Monday, January 31, 2005

Super Wednesday
"I call heads or tails and 90 percent of the time I win." - Patriots' Rodney Harrison on the mathematics of the coin toss.

The Big Hype blows forward. When you think about it, it's perhaps a little sad that to realise that by kickoff Sunday, we'll have been force-fed slightly over 300 hours of hype for a 60 minute football game. That's a 300:1 ratio for those of you keeping score. Can you imagine if every CD in your collection had 300 hours of commercials to listen to before you could finally get to the music?

Nevertheless, for a quick rundown on all the nothingness you missed not being part of the media on "Media Day", here and here are your summaries in case you missed it.

Whilst Freddie Mitchell's mouth scored a goose egg in the controversy department, the usual Iggles centre of controversy, Terrell Owens, revealed he would definately play. When you have as big an ego and as big a mouth as TO, don't you sort of have to play in the most meaningful game in your life in order for all the other rubbish to have been justified?

Two other interesting finds:

By now, everyone's heard of Jeff Thomason's miracle story of going from contruction site project manager to the Super Bowl Iggles since January 24th, but has anyone seen his former employer's burst of free PR? You wonder at the absurd millions that will be spent on 30 second commercials during the Super Bowl and then think to yourself, wow, if only you'd thought to have one of your employees make it to the Super Bowl, just think of all the millions saved in advertising!

And the other find was the The Official Website of Dhani Jones, an Iggles LB who left Michigan for the NFL the same year as Tom Brady, and does not merely mimic the typical athlete-speak:

"Sure, it was getting cold and the forecast was snow-filled, but with ease Greg Lewis caught the ball in perfect gait. On each call made by Texas Johnson, a.k.a. defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, the checks were rattled off as if they were dominoes falling one by one. What was once oxygen was now replaced by synchronicity, making it easier for the team to breathe. Quietly exhaling, I sat down next to offensive line coach Juan Castillo and listened to the pin drop as Father Time - Andy Reid - presented his words of consequence before the night snack."

Oh, but if only Ben Franklin had been born about 270 years later and 200 pounds heavier! Then again, if so, what would the bridge between Philadelphia and Camden be called, The Dhani Jones Bridge?


Skip Bayless knows the The Greatest Ever question remains unanswered.

Sports Amnesia knows it will go unanswered for about another 115 hours or so.

In the meantime, we'll continue mulling the Sammy Sosa trade.

We've all heard how Sammy's production has dropped:

Starting with the 2001 season, his batting average has dropped from .328 to .288 to .279 to .253, his home runs from 64 to 49 to 40 to 35, his runs batted in from 160 to 108 to 103 to 80, his on-base percentage from .437 to .399 to .358 to .332, his slugging percentage from .737 to .594 to .553 to .517.

On the other hand, something that seems to escape peoples' attention in the steroid rush of accusation is that yes, Sammy had a four year period were he was spectacular:

1998 .308-66-158
1999 .288-63-141
2000 .320-50-138
2001 .328-64-160

But in the years leading up to that burst of greatness, his stats mirrored what they've been for these last three seasons when he's allegedly on the downswing:

1995 .268-36-119
1996 .273-40-100
1997 .251-36-119


2002 .288-49-108
2003 .279-40-103
2004 .253-38-80

So in a sense, you might consider that it's all a matter of perception. It isn't that Sammy is getting worse, it is merely that he is returning to the form he enjoyed prior to the four year aberration between 1998-2001. This doesn't mean that Sammy is withering from a lack of steroids or even that he's necessarily going to keep getting worse. Only that he is returning to form. Returning to form in a hitter's ballpark, in a city with no pressure and with a chip on his shoulder. This is potentially the steal of the offseason and unlike most of my Mets brethren, I'm not so sure we shouldn't have listened to Omar. As outlined in Archie Bunker's Army, Sosa might have run media interference for Carlos Beltran and eased the transition for our future superstar.

On the other hand, imagine how many millions of Cubs fans are just itching to yell "I told you so!" eleven months from now?

Consider the talent migration out of the NL Central this offseason to date: Sammy Sosa follows Carlos Beltran, Jeff Kent, Edgar Renteria, Mike Matheny and Woody Williams, along with the Cubs' Moises Alou, all gone out of the Central for greener pastures.

By the way, Sammy is 140 homers shy of Babe Ruth's mark. Implausible as it may seem, especially with Barry Bonds breathing down the Babe's neck, wouldn't it be funny to see him top 714 in Camden Yards, two blocks from the Babe's birthplace?


Fellow blogger James Dawson kindly pointed out backstage to me after last weekend's remarks on the Arizona Cardinals' new modernised mascot that "BTW the prehistoric bird you show is a pterodactyl" (whereas I'd given it a new-fangled and ridiculously incorrect spelling of "terradactyl").

Now that I've gotten over my embarassment, I can thank him and add that the name derives from the Greek words ptero (winged) and dactyl (finger). Like all pterosaurs, pterodactyl's wing streached from its last finger to its torso, and was internaly supported by collogen ridges. (source: Websters Dictionary Online.

And within days, once the hype has been digested, will be Sports Amnesia's Official Super Bowl Edition.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Birds That Scared The NFL

With one "bird" team in the Eagles already in the Super Bowl this season, will the floodgates now open for copycat birds?

Well, it will if the Arizona Cardinals have anything to say about it. Marred and ruled by years of terrible ownership and assorted buffoonery, the Cardinals have decided the changing the bird on their helmets from an unintimidating and sweet little Cardinal into one more "menacing" will perhaps scare opponents into losing and launch them into the Super Bowl next season.

If this isn't the most pathetic stab at remaking a loser, I don't know what is.

Here you can see the old and the new side by side.

The old Cardinal looks a little angry, or perhaps annoyed is closer to the mark. But the NEW Cardinal is bigger, has a pointier crest, a deeper furrow in the brow and instead of a crooked, goofy beak, has a sharp, straight beak which shows it means business.

But whose kidding who here? It's a CARDINAL for crissakes! Not exactly striking terror in anyone's hearts.

What if they'd gone for the Cardinal's hat instead, perhaps striking fear in all those who fear Catholicism or paedophelia?

I don't care how angry you make a Cardinal look, even if he's got human flesh in his craw, I'm not going to be scared of a Cardinal. Why not go for an entire makeover and rename themselves the Terradactyles instead? I mean look at this terrifying prehistoric creature, would you?!

Although I'm a bit sceptical about this makeover and whatever effect it will have on the plight of the Arizona Cardinals, their QB Josh McCown is already convinced:

"The only birds I know about are the duck and the dove and the quail,birds that you shoot," the Cardinals quarterback said. "You're not really supposed to shoot cardinals. I don't know if I'd shoot this bird. It looks pretty mean. This bird might pull a gun out and shoot right back at you."

Now really, if you want to look at the source of the Cardinals problems, maybe you might start with having a starting QB who believes a bird could pull out a gun and shoot him. This isn't fantasy football, after all.


Drinking Funny Water Or The Taste of Sour Grapes?

The Pittsburgh Pirates managing general partner, Kevin McClatchy, whinged ad nauseum yesterday at other baseball owners for a return of free-agent spending that he fears may steer some clubs close to bankruptcy.

McClatchy, the new guru of fiscal sanity, warned of a growing division between big-payroll and small-market clubs that could lead to contentious owners meetings and a much-harder stance during the next labor negotiations.

"I don't know what happened, maybe they drank some funny water, but they all decided they were back on the binge," McClatchy said. "When somebody goes out and pays an average pitcher $7 million a year, then anybody who's an average pitcher says they need $7 million a year. That's very difficult, and when you're giving pitchers $18 million in arbitration, that also makes it difficult."

What makes Pittsburgh a small market team is this kind of small market thinking. Why isn't he out there drumming up support for some sort of regional cable television deal like everyone else who wants to find a source for this binge spending instead of whining about the poor old Pirates being outspent by their smarter colleagues?

The Pirates' payroll ranked ahead of only Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee, a little over $40 million. Right above them in spending, a mere $2 million more, were the Florida Marlins, who are one year removed from being World Champions. If the Marlins can compete, why can't the Pirates? Maybe because their team officials are too busy complaining about how much everyone else is paying for their free agents. Why not spend more time scouting young players who can fill their farm system instead of complaining about how much other people are spending on free agents?

Because it's easier to blame other people for your troubles, that's why. When Pirates fans look at the other teams around them shelling out big bucks for stars and turn to their team's ownership wondering why not us, the team's ownership can always blame someone else. They're spending too much! They're crazy! Their drinking funny water!

Gimme a break. If you can't afford to keep up with the big spenders, then figure out other ways to win. Develop young talent, put together a cable tv package, oh, I dunno, why not try a little ingenuity instead of whingeing? As far as I can tell, the history of complaining doesn't really get anyone anywhere. Baseball will spend big money on players, wisely and stupidly. Sometimes, those moves will make a difference and push a team over the top but most times, tossing millions at a problem doesn't solve it and you don't have to look any further than the worst offenders, the Yankees, to see the truth in that.

So stop complaining and start thinking for yourself. Why would Pittsburgh support a team whose ownership pointedly tells them is too unoriginal and too busy complaining to field a competitive team?

Nah, why bother. Why not just complain about what everyone else is doing?

Soso Long Sosa

It is being heavily reported that the Cubs are on the verge of trading Sammy Sosa to the Orioles, finally ridding themselves of the fading clubhouse chancre who was once one of baseball's favourites.

If you're a Cub fan you probably greet this as good news but the undeniable fact is that because they couldn't offload him sooner, they missed out on the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes and will have to comfort themselves with the thought of signing free agent and White Sox reject Magglio Ordoñez instead.

On the other end of the stick, the Orioles got a pretty good deal. From the sounds of it, the Cubs get stuck paying a substantial part of Sosa's $17 million salary this season and the O's are off the hook for any additional obligation after this season. So they get an angry Sosa who seems itching to prove everyone wrong for thinking he is ready for the remainders bin, that he isn't the player he once was and that he will be haunted by alleged steroid use.

On the other hand, the last time the O's made a splashy move like this for a slugger was when they signed Albert Belle as a free agent and look what happened to him.

The bottom line is, the O's get a big drawing card to try and offset the Washington Nationals move into their fan base and don't have to give up much for it.

I suppose the question is, if Sosa turns around now and hits 50 homers and puts up the kind of numbers we all remember him for, will some foolish owner then turn around and overpay for his fading years services based upon one good season of vengeance with the Orioles?


Speaking of free agents and free spending, now that Carlos Delgado has spurned the Mets and their new Latino world for the Marlins, have a look at the Archie Bunker's Army take on what it means for the Mets.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Practice Run For Hibernation

Now that the NFL has only one more meaningful game left to play, it won't be long now here on the other side of the Atlantic before I'll have nothing to do with my midnight-to-three ayem time slot so scrupulously maintained in that blackness between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

You see, because of the difference between Eastern Standard Time and Inkberrow's, these last three weeks of playoffs following the 17 or so weeks of late night Sunday and late night Monday NFL games have rendered me a virtual insomniac, have altered my sleeping patterns so that Sunday afternoons are for sleeping and the predawn Monday mornings are for drinking tea and pinching myself awake as I attempt work my sleepy eyes into some sort of pregame state of readiness and alertness.

Now that we know the Patriots will meet the Eagles in the Super Bowl, we've got 13 days to contemplate how much we had the media and its relentless hype machine.

I've always hated the idea of a two week break before the Super Bowl. A media with nothing but time on its hands is a dangerously boring thing. There are so many ways to hyperinflate the term "genius" with Bill Belichick as though he were Einstein, before it becomes nauseating (and by my count, that mark was already surpassed about two weeks ago). There are only so many NFL players whose every bodily function I want examined with painstaking detail, so many quotes that can be made before they all dissolve into a maddening incoherency and apathy. There is no need for a two week break between now and the Super Bowl. We don't need the extra hype and we don't need to prolong the realisation that the meaningful bits of another season are over.

That said, if you are looking for ways to kill time in between, Kevin Hench's column entitled How To Fill Two Weeks Before the Super Bowl is worth a read although unfortunately, it won't take two weeks to read it.

You can also get a head start on some of the latent baseball hibernators by having a look through the Spring Training Online Guide.

I mean after all, with the NFL virtually over for anyone outside of Philadelphia and New England, what better way to fill the void than thinking about the baseball season to come?

According to the Sentinal's Mike Bianchi compares the Iggles' fans cry of "can you believe it, we're going to Jacksonville" with the exclamation of "can you believe it, we're having beets for dinner!" - not meant as a slight against Iggles fans but against Jacksonville, as if Bianchi's Orlando were any more appealing...

But worth noting is his coinage of the term City of Brotherly Flub. This, from the same man who coined the term "Chokelahoma" only weeks before. Is there any end to this man's talents?


Whose soul do you think was sold in New England? They won the NFL Championship in 2004, the World Series in 2004 and are now on the verge of establishing themselves as a football dynasty for the ages in 2005.

I used to think I hated Yankees fans but believe me, the bile that is building against all fans of New England is growing by the week. For 86 years we (for those of us that old) had to listen to their whingeing about The Curse. They finally win and then after weeks of blubbering and retrospection about finally winning the World Series they've suddenly forgotten how long they waited because just as they're on the verge of nauseating the entirety of the sporting world with nostalgic tales of suffering, along comes "Genius" Belichick, the "perfect" Tom Brady and another run at the NFL's World Championship.

There should be a rule in professional sports that no one city (or geographical area) should be able to win more than one major professional title in one sports cycle. New England, you've had your fun. It's time to let Philadelphia in on it.

Although I would never begrudge the Red Sox fans their long-awaited World Series title, I've rooted against the Patriots at every feasible stage of the NFL's postseason for two reasons: One, I've never forgiven Bill Belichick for leaving the Jets in the aisle after Parcells "retired". And two, the Patriots had their miracle not once, but twice already and if they win a third, there will be no silencing the annoying fans of New England. At least not until the Sox are put down again by the Yankees.

So I'll be foolishly rooting for the Iggles just like I foolishly rooted for the Colts and the Steelers before them. Hopefully this time, things will turn out different.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Tales From The Well of Wishful Thinking

Only twice in history known to man has one state been the home state of both opponents in the Super Bowl.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Zen Master Commeth?

Good news for Knicks fans. It looks like Lenny Wilkins is out and it's probably only a matter of time (the offseason) before Phil Jackson takes his rightful and historical place on the Knicks bench as head coach.

Jackson's storied greatness as an NBA coach has always been somewhat diminished or tainted by having the luxury of coaching the greatest players of their times. The Knicks have no such franchise-type player. So, if he succeeds as a Knick coach, all the misgivings about his actual talent could be put to rest once and for all, if, howver, he fails miserably, well, there will always be a shrug of the shoulders when it comes to Zen Master Phil and the obligatory caveat that yeah, he won alot of championships but how many would he have won without Scottie and Michael? How many without Kobe and Shaq?


Meanwhile, the Jets have a new offensive coordinator now that Scapegoat Hackett has left the flock.

And of course that new offensive coordinator will want new toys and what better than to get ahold of Randy Moss who is allegedly available.

But not so fast, others would rather you imagine the new Randy Moss decked out in burgandy and gold.

Randy Moss a Jet? I dunno about that one. Entertaining? Yeah. Great receiver? Sure. But the baggage you get with Randy Moss is weighty, as we've all heard. Now his own team doesn't even want him. Why should anyone else unless it might be someone very desperate, like his old coach, Dennis Green, down in Arizona?

And let's not forget what the cost of Randy Moss would be. The Jets are humming along with a good young defence, a reasonably talented QB suddenly freed from a stagnating system, a pair of good running backs, one getting old the other champing at the bit to get in. There's no reason to add Randy Moss, disrupt the team and the salary cap. They've got the foundation and now only need to build upon, not take a wrecking ball like Randy Moss to it.


Looks like it's going to be mighty cold for all four teams in Pennsylvania tomorrow for the AFC and NFC Championships. Certainly the weather will play little part in the Pittsburgh-New England match but despite all the brave talk coming out of Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons about being a running team, I'm prepared to believe that the Falcons are going to be somewhat disadvantaged by this weather, whether it's just plain cold or if it's cold and snowing.

Nevertheless, don't hang your heart on an All-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

Sports Amnesia will have its predictions as you await breathless for tomorrow.


Lastly, have you heard the one about the 42 year old pitcher getting $18 million to pitch for the Astros for next season?

The best part about this new deal for Clemens is that the sports world has already started nattering on about whether he will end up with the Yankees or the Red Sox come September.

The theory of course, is based upon the valid assumption that even with Clemens, the Astros are not going to make the playoffs next season, not with the Cards and the Cubs coming back to haunt them. So, if the Astros are out of the pennant race, both they and Roger, the theory goes, will be looking for a new home for him as mercenary for the next postseason.

And I guess in a way, I can understand the speculation. The Unit and Roger in the postseason? Schilling and Roger in the postseason? Hey, what about Pedro and Roger in the postseason? If you thought the Clemens-Piazza Allstar battery was funny last season, just allow yourself to wallow in the phony jock speak they'd be mumbling if they were actually teammates come September! I dunno. It all seems like harmless fun this speculation, but it is well indicative of the meaninglessness of contracts in this day and age that before the ink is even dry on one, the world is wondering which team the guy will end up with come the postseason. You mean NOT the team he signed the contract with? Hmmm.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Oh Fer Seven And Counting...

You might wonder what would have happened to Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Ponies had they not run into the buzzsaw of Bill Belichick's defence or the intensity of the New England Patriots in general. Or you might have wondered what would have happened had the weather in New England been mysteriously balmy, sundried and clear.

Would Peyton Manning still be 0-7 in New England? Would Tom Brady still be 7-0 in his postseason career?

Of course this is idle speculation. Manning DID lose his seventh straight in New England and Brady, Bellichick and the Patriot supporting cast DID win again.

And of course, they not only beat the Colts, they made them look absolutely inept in doing it, so much so, you had to wonder how the Colts ever got that far to begin with.

The MVP should be taken away from Manning, or he should give it back. There was nothing valuable about a guy spending a football game looking alternately puzzled, frustrated, fearful and defeated. There is nothing valuable about losing not just predictably, but utterly. There is nothing valuable about a hundred meaningless touchdown passes and nary a deep pass when the game finally counted.

Are the Colts, as advertised, merely an indoor team?

Or are the Colts and Manning the victims of being at the wrong place at the wrong time?

It seems they have found an able nemesis in Bellichick and the Patriots, as have most of the rest of the league.

The injustice and sense of fraud was not that the Colts and Manning didn't get it done yet again, that Foxboro has become their Waterloo, but that they were beat so convincingly and gave up so easily it seemed, without a whimper, without a fight.

The only glimmer of hope the Colts can rely upon is that next season will be another shot and Bellichick will be without his offensive and defensive coordinators, perhaps slightly weakened, though doubtful.

Just don't expect anyone to fall for that "this is the Colts time" next time around. At least not until Bellichick has retired and Manning's biggest foe disappears from the NFL.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Say Good Bye To Season, J-E-T-S

You can say alot about last night's loss on the road in the playoffs to the team with the NFL's best record but in the end, you had to admire them for their courage, their stamina and for their unwillingness to quit when everyone would have expected them to finally roll over and give up the season for dead.

To be fair, when they'd fallen into a 10-0 hole before the first quarter had even ended, no matter how much Herm has talked about the never-say-die attitude of the team, the Jets looked scared and on the ropes. You could almost see the carnage coming.

A little later, when they took over for a series inside their own 20 and everyone in the stadium just knew that another three and out series would see the Steelers land the haymaker we all knew was coming, the Jets suddenly sprung to life, started completing a few upfield passes, mixed up a few runs and by the end of the drive, although finished point-less due to the first of three misses for kicker Doug Brien, the Steelers and the rest of us at least knew the game was going to be rockin.

Yes, the offense sucked. At times it was difficult to discern which of the two starting QBs was the rookie. But the Jets fought back again and again, pulled surprise after surprise, like punt returns and interception returns for touchdowns and still, despite all that and five quarters of gut-wrenching football, the Jets, you could say, blew another one.

The Jets became the the third team in NFL history to play back-to-back overtime playoffs games. Not surprisingly, the other two, like the Jets, lost their second.

The loss was underscored by a mere 3 offensive points, 3 missed field goals and a conservative play-calling style almost anytime something daring was called for. Most aggregious of course, was the three straight chances that weren't taken following Big Ben's final interception, with time running out, the Jets had a modicum of momentum but didn't attempt to do anything with it, leaving it up to the dodgy foot of Doug Brien. It was almost as if Marty Schottenheimer was their offensive coordinator.

The defence's play was both epic and heroic whilst the offence seemed, as they have most season, to be trying harder not to lose than to win. So, in order, here are the targets for your dartboard of the long offseason to blame for the 20-17 overtime loss:

1. Offensive coordinator Paul Hackett - It is very trendy these days to call for Hackett's Head and he probably won't last through the second half of next week. The number one complaint all season has been the conservative play-calling and that play-calling causing the type of dismal offensive production that ruins seasons. Fortunately for the Jets, the defence has often prevailed, sparing us all the misery of a forgettable season. The new offensive coordinator, whomever he is, will have to come up with a few better ideas than an outdated version of the West Coast offence and may also have to oversee a larger role-share between the NFL's leading rusher, Curtis Martin, and his rapidly improving understudy, Lamont Jordan.

2. Chad Pennington - We've always liked this kid ever since he did a bang up job of saving the season when Vinny T finally injured his way out of the starting lineup. He was embraced as the "new" Joe Montana, hero of the West Coast Offensive and a pinpoint passer with great decision making skills. These days, his dodgy passing has been the rule for the season, including yesterday's dismal performance. There are two ready-made excuses for Chad: an injured wing, which no one seems to know the extent of and the more likely excuse that he has been physically and psychologically hampered by an offensive coordinator who bases his play calling on fear and precision. Under a different coordinator, Chad might prosper. He might prove the doubters wrong about his arm. But whatever the reason, the time for excuses has passed. It's been several years since that early promise and if next season, with a fresh start and a new offensive coordinator don't see a vast improvement in Chad, the Jets should be looking elsewhere for their leadership on the offence.

3. Doug Brien - You can say all you want about hard luck. You can say all you want about icy winds at Heinz Field and about giving the guy a break since it was his field goal last week that helped get the Jets to this game to begin with. But let's be honest, if your kicker, for whatever reason, botches three of four attempts in a playoff game, do you really think you're going to make it to the next round? Not unless you've got a Colts-like offence. Doug Brien is a flawed kicker and not a goat but his performance should merit some hefty competition for the job in training camp.

As for the victors, you could make a very strong argument that the Steelers proved little in their victory this week other than the ability to outlast and out-luck a team that had already exhausted it's fate the quarter before.

Bill Cowher was spot on to point out that they will need to play alot better next week, that they will have to improve on this performance and improve fast.

There is no excuse, when you have a great offensive line and two very punishing backs to run behind that line, to let a rookie quarterback pass you into an early elimination.

More poignantly, it shouldn't be forgotten that the Cowher's history of doom as a number one seed hasn't been evaded by yesterday's victory nor have his demons been slain. That cannot happen until the Steelers get to the Super Bowl and win it. If they even remotely resemble the team the Jets faced yesterday you can forget about it. Neither the Pats nor the Colts have the type of wuthering offence the curiously inactive Jets offence displayed and neither will allow Pittsburgh to escape despite making so many mistakes.


Vick-Tory, Yadayada

Lastly is the issue of the dismantling of the Rams by the Falcons that lasted well neigh upon dawn here in England, a regretable way to spend the usual napping hours, especially when my prediction of a Rams' upset was torpedoed so efficiently.

It took less than three quarters for it to sink in fully that the Rams not only had no tricks up their sleeves, but the Falcons were delivering a very strong message about rushing yards, defence and special teams. Fortunately for the rest of the NFL, they won't be playing another game in the Redneck Dome again.

Regardless, the Falcons improved on their 31-17, 242 rushing yards performance against the Rams in Week Two.

They won by a 47-17 margin and managed to rush for 327 yards this time around.

Still, Michael Vick, as far as I'm concerned, is that team. If it weren't for the constant threat of him breaking one for a touchdown, defences could relax a little more and concentrate on playing football instead of feeling like they were bumpers in a giant-sized human pinball machine.

A one dimensional player like Vick, no matter how "exciting" his runs are, are simply bad for football.

I know there will be others who howl against this sentiment, who thrill for the chance to watch a great athlete in full flight. But football isn't a one man sport nor is it a track meet for freak shows. Until Michael Vick demonstrates an ability to pass with precision or do something else other than leave defenders gasping and grasping after him, I cannot help but root against the Falcons and hope that a more traditional football team which relies upon 11 men on one side of the ball rather than 1 one to succeed, will always beat them.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time." - Steven Wright

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

"Get out of my face, that's all I ask," Happy Yankee Randy Johnson to cameraman Vinny Everett.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Although it's already covered over at Archie Bunker's Army, it doesn't hurt to allow it to reverberate in the ears. The most sought-after free agent in baseball, Carlos Beltran has signed with the Mets!

Although no time to shout Ding Dong the Witch is Dead just yet, there are still holes to plug on this leaky Met vessel, this is a huge step towards the Mets leaving behind these last several years of mediocrity.

The Era of Omar has begun with a series of bangs and the baseball world has a new bank in town. The Wilpons.

Well done.


It would be rather remiss of me to miss this golden opportunity to gloat over correctly hunching that The Vikings would upset the Packers. Normally I'm not one for patting myself on the back, especially since it was little more than a lucky hunch and certainly no indication of expertise, but my earlier prediction of Vikes over the Pack was met with a great deal of derision and it's only fitting that I take a small paragraph to say, aha!

Even the Star Tribune, the hometown paper, only gave them A Snowball's Chance.

In any case, yes, the Vikings Upset the Pack 31-17 thereby becoming the third road team of the playoffs and the second 8-8 team in NFL history to win.

Randy Moss, after listening to everyone's rubbish about leaving the field last week in a lost game, scored two touchdowns despite a bum leg and Buckwheat haircut. Yeah, just look. Buckwheat.

Moss' critics included a "grilling" by the idiotic and hypocritical Jimmy Johnson, an overrated coach who would never have succeeded in the NFL were in not for the idiotic trade the Vikings once made with his Cowboys for Herschel Walker that stocked the Cowboys roster for years to come.

Before he interviewed Moss last week, Fox studio analyst Jimmy Johnson called the Vikings receiver the "most misunderstood player in the league." He said the reaction to Moss' walking off the field early against Washington was overblown.

But then in his "grilling" of Moss that aired Sunday, told Moss he made a mistake leaving early.

So which is it Mr PermaHair who can't form a coherent opinion that doesn't depend on ratings?

Apparently, it was all the ratings folks fault. They must have wanted the "grilling" and like a dog for a biscuit, Johnson rolled over. When Johnson was asked if he would want Moss on his team, he said "I would with some hesitation, only if he would try, try to change his attitude. And the chances of that are pretty slim." In other words, like any other sane coach in the NFL, you take Randy Moss, warts and all, because he's the most dangerous receiver in football.

Lest you think this was my only gripe about the coverage, which I watched yesterday courtesy of Sky Sports Xtra, I couldn't help but cringe over the hysterically overblown nerd, Joe Buck, who practically lost his voice criticising Moss after he beat cornerback Al Harris for the Vikings last TD and pantomimed a moon at the Packers' fans adjacent to the end zone.

"He shoots the moon to the fans here in Green Bay," analyst Cris Collinsworth astutely points out like a rocket scientist of pointing out the obvious, as Moss' taunt was shown live.

Then Buck started his unforgiveable tirade.

"That is a disgusting act by Randy Moss," Buck said. "I think it's unfortunate that we had that on our air live. That is disgusting by Randy Moss."

First of all, who in the world gives a fig about Joe Buck's sense of morality. Or wait, was he more afraid that the Moral Crusaders of Television were going to start complaining about a harmless pantomime offending their delicate Christian sensibilities?

Second of all, since when is something like mooning, or geez, not even mooning, but pantomiming mooning a "disgusting act"? Exposing his genitals to the crowd would have been a "disgusting act". Pretending to moon the crowd and his critics in general is immature, but it certainly isn't anything plenty of young men haven't done at some point or another in their lives - it's harmless even when it's actually done and even more harmless when merely pantomimed. Really. Get a grip, Joe Buck. And keep your moralistic outrage to yourself, you're a football announcer for crissakes. You get paid to cover games that are sponsored by the sale of sex and beer, cars and computer technology. You're not paid to teach Sunday school. Let's remember that.


The other news, hardly shocking to anyone, was that the Colts crushed the Broncos 49-24. Let's face it, at halftime with the score already 35-3, the Colts properly weren't very motivated for the second half and the final score, if the Colts had really been pissed off about all the smack the Broncos defence talked all week about how the Colts were basically afraid of physical football, probably could have been something more along the lines of 70-3.

And frankly, the Colts couldn't pour on enough points in my opinion. The classless cheapshot by John Lynch the week before led to a $75000 fine and a week's worth of rubbish-talking by the Broncos, who insinuated at every turn that the Colts receivers were pussies who would collapse if they were shoved around a little.

I have to admit, I predicted a 31-3 Colts victory and I wanted to see worse. I mean really, what NFL receiver, as tough as they have to be to go over the middle and get slammed by headhunters yet still catch passes, is going to allow "tough talk" to take them out of their game? Manning had a record 360 yards and three TDs at the half and hey, somebody had to catch those passes, even if they were scared of the big bad Broncos. Ha.

It was so lopsided, it was almost like a Super Bowl.


So now we know the Divisional playoffs:


Jets at Steelers, which will be the most physical game of the four.
Rams at Falcons, which will be the fastest game of the four.


Vikings at Eagles, which will the ugliest game of the four.
Colts at Patriots (let's see how many times you'll hear Patriot fans repeating this: Since Peyton Manning took over at quarterback, the Colts have lost nine of 11 to New England, including five in a row.) which will provide the most exciting matchup of the four.

Forecasts to follow.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Jets Beat Chargers Twice, Advance to Next Round With "Only" 20 Points
"I think we have to score at least 24 points in order to win a game in the playoffs, period," Jets RB Curis Martin said before the game. "I don't think there's anything below that that's going to win a playoff game."

Although they only managed to score 20, Doug Brien's 28-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in overtime was the second time the Jets defeated the Chargers last night. The first time was with 11 seconds left in regulation time, after Drew Brees' hail-mary toss into the endzone fell flat on 4th down.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Juiceless Orange Bowl
"I'll be in the stands cheering as loud as anybody for USC." OJ Simpson on where he'll be for the Orange Bowl.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm wondering why it's 4 in the morning and I'm awake listening to a 45-10 blowout on ESPN radio as I type this column.

Wasn't this supposed to be the game of the bloody century?

I only wonder will there be any Auburn Tiger fans whingeing about wanting a piece of the national championship after this? Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart has 5 touchdown passes with the second half hardly started.

OJ, by the way, admitted that he was "scared to death" of Oklahoma freshman, running back Adrian Peterson. An odd phrase for someone of OJ's history to employ. It's like Ted Bundy admitting he's "scared to death" of facing Gabrielle Reese in a one-on-one coed Volleyball tournament.


It's official, Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg are in the baseball Hall of Fame. Bruce Sutter experienced his 12th year of frustration, with 344 votes (66.7 percent), 43 short of election. Jim Rice garnered 307 votes, Goose Gossage 285 and Andre Dawson 270.

It's almost as though the hitter and fielder were split down the middle. Boggs had 3,010 hits and a .328 batting average in his 18-year career. Sandberg on the other hand, won 9 Gold Gloves, had a .989 career fielding percentage, still the best by a second baseman, and was a 10-time All-Star.

Boggs and his strange chicken fetish, we've heard all about.

Sandberg, can be discovered as an "everyman" by The Cub Reporter, has great range, as noted by View From the Bleachers and not Joe Morgan, in a bizarre yet poignant rant by The Uncouth Sloth.


And The Winner of the Super Bowl Is....

I've made all the relevant observations idiotic rants about the NFL wildcards that I'm going to make for one season. In the end, I had two of the four games selected and missed on the Rams, whom I practically guaranteed would lose to the Jets. I correctly surmised that the Vikings would choke against the Redskins. However, I was also WRONG on the Carolina Panthers making it. Then again, so was everyone else. Who really had the Saints beating the surging Panthers in Carolina? Thought so.

Orange Bowl Update: USC 48 Oklahoma 10: Matt Leinart has been promoted by hysterical ESPN announcers to the level of a "selfless person". Guess he'll be the 49ers pick in the 2005 Draft.

I've a sad prediction to make and that is that I don't think my Jets are going to make it past the first round. Oh, I'd entertained delusions that the Jets would bounce the Rams all around the Dome like squash balls and vindicate a season which, with 10 victories, really hasn't been as bad as their late season swoon would indicate. But with the defence collapsing and QB Chad Pennington seeming on the verge of physical and mental breakdowns at times, I'm beginning to wonder in what other ways they might flounder before the year is up.

Of the four Wildcard games scheduled, Sports Amnesia will predict that one team will have a breakout game which redefines their season and reinserts them as potential Super Bowl candidates, regardless of their record. Yes, there are two 8-8 teams in the playoffs, but the predictable whingeing about it is growing into an annoying cacophony. Parity. Get over it. This isn't the first time this has happened nor will it be the last. In 1999, both the Cowboys and the Detroit Lions both qualified for the postseason with 8-8 records.

They were both stomped, by the Vikings and Redskins, respectively, by a 54-23 margin proving that whilst parity provokes poor teams making the playoffs, it doesn't keep them there long.

The one thing we should get straight about the NFC postseason, this NFC, producer of 8-8 playoff teams, is that:

A) The Eagles, despite a top seeding, will not make it to the Super Bowl.
B) Some unexpected NFC team will make it to the Super Bowl.

Secretly, I'd already decided this was going to be Carolina before the Panthers went and lost to the Saints. Now I'm not sure. My other guarantee last week was that the Atlanta Falcons would lose their first game of the playoffs. Also not so sure any more. In fact, I've done a full 360 as you will see in many columns later next week.

But onward to the 2005 Playoffs:

St Louis @ Seattle(-4): Well, we've all heard about the Rams beating Seattle twice already this season. Most of us of course, didn't hear about this during the regular season because frankly, who cared what these two did against each other in the race to mediocrity, but now it matters so it's time to wonder what those two defeats mean.

Hopefully, I don't have to read another article about how difficult it is to beat a team three times in one season. During the 80s I seem to recall the Giants beating the Redskins three times a season like, every season so let's dispel the myth: it isn't hard to beat a team three times in a row if one team is better than the other. In the previous 13 times one team swept another during the regular season, the team doing the sweeping swept again, 8 times.

The logical thing for the Seahawks to do, with an angry Shawn Alexander and a pathetic Rams run defence, is pound Alexander over and over for plus 200 yards rushing and the Rams, by default into oblivion. It should be a pretty straight forward smashmouth affair which takes away the Rams' fast and furious offence especially since they are not so fast and furious outdoors and Seattle is not known for it's sunny clime.

Orange Bowl Update: Who wants to be a Sooner now, baby? Almost 5 in the morning in England and it is USC 55-Oklahoma 10 with 9:46 left in the game.

However, the Rams have been able to defeat the Seahawks twice already. You know what I say to that? Seagals that's what. The Seahawks are 2-6 in playoff games in their history. This will be one of those anomoly games that will be close, but unexciting.


NY Jets @ San Diego(-6): One of my favourite football blogs this season has been The Mighty MJD Sunday Afternoon Smorgasbord. The Mighty MJD is a Chargers fan - not one of those Chargers fans who have materialised from thin air over the last 10 weeks or so, but one who was with them from the beginning. After their loss to the Jets in Week Two, the Mighty MJD noted "We just played a terrible game, were -4 in the turnover ratio, and we still hung with the Jets, a team that might be pretty good. The Chargers might just not suck."

A week ago, I'd have been certain the Jets would make it to the next round. That was before losing 3 of their last 4. Before losing to the Rams. They've got the key ingredients: running game, run defence, experience. But they haven't really beaten anyone when it mattered and they haven't beaten anyone very often since their quick start this season, which, oh yeah, involved a previous victory over the Chargers. Two different teams headed in two different directions.

The Chargers have lost to all four playoff teams they faced this season. The Jets are 2-4 against playoff teams they've faced this season.

Both teams run the ball well, which is what you're supposed to do to win in the postseason. The Chargers were ranked third in rush defence and the Jets 5th so neither side will have much of an advantage on the ground.

So let's go to my favourite postseason stat, the turnover ratio. There the Chargers are plus 15 and the Jets plus 17. Again, an inconclusive difference.

It will be a tight game, tighter than the spread would suggest. Regretfully, wiser thoughts prevail over the heart.


Denver @ Indianapolis(-10): The Broncos beat up on Indianapolis' JV squad last week. The Broncos were humiliated by 31 points by these Colts last season in the playoffs. The Broncos hold an 11-4 edge in the previous 15 meetings.

The Colts, of course: Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning plus Marvin Harrison plus Edgerrin James indoors, equals ALOT of points, perhaps even against the 4th ranked Denver defence.

Does it matter that the Broncos haven't won a postseason game since Elway retired? Does it matter that Jake Plummer, after two consecutive starts in which he didn't embarass himself, is due for another bad showing. He has a meagre 75.6 QB rating on the road and in fact, during December, played three games on the road, lost two of them and completed 60 of 107 for 880 yards, 3 tds and most revealing, 8 interceptions. Yes indeed it matters, sportsfans.


Minnesota @ GreenBay (-6): Good god, from the sounds of it, the Minnesota Vikings are the worst team in NFL history to make the playoffs. They've lost 4 of their last 5, they've lost 20 of their last 21 games outdoors and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. They've played Green Bay twice this season and have lost both times by identical 34-31 scores. Oddly enough, this is their first meeting in the playoffs. Green Bay, of course, is 14-1 (.933) all-time in home playoff games.

The Vikes and the Pack are split all-time, at Lambeau Field: 14-14-1 in 29 games. Can a game get any closer? Is it merely the sneer of oddsmakers at the ridiculous fashion the Vikes got in to the playoffs that makes them absurd 10 point underdogs?

It would be easy to come to the conclusion that basically, the Vikings suck if they aren't playing in the first six weeks of the season on artificial turf and yet, in the watered down NFC, were able to get into the postseason despite their best efforts. Last season saw a similar swan dive that knocked them out of the playoffs before they even started. Now they've got a chance at redemption.

All logic points to the Packers winning a third game in a row. But this unfortunately, is Sports Amnesia's upset pick of the week.


Orange Bowl Update: Final Score: USC 55, Oklahoma 19. Most excitement of the night was speculation on whether or not Leinart is going pro. Ah, the minds of idle speculation. But of course he is turning pro and playing for the 49ers next season.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

GoodBye 2004, Bests and Worsts

So 2004, like a bag of crisps that have been resolutely consumed all the way down to the shaking out of the final crumbs into the palm, will now need to be washed down with a few pints and then, digested once and for all. In the interim, Sports Amnesia brings you the abbreviated but not annotated Bests and Worsts of 2004.

Best Sport: Between the Red Sox ending an 86 year old losing streak for the World Championship of Baseball, Greece becoming the Shocking Upset winners of the Euro 2004 in football, American football's Super Exciting Super Bowl 38 decided in the final four seconds, and the NBA Celebrating the Season of Giving by giving itself a black eye, it was hard to make a final decision as to the Best Sport of 2004.

But the deciding factor was the ongoing strike which has allowed me to enjoy almost seven consecutive NHL Hockey-less months whilst players and owners play a game well familiar to baseball fans only without the interest. Strike? What strike? I almost forgot the NHL ever existed which makes hockey the 2004 Sport of the Year.

Best Athlete: I have to admit, I don't give a fig about comparing Barry Bonds' stats, on or off steroids, with the exploits of men who excel at playing sports with their feet, or debating who is the best QB. The best athlete is never going to be a male at Sports Amnesia. We like watching great athletes in motion but watching hot athletes in motion is much more entertaining.

Yes, we know Heather Mitts won ESPN's hottest female athlete already but that was based upon their own criteria and whilst we have no qualms with the selection, Sports Amnesia's Best Athlete of the Year is:

Julia Teachout whose Hydroxycutting made her go from bad to losing 63 pounds and becoming hot in no time flat. In a year overrun with steroids stories, this is a warm one, even if it is two years old. Besides, no matter how many steroid creams Barry Bonds rubs into his flesh, he will not look like that.

Best Sports Moment 2004: If I were a Red Sox fan, I would obviously have to pick the final out of the 2004 World Series. But not being a Red Sox fan, I'm not beholden to having to pick the clichés. The best sports moment of 2004 was the release of the SI Swimsuit Collection.

Running a very close second and related to the first, was one of the swimsuit covergirl runnersup, Petra Nemcova and her gripping survival of the Asian tsunami. Well done.

Best Sports Quote 2004: There were some tough choices. Obviously, one of the first that came to mind was Pedro's infamous:

"I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy. I can't find a way to beat them
at this point. ... "

But actually, there was a dead-heat for the top quote and both of them came out of the Athens Olympic Games. Runner up was:

"All these people who crucify me on TV are the same people who wanted to be photographed with me after every success. But after crucifixion comes resurrection", uttered by Greek sprinter Costas Kenteris before withdrawing from the Games over a missed drugs test.

And the winner is:

"My victory has proved that athletes with yellow skin can run as fast as those with black and white skin", by China's Liu Xiang after winning the men's 110 metres hurdles in a world record-equalling time of 12.91 seconds.

Best Impression of a Coach Who Really Isn't: Goes to Rick Majerus for quitting his job as head coach of the USC basketball team just three days after agreeing to be their coach.

Best Impression of an Athlete Who Really Isn't: Goes to Ricky Williams for retiring from the Dolphins just 27 days before they opened training camp.

Best Impression of a Female Athlete By A Male Athlete: David Beckham, for making the Female Soccer Galleries.

Best Brawl: Say what you will about the NBA Players versus Fans brawl, but the brawl in the Copa Libertadores when players and officials from both Sao Caetano and America took part in a pitched battle after a 1-1 draw at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City.

Dozens of fans invaded the pitch and Sao Caetano players were forced to make a mad rush for the changing room in an incident Brazilian media said could have ended in tragedy.


Worst Sports Moment 2004: For 17 days, the 2004 Olympics stood the term "boring" on it's head. This barely surpassed David Beckham's horrific penalty shot which not only missed by miles but sent England home from Euro 2004.
Worst Security to Athlete Ratio for a Sporting Event: goes to the 2004 Olympics which saw police outnumber athletes 7-1.

Perhaps they should just hold the Security Olympics and let the athletes stand guard.

Worst Sports Quote 2004: American beach volleyball player Misty May, who after scattering her dead mother's ashes on the volleyball court after winning the gold medal, said:

"Everybody else's family is here, why couldn't I bring my family?"