Super Bowl Sunday

For the 43rd time, America is celebrating Super Bowl Sunday, an unofficial holiday of junk food, television marketing excess, the existence of Roman numerals, and football (or is it handegg?). And, for the 22nd time in my life, I have very little emotional investment in the game. Oh, sure, I’ve faked it before: I was rooting hard for the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII, but that never worked out. The Super Bowl was first serious business in The Smith Household when Stan-The-Man Humphries sent the San Diego Super Chargers up against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX, during which Steve Young and Jerry Rice made history by turning an NFL team into meatwaffles for the first time. The other time, of course, is when the Carolina Panthers had their hearts broken by Adam Vinatieri and the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was also a historic Super Bowl because no other game so far has had as many letters in its Roman numeral.

So today we get the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. The Steelers are looking to start blinging out their other hand, while the Cardinals are benefiting from Kurt Warner’s innate ability to somehow will really bad franchises to victory. Of course, when I think of the Cardinals, I’m always reminded of Denny Green:

So who wins? The smart money says the Steelers, but the Cardinals have beaten the smart money three games in a row now. The stage has gotten bigger and the Cardinals have proven that the stage is not bigger than they are so far. Both teams are playing their best football right now, too — I suspect this game has the potential to be much better than most people expect. Prediction? I’m really on the fence here. I think I take Arizona in a colossal upset, which means the Steelers will likely win because I haven’t given them a chance all postseason. (One does have to wonder what the week off does to Arizona’s momentum, after all.) Enjoy the game, folks!


NFL Championship Sunday

Despite the untimely elimination of both the Carolina Panthers and San Diego (Super) Chargers from the playoffs last weekend, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about today’s conference championship matchups. For the NFC, we’ve got the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Arizona to play — yes — the Arizona Cardinals. In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Ketchup Tundra. I’m going to attempt to analyze the games, but I have to tell you: almost nothing has gone to plan this postseason. (Except, of course, the whole “Chargers-don’t-have-a-chance-against-the-Steelers” meme.) Call this a shot in the dark.


Thoughts on the NFL Divisional Round

44 days until Spring Training…


Good morning folks! My midterm hell for this semester is officially over as of this morning. I don’t think they went too badly; but we’ll see if it’s a false sense of confidence or what. ;)

Despite the exams, it was a pretty good weekend. I enjoyed the nice crisp air under the sunny skies (indeed, a stark contrast to this gray and muggy morning). Saturday I went with a friend to the Friends of the Library Book Sale and absolutely loaded up on books and even a few videos. Some of these are absolutely priceless, particularly the Windows 95 Feature Introduction video hosted by Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry back in 1995. I’ll have a picture of the cover of that one; it’s fairly priceless. Sunday, in an act of stress relief, I took a long walk downtown amongst the tourists and saw a giant cruise ship, among other things. Was actually a nice walk — gotta take advantage of the nice weather while we have it.

It was a good Sunday for football, too. Both the Panthers and Chargers came away with victories. The Panthers game was fantastic. Delhomme threw for a career high in yardage, and the Panthers and Ravens really got into a dogfight. Kyle Boller, by the way, showed some of that late-season form for the Ravens in relief of Steve McNair…very interesting. He plays best when he feels as if he has something to prove. The Chargers beat the 49ers…as expected. They’re a good team that’s beat up on a lot of bad teams and gone 1-1 against decent squads. That’s not too shabby. Giving Philip Rivers freedom was one of the best things Schottenheimer could do. That, and LT is a stud: Four touchdowns on Sunday makes him a fantasy football dream.

I caught the last eight minutes of the Bears-Cardinals game, and witnessed one of the most epic collapses in modern football history. The Bears, which scored nothing offensively, got its trademark defense going in the 4th quarter and great special teams play to ring up 27 on the Cardinals and come away with a victory — this, after being down 20-3 at the half. The Bears ended up with six turnovers in the game, four courtesy of Rex Grossman interceptions. They should not have won; the Cardinals gave them the game. One bright spot for Arizona: Matt Leinart did everything he was supposed to do, and looked fantastic against that Bears D. As for Da Bears…they’re still undefeated, standing at a sterling 6-0. They should have lost that game, though, no question.

Anyway, enjoy your Tuesday — lots of things to do today.

As Per Whatever

Never underestimate the power of a missed foul ball…

…because had Mike Piazza been able to catch up to Albert Pujols’s foul ball (which took a weird hop off the net and got lost in the sun to boot — I’m not going to put too much on him for it), he would never have had a shot at hitting a home run off Jake Peavy to put the Cardinals up for good.

I like Jake Peavy’s intensity on the mound, but he gets into this mode where he feels he has to strike everybody out, and that really came back to haunt him today. After giving up the Pujols home run, he was clearly upset, and started forcing pitches over the plate. With the Pujols spark, the rest of the Cardinals lineup started hitting, and that really was that for San Diego, as they fell 5-1 in the first game of the National League Division Series.

The bullpen — including Chan Ho Park — did a good job of holding down the damage, and Dave Roberts was nearly unstoppable. The lack of consistent hitting has been San Diego’s weakness all season (and for the last several years), and that really doomed them today, especially as they left the bases loaded in the 7th. The Cardinals pitched well, played great defense, and took advantage of Peavy’s mistakes. They deserved to win it.

Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at 1PM Pacific. Jeff Suppan takes the mound for the Cardinals to face David Wells — let’s hope Boomer, known for his postseason prowess, can get the Padres back into the series. We don’t need another sweep like last year against these same Cardinals.