Thursday, August 31, 2006

NFL Preview, Part 6: NFC Central

This is going to be a really easy one to write because, well, I already wrote about the Vikings. The rest of the teams are all pretty one dimensional in the division, with some teams being better at their dimension (Bears defense) than others (Lions offense). Of course, the third isn't really good at anything (Packers). But lets poke around the division a little deeper. Teams listed in order of anticipated finish.

Chicago Bears - To say one good thing about the Bears offense, they are positively STACKED at crappy quarterback. I mean, they added Brian Griese to the mix when they already had Rex Grossman AND Kyle Orton! Amazing! It goes well with their slightly above average backfield and otherwise uninteresting offense. They do have a tremendous defense which will help them win two thirds of their conference games. I bet the Vikings and Bears score less than 20 points combined over two games this year.
Minnesota Vikings - Not much more to say about these guys after my first post on them, but I will say they are the most balanced team in the NFC Central, which isn't really a good thing.
Detroit Lions - I ragged on the Rams for hiring Scott Linehan when they clearly didn't need him. I will, however, give the Lions credit for adding Mike Martz at offensive coordinator. Martz is clearly talented when building teams on the offensive side of the ball, especially when he has talent to work with. John Kitna (about as talented as Mark Bulger) has several targets to throw to, and Kevin Jones is an underrated back who would be perfect in Martz's spread offense. Of course, the defense has been left untended to while Matt Millen drafted wide receivers three years in a row. The offense isn't good enough to overcome this.
Green Bay Packers - Brett Favre is creaky. He is the leader of the team. The team is creaky. Enough said.

The Bears, undeservedly, will win the division and sneak into the playoffs, where they will be annihilated in the playoffs. I'll write much longer for the next division. I know that's what you want.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NFL Preview, Part 5: NFC West

We're halfway home in the NFL preview, and it's time to transition into the NFC. Will it be as exciting as the AFC? Will the NFC Preview be as exciting as the AFC Preview? Well, now that I've set the bar low, let's take a look. As always, the teams are listed in order of expected appearance.

Seattle Seahawks -
I hate this team. Every time I look at them and see Matt Hasselbeck and his crappy corps of wide receivers, I think "how can they possibly compete?" Sure, they have Shaun Alexander, one of the best backs in the league, and a skilled offensive line, despite the departure of Steve Hutchinson. And yes, their defense is hard hitting and skilled. So, I reflect and see that Hasselbeck and the CCoWRs is the only problem with this team. And that fills me with great consternation. As I may have mentioned, I hate this team.
Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals are going to be drastically improved. After Kurt Warner inevitably goes down, the Cards have confident back-up Matt Leinart ready to step in to throw to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald and hand off to Edgerrin James or J.J. Arrington. Their defense is suspect to say the least, but you can never discount the power of a new stadium. That will definitely be enough to get a team in the playoffs, especially in the mediocre NFC and after playing the even mediocre-er NFC west. And yes, they are mediocre enough to warrant the invention of a new word.
St. Louis Rams - The Rams got a new coach in the off season in Scott Linehan, former offensive coordinator extraordinaire. They also have one of the most veteran, effective offenses in the NFL, including almost all the same components as their old "Greatest Show on Turf". So hiring an offense minded coach was not the best of ideas. Monte Kiffin. That's who they should have added to the roster. Especially when their defense is still horrible. At least they still play San Francisco, so it won't be too bad.
San Francisco 49ers - Geez, they don't even have an offensive PR video to distract from the on-field product.

This is definitely a two team division when it comes to the post-season. The Cardinals are going to surprise people because, hey, it's the Cardinals and why should they be any good? Now, was that as exciting as the AFC preview?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

NFL Preview, Part 4: AFC East

I'm back with another installment of my NFL Preview. I know everyone has been dying to read this one, on the toughest division in the AFC, and certainly the toughest to forecast for this season. I can tell you are just as excited by all this from the comments I've been getting as I am, so I won't waste any more time. Teams are listed in order of expected finish.

Miami Dolphins - Te Dolphins under Nick Saban have shown dramatic improvement, and I don't expect them to slow down. Their quarterback situation is a lot better than it has been in any year since Dan Marino retired, although that isn't saying much. Daunte Culpepper, if fully healed, will have a favorite target in Chris Chambers and an offensive line that won't let him get mauled. Also, if he does get hurt, they have Joey Harrington, who can hand it off to a reliable running back (Ronnie Brown) instead of throwing it to an unreliable receiver. On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins defense features several cagey veterans who will put everything into this season, as this may be their last good chance to make something happen before their window of opportunity closes for good.
New England Patriots - I just don't know how the Patriots can keep getting older, losing players and remain elite. I think this is the year that the age of Corey Dillon and Tedy Bruschi, as well as the departure of Willie McGinest and the commotion caused by Deion Branch finally catch up to New England. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of working parts here, but I don't think they can run away with the division, especially when competing with the more bloodthirsty Dolphins. This is still a talented team, and they will make some noise, due to their experience, when they get to the postseason. But the division is the Dolphins'.
Buffalo Bills - People, knowledgeable important people, say the Bills are going to be terrible this year. I just don't believe them. Sure, J.P. Losman is a bad, awful quarterback, but they have Willis McGahee as a running back, enough serviceable warm bodies on the offensive line to move the pile every now and again, and a good defensive captain in Takeo Spikes and an underrated secondary. The Bills are definitely not a playoff squad, but they are definitely at least a 6-10, 7-9 team. That being said, I wouldn't pick Losman for my fantasy team. (Side note, running back Jon Goldsberry, told my friend Pat that he was "[expletive] awesome" for wearing a shirt with his number 44 on it. Mr. Goldsberry was most certainly intoxicated.)
New York Jets - When Herm Edwards bails on you because you suck, no amount of Mangini will bring you into contention. Dreadful squad.

So there are your last to AFC playoff teams, the Dolphins and the Patriots. I don't think this division will be as awful as people think, and the Jets probably even have 4 wins in them. The NFC starts next.

Monday, August 28, 2006

NFL Preview, Part 3: AFC South

Over the past couple days, I've become quite taken with with European Champion League soccer, and have been looking into the European Cup tournament. I subsequently determined that I needed to finally figure out who my English Premiership team is. Well, I did just that, selecting the Blackburn Rovers, and finding out that I will have a soft spot in my heart for Brann in the Norwegian league as well. But now is not the time to discuss that, because we need to finish barrelling through the NFL preview! And look! The AFC South contains my new favorite football teams. Teams listed in order of expected finish.

Indianapolis Colts - Nothing bad can be said about the Colts, really except that their offense will be dramatically affected by the departure of Edgerrin James, and Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy need to get a serious monkey off their back by performing in the postseason. Other than that, the Colts are clearly the premier team of the AFC South. A dominant passing attack will more than make up for the weakened ground game, and a good pressuring defensive line will make the rest of the defense look fantastic. The Colts will easily make the playoffs, but will struggle their because of their one dimensional offensive attack. At least they have excellent clutch kicker Adam Vinatieri instead of excellent head case Mike Vanderjagt on board.
Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jaguars aren't really doing anyhting for me on offense, and I'm not sold on Byron Leftwich's talent. The Jaguars are deep however, and they have a solid defense. That's saying a lot more than what can be said for the Titans or the Texans, so really, the Jags are in second by default. I really wish I had more to say, but the Jaguars are an incredibly boring, faceless team.
Tennessee Titans - The Titans really have a deep corps of running backs. Travis Henry, local hometown hero from the University of Tennessee highlights this group. Then they have Chris Brown, who, despite his trade requests has helped carry this Titans team on his back. Some people even think that LenDale White, the rookie from USC is better than Reggie Bush in some situations. Their fourth string back is Jerret Payton, son of legend Walter Payton! But, you ask, why am I spending so much time talking about their running game? Because I almost started to cry when I looked at their awful aerial attack, the brutal defense or the fact that they only have 9 offensive linemen on their roster.
Houston Texans - The Texans, despite what Skip Bayless wants you to think, did an excellent job this summer in the draft. Reggie Bush would be wasted on the Texans, as he would be destroyed much like David Carr is already. The Texans needed help on the offensive line, not in the backfield, and though they also needed to plug several holes on defense. And that's just what they did. They went after Mario Williams, the premier defensive end, and Demeco Ryans, a talented linebacker from Alabama. These are two players who can affect the game on their own, immediately. Reggie Bush needs an offensive line to run behind, and after four years of getting abused, would leave town anyways. So yes, Reggie Bush will be successful, but he wouldn't have been in Houston. And in any case, the Texans are going to bad this year, but they may be better than Tennessee.

So the Colts are clearly the favorites here, and barring a disaster, they will easily reach the postseason. What they will do there is anyones guess. But are than that, the South will be shut out of playoff teams. Are the Rovers on?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

NFL Preview, Part 2 : AFC North

Now that we have established that the Chiefs are in my version of the playoffs, who else can we expect in the post season? I bet that a team from Ohio makes an appearance.As always, teams are listed in their expected order of finish.

Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens still claim ownership to one of the most fearsome defenses in the land, from Ray Lewis to Sackmaster Terrell Suggs to the best DB in the league, Ed Reed. Jamal Lewis now has a full year out of prison and should be back to his old self. Most importantly, the Ravens aren't starting Kyle Boller at QB, and for the first time in his tenure, Brian Billick is coaching a guy with talent. If he can win a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer, he should be able to work some magic with Steve McNair. Also, McNair will benefit from having an offensive line as well as a running game. His presence in Baltimore is underrated, but won't be at the end of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals - I've learned that off field distractions, especially when they encompass a large group of players, can be devastating for a team. So with roughly 39 players getting arrested for the Bengals this off-season, it's going to be tough for this squad to reach the levels they did last year. Nevertheless, they feature many of the same players as they did last year, and Carson Palmer, though on a gimpy knee, has another season of experience under his belt. Don't be surprised if they start putting up huge offensive numbers again this season, and playing just enough defense to win games. Of course, don't be surprised if Palmer's knee gives out or the only stripes half the Bengals see are on their prison uniforms and not on their Bengals uniforms.
Pittsburgh Steelers - I will say it loud and clear, and you may reference this later in the season. THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS, DEFENDING CHAMPIONS, WILL MISS THE PLAYOFFS. Last season, they relied on good defense and surprise. The defense is still there. The element of surprise, however, is gone. Antwaan Randle El, purporter of all the Steelers' trick plays last year, now resides in Washington, and defenses can key on Willie Parker without having to worry about Jerome Bettis barrelling downfield. And if the Steelers have to rely on Ben Roethlisberger passing the ball, they're in a lot of trouble. I doubt he can interpret zone defenses on passing downs if he can't pick out sedans on city streets.
Cleveland Browns - I continue to be at a loss for words when describing the Browns. At least they have a bye week.

This, while decent, is also not the best division in the AFC. Probably the second best, top to bottom, but two of the 6 best teams are here. Baltimore and Cincinnati are in the playoffs.

NFL Preview, Part 1: AFC West

I started my look at the NFL's upcoming season with an in depth look at the Vikings a couple days ago, and now that my plans for the next couple of days include a trip to Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, I figured that It would be in my best interest to get started on the preview for the rest of the league. We shall start with the AFC West. Teams are listed in the order I expect them to finish.
Kansas City Chiefs - The West this year looks to be one of the weaker ones in all football, which doesn't bode well for them, since the AFC is the clearly stronger conference. The Chiefs, the only team to be truly dominant on either side of the football (their offense) are the only team I could pick to win this division. Trent Green is, begrudgingly, an effective quarterback who makes good decisions, and even Reggie Bush will tell you Larry Johnson is rated number one over at ESPN. The only thing close to a strength on defense is their secondary which A) isn't all that important in a run first division and B) is rapidly changing from "veteran" to "old". But they will go 9-7 or so and win the west.
Denver Broncos - The Broncos are the Atlanta Braves of professional football. Even though they don't have an overwhelming cast, they seem to always be in contention, and I can't bring myself to pick them to finish lower than second. They posess a capable air attack with good receivers and a good offensive line, which forgives Mike Shanahan's choice to go without a running back this year. Their defense is going to be servicable. It has a solid defensive line with names I can't help but root for (Elvis Dumervil, Ebenezer Ekuban, Peter Chukwurah and Chukie Nwokori, for example) and they have an elite corner in Champ Bailey for those times when they host Randy Moss and the Raiders. The real question is whether or not Jake Plummer will maintain his form and not combust, or if we will see Jay Cutler sooner rather than later.
San Diego Chargers - I just can't get behind a team that gives up on a quarterback because of an easily operable shoulder injury. Sure, they had Philip Rivers waiting in the wings, but given the Chargers' recent history of drafted quarterbacks, (see: Ryan Leaf) I would be a little gunshy about giving the reins of what would otherwise be a playoff team to a guy who could only get to the Tangerine Bowl in college. Of course, the Chargers do have Ladanian Tomlinson running the ball and a rapidly improving defense, featuring Igor Olshansky and Twins second baseman Luis Castillo on the line, as well as good linebackers, Like Donnie Edwards and Shawne Merriman. Of course, their defensive backfield is dreadful, so at least one team on the field will have a passing attack when the Chargers play.
Oakland Raiders - The Raiders have a poor coach, a bad quarterback, a mediocre running back, a miserable defense, a drunk kicker and an elite wide receiver. That should about sum them up. Maybe Steve will have more to say on the Raiders' chances at another time.

All in all, the AFC west might just get two teams into the playoffs this year, as they are helped by a fortuitous schedule, playing both the NFC west and the AFC central, meaning everyone gets a game against the Browns, 49ers, and Rams.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Vikings Chances? Sickening.

Just looking at the Vikings this year, I think I'm going to be sick. And I haven't even seen those new uniforms in motion. But just taking one look at their offense this year, paricularly when they run or throw, it looks pretty nauseating. Let's break down the roster a little bit, and you'll see what I mean.
QB - Brad Johnson is old. I know we in Minnesota love our old righthanded throwers named Brad (see: Radke) but in football, they are supposed to move around a little bit too, which the Vikings version of Old Brad doesn't do. Behind him they have the hope for the future, Tavares Jackson. Fun fact: no quarterback named Tavares has ever led his team to the Super Bowl. But the Vikings do have the best third string QB in the league in Mike McMahon, Donovan McNabb's backup the past few years. But I don't see much promise in this set of QBs.
RB - GROAAAAAAAN. That would be my stomach gurgling. I feel a little ill looking at a backfield which features Tony Richardson (a fullback) as it's only established runner. Chester Taylor, the starting halfback, went to Toledo and has never been a feature back before. And if he goes down, we can always rely on Mewelde Moore who will probably already be hurt, Ciatrick Faison or some guy named Wendell. Or Adimchinobe. GROAAAAAAAAN!
WR - OK, maybe I had a little bit of hyperbole in describing the previous two positions, and their effect on my well being. But the wide receiver corps just gives me a hangover even thinking about Koren Robinson. See, Koren got cut because of a DWI (up there with T.O. causing problems in Dallas in the 'Who saw that coming?' Hall of Fame) and left us with a second year player who proved nothing his first year, Travis Taylor who flat sucks, and Marcus Robinson who was relevant 6 years ago. The way I see it, since this corps is a joke, we go with an all South Carolina 1-2 punch with Troy Williamson and Robinson (the one not in jail), or we go with the all white 1-2 punch, with Ryan Hoag and Kevin Kasper. The only problem is that having two receivers from South Carolina doesn't even work at South Carolina, and the last time a team went with all white receivers, the forward pass wasn't really an effective tool used in the NFL. At least our tight ends aren't bad.
OL - Our offensive line is a good antacid, soothing the heartburn the skill positions have given me. Of course, this means Ciatrick Faison will just run into Steve Hutchinson and we'll watch Brad Johnson have a mental breakdown in a pocket that won't collapse while he looks for a receiver, any receiver, that will actually catch the ball when he throws it to him.
DL - Yay! Something that makes me smile! Not only are they good, they are getting better. The only problems will arise if Pat Williams needs to go in for a gastric bypass, or becomes otherwise injured. Kenechi Udeze and Erasmus James are very promising, very quick and very dangerous at the ends. If we won't be able to run the ball, we won't let anyone else either.
LB - Oh... there's that gross "I need to throw up" feeling again. The linebacking corps is filled with standouts like Dontarrius Thomas and E.J. Henderson. That's a whole lot of not good. With first round pick Chad Greenway shelved earlier, Napoleon Harris gets to rejoin one of the aforementioned and new acquisition Ben Leber, the only player from this group who is better than a member of this year's Northwestern Wildcats.
DB - Assuming Fred Smoot keeps his pants on while seafaring, we have a pair of decent cornerbacks in Smoot and Antoine Winfield. Darren Sharper is a good safety. Willie Offord is not. Three for four. Unless, of course, Smoot feels the need to have some more maritime hijinks. Ooh, seasick. That would be the reference to illness I needed for continuity.
Well, the Vikings are fortunate they play in a crappy division in a crappy conference. They still may pull of a 7-9 record despite themselves, and the thing is, I'll feel dirty for having watched it.At least the special teams might give me something to cheer about. Chris Kluwe and Ryan Longwell might be able to win one for them. One. - Ryan

Monday, August 21, 2006

Two Items Concerning the Past.

Saturday night was a night that looked to be important in advance, but turned out to be me just drinking and being awkward. So in other words, it was a regular Saturday night. Yes, that's right, what was ostensibly supposed to be a high school reunion turned into a drink-o-thon. Which is fun. But then the biggest most powerful cabal of students, the hockey team, showed up, already half in the bag.
A little background. I had a high school with an excellent hockey team. I mean, state tournament winning good. And this is Minnesota, so you know we had some hockey talent. There are a few of my schoolmates playing professionally. One of them, Jake Riddle, was in my class, but left after his sophomore year to play juniors. His brother, Troy, a year older did the same. Troy was the clearly more talented, actually played in college and is a member of the Blues' farm system now. Jake was drafted by the Wild. Naturally, when they get arrested, it makes the local news.
So when Jake showed up at the reunion, despite having not actually, you know, graduated from my high school, I had to use considerable restraint from asking how prison was. That and his buffer of dozens of drunk hockey players. One of whom both exposed his butt and demanded my phone number. That was a ridiculous and unnecessary story, but this is my blog and I don't like the Riddles. So there.
Speaking of people I don't really like and completely biased opinions... Several months ago, I noted with chagrin that Tom Bernard is a mindless ass. Well, it turns out I'm not the only one. Chris Riemenschnieder (I hope he never piques my interest again, what with his 15 letter last name) wrote this piece on Bernard and his crew. Although it's too bad that Riemenschneider and the STrib decided to go after his taste in music rather than his smallmindedness, or his jingoism, or the fact that he reflects the views of way too many people.
Wow, I am getting way too preachy lately. I'll try harder later. - Ryan

Sunday, August 20, 2006

How is This Possible?

Things are going pretty OK in the Ryancave. My brother is off to NDSU tomorrow, meaning I get to start showering without stepping over three feet of his wet towels and spent underwear before and after, and I have a fair shot at finding an undrank soda when I make a stop at the fridge. Football season is right around the corner and I am not beholden to any fantasy team (I need a season off). I have a plan for my future, which is nice. And the Twins are in the midst of a playoff chase they have no business being in.
The only things that people who like to pimp the Twins chances like to mention when lauding the teams positives are Johan Santana, Joe Mauer and Francisco Liriano. Well, Liriano went on the shelf and the Twins are STILL in it. Santana and Mauer can't be the only things propping this team up can they? Well, there are three things that it could be, right? Pitching, hitting or coaching? Which of the three is it?
Behind Santana, the Twins have featured what amounts to a 17 man rotation. I don't believe that has ever been employed by a contending team. Pretty soon, they're going to call up Frank Viola for another go around. The only three constants have been Santana, Brad Radke and Carlos Silva. Santana is beyond reproach, but then it gets sticky. Radke's arm is going to fall off. That's barely hyperbole. He has a torn labrum which, in case you didn't know, caused the San Diego Chargers to drop Drew Brees like a frat brother drops advanced physics. Carlos Silva has been equally creaky, throwing a sinker that doesn't really, you know, sink. And then there is a gaggle of youngsters, ruffians and hooligans filling out the rest of the rotation. Surely, a couple will stick for the future, but it makes me feel a bit squidgy seeing them out there every 4th and 5th day. The fact that they are on a shuttle to and from Rochester is all the more unsettling. An elie bullpen can carry the Twins only so far.
So, that means it's the hitting right? Wrong. The Twins have two elite hitters, one skilled hitter and no strictly right handed hitters. Mauer and Justin Morneau are vastly improved and terrifying. Mauer gets on base, and Morneau drives him in. Luis Castillo is a professional slap hitter, much like Ichiro, but without the transcendent, walk on water talent. He does own one of the longest hitting streaks since Dimaggio, and he is one of the Marlins' "Hometown Hero" candidates. After that, to even call the Twins lineup balanced would be like calling Fox's news coverage balanced. Or calling my blog unbiased. Michael Cuddyer, arguably the Twins best righty (although Torii Hunter has been better than expected this season) is hardly a formidable batter, particularly in the cleanup spot. I don't think anyone has said, "he's batting .268! We're screwed!" And then to fill out the rest of the order, you future Lew Ford/Denny Hocking types Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez, Jason Tyner, Josh Rabe and Lew Ford himself. Jason Bartlett is proving himself to be an effective contact hitter at the bottom of the lineup, so I reserve any negative commentary about him for his leadership skills.
But to have an effective lineup, you need more than four reliable hitters and a pitching staff with a starting rotation in the single digits. So that means the only way we are to cobble together all these wins are the good fundamentals and strategy the Twins manager employs. Well.... probably not. After a few poorly thought out personnel and strategy decisions at the beginning of the year (little stuff, like when to send baserunners, etc, but it piled up) I lost faith in Ron Gardenhire's ability to lead a baseball team. Then he went on this little diatribe about starter Matt Smith: "We expect you to attack the hitters. If they hit you, they hit you, but we're not going to sit there and watch ball one, ball two, ball three." While it's nowhere near John Tortorella's rant on John Grahame in last year's NHL season, disparaging your team's on field/ice/court leader on a given day is a horrible way to inspire team confidence. And the defense is ingrained in the fabric of the Twins organization, not in anything Gardenhire does.
So, that means... it's not anything. Are intangibles really all we have? I mean, you can't really hit a walk-off intangible, or throw a complete game intangible can you?The only intangible I've ever believed in is momentum, but I took that advanced physics class the frat bro didn't. Momentum is mass times velocity. Which the Twins kinda have, I suppose. But that can't be all there is, is there?
A quick check of the standings tells me that in fact, the bigger factor is that the Red and White Sox are tanking. Fast. Mystery solved. -Ryan

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Triumphant Return

So, yesterday, I was filling holes in the basement, making sure chipmunks would stop making my basement their living room, using a certain brand of expanding insulation. They recommend using gloves. I too, recommend wearing gloves. Among having my hands stuck together for a couple hours, this past week has been frought with miscellaneity that has kept me from my writing. But instead of boring you with those details, I'm going to bore you with another edition of Ryan versus the Local Paper. In future posts, I will bore you with some Twins, Vikings and major paper talk.
But lets turn to our friend Celine. Dear, sweet Celine. Apparently, she received a letter from her daughter in the past month. It was important enough, and complimentary enough, that Ms. Dion printed it in the paper! How would you like it if you wrote to your parents, and the event was so meritorious, it was printed in the local paper, and read by thousands? Well, I guess I would like thousands of people to read this, but thats not the point. Let's move on.
There were two letters of import, both from important, newsworthy people, including the local state senator, who was asking if she could submit something on a recent press release she wanted to make. the other was about a community meeting that was set up by the Metropolitan Council. The press release was on racial diversity (which is CLEARLY an important issue in Victoria), and the meeting between including people from St. Bonifacius, Waconia and Victoria pertained to improvements to the sewer system. You weren't going to get that info in the paper, so I'll mention that here.
The cream of the crop in this edition of letters to the editor, is from a Shakopee man, concerned with the conservative (no kidding) bent of the paper, as well as the "small town vibe" that it has. He wondered why he saw pro-life articles but never a pro-choice sentiment. How, the author of this letter inquires, is Celine going to adapt the paper to this fast growing, morally and politically diverse community? The answer? She's NOT! She says she is only going to worry about the truth, which in case you haven't noticed, has never been the world's truth, but only her own. Nothing like an obstinant, narrow minded voiceplate of a community, no? So now, I have a purpose! I need to get the truth out there to the people! I am the Keith Olbermann to her Bill O'Reilly!
OK, I'm getting a little preachy. But I should probably get in touch with the guy that sent this letter. It was well written and thought out, both traits I could use in this blog.
Moving on to what should ostensibly be the news, the lead article is on an award ceremony for a gentleman who saved another man's life. Not to take anything away from the man, in fact I will commend him here (his name is Randy Herges, so if you know him, give him a healthy hand shake and a pat on the back from me), but his choice of attire at the award ceremony was... questionable. A shortsleeve button down white shirt, which is totally acceptable. And then, there were the shorts. And the sock-free loafers. Did they surprise him with this award? Not tell him there would be a ceremony after the barbecue? But he saved a man's life, so I suppose he can do whatever the hell he wants.
And that's it. Celine failed to provide working links to later pages of the paper. Apparently "the truth" doesn't involve hyperlinks. - Ryan

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jim Halpert is Depressing

Recently, a tragedy befell my household. The crew working on the roads and water lines in my neighborhood hit the cable line, knocking out both television and internet. I was forlorn. So I took out my brothers DVD of season 1 of The Office and watched all 6 episodes, back to back. I learned something from that experience.
Jim Halpert is the most depressing character on television.
Taken as a whole, the entire show is depressing from the standpoint of the main characters. There jobs are tedious, and they are in various stages of toiling at it, from Ryan who is just getting into it, to Stanley who makes it through every day so he can feed his family. There are different aspects that are depressing for any number of those characters, but for me, Jim is the most depressing. Let's look at the facts.
He's mentioned already that he sees this as a job, and not a career. So what's keeping him back from going after something he really wants to do? The first reason is obvious. Pam, the engaged woman he has a crush on. Second, he isnt entirely sure what he would do if he left. The first reason is obviously depressing, because he is sacraficing his future for something that will never happen. He's stuck at Dunder-Mifflin, performing a job he hates while eyeballing his frustrations, who happen to be sitting behind the receptionists desk.
But then, he has a way out. In season two, he knows what he as to do. Instead of finding a new job, however, he seeks a transfer. He hasn't been thinking of ways to advance his career, and he sits mired in his old job. Add to that his history as a basketball player ("It's kinda my thing") and you have all the components to a secretly depressing character. The longing for someone they can't have, the tedious job, even the washed up high school sports career that they still hang on to.
So I can't understand why, when people try to put themselves in the show, compare themselves to the characters found therein, they always say they are Jim or Pam. Really? You want to be the depressing guy, stuck in the past, and unable to see past the present? Or the girl who leads on her coworker? Personally, I find myself identifying more with a couple other people I already mentioned, either Ryan or Stanley. Ryan because he's new, finds his workplace romance uncomfortable, gets along well with everyone and sees this job as a stepping stone. Also, I feel that I identify with Stanley's attitude of "Even though I hate my job, I would appreciate it if you left me alone long enough to do it the right way." But that's just me. - Ryan (not played by B.J. Novak)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My Future as a College Sports Fan

In case anyone doesn't know me personally, I'm in the process of getting into graduate school. I'm of the opinion that I'll be lucky to get into one of the schools I applied to, and then I'll end up going there, happy as a clam. But in the unlikely event that I get into more than one school, I'm going to be faced with the tough choice of deciding between a them. For me, naturally, the criteria is A) interesting sports and B) educational opportunities. So let's take a look at the 5 schools I applied to, bottom to top, to see which ones I would be best off attending.
NORTHERN COLORADO - Northern Colorado, located in Greeley, isn't even a Division 1A football school, which is a huge hit. However, it IS the only school with a hockey team, and the only school in which I will be able to finally see the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks live and in person. Needless to say, I'm not enthusiastic about a football schedule, which features home games versus UC-Davis, Western Illinois, Idaho State, Eastern Washington, Montana State and Northern Arizona. At least Greeley is close to Denver, meaning a full helping of all 4 professional sports leagues.
HAWAII - I'm not really all that into a school whose nickname used to be the "Rainbow Warriors" but it is, after all, a school in Honolulu. Their basketball team leaves a lot to be desired, and the pro scene isn't all that inviting, aside from the NFL Pro Bowl. Football games from the mainland start at 6 or 7 in the morning on Hawaii, thanks to it's location. Hawaii does score points, however, because they are a D-1 school that teams want to play in football. Not only that, Coach June Jones employs an exciting spread offense that generally leads to high scoring shootouts. The home football schedule (because I definitely wouldnt be going to any road games) features a non-conference game versus my Purdue Boilermakers, the icing on the cake. Also, during basketball season, basketball's best come to the Maui invitational, which is at least in the same state, if not on the same island.
RUTGERS - Rutgers gets a healthy bump because they play, albeit poorly, in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights just have West Virginia in their way as they compete for a BCS bowl next year. They play a challenging non-conference schedule, and have the media's attention, being located halfway between New York City and Philadelphia. This could be an exciting season in Piscataway. The big advantage is during basketball season, when the Scarlet Knights get to be blown out by Connecticut and Syracuse. Seeing those teams in person could be a boon to my tournament pools. Also, being in northern New Jersey, I'll be inundated, for better or worse, with news of the Phillies, Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, Eagles, 76ers, Nets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, and Flyers. I might be come a Mets/Jets/Nets fan so all my teams rhyme. Rutgers loses points for being flat out awful in 95% of their seasons in all sports.
TEXAS TECH - The Red Raiders are always an interesting team, and my favorite type of team to cheer for. In all sports, they are competitive, but rarely are they elite. Reminiscent of the Twins and Minnesota sports, really. They're always there in the Big 12 hunt, but can never get past the Oklahoma Sooners or the Texas Longhorns in football, but they play a cupcake non-conference schedule and put 77 points on Baylor and end up in a Bowl game every year. They run a similar offense to Hawaii's but are, if anything, more effective at it. And then they always play one really good game against a really good Big 12 opponent. Very exciting stuff. The same can be said for their basketball team, coached by the ever entertaining Bobby Knight. The Red Raiders play in a conference with teams that are a little more accomplished than they are, so they struggle, but always make a postseason tournament. Texas Tech loses for being in Lubbock, as far away from other civilization as you can get, but it doesn't lose too many, because Texas is all about football. The city shuts down on sunday to watch the game.
MIAMI - The Hurricanes (great nickname too, considering my major) feature the one of the top 5 football programs in the country, and a basketball team that plays competitively in the best basketball conference in the country, the ACC. You can always count on Larry Coker leading the 'Canes to a feature bowl matchup, as well as having numerous liscivious stories hitting the press. The basketball team is also improving. Last year, a very young team turned some heads, reaching the NIT despite playing in such a challenging conference. They can only get better, and they will get experience playing Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland and others every year. Professionally, Miami has it's host of professional teams in all sports, from the storied Dolphins to the emerging Panthers. Don't forget about the Heat and Marlins, who have won a combined 3 championships over the past decade. Miami looks like the school for me. - Ryan