I’m still sad from the weekend. I’m not delirious with rage, or throwing darts at a picture of John Swofford or lamenting a broken system with stunning poetry. I’m just sad. Oh well, at least my Boston College Eagles will get to relax in sunny Orlando over the holidays. I need to take whatever I can get.
Anyway, I’m not here to write about this. I don’t want anyone here to see me cry at my desk. Instead, I want to talk about Christmas.
We all still believe in magic, especially around this time of year. Even the most steadfastly secular and reasonable among us can still be overwhelmed by heart-quickening memories of holidays past. We can recall the excitement of seeing presents that appeared (out of nowhere!) under the tree, and that feeling we got when we were certain we heard reindeer on our roof. We have that specific moment when we were first told that Santa wasn’t real inked in our mind, right alongside the memory of us absolutely insisting that he was to the foolish non-believer.
Sure we’re grown-ups now. And we know there isn’t a toy factory on the North Pole or Rudolph with his nose so bright. But one thing I learned as a grown-up is that Santa is real. I’m serious. He exists in the harried expression of a parent trying to figure out what video game to get. He exists in a doting grandma’s car as she circles the mall looking for parking. He exists when dad gets up in the middle of the night to eat the carrots his daughter left out so she thinks that Dasher and Dancer did. So yes. Santa exists. But what doesn’t exist is free magic. Grown-ups know this. In fact, I think that’s the big difference between children and grown-ups. The adults among us know that miracles cost money. That video game wasn’t cobbled by elves, it was bought by your mom. That your stocking wasn’t stuffed by St. Nick in your living room, it was stuffed at Walgreen’s. And that no one is going to magically jump down your chimney and give your team Johan Santana for free. It’s going to cost you. Read More
First SoCal and Geaux Tigers had their toes in the door
Then Stanford shocked SoCal, the doormats no more!
So Just Cal moved to 2nd in all football land
(Thanks a ton, Cardinal, and again for the band!)
But Just Cal stumbled when Kevin Riley slipped
On a junior high brainfart when his legs took a trip
Now Just Cal is gone and what the hell? LSU?
Kentucky in three OTs leaves them feeling blue Read More
Recently the internet pipe trucks have been full of mascot news and stories, and I’m not one to buck the trend. But before I get into the links I have a story. Back in my college days, I had a terrible job. (Well, maybe job isn’t the right word because the only “payment” I received was a pair of pants. And not good pants, maroon warm-ups — like the athletes that are sitting on the bench wear.) So, back in college I had this terrible work-like activity I did.
I didn’t gain any recognition for what I did, but everyone got to see me (sometimes even on TV). I had to work at random hours. I was punched by kids of all ages, but I also got my picture taken with even more kids. I did get to wear cool credentials that gave me access to the secret underground tunnels. Sometimes there was even some free food. I had to ride in a bus with either the cheerleaders or the band. It was my choice, but how do you make that choice? On one hand, you have some decent looking women who are completely vapid and only want to talk about which members of the football team they’ve slept with. On the other hand, you have a group who barely dates outside the group and have limited social skills. (I usually went with the band — a nerd really can’t fault someone too much for their social skills.)
I was Baldwin, The Boston College eagle. Read More
Serpico introduced a point that I’d like to elaborate on: the difference between college football and NFL overtime.
The rules for NFL overtime are simple: the ref holds another coin toss for possession. Fifteen minutes of “sudden death” football are played; the first team to score wins. If no one scores after fifteen minutes, it ends in a genuine tie.
The rules for NCAA football overtime are not as simple, but they’re not complex. One team starts with the ball on the 25-yard line. If they can score on their possession, without giving up on downs or turning the ball over, then the opposing team gets a chance to do the same. If the opposing team scores as well, then they advance to another overtime period. However, if one team scores and the other doesn’t – or doesn’t score as much – that’s it; game over.
We saw an NFL OT game this weekend: Bears over Broncos. Chicago won the coin toss and then went on to sink a long bomb to Desmond Clark and get in field goal range. This shouldn’t surprise the Nerds in the audience: the team that wins the toss wins the OT period, and thus the game, fifty-two percent of the time.
However, we saw two NCAA OT games this weekend, and they were nailbiters both: Arkansas upsetting #1 LSU in triple overtime and Tennessee upsetting
Oregon Kentucky in quadruple overtime. The diehard fans that stuck around to watch them to the end – and could you call yourself a serious fan and leave early? – saw some thrilling athletics, let me tell you.
Many pundits insist the NFL’s OT system is “broken.” There have been a number of suggested fixes – some outlandish and exciting (auction off the “kickoff” line on which the OT starts), some relatively straightforward (just adopt the college rules). Here at Nerds on Sports, though, we’re interested in the more fundamental questions.
For instance: why does the NFL have the OT system it does?
Thanksgiving has, over the years, evolved into the perfect storm of sloth and gluttony. The trip home is usually exhausting enough that you want to spend Thanksgiving Eve half asleep on an old high school buddy’s couch. The gut-busting feast on Thanksgiving Proper is filling enough to make you remain sedentary for all of that night, most of Black Friday, and at least half of that Saturday. The World of Sports has developed a symbiotic relationship with the World of Holiday Over-Indulgence, so as America digests, they can also watch early season NBA games, the final regular season college football games and the Packers take on the Lions. Not a bad way to spent time otherwise spent reconnecting with family. Anyway, all of this eating and sports watching put me in a position to make some pretty interesting observations:
– Jon Kitna has quietly evolved from a perfectly average, oft-overlooked quarterback into an insufferable douchebag over the past year. Read More
What do we do when our team is playing? Are you the strong and silent “do not disturb me unless it’s with pertinent statistics” type? Are you the “everyone wearing my colors gets a high five” type?” Do you watch it at home or at the sports bar? Do you make specific plans to watch your game that take precedence over any items in your day planner? Is your life on hold until the last out or the final whistle?
Well then you’re a fan. A beautifully obsessed fan. And don’t you ever feel ashamed of it.
Folks that truly love sports often feel the need to defend themselves to others. Every sitcom that has ever been on television has had a Wife’s Upset Because The Husband Is Missing Something To Watch The Big Game episode. And as trite as the recycled jokes are, they are a constant reminder of the division between Sports Fan and Sports Bystander. I don’t believe this division can ever be fully bridged, so I put the call out to all of you to stop trying. Your friends and loved ones will either get it or they won’t.
Accept the fact that folks with think that you’re weird for wearing your lucky (and unwashed) shirt every Saturday, or spending twenty minutes in a costume store looking for the proper hue of face paint, or debating your friends endlessly on whether to get beef ribs or babybacks for a tailgate that is months away. You’re just as odd to them as they and their non-caring ways are to you.
On Saturday night, I left a birthday party to sit in my car and listen to the last five minutes of the Boston College/Clemson game. Two of my friends (a diehard Spurs fan and a well-informed Pats/Sox fan) came out there to join me – they knew the struggle. One of them held my hand as Clemson lined up for the game-tying field goal. They cheered along with me when it fell short. My mother called me thirty seconds later to congratulate me. These are folks that get it. Many folks do not.
Trying to talk someone into being a sports fan is like trying to convert someone to your religion. It is ugly, exhausting and likely futile. As right as you believe you are for wanting to pull for your team on your couch with your buddies instead of going to a family reunion two states over (or a neice’s ballet recital or to look at new drapes or whatever), you’re not going to gain a convert. Folks either get it or they don’t.
So, obsessors, be proud of who you are but realize at the same time you are not always going to convince others you’re entirely sane. Oh well, what they heck do the doubters know anyway? Some are just oblivious to the wonders of competition.
Keep the struggle alive, fellow fans. And Go Team!
It’s that time of year, folks – time to bitch about the Bowl Championship Series.
The BCS is a Frankenstein’s-monster of ad hoc rulings, institutional biases, popularity contests that would make cheerleaders wince and statistical oddities. In an era of franchise tags and million-dollar sponsorship deals, college football remains one of the last examples of sport for the sake of sport. Given all the love and attention it attracts, you’d think it’d merit some serious attempt at ranking.
However, in the nine years since its inception, barely a year has gone by without some form of controversy. The BCS megacomputer picked Florida (8th) over Kansas State (3rd) in 1999, Florida State over Miami in 2000 and Nebraska over Colorado (the team that actually won the Big 12) in 2001. Not strictly the fault of the computer, but also deplorable: Oklahoma getting shoehorned into the Rose Bowl in 2002, the OK/LSU/USC voting fiasco in 2003, the Auburn Tigers being shut out in 2004, the shameful pandering to Notre Dame in 2005, and the tangle between Michigan, Ohio State and USC in 2006.
Then again, what do you expect? Six grossly disparate conferences (the Big East vs. the ACC?) playing seasons of varying lengths with a revenue sharing system that guarantees Notre Dame a slice of the pie no matter how bad they are. Seriously! Does this year’s 1-9 Notre Dame deserve the same share of revenue as 9-1 LSU? Or even as 3-7 Mississippi? Who can pretend this is fair?
Given all this, is it possible to fix the BCS? Or scrap it in lieu of a new and exciting method of determining the true champion of college football? Don’t just sit there, Nerds on Sports fans – you tell us!
I titled this post as “Boston edition,” but it’s not like there’s going to be another edition. I live in Boston and root for Boston teams. Then again, there is always the hope that someone else here will be a fan of another team and write a competing entry.
New England Patriots
Hey, the team is still undefeated. And peoples around the blogosahedron are waiting to watch the Patriots again when they are 16-0 (Deadspin, Bleacher Report, Blown Coverage, You Been Blinded, ArmchairGM). Now we can add Nerds on Sports to that list becaus: New England Patriots: 16-0 (18-0 if you count postseason).
So, it looks like the Patriots-Colts
Pumped Soundgate Noisegate The Skipping Crowd Conspiracies Speakergate was just an issue with the broadcast. But, as a Patriots fan, I can’t believe that this is the truth until I get a bit more closure on the situation. I want a team of investigative reporters to sneak into the RCA Dome and set up some noise meters (like you would find at a terrible talent show to measure who the winner is) and record during games. If that doesn’t work, perhaps some sort of non-football competition between Manning and Brady. Maybe something involving being sexy and making shitloads of commercials. My money is on Manning – Brady may out sexy him, but Peyton’s commercial making prowess is impressive. Read More