Friday, November 30, 2007

Ohka-Nomo Misery

Here we go again ... tomorrow represents another Saturday when Boston Red Sox broadcaster JOE CASTIGLIONE will be reminded of how disappointing it was to first watch Toma Ohka and then see Hideo Nomo pitch for the home team at Fenway -- all because Sooners' athletic director JOE CASTIGLIONE will be watching his football team tangle with the No. 1 team in the nation.

That's right ... one Joe Castiglione knows everything about Ohka-Nomo misery
The other Joe Castiglione is up close and personal with Oklahoma-Missouri.
And, if last Saturday's Missouri-Kansas/Border Showdown was "Armageddon At Arrowhead" is tomorrow supposed to be "Castiglione In San Antone"???

All Castiglioning aside, some of us who are Sooner Schoonerists (but who are not as gung-ho about it as we were when Thomas Lott and his colorful bandana would engineer the Sooner Wishbone by first faking the handoff to Horace Ivory before pitching to Elvis Peacock), might find it necessary/imperative to actually root against Stoops' Troops tomorrow.
Bob needs to understand that it's nuthin' personal -- it's just that the America which enjoys college football cannot endure another entire December of "experts" informing us that "Jim Tressel (and his sweater vest) is the best big-game coach in the history of football.
41-14 vs. the Alligators proved that he clearly was not.

Not that anyone is fooled by "Big Game Bob."
True ... the national championship in '00 was remarkable (albeit a feat accomplished with many of John Blake's recruits) -- just as we were all quite impressed with the way that Bob turned the 0-12 Sooner team of '05 into a program of national prominence last year.
That is, until Boise State stupified Stoops in the Fiesta Bowl with a) the hook-and-lateral TD on 4th down b) the halfback-option pass on 4th down in OT and c) the gutsy, Statue of Liberty, 2-pointer which ended the game.

So, yes, it is true that Bob Stoops was the coach in the Greatest Ending In College Football History ... Period -- so, stop bringing up the way that USC mauled the undefeated Sooners, 55-19, in the BCS title game three years ago (because if Pete Carroll wanted it to be worse, 'SC coulda hanged 85 points on the Schooner that night due to the inability of future-NFL superstar Brodney Pool to recognize that when he stands in one place and Trojan receivers are running free in the secondary, that MIGHT be a problem ...).

Brig. Gen. Stoops don't like it so much if ya remind him of that disaster, just as he might get a wee bit sensitive if anyone mentions the season before 55-19 ... when the Schooner, which was 12-0 (winning by an average score of 48-14 in those 12 games), got absolutely smoked, 35-7, by Kansas State in the Big XII title game (two days shy of the one-month anniversary of OU's 77-0 win over Texas A&M).
It's one thing to lose.
It's another to get humiliated in a prison-sex manner.

Bobby doesn't want ya thinkin' 'bout those embarrassments 'cuz, if ya ever noticed, he can rattle off the school's national championship seasons and Big 8/Big XII titles at the drop of a hat.
Ya can't blame him -- after all, he IS the coach who is only two years removed from the 0-12 disaster -- a season which was punctuated handsomely by the final minute of the Holiday Bowl when linebacker Rufus Alexander intercepted that Oregon pass (when his team was clinging to that 17-14 lead) and then picked up a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for heaving the football into the stands.
Moments later, Rhett Bomar -- QB of the only 0-12 team in OU history -- was tagged with a delay of game penalty when he took a knee (for what he assumed was the last snap of the game) before spiking the ball and raising his arms in triumph.

The 0-12 season was, in the eyes of many, a lotta plumb bad luck.
A year after the Alexander-Bomar meltdowns, Coach Bob looked on as another player chucked the football into the stands.
Sadly for Stoops, it was Ian Johnson who excitedly flung the ball into the crowd after scoring on the Statue of Liberty play ... and, well ... maybe that's just bad sportsmanship if ya gotta use trick plays and gimmickry to win a ballgame, hell ... it wasn't as though Boise State had outplayed OU through the 2 1/2 quarters or nuthin' ... buildin' that 28-10 lead ... golldern razzle dazzle shit ...

Therein lies the rub: When we're rootin' for Bob, he comes up short.
Now, when we need him to keep Tresselvest out of our BCS title game, we have to root for Missouri.
Which doesn't sound like any fun at all.
Chase Daniel is a bit of a punk.

Anway, that's No. 1-ranked Mizzou -- or should we say, "The second Big 12 team in as many weeks in line to get whacked by The S.I. Cover Jinx."
Last week, it was the Kansas Jaywalks and the S.I. "Dream Season (So Far)" cover.
This time, it's "Mizzou, That's Who" -- and, well ... Chase Daniel is the coverboy for The Sporting News, too, so ...

True ... Daniel looked mighty good completing 81.6 percent of his passes (40 of 49) in that nationally-televised game last week ("you're looking LIVE at Arrowhead Stadium!") ... and, yes, this Sooner secondary IS ripe for carving like a Thanksgiving turkey (or didja forget how Texas Tech's Graham Harrell was abusive toward the overrated OU LBs and DBs ... seriously, does Marcus Walker look like Rickey Dixon or Roy Williams to you? ... has anyone mistaken Curtis Lofton for Bosworth or Calmus????).

Stoops has worked wonders in SchoonerTown ... more than merely turning around the 0-12 team of '05.

For example, it was Big Game Bob who oversaw two landmark changes in Sooner history:
A) First, Stoops had the players' last names returned to the backs of the jerseys after an '06 with nameless jersey backs (as you recall, when No. 11 was chasing Boise State's #1 down the sideline, it might as well have been #11 Jack Mildren or or #11 Tinker Owens or #11 Ontei Jones instead of #11 Lendy Holmes ... because there was no "HOLMES" on the back of Lendy's crimson-coloured shirt).
B) Big Game Bob instituted the white cleats at home AND on the road (instead of black cleats with white jerseys for away games).

Never let it be said that Stoops is not innovative.
Even if he doesn't know how to defend the hook-and-lateral, the halfback-option or the Statue of Liberty ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Senseless NFL Bloodshed

Well, actually, when the news came down this mornin' 'round daybreak that Sean Taylor had died from the gunshot wound to the groin from one day earlier, it was mighty easy to see how the name of Blenda Gay could pop into one's head.

We all remember what it was like when we were freshmen in high school and there was the one paragraph blurb in our California newspaper about the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive lineman -- Blenda Gay -- who was killed by his wife.
It was the first time we'd ever heard of one of those athletes we worshipped dying in a manner other than maybe a plane crash (Roberto Clemente) or from cancer (as Cal Bears QB Joe Roth did following his senior season).

Back in an era before we had FOX & Friends was invented and before Wolf Blitzer got all high n' mighty in his Situation Room, all we had was one paragraph from a wire service report in the L.A. Times.
And, because that's all we had (working in concert with an eventual ex-mom who couldn't explain why some GUY was named not only "Blenda" but "Blenda Gay"), the story became less about the death of an athlete with an odd name but more about the odd name itself.
It wasn't until many years later that we learned that Blenda Gay was murdered by his wife as he slept ... stabbed in the throat by her ... retribution(?) for years of physical abuse inflicted by him upon her ... a woman who was later deemed criminally insane at the time of the murder ...

Alas, a stabbing is not a shooting -- and we didn't get our first taste of that until a few years after the Blenda Gay death when California Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was gunned down as he sat in a car in Gary, Ind., the victim of mistaken identity by (again) a nut job with an irrational and violent solution to dealing with a series of psychoses.

Those are the landmark slayings from our teenhood ... no less inexplicable today than they were then.
Now, with the death of Sean Taylor, the search for answers (and mayyyyybeeee, the truth) is underway.

The most-sensible approach to sifting through the facts and the fiction is to click the "OFF" button on the TV (or the radio) because, let's face it, advances in technology in the past 30 years haven't distilled news-gathering one iota.
It's just as garbled now as it was on the night when Blenda Gay met his fate.

Moreover, the prospect of finding ourselves beseiged by any number of talking heads giving us the (say it together, everybody) "terrible tragedy" platitudes is nauseating.
Not a comedic tragedy ...
Not a run-of-the-mill tragedy ...
This is the "terrible tragedy" -- one of those tragedies which ranks right up there with the tragic tragedy and other terrible acts of terribleness.

And, in the slaying of Broncos DB Darrent Williams on New Year's Day, no one has been arrested yet, correct?
Was that tragedy missing something in the terribleness context?

In a compare-and-contrast scenario, it'll be interesting to see how the Sean Taylor/Darrent Williams stories play out in the weeks/months ahead.
Jumping to conclusions remains America's best source of cardiovascular activity.

But, as long as Anna Nicole Smith's baby ends up with her proper baby daddy, then we can all sleep at night.
'Cuz the only thing Americans love more than their NFL is their big ta-ta's ...

MNF Hero: Sepple Veyda

As the clock inches just a hair past Monday midnight, everybody's gettin' ready to get some shut-eye, 'cuz, come sun-up, everybody's gonna have their Tuesday Morning Quarterback game face on as they break down that epic, 3-0 win by the Steelers over Miami's Sea Mammals which wrapped up shortly ago.

No doubt, there'll be a great many of these Tues. A.M. QBs fillin' up message boards with the 455 ways in which the Steelers didn't generate much hope of beating the undefeated Patriots two weeks from now with this effort against the winless porpoises-without-a-purpose.

Given the goop that the teams were playing in tonight, sometimes the most viable way to sum up the outcome is to rewind to that movie from 20 years ago when the veteran Chicago cop-on-the-beat (Malone) told that go-getter from the Justice Dept. (Ness) that the First Rule of policework is ... "make it home alive."
Of course, such an observation doesn't totally sink in until we use our best Sean Connery accent to drive the point home with, "And here endeth the lesson ..."

We don't know if this 3-0 victory over Miami is the necessary character-builder for taking down the perfect Pats two weeks from now, but, it's a W, despite the lack of artistry, glamor and showbiz appeal.
We do know that this is better than a 3-0 loss, which was looking like a very real possibility midway through the 4th when Miami was mounting a mini-drive as the score was tied 0-0.

If it was the objective of Dirk McGirder (the Steeler mascot who STILL is NOT receiving enough TV facetime) to improve the MNF record to 13-0 under Cowher/Tomlin and to retain the No. 3 position for the AFC playoffs (meaning a first-rounder @ Heinz vs. the No. 6-seeded knuckleheads -- likely Cleveland -- before a trip to Indy in Round 2), well ... mission accomplished.

And, as Tomlin pointed out a few moments ago, the rookie punter -- "Sepple Veyda" -- was a big reason for that.
Iron Mike praised Sepple Veyda's ability to bottle up the bottle-nosed mammals deep in their end of the muck with some directional punting -- still, many of us saved our standing O for the rook getting Chris Warren's long snap down and executing a perfect placement for Jeff Reed's game-winning FG with 14 ticks remaining on the clock.

Sepple Veyda was a quality middle man in the Warren/Sepple Veyda/Reed paradigm.

LOOK ... we call him Dirk McGirder because Steely McBeam is a chick's name -- but, we call "Sepulveda" by his new nickname ("Sepple Veyda") because that's how the Jets' radio play-by-play clown (we call him "a tool") referred to the rookie punter last week.
For those of us who were born n' raised (and sometimes wore a Steelers t-shirt when visiting the) Sepulveda District of SoCal, we are thankful that the NYJ broadcasting hack didn't bother with Sepulveda's first name, lest he referenced the punter as "Danielle" and not "Daniel."

Damn amateurs.
And sons-of-bitches.
New York's full of 'em -- which means it's perfect for the Jets ... playin' their home games across the river in East Rutherford ... in "GIANTS" Stadium, not Jets Stadium.

Of course, Heinz Field was no picnic last night during conditions which can only be described as "Fuamatu-Ma'afala-esque."
When it's THAT muddy, perhaps the only practical use for the field would've been to have Michelle Tafoya and Suzy Kolber strip down to their scivvies and "have at it."

That may not sound very PC to someone named "Steely McBeam" -- but, since his name is Dirk McGirder, it doesn't matter.
Sepple Veyda nods approvingly.

And, J-Peazy? How will we remember his return?
Sure ... J-Peazy was a quality player for 7 seasons in The Burgh -- however, the #55 on the all-time Steeler roster in many of our hearts will always belong to Jon Kolb.
Not J-Peazy.

Also, there's a lot of us who woulda put Bryan Hinkle ahead of J-Peazy on the 75th Annivesary Team. It's not Bry's fault that during his 13 years in Black N' Gold (compared to 7 for Porter), he was on some mighty mediocre squads.

So, tell Peezee to pick up his 75th Anniversary Certificate of Merit, his 75th Anniversary key chain and his 75th Anniversary 30-oz. travel mug and to get out the house.
Only 5 more L's under the tutelage of Cam Cameron and the 0-16 nightmare is in the books.
(Note: Cam Cameron had a soft, delicate first name similar to "Steely" -- that is, until he went all tough guy and changed "Malcolm" to "Cam" ... mostly because somebody already had dibs on "Joe Lunchpail")

Anyway, most of us have decided that "Yes, we'll keep this 3-0 victory" -- and we'll hope that the field tightens up a little better for that Sunday nighter vs. the underachieving Bengals.

Gotta have a fast track so that Ocho Stinko can "go off" for five catches for 56 yards, WOW!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Glorious Triumph for DIRK McGIRDER

EVEN SO ... if only Kreider could have latched onto that semi-off-target pass from Charlie Batch and then fallen across the goal line (instead of dropping the ball and gettin' smacked by #52 Cobalt Lounge) ... or if Rossum had made a juke "in space" with only the punter to beat (instead of running politely out of bounds for a 49-yard punt return which coulda been an 87-yard TD) ... and if the guys hadn't had a mini-letdown (52-yard KOR, facemask penalty and 33-yard TD by McGahee) when they had just taken that 35-0 lead a few minutes before halftime ... well, let's just say that 45-0 looks/sounds/feels so much better than the 38-7 final which we wound up with.

As this world has come to learn, the only thing better than a Black N' Gold romp is a Black N' Gold romp which leaves cleatmarks all over Billick's already oddly-contorted face (when's that guy gonna stop lookin' as though he just ate a moldy lemon chased by 3-week-old, unrefrigerated eggplant?)

This MNF blowout was good for America, since some of us were growing mighty weary of the Colts-Pats/Super Bowl 41.5 fallout (not to mention the fact that no one seems interested in asking Tom Brady the important postgame questions, such as, "Do you think that, one day, you and your son will enjoy watching the highlights of this game on DVD -- or is Bridget more likely to make the kid watch it with his step-dad?" ++++ Which reminds us: Why is that any time there's a QB who is the son of a football coach, there's always a TV announcer somewhere to to inform us that said QB is smarter, in theory, than everybody else simply because "he's the son of a football coach"? Why is it that no one ever uses a tagline for Tom Brady such as: "Brady's performing well for a QB who is the father of a bastard child born out of wedlock"??? +++ Just wunderin', that's all. The way this love affair stands now, Tom Terrific could be sittin' in the pocket, readin' NAMBLA literature as he waits for Moss/Stallworth/Welker to get open and Tommy's terrifickness will be forever unparalleled because, let's face it ... Roethlisberger rides motorcycles too fast and he doesn't bang Giselle, blah blah blah ... )

Either way, we're a few minutes into the early minutes of TMA (Tuesday Morning Aftermath) following MNF -- wishing that such a splendid night at The Big Ketchup Bottle (as all of the oldtimers/legends came out to watch Clint Kriewaldt wear his yellow bonnet while playin' special teams) never had to end.
Of course, Dirk McGirder might've been dismayed that there weren't three or four second-half TDs to provide a 56-7 or 63-7 shellacking, yet, some of us spent some of that quiet time reminiscing about which of Big Ben's five first-half TD throws was our favourite.
(Answer: It HAD to be the second-quarter TD bomb down the right sideline to Santonio, who made the catch a few yards deep in the end zone as that no-name scrub DB -- Derrick Martin, they say his name is -- attempted a 2-handed overhead reach for the ball after Santonio had already made the catch and was sliding on the wet end-zone grass. +++ Kinda clueless D by a guy who probably isn't good enough to play professionally for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL or the Scottish Claymores of the WLAF or the Jacksonville Bulls of the USFL or the Jacksonville Sharks of the WFL ...).

For those of us who live within listening range of Ravens Radio, Tuesday's daylight should be oodles of fun as many opinions will be expressed on "The Ray Lewis Show," "The Willis McGahee Show," "The Jonathan Ogden Show," "The Todd Heap Show," "The Brian Billick Show" and whichever other Raven has a show (actually, someone should scrap all of those shows and, instead, air that footage from the time when Ravens o-coordinator Rick Neuheisel was holding a guitar as he was seated in a row boat in the middle of a lake and, now that ya mention it, nobody can remember if Neuheisel actually strummed that 6-string and sang "On Top Of Old Smokey" or "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -- in fact, we can't remember if it was when the girlie-lookin' geek and his cherry-hued cheeks was the head coach at Colorado or Washington ... EXPM does have the footage somewhere, though ... YouTube, what say you?)

The aftermath of what began almost five hours ago in the Steel City drizzle is not unlike the pride that we Ravenhaters felt last Jan. when the Colts returned to Balt. and defeated the unstoppable Ravens -- prompting that headline in The Sun which read: PURPLE PAIN ... block letters which were juxtaposed over a photo of a 40-something-year-old doofus with his lower lip jutting out like a tot who'd just had his lollipop swiped.

That's the problem w/ B'More ... they put their eggs in the basket of Billick, a chump who came to town and tried to pawn off Scott Mitchell and Stoney Case as NFL QBs.
Since 92.8 percent of Ravens fans wear the #52 jersey in honor of the Cobalt Lounge's favorite linebacker, they need (now, more than ever) their icon to rev it up with "What time is it?! GAME TIME, woof woof woof!" -- soooooo inspirational is he ... except for them two dead boys lyin' all dead on the street outside the Cobalt Lounge ...).

In that same vein, no Terrible Towelistas should feel sorry for Steve McNair (13 completions for a staggeringly-low 63 yards). That guy was a Steeler-killer "back in the day." And he was the QB who was doin' the damage during those 27-0 and 31-7 embarrassments last year, so, "tough tarts, said the Queen of Hearts." (++++ Hmmmm ... that metaphor is more-effeminate than Neuheisel in the rowboat ... gotta work on that ... which ain't easy w/o the F-word or other profanity) ...

On the other hand, it didn't seem entirely fair that, when interviewed at halftime, Mel Blount and His Cowboy Hat had some mighty unkind words for the Ravens' offense. #47 shouldn't be hatin' when it's Steelers he should be congratulatin'.

And, while we're on the subject of remembering the heroes who made Three Rivers Stadium a championship lair, ya gotta wonder how many fans out there tonight found themselves conflicted when they saw Larry Brown in his #79 jersey (escpecially those of us who might have been wearing our white #87 BROWN Steeler jersey because, after all, that WAS the color and number which Larry was wearing when he caught the first TD pass in Steelers Super Bowl history ... it's the dilemma every diehard faces when he considers the seven years Larry Brown spent as TE vs. the seven years he spent as RT).

Ambivalence and ambiguity aside, a quiet second half might've provided the perfect backdrop for those who were interested in mingling and sharing war stories rather than sweating out a tense third and fourth quarter.
However, two key figures were missing from the gathering of the Steelers' 75-Year Anniversary Team -- Noll and Lambert.
The EXPM MNF blabbermouths didn't fully explain the extent of Noll's health-related issues and nobody explained #58's absence.
Do some homework, Kornhusker (instead of spending all that time of scraggly beards, shitty comb-overs and jagged teeth).
Some of us don't have time to visit 75 sites/blogs for the whys and the wherefores.

Well, now it seems as though the yellow helmets and the throwback gear are part of the Steeler archives. It was a 2-game experiment -- and now it's just a matter of time to determine if there'll be trading cards depicting either the Gold Bonnets vs. the Bills or the Gold Bonnets vs. the Ravens which can match those trading cards in our collection from that '94 game against the Colts when the Steelers, in keeping with the spirit of the NFL's 75th anniversary, wore those funky yellow-with-black-striped shirts with that wacky crest smack dab in the middle, accessorized with dull, gold trousers and plain black helmets.

Understandably, Dirk McGirder probably hated those togs.
Come to think of it, now that the Steelers have won all four home games by a margin of 20 points or more, how come Dirk McGirder isn't receiving more face time as he waves his towel and leads the always-inspiring "Let's Go, Steelers!" cheer?

Wait ... who's DIRK McGIRDER, anyway?
Well, that's the pseudonym some of us are using for something that they call "Steely McBeam," this year's cartoonlike mascot.
"Steely McBeam"???
Didn't the allegedly-not-anorexic Calista Flockhart star as Steely McBeam in that FOX series which most of us never watched?
Steely McBeam ... Ally McBeal ... same thing ...

Dirk McGrider never watched episodes of "Steely McBeal."
Dirk McGirder spent the days of his youth reading about steel girders.
Nobody messed with Dirk McGirder back in the days when Steely McBeal was gettin' rejected every time she asked some guy to the Sadie Hawkins Dance.

"Steely McBeam"???
That's the name of a boutique -- or a re-working of a name which was stolen from that eatery & bar on "The Simpsons" ... TIPSY McSTAGGER'S.
Tunch Ilkin never ate at Tipsy McStagger's.

Anyway, while the Ravens are ordering rounds of Shirley Temples at their nearest Tipsy McStagger's, Dirk McGirder and the team he cheers for must make the most of the short week in preparation for the Brownies. It stands to reason that Ravens Reject, Derek Anderson, won't opt for the dink-n'-dump approach.
Cleveland will likely "bring more to the table" than it did in the 34-7, season opener -- and that means "on the offensive side of the ball," "on the defensive side of the ball" and "on the special teams side of the ball" (radio/TV-speak for "offense/defense/special teams").

One more thing: We had 33 Steelers on the 75th-anniversary team, but, shhhhhhh ... Louis Lipps WAS better than Lynn Swann.
You saw the games.
Do the math ...