Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Think it's Gonna Be A Long Long Time Till Touchdown

Rocket Ma-a-a-an?

It takes me two days to respond to the debacle that was Jets football on Sunday. This is why I would never make a good Jets blogger for serious. I am just way too attached, and consumed by the trials and tribulations of this team. I celebrate wins for too long after they have ended, and analyze losses as if there is, or should be, a logical reason why the Jets can play with the best team in the AFC until the last play of the game, and lose to one of the worst teams on the last play of the game. I convince myself that the NFL is plotting against the Jets when they refuse to review a blown call that cost the Jets at least a shot at winning the game (apparently it was unreviewable, which is baffling, as well) instead of admitting that, officially, this team "is what we thought they were," to kill a phrase. They are "mediocre", "rebuilding", "young", "raw", "in-transition," "frustrating." Whatever catch-phrase you want to use, they are a below average team, which is going to win just enough games to miss out on the best of the draft's Running backs, pick a "promising" linemen or safety, who is a career disappointment, and next year we can begin the 6-10 or 7-9 process all over again. They are what they are: the Jets. And we can tie our hopes to whatever star we want: new coaching staff, new defensive scheme, new GM. But here's one thing that has remained consistent for this Jets team for as long as I have been alive: the guy who touches the ball most has always been average, inconsistent, and frustratingly prone to crippling series, quarters, games...oh, and inuries.

Here comes a jealousy tainted, bitter, "I-hate-the-Patriots" rant for you, folks: want to know why the Pats have been a contender for five years running, no matter who they release, or refuse to resign, or trade away? TOM BRADY. And not just because he is good (maybe even great) but because he is consistent, and, here's the occum's razor that never gets mentioned: he is always friggin' healthy. I am not rooting for the guy to get injured but seriously, why is it that Tom Brady never gets hit at an awkward angle, or ruptures a disc in his back having circus-act sex with Bridget Moynihan? Why can't it happen to THEM, just ONCE?! I don't care which national magazine wants to slight the best player in the NFL this century (because that's what he is) there is no denying that the guy does what no Jets quarterback has been able to do for my entire lifetime: win, stay out of his own way, Bang Bridget Moynihan and stay out of the friggin' OPERATING ROOM!! There has to be a reason why, for the past 5 years, Chad Pennington has been given the benefit of the doubt by every single coach, sportswriter, and player who has walked through the Jets locker room. Other than his good-old-boy, straight-shooter personality, I can't seem to find one. He has always had flashes of greatness, sure. But just as often he has thrown up logic-defying bumbling-out-of-the-gate starts like the one on Sunday. One of his interceptions honestly looked like it had to have been tipped at the line (BUT IT WASN'T!) It floated like a pass thrown between two kids in the parking lot during tailgates: high, arching, wobbly, and aimless. It landed in the Cleveland Cornerback's bread basket like a gift. Tom Brady could have thrown a better prayer with his toes. Unbelievable. But here is the thing. The Jets will keep tapping that well, and they will do it until we are "mathematically" eliminated from the Playoffs, and maybe even then, keep giving Chad the nod. News flash, people: WE ARE MATHEMATICALLY eliminated. It's new math: it's called deductive reasoning. And I am apparently the only Jets fan smart enough to apply this shit. Here is what I deduce: we have a good but young coaching staff; we have a young defense learning a new scheme that would give up 150 yards rushing to my grandmother on a cold day when here arthritis is acting up; we have no viable running back (look Leon Washington is a nice little kid, with a running back-sounding name, who might average 50 yards a game in the CFL or something, lets not get too excited about one good game against the Lions); we have decent but not great wide-receivers (when do we convert Justin Miller into a WR and let McCareins go?); and, here's the clincher, a TERRIBLY predictable QB. You know what's predictable about Chad? He is inconsistent to the point of sheer frustration, he has, and always will have, a Johnny Damon arm, and he is, and always will be INJURED!!! We know what we have with Pennington: a guy who is usually smart enough to win you 6 or 7 games, but never good enough to win you the games that he needs to, ie the Patriots game, the Colts game, the Browns game. And make no mistake: this was a must win. If the Jets were were going to be a playoff contender they were going to roll through this game, go into the bye week 5-3, and at least give New England a fight on the 11th. Now, you can chalk up three straight losses (yes, Houston will beat them) and all of those games should be great opportunities to see what we have in Kellen Clemens. But because the Jets aren't mathematically eliminated, you can expect to see Chad. Which means you can expect: 3 interceptions, 2 dropped snaps, and absolutely no rhythm against New England (at which point the Jets media coverage will just start to catch up to what the smart fans already know, and question if Chad is hurt and if there might be a better option on our bench) followed by a deceptively good outing (a lot of dump passes, that his recievers turn into big gains, thus padding his numbers, in a loss against Minnesota) and just when the media and fans are coming back to coddling everyones favorite southern blondie, we will get another Browns-type game against the Texans. And three weeks from now--three weeks after we would have been able to test our young QB against a good team, a decent team, and a bad team, three weeks of wasting our opportunity to find out if we need to draft another QB--the coup will finally begin en masse. By the time Clemens gets to take a snap the rest of the team will have quit in frustration, and the Jets will go into next year with a big question mark under center. Most likely to fill that hole? A ("finally healthy!!") Chad Pennington. Fucking gross. At the beginning of this year, I said I'd rather see a 1-15 team with signs of progress than a 6-10 team that storms out of the gate, only to slowly deteriorate throughout the season. Why would I have expected anything but the latter?!

Look Chad, I rooted for you when you took the reigns from Vinny. The thing is, you were young, you were promising, and you were an unknown, while Vinny was getting older, getting erratic, looking gimpy, and prone to single-handedly losing games with his random stinkers. Sound familiar? Well I rooted for a change then, and I am rooting for one now. In the last three years you haven't won a single game I didnt expect you to win, you have lost a few I never imagined you could, and through it all, I have NEVER ONCE felt fully comfortable with you behind Center, and over the past two years plus you have been obviously injured yet continued to stubbornly put yourself before the team. So go take up somebody else's cap room. Go be someone else's constant worry, someone else's injured enigma. It's time for Kellen Clemens to become our new whipping boy. Apparently we've worn out the hide on the one we've got now.

Just my Job Five Days a Week

I have gotten to the point at work where I wouldn't be surprised if I caught myself in the middle of handing in my two weeks one of these mornings. Basically, ever since my wedding, I have been slowly phased out of the sports aspect of my job, because there is "more important" stuff that they need the experienced researchers on, which is total BS, becasuse now they have some kid (who honestly doesn't know who the Eagles QB is) updating football and basketball, and I am working on MLB, College Sports, and Motor Sports (no joke) and have less and less of my day dedicated to it, and more and more of my day dedicated to cleaning up crap that other people have soiled. And as I am in mid-rant about this my wife calls and tells me she got a promotion. I guess I can't complain. Maybe I will become a house-dad for the dog...

The house is coming along swimmingly. The office is complete. This is huge. The biggest problems with my old apartment went as follows: we had a futon instead of a couch because our living room was long and narrow, and I had ZERO space to write. Now we have a leather couch and I have an office. I went with blue and brown as my colors. It has the library feel without that stodgy green and gold that most home offices boast. I'm pretty pumped about this...nice bookshelves, oak desk, etc...might need a new flat-panel TV. Maybe. Started painting the living room this weekend. Phone and internet are active, cable on Friday. Starting to feel human again.

Gonna be High as a Kite by Then

Lots of celebration planned for this weekend. I have kitchen contractors, and the cable dude coming on Friday, so it will be a three day weekend. Friday Brian gets in and we will be taking in some visual arts at one of the sundry art galleries or museums in Manhattan, before meeting up with Slaz and old friend Andy, in Brooklyn for some beers, and a party at John's loft. Saturday, I will probably catch some football at Park Tavern, and then go to Brian and Dana's engagement party at night. Recover on Sunday. At least with the Bye-week, I can rely on Pennington not to throw any interceptions. Unless he decides to go out and play a charity game with the disabled. In which case, it should only be one or two.

Monday, October 16, 2006

(PRODUCT) Red Rain is Falling Down

This weekend I was peeling through the NY Times magazine, when I came across some six-page Gap Ad spread, featuring Don Cheadle, Missy Elliot, Anton Apollo Ono and some others. What made this ad-spread unique is it clearly was trying to say something powerful about the typical bland clothes that the brand was marketing. They all came in a bold red color with (Red) written across random parts of the garment, and they were all the only article of clothing in the piece. The message was actually well translated by the art director of the shot. Before you read any background information on the clothes, you knew there was something significant to this brand. The little information provided at the end of the spread, gives you the idea that, yes, in fact, there is: All Red Products Are Designed to Help Eliminate AIDS in Africa. Their Motto: "Can a T-Shirt Change the World? This One Can."

Now, those two statements are really pretty bold claims for fashion to be making: that a product is designed to fight the deadliest disease in the world, and that a product can ultimately change the world. A quick visit to their website, of course, gives you a better idea of what they mean by "changing the world." "This isn't charity," it states, "this is a new way of doing business." Indeed, even when it comes to altruism in Twenty-First Century America, it is really all about that bottom line. As the co-founder (along with, who else, BONO!) of Product Red confirmed, this is all about making some money. Bobby Shriver (yes, that kind of Shriver) recently told the New York Times: "We want them (the brand-makers) to make money. We don't want anyone to be thinking, ‘I'm not making money on this thing,' because then we failed. We want people buying houses in the Hamptons based on this because, if that happens, this thing is sustainable." Hold on a second while I rub my eyes and read that again. Yeah, that's what he said. In order to "sustain" this thing, they have to feed on American's consumerism, trust American's to be more likely to "contribute" to a cause by purchasing a fashion statement; rather than actually contributing to a good cause; oh, and they need the profit sharing to pad the pockets of the good folks whose houses in the Hamptons could use a nice addition right now. Nevermind that, of the 190 bucks you spend on that Red Ipod Nanno, only 10 bucks are going to help the cause of actually fighting AIDS in Africa. The other $180? Straight towards building another fence around Bill Gates' Estate. The idea here people is to change something that has failed miserably (namely, American altruism) by splicing it with something that has succeeded inexplicably well (namely, consumerism...or to be blatant, the consistency of you, me, and everyone we know going out and buying over-priced crap that is made by underpaid children, and flashing it around like it is something to be proud of.)

Look, I don't have a problem with the resident voice of our generation (who actually isn't of our generation) pimping idealism out to young Americans for a good cause, for once. I suppose he is, in fact, trying to do something good. But I do hav a problem with a few things: Wouldn't all of the money that is being put towards building these folks homes on the Haptons, be better spent, I dunno..."Elimating Aids" as they claim is their goal. Why do we continue to talk about Bono as if he is a great human being (I know...I had to write an introduction to one of my company's books on why Bono and Bob Geldof were one of ten people who make a difference in the world.) The guy has used his celebrity for a lot of good causes, sure. But it hasn't stopped him from posing with some of the most genocidal leaders walking the face of this earth.

AND, Is it really a fair notion for the pimps of these product to assume that the only way to illicit charity from this generation is to offer them an ugly red tank-top in return? If so, I am ashamed of my generation. I suppose it worked with Yellow Bracelets, but for god's sake, people, are we really going to stand idly by, while a bunch of 40-to-50-something entrepreneurs get together and cater to the lowest common denominator of our stereotyped generation? Is buying dumb crap, and flashing that we are a part of the latest movement, really worth supporting people who take advantage of the diseased and dying citizens of the orpahned continent, just so they can afford new homes in the Hamptons?

Hey You. Twenty-something hipster, with the 60s-recall haircut. Unplug the Ipod. Put down the shopping bag, the 3-dollar coffee, and the unopened copy of White Noise and listen to me: You planning on buying that tank top for 56 bucks at the gap? Look, 28 of it goes to an organization that is dedicated to fighting AIDS, 28 of it goes to some GAP CEO's waterfront property at Sheepshead Bay. Do us all a favor. Take 50 of it, and donate it to AVERT.org. Then take the other six, and go buy yourself some beer. We all know thats what you young slackers spend your money on anyways, when you aren't spending it on tank-tops and Nanos.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Intentionally Walking Nap Lajoie (or cleaning out the desk blog)

Ball One: Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed and/or criticized my PopMatters piece. It was an imperfect work for sure, but I will get some better ones (and probably some worse ones) out in the near future, which some of you may enjoy more (or less.) Wow that was a meaningless sentence if ever I wrote one.

Ball Two: The marathon commuting continues. T-minus-10 days until we close. Oddly, I am looking forward to living in a condo with a kitchen under remodeling, no real furniture for a couple of weeks, and in need of tons of work. It has to be more enjoyable than waking up at hours when I often would have been coming home during my college years. Come to think of it...5:39 on a Wed. in Autumn...chances are I would have tapped the kegerator by now back in those good old days. There must be something worth drinking to this evening. I heard a rumor that hockey starts tonight, or something (really, I promise it is in there somewhere. Just dig around.)

Ball Three: The good news about living in Pburg for a couple weeks is I have been reading plenty. I plowed through the Sports Writing of the Year Anthology in two nights, and came away rather unimpressed. So unimpressed, in fact, i didn't bother to link it. I think they are under the impression with these yearly anthologies, that they can just cut and paste their favorite stuff. Nothing is cohesive, and few of it is going to be pertinent five years on. I mean, they talk about things like Teddy Bruschi's intensity more than they discuss, say, steroids. And Bill Plaschke has got to stop making appearances on Around the Horn. He is such an excellent writer--the rare good read in these things, each year--but his value is cheapened from the foolish things he says, and foolish people he is connected to, on that show.

Ball Four: Currently reading The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy in American Voice--somebody has been reading his HG Wells--a perhaps curiosly titled book about the nature of America as a myth (the nation) and the reality of a divided America (as a conglomeration of individuals all living in one place, all bound by a couple pieces of paper written centuries ago.) It follows all kinds of texts (speeches, songs, movie, TV, literature, etc...) through the history of America in an effort to discover the true essence of what it is to be American, where we have succeeded in reaching our ideals, how we have often fallen short, and the future this portends. Really fascinating stuff, even if his writing is more-or-less just jumping from one person's words to another, rearely relying on much besides his own intellect to piece it all together. It is, thus far, the Bees Knees.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fuel for the Sodium Flares

Some notes on a particularly annoying Sunday:

If you read my post on TS you know by now that God is angry at me for not donating money to help build a church playground, and spending it instead on a five-team Parlay, that inexplicably involved both Daunte Culpepper and a pick against the Saints. I was right about the Patriots. That was the type of game they have made their reputation winning, and they thrive on it. They have one bad week, and are scheduled to play an overrated team, everyone writes them off for dead. They win. The Jets are proving that perhaps they are capable of a winning record, and yet they are going to lose as many painful games as they possibly can just to break my heart. Any time the spread in a Jets game is more than 7 points, take the Jets. They don't know how to lose without making it painfully close. Dallas is still a good team, and Tennessee is not. I don't care how shortly before a game their star WR overdoses on Vicodin. I am done picking against the Saints. Did I mention I am done picking any game that involves Daunte Culpepper? I think the bookies are in his pocket.

The Red Sox season is over. Trot Nixon is (probably) gone, as is Loretta. Thank god. What happened to getting younger and faster? Playoffs?

ALDS 1 - Yankees in 3 over Dee-twah
ALDS 2 - Minn. in 5 over Oakland* (Memo to Ron Gardenhire: you wanted to LOSE that game Sunday, buddy...see how Leyland did it? Which sounds better: Trying to silence the yankees bats for 3 of 5 games? or 4 of 7? Not only did you screw yourself, you screwed up the entire AL playoffs. They will invite you back to hand out Torre's rings in April.)
NLDS 1 - Los Angeles over Mets in 4. Remember when the Mets were the favorite in the NL?
NLDS 2 - St. Louis over Padres in 4.

ALCS - Yankees over Minn. in 5 (see aforementioned memo to Ron G.)
NLCS - St. Louis over LAD in 6.

World Series - Yankees over St. Louis in 4. That annoying "27 World Championship Titles" refrain? Make it 28...Here is the thing. If Tweedle-Dee Ron G. had just lost the friggin' game yesterday, Johan would be facing the immortal Chien Ming Wang in game 1 (W) and Corey Lidle or Jarret Wright in game 4 (W.) Throw in a solid start from Boof against an injured RJ? Twins could win in 4. Now you have Johan pitching against Zito (perhaps twice, meaning he might only win one) and Boof and co. going up against arguably the best starting rotation in the playoffs. Without homefield advantage in the ALCS, the Twins might not win a game against the Yankees. If the Twinks didnt have homefield advantage in this series, I'd take the A's. Hoe did Gardenhire miss this?! In fact, I changed my mind, because Gardenhire is good for at least one extra loss per series: *I am actually taking the A's in 5.