Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Men Worry About

SNAP: The calm before the storm.
Back story: For Oklahoma’s first game of the year against Tulsa, a few of Lindsey’s friends showed up ninety minutes early to SNAP (the new OU bar on 14th Street), and still couldn’t find a seat. This game (Florida State) was 1000x bigger. I told them I’d show up at 5:30, by myself (kickoff was at 8:15). They all laughed. I wasn’t kidding.

Back story 2: At 5:00, my cable went out, and when I called Time Warner Cable to figure out the problem, nobody picked up. Nothing gets my blood boiling like Time Warner Cable. If you ever have ANY alternative – FiOS, DirecTV, aluminum foil – take it. Time Warner Cable will pry your heart from your chest like a linebacker forcing a fumble.

5:32: I arrive at the bar, 2 minutes late, and on edge about my cable. Not sure if you know this, Time Warner, but they play football on Sundays, too, and now I have no TV.

I’m the first one at the bar. Waitress shows me the nine tables reserved for the OU game. Tells me I can sit at any of them, then watches curiously as I sit at all of them, testing optimal viewing angles.

5:36: I choose the center table, which was my first instinct. It’s benches (instead of chairs), but it's close enough to all the surrounding TVs to watch without squinting, and there were 3-4 afternoon games I was still interested in.

5:37: Another OU fan shows up. See?? 5:30 wasn’t so early after all. We chat for a second before retreating to our tables. She says “I didn’t want to take any chances after last time.” I pretend like I was there last time and nod. Neither of us want the conversation to last any longer than it has to.

5:39: She secures a corner table. Terrible choice.

5:58: Katie, president of the OU alumni club and friend of ours, comes in and grabs a center-right table, decorating it with crimson pom-poms and other assorted OU swag. Katie is no joke.

6:07: More and more OU fans shuffle in, and Mike isn’t one of them. He promised me he’d be here by 6. How am I supposed to save 3 tables and watch 3 games at the same time? This isn’t some fancy dinner or Broadway play I don’t want to see. I care if you’re late.

6:09: A couple OU fans grab one of the tables I was hoping to save. I don’t try and stop them. I’m alone and helpless.

6:10: Waitress asks me if I want anything. Yeah, for Mike to show up. 

"OU was your REAL school, Mike, and you're taking it for granted!"

6:11: A girl sits at the other table I wanted to save, but is suspiciously interested in the Virginia Tech game. I have a hunch she went to Virginia Tech. I ask her. I’m right. She apologizes for sitting at one of the OU tables. I tell her don’t be sorry and don’t ever get up. This was the break I needed: She’ll occupy that table, and then leave when the Tech game gets out of hand. And the Hokies are up by three touchdowns.

6:12: Manager comes by and asks how many people I’m with. ‘A lot,’ I say. He asks how many ‘A lot” is. I say 20. I have no idea how many people I’m with. I just want him to go away.

6:13: I text Mike: “You better have a good excuse.”

6:17: Val arrives with Jenny. THAT A GIRL, VAL!!! I had no idea she was considering coming this early. Lindsey and her friends joke that Val’s perpetually late. Not when it counts, she isn’t! I sit Val and Jenny with the Virginia Tech girl.

6:21: Mike shows up with Chris and Shrode. You’re a real bastard, Mike, but sit down. Let’s watch some football.

6:23: Lindsey shows up, seven minutes EARLIER than she told me she would. Impressive performances from all the girls today.

6:31: It’s getting pretty crowded, and the manager asks me if he can put some “loose change” (OU fans who didn’t know anyone and weren’t here with a group) at our table. No.

6:35: I have to pee, but I worry if I get up he’ll put the loose change there anyway. I look at Lindsey. She’s stressing too.

Lindsey: My hands are dry.

6:40: Greg texts and says he'll be here at 7:15 with a few friends.
6:41: Chad says he’ll be here at 8.
6:42: Ramsey texts from Philadelphia and tells me he can't see.
6:50: Maria asks why we chose seats without backs. I don’t respond.

7:00: I reluctantly go to the bathroom, wishing I had taken the drug Lindsey works on.

7:05: Lindsey says she now has to go to the bathroom. I tell her not to linger. Maria won’t sit down, either. I ask her why she can’t just sit and stop mingling. “I’m the Vice President! I have to mingle.” Fine.

7:15. SNAP is packed. Hundreds of OU fans, and still an hour to go until gametime. Mike asks me for an offensive and defensive key to the game, and an MVP.

Landry Jones taking care of the ball, containing E.J. Manuel’s scrambling…and Me.


NC State/Cincinnati vs.... Nothing (Thurs, 8:00 ET)
Come on, College Football. Lindsey makes dinner plans and this is the best you come up with? Oh well, guess I'll be watching.
EDGE: NC State/Cincinnati

UCF/BYU vs. Going Out to Dinner (Fri, 8:00 ET)
See? Even this game would've been better.
EDGE: Going Out to Dinner

USC/Arizona St. vs. Johnnie's Birthday Party (Sat, 10:30 ET)
Me: They don't happen to have TVs at this bar, do they?
Johnnie: No.  
Me: : (
EDGE: Johnnie's Birthday Party


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Team Pictures

Coach Priore
You might not think coaches care much about team pictures, but they do. My college coach, Chuck Priore, was an eloquent man, and I remember him giving us a heartfelt pep talk the day before we took ours.

"If you're gonna be in this picture tomorrow, you better not fuckin quit."

And honestly, I don't blame him. I'd say the same thing if I were a coach. The team picture is the face of your brand. And it's usually on, like, the third day of practice. You don't want to pick up the photo at the end of the season and find someone next to you who went through 800 less practices than you did.

In football, how you look is important. Or at least that's what I had to tell people when I worked on Gillette.

It's certainly all our girlfriends care about. I saw Lindsey for the first time in ten days on Monday, and the first two things she said to me were "Hi!" and "You need a haircut, like now." I'm not sure about the order.

I was thinking about team pictures as I surveyed my fantasy league this morning after a brutal opening week loss. How did my league do in their team pictures? Horrible! Almost no one even bothered, instead opting for a generic Yahoo-provided helmet with a lightning bolt on it.

Seriously? You've got the whole internet to play with. Just pick something. There's a real void in creativity and effort in my league, and I hate it.

But some people care. This week I play Ramsey, who chose this picture, one of my personal favorites, as a reminder of the day in Palm Beach he told us he "doesn't do sunscreen".

And then there's mine, in honor of Coach Priore: My QB1 drunk at a college party.

God bless him.

"Roethlisberger, you better not fuckin quit."


LSU/Mississippi State vs. Millionaire Matchmaker (Thurs, 8:00 ET)
As I hogged the TV to watch both Monday Night Football games, a visibly annoyed Lindsey asked me if there were other games this week she needed to be aware of. I quickly flagged this one.
EDGE: LSU/Mississippi State

Boise/Toledo vs. Maria's Birthday Party (Fri, 8:00 ET)
Ah, where it all began. Fortunately she planned this party smarter, knowing Saturday night is the OU-FSU Game of the Century (Week).
EDGE: Maria's birthday party

Oklahoma State/Tulsa vs. Going out after the OU game (Sat, 11:00)
What I love about Oklahoma is that they would delay the start of this game just so everyone in the state can watch OU. Now THAT'S having your priorities straight.
EDGE: Going out after OU game, hopefully to a place with TVs.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2-on-5: Did They Cry?

To borrow from's neat little "5-on-5" feature -- where 5 NBA sports writers take on 5 NBA topics, I'm doing a "2-on-5" here on FVG, featuring me and Lindsey. In this episode, Lindsey and I recall 5 famous scenes from 5 famous sports movies, and discuss whether we cried* or not.

*Crying defined by eyes welling up. Tears dripping is a bonus, but not required.

A League of Their Own

There's no crying in baseball, but there is at the end of this movie...
SCENE: The Rockford Peaches reunite to open the Women in Baseball exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

DID HE CRY: Yes. Consistently, and surprisingly. I always say to myself, "The reunion's not gonna get me this time. It's just a bunch of old ladies." But then there I am, bawling like Evelyn after missing the cut-off man.

DID SHE CRY: Is that the scene with all the old ladies? And they go to the Hall of Fame and sing? Oh yes, I cried.

The Sandlot

SCENE: Scotty, now all grown-up as the Dodgers play-by-play announcer, calls a game as Benny "The Jet" steals home. 

DID HE CRY: Of course! Benny was so good to Scotty (remember when he fungoed the ball right into his glove?), and look how well it worked out for them. All great young baseball players should befriend geeks with erector sets. It's good karma.

DID SHE CRY: My second-favorite baseball movie after League of Their Own (I only like two baseball movies). The end didn't make me cry, though -- I was distracted by how big the bill of his hat was.

Field of Dreams

SCENE: After a whole movie of seeing dead people without help of Bruce Willis or Haley Joel Osment, Kevin Costner finally gets the moment he's been waiting for: A catch with his late father.

DID HE CRY: Even though "the catch" is kind of drawn out and awkward, yes. Every time. 

DID SHE CRY: I haven't seen this movie. One of them's supposed to be dead?

SCENE: After Vince Vaughn ignores Coach Devine's orders and throws a touchdown pass in a game Notre Dame already had wrapped up, the crowd starts chanting Rudy's name, Coach finally puts him in, and Rudy brings down the house with a game-ending sack after Georgia Tech curiously forgets to block him. Cue the super: "Since 1975, no other Notre Dame player has been carried off the field."

DID HE CRY: ARE YOU KIDDING????? First of all, you could do an entire crying column from this movie alone (scene where he finally gets into Notre Dame, scene where prep team coach tells him he makes the real team, scene where they clap for him when he comes back to practice after briefly giving up, scene where all the ND players put their jerseys down so Rudy can play in their place), but the tears this scene induces washes them all away. This is the scene that makes you pause and ask yourself, "Is this...the greatest movie I've ever seen?" If your answer is yes, I'm not gonna argue.

DID SHE CRY: I love this movie! And I definitely teared up at the end. After all that hard work and constantly being told he couldn't do it, he went out and for one perfect moment, all was right in the world and Rudy did it! Amazing.  

5. And finally...
SCENE: OK, fine -- this is actually a UCONN 2011 National Championship Highlight Film. I hadn't seen it in a while.

DID HE CRY: No tears, but wonderful, wonderful chills.

DID SHE CRY: I'm not watching this.

Crying Standings: Matt - 4, Lindsey - 2


Saints/Packers vs. Fashion Night Out
(Thurs, 8:00 ET): I have no idea what Fashion Night Out is or means, but it's got some nerve trying to co-opt NFL Opening Night.
EDGE: Saints/Packers

Cowboys/Jets vs. Lindsey Comes Home (Sun, 8:20 ET): Lindsey gets back from her trip to Colombia Sunday night. Yay! The later, the better!

Dolphins/Patriots vs. Our First Night Home Together in Two Weeks (Mon, 7:00 ET): These are the matchups you dread, boyfriends and girlfriends. I cannot miss my team's season opener on Monday Night Football, and she will not be happy about it.
EDGE: Dolphins/Patriots 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Conflicts of the Week

Sayonara, Dark Period.
It's baaaaaaaack!!!!!

We've survived another offseason, boyfriends and girlfriends. And let me tell you, this one wasn't easy: We almost lost the NFL.

But we didn't! And so now, as promised in my Last FVG Pick Ever column, we're gonna do something a little different this year. Instead of picking games against the spread, which I clearly have no business doing (but will never stop trying!), I'll be ending each post with something I actually HAVE earned the right to forecast:

I introduce to you, "Conflicts of the Week".

After the weekly entry takes a look at the big picture topics going on in the FVG world, "Conflicts of the Week" assesses what's happening right now on the ground: We'll put individual games up against whatever might keep us from watching them. Then we'll forecast a winner.

Here are this week's examples:

Conflicts of the Week

UNLV/Wisconsin vs. Millionaire Matchmaker (Thurs, 8:00 ET). I have no idea why Opening Night games get worse and worse every year. But I also know that under no circumstances will I ever miss them, even if Patti does happen to be taking on "The Chauvinist and the Playboy". 
EDGE: UNLV/Wisconsin

TCU/Baylor vs. Quality Time Night (Fri, 8:00 ET). Traditionalists like 437-year-old Beano Cook can't believe two colleges in Texas would schedule a game on the night that belongs to High School. FVG can't believe they would mess up the weekly schedule. I'm not supposed to have this problem, remember? Luckily for me, Lindsey's on vacation.
EDGE: TCU/Baylor

Akron/Ohio State vs. Going to the Beach (Sat, 12:00 ET). There's obviously a whole bunch of games at noon on this first Saturday of football, but none good enough to leave the beach...
EDGE: Going to the Beach

Minnesota/USC vs. Staying at the Beach (Sat, 3:30 ET). ...Until 3:30, when Robby's new school opens up against the Gophers.
EDGE: Minnesota/USC

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Kingsburys of Football

**The following is a guest post I've written for the critically-acclaimed blog The Kingsbury Factor (a.k.a. The Preeminent Guide to Short-ish White Dudes Who Can Shoot the Trey). You can check it out here.**

What’s the football equivalent of a Kingsbury? Surely a natural place to look would be quarterback. Like basketball's shooters, quarterbacks aim at a target and release. They’re rewarded for accuracy, and even more so if they're accurate from long distances.

"C'mon guys, seriously?!?!"
But to call a QB a Kingsbury doesn’t feel right. Quarterbacks are too heralded, and more importantly, too necessary: You can’t win without a good quarterback, but you can certainly win without a Kingsbury. And besides, Kliff Kingsbury (right) was a quarterback, and according to KF’s FAQ, “nobody wants to hang out with that dude.”

Quarterbacks -- and running backs -- are just too involved in the offense, and do too many different things to help a team win.

So what about offensive line?

Just kidding.

If you ask me, a Football Kingsbury is a wide receiver, but not a game-changing one. Not the receiver who’s so fast he can get behind zone coverage, or so tall/strong he can beat two DBs to a jump ball. A Kinsgbury is the receiver who beats you one way and one way only...but does it really, really well, and consistently.

I’m talking about the Under-6’0 Caucasian Slot Receiver.

Like his basketball equivalent, the U6CSR is (relatively) short, slow, and limited in talent. His strengths are he’s sure-handed, precise in his route-running, willing to go over the middle, and never publicly asks to be traded/guarantees victories/cries in press conferences.  

But before we get to this year’s preseason list of Kingsburys, I want to take a quick look at the men who made it all possible.

Hall of Fame

Wayne Chrebet (New York Jets, 1995-2005):           
The original Football Kingsbury. Or at least the first I can remember. The 5'10 Chrebet was undrafted out of Hofstra, and -- despite ranking 2nd in Jets' history with 580 receptions -- perennially underappreciated. It’s kind of sad, actually, because it wasn't Chrebet's fault. Football just wasn’t ready for a Kingsbury.

Wes Welker (New England Patriots, 2004-present):           
The One Who Changed Everything. Welker’s legend begins AFTER college (important to note, because his college quarterback was none other than...Kliff Kingsbury!), when after three surprisingly efficient (but mostly unnoticed) seasons with Miami, Patriots' Coach Bill Belichick traded a 2nd round pick to get him. “Wait, a 2nd round pick???”, we all asked. “He’s a punt returner! And he’s....WHITE!!!!" But then we said, "But…if Bill Belichick’s doing it, well, I guess we’ll wait and see.” And, sure enough, Belichick turned the 5'9 Welker into the 3-time Pro Bowler, 2-time reception-leader, and PPR fantasy jackpot “Slot Machine” we know him as today. Now every coach looks for a Welker (watch any NFL preseason game and you'll see one), and football Kingsburys will forever be compared to him. If football had a reverse color barrier, Welker is Jackie Robinson, and Bill Belichick is Branch Rickey. Wayne Chrebet is Josh Gibson.

Today’s Torch Bearers

Danny Amendola (St. Louis Rams, 85 receptions for 1,006 yards in 2010)
Like Welker, Amendola (5'11) came out of nowhere (Texas Tech) to become Sam Bradford’s most reliable target last season, helping St. Louis to a remarkable 5-game turnaround, and nearly a division championship. In one game against Detroit, Amendola caught 12 passes for 95 yards. Catching 12 passes in a game and NOT going over 100 yards takes great route-running, better hands, and some seriously limited breakaway ability. Congratulations, Danny.

Jordan Shipley (Cincinnati Bengals, 52 receptions for 600 yards in 2010):
Shipley (5'11) did an impressive six years at Texas, and the Bengals rewarded him for his academic prowess by taking him in the 3rd round (which would’ve NEVER happened if not for Wes), and assigning him to the slot inside the 'Ocho and T.O. Show'. Obviously that didn’t work, but it wasn’t Shipley’s fault. He turned in a solid, productive rookie year, and in the next couple weeks, you’ll hear so many experts call him a “fantasy sleeper” you'll think you discovered why it took him so long to finish college.

He was a stripper by night, if memory serves me correct.
Julian Edelman (New England Patriots, 7 receptions for 86 yards in 2010): 
Comparisons to Welker are irresistible, since among other similarities, they play for the same team. But that’s not really fair to either of them. Edelman (5'10) has had chances to break out in games Wes was hurt, but hasn’t done anything with them. Maybe one day Belichick will make him effective, but if another team stupidly trades a 2nd round pick for him (I’m looking at you, Miami) expecting similar returns, they’ve got another thing coming.

And now (finally), “The List”

I was hoping to do a top-10 list here, thinking I'd have plenty to choose from. But after going through all 120 FBS rosters, I could find only five...


5. Jonathan Warzeka (Air Force, 5'9, Sr.)
His numbers (18 for 406 and 3) aren't "Welkeresque", but that's because Air Force runs the option, and throws it less than 10 times a game. Warzeka's 18 catches actually led the Faclons last year, and won him All-MWC Honorable Mention honors. If anything keeps JW from KF status, it's not his catch total, it's his speed: He's too fast. Stop doubling as a change-of-pace back and running 4.4 40's, Jonny. You're making the rest of us look bad.

4. McKay Jacobson (BYU, 5'11, Sr.)
Last season McKay had 37 catches for 410 yards and Wait! Did that say BYU??? JIMMER!!!!!!!!!!! And that, my friends, is why you can't sleep on McKay Jacobson. Nor can you sleep with him. Honor code.

Remember Brandon Davies...

3. Austin Zouzalik (Texas Tech, 5'11, Jr.):
From the school that brought you Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Kliff Kingsbury, sure enough, we found a Kingsbury. The sophomore numbers (31 for 432 and 2) are solid, but with Lyle Leong's 74 catches lost to graduation and Zouzy moving into a starting role, I expect them to double. And the big thing here is the pedigree. Texas Tech is college football's Kingsbury Factory; Short-White-Slot-Receiver-U.


2. Cody Wilson (Central Michigan, 5'10, Jr.) 
I was expecting to find an abundance of Kingsburys in the MAC. Small, blue-collar, midwestern, limited-athletically: It just felt right. But in the end, all I found was Cody. Thankfully, his resume more than makes up for it. His 83 catches for 1,137 yards and 5 touchdowns as a sophomore earned him 2nd team All-MAC, teaching the world this is one Chippewa you don't want to play soft zone against. He's got another year left, too, so even if he doesn't finish this season as the #1 Kingsbury, 2012 is his to lose.

1. Cole Beasley (SMU, 5'9, Sr)
Cole gets the preseason edge over Cody partly because he caught more passes (87) for less yards (1,060) and one more touchdown (6). But more importantly, Cole is an inch shorter (same height as Wes!), plays for a better team against better competition, and knows how to bring it when the eyes of Chris Kingsbury are on him. In a head-to-head with Zouzy and Texas Tech last year, Cole caught 2 second-half touchdowns and nearly lead SMU to a shocking comeback. The two schools open up with each other this year on Sunday, September 4th. Make sure to tune in, because the Kingsbury schedule only goes downhill from there.

Hopefully Zouz spent the offseason working with Welker and Amendola, and uses that opening game to show the Kingsbury world he's arrived. Hopefully McKay Jacobson channels his inner Jimmer while simultaneously repressing his inner Brandon Davies. Perhaps a KFer comes out of nowhere -- maybe even a freshman. But until we know more: FVG forecasts a two-horse race for the King of all Football Kingsburys: A race that goes over the middle and past the sticks. To Wes Welker's house we go.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Tuck Rule

We all remember it like it was yesterday.

It made no sense at the time. But we all came to accept it.

Now I'm 30, and for the rest of my life, I have to tuck my shirt in.

It doesn't make much sense...

But I guess in time, I'll come to accept it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Would Coach Taylor Do?

Friday Night Lights, a.k.a. The Best Show on Television, came to an end last Friday. And by golly, I miss it already. To the point where I now ask myself what Coach Taylor would do before any decision I make.
I hate when he looks at me like that.
So as I begin to clear out space in my studio for Lindsey's stuff, I've been thinking a lot about Coach, and (Skip this part if you haven't seen the finale, though I'm not sure where you'd skip to, since it's sort of the point of the article) how he sacrificed the ultimate coaching opportunity at Dillon for his wife's career.

Because now I have to make some sacrifices, too. Namely, what do I do with my jerseys?

I can give away things I wear regularly and not think twice about it -- I'm the Anti-Hoarder -- except when it comes to jerseys.

Ray Allen #34 Swingman on the Sonics? Haven't worn it in years. Ray Allen's not on the Sonics anymore. The Sonics aren't on the Sonics anymore. But Ray Allen's the best UConn player ever. The Sonics have (had) awesome colors. And it's a Swingman!

Casey Calvary Blue #31 on Gonzaga? Who the eff is Casey Calvary? He played for Gonzaga, back when Gonzaga was under the radar. I remember in college Kevin and I going to Champs Sports at the West Farms Mall and I got Calvary and he got Larry Bird #33 Powder Blue Indiana State. You think I can just throw out these kinds of memories???

I could keep the jerseys and stash them away, but I like hanging them. They're so colorful. It's like my own private Champs Sports. And if I stuff them in a drawer, they'll get wrinkled. The logic here is flawed, too: Lindsey complains every day that my real clothes are wrinkled. But my jerseys have to be pristine. They look better that way, and you never know when a spontaneous basketball game might break out.

But then I think back to Coach Taylor, and realize that if jerseys are going to be a sticking point, I have to make concessions. Joey Porter had one good year for the Dolphins and was a total idiot. He can go. I've given up on pretending to like soccer, so those jerseys can go, too. That leaves about fifteen. Mostly basketball. Some football. Some pro. Some college. And a few precious relics, like my high school white #5 with a pink rum punch stain from a foam party in Jamaica.

They take up roughly 33% of my allotment of closet space, and it's totally worth it.

As Coach would say, "Son, some things are worth fighting for."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When in Rome...

When I studied abroad in Rome, our program stayed in a peaceful little convent atop the Aventine Hill. It was beautiful. All of Rome was. I was a history major, and to me, there was no more spectacular place to be.

Yet despite the endless number of things to do, places to see, and pasta to eat, I got really, really homesick. And I couldn't figure out why. I mean, I expected some homesickness, but there was something compounding it that I couldn't put my finger on.

But my mom could.

So when my family came to visit during my brother's spring break, she brought sports. All kinds of sports. As much as she could fit in a duffle bag. We're talking basketballs, baseballs, baseball gloves, footballs, tennis rackets, tennis balls, and every sports magazine on the rack. It was like third grade when the teacher dumps out the bag of balls at the beginning of recess. The convent turned into a field house. The nuns were terrified.

But the boys? We were happy.

Since sports are supposed to be trivial, we often forget how important they are to us. It's crunch-time for the NFL -- we're days away from a compromised preseason -- and Lindsey can't believe how cool I'm playing it.

That's what has me worried: The NFL is more important to me than I could ever get myself to admit; something I've fully expected to be there for me every September. And I'm not appropriately preparing myself for life without it. I'm about to go to back to Rome, and once again, I'm forgetting all my toys.

If you ask most people, this labor dispute will be worked out soon. Hopefully this confidence is grounded in fact and not delusion, and my lack of concern will turn out to be justified. But yikes -- it's getting close. Too close.

And this time, there won't be anything my mom can bring to make it better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The FVG Move-In, Phase 1

Because of our staggered leases, Lindsey and I are moving in together in two phases. The second phase -- the more "permanent" one -- will begin Nov. 1, when we settle down in a one-bedroom of both of our choosing. The first phase begins on August 1st, with Lindsey moving my studio.

Lindsey's worried about where all the stuff will go. I'm not. Not because I know where the stuff will go (my studio is 350 sq feet), but because it's just not the kind of thing I worry about. I'll hang up more coat hooks.

Lindsey's worried the cramped lifestyle will cause us to get in more fights. I'm not. I'm sure we'll get in fights, but honestly, who worries about fights they haven't even gotten in yet?

There is one thing I am worried about, however. Quite worried.

How do we make it three months with one TV? ya doin?
In a one-bedroom apartment, you can have two TVs, both going at the same time. But in a studio, that doesn't work (well, it could -- sports can be watched without sound if necessary...  Somewhere in Manhattan, Lindsey just said 'no'). And unlike storage space, watching unhealthy amounts of sports is NOT something I like to compromise.

Fortunately, the timing isn't as bad as it first seems. August is a wash -- the 2nd worst sports month there is. Football starts in September, but remains largely a weekend entity until November. The Mets won't be making the playoffs, and the NFL could even start late this year, which would only help.

It obviously isn't ideal. I'd prefer not to have to check the Bravo schedule as often as I check the football schedule, or even consider watching a game tape-delayed on DVR. But I signed up for this. Love is about sacrifices.

Some are just harder than others.

ADDENDUM: Lindsey and her roommates got their lease extended one month, making the new FVG move-in date September 1st (a.k.a. the first night of the football season)... What a way to start!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Welcome to the Dark Period

After the NBA Finals ends, I watch postgame coverage until way past my bedtime. I'm a sucker for watching them celebrate. They work impossibly hard for this. The least I can do is share their moment with them.

But there's another reason I watch until SportsCenter starts running it on loop, and it's not because I hate the Tony awards. It's because I know that once my TV goes off and my head hits the pillow, The Dark Period begins.

The Dark Period is the two-and-a-half month stretch from the final horn of the NBA Finals to the opening kickoff of college football. And boy is it boring. We're talking baseball, soccer, bullfighting, and golf. We're so deprived, we look forward to the Hot Dog Eating Contest. We explore our other interests and spend more time outside. We, you know, be social.

There can be exceptions. Last year, we had the World Cup. Next year, we'll have the Olympics. The Mets might one day be relevant (they're actually overachieving a bit this...OK fine I'll stop). But it's mostly darkness. Literally. Without live sports, I usually don't even turn on the television.

Lindsey called me shortly after the game ended, and asked me if I was sad that basketball was over.

"Very," I said. "It's the Dark Period now."

"I know," she answered. "But it's gonna be OK."

Her tone was oddly genuine, and for a second, my heart filled with hope. Did she know something I didn't? Was she about to surprise me with a trip so amazing I wouldn't even think about sports? Had she solved the NFL labor dispute and convinced them to start a month early?!?! 

"Why is that?" 

"Because while you were watching the game, I was watching Bravo, and saw previews for new seasons of Flipping Out, Platinum Hit, Rocco's Dinner Party, and Real Housewives! There's so much to look forward to!!!"

The wind left my sails, and The Dark Period began.

"Can't wait."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bravo's Counterpunch: "Real Housewives" For All Seasons

I’ve always appreciated sports’ spacing. If the Mets could just find a way to be decent through August, I’d have viable sports options every month of the year. During her first football season with Ramsey, Annie asked Lindsey at what point the obsession ends. Linds shook her head in resignation.


Well, after seeing a preview for Real Housewives of New Jersey followed by a preview for Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion during a commercial of Real Housewives of New York City, Bravo’s clearly decided that two can play at that game.

Much like sports, Bravo’s found a way to make sure its #1 moneymaker – and Lindsey’s favorite show – never ends. When one series finishes, two others begin. They've borrowed sports’ playbook, and worked it to perfection. After each RH episode is over, you can “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen, and recap what you’ve just seen (Linds usually does). This is Bravo’s answer to SportsCenter. After each season is the Reunion – now as much of a staple as the show itself. This is Bravo’s playoffs, where tensions are at an all-time high:

My initial intent was to create a monthly Real Housewives schedule, to prove the show’s permanence, and so I could plan around it. But it was impossible -- seasons never start at the same time each year, and never last the same number of episodes. Only a female could live with this type of uncertainty.

One more parallel between sports and RH? The future doesn’t look good for either. The NFL might not have a season next year -- this we all sadly know. But according to a very reliable source, Andy Cohen recently said that “no new Real Housewives series are in production, and Real Housewives of Miami would be the last installment in the franchise.”

“Whatever,” Lindsey said. “Wikipedia doesn’t know anything.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Not About Me

The Oklahoma City Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals last night. My buddy Mike, who roots for the Mavs (the Thunder’s next opponent), immediately texted me and said “Guess we’re enemies for the next two weeks”, implying that I’m such a big Thunder fan now that things will get metaphorically ugly between us.

“I guess,” I responded.

I get so torn when I talk about the Thunder. They’re my second-favorite team, by far. And with a sports-obsessed fan like me, a second-favorite team often eclipses the passion of a lesser fan’s first favorite.

But, a true sports fan can’t have a second-favorite team. I spent my first two years of friendship with Ramsey convincing him he couldn’t root for both the Bears and Giants. All of us did. And he relented! How can I be such a hypocrite? The Thunder aren’t my team, they’re Lindsey’s team, and she can’t even watch a full game without shopping on Piperlime.
Fantastic variety.

But, as Linds is fond of saying when I come down with the common writer's malady of self-centeredness, “This isn’t about you”. And in this case, she’s right: It’s OK to love OKC for reasons having nothing to do with my newfound ties to Oklahoma.

It’s OK to love OKC players because the players love each other. They’re the anti-Heat, taking their talents to Mickey Mantle’s in Bricktown after each game to hang out with and embrace the fans. And it’s OK to love OKC for those fans, who endured quite a tragedy of their own six years before 9/11 ever happened, and voted over and over and over again to pay extra taxes toward the creation of a new stadium, believing that one day a professional team would come along and give the city something to rally around. I’m not making this up. Check out the video here.

In yesterday’s Game 7, the fans wore “Rise Together” shirts (and by the end of the game, Kevin Durant had one on, too), because that’s what they all did: They went from total devastation to a brand new team losing 29 of its first 32 games to the Western Conference Finals. When a team and a town are one, it’s amazing to see what they can accomplish. It’s OK to love OKC because what they’ve achieved is bigger than basketball.

And it’s certainly bigger than me. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fashion Over Comfort

It was a chilly December afternoon. Freezing, technically. Yet here was my co-worker Melissa walking next to me -- CARRYING a heavy, hooded sweatshirt -- complaining and shivering.

"It's SO cold."
"Put on your sweatshirt!"
"This sweatshirt?"
"Yeah, the one you're HOLDING!"
"No way, it's ugly."
"But you're freezing."
She may have considered wearing it for a brief second, but probably not. Instead, she decided to teach me a lesson I should've already known.

"Fashion over comfort."

Even in extreme conditions, women will always make this choice. How else do you explain high heels? They cut your ankles, give you bunions, and turn the simple task of walking into an extreme sport. It's a good thing porcupine scarves aren't fashionable. (Wait, are they?)

Yet before I pour it on too thick, it's only fair to realize we're guilty of it, too.

Especially when it comes to sports...


It itches, and disrupts blood flow, but the minor discomfort is completely worth it given how awesome it looks. It makes your muscles look bigger. It doesn't have nearly the same effect if your muscles aren't big to begin with, but still well worth it.

Lindsey's take:
Wait, this isn't functional? If not, at least make them in seasonal colors. 


Unwise, unsafe, and uncomfortable: If you had to wear an 8-pound weight on your head, would you want it flying around everywhere? Not to mention it gets you a $10,000 fine. I mean, it does look a little bit cool and reckless, but seriously? It's your head!

Lindsey's take:
I bet they wouldn't leave their belt unbuckled...

I just want to cry out when I see this: "It doesn't have to be this way!" Not only is it horrific, but it gives defenders another way to tackle you. It's the tackle-football equivalent of wearing an extra flag around your waist.

Lindsey's take:
I like it. Shows a sense of style and individuality.

I guess once you're playing it doesn't hurt, but can you imagine the discomfort in getting all of them? These days there's a bit of an arms race to see who can get the most tattoos in the most unlikely places. Right now, the Birdman's looking tougher and tougher to beat.

Lindsey's take:
What's "free"? His neck? The tattoo? I don't get it.


If you really crave attention, this gets the job done: People will notice, and at some point, the camera will find you. But at what point? You have no idea, so you have to remain shirtless. And it's - so - cold! The only way this even seems possible to me is if you take so many bowling ball shots in the parking lot you can't feel your which case, you're gonna end up in the hospital anyway.

Lindsey's take:
If you're gonna have your shirt off in the middle of winter, at least get a spray tan.

Friday, April 29, 2011

FVG Attempts to Boil Itself Down to a Science

Jodie can't take the ambiguity.
The problem with the typical Football vs. Girlfriend conflict is there's never a definitive right answer. She wants to do this. You want to watch that. There's no magic formula to determine who wins.

But today, I'm attempting to change that. On a scale from 1-10 below, I've rated every live sporting event I can think of, with a "10" being virtually un-missable, and a "1" being virtually unwatchable. We'll call this List F. I also had Lindsey rate every possible reason for keeping me from watching said sporting event, from the birth of a child to buying a purse. That will be List G.

The idea is that once the two lists are finished, you post List F next to List G on the refrigerator with the magnet your dentist gave you, and have an pre-determined, totally-objective verdict to any FVG case. If Chad's got the Red Sox as a 7, and Morgan has "discussing weekend plans" as a 5, then sorry Morgan, discussing weekend plans will have to wait 'til the end of the inning. And be over by the time the next one starts.

Matt's LIST F*:

10: Super Bowl, College Football National Championship, NCAA Basketball Tournament

9: NFL Playoffs, NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs, NBA Draft

8: NFL Regular Season, College Football Bowl Game, College Football Regular Season, College Basketball Championship Week, Winter Olympics, World Cup

7: NFL Draft, MLB Regular Season (Mets), NBA Regular Season, NBA All-Star Saturday Night, NBA Draft Lottery, College Basketball Regular Season

6: NCAA Tournament Selection Special, Summer Olympics, Hot Dog Eating Contest, Tennis Major Final

5: NFL Preseason, NBA All-Star Game, College Football Spring Games, NBA Summer League, NBA Preseason, World Baseball Classic, Golf Major Championship Final Round, Tennis Major

(This is the point at which I'll look for something other than sports on TV, if you were wondering.)

4: CFL, Westminster Dog Show, Triple Crown Horse Race, NFL Scouting Combine

3: MLB Playoffs (assuming no Mets), MLB Preseason (Mets), MLB All-Star Game, Little League World Series, Pro Bowl, College World Series, NHL Playoffs

2: Home Run Derby, Scripps Spelling Bee, International Soccer, Tennis, Poker

1: MLB Regular Season (non-Mets), MLB Preseason (non-Mets), MLB Draft, NHL Regular Season, Golf, MLS, PBA Bowling, NASCAR, X-Games

(If there's any live sporting event I've forgotten, it's probably a 1.)

*Surely, there are LOTS of variables that can't be accounted for -- the most significant being which two teams are playing. Obviously last year's Lakers-Celtics NBA Final carries much more national appeal than last year's Giants/Rangers World Series. But other than specifying Mets and non-Mets games for baseball, I decided it wasn't worth noting because it made my head hurt, sort of like reading too much of this italic font.

Lindsey's LIST G:

11: Wedding (your own), Baby being born, Child's birthday

10: Wedding (immediate family), birthday party (hers)

9: Parents' Night at School, Surgery

8: Wedding (extended family), Romantic Weekend

7: Friends in town, Parents in town, Taking a class together

6: Romantic dinner

5: Commiserating about work, Watching a Bravo show together

4: Going to the movies, Work Christmas Party, Royal Wedding

3: Shopping (for me), Informal Work Get-Together, Renting a movie

2: Going for a walk, Going for a run, Going to a Broadway play

1: Shopping (for her), Museum Opening

Lindsey ran into difficulties ranking as well, such as "Which friends are in town?", and "Whose baby is being born? MINE????"

I'd tell you to go do this on your own, but to be honest, it probably won't solve anything. There's just too many nuances, caveats, and other French-sounding words that come into play. I think the one thing I did learn from this exercise is that the FVG dilemma never really can be boiled down to a science. 

Which means I guess you'll just have to keep reading this blog!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Idiots

For his birthday, my parents gave Greg two tickets to the first Knicks' home playoff game since 2004. My dad never formally claimed the second ticket, but Greg and I assumed it was for him. After all, he bought the tickets, and he’s been a Knicks fan since, well, a long time ago.

So it shocked both of us Monday night when Dad told us the other ticket was mine…

"Sometimes I give myself the-eee creeps."
Because he couldn’t go…

Because he was going to a play.

We were aghast, as Dad desperately tried to defend himself:

DAD: There’s no intermission. I’ll get to see the end.
US: How could you?
DAD: It’s the final showing of American Idiot. Billie Joe Armstrong’s making a guest appearance!
DAD: It’s not an elimination game. It’s the only one I’ll miss!
US: You call yourself a fan?
DAD: They either win, and I’m happy, or they lose, and I’m glad I missed it.
US: It’s the playoffs!
DAD: I didn’t know when the games would be!
US: (silence)
DAD: What am I supposed to do? Mom got me the tickets as a gift.
ME: So you should be able to do what you want with them!

But my last comment caused me to hit the brakes. The exchange was beginning to sound strangely familiar. I thought back to a g-chat conversation Lindsey and I had a little over a week ago, about a wine tasting class she had gotten a gift.

ME (to Lindsey): So when are we doing wine tasting? 5/12?
LINDSEY: Oh yeah, good news about that. They can do the earlier date, 4/21.
ME (to myself):  Oh no.
LINDSEY: I figure we’ve put it off long enough. Time to just do it, right?
ME (to myself): Not if Game 3’s that night. 
ME (to Lindsey): I thought we had said 5/12.
LINDSEY:  Well, you said you could do either.
ME (to myself):  I DID say I could do either. Why the heck did I say I could do either? I knew full well when the first round would be! This must’ve been during the six-game losing streak. I lost focus.
LINDSEY: Can you not do 4/21 anymore?
ME (to myself): I could say no, but she’ll ask why. And I’ll have to explain it’s because there’s a 45% chance there’ll be a very important Knicks game that night.
ME (to myself): Whatever, it’s my gift. I should be able to do what I want, right?
ME (to myself): Right. See how that goes over.
ME (to Lindsey): Yeah, 4/21 is fine.

Was Dad any less of a Knicks fan than I was? Of course not. We were two boyfriend/husbands stupidly leaving our playoff fate to chance in order to avoid what at the time felt like unnecessary conflict. 

He paid dearly for it. I didn't.

Let's go Knicks!