Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Pilgrimmage

            If any of you guys see Marty, tell him his game is stupid.
            I’m talking, of course, about the game he taught us (us being just me) on the way to Green Bay for the Opening Game of this year’s NFL season.  Yea- the FIRST GAME.  I don’t think I can overstate how important this game was to me.  Not just the game at that, but the whole experience.  I took off work four hours early to make the trip and I spent most of that time trying to get a hold of Marty to tell him we should have left earlier.  I should probably have taken the whole day off, but I was concerned about using this glorious thing they call PTO too quickly.  We took off about noon, rolled into town about 430 and soon stopped at a parking spot at a local Catholic church (who do you think I am?) and only spent about a half hour trying to navigate through from the Maroon 5 concert to where my grampa was tailgating.
            But in between we played this game which apparently his GF and her friend invented.  It started out being called My Cows among them, but soon added My Horses and My Hay Bales.  So when you see any of these things outside the car (duh!), you just yell My Whatever It Is before the other person or people, then you count up as many as you can see.  That’s how many of those you get.  The idea seems to be to get more of those things than your competition.  I don’t know- competition is not really my cup of tea.  But you do get you Kill those things of the other guy if you see certain objects, for example- a Moving Tractor; Kill your Hay Bales.  But not being very competitive, I don’t quite remember all the details.
            (If you haven’t caught on by now, of course I’m competitive, I was just losing by a ton, so I decided to change the game.  Remember that game I called the alphabet game?  Well maybe I can fix up a hyperlink to said blog post right here, fourth one down.  But if not, I’ll explain a little as a contingency  plan, or just for you guys who don’t care enough to click back.  It involves finding the next letter in the alphabet somewhere outside the car.  The rules the two of us hashed out are that if you call out the letter sometime before you clearly look at something else, it counts as the end of you turn, otherwise you have to keep going, even if you know you missed one.  I have an even more extreme version of said game ready, where you not only time how long it takes each person to find all their letters [cumulatively, like chess], and then, get this, divide each time by the amount of points that letter is in scrabble. X would be money.
Anyway, we played that game for a while, too.  Pretty sure I won.)
            But now that I think of it, there was another competition we were there to see, too.  It involved the Green and Gold, and having had our fill of cheese concoctions, the two of us got to the seats about a half hour early.  My seats.  Well, our seats.  My immediate family’s, that is.
            Listening to a podcast recently, someone brought up the solid point that for as huge a star as Aaron Rodgers is, he has a pretty lame nickname.  A-Rod?  That was someone else’s first.  And yet I have a better idea.  It might sound cheesy (npi, [that’s No Pun Intended; I think it will stick]), but it might be perfect, too.  The Champ.  Or maybe just Champ, referring to the championship belt gesture, and how he actually is a World Champion.  It’s something they would call a heavyweight boxer, say.
            The game lived up to all the hype.  I was hoarse for the next four days, as I have a policy of making sure I Do Not Stop Screaming when it’s the other guys’ third or fourth down situation.  Somehow we pulled out this one without having a very high success rate in this department.  There was a TO or two and Randall Cobb ran one all the way back- I’ll admit I thought he was down, turned to finish paying for my beer, but then he was still running!  I think he’s already made it into Mah list of Boyz, or Mah Boyz.  As in “Randall Cobb, You’re Ma Boi!”  But not everyone can be my boy of course, so allow me to clarify the hierarchy: There can be no more than Seven guys who are Ma Boi (the singular form, of course) at any one time.  And if they get too famous (Rodgers, Matthews), they really can’t be Ma Boi because they probably won’t have the time for me.
Mah Boyz (in ascending order): Cobb; Jermichael Finley (gonna be huge, I know, but I knew he was gonna be good from when I first started watching him, plus I’m probably the only person who calls him Jer; C-Wood (Charles Woodson, second of the TD returning Heisman Trophy winning Wolverines who helped us win a Super Bowl); Mason Crosby (just a dude, and he’s scored me big fantasy points every year); Jordy Nelson (um, did you watch the Super Bowl? Prolly one of the best white wideouts in the game); Tim Mastay (most under-rated punter in the game- won us the NFC Championship); Tramon Williams (just an absolute game breaker).
            You might be wondering why I have a punter in my top two.  All I can say is that Mastay does it with what is still one of the worst kick coverage teams in the game.  They have a knack for giving up big runs at really inopportune times.
            But it all ended up not costing us the entire game.  Raji (another Ma Boi candidate) and Matthews made sure of that.  But when that flag fell in the endzone on the penultimate play, I knew what University of Miami fans felt in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl when that official waited a whole five seconds to throw a Pass Interference flag after Miami thought they had it won.  In all honesty, he has to just pocket it at that point.  I was rooting for the Buckeyes, but that was really atrocious.  Now that I think of it, A.J. Hawk, who had it called on him, might have been on that team.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yes, We Still Have Baseball

            I know I said I was going to talk about the Packers, and I am, but this might be one of the last opportunities I have to bring up inconsequential and arguable points about baseball, so I really think it’s a higher priority right now.  But speaking of the Packers, I have to credit them with allowing my Twins season to go down so smoothly.  At least, much more smoothly than it would have for my Vikings and Bears fan friends.  When you have the best team in one sport, it’s so much easier to deal with having the worst team in another sport.  And it would have been a much worse season for me, you better believe, if the Brewers had gone to the Series, too, so that doesn’t have nothing to do with it.  As I always said, however, this is what sports is about: Losing.  It’s losing that makes winning so much more rewarding, speaking from very recent experience.  Yeah Buck, I hear, You only went 13 years without a championship.  But I can back that up with three instances that made this worth it, in between those two trophy presentations:  4th and 26, Brett Throws a Pick (Part I), and the OT loss in Arizona. 
            Regardless, for a season in which the Twins weren’t good, there were still plenty of exciting moments- Thome’s 600th, Bert’s Hall of Fame stuff, the Franchise’s No-no, and about seven walk-off wins.  I really enjoyed all of them, and I’m pretty sure this was the most Twins games I’d gone to in a single year.  I even went to one on the South Side of Chicago, which itself was pretty exciting.  But regardless of how much all this stuff helps, I can usually still use more distractions.  The 30 for 30 movies at my new place helped, and I went to see Moneyball, which itself was pretty good.  The one scene I keep thinking about was Scott Hattieberg’s walk-off pinch hit homer for the 20th win in a row.  It reminded me of the homer from what I now only refer to as The Thome Game, and I’ve realized from those two events that a pinch-hit homer, especially of the walk-off variety, is probably the most dramatic, American event in sports.  It allows us to see one individual who’s given one chance to succeed against all odds, and does so in the most profound way possible.  Thome’s itself was from behind!
            But even without any of those in the playoffs, I found myself enjoying them.  It’s always fun when the Yankees go down, and though I was rooting for the Phillies momentarily, it’s been cool to see zero teams from the coast make it to a LCS.  Even if TBS is still getting its feet wet.
            So many questions surround the broadcasts in general- Why does Joe Buck enjoy the phrase “At the wall, this game is tied!” so much?  Are Craig Sager’s suits too distracting?  What is up with TBS’s montages for each team in the playoffs?  And why did Fox get rid of their old baseball theme? I’m not here to offer any opinions on the subject, but the fact that these questions are there is not a good sign.  Although I will tell you that the baseball theme, which can still be heard on FSN broadcasts, was inarguably one of the three best themes for a sports broadcast.  (Besides the original Fox football theme [on my iPod], there is the baseball one and the NBA on NBC theme.  And throw in the CBS NCAA tournament theme for good measure.) 
            To offer my two cents, though, I think America should be rooting against the Cards and for the Rangers.  Texas has had an underrated amount of sports agony recently.  The Mavs won the NBA championship, but now are locked out; the ‘Boys have been horrendous in the playoffs recently; and the Rangers themselves got whooped in the last Series.  Meanwhile, St. Louis sucks.  Did you hear me, Jeff?  Yea, I said it- quit trying be the Gateway to the West.  That’s our job- most of western North America is in Canada, and we’re closer to that.  And the Cards just won in ’06.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Bold Return of My (Hopefully) Regular Posts

             Nobody wants to hang out with that guy who only talks about his fantasy football team.  But it is something to talk about, and if you are consuming this set of words, it is most likely in the written form, so I’m not actually talking to you.  Since this is going to be about fantasy football in some high-level capacity, I’m still probably going to be talking about my particular teams some, but still as little as possible and only as a reference.  As I write this, too, I haven’t even written out a rough outline, so I can’t guarantee that there will even be any examples needed.  The particular reason I have decided to come back to the game (this blog, not fantasy football) is because there are just so many bad decision I’ve made from this past summer, and from the two months before, that I thought it was about time I did something with them again.  Work is starting to settle into a pleasant monotony again, and I have very little to distract myself from it than thinking through various topics when I’m on my coffee buzz (which generally extends from 9-11a, then a redux around 2 if it’s an especially long day).
            One of those poor decisions I’ve made has been to join just way too many fantasy leagues.  I have to defend myself by saying that most of them were necessary, as they were either work leagues or leagues I’d done in the past.  But it nonetheless puts me in that special category of Freak, which I often dread/pine for.  Five fantasy leagues means that I have a stake in almost literally every game on TV, which is frustrating and exciting at the same time.  I’ve really learned how to root for the right things to happen for my team, as in you will always root for an offensive player to score against your defense.  But to calm myself, I’ve learned to focus on two to three games each week other than the game my Packers are playing in.
            And the question inevitably comes up about what if you actually have to choose between your fantasy team and your reality team.  This is first of all rarely the case that it could literally come down to that.  Of course I would say Packers come first, but if you were to break my joy down in a pie chart for each weekend of football, it would be something like 55% the outcome of the Packers game, 45% my fantasy teams.  Maybe even a greater percentage for fantasy.   Don’t judge me- I have FIVE TEAMS.  So I’m bound to be more than fifty percent happy each week the Pack wins, just ‘cuz it will be so rare that I lose every fantasy match-up.
            Taking part in all these leagues, of course, really helps in doing scouting for what/whom I would want whenever I start my own league.  Such as what I did in one of my leagues this year.  I became commish.  Probably the greatest position of power I’ve taken since I became Treasurer in a club at college my senior year.  The moves I made as commissioner were both tepid and bold.  One of the bolder ones was to punish missed extra points (-5 points).  Another was giving bonuses to forty yard plays (+5, I believe).