Monday, October 27, 2008

Banner sports weekend

Imagine on Friday I tell you that by Monday the Flyers will have their first two wins of the season - against the Devils, no less - the Phillies will be a game away from a championship, the Eagles will be above .500 and Penn State will still be undefeated.

No way...nothing ever goes that right for a Philadelphia sports fan. Not ever. Give me two of those things and I'll be delighted. Three and I'm drunk with euphoria. All four? I have to believe this is historic. If there's a better sports weekend somewhere in my future, it could only include the accidental demolition of the Cowboys' new stadium on the same day the Eagles win the Super Bowl.

  • How about those Flyers? Suddenly turning their season around against the team that's given them the most trouble over the last decade. And finally playing a little bit of defense. I don't know what's been wrong, but I do know that being just a half-step out of position, or a half-step slow to recognize a cutter or jump a passing lane, can make a defense look really bad. So perhaps that's all it was - a new season, a ton of injuries on the blue-line, some young players - and they needed a little time to adjust. I sure hope so, because a season of 7-6 games, winning or losing, is not what I'm hoping for.

  • The Phils are one game away, and with Cole Hamels on the mound's the absolute perfect setup for a historic collapse, in true Philadelphia fashion. But either way, watching these two teams play, can you honestly say either one is the best team in baseball? Where's the dominating pitching, other than Hamels? Where's the clutch hitting? Where's the batter so terrifying that you walk him three times a game? This has to be the lamest World Series I can recall, and I think they're all pretty lame. Don't get me wrong, I'm dying to break the 25-year drought for Philly sports teams, but every time I watch them pop up with one out and a runner on third, I think: This is the best baseball has to offer?

  • I was at the Eagles game yesterday, and even without the benefit of multiple TV angles and slo-mo replays, I could tell this was one of the worst officiated games I'd ever seen. Watching the highlights this morning only confirmed my suspicions. The Trent Cole roughing call? Ridiculous. The unnecessary roughness against Lawyer Milloy? Ludicrous. And my God, the phantom muff that ended Atlanta's comeback? Beyond awful. I don't know how to make the officiating better...maybe giving these guys full-time jobs and full-time training programs would help, but at least let's do away with this awful instant-replay challenge system. Just review every play like they do in college. Maybe it's not as 'strategic' or something, but to see the game turn on an obvious blown call, and to see Atlanta unable to correct the mistake since they'd used their timeouts - well, it's just wrong. I'll take the win, of course, but Atlanta should have had a chance to make that final drive. These gaffes have to get fixed, because they make a mockery of true competition.

  • One more thing about the Eagles...Andy, I'm still available. Leading by 10, with 6 minutes to play, on 4th-and-goal from an inch away...the referee actually said "Fourth and an inch" must go for it. One inch to win a game, one inch to end it right there, and you don't have the stones to try? Seriously? What's the worst that happens, you're still leading by two scores and Atlanta has to drive 99.94 yards for a TD? Sending out the kicker is worse than gutless, it's begging for a loss. Without that gift muff from the refs, this game was looking like a 21-20 loss, with no one but Andy to blame. Oh - and Westbrook had a career rushing day, 167 yards, on 22 carries. Not 35, 30, or even 25 - 22. Averaging 7.7 yards a rush, Dr. Frankenreid dialed up pass after pass, from empty backfield sets that didn't even have the threat of a run. Any surprise there was plenty of time for Atlanta to mount a comeback? What's the logic here exactly? McNabb's being outplayed by a rookie, Westbrook is running all over the field, and you're winning the game, so...pass again! And for fuck's sake, practice a few short-yardage plays this week, ok? You're team looks like they have no idea how to convert a third-and-one, and that's just sad.

  • Penn State's going to finish the season undefeated. Ohio State's defense played great, like I told Deppen they would, and PSU won a physical, bruising game on the road. It wasn't a great job of coaching - way too many bubble screens to D Will and way too few carries for Royster - but the players made huge plays when it mattered. Next week's game at Iowa could be a trap, but Penn State is so much more talented that even a slow start could be easily overcome (see: Michigan.) The last game of the season will be challenging too, with MSU coming to town, but Penn State's better, and they're at home, and they know just how tough the Spartans can be. Now the question is...will Alabama or Texas lose? Or does PSU add to their record of four undefeated non-championship seasons? Fuck you, BCS, and fuck you, college football. Based on my formula of six major conference winners + the two highest-ranked non-major conference winners, imagine an eight-team playoff with Texas, Alabama, PSU, Florida State, Boston College, USC, Boise State, and Tulsa. That sure would suck, right? No one would pay to see those teams battle it out in a winner-take-all championship tournament, I'm sure. USC-Alabama in the semis? Yawn. PSU-Texas? Boring. Instead, imagine a meaningless Rose Bowl between PSU and USC, fighting it out for third place! Now that's entertainment.


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