Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Kicks

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday- I am still getting settled, Windsor is in an undisclosed location (my bet is a secret underground bunker) working, and Falco is laid up sick and recovering. Things are harried over at ATH, but the show must go on. So, the Colts sealed up the #5 seed in the playoffs, and things just got a bit tighter for the Ravens. I was pulling for the Jags just to give another team a shot to take the heat off of Baltimore, but this doesn’t change a whole lot. The formula is still pretty simple. They have to win their last two, that’s it. Meanwhile, let’s line up for the kick…

What to Make of the Latest Mark Teixeira News
I am actually starting to hope that Mark Teixeira signs with Red Sox just so that he signs already. My god, this negotiation is starting to have shades of the Brett Favre drama in the mass of coverage and how fast the story changes. Last night he was going to sign with the Red Sox. Now, Red Sox owner John Henry has stated that his team is out of the running after looking at the other offers that Boras has received. At first glance this seems hopeful for the other teams in the race, but let’s hold that for a moment. This is clear posturing on the part of the Red Sox. Boras likely had them down to Texas to try to get them to up their offer, saying that it would take X increase to sign Teixeira. The Sox are trying to call his bluff, hoping that Boras will come off of his demands and return to the table. No team with a competitive offer (and we must assume that the Sox have one) just walks away- not even the Orioles are doing that. The Sox are just making a show that they might not be an option anymore just as a PR stunt to get Scott Boras to stop raising the price for his star client. It is good business, and it does not take Boston out of the running at all. In fact, I still think he will sign there.

Lions’ Winless Season would be About More than Football
I read an interesting piece by Elizabeth Merrill on ESPN about how the Lions season is being received in the city of Detroit. As someone who has close ties to the area, the utter failure of the Lions to win a game this season is just a microcosm of the way the city- and the entire state- has gone this year. Yes, the Red Wings are still incredible, the Pistons are perennial contenders and the Tigers are, well, at least the season’s over. The Lions are, as usual, terrible. But the difference this year was hope. This was a team that went 4-0 in the preseason as even while I was one of those who said that it meant nothing for the season, I did think it showed signs of improvement. There was hope in the city for a playoff bid in a mediocre division; this was the moment for Detroit to make a move. Yet as so often happens, that hope was dashed early and has only deepened since. From a football standpoint, it doesn’t really matter how the Lions do after this point. No matter what this franchise will get an overhaul, though count me among the people who believe that only an 0-16 season will get the Ford’s to do what it takes to tear down and build up this franchise.

This city is a lot like this team- beaten down on a weekly basis without good news sprinkled in to give it hope. This city also has a lot of great people, great attractions, and an impressive spirit to it, like this team does. There is talent on that roster (though not much), and there is talent in that city. The Big 3 have mismanaged their workforce (though the UAW hasn’t helped), and the Ford family has driven the team into the ground (oddly enough, in both cases the Fords are partly to blame). Root for the Lions to succeed next year or the year after, Michiganders have enough to be depressed about already.

BCS isn’t the Only (or even the best) Games of the Bowl Season
Bowl Season is upon us! While everyone will be watching Navy-Wake Forest in the Eaglebank Bowl and Maryland-Nevada in the Humanitarian Bowl (along with the 24 or so people who have bought tickets- yes, only about a couple dozen-DOZEN tickets have been sold), there are plenty of other great matchups that don’t have the acronym BCS in them. Personally I have trouble stomaching even watching the spawn of the BCS system, so these games are great distractions. The Poinsettia Bowl pits undefeated Boise State against 10-2 TCU, whose only loses have been to Oklahoma and by a hair to Utah late in the season. These are the two most tested non-BCS conference teams over time, the ones with the pedigree and experience of succeeding year in and year out even when they take on the major conferences. I am incredibly excited to see them face off on December 23rd. Christmas might come a day early if Hawaii manages to beat Notre Dame in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. Charlie Weis has wasted so much talent and it is a crime that he has a job right now- not because I don’t enjoy watching the Irish suffer, but because no coach who has failed so unequivocally against cupcake schedules with top-5 recruiting classes should be staying on for a 5th season. Hawaii has a lot to prove after being waxed by Georgia last year in the Sugar Bowl, and ND has to avoid a second straight losing season. This should be a great one to watch. After this week I will let you know of some others to keep your eyes out for, there is still plenty of football left!

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