Mailbag.

Quirks of Pennsylvania.

Quirks of Pennsylvania.

I retired my BEV KEY the other day.  If you don’t know what a BEV KEY is, I weep for you, but here’s a link.  Much like the distinguished gentlemen of a bygone era didn’t go anywhere without a lighter, I don’t like to go anywhere without a bottle opener.  I’m not some animal that uses the corner of a table to open my beers.  The BEV KEY, which may be Canada’s finest export, is essentially indestructible but through the years the logo wore off and it started to show its age.  But since I’ve had the thing since college I was sentimentally attached.  I planned to carry the thing until the key turned obsolete, but then during a random internet perusal the other night I stumbled upon a Sierra Nevada key chain bottle opener for $.99.  A deal too good to pass up and the BEV KEY gets shuffled to the bullpen.  So, this mailbag, loaded with actual reader questions is dedicated to my BEV KEY…

Q:  I don’t think anything makes me more angry than when after a traffic incident the other car thinks YOU were in the wrong and you imagine him/her going home and telling their version of the story without you being able to say what really went down.  Does this happen to you?  Stew Dentdriver, Devon, PA.

A:  When I got this question I couldn’t believe my eyes, because this is something that JUST happened to me and probably would have ended up in the mailbag this week even if I was making up the questions.  I was driving the other day and approached a 3-way T-intersection.  Apparently they don’t do this everywhere, but in PA these aren’t 3-way stops.  The bottom part of the T doesn’t stop, and if you are making a right turn into the base of the T you don’t have to stop either.  I suppose this can be a bit confusing, but if it was different the stop sign would say 3-way or ALL-WAY.  So, I’m about to make my right (no stop) and some guy across from me bangs a left in front of me.  He has to slow down a bit when he sees me coming which almost makes a car from the third direction (who also doesn’t have a stop) run into him.  The guy lays on his horn at me and I TOTALLY LOST IT for a second, and it was because of what you describe.  The guy thought he was right when he was so WRONG.  If I make a mistake I don’t shift into road rage so quickly, but in this case I really wanted the other guy to know he was at fault.  We pulled up to a light and I actually thought about getting out of the car and saying to the guy, “Hey just so YOU KNOW….not a 3-way stop.”  I stayed buckled up, though and lived with the knowledge this guy was going home to talk about the crazy person who almost caused an accident.  BURNS ME UP.  

Q:  If you look in the back of the “city papers,” there are ads that are 100% blatantly for prostitution.  I saw one that said, “full-service massage Open Late,” how do they get away with this?  Hap E. Ending, Ambler, PA.

A:  Not sure what you are talking about.  These are just honest businessmen trying to start-up a wholesome massage parlor.   Give them a break.  Do you know how competitive that market is?  I have a feeling you PROBABLY do.  But, seriously, I think it’s all in the wording.  As long as you don’t come out and SAY IT, you’re free to dance in the shadows.  My knowledge of this comes mostly from watching movies and television, but if you are busting someone for prostitution it’s got to be spelled out.  I remember in The Wire when McNulty “accidentally” had some adult time with a prostitute during a bust.  Dicey scenario.  Why don’t the police make more of an effort to shut these places down?  I imagine it’s just a matter of man power and priorities.  You know, if you make ELEVEN GRAND a year and cheat the IRS out of a few hundred bucks, chances are you are going to get away with that.  It’d cost them 50 times that just to audit you, and I think that’s the case with these “full-service” salons and parlors.  It’s not a winnable battle for the police.  They probably focus on the ones that have other issues going on as well.  Drugs.  Illegal immigrants.  You can use your imagination.  Just like in the ads.  

Q: In anticipation of the 2013 Phillies: What’s your least favorite team (individual year) that you ever rooted for?  Tony Massenburg, College Park, MD.

A:  You’re really testing my loyalty here.  I’ve dumped some teams in the past and chalked it up to general loss of interest.  For the last several years the Sixers have driven me crazy and I don’t like the majority of the team, but I hardly would say that I really ROOTED for them.  I don’t think being aware of their general record counts.  I’ll start with an honorable mention.  This year’s Eagles team was easily one of my least favorites.  With the recent LeSean McCoy Twitter incident, you’re left wondering if there is one guy on the 55-man roster who is easy to like.  But since I am an adult now, and you can’t be quite as invested and take things as personally as when you were a kid, I’m going to go with the 1995-96 Sixers–back when I really did care.  I remained a Charles Barkley fan during this time, but I was also still heavily involved with the Sixers.  I actually liked Clarence Weatherspoon.  SPOON! I can vividly remember watching the Sharone Wright draft.  A GLIMMER OF HOPE.  But, by 1995-96 the Sixers had totally imploded.  It was clear Sean Bradley was a total bust.  They had Derrick Coleman at his most unlikable.  They had leftover parts from terrible trades (Jeff Malone, Tim Perry).  I also was not a fan of John Lucas as a coach–the 18-64 record didn’t help there.  So, this team was not only terrible, there was only one guy on the roster who didn’t make me want to throw up.  Thankfully, this was rock bottom and Allen Iverson arrived the next season.  

Q: Why is this whole fake mustache thing considered funny?  Tom Sellick, Miami, FL.  

A:  Is there a fake mustache thing?  Hold on one second.  Oh God…

stache

 

I guess I was vaguely aware of the holding a finger under your nose thing, but I didn’t know that it had evolved into people actually wearing fake mustaches.  Four seconds of research leads me to this passage, prepare to be sick:

Something happened to the mustache in the 00s. It became so ironic to sport one, that the irony morphed into acceptability and cliché, which in turn morphed back into irony and then back into a kind of post-ironic neo-cliché. Surely this must have something to do with Portland, Brooklyn, and other hipster meccas. We don’t pretend to understand it, but we can document it to help you do your part to eradicate this pretentious scourge. Because as we know, a mustache is just a mustache, be it ironic or not.

You know who I feel bad for?  The guy who has been rocking the mustache straight through since the 80s.  This poor guy is just trying to be CONSISTENT with his look and people are making all kinds of judgments about him.  Doesn’t seem right.  

Q:  Any thoughts on the rule change regarding the fake throw to 3rd, throw to 1st pick off move?  Finally we’ll get some more balks.  Nuke Laloosh, Durham, NC.

A:  There is something oddly comforting about an entire stadium screaming, “BALK,” when a pitcher fakes to 3rd and then tosses it over to first base.  Of course, the fake to third and then another fake to 1st is met with even more vitriol from the fans.  I think everyone KNOWS at this point that it wasn’t a balk, but it was just their way of protesting the move.  It’s seen as a waste of time, as BUSH, so baseball is probably making the right call in getting rid of this old standby.  It’s funny to listen to some pitchers voice their displeasure for the change.  They’ll be like, “I got John Olerud with that back in Minnesota in ’94.”  In their mind that makes the millions of failed attempts worthwhile.  And, it was hilarious when it would work.  I’ll give them that.  Anytime a guy gets picked off–it’s classic.  I was picked off once in my life.  So embarrassing.  Mostly because I didn’t really take much of a lead.  But once, a left-hander just froze me and I didn’t even try to get back.  No one in the sparse crowd yelled, “BALK,” not sure why.  In the end, I think it’s a good move, because at its core the move is meant to be deceptive.  For me, it falls outside of regular gamesmanship and qualifies as pure bush league garbage.  

Q: I have a mailbag question about Jenna Bush and her NBC correspondent job–or whatever it is.  I saw her interviewing these families whose children are very sick and Disney has a program where the kids can go to the park, etc.  The question is, if you’re the parent do you really want Jenna Bush’s sympathy? I think she would annoy the hell out of me.  Ann Curry or Brian Williams would both be fine choices.  Knotta Republican, Tempe, AZ.

A:  I’m going to paraphrase this question:  Do you also have a personal problem with Jenna Bush?  Is that it?  No, I think I know what you mean.  If you are being interviewed about something serious, something deeply personal then you want an interviewer who is qualified, capable and will give the interview the correct tone.  I’ve got to say I’m not terribly familiar with Jenna Bush’s “career.”  The last I heard she was torching through Austin with her fake I.D.  According to the website of record, Wikipedia, she did some teaching, authored a book and now has this NBC job where she pops up once a month?  Sounds rigorous.  Also editor-at-large for Southern Living which sounds a bit like having an honorary doctorate.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a sick child.  There’s probably a constant fear of having them exploited, a reluctance to rely on the charity of others, and countless other things I wouldn’t want to think about.  Does Jenna Bush doing the interview make it feel more like a stunt?  I’m not sure.  There are probably some people who would want to meet Jenna–you are obviously not in that category.  I’m going to take the easy route out here and say case by case basis.  These real questions are tough.  

QWhich actress is most likely to break Meryl’s Oscar nomination record? Joe D. Foster, Oaks, PA.

A:  Meryl has 17 Oscar nominations.  That’s lofty.  That’s over the course of 34 years.  Interestingly enough, her percentage isn’t that great.  Just three wins.  Can I say JUST there?  She’s hitting a Michael Martinez-esque .176.  Not Hall of Fame worthy.  Just for fun, some other stats:  The record for acting Oscars belongs to Katherine Hepburn who won four times.  So, Meryl is right there with the likes of Jack Nicholson (12 noms).  In the category of nominations, Meryl is crushing the competition.  Possible contenders:  

Kate Winslet (6 nominations)–Kate has 26 years on Meryl.  She was the youngest to six nominations, but hasn’t had one since 2008.  

Cate Blanchett (5 nominations)–She had a great run through the mid 2000s, but hasn’t been nominated since 2007.  Twenty years younger than Meryl.  

Michelle Williams (3 nominations)–She’s 31 years younger than Meryl, so there’s plenty of time and she seems to gravitate toward Oscar friendly films.  

Bottom line:  I’m going out on a limb here:  Meryl’s record will never be equaled.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she adds another couple to her total before she’s done and there’s just too much competition these days.  You never know when someone is going to throw a Charlize Theron in Monster at you.  One moment she’s starring the epic The Devil’s Advocate alongside Keanu and the next thing you know–OSCAR.  Or, remember when Tom Hanks won two straight Oscars?  You probably thought, this guy is going to win EVERY YEAR.  That was a long time ago.  He’s still stuck on two.  And has had only two nominations since.  So, Meryl is making it look easier than it actually is–I think she’s safe.  

Ok, that’s your mailbag.  You can decide how you like the actual questions vs. fabricated questions.  I know it took a lot less time to write, which was appreciated.  Keep ’em coming…

Amalgamation?

A Gunner Captivates The Nation.

A Gunner Captivates The Nation.

I’m due to write a post here.  Tap, tap.  Is this blog on?  I feel that by blogging just part-time I skip over a lot of things I would have mentioned in the past.  What’s worthy of a post and what isn’t?  My standards have become so elitist.  I’m an Ivy League school shooing away legacies.  But, I’ve got some time here, so I’m just going to throw some stuff together quickly, in case anyone was dying to comment.

I’ll start with what you are watching above.  That’s Marshall Henderson nearly inciting a riot after a road win at Auburn.  Henderson has shot to fame in the last 48 hours thanks to his antic-ridden performances and a piece over at Deadspin that examines this unique antagonist.  There are too many great things going on in the picture up there to mention, but what I want to talk about is the gunner phenomenon.  For me, the lower the level of play the more likely you are to encounter a guy like Marshall Henderson.  Right now at the Y there is a guy doing something like this, it’s just you don’t get to see them.  For it to penetrate the upper levels of college basketball, or the NBA is pretty rare, so that’s why people will gravitate toward Henderson.  He reminds them of the kid hoisting up 30-footers in intramurals.  

***

Florida, If You Can Believe It.

Florida, If You Can Believe It.

Nothing makes me buckle with envy quite like someone who is in the upscale golf resort rotation.  The people who take “Bandon Trips,” or shoot over to Scotland, or hit Pebble every year, Whistling Straits, Kiawah, Sea Island–you know the names.  You’ve got to go to Bandon, they’ll say.  And then I’ll say, you’ve got to loan me five grand.  Needless to say there is plenty of competition for these golf travel dollars.  One of the newest entries is Streamsong a 36-hole resort near Fort Meade Florida, some sixty miles east of Tampa in Central Florida.  If you’re at all familiar with Florida, you’ll know this is the middle of nowhere.  But recent history has proven people will travel to the golf and they’re going to travel to Streamsong a site crafted by decades of phosphate mining.  The courses are designed by the minimalistic masters, Tom Doak and Coore and Crenshaw.   There’s a spa, fine dining, guest suites–everything you need.  Just bring your wallet.  

***

Speaking of golf, Tiger won the 75th event of his career on Monday at Torrey Pines.  It was his 7th win of the Farmers nee Buick and he added an 8th win when the U.S. Open was at Torrey in 2008.  Tiger essentially lapped the field, stretching the lead to eight shots before coming home in 39.  He won by four, but some of the media was left a bit underwhelmed by his efforts.  I said this in the comments section yesterday, but the media no longer knows how to cover Woods.  There’s really no template for his career, or his talent level.  The win bodes well for Tiger’s year.  I’d expect a minimum of four wins, but the majors is what we’ll all be waiting for.  Will Tiger slip on the green jacket?  And, will Lindsay Vonn be there cheering him on?  

***

Philadelphia Sports Round-Up:  

Phillies:  The Phillies have brought back Chad Durbin.  They’ve invited Yuniesky Betancourt to Spring Training.  There is a debate going on at one of the sabermetric websites over whether Betancourt could be the worst position player of the 21st century.  They make an argument.  That’s all I’ll say.  The Phillies, with the possible exception of the Mike Adams signing, haven’t done anything too exciting this off-season.  The general plan for the Phils seems to be HOPE.  The 2013 season brought to you by Barack Obama.  Hope everyone stays healthy AND bounces back to near-prime form.  Seems reasonable.  We’ll get into this a bit deeper once Spring Training Starts.  

Eagles:  The Eagles are still looking for a defensive coordinator, but it’s mostly an afterthought, because I get the impression the fans just want to start cleaning house.  They want to see guys cut.  They want some new blood, the draft cannot come soon enough.  And, that’s probably the best result (to this point) of bringing in Chip Kelly.  A new coach in charge of reconstruction is all the fan base needs to kick start their excitement.  In my opinion, the Eagles need to get very young.  Lots of new, young faces, plan for the near future and don’t try to patch something together for 9 wins in 2013.  

Flyers:  The Flyers are 2-4 out of the gate.  They’re giving up a lot of goals.  Their young, talented offense hasn’t gotten into rhythm.  It wouldn’t be a case for massive concern, except the season is 1/8 complete. In the past, the Flyers blueprint would cause them to ship off young players and draft picks for veteran help in a time of need, but I think they’d be wise to hang on to their young forwards.  Just slip into the playoffs and see what happens.  That’s the NHL, and there’s still time for that.  Good news to this point:  It’s not Bryz’s fault.  

Sixers:  Andrew Bynum may return after the All-Star Break.  When is the NBA All-Star Break?  I DON’T KNOW.  Sixers can’t win two in a row, seem destined for an eight seed.  Doug Collins looks flustered.  

***

Quiz of the Day:  O” in History.  Category:  O-Something.  My Score: 15/20.  I may be getting dumber.  

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Coming Later this week:  A mailbag–1st ever with only reader submitted questions.  Still time to get in on this historic event.  Questions to mggross21@gmail.com.  And of course, the Super Bowl pick and other Super Bowl paraphernalia.  Maybe a menu preview?  What are you going to serve this year?  

Mailbag.

Is That a Limo?  IS IT?

Is That a Limo? IS IT?

Cold snap the last few days.   Possibly colder than it was all last winter.  Who can remember?  When it’s this cold out people cannot stop talking about the weather.  BURRR.  It made me wonder, what type of weather produces the least amount of comments?  Isn’t it always too hot, or dreary, or miserable, or sticky, or freezing, or beautiful, or HOW ABOUT THIS WEATHER?  Would 59 degrees and partly cloudy produce silence?  I guess it depends on the season.  Hopefully it warms up soon, because people are already running out of their cold weather material.  The mailbag, much like the mailman, come regardless of weather…

Q:  I saw a limo pull into a parking lot the other day and I found myself getting excited.  What is it about limos that are so fascinating?  Keep in mind I’m an adult and have ridden in limos before.  MGG, Media, PA.

A:  I’m the same way, and I don’t really know why.  I’m not a car person.  I know some people who will start humping their car door if a Bentley pulls up next to them in traffic, but that’s not me.  It’s not the cost, or the luxury that draws me to the limo, so I have to assume it’s the novelty.  Or the positive association.  It’s like when I smell a candle burning out and deep down in the recesses of my memory I’m thinking about eating birthday cake.  When I think about the few trips I’ve taken in a limo in my life, it was always a precursor to something exciting happening.  So, when you see that limo, you’re just thinking to yourself, IS THAT FOR ME?  Am I going somewhere?  You’re not, of course, but there is that fleeting moment when anything is possible.  The other reason limos are stimulating is that there is always a chance someone famous could be inside.  Why are the windows so tinted?  Is J-LO in there?  IS SHE?  

Q:  Do you think the Harbaugh parents have a favorite child?  There’s no way they are rooting for them both equally, right?  Three Putt Territory, Media, PA

A:  I don’t think so.  Is anyone ever truly impartial?  I’m sure you know someone who is the darling child of their family.  ALL WORLD EVERYTHING.  When parents get asked about their kids, there’s usually one they talk about first, right?  Oh, Buster?  He’s clerking for Chief Justice Roberts–IN HIS SPARE TIME!  Then they get asked about their other kid, the one who’s a freelance tattoo artist and they suddenly don’t offer up as many specifics.  Is this the case with the Harbaughs?  At first glance, the boys seem to be on pretty equal footing.  Both NFL head coaches.  Similar personalities, both well-regarded in the industry, but this hasn’t always been the case.  Remember that Jim Harbaugh had a decent NFL career.  Captain Comeback anyone?  John Harbaugh played defensive back at Miami of Ohio.  Which is fine, unless your brother is an NFL quarterback.  So, even though Jim is younger and had the more glamorous career, I think there may be a bit of an underdog factor going on here.  John could very well be his family’s Cinderella.  And since coaching is more his THING, while playing was John’s THING, I’m going to say the Harbaugh parents are going to be all Raven’d up for the Super Bowl.  Plus, they probably don’t want any part of being on the opposite side of Ray Lewis…and God.  

Cialis Ad For Shetland Ponies.

Cialis Ad For Shetland Ponies.

Q:  What do you think would happen if the fans walked into the Super Bowl and they weren’t serving beer in the stadium?   Mass hysteria?  Rioting?  The worst parts of the bible?  T. Blogger, Media, PA.

A:  I think we’d get an idea of how many people go to the Super Bowl to actually WATCH THE GAME.  One of the criticisms of the Super Bowl is that the crowd is this unaffiliated blob of corporate drones who are there for the spectacle and the week of parties and not the actual game.  Certainly there will be plenty of Ravens and Niners fans in attendance, but not enough to create any type of real atmosphere or advantage.   I’d love to see a Super Bowl played at a team’s home stadium once, in front of its usual crowd, just to see what that looked like–but it’ll never happen.  So, speaking of things that will never happen.  Back to the beer.  I think confusion would be the first response.  You would doubt yourself.  WAIT.  Do they not serve beer at Super Bowls?  How did I not know that?  But once a few other people insisted that there should be beer people would start getting pissed.  They’ve spent all day building to a particular level of drunkeness and now that plan is RUINED.  I think the scene would get pretty wild.  People would be lurching at the beer taps over the counter, making petty and embarrassing bribes, there would be several personal attacks against the poor concession stand employees.  But, then the game would start.  I think about two-thirds of the crowd would resign themselves to their fate and watch the game.  The rest of the people would either leave, or wander the concourse like nomads hoping to stumble upon that one stand that was serving up a $10 Coors Light.  

Q:  A friend of mine called me when he was completely hammered the other day.  It was annoying.  Not long ago I would have been immensely entertained, but all I could think about was hanging up.  What are some things that you don’t think are “fun” anymore?  Imaginary Friend, Media, PA.

A:  I’d like to take this moment to apologize to everyone I ever called when I was drunk.  Of course, I was under the impression at the time that I was DOING THEM A FAVOR.  Oh, I’m awake at 2 am, I’m feeling pretty conversational, I wonder what (______) is up to?  The person would usually humor me for a little while, even have the courtesy to say it was an entertaining call the next day.  I’d be all…WHAT DID I SAY?  And, this isn’t to say I wasn’t amused many times in my youth by inebriated people.  In college I would sometimes get up OUT OF BED when drunk people came home just to see what was happening.  You don’t want to miss anything.  But all that fades.  It’s almost like, I’ve seen it all.  Oh, you’re shoveling peanut butter into your mouth with the Playstation controller?  YAWN.  So, in addition to drunk calls, what else is no longer fun?   A quick list:

1.  Carnival Games.  a) I don’t get the same satisfaction out of winning a stuffed animal and b) they are all more rigged than ever, too expensive and the prizes suck.  Booo carnies.

2.  Goldeneye Video Game.  The most dead video game that’s ever been dead.

3.  The buffet/happy hour combo.  Oh, from 4-6 pm it’s dollar well drinks and all you can eat hot dogs and ziti?  Vomit.

4.  Miniature Golf.  I’m sorry, is putt-putt really a good time?   I’ve just missed too many putts in my life.  I don’t need to do it for recreation.

Q:  How do you think of all the made up questions for the mailbag?  Randall Stevens, Media, PA.

A:  Well, I’ll tell you what, it’s not easy.  I have to be keenly observant on every day life.  I have to take down notations.  I have to live my life attached to a little journal.  I’m a professional chronicler of the human existence.  That’s my art.  OK, none of that is true exactly, but I do try to remember things to “bag” about.  But, I’ll tell you what, it’s becoming more and more difficult to accumulate the questions.  So, I’m sending out a real request here–If you enjoy the mailbag–send me some questions!  Any questions.  Take them from other websites.  PLAGERIZE.  Do whatever you need to do, but I could use some help over here.  My life isn’t that interesting.   Pretty soon the mailbag questions are going to be like, “I had a chicken sandwich three straight nights for dinner–thoughts?”  NO ONE WANTS THAT.  Email questions to mggross21@gmail.com.

Let’s Prepare For the Worst.

Are We Sure About This Week Off?

Are We Sure About This Week Off?

The Ravens/49ers Super Bowl is upon us.  There is no turning back now.  Regrettably, the term “Har-bowl” is now a part of our lexicon.  Years from now, when people talk about this game, they’ll say, “Oh, right.  That was the Har-bowl.”  Everyone knows it’s corny, lacks even a drop of creativity and yet we can’t help ourselves.  So, Har-Bowl it is: will we get through it?

Who We Should Blame for the Har-Bowl (In no particular order):

1.  Matt Ryan.  Ryan is really good at throwing balls up for Julio Jones.  Is that dismissive enough?  The Falcons had another great 1st half, had the Niners secondary looking confused, and Ryan fit the ball into some real small windows.  But, they do play a 2nd half.  Ryan had costly turnovers, and had the ball in the Red Zone at the end and couldn’t get it done.

2.  Falcons defense.  The bottom line is, this group isn’t good enough to win a Super Bowl.  Their good 1st halves the last two weeks I think were more a product of young QB over-stimulation.  Once Wilson and Kaepernick settled in, it was free rein up and down the field.  Without a goal line fumble and the Akers shankola, the Niners pull away.

3.  Harry Douglas.  After the teams traded mistakes and turnovers, Douglas was wide open on a 3rd down play and tripped over himself?  Over a yard line?  Regardless, he tumbled to the ground and kinda maintained possession, but blew a sure TD that would have put Atlanta back in front.

4. Wes Welker.  Welker had a huge drop in the 3rd quarter that stopped a Patriot drive and allowed Baltimore to build some momentum.  He’s a unique player, but for someone limited in what he can do down the field, there have been too many instances of Welker drops in recent years? Gisele, thoughts?

5. Tom Brady.  Brady is now 8-7 in the post-season since winning his last Super Bowl and has lost several times as a prohibitive favorite.  He appeared to get worse as the game went on Sunday.  Brady will be 36 next year, which is startling to me, because I still think of Brady as someone who has plenty of time left.  He doesn’t.

6. Bill Belichick.  Was he out-coached?  For a guy who is considered the greatest coach in the last twenty years, he seems to have a weakness in the Ravens.  In many of New England’s big losses of the last four or five years, it’s been the offense coming up short.  Something that works so well in the regular season isn’t translating in the Super Bowls and in other playoff games.  Does the hoodie need to recognize this and change philosophy a bit?  Do the Pats need a deep threat?

7. Joe Flacco.  Flacco was shockingly inaccurate with some of his punts on Sunday.  Just lobbing and lofting the ball up and missing receivers by a wide margin.  Yet somehow he managed to not throw an interception, to lead a couple long TD drives and even scamper for a long TD.  Who would have thought?

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Playoff Pick Standings: 

  1. Grossy, 8-1-1
  2. Kraft, 6-3-1
  3. DC, 5-4-1
  4. Nichols, 4-5-1
  5. Big Dub, 3-6-1

***

In regard to the Har-Bowl, you won’t be seeing much more about it here until the end of next week.  I’m going to try to do my part to spare your gag reflex.  That means I’ll need some other things to talk about, so feel free to leave a suggestion or two.  The Flyers are 0-2.  AKA, o for 4% of the SEASON.  Time to panic.  Flyers Kitten is still stuck in Slovakia, trying to get out of a contract he signed during the lockout.

Emily DiDonato Picks Winners…

...With Her Eyes Closed.

…With Her Eyes Closed.

This is the last real football Sunday of the year.  The Super Bowl is more of an event.  There are parties, unless you are lucky you don’t have a real rooting interest and there’s no guarantee the game will be any good.  So, if you like settling in and watching football all day, this Sunday is your last chance for long time.  We certainly lost some glamour last weekend.  Green Bay and Peyton Manning were dismissed.  It left us with some less than desirable Super Bowl Matchups.  My choices, in increasing order of preference:

4.  Atlanta vs. Baltimore.  I’m not sure what the story line would be here aside from Ray Lewis.  Also, Atlanta is a total embarrassment as a professional sports town, so you never like to see that rewarded.  I honestly can’t think of another sentence to write about this game.  Predicted Line:  Atlanta (-1.5)

3.  Atlanta vs. New England.  This would be the sixth Super Bowl of the Brady/Belichick era and the Pats’ seventh total in what, 17 years?  That’s pretty incredible.  This game would be all about legacy.  Belichick’s place among the all-time great coaches and Brady’s among the QBs.  Of course, if the Pats lost, I’d be very interested to see the reaction in New England.  It’d be three straight Super Bowl losses for the one-time dynasty.  Predicted Line: New England (-4.5)

2. Baltimore vs. San Francisco.  The Harbaugh Bowl.  It actually might be the best matchup, but two weeks of Harbaugh coverage terrifies me.  I think we’ve just scratched the surface on how much of an abrasive weirdo Jim Harbaugh can be.  Two defenses with good reputations that haven’t stopped anyone and Joe Flacco with the chance to prove everyone wrong and win a Super Bowl.  Can we live in a world with Flacco as a Super Bowl Champion?  Predicted Line: Pick ‘Em.

1. New England vs. San Francisco.  At first glance, it’s an easy choice, but then you remember that New England blew out San Fran in the regular season.  We’ve been spoiled with some good Super Bowls lately, and I’m afraid that even though Kaepernick is exciting and Brady is the best QB still in the field–this could be a blowout.  Predicted Line: New England (-7.5)

On to the Picks…Just a note, when I sent the line out for the Baltimore/NE game it must have been peaking at that moment.  Since, it’s been dropping daily and has now bottomed out at NE (-7.5).  But, we always stick with the original spread for the picks.

Nichols, 3-5 Playoff Record:

  1. Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco
  2. Baltimore (+10) over New England

DC, 4-4 Playoff Record:

  1.  Atlana (+4) over San Francisco
  2. Baltimore (+10) over New England

***

Big Dub, 3-5 Playoff Record:

Atlanta (+4) over San Francisco.  This falls into two categories that I love. 1. Grossy’s stystem of a team playing its biggest game in franchise history at home and getting points. This game isn’t bigger than their Super Bowl, but it is by far the biggest game they’ve ever played at home and they are getting points against a rookie QB. 2. This goes against the public is all over the 49ers in a disgusting way.

New England (-10) over Baltimore.  I still can’t believe Pey-Pey didn’t carve this defense up. Brady is playing with revenge at home with the chance to go to the Super Bowl. We’ve all seen how this ends for Flacco. He’s the white McNabb.

***

Kraft, 6-2 Playoff Record:

San Francisco (-4) over Atlanta.  The dirty birds have struggled mightily vs QBs who can run. That does not bode well for Sunday. I heard a stat that for the year they give up 9 yds per run vs QBs. Harbaugh will have the answers for Matt Ryan. SF by a touchdown.

New England (-10) over Baltimore.  I’ve gone back and forth on this one. But, Baltimore’s D has to be spent, which doesn’t bode well vs the NE hurry up. I think they run out of steam and there are no more Flacco miracles left.  Sorry Harbaugh family, no reunion in NO.

***

Grossy, 7-1 Playoff Record: 

San Francisco (-4) over Atlanta.  When this line came out on this one my initial thought was SF in a romp.  Road teams usually aren’t favored in Conference Title games and especially by more than a field goal.  Then as the week went on I encountered two opposing forces.  First, my gut was wrong twice last week.  I initially had Green Bay and Denver.  And, everyone was suddenly in love with SF.  They’re the new Seattle.  But, Seattle did cover last week.  So, for me it comes down to how bad Atlanta looked in that 4th quarter.  I don’t think San Fran spots them 20-points.  Michael Turner’s renaissance ends and San Francisco wins nice and comfortable.

Baltimore (+10) over New England.  During the current era, there’s been exactly one blowout in this matchup and that was Baltimore’s blowout win in the 2010 playoffs.  They’ve played twice in the last 12 months, split the games and the combined score is New England 53, Baltimore 51.  Baltimore showed they can score some points last week and would have beaten Denver comfortably if they could cover a kick.  I think the Patriots will win this game, but not by more than a TD.

 

Mailbag.

Too Much Head Room.

Too Much Head Room.

First sighting of the Girl Scouts today.  With their cookies, stationed outside the grocery as is their custom.  It was a dangerous situation.  I hadn’t eaten much all day.  An impulse struck.  ELEVEN boxes of Thin Mints, please.  How’s your supply?  Is there a minivan around the corner with back stock?  I tried to talk myself down as I approached the table.  Then I saw the sign: $4.00.  An even four.  Was there a Girl Scout labor dispute?  That’s a little steep isn’t it?  I remember when ten quarters got you a box.  I’m starting to wonder if there is a tipping point with Girl Scout cookies.  They’re good, but not THAT good.  How much is too much?  For easier to answer questions, a mailbag….

Q:  Why hasn’t the pint glass adapted to people who pour beers out of a bottle or vice versa?  Always a bit frustrating to see 12 ounces come up so short when pouring out a fine brew.  Swift Poor, Houston, TX

A:  Have you ever been to one of those old school bars that gives you a little pony glass with your beer?  They set down a bottle of, oh I don’t know, ROLLING ROCK and that tiny little glass.  It’s very odd, but sometimes I use the glass anyway, just for the novelty.  Do you get drunk quicker with the small glass?  Was that the origin of power hour?  I DON’T KNOW.  Anyway, there’s really no substitute for a draught beer, properly poured into a nice pint glass.  The problem is, there are two different pint sizes (American and Imperial), and those glasses don’t really hold a pint of beer.  Unless you’ve masted the “headless” pour, a 16 oz beer into a pint glass would be a nightmare.  So, what I really think we might need is an “American” version of the pint glass that holds about 13.5-14 ounces.  Then your 12 oz beer would go in there perfectly.  Of course, you could also just drink the beer out of the bottle or can–save yourself the dish work.  But I know the temptation of pouring into a nice glass.  I like to do it when I’m only having one drink.  Keeping it CLASSY tonight, Boys.  Just one glass, I’ll take my time and admire the craftsmanship.  

Q:  I saw two men the other day and they were dressed not alike, but in very similar styles.  Designer jeans, pristine Nike running shoes, puffy black vests, aviator glasses.  Age estimate?  38.  My bewilderment?  100%.  What are your thoughts?  M. Barasstforu, Brooklyn, NY.

A:  You never want to underestimate the power of peer pressure or make the mistake that this is something that ends when you finally get your GED.  And, not only that, I imagine there’s probably a bit of hero worship going on here.  One of the guys makes decisions about what he’s going to wear, how he is going to dress and the other guy just copies that sh*t ALL DAY.  So, the leader of this two-man pack decided he was going to have a mid-life crisis and the other just jumped in behind him with nothing but blind faith and a willingness to crush some North Face.  It’s tough getting older.  You don’t want to wear Dad jeans and you don’t want to look like a hopeless poser, either.  You can get away with jeans.  The Nikes and puffy vests are a dead giveaway, though.  These guys would love to, in the right light, immersed in the right crowd think they could pass for “late twenties.”  Won’t ever happen, but that’s the dream.  The harder you try, the more you stick out.  

Q: What’s a more annoying, a movie or TV show casting someone who doesn’t look anything like the actor to play a “younger” version of them in some flashback, or when they put an awful hairpiece on the person and expect them to play 20 years younger?  Frank Senbeans, South Bend, IN

A:  I think the lesson is, flashbacks are really tricky.  I bet the first person that thought of a flashback must have felt like a genius.  I will now change storytelling FOREVER.  It must have been like when Ferris Bueller turned and talked to the camera, or more accurately to the audience.  But at this point, the flashback has put on the freshman fifteen.  As you mention, there are two ways to do it–find another actor to play the young version of the character, or put on some old clothes and a wig and hope for the best.  There seems to be a cutoff age.  When Ben Stiller had to play his high school self in There’s Something About Mary they let it happen.  It was part of the joke.  But if he was supposed to have been in Middle School, it would have been absurd.  They would have rounded up the first scrawny child with curly hair they found and thrown him into show business.  I think the different actor is more annoying, unless we’re talking about Californication, in which case, I hope they never do another flashback.  I hate 90s Hank Moody.  

Q:  Now that Rory McIlroy has taken a lucrative deal with Nike, which swooshed star do you think will have a bigger year in 2013?  Rors or The Tiger?  Phil Nite, Beaverton, OR.  

A:  Yep, Nike made the leap for Rory.  That’s what they do.  I wonder what the other equipment companies were throwing Rory’s way?  I can’t imagine Oakley, his former clothing sponsor, can really play in that ballpark.  Titleist, god bless them, pays no one crazy money.  They’re content with a few younger guys and dominating the golf ball market.  Anyway, the switch requires Rory to go to Nike through the bag, and that’s what gives the hater’s fuel.  They point to noted equipment switch disasters–Payne Stewart, Corey Pavin, Nick Price and others, but equipment has become a lot more consistent across the board.  It’s not like Nike is Goldwin, or PRGR.  So, while Rory will need some time to adapt to his new clubs (he started off the year with a smooth 75-75-MC), this isn’t going to be a situation where he can blame a bad year on his clubs if he does struggle.  We ended 2012 with Rory being the clear cut best player in the World.  Will that continue in 2013?  I’d bet against it, just because of the increasing depth on the PGA Tour.  Could Tiger be the one to replace him on top?  I’d bet against that as well.  I’d expect 4 different major winners, maybe one of these guys snag one, but I’d take Tiger to have a marginally better year, but I expect Rory to be a better investment for Nike than David Duval or Penny Hardaway.  Guys I like this year: Oosthuizen, Scott, Bradley, Dustin Johnson and Sergio.  

Q:  If we ever get to the point where profanity is universally accepted on all TV broadcasts do you think sportscasters would sprinkle in a colorful curse or two, do you think think we’d be inundated with F-bombs?  Would they not be able to break the no-profanity habit?  O. Fuhk, Denver, CO.

A:  I’m looking forward to a world where we can curse freely in front of children and children are allowed to match me horsebleep for horsebleep.  Cursing is one of those things that most people will eventually do when they get older, so why bother worrying so much about it?  You know what I’d be worried about?  My kids never learning to spell thanks to texting and Twitter.  What’s worse, an eff bomb slips through the cracks or using, “Wut ru doin gurl, LULZ, smh.”  I’m just asking.  Of course, you could argue that profanity is just a crutch for a bad vocabulary, and it certainly can still be offensive.  Because of that, I don’t see profanity penetrating your network sports coverage any time soon.  Someone will always be offended, and it’s not like you need profanity to listen to a game.  Would it provide the occasional laugh?  PROBABLY, but we may never know how funny it could be.  Even if you gave the broadcasters free rein, I think they’d keep it pretty clean.  Maybe allow cursing only after dunks in the NBA?  Is that a compromise?

Q: Kobe Bryant said the other day that he had never lost a 1-on-1 basketball game during his time in the NBA.  Do you believe this and are you undefeated at anything?  

A:  Kobe is a professional version of someone who tries too hard in gym class.  I could never be Kobe’s teammate, because I wouldn’t WANT it enough.  Especially during practice.  Kobe would be the guy who after a 3-hour practice would be challenging people to a 1-on-1 game or a few extra suicide races.  But once that whistle blows, I just want to go home and eat a pop tart, OK?  Kobe’s competitiveness probably guarantees that he’s going to play harder in 1-on-1 games and he’s probably in the habit of challenging players who he knows he can beat.  All that said, I have a feeling this is one of those athletic oversights.  I saw a special on Jack Nicklaus once and some other player said he was playing with Jack later on in the year and Jack told him that he hadn’t 3-putted all year.  It wasn’t true, but Jack believed it, his competitive mind blocked out those 3-Jacks.  That’s probably what Kobe did as well.  I’m sure he went down to Eddie Jones a few times during his rookie year.  He was 18 and averaging 6 points per game.  I doubt he was dominating practice.  I don’t think I’m undefeated at anything.  I did have a pretty good run in a game called Horse Show Championship of the World, which drove my sister crazy because of her Kobe like intensity and me giving my horses names like, “Pee Wee Herman.”  

The Day That Launched A Million Kelly Green Puns.

Chip?

Chip?

CHiP?

CHiP?

Chip!

Chip!

One of the worst parts about not sitting around waiting to blog all day is that I miss breaking news.  Back in the glory days I would have been all over this hours ago, but in these sorry times people are left to leave comments on breaking news stories under random posts.  At least I can say that I had plenty of company who didn’t see this move coming.  Chip Kelly, the visor wearing Oregon genius, had spurned the NFL.  That is, until something changed.  The amount of the Eagles offer?  The status of Oregon’s program with the NCAA?  Chip’s read option heart?  I’m not sure, but back Kelly came out of a cloud of dusty mediocrity to take the Eagles up on their offer and attempt to lead the franchise out of the depths of their most recent nadir.  Can Chip pull this off?  I have no idea.  

Kelly reminds me of Mark Calcavecchia for some reason.  I’m sure there are about two people on the planet who will pick that up, but I think it’s the visor, the plentiful face and the unwavering belief in their method.  But, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I wonder how this is actually going to go?  How about some pros and cons?  

PROS:

1.  Kelly is not Andy Reid.  And he’s far enough away from Reid’s coaching tree, from his personality that at the very least Kelly creates excitement and curiosity about the team.  Even if you think Kelly is going to be a monumental failure, I imagine when it blows up, you still want to see the fireball.  

2. There is a chance that the way NFL teams run their offenses, the way the QB position is evaluated is changing.  Kelly is an innovative thinker who was consulted by Bill Belichick.  The Eagles will no longer be the team who is three years late to trying out that “wildcat” thing.  

3. Excitement.  Chip Kelly pushes the tempo.  If you like offense, if you hate methodical drives–this is your guy.  There will be no more “we’ll get ’em in the 5th quarter” jokes as you watch the play clock dwindle toward zero on every play.  

4.  The guy wins a lot of football games.  He only has four years of head coaching experience, but in that span he’s gone 46-7.  He’s used to winning and he’s used to winning right away.  I expect an appropriate level of urgency.  

5.  He’s an offensive coach.  You saw how the playoffs went last weekend.  It’s an offensive league.  The temptation after Andy Reid may have been to go to the defensive side of the ball, but considering the state of the Eagles’ defense, it’s probably best to bring in a guy who can maximize the speed and talent that is here on offense.  With DeSean Jackson, McCoy, Maclin, Celek, etc you’d like to think that a new scheme could turn things around.  On defense, it looks to be more of a personnel problem.  

CONS:  

1.  Kelly has no NFL experience.  

2.  You can’t recruit in the NFL.  Some of the best college coaches are so good because they always get the best guys that fit their system.  It’s a lot easier to do that through recruiting, especially to a program like Oregon, than it is through NFL free agency and the draft.  

3.  Kelly doesn’t have any experience with a major NFL media market.  Seven years ago the guy was coaching New Hampshire’s offense.  That’s not a knock, it’s just a note on the scale of media attention.  Oregon is a huge program, a very big deal in a state with no NFL team, but it’s still a lifetime away from the Philadelphia Eagles.  

4. The Eagles gave up 444 points last year.  That’s almost 30 a game.  So, Chip’s either going to have to average 35, or hire one hell of a defensive coordinator.  

5. He doesn’t have the greatest record in the biggest games.  Kelly was the most fashionable college name, but he’s not the most successful college coach.  That’d be Nick Saban by a mile.  Urban Meyer has a better record too.  Kelly led Oregon to a great record, but no national titles.  In games against the SEC, in the BCS championship game, on a few occasions against good Stanford and USC teams, Kelly’s team has often been on the short end of the stick.  And, that offense that is known to average 50, puts up 8 (2009, Boise), 17 (2010 Rose Bowl, OSU), 19 (2011 BCS Title Game, Auburn), 14 (2012, Stanford).  So, we know Kelly can blow out Washington St. and Colorado, but is that all he does?  

***

Bottom Line:  Kelly’s success in Philadelphia is likely going to be tied to whether or not he can find an effective QB to run his system.  RG3 could run it, or Colin Kaepernick, or Russell Wilson, but those guys aren’t on Philly’s roster.  I think we’re probably about 5-6 years late on Michael Vick being the right piece.  So, at some point in the next year or two, Kelly is going to land on his “guy.”  Much like Andy tabbed Donovan and that choice will be the biggest Kelly makes as the Eagles’ coach and it’s a bigger choice than even the Eagles naming him coach.  Essentially what this hire is saying is, we want this guy to be the one who identifies and develops our next franchise QB.  I suppose they could have made a worse choice.