Month: October 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Is There A Patron Saint For Blogging?

The end of October. That means one thing for school-age children: dressing up as their favorite saint for All Saints Day celebration. Well, thats what M. and C. did this week, since they attend a Catholic school.

C.’s program was Thursday. She went as Saint Catherine, who helped sick people. We dressed her in a rather minimalist costume consisting of the teacher-suggested pillow case smock and a veil. To help the sick people, she took her Fisher Price doctor bag.

If you drew a continuum that went from absolute minimalist to completely over-the-top, there was consistent representation along that line for costumes. Some kids clearly have parents that are far more artistic and have more time than S. and I. There were plenty who came in the pillow case smock with adornments.

C.’s best friend refused to dress up. Not sure if it was because it was also her birthday, and she didn’t want to take attention away from herself, if she’s already rebelling against the church, or she was just being difficult. But her mom said she refused to put her costume on that morning.

But the best outfit, by far, was a pre-K boy who came as Jesus. He had a big, wooly wig and a matching beard. To be honest, he looked more Arab than the classic western representation of Jesus. Not sure if his parents were trying to make a point or what.

Anyway, the kids all parade into the church and, one-by-one, walk up to the altar and speak into a microphone, stating their saint and what they did. As you would expect, most kids were barely audible. C. performed completely as expected: she stared at her shoes and didn’t say a word. She’s kind of in a shy phase around strangers now. When the priest asked her what was in her bag, she happily opened it and showed him all her doctor tools, but still didn’t say a word.

The highlight of C.’s day was during the priest’s brief talk about what saints are and why they’re important. He asked if the kids knew where saints lived, and lifted a hand above his head as a hint. C., being a literalist, looked up at the ceiling and began scanning each corner of the church, thinking there were saints flying around in the support beams. Which, I suppose, they are.

M.’s program was today. For the second-straight year she went as Mary, because I think all Catholic girls want to be Mary once they learn about her. And they realize you get to take a doll to school when you’re Mary. There were at least ten Marys both days. Sts. Luke, Nicholas, and Francis were especially popular with the boys.

The kindergardeners were a little more verbal, and I could clearly understand what M. was saying even from the back of the church. She was so proud of herself afterwards that she wouldn’t even look at me as they processed out of the church. At least I think she did that out of pride.

L. just got to watch this year, and the twos class doesn’t participate, but I’m pretty sure I know what she’s going to be in two years: one of M.’s classmates was Saint Lea. No Mary for her!

Happy Halloween and All Saints Day. Check back over the weekend for photos of the girls in their Halloween costumes.

Required Reading – Vaccines

Below is a link to an article I think all parents should read. It addresses a very important subject I think many of us have some fears about.

<a href=”http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience/all/1″>An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All</a>

To be clear, there is no credible evidence to indicate that any of this is true. None. Twelve epidemiological studies have found no data that links the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine to autism; six studies have found no trace of an association between thimerosal (a preservative containing ethylmercury that has largely been removed from vaccines since 20011) and autism, and three other studies have found no indication that thimerosal causes even subtle neurological problems. The so-called epidemic, researchers assert, is the result of improved diagnosis, which has identified as autistic many kids who once might have been labeled mentally retarded or just plain slow.

I link to it not just because it is interesting and informative. It’s also a fantastic piece of journalism. At some point, we journalists have let the non-journalist world redefine how we should do our job. Articles are supposed to be objective, which in the language of critics really means balanced, which really means it should be carefully leveled so that each side in a debate receives equal space, equal respect, and there is no judgement of their arguments.

That sounds fine, but all-too-often the sides in a debate aren’t equal. Take climate change, for instance. We can argue about the specifics, the causes, and the true long-term effects, but the overwhelming scientific evidence is that we’re in the midst of a profound change in our climate. An extremely small number of scientist disagree with this view, many of them building their arguments on evidence that is not scientifically provable. Yet it isn’t uncommon to see these unmeasureable, unverifiable views presented as equal to those views that are supported by the scientific record. All in the name of giving each side of a debate equal time to air their views.

That’s why I love this article. Amy Wallace gives the anti-vaccine lobby space to present their views, offer their evidence, and explains their methods for pushing their cause. Then she carefully, point-by-point, shows how their arguments are refuted by all currently available scientific data. She points out how their arguments against that data are flimsy, at best. She writes an objective, balanced piece that presents both sides of the debate, and fills that piece with evidence that overwhelmingly supports the pro-vaccine community.

I’m sure many in the anti-vaccine world will find fault with her conclusions, methods, etc. And who knows, perhaps five or 10 or 20 years from now we’ll learn that scientists were wrong about vaccines.* But based on what we know today, there’s only one way to describe Wallace’s work: excellent journalism.

(My natural inclination is to trust the scientists who insist that vaccines are safe. But I must acknowledge that my views are certainly influenced by being married to a pediatrician.)

I was struck by something else while reading this. For all the barriers it breaks, information it carries, and promise it holds, at times the Internet is the worst thing that could have happened to otherwise intelligent people. Knowledge previously available only to trained professionals is now in the public domain. We can research any subject, sift through gigabytes of data, and educate ourselves where in the past we were forced to rely on the opinions of others.

Problem is, we’re often not trained to digest and analyze this information. It’s often difficult to verify the veracity of data, especially when it is repeated across various blogs and news sites. And when you’re dealing with a child that has an unexplained illness, it is easy to grasp at any straws that offer hope to understand the illness and perhaps lead the way to a cure.

While I have little time for the anti-climate change lobby, I can completely sympathize with the parents of autistic kids who get sucked into the anti-vaccine movement. I don’t know that I could think rationally if I was in their shoes. But it seems to me to be a classic example of how information overload can be a bad thing, and people who otherwise delete the mass e-mails promising Nigerian riches or relaying dark political conspiracies will buy into theories that aren’t supported while ignoring perfectly reasonable, verified conclusions.

 

KC Trippin’

The travel gods were with us, for the most part, and we had a successful trip to-and-from Kansas City over the girls’ fall break.

First, our biggest thanks to our many friends who cleared their schedules, opened their homes, and loaded up on Boulevard Wheat to spend time with us. While the large number of kids under six running around both Friday and Saturday nights meant our adult conversation to kid chasing ratio was approximately 1:3, we still enjoyed seeing everyone.

As I said, the traveling went pretty well. On the trip out, the girls were excellent. As tends to happen when we travel on I-70 with girls in the van, we ran into a one-hour delay due to an accident that blocked both sides of I-70 near Columbia, but the girls were troopers and were just slightly fussy by the time we rolled into the Plaza.

The trip back was not quite as good; C. was suffering from the funk that comes with sleeping in a bed other than your own for three nights. She was a bit of a beast for the eight hours we were in the van, but the other two girls were excellent. Again we ran into an accident just east of Columbia, but fortunately this one was minor and only delayed us about 15 minutes. And we drive through 45 minutes of rain rather than four hours as we did on Thursday.

As for the eats, I have to admit, 2009 was not a good eating year for me in Kansas City. I spent parts of seven days in the city this year, and only had real Kansas City barbecue twice. What the hell is wrong with me? Our obstacle this time was the lack of kid food options at most barbecue joints. Our girls are opening up their palates a bit, but I think pulled pork or ribs is still a bit of a stretch for them. Thanks to the N’s, we had Gates for dinner on Friday (And a President’s Platter at that! Memories of Royals O’Bashes past…) Our other best shot for barbecue was Friday at lunch. I was going to run out and grab something to bring back to the hotel, but given that it was already noon, I figured it would be a quicker trip to Planet Sub* than to Oklahoma Joe’s. Since the girls were hungry and cranky, speed was paramount.

(I realized that this fall is the 20th anniversary of my first trip to Yello Sub in Lawrence, and thus my first every Yello Sub sans dijon, my regular order for these past 20 years. Although I’m pretty sure my first ever had dijon on it. I don’t think I strayed from that order until 2001 or 2002, when Planet Sub opened on the Plaza and I was able to eat it more frequently, and thus try new things. I did eat a Creamy Crab once in college when a roommate ordered one and didn’t like it, but I never actually ordered something other than the Yello (Planet) Sub for 12-13 years.)

Friday day kind of sucked. It was nasty cold and windy. We tried walking the three blocks from our hotel to Barnes and Noble and the girls did not tolerate it very well. My step-dad drove up to meet us and we ended up driving over to the Starbucks rather than walk. So one day of Plaza strolling eliminated.

We stayed at the Sheraton Suites, which I highly recommend. The girls did pretty well at night. M. and C. slept on the pull-out, usually with S. or I needing to lay between them until they drifted off to eliminate “C./M. stop touching me!” type comments. L. slept with us, which she adored. All the girls loved looking out our windows, which from our 15th floor perch, offered a nice view of the Plaza. We could see my old apartment building, as well, which the girls thought was cool. I enjoyed looking down on the hill I used to stroll down to go out on weekend, to go to S.’s, or just take on my path over to the Trolley Trail when I was running.

I made the mistake of telling M. to get away from the windows when we were in the process of changing her clothes Friday afternoon. Naturally she took that as a challenge and spent the next five minutes flashing the people in the office building opposite our room. Is it child porn if you don’t stop your kid from showing her who-ha to the world?

Our girls joined with Caroline N. and Meredith M. to form a girls club Friday night. No boys allowed! The four of them seemed to hit it off, although C., as is her current default, was a but aloof from the group, playing in parallel but not necessarily with all the time.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, perfect for walking around and taking in all the Plaza fountains, which the girls loved. We met my dad for lunch, then went back to hotel, where everyone proceeded to crash for the next two-plus hours. By the time we were all awake, the KU game had started and we needed to begin getting ready for our evening commitments.

For old-time sake, we cruised over to the Hen House in Fairway to pick up some items for breakfast and van snacking on Sunday. If we went to Hen House, that means we had to go to BerbigL. on the way back to the hotel, just like every Sunday grocery shopping trip from 2000-2003. I carefully placed a 20-pack of Unfiltered Wheat in the back of the van to carry home.

Saturday evening we met many friends at the B’s home. Lots of kids running around, and I think they all did remarkably well. I don’t remember any tantrums; no need to correct me if I’m wrong. It was funny watching L. jet around and check everything out. I think this was her first big social gathering since she started walking, and she seemed to enjoy it.

When we left, I was a bit bummed that I had such brief conversations with all my KC friends. I realized, though, that in only a few more years, we’ll be able to do this again and ignore the kids and talk all we want. So it will get better as the kids get older.

That’s 1000 words, probably more than any of you care to read. As always, it was fantastic being back in KC. The visits are always bittersweet, but I’m fortunate that I get to make them often and see both my best friends and the city I grew up in regularly. It’s good to be home, but I’m looking forward to 2010, which promises several trips to KC, thanks to weddings and whatnot.

Again, huge thanks to everyone who spent time with us over the weekend. We loved seeing you and all of you are welcome here in Indy any time.

Time Keeps On Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’

Crazy few weeks here en La Casa del Blogger.

I believe I’ve mentioned that we’ve been doing some renovations over the past two months. Well, I took my first shower in our completely remodeled bathroom Tuesday morning. We’re still waiting on some lighting and a mirror, but we’re almost done. But we’ve had contractors in the house for the better part of eight weeks, which has thrown us all off our games a bit.

We’ve also been dealing with round two of the cold season. All the girls have had awful coughs the last two weeks. L. often coughs so much in the middle of the night that she makes herself throw up. I’m fighting a nasty cough, too, and S. said her throat is a bit sore. She’s been working almost constantly, too.

So it’s been a weird couple of weeks. Days fly by without getting much accomplished. When I get a chance to crack open the laptop and write in the evenings, I’m often too tired to focus.

But refueling time is coming. We’re packing up the family truckster and heading to Kansas City on Thursday. It’s the first time the whole family has come with me in over two years, so we’re very excited. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you over the weekend. And hopefully next week the girls will be healthy again, we’ll all get full nights of sleep, and I can get back in the swing of things on the blog.

 

Weekend Sports Update

Another weekend where I was super busy and I watched hardly any football. Perhaps I should just call these weekend wrap ups rather than football reviews. So we’ll knock the football out first and move on to what else I did this weekend after.

A very disappointing weekend for the Jayhawks. I was working Saturday night, so I was only home in time to see the last 20-25 minutes of the game. Because of that, I can sit here and type that the referees cost us the game. I missed the two turnovers deep in our own territory that lead to 14 CU points. I missed four of the five CU sacks. I missed the o-line sucking big time in the first half. I just saw, for the second time in four years, us lose a game because of a shitty offensive interference call. Argh. If it happened every year, I’d think we were cursed. But since there was a four-year gap between the calls, I think it’s just bad luck. Of course, both times the defender initiated contact with the KU receiver that was flagged. And you can call a pick on every pass play but save it to wipe off the potential game-winning touchdown. Whatever.

Initially I was quick to blame the defense again. After all, you give up that many points to a crappy CU team, the defense has struggled all year, it must be their fault. Turns out the defense didn’t play that poorly, and the coaching staff made some serious personnel changes, moving guys from offense – notably Bradley McDougald – inserting another true freshman to the line up, and even pulling a red shirt to get another kid on the field. So they get points for trying.

Regardless of where the blame lies, that was a shitty loss. Nebraska picks up an unexpected, bad loss earlier in the day. Missouri, playing at the same time as KU, picks up their second conference loss. The math was turning KU’s way; they just had to hold court in their north games and would likely win the division even with three losses. But they pissed that away in a way that doesn’t inspire confidence for the remainder of the season. A win at Tech is almost unimaginable now.* Seven wins seems like the ceiling now, and even that is going to take some work.

(Doesn’t it seem like Mike Leach just grabs some guy who was throwing the ball around the park, gives him a week of practice, and next thing he’s going 46-62, 500 yards, six TDs?)

But when was the last time a conference foe other than Missouri* rushed the field after beating KU in football? I guess we have that going for us. Which is nice.

<em>* And those Mizzou fans were generally more concerned with matching the KU fans who had pulled down goalposts the year before, who were trying to match Mizzou fans from the year before, who… </em>

My only other big football experience over the weekend was listening to the second half of the USC – Notre Dame game while driving to the soccer game I was covering Saturday evening. Don Criqui is the radio voice of the Irish, and his voice always brings back memories of Oklahoma or Nebraska playing a team from the south on New Year’s night at the Orange Bowl. I was ready to talk about his willingness to toe the party line and push Jimmy Clausen for the Heisman. It seemed like he called every pass that Clausen made “phenomenal.” It was kind of sickening. Then, when USC had the ball, every play they made was “phenomenal” as well. I guess he just likes that word.

I kind of like living in a world when Big 12 teams rush the field when they beat Kansas and Notre Dame is pleased to have hung close to a top ten team. Not as good as the last time I went to Notre Dame, when they lost to Air Force and KU won that night to go 9-0. But still pretty good.

Two quick NFL thoughts. Has there been a more popular 0-5 team in NFL history, at least to betters, than the Chiefs? I don’t bet, but even I thought about dropping some money on the Chiefs to get off the schnide over Washington. Everyone saw it coming, so is it really an upset?

Also, I did get to watch parts of the New England – Tennessee game. That was good, old fashioned football, and a fine day to break out the AFL throwbacks. Football in snow = awesome. Did I really pick Tennessee to win the division? Yikes.

OK, what did I do this weekend? Friday, I covered a state quarterfinal tennis match. It was the team I covered a couple weeks back, who happened to be the defending state champions. Because of weather conditions (cold, rainy), the matches were moved to an indoor facility. But, that meant rather than play the three singles and two doubles matches concurrently, they had to be staggered, as only three courts were available. Thus, a match that should have taken about 90 minutes lasted for nearly four hours. Even though we were inside, it wasn’t terribly warm. And the team I was covering won the first three individual matches, making the last two pointless. The next day in the state finals, one player forfeited his match when his team clinched the championship. I wish someone had done that Friday, as well.

Anyway, my team won and advanced to play the next day, where they lost to the eventual state champions. The coach can be rather prickly and it was fun to stand and wait for my turn to interview him while the reporter from a competing paper, who didn’t know the coach, asked questions. The reporter got on the coach’s nerves quickly and he began making fun of the reporter’s questions. Fortunately, I’ve interviewed the coach a few times and he must have approved of my stories, because while he was ripping the other guy, he would roll his eyes at me and give me knowing looks. The big bonus was the other reporter had no idea that there had been a lineup change due to illness, and left that out of his story. My story, on the other hand, focused on that change and what it meant for the team. I got over on the big media guys!

Saturday evening, as I said, I covered a soccer match, a regional final. Again, the same team I covered last weekend, and the same one I followed last year when they advanced to semi-state. They aren’t as strong this year, and were playing a team expected to compete for the state title. It ended up being a very exciting game, with my guys losing 2-1. After the game I interviewed one of the senior captains. He was great. He had tears in his eyes, having played his final high school soccer game, but gave me great, intelligent, useful answers. The best part was after I thanked him for his time, he thanked me and said, “Have a nice evening, Sir.” Good kid.

That’s one of my favorite parts about covering high school sports. Every now and then you’ll talk to a kid or coach that have an attitude,* but more often than not they’re very helpful and appreciative of you being there. Nearly every coach I’ve interviewed this year has thanked me for coming to the game and writing about his team. And most of the kids show that we live in a media-saturated age. They’re able to offer cogent thoughts after games, rather than just speak in cliches. Well, some of them are. I guess I do get a lot of “We’re taking it one game at a time, we’re just happy to be here, and the good Lord willing, we’ll come out on top” type answers. But it’s better than the “Ummms” and “You knows” you kind of expect from high school kids.

(I will admit one of my favorite kids to interview is a tennis player who has a serious attitude. He almost always disparages the other team in some way and comes across as very cocky and self-centered. Another reporter told me that last year, this kid pulled against his school’s football team in the state playoffs because he didn’t want them taking attention away from his team’s state title. A few weeks ago, at sectionals, I heard his teammates quietly pleased when he lost a match. At the same time, he’s a smart kid and once you get him talking, offers lots of excellent comments. If he was in college, I’d print some of his more cocky statements, but since it is high school tennis, I give him a break.)

So now we’ve come to the end, more or less, of the fall sports season. I don’t expect more than two of our schools to get through the first week of football playoffs. Most of the other sports have been eliminated. Thus, things should slow down until basketball starts in mind-November. This is the most I’ve worked during fall sports season, and I think it shows. My interviews are better. My stories are better. In football, I’ve got the stats side down. And, most importantly, the writing is coming easier. With the stat-side being easier, I can focus more on the plays within a game that I’ll need to write about, prepping my story as the game progresses. When I did a Friday football game a week ago, I had my story filed at 10:17, nearly 30 minutes before deadline and the earliest I’ve ever filed. It was probably my best football story, too. I’m hoping that confidence and comfort carry over to basketball season.

 

Journalism Is Not Dead

Maybe I should move the family to remote northwest Australia. It seems like there’s exciting stuff to write about there. This is not necessarily safe for work, although it is from an allegedly legitimate news source.*

<a href=”http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2009/10/10/91575_ntnews.html?source=cmailer”>No oral sex, says ute crash waitress</a>

”It may have looked bad when police first arrived as my girls were hanging out all over the place. I also had a $5 note wedged between my boobs so they probably just assumed I was a sex worker or something and he’d already paid me.
”But $5 is a bit cheap for a head job

(I sent this to a few friends earlier and one asked if this was Australia’s version of The Onion. I went back and checked and it seems to be a regular news site. But, I highly recommend checking out the story about the guy running over his girlfriend. Ridonkulous.)

 

I Suck

A book a week? Big freaking deal. Try a book a day.

<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/nyregion/12towns.html?_r=1″>Our Towns – For Nina Sankovitch, a Book a Day, Every Day</a> –

In a time-deprived world, where book reading is increasingly squeezed off the page, it is hard to know what’s most striking about Ms. Sankovitch’s quest, now on Day 350, to read a book every day for a year and review them on her blog, www.readallday.org.

I’m plugging away at <em>Infinite Jest</em>. My goal is to complete it by the end of the year.

Futbol Americano

Please join me in celebrating Hispanic heritage month. This week, it’s all about el futbol.

A long weekend for el futbol. There was a game of some interest to me Thursday. However, given the math, which seemed to require that I pull for Missouri to beat Nebraska, I stuck with Must See TV and didn’t watch any of the Deluge in Columbia.

Friday, that weather moved into our area. Fortuitously, that just happened to be the night I was assigned to cover my first Friday night futbol game of the year. I had a good assignment, though: traveling to a big school with a very nice, completely enclosed press box. So I stayed warm and dry all night. Until I had to cross the field after the game. I sunk past my ankles into the mud as I chased down the coach. Not sure how those kids kept their footing all night. Midway through the second quarter, I couldn’t read the numbers on the jerseys of any of the backs or receivers on the team wearing white. So I just listened to the PA and radio announcers next to me, and figured whoever they said had the ball would get the carry/catch in the official stats. Oh, and my team lost 34-0, so another ass-whoppin’ when I’m on the job.

Saturday, thanks the glorious Vs. HD, I was able to witness the shootout in Lawrence. As a KU alum and lifetime fan, I will never apologize for or take being 5-0 lightly. More often than not, the Jayhawks would consider 3-2 a great record at this point in the schedule. But one thing was obvious during and after the narrow win over Iowa State: the distance to travel for the Big 12 North title is even farther than most of us had hoped. Unless the defense makes some major changes, there’s no way we’re going to get the sweep of Tech, Nebraska, and Mizzou we need to win the North. As good as the offense is, you can’t ask them to score 40+ every week just to eek out a win. From his post-game comments, Mangino is aware of the issues and may be making some changes this week. It seemed like everyone was kind of standing around on Saturday, rather than being aggressive. Hopefully it is just a matter of making some small tweaks, inserting a couple guys who are highly skilled but have struggled grasping the schemes, and so on that will allow them to keep opponents under 500 yards/game.

The final Iowa State play of the game was nearly a miracle/disaster finish. If Arnaud can throw a better pass (and that was an exceptionally difficult pass, I’m not knocking him at all), it is reminiscent of a certain game-winning pass thrown by a certain quarterback on a certain team that a certain blogger follows closely. Not nearly as cool, of course, but close.

I exchanged e-mails with my friend Sean the Clone throughout the game. I commented that it would really suck to be a defensive player these days. All the rules are against you and for the offense. You have to play these ridiculous schemes that spread the offense across the entire field. Unless you have NFL-caliber speed, it’s very difficult to get to the quarterback. And once you’re spread out and each defender is on an island, any halfway decent quarterback can pick you apart all afternoon. I didn’t keep exact stats, but it felt like only 2-3 incomplete passes in the KU-ISU game were because of the defense. The rest were drops or bad throws. Even with the 4-2-5 scheme becoming more popular, those back five don’t have much of a chance.

As soon as the game was over, I hopped into the car and jetted south to cover a sectional soccer final. It was an entertaining game, ending in a 3-1 win for the favorites. Both teams fall under our coverage umbrella, so it was win-win from a writing perspective. Should the winners win again on Wednesday, I would not be surprised if I cover their regional final next weekend.

More soccer. The US national team played a World Cup qualifier in Honduras late Saturday. Because of some strange rights issues, the game was only available on closed circuit.* Sports Illustrated writer (and KC native) Grant Wahl was in Honduras for the match, though, and offered live updates via his Twitter feed. It was another example of how small the world is, as I got immediate updates on a soccer match via my iPhone. 30 years ago, I might have to wait until Monday morning to see the score in the paper. The US came from behind and got a 3-2 win, securing their trip to next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

(Closed circuit? What is this, 1982? Remember when big boxing matches were on closed circuit and you could go to theaters to watch them?)

Most of Sunday was spent finishing up my soccer story and then keeping the girls occupied. I saw bits of futbol here-and-there, mostly the Denver – New England game. I take back what I said about Seattle’s uniforms two weeks ago: Denver’s AFL throwbacks might be the worst futbol uniforms ever. Then again, they were so bad they were almost good, so perhaps Seattle still holds the title. They did remind me of a uniform I wore in my Taco Bell days. If only we had to wear the vertical-striped socks, too!

Maybe we all over-estimated New England. They certainly don’t play with the same swagger they did two years ago.

A big night for the Colts. I’m not sure how much you can take away from their hot start, given who they’ve played. But, amazingly, the offense looks about as good as it’s ever looked. Big props to everyone for getting Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon integrated into the offense so well and so quickly. The defense is doing some nice things, with a banged up secondary and Bob Sanders yet to play a down. It’s early to be getting excited, but they’re close to wrapping up the division title, and can start worrying about home field in the playoffs soon. I’m not ready to say they’re strong enough on both sides of the ball to make the Super Bowl, but given the topsy-turvy nature of the AFC, anything is possible. If, by some miracle, Pittsburgh and/or San Diego miss the playoffs, I like their chances against any of the other AFC contenders.

As I wrap this up on Monday, I must say I enjoy the Miami alternate orange jerseys. That’s a quality way to incorporate a third color without getting too crazy or altering the overall look of the uniforms.

 

Way Back Machine

When I hear about people staying up all night to play video games these days, it kind of makes sense, since modern games offer so much depth and possibilities for play. Looking back, why the hell would we play Atari all day? Those games sucked. Need proof? Check out Atari’s 1978 catalog. Things only got slightly better before the 2600 faded away nearly a decade later.

<a href=”http://retrocrush.com/index.php/2009/10/a-look-at-the-1978-atari-catalog/”>A look at the 1978 Atari Catalog</a>

These were times that a giant block with 4 smaller blocks on it really did look like a race car, triangles shooting dots at each other was a super-realistic looking space war, and prison breakouts were simulated with a line bouncing a dot against rainbow striped bricks!

 

R’s – Playoffs

What a waste. One of the great pitching seasons of the past 20 years blown on a team that lost 97 games and had to rally in September to earn a tie for last place. Worse, they were so bad that they’ve put what should be a shoe-in Cy Young award for Zack Greinke in danger by their inability to hit or field the ball. Not exactly the progress I and other Royals fans were looking for last spring. At least Billy Butler had a breakout season. Two fun things out of the entire season.

So, needless to say, I’m a little less enthused about the baseball playoffs than I was about Opening Day back in April. Not that I expected the Royals to be playing. But I also did not expect them to be so bad that they turned me off of baseball back in July. The Yankees being about as close to a lock as we’ve seen in recent years to win the World Series does not help.

But I do have a tradition of making playoff picks here, so here goes.<!–more–>ALDS:
Yankees over Twins: How do the Twins have to play a tie breaker on Tuesday then fly to play the #1 seed Wednesday afternoon? And how bad was Chip Caray Tuesday?

Angels over Red Sox: I made this pick last year and the Sox rolled over the Angels. The Sox have the better pitching, but I’m stubborn. Plus, I do not want another Yanks-Sox ALCS.*

(Yes, the 2003 and 2004 ALCSes were two of the great playoff series ever. I probably had a bigger emotional investment in those series than of any other that did not involve a team I was a fan of. But we’ve been there, done that. I still much prefer the Sox to the Yankees, and want them to do well just to be the foil to the Evil Empire. However, the current Red Sox roster lacks the personality of the ’03-04 squads. Manny is gone. Papi is washed up. Plus the Sox play in a second tier all to themselves, looking up only at the Yankees when it comes to finances. Other than hating the Yankees, it is a much less compelling argument to pull for the Sox now.)

NLDS:
Phillies over Rockies: As I told my brother-in-law who lives in Denver, I’m not sure why I didn’t pick the Rockies as my adopted team for the summer. They would have been fun to watch. Too bad their run ends here.

Cardinals over Dodgers: Back in June, the Dodgers seemed unstoppable. In August it was the Cardinals who were world beaters. Both have tailed off from their hottest play. I take the Cards here just because of their pitching and Pujols-Holliday combo.

ALCS:
Yankees over Angels: Man I wish the Angels had the pitching to pull this off. Maybe they can wear down the Yankees’ pitching and stay in this, but I fear it will be over quickly.

NLCS:
Phillies over Cardinals: Depending on how the DLSes go, there could be some epic pitching match ups in this series. I think the Phillies don’t get much respect, and since teams love to play that card, that will put them over the top. I hope we see a Pujols-Lidge battle in a ninth inning, though.

World Series:
Yankees over Phillies: Fuck. Hopefully A-Rod will have a shitty series so I can salvage something from this. Damn Yankees.

 

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