Friday, December 31, 2010

Revisiting LeBron

My dad’s a pretty old-fashioned guy, which is often a byproduct of being old. He was the only Knicks fan I knew who was stubborn enough not to want LeBron last summer. He didn't want to win that way. And of course now it doesn’t feel right for the Knicks to get Carmelo Anthony, especially if it means parting with promising young players like Landry Fields, Danilo Galinari, and Wilson Chandler.

Greg's Facebook upload from the game. I don't think it's very exciting either.
This Old School/New School divide, as he calls it, was on full display in our annual end-of-year trip to Fort Lauderdale, when we took our talents to South Beach to see the Knicks play the Heat -- the team that represents everything my dad thinks is wrong with the world. 

LeBron goofed around in warmups with D-Wade, high-fived and chatted up the front row bigwigs, and rooted for the Knicks to miss free-throws so everyone in the stands could get a free taco (a genius promotion, by the way). Everything about it was wrong…except the score. The Big Three were jovially beating the piss out of us.

After Landry Fields "promisingly" missed yet another shot, Chris Bosh corralled the rebound, threw an outlet to LeBron, who hit a streaking Wade in stride for a tomahawk dunk to put the Heat up by sixteen points. The ball never touched the floor. Evil had never looked so beautiful. 

“Alright,” he said to me, with a seemingly renewed sense of resolve.

“Let’s get Carmelo.”

Weekend Bowl Picks

Central Florida (+7) vs. Georgia (Fri, 3:30 ET). Don't sleep on the Knights, folks. They may not be in the SEC, but they're 10-3 ATS. 

Texas Tech (-9) vs. Northwestern (Sat, 12:00 ET). Northwestern lost their starting QB for the year, and with it all hopes of competing in this game. 

TCU (-3) vs. Wisconsin (Sat, 5:00 ET). Finally, TCU gets a chance to play someone other than Boise State. Look for them to make the most of it.

Oklahoma (-16.5) vs. Connecticut (Sat, 8:30 ET). Don't worry UConn, I still root for you in basketball. You're just way out of your league here.

Last Week: 1-2
Season: 40-42-3

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Early Gift From Santa Claus

I’m spending my first Christmas with Lindsey’s family this year, and so far it’s been fantastic. We got massages, took a limo tour of the Christmas lights, and ate Hibachi steak. But tonight was the part I was a little nervous about: Her parents' annual Christmas Eve dinner party: Over twenty-five guests -- most of whom Lindsey and Kristen didn’t even know.

However, I did know something they didn't: There was a football game on tonight: The Hawaii Bowl. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs.... The Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

And where did I happen to be? That’s right: Tulsa.

Clearly, there is a Santa Claus.

I woke up early (we’d done a lot of napping with their three dachshunds in the previous day and a half -- I couldn’t sleep any more if I tried) and grabbed the sports section of the Tulsa World. Sure enough, there were game previews, subplots, side stories, and position-by-position breakdowns of the matchup. I made sure to discuss all of it with Lindsey’s father and grandfather, who hardly needed much prodding: They were fired up, too. In the midst of all the excitement, I slipped in the only question that mattered, and braced myself for a 'No': “Soooo, we can have the game on tonight with no sound, right?”

“Of course!”

When the people started coming, it was almost like the joke was on me. Everybody loved having the game on. And once Tulsa started winning? (The Golden Hurricane was supposed to lose by double-digits) Fuhgeddaboudit. 

I should’ve known. What Tulsan doesn’t love seeing their hometown team leave the mainland and kick some Rainbow Warrior tail on national television? There were even a few TU grads in attendance who walked in, saw the game on, and thought they won the Oklahoma Mega Millions. By the third quarter, I had twenty people watching.

Lindsey’s Dad (to his friend): “Our defense has been playing better lately.”
Friend: “The secondary’s been the problem, but look at them tonight. Five interceptions!”
Friend’s daughter: “See #41? That’s my friend’s older brother. He’s playing really well at linebacker."
Lindsey’s Grandma: "I don’t like watching sports. Too much spitting."

It was perfect: A room full of wonderful, proud people thrilled to spend Christmas Eve with family, friends, and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. They just needed someone to turn on the television.

Toward the end of the game, Kristen looked around at all the people watching. One family had stayed a half-hour later than everyone else just to finish watching the game and see the players celebrate. She turned to me and said, “You know none of this would have happened if you weren’t here.” She paused to think about all the schmoozing she would’ve normally had to do, and smiled.

“Thank you.”

Weekend Picks

Cowboys (-7.5) @ Cardinals (Sat, 6:30 Central Time). Dallas plays well on holidays. Look it up. Actually, don't, because I made it up.

Rams (-2.5) vs. 49ers (Sun, 1:00 ET). Key divisional battle in the division no one wants to win. I trust St. Louis waaaay more.

Falcons (-2.5) vs. Saints (Mon, 8:00 ET). Don't go against Atlanta and Matt Ryan at home, even against the defending champs.

Last Week (actually two weeks ago, had no internet access in Uruguay last week): 2-1
Season: 39-40-3

Friday, December 10, 2010

Let Them Eat Steak

If your relationship is like mine, you’ve probably had a pre-dinner discussion similar to this one:

HER: “I’m getting the smoked salmon. What are you getting?”
YOU: “I think I’m gonna get the steak.”
HER: “Again?? This is a seafood place, babe. You can’t get steak.”
YOU: “Why not? It’s on the menu.”
HER: “Can’t you just try something different this time? You can get steak anywhere.”
YOU: “I don’t like seafood.”

There are a two ways we boyfriends can handle this. We can stand tall and be men of principle: Proud, dignified, with the right to watch football, pick noses, and order anything we want. We can have a lengthy, philosophical argument with them about our freedoms, and how much they should be cherished.

Or we can just take them to Argentina.

I’m in Buenos Aires for work right now, the land of the tango, Eva Peron, and Manu Ginobili (not kidding: I’ve had Argentine SportsCenter on for the last 45 minutes, and I think he’s the only person in this country). And when it comes to eating, there’s one thing I’m sure of: This place is known for its steak. When you taste it, you’ll see why. There’s so much flavor, you wouldn’t even consider putting sauce on it.

It's so beautiful.
With the exception of the first night (I stupidly ordered a cut of EntraƱa because I wanted the crispy risotto that came with it. NEVER SACRIFICE QUALITY OF A STEAK IN PURSUIT OF A SIDE DISH. It’s like choosing to watch an hour of Keeping Up With the Kardashians because Lamar Odom’s on it for 30 seconds. Oh wait, I do that every week. Darn it.), every steak was tastier than any cut I’ve ever had. Seriously. And I haven’t even been to La Cabrera yet, which is supposed to top them all. I have no idea why the meat here is so delicious (wait until you experience what chorizo can really taste like), but I’m certainly not complaining. This place isn’t known for its steak so that meat-eating boyfriends can have a safe haven, it’s known for steak because the steak is that damn good.

Even though girlfriends probably have a point in arguments like the one above, they still shouldn't be telling us what to order. I mean, it's not like we ever question what they want. But in the real world, this will never be the case. If you don’t order what you’re supposed to order, she will let you hear about it.

So say 'Buenos Dias' to Buenos Aires, and your problems will be solved.

Weekend Picks

Navy (-7) @ Army (Sat, 2:30 ET). Not sure why. It's the only college game this week.

Raiders (+4) @ Jaguars (Sun, 1:00 ET). Are the Raiders for real? Because I'm pretty sure the Jaguars aren't.

Ravens (-3) @ Texans (Mon, 8:30 ET). I have no idea why the Texans suck, but I'm tired of pretending they don't.

Last Week: 3-2-1
Season: 37-39-3 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Don't Try to Solve It: What Our Girlfriends Can Teach Us About College Football

(Lindsey and I talking on the phone after work...)

Lindsey:  So, my meeting got moved to tomorrow.
Me:  So that's good, right?
Lindsey: No, it means the client has another day to pick at my deck and make changes.
Me: Oh...Well at least you have that dinner tomorrow with Liz, right?
Lindsey: Yeah, if I get out of work in time, which I probably won't.
Me: Well, just talk to your boss, I'm sure she'll understand.
Lindsey: Babe, the meeting. I have to get ready for the meeting. Don't you listen to anything?
Me: Won't it just be little tweaks at that point?
Lindsey: Just stop trying to solve the problem, OK?! Let me be upset!

Just let her be.
Of all the things I don't understand about women, conversations like these might be number one. Sometimes women honestly just WANT to be upset about things. They don't us want to fix it, they just want it to suck. I've dated Lindsey for three years now, and this still makes no sense to me.

Yet, as I listen to another year of bickering over who deserves to play for college football's national championship, I'm starting to think it explains the BCS system perfectly. I mean, what other good reason is there for us not having a playoff? Here are some of the ones I hear most often:

-It would make the regular season less important.
Really? How so? It seems to me the only change to the regular season is that MORE games would be important. How many more people would've watched Saturday's (amazing) Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. game if they knew the winner would make the 16-team playoff and the loser wouldn't? Tons.

-It wouldn't bring in as much money.
This is the reason everyone suspects is behind the BCS's shocking endurance, because as Americans we've learned that when something isn't fair, it's probably because of money. Strangely enough, this isn't the case here. Everyone stands to cash in from a playoff -- the networks, the bowls, the NCAA, the conferences, the teams, and if done properly, there's even a way it can even help the players.

-More games would give kids less time to study.
My buddy Marshall and I came up with a solution for this: Use the extra revenue generated to give football players an extra year of tuition. This would allow them to take lighter course loads in-season, knowing they'll have an extra year to catch up. (I'm sure there's a reason this can't work, but it sounded good at the time.)
-More people are against a playoff than you think.
There are lots of polarizing issues in this country, but this simply isn't one of them. The percentage of people who DON'T think college football should have a playoff is up there with the percentage of people who think the country should be run by goldfish.

So with all the other reasons ruled out, the only possible conclusion I can come to is that college football doesn't WANT us to solve their problem. They just want everyone to be upset.

Is college football secretly run by our girlfriends???

Weekend Picks

Eagles (-8) vs. Texans (Thurs, 8:00 ET). Houston finally played some defense last week...against Rusty Smith. It won't be so easy against Michael Vick.

South Carolina (+6) vs. Auburn (Sat, 3:30 ET). If Auburn and Oregon win, then there's not much to argue about this year. I don't think college football gets off that easy.

Oregon State (+17) vs. Oregon (Sat, 4:00 ET). Oregon just needs to win to play for the national championship, so I picture them winning this in unusually "civil" fashion.

Connecticut (+2) @ South Florida (Sat, 8:00 ET). A win here and UConn officially becomes the worst team ever to make a BCS bowl. I love it. Go Huskies!

Bills (+6) @ Vikings (Sun, 1:00 ET). Bills have quietly covered their last 6 spreads, and Steve Johnson is due for some divine intervention.

Rams (-3.5) @ Cardinals (Sun, 4:15 ET). St. Louis continues to be undervalued, and Arizona...yikes.

Last Week: 2-4
Season: 34-37-2