Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just As I Thought

It turns out that Stanford was a three-point underdog tonight. That it was that small was a bit surprising to me but the Oregon State performance was not. I realize Mike Riley is a low-key guy but he certainly did not look surprised on the sidelines that his team went down in flames. He has it all figured out. Lose next week to Penn State and have the fans all over him and then pull out a winning record by season's end and play in the Tupelo Rotary Club Bowl played on December 12th. There is nothing wrong with that as long as the boosters approve of it and the folks in Corvallis have shown they enjoy trips to Mississippi in the winter. I do apologize that I picked such an easy game. It is like a major league player playing slow-pitch softball with 12-year-olds but I had to get off to a strong start. I knew there was a reason Oregon State exists. They always find a way to boost my self-esteem.

2008 Upset Special Week #1

By golly, this is the year I am going to pick a game every single week of the season. In the past my weekly schedule during the football season was a nightmare. It seemed like I could never get in a groove and find the right time to pick a game. This year is going to be different but my first pick is a staple of my upset picking history.

The Stanford Cardinal will defeat the Oregon State Beavers. If there is one thing that is constant in college football it is that the Beavers season will go something like this. Lose a couple of games early in the season against really inferior competition, Mike Riley starts taking heat and rightfully so, win the games they are supposed to and pull out an upset or two in Pac-10 play, qualify for a ninth-tier bowl game, win bowl game against a I-AA team and sing the praises of Mike Riley for the entire offseason. Now you know why I feel so good about this pick. To be honest I do not even know what the betting line is or if Oregon State is the favorite but I am making that assumption. (Do recall that I will generally pick games with betting lines of six or more.)

I must say that the Ducks vs. Huskies game has me nervous. Usually that is a good sign for the Ducks though. There is something about Jake Locker that is likely keeping Nick Aliotti up all night this week. And something else tells me Ty Willingham is quite thankful that he has to beat Justin Roper and not Nate Costa. One of these days things will go right for Willingham but Saturday is not one of those days.

College Football Is Here!

I admit to loving college football more than a lot of people. Just so you know exactly how I feel about college football. I mean that I love football more than I love some people. Not that I love it more than other people love it. In fact, only my family and really close friends receive more love from me than does college football.

At this time of year my mind is on one thing and one thing only, college football. With the Dodgers incapable of winning a single game and the Broncos looking to be an average squad could you really blame me? I am even thinking about college football at church. This last Sunday our pastor started a seven-week series. When he announced the seven-week part I immediately thought, "Wow, the college football season will be half over by that time. Will the Ducks be in contention? Is that about the time I go to the Ducks vs. Cal-Berkeley game or is that after the series is over? I love college football. I love pie. You know what? I'm going to have some pie while I watch the Ducks play Washington next weekend." About this time I realized I had missed the pastor telling us what topics were going to be covered during the series. I suppose that just means I will have to go every Sunday. Thankfully Oregon plays on Saturdays!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where's The Love For Griffey?

A week ago I was able to go with some friends to the Oakland A's vs. Chicago White Sox game. It was a great time had by all. We took the train from Sacramento to McAfee Coliseum (it's name may have changed since then), which was incredibly convenient and since no one needed to drive you can imagine what happened on the train. The game got off to an incredible start because we were one of the first 10,000 fans in the building, which meant we received a Dave Henderson jersey. To my surprise it was not a t-shirt but an actual button-down jersey. The only thing that could have been improved was that both sides of the shirt had the "e" so if it was really hot (it was) and you decided not to button the jersey it said "Athleetics". Oh well. Some other observations:

A's trades - Most A's fans are tired of all of the trades. This year has been especially hard to handle with Billy Beane trading the entire pitching staff. When a kid threw out the first pitch everyone pleaded for Beane to sign him up and not trade him. Same was said if anybody made a play on a foul ball in the stands.

I'm old - I was sitting next to some 8 or 9-year-olds and their favorite player was Jermaine Dye. It never occurred to me until then that those kids have not been around long enough for Ken Griffey, Jr. to be their favorite player. I had to try to explain to them that if they were my age they would have no other reason but to love Griffey (the only clean slugger of his generation).

Chavez brother - Eric Chavez has a brother that hit two home runs against my high school team in a Spring Break tournament way back when (see above). Well, now he is the bullpen catcher for the A's. Apparently Eric pays his salary and he gets to pretend he is a major league baseball player. This was the first time I ever wished I was not the oldest child.

Cal fans - I was with one guy that has Cal Bears football season tickets. We had a great time ribbing each other. I probably would not have been so liberal with my trash-talk had I known the Ducks' starting quarterback was going to have a secretive injury but I'll take the heat if I have to. Back to Cal fans. The guy I was with yelled, "Go Bears" to a fan sitting behind him and got nothing. It was as if he had forgotten he was wearing a Cal hat and shirt. Then on BART the same situation happened. I suppose that is why Cal football sucks. The fans are too busy trying to win Nobel Peace Prizes and whatever else Cal folks do to care about something as important as football.

Hammer pants - The best moment of the game was the die-hard A's fan sitting in the first row of the leftfield bleachers (we were in about row 8) wearing A's Hammer pants. I suppose since M.C. Hammer is from Oakland that those pants are acceptable. What is not acceptable is that this die-hard fan that looked a lot like he was homeless (long hair, scraggly beard, aforementioned Hammer pants, waved a giant A's flag, etc.) dropped a home run ball that was right to him. To top it off he tried to use his hat to catch the ball and both the ball and hat ended up on the other side of the fence. Needless to say Hammer pants fan had food thrown at him and a drunk firefighter get in his face and berate him for dropping the ball. I felt bad for him but that did not stop me from laughing.

Short game - After seeing the White Sox score eight runs in three innings we decided to leave the game. That certainly is the earliest I have ever left an event of any kind but it was a good decision. The A's ended up losing by about two touchdowns.

Best homeless sign - I spent eight years in Eugene so I consider myself an expert on homeless signs. In fact, I saw more homeless signs than hot girls but that just means there were a lot of signs. As we left the ball game to head to San Francisco for the rest of the afternoon (imagine 12 guys walking through the city with the same A's jersey, it was hilarious) we passed a homeless gentleman with the following sign: "Family kidnapped by ninjas, need money for karate lessons!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Faking The Opening Ceremonies

Well, news in recent days has shown the Opening Ceremony to be a bit of a farce. I can't say that I am very surprised. The fact that the IOC gave a country with a horrendous human rights record the Olympics suggests a lot of things they have done have been a joke. It is one thing to use computer generated images to make aerial shots of the fireworks seem more impressive but to have a small girl lip sync the national anthem is pathetic. Apparently the girl with the best voice needed some help from an orthodontist so they made her sing it and then had a "prettier" girl "perform" it for the world to see. As if anybody cares what a 7-year-old's teeth look like when she is singing. The whole idea of looks being important in this instance is creepy on so many levels. If they are going to fake the Opening Ceremonies I have a sneaky hunch they'll do whatever it takes to win a medal. China is such a great place, I really wish I could raise my daughter there.

(Photo from Getty/AFP.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

NBC Dropping The Ball

The West Coast and Pacific Time Zone are two things that cannot be beat. Getting to watch entire Monday Night Football games and every college football game allows this side of the country to accurately critique football teams. We do not let the New York Times tell us which teams are good because we can see it for ourselves. When it comes to these Olympics though NBC is being (a not so kind name according to my father-in-law). Why on earth did I have to wait until 11:30pm to watch the men's 4x100m swimming relay last night? It happened at around 8:30PDT.

I am not a television ratings genius but I have a feeling shows between 8 and 9 get far better ratings than shows on between 11 and 12. To make matters worse NBC hit me below the belt by saying Phelps started at 10:00pm. Yeah, the swimming did and maybe they did a short piece on him around 10 but the relay was long after that. If NBC can send HD all the way from China to California then they sure as hell can move around tape recorded events so I can watch the events without having to be completely worthless at work the next morning.

Now I do not want to sound like I hate another country (I likely will anyways though) but why did we have to hear the Japanese national anthem last night before the relay? I patiently waited for Phelps and the guys all night long and they delay it even more so I can see that. Put a montage of national anthems at the end of the broadcast if it is so important. Call me an American pig but I have absolutely no interest in watching that at 11:00pm or whenever it was. And just when it couldn't get any worse NBC decided the Star Spangled Banner was not necessary after the amazing relay. In reality that didn't bother me since a guy from France with a name pronounced just like my mother's (a fairly feminine name here in the States if you ask me) choked. Seeing a Frenchie (an American swimmer's word, not mine) with a girlie name cry in the pool was a great way to finish the night. I just wish it had been a couple of hours earlier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Late Look At Opening Ceremonies

The incredibly confusing time difference makes a late recap of the Opening Ceremonies acceptable. I am a huge fan of the Olympics. During the Olympics I hate every competitor that is not American. I realize having outrageous American pride is not cool these days but I do very few things that are cool. A sappy story from NBC does nothing to change my opinion. If you are not wearing the Stars and Stripes then I am rooting for you to lose, get hurt, quit or all of the above. To top it all off I strongly dislike China at all times so I am really getting into these Olympics. I stayed up what seemed like all night to watch the Opening Ceremonies and noticed some things. It started at 7:30pm and ended at midnight. Since becoming a new dad midnight now seems like 4:00am but I battled through and made it to the end. I commend myself on getting the Games off to a very strong start and setting the tone for the rest of the team. Now the in-depth analysis:

China is stupid - They spent $300M on the Opening Ceremony, which is nothing short of ridiculous. I could care less if Bob Costas wants to blow hot air about how beautiful and miraculous it is. China is a pathetic Communist country that should be spending its money in better ways. We are only two days into these Games and I am sick of the American media spending all of its time talking about how great Beijing is. Costas and all of the others are scared to say anything truthful about China so I hope they stick to talking about the competition and leave commentary on the actual country to people that aren't sell-outs. Okay, I'm done ranting on China. There are not enough fireworks in the world to make me change my mind.

China is really stupid - A country that appears to be larger than the United States has one timezone! Please don't let any person that loves bashing Americans (this includes pretentious Americans) tell you Chinese people are smarter than we are.

Attractive athletes - You know some of the South American athletes are very attractive when I find myself appreciating their presence at the Games and could find myself rooting for them. Did anyone else notice the only athlete they showed from Paraguay?

Random countries - Since all countries, for the most part, are a part of the Olympics I shouldn't be surprised to see a country competing but I was. I would expect to see Palastine if suicide car bombing were an event or Nicaragua if drug cartel efficiency were a factor in gymnastics judging.

Familiar face - The gentleman holding the flag for Belarus looked eerily familiar to an ophthamologist I know in Eugene, OR. Not too many mustached men with gray hair holding flags in Beijing.

Fashion police - I am famous for having an impeccable sense of style. Recently I asked my wife if a black polo would look good with brown pants and was laughed out of the bedroom. (Please no jokes about being laughed out of the bedroom. I have thought of them on my own so it wouldn't be orginal.) Come on, I thought black went with everything. With that being said the Hungarian women were wearing white dresses with large red flowers. They looked an awful lot like a dress my mom wore in the late 80s for one of our Easter family pictures. Hungary was not the worst dressed folks though. Someone in Denmark thought it would be a good idea to wear jort capris. Maybe appropriate at an SEC football game but certainly not the Olympics.

No Borat - I scoured the Kazakhstan team for Borat and could not find him. A few of them could pass as his cousin but that is about it.

W is proud - My coolness is going way down because I thought it was awesome that Bush was there and that he was fired up when the US team came into the stadium. Most people probably dislike him enough to never read my blog again because I said that but I could care less. My American pride is at an all-time high right now.

Jason Kidd - People should be more offended by Jason Kidd's presence in Beijing than Bush's. Kidd is terrible and old. Not a good combination when we are trying to reclaim our rightful place at the top of the basketball world.

Chinese Taipei or Taiwan - Would someone explain this to me? I went to school with a girl from Taiwan but whenever a team from that country is competing at a world event (Olympics, Little League World Series, etc.) it is listed as Chinese Taipei. If they want to be called Taiwan why do we bother to call it by a name China would prefer?

Torch lighting - I heard so much about the torch lighting that I had no other option but to stay up to watch it. It was kind of cool to see an old gymnast look a little awkward trying to run around the top of the stadium but it took forever. I took two naps while the torch was going around the stadium and the lighting ended up being okay. The HD made it look cool but China should have spent $350M so the actual lighting was more spectacular. They couldn't displace another million poor people to use a panda bear for the torch lighting?

Medal count - There was talk at the Opening Ceremonies that China had a chance to overtake the US in the medal count. Over my dead body. If China ends up with more medals than the US then you can be guaranteed Olympic drug testing is a joke. I have nothing more to say about that. The US will dominate the Games and I am going to love it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

30-Year Duck Fans

I recently received a comment on one of my posts from a person known to the Internet world as Anonymous. This individual was ballsy enough to brag that he/she was a 30-year Duck fan. It got me wondering: What the hell is the problem with 30-year Duck fans?

Whenever someone talks about Ducks sports (football and men's basketball) and expects them to be competitive every single year and finish near the top, not necessarily at the top, of the Pac-10 there are 30-year Duck fans throwing in their two cents. It seems more times than not their two cents are worth about .0001 cents because all they do is talk about how fortunate Ducks fans are today. A BCS bowl trip here and an NCAA tournament bid there.

Well you know what, that is a load of crap. I paid out-of-state tuition for 6 years (two of which for grad school so don't think I am some idiot that took forever to finish though having paid out-of-state for that long may qualify me as an idiot anyway) and I have been a fan for all of nine years so I have every right to have high expectations. I could care less if back in the 70s the football team sucked and if the basketball team was an embarrassment during the 80s. Since I have been around the athletic department has been flush with cash, the football team has been competitive nearly every year and the men's basketball team has been good about half of the time. It is amazing to think that because I think the men's team should be good more than half of the time that I am asking way too much of people paid millions of dollars.

Since it is obvious 30-year Duck fans have no idea what high expectations in sports are I will turn to something they likely consider themselves experts in: presidential politics. My assumption is that a vast majority of 30-year Duck fans are liberals (just a wild guess) and chomping at the bit to vote for Obama in November. I wonder why they are so excited. Could it be because they have high expectations that he will change what is going on? If I'm not mistaken, since 1980 (before I was born 30-year Duck fan) a Democrat has been in the Oval Office for eight years. Tell me if this sounds stupid. "Hey, 30-year Duck fan you are a moron for having high expectations that Obama will win. You are so greedy wanting a Democrat in power right now, just be happy with the eight years you have had in the last 28." As you read that you recognize that line of thinking is asinine. But when it comes to college sports, the last 50 years should be the barometer by which all things are compared. As an aside, if you think you should not change the expectations for a college sports team but you think a politician will alter the direction of an entire country then you are not very intelligent. My short history has shown me that most politicians are the same regardless of affiliation.

My parents must have dropped the ball because I was taught to try and be the best in whatever you do. If you fall short there is no need to make excuses just make sure you do better the next time. How did I ever make it through my childhood with such mean parents? My guess is that it is 30-year Duck fans that have persuaded a Little League in Ohio to cancel having an all-star team because it singles out the best players. They probably also instituted the "everyone gets a trophy no matter how bad you actually are" rule.

When all is said and done the coaches at Oregon do report to the 30-year Duck fans since they are the ones using their disposable income to get things done. My advice to the next generation of coaches is to make sure you are competitive at all times and moving forward. Before too long the 30-year Duck fans will be me, expecting Bellotti-type results in football and Kent-like success (the success his teams have every once in a while) nearly every year.

I admire 30-year Duck fans for constantly comparing things at the Casanova Center to times when no one cared a lick about Duck athletics. It takes someone special to be that stupid. Heaven forbid Duck athletics progress (there I go using a word that many progressive 30-year Duck fans love to throw around in other aspects of life) and have fans that expect the recent success all of the time.