Posts tagged ‘rant’
November 2, 2010
As Americans, we love to tell people how things should be. More often than not, we think the way we do things is the right way, and your way is backward/primitive/wasteful/wrong/fill in here. That’s particularly true when it comes to our own form of democracy, which we’d franchise like KFC and export to the world if we could (which more than one pundit would argue is exactly what we’ve tried to do with every war we’ve been involved in during the last century). In America, anyone can aspire to any leadership position they desire, and if they can convince their fellow citizens to elect them, their desires can become reality. That’s a really good thing, because it means that no matter who you are or what your background, you can rise as high as your powers of persuasion will allow – and you have to look no further than the current President to see just how far one can go.
But there’s a fundamental problem with a system where the people select who should represent them as the leaders of the government – you have to select one of the candidates. That’s been a real problem for most voters lately, since more often than not they don’t really like any of the candidates that are presented for selection. As today is Election Day in America, millions of registered voters will hold their nose, enter the voting booth, and select the candidate who least offends their sensibilities – very few will actually vote for someone they really want to see represent them. There’s a lot of reasons why we have no decent candidates, from a vetting process that effectively eliminates anyone with real-life experiences (which, more often than not, includes the mistakes of life from which leadership is forged) to the genuinely qualified candidates being smart enough to stay away from politics and the mudslinging catfight that it all too often becomes, but the net result is an election that is really a selection of the lesser of a number of evils.
That’s certainly the situation we face today in California as we head off to the polling places. As I look at the options I have, from top to bottom I see little to get excited about:
- For governor, I can select between a burn-out we chased out of Sacramento three decades ago or a gadfly businesswoman who’s thrown over $100 million at the election.
- For lieutenant governor, my choices are a NorCal mayor who was unwilling to face the personal scrutiny that comes with running for the higher office or a hold-over who was given the job as a reward for betraying his party.
- For senator, there’s the current senator who’s done little but lap up the perks of office for 20 years versus a fired former corporate CEO with no political experience.
You can see why I get less than enthused by the prospects.
Of course, being California, we also get the joy of the ballot propositions – a unique experience so violently abused by interest groups that it’s the fodder for late night TV. Among the highlights this year are one that would decriminalize marijuana use (rather pointless, considering narcotic control and enforcement is a federal issue) and another that will try to force the state government to actually do its job by stripping their salary and benefits if they fail to pass an on-time budget. We wouldn’t need that last one if we could just vote the bastards out of office, but there’s that whole “no viable candidates” thing interfering again.
Even my local city election isn’t immune to the silliness – there’s a proposition on the ballot in Redondo Beach that’s so long (180 pages) that Los Angeles County forced the city to foot the bill to print the voter information pamphlets … er, booklets … er, tomes.
Did my part ... such as it is
But we do what we can and I will vote for the best that is offered – or, more accurately, have voted. I, like the majority of my fellow Californians, vote as a permanent absentee voter, giving me the time to leisurely review the voting materials, wipe the vomit from my lips and fill out my return-by-mail ballot. It’s convenient to not have to find time to visit the polling place, and nice to be able to swear like a sailor at the ballot without the guy in the next booth complaining. As more and more voters follow my lead, it’s going to make the process of predicting winners harder to do, and that just adds interest to the process, in my opinion – we’d all love to see a modern-day version of the “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment …
As for the big picture, it sounds like the typical off-cycle election backlash against the party in power is going to be bigger than usual, although I suspect it will be smaller than believed. Republicans are likely to regain the majority in the House of Representatives, stripping the gavel from Nancy Pelosi and handing it to John Boehner, whose avowed goal is to spent the next two years undoing the legislative activity of the last two. In the Senate, the gap betweent the parties is going to close, although the Dems will probably retain their majority. Who exactly will lead that majority is in question, however, as Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is in a tight battle with a Republican/Tea Party candidate and may not survive the fight to lead again. The whole Tea Party phenomenon will have its first noticeable effect with this election, and I suspect it’s not going to be the one they hoped for. A lot of Democrats who might otherwise have lost their seats will find themselves pleasantly surprised tomorrow when they win elections they ought to have lost. Too often, Tea Party and traditional Republican candidates are fighting each other for votes, effectively splitting the electorate. Also, the dogmatic sniping between the camps is distasteful to many in the middle, and many of the uncommitted voters who might otherwise have voted Republican are being pushed to the left.
Either way, it should make for some interesting prime time viewing tonight – and that in itself is a rare thing …
August 23, 2010
Trying to mix things up here at the ol’ MB – maybe you get a rant, maybe you don’t. Today, you do …
- We’ll start with a decidedly non-sports story that has nevertheless dominated the sporting world this season. The divorce of Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren became official today, meaning Tiger is now free to pursue all the strippers, porn stars and Hooters girls he wants. Both sides declared an intention to not discuss the settlement, so financial details were not announced (duh), but the two will share custody and parenting duties of the children as Nordegren, who is currently studying to be a psychologist, will remain in the States to provide Woods with access to the children. Frankly, this day was inevitable. Despite what would appear on the outside to be heroic efforts by both to save the marriage, some things are just too much to overcome. There was an article on one of the online sports sites that included statistics showing that 60% of married sports athletes get divorced, so you could argue that Woods’ experience is just par for the course – and is the only time all year he’s been able to shoot par (did I just say that – ouch!) Perhaps now Woods can turn his once-considerable focus to his game, and get it together in time for the Ryder Cup.
- Let me start this next segment with the obvious: the fact that Kyle Busch was able to win all three of the NASCAR touring series races held at Bristol this weekend is a testament to his impressive driving skills. Stock car racing is truly a team sport, and the only common element to the teams that won the Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck races was the guy in the seat. It’s never been done since the Truck was added in 1995 and frankly, Busch is the only guy who’s even gotten close. So, congratulations, Kyle. But Busch’s success begs a larger question: why are guys who race Sunday at the highest level of their sport even allowed to race in the support series? Most of the current Cup series stars worked their way up through the lower series, but once they get to the top, that ought to be their goal. Lord knows no other sport allows it – can you imagine Albert Pujols moonlighting as the first baseman for the Cardinals’ Double-A squad? Now, you can’t blame the drivers – most would race anywhere anytime for nothing – but you can certainly blame NASCAR. This is all about the Benjamins, baby – they spend a lot of time cultivating the drivers’ images, and they want to maximize the exposure for their sponsors. There is a backlash brewing, though, and Busch’s victories will only stoke the flames. Your move, NASCAR …
- The Manhattan Beach Open volleyball tournament was held this weekend … or at least something they said was the Open. I’ve been going to the MBO for a lot of years – it’s beach volleyball’s biggest event – and this didn’t look anything like what I’m used to. Where there is usually rows of vendors and a huge stadium court, there was just nets – seemingly hundreds of them – and people – seemingly dozens of them. The change came in the wake of the demise of the AVP, the beach volley organizing body that declared bankruptcy on the eve of the Open. Credit the city fathers and the California Beach Volleyball Association for stepping up and insuring that there would be a 50th edition of the Open, although they created a bit of a controversy by scrapping the fan-friendly AVP (and worldwide professional volleyball sanctioning body FIVB) rules in favor of slower, old-school rules. That resulted in most of the former AVP pros staying away. Ironically, one who did opt to play was Sean Rosenthal, who partnered with fellow AVP ex-pat Aaron Wachfogel to take the men’s draw. On the ladies side, the team of Tealle Hunkus and Heather Lowe (who?) were victorious. Each team split $4,000 – a far cry from the $20K the AVP event would have provided the winner. But they still get their names on the pier, and that’s the important part. Not sure what’s left for the future, but as I look at the official yellow-and-while Wilson AVP tour volleyball I have here in the Home Office, I can’t help but be sad.
July 12, 2010
I am scattered in about a dozen different directions these days, a fact best demonstrated by the lack of attention this blog is receiving. We’re working on that; in the meantime, a quick sports rant …
- The biggest sporting event in the world came to an end yesterday with the final match of the 2010 World Cup, pitting Spain against Holland. Neither team had won the Cup previously, but both came to the final game undefeated and ready to make history. Unfortunately, as is too often the case in sport, the game couldn’t live up to the hype. Through 90 minutes, the only records made were the number of penalties given and yellow cards issued – each side only had a handful of realistic scoring chances. For the first time in the tournament, the pressure of the moment was apparent to both squads, and they played very tight. Credit Spanish netkeeper and team captain Iker Casillas for keeping the Dutch scoreless – his performance made it clear it was just a matter of time until the Spanish scored what you knew would be the only goal of the game. That moment came 26 minutes into extra time, as a Dutch turnover lead to a shot by Andres Iniesta that a diving Dutch goalie could only get a fingertip on. The good news is that it kept us from deciding the Copa del Mundo on PKs … but that’s where it ends. See you in four years in Brazil …
- As someone who can see 50 in the rear-view mirror, I can tell you that there’s very little good about growing old. The only consolation we all can take is the realization that it’s gonna happen to us all. Among those who tend to ignore this reality are elite athletes, who continually delude themselves into believing they can somehow cheat Father Time. The latest elite athlete to have that particular bubble popped is Lance Armstrong, who came face to face with the reality of age yesterday in the Alps. Through his long career, Lance used his superior conditioning to punish his rivals in the mountains, taking big bites out of them and putting them far enough behind to be unable to recover. But now, at 38, the riding shoe is on the other foot. On the first real mountain day of this year’s Tour, and a blistering hot one at that, Armstrong saw his podium hopes crumble as he was caught up in several crashes and in visible pain on the final climb. At the end, he lost over 12 minutes to the new leader Cadel Evans, and nearly as much to the other overall classification challengers. Armstrong admitted his tour was done, and said he’d continue to ride to support his team. That’s very important if he hopes to establish his Radio Shack team as more than a one-time Tour flash, as well as finishing his career on as high a note as possible. Freed of the need to challenge for the lead, Armstrong could opt to try for a stage victory, something he often passed on to preserve his overall chances. It would be a fitting end to a heroic career, and a far better image than the bloodied, exhausted rider we saw yesterday.
- Lookout, Miami – the LeBron James Circus has come to town. In an announcement anchoring an hourlong special on ESPN, the free agent shared his decision to sign with the Miami Heat, joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to create what they all hope will be a new super-team. As a Lakers fan, all I can say is, “bring it on”. In the aftermath, there’s been a lot of talk about the decision – and the method chosen to announce it. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, obviously feeling jilted by James lashed out at him in a particularly harsh fashion, attracting comparison to a slave owner by Jesse Jackson and earning himself a $100,000 fine from the NBA. Clearly his rant was over the top, but I can appreciate the sentiment of Gilbert and all fans of Cleveland who feel a sense of betrayal. Certainly, James was well within his rights to “take his skills to Miami,” as he put it, but either he or more likely his people made a lot of mistakes along the way. While he claims to have made the decision to join the Heat only a day before, it was clear long ago that he was leaving Cleveland. No one can blame him for that choice, but leaving the Cavs – and their fans – twisting in the wind was a mistake. Ditto the whole “Decision” special. James clearly understands image and the money that can be made from it (I’m sure somewhere there’s a copyright mark next to that whole “powder toss” stupidity …), but booking an hour on ESPN – and having his people collect all the money from the advertisements – leaves a very bitter taste in a lot of mouths. The Heat will be good next year, and probably very good, but James has created a lot of baggage that the team will be forced to drag along with it on its way to next years’ finals beating by the Lakers.
June 28, 2010
My life is crazy right now … who even has time for sports … but you gotta do what you gotta do …
- Are you a soccer fan yet? Didn’t think so. Lots of folks pointing to the run by the US side in the current World Cup tourney as some kind of turning point, but I’m not convinced. Right or wrong, the perception of the typical American sports fan is someone of low intelligence and short attention span – and perceptions tend to be based on fact. We don’t take to hockey, which is essentially the same sport on ice with a smaller playing stage, even though it’s faster paced and has more scoring – and violence. The likelihood that we’d embrace soccer after that seems small – and remember, we have the largest youth soccer program in the world. Some things are just not meant to be.
- That said, I am a soccer fan, and have been following the Copa del Mundo pretty closely. The Americans blew a golden opportunity when they came out flat and got beat by Ghana in the round of 16 – they had a pretty easy path for the next couple of games if they’d just bore down. Defense looked old and forwards ineffective, and that will tend to get you a quick ticket home. But it could be worse – we could be the English squad …
- Am I the only one sick of the whole “where’s LeBron going next” saga? Sure he’s a great player and all, but he’s not the second coming – although you’d never know it from the way teams have effectively gutted their rosters to make room for him and his hand-picked buddies. If you believe the sources, Chicago has the inside track, but New York, New Jersey, Miami and even the Clippers are making a push. Meanwhile, despite the fans pleas, I think Cleveland is resigned to losing their star and being relegated to the trash dump. It was a good, but not great run, CavFan – but you can always watch your boy on TV … albeit in a different jersey …
- The hammer finally fell on Marlins manager Fredi Gonzales, and while I was caught off guard by the timing, I’m not surprised by the act. With players like Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson signed to big contracts, and the new stadium coming soon, the Fish know the future is now. But hanging out in fourth place won’t keep you in a job, and so Fredi’s out. The Marlins have made a habit in recent years of being the training ground for new managers (such as the Yankees’ Joe Girardi), and so look for Fredi to be in the mix as the new Braves skipper next year when Bobby Cox steps down. Meanwhile, the search is on for a new manager in Miami, and the most intriguing name so far is current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine. Personally, I like the pick, and a couple of days ago he seemed like a dead lock for the job. It doesn’t seem quite so sure now, so we’ll just wait and see … as the Fish keep on sinking deeper in the East.
June 1, 2010
Is there another sports weekend that can compare with Memorial Day? Indy … Stanley Cup … NBA Playoffs … and let’s throw in a perfect game!
- OK, let’s face it … there’s not much worse that can happen to your team than to have the opposing pitcher throw a perfect game, but that’s exactly what happened to my Marlins on Saturday as Roy Halliday of the Phillies spun his gem and beat the Fish 1-0. Only the 19th perfect game in major league history, it was the second in less than a month, and if there is such a thing as an inevitable PG, this was it. Halliday has been one of the best pitchers in the game for a decade, toiling for most of that time in the anonymity of Toronto, picking up the 2003 AL Cy Young Award along the way. Sprung from that baseball hell, he’s been making the most of his opportunity in Philly, and this is the tangible result. He’d be the hands-down leader for his second Cy Young if it weren’t for the Ubaldo Jimenez freakshow in Colorado.
- As a Marlins fan, there has been nothing sadder to watch than Dontrelle Willis – the one-time “D-Train” – turning into a train wreck. He was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year, and a close second to Chris Carpenter for the 2004 NL Cy Young, but it’s been all downhill from there. Unable to find the strike zone, he was dealt to the Tigers in 2007 where slope of the slide only increased. Suffering from afflictions both physical and mental, Willis has only two victories for the Tigers, and was designated for assignment on Sunday. With his huge contract, he won’t attract any trade interest and will become a free agent in 10 days. Presumably someone will be desperate enough to give him a shot, but it’s unlikely to lead to a positive outcome. A sad end for one of the nicest guys in the game. UPDATE: They just announced that Willis has been traded to the Diamondbacks, the only team in baseball as dysfunctional as he is. Lovely … the D-Train pitching for the D-Backs … this is gonna get ugly.
- As I watched Dario Franchitti lead late in the Indy 500 Sunday, the headline I envisioned for the race was “redemption”. He had won both the 500 and the series championship in 2007 before the siren call of NASCAR lured him away for a disastrous season cut short by injury and sponsorship woes. Forced to return with his hat in his hand to IndyCar, he was able to snag a ride with his stock car owner and surprisingly picked up right where he left off. Last season, he won a second IndyCar championship and as I watched looked to all the world to be on his way to a second win at the Brickyard. But those last few laps showed all of us that the real headline for the day was “luck”. All the leaders had to gamble on fuel, and most ran short and were forced to pit. But Franchitti’s crew knew that if he could only save a little fuel, he could make it to the end – he just needed a little luck. The break he needed came on the penultimate lap as the car driven by Ryan Hunter-Rhey slowed, gasping for fuel. Behind him, Mike Conway, running at full speed, could do nothing to avoid the collision that send his car airborn and into the catch fence – passing twice over Hunter-Rhey’s head, missing him by literally inches. The resulting caution allowed Franchitti to coast to victory under a yellow flag, but all eyes were on Conway, who sat in less than half the car he’d been driving seconds before. In the final stroke of luck, the car had corkscrewed just the right way as it flew to keep Conway’s head from hitting anything, and he suffered relatively minor injuries. A game of luck indeed.
- Lakers … Celtics. It’s the matchup everyone really wanted, and it’s the one we got. I don’t think there’s anything else that needs to be said. OK, one thing – Lakers in six, baby … on the freaking parquet!!!
April 26, 2010
The circumstances of my life these days are such that I’m much more likely to catch my sports via online recaps than actually watching them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions …
- About a week ago, it was looking like party time down at Staples Center. The Lakers, defending NBA champions, had crossed the finish like as Western Conference champs – albeit on fumes and with a flat tire or two. Meanwhile, their ice-bound brethern, the Kings, had made the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade and were holding their own against the Vancouver Canucks. As they say, what a difference a week can make. Last night, the Canucks shellacked the Kings 4-2, ending the series and the Kings’ season with their third straight victory. At the same time, the Lakers were limping home tied 2-2 in their first round series, having been soundly beaten by the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-89 on Saturday. Good turned bad very quickly for the LA teams. The Kings were underdogs in their series, and had enough moments late in the season and in their one series to at least build on for next season. The Lakers, however, have nothing to feel good about. In theory, they should have steamrolled OKC in 4 or 5, but lack any kind of killer instinct. And let’s face facts – Kobe looks old … really old. I don’t see it as a guarantee that they’ll get past Durant and Co, but even if they do you’re not going to see them hoist a banner this time.
- The NFL’s primetime draft experiment is in the books, and based on the general reaction I’d assume we’ll be seeing Mel Kiper Jr on “Dancing With The Stars” any day now. As for the draft itself, once you move beyond the obligatory suck-up-for-primetime moments (Drew Brees delivering the Saints’ first pick) or the sheer predictability of the first dozen picks, it was pretty interesting. In most years, the big story might be the Raiders’ decision to trade for yet another washed-up QB in Jason Campbell, or the dizzying fall of Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen (and his amazingly soft landing with Carolina, insuring he’ll become a first-year starter) or the complete lack of USC players in the first round (when’s the last time that happened … the Ted Tollner regime?). But the only story that really counts is Denver taking Florida QB Tim Tebow with the 25th pick overall. Maybe Josh McDaniel was worried he’d go through life known as “the guy who traded Jay Cutler”; now he’s gonna be “the idiot/genius who traded up to get Tebow” – we won’t know which for another couple of years. Gutsy call, to be sure. Props to the Titans for signing SC running back Stafon Johnson, injured last year when a barbell rack crushed his throat. Staf went undrafted but was picked up by fellow Trojan alum Jeff Fisher and will get a shot to play thanks to the trade a day earlier that sent another SC running back (Lendale White) to Seattle – where he’ll be coached by former Trojan coach Pete Carroll. It’s good to have those alumni contacts!
- The other shoe finally dropped for Pittsburgh’s troubled quarterback Ben Roethlisburger. Unfortunately for Big Ben, that shoe was commissioner Roger Goodell’s boot right to Ben’s ass, or more accurately, his wallet. Roethlisburger will sit the first six games of the 2010 season, a suspension that could be cut to 4 with good behavior and adherence to sanctions set down by the commissioner. Let’s face it – right now, Ben looks like a grade-A screw up, with two near-rape cases outstanding and that whole “riding the motorcycle without a helmet” thing a couple of years back. I’m convinced that if the Steelers could have gotten a decent deal for him he’d have been packing his bags by now, but instead he’s doing the public “mea culpa – I’ll try to do better” thing. We’ll see how that turns out. As for Goodell, he had no real choice – various groups were watching to see if he’d drop the hammer on a white star QB the way he likes to on a black reserve lineman. Apparently, he was perfectly willing, but I worry that he’s painting himself into a corner with larger and larger penalties. With the number of knuckleheads playing in the NFL, it certain that he’ll get more opportunities to meter out punishment.
- A couple of moths ago, it really looked like NASCAR had screwed what was left of the pooch. The boxy “Car of Tomorrow” racers were ugly and led to boring racing, and the drivers and their mani-pedi personalities were even duller. The economy was in the toilet, leading to sponsor losses, smaller crowds and huge layoffs among the teams. It frankly wasn’t looking good. Well, I don’t know how much of it was luck and how much design, but let’s just say the quality of the product is way up and this weekend’s race at Talledega was a good example. Not that long ago, a restrictor plate race meant a dull parade of rolling billboards where the only changes in position came from the performance of pit crews and the only excitement was the “big one” crash that the evenly matched cars made inevitable. Yesterday, however, was a much different story. Kevin Harvick set up Jamie McMurray with a last corner pass to nip him at the line, ending a race that saw 29 different leaders and 88 lead changes, both event records. There were still enough crashes to keep the fenderheads happy, and even a renewal of a brewing feud between teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Changes made by NASCAR this season, including removing the silly rear wing and replacing it with a more traditional spoiler and encouraging the drivers to mix it up a little more on track, have definitely contributed to a much more interesting racing series. It’s far from the bootlegger days of old, but it’s finally once again a product that old-school drivers would at least recognize.
March 15, 2010
For good or bad, I’ve been hacking away at this blog for nearly four years now. During that time, I’ve learned a lot, entertained a few and infuriated a couple. Hopefully, you’re one of them. But as I look back on the experience, I see that there’s one key relationship I didn’t understand when I first started – happiness is the blogger’s enemy.
Having been hooked on a number of blogs (some of which are still listed in the Blogroll to the right), I thought I could take a shot at it. After all, I thought I was everything most of the bloggers I read seemed to be – witty, snarky and miserable. Witty and snarky come naturally to me, but the key to a good blog is the misery part – you just can’t spend your time smacking down others unless you have a certain inner angst and self-loathing that needs to be vented.
For the first couple of years, the posts came easily. My job sucked, my life sucked, and it was pretty easy to get me irritated about something in the world. Much like Peter Griffin, there was usually something that really ground my gears, and dumping the bile out on the electronic pad and paper seemed to help. Look back through the history of the MB and you’ll see there’s pretty much a post a day – or two or three – in the early years.
Along the way, though, something happened – I stopped being angry. I’m a little older, so a little mellower, and a little more accepting of the stupidity of those around me. My job, while nothing to write home about, isn’t the worst one in the world, and I’m even happy in my personal life. Things just don’t suck quite as much as they used to, and the MB is paying the price in the form of gaps between posts – including big ones like the one just ended.
What used to come easy has become something of a chore. Much like someone who loved to home cook but suddenly found themselves slinging hash at Denny’s, the posts just don’t flow any more. It’s harder for me to find things to rant about, and harder for me to work up the lather needed to flesh out the rant. It used to be that if I saw someone do something stupid, I thought, “This’ll make a great posting!”; now my reaction more often than not is “Meh …”
Admittedly, I’ve done things to make the job harder on myself. I used to do a lot of posts that were basically just commentary on stories of the day, a couple of sentences wrapped around a quote from an article somewhere. I’ve gotten away from those, as I have the Monday Sports Rant and Weekend Eye Candy posts that allowed me to focus on Tuesday through Thursday. But shifting away from quantity towards quality puts an even larger burden on me to crank out the good stuff, and unlike some of my more talented peers, it’s not always easy.
So what exactly does this all mean? If I was smart, it’d mean the end of this blog. The kiss of death for any content source is lack of content, and those few people who regularly read the MarlinBlog long ago left as the posts became fewer and further between. But I’m a hard-ass and don’t like quitting on things, so we’ll just muddle on. Maybe my life will take a dump and I’ll suddenly find new venomous inspiration, and the posts will once again flow like the green beer and yellow pee on Wednesday. Or perhaps, like the Colorado River once too many irrigation pipes have sucked it off, the posts will slow to a trickle and finally just disappear into the desert sands.
I guess we’ll see, won’t we …
February 22, 2010
Back from a long week of workshops and ready to talk some Winter Olympics …
- If there is a story of redemption in these Olympics, it has to be skier Bode Miller. He arrived at the Olympics four years ago expecting to compete for gold, but with his head in clearly the wrong place. His lack of discipline and conflicts with the US Ski Team forced him to leave Torino empty handed and the subject of justified ridicule. Four years later, Miller comes to Vancouver a changed man – the father of a two-year old who has completely changed his attitude. He’s returned to the national team and is skiing better than he has in years. Even with that, however, no one really expected him to score medals in each of his first races, but that’s exactly what he’s done – including an impressive gold in the combined. He’s considered a medal favorite in two more events, which would leave him the most decorated skiier ever for a single Olympic games – quite a change from the last go around …
- Another guy who as performed above expectation – at least, the expectation of anyone but himself – is short track skater Apolo Ono. After starring in the last two winter games, Ono stepped away from skating and expanded his fame significantly by competing in – and winning – TV’s “Dancing With The Stars”. Most viewers assumed you’d never again see Ono back on the ice, but he still had the itch and regained his competitive form. In a sport marked by notoriously short careers – Ono has repeatedly pointed out he’s skating against people coached by people he used to skate against – Ono has scored a pair of medals at the half-way point in the games. Some will point out that his achievements have come in part due to the misfortune of others, but he’s been a victim of that same kind of bad luck himself over the years and it all balances out. He’s now the most-decorated US Winter Olympian, and still has two more events to skate.
- Unlike most of her teammates, skier Lindsay Vonn was expected to win her events – at least until a training injury mere days before the Games began left her unable to ski. Frankly, only the unpredictable weather of Vancouver gave her a chance to even compete, and she made the most of her opportunity, scoring the gold in the women’s downhill. Her results since that first race haven’t been as fruitful, mixing a DNF with a bronze medal, but the joyous yells she lets out at the end of a run – win or lose – show how happy she is just to be competing.
- Americans like to look at Canada as our 51st state, but I suspect most Canadians see Americans as their boorish neighbors to the south. Louder, ruder, clumsier – we’re the bulls in the Canadians china shop. Imagine how it must feel, then, for the American hockey team to go to Vancouver and beat the Canadians at their national game – and yet, that’s just what happened in group play yesterday. The Canadians outshot the Americans 2-to-1, but inspired defense and goalkeeping kept the US squad in the game long enough to take a 4-3 lead late into the game. An open netter set the final score, and started the spin doctoring of the results. Publicly, the Canadians are saying it’s just another game, but most people think these are the two teams destined to meet for the gold, and you really don’t want to lose a game like this. For all their ho-hum reaction, it’s worth noting that the Canadians have benched goalie Martin Brodeur in favor of Roberto Luongo for the remainder of the tournament. Those cold fingers are closing on the Canadian team’s necks …
- Did I mention that the US Women’s hockey team is playing the Canadians for the gold? Imagine if both teams bring home the gold – they’d have to close the bars in Canada …
February 8, 2010
There was probably some other sports this weekend, but c’mon – you know what we all watched …
- Last week, if you’d put money on the New Orleans Saints to win Super Bowl XLIV, it would have been considered a sucker bet or, at best, a sentimental bet. But today, it’s a winning bet after the long-suffering Saints defeated the Colts 31-17 last night in Miami. There will be a lot of talk about how the Saints uplifted the spirit of New Orleans, and that is a great thing that comes out of this game no matter who you were pulling for. But for now, let’s talk about who won the game – or, more importantly, lost it. Drew Brees has one of the greatest post-seasons by a quarterback, and the rest of the Saints did what they had to do to get their hands on the Lombardi Trophy. But to me, the real story of this game is the inexplicable performance by the Colts. This is a team built to win the big game, one that sacrificed the possibility of a perfect season to get to the big game – and once there, acted like they never arrived. League MVP Peyton Manning had a decent game statistically (with one significant exception), but the Colts played like a team more worried about not losing than winning – and that’s a recipe for disaster. Incredibly dull play calling by the Colts’ coaching staff led to field goals instead of touchdowns – and punts instead of first downs – and left the door open for the Saints. And the Saints came marching through …
- Football is a team game, but this more than most was a story of individual moments. There were good moments – Tracy Porter’s interception return to seal the victory, Sean Peyton’s decision to go with an onside kick at the beginning of the second half that left the Colts’ flat-footed and flabbergasted – and bad – Pierre Garcon’s drop of an easy pass on a crucial third down. But the one that will stick with me will be Hank Baskett’s flub of the aforementioned kickoff. Look, the reason you put wide receivers on the front line of a kickoff is for this very occurance – that’s why it’s called the “good hands team”. Baskett, better known as the guy who stole Kendra Wilkinson from Hugh Hefner, was a mid-season pickup by the Colts after getting dumped by the Eagles. After this gaffe, I think he’s gonna be looking for a job once again …
- OK, let’s talk about the real game … the commercials. For the last decade or so, the buzz before the big game has often been more about the commercials than the game itself – blame Apple and the original Mac commercial in ’84 for that, I guess. But, much like the action on the field, the commercials seldom live up to the hype, and this year was no exception. There were nearly 70 commercials during the game (!), but I’d say only a half-dozen or so were even memorable. Some of my favorites were the Snickers commercial with Betty White and Abe Vigoda (who’s still alive – who knew?) or the Coke commercial with the entire cast of the Simpsons. Both were cute in entirely different ways. There were plenty of attempts to sell with a different cute (Megan Fox taking self-portraits in the hot tub, for example), but for me they fell short. Same goes for perennial SB advertisers GoDaddy and e-Trade (the new baby sucks). Among the big winners were Focus on the Family, whose Tim Tebow commercial was remarkably understated compared to the controversy it stirred up, and Toyota, who threw itself on its sword in a mea culpa commercial aimed at the largest audience possible. Doubt that’s gonna save the stock value, though. The best of the bunch, though, has to be the one in which an entire trans-Atlantic love affair played itself out in the simple interface of a search window, reminding the world that no matter how much money Microsoft and Yahoo invest in hyping their search engines, when the world wants a question answered, it still “Googles it”.
January 25, 2010
I’m trying something new here at the ol’ MB by not automatically having certain posts on certain days (goodbye, Weekend Eye Candy …). But if it’s Monday, and I’ve seen sports I need to rant about, whatcha gonna go …
- For once, everyone in the NFL stuck to the script, and the teams that should be going to the Super Bowl will actually meet in Miami in two weeks. The Colts wore down a gritty but ultimately overwhelmed New York Jets team to take the AFC championship, and the Saints continued their feel-good story season by surviving in overtime against a battered Vikings squad. A couple of things came to mind watching the games. First, if teams take on the personality of their leader, then Peyton Manning must be as cool as the other side of the pillow. Down 11 at the half after a pair of TD passes by rookie Mark Sanchez, the Colts never panicked – hell, they never even cracked a sweat. They just rolled off 24 unanswered points and reminded everyone why they started the season 14-0. One more performance like this, and they’ll justify coach Jim Caldwell’s decision to tank the last two regular season games – and a shot at a perfect season – to rest the starters. Meanwhile, down in the Big Easy, the Saints turned Vikings QB Brett Favre into their own personal voodoo doll, sticking him and bending him into positions no man was designed to assume. Give Brett credit for courage and pain tolerance, but the repeated hits may have led him to force a pass he wishes he could have back – the one intercepted with 15 seconds to go in regulation. Sure, it would have been a 55-yd field goal attempt, but indoors. Whatever your thoughts on that, it’s likely to be the last throw of a Hall of Fame career. Given a healthy offense and a little protection, Favre would be facing Manning in the Super Bowl; instead, he’s facing one more offseason of decision.
- Did you know the 2010 PGA season had started? Probably not, and I’m not surprised. Welcome to the Tigerless-PGA – and it’s not pretty. This is the downside of the legend – much as he was responsible for the addition of new events and inflation of prize checks and audiences, his dramatic fall from grace has left the tour in the hands of a bunch of young, flavorless touring pros. Sure, they have talent, but no one knows who they are – and unless the PGA can figure out how to market them, they’re in trouble. Meanwhile, Eldrick is cooling his … heels … in a Mississippi clinic, purportedly to recover from sex addiction. As I recall, that was the same dodge that Lindsay Lohan pulled, so excuse me if I’m less than sold. One things for sure, though – the tour will be without Woods longer than it thinks. There’s a great article by Jason Sobel on ESPN.com that outlines his belief that Woods simply lost his love for the game long ago, making it all the harder to come back now. I think he’s right, but we’ll see …
- Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something fundamentally unnerving about seeing Khloe Kardashian at the White House shaking the President’s hand. And yet, that was just part of the … um, excitement … as the Lakers made their appearance with President Obama for the traditional White House greeting. Khloe, for those whose tastes don’t take them to places like TMZ.com, is the new wife of forward Lamar Odom. Dude – next time, just buy a dog and a Bentley … it’s a much better investment, and likely to last a whole lot longer.