Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 12/23/14

  • December 23, 2014

My choices for Best Play by Play and Analyst Awards the last couple of days. Today I’ll head in the other direction with a Worst selection. This one is for an entire show, so I’ll call it Worst Series of 2014.

ESPN’s “First Take” has never been a favorite of mine. The original premise goes back to the old “Cold Pizza” days, when it was at least tolerable and even entertaining in a weird sort of way. Skip Bayless would give his typical contrarian viewpoint on whatever topic and host Jay Crawford would try to input some logic into the conversation. Hardly great TV, but it provided some laughs and wasn’t the worst bit of programming to enjoy a cup of coffee with in the morning.

That was then, this is now. The present tense “First Take” is beyond awful. As off the wall as Bayless remains with his stances, he’s now the sane one on the show. Stephen A. Smith was once a sports journalist who had a long and successful run with The Philadelphia Inquirer, with his focus being on basketball. Now he’s a sports “personality” and it’s my assessment that he’s in way over his head. The overall knowledge aside from hoops just isn’t there and his social commentary has at times been nothing short of outrageously offensive.

This show is now strictly lowest common denominator. Virtually all the time is devoted to a handful of headline grabbing stories and there’s no real insight being offered, just a series of random thoughts that don’t seem to be especially well researched. The hostess is nothing more than an ineffectual traffic cop.

If you like the show, that’s fine. But for me, hearing talking heads actually take credit for motivating a professional sports team, offering stupid and offensive comments on domestic abuse, concocting juvenile nicknames for athletes,  and so on and so on, is TV at its absolute worst.

I have no idea what the ratings are for “First Take” and I really don’t care. Apparently they’re good enough to satisfy ESPN and as for Skip and Stephen A, if they’re able to reap super salaries for their work, that’s terrific. I’ve met each guy, they were both cordial and likable and I wish them no ill will. I just think their show sucks.


Winning Monday, and that’s hopefully a kickoff to a big week. A smorgasbord of activity today, as I’m already on two CBB, one NHL and one bowl.

The bowl package, which started at $250 is now $210 as I’m prorating the price based on what’s been played and what’s still available. Purchase via PayPal and remit to cokin@cox.net.

And the monthly deal is still on the table. Minimum net profit of +10 units for the 30 days or the service continues at no cost till that figure is achieved. Use the “buy now” feature to purchase and you’ll be good to go.


Manhattan overcame a rocky start to earn a relatively easy win as the Monday free play. Here’s another college basketball game from tonight’s slate for the Tuesday comp.

12/23 6:00 PM   CBB   (765) WYOMING  at  (766) MONTANA STATE

Take: (766) MONTANA STATE +11

Some unusual scheduling here, as it’s the second meeting in just a handful of days between Wyoming and Montana State. The Bobcats will be out to avenge a 70-61 loss at Laramie just nine days ago.

You can look at the first result in two ways. The game was much more difficult than anticipated for the Cowboys. They were actually trailing in the game with roughly ten minutes remaining. Wyoming eventually got rid of the Bobcats, but it wasn’t anything resembling a walkover.

Based on that first result, Wyoming will take this hame seriously. That ought to be enough to insure a Cowboys victory. But getting there by a  big margin could be difficult. Wyoming has played just a pair of true road games this season to date, and lost both. Granted, SMU and California are better opponents than this one, but regardless, the Cowboys have yet to fashion a strong performance away from the friendly confines.

Montana State is not good. They’re 3-8 and have absorbed some frightfully lopsided losses. But there is a ray of hope here for the Bobcats. Wyoming can be prone to picking up fouls and one thing Montana State does really well is make free throws. The hosts are also a decent three-point shooting team, which is never a bad thing if it’s late and the spread is in question.

There is a key injury in play here, and I will be checking on the availability of Stephan Holm. He has missed the last three games with a concussion and is listed as questionable for tonight’s clash. Holm is the best long range marksman on the Montana State roster, and their task becomes that much tougher if Holm gets ruled out this evening.

I’ll go ahead and say this is a bigger game for the home team. They should rightfully feel that based on how much trouble they gave Wyoming in the first meeting, they’ve got a chance at the upset tonight. I’m not sure I can buy that thought but I do see Montana State having a good opportunity to compete here. I’ll opt to side with Montana State plus the points to do just that.