Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, reportedly, will be removed from a group of potential investors seeking to purchase the NFL’s St. Louis Rams according to ESPN.
Naturally, when it concerns a personality archetype the caliber of Rush Limbaugh, you have a starkly divided community on the issue. Even more predictably is the type of response from each side. Evidence lies in the fact that Rush Limbaugh made the trending topic list on Twitter when the story broke.
As with all systems that aren’t manufactured, for instance casinos, sports is a highly unpredictable arena. But littered with experts from former players to journalists eager to give you their arrogant self-predictions for future seasons.
Every season for every sport, these experts publish their predictions in newspapers, magazines, and television shows(the latter particularly prone to bombastic proclamations of arrogance). The experts put on record every year(and every week) their elevated knowledge in the sports domain. Take a quick look at just how much these so-called professionals really know, and you’ll find that sports is as unpredictable as most everything in life. That guy on ESPN whose studied football for twenty years is probably no better at predicting the final NFL standings then you or me.
Take a look at ESPN’s preseason power ranking for the NFL. The error rate is astounding. Of the 16 bottom ranked teams, 5 of them made the playoffs this season. Two of the supposed three worst teams ended up with records 11-5 records(Atlanta and Miami). The Titans were ranked 16th and ended up with the best record in the league. The Jaguars, Saints, and Seahawks were all ranked in the top ten, but not one ended with a winning record.
Since 1936 when the Washington Redskins were known as the Boston Braves, this franchise was been the predictor for the winner of the Presidential election. Every time the Redskins won their last home game before a Presidential election, the incumbent party retained the White House, while a home lose was a predictor that the incumbent party would lose.
This streak kept up from 1936 till 2004 where the Redskins lost 28-14 to the Packers, but George W. Bush and the Republican party won a second term. But for that one exception, the Washington Redskins seem to know something we don’t. Last night, on Monday Night Football, the Redskins were routed by the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-6, and given the overwhelming historical evidence, can we say that Barack Obama will triumph at the polls today and unseat the incumbent Republican party and John McCain? Sporting a 94.4% accuracy rate in 17 Presidential elections, the Redskins are hard to argue with.
(Note: Correlation is often mistaken for causation due to our tendency to “connect the dots” across history. We need a narrative to understand the random, non-linear nature of our world, and one of the side effects is mistaking correlation for causation – in this case, more specifically, confusing coincidence for prognostication.)
I’ve listened to every Mort Report, the weekly football radio show hosted by ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, this NFL season, and in it he has a football pick ‘em segment featuring former Buffalo Bills General Manager, Tom Donahoe. Nine weeks into the NFL season, Mortenson and Donahoe have never picked a game that involved the Buffalo Bills. Not even in Week 7 when the Bills played the San Diego Chargers which was a featured national game of the week.
Is Tom Donahoe so petty and vindictive that he steadfastly refuses to have to utter the words “the Buffalo Bills” in any public capacity? Why is ESPN allowing it’s viewership to suffer because of one man’s insecurities? I wonder if and when the Buffalo Bills make it into the playoffs this year, will Chris Mortenson sacrifice his journalistic integrity to cater to the whims of a selfish Donahoe and exclude the Bills from the pick ‘em segment? I have a suggestion for Mort – dump Donahoe. His analysis during the pick ‘em segment is so mundane, cliche, and elementary, you’d be better served replacing Donahoe.
Sarah Palin dropped the puck at the Wachovia Center to open the Philadelphia Flyers season. The Flyers have since gone on to have the worst start in franchise history. Sarah Palin traveled to St. Louis last week to drop the puck at a Blues home game. St. Louis goalie Manny Legace tripped on the red carpet Palin walked out on, and had to leave the game with a hip flexor.
It is clear. Sarah Palin hates hockey moms. She has been feeding us endless lies to the American people ever since John McCain introduced her as his VP candidate. You have to wonder where this woman’s scorn and anger will strike next!? All I can do is hope and pray Mrs. Palin doesn’t pay a visit to HSBC Arena to drop the puck for the Buffalo Sabres.
Today began with plenty of bad news for Buffalo as a national sports city. A Wall Street Journal article noted that Buffalo Bills fans are
…some of the worst-behaving fans in all of sports.
Later in the afternoon, a Forbes magazine article pegged the Buffalo Bills as one of the top ten sports franchises likely to move.
I can’t outright refute either of these. Bills games are rowdy. Fans arrive at the stadium 8 hours prior to kickoff and begin their Sunday ritual of getting plastered. By game time, a few thousand drunkards filing into a stadium to watch a violent sport. It’s not unexpected that a few of them are going to be trouble makers. But a few thousand bad fans disregards the other 72,000 well behaved, passionate fans there to cheer on their team. It’s sad that a few bad apples has to spoil the entire batch.
It’s no secret the Bills are in danger of leaving town. A 90 year old owner in Ralph Wilson who has refused to secure the sale of the team prior to his death leaves the franchise likely up to the highest bidder. And since last year with the move of two home games to Toronto, the highest bidder appears to be those folks over at Rogers in Canada with money spilling out of their pockets.
The prospect of the Buffalo Bills leaving town is naturally distressing, but if they ever do move it will be downright devastating to a town that lives with it’s football team. A piece of the city would die with the Bills should they exit stage left. Gone would be the buzz that travels around water coolers and jumps from stranger to stranger every fall. It’s one of the few things that connects the people of the city in a way most sports towns can’t relate too.
Luckily, the Buffalo Sabres saved the local sports day with a convincing win over the New York Rangers 3-1. It’s only three games into the season, but this is a different hockey team from the one that disappointed last year. They display a new found dedication to defensive responsibility. Spurred by the arrival of Craig Rivet, every defensive pair seems energerized to clear out the front of their own net. The forwards are making conscious efforts to stay in their own zone and not making early breakouts. Odd man rushes have been kept to a minimum as opposed to last year when they were an every period ritual.
The Sabres didn’t lack in the scoring department last year. The finished 4th in scoring in the NHL, but they were erratic and irresponsible in the defensive zone. While every player deserves credit, the lion’s share goes to Lindy Ruff who is once again proving that he is a master at adapting to the how the game of hockey is played from year to year. No Sabres fan will forget how Ruff turned a bunch of no-name hockey players and Dominik Hasek into a Stanley Cup finalist by being defensively responsible. I don’t want to leap to conclusions, but this team, with the emerging Thomas Vanek and a cast of capable scorers, this team holds real promise and could creep up on the league just like they did the year after the lockout.
The Buffalo Sabres kick off their 08-09 season tonight against Montreal, and with each new season brings a new sense of hope. That is one of the magical elements fans find within sports. Every year hope springs anew. The anticipation is endless. The possibilities infinite.
More times then not, as a season gets underway and as the games pass, that hope turns into a sobering reality. Like any fan, I have high hopes for the Sabres season. A young team takes the ice taking with them a few new players and a years worth of experience to improve on last season.
Sports, in this respect, if often analogous to life. We find motivation in hope. As fans we cheer until our lungs burn. In life, we dream of a better life. But there is one difference. In life, hope doesn’t promise to renew annually. Nor is it quite so susceptible to the realization that hope is just a dream.
We take the hope for a better life and cling to it. There is no win or loss column to go by. In sports, it’s easy to look at the standing, see your team buried at the bottom, and just look to next year. However, in life we have to fight against giving up because we have no guareentee that hope will revisit us anytime soon. Losing hope, in life, is crushing to the human spirit. It’s can be debilitating. Losing hope, in sports, holds an assurance that it will return to hold the promise of something better.
As a human being clinging to hope for a better life, for something I dream of, the arrival of another Sabres hockey season could not come at a better time. And I think that is one of the ultimate draws of sports. It helps us forget about our dashed hopes and dreams.
The Buffalo Bills came back to earth on Sunday suffering a 41-17 loss at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals. While many a Bills fans half expected a loss, no one imagined the thrashing the team took. And, quite typically, the local radio sports call in shows are littered with “the sky is falling” fans.
I have to wonder how on earth these fans are surviving the current “sky is falling” economic crisis. They should be paralyzed in a corner judging from their reaction to bad news.
If you were an alien being who was visiting Earth for the first time and decided to learn about the National Football league by listening in on local sports radio call in shows and listened to the local Buffalo sports shows today, you would have heard that:
- The Buffalo defense is among the worst in the league.
- Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell is terrible.
- Offensive Coordinator Turk Schonert is terrible.
- JP Losman lost the game.
- The Bills offense was the reason the Bills defense played so poorly.
- The Bills season is crumbling.
What you would not know as an alien visitor is:
- The Buffalo defense ranked 7th in yards against and 5th in points allowed coming into the game.
- Perry Fewel was responsible for turning an injury riddled D last year into a respectable one.
- Turk Schonert helped turn one of the worst in the NFL last year into a capable one this year.
- Have not seen JP Losman play over the last 3 years and knew what to expect.
- The Bills defense gave up 28 first downs and couldn’t stop Arizona on 3rd down.
- The Bills are 4-1 and ontop of the AFC East.
The sky is always falling when our Bills lose. One week they are the toast of the town with dreams of the Super Bowl dancing in our heads, and the next the Apolcalypse is looming over the city. It’s prototypical of Buffalo sports fans. I understand. We live and die with the Bills and the Sabres.
For me personally, it was a game I half expected to lose. I was disappointed from the moment Trent Edwards was knocked out of the game on the third play of the game, and could feel that anticipation for victory turn into resigned defeat. I still cheered the team on until the clock expired.
In a way, this defeat should turn out to be a positive for the team. It’s one of the youngest in the league. A team with so much youth needs to learn that to be an elite team, it takes an extra sort of effort for road games. That they don’t have the kind of talent to walk into an opposing teams turf, give it a half-hearted try, and expect to win. But most importantly, a lose finally takes some of the high expectations and pressure off such an inexperienced team. It’s hard enough to win in the NFL. The weight of a crazed sports town crushing them with expectations can’t be helping.
The folks over at Dukes of Awesome, a Buffalo sports blog, posted the alternate third jerseys for the Buffalo Sabres that didn’t make the cut for the upcoming season. Looking over them, I fell into a rolling fit of laughter and realized I needed a good laugh before the hockey season kicks off. Like any good Buffalo sports fan, every year brings a season of hope buried beneath the expectation for disapointment, and generating a fair share of tension.
(Yes, today was a light day. My brain needed some time away from the bombardment it’s been under digesting the economy and presidential race.)
Buffalo sports fan are lovable losers. We’re perpetual pessimists scorned by a history of failure. Our expectations never fail to account for the worst possible outcome. Every dramatic moment our teams have been a part of invariably end with us being on the short end of the stick. “Wide Right” and “No Goal” are part of our sports lexicon.
So after two straight dramatic come from behind victories, I sat down Sunday to start that football watching ritual with trepidation, fully expecting the worst. And when, after trailing yet again, after three quarters, I was cursing and yelling at the Buffalo Bills as if my deriding comments would somehow spur on another comeback victory.
And once again the Buffalo Bills didn’t fulfill their fans prophecy, mounting another victory earned in the last quarter of play. Not quite as dramatic as the last two, but making a game versus an overmatched opponent wasn’t helping my sports indigestion.
The last three weeks haven’t been the self fulfilling prophecy I’ve become accustomed too – the Bills will make a turn and lead me down the path of disappointment. As much as I want to criticize the play of Jason Peters as not being in Pro Bowl form, I’ve been left with a different feeling three weeks in a row now.
I can’t escape the feeling that I’m watching Trent Edwards mature into an NFL superstar. With only 13 starts under his belt and four comeback wins already, it begs the question – how much better can this kid from Stanford get? The answer my Buffalo sports pessimism wants to give isn’t materializing. Instead, this strange sense of hope and anticipation keeps getting in the way.
Now, it’s on to week 5 with the Bills taking an undefeated record into Arizona to battle the favored Cardinals. I’ll be cheering on my team but this time focusing on everything that could be, and not dangling over a precipice waiting for that twig I’m clinging to to snap. I’ll still have a roll of Rolaids by my side just in case though.