Monday, February 04, 2008

Lamenting The Super Loss


is bummin'

My name is Bobby. My favorite NFL teams are the Patriots and Bears. Equally. (Yes, I know I'm stupid and dumb. I can't change it. I've tried. I'm sorry.)

My favorite college football team is the Michigan Wolverines.

In a year that began with the Appalachian State upset, how fitting was the Giants toppling the Pats? Pretty fitting, I guess.

I remember when the Bears and Pats both lost in the divisional playoffs two years ago. I remember writing in 2006: "Pats and Bears lost their respective playoff games this past weekend. So that was pretty depressing. Hopefully that's the last time in my life where my two favorite NFL teams are eliminated from the playoffs about 22 hours apart from each other."

You know what's worse than the Bears and Pats both losing in divisional playoff weekend? The Bears and Pats losing back-to-back Super Bowls! Way worse. ARGH.

The worst part is, I don't even mind the Giants. I'm not laughing now, but I know Eli Manning is funny. I know he deserves it. I know Strahan deserves it. I know Coughlin deserves it. I know Barber didn't deserve it. I know the game-deciding play was a fade route (my absolute favorite of all routes). I know the Pats already attained three rings in the last decade, and that alone should give me little to complain about. Am I not grateful? No, I really don't think that's it.

That's the difference between being a Michigan/Pats/Bears/Bulls/White Sox fan, and being a fan of the Atlanta Hawks, or any team based in Philadelphia or Cleveland. Being able to feel the pinnacle of a sport, knowing how great a championship truly does feel -- it just makes it that much worse when it doesn't end up happening.

It's like the Chicago Bulls this year. They suck. They piss me off. And I've pretty much given up on them. But in the end, it's pretty much disappointment combined with reservation. It's horrible, don't get me wrong, but it's nothing compared to aggressively following the 18-0 -- oops, 18-1 -- Patriots and their stumble on the big stage.

With a season that began with the biggest upset in college football history (even though point spreads don't agree), I imagine it's fitting to finish with the biggest upset in NFL history (even though point spreads don't agree).

I'll be the first to say it: if I wasn't a Patriots fan, I'd probably be rooting for the Giants. But I am. And I wasn't.

The only solace I take is knowing that this loss brings Pats fans -- the insufferable ones -- down a notch. The rest of the NFL teams' fans will have this against us for pretty much ever (just like cough cough Appalachian State cough cough). No more full-on smugness. If the Pats pinball the scoreboards next year, we'll know why. But I don't think that's going to happen again.

The solace I won't take is knowing how happy Mercury Morris is right now. I hate him.

As I made my somber walk home through Iowa City from the Super Bowl party I'd attended, trudging through about 8 inches of snow and twenty degree weather for about 40 minutes, I began to feel like Jack Nicholson during the last five minutes of The Shining...

Just depleted, and about ready to give up.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Myths About Super Bowl XLII


BobbyStompy talks pigskin, cold weather, stupid commercials.
If I have any math skills at all, I think we're less than 48 hours away from the Super Bowl, right?

It's so difficult to try and get a word out regarding the game without feeling like a broken record, so I figured I'd use this space to debunk a few myths about the big game.

Week 17 gave us a good indication of how these two teams match-up...Well, not really. For maybe the first week of Super Bowl hype, I really started to buy into this claim. But thinking more into it, I realized it's not totally true. You look at the box score, see a three point Pats victory, and think, "wow, these teams match up really well."


The Giants needed a late touchdown just to make it look respectable, and this was after blowing a double-digit second half lead. On top of this, one of the G-Men touchdowns was from a kickoff return. It was the only Giants kickoff return touchdown this season (including playoffs). It was also the only time the Patriots gave up a kickoff return touchdown this season (including playoffs). Just seems pretty flukey, you know?

There's at least a small chance Tom Brady might be hurt...Listen closely: Tom Brady is not hurt. Other than his record breaking right shoulder, which has been a mainstay on the injury report for years, the Golden Boy should be ready to go. Even as a Patriots fan, with absolutely everything invested into this game, I have no concern about the health of QB1.

It's actually pretty cold in Arizona...Really? Let's review my 'Winter sucks in the Midwest' checklist:
Is it snowing? Nopes.
Below zero? Please.
Below 32 degrees? Hah.
Are cars covered in weird salt-dirt? Don't think so.
Can you stand outside and be relatively comfortable? Seen plenty of people pull it off.

You're in Glendale for America's biggest sporting spectacle. Stop bitching.

The New York Giants will hoist the Lombardi Trophy...Did I miss something? Are the Patriots not 18-0? Did they not set a gazillion offensive records? I really don't get sports, sometimes. I feel like I've seen more Giants upset picks than I saw Patriots upset picks back when they played the Rams in '02. There were less people taking the Rockies in the World Series. Jesus, did the Rockies really play in the World Series? Man.

The Eagles game was close, yes. The Ravens practically beat them, I know. But this is the playoffs. It means ultra-preparation. Every little detail scrutinized, analyzed, and processed. This isn't the five-day layoff both teams had last time. Two full weeks to scheme, design, and come up with a plan. Against Eli Manning.

Bottom line: the Patriots are not invincible, and it's sports, so anything could happen. And yes, that includes a Giants win. But, to paraphrase Aaron Schatz from the Bill Simmons Super Bowl Podcast, picking the Giants is saying you think they have a greater than 50% chance to win.

I just don't think that's possible to say.

Other items of note:
  • There's some dumb local commercial here in Iowa City where a car dealership is advertising some Super Bowl related sale, but since the game is trademarked, the commercial says, "Come down for our Super (BLEEP) sale!" Seriously. The bleep is really loud, too. And they do it three or four times. One of the stupidest, tackiest things I've ever seen in advertising.
  • Pau Gasol to the Lakers. Aargh. Luckily for Bulls fans, firearm purchases have waiting periods.
  • Props to the immortal Johan $antana for finally cashing in, leaving the AL Central, and setting himself up for what could be a monster year. The only thing left to do is the obligatory lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills ritual.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pipe Down, LDT


bitches about the Chargers, everyone else wonders why he doesn't just appreciate the Patriots' Super Bowl birth

A lot of people hate the New England Patriots. I get that. A lot of people seem to hate the San Diego Chargers, too. I get that. But what I fail to understand is how LaDainian Tomlinson -- or as I like to call him, "No Gain" LaDain -- gets a pass from most Charger haters. You usually here stuff like, "yeah Rivers and Merriman are so cocky, but LT is a class act." Are you kidding me?

Listen, I know the Patriots have their fair share of bastards (Rodney Harrison comes to mind), and I also feel very unqualified to assess Chargers center Nick Hardwick's venomous statements about Patriot DT Richard Seymour, who I always thought was a nice guy. Hey, I'm not in the trenches, I have no idea what goes on. It's pretty hard to say. But while I don't see everything that goes on between defensive and offensive linemen, it was pretty hard to miss what was happening on the San Diego sideline this past Sunday.

After re-injuring himself early on in the AFC Championship, LDT presumably pouted on the bench for pretty much the entire game. I say presumably because you can't see a damn thing behind that visor of his. For all we know, he paid a body double to sit out in the cold while he watched the game in a locker room hot tub.

This post at the Jack Bauer of SEO sums up my sentiment perfectly (via Deadspin):
And my biggest problem is with LT. He just sat on the bench all day feeling sorry for himself. Hey, aren't you supposed to be a leader on that team? Get your butt up and cheer your teammates on, offer advice and help to Turner and Sproiles. Do something! I watched Sam Madison last week in street clothes offer everything he could to his teammates but LT sits on the bench behind his visor and says nothing and does nothing. Just sits and watch. I guess he was just feeling sorry for himself because he couldn't play.
What's worse is his comments after the AFC divisional playoff loss last year. He says a few Patriots dancing on the Chargers logo is a reflection of the classlessness of Bill Belichick? Please. Belichick might not be a saint, but he can't control how his players celebrate. The whole thing came off as sour grapes to me.

My favorite part of his post-game from last year was when, in an incredibly serious tone, he said:

When you go to the middle of our field, when you start doing the dance that Shawne Merriman is known for, that's disrespectful to me

Oh, really, LaDain? Was it disrespectful to you when Antonio Cromartie picked off a Tom Brady pass in the end zone and mocked the celebration that Randy Moss is known for? Or did you not see that play because you were sulking on the bench? Give me a break.

When Cromartie mocked Moss, I thought it was funny, even as a Pats fan. Though I'm still a little confused why no one -- mainstream or blogs -- has touched on Cromartie punking Randy. But whatever. It kind of reminded me of when TO danced like Ray Lewis as a touchdown celebration a few years ago. If, as a professional athlete, you have the audacity to create a celebration or dance that is specifically yours, you have to be ready for someone to mock it at some point. It's the way of the world.

Hopefully, NFL player ever does the "Hand On Head Ball Flip" (pictured above) that LDT is known for. After all, there would be hell to pay.

Bottom line: I'm not saying LDT is a bad guy, I'm just saying he's equally insane as the rest of his crazy ass team.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nothin' But BS


After going an unprecedented 0-4 with his spread picks last week, BobbyStompy -- a glutton for punishment -- is back for league championship week
Alright, a few things about me have changed since last week's apocalypse:
1) Rejoined the sports staff at The Daily Iowan, which ups my title from "fake journalist" to the slightly more prestigious "pseudo journalist"
2) Departed from my winter break used CD store job, which ups my job description from "works with drug dealers" to "blogs with lunatics"
3) Defended potential woman beaters
4) Saw "No Country For Old Men", "There Will Be Blood", and "Cloverfield" in a four-day span, and if I've learned anything from these movies, it's that bad things always happen always

Let's pick 'em -- I've gotta get my head above water...

Chargers (+14) over PATRIOTS

Quick side note: I always thought everybody hated the Patriots except me and all the Massholes, but today's poll on was really shocking:

If you aren't a natural Patriots fan, what is the result you are rooting for?

Pats lose in AFC C.G. (27%)
Pats lose in SB XLII (27%)
Pats win SB XLII, go 19-0 (44%)

Votes so far: 616
The majority? Really? Maybe I read too many Deadspin commenters.

After New England beat the Bills by 46 in Week 11, its only covered the spread once (Week 14 against the Steelers) since then.

I look at this game and get a Pats-taking-an-early-lead vibe, followed by spirited attempts by San Diego to get itself back into the game. What I'm saying is, if the Patriots are up by something nice like 17 in the fourth quarter, the defense isn't going to have to pull out all the stops while Rivers or Volek is running a no-huddle two minute drill against a prevent. And remember, screw job covers count just as much as legit covers.

PACKERS (-7) over Giants

This line feels too low.

Don't get me wrong, I like this Giants team, I like that they're sticking it to Tiki Barber, I like that Eli is slowly morphing into the unlikely hero, I like the heart that cornerback Aaron Ross played with when his shoulder quit on him, and I loved their game plan against the Cowboys last week.

But a new week brings new challenges, and its very easy to see the Packers not only winning, but totally steamrolling New York in the process. That cold Wisconsin night is going to be brutal.

* * *

Oh, and for all of you who hate me and my Patriots, I hope it brings you some solace to know that the Daily Iowan sports section meeting is at 2PM Sunday, which all but exactly coincides with Pats-Bolts kick-off.

Oh, oh, and a respectful "He Gone" to the late chess champion Bobby Fischer. I imagine if a TUP post was written about him, it would say something like "Life checkmates Bobby Fischer". It's too bad we're not in the business of chess player obits.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

And The House Wins


The Art of the Oh Fer

BobbyStompy goes 0-4 against the spread in an abysmal -- yet oddly comedic -- weekend of NFL picks

First and foremost, sorry to all those that believed in me. I really, really screwed you over. After not picking any NFL games all year, I thought I'd do a nice thing for the TUP community and write a guest post, and, well, you know what ensued: it blew up in my face.
So, what exactly went wrong? Let's take a look, game by game.

The Game: Seahawks at Packers
The Pick: Seahawks (+7.5)
The Result: Fail
Level of Failure: A half disappointed shoulder shrug

To be fair, the team I thought would win this game was the eventual winner; it just so happened they won a lot more convincingly than I could have predicted.

The Twist: All of that damn snow in Green Bay ironically created a hellish atmosphere for the visiting Seattle Seahawks.

The Funny: Brett Favre's unarguably* homo-erotic snowball antics.

The X-Factor: On the Green Bay side, it had to be Ryan Grant, who literally destroyed the Seattle defense by breaking the two hundred yard mark and finding his way into the end zone three times.

For the Seahawks, it was probably Shaun Alexander, whose fat antics (fattics) gave Seattle no chance to compete. His 2.2 yards per carry cemented another disappointing season for a player who just hasn't been the same since guard Steve Hutchinson (of the University of Michigan) left via free agency.

* - all Packer fans have argued this claim

The Game: Jaguars at Patriots
The Pick: Patriots (-13)
The Result: Fail
Level of Failure: 1% cared, 99% celebrated advancement to AFC Championship

Again, another game where the team I thought would win actually won. Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly high spread caught up with the Patriots.

The Twist: Gostowski's unexpected second quarter field goal miss was the eventual difference maker in crushing New England's chance to cover the spread.

The Funny: Jacksonville's Reggie Nelson's inexplicable but subtle call-out of Tom Brady's monster game:

"It was a dump-down game," Jaguars rookie safety Reggie Nelson sniffed. "Anybody can go 26-of-28 in a dump-down game."
Was he serious? More importantly, do I care? I'm going to go with 'probably' and 'no'.

The X-Factor: Laurence Maroney. Lo-Mo, Kool Aid, whatever you want to call him. His 122 yards and 1 touchdown kept the ball on the ground and the clock moving. Had he been ineffective, perhaps the Pats could have leaned more on the pass en route to putting more points on the board. Talk about a blessing and a curse.

The Game: Chargers at Colts
The Pick: Colts (-7.5)
The Result: Fail
Level of Failure: Catastrophic

Just an unreal game that few saw coming. You're telling me that San Diego is losing their starting quarterback and running back and its still going to beat Indy on the road? I scoff at that notion. Just like I scoffed at the spread.

Now everybody scoffs at me.

Going into this game, I had a lot of questions. They got answered...

Who is Rivers throwing to? Uhhh... Vincent Jackson (7 catches, 93 yards, 1 touchdown), apparently. Chris Chambers got in on that action, too.

Is Tomlinson breaking 100 yards against a rested Colts D? Uhmmm.... I was right about that, but who cares when you've got Michael "The Burner" Turner backing you up? He had 71 yards on the ground in one of the biggest performances of his career. And all this while the former league MVP stood watching on the sidelines.

Will Manning rebound from one of the worst performances of his career? Zuhhhh... Yeah, he did, but it didn't really matter. None of the blame for this loss should fall on his shoulders. P-Mann threw for 402 yards and three touchdowns, and although critics will point to his two interceptions, both were chest passed to the DBs from his wide receivers. The bottom line is Manning is one of the most prepared players the league has ever seen, but today, the whole "it's a team game" philosophy was as evident as ever.

Is Vinatieri gonna choke in playoffs -- in a dome? Wuh.... Nope, not at all. He hit a season high field goal (47 yards) in the first half and split the uprights on all of his extra point attempts. But, like a smaller version of Manning, his play was not what derailed the Colts.

So, even though my projections that pointed to a Colts victory were -- for the most part -- accurate, they were inconsequential in the big picture. Maybe I was just asking the wrong questions.

The Twist: The injury bug was out in full force, limiting the playing time of assumed superstars LaDainian Tomlinson, Marvin Harrison, and Phillip Rivers.

The Funny: For the Chargers, it was backup QB Billy Volek going three of four and becoming the unlikely playoff hero after his game-winning QB sneak on the goal line.

For the Colts, Marvin Harrison's early fumble comes to mind. I would say Harrison has been notoriously bad in the playoffs, but the problem with that statement is the 'notorious' part. Nobody seems to realize that the guy absolutely disappears in playoff games, and because he's such a sweetheart, the mainstream media never seems to touch on it. I applaud Harrison for doing his best to come in today, but his fumble just destroyed the Colts momentum in the first half. The post-season mediocrity continues for the mustached one.

The X-Factor: The aforementioned Michael Turner simultaneously kept the clock and chains moving. His efforts eased the pressure that would have burdened Billy Volek. Forcing the rusty second stringer to make plays through the air would have been the downfall of the San Diego Super Chargers.

The Game: Giants at Cowboys
The Pick: Cowboys (-7.5)
The Result: Fail
Level of Failure: Pretty High

Great game from top to bottom. Killer penalties, heroes, goats, a rabid Texas crowd. I found myself rooting for both teams so many times throughout the course of this heated bout.

The Twist: Eli Manning's second straight playoff road win propels the Giants to an unlikely upset over the Cowboys! Eli's headed to the NFC title game while brother Peyton sits on the couch next week. Un-real.

The Funny: The AP game recap lead...

Tony Romo can go wherever he wants with Jessica Simpson now.

Poor Romo's playoff woes continue. This media firestorm around Simpson in Dallas has got to cool off, but it won't. While Simpson wasn't at the game, she did spend time with Romo during the idle wildcard week. Will crazy Texans turn this into a scapegoat? Of course. Just don't tell Matt Olsen about it.

The X-Factor: Amani Toomer (of the University of Michigan) got the ball rolling for the Giants with a 52-yard touchdown catch. He finished with four receptions, 80 yards, and two touchdowns. No. 1 wide out Plaxico Burress had one catch for five yards.

* * *

So, we had two underdogs win outright while a third underdog was able to cover. Green Bay was the only favorite to actually win. These picks have brought me shame, dishonor, and misery, and my spread cred got thrown out the window like bathwater. What a travesty.

See you next week.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Well, Someone Should Make NFL Picks, Right?


With Rickhouse off in La La Land with real people, real comments, and real ideas, I thought I'd hold the fort down this weekend with some NFL picks.
The Lock
PATRIOTS (-13) over Jaguars

Before I knew what the actual line for this game was, I set my personal line at 14. Even with a line that high, I feel no reservations about picking the Patriots in this game. They're rested, they're at home, they're undefeated, and everyone and their mother seems to be looking for any type of convoluted reason to defend the Jags as winners in this game. To me, the whole thing comes off as desperate.

The "I Scoff At Your Line" Pick
COLTS (-8) over Chargers

This game is way too easy. A few questions:

Who is Rivers throwing to? Uhhh...
Is Tomlinson breaking 100 yards against a rested Colts D? Uhmmm....
Will Manning rebound from one of the worst performances of his career? Zuhhhh...
Is Vinatieri gonna choke in playoffs -- in a dome? Wuh....

No, you're not constipated; you're trying to talk yourself into picking the Chargers.

The Funny
Seahawks (+7.5) over Packers

Is it possible that Matt Hasselbeck could be one of the coolest QBs of our know, if he wasn't bald? I'm not trying to take cheap shots, but that "we want the ball, and we're gonna score!" has held up quite nicely since its inception a few years ago. The Pack should take this game, but the Seahawks will keep it close.

The Mystery
COWBOYS (-7.5) over GIANTS

Everyone's "on the fence" game. I say Owens plays, Romo shines, and the 'Boys win in a shoot out.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wowza, I'm Back

Hey, all,

After a ridiculously long hiatus, I'd like to start getting back into the grind of posting irregularly in this space. My goal is to mostly cover Chicago-stuff, along with Wazzu's killer men's basketball team this year. All this while blatantly ignoring the Chicago Bulls' horribly disappointing season, and keeping hope that the Blackhawks can keep their heads above water in the NHL Western Conference playoff race.

I'll probably post on the TUP site, but re-post here for the BobbyStompy regular readers (...mostly Tony Ochs).

More to come...