Monday, January 31, 2005
OK, first off, I SWEAR TO GOD that the RantBlog is getting there. I really want to just not post anything until I have it done, but, yeah, wasn't happening. Still, I'm keeping this short, because I REALLY AM ACTUALLY WORKING ON THE RANTBLOG, like, right at this very moment. As we speak. Or as your eyes wibble lazily across what I have previously written, but you know.
We've been trucking along with this, and the emails have been picking up quite a bit since the playoffs began. We even picked up a stray, the lovely and intelligently amusing Kristen, who is joining us as a guest emailer for the end run.
So, here are the installments I haven't been updating you on because I've been a lazy person lately. They're all up on the side if you want to go back and read the previous ones (I think Part 7 was the last one I detailed here in the body of the blog-- that's the one where we had a rollicking huge fight about Randy Moss).
Part 8: Kristen joins us for the first time, we learn that it will be a Patriots/Eagles Superbowl, which means that it's three Pats fans versus one Eagles fan in TCFTland. Sorry, Mer.
Part 9: I am in class while this happens, so my dulcet tones go unheard. Frelling studios. While I'm gone, the gals throw around some comments on hair (Tommy and Freddie) and, you know, actual football.
Part 10: I return at the end of this one and discover that my inbox has been violated by a billion TCTF emails. Before I get back, they discuss the whining of the Steelers, and whether or not the Pats get enough respect.
Part 11: I attempt to get caught up, and then the whole thing derails and we spend the rest of the installment talking about, um, the aesthetic merits of scruffy, 'lumberjack' Brady vs. cleanshaven, 'metrosexual' Brady. I'm so ashamed of us. And yet, I'd do it again.
I just wanted to make sure you were all reading that stuff, so go forth, my pretties, and engage your mind.
In the sporting blogosphere news, Meredith said hello to Donovan McNabb, the Detroit Tigers Weblog managed to scare the crap out of Tigers fans everywhere by posting a chronological analysis of Magglio Ordonez' knee injury (never before seen in baseball, surely that is not a good sign?), the Cheap Seats chooses to torment us all with a running commentary of the Michigan/MSU basketball game (yeah, enjoy while it you can, Spartan fools. We still won the football game), and Athletics Nation gets an interview with Billy Beane that managed to completely blow my mind on several levels, not least of which was the fact that Billy Beane was actually completely willing to talk to a blogger. First Dave Dombrowski, then Beane. Next in line's got to be DePodesta, but after that... c'mon Theo, we're all waiting.
Billy Beane interview here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. If you don't read any of what I linked to above, read this. It's just... gngh. Awesome.
To keep my parents happy, here's what I'm working on in drawing these days:
Yes, it is a cat skull with a toy mouse in its mouth.
It'll be a whole series of animal skulls with things either in their mouths or near them that they would, in life, gnaw upon. We had to pick a verb, see, and somehow illustrate it. My verb is 'gnaw', so I'm doing this series of drawings. It's cool, I went and sat in the Natural History museum for a ridiculously long time on Friday drawing various mammal skulls. Gonna take me forever, due to my obsessive penwork, but in the end it should, at least, not suck. I can't say it'll be any good, but lack of overt suckitude is pretty good for me these days.
And to close, I will give you the best email I have received this semester, hands down. The art school forwards us emails of people who want a photographer or a designer or whatever, and this is one that we got today.
Subject: Need to borrow kitten for an art project!
I am an Art and Design student looking to borrow a kitten for a project. I known this sounds somewhat shady and strange, but please DO NOT WORRY! THE PROJECT IS UTTERLY HARMLESS - I would sooner shoot myself in the foot, twice, before I
would hurt an innocent kitty. I won't be doing anything abnormal to the kitten either, so you won't have to worry about me slapping stickers on him or dressing him up in outfits or anything odd like that. The kitten merely has to be his/her kitten-like self.
I WILL be taking the kitten out in public and showing him to persons, so the kitten must be comfortable around people - I'll also need a cat carrier to transport him/her in (obviously).
I will only need the kitten for one day for the project. As I'd prefer to keep the project a secret, I won't reveal details in this e-mail, but I will explain everything if you wish to know more.
Again, the kitten's safety is my first piority. If you are willing to lend a kitten, but feel uncomfortable about certain aspects of my project, please let me know and I will try to adjust my ideas accordingly.
Oh Colleen. I only wish I had a kitten to lend.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
I promised myself that I wouldn't post anything on football or this past crazy family- and snow-filled weekend or anything else until I had the RantBlog up. As usual, I can't quite stick to my own guns. News is tricksy like that. Stories can keep and be posted later, but news has to be reacted to right this very moment. So.
Goodbye, Doug Mientkiewicz. Or Doug Manishevitz, or Mientkie, or Minky, or Minty, or Malphabet, or Mientadfljkadsfkhj, or Hot Sexy Man (thinking of you, Tatiana), or whatever you called him in the relatively short time he was here. The Red Sox went into Minnesota for a series against the Twins. One game Mientkie (my nickname of choice) was on the Twins. The next game, the very next day, even, he was playing for the Sox, against the Twins. That's got to be disconcerting.
We all knew this was coming, that as soon as Delgado went (to the Marlins, in the end) we were going to shovel off either Mientkiewicz or Millar, and all the bad press swirling around during the downtime (thank you, Dan Shaughnessy, you malicious word-twisting hack) seemed to point to Mientkie as the goner. Oh, I know 'Ballgate' wasn't officially sanctioned by the front office or anything like that, but does anyone else see a pattern here? The whole blasted-by-the-media-for-things-which-may-or-may-not-actually-be-blast-worthy, followed by departure of the player? Anyone? Bueller?
I know it's part and parcel of being in Boston, where the media is surpassed in sheer rabidness only by New York, but I don't have to like it. What can I say? You can achieve great glory out here on the East coast, but you've got to have a thick skin to do it.
For what it's worth I think the whole 'Ballgate' thing is an absolute crock of coprolites, a total non-story that got blown up into something fantastically ridiculous. I like my iconic objects as much as the next sports fan (I wear the same hat all the time, I hug my Patriots pillow, every time I go home I have to throw the marvelously gameworn and scuffed ball my dad snagged for me at the Lowell Spinners game last summer from hand to hand a few times just to remind myself that I'm back in Boston), but this was insane. I emailed Jodi Mientkiewicz (his wife) about this right around when it broke and she posted something on one of the Red Sox message boards. It was basically just me ranting and saying I was behind them and thought the whole thing was Dumb-with-a-capital-D, but she wrote back, which was totally unexpected and very nice.
Anyways, I've gone and gotten myself all riled up about this now, because the guy should be leaving Boston a hero, the first baseman who caught the last out of the 2004 WORLD SERIES, the guy who gave us excellent defense when that's what we were lacking, and instead he's practically ridden out of town on the hood of Shaughnessy and Dirt Dogs' dented old pickup truck. Thanks, guys. You took a happy event and turned it into a fucking media circus, and succeeding in tainting yet another One of The 25 in the eyes of the country. Well done, sirs, I doff my fucking paint-covered Red Sox hat in your general direction.
I'm also not so sure about this trade in general... Mientkie, i.e. former Gold Glover with the potential for a respectable bat, for, um, an injured minor leaguer? We couldn't have gotten more for him? I don't know, it seems like a very Billy Beane-ish type of trade to me, and yes, I like Billy Beane a lot (there, I said it, I like Billy Beane, release the hounds), but I still don't know. We're gambling trade value on this kid getting healthy and getting hot, it seems. Seriously a kid, he's only two years older than me. And yes, he's got the plus of having the last name 'Bladergroen', which lends itself to all kinds of comedic potential. But. Heck, I don't know. I'm tired and annoyed and I can't remember if I have work due tomorrow or not.
We needed defense last year, so much so that we had to go out in the middle of the season and get some. Now we're getting rid of it again? Because don't even try to tell me that Millar at first gives us comparable defense. Oh yeah, and Millar? You'd better be hot with that bat for most of the season. Theo went with you on this one, now prove him right. If you start slumping and subjecting us to your usual defensive woes, you will be torn to pieces by the fans. Just so you know.
Tired. RantBlog soon, I mean it this time, really, it's at least half written and sitting on my harddrive. I have no idea why this is taking so long, it's not like it's complicated. Ungh. Really tired. Goodbye Mientkie, I'm sorry it had to end this way, but I'm doing my level best to keep your image in my mind restricted to the happy good things. Good luck on the Mets.
Speaking of which, the Mets? Is there anyone they didn't get this offseason, other than Jason Varitek and Randy Johnson? Good lord. If the Mets are actually good this year I'm not sure what I'll do with myself. It will be that weird in the world. Red Sox defending champions and the Mets valid contenders.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Uh huh. Oh yeah.
More when I have time and not, erm, tons of homework to do. Damn you, CFC, damn you straight to Hell. Still, I'm happy right now. Very happy. Super happy. Falling over dead tired, yes, but HAPPY!
*falls over unconscious*
*dreams happy Patriots dreams prominently featuring Tedy Bruschi, Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, David Givens, and rather a lot of pillows*
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
No, Pudge! Run! Run while you still can!
I had the Duke/Miami college basketball game on as background noise just now, and ESPN kept showing shots of A-Rod in the crowd, talking on his cell phone (yes, in the middle of the game... and no, he didn't go to either one of the schools, but he lives in Miami, so.) and I remembered this photo, which was from some pro game back in December.
What a study in comparisons and contrasts, though, huh? We've got the huge-contract, huge-name player who comes to a team for huge money and is everything that everyone hoped he would be: a leader and stabilizing force in the clubhouse, a great defender, and a deliveryman on offense. Then we've got the huge-contract, huge-name player who comes to a team for huge money and is almost nothing that everyone hoped he would be: a bitchy liability in the postseason who doesn't quite deliver as expected on the field. And hey, both named Rodriguez. The former would be Pudge and the latter Alex, in case you couldn't tell.
When I first saw that shot my immediate thought was, "Noooo! Pudge! Someone remove him from the presence of evil before he's tainted!" Then I calmed down and realized that A-Rod isn't actually evil-- he's just a whiner who can't deliver when his teams need him to and who has some sort of weird vendetta thing going with Bronson Arroyo*.
Bronson, by the by, was signed to Boston for a one year deal the other day, along with Mark Bellhorn. Sweet. That means that my Who Died and Made You Mark Bellhorn? tshirt will be valid for another year.
My cousin Sam's bar mitzvah is this weekend, so I shall be picked up by the family tomorrow night (after 11 hours of classes... the joy... is... killing me...), and I'm not sure if I'll have internet access. I wouldn't count on it. So I'm not dead, I'm letting you know ahead of time.
And I am very sorry that things (i.e. the RantBlog) are being pushed back like this. I actually have almost the entire shape of it down, but I keep waiting for this semester to slow down so I can seriously polish it up to my own low standards. Hasn't happened yet. Hopefully it will soon.
*Arroyo is the pitcher who hit A-Rod and set off the by-now quite famous A-Rod/Varitek brawl. Let the record state that, due to the kind of pitch he favors and his relative youth, Arroyo ranks quite highly in the league when it comes to hit batters. Hitting A-Rod may or may not have been intentional, but there was no reason for A-Rod to flip out about it quite as much as he did.
Arroyo is also the pitcher who had the baseball slapped out of his glove by girly-running A-Rod, which was famously discussed by the umpires in the 2004 ALCS, and ended up with A-Rod getting out and the run that he would have hit in being taken off the board.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
So I guess I could write something about today's game.
I guess I could say something about how Gillette seemed to get louder whenever Peyton really needed to get an audible right, and how I was screaming in my room right along with them, like the soundwaves would travel in some special concentrated fashion right through the TV into his goddamn helmet microphone.
I could say something about how the short shot of Troy Brown carefully wiping a clump of impacted turf out of the top of Kevin Faulk's facemask caused me to completely melt in all of 0.3 seconds, and how it was so perfect that I didn't even have to explain to Trevor what I was grinning about.
I could say something about Troy Brown seeming to be in every single play of the first half, and most of the second half, and how did he play that entire game without collapsing from pure exhaustion? How could he be running routes on offense, catching the ball, then going out to bolster the injury-depleted secondary on defense, then returning the ball on special teams? How is that even possible? I could mention the UPS ad that came on during one of the commercial breaks, and how it ended with the now ubiquitous catchphrase, What can Brown do for you? and how I yelled out, "Everything, apparently!" and how this was, and is, so true.
I could say something about how we were all convinced that the weather was going to be perfect and clear today, and the snow that came barreling down, swirling chaotically in the weird drafts created by the stadium bowl, was like some sort of cosmic nod, like someone or something on high was acknowledging that it wouldn't be an Indy/New England playoff game in Foxboro if there wasn't a mess of precipitation clouding the cameras.
I could say something about Corey Dillon taking what should have, by all rights and rules of physics, been a one or two yard gain, and turning it into an 8 or 9 yard gain, or even longer. It wasn't even like there was a hole in the defense, it was like he would spin his back against someone, and strong-arm someone else out of his way, and when he was 15 yards downfield you could look at the defense on slow motion repeat and you still wouldn't see anything like a hole that a 6'1, 225 pound runningback could get through upright and on his feet.
And how just when the Colts had decided that they needed to stop Dillon from running all over them, the ball would be cradled securely in the black-padded elbow crook of Kevin Faulk, where it would take a leaping journey over prone white jerseys and snow-encrusted turf.
I could say something about the crowd jeering the Vanderjerk on his one field goal of the day, and how he had a little smirk on his face afterwards, that pathetic wisp of goatee pushed up by his chinstrap, and how he must have felt after the game, when he realized that those snide 3 points were all that the Colts were going to have that day, and that that easy little kick was his last of the season.
I could say something about Tom Brady throwing the ball to half the offense, and only not giving the other half completions because they were linemen and would have been awfully confused if a football had ended up in their hands. Throwing to Corey Dillon, and David Givens, and Daniel Graham, and Christian Fauria, and Kevin Faulk, and Troy Brown, and Patrick Pass, and who the hell didn't he throw it to? And when he wanted a second touchdown, to put the game securely away, he ran it in himself, spiking the ball in the endzone, just emptying his lungs into the frozen air and pumping his fist so hard to the skies that it popped his shoulder pad a little out of place, like Derek Jeter after a homerun if Derek Jeter was one third the man that Tom Brady is and actually knew how to do a fist pump without making it look, with apologies to my gay friends, totally gay.
I could say something about Tedy Bruschi going in like a bulldog and just taking. the ball. away. Just going in with his arms and his hands and pushing off the ground with whatever part of himself was on the ground to get leverage and taking a big stop and saying, "No. No, I'd like that ball." Rhodes had caught the ball, there was no reason for the Patriots to have it, but Bruschi just went in and took it away and rose up afterwards with the ball in his hand, yelling like a boxer who'd just won the prize fight, and maybe in a way he just had.
I could say something about all the signs that the fans had made, all the clever and mocking signs that football fans usually bring to games, and that dry New England wit fosters so nicely, but how the best one of all was just large black lettering on a white piece of posterboard and how it said, simply and succinctly and perfectly, a handwritten slap in the face of the all-time single-season touchdown leader who would not have a single touchdown today, "YOU CAN'T WIN HERE."
So I guess I could write about all that, but in the end it was one beautiful game with one beautiful final play, and I can say that in one paragraph and a couple of photos.
Because the very last play of the game was a desperate Manning throw to the endzone, which made it to the endzone but directly into the hands of angry, prideful, beautiful Rodney Harrison, and then the ball was going out of the endzone and onto the sideline along with some very happy Patriots and Peyton was doing that weird smiling grimace he does right before he gives it up and lets his whole face collapse, and I was pumping the air and Trevor's shoulders with my Patriots pillow, yelling and yelling and yelling, and it wasn't the 7th game of the ALCS or the 4th game of the World Series, but by god it was good.
By god, it was beautiful.
And you know what, I'll wax lyrical if I fucking want to. Because I did hardly any homework this weekend in the orgy that is playoff football, and I'll be doing it all tomorrow on my day off (thank you Mr. King), and this was a wonderful fucking game against the Indianapolis fucking Colts with their unstoppable fucking offense, and if that isn't reason enough for some florid writing then I don't know what is.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Please tell me I'm not the only person in the world who sees photos of Randy Johnson pitching and immediately thinks 'Galapagos tortoise'. Please. I realize that I am insane, but some company in my insanity would be most welcome.
Holy shiitake, the Detroit Tigers Weblog guy managed to get an interview with Dave Dombrowski, the President/CEO/GM of the Tigers. For those of you who know little or nothing of baseball but a good deal of Boston, that would be like Theo Epstein doing an interview with a Red Sox blog. Mad crazy props to DTW for this-- I've no idea how he managed to make it happen, but we're all glad he did. Give it a read, DD says some interesting stuff about the Tigs' offseason activity and possible future.
If ESPN is reporting this correctly, Major League Baseball will be announcing a new steroid policy tomorrow that would include the following:
-suspensions on the first offense
-random year-round testing, including the offseason
-every major league player would be tested at least once a year
-randomly selected players would be tested numerous times a year
It'll be interesting to see if this actually reveals steroid users in the league, and what kind of fallout there'll be when the first player is caught under these new strictures. So long as it isn't a member of the Red Sox or one of my nonSox player favorites*, I plan to watch with a bag of popcorn and a sense of mild glee. If it's a Yankee, well, so much the better. Giambi, Sheffield, whoever else... there are infinite choices here. Happy good things could happen. I can't wait for the first time that they try to insist that Th'Big Unit pee in a cup. He'll shove it angrily away (that ain't respectful to him, see), at which time the league doctors will insist that he has to comply with the policy. Naturally, at this point Randy will shout, "Don't talk back to me!" and jam the cup into the doctors' faces. Then maybe pee on their shoes, because he's Randy Johnson, and he can do stuff like that, gawdammit.
The Jets are having quarterback issues right now-- Chad "Media? I don't need no steenkin' media" Pennington is sick, and backup Quincy Carter is at home with his ill mother. Herm Edwards seems to think that the Penn will be back in action when the weekend lumbers around, but I don't like it. Why don't they just roll over for the Steelers now and save us all the trouble of getting our hopes up?
It does give us the opportunity to get some Herm Edwards quotes, at least. As incoherent as ever, Herm never fails to satisfy with the inexplicable and rambling soundbite. I quote: "Generally when guys get sick they have good games. I thought one time Michael Jordan got sick and he had, what, 100 points or something like that? Maybe that's a good sign when guys get sick."
And this philosophical gem: "There's always a positive in everything in life if you look at it that way. Now you can spin it the other way and say this glass is empty, but I've still got some water in it." Oh Herm. You're spoiling us, you really are.
Oh, and Curtis Martin, on exactly how important their quarterback is to their team: "You take something like sweet potato pie, and Chad is the sweet potato." I feel better about rooting for the Jets this Saturday simply because they're generating these awesome quotes.
Helene wrote about football on her blog. I am spreading the madness! The satisfaction I feel when one of my friends, who normally does not write about sports, writes about sports is incalculable.
New installment of Three Chicks Talk Football is up. This is a great one. We get into a heated scrap about Randy Moss. Seriously. Goin' at it like three ladies wearing football jersies in a great big mud-wrestling match. OK, maybe not, but I'll bet some of you clicked the banner to read it a little more readily because of that.
Hmm, Curt Schilling was just briefly on ESPN. He's talking like he now expects the ankle to be ready for Opening Day, and how exciting it would be to pitch against El Unit-o in Yankee Stadium. Hmm. The Official Unofficial Word on the Street is that part of the reason why Schill wanted to be traded off the D'backs was because he and El Unit-o couldn't stand one another. I did notice that in this (again, very brief) interview he made some polite genuflections to the pitching skill of RJ, but didn't say anything like, 'I really like the guy, he was a great teammate in Arizona, it'll be good to see him again, even if it is in the midst of a bloodthirsty rivalry.' Nope. None of that. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's definitely lending credence to those rumors, but sometimes it's all about what they don't say.
And hey, thanks to Joy of Sox for the linkalized shout-out. Much appreciated, good sir. If you haven't been reading Joy of Sox I guess you're not a good person. Either that, or you're just here for the football or [god knows why] the University minutae.
Speaking of which, I have some University minutae to finish up for tomorrow morning. I swear to all that's holy and unholy, the RantBlog will be up sometime this weekend, possibly even Friday. It all depends on the workload I end up with (i.e. if I finish my fibers project tomorrow or not). Later, kiddos.
* A group that includes recent former Sox like Dave Roberts, OCab, Todd Walker (I know, I know, I disgust you all) and now even people like Derek Lowe, as well as people who never have been Sox such as Pudge Rodriguez and Brad Ausmus.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
OK, I lied about editing that last post and making it proper (i.e. long). Sorry. I'm trying to adjust to this semester's schedule, and it isn't pretty. 6 hours of studios Monday-Thursday, with night lectures on Tuesday and Thursday is most decidedly not pleasant.
Goodbye, Derek Lowe. We all knew this was coming. DLowe was indeed the first pitcher ever to pitch all three clinching games of a postseason: the final ALDS game against the Angels (thusly sweeping the Rally Monkey), the final ALCS game against the Yankees (thusly completing the GREATEST CHOKE IN BASEBALL HISTORY), and the final game of the World Series against the Cardinals (thusly making the 2004 BOSTON RED SOX WORLD CHAMPIONS). And he's been on the team for a long time, since 1997-- he came over in the same trade that netted us Jason Varitek-- so he's been practically a franchise player.
Despite all that, it's hard to forget what he did to us in the regular season this year. The 5.42 ERA (which would've been even higher without the run support he got from our bats), the weekly use of the Derek Lowe face (bright red, cheeks puffed out, lips a-tremble, eyes swimming in barely unshed tears and aimed blurrily up at the heavens), the sinkers that didn't actually sink... it wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty to the extent that I was reduced to writing bad poetry about it back in September, and it takes a special kind of bad to send me that low.
Derek Lowe was not even supposed to be a starting pitcher in the postseason. He went into the postseason with the firm and incontrovertible knowledge that the team did not want him to start in the postseason. He knew that management did not trust him, the fans did not believe in him, and who knows what his teammates thought. To go out and pitch like he did with all of that hanging over him... well, that takes some proverbial balls. It would be a huge thing for any pitcher, but for DLowe, for someone whom we all knew as a sensitive crumbler who would let his mistakes accumulate until he had to break out the previously mentioned Derek Lowe face, it was truly remarkable.
This is the same guy who once said, "When Pedro or Schill has a bad game, they have a bad game. I have a bad game and I'm some kind of... a mental gidget," in an angrily tearful voice, to a delighted passel of reporters after another regular season meltdown on the mound.
Of course, this is also the same Derek Lowe who was clutch in the postseason in '03 (to no ultimate avail, but you can't have everything-- see, I can be much more sanguine about that loss now), and who tugged at the crotchular area of his baseball pants in such an emphatic way, in the direction of the Athletic's dugout, that Miguel Tejada was, as Surviving Grady says, driven to tears.
We'll miss him, both the good and bad. I'll miss getting to force otherwise Sox-apathetic Michigan residents to talk Boston baseball with me by touting DLowe as a huge Tigers fan and product of Dearborn (now I only have Jason Varitek, product of Rochester MI and actual, honest-to-gosh Lions fan, to wave like a banner out here). Best of luck in Dodgerland, Derek*.
I have some random notes sitting on my harddrive from this weekend's football playoff kickoff. I don't really feel like reliving it all, as every team I wanted to win actually lost, so I'll just repost these, all disjointed-like.
Well, that was pretty emphatically pathetic. Mike Shanahan [ed. note: head coach of the Denver Broncos] looked like he was holding back tears the entire first half. His face was a weird shade of red, but I guess that could have been reflected light from his horrible bright orange sweatshirt, or oversaturation from the CBS broadcast.
In the postgame onfield interview, Peyton Manning is asked about the upcoming game with the Patriots. He laughs a little and says he’s looking for it to be a good game, that the Pats have, “had a great season… one loss… great season.” Hrmph. “Two losses, Peyton,” I growl at the TV. I’m angry at him for making me issue the correction, as though it’s his fault we’ve got the two losses instead of one or none. It’s not his fault, and if I should be angry at anyone it ought to be Roethlisberger (who I AM angry at; I’m perpetually angry at anything Steeler-related these days) or AJ Feeley (who gets an emotional free-pass from me, as the QB of my number three team and due to the fact that that game didn’t completely tank our season). But right now, before we’ve even played him in the postseason, it’s Manning I’m poisonously mad at.
It’s, somehow, his fault that his arch-nemesis Ty Law is out for the year. It’s his fault that the Lions were embarrassed on national TV and it’s his fault that I had to describe that Thanksgiving break with a caveat: Sure, it was great, but--. It’s his fault that I have to watch Jared from Subway, decked out in a Colts away jersey, giving sandwiches to the postgame show guys in the studio. It’s his fault that all week I’m going to be worrying about the weekend, when what I should be worrying about is how to stay awake in night lecture or how to keep my sewing machine from going berserk and eating the world in fibers class (I don't trust it).
Leslie Visser, in Lambeau, looks frozen. She also has to yell to be heard over the crowd, which is numerous and insane. I hope Randy Moss’ leg freezes and falls off. Joe Buck (fond memories of poorly-announced baseball games), Troy Aikman (his eyes matching his blue jacket to almost eerie perfection), and Cris Collinsworth (who?) are FOX’s dubious announcing team.
Lambeau is dead silent for Reggie White, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it like that. Of course, it doesn’t last long—after what literally is ‘a moment’ some people in the crowd start cheering—but on the sideline Brett Favre is still standing solemnly, his eyes downcast and serious. If Manning is flashy and ostentatious in his offense, Favre is workmanlike and solid. I want him to win for those reasons, and of course because the Viqueens don’t deserve to be here in the first place. And I hate the Pepperhead [ed. note: Daunte Culpepper]. And Randy Moss. And Mike Tice, with his tiny face concentrated in one small portion of his enormous head.
8 and a half minutes into the first quarter it’s 14-0 Vikings and they’ve just intercepted a Favre pass, and all the reasons I hate these guys are freshly and emphatically reaffirmed. I can’t imagine what Lambeau is like right now, but it ain’t pretty in my dorm room. And I’m not even a real Cheesehead.
Randy Moss took out his braids for this game, so his head is topped by a massive quantity of irregularly trimmed afro. When Ben Wallace wears a ‘fro people shy away in awe, but when Moss wears one, with his gangly build and high purple socks, people giggle. The TV camera focuses in on him on the bench, yelling something at the Lambeau crowd, pointing viciously at the scoreboard (17-0, 5 minutes left in the first quarter). The crowd was probably heckling him, and you can’t tell exactly what he’s saying but it looks a little something like, “Scoreboard! Look at that scoreboard, an’ then you come on back and we can talk.”
After one of his touchdowns, Randy Moss ran up to the goal post, turned around so that his back was to the endzone-seated crowd, bent over, and pretended to pull down his pants. The message was clear: “I expose mine buttocks in a metaphorical fashion to all yon green and yellow fans. Observe ye well my shiny ass. I hath whupped thy team in a moste violent fashion.” Joe Buck seemed to think that Moss had actually mooned the crowd, and was nearly apoplectic with horror and apology (“I’m so sorry that was even on live TV”).
Oh, and a new Three Chicks Talk About Football installment is up. Check it out. It's a bit old-- I think this was the the one that stretched over Christmas. Playoff installment(s) will be posted in short order. Read read. Good things from smart ladies (as usual, I just supply the sophomoric fodder).
ESPN just ran a little feature on the upcoming Patriots/Colts game, and Mike Vanderjagt's comments pertaining to it. He said that he thinks the Patriots are now "ripe for the picking", "not as good as [at] the beginning of the year", "not as good as last year", and "beatable". This is the same Mike Vanderjagt who turned to the Patriots' bench in the last game, right before a field goal attempt, and rubbed his fingers together to indicate that he was 'money'. He then missed the kick.
Tom Brady, picking his words with a delicate mixture of amusement and distaste, manfully attempting to repress a smile, said, "He's just talking, you know? It's a kicker talking."
Tedy Bruschi, never known for delicacy in his playing or his words, was more amusing and blunt: "You're asking me to comment on what a kicker said? *pause, his brown eyes dancing with laughter (not kidding, I just saw the clip, and this is the only way to describe it)* It doesn't concern me."
Rodney Harrison was a little more vehement: "He has to be a jerk, Vanderjerk, if he sits there and criticizes Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy, one of the best quarterbacks in the game and one of the best coaches in the game. And then for him to put his foot in his mouth again just shows what type of character he has."
Vanderjerk. Beautiful. Thank you, Rodney.
I admit that this little comic interlude was quite a welcome respite from the nail-biting I've been doing in anticipation of this matchup. Urgh. Back to the nail-biting.
In fairness to those who don't care about baseball or football, a few Real Life Notes-- i.e. I tell you about my new classes this semester.
Drawing looks like it's going to be pretty good this time around. I've got Nick Tobier as my teacher, and he's one of the most amazing people I've ever met. Not only is he funny, enthusiastic, and a good teacher, he has the most amazing memory I've ever come across (he memorized the names of everyone in his 150-person lecture within two weeks, and still remembers them all a full year later). He's one of those people who can hold a conversation with anyone in the world, because he's lived everywhere (seemingly) and is so well-versed on so many varied subjects. The only thing I can say against him is that he's a Yankees fan, but he's not a very hardcore one, so I'll live.
The kids in the class with me are also a good group, which will make things better. There are a lot of people I knew already, and not a lot of the sorority/fraternity art school crowd. This always raises the tone of any class.
My CFC class is a weird group of people. It's almost all girls, and I don't know most of them. I'm reserving judgement here, because we haven't really gotten into the projects yet, so it's hard to tell how this will fall out.
Fibers has been OK. I don't really know what the hell I'm doing (at all), and I don't trust the sewing machine at all, but the teacher's been really helpful and she seems nice. The word in the halls is that she's very blunt (i.e. if she thinks your project sucks she'll tell you so), but as of right now I like her quite a bit. We'll see how that stands when grades start coming in. I'm excited to learn some resist dyeing techniques later in the semester, though.
Painting is pretty fun, although also a bit odd, if only because my class is almost wholly freshman. It's a class I should have taken already, but didn't due to the dual-degree screwing up my schedule. But the freshman in there seem pretty cool, and I really like the professor. He's another blunt one, but he's funny and! Before he became a painter, HE WAS A FOOTBALL PLAYER! He was an Iowa Hawkeye in college, and then he played pro football for the Canadian Football League (the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes). Oh man. So awesome.
The lectures all suck. As usual. At least my GSI is good (so far).
When we came out of lecture tonight, around 9 pm, there was a gentleman wandering the art school halls with a small chihuahua running after him. No leash, just this tan little dog darting around with an air of doggy cheerfulness. It was glorious. Chihuahua! In the art school! More of this sort of thing.
That's all for now, as I really need to get to sleep if I want the smallest chance of remaining awake in CFC tomorrow morning. RantBlog coming soon, I promise. It's harder to write that stuff than this stuff (especially since a lot of that football business was prewritten).
Sleep tight, kids. If you aren't good little girls and boys and go to bed on time, the big nasty Randy Johnson will eat you.
*If LA is where he's actually going. He's flying out there to have a physical, he thinks. Maybe. He's not really sure. And with the Dodgers this offseason, who knows. I won't believe it 'till it's inked and dried. But he's going somewhere, so this is as appropriate a goodbye as any, I guess.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Nice, Randy. Real nice. I'd love to be there when you walk into Lambeau for the first time next season.
I'll edit this and turn it into a real entry sometime tomorrow, but I wanted to put this up now and I've got drawing homework to try and bull my way through. G'night, kids.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Installment the second of the RantBlog will be up, erm, at some point in the near future. Possibly tomorrow, if by some miracle I get an idea for my drawing homework and get it done early. Until then, I present unto you some tidbits.
1. I was pleased to note that my painting professor for this semester specifically required us to get Mars Black acrylic paint. A politic move. Mars Black uses, as its pigment, synthetic black iron oxide. This is as opposed to the more old-school Ivory Black, which uses for pigment 'amorphous carbon produced by charring animal bones'. That's quoted off the tube. Lovely. Just what I want all over my hands and clothes at the end of a 3-hour studio. So, Mars Black-- excellent.
2. Ryan Estrada, whom you may recall from such insane endeavors as the 48-hour comic, has created a new level of comic book madness. He made a 72-hour comic. That's 72 pages in 72 hours. There aren't sufficient words to describe what he's doing anymore. You can read his updates of the event here, and you can see the actual comic here. I don't think he's uploaded all the pages yet, but they'll be there eventually. Like I said, there's really no way to describe this stuff. I can't draw one full page in 4 hours... to do 72 in as many hours... less, actually, since he apparently finished up around hour 64... heck, just to be drawing for that long...
Everyone go give him some love and check it out.
Oh, and he's apparently planning a 96 hour comic day for February. In color. Ryan, we're preparing the cemetary plot now. Would you like it in Korea or in Michigan?
3. I finally got time to check out the faculty show in the Slusser gallery. I'd been meaning to do so for a while, because a faculty exhibition is like a fantastical windfall. You get to see what all the professors are working on, and, best of all, you can see if some of them are making absolute crap. It's one of those things that makes art school so different from the rest of the university. I'm not sure if there's anywhere else in the school where the students have access to their professors in this way, a look at what they're working on and what, in a very real sense, their consuming interests and passions are. It's much more immediate than working with some chemistry professor in his research lab, or even reading some of your english professor's poetry. Plus, you get to be totally judgemental about their work, which is an awesome amount of power to give your students.
I thought all the video stuff was bad, but possibly that's just me. I'm not really inclined to like video art in the first place. I skimmed over the industrial design stuff, because it doesn't particularly interest me. There were a lot of really cool sculptural pieces, some excellent scientific illustration (thank you, Joe Trumpey-- the beetles, especially, were glorious), and one very good painting (Jim Cogswell. The only painting there worth noting, all the others were very ho-hum). Maybe I'll post up a review of the whole show at some later date, with the graduate students' show thrown in for good measure.
4. Dan Shaughnessy is an asshat. Either you're a Sox fan and know what I'm talking about, or you aren't and I really don't want to get into it. Suffice it to say, I think the whole thing is getting ridiculously overblown, I'm almost dead certain Mientkiewicz was misquoted by Ye Olde Curly-Haired Fop, and I don't think it's a bad thing for the player who caught the last out of the 2004 World Series to keep the ball so long as he's willing to show it around to the fans of the winning team, which by all accounts Mientkie is perfectly willing to do.
I just don't want to see this thing become another Pedro- or Nomar-gate. I know that Mientkie might not be back next year, what with the logjam at first base and all, but if he goes I want it to be on good terms. There's no need for all this rancor. The only reason, really, is Shaughnessy scraping the bottom of the barrel for headlines in a relatively quiet time of year.
I could say something like, "Well, now, I don't like to wish people harm," but that would be utter crud. I am very much in the practice of wishing people harm, and have spent many a boring lecture keeping myself awake by imagining overly sharpened pencils interacting rather cuttingly with the crania of any sorarartists in the vicinity. This stuff makes me angry. So I wish Dan Shaughnessy all the best in the most sarcastic way possible, and hope he gets crippling carpal tunnel and can no longer write this crap.
5. I picked up some groceries a couple of days ago, including a pint of WholeFruit peach sorbet. It is the king, queen, and royal jester of sorbet. It is the quarterback and star runningback of sorbet. It is so good. Allow me to croon softly about how good it is. SooooOOOOOooooo good.
6. Star USC quarterback and this year's Heisman trophy winner, Matt Leinart, has a blog. Stuff like this just makes you want to do a Manny Ramirez double-point up to the heavens and thank de lawd above that the internet exists. I wonder if he'll keep it going after he gets drafted by the NFL? Also, Braylon Edwards: start a blog now! You want to be outdone by the damn Trojan? No. Get going on this!
7. I'm surprised I haven't mentioned this yet, but the boys over at Surviving Grady are getting published. Clearly a must-purchase book, both because it will be a hilarious read and because it is a wonderful victory for the Red Sox blogosphere. Also, Beth from Cursed to First is going to have one of her short stories published in a Red Sox fiction anthology.
As author John Cheever once said, "All literary men are Red Sox fans—to be a Yankee fan in a literate society is to endanger your life."
I was going to save that for the 'writing quality' portion of the RantBlog, but it was just too perfect to pass up for use here.
8. I'm watching the Chargers/Jets game right now, naturally. Herm Edwards just attempted to attack Bishop Harris, his own runningback coach. Weird. I've no idea what that was all about. Regardless, this has been a good game so far, it's 17-10 Jets but the Chargers are within a couple yards of the endzone. Right now both teams deserve to win about equally, but we'll see.
Hup, and we're in overtime now. So there you are.
9. Some links for you.
- Chromasia. Photo blog. A very, very, very good photo blog.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship. Online comics. Extremely odd, extremely surreal, extremely hilarious. So random. So delightfully drawn. A good thing all 'round. Check it out, or you are no proper internet user.
- Oracle of Baseball. You know the whole Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation thing? This does the same, only with baseball players. You enter two names, and see how connected they are. Hours of simple fun for the simple among us. For example, I wanted to connect Kevin Youkilis and Shawn Green (the Jew connection!). Youkilis currently plays with Mike Timlin. Mike Timlin played with Shawn Green on the Blue Jays in 1994. Zing! Connected!
- Raiders fans are gross. And I have photographic proof.
- Vitriolica webb's ite. Like a sketchblog, by a British lady, that is filled with stuff which is awesome.
- OMG new Red Sox scouting reports are out. Thanks to Kyle from ECA for the heads-up. I'm mostly posting this link so I can find it again later. There goes my free time for the week.
10. As you may or may not have noticed, this blog has acquired a shiny new parasite. Behold! Commenting has been enabled! Now you, the intrepid reader, may prove your intrepidness by commenting directly on posts. I get the feeling some of you will still be doing the emails, but this is a whole new frontier of communication for me. If no one comments I'll probably go digging in the template and gouge it out again, so give it a try. You might even like it.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
RantBlog: Why do the Red Sox seem to have about 300 times more high and mid-quality blogs than any other major league team, and possibly any other sports team?
Dear lord. I got the idea for this many, many weeks ago, in a fit of internet surfing. There are a lot of sports blogs out there (a ridiculous lot, really, and if you don't believe me maybe you'll believe the Brushback), but most of the quality ones I was coming across were Red Sox blogs, and I found myself wondering why this should be so. Naturally I'm of the opinion that Red Sox fans are the best, funniest, most intelligent and literate people in all of baseball, possibly in all of sports, and perhaps in the entire world. But that's the admittedly biased opinion of a Red Sox fan herself. Why should the blogosphere (seemingly) support it?
Now, before you all go and get your panties or comparable undergarments into a twist, I am not suggesting that the only quality sports blogs out there are Red Sox blogs. Perish the thought. There are other great writers out there, writing for other teams (although, really, lord knows why they'd want to). What gets me are the sheer number of Red Sox blogs that are witty, well-written, insightful, or some felicitous combination of all three attributes. There are other fan bases with other well-written blogs, but the Sox seem to have more of them. That's the hypothesis I started out with. I wanted to find out whether or not this was true, and if it was, why.
I meant this to be a shortish, ranty blog, filled with sophomoric bashes at poor webdesign (you're still going to get those, so sit tight kids) and a few choice links.
Then, because I approach everything- up to and including art projects- like a research assignment, I started doing some actual, erm, research.
Let's put it this way. It might not be short anymore. I think I'll do at least two installments (possibly three, if it gets extra unwieldy), and each installment is likely to be quite sizable. I promise that if you read through it all you'll actually learn a bit, though, so I implore you to give it a try before writing it off as utterly unreadable. If you read it and find it still to be utterly unreadable, well, there's always the irate email reaction.
Installment the First
Location, Location, Location.
I should probably preface this with a note that I realize full well that I am probably missing a lot of the blogs out there in the vast sporting blogosphere. Despite increasing belief to the contrary, Google does not have the ability to answer everything perfectly. A search for 'Detroit Tiger blog' will turn up certain things, but probably will not hit a number of the Tiger blogs that exist. This very site, for example, would probably not turn up under a search for 'Red Sox blogs', 'Lions blogs', 'Patriots blogs', 'Dolphins blogs', or 'Michigan Wolverine blogs'.
If you google "the Joey Harrington face" in quotes, though, this is the only site that turns up [edit, at least, it did a week ago. Not doing so now. Hmm]. I feel that I can be proud of this small accomplishment. "ManningMarkII" yields both this site and Cursed to First and OK I'm going to stop googling myself now. The point is made. Google is precise if you're asking it precise questions, but when you ask for something as general as Detroit Tigers blogs it is not going to be able to give you all the answers you want.
For lack of a better source, I've taken a look at the listings on Sports Blogs, among other things. I realize full well that this is a very incomplete crosssection of the sports blogosphere, but it should still be a relatively valid way to look at some general numbers without going through 8 billion pages of search engine results. When it comes to individual blogs I've found it's better to look at a few ones you like and check out their personal blogrolls to get a feel for that particular blogging community, but in this case all I want are the rough numbers.
Sports Blogs has the Chicago Cubs as the most blogged baseball team, with 70 links. The Boston Red Sox are close behind with 68, followed by the Mets with 47, the Yanks with 34, and the Mariners with 30 (although in practice I've seen more Mariner links than Yankee links... again, let me emphasize that I realize the SB blogroll is imperfect). Again, these are just numbers, and have nothing to do with content or quality. I'll get to those shortly.
We have represented here the top of the quantified sports blogging heap. With the New York and Chicago teams lumped together respectively (oh, they'll hate me for that), the top 5 baseball blogging cities rank as follows:
2. New York
Are these teams more heavily represented in the blogosphere because their fans are more dedicated (or insane), or is this somehow related to the cities themselves?
This is a thought that's been ratcheting around the back of my mind ever since reading the interesting reports that Goodspeed Update posted a while back, in which he related city population, city 'coolness' factors, and the city's blogging population. According to the city 'coolness' ratings compiled by Professor Richard Florida, the top five 'cool' cities in the US are as follows:
1. New York
Once you get rid of the vomit in your mouth that was brought on by seeing Austin listed above Boston, take a good look at that list. Now look at the one above it.
If you think that's a brain-knocker, check out the top 10 baseball blogging cities:
2. New York
6. San Francisco
7-8 (tie). Baltimore and Detroit
9-10 (tie). Atlanta and Kansas City
Now take a look at the top 10 cities with the highest number of bloggers overall:
1. New York
2. San Francisco
3. Los Angeles
9. San Diego
Hello overlap. There's little direct correlation, but plenty of the numbers are close enough to make one sit up and take notice. It's also probably worthwhile to note that New York and Chicago have two baseball teams each, which might up their sports blogging numbers somewhat (I somehow find it amusing that Cubs fans far outblog the ChiSox, but Mets fans outblog their Bronx counterparts).
Go stick your nose in the Goodspeed Update article for more on this, but the basic idea is this: the 'cooler' a city is, the more bloggers it will have. The more bloggers a city has, the more sports bloggers it will have (assuming that city actually has sports teams). Since we're mostly looking at baseball here, those are baseball teams. New York, Chicago, Boston, and Seattle all have baseball teams. All four are in the top 10 cities when it comes to both coolness and number of overall bloggers.
So are Mets, Yanks, Cubs, ChiSox, BoSox, and Mariners fans blogging more because of some intrinsic factor of their own respective fandoms, or simply because they are in cities where the locals are more inclined to blog anyways?
This doesn't even get into the bloggers who write about teams from distant locales (everyone wave hello to the Singapore Sox Fan), but that's a whole other set of issues, and I'm not sure I can get enough information to even pretend to be moderately informed about it.
You Have to Suffer for Your Art.
Let's take a look at the teams of the 6 most baseball-populated blogging cities. The Mets have been one of the most hilarious poorly-run franchises of recent years. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 (that's, what, 96 years now?). The White Sox haven't won a World Series since 1917. The Boston Red Sox, until this past WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP season, were one of the most perplexingly hapless teams in baseball. The Mariners haven't won a World Series since... well, they actually haven't ever won one. Nor have they ever won a pennant. They've been to the postseason a few times, though.
Excepting the Yankees, 5 of your top 6 baseball blogospheres are centered around clubs of prolonged suffering.
Of course, there are suffering teams that don't seem to have high blog counts. If losses were all it took to make a blogging community, one might expect the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to have quite a following. Please note, however, that Tampa Bay is not a city with a particularly huge blogging presence to begin with. Add that to the fact that I'm pretty sure all of 5 people are actual DRays fans anyways, and their lack of blogs is adequetely explained.
More perplexing is the dearth of Detroit Tigers blogs, and no, I am not just saying this because I happen to be in Michigan. Detroit, perhaps obviously, tanks on the 'cool' city ratings (it doesn't even crack the top 20). It does however sport a happy history of horrible teams (following 1984), and it is a very surprising number 4 on the overall blogging population list, over Seattle, Boston, and Chicago. What gives?
It took me a bit to realize the reason for the disparity here. Goodspeed Update, in his desire to try and accomodate large blogging populations that are associated with so-called secondary cities, had lumped some cities together. San Francisco and Oakland seem to have merged in his numbers (Oakland has a respectably-sized blogging community, and this no doubt is a big part of what bumped SanFran up to number 2 in those rankings). More pertinently, I'm almost dead certain that he's merged the pure Detroit numbers with those of the Ann Arbor blogging community.
Detroit may have a good number of blogs on its own, especially if we're going by the 'you have to suffer for your art' rule (the excellent detroitblog immediately comes to mind). But Ann Arbor has a ridiculous number of blogs, partly due to the whole college-ness of the city, partly due to whole Ann-Arbor-ness of it (if you live here, you know exactly what I mean). Merging Detroit and A-squared numbers would boost Detroit's overall blog count significantly while keeping its baseball numbers down. Because Ann Arbor may be many things, but a baseball town it ain't.
The high numbers of bad-team (or former bad-team, hee hee) fans blogging certainly could have something to do with the fact that writing about one's agony can often be cathartic. After writing a long and ranting blog entry about a poorly played game, I usually feel a little better, a little more able to view the next game with some measure of equanimity. Ah, who am I kidding, I'm a raging mass of nerves during every big game, but that's beside the point.
It's also worth noting that suffering often makes for better writing. One of the most lyrical baseball blogs on the internet (whether this is a good or bad thing is a subject of some debate, but there it stands), Bambino's Curse, thrived on the pain of Red Sox fandom, so much so that the author actually hung up his proverbial pen when the Sox won it all. The only slightly bitter Mariners blog, Who Wants to Watch the World Series?, is often pretty funny and is always eminently readable. When the boys over at East Coast Agony get going on the BoSox or the Mets, it is generally good times for all (especially those among us who appreciate the fine art of sarcasm).
As for the Yankees... well. First off, I say we can call them a losing franchise now with a hearty and riteous chuckle, but I freely admit that they're not as unfortunate, historically, as the Ms, Mets, Cubs, or ChiSox. There's something to be said for the Greatest Choke in Baseball History (mmm, a moment to savor the phrase and its application to the New York Yankees, if you will) but perhaps they still don't seem to fit into the 'teams who suffer blog more' demographic. There are a couple of things to keep in mind that go a long way towards explaining their presence here.
Firstly, New York, as a whole, ranks highly in both the city 'coolness' and overall blogging population polls, making its inhabitants very likely to blog about anything, and therefore more inclined to blog about baseball than, say, those poor bastards down in Milwaukee.
Secondly, do you think Yankee fans like seeing the Mets outdo them in anything? No. Do not be foolish. I wouldn't be surprised if Steinbrenner got wind of the fact that the Mets are outblogging him and hired a special crack team of blogging masters to overtake them.
That's rather enough for one day, I think. Next installment, we address quality instead of just numbers. You get lots more links. We giggle at bad web design together. Edumacation for all. A really quite creepy conspiracy I seem to have stumbled across (I'm not even joking about that one). Coming soon.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
The flight back to Detroit today was at least 2/3s Michigan students.
It was at least 50% Sox fans.
I saw every possible variation of the Boston hat-- traditional blue with red B, red with blue B, blue with red B and brim, blue with white B, pink with white B (urgh), green with red B, and so on. The girl sitting next to me had an official World Series Champions hat on, and when she opened up her laptop after we had reached cruising altitude, the desktop image was a picture of the Red Sox.
I spent much of the flight reading my newly-acquired copy of Faithful, which caused a guy sitting in the middle of the row opposite me to lean over his neighbor and say, "Hey, did that just come out?" I replied that it had been out for a little bit, but not very long. We then spent about 5 minutes discussing whether or not it was any good.
For every two people wearing some form of Michigan shirt, there was one person wearing some form of Red Sox shirt.
This was a flight going from Boston, mind you, to Detroit. In January.
Who says football and NASCAR are the future and baseball is dead?
Monday, January 03, 2005
As we look back over our shoulders at 2004, we can take some time to reflect. We can reflect on what a frikking amazing year it was to be a New England sports fan (hello Patriots Superbowl, hello Red Sox World Series). We can reflect on how screwed up the US's public relations got (hello rest of the world, some of us didn't vote for Bush). We can reflect on how it was my first full calendar year as a Wolverine (2003 was split between the end of my senior year of high school and the first semester of freshman year). We can reflect on how this was the year I started writing about sports instead of just watching them, and how this led me to the enormous online sports watching/writing/commiserating community (which will be examined obsessively in the RantBlog [which will be posted when I'm on an internet that does not occasionally decide to freeze on me, i.e. when I'm back at school, i.e. sometime after today, probably later this week]).
As we look back, it is time to say some goodbyes.
Goodbye to the Michigan Wolverines' season and graduating class. Well, the season ended on a somewhat low note. You can believe the Texas coach, Mack Brown, when he says that "There will never be a better game in the Rose Bowl," but personally I think there could be. A better game would be one in which Michigan plays Texas, it comes down to a field goal in the waning seconds and, get this, Michigan wins. Now that, that would be the best Rose Bowl ever. As it stands this year's Rose Bowl was a good game, a classic football slugfest between two equally deserving teams that will go down in history as one of the best Rose Bowls ever, but it could have been better. Because, with a little more prudent time management, a little puff of wind, or a second's jump on the ball, Michigan could have won.
And it didn't exactly help that they lost to a team whose quarterback is the poor coach's Michael Vick, whose fans wear burnt orange and steer horns, whose mascot is a large and lumbering bovine, and whose rallying cry is an obscene-looking hand gesture.
The season wasn't a bust by a long shot, though. After all, we did make it to the Rose Bowl, even if we didn't quite make it ours. And we can always relive the Michigan/Michigan State triple-overtime game if we start feeling upset about how things turned out. I think I can wave a fairly fond farewell to the Wolverine season.
I can also wave a happy goodbye to the senior Wolverines, the 5th years, and the potential junior departures. Obviously I don't know who's coming out and who isn't, but I can say goodbye now to some of the people we're pretty sure are going out for the draft. Goodbye Markus Curry, Adam Finley, Marlin Jackson, Ernest Shazor, Tim Massaquoi, David Underwood, Pierre Woods, and of course Braylon Edwards (who is a shoe-in to get drafted in the first round). Goodbye to everyone else who ends up leaving the team this year. They, by and large, did us proud, and I wish them the best of luck in the NFL.
I can't pretend that losing guys like Marlin Jackson and Braylon Edwards isn't going to sting something awful, but it's a little easier to be cavalier about it when your very promising starting quarterback and star running back were both true freshman this season.
Goodbye to the Detroit Lions' season. This was a season that saw the emergence of Kevin Jones as a dangerous running back, the semi-emergence of Roy Williams as a quality wide receiver, and the almost-emergence of the Lions as a contending team. The frankly embarassing road loss streak was snapped. Some moderately good teams were beaten (Texans, Falcons). Some losses were almost wins (the overtime loss in Jacksonville, the 16-13 second half meltdown in Green Bay, the muffed snap against the Vikings). The season ended under .500 at 6-10, but that record shows a steady improvement over the past few years.
Of course, this was also the season that started out with the promising possibility of a Charles Rogers/Roy Williams receiving double threat. That dream came to an unhappy end in the first game of the season when Rogers rebroke his collarbone (the injury that had kept him out last season) so promptly that it was almost funny. Almost. In that I'm-laughing-but-really-this-hurts-rather-a-lot way that Lions fans are so unfortunately familiar with.
This was the season that saw the worst Thanksgiving Day loss in Lions history (41-9, courtesty of Infinite Audibles Manning and the Colts). This was the season that saw one of the worst single-game losses I've ever had the priviledge of viewing (that previously mentioned Vikings game).
So I bid the Blue and Silver a lukewarm goodbye for the season. I'll miss watching them, of course. It's always a little painful to be watching football on the weekends and know your boys aren't going to be out there (I've got the Pats, natch, but it isn't quite the same). Will the demise of the Lions season remove a rather sizable potential source of weekly depression doses from my life? Sure. But I wouldn't be a fan if I didn't say that I would rather watch the Lions lose than not watch the Lions play at all.
Happily, however, it appears as though the Lions have definitely tabbed Joey Harrington as the quarterback for next year. This is very, very good. Not only do I still believe that Joey can be a quality QB, this means that I don't need to shell out the cash for a new Lions jersey just yet. Excellent.
Goodbye to the Miami Dolphins' season. I don't even want to get into this one too much, because I could go on all night. Suffice it to say that they were not ideally situated to win this season. The whole Ricky Williams thing, the inability to choose a quarterback, word circulating about the coach being fired before he actually was--these were freakish things that made the Fins' normal football woes (like their ridiculously inept offensive line) even more damaging. At the end of the season, when they finally settled on AJ Feeley, they started to make some small steps towards respectability.
I think they can continue in that direction next year. They know who their QB is, they don't have a certifiably insane pothead who happens to be a stellar running back leaving their team to become a 'holistic healer'. They have (assuming they can resign the necessary pieces) a very frightening defense. They have a chance to be a real team.
Good riddance to this season, then. Hellooooooo offseason.
Goodbye to the old BCS. With the AP loudly and messily pulling out of the whole voting schtick, the BCS is forced to revamp its system, at least a little bit. With USC, Oklahoma, and Auburn all finishing the regular season undefeated (and small-conference teams Utah and Boise St. also undefeated) surely something's going to change. Auburn beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl tonight, making them 13-0 on the season. Yet they still might not get a share of the national title. What gives? A big conference team who played a respectably tough schedule finishes the season without a single loss, goes on to win in a large bowl game, and isn't automatically given a piece of the pie? How does that even begin to make sense?
Fortunately, I'm not alone in that wonder. If the BCS has been limping lamely along for a while, it's finally getting taken to the orthopedist.
Goodbye to winter break. I say that because this is my last night at home before I have to go back to school. Bugger. My schedule for next semester is murderous, I'm really not looking forward to it. And just when I was starting to get a nice amount of sleep, too. Alas, alas.
Goodbye to the year in which the Red Sox WON THE WORLD SERIES. Sorry, but I can't say that enough. Every Sox fan now alive with remember 2004 with a deep fondness regardless of what went on in their personal lives. If you got fired, or you got dumped, or you were jailed for performing unnatural acts with farm animals, you will still look back at 2004 and say, "Man, that was the year they won it all, reversed the curse, trumped the Yanks, swept the Cards, etc."
It was also the year in which we were priviledged to see our team orchestrate the GREATEST CHOKE IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS. Thank you, New York Yankees, for giving us the opportunity to have some small part in this truly historic event.
The 2004 Sox team will always and forever be a special thing, a special group of guys that individually and as a group formed something that can never be forgotten. Pedro's drama, Schilling's talk radio calls, Wake's knuckler, 'Tek's grit, Bronson's cornrows, Millar's hairdos, Manny's citizenship, Papi's bat, Trot's white hat, Cabby's black helmet, the Derek Lowe face, Mientkie's glove, McCarty's pitching, Kapler's underarmor-encased arms (*wipes drool off keyboard*), Bellhorn's stoicism, Youks' walks, Myers' delivery, Pokey's dances, Mueller's much-discussed posterior, Damon's canonization, and I'm going to stop there before I go through the entire 40-man roster.
This was, and is, the stuff of legend. The year is now behind us, but I'm not waving goodbye to it. Because stuff like that... it'll never die.