Tuesday, February 28, 2006

There's no tying in baseball
But there is in the WBC. I am growing more and more skeptical by the second.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Late Winter, Early Spring (When everyone goes to Mexico)
As I write this, I glance down at my ever-present watch. It reminds me that today is Feb. 28, which means a few things.
It means rent is due
It means March is read to emerge, at least willing to give a few subtle hints of an approaching spring.
It also means we are but one day away from this blog's two-year anniversary. I'd thought of doing something special, and still might, but honestly, I'm not in a very creative mood. Beyond that, going over my "greatest hits" would only cause me to look over my posts and realize how many mistakes I have made.
So, if you have any thoughts on the blog, anything at all, feel free to leave a comment about it. If not, hey, I'll sleep at night. And in the day. And pretty much any time I'm not working.
I would like to say however, that I would like to thank my old friend Danny O'Brien for getting me interested in blogging back in March of 2003. From there to 210 West, and from there to my own blog, and now to my own blog and Blog Critics. So it's been an interesting few years.
The Ports Deal
There seems both reason for concern and reason for restraint. I'll follow the story and as a result, become more educated on the issue. Hopefully. But for now, I am taking a wait-and-see approach. The interesting thing about this issue is that it has divided the political pundits, but not along a left-right fault. There is no way of predicting anyone's opinion on it. In some ways, it's a beautiful moment of political chaos. It's a strange moment of respectful disagreement, where you have Democrats and Republicans not wanting to offend their fellow party members.
Though I must admit, when I heard Jimmy Carter was OK with the deal, I was pretty sure I would side against it. Just out of habit.
The Blake Factor
The Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston was one of the few to notice how bad Indians' outfielder Casey Blake played last season. For a while, I felt like it was just Bill, Erik Cassano and myself.
Still, Livingston's column earlier this week had me wondering if he had checked out my blog since the beginning of last season. Probably not.
But Blake has been a major issue with me because I just don't believe he's a Major League player. Some have said last year was an abberation for Blake, but it seems to me that 2004 (when Blake hit .271 and 28 homers) was the abberation.
Casey Blake is probably a heck of a guy. But that's not the point. The point is the Indians will try to contend this season with the Killer B's (Aaron Boone, Ben Broussard and Blake) at the bottom of the order.
What worries me is that Eric Wedge is patient, to a fault. If Blake hits .135 in the first two months of the season and the offense again suffers, will he replace him or let him ride out the slump, waiting for a hot streak that never arrives?
Wedge's line about Blake putting too much pressure on himself is hardly comforting. Rather, it's disturbing. He's a Major League player. It's all about production.
Here's a quote from the Livingston article:
"It's amazing how quickly people's views changed," Blake said. "You wonder how many of those people put a glove on at this level of baseball?"
Funny Casey. I wonder how many of those same people get paid $2.2 million, as you did last year. Or how many of them paid good money to watch you on the diamond. You had a bad year, and you got criticized for it. It tends to happen at the major league level.
Although really, my problem was and has never been with Blake himself.
It's with the guys that keep sticking him out there. And sadly for the Indians, it looks like they will continue to do so.
The original title
When Everyone Goes to Mexico is the fourth song in a five song suite that closes out John Denver's Rocky Mountain High album. It is an acoustic guitar-based instrumental, and one of my favorite tracks on the album. I have written a few times about John Denver's music here, but as the great philosopher Martin Mull once said, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."
All I can say is the album is perhaps the biggest reason there's an acoustic guitar resting against my wall right now rather than an electric one.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Stacy Stacy
Well, the beautiful woman of Dancing with the Stars looks like she won't be going back to WWE. I think I speak for most rational people when I say: Good for Her.

Song quote of the day
So much larger than life --Peter Gabriel

Friday, February 24, 2006

The latest
The Cavs made some deals last night. Erik has a good roundup on them all. I won't even begin to break them down, because I haven't had time to go over them.
* Speaking of Erik, I believe he's right on Steinbrenner. My personal belief has been that George would not have been able to get the team corrected quickly, and thus would have bought the Knicks instead. Had George gone through the same disasters in Cleveland that he went through in New York, the Indians may have folded.
*Aaron reminded me about the passing of another wrestler, Johnny Grunge. Grunge had been the surviving member of Public Enemy, a tag team that was huge in ECW. The saddest thing about this is there seems to be no end to it, and worse, few seem all that surprised when a wrestler goes.
* The Olympics ... ah who cares.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Fall of King George III
With Spring Training here and baseball's regular season about five weeks away, King George can barely contain himself. And no, I'm not referring to former owner and baseball fanatic President Bush (although I have noticed, with a degree of bemusement, how some bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan have taken to calling him that).
No, in baseball there is only one real king. It's not even Bud Selig, a former owner who has somehow occupied the commissioner's chair for over a decade despite having a World Series cancelled, a steroid-infested era, and competitive imbalance in his game.
In baseball, the King is Yankees' owner George M. Steinbrenner III. Don't let a five-year championship drought of his team fool you. When it comes to owners, the former Cleveland shipbuilder is still the most notable in professional sports.
The Boss, as he has come to be called, is not in the mood to be discreet about his ambitions for the season. He has predicted a World Series title.
Apparently the last five years were just appetizers to the main course. You'd think bringing in Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield over the past few seasons would have all but guaranteed victory. Certainly, Steinbrenner thought so.
But this year will be different. Johnny Damon is now in pinstripes. Though I doubt he will be able to create miracles. I don't recall the Red Sox in the World Series last season (although one could forgive Steinbrenner for thinking otherwise, since many national pundits appeared to forget about baseball once Boston and New York were eliminated from the playoffs).
This is really just a drama that we have all seen before. New York was a perennial World Series participant in the 1950s, early 60s and mid-70s. Then the 1980s arrived, and George Steinbrenner attempted to personally will the Yankees to greatness. The Yankees made one playoff appearance in the decade. It didn't matter that New York brought in future Hall of Famers such as Dave Winfield and Ricky Henderson, or that the team hired and fired Billy Martin more times than can be accurately counted.
The brilliant writer Roger Angell summed up the Yankees' performance in the decade perfectly in the 1994 Ken Burns documentary Baseball. "Like many people he fooled himself that he could arrange for success; he could guarantee it," Angell said in a section of the film. "And when that didn't happen he really lost track of the whole thing. He didn't really want to let his ballplayers play the game. He didn't want to put them out on the field and wait and see what happens."
Steinbrenner quieted many of his critics in the 1990s by sticking with a manager and rebuilding the farm system. With that (and a natural assortment of acquisitions from the free agent market) the Yankees won championships.
But no success lasts forever. It's possible the Yankees will win it all in 2006. But Steinbrenner has once again placed remarkable expectations on his club. He has also given them, in his mind, every resource necessary to be successful.
Whenever the Yankees make a dramatic acquisition, I find myself thinking of Angell's remarks. Steinbrenner doesn't want to watch baseball. All he wants to do is celebrate victory. And yet I wonder, with a payroll that dwarfs nearly every other club in the game, if those victories are truly satisfying. Is it really a great win a 275-pound high school wrestler dismantles a lightweight? Is it really thrilling when a player scores 113 points against an ill-equipped defense in basketball?
Sadly for Steinbrenner, these are questions we haven't had to ask lately.Baseball season is almost here.
George's castle may be crumbling.
Also can be read at www.blogcritics.org

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Song quote of the day
When I came round to call
you didn't notice me at all-Pulp

Monday, February 20, 2006

Song quote of the day
Anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young
You know I just looked around and he's gone-- Dion

Saturday, February 18, 2006

LA Story
A little more than six months ago, I found myself in Los Angeles, driving up to one of the most mystical places in American sports.
When I arrived at Chavez Ravine, my first instinct was to get as close to the field as I could. It was a typical Los Angeles day -- the sun was shining brightly, but evening was calling, and the shadows had engulfed all but parts of the outfield.
My friend, who lived in LA, didn't have as much interest in baseball as me. So as I rambled on about Jack Clark's homer in the 1985 NLCS, and how it had happened right where my finger was pointing, he just nodded.
Maybe I should have taken the hint, but I pressed on. It was here, I passionatly observed, that Sandy Koufax pitched. It was here where Kirk Gibson wrote the final scene to one of the game's best dramas in 1988. And it was here that Vin Scully, one of my broadcasting idols, had spent the last five decades.
If God is a baseball fan, I murmured, I bet he spends his summers here.
Finally, my friend spoke up.
"Zach," he said, "I don't care."
It hit me then. It reminded me of eighth grade, when my science teacher and I engaged in a discussion about astronomers.
"Isn't it amazing," I asked the kind instructor, "that some men spent their whole lives on a subject, while most of the world could care less?"
Keep in mind I asked this in front of the whole class. A lesser, less caring teacher would have brushed me off, or been insulted by my ignorance.
Instead, he talked to me about mental diversity, about how important it is that men and women exist to study these things. Even if we are not interested in them.
My friend from LA is a great man who has helped me and been loyal to me for years. But he's not a baseball fanatic. Where I see a shrine to history and American culture, he sees a diamond and seats.
I imagined then that the look in my eyes in Dodger Stadium was the same that was in his when we reached the ocean in San Diego, and then celebrated his birthday in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
To each their own.
I didn't care about astronomy. Galileo Galilei probably doesn't care about baseball.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Facts as stated by Paul Hackett
Paul Hackett has dropped out of the Ohio senate race. He has stated a few reasons. Maybe another has something to do with this interview with Chris Matthews from a few months ago. He lays out the "facts" against President Bush:

MATTHEWS: You said he wanted to drink alcohol and snort cocaine and party. Do you stand by that?

HACKETT: Those are the facts and I stand by them.

MATTHEWS: How do you know it's a fact that the president snorted cocaine, as you say.

HACKETT: I think it's been widely reported leading up to his first election. And there are many who have come forward and documented it and said they saw it happen. I take that at face value. I think that's probably quite factual.
Given the fact that he worked so hard to avoid service during his generation, it seems consistent to me . . . .

MATTHEWS: You know for a fact that President Bush, the commander-in-chief - because you're running for the U.S. Senate - was a cocaine user? You know that for a fact?

HACKETT: Well, I've read the reports as you have read the reports.

MATTHEWS: They're not reports, they're charges. I wouldn't say that I've read it in the Associated Press or the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. I may have heard the arguments made by people who I may not think have a firm grounding in journalism. But I've never heard a major or quality newspaper make such a charge.

HACKETT: I think that's a fair criticism. I'm merely relaying what you've heard and what I've heard.

MATTHEWS: That doesn't make it a fact, having heard it, does it?

HACKETT: Point well taken. I think, though, that where there's smoke, there's fire.

Now for a look back:
I have only seen one interview with Mr. Hackett, conducted by a softball-throwing Bill Maher.It's easy to see why Democrats are enamored with the man. At the same time, his interview with Maher caused me to believe he was a little ...uhh ... out there.
--myself, Oct. 4, 2005

Sosa just a shooting star
Sammy Sosa has a real problem. A year ago one would have thought the problem would have been attributed to his borderline embarrassing performance in front of congress at the steroid hearings. But now, Sosa has a problem few would have believed before last season. He has a baseball problem.
Forget the steroid allegations (which, I admit, are pretty difficult to ignore) and his questionable attitude. This offseason, the player with 588 career homers has received little interest from anyone for his baseball ability. Sosa was a bust in Baltimore last season. He played just 102 games and hit an uninspiring .221. He also managed just 14 homers. In fairness, Sosa was hampered by injuries.
But at 37-years old, few have wanted to bring the former superstar in, even for an incentive-laden deal.
Part of the problem may be Sosa himself. The man who made national magazine covers and had videogames named for him just a few years ago made over $17 million last season. You'd have to think taking a $15 million pay cut (although lord knows I'd work for the league minimum) is hard for him to swallow.
The Nationals offered Sosa a contract. It has been rumored to be incentive- heavy and for less than $2 million. Sosa turned down the deal. Now, it's been reported Sosa will retire. If Sosa does call it quits, it will have been a fast fall. Everyone remembers 1998 and the Sosa-Mark McGwire race to break Roger Maris' mark of 61 homers in one season. But Sosa did not exactly fade after that. Sosa has hit at least 35 homers in six of the last seven seasons.
Now, after one bad season, he may be done.
It has often been said that someone who can play will always be given opportunities, no matter how troubling their character is. But with Sosa, it's hard to see his character not being the main reason for his unemployment. One can only speculate the reasons for Sosa's fall. But, just 12 homers away from 600, he apparently has decided another season is just not worth it.
But what of his legacy? There are only four players in the history of baseball who have hit more homers. Only one of those players, Barry Bonds, is active. Dealing with Bonds' legacy is another issue altogether.
The other three -- Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays -- were assured not only of the Hall of Fame, but also a spot in the discussion of the greatest hitter ever.
And consider some of the hitters Sosa has passed: Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killebrew, and Frank Robinson.
In any other time, Sosa would be signed simply to boost gate receipts. Instead, Sosa is just a name that nobody really wants. It's sad in some ways. And yet, it's simply a reminder that no star shines forever, and some burn out faster than others.

Also can be read at www.blogcritics.org

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No. 17
I am grateful to Radio Blogger for posting my site on its blogroll. Now I'm grateful for another reason, as the site posted Hugh Hewitt's entire interview with Cleveland Browns' legend Brian Sipe.
Sipe was the quarterback of what might be the most talked about Browns' team in history. Mention the words "Red Right 88" to a Browns fan, and most can tell you exactly where they were when it happened (I have no such ability, since I was not even six months old when it happened).
Hugh, like myself, leans to the right. Actually he resides there. But this interview rarely hits on politics, and instead focuses on Cleveland, steroids in sports, spirituality, youth sports, and more.
I'm not sure if non-Browns fans will be as riveted by the interview as I was, but it is worth looking at, I think. I'd also like to direct this to Joel Hammond, who is taking up residence in my hometown.
Some quotes
On Youth Football:
Boy, don't get me started on what we do to kids today now in athletics, and getting them started so early on, and the organization, and all this kind of stuff ... And you know what? We get these kids in uniforms way too early, and they don't think that a sport is sport unless there is an official around with a striped shirt on, and I just don't buy into it. And then what happens is that the parents invest so much time and so much energy and so much of themselves into their child's career, that they get all crazy when it's time for them to get to me in high school, and you know, the possibility that they're going to go on and potentially have a pro career, but at the very least, a Division I scholarship.

On Cleveland:
...back in 1972. And Cleveland was a different place then. The Cuyahoga'd just caught fire, and the steel mills were all closing down. It was not a pretty place. But man, they love their Browns. And you know what? I learned something back there, and it stuck with me my whole life. I learned sense of community and family while I was back there. The people that stick around Cleveland and make Cleveland their life are a loyal bunch, and I was the recipient of that loyalty when I played for the Browns. I'm still treated like royalty when I'm back there, and I'll never forget that time. My wife wanted us to stay back there and raise our kids back there. She just thought it was a wholesome place. And I couldn't agree with her more. I just didn't want to be the ex-Cleveland Brown quarterback the rest of my life.

Check it out here

It wouldn't be Valentines Day ...
Without watching The Simpsons episode from season four.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's not so funny
Yesterday I wrote I found humor in the Dick Cheney shooting. That was mainly because I had read everyone would be fine. Today, we learn the victim, Harry Whittington, suffered a minor heart attack due to the wounds.
No, it's not that funny anymore. I agree with Michelle Malkin, who has called for a moratorium on the jokes. I'd also like to wish Mr. Whittington a speedy recovery.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dick Cheney accidently shot someone Saturday. Now that I know the guy will be OK, I find the story ... well ... hilarious.
Still, some have wondered why the press wasn't notified. Who cares? It's not like the VP intentionally shot the guy. It's humorous, yes. It's not a scandal.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Browns are getting ready to say goodbye to Antonio Bryant. They are also are prepared to move on without Aaron Shea and Ben Taylor. This is what I like about the Browns right now. If a player doesn't play up to the standards the team has set, it looks for improvements.
The Indians should take note, instead of blindly sticking with a guy who hits less than .200 with runners in scoring position.
And no, I will not get off this Casey Blake bashing until one of two things happen:
1. Blake is traded or released.
2. Blake is not traded or released, but his playing time is diminished. Also, Eric Wedge and Paul Dolan need to write a letter of apology to all Cleveland fans for making them watch Casey play 147 games last season.
I'd add a third option involving Blake improving his productivity, but that's about as likely as Juan Gonzalez winning the AL MVP this season.
Anyway, back to the Browns:
I like this quote from Phil Savage a lot:
"We knew we weren't going to get the blue-chip players last year, with the exception of maybe a Gary Baxter, who would have been at the top of his class. This year, certainly, we're going to strive more for quality. Maybe less quantity, but a better overall class [of players]."

Many will probably question why I'm praising a team that won six games and knocking a team that won 93. Wait until September.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hitchens' fighting words
From the New York Daily News:
Leave it to pro-war pundit Christopher Hitchens to rile up a crowd of New York liberals.
The catcalls started almost from the moment the prickly Brit began defending the Iraq adventure during Wednesday night's squabble at the Ethical Culture Society.
"Make zoo noises!" Hitchens taunted. "Bear in mind, if you had been listened to, Bosnia would part of greater Serbia, Afghanistan would be run by the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein would still be in charge of Iraq."
For good measure, he added: "British intelligence was quite right to say that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Niger. That you can look up."
To which a peacenik screamed: "F- you!"
"Shut up," Hitchens retorted. "You're rude and silly. And ugly."
Afterward, a deeply satisfied Hitchens smoked a cigarette. "I know how to hurt their feelings because I know what they're going through. ... I have a real relish for inflicting pain on them."

This is one of the many reasons I admire Hitchens. When he's right, he doesn't back down, no matter how harsh the audience. One thing I've learned about my arguments over the years is that winning the argument and being right are two different things. That reality has caused me to detest arguments in general. So instead of arguing, I just agree to disagree and back off.
No one can be sure if Hitchens changed any minds at his recent speaking engagement. What we can be sure of, is he did not leave allowing his crowd to think it had gotten the better of him.

Song quote of the day
Some days I feel like my shadow's casting me-- Warren Zevon

Friday, February 10, 2006

Song quote of the day
I try so hard my dear to show
that you're my every dream
yet you're afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
a memory from your lonesome past
keeps us so far apart
why can't I free your doubtful mind
and melt your cold, cold heart-- Hank Williams

Thursday, February 09, 2006

With two of my best friends heading to India tomorrow, I wish them safe travels. Vivek and Nihar being gone will make a few things more difficult for me at the blog. Who will give me Cavs' updates? Who will take my phone calls and act as a screen to my writing? Who will read this blog?
The next two weeks will be somewhat strange.

The cartoon question
Violence, or the threat of violence, for the publishing of offensive materials is no answer. You will likely find better written opinions elsewhere. Andrew Sullivan, Tim Blair and others have been on the story. There's nothing new I can add to those arguments.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The end of an era
I was willing to go along with Monday Night Football on ESPN as long as Al Michaels was a part of it. Today, we find out otherwise. Nothing against the crew taking over, but Monday Night Football, at least as I know it, is over.
Erik comments on the change.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Obama gets served
John McCain is not all that complimentary of the "freshman senator." Many on the right have soured on McCain, but my view of him remains strong. He takes the stands he feels need to be taken, whether they match the party he's affiliated with or not. People like that, on either side of the aisle, deserve admiration.
Here's part of his letter to Barrack Obama on lobbying reform:
I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions ...
To quote Bruno Kirby in When Harry met Sally: "Ooh that's harsh ... you don't bounce back from that right away."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl Thoughts
Boy, we at the Panel didn't have a banner night. Curtis and Joel were right. The rest of us, perhaps picking without our hearts instead of our heads, failed in our attempts to go out with a win in the 2005 season.
Just a few general thoughts:

* I didn't even recognize Dr. John when they showed him on TV. Without the sunglasses and the thick black beard, he looked totally different than I remembered. Not to take anything away from Aretha and Aaron Neville, but I love Mac's voice, and would have liked to hear the Night Tripper sing.

* I'd go over the game, but every other site on the planet is doing that right now. The Steelers were the better team tonight, and deserve to be champions.

* Mark it down. It's Feb. 6, 2006, and I predict the Bengals will be Super Bowl champions in 2007. In the last eight years, we've seen John Elway win two titles, Bill Belichick win three, and Art Modell win a title. Now the Browns' arch enemies have pulled one in.
Really, who else is there that Browns' fans hate?

* The Seahawks' management of the clock at the end of each half was atrocious. They deserved to lose on that alone.

Song quote of the day
I've heard rumors all over town
they say you're planning to put me down
All I'd like you to do
Is tell me it isn't true --Bob Dylan

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Panel: Super Bowl Edition

Phil Prusa: Pittsburgh has gotten all the press, but Seattle has a better balance on their offense. Seattle 24, Pittsburgh 17

Andy Barch: My prediction, Seattle 31 Pittsburgh 17. Again I think the Seahawks will get ahead early, and maintain the lead, forcing the Steelers to throw a lot and play catchup.

Nihar Vasavada: I can't root for the Steelers. Seattle 24, Pittsburgh 17.

Vivek Vasavada: I can't pick Pittsburgh; that'd be too painful. Seattle 24, Pittsburgh 17.

Aaron Rund: I'm choosing the Seahawks, but I think Pittsburgh will win. Seattle 28, Pittsburgh 25.

Curtis A.: Because of Big Ben Roethlisberger and the weakness of the NFC. Steelers 27-20.

Joel Hammond is going to Youngstown today, but I would guess, based on our past experiences, that he'd take the Steelers

Zach: Seahawks 34-19. That's a bit of a joke on the score, but I really think Pittsburgh has allowed itself to get cocky in the final week. Seattle was the No. 1 seed in the NFC for a reason, and even though we haven't heard much about them from the media, they are the best team left.

What Nihar was mentioning
I had totally forgotten about this post. Give the good doctor 1,000 points for his wit.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

NAACP's Mr. Bond
Nothing Julian Bond says about Republicans and conservatives in general surprises me anymore. I'm not entirely sure what world he's living in, but his comparisons between the White House and the Nazis cross a line of taste.
His characterizations of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell are out of line at best, racist at worst. In Bond's world, Secretary of State is a "token" position. I wonder what he would call his position as Executive Charman of the NAACP.
But it would seem to me that his rhetoric is making the organization seem more and more like an arm of the radical left-wing of the Democratic party.
I would have no problem with Bond if he merely criticized the President. But a "Nazi" reference is taking things too far.

And the final score of Super Bowl XL will be ...
Seahawks 34, Steelers 19

*Whoever runs blogspot must be a Seattle fan.

Browns Fans: 'Don't Do It'
On the eve of the Super Bowl, some Browns fans are feeling that urge. It's easy to understand why.
The Browns have been dreadful since their return in 1999, have not won a playoff game since 1994, and haven't even played for a Super Bowl since the turn of the decade. And not last decade.
So some fans, which have cheered for orange and brown their whole life, are looking to the east.
They're looking to a coach who used to play and coach for the Browns. They're looking to a quarterback who came from Findlay, Ohio and graduated from Miami University.
But most of all, they are looking to a winner.
Many fans will find themselves doing what they swore they'd never do: Cheer for the Steelers in tomorrow's Super Bowl.
But I have a message for these fans. To quote a song performed by Marvin Gaye and The Band: Don't Do It.
I understand. I really do. The Steelers look pretty darn appealing right now. Who can't sympathize with running back Jerome Bettis? Or with rookie free agent Nate Washington, a receiver who graduated from Scott High School in Toledo and played at Tiffin University?
Believe me, I know the temptation is there. Besides, Art Modell has a ring and Bill Belichick is now a football genius. The Steelers' championship hopes can't be that irritating.
But remember that no matter who the quarterback is, no matter whom the coach is, the team is still wearing black and yellow.
It is still the Steelers. It's not only the team of Ben Roethlisberger and Bill Cowher, but also the team of Terry Bradshaw, Chuck Noll, and Joe Greene.
Need more recent examples?
Pittsburgh is the team of Joey Porter, a player so loud and cocky that Mick Jagger would tell him to have some humility. It's a team of underdogs, yes. But now the Steelers are favorites, and they're acting like it. Porter went off on Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens for suggesting that, heaven forbid, the Seahawks will win.
Perhaps the Seahawks should just come in expecting to lose. That's pretty much what they've heard since arriving in Detroit. Some have said Porter just needs to find an enemy to play his best.
I can't find too much fault with that. But it doesn't make me want to support him much. Not that he cares.
Everyone has nice things to say about Bill Cowher, and yes, he appears to be a great guy. But he's also the guy who kept throwing late in the Browns' embarrassing debut in 1999. I remember thinking, as the Browns were trailing by over five touchdowns, that Cowher was attempting to fuel the flames of the rivalry.
Cowher was also laughing on the sidelines of this year's Browns-Steelers game. With his team way ahead, he challenged a completion in the second half. When it became apparent the play would stand, Cowher had the smile of a cocky giant.
Again, I don't blame Cowher for these things. He understands the Browns-Steelers rivalry. But that's why I can't cheer for him, or his team.
Then there are Steelers fans. The Terrible towel-waving, stadium-invading lot of them. A Browns fan cannot find sympathy with a group that is so much like them.
I'll admit that getting behind the Seahawks is not the easiest thing. They play on the West coast, their uniforms look like they were rescued from the Kingdome (I know, brown and orange is beautiful) and most of their players have no connection to the Browns or Ohio. In fact, only two players - Rodney Bailey (Ohio State) and Kelly Herndon (Toledo) - went to school in Ohio.
The best reason to root for the Seahawks is that they are not the Steelers. For me, and most Browns fans, that should be enough.

Also can be read at www.blogcritics.org

The success of Liberty
Michael Costello has written a captivating piece in The Australian about the positives of the votes in the Middle East:
And of course the fate of democracy is by no means assured. There are plenty of examples of the "one man, one vote, one time" situation where democracy is followed by dictatorship. There have been plenty of military coups and outside interventions crushing democracy, not just in eastern Europe but in Latin America (Chile and Guatemala) and the Middle East (Iran in 1953). Russia today and many of the former southern Soviet republics are a pale shadow of the democratic ideal with which they were seized in the 1990s. These failures are said to show that these countries were "not ready".
The remarkable thing is that many countries have bounced back from democratic regression to renewed democracy: Thailand, South Korea, Chile are just a few examples. The whole of eastern Europe is another. It's incredibly difficult to keep down the instinct for liberty.

No one is arguing it's not a slow and painful process. But there are reasons to believe it's the right one.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The genius of Sussman
Matt Sussman's wit and intelligence are getting him noticed in some interesting places. Tomorrow, I plan on determining the Super Bowl winner by assigning today to the Seahawks and tomorrow to the Steelers. My number of hits on each day will determine the winner. So if I get 28 hits today, that's how many points Seattle will have. If I get 10 tomorrow, that's how many the Steelers will score.
It's not as cool as scrabble.

Song quote of the day
We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces
singin' whiskey for my men
beer for my horses--Toby Keith and Willie Nelson

He has admitted to being behind the anonymous comment in which he distributed shame to me. Hey Nihar, it's not like I TOOK the photo. I can say, in fairness, that some photos of me have made me look as bad. Which is hard to believe, considering how nice looking I am.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Saw this on Sullivan's site.

My friend Aaron Rund is back from his 8-month break and is blogging again. For those of you who were interested in my Royal Rumble recap, I suggest you check out Aaron's post on Ring of Honor.
Aaron, of course, hasn't been completely silent these past few months. He has commented here and been a member of the Panel. The Panel will return this week for the Super Bowl.
-Interesting thing about my wrestling post. Some friends enjoyed it, while others thought I'd gone off the deep end. It was basically just an attempt at something different to see where it would take me.
I've tried doing recaps before, only to stop because I just can't maintain my interest to blog an event while it's happening. I tried recapping the first week of Dancing with the Stars only to stop and delete the post an hour in because I found it dull. I do plan on blogging the Indians' opening day this year, and may try a few others.
Again, I am not taking the blog in a radical new direction. It's just about trying new things.
- I did watch President Bush's State of the Union address this evening. Well, actually, I worked through most of it and caught some of it.
Generally, I find SOU's to be a tad mundane. Speak ... applause. Speak ... applause. Rinse ... repeat. I've been a Bush supporter since 2000, and I knew the speech wouldn't change my views, or my views on the administration. There are things I agreed with, things I didn't agree with, but overall, nothing happened that made me jump from my chair.
- Watching American Idol tonight, I had to wonder why so many people came back to audition after they'd been turned away. As if they'd magically found the fountain of talent or something. If you were turned down once, what could have possibly happened that would make you a top contender?
I do have to wonder though. If a young Paula Abdul had walked in, would she have made it? I don't remember much of Paula's career, but I don't recall her vocal abilities being an overwhelming part of her act. I'm not saying she wasn't talented, only that I don't recall her being a vocal prodigy.
-Ah yes, posts about TV shows. I have really hit a wonderful moment here.