Winter Of Discontent

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Wait, another post about football?!? Well, it’s nearly Super Bowl time, so indulge me.

The 88th NFL season comes to a climax on Sunday night when New England’s Patriots and Philadelphia’s Eagles square off at the 52nd Super Bowl in Minneapolis. It has been one of the more tumultuous seasons in league history, with the kneeling controversy hitting full stride early in the season, and the league’s refusal to enforce their own directives regarding the national anthem playing out as it did.

For now, water under the bridge.

I get a lot of people who ask me what my prediction is for the Super Bowl. This year it’s kind of complicated, so let me explain:

If you’re looking for me to pick a winner, I’d pick New England. As of this writing on Tuesday, the Patriots are -200 on the “money line” in Las Vegas. If you bet $200 on the Patriots to win, you’d get $100 back on top of the $200 wagered if they win.

The point spread on the game has the Patriots currently 4.5 point favorites, with the half-point there to prevent ties if the margin of the game hits that number exactly. (That’s happened before, most famously when the Steelers beat the Cowboys 35-31 in Super Bowl XIII in 1979, the point spread was four points. The game was a “push” and everyone who had that line got their money back.) If I were a Vegas bettor, I’d take the Eagles getting 4.5, because in the eight Super Bowls the Pats have played in during the past two decades, they’ve never won or lost by more than six points.

The over/under for the game (the total number of points scored by both teams) is at 48 as I type this. I’d take the under on that. There are also a menagerie of “prop bets” out in Las Vegas out there, plus some casinos now offer in-game wagering with a point spread that moves during the course of the game, but I’ll leave you to do your homework if you’re curious about that.

Would I mind if the Eagles won? Absolutely not. They’ve been close a few times since winning their last NFL title in 1960, and the Patriots have won five of these things in the past two decades – sure, let the Philly fans have one. Wouldn’t mind that at all.

As a fan, I’m hoping for a good game. I finally got my wish of seeing the first Super Bowl game to go to overtime last year, so I don’t know how that can be topped.

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Everything Old Is New Again

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XFL and WWE owner Vincent K. McMahon.

As some of you football fans have no doubt heard by now, the XFL, which lasted one season back in the spring of 2001, is being relaunched in 2020. Much like its 2001 counterpart, eight teams will play ten games in the regular season, and up to two postseason games in a four-team playoff.

I can’t be the only person out there who at least appreciated the XFL and the contributions it eventually made to pro football in the years that proceeded it, can I? I thought the league had potential (though it did have a lot of unnecessary gimmicks borrowed from wrestling), and had it kept going for at least another season, it might have not been the “flop” most remember it being.

At the press conference this week, WWE and XFL head honcho Vince McMahon said he was looking for ideas from fans as to how to make the 2020 version of the XFL as good as an experience as possible. Well Mr. McMahon, I have a few ideas, if you’d indulge me:

  • I always thought the NFL got it ass backwards moving a kicked PAT back to the 15 yard line, making teams faking a kicked extra point and going for two on a trick PAT a thing of the past. How about narrowing the goal posts for PAT’s and field goals a bit, maybe down to 15 feet wide as opposed to 18?
  • In the 2001 XFL, I liked the rule where a punt became a “free ball” for either team to take possession of once the punt traveled 25 yards. Brought back the lost art of a “quick kick” if the offense faced a 3rd and long, and directional punting. Hope that returns in 2020.
  • Lastly, another thing the NFL got wrong was the induction of each team getting a possession in overtime, unless the first team who got the ball scored a touchdown. I’d love to see the rule the UFL had in 2011 be instituted where each team was guaranteed one possession. Perhaps add the wrinkle of allowing each team just one possession of the ball, but from anywhere on the field and not a set location (i.e. 25 yards from the goal line), unlike what the NCAA has as an overtime system. (Kind of a blend between the NFL and NCAA overtime rules.) If neither team scores or scores a duplicate number of points in a regular season game, call it a tie. In the postseason, keep playing. I’d think it would make for some interesting strategies. If you’re the first team with the ball on your own side of the field on a fourth down, do you punt and play for a tie, or do you go for it and give the other team the chance at good field position?

Anyway, those are my ideas. I hope Alpha Entertainment and Vinnie hear them at least.

Frivolous Questions

Today, I thought I’d share some things that aren’t the most pertinent things on my mind, but come to mind every once in a while. Like:

  • Why do we call a cold a cold when the effects of getting one occur from your body temperature getting warmer?
  • In football, why is the scoring play called a safety called as such? It’s confusing. Why not call it a Deuce, a Reverse Touchdown, something like that.
  • Speaking of sports, why is it in tennis the first point in a game is 15, the second point is 30, but the third point is 40, and not 45?
  • If a news story is a couple of days old, is it still breaking news?
  • Why is it you can get AAA, AA, and A, C, and D batteries, but there isn’t a size “B” battery?
  • Why is it in heterosexual pornography, there are dozens of starlets, but very few male actors?
  • In that vein, why is it if man gives a woman oral sex, the common vernacular includes the word “eating” when you’re actually sucking, just like when a woman gives a man oral sex?
  • If a man has sex with a ten, wouldn’t that be the same as having sex with two fives?
  • Why is it the District of Columbia gets three electoral votes in the Presidential Elections, but doesn’t have a Congressman nor two Senators?
  • Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  • If Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day, doesn’t that make Christmas technically New Year’s, since that’s technically the beginning of how most of record time?
  • Also, was there a year “0” or did we go from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D.?
  • How did we go from “being gay” meaning you were happy to meaning you’re homosexual?
  • If you get a call that says “Invalid Number” on the caller ID, doesn’t that defeat its own purpose?
  • Do they eat turkey in the nation of Turkey?
  • When will the state of Confusion be recognized as a US state? We all seem to go there on occasion.

That’s all I could think of for now, but I’ll give this a bit more thought…

How To End The Shutdown

I’m typing this at about noon on Sunday, so there’s a decent chance by the time you see this posted Monday morning, this financial government shutdown will still be on. If it has been solved by the time you see this post, store this away for the next shutdown, whenever that occurs.

Regardless of how you feel politically, it is unconscionable and irresponsible to not keep the government financially up and running, and to not pay up the running expenditures this country requires to function. No business runs this way, and in any business, workers would be fired for not doing the tasks they agreed to perform.

Our politicians would never agree to this (though a group of people in Congress are not accepting pay voluntarily), but one way to greater ensure “financial shutdowns” don’t occur would be to suspend the pay of those in Congress serving in the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate. Isn’t it odd that our politicians always seem not to have their own skin in the game when it comes to our money?

If a governmental shutdown suspended their pay, wouldn’t we see things resolved with a bit more swiftness? They don’t make as much as professional athletes, but remember that they also healthcare with heavy discounts. Plus, there’s all that fund raising they do, and who knows what creative ways our leaders come up with to find ways to dip their hands into that box of cash?

Most in congress (with the exception of the House speaker and the leaders of the Senate) make $174,000 a year, or $3,346.15 a week. Suspend the pay of all 535 in Congress (435 in the House, 100 in the Senate) and the country saves a little under $1.8 million a week if they received no pay, or at least $93,090,000 a year if it somehow took that long to get a deal done.

Just a thought. A thought our politicians would NEVER agree to. Even in a Trump presidency, they have all the reason in the world to keep the swamp around.

Flashback: “Dreams” by The Cranberries

A wave of sadness hit me on early Monday afternoon when I learned about the passing of Dolores O’Riordan in London. I can’t say it was because I was the biggest Cranberries fan, but because I learned in the past few years that Dolores was born the same exact day I was: September 6, 1971. She was what I call my celebrity birth date doppelganger.

If you don’t think you’ve heard this song before, you probably have. I remember hearing it on commercials promoting travels to Ireland in the mid-1990’s, and the song has made appearances in scores of TV shows and movies since. This particular song peaked just south of the top 40 in 1994, while “Linger” was their biggest hit in the US earlier in the year.

Ireland has lost one of its signature musical voices, but the recordings will endure for a much longer time. Godspeed, Dolores.

Miracles and Mythology in Minneapolis

For six weeks during the NFL season, when all the player kneeling that was going on, I boycotted watching the games. I felt the open disrespect the league’s players had for those who serve was discouraging. But like the whore that goes back to her pimp, even though the whore knows full well she’s being abused and mistreated, I came back.

Sometimes there’s a short-term reward in coming back to people who abuse you. While I don’t know what the short-term rewards are for prostitutes (more money for tricks, I’m guessing, or supplementary recreational drugs of some kind), the NFL has always been good by design at creating moments the pro football world hasn’t seen previously. Last year, it was the masterpiece of a Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl featuring a massive comeback by New England, culminating in the first Super Bowl needing more than 60 minutes of playing time to decide with this little thing we call overtime.

This year, there are two story lines needing conclusion as the Super Bowl tournament is reduced to four. First, will the New England Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl in seventeen years, which would tie Pittsburgh for the most ever won? More importantly, a Patriots championship would give them three such titles in four seasons, and would tie the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s in that department.

If you’re bored with the Patriots, then there’s Minnesota Vikings and their attempt to become the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium. (Oddly enough, since it’s an even numbered Super Bowl, the 52nd, they would be the acting visiting team, with either Jacksonville or New England being the acting host team.) Their win against New Orleans in the quarterfinal round (yes, I know the NFL has these fancy names for each round, but I try to keep things simple, and the round two stages away from a championship is a quarterfinal, so I call it that) was a thing of beauty. It was the first time a playoff game had ended with a walk-off touchdown at the end of regulation in the history of the NFL playoffs, going back to 1934.

Needless to say, I’m rooting for the Vikings and the Patriots. That would ensure a historic outcome either way. Now watch Philly and Jacksonville make it, with my luck.