King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

Thanksgiving? Why, that's poetry to a sports fan's ears. Plus: NFL Week 13 picks.

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To write a daily column is to have a lot to say
And even if you don’t, you have to say it anyway
Today I feel poetic as a new Thanksgiving nears
And if this column works at all I’ll recycle it for years

A daily writer has to have a healthy bag of tricks
Imitating TV people, or hard-boiled private dicks
But nothing in this world can make a poor hack’s spirits soar
Like a thing that, written once, can be reused forevermore

My goal is for some editor three dozen years from now
To roll his eyes Thanksgiving week and sorely wonder how
The old man gets away with his yearly rhyming blather
“To edit this or eat hot lead, don’t ask me which I’d rather”

For what should we be thankful in November’s growing chill?
The often ugly sports world can be stingy with its thrills
For every Bonds home run, it seems, a Limbaugh causes blight
McNabb could never play, he said, and then exit Rush, stage right

For that small favor we give thanks, and also for the stars
Who give us things to talk about when spending time in bars
Did you see Dontrelle? LeBron? Adu? Man, those kids can play
Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? Is Sandy Koufax gay?

Dusty Baker’s racial theories made us all scratch our heads
Like on those days when old Mike Tyson seems to skip his meds
Speaking of which: THG, the latest designer drug
For baseball to wring its hands about and sweep under the rug



I’m thankful for the stories that send my hits through the roof
“Bull Durham’s” anniversary, a silly right-wing goof
Rush, of course, and Kobe Bryant, sad as that is to say
And a guy who whacked a racing sausage on its head one day

He was one of many who found their 15 minutes’ fame
Often having nothing to do with outcome of a game
Ted Williams’ son, that Chicago dolt beating on an ump
And even, in a way, Warren Sapp, who jiggled his big rump

Mike Price’s stripper, the Giants’ long-snapper, Aaron Boone
The De La Hoya-Mosley judges, some thought they were loons
And poor Steve Bartman, headphone dude who didn’t use his head
Like every Cubs fan past and present, he shoulda stood in bed

I’m thankful for them all, as well as Britney’s tiny shorts
Which I mention every time I can — I love writing sports
I’m thankful for Serena, the powerful way she plays
And for that great bike racer whose name I’ve promised not to say

I’m thankful for those lovely days when jokes just write themselves
Like when the Splendid Splinter’s head sits frozen on a shelf
For clarity on issues such as A-Rod’s megabucks
Or “Cold Pizza,” that ESPN show: Gosh, it really sucks

For Beckett, Clarett, Shockey, Neifi, Clemens and the rest
From the great ones to the dumb ones, the duffers to the best
For Jordan bowing out at last, Carmelo bowing in
For a year when people really thought the Red Sox just might win

The Devils won the Stanley Cup, they’re really on a roll
But I’ll thank the NHL if it brings back scoring goals
Will someone make a layup? My boy Bill Walton wonders
The NBA’s shooting stats are an almanac of blunders

This was a year of war abroad, corruption here at home
Simeon Rice put foot in mouth while talking to Jim Rome
A D-3 woman’s flag protest had veterans seeing red
If the NC-double-A won’t clean house, college sports are dead

Jim Harrick, Fresno State, St. Bonaventure, Neuheisel
Someone’s got to stop the cheating or all of these guys’ll
End up at other programs, where the whole thing starts anew
I’ve had enough of scandal stories, I don’t know about you

So as I join my family at our holiday repast
And wonder how it is the Raiders got so bad so fast
I’m thankful for the never-ending pageant that is sports
And for you, my dear reader — and did I mention Britney’s shorts?

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NFL Week 13 picks [PERMALINK]

I was a solid 12-4 last week, missing only on the wins by the Ravens, Dolphins, Bears and Chiefs, my What the Heck Pick™ of the week. It was yet another tantalizingly close defeat for my WTH™ team.

I was feeling pretty good about my 12-4 showing — I’d have been 9-0 in the early games if not for that wacky Baltimore comeback against the Seahawks — until I realized everybody else did well in Week 12. All of the eight ESPN “experts” with whom I’m in a competition they don’t know about went at least 11-5. At 105-71, I remain behind all of them except Eric Allen, bless him.

It’s ridiculously early in the week to be picking Sunday’s games. Why, we don’t even know yet which wide receiver named Johnson will be released. All the same, here are my Week 13 picks, winners capitalized as usual.

GREEN BAY (6-5) at Detroit (3-8): The Packers are lousy indoors, but they have something to play for.

Miami (7-4) at DALLAS (8-3): Here’s something to be thankful for. A Thanksgiving Day NFL game that actually means something. Did the NFL have to schedule the Dolphins for the Sunday night game before the Thanksgiving game? Doesn’t seem fair. Also, just so a year doesn’t go by without my mentioning it, the league should rotate the Thanksgiving Day games. Different teams should host the two games each year. Why should Detroit and Dallas be the only teams guaranteed not to have to play a road game on three days’ rest every year?

Cincinnati (6-5) at PITTSBURGH (4-7): The Bengals might be the best story in the NFL this year. But just a hunch here.

Buffalo (4-7) at N.Y. GIANTS (4-7): The Bills are awful on the road. The Giants are awful at home. Should be a humdinger.

Atlanta (2-9) at HOUSTON (4-7): Still no Michael Vick, it looks like. Michael? The Falcons issued a press release earlier this year saying he wanted to be called Mike. Now, it seems, his mom has been giving him a hard time about it, so it’s back to Michael. He has become, if I may borrow a joke once made by the great baseball announcer Hank Greenwald, the player to be named later.

Minnesota (7-4) at ST. LOUIS (8-3): The Rams are undefeated at home.

San Francisco (5-6) at BALTIMORE (6-5): The 49ers are winless on the road. I’ve been looking at home and road records.

NEW ENGLAND (9-2) at Indianapolis (9-2): Game of the week, AFC version. I’ll take the hot hand, even though they’re on the road.

PHILADELPHIA (8-3) at Carolina (8-3): Game of the week, NFC version. I’ll take the hot hand, even though they’re on the road.

Arizona (3-8) at CHICAGO (4-7): Here’s something to be thankful for: You probably won’t have to watch this game.

NEW ORLEANS (5-6) at Washington (4-7): Every time I show a little faith in either of these teams, they let me down. Can I pick a tie?

KANSAS CITY (10-1) at San Diego (2-9): I can’t remember if I have a rule preventing me from taking the same team two weeks in a row as my What the Heck Pick™ loser, so I won’t.

Denver (6-5) at OAKLAND (3-8): The Broncos are wheezing and the Raiders are showing life. I think.

Cleveland (4-7) at SEATTLE (7-4): Speaking of home and road records, the Seahawks are 6-0 in Seattle, 1-4 as visitors, the biggest split in the league along with the 49ers, who are 5-1 and 0-5.

Tampa Bay (5-6) at JACKSONVILLE (2-9): Remember those fools who picked the Bucs to repeat? Ha ha! Ha. What the Heck Pick™ of the week. My choices were pretty limited.

TENNESSEE (9-2) at N.Y. Jets (4-7): Did you know the Jets used to be called the Titans? You did? Shoot, that’s all I’ve got. Anyway, this pick is based on the assumption that Steve McNair plays, which he always does if he’s breathing.

Season record: 105-71
Last week: 12-4
What the Heck Picks™: 5-7
Days until I can mention that bicycle racer’s name or the race he’s famous for winning without breaking my promise to readers: 37

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