Thursday, February 28, 2008

The cold period
The NFL is on hiatus, baseball season doesn't start for more than four weeks, and we are not in the postseason in either college or professional basketball.

If you're wondering why the blog has taken a political turn lately, that's why.

The Indians have started Spring Training, but right now, there's not much to talk about, other than the inaction of the team's offseason.

The roster is pretty much in tact from last October, with a few exceptions (Kenny Lofton, Trot Nixon, Chris Gomez). There is certainly a desire to rip the Indians for not actively improving the team, but then again, General Manager Mark Shapiro does know more than I.

It's not like he has the Red Sox budget to work with (or for that matter, the Cavaliers), but asking the Indians to win the division in this (ehhehhm) market on back-to-back seasons is a bit of a stretch. Still, there is a line of thinking that this could be the Indians final shot before having to rebuild.

- C.C Sabathia is certainly in his last season with the team. Losing a Cy Young winner is never an enchanting prospect, but committing the type of capital needed to secure him just isn't responsible.

- Travis Hafner is reaching 30. Don't be fooled by the Indians' brass, announcers and whomever else. Last season was a major disappointment for Hafner and the Indians. It's possible that Hafner's best seasons are behind him, and that injuries and age will prevent the 2006 Travis from ever returning. Still, he's probably good for another 25-homer/100 RBI season, even if he does only hit .260. It's a shame we were so spoiled by Pronk.

- For as much grief as I have given him, Casey Blake was solid last season. But he's 34 and you wonder how much more he has left. If Andy Marte (or the sea of youthful outfielders) doesn't pan out, Blake will be asked to carry a big load this season. The Indians gave him a one-year deal, so it's unlikely even they forsee him as more than a year-to-year option. But Blake has surprised me the last two seasons. As long as he's put in a position to succeed (the No. 2 hole was a good fit) and not in a position to carry (the No. 3, 4 and 5 holes were not)he might be effective.

- And what of the bullpen? Joe Borowski and Rafael Betancourt were excellent in their roles last season. Jose Mesa and Eric Plunk have taught us good relief often comes in odd years. The Indians did bring in new arms for the pen, so maybe that's not as much of a concern.

- I still think Josh Barfield is capable of being an all-star. But he has a long way to go to escape Asdrubal Cabrera's hold on second base. I would have traded Jhonny Peralta this offseason for some more help and pushed Cabrera to short, but the Indians seem content with the former right where he is. Could Barfield go the way of Brandon Phillips?

With about a month until opening day, the Indians will probably reveal nothing in the next four weeks. Spring Training won't tell us much, because most of the positions have been decided. The smaller decisions may be what makes or breaks this season, and those won't come into play for a few months.


Bush and Geldof
President George W. Bush's second term ends in less than a year. It's doubtless that his lasting legacy will be the war in Iraq, and its outcome.

There is, of course, more to the man than his Middle Eastern policy, but few are likely to discuss it. If they choose to, they may hammer the president on spending and what they see as a struggling economy.

And honestly, even though I have supported the President since John McCain bowed out of the 2000 race and continue to do so, I can't describe his tenure as a great presidency. As one who identifies myself as a conservative, I am troubled by his spending, which flies in the face of what a Republican is supposed to be.

I'm troubled by Iraq, obviously. I still believe the war was just and inevitable. But there's little question the first few years were filled with mistakes that cost countless lives. Even though I believe the surge has improved things and hope for a peaceful conclusion, that is far from assured.

Of course, my other problem with Bush has been his inability to stand up to unfair criticism. If I wanted to read about the reasons for war in Iraq, the last place I would go would be a speech by Bush (Christopher Hitchens, a longtime member of the Left and athiest, has made the best arguments).

Then there is Africa. On this issue, I am OK with the President's spending, because I do believe it has had a major positive impact on the continent.

Musician Bob Geldof wrote an article for Time about his conversations with the President on a recent African trip.

What is clear is that Geldof is no fan of the President on many things. He clearly opposes the war in Iraq, and some of the abuses that have occurred because of it.

I don't want to go there. I have my views and they're at odds with his, and I don't want to spoil the interview or be rude in the face of his hospitality. "Ah, look Mr. President. I don't want to do this really. We'll get distracted and I'm here to do Africa with you." "OK, but we got rid of tyranny." It sounded like the television Bush. It sounded too justificatory, and he doesn't ever have to justify his Africa policy. This is the person who has quadrupled aid to the poorest people on the planet. I was more comfortable with that. But his expression asked for agreement and sympathy, and I couldn't provide either.

The discussion on Iraq persists, providing what I thought might be the most interesting paragraph of the piece.

"I'm comfortable with that decision," he says. But he can't be. The laws of unintended consequences would determine that. At one point I suggest that he will never be given credit for good policies, like those here in Africa, because many people view him "as a walking crime against humanity." He looks very hurt by that. And I'm sorry I said it, because he's a very likable fellow.

Bush's intelligence has long been a target of his critics (though I often wonder how he's able to get away with all the things they claim if he lacks a perceptive mind). Geldof himself admits to being amused by the satires.

But the rocker writes Bush is not stupid.

I have always heard that Bush mangles language and I've laughed at the satires of his diction. He shrugs them off, but I think he's sensitive about it. He has some verbal tics, but in public and with me he speaks fluently and in wonderful aphorisms, like:

"Stop coming to Africa feeling guilty. Come with love and feeling confident for its future."

"When we see hunger we feed them. Not to spread our influence, but because they're hungry."

"U.S. solutions should not be imposed on African leaders."

"Africa has changed since I've become President. Not because of me, but because of African leaders."

Geldof closes with comparisons between Bush's Iraq and Africa policies. Again, his opposition to the war is obvious. But his admiration for what the president has done in Africa is just as evident.

But it is clear that since its mendacious beginnings, this war has thrown up a series of abuses that disgrace the U.S.'s central proposition. In the need to find morally neutralizing euphemisms to describe torture and abuse, the language itself became tortured and abused. Rendition, waterboarding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib — all are codes for what America is not. America has mortally compromised its own essential values of civil liberty while imposing its own idea of freedom on others who may not want it. The Bush regime has been divisive — but not in Africa. I read it has been incompetent — but not in Africa. It has created bitterness — but not here in Africa. Here, his administration has saved millions of lives.

Think about that: "Millions of lives." And consider it the next time someone compares our president to Hitler or Satan.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is it over?
What last week seemed like random discussion has grown into a question big enough for columnists on all sides to discuss: Is Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House finished?

The immediate answer is no, since the New York senator is still campaigning. But more and more people seem to be jumping to the conclusion that Clinton's chances at the Democratic nomination are doomed.

Robert Novak takes on the issue in his latest column, asking who will be the one to "bell" the senator.

I'm not going to be the one to do it. The Clintons are political survivors. Time and time again, whether it be before his presidency or during it, Bill Clinton was in a jam. Gennifer Flowers. Paula Jones. Monica Lewinski. Whitewater.

And yet, the 42nd president survived, and remained quite popular in doing so. How he pulled it off is anyone's guess. But it certainly shows that the couple does not go quietly. It has succeeded too many times to believe it can't again.

And yet, as Senator Barack Obama continues the march to his coronation in Denver (where the Democratic Convention will be held), it is becoming less and less likely the New York senator can come back. Even if she wins Ohio and Texas next week, the task still is daunting.

Novak compares Sen. Clinton's plight to one of President Richard Nixon in 1974:

The Democratic dilemma recalls the Republican problem, in a much different context, 34 years ago, when GOP graybeards asked: "Who will bell the cat?" -- go to Richard M. Nixon and inform him he had lost his support in the party and must resign the presidency. Sen. Barry Goldwater successfully performed that mission in 1974, but there is no Goldwater facsimile in today's Democratic Party (except for Sen. Ted Kennedy, who could not do it because he has endorsed Obama).

If Kennedy holds the same stature with the Democrats as Goldwater did with the Republicans, then the party is in miserable shape. I do find it interesting that Novak uses the story of Goldwater, since Mrs. Clinton was once herself a Goldwater Girl.

Regardless, I can see only one person who will be able to tell the New York senator it's over -- Bill Clinton. If the former president can't figure out a way to overcome the odds, then his wife is toast.

But I still don't think we're there yet.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Who is Billy Thomas?
Never heard of him. But hey, the Cavaliers have the MVP. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.


Song quote of the day
Go away from my window
leave at your own chosen speed
I'm not the one you want babe
I'm not the one you need -- Bob Dylan


Thursday, February 21, 2008

This is why we love the Browns. If someone performs, the team just casually brings the player back.

Not once did Phil Savage talk to the media about "the realities of this market." Instead, he signed the man who rushed for more than 1,300 yards.

Now, I realize that their are major economic differences between football and the other sports. The Indians simply can't act like the Browns do. Beyond that, the Indians have been the best run franchise in this city, considering their restraints.

But sometimes it's nice to know Cleveland can be a big shot, at least in one sport.

This, to me, was the most important player for the Browns to bring back. Yes, he's banged up, yes, he'll be 29 next year in a league where backs generally don't last that long.

But if Derek Anderson's physical game led the Browns' revival, then it was Lewis' mental game that cemented it. His leadership in the locker room was a major reason the offense clicked the way it did. For that reason alone, the Browns needed to bring him back.

But the guy can still play. And if he can do anything close to what he did in 2007, it will be money well spent.


The Big Deal
The Cavaliers trade today was not about Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak or Delonte West.

It was about LeBron James.

In fact, everything about this franchise has to do with LeBron James. Every move, every trade, every thought is about LeBron, in some form.

I doubt the Cavaliers would so much as make a uniform change without asking what he thought.

Certainly, Cavaliers' GM Danny Ferry was listening when LeBron was lobbying for Jason Kidd. He was listening when LeBron reacted the way he did after the Phoenix Suns acquire Shaquille O'Neal from the Heat.

LeBron was sending a message to Ferry and the team's ownership that he did not think he could carry the team to a championship the way it was constructed. For a franchise whose whole issue of relevance hinges on LeBron James, the message was heard: Get the man some help.

In reading over the deal, the name that jumps out is Wallace. It wasn't too long ago that the man was considered the best defensive player in the league. When he left Detroit for Chicago last season, many hyped it as the piece that would make the Bulls championship contenders.

But Wallace has been a major disappointment in Chicago. This season has been a borderline disaster. He's averaging about five points and eight rebounds a game, enough to make one speculate on whether Big Ben is done.

But Wallace won't have to be a centerpiece in Cleveland. All he has to do is defend and grab boards. The Cavaliers also are hoping that being sent to a contender (which the team is, despite a 29-24 record) will fire the 33-year old up. It's a gamble, especially for $15 million a year. But with LeBron complaining, Ferry felt it was worth the risk. I can't argue.

The player who intrigues me the most in this deal is Smith. His numbers show he scores more than Wallace and rebounds less. But he averages about 22 minutes a game and will likely come off Cleveland's bench, where he could be very valuable.

Szczerbiak was a target of the Cavaliers three or four BL (years before LeBron), and has been a decent player. He will have the chance to give the Cavaliers a dangerous perimeter shooter. He will certainly have his opportunities.

West may end up being the most important player in this deal long term. He's only 24, and could blossom into a starting point guard, which LeBron clearly needs. It's unlikely he will do so this year, though.

As for what the Cavaliers gave up:

Drew Gooden always seemed to be on the cusp of greatness. He's averaging 11 points and eight boards, but that's more a reflection of having a great game, then following it up with an inconsistent one. Still, of all the players the Cavs gave up today, he's the one I'll miss the most.

Larry Hughes and the Cavs always seemed to be like trying to fit a wooden square into a circle. It was a mismatch, hurt by Hughes' injury problems.

Ira Newble was a solid defender and little else. Donyell Marshall hit some big shots for the Cavs, but it was questionable how much he had left. The casual fan probably didn't even know Cedrick Simmons and Shannon Brown were still on the team.

It may have been a move to make a move, but that's a chance you can take when you have LeBron.


The biggest question I have about these allegations (and that's what they are at the moment) is why the New York Times endorsed McCain in the New York primary, when it had to have had much of this information already.

What the paper has yet to come up with is proof that improper action by the Arizona Senator took place. I'm not saying the story is untrue. I'm only saying that the New York Times, for all it's hype, hasn't delivered a story that damages McCain. If anything, it gives McCain more firepower.

Most right wing conservatives tend to believe papers like the New York Times are little more than glorified propaganda for the American Left. With McCain able to attack one of these rags, he comes across stronger to the right than ever.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ryan Newman wins Daytona
Auto racing hasn't exactly been a passion of mine over the years. Maybe that's hurt me in my career a bit, because much of the sports audience out there loves racing, and loves events like the Daytona 500.

I tried to watch the Daytona 500 today, at one point putting the channel on Fox and moving the remote.

But I couldn't stay with it. I just haven't learned to like it yet.

Which isn't to say it's uninteresting to me altogether.

One of the great things about racing is its unpredictability. A favorite can be gone from the in a moment because of an error in judgement. Unlike golf (which I love) there is teammwork involved.

But what I like most about racing is the way a winner can come out of nowhere.

How many people were talking about Ryan Newman in the week leading up to today's race?

I ran a number of NASCAR stories this week. Most focused on Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Joe Gibbs' Toyotas.

Oh, and that Dale Earnhardt Jr. guy.

And yet, none of those names claimed victory.

Newman is not an unknown. But his win was a nice surprise, even to a non-racing guy.


Barack and Che
Perhaps by now you have seen the footage of a Barack Obama volunteer sitting at her desk, with a big Cuban flag with Che Guevara in it behind her.

Then again, maybe you haven't, since few seem to have noticed. No one is accusing Obama's campaign of holding sympathies to this late thug, but the campaign's lack of a real response shouldn't go unnoticed.

It strikes me as interesting that a man who has alligned himself so closely with the Kennedys wouldn't quickly denounce Che, since he was one of JFK's sworn enemies.

As the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby put it:

That this sadistic thug's face also adorns the office of a US presidential candidate's supporters is appalling and disgraceful. That the candidate couldn't bring himself to say so is even worse.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Roger Clemens has decided to fight the steroid allegations to the very end. So at least you can say he's fighting.

What he's fighting for is anyone's guess. Is Brian McNamee a liar? Yes. But when looking at his testimony yesterday, he was far more convincing than Clemens, who appeared to favor self-rightousness and fire to worthwhile answers.

Does Clemens expect us to believe that:

- His friend Andy Pettitte "misheard" on a conversation as vital as one about steroids? Or that the former, if he had the slightest concern about his understanding of the conversation, would have disclosed it?

- That McNamee would tell the truth about Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, then lie about Clemens?

- That Clemens' wife used steroids, and he did not?

Clemens seemed to think all he had to do at the hearing was show up, act like a superstar, and get off clean. It worked on some at the hearing, but not enough to sway the popular opinion of the masses.

One of the best writers on this topic has been Mike Lupica. In his latest column on the issue, he gave this nugget:

It all lasted into the early afternoon and when it was over, and McNamee was away from the television cameras, away from the kind of glare in which Clemens has lived his whole major league baseball life, McNamee said this to his attorneys, Earl Ward and Richard Emery: "How did I do?"

Ward said, "Great."

"You think?" McNamee said.

Emery said, "You know why? You gave answers instead of speeches."

Clemens didn't give many answers, and the ones he did give were somewhat hard to believe. He will never again be looked at the same way.

Some will call that a shame, considering how great he was.

I don't share this view. If Clemens broke the law and cheated the game, he's getting exactly what he -- and his legacy -- should.

I do, however, take issue with a few sentences in Lupica's column:
Clemens had every Republican in this room, including a hyena named Dan Burton of Indiana, acting as defense attorneys for him and prosecutors against McNamee.

Was he watching the same hearing I was? Did he watch the questioning of Mark Souder, a congressman from Indiana, who even appeared on ESPN afterwards and basically said he believed Clemens' trainer?

Souder is a Republican. Many of the Republicans did seem to take Clemens' side. But the use of the word "every" makes Lupica's sentence above untrue.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rutgers gets screwed in Tennessee
Sorry to be somewhat vulgar, but I can't think of any other way to describe what happened in the closing seconds of Rutgers' women's basketball game against No. 1 Tennessee last night.

I don't want to take anything away from the greatness of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, but if that's how games are operated down there, it's no wonder she has won so many games.

Here's what I saw:

Rutgers had taken a 59-58 lead with the clock winding down. After a missed Tennessee shot, the Vols' Nicky Anosike grabbed an offensive board and prepared to take a shot. When she grabbed the rebound, there were .2 seconds remaining, and the clock was not moving. At this point, no whistle had been blown.

But with the clock seemingly stopped at .2 seconds, Anosike had time to attempt a shot, which the officials ruled (well after the clock had paused) that there was a foul.

Anosike went to the free throw line and hit two free throws to seal the win.

As I went nuts watching the game at work, Rutgers' coach C. Vivian Stringer -- one of the best coaches in women's basketaball -- was having the same reaction. But she still managed to shake hands with her opponents and act like a professional.

But after the game, she let her feelings be known.

“My assistant coach had picked me up to celebrate; the game was over,” Stringer said. “Then she said, ‘Oh my God, I don’t believe this, they stopped the clock, they stopped the clock.’ That’s why there was time for the foul to be committed.

Lots of people gave credit to Rutgers after the game, but they are missing the greater point -- things like this should not happen in Division I basketball. Someone needs to look into why the clock was stopped, since there was no indication from the officials that it should have been.

According to someone at Tennessee, the clock was controlled by a wireless device the officials wear. I have covered college basketball for six years and I have never even heard of that. If the official did stop the clock, why didn't he or she make a signal to indicate it?

I think Stringer said it best:

“This should not be tolerated.”



Sunday, February 10, 2008

College friends
So what do you say when a group of your friends from college start a bi-weekly podcast on their new blog?

If you answered "put over the site and give your buddies kind words" you win.

I worked with Erik Bell at BGRSO a number of years ago while at Bowling Green. I guess he's in education now. But he still knows his stuff and is an all-around good guy. He lived across from me one year in college, before we worked together. He always had lots of BGRSO fliers.

I met Nick Seuberling at BGRSO. He and I were the only two panelists on On the Line to correctly predict a Patriots win over the Rams in Super Bowl 37. Big Bengals fan. I try not to hold that against him.

Andy Barch has been a member of The Panel, and an occasional columnist here. He also joins me for interviews from time to time. He also worked as my bodyguard during my short-lived career as a professional wrestling manager. Let me tell you, I was on my way to being the next Paul Jones. (The last two sentences were a joke).

Joel Hammond is a friend and nemesis, depending on the discussion. He gets personally offended when I rip on Casey Blake. He also writes for a magazine that a lot of people read. He lifts my spirits when I'm down, and knocks me down a rung when I'm cocky. He was my second sports editor at the BG News, and he set me up on the women's soccer beat, which changed me forever.

So those are the guys running it. They are The Beatles, and from what I hear, I may occasionally play Billy Preston.

It's football discussion. It's media repercussions. It's new-age curmudgeons.

It's web site, football night, get it right, quite a sight.

It's all there for you, at

I have listened to all the shows so far. Despite the fact that these guys are my friends, I wouldn't tell you to listen to a 22-minute podcast unless I thought it was worth your time.

And yes, I'm biased. But these guys know their stuff and they worked during the golden age of BG media.

How do I know? I was there. There was just something about that period. The moons and stars alligned. Joel, Erik Cassano, Nick Hurm and I were all part of it. So were Andy Barch, Nick Seuberling, Erik Bell, Greg Gania, Phil Prusa and Aaron Rund.

Yes, they are all my friends. Am I biased about how good they all were? Of course.

But after this build-up, how can you not at least check out the site some of them have started?

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PD endorses Obama, McCain
The endorsement of Obama seems as vague as the candidate himself. The endorsement of McCain is meaningless, since the Arizona senator has essentially won the nomination.

I would not have predicted this, but the tide seems to be favoring Barack Obama. Long ago, I learned to never doubt the Clintons' ability to win elections.

But I think the Democratic party is coming to the realization that Obama vs. John McCain is a sure-win. A Hillary Clinton v. McCain race could be tough. There is a certain population out there that will not vote for the New York senator. McCain has the ability to use so many things against her and her past.

Obama doesn't really have a past that is well known.

Hillary Clinton is far from finished. But for the first time in about three years, I am beginning to wonder whether the senator will win her party's nomination.


An Inconvenient Truth
It's friggin' cold. As in, 2.4 degrees outside as I write this.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Andy Barch post-Super Bowl Interview

1. What was the biggest reason the Giants won Sunday?

AB: The pass rush. Nobody wants to hear this, but Tom Brady isn't as great as people think. He was knocked on his ass a ton on Sunday and he began to see things that weren't there because there was almost always someone in his face.

When you take the Golden Boy out of his element and expose his immobility, you've made him an average quarterback, and he was average at best on Sunday.

2. Will anyone remember this Patriots team in 10 years (for something other than losing their last game)?

AB: Absolutely not. With that loss on Super Sunday, they became the worst 18-1 team in league history. A team that scored tons of points throughout the season, and they were held to just 14 points in the biggest game of the year. This is a forget-fast league, and it don't mean a thing if you ain't got that ring. So they went 18-0, so what?

They lost the only game that mattered, that's why they won't get remembered.

3. What is the future like in New England? Do you think they'll represent the AFC next year in the Super Bowl?

AB: They won't re-sign Asante Samuel, but they will re-sign Randy Moss. It's difficult to see this offense not coming back in tact next year, however, they were able to avoid injuries at the skill positions for most of the year. That usually doesn't happen. On defense, they are getting old fast, and you have to wonder how many good years are left in that linebacking corps. They do have a top 10 pick, but they won't pick again after that for a while.

If I were to guess right now, I'd say no, they won't represent the AFC in the Super Bowl next year.

4. What did this game tell people like us about Eli Manning?

AB: It tells us that he's not as bad as we thought, and maybe he was worth the picks that the Chargers used on Shawn Merriman and Phillip Rivers. Ask the Chargers how well that has worked for them so far. If you think they'd not trade in all those playoff appearances and division titles for a Super Bowl, then you need to see a therapist. He is calm, he is poised and most importantly, HE HAS THE RESPECT AND TRUST FROM HIS TEAMMATES. Even when their superstar running back retired last year and attempted to make a big splash by throwing Eli under the bus at the beginning of the year, Manning's teammates quickly came to his side and defended their leader. It just goes to show that you dont have to be a yeller or a screamer to be a leader or be successful in this league. Manning had a much better game than Brady and he didn't buckle under the pressure like so many fans thought he would.

5. What do you think will be the lasting memory of the 2007 season?

AB: David slaying Goliath. The Giants knocking off the mighty Patriots and making a team looking for a perfect season nothing more than a one-loss team that didn't win the Super Bowl.

AB: The odds were against the Giants. Before the season they lost their star running back, their stud defensive end was absent for all of training camp and contemplated retirement. They were coming off an 8-8 season and started out 0-2 with their fans pressing the panic button and their coach on the hot seat. Their playmaking wide receiver played hurt all year long and hardly practiced. In the final game of the season they lost their star tight end and somehow, they ran off three (or four depending on how you view the super bowl) straight road wins in the playoffs. Not to mention, they ran off 11 straight road victories going into Super Sunday, which is unheard of. Oh yeah, and they did this in the NFC's toughest division, one of the toughest in all of football. This should tell you why the game is so great. A team can overcome all this adversity, and just when it looks like the bag of turds is ready to hit the fan, a team can come together to turn it around stand alone at the top of the mountain.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Perfect Ending
A few days ago in this space, I wrote that I did not care about the Super Bowl, or care about its outcome.

This was, of course, because I believed the Patriots would win, be perfect, and Boston would celebrate again.

That didn't happen. For one of the few times in my life, I found myself openly and passionately cheering for a team from New York. When Plexico Burress caught Eli Manning's pass in the left corner of the end zone in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, my family erupted as though it was Kellen Winslow Jr. who hauled it in.

"Cheaters never win," said my father.

When the regular season was winding down and the Patriots were on the verge of 16-0, I talked to a number of people. None of them liked New England. Its story had been hyped and hyped to the point to where watching sports shows was difficult, because of all the praise that was dished out.

Anyway, most of the people I talked to felt it would have been better (as in, more humiliating) for the Patriots to make it to the playoffs undefeated and lose there.

But losing in the Super Bowl? To a Wild Card team? And to Peyton Manning's underappreciated little brother? Who says the writers are on strike? And how long until Sen. Hillary Clinton wears a Giants hat?

Thankfully, these questions are more fun to answer than the questions that would have been asked had the result been different. I can just imagine Tony Kornheiser:

Producer: Toss up. More important to the survival of the Union: Abraham Lincoln or Tom Brady?

Tony: I don't want to take anything away from Lincoln, but ...

Some other thoughts:

- Nice to See Bill Belichick stay for 59:59 of the game, before sprinting off the field. Unless he got back onto the field and the cameras didn't show it, I'd consider that highly questionable behavior.

I know the game was all but over, but the reality is another play was yet to be counted. And where was the coach? From most accounts, gone.

At least Whitey Herzog had permission to leave his championship game early.

- I know Eli got the keys, but that car should have gone to David Tyree. He caught a TD and made one of the most remarkable catches you will ever see. Eli certainly did his part, avoiding rushers before making the desperation pass. But Tyree's catch changed the entire complexion of the final drive. He practically caught the ball with his own head.

- Michael Strahan sure can talk, but in what might have been his final game, he was there for his team. The entire defense of the Giants did what no one was able to do to the Patriots this year, and what few have been able to do to the Patriots in the last seven.

- Unlike their coach, who didn't want to say much of anything after the game, Randy Moss and Tom Brady were gracious in defeat.

Moss, in particular, was impressive, answering every question thoughtfully and handling himself well in what had to be a hard moment for him. Brady took the loss like a man, though one can imagine he and his teammates will play the game over in their heads every day for the rest of their lives.

- Again (and I'll probably get roasted for writing it again), the Giants played every game of the season like it was their last. It would be hard to argue that doing so gave them more confidence going into the playoffs. Maybe next year, we'll see more teams follow that example.

- Oh, and Tom Petty rocks.


SUPER BOWL XLII: Phil's Preview
Date: Sunday - February 3, 2008
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium - Glendale, AZ.
Kickoff: 6:30 PM ET
Station: FOX

New York Giants (13-6) vs New England Patriots (18-0)

Three reasons the Giants win:

New York has been virtually unbeatable on the road this year, dropping only one game away from home. In the postseason already, the Giants have earned road wins over Dallas and Green Bay. Some believe they play looser on the road and don't have to worry about the home team boos. On an interesting note, the Giants will be the designated "away" team for Super Bowl XLII.

When these teams met in Week 17, Brandon Jacobs had several big runs against the New England defense. His bruising running style seems to give the older Patriot defenders a hard time bringing him down. Look for New York to try to duplicate that success this Sunday. If they can do that, they might be able to run the clock with their running game in the fourth quarter.

The Giants rush defense was of the NFL's better units in 2007. With Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora, they can rush the quarterback against practically any offensive lineman. This could lead to one of two things. Either QB sacks or New England using double teams in their blocking schemes for these players. But by doing a double team, the Giants can then free another player to make a play.

Three reasons the Giants lose:

There is little question New York had a bunch of momentum during this playoff run. Will they cool down during the bye week between the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XLII? Making matters worse are reports of several Giants players coming down with the flu over the past week.

In the NFC Championship Game, the Giants had several opportunities to put the game away but Lawrence Tynes missed badly on makeable field goals. To be fair, the weather was freezing cold and Tynes did kick the game winner, but one still has to question his overall confidence and the Giants coaching staff's confidence in him to hit a game winner.

Eli Manning has played very well in the 2007 postseason. Still, people are waiting for the pressure to catch up with him. When he is good, Manning can play with the best of them. However, Bad Eli will make bad decisions, throw interceptions, and lose games. Manning must keep his composure this Sunday.

Giants overall Super Bowl Record: 2-1

Three reason the Patriots win:

Tom Brady has never lost in the Super Bowl, compiling a 3-0 record. He always seems to play at his best for the big games. For years, Brady also had to win with sub-par offensive talent. This year, New England dedicated themselves to upgrading their wide receivers and the result has been his best year so far. Also, Tom Brady has never lost a game following a bye week.

The Patriots will field a team with several players and coaches from their last Super Bowl appearance, where the Giants only have two remaining players from their last Super Bowl. The veterans will be able to handle the pressure better, knowing what to expect and be able to keep the younger players focused. Players who have never been in the Super Bowl can look like deer in headlights.

Want to know why Randy Moss has been relatively trouble free this year or why Junior Seau played for basically peanuts in 2007? They are veterans who are driven to win a Championship. It's the same reason Tom Brady never breaks the bank with a new contract. He'd rather see the extra money given to players who will help him bring in more rings. The Patriots are composed of guys who truly want to win and don't get caught up in the other antics that plague most NFL teams.

Three reasons the Patriots lose:

No team has ever gone perfect since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. That feat is even more impressive by today's NFL standards, which virtually force teams to win and lose at least once (also explains why no team has ever gone 0-16). New England would indeed make history with a win Sunday, but history is very much against them.

Tom Brady was, in a word, awful in the AFC Championship Game, throwing an unheard 3 interceptions. The Patriots actually won in spite of, and not because of, Brady. Maybe it was his foot. Perhaps it was just an isolated bad game. Whet ever the case, New England can ill afford Brady to repeat his last effort. The Patriots and media have downplayed the foot injury, so it will be interesting to see how Brady looks for the Super Bowl.

Has anyone seen Randy Moss in the divisional or AFC Championship games? He was brought on board to help win a title for New England, but instead has been MIA for a good chunk of the 2007 postseason. The Patriots need this offense to be clicking on all ends. Tom Brady needs to rebound from his forgettable Conference Championship Game. Having Moss there catching passes would help greatly.

Patriots overall Super Bowl record: 3-2


Zach's thought: I really don't care. Patriots.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dream Ticket? Hardly
Everyone who reads this blog probably knows I lean right (some would argue far right, but since I'll probably support John McCain ...)but I am really troubled by a phrase that has made the rounds when concerning the Democratic primary.

The idea that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton joining forces for a "dream ticket" is fairly ridiculous.

Remember a year ago, when most people thought Hillary had the nomination locked up? What happened?

Some people don't like Hillary, and won't vote for her. What they see in Obama is a charming, likeable agent of change. I see him as bland. But I do find him likeable as well.

If Obama were to win the nomination (I don't think he will, but just for the sake of argument) a majority of the voters will have said "We don't want Sen. Clinton in the White House."

And this is the Democratic side.

If this happens, why would Obama be stupid enough to make Hillary part of his ticket? There are probably independents and moderate republicans who would consider voting for Obama, just because he represents change.

If Clinton were on the ticket, the idea of change is all but gone.

If Clinton wins the nomination, there is a better chance of the ticket becoming a reality. But it's hardly a dream.

What the Clintons did to Obama in South Carolina was ethically questionable at best (release the former president)and one would hope won't be brushed under a rug.

But even more so, questions exist about each candidate's experience. Clinton may want to find a candidate that doesn't have some of her shortcomings.

But mostly, the "dream ticket" phrase strikes me as something of a liberal longing on the part of some in the media. I heard the phrase once before. Four years ago, Sen. John Kerry was courting John McCain to be his Vice President, leading to "dream ticket" being used.

I don't see how any ticket with Kerry on it in an capacity could be seen as a dream. It might induce one, but that's another matter.

That ticket, of course, failed to materialize.

My guess is this year's version will experience the same fate.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Mike Wilbon
One of the journalism industry's best missed several assignments this week, but for a good reason -- he had a heart attack.

Mike Wilbon, co-host of ESPN's brilliant Pardon the Interruption, was hospitalized this week, and says he faces major lifestyle changes.

Along with everyone else, I want to send along thoughts and prayers to Mr. Wilbon and his family. My daily routine won't be back to normal until he is returns to PTI.

But more than that, here's hoping he has a swift and strong recovery, and is able to provide his insights for years to come.

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Super Bowl
I can't figure it out. The biggest game of the NFL season is two days away. It involves an undefeated team. It involves a Wild Card team and has big name quarterbacks and lots of media appeal.

It's also the last real NFL game for seven months.

But I don't care.

I'm sick of the Patriots, and I have never liked the Giants much either. The overload of New England love from the national media has created a situation where not only do I not want the Patriots to win, but I'm tired of seeing them.

Really, the entire playoff schedule has slipped by without too much passion on my part. Once the Browns missed the playoffs, I lost a lot of interest. I figured I'd get interested again once the big game drew near.

But instead, all I can think about is Tuesday or Wednesday, when members of the media will have to jump on some other bandwagon.

If the Patriots do win, it's remarkable. It's been a perfect season, something I thought I'd never see.

But it's not without blemish. The Patriots were caught cheating after week one. Rodney Harrison admitted to cheating before the season began. And Bill Belichick is about as likeable as a splinter.

I just can't get into this.