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February 22, 2008

One Column For The Price Of One

Barnsley

It’s been three weeks since the Patriots gagged away the Super Bowl on a house blitz. I’ve kept down food for six days now and the green/red contrast isn’t blurring anymore, so Doc. Eakin gave me the a-okay to get writing again. She was wonderful, thank you, Doctor! Whenever I clamp down on a wood bit, I’ll think of you. Here’s what you may have missed:

-The NBA has seen been blown around by trade winds in the past two weeks, but the end result is the same: the Western Conference is strong. The addition of Pau Gasol to the Lakers makes LA a playoff favorite; their late game lineup of Derek Fisher/Jordan Farmar, Kobe, Lamar Odom, Gasol, and the returning Andrew Bynum may be the strongest in the league. There are questions about depth, but in a thirty team league depth, like chemistry, only matters if you absolutely lack it. Speaking of chemistry, Shawn Marion, who freely admitted he’d prefer to be a top dog on a terrible team, can now spread his team play and joys on the charred, crippled remains of the Miami Heat. With Shaquille O’Neal now manning the post for Phoenix, the big beneficiary of this deal is Amare Stoudamire. Back at power forward he terrorized the Lakers for 37 points and 15 boards Wednesday night. Jason Kidd’s return to Dallas is a win-now move which will put more pressure on Josh Howard to boost his 20 PPG average. The Spurs (Kurt Thomas), Hornets (Bonzi Wells), and the Jazz (Kyle Korver a few weeks ago) also made deals, lifting the fortunes of the top six teams in the West. To be fair to the East, the Cavs got Ben Wallace’s corpse! (more…)

February 4, 2008

[Business Day One] And Then That Happened

In short, the New York Giants won because they were able to bring consistent pressure with their defensive line. They didn’t need to cheat up their linebackers or sacrifice coverage to get through He was really good.the Patriots’ offensive line. They did it with Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora on the outside and Justin Tuck up the middle. With only four or five men needed to collapse the pocket and hurry Tom Brady up, linebackers could cover the short routes and the safeties and corners could cover the deep routes. And they didn’t need to cover that long, since Brady had substantially less time to find open receivers than he’s been used to all season. That’s it. That’s the game. Like the two previous Giants championships, it was done with the defense.

The “defense wins championships” sentiment was obvious as soon as Eli Manning took the final knee. But with a night to sleep on this and a nice long walk this morning, a few others thoughts came together:

-There are three things that slightly tarnish the Giants victory for me. 1) I absolutely hate Jeremy Shockey and am disgusted that he gets a ring. 2) I absolute hate Mercury Morris and am disgusted that he’ll get to run his mouth about this. 3) I love rarity of utter dominance in sports. I don’t think I’ll get to see an undefeated football season in my lifetime – this was the closest I was going to come to it, and it was happening in my town. A team that I legitimately liked and enjoyed following could’ve done it. And it didn’t happen. This rare thing didn’t materialize and it likely never will.

-I don’t think any Giants fan ever expected to say “Yeah, Eli Manning deserved that SuperBowl MVP Award.” And a good million of them said that very thing last night.

-It was a pleasure watching Michael Strahan play last night. He was showing a first step so fast that no one on the Patriots line could block him. He wasn’t even using counter-moves and spins. He was just speed rushing around the outside and destroying the pocket. He played like a 25 year old, even though his driver’s license says 36 on it.

-I called my dad and grandpa and left messages after the game. It was a pleasure to do so.

-Watching the game with a mix of comedians and nerds (and nerdy comedians) makes for a very healthy environment. There was a lot of snark being thrown about, and the conversations revolved around Star Wars references and witty deconstructions of the commercials.

-Post-SuperBowl traffic ranks up there with Christmas traffic and Thanksgiving at the airport traffic as “worst unavoidable traffic situations.”

-National Signing Day for college football recruits is February 6th. Pitchers and catchers report to training camp in ten days. Basketball is happening right now. There are plenty of distractions out there if you want them. I suggest you take them if you need them.

Good game, everybody.

Owning Up

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Peiser @ 11:01 am

Sorry, I was wrong. The final score was not 24-21.

February 1, 2008

18 And Life To Go

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Peiser @ 4:00 pm

The perfect season has been foiled at the last minute before.

From The Washington Post‘s The Redskins Book:

The 1942 Redskins went 10-1. Their only loss was 14-7 to the Giants in the second game of the season, a score they reversed against the Giants amid a nine-game winning streak. The Redskins allowed only 13 points in their last four games. Once more, their title-game foe would be the Bears. The Bears, who had won 18 straight games, were favored.

The defending champion Bears’ 11 wins in 1942 were rough, physical victories staked on hard-hitting defense. The Redskins had gotten back into contending shape after a mediocre 1941 on the legendary arm, back, and quick-kicking leg of Sammy Baugh. The favored Chicago team quickly went up 6-0. But the final score was 14-6, with the last 1 yard scoring play a handoff to Andy Farkas. By all accounts, it was smash-mouth football, the kind of game that you can’t watch without wincing every minute of the way– despite the fact that “NFL commissioner Elmer Layden ordered ‘a clean game.'” (Goodell shouldn’t have to worry about a ‘clean game’ on the field- just keep Tom Petty from flashing some tit and everyone’s happy. Also, check the Giants’ Gatorade jugs for audio transmitting devices.)

The Bears had won 18 straight. The Redskins stopped them. All it took was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And George Halas off coaching duty due to naval service. And… ok, fine, so let’s just stick with the “18 and out” part.

Then, there’s at least one recent example of a perfect season bid gone unrealized with a connection to this weekend’s contest:

That video is never going to get old.The connection, of course, is the coach of the then-victorious Eagles: Tom Coughlin. Sure, it’s a stretch, and there’s pretty much no comparison of even the biggest NCAA game to any pro game, but the man did coach an underdog to ‘glory’ once before. Hell, they even got to play in the Carquest bowl or some shit. And that loss sent the ND program into a slow spiral which… well, you saw what happened this year.

I’ve been a Giants fan my whole life. Baseball’s my first love, of course, but I can remember watching Simms, Bavaro, Mowatt, and LT lead the charge in Pasadena, mere months after Mookie poked a dribbler through some guy’s legs. It was a glorious time to be a six-year-old sports nut in Queens. And I am grateful to this day that my family were not Jets fans. That would suck. A lot.

Given the reigning baseball champions, I can’t shake the feeling like there’s some guileless little kid in Quincy or Watertown or wherever, MA, who doesn’t yet know that he’s supposed to be a smug asshole about cheering for his teams, just that he likes Varitek and it was fun to see the Sox win, and his dad yells about the Patriots a lot and it’s fun to see them win. For that kid, sure, it’d be nice if the Patriots won.

For the rest of you, eat a dick. 24-21, smash-mouth Giants victory.

This is the end of today’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA by the Nerds on Sports staff. Read the previous five posts for more “insight” from the nerds.

[Business Day One] – What My Dad Does

Filed under: Business Day One,Football — Tags: , , , , — Serpico @ 3:00 pm

“So, dad, I hear you skipped work today.”

“Yeah, I felt pretty bad.  I should be all set for Sunday, though.”

“Well that’s good.  I’d rather you sick now than too sick to make the chili.”

“The package is on the way.  I should get it Friday.”

“Glad to hear it.  I hope it does some good.”

“This game is going to be a lot closer than everyone thinks it’ll be.  We’re gonna win this thing.”

“Maybe.  They just have so many weapons.  It’ll come down to the pass rush.  Listen, dad, I gotta jet. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Let’s Go Giants.”

——————————-

I was eight years old when the New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills in the SuperBowl.  I don’t remember Norwood’s kick sailing wide right, but I do remember the moment after.  The Giants burst into celebration on the sideline, and Bill Parcells was smiling as he ran on to the field in that sweater he wore.  My dad picked me up and tossed me into the air and I was terrified that I’d bang my head against the ceiling.  We were all laughing and cheering.  My grandfather, my father and me.  And the Giants at Tampa Stadium.

That was the purest moment of sport I had ever experienced.  Three generations of men (or, rather, two generations of men and one generation of me) that had grown up within a dozen miles of Giants Stadium watched one of the most amazing displays we could possibly watch.  Neither before nor since have I seen my father that happy.  The fan in me was defined that Sunday night, as we celebrated in the living room.

Every year, on SuperBowl Sunday, my dad watches the Giants/Bills game, and the Giants/Broncos game from 4 years earlier.  You remember SuperBowl XXI, right?  It’s the one where the Denver receivers stopped running cross routes in the second half because they were terrified.  He makes his chili as the grainy VHS tapes are playing, and pulls out every piece of Giants merchandise he owns.  Last year, the Nintendo Wii was incorporated into the pregame festivities.  This year, the Wii’s coming back and is being joined by a Giants rug and Lawrence Taylor Fathead.

The reason why I want the Giants to win is because of my father.

I was asked how folks from New Jersey pick their teams.  It’s a family thing.  Seeing the man or woman that raised you happy makes you happy.  Taking a roadtrip to a patch of the greenest grass on Earth that is surrounded by 60,000 fans makes memories that never fade.  Nowadays, I know more about the daily goings on of the New England Patriots than I do about the Giants’.  I’m not as familiar with the non-Strahan-and-Umenyiora elements of the defensive line as I should be.  I flat-out hate the tight end.  I remeber the stench of Giants Stadium more than the turf.  But they’re the team I picked when I was being tossed into the air as a child.  They’re mine.

I’ve been adopted by Patriots fans because I know as much about their team as they do.  Gillette Stadium is beautiful.  The Kraft family is intelligent and charitable.  Tom Brady is legend.  And I cheer for New England every game.

Except this one.

So I suppose that’s my prediction for the SuperBowl.  I predict that I’ll be cheering hard for New York.

Hey dad, Let’s Go Giants.

This is the 5th installment in today’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA by the Nerds on Sports staff. Check back on the hour from 11 AM to 4 PM for more “insight” from the nerds.

Judgment Day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 2:00 pm

FADE IN: TOM BRADY, MICHELLE TAFOYA and MATT CASSEL driving in a truck across the desert.

BRADY: The Super Bowl is scheduled. The system goes online September 9, 2007. Human decisions are removed from play calling. Belichick begins to learn at a geometric rate. He becomes self-aware at 6:30 PM Eastern time, February 3, 2008. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

TAFOYA: Belichick fights back.

BRADY: Yes. It launches a gadget play against the targets in the Giants’ secondary.

CASSEL: Why the Giants? Didn’t we already beat them in the regular season?

BRADY: Yes.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: LAURENCE MARONEY and WES WELKER running laps up the steps of an empty Foxboro Stadium.

I have extensive files.TAFOYA (v.o.): 31 teams’ hopes ended on February 3, 2008. The survivors of the perfect season called it Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Belichick, sent a Quarterback back through time. Its mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, Eli Manning.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: PEYTON MANNING sitting in an interrogation room. JOE BUCK and JAMES BROWN stand around with looks of skepticism on their face.

PEYTON MANNING: You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll score on him. That’s what he does. That’s all he does. You can’t stop him! He’ll stand in the pocket, throw the outside route, and score six touchdowns!

BUCK: Why didn’t you bring any weapons, something more advanced?

PEYTON MANNING: Listen, and understand. Tom Brady is out there. He can’t be bargained with. he can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, remorse or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until the fourth quarter is over.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: MICHELLE TAFOYA crawls backwards on her hands through the wreckage of a destroyed nightclub as MICHAEL STRAHAN stalks toward her slowly. He reaches a clear space and is about to charge … when suddenly he’s SLAMMED from the side by MATT LIGHT.

STRAHAN flies through a wall, hits a lamp post outside, and EXPLODES.

LIGHT (to Tafoya): Come with me if you want to live.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: In a dingy basement, MICHELLE TAFOYA helps TOM BRADY take his pads off. MATT CASSEL studies plays on a clipboard.

TAFOYA: Does it hurt when you get sacked?

BRADY: My body senses lost yards; the data would be called “pain.”

TAFOYA examines the wrap on BRADY’s ankle.

TAFOYA: Will this heal up?

BRADY: Yes.

TAFOYA: Good, because you’re no good to us if you break down easily.

CASSEL: Can you learn about things that you haven’t been programmed with, so you can be, you know, more human and not just a dork all the time?

BRADY (indicating play sheet on his wristband): My play sheet is a neural net processor, a learning computer. The more contact I have with humans, the more I learn.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: TOM BRADY throws a football on the practice field, bulls-eyeing RANDY MOSS from one hundred yards away. MATT CASSEL scampers around like a twelve-year-old boy, eagerly pitching replacement balls to BRADY.

You’re terminated.TAFOYA (voice-over): Watching Matt with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. Tom Brady would never stop, he would never get injured. He would never blame his teammates or his coach or use the press to attack the franchise. And he would die before Matt took a snap in regular season play. Of all the would-be perfect quarterbacks that came over the years, this one – this machine – was the only thing that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: ELI MANNING stumbles backward along a gantry above a pit of molten steel. He turns and sees TOM BRADY stalking behind him, a football in his hand.

BRADY: Hasta la vista … Eli.

BRADY throws the ball through ELI MANNING’s head. It splits in a burst of LIQUID METAL. Flailing, ELI MANNING falls back into the pit of molten steel and BEGINS TO MELT.

FADE OUT

TITLES OVER BLACK

February 3, 2008

Judgment Day

This is the 4th installment in today’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA by the Nerds on Sports staff. Check back on the hour from 11 AM to 4 PM for more “insight” from the nerds.

Pick your friend’s nose?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Willis @ 1:00 pm

Sean tells me there is some kind of football game happening this weekend. I believe it’s one of those RedSox v Yankees things, but I could be mistaken. So I’m dusting off the old tarot deck and asking it a few questions. Questions like who’s going to win and how because I learned early that I can pick my nose and I can pick my friends, but I can’t pick my friends nose.

So my Ouiji gave me a couple of answers:

Serpico is going to be cheering for which ever team currently has the ball.

My girlfriend and RJ are going to ignore me and talk about how hot Tom Brady is.

The patriots will be 3 for 3 on going for it on 4th downs, and the giants will be 1 for 2.

Peiseresque will send me a mostly incomprehensible text message late in the game gloating about some kind of Giants comeback happening.

The Patriots are going to win by exactly 12 points and all the bookies in Vegas will cheer all the way to the bank. (Actually, they’ll be cheering all the way to the bank no matter what.)

Perich will note how gambling affects the economy.

Sean will continue reporting from Cambridge, Arizona into next week (because the patriots will win and he needs to rub it in Serpico’s face).

I will continue to alienate myself by making fun of all my writers and wonder why people like BedelBlitz vanish from the face of the Earth.

This is the 3rd installment in today’s PICKSTRAVAGANZA by the Nerds on Sports staff. Check back on the hour until 4 PM for more “insight” from the nerds.

Live From Cambridge, Arizona (Friday)

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Sean @ 12:00 pm

Calm Before The Storm

Tying up some loose ends, and then the big pick to follow…

Attention P. Burress: So you made a prediction for this week’s game. Here’s the problem. In 1969, the AFL was an unproven league, and while Joe Namath’s fabled guarantee was audacious, it wasn’t *too* audacious because no one had seen the Jets play an NFL squad, ever. The Colts were a great team but not nearly as good as the Packers teams blasting the AFL in the previous two seasons. Today, everyone’s seen the Patriots slap around the NFC East, and we know damn well what heights they can reach. “Predicting” the unbeatens will score their lowest point total of the season is more than a little stupid. The D was keying up on you and your weak ankle already. Ask Freddie Mitchell how that works out. I guess the two week layoff was just a little long, and you got bored. Shouldn’t have pulled a Tiki.

Attention B. Weiser: The news of your alcoholic beverages has at last reached Earth. Now everyone knows that when drinking Bud around animals, you will likely be bitten or head-butted in the crotch; also, when about to drink the last Bud Light, my friends will offer me ludicrous sums or fantastical trades. I have been convinced by your product and now protect my crotch at all-times. Therefore stop buying eight commercials to air at $2,700,000 apiece. In addition, when I buy a six pack, I now hide the other five as soon as I am home. I now own the rights to my cousin’s will, and my mailman chases dogs for my amusement. He was recently bitten in the crotch.

Attention J. Buck: Buck AikmanPlease, please just call the football game. No guests, no cartoon pigskin teaching the kids what an I formation is, no Taco Bell sponsored left upright, just play by play and analysis from Troy in the booth. And make Chris Myers realize what he’s done with his life. One minute he’s hosting Up Close and inventing “Did You Know”, the next he’s sucking up to the California Raisins at a 49ers-Ravens tilt. Get it together, Jub Jub. (more…)

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