Monday, January 25, 2010

A Storybook Ending

Admit it Packers fans--and Brett Favre haters. With less than 30-seconds left in yesterday's NFC Championship game you had that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. The kind of feeling parents get when there is a knock on the door at 3:00 in the morning and their teenager isn't home with the car yet--or any of us would get when we open the mailbox to find a letter from the IRS stamped "Audit Information Enclosed". You really thought your worst nightmare was about to come true--Brett Favre leading the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl.

It was right there for the Purple and Gold. Yes, they were probably on the outskirts of Ryan Longwell's range for a game winning field goal. But you had seen the classy, former Packer nail long, pressure-packed kicks before--and in the perfect kicking environment of the SuperDome you knew he would probably make it.

Not that Longwell would have been given any of the credit for winning the game. NOOOOOO, Fox, ESPN, CBS--anyone else running highlights of this game would have instead focused on Number Four--the Ol' Gunslinger--who had taken a mighty beating that day--but survived to lead his new team down the field to set up the kick. To make it even more dramatic, The Great One even had to be carried off the field a couple of times--and was shown writhing in agony on the training table (would he be able to continue? Is that Tavaris Jackson warming up on the sidelines?). Deanna couldn't even look.

So there were the Vikes poised to punch their ticket to Miami--but Brad Childress wanted to get just a little bit closer. "The Wizard" got a bit too greedy though--sending 12-men into the huddle and pushing the ball back five more yards. That forced him to actually try to get a bit more yardage than originally thought--and that meant putting the ball into the hands of The Savior--"The Man We Got For This Very Moment".

The play developed just the way "Chilly" probably wanted, his quarterback rolled out--with plenty of blockers in front of him--and an open field that could have allowed for a five to ten yard run. A quick time out and out would trot Longwell to win the game............

But "The Legend" had other ideas. His ticket to Canton wasn't written by running five yards downfield and sliding--his claim to fame is jamming the risky pass into coverage that somehow pays off. So Brett decided to "be Brett" throwing back against his body and his momemtum--firing a perfect a New Orleans defensive back.

The Vi-Queens would never even see the ball in overtime. (Didn't you wish that it had been Brett that had made the "heads" call that lost the coin toss as well?) Losing on a field goal (set up quite honestly by the latest in a never-ending series of questionable pass interference call from officials who seem to have taken over the NFL this season) that sends the ultimate sad-sack franchise to the Super Bowl for the first time ever.

So Old Number Four gives us another storybook ending--an interception costing his team the Super Bowl. Maybe I would like to see him come back to write yet another chapter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

This is Football?

Whatever happened to real football? You know, the football played outside in the cold and the elements with two teams grinding it out on the ground with bruising running backs and hard-hitting defenses?

You won't see much of that on Sunday during the Conference Championship games. Like most of the playoff games this year, both contests will be played in domes--meaning no weather. No iconic videos from NFL films showing the steam created by the breaths of the offensive and defensive linemen in the trenches like you had at the Ice Bowl. No mud-covered running backs turning the corner on the sweep and carefully stepping into the endzone like Paul Hornung against the Browns in the '65 NFL Championship Game. No dramatic 45-yard field goals in the blinding snow like Adam Vinatieri against the Raiders in the "tuck rule" game. Not even players being helped off the field due to exhaustion in the draining heat like Kellen Winslow against the Dolphins in the '82 AFC Divisional Playoffs. Instead, we'll have players running around in the antiseptic atmosphere of the domes--leaving little clouds of black rubber pellets in their wake--on the sportsturf fields.

And don't expect a lot of bruising running in either game. Yes, the Jets try to win with ball control and defense--but they are alone in that strategy this weekend. The Colts had the worst average gain per rush in the league. The Vikings could be a great running team with Adrian Peterson and a good offensive line--but Brett Favre keeps audibling out of running plays to pad his own stats. And the Saints--do they even have a running back? So get ready for plenty of empty-backfield, five-wides, quarterback-out-of-the-shotgun, dinke-and-dunk passing with the ocassional bomb to draw the almost-automatic 40-yard pass interference penalty. Not even John Facenda could make that garbage sound dramatic.

And there is a real nightmare situation brewing this weekend. Imagine what the coverage of the Super Bowl will be like if the New York Jets advance to take on the Minnesota Vikings. The combination of a New York team--with its jingoistic media--and ESPN's love affair with Brett Favre would make the two-week hype of the game absolutely unbearable. I might not even turn on my TV for those two weeks. Of course, Indy-Nawlins wouldn't be a football purist's dream either. All I can say is the folks at Landshark Stadium (Landshark Stadium????) in Miami had better make sure all the lights on the scoreboards work--because they will be using them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Hall of Infamy

Mark McGwire's admission this week that he took steroids during his historic home run binge in the 1990's and early 2000's has rekindled talk of whether any of the guys who admit to cheating deserve to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Some talking heads actually believe that McGwire coming "clean" will help his case. I think it just seals the casket on any faint hope he may have had.

Since McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and A-Rod really did hit all those homers and did drive in all those runs, we can't pretend that it never happened--like some have suggested by "not counting" records set in the Steroid Era. So why not give these tainted stars their seperate-but-equal due? That's why I am proposing the Baseball Hall of Infamy--a place where fans can pay their respects to those who brought attention to the game for all the wrong reasons.

We can build our new Hall in Cooperstown, New York--maybe across the street across town from the current Hall. It should not be on the grounds of the current Hall--so as not to taint the accomplishments of those who played by the rules. Instead of plaques, the Hall of Infamy will feature video and film clips of the inductees denying their cheating--followed by documentation of their cheating--and their eventual admissions that they broke the rules.

And what a wonderful inaugural class we will have: McGwire--who broke Roger Maris's record for homers in a season. Sosa--who gets in not only for steroid abuse to hit many of his 500-plus homers--but also a convicted corked bat user. Bonds--baseball's current all-time and single season home run record holder--who admitted to a grand jury that he may have "unknowingly" taken steroids. There's Pete Rose--baseball's all-time hits leader--who disgraced the game by betting on games he managed for the Reds. We'll also have room for Roger Clemens--whose bloody, post-steriod-shot bandages will be on display--and Raphael Palmeiro--whose finger-shaking denials of steroid use before Congress was followed less than a year later by a positive steroid test.

The old-timers get some love in our Hall of Infamy as well. Shoeless Joe Jackson for helping to throw the 1919 World Series with the Black Sox, Ty Cobb for his race baiting and dirty style of play, Gaylord Perry for admitting to loading up the ball for most of his pitching career and Kennesaw Mountain Landis--baseball's first Commissioner--for establishing the "gentlemen's agreement" that kept blacks out of baseball for decades.

We should also make room for Marvin Miller--who helped form the Major League Baseball Players Association, leading to decades of labor strife in the game--and his protege, Donald Fehr--whose refusal to allow for steroids testing led to the tainted records of the day--and whose refusal to discuss a salary cap led to the game's current inequitable financial situation, which dooms small-market teams to having a chance to win a championship once every other decade. And let's include George Steinbrenner--whose out of control spending led to the haves and have nots.

The Hall of Infamy admission will be included in your ticket to enter the original Baseball Hall of Fame. However, you will be required to tour the new Hall first--then go to honor the "real heroes" of the game. I'm pretty sure that would leave you with a much better taste in your mouth--and some hope for the future of the game.

Monday, January 4, 2010

So Many Questions

Let's start 2010 by answering some of the most common questions I get about "My Two Cents".

Why don't you respond to the comments left on the My Two Cents blogsite? Quite honestly, I don't have the time. Between 60-hours a week here at the station, officiating high school sports, doing high school sports play-by-play, covering the Badgers and the Packers, playing my own sports, spending time with my wife, and doing work around the house I really don't have a lot of time to spend on the internet (just ask anyone who checks out my Facebook page).

"My Two Cents" became a blog after getting so many requests to "send me a copy of that" or "is there some way I can forward that to someone else" after the on-air presentation every day, that it just became more convenient for me to just write it to the Web every morning. Plus, it has become a great draw for the WOSH website--which means our advertisers are getting their names in front of more eyes each day.

I do try to read the comments every few days--deleting those that are profane or unfairly attack others--while those that include well-thought out arguments--or that are clever and make me laugh--get read on the air.

Don't some of the things people write and say about you upset you? They probably upset my mother more than me. Anytime you do anything in the public realm you are going to get criticism--fair or unfair. Most of the time, I just chuckle at what is written--especially by "anonymous" posters. It's amazing how "perfect" (and bold) people are in the anonymity afforded by the internet. Keep that in mind whenever reading "information" posted by people who won't provide their name and contact information on-line.

If you have all the answers, why don't you run for public office? Unlike most people, I would have to quit my job to run for public office. The Federal Communications Commission requires "equal access" of the public airwaves to all political candidates. So unless you would want four hours of any of my political opponents on the air every day--I'm forced to sit on the sidelines. Besides, I doubt Dave Ramsey would approve of quitting a full-time job to seek a part-time School Board or City Council position. If you are going to run on a "fiscal responsibility" platform--that should probably start at home.