Saturday, February 24, 2007

Why Don't You Trust Me Enough To Let Me Avoid You?

It's seemed rather pointless to weigh in on the whole Tim Hardaway thing, given that it's been, shall we say, adequately covered in the media. However, if you didn't catch Scoop Jackson's interview with Timmy over on ESPN Page 2, it provides an interesting coda. Tim echoes a sentiment first expressed by LeBron James in reaction to Amaechi's coming out: it's a "trust issue." "With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy," James said. Hardaway uses almost exactly the same language: "But if a guy, like they say, is in the closet and decides to come out of the closet years down the line, you feel that your friendship, him being a teammate, being a part of a team, which in a lot of ways is like being part of a family or fraternity, has been betrayed. You feel like you've been double-crossed. We were in battles together, we were in the trenches together, how could you not tell me?" (italics his).

LBJ's comment was given some scrutiny, Hardaway's somewhat less (apart from Deadspin's calling him a "gleefully unapologetic moron," which I think gets to the heart of the matter). Here's the thing that bugs me about that comment coming from Hardaway, LBJ somewhat less (but only because I don't know how LBJ really feels): they say that hiding that part of your life is a betrayal of trust, that a teammate should be honest with his teammates. By doing so, they're trying to deflect the blame onto the victim. See, if only he'd been open, there'd be no problem. It's his fault for keeping it a secret. That is, pardon my French, a load of crap. What that comment really means is, Holy shit, if I'm gonna be showering with these guys and going full-contact in practices, I want to know if any of them is thinking about my junk. That isn't a "trust issue." It's a homophobia issue. It's LBJ and Hardaway thinking that if they have a gay teammate and don't know it, that means they can't take some measure to "protect themselves" (perhaps thinking of Chris Kaman, below).

Hardaway mentions a friend who felt "violated" after a friend of his came out several years later. Violated? Because, what, this guy was gay near him and he didn't know? Get a clue, morons: your teammate's sexuality is nothing to do with you. I don't know how much plainer it can be than that. It's his decision to tell you or not. It's part of his private life. And the fact that John Amaechi didn't feel comfortable telling any of his teammates--even the ones who guessed--tells you that he didn't want to live with the awkwardness and the homophobia that would inevitably arise from his revelation. It tells you that he didn't trust his teammates to accept that part of his life, that even though they were "in the trenches" together, he didn't feel comfortable sharing his sexuality with them.

That, boys, is your trust issue. So quit blaming the gay teammates who know that coming out will only result in hard times from you and your friends. Understand that you're the ones standing in the way, be a man, and grow the hell up.

* To be fair to Hardaway, although he remains fairly homophobic, he does say that this experience taught him a lot about gay people, like that "they work hard, they do things in the community, they are responsible for building parks, rec centers, providing safe environments for kids, just things I had never associated with them before." Baby steps, Tim. Baby steps.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jesus, I Just Had The Weirdest Dream

Whoa! Sorry, I must've dozed off for a minute there. Hey, you wanna hear something funny? You're gonna laugh. I dreamed the Chargers hired me to be their head coach.

I was talking to my wife last night about how disappointing it was to lose out on the Dallas job, and I said, You know, Nancy, if only San Diego had fired Marty, Wade would've gotten that job and I might've gotten another shot in big D. So I guess that's where the dream came from. Oh, hi, Nancy. You remember that conversation, right? You told me not to worry, I'd get my chance again. Well, did I ever!

So in my dream, okay, Dean Spanos calls me up and says, "Hey, Norv, we fired Marty and we want to interview you for the job." It's funny because we were talking on the phone, but it was like he was right in the next room, you know? So I walk out of my office and suddenly I'm in San Diego, and Dean's telling me how much he respects my coaching record and my ability to get along with anyone, even his prick of a GM, and what he really wants is just someone who won't run his team into the ground next year. Well, it's a dream, so I say, "Sure, I can promise you that." I mean, what the hell, right?

Then next thing I know I'm buying donuts at Winchell's on my way back up north, because they have kick-ass donuts, and Dean calls me on my jelly-filled donut and says, "Norv, you got the job." I know! I was so happy I didn't want to wake up. I told the guy at Winchell's that I was the new coach of the Chargers, only I wasn't in Winchell's any more, I was at that place in San Diego right outside the stadium, what's it, Gold Donuts or something, and the guy behind the counter was LaDainian Tomlinson. He shook my hand and said, "Don't worry, Coach, as long as you can keep the team together we'll be fine."

I really appreciate you all coming out to hear about my dream. Someday I will be up here talking about my new head coaching gig. You all have Norv Turner's word on that, and I deliver on my promises, at least 41.1% of the time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Offseason

Okay, it's officially the NFL offseason, NBA had a mini break for the All Star Game, and baseball hasn't fired things up yet. So that leaves us with... Golf? NASCAR? Hockey? Regular season college hoops?

I had to take this past week off simply because there wasn't much worth posting about. And I wasn't the only one struggling for things to talk about. These slow times can be among the most amusing to listen to sports radio because I get a chance to listen to the hosts--hosts collectively charged with filling up 24 hours of air time with interesting topics--struggle and struggle mightily.

Last week I listened to ESPN Radio's LA affiliate fill the air with the following two topics (before they were graciously saved by the questionable hiring of new Chargers coach Norv Turner):

Andy Ried - Was he doing the right thing by taking just one month off? Or should he have taken an indefinite leave? One guy argued that he should stay out as long as it took to help reform his 20 and 21 year old kids. Never mind the implications of the Eagles having to wait 2, 3, or even 6 months not knowing if or when they'd get a coach back (though I'm guessing Ron Rivera would interview for the job if need be), or the fact that it's awful easy to make arguments like this when it's not your job, your money, or your family involved. Would he tell a minimum wage bartender that he should take an open-ended leave of absence to look over his adult children if they were arrested?

Tim Hardaway - What was there to say that hadn't already been said? Yes, Hardaway looked ridiculous. No, his apology didn't come across very sincere. So ESPN Radio's LA affiliate's take? Should African Americans, who have a long history of being prejudged and discriminated against, be more mindful of pre-judging and discriminating against others? Sounds like an interesting take, except... well, we've all been discriminated against at some point or another for being too tall, too short, too smart, too dumb, too ugly, too pretty, too gay, too straight, too black, too white, too Mexican, too Asian, too liberal, too conservative, too thin, too heavy, too rich, too poor, too this, and/or too that. Yet we all keep discriminating against, prejudging, and hating people for nit-picky and irrational reasons. So why should African Americans need to be 'more mindful' of making open states of hate when non-African Americans get off the hook?


I suppose it wasn't a complete void of a week for real sports. The Daytona 500 was run this past Sunday and Kevin Harvick squeaked out a thrilling and controversial finish as several cars, two semis, and a Boeing 757 were involved in a giant crash behind them.

Good race.
Fun finish.
Wake me up in a couple months when the Nextel cup visits Bristol.

I used to follow NASCAR religiously, though that was back in the day when I had a driver whose fortunes I lived and died with. Mostly died. That's probably not the best choice of words, because he didn't die, he just doesn't do much racing anymore. It's a lot more interesting if you are pulling for one guy over the course of a season. Things changed a couple years ago for me when top teams went from picking drivers who'd earned their way to the top from years of driving lower-end equipment to picking them based on their fresh faced marketability. It's kind of like the trend that the NBA went to a few years ago with the addiction to high school phenoms over known commodities. At about the same time, NASCAR started going away from its roots, taking races away from unique and challenging courses like Darlington, Rockingham, and Martinsville, and giving them to achingly dull, cookie cutter tracks like Texas, Las Vegas, or the worst offender of them all, Fontana. Drivers like the tracks more, and why wouldn't they? They're wide, fast, and boring. Give me Talladega, Daytona, Watkins Glenn, Infinion, and Bristol. You can keep the rest.

Great Minds Think Alike

Or at least, almost alike. In his Monday Morning Quarterback column this week, Peter King's 'Factoid of the Week that May Interest Only Me' had to do with who would face Indianapolis when the NFL regular season kicked off on September 6th. Well Pete (if I can call you that), it doesn't just interest you, but it interests me as well! He listed the same 3 potential opponents I did, along with much of the same rationale behind his picks. His order was slightly different though (Me: Saints, Patriots, Broncos; Him: Saints, Broncos, Patriots).

Speaking of the Broncos...

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting a rumor that the Broncos may possibly send Jake Plummer, Tatum Bell, and their #1 to Houston for the eighth overall pick in the draft so they can draft Adrian Peterson. I am guessing that the source for this rumor is a 12 year old die-hard Broncos fan because it has all the earmarks of a trade that heavily favors the Broncos and doesn't make sense at the same time...

1) The Texans already have a running back who couldn't cut it with Denver. His name is Ron Dayne. Is Tatum Bell a big upgrade?
2) Can you tell me how Jake "Arm Like Cannon, Brain like Goldfish" Plummer is an upgrade over David Carr?
3) The Broncos have prided themselves over the past decade of finding diamonds in the rough at running back, making stars of undrafted free agents and late round draft picks. Why would they change that trend to go after Adrian Peterson? (well, I suppose they'd be okay with that if all they had to do was jettison two guys they were probably going to cut anyway)
4) Think the Texans fans, after passing on both Reggie Bush and Vince Young, are going to accept cast-offs from Denver for the privilege of moving down 13 spots in the draft?

Now Playing

The iPod Randomizer says: Everclear's "Blackjack" from Slow Motion Daydream. I still think Everclear's later stuff (SMD, Songs from An American Movie 1 & 2) are very underrated

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Stick it to 'em!

From the Deadspin recap, it looks like this All-Star game's festivities were a lot of fun (also see the dancing with Shaq segment and video. They failed, however, to provide video of the awesome Dwight Howard dunk they gush over, so we are here to help. It really is pretty amazing, not just the height, but the marketing gimmick. How many things with that sticker/image on it you think will sell this week?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Like Rats Leaving a Sinking Ship

So now Peter Forsberg has left Philadelphia-- a trade necessitated by his unwillingness to sign an extension, so it was get something now or get nothing later. I am fine with it; he is a great player and was amazingly fun to watch, but he wasn't going to sign and it isn't like the Flyers are going to the Cup with him this year anyway... and it does fit the "winter of our discontent" in some ways. Webber, Iverson, Forsberg...

It is hard not to compare it to the Allen Iverson trade, even though the whole situation is pretty different. AI had started here, been the "heart" of a gutless franchise (with one blip there at the start of the century), and was a high profile guy. Forsberg, for all the 'might-have-beens' and bizarro Lindros connection, was a big hockey figure, but came here with a quarter tank of gas and bad feet. He never made the leap to being a high-profile guy, despite the big C on the sweater. Might be because hockey isn't big nationally and on some level you can feel that millions of kids around the world own AI jerseys, and know the 76ers because of it, but Forsberg never felt like a world-class talent.

The other thing is Forsberg was never loved here. Respected, yes. It is probably the Philadelphia Fan requirement that players look like they are trying. It is hard for a smooth looking player to get any love in Philadelphia. I think Dr. J is the only one who ever pulled it off. It might be a defense mechanism, based on having losing franchises. You don't have a champion to root for, so you look for some other quality. It is easy to see if someone looks like they are trying.

"I don't care about the winning, it is the effort!" is actually a pretty admirable stance to take, and, arguably, what we are supposed to learn from sports: Effort pays off.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I've been a huge fan of college basketball since I was young. 10 years ago, John Calipari, Marcus Camby, Lou Roe, and UMass were having an amazing 6 year run on top of the college basketball world, and being a town or two over, I fell in love with the team. I remember being awed when my father, who cashiered at the Stop & Shop nearest the campus, told me he'd rung out Derek Kellogg's purchases one day. I mainly knew giddiness as I watched the highlights of wins roll up on SportsCenter and heartbreak as we never quite made it to the title game. I cried when George Washington broke up our undefeated season in 1996.

However, nowadays I realize that UMass won't likely be featured in national prominence for another decade or so. Thankfully, the NCAA tournament is always completely riveting. It started with me rooting on Old Dominion's 1995 triple-overtime win against Villanova, continued through being enthralled at Valparaiso's 1998 win over Mississippi, Gonzaga's Sweet 16 runs, Vermont's 2005 upset of Syracuse (Sorrentine nailing a 3 "from the parking lot"), and to today, where mid-majors are shaking things up. I love it. More parity, please!

Poking around YouTube, here are my favorites from the 2006 tournament:

Obviously, George Mason reaching the Final Four was massive. If I could get this game as a DVD I'd buy it; I'd love to watch it again. It was thrilling watching George Mason run their methodical half-court offense, take their time and chip away at UConn. Amazing, edge-of-your-seat basketball.

Another amazing finish was the West Virginia-Texas game. Two threes back-to-back? Just killer. What a buzzer-beater.

By far the greatest, though? Northwestern St. over Iowa. I've watched this clip at least 10 times and I still have no idea how the shot went in. There's just.. no reason for the shot, but it did, and it was awesome.

As you can tell.. I'm catching March Madness a little early. Can we just fast-forward a few weeks?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

When I Heard The News, I Bought A Sandwich This Big

Wade Phillips shows how big the job of taking over the Cowboys is

And how must it feel to be Norv Turner now, turned down in favor of a guy who's 0-3 in the playoffs (with, it must be pointed out, a 48-39 record as a coach as opposed to Norv's 58-82-1--but Norv has a playoff win! And one loss, not three)? As an Eagles fan, I have to say that really, Jerry Jones couldn't have made a wrong choice here. Is it wrong to be giddy over the prospects of the next two years? Now we just need to get Denny Green in the Washington job...

Friday, February 9, 2007

Basketball Bloggaries

It's time for the first little bit of college basketball talk we've had here at Three and Out. I'm a huge fan of college ball, and almost all of it is watchable - especially when Duke or North Carolina are losing. I grew up very close to the University of Massachusetts, so I'm a default fan of them; it was real exciting growing up to be following the best team in the land. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long. (Though we're having another good year finally, and leading the weak A-10 for the first time in a long time.) I went to RIT, but they don't have much in the way of sports outside their men's hockey team. As I alluded to, my favorite sports days of the year are the four days of the NCAA tournament leading up to the Sweet Sixteen. It's a true free-for-all, and with so many games going on at the same time, so many amazing stories and Cinderellas. It's riveting.

With that in mind, let's take a quick conference-by-conference look at what's going on in the world of college ball:

ACC: The top two teams in the league are currently unranked and not Duke or UNC. That's news in and of itself. All the teams pretty much beat up on each other, which is good considering most of them have little in the way of redeeming qualities. (Big ACC fan here, no?) Boston College, the top team right now, lost to Vermont earlier in the year. This of course is a sure indicator that our national champion will come from the ACC. That's how these things work, you know.

Big East: It's not easy for a 16-team league to have an off-year, but the Big East is managing it with only 3 ranked teams; of course, they'll get 8 in the tourney somehow. Mike Tranghese must have some dirt on the committee members or something. Connecticut, who was at one point was 11-0 by merit of beating illustrious competition such as Texas Southern, Coppin St., and Sacred Heart, is now sitting in 11th place. They'll probably make the tourney too.

Big Ten: I gotta tread lightly here, because for some reason everyone else here either went to or grew up near Big Ten schools. With that in mind, everyone in this conference sucks except Wisconsin and Ohio State, and the Mountain West Conference should get more bids than the Big Ten. (Am I going too easy on them? Let's move on.)

Big 12: A little shakeup is here too as little-known Texas A&M seems to be the most dominating team in the conference along with Kansas. Kevin Durant-led Texas is struggling somewhat, hindered by the fact that one person can't really carry a team, especially if the person can't play good defense yet. (Do we still want him over Oden, Simmons? Really? Ricky Davis version 4.0?) A resurgant Kansas State is making some noise too, but their play will probably start to falter once Bob Huggins' recruiting violations take hold and players start shooting each other on the court.

Memphis USA: Yeah.

Missouri Valley: Is this really a major conference now? Really? Ok, well, Southern Illinois knocked out Virginia Tech, Missouri State took out Wisconsin, and.. you know what? No. No, too soon. Give it a few years. Look what happened to the A-10.

Pac-10: The strongest conference by far this year is the Pac-10. However, being the Pac-10, they'll have one team reach the Sweet Sixteen and get knocked out by Air Force, so take that as you will. They're all capable of beating each other on any given night, but nobody on the east coast knows or cares considering they play so late. And the Californians are too content to watch the games, and cliche cliche cliche. Keep an eye on Oregon St. and Arizona St., whose only conference wins have been against each other; they should be vastly improved by the draft next year. Oh, there's no draft? Guess they're fucked.

SEC: Vanderbilt, hoops powerhouse? Sure. Why not. Florida's still in control, but they're not getting much in the way of competition. Final Four team and once top ten member LSU has fallen to dead last despite having Baby Shaq. (His Baby Kobe left him for a career showboating in the NBA and trash-talking the Slam Dunk contest.) Tennessee, likewise, has fallen off the face of the earth, while Kentucky rose from the dead to.. well, get beat by Vanderbilt at home.

Miscellaneous: No one's talking about Duquesne, who despite always inept and having 5 players shot in the preseason, is now 10-11 and on a 5 game win streak. How? By implementing a unique strategy with a constant full-court press, a 11-man rotation who all play at least 10 minutes a game and no more than 30, and an offense that always takes the first available shot. They've averaged 98.5 points per game over their last six games. I imagine their games would be highly entertaining.

Everyone talked about Iona being the last winless D-I team, but now there's another team even more inept; North Florida, whose two wins are both against inferior D-II competition. Congrats on your Savannah State Award for Incredible Ineptitude for 2007!

And now, I leave you with the best college dunk of the year.

And the First NFL Game of 2007 Will Feature...

In a tradition that dates all the way back to 2004, the NFL kicks off the regular season on a Thursday night with a home game for the defending Super Bowl Champions. If that long-standing tradition continues, the NFL will kick off the 2007 regular season in the RCA Dome with the Colts playing an as-yet-undetermined opponent. When I first looked at Indy's home-field opponents for 2007, it looked obvious who the opponent would be: New England. It'd be just like 2004, when the Colts and Patriots did a replay of the previous season's exciting AFC Championship game.

But I'm about to pull a John Kerry and flip-flop on my guess.

I now believe it will be the Saints visiting the Colts for the What-If Bowl to open the season. The storyline is built in: What if the Saints had knocked off the Bears in the NFC Championship game? Reggie Bush! Drew Brees! Who knows if New Orleans will be a contender again in 2007-2008, so the NFL will schedule this game early while the buzz is still hot.

The Patriots are the second most likely team to play the season opener, but I have a feeling the NFL knows that the Colts/Patriots game will be a ratings grabber whether it's the first game of the year or it's going up against American Idol or is being played at 3 o'clock on a Tuesday morning. Why waste Indy/New England on a game that will already have a built in audience?

If it's not the Saints or Patriots, look for the Broncos to be visiting the RCA Dome on that Thursday night. Maybe the two equine squads don't have the same draw as Indy/New England does, but they've had several pretty exciting match ups in the past several years.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What to censor?

Just skimming LZ Granderson's article on the whole John Amaechi coming-out party, and noticed, curiously, that ESPN's auto-censor applied to the comments (which replaces naughty words with "####") appears to be triggered by the word "gay." I assume that's because the majority of commenters would use it in the colloquially perjorative sense ("that's so gay"), but in an article on a gay athlete coming out? Leading to comments like: "Maybe its time for a #### NBA player to come out as a rolemodel for other young ####/lesbian atheletes." Of course, the commenters noticed. The fact that ESPN is promoting this story would be pretty cool if their internal values reflected that same consideration consistently.

Monday, February 5, 2007

24 Hours Later

I'm back in LA now, having hitched a ride with Lance this morning. I've only had about 10 hours of sleep in the past 3 days, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to form many coherent thoughts. But I'll give it a shot...

The Game
I have to agree with the Doc: In a way, the game was anticlimactic. Even when the clock was ticking down to zero, something seemed missing. I guess I expecte it to be some magical moment, when all of life's problems would be solved. Wars would end, disputes would be resolved, famines would end, and economic disparity would be erased. Doc's on to something with the Patriots game. The win over the Pats was HUGE. Want to know what it felt like for Indy fans? Watch this. Beating the Pats was throwing the ring in the volcano, while the Super Bowl was kind of like the rest of 'Return of the King': A long, long wait that just couldn't quite top the climactic moment from two weeks earlier. But don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I think there's something else going on though. I was sick of seeing my team lose games they were supposed to win. They were supposed to beat the Patriots in 2004 but got clobbered 20-3. They were supposed to beat the Steelers last year but choked. They were supposed to beat the Titans in 2000 and couldn't win then either. I watched the Super Bowl yesterday fearing yet another loss in a game that my team was supposed to win. As a result, I think I ended up fearing a loss than I did savoring a win. It's a subtle difference, but it may explain why after the game I felt more relief than elation.

I'm not as upset about the selection of Manning as others. My own pick was Dom Rhodes, but as the MSNBC's Sunny Wu pointed out, Rhodes and Addai sort of cancelled each other out in MVP balloting. Addai had more all purpose yards and weakened the Bears front, but Rhodes had the TD and the big second half run to put the Colts deep in Bears territory. As it was Manning kind of won by default, as picking the QB of the winning team seems to be the default strategy for picking an MVP when no one player stands out.

It's just too bad that there has to be one single MVP and whatever committee decides the award can't say 'The Co-Winners were Addai, Rhodes, Manning, Sanders, the Offensive Line, and the Defensive front 7', because you could make a compelling case for any of them. I was glad to see Rhodes get included in the Disney World commercial with Tony Dungy though. When Edgerrin James went down with a knee injury a couple years back, it was Rhodes who stepped in and picked up 1,000 yards as an undrafted rookie.

Black Sunday
One of the big stories this week was that both Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy were African Americans. Some would argue that the story was overplayed. Most of those 'some' were white guys. There was even a spattering of groans at the party when Dungy commented in the post game about the significance of being the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl.

But an interesting thing happened. After the game, an African-American friend of mine called me to congratulate me on the Colts. During the conversation, he mentioned how proud he was of Dungy being the first African coach to win the Super Bowl. To him it mattered. To him it meant something that an African American coach won the Super Bowl. So, while it's easy for white guys to think that the whole black-coach-wins-Super-Bowl story was inflated by the media, it's really not a white guy's place to decide the importance of the issue.

* (Asterisk)
Conventional wisdom heading into the playoffs was that the Colts would go only as far as Peyton Manning could carry them. With their Historically Bad Defense (TM), Larry Johnson, Jamal Lewis, and Ladanian Tomlinson were expected to total about 500 yards each. That is, assuming Manning could put up 70 points per game to keep up with the monster running backs.

History has proven conventional wisdom to be wrong. One would say it was Historically Bad Conventional Wisdom (TM). The defense stuffed Larry Johnson, neutered Steve McNair, gave up only a few bad plays against New England (the Special Teams did not help out the Defense much in that game, giving up huge punt and kick returns), and forced turnovers against Chicago. We at Three-And-Out do not have a statistics bureau, but I'd have to guess that Indy's defense was one of the higher ranking PLAYOFF defenses in the last 20 years.

So, how will History ultimately remember them? As the Swiss cheese unit from the regular season, or the hard-hitting, drive-stopping unit in the playoffs? I'm guessing there will be an asterisk in the record books. Yes, they were the statistically worst defensive unit to win the Super Bowl, but some time just after New Years Day, the entire squad went into a giant telephone booth and turned into Supermen.

I didn't take notes on the commercials. Like most I found the crop this year to be sub-par at best. My three faves:

1) The Bud Hitchhiker ad: Probably one of those ads that's only good for a laugh the first time, but well done. The guy with the axe in the back seat exclaiming 'But he's got a CHAIN SAW!' was comedy gold.

2) K-Fed: I'll always give props to a person who can poke fun at himself.

3) Taco Bell's Lions: I actually liked the pre-Super Bowl ad better, where the lions make their move on the safari camp's dinner and ask 'Got any sour cream?', but the rolling rrrrr's was good too.

And 3 goats?

3) - It came across like spam email in Super Bowl Ad form. Get rich! Get great cars! And hot girls! But it was wasn't just the concept, but the execution. I couldn't keep track of who was who.

2) Topless men fawning over a Chevy. Just.... Eh. At first it looked like a play on the ad, showing topless men gyrating all over a Chevy and some punchline about how they were blatantly going for the female viewers. But the guys were, well, unattractive and wince-worthy. I'm still not quite sure what the point of the commercial was.

1) Snickers - Planes, Trains, & Automobiles has proven that the accidental male touching thing can be funny. But in PT&A it's funny because it seemed NATURAL. Two guys forced to share a bed who wind up cuddling in their sleep. The Snickers ad seemed equally UN-NATURAL. I mean, in what world does Man A see a candy bar sticking out of Man B's mouth and he's so hungry that he just starts devouring it? And then Man B lets him?! He doesn't slug him in the gut and say 'get your own!' If they were so worried about being 'unmanly', why were they playing Lady and the Tramp with the Snickers bar to begin with??

Condi Rice, when asked who she wanted to win the Super Bowl:
"Indianapolis. I'm fine either way. I like Chicago. I like Lovie Smith. I like Indianapolis. I like Tony Dungy. But, for me, I'd like Peyton Manning to get this done. Great quarterbacks ought to have the Super Bowl."

Condi & Peyton, sittin' in a tree...

After the game someone hooked up one of the new Nintendo Wii gaming systems. I hadn't seen one yet, but I have to say I was impressed. Not because of the games themselves though, which resembled a cross between an acid trip and a Mexican variety show. No, I was impressed because the system actually encourages physical activity. Jumping, arm waving, spinning, dancing, etc. Okay, maybe it's not going outside and playing soccer or jumping rope, but I think it's a big deal for a country that has seen its population get fatter and more lethargic.

And on that note, I'm going to call it a day

Now Playing on the iPod: Nothing. It's in the re-charger. I've been filling my ears instead with nonstop sports radio and absorbing the Colts-love.

Manic Monday Afterthoughts

Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly satisfied and happy with the fact that a team I'm a fan of FINALLY wins the big one. I've had my share of upsets and failed chances since I started watching sports, so I certainly know what losing feels like. I just hadn't felt what it was like to truly win the big one until last night.

But you know what? I can safely say that I wasn't as stoked after the super bowl win than I was when Jackson picked off that Tom Brady pass and slid down to win the AFC championship. The game became an instant classic in a matter of seconds after the final buzzer sounded, and for good reason. I can't remember a game where I had so many heart attacks and became a walking commercial for Prilosec. While I admit to being mildly nervous in the first half of the super bowl, the Colts just took care of business so efficiently in the second half that there was never any real danger of losing the game.

I'm not complaining one bit. I'm just honestly a bit surprised at myself at how I can feel just... well, good, instead of ecstatic, about the super bowl win for the beloved blue and white. I guess I have New England to thank for ruining my total enjoyment of an all-out win even WHEN we beat them (now THAT'S a true rival). A lot of media reporters have grumbled about this being a boring super bowl, but as I was just saying, if only we could pit the two best teams against each other, instead of AFC vs. NFC, then we'd really end up with good games. Think about it! Just rank all the teams that make the playoffs, make a tree, and go, just like the good ol' NCAA tourney (for basketball, of course). We probably would've ended up with the AFC championship for the super bowl, and that would've been truly super.

Lingering thoughts about Miami:

1. No, I'm sorry Peyton, you are NOT the MVP. It's a tough one for me to answer even after that emphatic statement, as I really want three people to share the award- Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes, and Bob Sanders. If you'll remember, my pre-game prediction was that Joseph Addai would be an excellent rusher and check-down receiver for the Colts and would be MVP. He was the former, but not the latter, unfortunately. Dominic put on some red spandex and yellow lightning bolts near his ears and was absolutely fantastic as well. And Bob Sanders? Well, Indy would have a tough time being here, I think, if it weren't for him. He was huge, even though his stats may not have shown it- near a half dozen tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception, but I swear I saw number 21 near the ball almost every single play. Unlike Lay's potato chips, you CAN have just one when it comes to MVPs, so if I have to choose one, I have to give it to the defense- Bob Sanders. By the way, did anyone else notice that the only other player standing up on the podium with the Lombardi trophy besides Manning was Sanders? Obviously SOMEONE figured out, hey, this guy's kinda good. Or maybe he just snuck up there. He's only 5'8", after all.

2. We heard all week long how this game was going to be about Chicago D versus Indy O. Indy O was great and Chicago D wasn't. In fact, I think Archie, carrying favor with the New Orleans crowd, freelanced a witch doctor to poke needles into Chicago's front 4. Those guys were hemorrhaging holes Dan Klecko could've darted through. In fact, I'm surprised they didn't give the big guy an honorary carry since they seem to play "pin the tail on the offensive position" with him.

3. Chicago lost big on stats. REAL big. I think you've got to hand it to their special teams- if it weren't for them, the score would've actually shown the stat discrepancy.

4. No, I did not think 5 fumbles was exciting. In fact, it sucked, even though Indy got some of them back. That's just sloppy football, and sloppy and wild isn't as fun to watch as well-excecuted and skillful.

5. MVP for commercials? Easily Garmin's ad, mimicking a horrible Japanese Power-Rangersesque fight scene. Absolutely brilliant. Close second goes to Bud Light for the hitchhiker ad.

All in all it was an enjoyable evening, and for once, things went my way, as well as for Jim, who's been pining over the Colts for a ring even longer than I have. Congratulations to the entire organization, not just to Peyton or to Dungy, but to the entire team. It was an all-around team effort that won pretty much all of their playoff games, and I think the real story was definitely the entire defensive unit, who was incredible all post-season long.

Thanks to the Colts for an fitting end to another NFL season. I'm already looking forward to seeing how many Bengals players can get arrested next year!


Congrats to the Colts for their first Super Bowl in twenty-seven years, and to the city of Indianapolis for their first major championship. Indy is the kind of city to whom you'd joke, "I like you no matter what Chicago says about you," because it'd be worried about that sort of thing. But I really do like it. Nice city, nice people, and really into their sports. I was there during one of the Pacers' playoff runs in the 90s, and at a supermarket, as I was checking out, the clerk said, "So how about that game last night?" It was assumed I'd watched it (I had), and we shared a happy moment remembering the Pacers' win.

In the aftermath of the Super Bowl, a few things keep coming up in the media that don't quite fit with our experience of the game (watching with an overwhelmingly pro-Colts crowd and two longtime Colts fans):

* Peyton Manning deserved the MVP. So says John Clayton, with Schlereth, Jaworski, and Theismann concurring in the sidebar. A popular joke, echoed in our home, was that Rex Grossman deserved the MVP--for the Colts, of course. And Peter King, of course, can't wait to jump on the bandwagon. Maybe they saw a different game than we did, or than Dan Shanoff (who picked our consensus, Dominic Rhodes, though I personally wanted Bob Sanders to get it). This is my favorite bit, from an AP article about why Manning deserved the MVP: "He led them on a drive to a field goal, then put them ahead when Dominic Rhodes scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. He expanded the lead by setting up Adam Vinatieri for two second-half field goals, and the defense took care of the rest with Kelvin Hayden's interception return for a touchdown." In other words--he didn't make any mistakes in getting the rest of his teammates in position to score. I guess the defense didn't get as much credit because the Bears' offense was supposed to be sub-par, right? Well, except for the running game, which was supposed to shred the weak Colts defense. How many first downs did the Bears record in the first half? Three? From the perspective that there wasn't really a single outstanding performance by a Colts player, I suppose you give the award to Manning by default, as the quarterback is always the most valuable player to his team, but we thought there were other worthy candidates this time around.

* Prince's halftime show was awesome. I guess. If you like that sort of thing. The best moment for me was laughing at the silhouette, first because it was clearly an attempt to make himself look taller ("I'm the biggest man in the world!") and then because of the startlingly blatant positioning of his oddly-shaped guitar.

* The game was boring. Granted, we were watching with Colts fans, but the rain made for terrific drama, and I don't find turnovers boring. If you thought this game was boring, as some did, even folks we like, then I don't know what you're looking for in a football game. Maybe some dramatic catches would have been nice, but come on. Compared to last year's, or 2004's snoozer between the Pats and Panthers, this was a great game to watch. It might not have matched up to the AFC Championship, but honestly, what could?

Special shout out to one of my favorite columnists, King Kaufman of Salon, who not only agrees that Rhodes should have been the MVP, and thinks the game was pretty entertaining, but doesn't mention Prince at all.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

More Big Game Prognostications

So, once again, it's time for the Super Bowl, the third most exciting sports day of the year, narrowly beat by the first Thursday of the NCAA basketball tournament.. and the first Friday of the NCAA tournament. Your trusty correspondant Arrowed is on top of things, though, with your spot-on Super Bowl preview:

They beat them earlier this year, so there's familiarity between our two teams, but the Patriots need to stick to their game plan against the Bears. Tom Brady needs to watch out for the Bears' Cover 2 and make sure he avoids interceptions, and..

Oh, you say the Patriots didn't win last week? Oh. Funny, I kind of blacked out after halftime for some reason. I'm not too torn up about it - though I would have been had the Patriots not won a whole bunch of Super Bowls recently. Honestly I think teams should be limited to two Super Bowls in a 5-10 year span - by the time Super Bowl $Roman_Numeral came around in 2004, I was openly not watching the Pats beating the Eagles because it didn't mean too much to me. The first one, in 2001? Yeah. I was sick with mono at the time, but that game filled me with so much nervousness and energy that by the time it was over I wanted to run a marathon.

As for the real Super Bowl, I'm somewhat disappointed in my fellow New England fans, who appear to have a solid majority rooting for the Bears today. For shame. New England seems to think that Indianapolis are our "rivals," which isn't quite true. As a Red Sox fan, I'd tend to think of "rivals" as "teams that beat us a lot," such as the Yankees, Broncos, and Canadiens. I suppose Pats fans figure that if Peyton continues to not have a ring, then we can feel secure that Tom Brady is the better quarterback. It's a valid point, but shortsighted. For football as a whole, it would be a disaster if the Bears, with their anemic offense, poor QB, and amazing defense won. It'd be like the neutral zone trap years in hockey all over again, where 1-0 and 2-1 games were the norm and bored everyone into watching something more exciting like Professional Paint Drying. (Look out - hockey reference! It's a sport played on ice kinda like curling mixed with basketball, or something like that.)

Honestly, I think the Colts can handle the Bears. This game is drawing comparisons (mainly from me and me alone) to the Ravens-Giants game of a few years back, and I'm pretty sure Peyton is a smidge better than Kerry Collins. I'm predicting a repeat of the 2003 Super Bowl - a low-scoring game to halftime, 9-3 or something like that, before a flurry of scores puts the final to 30-20 Colts, but the game won't be as close as the score indicates, much like the Colts-Ravens playoff game last month.

So, as the Freelancer noted, we're about to go have a big manly Super Bowl party which I'm sure will be filled with beer, grunting, self-scratching, nachos, yelling, and big-screen pregame shows. Or perhaps wine, fondue, tasty hummus hors d'oeuvres, and Puppy Bowl III. Ok, fine, but in my defense, Puppy Bowl is oddly riveting. Awww. Lookit those puppies..

Ok, nevermind, it is really sad.

The Morning of the Big Game

The NFL must get first pick of the top law schools in the country, because I don't think anyone else, even top flight defense attorneys, could put the fear of God in someone more than the NFL does when it threatens a lawsuit for unauthorized use of the term 'S*p*r B*wl'. Actually, they seem to have put the fear of God in God himself, warning churches around the country against holding S*p*r B*wl Parties. The Churches, who even had the Bush Burnin', Sea Partin', City Smitin' Big Guy on their side, folded like.. like.. well, like I should have folded last night in poker, but I won't get into that.

Today is the morning of the Big Game. I'm up in San Jose (again) planning to watch the game with friends (again). Although this time I took a plane so it'll be a lot harder for me to go home in the middle of the second quarter with the Colts trailing 21-3.

We're actually having an unofficial Three-And-Out Super Bowl party today. Doc, Arrowed, Tim and I will all be here, devouring deep dish pizzas, breaded pork tenderloins, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, and Cincinnati Chili. Oh yeah, and some beer too. And Coke. And probably some nachos. And maybe some water.

We practiced our Big Game watching last night on an XBox 360, pitting the Colts against the Bears in Miami. Sort of. It wasn't an exact science because several players who were injured (Mike Brown, Cory Simon) or not actually on the rosters played. Actually, the game turned when non-actual-Colt Gerome Sapp intercepted Rex Grossman at the Bears 30, then started high-stepping and Leon-Letting at the 20, giving Thomas Jones enough time to catch him, strip him, and recover the fumble. The game was about as you'd expect a virtual game to be with the regular season Colts & Bears, with Bad Rex throwing 4 interceptions, but Bad Colts Defense giving up over 230 yards rushing to Thomas Jones alone. Final score: Bears win 47-41 in OT.

As for the real game? I'm not nearly bold or confident enough to predict a Colts blowout, but I think if the Colts 'play their game' (how's that for being vague and generic?), they should be able to win comfortably. Three predictions:

1) The Bears are hoping to go deep on one of their first three plays from scrimmage. They are expecting the Colts to put 8 in the box and will try to exploit Indy's left side cornerback, who will either be Nick Harper coming off of a high ankle sprain, or a not-as-good-replacement for Nick Harper in Marlin Jackson.

Personally, I think Harper will play. He suited up for the Pittsburgh Steelers game last year just days after being STABBED IN THE LEG. He won't miss the Super Bowl for a silly sprain. But if I'm Ron Meeks? I'm keeping the safeties in coverage the whole game and trust that the front 7 have finally gotten their stuff together when it comes to 'tackling'.

2) I felt re-assured to see Peyton Manning loose and casual when discussing his tango-dancing at the podium. I don't care what Dan Patrick says about Peyton not winning the big one YET, and I don't care what Manning says about not getting into monkeys on his back. When I saw that clip, I saw a Manning who no longer felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

3) The X-factor will be how well Joseph Addai takes care of the ball. The Bears need to create turnovers, but it's hard to strip the QB if they can't get to him and both Colts wide-outs are more than content to go to the turf before getting hit/stripped. And I get the sense that Manning has gotten his interceptions out of the way early in the post season. That leaves the rookie Addai to protect the ball on what will likely be a wet field. If he gets an Edgerrin James-like case of Fumble-itis, the Bears have a good chance.

But even then the Bears need a lot of breaks.

Colts 24, Bears 13

Friday, February 2, 2007

Trends we'd like to see

The Giants (San Francisco version) have always been a little bit maverick in MLB--moving to the west coast, paying for a new stadium out of their own pocket, overpaying starting pitching (okay, maybe not so maverick on that one). Now here's another trend they're starting, and I hope it catches on: explaining their apparently boneheaded moves to their fans.

Okay, some of his explanations are a little head-scratching ("signing Barry to a one-year contract helped us pursue a long-term strategy toward getting the club back on track"), but his heart is in the right place.

More letters we'd like to see:

From Glen Taylor: "While I understand the miserable record Kevin McHale has compiled as GM of the Wolves, Kevin Garnett still likes him. So he stays."

From Scott Pioli: "When Bill [Belichick] told me to go ahead and let Vinatieri go, I swear to God I thought he was serious. I mean, come on. You try telling when he's being sarcastic. Christ."

From Gary Bettman: "...turning down ESPN to sign with the Versus network helps us pursue a long-term strategy toward getting the NHL back on track to overtake Arena League Football in popularity by the year 2013..."

Add your own letters below!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Good lord!

Courtesy of Deadspin comes this story about a 7' 9" Chinese player joining an ABA team. I mean, holy crap! The ABA is still around??