Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Great Lakes Family

This post is just an excuse to show the photos to the right. Last week, I traveled to Las Vegas for a conference. On my trip to Sin City, I had a layover in Cleveland. My layover happen to coincide with lunchtime. While walking through Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, I found that the Great Lakes Brewing Company has a brewpub located in Terminal C. I saddled up to the bar with the intent of trying a new beer to go along with my lunch. Instead, I elected to sample five of their brews.

The Great Lakes family sampler includes samples of five of their popular year-round beers. The five sampler glasses were served in paddle intended for only four glasses. The fifth glass was squeezed on the handle. As seen in the top photo, I had already tried the first beer when I decided to take the picture. That first beer was their Dortmunder Gold Lager. The bartender told me that the golden lager was their most popular brew. It was also my favorite of the five.

My second sample was the Eliot Ness Amber Lager which was my second favorite of the bunch. The third and fourth were the Burning River Pale Ale and Commodore Perry IPA. Despite not being a big pale ale fan, I found these brews to be tasty. The final beer and the dark glass on the right side of the photo was the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. It was a good finish to the sampler.

For food, I went with the bratwurst and pierogi as seen in the bottom picture. I had been craving German food, so this hit the spot. While it was nowhere near as good as J. Betski's, it was a very enjoyable lunch.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Great Prognosticator

This year's NFL Draft started on Thursday and finishes today. The draft reminded me that I forgot to crow about my ability to accurately predict the sports-related future. In two posts from last year, I discussed the prospects of my favorite NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, in Ron Rivera's first season as the team's head coach. My first attempt was based on the records of Rivera's three predecessors. In that post, I predicted a 7-9 record for the Panthers based on the same record in the first seasons for previous coaches Dom Capers and John Fox. Honestly, the whole idea was ridiculous since previous results would have no affect on future results.

My second attempt was based on last season's opponents for the Panthers, and I correctly predicted a 6-10 record for the team. I guessed the Panthers would win two and lose four games against their divisional rivals in the NFC South. They were swept by the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints but were able to sweep the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who limped to a worse-than-expected 4-12 season.

I thought the Panthers would go 1-3 against the four teams from the NFC North but were actually swept by that division. That incorrect prediction was balanced by my prediction for the Panthers against the four teams from the AFC South. I thought the team would go 2-2 against that division. Instead, they went 3-1 including a win in week 12 over the Indianapolis Colts who were without All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning. Finally, I gave the team one win against their remaining two opponents, either Arizona or Washington. The Panthers lost their first game of the season against the Cardinals but tallied their second win of the season in week seven against Washington.

Should I make another attempt at prognosticating? In my first prediction post from last year, I gave the Panthers a 11-5 record and first place in the NFC South in the second season under their new head coach. Do I still think that is possible? With Rookie of the Year Cam Newton at quarterback, I do not think that is out of the realm of possibility. I think the NFL South will have a down year. Tampa Bay has a new head coach and is in rebuilding mode. Atlanta had another disappointing postseason with a 24-2 loss to eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Then there is New Orleans which is dealing with multiple issues including the contract status of their All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees. I think the Panthers can go 4-2 in their division.

This season, the Panthers will play the teams from the NFC East and AFC West. I think they can split with the NFC East teams and go 3-1 against the AFC West. I also think they should be able to win their remaining two games against the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks. Add all those together, and yes, I think the Panthers can go 11-5 this season and win the NFC South.