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Another tournament another app to download. Goot-bye US Open app. Another week of typing F into google chrome before realizing the site starts with an R. The French are classy. But who was Roland Garros? Was he, a fictitious dragon who ruled over the Alps and the Bay of Biscay and all that lay in between? Or was he a French aviator and pilot during World War I? Over the next two weeks, we’ll get to the bottom of this. I know which way I’m leaning. PS that is Querrey in the photo if you're on mobile, not me Djokovic Ymer : Novak’s biggest win at the French Open is having Thiem and Nadal on the opposite side of the draw. A healthy reward for the #1 player in the world, and one that will mean a very wide open draw and a very enjoyable snackathon while he watches the other semifinal. Novak, or Snack Attack as he’s known to his close friends and family, will be hungies for this one after a very odd day of frustration against Carreño Busta at the US Open led to a disqualification. Novak won the Rome event with relative ease and is as close to a frontrunner as someone other than Nadal can be at this event. Ymer has been steadily improving but is still at the top of the challenger level when it comes to clay. This won’t be close, but it’s good to see Ymer stringing together a few seasons of appearances in the majors. Djokovic in 3. Berankas Dellien : Ricardas Berankas may be closer than he appears. After a good hardcourt mini-swing, Berankas has been absent from the clay warmups. He’s never really been the best on clay although he plays a solid baseline game, and this mostly because while he’s consistent, he struggles to hit through the court on slower surfaces. Dellien on the other hand, does his best work on clay. He’s been losing matches you’d expect him to have a better chance in and hasn’t had many bright points leading up to the break. With Djokovic in the next round and Berankis on his worst surface with minimal warmup, this is a must-win for Dellien. He’s struggled to find the finish line but he’ll have ample chances here, and his defending is similar to Munar’s in terms of lockdown baselining Dellien in 4 or he is likely headed off the tour. Galan Norrie : This is a brilliant opportunity for Daniel. He’s been hinting at a big run on clay and overcoming a lot of the gatekeepers of the challenger tour, but a lot of third set losses have plagued him, and while it’s considered a short stretch of tour, the clay events are deep with talent. Norrie has ventured to the South American swing once or twice, with relatively poor results. He can be a frustrating opponents at his peak, but his backhand doesn’t get through the court well and he’s just a bit inconsistent with results. He’ll still be a favorite here because playing in the spotlight in a major is something that takes time to adjust to, but Galan will make it close and could eke out a win since he’s still a developing player. Galan in 5. Sandgren Hurkacz : Sandgren hasn’t had a terrible time on the dirt this year, qualifying for events the last two weeks and unfortunately running into guys who are simply better than him. Almost beating Caruso is a great step, and a year ago that would make him a bit of a favorite to beat Hurkacz. Those of us who watched his matches with Rublev and Schwartzman saw a different Hurkacz from the inconsistent but promising server that’s been exhausting bettors while losing after winning the first set time and time again. Hurkacz was hitting very clean and generating winners relatively easily, and while his serve left him late against Diego, playing a returner like that in a long match will do that to you. Sandgren and Hurkacz will both be hitting a heavy ball here and looking to hold behind big serves, but one of them has had higher level success in the past few weeks, and I think Hubert, or “Hubert”, as he’s known down at the ‘ol library, has the better serve and bigger groundstrokes. Hurkacz in 3-4, and please when you look at Hurkacz picture him wearing glasses and looking up from his wooden table anytime someone coughs across the room. Garin Kohlschreiber : This is a good start for Garin, whose physical state is somewhat dependent on Tsitspas. A finals appearance on Saturday will make for a tough turnaround, but I don’t think he’ll withdraw from a major, and given Kohl’s loss to a super-hampered Fognini last week a little bit of fatigue won’t be too much of an issue. That being said, Garin’s game is largely dependent on physical effort and being a ball machine. I would say it’s split 95% that, and 5% having elegant hair. Kohlschreiber won’t just disappear and if Garin is a ghost of himself, he’ll lose, but that’ll be a big dip in level in a short period of time, and the fatigue I expect to hurt Garin’s run at the French is more of a 3rd-4th round type of struggle. Garin in 4. Humbert Polmans : Polmans name backwards is Snamlop, and that’s important because it’s now the second thing you know about his clay game. Polmans wears a hunting cap and plays a very energetic and consistent game. In normal circumstances he’d have a puncher’s chance, and the lucky losers in tour events are classic for pulling a number of upsets (like Bublik this week) but this is not the spot. Humbert played great in Hamburg and lost early enough that he’ll have a few days to travel and get ready for RG. Humbert in 3. Vesely Broady : These two will be very happy to play each other first round. Vesely has only just started to eke out wins on this clay swing and Broady has just qualified for the first time, beating Polmans and Kuhn along the way. These aren’t the type of wins that suggest he’ll beat Vesely, but Vesely’s struggles are the kind of thing that could see lower-tier players reel him in. I expect Broady’s timing to be a bit better than Vesely’s to start as he’s had a few matches on these courts, but Vesely really is a tour level player at the end of the day, so I believe both players will have some difficulty pulling away here. Someone in 5. The Vesely that lost to Vukic in a challenger loses. The Vesely that played a decent match against Humbert wins. Majchrzak Khachanov : If you got into a car accident with a basket full of the alphabet, you miiiiiiiiight get this combination of letters. Kamil just won a challenger in Prostejov, beating some quality players and Andujar in the finals. Everyone who knows Andujar knows he was raised with jaguars, and wins two titles in a row every year then disappears. Majchrzak interrupting this is a very brave feat, but also one that means this isn’t the one-way traffic that a Khachanov Majchrzak match normal would be. The problem for Kamil has been distancing himself against mid-tier opponents, and that is exactly what Khachanov big hitting and aggressive serving have done. Karen struggled against Lajovic last week, but that’s a puzzle he hasn’t solved yet, and likely won’t impact his performance here. He’s got a better shot at excelling in the big moments, and outlasting Kamil’s steady play. Khachanov in 4-5. Baustista Agut Gasquet : This is a sleeper of a great match. The way Gasquet moves around the court in between points is deceptive given how well he covers the court, and his game looks a bit more devoted to flair than it is to hitting winners. Still, his results over the past decade have been brilliant and his serving is sneaky good at times. Zero warmup matches leading into this is the polar opposite of RBA’s commitment to getting in hard yards on the surface, and that’ll be a big edge for RBA. Not his best surface (I’ll stop harping on this eventually), but RBA is playing some good ball and Gasquet is half a question mark heading into this week. Playing at home and not sporting any visual injury means Gasquet won’t just disappear, but I think rust will be a factor. RBA in 4-5. Uchiyama Balasz : Uchiyama is most famous for being the inspiration for that Nas song, but his second claim to fame is being a helluva tennis player. Many bettors had genuine panic attacks in his first round loss to PCB in last month’s US Open, and having that fresh in their minds could lead them astray here. Attila Balasz is one of the pure clay specialists on tour, and plays a very unique style of tennis. Tons of dropshots, a strangely effective but flailing backhand, and an affinity for hitting forehand winners from 10 feet behind the baseline are on display from him, as well as one of the best kick serves you’ll see. Given Uchiyama got the business from Duckworth last week, this should be a W for Balasz, who can trouble the winner of RBA/Gasquet but likely can’t win. Balasz in 3. Pella Caruso : Pella has allegedly been diagnosed with Morton’s neuroma, which is an inflamed nerve in the metatarsal region of the foot. I’ve dealt with nerve issues in the metatarsals after breaking a toe recently, and it is the strangest thing. It’s nonstop pain, even when you’re sitting down, but you can still train. Your foot feels like it’s on fire, but you can still walk and you know nothing is wrong. I’m not sure what treatment he’s getting for it, but the stop and start aspect of tennis is going to really preclude him from doing much on tour while this is an issue, and I believe that’s what is leading to his subpar results since the restart. Caruso on the other hand has become a household name lately, and although he’s done better on hardcourt than clay in the restart, this is a winnable match for him. I’m just not sold on Pella’s physical ability, and Caruso has the power to break down what is normally a rock-solid defense. Caruso in 3. Disclaimer : There’s a big tendency amongst gamblers to jump on lines because they think they have some injury info. Just keep in mind, the information the general public has is always less than what the books have. If anything, a question mark about an injury is a good reason to avoid betting on a match at all. Millman Carreño Busta : For a while I thought Millman had a knack for drawing guys he’d have a real war with, but it’s just his style. He doesn’t serve aces but he has a decent serve. He doesn’t hit winners but he swings for the fences on the forehand. He doesn’t have much of a backhand but he puts it in play in decent spots. It’s just very difficult for Millman to overwhelm anyone, and very difficult for players to create offense against what he offers. PCB didn’t look great against Nadal, but two weeks of rest will have him in good shape to compete here. I do expect him to make a decent run at this event, and this is a good test to see where his game is at after a huge payday in the USO. PCB is a professional, but I don’t put it past him to struggle to find form/motivation for a while. PCB in 4-5. Struff Tiafoe : This is the first line I’ll mention. Tiafoe comes in at +170 for this match, which is much closer than I’d set it. Tiafoe isn’t really a productive player on clay, and lost to local hero Musetti in a challenger last week. Struff blew up with a big lead in the third against Khachanov, and lost quickly in Rome as well, but he’s had some great clay results, and I expect him to come through very well here. The Tiafoe we saw at the USO may be a repeat appearance, but this would be the best win of his career on the dirt, so the line (especially after his loss to Musetti) makes me wary. Struff in 4. Altmaier Lopez : Altmeir is a challenger level player with a big claycourt game. He plays pretty exclusively on the dirt, and while Lopez is a great server, he may take an L here. Altmaier came through qualifying fairly easily, and Lopez is a wildcard for his effort level and service efficiency, but I’d rather back a qualifier in-form than a maybe of an offensive veteran on a slow surface. Altmaier in 4. Harris Popyrin : This is a nice matchup, as both of these guys wouldn’t be expect to make the 2nd round at RG very often. I’ve been big on Popyrin’s game in the past, but Harris has had the better win in recent times on clay, beating Caruso in two straight. This will largely be decided by serves, and in the interest of honesty, I haven’t watched many of their recent matches. Popyrin was better for a time, but that seems to have flipped. Someone with their hat backwards in 4. Pospisil Berretini : Oddsmakers have set the games total for this at 32, which given Pospisil’s serve is a bit low. Vasek is by no means a great clay player, and Berretini is going to make quick work of this, but I do think Pospisil will keep him on court for at least two hours. Berretini in 3. Medvedev Fucsovics : Spooky line for this one, with Medvedev (who regularly comes in at -1000 against solid opponents) only a 4 to 1 favorite here. Fucsovics hasn’t played any clay warmups and although Med lost to Humbert it was a side event and Humbert played lights out tennis. I guess the premise we’re going with here is that Medvedev’s style isn’t great on clay, but I think he’ll have a good event here as he was a bit more impatient than usual against Humbert. Medvedev in 4. Mannarino Ramos-Vinolas : If you like lefties who’ve been on tour forever and never change their game, this is the match for you. Local robot ARV has had a disappointing start to his clay season, courtesy of an unexplainably good Bublik. He’s the type of player who generally needs a bit more time to work the point, and doesn’t go for clean winners very often. A bit like a more defensive version of Delbonis, ARV will have a good chance here to get a win. Mannarino has potential to make this close because ARV hasn’t been winning and that mental state is sometimes a difficult hurdle. He’ll also be playing at home which has historically been a huge boost for French players. It’ll depend largely on the condition of ARV’s game, but it will be difficult given Mannarino’s controlled game and ARV’s defense for either player to pull away. ARV in 5. Halys Giron : These guys just aren’t that good, but they’re in a great section of the draw. Halys has been hanging around the challenger tour, but hasn’t made a great deal of impact. Giron has had a more impressive stretch of wins on tour, but none of them have come on clay. The crowd will help Halys, and I think he’s a bit more comfortable on clay, but Giron is the better player at the end of the day. Not a lot to separate these two. Giron in 5. Querrey Rublev : I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about Querrey. It’s easy to say he’s washed up or he doesn’t care or he’s only good on grass and fast hardcourt. What’s difficult to do though is to remember that he did this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ICHm96chw&ab_channel=TennisWizard That is all. Rublev might be coming off a title win, and the courts will be slower, but Querrey’s work on this planet is already complete. Rublev in 4. PS an anonymous source has recently informed me that Rublev’s house in Russia is actually structured like a hamster emporium and he wears a cape and refers to himself only as Tubelev. Vetting my source now. Monteiro Basilashvili : Monteiro is somewhere fancy winning a challenger as we speak. I love this guy’s work ethic and he plays like he’s Nadal’s wild cousin who mountain climbs and just plays tennis when he’s in town. The forehand is big and he’s going against a guy who hasn’t notched a win since he came back to the tour. Commenting on legal issues isn’t great, but Basilashvili is facing some domestic assault charges back in his home country and there’s some notion that this is not great for his mental state. If they were both at their peak Nikoloz wins, but he’s in the doldrums and Monteiro is winning tons of matches. Monteiro in 3. Lajovic Mager : Another tough draw for Mager. After getting a motivated Dimitrov he goes up against Lajovic who found his chops last week in a major way in Hamburg. Mager can absolutely crush the ball but he needs some times to find these shots, and Lajovic moves his opponents exceptionally well. A few missed opportunities against Tsitsipas have afforded Lajovic a few days of rest, and he should be good to roll through this one. Lajovic in 3-4. Djere Anderson : This one of my favorite matchups in the first round. Djere is a great claycourter and plays harder than most when he gets in a rhythm, but he’s been struggling to win matches lately. Anderson’s return from injury has been similar to Nishikori’s as far as results, but not style. Nishikori has struggled to keep the ball in the court. Anderson seems to be able to play his normal game in stretches, but is hesitant to do so. It’s like watching a baby deer test it’s legs out. In a 2/3 format I think Anderson might sprint away, but here I like Djere to make this match physical and beat Anderson, who’ll be happy to go into the indoor season where things are a bit easier on the ol deer bits. Djere in 4-5. Mayot Davidovich Fokina : Mayot is not the worst, but he’s not the best. Rublev vs Fokina is probably the best 2nd round we’re going to see in this event, and barring injury we’ll get a look at it. Fokina’s loss against Lajovic looked bad since Dusan was slumping, but looking at his form the next few rounds it makes sense. It’s like playing Paire on a day where he makes no errors and serves 16 aces. You come off the court like wait, where’s christmas? ADF in 3. Shapovalov Simon : Shap had some clay wins that he hasn’t in the past. It’s nice to see the slower surface giving him time to really craft some winners. There aren’t many holes in his game, and he seems to only struggle once opponents settle onto his patterns since he tries to hit through the court on so many shots. When you see the guy shifting to where you’re going there’s a tendency to try to add some juice. Simon’s physical struggles aren’t public, but there’s something off about him. Age/fatigue/injury. I don’t know. The backhand is still beautiful and he’s still a great player, but he just can’t win lately, and this is the wrong opponent to be moving poorly against. Shap in 3. PS if you haven’t seen Shap’s rap video yet don’t see it. It’s not to be seen, like a rare butterfly or a peanut butter jelly sandwich your child hid in their closet for some reason 4 years ago. Johnson Carballes Baena : Another match I feel good about. RCB is the RBA of ARV. His ability to push the pace without really hitting for winners is a quality the best claycourters all possess. Johnson can play some clay, but usually only in the USA event that consists of hardcourt players playing each other. This will be somewhat close as Johnson is decent on serve and RCB retired from his last match. The appeal of a big check at a major is such that people will make the trip even if they’re not at their best, and this one is RCB’s if he’s healthy, but Johnson’s if he isn’t. No way to pick, but I’m pulling for RCB, as he’ll be the better round 2 against Shap. Martin Sousa : The hits keep coming. Sousa simply can’t win a match. He doesn’t seem to be playing terribly, just dealing with a huge slump. Martin will know how that feels, as he’s been taking first round losses when he finally makes his way into main tour events for a while. That changed at the start of this year though, and Martin has been a difficult out on clay in recent months. That likely will give him an edge here, and the confidence being based in results rather than in coaches puffery is likely to keep him pushing where Sousa will have doubts creeping in. Martin in 5. Barrere Dimitrov : Barrere looked like he’d be making a big impact on tour this year before the break. There are some winners and some losers in any sporting revolution, and halting his progress seems to put him in the loser category. Draws are important, and while the solid hitter could have a chance against the new Kanye, this seems to be the old Kanye. Dimitrov tried exceptionally hard to beat Shapovalov in their Rome test, and it was good to see him playing well against even if the overarching idea is that the pinnacle of the tour has kinda passed him by. Dimitrov in 4-5. Krajinovic Milojevic : Tough pull for Milojevic, who plays excellent dirt and worked very hard to qualify, notching wins against Leo Mayer and Yannick Maden. Kraj is pretty solid on clay and playing his best tennis the past few weeks. He’ll have to work hard to put Milojevic away, but he should do so. Krajinovic in 4. Bedene Rinderknech : Strasbourg is in France, and Rinderknech is French. I like it. The 25 year old has been doing excellent recently on clay, and it’s nice to see him get a wildcard. Bedene isn’t the type of player who’s unbeatable, and Rinder’s win against Marc-Andrea Huesler (who should be in this event) shows he’s able to compete at tour level. The “home crowd” issue is probably getting annoying to read about now, but there’s some real comfort zone issues with the French players that lets them play comfortably there. Bedene is still a step above, but this could be close. Bedene in 5. Laaksonen Cuevas : Henri never blinked in the qualifying, and this is a guy who does way more with way less. He trains his fitness at least as hard as anyone on tour, and while his game is pretty one-dimensional, he gets a lot out of it. He reminds me a bit of a local club champion who plays a tour pro and doesn’t just fold up and hope for their adulation. The serve is big and that’s the main weapon, and he’ll need it against Cuevas. Cuevas doesn’t give up much in the way of rallies and uses his variety to expose his opponents. Laaksonen won’t get tired, but he will have difficult ending baseline rallies, and his somewhat predictable approach is something that Cuevas is well suited to defend against. Cuevas in 4. Munar Tsitsipas : This is a sleeper for an upset, especially with Tsitsipas playing for a title tomorrow. Munar hasn’t shown the type of world-beating dominance I expected him to on clay, because frankly he is a bit small for the tour, but he has a Nadal-level (RIP my inbox) effort on the court. He is rock-solid from the baseline and has a great attitude. Some injuries have hampered his development but even with Tsitsipas playing his best tennis this won’t be a walkover. The huge edge in serving for Tsitsipas means it’ll be tough for Munar to really apply pressure, but I think it’ll be a similar affair as his match with Garin where he seems in control until he begins making errors. Tsitsipas is still prone to shanking random rally balls and returning poorly. After talking up Munar’s chances I still think Tsitsipas may win in straight sets, but it’s one of those matches where I’d never give the spread. Tsitsipas in 3 difficult sets. PS Munar, or Lil Buttons as he’s known in the tennis rap community, buttons all the buttons on his shirt and that’s cute. Monfils Bublik : Tough draw for both. Monfils has looked half motivated, as if he wants to play but can’t bring himself to until the pressure’s off or it would be an amazing comeback. It’s time to stop looking at these moments as a slump as this is pretty much how he has spent his whole career. When conditions are perfect, he thrives. These are outliers though, not his real level. Bublik won a bunch of sets of tennis this past week and had his chances against Garin. My initial thought looking at this match was that the games total of 35 seemed low. Bublik is likely to hold serve moderately well, and Monfils is likely to get drawn into the skill contest that Bublik represents with his dropshots/serve and volleys/underhand serves. I think this has potential to be the most entertaining match, and while Bublik is looking very good, Monfils has a lot of time here to play himself into a mental state where he can fight. Monfils in 5. Gomez Sonego : Gomez and Sonego will both like their chances here. Sonego’s been losing, but to quality opponents like FAA and Ruud. Gomez qualified and got a nice article written about him, but his game has been legit and he’s been right around tour level for 2-3 seasons now. Gomez actually beat Seyboth Wild in the qualifiers, which is a huge win. Sonego really hasn’t won many matches, and that’ll be in his head a bit against a qualifier who is hungry to prove himself. Gomez in 5. Thompson Albot : Our boy Radu hasn’t really been winning much since the tour’s return, which I think puts an asterisk next to the entire sport. It’s bad form for Radu not to get wins, and I believe that’s what Pospisil’s union is mainly focused on. Thompson was awfully disappointing against Coric in the USO, and is pretty bad on clay, but this again is a nice section of the draw with Fritz waiting in round two (I say that now but by the next paragraph I’ll convince myself he’s going to lose). Thompson in 4. Machac Fritz : Is it legal to cheer? Machac’s recent results don’t say he can beat a player like Fritz, but he has beaten some players who can beat some players who can beat a player like Fritz. Fritz did well against Travaglia, and likely has the edge here. Some home-cooking for the 19 year old will be a factor if he manages to grab a set, but he’ll have to get there on his own and Fritz’ hitting may be a big factor in this one. Fritz in 3-4 but I’ll be crossin my fingas. Coric Gombos : I see some people on twitter disrespecting my man Gombos. I’m lying, I don’t go near twitter, and only made an account so I can post a portrait of myself. You can view it here : https://twitter.com/blurryturtle/header_photo Gombos probably can’t win this, but he is the Gombosiest. Coric in fouric. Rodionov Chardy : Is Chardy really tryna play tennis anymore? It seems like he’d have been making a retirement announcement this year but the pandemic ruined it. Rodionov did great in the qualifiers and winning is a habit. Chardy has the skill and serving to outclass Rodionov but he just hasn’t been doing the work lately. The upset is somewhat likely in my mind. Rodionov in 4-5. Moutet Giustino : Local rapgod Corentin Moutet is a tiny little nugget of a player, who plays a big big game. Both have been winning matches lately, and this will be a tight contest. If this gets deep, I like Moutet as his experience winning 5-set matches is a big factor and his game is better after some miles are on both opponents since he thrives on his speed but plays a bit too far behind the baseline. Giustino in 4 or Moutet in 5. Kecmanovic Schwartzman : We all know Kecmanovic is a great baseliner. He’s one of the tours more competent pushers, but Diego is just a better version of him. Diego was at his best in Rome, and I expect a good run here. Schwartzman in fourtzman. I feel like there are more matches than usual. Also always nice when they don’t release the qualifier matchups until the day before the tournament. Thus ends my gripes. Wawrinka Murray : Is it okay if I think they’ll both lose? Wawrinka played one of the funnier challenger events, losing the first set in almost every single round then winning the match and the title. Murray has hinted at the old Murray at times, but fans have grown a bit sadpants when watching him struggle with mid-level tour players. Murray hasn’t played, and Wawrinka looks like he hasn’t wanted to. The edge here goes to Wawrinka, but I expect a great contest as Murray has no quit in him and Stan has shown a prolific ability to find struggle where there is none. Wawrinka in 5. Koepfer Hoang : Tough wildcard draw for Hoang, though a year ago he’d have been ecstatic. Hoang’s been winning locally, and I wouldn’t sleep on him here. He has a great serve, a big backhand, and is still developing. Home court advantage adds another wrinkle, but Koepfer will likely be physically recovered from his runs in Rome/Hamburg, and he really showed he can elevate his game and cover the court remarkably during that period. Koepfer in 4, and hopefully he’ll be the wakeup call Wawrinka needs in round 2. Gaston Janvier : Two wildcards playing each other. Good for them. Probably Gaston in 4 (he has the much cooler name/hits a bit bigger) Nishioka Auger-Alliassime : This one is interesting given FAA’s struggle to find his serving last week. Squishioka can be very frustrating in rallies, but he just hasn’t been able to win matches on clay. Clay is more of a big hitters surface, even though it’s slow. The work ethic is there, but not the offense. A disaster of a day for FAA if he loses this one; I don’t rule it out but it’s unlikely, and Bublik was in great form which explains half the loss. FAA in 3-4. Ruud Sugita : Ruud has been excellent for years, and now he is looking like a real threat against anyone outside the top ten, and a big hurdle for those inside it. Sugita is a nice guy, but Ruud in 3. Paul Duckworth : Tommy Paul’s best surface is clay? He really has shown an ability to perform and Duckworth just enjoyed a zipping in his last outing. One way trafffic, and Paul/Ruud in the second round is a great matchup. Paul in 3. Opelka Sock : Say no to Jack Sock. It is addictive when this half boy/half potato starts winning matches. I think it continues here. Opelka has played no warmups, and moving on clay for such a tall fellow is really tough. He’ll have a tough time hanging with Sock’s pace, and the easier opponent (defensively) is likely to make Sock really focus on hitting to the open court. Sock in 4. Honestly you’d tell me if there’s extra matches right? I feel like some guys are playing twice. Cilic Thiem : Cilic is going to be sick of Thiem by the end of this one, but as a fan this is the perfect early round for Thiem. After playing no warmup matches the concern is rust, and so I’m excited to see Thiem have a match where he has to work right away. Typing that makes me a bit scared, as Cilic has played some ok tennis in the warmup, beating Goffin 2, 2. Still, this sub’s affinity for Thiem’s tumbly bum won’t let him lose in the first round, and as he gets going I think we’ll see him kinda shape into a threat for the title. Thiem in 4. Zverev Novak : Novak isn’t great on clay. Trouble is, neither is Zverev. After a major finals, I don’t picture a guy like Zverev coming in with a smaller ego. I think there will be some harrowing moments in this, and if Herbert plays well in round one I like him to take at least two sets off Zverev. Zverev in 4-5, and I’m interested to see if he’s on the “slow start gradual turnup” path again, as that’s a terrible plan on clay for a guy who’s prone to frustration. Mmoh Herbert : Mmoh did well to qualify, besting Renzo Olivo. Add in that Hyeon Chung was in their draw, and you really have a lack of offense in that section. Herbert has been bad recently, losing to a number of players he’d normally beat. His game depends largely on his serving, and while he’s one of the best players at net outside the big 3 (I’d put him first/Sock second) he needs to get there to be effective. Mmoh is a defensive test, but Herbert likely won’t want to get dragged into extended rallies, so this will look a bit like a low-rent version of Garin vs Bublik. I think Herbert at home gets the job done, but it may take some patches of trial and error to crack Mmoh’s defense. Herbert in 4-5. Delbonis Londero : I was initially excited to back Londero a bunch after his USO run, as I know his best surface is clay. This is his second match against his countryman though, and it is a poor matchup for him as Delbonis has been playing decent. Delbonis his big and segments the game nicely, so the pace of the ball is fast, but the progression of rallies is slow. I don’t expect Londero to lose in straight sets, but it’s hard to back him after losing to Delbonis a few weeks ago. Delbonis in 4-5, but for betting porpoises I’d recommend avoiding this altogether. Cecchinato De Minaur : Hehe. Finally stringing wins together, Cecchinato’s reward is a maindraw against a guy who is a nightmare matchup. Cecchinato plays a classic claycourt game. Big power and deft dropshots. He needs time to produce the first of those, and De Minaur takes that away. The dropshots are cute, but De Minaur covers the net better than most on tour. He lost to Koepfer in his only warmup on clay, and Cecchinato has won a bunch of matches recently, but this is a fairly even matchup. Both are excellent frontrunners, and I think the first few sets will be very competitive. Hard to pick against De Minaur in a long contest early in the event, and Cecchinato’s defense will likely be an issue if ADM is serving well. De Minaur in 4. Paire Kwon : Paire still avoiding multiple matches, which is an excellent strategy for his longevity as a pro athlete. He basically could lose to anyone at this point, and his retirement in Hamburg appeared to be “I’m tired”. This is a bad sign, and worse still, Kwon is not a player who’ll beat him quick or represent a dominant opponent he can just tank against. This is one I’d advise listening to rather than watching, as Paire’s outbursts will be better than his play. I’m somewhat expecting Kwon to win, although this is similar to Nishioka/FAA where the more stable player lacks the weapons to just win in dominant fashion. Kwon via retirement. Coria Jung : Coria is a wall. Jung is not a wall. Why not be a wall? Coria in 4. Bonzi Ruusuvuori : Bonzi beat Karlovic which makes me sad, but I’m happy to see the challenger journeyman get a shot in a grandslam. Ruusuvuori is slowly becoming a household name, and his clay game isn’t adept but it’s a notch better than Bonzi. Fatigue may be a factor here not in hampering Bonzi’s game, but in Ruusuuvuori’s being more crisp. Ruu-uuu-u—- in 4. Sinner Goffin : One of the sketchier first round matchups, what with wildcards playing each other and Coria and Jung going at it. This happens though, and it’s our gift to watch it. Sinner is one of the more promising prospects on the tour in a long time, and with the next gen guys finally starting to come through with big results and solid play, seeing a guy who seems more mentally stable than they were early on in their career is even better. Goffin losing quickly to Cilic isn’t a great sign, and he’s always a threat to go elfmode and stifle his opponents ability to play offense, but I think Jannik’s serving will give him a small edge here. Sinner in 4. Fognini Kukushkin : Fognini had ankle surgeries, or else his recent string of poor performances and losses would be his normal string of poor performances and losses. He doesn’t seem willing to press himself yet, and this is another Paire/Kwon style matchup. Kukushkin will take any victory he gets a look at, but isn’t going to overwhelm his opponent. Fognini’s impatiance against Ruud did include a number of shots that missed by very little, and on the slower courts in Paris he may land a greater percentage of these. I expect Fognini to play a bit better, and this will be about optics. If Fognini feels like he looks bad or is in a spot where him trying would risk his ego, he’ll fold, and Kukushkin will win. This is sad to say about a professional athlete, but Fognini has the ankle situation to fall back on, so if he can’t win,he’ll just swing for the fences and inspect his racquet until it’s over. He’s very pretty tho. Kukushkin in 4, hopefully. Martinez Vukic : Martinez was the best in the qualifying, and Vukic was in the qualifying. Martinez in 3. Korda Seppi : Korda is becoming a sleeper pick on tour, and Seppi is notoriously at his worst on clay since he hits such a flat ball. I think this will stretch deep, and I am tempted to give the edge to Korda given Seppi’s recent loss to Klahn and Musetti and Korda’s win against Karatsev, who has been one of the best players in the past month on clay on the challenger tour. Korda in 4. Benchetrit Isner : Benchetrit can make this close since it’s on clay, but Isner should be able to get into tiebreakers, which makes predicting this almost as annoying as Isner bouncing the ball between his legs. The dude’s a muppet. Someone in 4 tiebreakers. Evans Nishikori : Evans hasn’t been great, and Nishikori has been worse. Nishikori has looked like he was gaining control of rallies and immediately making errors for a few weeks now, and it’s frustrating to predict his matches because there’s that sense that he will find form at some point. Evans likely gets the W here but it will take a lot of work. Evans in 4-5. Andujar Travaglia : “BEGONE,” commanded Andujar. I stood there speechless. “YOU ARE AN ILLUSION!” he bellowed, waking several colorful parrots who sat atop his head. I was not there. What he saw was only his vision of me, which had come to him in a dream commanded by the vines and souls of tropical frogs. Confident that I had gone, he hopped off his perch on the mountain peak, and began descending. Not in the usual way via legs and feet, but on the breeze of a thousand moths, while nearby shamans began making a thousand broths. Andujar is back, and I hate this matchup. Travaglia was brilliant on serve leading up to RG, and Andujar was a breath of fresh air on the challenger tour, notching win after win after win and rarely dropping a set. This is one I expect to go deep, as both players are at their best. Who will win? A man does not summon the future, lest it become the present. Shamans in 3. Diez McDonald : idc Gerasimov Nadal : So we all know what will happen if I suggest Nadal will struggle in a match. Luckily, I won’t have to here. Gerasimov’s movement isn’t good enough to trouble many players on clay, and Nadal is probably the most dominant single-surface player that tennis has ever seen. He looked pretty human last week against Diego, and his muscles were muscley, but not as muscley as usual. Where is his massive crab-arm? The winner of Travaglia/Andujar will be his first real test. Nadal in 2 somehow. PS User Kuklachert runs a very fun picking contest if you're interested in discord ... check it out here https://www.reddit.com/tennis/comments/izhabroland_garros_tipping_competition/
[Manga] Welcome to the U19 Club: The Wonderful World of Shonen Jump Table of Contents Speculation
If you’re a manga fan, you likely know about Weekly Shonen Jump - one of the most popular magazines in Japan, this weekly anthology of comics provided us such classics as Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece. Indeed, because of the prestige of WSJ, many aspiring mangaka submit their creations to Jump, hoping they can hit it big. However, while WSJ is popular, it is also one of the most cutthroat publications out there. Because of its size, it can usually only carry around 20 different series, excluding oneshots and the like. If your manga gets published in WSJ and doesn’t immediately become a hit, editors will cancel it as soon as possible to search for another hit instead. Anyway, on places like manga, 4chan’s /a/ board, and Twitter, a sort of speculation started. You see, every issue of Jump has a table of contents page, which simply shows the location of each series in the issue as well as the weekly author comments. However, while the order changes from week to week, the general trend is that the most popular series are located near the front, where they’re more accessible to readers, while the less popular ones are in the back. Of course, many editors and writers for Jump have noted that the head editor is the one who has the final say in the table of contents order, so they stress that it isn’t a barometer. However, one aspect of WSJ is that the print versions (probably digital versions too, though I haven’t checked) include a survey card in each issue - readers can submit which three chapters they enjoyed the most this week, alongside any sweepstakes offers or popularity polls. And there have been plenty of cases where a series ranks fairly high on the ToC and then suddenly drops to the bottom on chapter 8, which has led people to realize that it usually takes seven weeks to accurately tally survey results. So while it may not be 100% accurate, it allows people to speculate over which series are thriving and which are likely to be cancelled. Case 1: The start of the U19 club Of course, as mentioned above, the cutthroat nature of Jump means that low-performing books will be cancelled in about three to four volumes. However, at the time there was no real way to describe this phenomenon. That all changed in 2017. See, at the time, WSJ was going through a massive series exodus. Popular series such as Bleach, Toriko, and Kochikame had all ended in 2016 (note: the latter had been running for 40 years), and Jump really needed something to prop up sales. To that end, they announced an unprecedented event where, for six weeks straight, they would add a new series in each issue. Usually, whenever series get serialized in Jump, they’re done in groups of two or three, so it was clear that WSJ was looking for at least some hits. Enter U19, a series that made readers wonder how the hell it got approved in the first place. The premise is that adults have converted Japan into a 1984-like dystopia involving abusive discipline and selective breeding in order to strengthen the country and bring it back to its World War II-era glory. The main character finds out that his love interest has been deemed an elite student while he’s an F-rank, and when she is separated from him he develops a power called Libido, which manifests as a sewing needle that grows more powerful when he sees her. Then he is joined into the ranks of the U19 club, an underground resistance full of people under the age of 19 with similar Libidos. The description I gave it in the previous paragraph does not do this series justice. The art was fairly amateur, the concept of Libidos were just quirks from My Hero Academia with a different name, the villains were written to be cartoonishly evil, and in general it didn’t seem like the author knew what they were doing. It quickly was cancelled after 17 chapters, but a edit of one of the spreads by a 2chan user, where the members of U19 were replaced by characters from other short-running series, eventually blossomed into a meme. From then on, the U19 club became the unofficial way to refer to any series doomed to end in less than 19 chapters. People who saw the TOC rankings would soon gravitate to the bottom of the list, speculating over which series were likely to join the club. Case 2: The battle of the gag manga Okay, when I mentioned the idea of the table of contents, there was one part I glossed over. While the lower-ranked series were almost doomed to fail, for a couple of years the last series to be featured in the ToC would usually be a small comedy series. The idea being that no matter how unsettling or uncomfortable the rest of the books are, at the very least the magazine will always end on a happy note. For the longest time, this position was filled by Isobe Isobee Monogatari, but then it ended in 2017. So in a September 2018 issue, to the surprise of everyone, two gag series premiered in the same issue at the same time. The first, I’m From Japan, was about a young boy who is obsessed with the various prefectures of Japan and uses them in fighting styles. The second, Teenage Renaissance David, reimagined the Michelangelo sculpture as a hot-blooded high school student. It was clear that Jump was hedging its bets on a new gag series to be their mainstay, but the question was: which one? There was obviously a regional gap for this issue. Japanese fans were more likely to enjoy I’m From Japan, simply because the various puns and in-jokes made more sense to them. Western fans found Teenage Renaissance David better, because the classical art references were more familiar. What compounded the issue even more is that every issue, the two series would switch places - one would be in the middle of the magazine, while the other would be near the bottom. Compounding this issue was the unbelievable fact that in December of the same year, I’m From Japan was confirmed to have an anime in development (for reference, most Shonen Jump manga only get an anime greenlighted after at least a year of serialization, while IFJ had only been around for a few months at best - meaning an anime was planned before the series even started). While western fans were in disbelief, people soon came to the realization of why IFJ was promoted over David - tourism. The fact was that IFJ basically had every chapter talk about the top exports, notable attractions, and famous people of each Japanese prefecture - which made it perfect in terms of advertising people to go to those prefectures in question. Ultimately, Teenage Renaissance David ended after 35 chapters, while I’m From Japan was transferred to sister magazine Saikyo Jump... only to end after 45 chapters. In the end, nobody won, although the author of Isobe recently started a new serialization that may become the new gag series. Case 3: Chew Harder - The Tale of Samurai 8 While most of the titles I’ve been talking about so far have been obscure, you most likely know about Naruto. The ninja manga was published in Jump in 1999, and author Masashi Kishimoto made it into a massive work spanning over 70 volumes and 15 years. It’s arguably one of the most popular series to have ever ran in Jump. So it was surprising to hear that after Naruto ended, Kishimoto noted that he actually had plans for a new series. In late 2018, more information came out - his new publication would be called Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru, and it would be a science fiction title centered around cybernetic samurai. Notably, due to wanting a break from drawing, he would only write the series while one of his former assistants, Akira Obuko, would be doing the art. Considering that such a famous author would be writing another series, Jump immediately went to advertising S8 however it could. Animated YouTube ads done months before the series actually started, expansive murals in subways, even putting pamphlets of the first chapter in other Jump manga. While it had done some promotional acts for other manga before, it was on a completely different level with Samurai 8. In essence, they were setting it up to be one of the core pillars of Jump before it even started. And then the series actually started. While some people were optimistic, others noted that it wasn’t exactly a good start for the series. From the first chapter alone, the reader is bombarded with samurai lore that would honestly be better suited for explanation across chapters rather than in a massive exposition dump. The plot also became more complex - while the first chapter of Naruto framed the conflict as a plucky young ninja possessed by a demonic nine-tailed fox wanting to become the head of his village, the first chapter of Sam8 framed the conflict as a sickly young boy who wants to become a samurai, only to suddenly get a cybernetic body after committing seppuku and then he is told by a blind samurai master in a cat’s body that he must find the seven keys to Pandora’s Box, an artifact that could endanger the whole galaxy. The artstyle used to portray cybernetics made pages look cluttered, which made fight scenes difficult to understand. In essence, while Samurai 8 had the prestige of being written by the author of Naruto, everything else seemed to be changed - not necessarily for the better. Compounding this were two separate facts. The first is that when the first and second volumes of the series were released simultaneously (another marketing stunt to encourage binge reading), Kishimoto wrote in the first volume that he would compare reading Samurai 8 to chewing dried squid - if the flavor doesn’t come out, just chew some more (i.e. buy the second volume, I swear things will get better I promise). The second was an interview with one of the former editors of Naruto, which revealed that many of the most popular parts of Naruto were editor suggestions rather than Kishimoto’s own work. Compounding this was an interview with the Samurai 8 editor, who seemed to revere Kishimoto; this made fans believe that he wasn’t policing Kishimoto’s work as much, similar to how George Lucas made the original Star Wars trilogy with the help of various editor suggestions and then the prequel trilogy with virtually no supervision. The effects were noticeable. In 4chan, it became a meme to refer to Kishimoto’s chewing comment whenever Samurai 8 was discussed. TOC-wise, it dropped in the rankings until it was almost always near the bottom. Sales were night and day compared to Naruto, and ultimately, after the constant promotions over other WSJ series, Samurai 8 ended after five volumes and 45 chapters. Which seems okay enough until you realize that I’m From Japan, of all series, was compiled into six volumes. Case 4: Time Plagiarism Ghostwriter In May 2020, the same issue when one of Jump’s more popular series Demon Slayer ended, a new series called Time Paradox Ghostwriter started. The premise of it went like this: An amateur author whose manga has been rejected by publishers constantly gets his microwave struck by a bolt of lightning, which turns it into a time machine. When he opens it up, he sees that it contains a copy of Weekly Shonen Jump from ten years in the future. Upon seeing that its premiere series, White Knight, is the perfect manga, but believing it to be a dream, he copies the first chapter the following day and sends it to his editor, who immediately greenlights it as a series. Suddenly the amateur author must contend with the high expectations pushed onto him - as well as the original author of White Knight, who is surprised that someone else has used her idea. Maybe it was because of the premise alone. Maybe it was because it was one of the few Jump manga out there which didn’t fall into the typical conventions of being a battle, sports, or gag manga. Either way, TPGW immediately became popular in the west, with manypeople talkingabout howthey love it. Many were immediately convinced that TPGW could immediately become a top seller for Japan. So, seven weeks after the first chapter, people were eager to see the first ratings for the series - only for it to debut in the bottom half of the magazine and drop lower every issue afterward. People were surprised, to say the least. Why was a series with such an amazing premise flopping? Pretty soon, people came to a conclusion as to why this was happening: plagiarism. More specifically, in a magazine primarily aimed at young boys, the first few chapters tried to justify the main character plagiarizing White Knight and still paint him as a good guy, by having people constantly tell him that so many people are in love with WK and it would be a disservice to stop now. Even the original author, after meeting the main character, writes off the similar plot between his White Knight and hers as a fluke. And given how the Kyoto Animation Fire, one of the worst mass murders in Japan’s modern history, was caused because someone thought KyoAni had stolen their idea, it makes sense that people would be hesitant to like a series which pushes all of its consequences to the side. So anyway, the first volume of TPGW was released, compiling all the magazine chapters while removing any reference to plagiarism in the text itself. Even then, it sold terribly. The author quickly tried to pick up the pace of their manga, glazing over plot points and moving the story at a breakneck pace, but it was too little too late. The series ended in only 15 chapters - unusual for Jump, as even more recent U19 series have gotten more time before getting axed. People were upset, claiming that Japan just didn’t have as good of a taste as the west and being upset that the previously-mentioned gag manga by Isobe’s author was immediately started the week after. So yeah, people were upset. Anyway, that’s the long and short of some notable instances of Jump drama. I could add in some more stuff, like the quick cancelling of Act-Age or the drama surrounding mangaka like Kentaro Yabuki and Haruto Ikezawa, but I’ve written enough as is.
Winning at fantasy means making predictions and acting on them prior to other players. To do that, you don't always have the privileges of hindsight and deduction. You will need foresight and inference. I hope to offer a some good if not somewhat inferential arguments for why some early moves on this weekly (if I have time) post. Fantasy thinking is often over-obsessed with statistical correlations at the expense of firm causal understanding of what is happening on the field. The forest is often lost for the trees. A combination of understanding the game of football, recognizing interconnected changes that will influence teams, and eye testing the games themselves is the best antidote to the groupthink, herd-mentality of fantasy football expertism which, time and again, proves spotty at best in anticipating changes. Last week I posted this as "Eye-tested Takes" but I realized that's not what I was aiming for. A variety of posters and services watch the whole game and give you maximally thorough takes on every snap. I won't offer much of an opinion on players/teams I don't watch. I'll always watch enough. However, a lot of what I'll make as the case for picking up (or dropping) a player will be based on obvious things that are happening that rankings-myosis may miss. There's always an elephant in the room that no one want's to acknowledge. This post gives fantasy advice that accounts for the elephants on the field.
Things I'm right about (so far):
1. Rivers Noodle Arm = Colts Lean into Jonathon Taylor:
With the quality of that offensive line, Mack going down, and Rivers looking like shit, Jonathon Taylor may end-up being a top-5 back this year. TY Hilton and Parris Campbell are going to disappoint you.
A bunch of commenters disagreed, insisting Hines was the guy to get and Taylor as a top-5 was nuts. This is an instance of the eye-test making people too smart. Yes, Taylor netted 22 yards on 9 carries week 1. Who cares, he was great in college (larger sample size) and more importantly, Rivers looks SOOO spent that Taylor is the only obvious bell-cow RB for what is probably the best O-line in the league. You want that. Rivers threw it 25 times in week two (down from 44). Taylor had 26 carries, 2 receptions, 110 yards, and 1 touchdown. It was obvious what had to happen in Indy but fantasy groupthink herded everyone toward Hines. If you had the audacity to ignore me on this (/s), the good news is there's still time. His trade value has skyrocketed on most charts but he's not quite valued as a top back yet. If you get the feel someone is under-valuing him, don't wait longer because his first 2 TD game is going to make him inaccessible in a trade. The Colts defense is also looking good enough to maintain a lead throughout a game, opening-up more run play calls. (Rivers sucking is going to do that all the time anyway). And if you still don't believe me, watch his highlights from this week and you'll see why he could be such a focal point. He does a lot of things that coaches like to lean-into: great ball security, adds 2-3 yards to the end of runs, explosive speed when he has big holes. 2.Browns Offense is fine:
Don't panic about the Browns offense. Baker Mayfield looked like trash but the running offense actually looked pretty good at times...Stefanski is the guy you need to believe in... The biggest takeway from the game isn't the Browns offense is bad, its that the Ravens defense is great.
Both Browns running back scored multiple TD's and registered more than 150 yards each week 2. Baker continued to suck and it didn't matter. Stefanski's offense is good and his coaching career is a testament to his talent. All-Ivy-League Football Player. First coaching job was in the NFL. They wouldn't let him leave for 14 years because they knew he was a talent. So don't run from Chubb or Hunt yet. And if you have them both, start them both and don't feel bad (unless you have a clearly better option like Zeke too...then probably favor starting Kareem Hunt the larger your ppr value, but its a tough call). The Browns are a perfect storm that make both startable: (a) Both Chubb and Hunt have top-5 rb talent and it comes across when you watch them on the field. With good combinations of strength and speed, each one is TD risk on every snap. (b) Sefanski divides snaps very well. Both are getting touches-a-plenty. They just signed they're "back-up" RB to a new contract (I mean, how often does that happen in the modern NFL?). KS also divides snaps by drive, unless a drive gets very long, so even if Chubb is doing well, he's going to give Kareem Hunt a whole drive. (c) starting both is fading Baker which is smart. The Browns are going to increasingly realize that their offense is more effective with Baker doing less. They may even move to Case Keenum (their back-up, legit didn't know that last week) and that's fine for Chubb/Hunt. I wouldn't run from OBJ or Jarvis Landry yet either, though Baker's ineptitude has got to make you worry. Think about what Minnesota offenses did over the years with Diggs, Theilen, etc. Both OBJ and Landry are going to be solid bets for big-play TD's (like OBJ's last Thursday) here and there but likely not breaking the top-10. Still, the talent ceiling is high with both so a buy-low scenario where you get them in a trade could pay-off if you bet on Stefanski more than Mayfield. 3. Deandre Hopkins is the WR1
Deandre Hopkins will be the #1 fantasy receiver this year... And most importantly, the offensive situation in Arizona is the perfect storm for his fantasy situation. Kyler Murray is good, but he's not working his way through progressions yet.
Hopkins nabbed a TD but only had 9 targets this week. I'll admit that I only watched Kyler Murray's highlights so forgive me if its there and I didn't see it, buuuuut...He's not completing passes to 2nd and 3rd reads. Its one read then run. That's great for Hopkins' stats because the further into the season they get, the MORE Hopkins is going to be involved on plays designed to chuck it to him, no matter what. Hopkins is one of those guys that's always open, and Kyler is a smart player who knows that AND knows he's not good enough yet to start looking for someone else if Hopkins is "covered". That may hurt the Cardinals at some point. But Hopkins is getting fed this season. And obviously, a rash of injuries at WR has made this look to be a better prediction. Hopkins is already a stud in that offense and he's still learning it. His stock is only going up from here. Its true the WR's new offenses typically do poorly. A couple of reasons why that's not true of Hopkins: (a) he's physically the most gifted receiver in the league. Randy Moss kicked ass his first year with the Patriots. Some players are talented enough that it doesn't take time, as long as they're smart as hell like Randy Moss or (b) Hopkins is an intelligent dude. He negotiated his own contract and didn't fuck it up. He wants to be G.M. Big brained guy, he'll pick up quickly. You can see that on the field, he's constantly looking back at Kyler to make sure he did the right thing on each play. (c) HOF'er in the WR room: Fitz will get him up to speed fast. Quick note about Kyler Murray: He's tearing it up. One encouraging thing that you might not see how little he's allowing himself to be tackled. As a fantasy owner, that's encouraging because it suggests he can sustain a high running floor and not get injured. And there's an added assurance that he's putting those slides for zero yards (for example) on tape because the coaches see that too and are more willing to call more of those plays down the stretch. Still, I wouldn't compare him to Lamar Jackson last season yet. Lamar Jackson was throwing TD's to his 4th and 5th read in week 1 against the Dolphins last season. Murray may hit a scheme ceiling where defenses, especially good ones, start to take away his 1 and 2 and contain his run game (though it is strong and he has good vision).
Things I was totally wrong about: zero things!
HA! Next section!
Things I'm not right about yet but pretty soon I will be:
1. Joe Burrow AJ Green is going to be good.
If you watch the game, you see Joe Burrow fitting the ball into tight windows in clutch situations. In fact, he wasn't finding a lot of open receivers, he was throwing the ball well/correctly into great coverage and making lemonade. Also, AJ Green is looking fully healthy and like his old self.
Well, AJ Green was targeted 13 times and caught...3 of those passes for 29 yards. So clearly, the chemistry between them was oversold by me last week. Still, 13 targets is encouraging and so is the Bengals inability to run the ball. No matter how much they try, they're wretched run-blocking always leaves them down late in games and in 3rd-and-forever situations. They just let a rookie throw it 61 times. Another consideration is that Denzel Ward was covering Green all night:
A.J. Green has had an up-and-down career vs. the Browns. Thursday’s game was on the down side, and it had mostly to do with Denzel Ward. Green had three catches for 29 yards. Overall, Ward broke up three passes against the Bengals. And according to Next Gen Stats, Ward was making life difficult for Joe Burrow all night, forcing eight tight window passes in 11 targets as the nearest defender.
Green is still pretty low on trade value charts but stands to have a huge upside as Burrow's primary target. 2. Rodgers is back.
...are there really any physical traits that are important to his game that would fade significantly at 36 year's old? I didn't see any missing zip off of his throws. I did see fucking darts getting tossed all over the field into tiny windows.
Aaron Jones is the #1 fantasy RB right now so obviously saying Rodgers is fully back is pre-mature. However, he is impressing with some very, very pretty darts. Also, the elephant on the field for the Packers is that Aaron Rodgers is a player driven by ego. Not a knock on him, he's just a guy who needs mojo to play at his finest. Maybe it required the stimulation of an insulting draft pick to prod him back into his HOF form. I'm not saying Rodgers can be a top 3 QB this year with Jackson and Murray running so well, but 4 or 5 doesn't seem out of reach. Rodgers is pff top-graded QB right now btw.
1.The Ravens are the best defense in the NFL. The loss of Earl Thomas is doesn't matter as much as what has been gained with Patrick Queen and L.J. Fort. Queen is incredibly fast and explosive underneath, getting into the backfield and making big plays. And L.J. Fort (top rated pff lb right now) combine to give them rangey-coverage, tackling, and pass break-up ability over the middle they didn't have before which has further weaponized they're depth at CB (Humphrey, Peters, Smith). Peters specifically is a ball hawk that's found a great home in Baltimore; he couldn't scheme well anywhere else but Harbaugh has found a way to give him the freedom to ball hawk. Over the long haul, Harbaugh has maintained a great defense, regardless of departures/changes, for years and years. When he has this much talent, his defenses are typically dominant. Be warry of starting iffy players against them at any position. They're worth trading for, I think the turnovedef TD potential makes them worth it. 2. J.K. Dobbins will break-out out as the preferred option in the Ravens backfield. Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards have both proven to be reliable RB's for the Raven offense. But Ingram is 30 with over 200 carries in 3 of the last 4 seasons. Edwards has been reliable, a home-grown UDFA. But at 238lbs and without elite speed, he's leaving many big runs on the table. Dobbins didn't attend the combine. But ran a 4.44 40...in high school:
Dobbins posted a 4.44s 40-yard dash, 4.09s short shuttle and a 43.1-inch vertical jump as a high school senior at the event. There are also many reports that Dobbins squatted over 700 pounds.
He has power running balance and break-out speed that NONE of the other backs in Baltimore have. 4th rounder Justice Hill was their attempt of to develop that speed last year but didn't break out. A couple of elephants make this one a good bet: (a) Lamar's durability -- right now, he's taking a bunch of carries because he's the only one in their backfield that has the speed to break huge runs. If Dobbins can fill that role, Lamar Jackson can afford to take fewer chances and John Harbaugh can opt to only drop him back to pass 7 times in the second half when they're winning, like what happened in week 2. (b) that defense -- Baltimore's defense is going to be great enough this year to take over games, making steady doses of run plays inevitable as they'll spend a lot of games up by 2 scores. Yes, they were up like that a lot last year but their only homerun hitter in the backfield was Lamar (see above, Justice Hill wasn't getting it done). Here's an example: this is a shot from Gus Edwards' 22 yard scamper last week: https://preview.redd.it/mhhhpzmkrxo51.png?width=1920&format=png&auto=webp&s=3cdf46ac4bcce3e503729f909c0e787f85459eb9 The Ravens offensive line is good at opening holes like this. While it didn't prove important in this game (BAL was up 30-16 at the time), each run like this where a more explosive player could scored is an opportunity cost for the people calling plays. And its not just points left behind, its points scored while Lamar is watching like a fan. Its points that could allow more aggressive defensive play calling. If you're a coach for Baltimore, you don't necessarily want Lamar to have a gaudy stat-line every week if you're winning. If he can throw 16 passes in a game and then sit-out the 4th quarter, that's ideal from the franchise's perspective (though not so much for Fantasy managers). Each Ingram/Edwards run that coulda been a touchdown means there's more time on the field for Lamar, larger portion of the game where they're not playing a dominant lead, and higher chance that they'll lose because points were left on the field. They need someone else hitting home runs in the running game. Am I fading Lamar because of all of this? Not yet. Eye test = that guy is a singular talent. His throwing motion is smooth like Vick's, just a gifted, effortless release. He's also great at mostly avoiding contact (though all contact is bad contact if you're his coaches). Great decision maker too. Makes multiple reads on plays. Can't say enough about how great of player he is. Still, Baltimore is well put-together enough that they may be able to functionally win without him. So don't be surprised if, especially approaching the playoffs, Baltimore starts calling plays that don't involve as much Lamar. What's scary is that they may be a complete football team without him and he's the reigning MVP. Finally, Dobbins had two carries last week. One was for a 44 yard gain where the blocking was good but not nearly as good as the image above. Even if the transition to him isn't fast, he could force the issue like Chubb did his rookie year, gaining 100 yards on 3 carries in a game. No matter what, the Ravens will run by committee but there will come a point where the player to start out of the trio is Dobbins without a doubt. 3. Minshew is the truth and his team situation makes him a great fantasy player. Minshew isn't the most talented QB in the league. But above all things, he is competitive and scrappy. The Jags are good but not great so he's going need a lot of that scrappy-iness (lol, just say that sentence out loud, you'll hear it). James Robinson is very good and they're going to lean on him a lot. But when the time for much needed yards and points, it seems like the Jags tag Gardner Minshew II's Id in at offensive coordinator. Minshew isn't likely going to be top-5 qb but he might make the top 10 and is likely easier to get than other top targets. Part of the reason DJ Chark isn't getting the production folks hoped is because Minshew is effectively spreading the ball around. Good for the jags, bad for fantasy owners. I wouldn't panic. One of his targets I picked-up to stash is Laviska Shenault Jr. He's getting a legit number of carries each week and averaging over 10 yards per reception. He's an interesting pick-up because he doubles as handcuffs for Robinson. Seems like his carry count could go up to 10ish no problem if the Jags lost Robinson. So pay attention to what position he's listed in your league, scoring rules about how carries count in ppr, etc. But he passes the eye test, very shifty and fast on the field. 4. Teams that are quickly turning into dumpster fires that you should across-the-board fade: Jets Gase is the worst. Never underestimate the ability of a shitty boss to ruin a workspace and make everyone fucking hate themselves, even though they're well compensated to play a game for a living. Listen, I know there's always gems on bad teams. But I have high blood pressure. So tuning into games with players I need to play well and watching the offense go 3-and-out 5 times in a row...I'm literally too old for that shit now so I try to stray-away from dumpster fire teams. Vikings Kubiak has got some big Stefanski shoes to fill and he's doing a bad job so far. I wouldn't panic about Dalvin Cook yet but another bad couple of weeks and I'd start shopping him. See the Browns thing above: Stefanski may have made the Vikings offense look better than it actually was for a decade. Combine that with the defense whose secondary would be better if they were scare crows and you're looking at a team that can't plan to run the ball for more than a quarter or 2. Teams to be worried about: Broncos Whew, the injuries. They're basically just starting with new team. We'll see how things go. Detroit Matt Patricia may have lost this team. And coaches like him don't recover team faith/confidence well in a loss-spiral. Texans BoB is going to crash that plane into a mountain while we all watch. Poor Watson, just watching Deandre Hopkins ball-out. One thing you can still bet on for awhile out of the Texans offense; Bill O'Brien is ego- and career-invested in David Johnson doing great things. He'll role with him when he shouldn't to prove to everyone that he was right to trade Nuk. Its dumb. But he's dumb.
Fortune Favors The Bold (FFTB) Predictions
WARNING: What you're about to read is not necessarily good fantasy advice, but things for me to say "told you so" about a week from now. I take no responsibility for any money you lose (and all responsibility for the money you win). Still, Alexander the Great said, Fortune Favors the Bold.
JK Dobbins scores more fantasy points than CEH this week. (This prediction is backed-up by the time-honored tradition of spitting in one's hand and shaking on it so this shit is serious. Its also painful because I'm a Chiefs fan.)
Laviska Shenault scores a running and a receiving touchdown tonight.
Jonathon Taylor is the RB1 this week and its not close.
Danny Dimes throws 3 TD's this week against the 49ers.
I'm probably wrong about most of this shit but FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD! Thanks for reading! If I continue to be kind mostly right and people find it a good read, I'll keep posting these each week. Good luck! EDIT: Thanks for the awards and upvotes strangers! I'll bring the column back next week. Appreciate the comments too, thanks for the banter, shit-talk, and criticism. I'll be spittin in palms again soon. EDIT AGAIN: Thanks again for the feedback. This is fun and I'm going to enjoy doing it again next week. Some of the comments have suggested that the post doesn't really go out on many limbs. I'll do that more in the future. I've also added an extra section with a few "FFTB predictions" for this week.
Welcome, dear readers, to my semi-regular coronavirus roundup. Housekeeping:
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EDIT: TRUMP ADMITTED TO KNOWING DANGER OF COVID WEEKS BEFORE ACTING
Bob Woodward's new book reveals that Trump was aware that the coronavirus was dangerous and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus" even as he publicly downplayed the threat and failed to act to save lives. (article now updated with audio of Trump's interview)
"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7. In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. "Pretty amazing," Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times "more deadly" than the flu.
Trump also admitted to intentionally downplaying the threat:
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
Election day vaccine
A group of nine leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies pledged on Tuesday to only seek approval for Covid-19 vaccines demonstrated to be safe and effective. The pledge comes as Trump hypes the possibility of a vaccine before Election Day. His timeline has been pushed forward from “by the end of the year” to “before November 1st” and, most recently, “during the month of October.” During his Labor Day press-briefing-turned-campaign-event, Trump said: "[It's] going to be done in a very short period of time -- could even have it during the month of October” (clip). Trump went on to explicitly ties the vaccine to his re-election schedule: “We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about” (clip). Despite saying the quiet part out loud himself, the president tried to cast Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the ones politicizing the vaccine process: “They’re going to make the vaccine into a negative… They’re saying ‘wow, Trump’s pulled this off, let’s disparage the vaccine.’ That’s so bad for this country, that’s so bad for the world to even say that and that’s what they’re saying” (clip). Unfortunately, many media outlets have portrayed the issue as a “both sides” argument. Federal officials and health experts say Trump’s Election-oriented timeline is unlikely. NPR spoke with Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the administration's vaccine development program, who said he expects to have "enough vaccine to immunize the U.S. population by the middle of 2021.” Case in point, development on the vaccine Trump was rumored to be betting on, the AstraZeneca-Oxford project, was put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant. But the point may not be to have a vaccine fully available to the public; Trump can simply claim the “deep state” is holding things up, blaming Biden/Harris for the pandemic under his watch. Furthermore, experts say there is no way our government and existing infrastructure will be ready to distribute, administer, and track doses by November. Health departments will also need an infusion of federal aid, a proposal that seems out of reach with a Republican-controlled Senate afraid to spend any more money during the pandemic.
...many health departments are so overwhelmed with the current costs of the pandemic — such as for testing and contact tracing — that they can’t reserve money for the vaccine work to come. Health departments will need to hire people to administer the vaccines and systems to track them, and pay for supplies such as protective medical masks, gowns and gloves, as well as warehouses and refrigerator space.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is backing down from the global fight against the pandemic, further enshrining Trump’s “America First” perspective into official policy. The Trump administration declined to join a global effort to develop, manufacture, and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved. U.S. allies including Japan, Germany, and the European Commission back the effort.
“The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House.
Further reading: The Trump administration said it won't pay more than $60 million in dues it owes to the World Health Organization.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, in charge of distributing global assistance related to the pandemic, is shutting down its only pandemic-focused task force. Other agency bureaus and divisions will take on its functions.
Sturgis comes home
South Dakota (+120%), Iowa (+81%), and North Dakota (+66%) have seen the largest 2-week increase in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, compared to the two weeks before. These three states were also the “epicenter” of the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month. The event packed nearly 500,000 people into a small town in South Dakota, with rallygoers attending from - and returning to - all around the country. Photos and reports from Sturgis documented a startling lack of face masks and social distancing precautions. According to a new study, over 250,000 coronavirus cases can be contributed to the rally. Assuming a cost of $46,000/case, the authors estimated the rally cost $12.2 billion. “This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend,” they write. SD, IA, and ND do not have statewide face mask mandates. In fact, the Dakotas are two of just five states that do not allow local officials to require masks (the others are ID, MO, and OK). Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has been told by the White House that the state’s outbreak is the steepest in the nation and urged officials to require mask-wearing statewide. Reynolds has yet to do so.
Alabama has the fourth-most daily new cases per 100k people (after ND, SD, and IA) despite a statewide face mask order. The state has largely lifted all social distancing measures and has encouraged schools to reopen with in-person classes and sports. According to a NYT database, four-year universities in Alabama have over 4,000 coronavirus cases just weeks after opening. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa accounts for over 1,300 of the cases. Professors at the school were reportedly told by the administration not to talk about the outbreak - not even to inform students if someone in their class tests positive. The mayor of Tuscaloosa let bars near the university reopen on Tuesday.
Further reading: Alabama is starting to see a payoff from its mask mandate, in place since mid-July. New covid cases have been cut in half over the past month and coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals fell to the lowest level since June.
Remember the news articles praising Trump’s new “tone” on masks? During Monday’s press conference, Trump tried to bully a reporter into taking off his face mask when asking a question (clip). The reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, refused. Apparently, this annoyed Trump so much that he was still griping about it on Twitter Tuesday (clip).
Trump pushes for sports
After weeks of haranguing schools to bring back sports, Trump has reportedly offered Big Ten football teams access to the national government’s reserve of rapid COVID-19 tests.
The new, cheaper […] tests could be the key that unlocks the door back to the Horseshoe and stadiums around the conference. And the White House might be willing to assist in that effort by potentially designating part of its supply to the Big Ten after buying 150 million rapid tests last week from Abbott Laboratories.
The president is so attached to the idea of college football resuming that he is pushing the Big Ten conference to go ahead without the participation of three schools, blaming the governors of Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland for the conference’s vote to cancel.
Mitch plays games
The Republican-controlled Senate is planning on voting on a scaled-down coronavirus relief package as early as this week. The “skinny” bill is unlikely to become law as Democrats feel it does not adequately address the magnitude of the crisis the nation is facing. McConnell is hoping a Senate vote on coronavirus aid - any aid - will help vulnerable Republicans up for re-election.
The Republican bill is expected to include a federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, and more money for coronavirus testing and schools, as well as liability protections from lawsuits related to the virus. McConnell didn't release a price tag for the forthcoming bill, but it is expected to be at least $500 billion — half of the $1 trillion package Republicans previously unveiled in late July.
One of the reasons - perhaps the main reason - for the breakdown of relief bill negotiations may be new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who served with Meadows on the Oversight Committee, told The Hill:
“Closing deals is not Mark Meadows’s strong suit. His whole track record is: blow it up… If you ask yourself what’s the difference between April and May, when we did reach big, broad bipartisan consensus, and today, the variable is Mark Meadows.”
Lost in the Sauce was so long this week that I had to omit a couple of sections. I’ll include them here instead. Immigration: Federal Judge Dolly Gee ordered DHS to cease using hotels as detention facilities for migrant children it seeks to expel from the border.
Gee said the use of hotels for detention purposes violates the Flores agreement because the locations lack sufficient oversight, state licenses to hold minors and standards for the care of young children. Minors have also faced a "woefully inadequate" process to seek the help of lawyers, who have been barred from entering the hotels, Gee added, citing declarations from attorneys who said they struggled to reach detained children.
Further reading: “Watchdog confirms botched family reunifications kept migrant children waiting in vans overnight,” NBC; “Trump nominee had role in removing prosecutor opposed to family separations,” Guardian
Immigration: The Trump administration has drafted a proposal that would dramatically expand the number of people required to provide biometrics for their immigration applications, while also increasing the personal information the government can demand, such as eye scans, voice prints, DNA, and photographs for facial recognition. Immigration: The Border Patrol made a dramatized YouTube video depicting a Spanish-speaking attacker stabbing and killing a man in a dark alley after escaping from U.S. agents - “a clip apparently created to dramatize President Trump’s depiction of migrants as fearsome criminals.” The agency removed the video following backlash. Environment: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened an inquiry earlier this year into whether Trump political appointees illegally weakened rules meant to protect whales from oil industry seismic airgun blasting. Then, just as quietly, it halted the probe. Environment: The Trump administration proposed a rule change that would make it easier to permit oil and gas drilling operations in national forests. The move comes as a watchdog report reveals the oil and gas industry has been allowed to pay far less than usual to the government for the right to drill on public lands under a controversial Trump administration coronavirus relief policy. Furthermore, the administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, including oil and gas drilling, hazardous fuel pipelines, wind farms, and highway projects in multiple states. Environment: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposal that would allow the government to deny habitat protections for endangered animals and plants in areas that would see greater economic benefits from being developed — a change critics said could open lands to more energy development and other activities. World: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against two International Criminal Court officials -- the Trump administration's most aggressive move yet to try to deter an ICC investigation into possible war crimes by US military and intelligence officials. World: How Donald Trump took down the Robert Mueller of Latin America: At the center of the story is an alleged quid pro quo between Donald Trump and Jimmy Morales, a former television comedian who was elected president of Guatemala.
The basest thing recorded of the devil in scripture, is what he did concerning Job and his family, and that was done by the express permission of YHWH, and to decide a little difference of opinion between their serene highness as to the character of "my servant Job." On the case of Job: "Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, although you moved me against him to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3) It is notable that in 2:3, YHWH seems to be arguing that he is not ultimately responsible for Job's loss: "... although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause." This is a very strange line, since Satan was not reported as doing anything but state an opinion about the shallowness of human loyalty. Indeed, Satan never suggested destroying Job, and YHWH himself never allowed such a drastic move. What is YHWH doing here? Is it possible that he is wrestling with his own demons, a bit guilt-ridden? And if he has this feeling, why does he again hand over power without being asked to do so? It's a minor addendum, but I think it's noteworthy that when Satan enters, he's merely talking about what he's been doing, possibly with the connotation of looking for something to do. In essence, God is the one to initiate the challenge with Satan by suggesting Job. As suggested with the first paragraph, this places even further responsibility on God. Job 1:7-8 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? And thus ensues the bet of 2 demons playing with a man's life for sport. God recommended and encouraged Satan to destroy Job's life, even including murdering his kin and servants. Innumerable human lives are toyed with in the process, many times resulting in death. It's a tyrannical dictator slaughtering whomever he sees fit just to prove a point--or hell, if we're going to be more specific with the case of Job, it's one who makes a casual recommendation to the local arsonist and serial killer. A challenge, more like. Also considering the fact that the Biblical God is omniscient knowing all the events of the future, including that which Satan would respond with, this further goes to show the immorality of God in initiating the challenge with Satan by suggesting Job. Had the introductory bit not existed--God's bet with Satan--there could've been far many more interpretations to that story, but if this book is indeed God-breathed, then even as a mere parable, its message should ring true: that human lives are but fodder to God when his pride is at stake and that those who question him after such acts are to be silenced. Also, what if Satan was testing God? After all, if God directly commits all sorts of unjust tortures, deaths, and molestations to men, women and children, seen clearly throughout the rest of the Bible-- physical torture in the Old Testament and spiritual torture in hell in the New Testament, all the while expecting people to blindly follow and believe him, what does it say about him? What if Satan did that because he thought it was a "necessary evil" to uncover the truth about God (or to test him)? Just like God supposedly thought that torturing Job and killing all those people was a necessary evil to teach Job and/or Satan an important lesson (or to test them). Satan was the only one in the story who was in a position to do this -- to unmask this part of God. Being at one point one of YHWH's greatest of angels, being able to roam freely heaven and earth as he pleases, he was the only one who was able to show God's true character. To test God himself, to show the world his wickedness. Here is the reason God treats human beings as trash: "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another to throw trash into?" ( Romans 9:21) This is why in the Bible God treats human beings in the way that he does. He directly has women raped, commits genocide after genocide, has infants and children murdered, has the stomachs of pregnant women ripped open to have their babies smashed to pieces, children sacrificed alive in fire and cannibalized, people torn apart by bears for making jokes, etc. He [Satan] did the same thing in Eden, saving the human race from the brainwash of God, once again unraveling God's true nature. The necessary evil there was that it led to human death due to sin's nature being inherited, but I would rather die than be a slave in the mind, not knowing good from evil, being ruled by an evil God while brainwashed to think he is good. But again, it is not Satan killing them with a curse, but God. Satan did not make the fruit and place it in the midst of the garden. The first account we have of the devil is found in the book of Genesis, and is as follows: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.... And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil; what if he then puts forth his hand and takes also of the tree of life and eat of it, then they will live forever! Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep away any from the tree of life." According to this account the promise of the devil was fulfilled to the very letter. Adam and Eve did not die, and they did become as gods, knowing good and evil (without which by the way, we would have never known that God was evil). The account shows, however, that the gods dreaded education and knowledge then just as they do now. The church still faithfully gaurds the dangerous tree of knowledge, and has exerted in all ages her utmost power to keep mankind from eating the fruit thereof. The priests have never ceased repeating the old falsehood and the old threat: "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." From every pulpit comes the same cry, born of the same fear: "Lest they eat and become as gods, knowing good and evil." For this reason, faith detests reason, theology is the sworn enemy of philosophy, and the church with its flaming sword still gaurds the hated tree, and like its supposed founder, curses to the lowest depths the brave thinkers who eat and become as gods. If the account given in Genesis is really true, ought we not, after all, to thank this serpent? He was the first schoolmaster, the first advocate of learning, the first enemy of ignorance, the first to whisper in human ears the sacred word liberty, the creator of ambition, the author of modesty, of inquiry, of doubt, of investigation, of progress and civilization. Give me the storm and the tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith! Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge! Additional information on Job: When Job opens his mouth seeking an answer to his suffering from God, it is troubling how God answered him. God comes down screaming at Job from a whirlwind and goes on a 4 chapter litany of all the things he created instead of answering the question that Job raised. In 38:1 we are told that "YHWH answered Job out of the whirlwind." This is critical. A whirlwind (tornado) is a deafening experience. If the whirlwind itself is the voice of YHWH, he is in essence screaming. If the whirlwind is NOT YHWH, he must scream to be heard above the noise. Either way, YHWH is screaming at Job. What he screams is troubling. Instead of addressing the issue that Job and his friends have been arguing (What is the reason for Job's suffering?), YHWH launches into a four-chapter litany of all the things he created. The actual answer for Job's suffering as you know was that God proposed a bet to Satan, and so was too ashamed to tell Job the real reason behind his suffering -- hence his screaming and belittling of him. The fact is, if God actually told Job the real reason behind his suffering, God would have lost the argument to a mortal man, and it would have proved that God was in the wrong, that God himself was evil. But he dodges the question for 4 long chapters, and never gives the real answer. Christians look at this and say, "Ah, God truly is mysterious!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVgZqnsytJI
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