Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Civic Duty

The big happening in our house this weekend is a visit from my in-laws. I love my in-laws and greatly appreciate every trip that they make up here. My only wish is that they could visit more often. That is enough of the sentimental stuff because I’m actually a little bummed about this visit. My mother-in-law was called to jury duty and was placed on a case at the beginning of the week. My in-laws were scheduled to be here on Thursday but that has been delayed until at least Friday. The judge promised her the case would be over by Wednesday or Thursday. Well, it looks like that was lie. Some jackleg has decided that he/she is going to go out on a limb. As of tonight 11 members of the jury fall on one side and the lone ranger is on the other.

I bring up the jury duty story because it reminded me of my first, and so far only, jury duty experience. I could go off on how angry I was at being summoned because it was about 3 months after I finished graduate school but I won’t. Just so you know, my anger relates to having to pay out-of-state tuition when I felt I should have been in-state. See if I ever donate money UO!

Okay, to the case. I was part of a group of 25 or so and we entered the courtroom. The judge and all of the other characters filed in and gave us the protocol. If I remember correctly the judge told us it was a drunk driving case before the plaintiff appeared. Then the plaintiff appeared and I thought for sure I was part of a prank. The supposed drunk driver was not over 42 inches tall. Yes, 42 inches tall! If I had not been sitting on the aisle I would not have even seen the plaintiff. I scanned the courtroom to see if there was a hidden camera crew or if someone else was laughing. To my surprise there was no camera and I was the only person that was struggling to maintain my composure.

The jury selection started after the plaintiff strolled in. I was towards the end of the group so it would have taken a miracle for me to be called to the jury box. No more a miracle than a 42-inch person driving, let alone driving drunk, but a miracle nonetheless. The jury was selected before I had a chance to display my ignorance but I had it all planned out. I would have told the attorneys that I could not in good conscience believe that lady had driven drunk without video evidence of her actually driving, and footage of her driving a golf cart would not have swayed me. It’s a classic question to ponder: Does a person 42-inches tall drive drunk without being able to drive at all?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ballets Are Gross

I like basketball but I love football. With no meaningful football last weekend and only one game remaining (I won’t call it the Super Bowl so that the NFL can’t sue me.) I’m stuck surrendering the TV to my wife. As a result, I was lucky enough to watch some figure skating over the weekend. In the spirit of full disclosure, I actually went to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with my family when they were held in Washington, D.C. a while back. I am proud to admit that I fell asleep within 30 minutes of arriving and did not wake up until we left.

Okay, back to this weekend. A great part of a figure skating broadcast is the announcing. The announcers say some of the craziest things and do it while talking in a soft voice as if talking normal really matters. What I heard on Saturday night floored me. In fact, I was grossed out. It was spoken as if it was not a big deal. My wife didn’t even think it was that bad. Maybe it’s a gender thing.

I never got the name of the lady that said this but she was the only lady in the booth. As a teenage girl was prancing on the ice she flippantly noted, “The ballet is about a man that inadvertently falls in love with a doll.” Of course I know it isn’t a true story, I think, but what demented mind would think to write an entire ballet on that topic?

Excuses Are Like…

When I astutely observed that the trip to Oregon was the easiest in the Pac-10 I didn’t think it was that easy. Again, it’s obvious the presence of Oregon State makes the trip one of the easiest in the country but I was not prepared for the happenings at Mac Court, the pathetic and embarrassing Pit Crew not withstanding. By Sunday a home team from Oregon will have a recent home win though. There is no doubt in my mind the Ducks will win. If at any point in time the outcome is in doubt someone will have a lot of explaining to do.

It sucks when the Ducks lose but being the ‘glass half full’ guy that I am there is one good thing that comes out of a loss: Excuses. I watch every minute of every game because I want to be able to guess what the excuse might be the next morning. Let’s see, the UW loss was because they were 0-3 and really needed a win, the WSU loss was a result of unlucky bounces and the inevitability of winning streaks coming to an end. Those excuses were weak but nothing compares to the last two games. We lost to UCLA because one of our seniors came down with cramps in the second half. Then the USC loss was attributed to a clock malfunction and a blown call on the overtime tipoff. Now you know why I am so confident the Ducks will beat OSU. These excuses keep getting more outrageous. There is no way the most ardent Duck fan will be able to believe the next one.

It is appropriate to quickly breakdown the clock malfunction and overtime tip excuse. As I see it, attributing a sluggish overtime start to Mac Court being older than God is stupid. If I remember correctly USC had to wait to play. They had to sit and stand around just like Oregon, and they had to do it in hostile territory.

Now, the tip excuse has a bit more merit but not much. If the result of a tip truly did decide the outcome of a game then a lot of 7-foot stiffs would be starters. So the refs appeared to blow the call on the tip, who cares? There were still 5 minutes remaining and the score was still tied. It’s not as if USC received 10-points for getting the ball. It is true that USC made some outrageous 3-pointers in OT but you have to give them credit. A freshman and sophomore suffering from cramps (Mayo took an IV after the game) hit some big shots on the road.

It is incredibly ironic that some Duck fans are blaming the refs for the loss. Short memories perhaps? Just over a year ago Duck fans went nuts claiming their intellectual superiority to Oklahoma fans for blaming refs for a loss There is no person that could argue the blown tip call was as crucial to the final outcome as the onside kick call. Thankfully I have not heard anyone suggesting a boycott of the Pac-10 but you get the point. Blaming the refs for a blown call at the start of overtime is asinine. The Ducks had plenty of time to overcome the ‘tragic’ call they just did not do it. Blame losses on the refs, clocks, the next day’s snow, consecutive Sundays on national TV and whatever else. Just know that the Pac-10 standings and NCAA bubble don’t buy any of it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Willamette Valley Is Easy

After polling the founder, writer and chief editor of this blog it is official: The easiest trip in the Pac-10 is the trip to play the Oregon schools. With all of the talent in the southern portion of the conference, the two Northwest trips were in contention for the honor. After Oregon and Oregon State had a brilliant 0-4 weekend in Washington there really is no argument. I could care less how scary Mac Court is, the Willamette Valley is the friendliest place in the Pac-10 for visiting teams. Let’s rundown the two teams to see why that is.

First up is the squad that guarantees every team at least one win on the Oregon trip. The Beavers are by far the worst BCS Conference school. I don’t have the exact number but I believe OSU is in the low 200s in RPI. There are just over 300 teams that make up Division I. (If you do visit the RPI sites you’ll recognize that a fair number of Oregon’s non-conference opponents from the last couple of years are the only ones below OSU.) With a team that is so bad it’s no wonder that head coach Jay John was fired yesterday. He didn’t even make it halfway through the conference season. In addition, the ESPN scroll is telling me that they have dismissed the walking foul, C.J. Giles. Giles was kicked out of Kansas for a myriad of reasons but John needed something so he brought on Giles. It obviously didn’t work for either guy. Without a conference win it’s not too far-fetched to think they could go winless in the conference and be one of the worst Pac-10 teams ever.

Then there is the UO basketball squad. For whatever reason they are 3-3 in conference play though they have 3 senior starters. NBA teams wish they had that kind of continuity in their rosters. You’d think the Ducks would be able to use their vast advantage in experience to jump to the top of the conference rankings but it seems as though they are heading in the opposite direction. If you read about a Ducks’ win you’ll read that their freshman point guard is following in the footsteps of Luke Ridnour and Aaron Brooks. Then when the Ducks lose, it’s all of a sudden the fault of the young point guard making bad decisions (see loss to Washington). I guess the coach can have it both ways but I think it would be more productive to blame the seniors that can’t seem to come through in the clutch. Bottom line, three starting seniors is not four? Another problem could be that the Ducks don’t seem to care. They let a chance slip away against WSU last night and the coach chalks it up to fate and a few unlucky bounces. (That’s funny, I don’t remember that being the explanation last year when 3-pointers off the backboard in the same gym were a credit to an excellent game plan.)

There you have it. If one had to pick the easiest trip in the Pac-10 you would have to say visiting the Oregon schools is the easiest one. Having the worst team in the conference by a mile makes it so. Then you add in the enigma that is Oregon (one night a contender for the Sweet 16 due to good coaching and senior leadership then the next night a NIT team due to one player’s inexperience) and you might leave with two wins. That is something that cannot be said about any other trip in the conference.

Friday, January 18, 2008

D1 Players Were Good In High School

Living in the great state of Oregon I am privy to many broadcasts of UO sports via the Oregon Sports Network. Now, this is not a national network so I am usually more entertained by what the announcers say than what is actually being shown. This does not mean I don't like the Ducks, it's just that the quality of announcing is something else. Last night OSN broadcast the Ducks pathetic loss to the Washington Huskies. The analyst behind the mic was none other than Rob Kloss, a former Duck if I'm not mistaken. Now I'm sure he is a great guy and is successful in whatever line of work he is in but as an analyst he is pure comedy. I did not hear any legendary lines last night but he did have a line that is worthy of a mention.

When Kloss was talking about Venoy Overton, a freshman guard for the Huskies, he so eloquently analyzed, "He was a great high school player in high school." Well, thanks for that tidbit, I'll be sure to remember that next time I see him playing really well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Broadcaster Brilliance

I realize I have tried to start some regular columns on this here blog and not had the greatest success being diligent on continuing them. Upset Special and The OpinionSmith Ivy League come to mind. Well, perhaps the third time is the charm. With all of the sports I watch (I watch sports like it's my job) I hear some funny and outrageous things from broadcasters. It is in the interest of others that I share those with you so that you can gain enjoyment from their brilliance, just as I do.

The first 'Broadcaster Brilliance' comes from Patrick McEnroe at the Australian Open. Early in James Blake's match McEnroe noted, "His mom is here today. I saw her roaming the grounds."

(Photo from the UN.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Local News Makes Me Smarter

The beauty of living in a smaller city is that it is small. No matter how bad the traffic, it never really is that bad. Things on the other side of town are all of 15 minutes away, no matter the time of day. Don't get me wrong, there is a downside: quality of local news. For this reason I never watch local news but for some reason I watched about half of last night’s 30-minute newscast. It was absolute comedy.

Story #1: The lead story on the local news was a house fire in a nearby town. That obviously is not funny but the eyewitness account was. Joe Neighbor described the burning house then started tearing up. At this point he shared that he found the neighbor cat and rescued it but it was not breathing. He proceeded to give the cat CPR and after a few minutes he believed the cat was beginning to show signs of life. I’m not sure what else happened because I was absolutely stunned and needed to consult with my wife to make sure I heard that right. Being the animal lover I am not that was the last thing I expected to hear.

Story #2: Apparently some nasty gastroenteritis (sp?) has broken out in two areas of town. Where might this be? Well, one spot is a retirement home and the other is frat row. Am I the only one that is totally confused? How does a gastro something break out in those two places at the same time? I am having difficulty keeping my imagination under wraps and in a place that is appropriate. As a 25-year-old I find myself too old to hang out with the Greek Life folks. I can’t imagine what my grandpas would be doing with them.

Story #3: The city has a rather revolutionary and expensive bus that rolls through town. Yes, I wonder the same thing: How can a bus be revolutionary? That’s not the funny part though. According to the local transit department this bus was awarded honorable mention in its category by an international transportation group. The international group was never named, which I found suspicious and honorable mention was never defined. As far as I know honorable mention could mean the bus was self-nominated but not good enough to place. So every bus that participated received some type of recognition. I need more details to actually believe that this award means anything.

Story #4: As a tease for the weather forecast a cow in a random field was shown. It was kind of cool seeing the cow stare at the camera from a distance but I wasn’t sure what that had to do with the weather. Am I supposed to feel sorry for the cow because it has to stand in the rain for 9 months out of the year?

Story #5: The uber-talented sports reporter got in a few words about his upcoming segment on the local college basketball team before a commercial break. My wife heard him say, “rockin’ like dat” when talking about the home gym. I wasn’t sure if I heard those exact words but when it comes to listening my wife certainly is better than I at it. Our marriage couldn’t possibly be the only one where the wife is a better listener. Whether or not the sportscaster said those exact words we may never know but I have to go with what my wife heard.

As For Tonight: The lead story being talked about during commercials of primetime shows is a local family driving 1,000 miles with a dead grandma in the car. Something tells me this family loves to watch Little Miss Sunshine together.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Divisional Round Recap

Seahawks Collapse: I have long thought the Seahawks were a really boring team to watch. No one on the team excites me but I think I’m their good luck charm. I watched the first couple of minutes then had to run all over town chasing materials for a baby nursery. Doesn’t my wife know it’s playoff football? When I returned home the field was covered in snow and the Packers had completely taken over the game. This isn’t a BCS Championship Game involving Ohio State, so I felt spotting the Seahawks a 14-point lead would be a bad idea. That was certainly wrong and good luck to the Packers in the next round. I’m going to save my thoughts on Brett Favre for a later post.

Jim Nantz: It’s one thing to hear a local radio guy opine on the greatness of the home team. It’s something else to hear Mr. Masters himself broadcast a national game of his favorite team. I admit that I absolutely hate the Patriots so I notice when announcers, and more often refs, love them too much. (I also hate the Chargers so the AFC Championship game is going to be like watching women’s basketball for me.) I did not watch the entire Jaguars vs. Patriots game but what I did see and hear was the president of the Patriots Fan Club in the CBS booth. Very early in the game the Jaguars scored and Nantz, at the top of his lungs, was screaming that the Patriots needed to challenge the call. It wasn’t the usual chatter you hear from a national broadcaster wondering if a play in the first quarter was worth a challenge. In fact, I’m pretty sure Nantz opened the booth window and yelled some colorful 4-letter words at Belichick for not throwing the challenge hankie during the commercial break. This was only one example but throughout the game I thought the broadcasters were at a Patriots tailgate party swearing the refs were against the Patriots and every call went the way of the Jaguars. Great work Mr. Nantz!

Rodney Harrison: I’ve established that I did not watch the entire game but based on what I did watch I would have guessed Harrison was the NFL Man of the Year. I could care less if this guy has an interception. Can someone mention that this guy is routinely voted the dirtiest player in the NFL? If he played for the Oakland Raiders (a team I strongly dislike by the way) he would be banned from the league. Not just for his steroid suspension earlier this year but for his repeated dirty play. Based on the way he plays, the way his team congratulates him and the way the announcers speak glowingly about him I would guess he gets paid, not by the tackle, but by the personal foul. I feel bad for people that have never watched football and watch the way he is celebrated and think that’s the way the game is supposed to be played. Don’t be surprised if in 10-15 years a new group of players lives off of the cheap shot and dirty play thanks to watching Harrison and noticing that he is so well thought of by the media.

Philip Rivers: The NFL Playoffs are unfulfilling for me. There are so many players left that I cannot stand. Rivers is #1 on that list. Ever since I saw him trash talk Jay Cutler on Christmas Eve I believe the devil has a special spot reserved for him in that place that’s really warm. Has anyone ever seen a NFL quarterback trash-talk the other team’s quarterback from the other side of the field in a blowout? And to top it all off Rivers flat out sucks. Somehow he has found a way to be worse with quarterback “genius” Norv Turner to boot. It takes someone special to make a genius look completely unqualified but Rivers has found a way. Today further adds to the Rivers legacy. He may have played well, I don’t really know. What I do know is that backup Billy Volek drove them 80+ yards down the field for the game-winning touchdown in the 4th quarter. Then what do you know? At the end of the game Rivers was trash-talking with the Colts fans. Stay classy San Diego’s own Philip Rivers.

Tony Romo: I have found out how I can get wives to watch a football game. Too bad I did not know this yesterday! The trick is to have the gossip magazines talk about the star player the week before the game. If I had a dollar for every time my wife mentioned Jessica Simpson during today’s game my bank account would be doing very well. Anyway, there was a ton of talk about whether Romo should have gone to Mexico during the bye week. Personally, I could care less. The bigger problem is that he went down there with Simpson and her dad. That is unacceptable and if Romo doesn’t watch out the dad might ruin his career too. What is Romo’s problem? With all of the hot girls in Dallas he has no reason to date the one with a dad on a leash and all that other baggage.

Channel Surfing: During halftime of one of the games I went channel surfing. Big mistake. I came across a women’s basketball game and thought it would be fun to implement something a friend does: Don’t change the channel until a basket is scored. About 6 minutes later I was still watching the game. It was unwatchable. To call it basketball is an insult to James Naismith and anyone else that cares about the game. Would the media please quit telling me women’s basketball is exciting and full of world-class athletes? If I’m not mistaken, reputable journalists need multiple sources before going with a story. Political correctness should never trump integrity.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Laughing At U Dub

It was reported today that a University of Washington booster sent the school an e-mail pledging $200,000 to the school. As a law school graduate he was going to give $100,000 to the law school and then the other half of the donation was going somewhere else within the school. (Read the details here.) I find it very nice and admirable to pledge such a significant amount of money to one’s alma mater. There is no chance I would ever do that. I just hope I get the chance to never do that!

There are only a couple of conditions this booster placed on his pledge. The donation to the law school was dependent on the athletic director being fired and the other $100,000 would be handed over if the head coach were fired. My first reaction was, “Wow, having such an over-the-top booster is just what UW deserves.” Then, I simply laughed and thanked my lucky stars that my alma mater doesn’t have the same type of crazy booster.

Only one problem, fans of the UO are the only fans in America that can’t laugh at the ludicrous news coming out of Seattle. When I went to one of my favorite blogs, written by the esteemed Rob Moseley, I came across his entry concerning the brilliance of the UW booster. He mentioned that he felt sorry for UO’s athletic director if he had to deal with these types of e-mails. That is when I stopped laughing at UW. Why? The UO has a booster running its athletic department. He isn’t offering to donate money based on who is employed by the school. He is the one handing out employment.

Everyone knows UO’s athletic director paid the multiple millions to get rid of the previous athletic director then months later ended up taking the job himself. Whatever you think of that situation, facts are facts. As lame as the UW booster is, he in no way has the type of influence UO boosters have. So I find it highly hypocritical for UO fans to loathe in the insanity of UW boosters.

Back to UW. The law school is reportedly receiving $100,000 due to the fact that the athletic director “resigned” effective January 31. There does not appear to be a link between this and the e-mail but you have to love the world of college sports. People donate money when someone that has not met expectations or is incompetent gets fired. Can you imagine how much money other public entities would make if they received additional money for firing these types of employees?!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bowl Wrap-Up

Incredible Boredom: I have a serious addiction to college football. In fact, New Year’s is only a big deal to me because it means there are multiple football games to watch. Rarely, do I make it to midnight because I need to wake up early to watch the first game. Well, this year that totally backfired. The only game worth watching (Michigan vs. Florida) was the first game of the morning for me. The USC vs. Illinois game was a debacle (special thanks go out to Tom Hansen for that) and Georgia vs. Hawai’i was the worst bowl game I remember watching in many years. That game more closely resembled an SEC preseason game where they pay some hapless I-AA team to get their heads beat in. Now that I have had a couple of days to think about it, I am thrilled I woke up early. If I had decided to see some silly glass ball drop on tape delay I would have never seen a competitive game. To not see a competitive New Year’s Day bowl game would have been an awful start to 2008.

“They are who we thought they were!”: If anyone was surprised by Ohio State’s performance in the BCS Championship Game then you are an idiot. I doubt I’m offending anyone reading this since if you are smart enough to read you would not have thought Ohio State had a chance. My favorite explanation for why this year would be different was because expectations for Ohio State were different. The theory went that last year Ohio State started to believe the media hype and decided not to show up. Whereas this year the media dogged on them so they were going to be inspired to prove them wrong. That logic does not deserve any more discussion, it is that stupid.

Assistant Coaches Getting Dunked: I’m sure this has happened before but I noticed a lot of assistant coaches getting the Gatorade bath this year. The first team I noticed was the Oregon squad but I also noticed some of the BCS teams doing it. It makes sense that these coaches are the ones getting drenched. These coaches are the ones that the players deal with every single day. The head coach doesn’t hang out with every player every day. In fact, my guess is that a player most often deals with the head coach when he is being a screw up. It was cool seeing the position coaches getting drenched. They seemed pleasantly surprised and given the amount of time they devote to each player, the recognition is deserved.

Sun Bowl Sponsor: I love Brut! That was a common phrase among some friends that made the trek to “beautiful” El Paso. The only problem is that many people I have talked to have no idea what Brut is. Some people just had no guess and others thought it was a wine. This Brut is actually in the male fragrance sector. Most grandpas probably are all too familiar with Brut but anyone who does not have grandchildren has never used the product. If you are dying for some Brut product I know some people that would gladly send it your way so just send an e-mail. Sources close to me say a more appropriate sponsor for the Sun Bowl would be a lip balm manufacturer. The Sun Bowl folks could wage quite a bidding war for the game’s official sponsor if they pitted ChapStick and Carmex against each other.

Totally Unrelated: While typing this I watched the New Hampshire Primary speeches from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Though I likely wouldn’t vote for either, if forced to pick one it would certainly be Obama. That guy has incredible charisma. I could care less if he doesn’t have a track record. What good is a track record anyways? All politicians do is lie and go back on their words. None have conviction in their ideas so I’m not sure a lack of a track record or definitive game plan is that tragic. Anyhow, let’s just say I could listen to Obama on the stump. On the other hand, I’d much rather have a ball rash than listen to Hillary ramble and ramble and ramble on.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hawai'i Is Really Good

After watching Hawai'i play the vaunted Washington Huskies I felt they were extremely overrated and had no place in a BCS bowl. Well, I hate to brag but I was right. I am not sure what bothered me more though: Hawai'i being awful or the Fox broadcast crew being terrible. I watched the entire game (I'll touch on that in a later post) and waited for the announcers to divulge the truth. They briefly mentioned that Hawai'i had the most embarrassing schedule known to man. They even wanted to keep my intrigue by explaining that Hawai'i had come back from significant deficits already this year. These deficits were against Washington and San Jose State. Let's see how impressive those teams are. Washington's entire defensive staff has been fired, the athletic director was pushed out the door and head coach Willingham will likely be fired next year. San Jose State is a commuter school that should probably be in Division II. In no way do these teams resemble a legitimate bowl team, let alone Georgia. Just so you know, my bold proclamation is that Georgia would win the National Championship if a playoff were in effect. This belief in no way reflects last night's performance. It was only made stronger after watching it.

In addition to never mentioning the strength (or weakness) of schedule the Fox broadcasters must have thought they were only being broadcast on Eugene cable access. For those not from Eugene or familiar with it, Eugene is the place you hear about that doesn't keep track of scores in youth leagues and all kids are told they are winners no matter how bad they are. I know, I thought a place like that didn't really exist either. Well, the broadcasters seemed to be in near tears for Hawai'i. They clearly should not have been in the game and had no chance to win so the announcers started to pile on Georgia for trying to put up a ton of points.

As I see it, without a playoff system all Georgia can do is demolish whatever opponent is provided them in a bowl. Perhaps if they send a strong enough message and the "National Championship" game is a dud some folks will vote Georgia #1. Of course it's unlikely but without the ability to prove it on the field Georgia wanted to pile it on. I don't blame them one bit for taking advantage of the media hype that allowed Hawai'i to undeservedly play in a BCS bowl. For this reason people should not feel sorry for Hawai'i. They played the most pathetic schedule ever. It was so bad that Ohio State was offended.

Don't even get me started on Illinois in the Rose Bowl. My fury and anger towards the Rose Bowl snobs, Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen included, is at an all-time high. There is no doubt in my mind a matchup of USC and Georgia would have been more anticipated than the "National Championship" game. If the bowls were based on a team's actual ability (e.g., a playoff system) Hawai'i and Illinois would have been perfect for the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl in the consolation bracket.