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Why We Love Sports (Reasons 7-12)

Posted by rich on 14th January 2008

I am still basking in the glow of another great Patriots victory, number 17 in a row. It was a fun weekend, and I figured it was a good time to add to our list of reasons that we love sports, because there were so many good things this weekend that happened during the NFL playoffs.

7. Tom Brady Is Tom Brady: Well it’s pretty self-explanatory, but Tom Brady just gets the job done. No quarterback has ever been more efficient in a playoff game than No. 12 was this weekend. I remember when Phil Simms hit 22-of-25 in the Super Bowl for the Giants and never thought I’d see a QB be more on target. Then we saw Tommy Boy this weekend, who completed 26-of-28. The funny thing is, he could have been 28-of-28. Both Ben Watson and Wes Welker could have made catches on the ones that got away.

8. Trick Plays: When Brady ran that fake I thought we were seeing the direct snap to the running back and that Kevin Faulk — who has been outstanding all year, very quietly — was going to run a sweep to the left. But, Tommy held on to the ball and then found a wide-open Welker over the middle for a big touchdown. A couple of weeks ago, against Pittsburgh, the Pats ran a great double lateral pass for a TD. Not only are the Pats great, but they also are fun to watch.

9. The Frozen Tundra: Unfortunately the one game I didn’t really get to see this weekend was Green Bay beating up on Seattle. But watching the highlights put a huge smile on my face. Is there a better sight than football being played in the snow, at Lambeau Field? If there is, I don’t know what it is. I love watching the Pats do the same at Gillette, but there’s something special about Lambeau and the Frozen Tundra. It just seems right.

10. Answering the Bell: Billy Volek might have taken 5-to-10 percent of the snaps during practice this week for the SD Chargers. He didn’t think he’d get into the game, we know that. But, when Phil Rivers got hurt, Volek went in and came through, leading his team to the AFC Championship game. Volek put together one big drive, scoring his only touchdown of the year on a dive up the middle to beat the Colts.

11. Rooting Against Teams: It’s not that I’m a big Chargers fan. Sure, I own a Phil Rivers jersey, but I bought that for my fantasy football team this year (one of my bigger mistakes of the last year), but I was rooting for them like I grew up in the 619 area code. The reason I was such a Chargers fan on Sunday afternoon is that I despise the Colts. They’re like the football version of the Yankees to me, which seems appropriate right now because the Red Sox got into the ALCS but the Yankees weren’t able to. The Pats held up their end of the bargain, beating the Jags, but the Colts let a beat up, inferior club come into their home and walk away with a win in the playoffs.

12. Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleaders: Do I need to explain this one? They’re as big an American icon as Apple Pie. If you’re a red-blooded American boy, you love them, and don’t have to apologize for it.

13. Overtime: On Friday night I got to see an amazing basketball game between Falmouth and Plymouth North High Schools. The game was as good a game that I’ve attended in a long time, with FHS sending it into OT with a three with 13 ticks left before losing in a tight OT session. I said to a scout from U Mass Dartmouth during the final seconds that the game deserved OT, because it was so good. He turned to me and said, “no, they need to have two or three.” We only got one, but what a game.

14. Coors Light Commercials: Usually I hate commercials, which is a reason that I like to TiVo the games, start them late, and then catch up to the live action in the second half, that way I can fast forward past all the drivel between plays. But, I always watch the Coors Light commercials with old coach interview footage and those corny dudes asking them questions about beer and life. The new one with Jimmy Johnson this weekend, and all of the guys sporting his horrible hairstyle cracked me up. I also love the Denny Green “they are who we thought they were” one and any one that features Bill Parcells. Those commercials crack me up.

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Speaking With The Enemy

Posted by rich on 10th January 2008

I am not ashamed to say that I love another guy. There are a few of them that are like brothers to me, and I am comfortable enough to say so.

My buddy Ando is one of those guys. Ando and I met on my first day at Liberty University and we hit it off right away. Within a week or two we were hanging out, and later we would become roommates. As old friends go, Ando is right at the top of the list, he’d take a bullet for you and then tell you how stupid you were to get shot at. Of course he owes a great deal of the fact that he has a family today to me, because if I hadn’t been there to cover his hole-filled stories for staying off-campus night after night he may not be married today.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, you see Andy lived in Florida for a few years and became a diehard Jaguars fan. He came up to watch the playoff game with me a two years ago, when the Pats killed the Jags, and despite being an otherwise intelligent human being, he actually thinks his favorite team has a shot to end the Patriots to greatness. (I know, I feel sorry for him too.)

Anyways, I had a chance to speak with Andy the other day as he pretended to work at his desk for the newspaper he works at, and the following is his thoughts on the big game.

The first thing that Andy is really hanging his hat on is that the Jags “have nothing to lose.” Forget the fact that they actually have an NFL playoff game to lose, and potential playoff checks, and fame and fortune and notoriety should they pull off the unthinkable. Let’s just play along.

“They returned on Sunday at 5 AM totally exhausted. They go and play golf that afternoon, talking about their first playoff game and now they’re totally focused (on the Pats). They face arguably the greatest team in NFL history. They have nothing to lose. If they lose the game, they were supposed to, right. So they’re going to be loose and just go out there and pound the football and see what happens.”

Ando, stop me, your confidence is sickening.

Next, he thinks that somehow the cold weather is going to be a factor to benefit his team. Because Jacksonville likes to run the ball, Ando believes that the New England weather is going to favor the Jags. Yup, a team that resides in Florida is going to benefit from the cold.

“Its likely going to be 20 degrees, and windy, and the ball is going to feel like an atomic rock for Tom Brady,” he said.

Well, let’s forget for a moment that Brady has had some of his most memorable moments in crappy weather (apparently Andy wasn’t watching football back in 2002 when the Pats beat the Raiders and Brady threw the ball all over the place). I’m with you so far Andy, nothing to lose, and bad weather is good for Jacksonville (by the way, 35-degrees at game time, 10-percent chance of precipitation, a slight breeze). “The conditions could very well make it a push. It could level the playing field,” he said.

Next up, Andy is playing the youth card. He said that the Jags defense has an edge because it doesn’t have so many miles on the odometer. Well, call me crazy, but I’ll take my defense with more playoff experience than you can count over a bunch of young guys that have never been there before. Oh, and I checked the injury report, it seems that several Jags regulars on that side of the ball are injured, and won’t be playing, with two starting defensive tackles out of action and a linebacker. But, at least the guys they have are young, right.

“If New England comes in and shuts down Jones-Drew and Taylor down, Garrard can’t throw for 300-yards,” Andy said.

Finally, my good friend makes some sense. You see, the Patriots like to take what you do best, take it away, and then make you beat them another way. It’s sound strategy. So, what we’re likely to see is Rodney Harrison stacking near the line as an extra linebacker and the Pats daring the Jaguars to beat them with the passing game. David Garrard is a good up-and-coming QB, but he doesn’t have the best passing numbers, and last week’s 9-for-21 performance hardly makes you shake in your boots.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor are a great running combination. The Jags will get some yards on the ground, and they’re smart to try to keep the New England offense off of the field, but at the end of the day, the Jaguars aren’t capable of stopping the greatest offense in the world, with the best quarterback in the world, for 60 whole minutes. They just aren’t. Jacksonville has only had one big game this year in which it has had to play from behind and make a run at it (remember, they led most of the way last week before coughing up the lead late). In that game, they lost to Indy. Other than that, they’ve won games they’ve led, and lost games in which they fell behind. The Pats have a way of making you play from behind, probably because they score so much (makes sense, right).

“I think you’ve got a close game,” Andy said. “Great teams make it happen … I just hope it comes down to the fourth quarter.”

Well, we’ll see buddy. I won’t be surprised if Jacksonville keeps it a ballgame for a long time. They’re good, and if it were any other season, they’d be a team that I think could win it all. But this year they’re in the way of the steam engine, and they’re laying on the tracks (wow, that’s like a Coors Light commercial).

“I’m not inviting anyone over for this one. It’s too big, I can’t be around people. I’m going to hole up in my house and shut out the rest of the world,” Andy said.

That doesn’t sound like something a confident man would do, does it? Me, I’m going over to my brother’s place, having some food and enjoying the game (it always makes me laugh when Danny’s wife swears when someone drops a pass).

“If they win, I’ll have everyone over next week. It’ll be a big party,” he concluded.

I wouldn’t go out and buy the invitations buddy. But I would be waiting for that phone call Saturday night, sometime around 11:30 PM.

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Top Seasons, and a Rambling Diatribe

Posted by rich on 9th January 2008

Leave it to ESPN to bring up a new debate that’s actually worthwhile, the 25 greatest individual seasons ever. Obviously Tom Brady’s 2007 makes the list for the best football seasons ever, but do you believe that they actually have found three seasons that they deemed better? I have no problem with Marino being number one, and if you remember how dominant Eric Dickerson was for the Rams that one year, then you would have to agree that he’s up there too. The one that bugs me is Peyton Manning last year being better than Brady this year. The explanation seems thin to me. Apparently the fact that Brady plays his games outside while Manning has perfect 72-degree conditions indoors doesn’t play.

Anyways, you can check out the lists at this link. I haven’t had a chance yet to delve deeply into the other seasons, but the golf one is going to be interesting to me. How many of the top 10 does Tiger own? Without having seen the list yet, I’m going to guess that at least four of them below to Eldrick.

Funny Tiger thought. Imagine if they’d never come up with the nickname “Tiger” for him. Would he be nearly the star he is if he went by Eldrick Woods? What about Rick Woods? Could you really get fired up to watch someone named Eldrick play every week like you do Tiger?

His talent would not be below what his standards are now. But, I don’t think he’d be nearly as big. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Think about it, Tom Cruise sounds like a star. If he went by Tom Smith, doesn’t that negate some of his Q-rating?

Maybe it’s because our society is so shallow, but I just believe this to be true. Take two mediocre quarterbacks, with nearly the same types of statistics. You’ve got Phil Rivers and Derek Anderson. Based on name alone, you’d go with Rivers, because it sounds better. But, if you look at stats, you’ve got to go with Anderson, even though his name is so pedestrian, but it would take a Brady-esque season for Anderson to get noticed.

And, another strange phenomenon is the geography of stardom. If Brady played for Cleveland, I don’t think he’d be quite as popular. But, he’s a Boston-based guy, so he’s bigger automatically. There aren’t many stars that overcome geography to become very big, you have to be absolutely top tier to crack the general public’s eye. Peyton Manning overcomes his city, as does Lebron James, but Manning has the whole family angle that helped push him over the top and Bron Bron had so much hype coming out of high school that he could have landed in Charlotte and been a big star.

Some guys get bigger reps simply because of where they play, too. If Derek Jeter played in Kansas City he would be a good player that you barely heard about. But, he’s in NYC, and that makes him a mega-star. If Vlad Guerrero played in New York, and spoke english, he’s be the biggest thing ever.

Don’t know how I got on this rant, apparently I’ve had too much caffeine.

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Here We Go Again …

Posted by rich on 7th January 2008

At least this time the guy talking trash was someone that’s done something to help his team. Paul Spicer did have 7.5 sacks for the Jaguars this year, and he’ll have to back it up on Saturday night when the Jags come to town to face the Patriots in the AFC semifinals.

Mr. Spicer thought it would be a good idea to go on ESPN and offer some bulletin board material. Why won’t these people let the whole spygate thing go? September feels like a long time ago to me. Since that day, in which the Patriots cheated for what amounted to be less than one-quarter of a game — and it wasn’t the players cheating, but you knew that — the team has gone on to win every game it has played. They’re 16-0 and had the best regular season ever.

Still Paul Spicer thinks it’s a good idea to rile the team up some. Here’s what he said.

“Do like the NCAA and kick them out of the playoffs or something,” Spicer told The Associated Press after news of the scandal broke. “Put them on probation; they can’t go to no playoff games. Roger Goodell has definitely enforced some new rules. He’s been hard on players. Now let’s see how hard he’s going to be with a team.”

If I were Spicer’s coach’s, he’d be paying a huge fine right now. If I was his teammate, I’d be slapping him in the back of the neck and saying “what is wrong with you?” Seriously, you are about to play the best team in the NFL, on the road. Do you really need to give a team that is clearly on a mission any extra motivation?

Spicer has his five minutes of fame. I hope he enjoys it because he’s put himself right into the spotlight, and he’s going to find out how blinding it can be.

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Why We Love Sports (reasons 1-6)

Posted by rich on 6th January 2008

Saturday night was a great reminder of the reasons that we love to watch sports. In honor of that, and I do credit our hero Bill Simmons here, I have decided that when it is appropriate, we shall add to the reasons we love sports, starting a new list. If you have any additions, let me know and I will certainly throw it in, but starting today, this organic thing will grow. These are in no particular order.

1. See score, change channel: Twice tonight I happened to be cruising the net and saw scores that made me run to the TV. I got home late from the hockey game and forgot that the Celtics were having a showdown with the Pistons. I saw on that it was a four-point game with four minutes to go, and ran upstairs to watch the climactic end (take that Mr. Bosma).

Later on in the night I was back on and noticed that somehow the Steelers had come back on the Jags. I switched away from the game earlier because it was a blowout, but saw the last few minutes of another big finish.

2. Clutch runs:
Somehow I know that plays like this will make an appearance quite a bit in this running feature. Fourth-and-two from just across midfield, season on the line, and David Garrard tucks it and uses a nice block by his left tackle. He puts on a nice shimmy move at the second level and busts it for 32, down to around the Steelers’ 10. That basically sewed it up for Jacksonville.

3. Uprights split: Admit it, you like me like it more — when our own team isn’t involved — when the kicker misses the big kick. There’s so much pressure, and a lot of these field goals should be easy, but they never are. You have to have a lot of respect for somebody like Josh Scobee, who sees only a few minutes of playing time per game, walk into the game, all 175-pounds of him, and decide the fate of all of his bohemoth teammates. That’s pressure, and his kick was right down the middle.

4. Our friends: Hey, I didn’t really care who won that Steelers-Jags game all that much, but several of my friends did. I have family in the Pittsburgh area, who I can’t wait to tease, and my college roommate is a HUGE Jags fan. If the Pats face Jacksonville next weekend there is a 45-percent chance that he flies up here to watch the game with me. He did the last time the teams met in the playoffs, two or three years ago. We had the time of our lives. I’m hoping he comes back.

5. Clutch rookies:
Gotta love what Big Baby Glen Davis did for the Celtics tonight. He came up with 20 huge points against the next best team in the NBA and helped the C’s win back-to-back games, without Ray Allen. The Celtics needed someone to step up, and Davis did the job. He’s may new favorite Celtic.

6. Gambling: Okay, I really don’t wager on sports. But, my best friend — Eagle One — is in Vegas right now and I’ve been talking him through his various wagers all weekend long. As a matter of fact, I need to call him soon to make sure he stuck by his Jacksonville bet. He and I were both leaning towards Pittsburgh at the last minute, and I’m not sure which way he went, but he had gone out there in love with the Jags. Hope he stuck to his guns. You know that game tonight had gamblers all over the country on the edge of their seats, throwing up in their mouthes.

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Oh My

Posted by rich on 3rd January 2008

Apparently Tecmo Super Bowl, only the greatest video game ever created, is available to play on-line. I’m looking for it as we speak. I can only hope to once again be able to unleash Tecmo Bo Jackson once again.

I’ve got work to do. Be back with a legit update tomorrow.

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All Is Quiet On New Year’s Day

Posted by rich on 1st January 2008

Hanging out at the house, with the kids watching the original Superman (Rye likes it when Krypton explodes) and watching big rain drops attack my deck. Not exactly an exciting day, although I might watch the Rose Bowl later (we’ve got to have some traditions darnit).

I really liked 2007. We got Daisuke-mania, a World Series title, 16-0, Big 3 v2.0, and lots of Britney Spears bashing, not to mention Miss Teen USA’s geography speech. Led Zeppelin came back, and so did the Smashing Pumpkins. Personally I embraced the iPod and Blackberry revolutions and actually lost more weight. Yeah, 2007 wasn’t so bad.

What can we expect in 2008? Well, here’s some stuff that should be fun. Bill Clinton doing his best to help Hillary get into the White House just so he can run amuck as First Man; Obama trying to become president despite his last name; Harold and Kumar escape Guantanomo Bay; The Dark Knight; China totally screwing up the Olympics; Hank Steinbrenner becoming a bigger villain than his dad; A-Rod doing more stupid things; Roger Clemens “clearing” his legacy; a 12-year old being sued for millions by the RIAA; hopefully rock music making a huge comeback; the Pats finishing off 19-0.

That’s off the top of my head. I think 2008 will be okay. Now go break some resolutions.

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C’s Bloody Good

Posted by rich on 31st December 2007

You know what, you’ve got to love this Celtics team. I haven’t watched as many games as I would like to, but every time I tune in they are just fun to watch. And now they’ve gone out out on the west coast and run the table, 4-0. Not bad for a team that couldn’t get out of its own way last year.

Right now the C’s stand at 26-3, the best record in the NBA. They’ve already eclipsed last year’s win total and show no signs of slowing down. If they just go .500 the rest of the way they’ll finish above 50 wins. They should easily win at least 60 and only Detroit seems likely to challenge them for the No. 1 playoff spot in the east.

I knew that they’d be better, but this is ridiculous. They play with so much energy and go for the jugular. I’m still not a huge NBA fan, but this team is making me a Celtics fan again. I think that’s a good thing.


Happy New Year. Hope you all stay safe tonight. I’m too old for partying anymore and the wife’s got what I had earlier in the week, which means it’ll probably be me and The Bourne Ultimatum tonight.

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Perfection Pt. 1

Posted by rich on 30th December 2007

Cris Collinsworth is one of my favorite NFL announcers, and a big reason for that is that he gets it. He understands that the Patriots have put forth an incredible season, but at the end of the year, if they don’t win the Super Bowl then it will have been a disappointment.

Sure going 16-0 is sweet. They made the fans sweat, and God Bless the Giants, they brought their ‘A’ game. Winning a super-hyped game like this one had to be more rewarding than rolling over a team that didn’t try. Unfortunately for Tom Coughlin’s crew, though, trying may cost them next week in the playoffs dearly as they lost one of their starting linebackers and their center. But, they didn’t want to be a footnote in history, they wanted to be the ultimate spoilers, and they played like it. Heck even Eli Manning played well, although he still looks really lost to me in the big spots. There’s way too much little brother in him. When things go wrong he makes his own version of The Manning Face, and it actually looks more pained that the one we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Peyton throw out there. (side note: how whiney was that family on a bad Christmas? Imagine Eli if he didn’t get what he wanted. Good thing they came from a rich family).

At 16-0 this has been a surreal ride for Pats fans. They’ve blown teams out, they’ve won close ones. They’ve re-written the NFL record book’s offense section. Most TD passes by a QB, Most TD receptions by an individual, Most Points by a team, Most players scoring a TD for a season, and so on and so on.

Lost in the records was a superlative season by my favorite Pats receiver, Wes Welker. No. 83 set a new franchise record for receptions in a season and leads the NFL heading into today’s games in catches for the year.

Offensively, this is almost the perfect team. If they had never lost Sammie Morris it just might be perfect. Sammie gave them the ability to gain the tough yards on the ground that Laurence Maroney doesn’t have. LM did call upon his inner Marion Barber at times against the Giants, but he still dances to the hole too much for my liking.

And let’s not forget the biggest unsung hero on that offense, Kevin Faulk. That guy has been coming up with big play after big play throughout the Patriots tenure as one of the elite teams in the league this decade. Against NY he converted two huge third down plays to keep scoring drives alive. He knows how to get to the sticks and beyond them. With him and Welker out there on third down, Brady is like a super-happy Linus … two security blankets.

Game 16 was played with the intensity of a playoff game, on the road, and the Pats got the job done. Even if they are the best team in the league, winning on the road is difficult for any NFL team, especially in an atmosphere that buzzed and hostile toward your goal. Let’s not forget that even though Giants Stadium is in New Jersey, those are New York fans, and they hate teams from Boston. They would have reveled, basked even, in ending the Patriots perfect regular season. It would have been cathartic for a fan base that is still trying to come to terms that we live in a world in which the Patriots are the best team in the NFL and the Red Sox have won two World Series titles since the Yankees last even played for one.

The ultimate goal is now 84.2-percent completed. Two weeks from today, at least I’m rooting for a Sunday game, the Pats will open up the playoffs against a team with a much lesser record. They will then, most likely, have to get by the defending Super Bowl champions and then the NFC’s best.

It isn’t going to be easy. That last 15.8-percent of the mission will be the most difficult stretch. But, this team has what it takes. We knew that they had the talent all along, and the last month has proven that they have the heart and ability to pull out a close one.

Here’s to the last legs of the fantastic voyage. May it be smooth.

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Posted by rich on 29th December 2007

Thanks to Bill Simmons, I found the clip I’ve wanted to post for the last couple of weeks. If you’ve been to a Celtics game lately, you’ve seen him, the biggest star at the Garden. No, not KG or Paul Pierce or Ray Allen, or even Big Baby.

Of course, I speak of Gino. The Celtics new victory cigar makes you giggle, makes you smile and shake your head at how stupid the 70s really were. I love this. It’s perfect. Maybe the highlight of the game I went to earlier this month was being introduced to Gino. The game was fun, but Gino absolutely floored me.

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