Editor's Note

Non-sports fans, this weekend was a glimpse into the very near future.  With the NFL taking the weekend off in preparation for the Super Bowl (Yes, the Super Bowl is upon us and it is this Sunday.  Put it on your calendar now), there was precious little on the sporting schedule this past weekend.  Wasn’t it glorious?  No college football.  No professional football.  Just regular season hockey, some college hoops, and meaningless NBA games were on the docket, and none of them were a valid excuse to miss out on that baby shower you so wanted your sports fan to attend with you.  And here’s the kicker.  If you survive next weekend’s Super Bowl, there will be no major sporting events after that until mid-March when the NCAA basketball tournament begins.  Six whole weeks of nothingness.  But we warn you, this time will not come without its pitfalls.  Sports fans throughout the country will be going through football withdrawal after Sunday’s Saints-Colts finale (we will be previewing that game later this week.) Men will wake up on Sunday mornings a little bit at a loss as to what to do. We will see the best sports fans of our generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves by empty sports bars at midnight looking for an angry football fix.  It will be up to you to fill their days, so make the most of this time.  

Now, if last night your sports fan watched the NFL’s Pro Bowl, the worst of the all-star games in the four major sports, he/she will truly be hurting next week.  Indeed, anyone who watches the Pro Bowl, a game so awful that more of the top players in the league ask out of the game than actually play in it, will probably need to be checked into Football Rehab (for the record, the AFC topped the NFC 41-34 last night. Houston’s crappy quarterback Matt Schaub (pictured) was named the game’s most valuable player. We found out by checking the Internet this morning, highlighting just how unimportant this contest truly is.  We didn’t even watch it).  But fear not, within a week or so, even the most hardened of football fans will be fine in a few weeks.  So enjoy this time, friends.  You’ve earned it.



Editor’s Note:

There were 13 games on the NFL schedule yesterday, and in the interest of time, we will say that 12 of them really aren’t worth talking about  (If you care, Green Bay, San Diego, Cincinnati, Arizona, Jacksonville, Miami, Tennessee, Washington, Kansas City,  New Orleans, Minnesota and Carolina all won yesterday.  Congrats to them). But the only game that anybody is talking about was last night’s game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.  And the only play that anyone is talking about is New England coach Bill Belichick’s decision to go for the first down on 4th and 2 from his own 28 with a little more than two minutes remaining in the contest and the Patriots leading 34-28.  Long story short, the Patriots did not get the first down, the Colts went down the field and scored with 13 seconds left to give them an undeserved 35-34 victory.  The Colts move to 9-0 on the season, while the Patriots are now 6-3.

We are now abandoning all semblance of detached neutrality.  We are Patriots fans, and have been since the early 80s.  We grew up loving Stanley Morgan, Steve Grogan, Andre Tippett, and Craig James.  During the 1985 Super Bowl against the Super Bowl Shuffling Chicago Bears, we went into our bedroom near the end of the first quarter and prayed not for the Patriots to win, but only that they would not embarrass themselves (our prayer went unanswered). We loved Drew Bledsoe, but no quarterback was more capable of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory than old number 11 (we still love you though, Drew). We have suffered through some truly galling losses in our history, and we must say that this one ranks at Number 2 on the list of worst losses ever in our Patriots loving life (Number 1, of course, would be Super Bowl XLII, or as it has come to be known throughout the Patriots fan base, the events of 17-14.)

So why was this loss so galling?  Because, yet again, by any empirical evaluation, the better team did not win.  The Patriots flat-out dominated Indianapolis throughout the contest.  They ran nearly 500 yards of total offense.  They ran the ball effectively.  Their passing offense was pretty much unstoppable (except on that 4th & 2 play, which we’ll address later). And on defense, they kept the Colts effectively bottled up until they unfortunately started to relax in the fourth quarter.

So how did they lose?  We watched the entire game and we’re still not sure.  (more…)

ALCS Indians Fans Baseball

Editor’s Note

We probably should have come out with this last week before the Red Sox, Twins, and Cardinals shit the bed in their respective Major League Baseball Division Series.  And we especially apologize to our readers in the New England area. With the Red Sox getting swept by the Angels and the Patriots losing a game they had no business losing to the Broncos on Sunday, our little guide may have come in handy when you were asking why your sports fan had absolutely no desire to feign interest in the goings-on on Wisteria Lane later that evening. (Seriously, does anybody watch Desperate Housewives anymore?  Anybody?)

Well, we’re sorry.  But our motto around here is “better late than never.” So he we are with our handy guide to what not to say to your sports fan while he/she is in a pit of favorite-team-failure inspired despair

1. Do not say “Well, there’s always next year” after a team has been eliminated.  Especially a baseball team.

We sports fans find this insulting largely because we know that you are silently celebrating the fact that there will be no more nights spent watching a grown man live and die with every seemingly unimportant pitch.  We know that this is your day of jubilee after enduring six months of this nonsense.  We know that everything you say at this moment is disingenuous at best and mean-spirited at worst.  And for the love of God, suppress that smirk when you say it.  We will irrationally go from being mad at our team to being mad at you, largely because you are closer and can hear what we are saying. Please, just trust us on this.

2. Do not escalate.  Do not say anything along the lines of “You know that you are not actually a part of the team, right?  You realize that if you stopped rooting for the (fill-in your sports fans favorite team’s name here) tomorrow, there’s not a single player on the team that would know or care, right?”

The short answer is yes, we already know this, but we don’t appreciate your tone.  Deep down, we understand that our love for our teams is irrational and unrequited.  We understand that we are not actually a part of the team.  And we understand that it is silly that we let the performance of a group of men we don’t even know dictate our mood.  What we don’t need is for you to point this out to us.  This will inevitably lead to the same sort of anger shift that we detailed earlier. This ain’t the time. (more…)


Editor’s Note:

What started out as a potentially thrilling final week in Major League Baseball has fizzled out.  The Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves, who both entered Tuesday’s games with only a two game deficit in the American League Central and National League Wild Card races, respectively, have both lost ground in the last couple nights.

After winning the first game of a doubleheader against the front-running Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon, the Twins have now dropped two in a row to the Tigers, giving the Motor City Kitties a three-game lead with only four game left to play.  A win for the Tigers this afternoon against the Twins would clinch the division.

But in all honesty, we don’t care about Tigers and we don’t care about the Twins.  We do, however, care about the Atlanta Braves, who are now four games behind the Colorado Rockies with four games to play, and all we want to know is why? (Warning:  The following rant will be very Braves-centric.)

Why did Matt Diaz stray so far off of third base in last night’s climactic 9th inning and get picked off to end the game with the bases loaded in 5-4 game?  Why does Greg Norton ever get an at-bat, let alone with two-men on and nobody out? He’s hitting .133 for Christ’s sake (the lowest average of any non-pitcher on the Braves roster. Hell, Javier Vasquez has a better batting average than he does.) How in God’s name do you strike out 16 times against a pitcher that nobody has heard of (Ricky Nolasco)? We know that you all want to make a big play and want to get the offense jumpstarted with one swing of the bat.  But swinging at pitches out of the strike zone will not further your cause (we’re talking to you, Nate McClouth.)

But it’s more than just last night’s game. Why did you win 15 out of 17 games, a run that just built all our hopes up, to crap the season away in two heartbreaking 5-4 losses to an inferior team?  Why can’t you play as well at home as you do on the road? (Are your fans really that awful?) We loyal Braves fans, and there are more of us than you know, have suffered with you through what appears to be four straight postseason-less seasons.  Before that, we looked on aghast while in 13 of 14 postseasons you got whomped by some chump team which didn’t even belong on the field with you guys.   All those fantastic regular seasons, only to become a footnote in some other city’s celebration.  We lived through Lonnie Smith, Kent Hrbek, Otis Nixon’s bunt,  Mark Wohlers’ hanging slider, Eric Gregg’s strike zone, the whole John Rocker episode, and countless other playoff indignities.  But we also cheered when we took the last two in Pittsburgh, when Sid slid, when Salomon Torres coughed up the division, when Justice prevailed, when Michael Tucker took Kevin Brown deep, when Andruw walked, and several other life-changing and life affirming moments.

The fact of the matter is we love you guys.  But this year, with that final run, you guys made it just close enough for it to hurt in this final week.  We’ll still be watching tonight, and rubbing the lucky rabbit’s foot, hoping that you guys can win four in a row, and the Rockies fold like a portable card table down the stretch.  If not, we will see you in spring training.  We just can’t help ourselves.

All our love,

A Casual Fan.

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Editor’s note:

We love the Atlanta Braves.  There, we said it.  We have loved them since Dale Murphy was patrolling the outfield for the never-say-die, perpetually-out-of-the-pennant-race-by-May teams of the mid-80s.  And, thanks to the SuperStation, there are a lot of us Braves fans out there.  We fell in love with Murphy and Bob Horner and Ken Oberkfell and stayed in love when those heroes gave way to David Justice, Ron Gant, Steve Avery, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.  And starting in 1978 and again in 1991 when he came back from the front office as a general manager to become the manager of our Atlanta Braves, we fell in love with Bobby Cox.

Today Cox and the Braves announced that the 68-year-old skipper had signed on to manage one more year with the team and will retire at the conclusion of the 2010 season.  Cox ranks fourth all-time in career wins for a manager and his spot in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is a foregone conclusion.  And although we Braves fans knew that this day would come eventually (and a small but vocal minority had been screaming for his head for years), it still to us seems that it has come a bit too soon.

After a successful stint in Atlanta from 1978-1981, and later leading the Toronto Blue Jays to the American League East crown in 1985, Cox returned to  Dixie to lead a Braves team that had become a laughing stock.  In his first full season at the helm in 1991, he led the Braves from worst to first, winning the National League East and eventually leading the Braves to the World Series, a bitter and heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Twins (It’s a freaking double off the wall Lonnie Smith.  Run dammit — true Braves fans will know exactly what we are talking about.)  That 1991 campaign would be the first of 14 consecutive division championships for Cox and the Braves, an achievement that becomes more and more mind-boggling the further away we get from it.  The Braves won their only championship during that run in 1995, which remains the only title ever won by an Atlanta-based franchise (along with the single greatest moment of ours lives as a sports fan.)  During that span, Braves players won two National League MVP awards and six Cy Young Awards, and Cox was named Manager of the Year three times (1991, 2004, and 2005). He was and remains old school and fiery (he also holds the record for ejections in a career).  But Braves fans and the national media became jaded with the team’s success, citing not the World Series Championship, but the 13 times they went to the playoffs without winning the title.  But ask any player who has ever played for Cox, and all you will get his effusive praise.  He is a true baseball legend, and he will be missed when he retires after next season.  Here’s selfishly hoping that the Braves send him out a winner next season.  He deserves no less.

We will return to our usual detatched neutrality tomorrow.  We just had to get this off of our chest.  Love ya, Bobby.