Monday, October 4, 2010

The First Month of Fall Sports

First Month of the NFL

Through four weeks, I don't think I've ever seen the league so mediocre. We have 13 teams at 2-2, and more (who had the bye last weekend) that could be 2-2 soon. We have one unbeaten team, and it's the friggin' Chiefs. Everyone's favorites, the Colts, Cowboys, Jets, Packers, Pats, Saints and Vikes, look at best good--and at worst very average. There are no super teams, at least not yet.

My former colleague at The Ticket, Jimmy Christopher, once famously said (during a Ticket Ticker!!) that "parity is for pussies", and I couldn't agree more. I hate parity. It wreaks of the Pussification of America scourge that rewards every kid in the race with a ribbon. It also makes for some poor quality, watered down football--as we have witnessed so far this season.

What I like about letting nature take it's course in sports (as opposed to forced equality) is that it creates great teams and crappy teams. Yes, you'll get some blowouts each week when a super-power hammers a winless squad, but you'll also get more high quality games when the super-powers meet each other. And your the quality of play in the post-season will be much better. Additionally, the occasional dynasty will surface, which makes for better sports drama. It's always fun to see if David can beat Goliath, and it's always fun to watch Goliath battle Goliath. Without that dynamic in sports, we don't have great upset stories, or great championship rivalries. Every sport needs its Yankees or Lakers, its Tiger or Ali.

Can't wait for this season's AFC title game between the Chiefs and Texans. Wow.

First Month of College Football

I want to rant about something that is plaguing college and pro football. Stupid coaches calling stupid time outs one second before the stupid kicker tries a stupid field goal. Can we please put an end to this? It's the most chicken sheet thing in sports since Hack-a-Shaq. I love it when it backfires, like it did two weeks ago on Sean Payton. I love it when a kicker nails it on that first try, then shrugs his shoulders and nails it again after the stupid time out. Just about every coach out there has tried this at least once, and I don't know how they can look themselves in the mirror after the game. It's not smart coaching--it's a childish game of gotcha.

Another college observation: after attending my 28th OU-TX game in the last 31 years, I hit my knees and asked Jesus to never move that game from the Cotton Bowl. No game can match that one for atmosphere (although I hear Army-Navy is amazing--got it on my bucket list). The Fair makes it. The split stadium makes it. The history of the place makes it. Hope it never goes home-and-home, and really hope it never goes to The Deathstar. Pro football stadiums are no place for classic college rivalries.

First Month of the EPL

After adopting Arsenal and watching them for a month, I have to say that I'm really enjoying the sport (and the EPL in particular). I still can't sit down and watch a random West Brom-Wigan match, but I'm all about the Gunners.

The EPL is so much more enjoyable than the World Cup. The players are better, the game is faster paced, the passing is better, and there are many more shots on goal that in the WC. As Fernando put it, the teams in the EPL play to win, while the teams in the WC played not to lose. Right on. And when your game is low scoring to begin with, playing not to lose can really put a guy like me to sleep. But there has been no napping for me during Arsenal games--they are a pleasure to watch with their precise passing and (sometimes, not last weekend) high scoring.

I was disappointed that Arsenal had to play at Chelsea last weekend without Fabregas, Walcott, and van Persie (Almunia not so much). That's like my Spurs playing the Lakers without Duncan, Parker and Ginobili (or at least close). Fabregas is a passing savant, like Magic or Kidd--they are a completely different team when he plays. Without him, they struggle for scoring chances.

I'm also being exposed to the other teams and other great players around the EPL for the first time. I really enjoyed watching Drogba play last weekend. In addition to being great, he seemed cool--always helping up Arsenal players, patting them on the back, etc. Seems like he really respects his opponents, yet during the course of play wants to cut off their family jewels. Admirable combo.

(Random observation from the Arsenal-Chelsea game: the British play by play announcer sounded exactly like Michael Palin doing a Monty Python bit. I loved it!)

Learning the game, and the EPL, has been a blast so far. It's not yet in my top 5 favorite sports, but it's climbing fast. I still can't figure out offsides to save my life, but I'm picking up everything else pretty quickly. I've also been reading up on the history of the league, which has helped a lot. Maybe best of all, I can sit through an entire EPL game without a coach calling a time out right before a penalty kick.


  1. Enjoyed the blog as always, especially the EPL discussion...though I have adopted Tottenham and, therefore, delight in Gunners' defeats. Not to nitpick on the college rivalry/pro football stadium observation, but every Army-Navy game dating back at least a few decades is played in a pro stadium and they do OK (Meadowlands, Lincoln Field/The Vet, and Whatever They Call the Ravens' Stadium), as is Florida-Georgia, which is a great atmosphere, just not a close game.

  2. "The EPL is so much more enjoyable than the World Cup."
    I screamed this everyday at my computer when you guys were bashing the WC back in June.

    It's really great to hear you're enjoying it Junior. I knew you'd like the EPL.

    And a quick point about offsides. It's very similar to Hockey, except there's no blue line. The "line" is wherever the last defensive player is on the field.

  3. Jr, very happy to see that you are enjoying EPL. Tough loss vs my Blues, but that was a game we had to have at home and you minus Fab.

    Just wait until you experience your first run thru the knockout stages of Champions League.

  4. Jr. I'm also an Arsenal supporter and love the fact that you picked them as your team to follow. Arsenal and Barcelona are the most beautiful teams to watch in all of futbol. I just found out that they will be sending a team to the Dallas Cup for the first time in April. About the Chelsea game...Typical Arsenal. You could watch any Arsenal and Chelsea game from the past 3 years and they are all the same. We control the game and play beautiful but can't score and Drogba will just catch us out on a counter attack and bury us. Really excited by the way Wilshire has played and been brought along by Wenger. He's been a huge plus considering he's only 18 and Fabregas has been hurt much of the season. On a side note I'm best friends with your cousin Andy in Lancaster and we laughed about the thought of you watching futbol. Glad to see your sticking with it and don't be afraid to talk about it on the show.

  5. Junior,

    Glad to hear you're enjoying the EPL so far. I agree that the game product is better than the World Cup, although I probably like the World Cup a little more just because of the enormity of the occasion.

    If you're interested in more soccer history I highly recommend a book called Day of the Match. It summarizes a soccer historical event that occurred on each day of the year (in 4-5 paragraphs so they don't get stale). The Scots who wrote it have a really good sense of humor too.