ahead of this weekend's full slate of NFL action, which includes my beloved Philadelphia Eagles in action on Monday night, looking to get some revenge after last week's recockulous giveaway of the Green Bay game. Interestingly, as I look at the lines on the NFL games this week, I see three lines that look to me to be "too good to be true". Now, often when this happens as I've written about and as someone like Don can and I imagine will get into more detail on in his blog, the "too good to be true" lines end up being just that, and the team nobody expected to win comes up with the big upset, and Vegas is happy as a result. In fact this happened just last week with my Eagles, who despite being favored to come out of the NFC once again and despite playing the utterly, embarrassingly hapless Green Bay Packers, were only giving 3 points against a team we should have rightfully beaten by 20 or 25 points. So what happens with that ridiculously low line? The Eagles suck up the joint and end up losing on a last-second field goal to give the Packers the 3 point lead, and to pay off all the few people with the insight to put their money on the Packers despite the only 3 points they were getting in Vegas on the game.

Well, this week I see three games that appear "too good to be true", and of course the key is in figuring out which of those are the setup games like last week's Eagles-Packers matchup, and which of those lines, if any, are actually just way off from what they should be. For me, the three wacky lines this week are Cincy only -7 at Cleveland, New Orleans only -3 at Tampa Bay, and Dallas only -3.5 at Miami. In each case, we are looking at a team near the top of their conference, playing on the road at a team that is really going to be bad this year, and in each case the numbers seem to me to be just too low for the road favorites. So how do I deal with each of those? Here's my answer: I'm sticking with the teams that I have high confidence are good this year, even here in Week 2. So that means that in the case of Dallas, I would stay away from that game, because at the end of the day I still do not see them as a truly great team this year, and I am wary of such a small line in favor of a team that I don't have a high confidence in like Dallas, to the point that I would not be surprised to see the horrid Dolphins somehow cover that paltry 3-point spread.

With the Saints, their performance in Week 1 injected a few doubts into my head about what I had been convinced was going to be a powerhouse team in 2007-08. With all of zero offensive touchdowns scored against the not-incredible Chargers defense last week, I think the proper move is to just avoid betting the Saints in that game, even though again the line seems awfully low at just 3 points over Tampa, another bad team in this year's NFL. Which leaves Cincinatti, who takes their "greatest show on turf" to Cleveland this week and is favored by 7 points. On this one, even though the 7 points seems low to me against who is probably the worst team in the NFL this season in the Browns, who will start a new quarterback this Sunday after trading away their Week 1 starter to the Seahawks a few days ago. I think Cincy wins this game and wins it big, and the line is not nearly as "too good to be true" at 7 points as it could be at 3 or so, so in the end I'm just not as worried about that one as I am about the others.

So Cincy -7 at Cleveland is my first pick for NFL Week 2. My other pick is going to be my Eagles, who should beat the horrific Redskins easily at home, and who will hopefully get a much stronger performance out of the offense this week to enable them to win this game by more than the one-touchdown line of 7 points. I will take the Eagles -7 points at home on Monday night after a tough and angering loss last week. So to review, my two NFL picks this week are:

1. Cincinatti -7 at Cleveland and
2. Philadelphia -7 vs. Washington

Two big favorite this week that I'm picking to win by more than a touchdown. That's not going to be usual for me, but I'm looking to extend my unbeaten NFL streak this year here in the earlygoing of the season, where the picks will be fewer than they will be later in the year when we have more information and more experience with all the teams in the league and how they really look so far in 2007.

OK that's all for me for today. Sorry not much poker content, but I've stored up about 1.5 billion hands which I plan to get to starting on Monday of next week in a return to my roots with some good old-fashioned hand analysis, replete with screenshots and my pompous, witty banter to go along with it. Mmmmmmm...delicious just thinking about all that, isn't it? Anyways as usual I will try to get in on Kat's Donkament tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt (password is "donkarama") for some $1 rebuy action, which I highly recommend especially to guys like me who've been taking it on the chin lately from the full tilt supposed random number generator. At $1 rebuys, you can do quite a bit of therapeutic donkery and still not drop too much in this thing, so I highly recommend it to those of you in need of letting off some steam in your online poker play.

Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll see you on the virtual felt I'm sure. And best of luck to your NFL teams and with your NFL picks.

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Blogger Astin said...

The Wii's great, isn't it?

Excite Truck for sure. I have yet to meet one person who doesn't love it. Any game that you can come in 2nd and still win because you did more tricks and had better crashes is always good.

Mario Party is worthwhile if you have at least 3 or 4 people playing. 1 or 2 doesn't work nearly as well. In fact, 1 is pretty much useless.

Wii Play is mildly amusing, but far inferior to Wii Sports, and not nearly as sweat-inducing.

Super Monkey Ball has a ton of mini-games that use the controllers in just about every imagineable way. The main game is really a matter of taste, where you try to keep a ball (with a monkey in it) on track by moving the controller around to control the board. I like it, but it can be frustrating as hell.

Football? We're just about wrapping up on that in Canada. OH, you mean that thing they play in the States. NFL is it? Small field, big players, FOUR downs?? Fair catch? Wimps. :)

12:46 AM  
Blogger BadBlood said...

Remember also that the Wii can play Nintendo Game Cube titles as well.

If you're looking for exercise-ish type games, then Dance, Dance Mario is pretty good. It comes with a floor pad for you to step on. Basically it's a DDR clone with Mario characters.

If you end up buying any other Game Cube titles, you'll need a Game Cube controller too.

As far as Wii-only games go, be on the look out for Guitar Hero III due in late October.

2:06 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

The Wii is freaking amazing. I love the tennis and boxing. The other games are okay, but those two are great to get up and moving. In fact, I had some hand problems from PS2 when I was playing too many videogames, but the Wii doesn't have that problem since its so movement-based, instead of sitting on your ass moving your fingers...kinda like the typing I'm doing now. I need Wii Word for the office so I can just swing my arms in the shape of letters to type.

2:19 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

You didnt even pimp your yahoo pickem league.. Boo!

2:34 AM  
Blogger emptyman said...

I totally agree -- Wii Bowling is THE most realistic sports game, ever.

For a true NADD (Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder) experience, try Wii Tennis but play as one of the players on EACH side of the net. Better, play 2-player, A + B vs. A + B.

Yes, it's impossible to keep score, but try it and tell me it's not a complete riot...

3:15 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

Wii kicks ass. We have had one since x-mas. If you golf, you might try the Tiger Woods title. The only problem is that it is just like real golf (way too hard), but that is a nice change from what has been done in the past. Got a hook in your golf game? You will have one on the Wii as well.

Lastly, I take it that you will not be partisipating in the blogger fantasy football battle this year. Quite a shame, because we would love to have you, and you would have a great chance to take it down with your FB knowledge. I will stop stop badgering you about it. Maybee next year I guess.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

It's funny, I've had my Wii since January, and I've only picked up 2 games for it so far (Mostly due to a lack of intriguing titles so far). Wii Sports is a blast though, and I never get bored with that game. Golf is one of my favorite games on there, actually. The putting takes some time to get the hang of, but once you do, it's pretty easy, so I encourage you to keep trying with it.

Astin is being too kind to Wii Play, it is the worst game I have ever seen. It's really only $10 since it comes with a Wii-mote, and to be honest, it's not even worth $10. Awful, awful game.

The other game I own is Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which is a great game if you're into Zelda games.

Other than that, I'm waiting for Super Mario Galaxy in November, which looks amazing, Super Smash Bros in December, and Mario Kart early next year. Also, Guitar Hero III is a must own, although I'll be picking it up for the XBox360 just for graphics preferences.

They're also coming out with a game called Wii Fit, which will have a platform you can stand on and do all kinds of crazy exercises, not sure when that's supposed to com out though.

7:54 AM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...'s a different opinion about Wii Play. I have an 8 year old daughter. I know the old school gamers here will blast this game as stupid, but you really gotta try playing it with your daughter. Besides being a way to get a new Wiimote, my daughter and I have more fun playing tanks than I ever thought I would.

I read some of the reviews of Wii games, and they are written by 20 - 40 year old guys that have been playing games for their entire lives. My daughter thinks its awesome, and as a Dad of a grade school girl, there's nothing more fun than finding something you can do with your daughter that you both enjoy.


10:17 PM  

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