Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stepping it up

My sexy webmaster/wife gets on my case every time I rip on the Former God of All Sports Bloggers, Bill Simmons. What she doesn't realize is that its always constructive criticism. It's like watching watching Diasuke Matsuzaka pitch: you know he is capable of dominating every appearance, but it frustrates the hell out of you when he goes out and has one of those seven run meltdown innings hat he had so frequently last season. That's Simmons to me: he SHOULD be the best; he WAS the best; and I sit there and read the crap that pops out sometimes and wonder what is going on.

Then, he is the only voice in the wilderness and writes this that made me stand up and applaud after reading it: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/071109&sportCat=nfl

That is the requirement I have for great writing: if I read it and say: Damn! I wish I wrote that! then I consider it great sports writing.

Some highlights regarding the Patriots and Colts review by Simmons:
It's one thing to have incompetent officiating for a football game; it's another thing to see nearly every call and non-call benefit the same team. In 60 minutes of play, only one borderline call went against the Colts -- a holding penalty on their second-to-last drive that erased a 25-yard Addai run. The final tally for the Colts: four penalties, 25 yards. We haven't seen homefield advantage work that well since Hitler invaded Russia.
OMG! LMAO! (OK, no more teenage IM comments in my blog, I promise.) Seriously, simply a great line about the homefield advantage.
Was everything that "happened" (for lack of a better word) in Indy just a one-time deal? Was it just an elaborate coincidence the Patriots couldn't buy a single break for the entire game? Was the NFL unveiling a new way of evening the score against New England because a $500,000 fine and the loss of a No. 1 pick weren't enough? Did the league decide no NFL team could conventionally stop the Pats, so they'll have to play against opponents AND referees for the rest of the season? Does the NFL have a hidden trigger much like the one used in the "Madden" video games, when everything starts going against your team as soon as it becomes clear there's a chance for an undefeated season?
The questions raised are exactly how I felt during and after the game. Was there any reason it was played out like that? Does Belichick have naked pics of Goodell with Ray Lewis? Do the referees have a reason to hate the Patriots? Can we please make sure no one compares the Patriots to the Yankees? The Yankees outspend EVERYONE. The Patriots have the same limitations as EVERYONE else. The fact the Patriots traded for a soon to be all-pro wide receiver within their division for a second-round pick (ooh a seventh rounder as well, let the fins fans be sure to point out) and sent a fourth round pick for a guy the worst team in the league was trying to give away and NO ONE ELSE wanted does not make them a juggernaut outspending everyone else. It makes them the bad guys because they OUTSMARTED thirty-one other teams. And they hate them for that. Look at Eric Mangina over in Jersey: from appearing in the Sopranos to being a couple of losses from begging Belichick for a job coaching the defensive backs. Somehow this will be the Patriots fault.

But if you're a fan of the Patriots, you've never felt as passionately about them as you do right now. The same "us against them" mentality that galvanized the coaches and players ended up galvanizing the fans as well.
Amen, Brother Simmons. Welcome back to the Boston mentality and congrats on your second child. Now start writing about how great Ray Allen is and no one realizes how good he really is and how he, Pierce, and Garnett are probably the best meshing of superstars since Worthy, Magic, and Kareem.

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