Monday, January 30, 2006

Federer: Great. Everyone else: Not so much

I think Roger Federer is a great tennis player. Yep, I'm talking tennis today. Let it be known that my high school athletic career didn't just include winning football games with my foot (allright already, so I never won a game, but once I nailed a guy in the nuts on an onside kick and he didn't get up for a couple of minutes. Still a highlight for me) . ---That's right, I was on the tennis team. A wicked forehand and a rush-the net style of play earned me a front row spot in the team picture for the yearbook (unfortunately the lack of a backhand also earned me a resounding defeat every year at the state tourney). So it shouldn't surprise anyone that I occasionally follow the sport and even watch a match from time to time. And I've noticed Roger Federer is very good. But is he too good? Or does everybody else just suck?

Federer just won his 7th Grand Slam title with the Australian Open. He's getting a lot of praise for his dominance and it's looking like he could easily make a run on Pete Sampras' 14 Grand Slam titles. The only problem with this little fairy tale story is the serious lack of rivals. Bjorn Borg had Mcenroe. And while Sampras was quite dominant himself, even he had an Agassi to occasionally snatch a title away from him. Pete's trouble surface was clay. The French Open kicked his ass on a regular basis. Maybe the French Open will also be Federer's annual gift to other players. Federer is only half-way through his career so it's not a given, but he hasn't won the French yet. In fact he hasn't even made it to the finals there. Still, he has won Wimbeldon the last three years in a row, the U.S. Open the last two years in a row, and the Australian Open two out of the last three years. If he wasn't such a nice guy all this dominance would be very annoying.

Quick, can you name another male tennis star other than Federer or Andy Roddick? Really I'm being generous in calling Roddick a tennis star. If he wasn't American, we wouldn't hear aobut him. Luckily for him he has a few things going for him. He's from the U.S., has a freakishly strong serve, has won a U.S. Open, and most importantly hangs out with hot chicks and dates pseudo-stars like Mandy Moore (personally this one's the star clincher for me). The thing is, he's Federer's bitch. Roger owns Andy with a 10-1 advantage. It's usually not even close matches.
Think of any other tennis stars yet? You're trying to name that Spanish guy that wears chick pants (capris) and won the French Open last year arent' you ? That is Rafeal Nadal. Yeah he might be good. He's good on clay anyway. And he's beat Federer in two out of their 3 career matches. But why the hell can't he wear shorts like everyone else? And anyway, I just don't think he's going to make noise at any other major tournement other than the French Open. It would be nice to have an American who could give Federer a run in the next few years. But right now it's Roger's world. I guess that's why he's always crying. Even he wants a rival.

No football, no problem.

Without football to watch yesterday (I did catch some of the Senior Bowl on Saturday to minimize the damage) my wife had some illusion that I would be an active and full participant in some responsible activities for the day. She forgot that we own an X-Box and I have a penchant for taking out bad guys when I'm depressed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Crazy keeps it interesting

I was reading about Ron Artest today and got to thinking that we really shouldn't be surprised with athletes who are a bit bonkers. I mean they are just a segment of a greater population and that population has plenty of insane people. What's surprising is that we don't see more guys in sports that pop crazy pills daily. Think about your workplace or your family. Don't most of you know at least one person you're related to or work with that would have been burned at the stake in medeivel times? I've got a lady just down the hall from my office that has 15 staff members under her and a whole lot of degrees on her walls. Yet the more contact with her that I have, the more convinced I become that one day I'm going to come to work and find out that she has dug a pit in her office, placed all her underlings in it and is sending down bottles of lotion in baskets for them to lather up with. Needless to say, I try to avoid eye contact with her as much as possible.

Anyway, my point is that crazy people aren't that unusual. What's unusual is that we can't recognize it quicker and get these people the hell away from us. If I had any power over the crazy chick at work she'd be gonzo in a heartbeat. I guess that's where the Pacers are finally at now. It might be too late though. If this Kings deal falls through what then? At what point do teams not offer anything for Artest but instead demand things in return for taking him. I could even see the Clippers organization(who haven't always been sane themselves) telling the Pacers, "Um, yeah we'll take him, but we're going to need Jermaine O'Neal also and all the autographed basketballs of Larry Bird you can get us".

With the Artest trade going down officially now, it's fair to assume crazy + talent=calculated risk. The downside with my situation is that the psycho lady down the hall has a lousy jumpshot.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Woops, was I drooling? NFL Conference Championship Thoughts:

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........huh?...did somebody say something? Oh that's right, there were a couple of championship football games yesterday. I almost forgot about that. So did sports highlight shows if last night was any indication (Kobe Bryant led off most newscasts. The NBA upstaged the NFL on championship weekend. Ouch!). Just let me get a dry pillow case and we'll begin.

I in fact did fall asleep during the Bronco/Steeler game but I had the tivo going so I backed it up to see what I missed. What a waste of time. Now if you're a Steeler fan I'm sure it was very exciting, but if you don't give a damn who wins then you have to hope for a good game. It wasn't one. Jake Plummer will be made the goat for the turnovers but the Steeler defense hassled him all day just like they did with Manning and the Bronco running game sure wasn't tearing it up. Roethlisberger on the other hand had all day to throw and amazingly for the second game in a row he did. Now just because I thought the game was boring, that doesn't mean I wasn't impressed with the Steelers. Since when did the Steeler offense turn into the good version of the St. Louis Rams? Why haven't these guys been throwing all season? Maybe they wouldn't have had to claw their way into the playoffs if they had been tossing it like this. Or are they successful because it goes so against the Steeler philosophy that defenses just aren't ready for it? Maybe if they had been throwing it like this during the regular season it wouldn't work now. Roethlisberger looked 10 times better than he did a month ago. I guess those knees are better now. At any rate, I'm glad to see the Steelers come over from the dark side (run-oriented offense) even if it's only for a short time. The bad thing about the Steelers being in the Superbowl? The continuation of the Jerome Bettis media love-fest (it's going to be 100 times worse in the next two weeks). Now Jerome is a nice guy but if he was a chick and the media was the adoring boyfriend then Mr. Bettis would be pregnant right now.

Another snoozer. Another game where one quarterback looks great and another looks terrible. Hasselbeck continues to impress. About mid-season I said that if the Seahawks were to go anywhere in the playoffs, Hasselbeck would have to be the one to make it happen. And he has. Alexander is a nice option for them but he's not the driving force in their offense this postseason. It's Hasselbeck. The bald dude is tearing it up.
Similar to the AFC game, this game had one quarterback getting chased constantly. The Seahawk defense though differs from the Steeler D in that it is vastly underrated. These guys are good. You wonder why the Bears couldn't figure out what the Seahawks did. Namely, stop Steve Smith and you stop the Panthers. By the way Smith has got to work on that pouty face he was displaying at the end of the game. It's identical to my 4 year old's.
I congratulate Seahawk fans everywhere. It's hard not to feel good for a franchise that has been so snakebitten in the past. Hard but not impossible. I mean I'm a Ram fan so let's not get carried away here.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Is he gone? Can I come out now?

A little comment on the Rams coaching situation.
The new Ram coach is Scott Linehan and I'll admit I know very little about him. I know he had some success with the Vikings as an offensive coach and did some good things with the Dolphins this year. What will he bring to St. Louis? Hopefully some common sense sometimes.
As a Ram fan, Mike Martz drove me crazy. I appreciated his commitment to the passing game which I am a fan of. Yet I also realize you have to protect your QB and pay attention to some aspects of the game and your team that don't involve your offense. Martz couldn't do that. Plus as far as physical appearance and mannerisms goes, Martz ranks just a hair below Bill Belichick on the creepy scale. He's got a different look and style than Belichick but still this is not a guy I'm letting near the kids soccer field on Saturdays.
Anyway, I hope Linehan turns out to be a real genius. I've had enough of the counterfeit version.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I'm trying to care about the rest of the playoffs. I really am.

Some thoughts on the upcoming games and a few afterthoughts on last weekend's games:

The Steelers/Colts game has to be on of the most fascinating postseason games I've ever seen. There were so many "what the hell?" moments that after a few days I'm still pondering them. Two obvious ones:

  1. I know it's been asked a million times and the only thing left on this beaten horse is the hoofs but what was Pete Morelli thinking when he reversed the Polamalu interception? I don't buy the conspiracy talk. It was just one of the worst calls in NFL history. Kind of like my decision to eat that piece of pizza I had been saving in the fridge since before Christmas. No thought towards the consequences. Morrelli's call has to rank right up there with Nick and Jessica's brain fart on ending a cash cow marriage. Even die hard Colt fans have to be asking, "What the hell?"
  2. Why does Nick Harper cut back instead of running towards the right sideline after picking up the Bettis fumble? There is no way Roethlisberger has the speed to cut him off if he doesn't cut right back into him. This has to be one of the worst running decisions ever. I've watched the replay serveral times. The lane was wide open if he just veers to the right. Say it with me, ---"what the hell?"

Morelli is taking a lot of heat for his Polamalu call. I can't imagine what it would be like if Harper runs that Bettis fumble back and the Colt's win. Does he ever work another NFL game in that case? Wouldn't his life be in danger? I saw the report about a brick being thrown through his window. That's with the Steelers winning.

Well enough about the past, how about this week's games? Both games seem very evenly matched which means they should be pretty closely contested right? Which means they'll probably be blowouts.

  • Can the Jake Plummer continue to defy expectations? He hasn't been god-like this year or anything but he has been efficient and effective and those aren't words I would have put with Jake Plummer before this season. It would be kind of like calling Paris Hilton modest and studious after seeing her next year at UCLA going for her bachelors degree while wearing turtlenecks and knee length skirts. Even after seeing it with your own eyes it would still be hard to shake the image of her in the Carl's Jr semi-porn commercial wouldn't it? Anyway, I think the Steelers will shut down the Broncos running game and Jake will have to make some plays. Interceptions are going to be a key to this game. Roethlisberger shocked the hell out of me with his first half play last week and if he can do it again the Broncos are in trouble. ------I was wrong on 3 out of 4 games last week so who should I jinx this week? I'll take the Broncos by 3.

  • The Panthers have to head into rainy Seattle this week and that should be an edge for the Seahawks. As a Ram fan I should hate Seattle and wish them ill this weekend. I don't. They just haven't been in the NFC long enough and rivalries take some time. Plus they haven't really done anything to earn my dislike yet. For example the Ram SuperBowl loss to the Patriots solidified my Patriot hate for several decades. Before this year it was the Rams who were providing the crushing losses to the Seahwaks. If I was a Seahawk fan I would hate the Rams. This year's Ram losses to the Seahawks really weren't that dishearting because St. Louis wasn't going anywhere anyway. As such, I wouldn't really have heartburn if the Seahawks go the Superbowl. Especially if doing so causes overconfidence next season and major contract issues that hurt their chances to win the division in the future (woops--that sounds like I could be developing some potential Seahawk dislike. Let it simmer for another season and we'll see how it goes).-----I'll pick the Panthers by a touchdown.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

NFL Playoff Thoughts: Round 2

I’m usually not this excited about being wrong. The Broncos made my year. It’s really pathetic that I get as pumped about a team losing (even one I hate) ---as I do my own favorite team winning. Such is the extent of my Patriot animosity. I still think the Pats are a great team and if they get their secondary healthy and run the ball better they’ll be dangerous again next year. However, I clearly built these guys up to be better than they were this year. In my defense I previously had picked against New England for 4 straight years and they had pissed me off enough times that I had lost the ability to be rational about their team or their quarterback. I’m convinced Brady is still the best QB in the game but I guess this proves he’s mortal and not a servant of Satan (although let’s not rule out the possibility that the guy with the horns and cheesy goatee had some money on the Broncos). The Broncos look tough, Mike' Shanahan's eyes still creep me out, and to Jake Plummer's credit he didn’t implode this season, as many predicted (including myself at the beginning of the season). Sure the Patriots helped Denver out by not securing the ball better, but isn’t that how New England won some games in the past?

I’m officially never picking the Colts in the postseason again. They choke in big games, and by they, I mean Manning. This guy is going to go down as the biggest choke job in the history of the NFL. So he was pressured a bit. Big deal. He still looked like crap on many plays where he had some time. It’s not even a question now; Manning plays tight when the stakes are high. His college career should have taught us that. The Steelers played great for a half. The Colt secondary got their jockstraps handed to them. But let’s be clear about this, the great QBs find a way to make it happen even when they are playing against a good defensive scheme. What really gets me is Manning then tells the press after the game that he doesn’t want to point fingers because he’s a good teammate buuutttt…..his protection broke down. He could have stopped after saying that or even included himself in the criticism but he chose to spell it out a second time for the press and again blamed his protection. Way to take responsibility. What a retard. If I was an offensive lineman for the Colts I’d let a really “good teammate” like Payton get a nice big dose of broken protection in the first game next season. Anyway, Manning's a whiner and a pussy and probably can't even spell the word "clutch".
Oh and this ought to answer the question of whether or not it’s a wise choice to rest an offense for a month when they depend on timing and rhythm.

I’m impressed with Hasselbeck. He’s growing on me. He didn’t dazzle but he played well and held his crew together even with Alexander going down. The Redskins have a nice defense and an offense that sucks. So Seattle scored just enough and didn’t give up points they shouldn’t have. The Colts, Bears, and Pats wish they could say the same thing. That's what the playoffs are about. This was the game I cared the least about so I don't have much more to offer other than I'm very sad to see the Clinton Portis sideshow end.

Woops. My bad. I had the Bears defense down as being really great. I’m thinking that a great defense doesn’t let the Panther's main and sometimes only offensive weapon torch them seemingly every play. Maybe Steve Smith is just that awesome. He’s destroyed just about everybody else this year, so why not Urlacher and Co.? Still it was a good season for Chicago. Nothing to be ashamed of . Except for Kyle Orton's beard.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I'll have something up tomorrow on all the weekend's NFL action. I'm really too choked up for words right now. The Patriots lost and I've for some unexplicable reason just told my wife that I'm going to Disney World. Dreams can come true.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Genius at work. Quiet please.

Sometimes I just shake my head at things athletes say. The latest example is Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker, Joey Porter. Joey's words of wisdom this week involve his calling out the Colts for their unwillingness to give him a free ride in their upcoming game. --- "They don't want to just sit there, line up and play football... they want to try to catch you off guard. They don't want to play smash-mouth football, they want to trick you. ... They want to catch you substituting. Know what I mean? They don't want to just call a play, get up there and run a play. They want to make you think. They want it to be a thinking game instead of a football game." in other words Joey, you want them to make you as comfortable as possible, disregard any advantage they might have, and go away from their strengths (here's a hint Joey: Colt football isn't smash mouth) . I'm sure this type of rhetoric is going to cause Tony Dungy to throw out the game plan just to stick it to Mr. Porter. ---Or not.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What the hell? The Jazz are in 1st?

You know what's crazy? The Utah Jazz are 1 game over .500 and in first place of the Northwest Divison, thats what. I predicted a total nosedive for the Jazz a couple of months ago and it looks like at least right now they won't be as bad as I thought. Kirilenko is starting to look like his All-Star self, Okur is nailing some big shots and is actually earning all that cash they are paying him, and they are getting some pretty good point guard play by committee. I'm not a big Jerry Sloan fan, (too predictable and stubborn) but I'll say this for him, he gets guys to play hard. If they can keep this up they could have a shot at a playoff spot. That would have been unthinkable for me at the start of the season. I might actually have to start watching some games. And yeah, I'm a "Johnny come lately" , or more specifically I'm an NBA "fairweather fan". I can accept that. There are just too many games in an NBA season for me to live and die by my team. I'm a basket case enough as it is when the Rams lose on Sundays.
So I might tune into the Jazz a little bit more after this month. Don't tell my wife though. She expressed to me just yesterday her sheer delight at the impending close of the NFL season,...and well, it just wouldn't be right to dampen that kind of enthusiasm.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

NFL Playoff Thoughts: Round 1

Any Patriot that says they weren't licking their chops about the prospect of playing the Jags instead of the Steelers is flat out lying. Jacksonville is a decent team, but they were going nowhere in the playoffs. You knew it, I knew it, and belive me the Patriots knew it. Yeah, the Pats didn't always look good this year against above average competition. So what? It's January and they've got Tom Brady. And Tom Brady is the best damn quarterback in football. Excuse me while I go pull out my armpit hairs with my teeth. Sorry, any Tom Brady love on my part(or Patriot praise for that matter) requires immediate self mutilation. I wish it wasn't so but the only team that has a shot at beating the Patriots is the Colts. The Steelers and Broncos don't have Tom Brady. And no, I won't get off this point. Brady has sold his soul to the devil and has powers beyond a mortal human being. You can't compete with that. You just can't.
Next Week: Pats/Broncos----I'm picking the Patriots. Yes, I hate myself. I will be performing a painful toenail extraction later this evening.

I think both of these teams overachieved this year and the fact that they both made the playoffs is a bonus. So the Bucs should feel positive about their season and look to the future. Simms looks like he could be a legitimate starter with a few more games under his belt. Although he really looks shaky when he doesn't get enough time for a 7 step drop. When he can take that deep drop with protection, he can hit about anybody. When he throws short or he's hurried he's less than stellar.
Next week: Redskins/Seahawks---It's been a nice run for the Redskins but they are going home next week.

Eli, Eli, where art thou? Oh yeah....throwing an interception, that's where. I hope this is not an omen for his Kenny Loggin lovin older brother. Where did the Giant's run defense go to? And how can you score 0 points at home? That was so painful to watch that I even started to have the"hi, I'm Eli and I'm constipated" look on my face. Anyway I'm not really a Giants fan but I did have visions of a Manning Bowl and counting how many times the two brothers were asked how it would feel to play each other. Not to mention the ten million camera shots of Archie that we would have had the pleasure to see if they both were in the big game. "Oh look there's Archie picking his nose, I wonder if that means he's rooting for Payton?" or "look Momma Manning is on the phone, her lips..she just laid a grand on Eli, she must know something.." ---Lets be honest, that's quality football drama that will be lost.
--Anyway, the Panthers have Steve Smith on their team. He's freaking good by the way, and I'll always cheer a former Ute. Delhomme would still scare the sh-- out of me if I was a Panther fan but his crazy interceptions have been in hibernation for a couple of they got that going for them..which is nice.
Next week: Panthers/Chicago---I'm going to have to agree with Greg over at and The Zoner and put the Bears in the awesome category. My pick is for the Bears as long as Kyle Orton keeps the stocking cap on his head and the helmet in his arms.

I was really pissed when Palmer went down. Talk about bad luck. Perfect deep throw to start the game. I don't know if they would have won but it would have been a hell of a lot more interesting. Kitna is a good backup but we all knew once the Steelers went up that this game was over. -
--By the way, I really like Pittsburgh's Willie Parker. Anybody with a name like "Fast Willie" is welcome at Wednesday's Tag-Team Uno Night with me anytime.
Next week: Steelers/Colts---I can't remember the last time the Colts looked good--it may have been somewhere around Thanksgiving. That's the problem with putting it on cruise control for so long. However, when you see Palmer going down for the Bengals you realize it would have only taken one play in December where Manning hit the deck and the Colt's chances would have been slim and nada in the postseason. So they're rusty but if they survive against the Steelers maybe they'll be prepared when they play the Patriots. I think the Steelers definately have a shot at this but I'm picking the Colts to pull it out.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Texas and USC. Well, that was memorable.

So I finally finished up my major project for work last night (I don't know whether to curse, wet my pants or just sleep for 2 solid years....and yes I need a new job) and realized I had forgot to tivo the USC/Texas game. Luckily I caught the second half. Nice game. Stupid game for USC. Classic screwups led to Texas taking it. Vince Young was awesome but it wasn't like Texas was forcing most of those stupid decisions USC made (Bush lateral---going for it on 4th and 2 at the end of the game leading to a short field for Texas...Insane). And can people please stop using the "In-Vince"able" thing when talking about the Texas QB. Yep, the name lends itself to a nice pun. Shoot me already.
I'm trying to decide which fan base is more obnoxious, Longhorns or Trojans? I think it's Texas fans because they can't shut up about the Lonhorns even when they don't win. Now with them winning I've got to hear it from my Texas buddy (who definately needs some Ritalin) for who knows how long. The good thing about the Longhorns win is that we got to see the "Vince Young pouty Heisman runner-up face" on Matt Leinart this time. He pulled a really nice one when exiting the field and even gave us the "were still better" speech. Woops just lost. I tried that one on buddies when my Rams lost to the Patriots in the Superbowl a few years back. It was lame.
Anyway......bring on the NFL playoffs. I'm ready. I might even be able to see some games after really missing quite a few the last few weeks. I'm still troubled about whether or not I should just stick pins in my Tom Brady voodoo doll or completely cut off the legs. Thoughts?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Look Ma, No Holder!

Doug Flutie is officially my hero. He converted the league's first drop kick since 1941, for an extra point in the Patriots game today. For those who have no idea what the hell a drop kick is --the name says it all--instead of kicking with a holder you drop the ball yourself and try and boot it through the goalposts. It's actually a tough thing to do, believe me. As a kicker in high school (it's an important position so quit your giggling you spineless bastards....sorry....flashback) I spent many a football practice in high school attempting drop kicks just to see if I could do it. I had to do it when the coach wasn't looking because obviously it wasn't something I would ever do in a game. I never thought someone would do it in an NFL game. Then comes Flutie magic.
I only hope to be able to see a highlight of this. I'm just trying to figure out how he got Belichick to go for it. What kind of scenario on the sidelines led up to this? --Did Flutie go up to him and say, "you know coach, I've done a lot of things in football in my life, there was that hail-mary in college that solidified me as a living legend and total chick magnet, ---there was that whole CFL league dominance thing I had going for awhile,---hell, Flutie Flakes were a hit and should have supplanted Wheaties...damn coporate sabotage....--anyway coach, I've just about done it all, but I've never drop-kicked one for a score. How about it? " Belichick looks at him with those serial killer eyes and deadpans, "if you miss it Brady gets to cut off one of your nuts and it goes in the team freezer."

However it happened, Flutie made it and has forever gained a spot in my circle of trust.