Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Week With New York's College Team

Syracuse's efforts to brand itself as New York's College Team are going to take a big hit next year when it joins the Atlantic Coast Conference. One showcase it will lose is access to the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, which has obligations to take teams from the Big East and Big XII.

This is the third season of the Pinstripe Bowl and SU's second appearance. I missed the debut game against Kansas State in 2010, which SU won thrillingly. But I wasn't going to miss their second and perhaps last appearance, so as soon as it was officially announced I ordered the tickets for Poppy and me through the Dome Box office. $60 each and only $7 total for shipping and handling, no other fees. Seats were in section 226, the third baseline, second deck 6th. Pretty good seats, along the goal line in the end zone reading Syracuse.

The game was great, SU dominated on the ground, rushing for almost 400 yards, 208 for Prince-Tyson Gulley and 157 for Jerome Smith. SU pulled away in the second half, for a 38-14 win.
The weather really stymied both teams, but I will readily admit that Syracuse is much better equipped to deal with a day such as this when it's hard to throw or catch a pass. The Orange got two safeties, and neither QB threw for 200 yards. At a certain point Syracuse stopped even trying to throw the ball.

The weather actually wasn't that bad from a fan's perspective. The first quarter it rained, which really sucked, but it makes your clothes cold and heavy. But into the second quarter it started to snow lightly which was actually cool. And by the end of the game you could look up and see the perfectly white snow trickling down, set against the pitch black sky.

The worst part of the game were the hooligans seated in front of us. A group of about 10 recent alumni, totally wasted. At first they refused to sit down. At some point they moved to an adjacent section, and remained standing, but out of our line of vision. One of them got so drunk he passed out in the bathroom and security came down to notify his next of kin. Eventually they carried that drunk dumbass back to his seat, literally carried him. But he last only about 5 more minutes before either going underneath or going home. One of his idiotic cohorts almost got into a fistfight with a West Virginia fan, but eventually they calmed down and Poppy and I were able to enjoy the game.

Which is more than I can say about the SU game I went to the previous week, basketball, at Madison Sqaure Garden in something called the Gotham Classic. Seems like a trumped up reason to get a home away from Dome game at MSG.

Billy, who is a baller now, got us some awesome tickets. We were on the sidecourt, opposite the SU bench, looking down the baseline, about 6 rows up in the first section of permanent seats (they have some risers they use for basketball games). Incidentally Scoop Jardine sat in those seats in front of us in the second half and his pants were sagging so low I saw his drawers.

The game was a total disappointment as SU went into an offensive funk early in the second half allowing Temple to take a big lead. SU closed it several times, and actually had the chance to take the lead late when on a fast break Brandon Triche pulled up for 3, inexplicably and missed, giving Temple control of the ball and the game.

The usual suspects hurt SU, shooting 56% from the line and allowing Temple to get 16 offensive rebounds on 36 missed shots.

3 things about Hall of Fame Coach, 900 game winner, Jim Boeheim. He has never figured out how to teach his guys to shoot free throws. And unlike times when he had big men missing free throws and skewing the average, in this game his point guards, Michael Carter Williams and Brandon Triche, shot 9 of 19. I have no idea why he played DaJuan Coleman so sparingly when SU needed rebounding, and boxing out. And I still don't know why he insists on playing such incredibly weak non-conference schedules.

But you win some you lose some and as a fan of SU in New York I will try to keep being there for all of it.

Weekly Picks

Thank God this year is almost over.

NEW YORK GIANTS -6 1/2 philadelphia
I don't think the Giants have quit even though they've played horribly two straight weeks when a lot was on the line.

NEW ORLEANS -4 1/2 carolina
The Saints seem to still be playing hard. This is a pretty small spread for a home team. But hard to figure when two teams are out of it.

DENVER -16 kansas city
Last time they played Kansas City kept it close. Not this time.

NEW ENGLAND -9 1/2 miami
Patriots were disappointing against Jacksonville last week. And disappointed against San Francisco the previous week. They will go into the playoffs playing better than that.

chicago -3 DETROIT

The Bears need this game (and a Vikings loss) to make the playoffs. Detroit is done, and probably have nothing left to care about after getting Calvin Johnson the receiving yards record last week.

Last Week: 2-3 (1 point)
Season: 33-47 (25 points)
Best Bets: 0-1 (4-12)
Home Favorites: 0-0 (9-21)
Home Underdogs: 0-0 (6-4)
Road Favorites: 1-2 (10-14)
Road Underdogs: 1-1 (8-8)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Washington's Real First Lady

The whole country is smitten with our First Lady Michelle Obama. And they love her even more in Washington DC. Her normal stay-at-home mom wardrobe, her perfectly toned arms and her wonderful caring anti-childhood-obesity program are enough to make you swoon. But there are some holdouts, probably racists and right-wing nuts.
But Washington does have a first lady we can all agree on, Rebecca Liddicoat, soon to be Mrs. Robert Griffin III.
By all accounts, Liddicoat and Griffin have a great relationship. They met and fell in love at Baylor and RG3 proposed to her last year with a love song he wrote himself. The fact that they are different races doesn't matter to them, or anyone who is not Rob Parker.
They certainly look happy.

But there's one thing that nags at me about this, she isn't that hot. Yes, she is pretty, and she'd be attractive enough to date just about any other man. But not the star quarterback, one of the best players in the league. Doesn't RG3 need a smokin' hottie like Lauren Tannehill? Or an international supermodel like Giselle?
But then again, do I really want my star QB involved with some shrew? Don't I want him to have a loving supportive wife who always stands by him and never causes trouble? I think the Mannings have done this right, Peyton Manning's wife Ashley and Eli Manning's wife Abigail are both low-key, but they're also gorgeous, more attractive than the future Mrs. Griffin III.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Poppy Didn't React Like This for His Pinstripe Bowl Ticket

A very touching video is making the rounds on the internet since Christmas. An Alabama fan gets a ticket to the BCS National Title Game, Alabama vs. Notre Dame.

Strange that Poppy didn't react that way when he got a ticket to the Pinstripe Bowl for Christmas.
I love the way the guy tried to seem happy about the hat, and they had to say "what size is it?" in order for him to notice the ticket.

Song of the Week

"Die Young" - Ke$ha
Congratulations on surviving the end of the world prediction from the normally infallible Mayans. But don't rest on your laurels and think you are going to live forever. Take Ke$ha's advice and make a New Year's resolution to live like you're going to die young. But do so in a fiscally prudent matter, just in case you do make it into your golden years.

He Was Asked to Leave His Place of Residence

Jack Klugman died on Christmas Eve at age 90. Klugman, no relation to Razor or FatScat, had been a smoker and had throat cancer and even lost a vocal cord because of it.
He was in one of my favorite old movies, the simple but elegant "12 Angry Men." He was the last surviving actor from the movie.
But he is most famous for his role as the slovenly sports reporter Oscar Madison on the sitcom adaptation of the play/movie, "The Odd Couple", which had one of the best opening themes in TV history.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Poop's Christmas Message

A lot has been lost this year, a massive hurricane destroying the East Coast, a horrific mass shooting devastating the entire country, and a presidential election saddening about 50 percent of Americans.
It's been a crazy year, but when so much has been lost the best thing to do is to be thankful for that which we do have.
So whether you're spending this time with family celebrating Christmas, or spending it with the proprietors of your local Chinese food restaurant, take a minute to reflect on all that you have gained this year, while others have lost so much.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The NFL is Poop - Week 16

For Real
Four weeks ago I watched the Seattle Seahawks play the Chicago Bears. The Seahawks were 6-5, with one of those wins being the screwjob against the Packers. The Bears had a 14-10 lead late in the game and seemed likely to make the Seahawks 6-6, but really should have been 5-7. Then the Seahawks struck. They scored a late TD in regulation to take a 17-14 lead, then another one in overtime to win the game.
If there were such a thing as momentum, that game started it all. In the three games since the Seahawks have outscored opponents 150-30. Granted, two of the opponents were weak, but they pounded a pretty good San Francisco team.
Seattle has a great defense, with big, strong fast players up front, and in the secondary. They have a great running game which opens things up for Russell Wilson who is putting up numbers just as good or better than his more highly regarded rookie counterparts.

Choke Job
For the second week in a row the Steelers chances of winning the game and making the playoffs were erased by a bad decision by Ben Roethlisberger leading to an interception. This time the Steelers got the ball back with 44 seconds to go deep in their own territory. It probably would have been prudent to play for overtime, but Mike Tomlin trusted his veteran quarterback and Roethlisberger let him down again. Big Ben got intercepted and after one long pass by Andy Dalton the Bengals kicked the winning field goal knocking Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.
Once you win two Super Bowls you pretty much get a free pass for the rest of you career, at least in regards to choking under pressure. But clearly Ben knows the team he is on now is not nearly as good as the ones he used to play for. And tries to do too much, to win games by himself, and sometimes he ends up losing them.

Welcome to the NFL
So you want to be an NFL quarterback? Greg McElroy finally got his big chance and probably wishes Mark Sanchez had started and taken that ass-whipping. McElroy was sacked 11 times, and hit 16 times in total (sacks are included in that). But it's not just the offensive line that's decimated. McElroy was throwing to such luminaries as Clyde Gates, Hayden Smith and Konrad Reuland. The Jets are a terrible team right now and though I agree with giving McElroy the start, the players around him are so bad, it doesn't even seem fair to judge him based on this performance.

Game of the Week
New Orleans Saints 34 Dallas Cowboys 31

In a game the Cowboys absolutely needed to have, they dug themselves a hole, and had Tony Romo dig them out of it. Trailing 31-17 with 4 minutes to go, Romo led a furious comeback with some great passes to Dez Bryant for a big gainer, to Dwayne Harris for the first touchdown, and Miles Austin for the second.
Both quarterbacks threw for over 400 yards, Marques Colston had 153 yards, pretty good, but not compared to the 224 by Dez Bryant.
The good thing for the Cowboys was that this game was basically meaningless for them. Win or lose they still need to beat the Redskins in Week 17 to make the playoffs.

Game of Next Week
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

Two bitter rivals, winner take all, most likely the loser misses the playoffs. Sunday night, last game of the season.

A Brief Rant About the Redskins
For many years in this space I bitched about the Redskins inability to create turnovers. This year's defense is much better at doing that. 27 turnovers (18 INTs, 9 fumble recoveries) for a +13 turnover margin. It's a good thing they can do that, because they can't stop anyone. The Eagles dominated this game early but the Redskins made the big plays to thwart their scoring opportunities. And eventually they tightened up, though the bend but don't break philosophy almost cost them, but luckily they put enough pressure on Foles to force him into a game-ending mistake.

Picture of the Week
Carolina Panthers cheerleaders dressed for the Christmas season.

If the Super Bowl Were Played Today
Seattle Seahawks 31 Denver Broncos 24

I would not want to play the Seahawks right now, but please remember the Broncos have won 10 games in a row and face the Chiefs with a chance to earn home field throughout the playoffs.

All the Wright Moves

I have been calling for a total dismantling of the New York Mets since around 2009. I have blamed the Mets fans and their desire to keep up with their obnoxious neighbors for preventing the Mets from doing what they need to do to win a World Series.
Here is how you compete in baseball today: draft well, develop those draftees, sign the ones that show the most promise early in their major league careers to long-term deals to lock them up until at least their age 30 seasons. Something the Mets can afford to do, given their market size and revenues. And once you've done all that, and you have 5-6 really good players locked up to cost-effective contracts, then you sign a couple veterans to short deals, 1 or 2 years, 3 at the most.
The Mets are finally embracing that philosophy and it's promising to pay dividends, probably not in 2013, maybe not in 2014, but by 2015 the Mets should be on the road to contention. And trading R.A. Dickey was a huge part of it. I love R.A. Dickey. What a nice man, a class act and a great pitcher, but he had to go.
Even if the Mets were in position to be competitive this season, I still would favor this trade. Dickey is old (entering his age 38 season). He throws a knuckleball, which may mitigate some of the expected decline of aging, but can also be a fickle mistress, meaning his magic could fade quickly. Speaking of magic, let's take a brief interlude to appreciate just how awesome, Dickey's knuckleball is.

Plus, he's coming off a Cy Young season, even if the Mets were on the verge of contention, selling high on Dickey would be the right thing to do.
But the Mets aren't good. And Dickey was seeking a 2-year extension for $25 million, through his age 40 season. And the Mets got two very good prospects for him, Travis D'Arnaud who could be a solid hitting catcher for a long time for the Mets. And a hard-throwing righty Noah Syndergaard who will fit in the nicely with the young arms the Mets are already developing. Add that to Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jon Niese and the Mets have a promising young rotation.

The lineup is another matter which is why I like resigning Daving Wright. The Mets lineup is very weak, and doesn't have the youthful reinforcements the way the pitching staff does. Wright is an excellent player at a very important position. His presence will likely help the development of younger players like Davis and Duda (who I think still has potential and should be given fielding lessons and the everyday left field job).

I'm also a pragmatist. I understand this is a business. Wright has marquee value and even though the fans are idiots, the Mets need those idiots to buy tickets and jerseys and to watch SNY so keeping Wright was a very important gesture to keep those fans. Sure, I would have liked the slew of prospects a trade for Wright could have brought in return, but I understand his value to the team goes beyond his contributions on the field.

And Wright is entering his age 28 season which means, when the team Sandy Alderson has expertly crafted is ready to compete, Wright should still be performing at a high level, hopefully high enough to return the Mets to the World Series.