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Just another thought-filled Monday…

Happy Monday all!  Random thoughts from the weekend:

Politics:

  • It appears that President Obama may have gotten a 5-7 point bounce out of his convention.  According to several polls (great graphic here), Obama’s bounce has sustained, even despite a weaker than expected jobs report on Friday.  We won’t know the full bounce for a few more days, because most of these polls include some percentage of interviews conducted before key convention moments.  So, there is still the potential for a larger bounce, perhaps as many as 10 points.
  • For months we’ve been hearing that this election is a “base election.”  In other words, given that most people have already made up their mind, turnout will be the key to winning.  That’s why you saw the Democrats hit social issues so hard in Charlotte – they are trying to fire up their base and get key constituents out to the polls.  And therein lies the advantage for the President.   The New York Times calculated that, if everyone who is registered to vote shows up at the polls, Obama has a 90%+ chance of winning based on party registration etc…This blog has a great breakdown of how that figure was identified and what it all means.  If you are interested in party registration over time, check this out.
  • The debates are going to be more important this year, than I can ever remember them being.   Between now and election day, Romney and Obama will debate 3 times and Biden will square off against Ryan once.  In an election where both sides are willing to say anything (true or not) and the challengers have steadfastly refused to provide specifics about their economic plan, it will be super interesting to see how much the moderators or candidates push for information and call people on their lies.  Who can say the things that will motivate and excite their base, while not turning off the few undecideds or the ones who could still be swayed?  That, ultimately, will decide this election.

Sports:

Football is back and I could not be more excited!  All you need to know is that, at the Red Sox game on Saturday night (another loss), the fans started chanting “Go Pats” in the 7th Inning.  And I was among them!  After a great first weekend, here are my winners and losers:

Winners:

  • New York Jets

I don’t think you can understand how painful it was for me to type that.  Look, their top two QBs (Sanchez and Tebow) didn’t score a single TD in the preseason (see below).  And they were facing the Buffalo Bills, who sport a revamped, and very expensive defense) in Week 1.  Many, including me, were convinced it would be an embarrassing display by Ryan’s boys, but were we ever wrong.  How they managed to put up 48 points is beyond me.  This was more shocking than Brady Anderson’s random 50 homers in 1996.  Which reminds me, someone check the Jets’ offensive coordinator for steroids!

  • Peyton Manning

In the you’ve gotta see it to believe it category, I give you Peyton Manning.  After not playing in a game for 600+ days, Manning returned to the field and, against a pretty good defense, led his team to a comeback win.  Seeing him in Bronco orange was defintely strange, but the result was not.  He’s still got it, folks, and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the AFC.

  • Replacement Officials

Look, they weren’t perfect, but they survived and this ragtag bunch of retirees, teachers and insurance salesmen got some difficult calls right.  Although they did their best by giving Seattle an extra timeout at the end of the Seahawks-Cardinals game, they didn’t change the outcome of any game and that, my friends, is a win.  Of course, regardless of how long this strike lasts, they also made history by counting in their numbers the first woman to ever officiate a NFL game.  Congratulations to Shannon Eastin and I hope you blaze the trail for more gender equality in the sport.  Way to go!

Losers

  • Preseason footbal

It means nothing, as the Jets showed, and 4 games is way too many.  It looks like the NFL may, finally be making the change.  Week 1 showed just how meaningless those games really are.

  • Rookie QBs

It’s a tough jump from college to the pros, no question about it.  All the rookie QBs starting this weekend, with the exception of RGIII looked way over matched and out-of-place.  Weeden, Luck, Wilson and Tannehill all may be great NFL players but, on week 1, they looked very mortal.

  • New Orleans Saints

After quite the offseason, I thought the Saints would come out firing on all cylinders.  Us against the World would be their motto and, especially playing at home, they would steamroll over any opponent unlucky enough to be on the other side.  That didn’t happen.  They looked flat for the first half of the game and, to me, didn’t seem like there was any motivation or desire to beat the odds.  They tried to recover in the 2nd half, but it was too little too late.  Let’s see which team shows up next week.

World Cup Fever!!!

For those of you who have been living under a rock, the United States men’s soccer team won their group at the World Cup and have made it through to the elimination round which, for us, starts tomorrow afternoon against Ghana.  To get you ready, here are some World Cup related links and thoughts.

To start with, check out this awesome video of reaction to the group-clinching goal by Landon Donovan to keep us alive.

For those of you who are planning to watch tomorrow – and really why wouldn’t you – and want to seem to know what you are talking about, here is a pretty good preview of the game and here is the roster

Finally, check out the hilarious video of John Oliver welcoming the USA to the third world because of their soccer winnings.

Prediction for tomorrow’s game:

The United States will score 4 goals to Ghana’s 1.  However, two of those goals will be disallowed so the USA will end up winning 2-1.  And, post-game, the NBA will announce they are replacing all of their officials with soccer refs.  Enjoy the game!

Link for 1/25 – Manning hysteria has begun

If you had the under on 11:00 AM for the first story Super Bowl story about who Archie Manning would be rooting for, congratulations.  You are a winner!  The fact that, according to ESPN, this is a top story is amazing to me.

My other thoughts on the weekend:

1. Favre and Peterson handed the game to the Saints.  Terrible

2. That hit on Favre below the knees should have been roughing the passer

3. Nice to see a kicker finally hit one when it counts

4. Congratulations to the Jets on a great season – but they are still one or two pieces away from being a force next year

5. Have to feel good for the city of NO after everything.  The entire country (outside of hard-core Colts fans) are pulling for you.

6. Sean Payton is a really good coach

7. Early prediction: Saints 31 Colts 21

Divisional Round Picks…by my wife and Dan

Lindsey did such a bad job picking the games the last week, she brought in the only person in America who knows less about football than she does to help.

Cardinals at Saints
Lindsey: I don’t really have anything to say about this game. I just feel like the Cardinals aren’t fierce…I mean I know the Saints aren’t fierce, but the Cardinals aren’t like the Bears.
Saints 24 Cardinals 17
Dan: The Saints have to win because they’re above the Pope and the Cardinals are not and, clearly, that’s how you pick the winner of a game.
Saints 25 Cardinals 19

Ravens at Colts
From Dan “Lindsey, pick the Ravens…That’s so Raven.” Lindsey responded “I don’t think Manning should win, because he gets so much money from ads.” Dan responds “But if he doesn’t win, he won’t have any ads.” Lindsey finishes the conversation off by yelling “He’s a whore!”
Lindsey: Ravens 37 Colts 28
Dan: Ravens 36 Colts 14…F%$^%$&^#$%$#%#$%^^&%$#%$#% the Colts and the horse they rode in on. (Thank you Lindsey for noting that that would be difficult)

Cowboys at Vikings
Lindsey: VIKINGS!!!!!! And Lindsey just sung the Cowboy’s suck song!
Vikings 150 Cowboys -45
Dan: I’m going to say the Vikings because the Cowboys will be off on a mountain together
Vikings 14 Cowboys 0…even though the Cowboys won’t show up, the Vikings aren’t good enough to score more than 14 points

Jets at Chargers
Lindsey: Umm…I think it is going to be…long pause…the Chargers. I like their logo and I’m from South Jersey I can’t root for the Jets, but I can go down to the crick (creek) with my crowns (crayons).
Chargers 28 Jets 21
Dan: F$%%$^&%$ the Jets. I’m going to go with the Chargers.
Chargers 34 Jets 24 I have no joke because the Jets losing is funny enough.

Lindsey’s stats
Regular Season: Lots of sleeping
Last week: 0-4

Link for 1/13 – Only one piece missing…

It is clear what Scott Pioli’s recipe for success will be as the GM of the KC Chiefs…bring in as many former Patriot players/coaches as possible.  Last week, he locked up Charlie Weis to be the Offensive Coordinator and, now, he has gotten the other architect of Patriot success at the start of the decade, Romeo Crennel, to run the defense.  This is all on the heels of him getting Cassel and Vrabel at the start of last season and, more recently, Matt Gutierrez.  I think I join all Patriots fans in hoping that Pioli doesn’t throw the bank at Belichick and Brady in the coming years!

Link for 12-29 – AFC East Champions

Despite one of the most rollercoaster seasons the Pats have had in a long time, the drubbing of the Jags yesterday meant that we are, once again, AFC East Champions.  This has been a challenging few months for the Patriots but they really seem to be rounding into form now, when it matters most.  Brady is playing better, the D is thriving under the new and simplified schemes, the O Line is playing really well and Faulk, Taylor, Morris and Maroney have given the Patriots a respectable running game.  To be sure questions remain: Who is the third receiver? Can Maroney get those tough yards at the goal line without fumbling? How will the young defense hold up in the playoffs?  Answers to these questions will go a long way towards determining if the Patriots have a real chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy again this year.  What we do know about the team is that they are hungry and they have heart.  The enthusiasm I saw on the field last Sunday will certainly help them going forward.  That, combined with the best coach in the NFL, makes them a scary team in the playoffs – even if they may not be the most talented on paper.  Should be fun to watch!

Now, if you are a fan of any of the teams on the bubble, ESPN has a great rundown of exactly what you need to have happen to make it to the playoffs.  Good luck sorting it all out!  So who will the final 2 in the AFC be?  For my money, I think Denver and Baltimore will be those lucky teams to sneak in.  But we shall see.

Link for 11/30 – This annoys me

Shame on those Steelers players (reportedly 50%) and others around the NFL, who are questioning the toughness of Ben Roethlisberger because he sat out the football game last night against the Baltimore Ravens after suffering a concussion in overtime the previous week.   I am as big a football as the next guy, but in no way shape or form is one game worth a player’s life.  Putting your life on the line for a football game is not a measure of toughness.  This is not like playing with a sprained ankle or a broken finger.  This is a HEAD injury and you don’t mess around with those.  I applaud Coach Tomlin and Roethlisberger for making the right choice, even if it was the hard one, to put a player’s health above the game. 

When a popular player, such as Hines Ward, insinuates that players are questioning the QB’s toughness because he didn’t lie to his doctors and followed their advice it sends a really bad message to all those young kids who dream of being a pro someday.  Kudos to the NFL for beginning to recognize the dangers of head injuries and put policies in place to protect their players.  Here’s hoping Ward and friends learn someday that you aren’t tough if you lie to doctors; that sometimes what makes you tough is making the hard choice.

Link(s) for 11/17/09 – Sports AND politics

Today I give you a few links for a few different worlds.  I’ll try to keep my commentary to a minimum and just let you enjoy the link.  However, I do want to point out that I am very close to 100 comments – I think what I will do is give a little prize to the 100th person to post a comment on my blog…and it could be you 🙂 I think I’ve given you a wide enough range of subjects so everyone has something to say. 

If you read back a couple of entries, you will see that I said that I understood the rationale of the choice Belichick made to go for it on 4th and 2.  Now, statistics and percentages have proven me right!   (Sorry Tony Dungy)   This article does make the REALLY good point that, if you were planning to go for it on 4th down, running it on third down would have made more sense.

According to ABC news, the Congressional Budget Office is about to release their findings on the long-term costs associated with the health care bill and, according to sources, it will be good news for the majority party and the president.  We’ll have to wait and see for specifics but this may help some moderate senators get on board if they see it might actually reduce the deficit in the long-run.  Of course, the really interesting question becomes if those opposed to the bill will ignore the CBO findings and make up their own numbers about the impact of the bill on the economy.  Can’t wait!

Yeah right.

Oh, Senator Sessions.  Why must you go back on your word?    Senator Sessions is reportedly considering a filibuster of Judge David Hamilton, an Obama nominee to the 7th circuit court of appeals.  However, back in 2003, Sessions (who was denied a floor vote in 1985 for a nomination to be a Federal Judge) said ““Of the many reasons why we shouldn’t have a filibuster, an important one is the Article I of the Constitution. It says the Senate shall advise and consent on treaties by a two-thirds vote, and simply “shall advise and consent” on nominations.”  But now, with a Democrat in the White House, he has changed his mind.  This continues the long-standing practice of the majority party deriding the minority trying to block the business of the senate and impose their will, only to change their mind when they lose the majority.   It’s like not stopping for a pedestrian when you are driving, but then calling the police when a driver doesn’t let you cross at the EXACT same intersection.  It is so transparent and is one of the many reasons people don’t trust their congress is actually working for them.   Just look at this quote from another article addressing this important issue “Two dozen conservatives led by former Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese have signed a letter calling on senators to invoke the justification of “extraordinary circumstances” to block Hamilton’s nomination…Nine of the individuals who signed the memo also signed the 2005 letter to GOP leaders calling for them to abolish the filibuster of judicial nominees…”  The explanation for the about-face might go something like this ‘See, uh, the thing is, uh, well Sarah Palin told us, no, I mean I got a letter from Bill Belichick telling me to always go for it.  Yeah, see the economy is in trouble and, well, I don’t want to be dramatic, but we have to filibuster sometime, otherwise how am I going to get in the news and then campaign that the majority doesn’t do anything….also what if Barack Hussain Obama nominated his cousin Osama?  What then.’

Because I want another sports link and this list is priceless! (fair warning, a few are a bit creepy)

Candidate Tuesday coming later today on Joe Kennedy…No, no, no.  Not that one.  The other one.

Link for 10/26/09 – Celebrity NFL Owners

This interview with Jon Bon Jovi has both good and bad.  The bad: He is a rooting for the Yankees.  The good: He is committed to bringing back the Arena Football League and doesn’t like the idea of celebrities having small stakes in NFL teams.  Check it out.

A Fan in Search of a Team

So there are a lot of  blogs out there.  Some are stupid.  Some are funny.  But some, and only a few, are absolutely brilliant.  This is one of those.  Long story short, this guy, Jason Spires, is a huge sports fan, but doesn’t have an NFL team (a crime if you ask me)  In an effort to remedy that sad situation, he has written a letter to all 32 NFL teams asking them to state their case on why he should root for them.  So far the Lions (congrats on their win btw), the Bills and the Titans are the only teams to respond. 

As a service to this poor lost soul, I would like to state the case for the New England Patriots.  To me there are three key reasons for the supporting the Patriots.

1. Present: It is well-accepted that the label “team of the decade” will either go to the Patriots or the Steelers.   Even if Pitt. does claim that mantle (though after losing to the Bengals, I like our chances) there is nothing like supporting a team you know will be competitive every year.  That drive to win starts at the top with our owner, Robert Kraft.  Mr. Kraft comes from the Rooney school of ownership.  He wants to win.  He needs to win.  He will stop at nothing to win.  He knew Belichick was his guy and was willing to give up draft picks to get him.  That commitment to winning means that, regardless of whether we are the team of this decade, we will be in the running for team of the next decade and the next decade and so on.

2. Future: The Patriots, perhaps better than any other team, don’t just play the current year.  They are always thinking about how they can be better in coming years.  All one has to do is look at the Richard Seymour trade to understand that.  The Pats Brass made the determination that they were unlikely to be able to resign him (because, when they grade players, they NEVER operate on emotion) and that the drop-off between him and Jarvis Green and Myron Prior was worth a first round pick (from the woeful Oakland Raiders).  But they didn’t stop there.  Aware of the contract negotiations and that there would likely be a rookie payscale in place by 2011 (but not by 2010) they took the 2011 first-rounder.  How many teams would have that foresight and patience?  Also, they are brilliant with moving around draft picks and still getting the player they want. 

3. Veterans: Two points here.  First, the Pats are a smart team and smart teams are fun to watch.  Watching players like Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Tom Brady or Rodney Harrison who may not have been the most talented players work their butts off and win because they were always the most prepared and smartest is so much fun.  Also, something about the Pats culture allows vets in the “twilight” of their careers (Seau, Taylor) play like they are young men again and “problem players” (Moss, Dillon) be good citizens and huge contributors.  Also, they also have a scheme such that they can replace players who leave and barely miss a beat.  They went 11-5 with Matt Cassel who looks very human this year for heaven’s sake! 

4. Fan Base: Boston fans are passionate, knowledgeable, loyal and friendly (at least to each other)  Not to mention that, no matter what city you are in, you will find Patriots fans.  And, as I’m sure you know, there is nothing that compares to going to an away game with tons of like-minded fans.  Going to the Pats final regular season game in NY against the Giants in 2007 was easily one of the most fun sports experiences of my life. 

Well, there you go.  I can’t give you any Pats merch, but hopefully I have helped you make up your mind…Good Luck!