Monthly Archives: December 2010

So Long 2010

The Blackhawks cup win was one of the many great moments in 2010.

So this is it for 2010. We watched the Blackhawks return Chicago to a hockey town, and the Bruins feeling the Yankees pain.

We saw the Giants of Baseball break long title spell since their days in New York, and the Giants of football have another meltdown against the Eagles.

We saw Peyton Manning and his legacy take a hit while Tom Brady rose up again.

We had the revival of Vick and the fall of Favre. The #2 at Auburn became everything the #2 at Columbus should have (though both have had their share of bumps in the road).

There were perfect games and imperfect calls (thank you Jim Joyce). There was Butler almost shocking the world, and Boise having there world shocked.

Then there was LeBron… pause.

Indeed 2010 was a year in sports that we haven’t seen in forever. The glamour in what makes sports great shone bright while the wolf in sheeps clothing  were revealed. The Favre’s and LeBron’s came out as snakes in the grass when all along they were made out to be deities and superheroes. The real heroes were the New Orleans Saints we revived a city and captured the heart of a nation, Sidney Crosby who lifted a country all the way back to the top of their, the Dustin Byfuglien’s and Duncan Keith’s who sacrificed their bodies and teeth to breathe life back into a once hockey crazed city. The angels spread their wings this year while the devils brought themselves down.

There were also some pretty interesting jesters and magicians that showed us how much fun sports can be and how silly we take the game. There is Derrick Rose cutting up point guards every which way, Steven Stamkos scoring at will welcoming all challengers, John Wall showing off his muscles on the dance floor and at the rim and Felix Hernandez crippling bats while his own team’s bats crippled him.

There was Ron Artest partying all night in his uniform after winning a title, Luis Suarez pulling a Diego Maradona, and John Isner and Nicholas Mahut unable to decide a match in the span of three days (no really it took three days to decide).

We had the torch passing from Roger Federer to Rafael Nadal as tennis’s best player, the rise of Kobe Bryant in the all-time rankings and Tiger Woods falling from the number one ranking.

Madison Bumgartner and Kyle Brotzman became household names for different reasons; Bumgartner the 21 year-old left handed rookie pitched the game of his life in leading the Giants to their first world title in 56 years and becoming the game’s next great lefty. Brotzman cost the Broncos a game, a possible title and lots of money when he missed two chip-shot field goals that cost the Broncos a season that what was hyped since the end of the Fiesta Bowl in January and cost Kellen Moore the Heisman trophy (no seriously. When Moore heaved that ball downfield and Titus Young somehow got ahead of the coverage and leaped to haul in a 50 yard grab I yelled out at the bar HEISMAN! That was Moore’s moment. He had it all in front of him and it got yanked from his grasp like The Dude’s rug that tied the room together. Moore may never admit it but you know he contemplated going into Brotzman’s room and stabbing him MacBeth style. And I’m serious).

World meet Madison Bumgarner.

A nation fell in love with soccer (again) as Landon Donovan saved team USA time and time again, and I fell in love with Blake Griffin. Scratch that, Youtube, ESPN, you, me and highlight fanatics LOVE Blake Griffin. There is an app on my phone where I get ESPN scores and highlights and there is always a dunk of the night caption and I swear nine times out of ten that I’ve seen its been Blake. Its so silly now that the other day the caption read “Dunk of the night: Guess Who?”, yep Blake. This guy has no comparison for ridiculousness of athleticism and awe-factor. The Knicks game was the best (yeah I know what you’re thinking), he had 44 points, 15 rebounds, 7 blocks and 4 dunks where his genitals were planted squarely on some member of the Knicks forehead. The worst was Tim Mozgov who took the full on T-bag where even I had to laugh. The guy is a freak, please god if you’re out there make him last 15 years at least in the league please I’m begging you.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for this crazy year. Coming up with a top ten list is silly for this thing because there are is 12 months of craziness that I have to condense into ten moments that really stood out. There’s no way I can put this in any type of order except for number one which should be number one for all reasons necessary so without further ado here are my top ten moments of the year.

The John Isner- Nicolas Mahut tennis match

In particular the fifth set or should I say fifth set epic. Eight hours and thirty minutes, 138 games,  over 100 aces  and just absolute insanity. The match was already in its second day due to darkness concerns the night before and thanks to the third set barnburner it carried over into the fourth day of the tournament.

Besides the gaudy numbers and mind-numbing play on the court, the look of the players was just mesmerizing. Mahut and Isner played each point like it was their last. They ran down each ball until their legs were spaghetti and picked themselves up again and again. It was torture but neither player didn’t want to be the one to lose the longest match in Wimbledon history.

Unfortunately one person did have to lose and it was Mahut. When Mahut sent his return volley long Isner hit the floor like he just won a championship and held his head in disbelief. A roar from the crowd and a handshake between the titans brought a fitting end to an amazing match. Isner over Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

Even though he lost the no-no, The way Armando Galarraga handled the situation should not go un-noticed.

The year of the pitcher

7 no-hitters (and yes I still am and forever will count Armando Galarraga’s 1 –hitter as a no hitter because that’s what it was wrong call or not), and all of them were done in ways that range from impressive to stunning to dull.

Ubaldo Jimenez walked 6 batters versus the Braves while throwing 128 pitches and only 72 strikes in his 4-0 no-no in April. It’s cool but he walked 6 guys so that dulls it down. However it doesn’t take away from the start that he had.

Roy Halladay pitched perfect game in the regular season and a no-no in the postseason. Both Masterful, both breath-taking adding to his case for the best pitcher in the game.

Dallas Braden became the newest guy you never heard of to throw a no-no joining A.J. Burnett when he was in Florida. Was it a great performance ? Yes. Is he still a bum for calling out A-Rod? absolutely.

Edwin Jackson, eight walks, 149 pitches… that’s all I’ll say.

Matt Garza finally showed us what he’s capable of his in his gem. Maybe now he can step up his game and fulfill the potential we all think he has.

Then there was the no-no that wasn’t, Galarraga’s. In less than two hours Galarraga pitched the performance of the year unmatched of any of the other pitchers. For 86 pitches in an hour and 50 minutes Armando Galarraga looked like Greg Maddux. He worked efficiently and fast. Yet it was the call by Jim Joyce that we’ll always remember when he called the runner safe at first base when he was in fact out. But Galarraga’s demeanor and class ruled over the missed call. Instead of screaming in horror he simply smiled, went back to the mound and finished off his one-hitter. Bud Selig doesn’t have to correct the mistake, I will, it was a perfect game and will be forever in my eyes.

The Blackhawks Triumph

Big Buff, Tazer, Kaner, toothless Keith and the whole gang brought hockey back to the Chi. I’ve written on this enough this year so I’ll keep it short. This is what the NHL needs, the original six teams back at the top of the standings and playing well. Hopefully the Blackhawks triumph can lead to similar stories in New York and Boston.

Rafa’s Reign Begins

It’s his world now. I love Roger Federer and everything that he has done for the game of tennis, but this is Rafa’s time now.

After returning to glory at the French Open he showed how far his game has come and that his knees should be ready for the long haul in the next 4 or 5 years that he’ll be at the top of his game.

His wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open brought his game together and officially shed his moniker of being just a clay court player. He dominated the Open and left no doubt that there is no one close to him in the game. It guarantees that unlike at the beginning of the 2000’s where men’s tennis had no dominant figure it will still have a gold standard now that Federer is in decline. Well done Rafa, well done.

The Blake Show

WOW!!! Not LeBron, not Kobe, not Kevin Durant, not none of em (yeah incorrect English) have the awe factor that Blake Griffin has. Kobe has aged, LeBron is now evil and Durant while ready to replace Kobe in the That Dude category nobody can draw a crowd like Griffin.

It’s similar to the effect Vince Carter had on the league after the dunk contest except we haven’s seen Blake in that type of stage yet, and we don’t need to.

Sportscenter is his stage. The Knicks are his props, and other players are blocks in his way of another highlight. I’m looking at Youtube right now for another silly Griffin dunk,

(God please get him out of L.A. May I suggest Phoenix, Dallas or New Jersey)

Thomas Morstead executed the gutsiest call in Super Bowl history.

The Gutsiest Call Ever

With the Super Bowl hanging in the balance early in the second half Saints Head Coach Sean Payton did the dumbest silliest most brilliant thing ever… he went for an onside kick… and it worked.

He grabbed the momentum and never let it go as the Saints took control of the game en route to a 31-17 win and completing a comeback of epic proportions in New Orleans. It was a call you’ll always remember and gave you more respect for a head coach than you would ever think off of one play.

The Revival of Josh Hamilton

The turnaround was completed. Josh Hamilton is now officially vindicated from all of the wrongs that almost ended his career in the early 2000’s. His MVP and World Series run brought him full circle from the drug addiction and alcoholism that plagued him in his Tampa Years.

Hamilton is now a role model, hero and one of the best outfielders in the game like it always should’ve been.

The Death of THe Boss

The Greatest owner in the history of the sport. He cared about winning and only winning. He did things his way and never cared about what anyone thought.

His passing left baseball without one of its greatest figures and the Yankees with a little less PR to deal with.

His Monument in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium is fitting of who George was. It was bigger than other plaque and towered over them all. Kind of how George hovered over Yankee Stadium with that watchful eye and towered over other competition. Thanks George, I’ll miss you.

U.S. vs. Canada- Game Of The Year

The most important hockey game since the Miracle On Ice 30 years earlier. Two of the biggest hockey nations battle to bring their nation to the front of the fold again.

It was a physical game that showed the best each country had to offer. ROberto Luongo and Ryan Miller shined in net, Patrick Kane was a monster with the puck skating in open ice, Jonathan Toews showed the poise that has made him the league’s most respected captain at 22, Jack Johnson became my new favorite American player with his physical play, and Zach Parise saved a nation with his late tally to send the game into overtime.

Then the king responded. Sidney Crosby did what he’s done ever since he entered the league in after the NHL strike, he game up big and took the sport to new heights. His goal on a redirect from Jarome Iginla placed him on a plateau that not even he thought was possible, national hero. He saved Canada, won the gold and never has to pay for a drink again. It was a fitting end to what was the best game of the year, even if the result made me want to drown myself in the Olentangy River.

What if...

#1 Duke vs. Butler

Imagine if Gordon Haywood takes a little off of that shot.

Imagine if it went in. Imagine the chaos, the pandemonium.

Imagine the story of the new Hoosiers with Brad Stevens playing Gene Hackman and Butler as the little guy that pulled off the greatest upset in the history of the game.

Imagine if Butler Beat Duke. Imagine the shockwave of finally seeing that the little guys are just as good as the big guys.

Imagine if that shot were two inches lower, because if it was all of this would have happened. Butler would have ushered in a new era in the NCAA, recruiting might be a little different but more so teams like Northern Iowa, VCU, Dayton and others could be logical national title contenders. They could get fair seedings, their conferences could get more teams in the tournament while bubble teams like the Clemson’s and Notre Dame’s of the world go to the NIT.

Instead the shot missed. The NCAA breathed a sigh of relief and everything was status quo like it should be in there eyes. But man, what if  that happened?

That was 2010 one the most imaginative, honest and fun sports years that we’ve had in a longtime. So many memories that will stick in the eyes and hearts of fans, writers and spectators everywhere. Here’s to hoping that 2011 can come close to matching what we witnessed this past year.


An Afterthought On The Mark May Interview After The NCAA’s Decision On Ohio State’s Suspensions

Here is a quick afterthought on the comments made by ESPN’s Mark May about the Ohio State suspensions.

Mark May gets it wrong... again.

 

May appeared on ESPN on Christmas Eve to blast the NCAA for their handling of the situation and called the Big Ten and the Pac-10 the NCAA’s “sacred cows” because in his eyes they are always protected by the NCAA while the SEC is constantly harassed.

 

There are two ways that I can address this; 1. I can be very professional and offer a different take than May, or 2. I can be a complete jerk and curse May out. How about a combination of the two.

 

For May to say that the NCAA protects the Big Ten and the Pac-10 is the dumbest thing I’ve heard from his mouth (and there is a lot to choose from). Apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the USC sanctions which are hurting the football and basketball programs and have left them as crippled for more than what their two-year probation would indicate.

 

Yeah Ohio State got away clean virtually, but how about Auburn and Cam Newton? How can he be ruled ineligible for one day then eligible the next because there wasn’t any conclusive evidence to tie him to the pay for play scandal? What about the constant issues in recruiting violations and legal issues at Tennessee, and the constant spotting on police repots at Georgia under Mark Richt and Florida with Urban Mayer?

 

Why didn’t the NCAA make it mandatory for Jeremiah Masoli to sit out a year because A. he transferred from Oregon, and B. why didn’t they address his two arrests in six months that got him kicked out to begin with?

 

In reality the SEC gets away with many more violations than the Big Ten or Pac-10 do on a good day. May is just another example of the favoritism to one side that he is supposedly raging against. To blatantly ignore the reality of the NCAA’s ignorance in favor of pushing his own agenda is both infantile and ignorant of Mark May.

 

Viewers of ESPN know that May is a blowhard and says things with the intent of stirring the pot or coming off as a big shot, which he is not. May has garnered a reputation of being narrow-minded as well as a hater, which he shows off very well in his diatribe last Friday.

 

My advice for May is to get off of your high horse and look at the facts for what they are instead of choosing to ignore the truth to tell your version of it. Ignorance is bliss and Mark May seems to love basking in his.


The Corruption That Is The NCAA

The handling of the OSU violations is both embarassing, and quite normal in the realm of reality in the NCAA

So here is Ohio State AD Gene Smith at the podium, taking question about the suspensions of six of his football players a day after the story breaks. Smith looks cool calm and collected answering questions from the press when he utters the statement of a lifetime; “We were not explicit with these young men that you could not resell items that we give you. We began to be more explicit in November 2009.”

 

One of my good friends, DJ, used to play baseball at OSU as a backup catcher. He has some great stories of things he went through from his playing days. Some G rated, some R rated, they never cease to draw interest from me at anytime.

 

Last week after the suspicious suspension of 5 prominent football players at OSU DJ told me about the rules of compliance at the school and how student athletes, like the football and baseball teams, have to sit through each meeting at the beginning an end of each quarter. According to him if you don’t sit through the meetings then you cant compete in any athletic competition. So it makes me wonder just how in the world the school’s AD Gene Smith says that the troubled stars were not properly instructed on the rules of the game.

 

The rundown goes as follows; last week six players at Ohio State were suspended for five games next year, but allowed to play in this year’s Sugar Bowl (more on that later), for selling their Big Ten title rings and gold pants jewels from the annual Michigan game for money used for tattoos, which under NCAA guidelines are listed as receiving improper benefits.

 

Its not just Joe Dirt off of the practice squad either, it was quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, Wide Receiver Devier Posey, Left Tackle Mike Adams and defensive Solomon Thomas who were the offenders. All except Thomas are offensive starters who lead the team in specific categories and make the Buckeyes go on offense. Losses like those would likely kill the Buckeyes chances in a game like the Sugar Bowl, where our tale of corruption takes a nice little turn.

 

Just how exactly can you suspend five guys for the first five games next season but have then play in the last game of this season? The sense made by the NCAA is little if there is any at all.

Gene Smith's reasoning for the players transgressions is proof that the institutions are more than liable for their players behavior.

 

NCAA is protecting the players for money reasons because their losses hurt the game on the field, which could hurt ratings and sponsorships. Pryor and company caught a lucky break for being the privileged student athletes that they are and for the game that they are in. if this was the Little Caesar’s Bowl trust me they wouldn’t be a part of it.

 

What does this say for all parties involved though? Think about how this affects the players, OSU, Jim Tressel, the NCAA and how they handle the situations at hand as well as the rules.

 

For the NCAA it makes you wonder if they really care about the rules at all. They suspended A.J. Green for selling is jersey at the beginning of the year and they make minor judgments here and there, but as far as doing the right thing the NCAA has done a poor job of that.

 

They Let Cam Newton play on even though he more than likely received $200,000 to play at Auburn, they were so lenient on Jeremiah Masoli’s arrest and easy transfer that it was laughable that he found a school with the right “graduate program” and could avoid sitting out a year and they have yet to address the issues of arrests and criminal mishaps at Georgia and Florida. Its like they’re picking their spots on who to go after and make the rule book stretch out further and further for certain programs like Ohio State.

 

Speaking of Ohio State what does this say about how they coddle their superstar athletes? Gene Smith’s ridiculous explanation for his students’ behavior is the main reason why these guys act out the way that they do. If the AD and coach and school can’t put the responsibility on the shoulders of their players why shouldn’t they do what they want? To say that his students didn’t know the rules is A. a lie and B. just plain silly. If the baseball players, lacrosse players and soccer players know what to and not to do than so should the football team, no exceptions.

 

Then there are the players at hand especially Pryor. For a guy that was as highly touted as Pryor he has done nothing to show that he is worth the hype. Pryor and his fellow mates now sit at a crossroads where they could leave for the NFL because all of them are eligible, but their draft stocks will be lower than what they could’ve been had they stayed for their senior season.

 

For Pryor especially he probably wont get a sniff at quarterback because he’s nowhere near ready to get under center in the NFL. It’s funny because when I watch Newton play I see the player that Pryor should’ve been. Newton is the complete package of strength, speed, accuracy and instincts that Pryor should’ve been. Watching #2 in Auburn makes me look at #2 in Columbus with great shame. Pryor could’ve been one of the best but never fully immersed himself in the game. It was all about the attention for Pryor and now in likely his final season that attention will have prevented from being so much more and make him a huge disappointment.

One final disappointment to end Pryor's disappointing career.

 

For me this is about a lack of respect in all areas from Smith, the NCAA but more importantly the players. I’m a proud Ohio State grad; I respect this school and what it embodies more than most things. To watch these guys sell their rings and golden pants charms, which the older players cherish like their children, means that they don’t have respect for the institution that pays their way through school or for the other kids that walk through The Oval or down High Street on a daily basis. To put money for tattoos over career and your institution is unforgiveable to me. It shows what kind of guys they really are and it makes me furious.

 

(I had a facebook status about this actually where I said (paraphrasing) that most NCAA institutions cheat, it happens, but you have to smart about it. For these guys to be this open and dumb about it makes me even more furious. You sat through those meetings, you knew the rules and you still didn’t care. Another reason why Smith’s statement ticked me off, THEY KNEW! He knows too, but in the end it all doesn’t matter because that’s college sports. Its not about academics or school pride or tradition anymore its all about money. That’s why Nebraska is in the Big Ten, why Josh Selby gets only 8 games for being paid to play amateur games and why Pryor and Newton get to play in the BCS money games. They NCAA knows what they did wrong, but they don’t care, it’s all about the money.)

 

However you look at it it’s one big mess. The NCAA gets its money game, Pryor gets one more chance to show off his limitless, but limited, talents, the players will get away unscathed, Gene Smith sweeps it under the rug with no responsibility and everyone is happy. That’s the way it works. It’s like the movie Casino; everyone is crooked in someway whether you’re building a casino with mob money and skimming it off of the top, or your athletes are doing illegal activities that you know about yet your reaping the benefits of their star and turning away. That’s how it is.


UCONN’s 89th Straight Win Just As Meaningless As The Others

UCONN is now basketball's gold standard for winning, even if their competition was non-existent.

Congratulations to the UCONN Lady Huskies on winning their 89th game in a row with a 93-62 win over 20th ranked Florida State on tuesday night. It broke the UCLA men’s record of 88 straight between 1971-74 with the legendary John Wooden at the helm.

It was their 87th win by more than 10 points in another contest against a team that wasn’t nearly as talented as Geno Auriemma’s squad. It was another dominant performance by a dominant program that has ruled their sport like no other team. Now for the bad news.

For all of ESPN’s coverage of the big event, it’s stress of how important it is and where it ranks in the annals of sports history, it’s really about as much of a big deal as UCONN’s next opponent.

This isn’t a sexist rant about how a women’s team can’t be compared to a men’s team or how it’s a shame that a woman’s team is taking a men’s record, it’s about the fact that the UCONN women’s record isn’t that big of a deal because of the state of women’s basketball is dull and lame.

It’s a sport with one player. Tennessee isn’t the powerhouse it once was, LSU has taken a step back since Pokey Chapman left, Baylor is a one woman show with Britney Griner and Louisville, Texas, Maryland, Duke, Stanford and North Carolina all are having off years.

UCONN doesn’t get the players, it gets every player. Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Tina Charles and Maya Moore are just a few of the seemingly hundreds of immensely talented women to walk the doors at Storrs. While Geno isn’t exactly crying about it it’s put all of the focus in one place.

The women’s game isn’t nearly as fun because there is no parody. There’s no possible sleepers, no underdogs, no great small school story. There’s no Davidson’s, no Butler’s, no Stephen Curry’s, no other reason to watch any other game that doesn’t feature UCONN.

Back when the Huskies and Tennessee were knee deep in a rivalry that was worthy of being mentioned with Duke-UNC, there were reasons to turn on ESPN and watch. Then there was the eventual rising of the three headed ACC monster which led to a great national title game in Boston. However, when Auriemma inexplicably ended the yearly feud with the Vols (thanks to a real feud with legendary Pat Summit) it immediately dropped the relevance of the sport.

Since then it’s been all UCONN all the time with no one to stop them or say anything about it.

For the last three or four years there’s been no reason to turn on a woman’s game because you already know the end result of the season. The regular season, conference tourneys and even the big dance are all pointless when you see UCONN on ESPN2 on Monday nights steamrolling the so called competition. Whether you’re ranked 2,3,4,5 or whatever, Duke, Oklahoma, Baylor, Stanford it doesn’t matter. It’s a loss and it’s big and it’s a waste of two hours.

In order for the game to matter the games need to matter. Parody needs to be in place for records,like the one that was just broken to matter.

The reason why the Patriots undefeated run was so great wasn’t that they blasted every opponent, it was the games like the Colts game, the Ravens game on Monday night that caused such a stir, the Eagles game that raised questions about the Pats and the Giants game for the record (and the other Giants game too, hehehe. Sorry had to rub that one in). They were all tough games that stirred out interest because even though they weren’t equal to the Pats there was that small chance that they could beat them and it almost happened.

That’s not there for UCONN. except for the Baylor game in November no game has been interesting enough for me or anyone to watch. They’re just scoreline games to watch and laugh at the ridiculous score while I watch the Rangers or Knicks.

Don’t get it twisted, winning 89 games in a row is hard for anyone to do. Anythings can happen in any scenario to anyone to cause a loss (ask the Giants). However, as great a feat a this is it would be better if the game was better.

When UCLA reeled off it’s 88 game Picasso it beat great teams like Memphis, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan and Louisville. It won it’s games by 9.5 points a game. It grinded out wins and blew teams away. That’s why the 88 game winning streak was so impressive and still stands in the men’s game today.

UCONN does deserve the record, they won their games and won them with emphasis. The record books will change and the Lady Huskies will sit on top of the mountain. However, they ain’t UCLA. Geno ain’t the wizard, Maya Moore ain’t Bill Walton and the Huskies didn’t didn’t face nearly as good of competition relevant to their game. If they did then the record-breaking performance should be trumpeted as one of the best ever. Instead all I did was peak at the score and finish watching the Washington Capitals break their losing streak. Sad, but true.


The Eagles Love To Torture Me

I hate the Eagles.

I remember when the New York Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 10-7 years ago on a Brian Westbrook punt return for a touchdown. I remember looking the television at Champps in Columbia, Maryland a if someone had just jumped up and roundhouse kicked me in the testicles and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t move, speak or anything. I remember walking to work afterwards in the most demoralized state that I had ever been in.

It was worse than the 39-38 loss in the playoffs to San Francisco where we blew a 24 point lead the previous year because this was a divisional rival and that loss began a slow painful death to our year. It was the end of the Kerry Collins era when he got injured and was then jettisoned out of town, it was the end of Jim Fassel as we lost the next eight games to finish 4-12 and it was the beginning of my absolute hatred towards the Eagles.

Yeah I know that they’re a divisional rival and the New York and Philly are supposed to hate each other, but I always had mutual respect for Philadelphia. This goes back to my old adage of how parents shape your sports life, well my mom at a point in my lifetime loved Randall Cunningham and how he darted through defenses in those pls green, grey and white uniforms just thrashing people and leaving linebackers wondering what happened. So I started liking the Eagles a little because of Randall and his unorthodox style of play (side note: another reason why fatherless homes suck, you get confused in your sports allegiances. Had I had my dad around he would’ve slapped some sense into me and told me that he would disown me if I like the Eagles in any way. You know like how I will if my kid ever wears an Islanders, Michigan or Red Sox jersey).

If it really is deja vu, then the Giants season will take the same turn it did in 03 after Westbrook's return.

Besides I hated everyone else in the division that had to be hated. The Cowboys and Redskins were like chopped liver to me and I want Troy Aikman and Darrell Green to die more than Reggie White or Keith Byars. My thinking was that since I hated those two I might as well like the Eagles because they have to play them like the Giants did, so I made my mom and i happy.

Then, well the Eagles got better than the Giants and I got older and began to learn regional rivalries. You can’t like the Eagles, their off-limits like every other team in your division. You have to hate them it’s only natural. I mean the Packers fans can’t like the Lions because it’s not a rivalry but it’s an interdivisional matchup. How crappy would you feel if the Lions made the playoffs thanks to a win over the Packers and they missed out on the playoffs? Exactly.

(the sad part about this is that living in Maryland totally jaded this rule to so many people. Starting about 2007 there were so many people claiming that they liked the Orioles and the Red Sox that I want to drown myself in the harbor. People gave me the same answer over and over “I like the Red Sox a lot but I’m still an o’s fan… Um no you’re not. 1. You couldn’t name one Neil Diamond song, 2. You have no Boston ties except maybe in seafood and 3. You never, ever, say that a team in your own division means just as much to you as the team you grew up with. Thats like if my buddy Scully said to me that he liked the Nats now but not if they play his Phillies… I would hit him with a skillet.)

So as Donovan McNabb and gang green rolled to 4 NFC title games and a Super Bowl I had to deal with the fumble brothers Kerry and Tiki, the beginning of the Eli era and Will Allen an Will Peterson who I still loathe to this day.

Then came my moment of glory, 2008 and the Giants Super Bowl win. Scully and my other Eagles buddy Andrew always try to discredit that win by saying Eli’s a bum the Giants got lucky and other phrases I’ve heard day in and out in my life, but all I did was point to my shirt and say that Donovan couldn’t do it in 4 and Eli did it in 1. I had all the material I needed. There wasn’t a thing that any Eagles fan could say to me about the Giants. I dont care about the 2008 playoffs loss. The fact that we got swept last year or anything. The Eagles got nothing on us… Until yesterday.

That 38-31 loss was the most heartbreaking loss of my life. Yes I understand the Yankees lost a 3-0 lead in 2004 an the Rangers blew a 3-1 lead against the Caps two years ago but like the 2003 Eagles loss those were slow painful deaths. This was at the alter about to get married having the band playing for ten minutes while waiting for your bride to come out, which she obviously won’t, bad.

We had the division wrapped up, a first round bye and legitimate Super Bowl shot all wrapped up and we threw it in the fire. I’ve never seen a football team collapse the way that we did and of all places it had to happen to me while I was in Boston on a personal holiday. It was almost the ballbuster of the trip, thank god Elizabeth was sitting next to me so I couldn’t go into full meltdown mode and she would think i was a nut.

Here’s all you need to know; the Giants absolutely dominated 52 minutes and 30 seconds of this game. We kept Mike Vick in check, stopped any big DeSean Jackson plays and threw all over the Eagles defense. It was 31-10 after Eli threw his 4th TD of the game and it was over, I told Liz it was over I even sent Scully and Andrew messages mocking that stupid E-A-G-L-E-S chant. I was thinking about the Packers next week and how we get the number two seed in the NFC… then this ridiculousness happened.

At 7:38 in the fourth quarter Vick hot tight end for a 70 yard touchdown because Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell stayed aggressive with a 21 point lead and Kenny Phillips tried to make a big play and failed miserably. 31-17 G-men. No problem.

Then the Eagles recover an onside kick, understandable… EXCEPT OUR SPECIAL TEAMS COACH DIDN’T HAVE THE HANDS UNIT OUT JUST IN CASE A TEAM DOWN BY 14 POINTS MIGHT WANT TO TRY AN ONSIDE KICK THIS LATE IN THE GAME!!!!!

(side note: my buddy Tara always says Scully and I should have our own ESPN show, I disagree because of games like these. Can you imagine me doing a show after this game? I’d get fined or fired because I would rip everyone in a series of f bombs.)

You think I was ticked, try talking to him.

What happens Vick makes a great play on third down because, again, Fewell takes another risk an fails. Three plays later Vick runs it in to cut the lead to 31-24.

At this point I’m not even paying attention to anything Liz is sitting there probably thinking I’m going blow a gasket. He told me her dad gets like that during Browns games so she probably was having a flashback. Poor girl.

Giants get the ball back and I’m praying we get first downs. We get one which leads to this new great moment in the play calling history of Kevin Gilbride: run on first down, pass play on second down which gets us an offside call, run, pass play, sack… ok WHY THROW THE BALL WHEN YOU RUN THE BALL AND KILL CLOCK AND MAKE THE EAGLES USE TIMEOUTS?!?!?! The pass plays cost us clock and a penalty. If we run the ball we kill the clock, game over done. Instead the Eagles get the ball with 3 minutes left.

After forcing another third down Vick runs 30 yards for a first down because Aaron Ross over plays him instead of containing him (at one point I wanted an Aaron Ross jersey, I’m glad I never got it). The two minute warning hits and Liz goes to call her mom, she’s seen this picture before apparently. One minute left Vick to Maclin, touchdown, tied game… Shoot me.

So instead of it being tied with seconds left, which should’ve happened if Gilbride had common sense, there’s a minute left, the Giants are so discombobulated we get nothing an get sacked with 14 seconds left.

Now the ridiculous part… Let me tell you how scared I am when Matt Dodge punts the ball, Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween scared. He’s terrible, I’ve watched him punt this year, league’s worst punter hands down… And he’s kicking to DeSean Jackson… Tom Coughlin tells him do what even Helen Keller knows to do in this situation with a guy like Jackson back there, kick the ball out of bounds. Easy right? He’s a punter, it’s his job, what does he do… Kicks the damn ball directly to Jackson… I’m not making this up.

As he returns the ball up the sidelines I immediately thought of the Westbrook return and how it killed our season in 2003. I knew our season was done, we won’t make the playoffs with two road games left, we won’t recover from this. The damn Eagles did it to me again. They ruined a promising season where the Giants should be going to the playoffs as a two seed and home field advantage. Instead we won’t make the playoffs it’s done.

38-31 Eagles win. When Liz came back she tried to console which led to me going into the bathroom and cursing Matt Dodge and his mother to hell. Of course this happens in Boston and I’m sure Scully, Andrew and every pats fan got a kick out of it.

The Eagles are now more hated in my house than the Cowboys or Redskins ever will be. They’re secondary to the Eagles who continue to torment me. Westbrook, McNabb, and now Jackson. If my mom or anyone influences my kid to like the Eagles I’m jumping off of a cliff.


McNabb: A Play

I guess Shanahan is MacBeth to McNabb's Banquo, look close and you can see the kinfe.

And now I present to you a piece of a new play I’m writing. A tale about talent, time and torture, the story of a man that is strong in will and leadership but is done in by his graceful persona and meekness. Ladies an gentlemen I give you MCNABB:

Act 1, scene 1:
(the three witches. Loria, Reid and Owens sit calmly outside of The Linc in Philadelphia. Their eyes fixed on their television screens eyeing the moves of McNabb and his associate Shanahan. Owens laughs at the misfortunes of the man he once considered his friend while Reid and Loria ponder McNabb’s misfortune)

Witches: double double toil and trouble, Fedex burns and Dan Snyder bubbles. Wicked man Shanahan turns all the wheels while Donovan paces with wounds yet to heal.

Owens: soft man McNabb winner of zero, without my aid he wouldve never been a hero. Look at Philly thrives in his departure, his is just a novice while Vick is the archer.

Reid: oh dear brother I stood by at war, when words pierced us together an we fell on our swords. I benched thee in the same fashion of the present. Though Rex Grossman in my eyes would never have left my bench kid.

Loria: I gave unto thee riches never seen before Snyder made player contracts obscene. I traded thee to a familiar circumstance with no weapons, no receivers and nary a chance.

Witches: we see you again and again you are down, but now at 34 are you down for the count. New contract at hand but the future is dim. Dear friend we fear your time is at end.

Scene 2:
(Donovan sits next to Albert Haynesworth contemplating what to do next after another debilitating setback that has lessened his influence as an excellent quarterback and now brings him more doubters.)

Albert: cardiovascular endurance huh? I would love to hear his excuse for me.

Shanahan believes Rex runs the offense better, or is he hiding the truth?

Donovan: wouldn’t we all.

A: you have to speak out against these demons with huge egos. How can a man that was fired after it was clear that he couldn’t lead a team without a superstar quarterback tell us that Rex Grossman is a better fit for out team? Did he not see how terrible he was in Chicago?

D: indeed it is troubling. But I have been here before with Owens, and Limbaugh. With follies overtime rules, which are dumb to begin with, and the lack of a ring. This is nothing new to me. Nor will it get old.

A: time and time again Donovan you have handled these failures of judgement of character with grace and humility. You are one of the best men in the league and yet you are constantly disgraced. It’s not your fault we have no receivers, no run game or no direction. The shanahan’s are merely deflecting blame to save their name.

D: indeed but who cares we’ll be rid of them next year with I in Minnesota and you with Giants.

A: hopefully. I would say I shouldn’t have left Tennessee but you see that mess.

D: indeed.

Scene 3:
(Dan Snyder throws money in every direction in ignorance. He’s currently wondering about the price of possible free agents Jon Kitna, Brian Westbrook and even aging defensive end Kyle Vandenbosch… there is no dialogue just imagine the stupidity and the possible amount of money that Snyder is about to waste on aging players… Again.)

Scene 4:
(the shanahan’s Kyle and Mike comb over their evil plots of self-absorbency of their egos and their plots of showing their power)

Mike: we’ve finally rid ourselves of Donovan McNabb.

Kyle: an excellent play dad of putting every blame on the aging moor when in reality injuries have decimated us, we’re on our fifth different running back and my play calling had been atrocious.

M: yes. Deflecting blame is what I do best. Yes this is partly my personnel and I did want McNabb here, but I can’t take blame for this mess. These players will understand that I am in charge if I have to cut or bench everyone. This is my team and my rules. I care not that I gave McNabb nothing to work with or that he has a bad offensive lone that could block a soccer ball. You play by my ridiculous rules and if you cant comply with my ridiculousness then sit down.

K: thank you father for sparing me in this process. I have pathetic in my practice especially in that Giants game two weeks ago were I looked like a moron. You saved me from all harm dad.

(Our act ends with McNabb riding the bench looking as stoic as ever, waiting patiently for his time in Washington to be done. A shadow emerges in the form of Zigi Wilf and a message reads “come to minnesota” and McNabb heeds the warning and plans his escape north.

Shanahan watches as Grossman fumbles and trips over himself and the Redskins begin the descend deeper into mediocrity while Dan Snyder talks about adding the Panthers Steve Smith to his team for 100 million dollars, again past his prime. Shanahan can no longer place blame, but he can’t take it either so he steps down a year later as does his son.

Haynesworth moves to New York for a million dollars and explodes for thirteen sacks and another huge deal as the Giants become the most dominate team in the league. How the next act will play out is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure, this has been one big comedy of errors.)


Noah’s Injury A Huge Loss For The Bulls

Just when the Bulls were starting to get rolling, another big man goes down for what many thought was the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.

Losing Noah is a huge blow to the Bulls.

Joakim Noah is now out for up to ten weeks after re-aggravating a thumb injury that was originally diagnosed November 27th. This comes after the Bulls just got Carlos Boozer back after missing the first five weeks with a lower body injury.

Noah was the emotional leader of the team and was averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds a game and is in the top five leaders in the league in rebounding.

Now the Bulls will have to turn back to Taj Gibson who filled in well for Boozer and Omar Asik.

The question is can the Bulls maintain their recent string of winning habits with their second best player out of the lineup?

The Bulls had won 7 straight with Noah in the lineup. Although six of their seven games look like wins a road matchup versus the suddenly hot Knicks and early MVP candidate Amare Stoudamire could prove to be tricky.

Also down the road the Bulls face tough matchups with San Antonio, Orlando an Miami and Noah’s inside presence would’ve been huge against Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard.

Whatever the case the Bulls have to do without one of the league’s best centers for awhile. They made it without Boozer and came out well for the ware and now they get a new test without Noah

Hopefully their recent run isn’t slowed and the Bulls can maintain their momentum.