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A Groundhog Day Moment for the Denver Broncos as Seahawks, Commercials and Entertainment Dominate Super Bowl XLVIII

Percy Harvin

Super Bowl XLVIII is now history, and thankfully we can get can get on to better things like baseball.

Unfortunately after several years of very competitive championship games we have a throwback edition. The Seattle Seahawks, who I don’t give a whit for absolutely demolished the hapless Denver Broncos who didn’t look like they deserved to be on the field. It was bad, really bad. The Seahawks won 43-8.

When the Broncos scored their one and only touchdown and made a two point conversion I tweeted: “Broncos get 2 pt conversion but it’s like Bill Murray in Meatballs “it just doesn’t matter” because I knew that they were toast. I will leave the game commentary to others because since it was so bad, it just doesn’t matter.

Unfortunately this is not the first Super Bowl humiliation for the Broncos. Despite winning the 1998 and 1999 Super Bowls, the franchise has been the victim of some the the biggest blowouts, and this was not the biggest.

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The worst was Super Bowl XXIV in 1990 when the San Francisco 49ers led by the legendary Joe Montana destroyed the Broncos in the biggest rout in Super Bowl history, a score of 55-10. That was also the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. Two years earlier in 1988 the Washington Redskins dispatched the Broncos 42-10 and in 1987 the New York Giants did the deed 39-20. Back in 1978 the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Broncos in Super Bowl XII by a score of 27-10.

Tonight’s game joins the panoply of Super Bowl blowouts and makes me glad that baseball season is almost here.

Bruno Mars

On the bright side the pre-game show was really good as was the halftime show performed by Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLXLu-03W48 . I had never seen Mars perform before and compared to many current acts he is great, not only that his show was a throwback to some great Super Bowl halftime shows of the past. Kudos to him and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Super Bowl Football

The National anthem, sung by Grammy winning soprano Renee Fleming was awesome http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/02/02/renee-fleming-national-anthem-super-bowl-2014/  as was America the Beautiful sung by Queen Latifah and a choir from New Jersey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-rdWA1TB2Q . As a veteran and currently serving Navy officer I also appreciated the tributes to veterans embedded throughout the show and the commercials.

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Speaking of commercials they were pretty good this year. All the nationally run ads can be seen here:

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My favorites were the Seinfeld Reunion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zmg9v8U8rfw the heartwarming Budweiser Puppy Love http://screen.yahoo.com/big-game-ads/puppy-love-budweiser-223606921.html , the Chobani Yogurt Bear http://screen.yahoo.com/big-game-ads/bear-chobani-001017545.html Bud Light’s Epic Night with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Llama http://screen.yahoo.com/big-game-ads/epic-night-part-2-bud-010053472.html , the Big Game ad featuring Terry Crews and the Muppets, specifically one of my favorite’s Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N5A3R4XqhOA the very inclusive Coke commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8uSVUiniWQ which apparently has triggered a boycott by some very bigoted people who hate the fact that the United States is so diverse, and finally Ellen Degeneres’ ad for Beats Music http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zP4ZJkGv89g. 

I understand that there some others that were really good, but unfortunately things like bathroom breaks and interactions with actual human beings kept me from seeing all of them. I guess there is nothing wrong with that. Thankfully many of these will continue to air and I can always find the ones I missed on You Tube.

Of course everyone has there preferences. I was looking at some professional media pundit’s comments and found that I liked some that they thought stunk, so screw them. I have my own opinion just like my own asshole, and sometimes they both stink, just like the pundits who generally won’t admit to theirs stinking.

I give credit to the people at Fox Sports for putting on a good show despite the horrible one sided game, which the Seahawks deserved to win. They were the better team, in fact I think had the 49ers won the NFC that they too would have destroyed the Broncos. The NFC West is the best division in football and it showed tonight.

So anyway, on that odiferous note I wish you a good night.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Playoffs and Layoffs: Black Monday for the NFL

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“It’s not whether you win or lose, but who gets the blame.” Blaine Nye

After 17 weeks, 256 games and 11,985 points scored the NFL regular season ended last night when Dallas Cowboys’ Quarterback Kyle Orton was intercepted by Brandon Boykin.  That pass ended the Cowboys playoff hopes and season and sent the Philadelphia Eagles to the playoffs as champions of the NFC East.

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It was an exciting end to the season. The season went down to the wire for the Eagles, the Green Bay Packers who came from behind to stun the Chicago Bears to take the NFC Central and the San Diego Chargers who swiped the last AFC Wild Card when Baltimore and Miami lost.

The playoffs are now set. The Wild Card round will feature the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts (11-5) play the number 5 Wild Card seed Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) and the AFC Central Champion Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) face off against the number six seed San Diego Chargers (9-7). In the NFC the Eagles (10-6) will square off against the number six seed New Orleans Saints (11-5) while the NFC Central Champion Green Bay Packers (9-7) will face number five seed the San Francisco 49ers (12-4). The AFC West Champion Denver Broncos (13-3)  AFC East Champion New England Patriots, NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers (12-4) NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks have first round byes.

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Among the teams left out of the playoff picture from last season are last year’s Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons.

As good as some teams were some were very bad and with badness went pink slips. As legendary coach John McKay said of his Tampa Bay Buccaneers years ago: “We stunk. We blocked bad; we were terrible on defense and our kicking game made up for it by being absolutely horrible. I saw nothing that delighted me, we ran on the field fairly well.”

Kansas City Chiefs vs Washington Redskins

But the bigger news today are the firings of coaches. Since Sunday night five coaches had been fired. The pink slips started Sunday night with the Cleveland Browns (4-12) who fired first year head coach Rob Chudzinski, that moved surprised many observers. The firings began in earnest this morning when the Minnesota Vikings (5-10) fired Leslie Frazier, the 7-9 Detroit Lions fired 5th year coach Jim Schwartz after a late season collapse. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) fired their Head Coach Greg Schiano and General Manager Mark Dominick. Lastly the controversy ridden Washington Redskins who finished a dismal season at 3-13 fired the highly paid Mike Shanahan despite still owing him another $7 million dollars. Washington owner Daniel Snyder will be looking for his 7th Head Coach since 1999.

Some player’s like Washington’s fullback Darrel Young blamed themselves for their coach’s demise. Young said “We failed a Hall of Fame coach. It was a lack of execution by the players this year.”

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Not counted among the Black Monday casualties was Houston Texan’s head coach Gary Kubiak who was fired December 6th. The Texans who had made the playoffs last year finished the season 2-14, the worst record in the league. The Texans had lost 11 games in a row after winning their first two of the season and had been pre-season favorites to get to the Super Bowl.

The Redskins and Texans were both so bad this year that John McKay’s statement on when the Buccaneers had lost their record setting 26th straight game: “Three or four plane crashes and we’re in the playoffs.”

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Other coaches could still be fired, rumors are swirling about a number of others but one who seems to be safe is Cowboy’s Head Coach Jason Garrett who still has the public backing of GM and Owner Jerry Jones. However it is expected that several assistants will be let go. Likewise Rex Ryan of the Jets has survived. Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen could be gone soon, he has not been offered any contract extensions and finished with a 4-14 record in 2013. Rumors also swirl about Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbon after a disappointing fish to the season.

So things will be interesting both on and off the field for the next month.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Mile High Sudden Death Shootout: Underdog Ravens Upset Broncos 38-35 to Go to AFC Championship Game

Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos

Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens throws a 32-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game. He also had touchdown throws of 59 and 70 yards the last to Jacoby Jones (below) with 31 seconds left in regulation. (Photo: Doug Pensinger , Getty Images)

It took 76 minutes and 42 seconds in in freezing weather conditions. The game went into the second overtime period, but Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis led the elderly Baltimore Ravens to an upset win in Denver Saturday evening in the 1st AFC Divisional playoff game. The 13-3 Broncos led by future Hall of Fame Quarterback and his high octane offense as well as one of the best defensive units in the league were prohibitive favorites having won their last 11 games before the playoffs.

Temperatures hovered around 10 degrees most of the game and as darkness fell snow began to fall. In the thin air and cold weather conditions it seemed that the Ravens had little chance. However the Ravens had more in them than most people or experts gave them credit.

Joe Flacco had an outstanding day throwing for 331 yards and had touchdown passes of 59, 32 and 70 yards, the last coming with only 31 seconds left in the game. The Ravens cut through the Broncos defense for 479 net offensive yards.  The Ravens defense gave up almost 400 yards against the Bronco offense but held when they needed and provided the first Ravens score when Corey Graham intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and ran it back for a touchdown.

The Broncos appeared to dominate most of the game holding an edge in time of possession and number of plays going into overtime. However, every time they went ahead the plucky Ravens found a way to come back.

Manning was 28-43 for 290 yards with 3 touchdowns, but also had two interceptions, including the pick six by Graham. The Broncos defense which gave up an average 290.8 yards a game in the season bas battered by a relentless Ravens running game and gave up the deep ball for touchdowns too many times and gave up almost 14 points more than their average of 18.1 during the regular season. The Broncos scoring was helped by Trindon Holloway who returned a punt for 90 yards and a kick off 104 yards for touchdowns.

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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones (L) catches a pass behind Denver Broncos free safety Rahim Moore and then scores a touchdown with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter in their NFL AFC Divisional playoff football game in Denver, Colorado January 12, 2013. (REUTERS Photo Rick Wilking)

The game went to overtime in a late game offensive flurry. Manning threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with 1:09 remaining. Not to be deterred Flacco threw a 70 yard bomb to an open Jacoby Jones to tie the game 35-35 with 31 seconds left in the game. Flacco’s throw to Jones, which some are now calling the “Flacco Fling” ranks up with Roger Staubach’s “Hail Mary” in the 1975 NFC Championship, the “Immaculate Reception” thrown by Terry Bradshaw against the Oakland Raiders in the 1972 AFC Title Game and “the Catch” thrown by Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship between the 49ers and the Cowboys.

After a scoreless first overtime period the Broncos appeared to be driving again. However Manning was intercepted again by Graham. The Ravens were able to move the ball into field goal range and Justin Tucker kicked a 47 yard field goal to give the Ravens the victory.

The game was one of the longest playoff games in NFL history and was a devastating defeat for the favored number one seeded Broncos who were Super Bowl favorites. Manning and the Broncos will now go home while the Ravens will go on to play the winner of the Patriots and Texans game.

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Future Hall of Famers Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (R) speaks with Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis after the Ravens defeated the Broncos in their NFL AFC Divisional playoff football game in Denver, Colorado January 12, 2013. (REUTERS Photo, Jeff Haynes)

For the Ravens it was an emotional win in what is not an ordinary post-season. A 9 1/2 point underdog going into the game they played with pride and determination. With the oldest roster in the NFL it is doubtful how many players will return for another year. Future Hall of Fame Linebacker Ray Lewis has already announced his retirement and for many of these players this season could well be their last chance at NFL Super Bowl glory.

Despite the loss I expect that the relatively young and healthy Broncos will be back next year as Peyton Manning has demonstrated his ability to recover from what many thought would be career ending neck surgery. Expect John Elway to strengthen the Broncos roster and again dominate the otherwise weak AFC West.

After the dismal games of the Wild Card weekend it was good to see an exciting and competitive game. We’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes, but this game marked a good start to the rest of the NFL post-season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Thanksgiving Memories Then and Now: Padre Steve’s Humorous Look at Our National Day

 

It is better to give than to receive so it is time to give thanks for all the blessings that I have received since last Thanksgiving, but before I do I have to philosophize just a bit.

You see while I am thankful for much I generally find that Thanksgiving Day leaves much to be desired. Not that I am adverse to giving thanks or being extremely grateful but I am really more of a Christmas kind of guy. I’m also not a big fan of getting up early to watch parades on TV, or for that matter especially in person.  I’d rather watch the man made disasters of when the big balloons that got away on the news or on You Tube.

I think it would be more fun since we are becoming a police state if we mounted surveillance cameras and Hellfire missiles on the floats. Could you see the surprise in the faces of terrorists and even law abiding citizens when they realized that Snoopy, Garfield and the Cat in the Hat were targeting them. If we have to live in a police state I think it should it might as well be fun.

Enough about parades, after all who cares about parades anyway when you can watch what are historically some of the worst professional football games of the season.  Today the 4-6 Detroit Lions will find yet another way to lose on Thanksgiving as they play the 9-1 Houston Texans as they play in the Sacrificial Lamb Bowl. The 5-5 Dallas Cowboys play the revived 4-6 Washington Redskins in the Mediocrity Bowl. In a third game on prime-time the 7-3 New England Patriots will play the 4-6 New York Jets in the I Hate You and Everything that You Stand For Bowl.  I have no idea how we ended up with those teams year after year on Thanksgiving but I guess for Cowboys fans, Jets fans and all 964 Lions fans it works well, not that there is anything wrong with that.

While the professional football players ready themselves for combat the professional bargain hunters are preparing for their own form of mortal combat where no prisoners are taken and the weak to do not survive. Yes it is “Black Friday Eve” and though many will sacrifice by camping outside of stores in abominable weather, deceiving potential rivals to get a better place in line and if need be resorting to violence to make their Christmas wishes come true.  As for me I will avoid big retailers like the plague and do almost all of my shopping online where I feel safe in my virtual world.  The sad thing in this is that so many employees of the big stores are already at work preparing for the Black Friday deals and sales that they will not be with their families, friends or other loved ones today. But who cares about them? If we can get a big HDTV made by slave laborers in China at big savings  isn’t it worth it?

I like the times to get together and spent time with family and friends, though due to my military career it has been years since we have spent Thanksgiving with family.  There is something about a 3000 mile buffer zone that comes with being in the military that makes it hard to get to and from the West Coast. My brother will be hosting this at his home this year with his family, my mom and his in-laws. He’s a better man than me. Of course as many can attest even in the most loving and functional families holiday get-togethers were not always the most enjoyable occasions.  It is the stuff that movies are made of when after the mandatory grace was said and tempers flared and people stormed outside while the children found new ways to get under their parents skin. I was especially good at the latter.

Stephen Colbert says it this way: “Thanksgiving is a magical time of year when families across the country join together to raise America’s obesity statistics. Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car.”

But food is the centerpiece of any true Thanksgiving celebration is the Thanksgiving Dinner and the source of many pleasant memories as well as those we would like to forget but due to the trauma cannot. Most of these dishes were prepared by certain elderly relatives including my Granny who could tell you the history of any dish that appeared on the table, to include who gave it to here how many weeks prior to the event.

There was the ever present green bean salad frequently bathed in something that might have been mayonnaise or possibly Cool Whip.  Now the fact that it was spruced up a bit with Chernobyl Onions, boiled potatoes, slimy mushrooms or other additives that remain a mystery to this day didn’t make it any better, just more challenging to wonder who came up with the idea.

Another positively scary dish was the puke green Jell-O salad which I think was made of Jell-O, mayonnaise and would have canned pineapple or dry cat food thrown in just to make sure that there was something real in this unearthly concoction.  Of course one cannot forget the times that the Turkey didn’t turn out quite right being underdone or charred beyond belief.  The stuffing stuck to everything like a chunky primordial slime or mashed potatoes resembled Potato soup or were so chewy and dry that you had to add more of the 40 weight Pennzoil gravy just to get them down.  My late mother in law had a delicacy that we called Brown and Burn rolls and my late paternal Grandmother “Granny” who I have previously mentioned had something white, which might have been meat in white gravy but has never been identified despite the best efforts FBI forensics investigators.

Of course in many household the children serve a purpose akin to that of a Persian Emperor’s official food taster.  I can remember as a kid being forced to eat something from almost every dish on the table just to make sure that Aunt Betty Lou Who or Grammy Sue Who (the names have been changed to protect their memories) would not be offended if no one ate what they prepared.

Now not everything was bad as most of the time no matter how badly everything else turned out the pie was good, well at least in most cases.  My favorite pie at Thanksgiving was one that a trio of my Great Aunts made. Now these aunts were really great, when we went to their house on 18th Street in Huntington West Virginia for Thanksgiving or any other occasion they laid out a wonderful spread, but the most delightful dish was their Graham Cracker Pie. This is a pie, well that was a dumb statement, of course it was pie, but this pie had a home-made graham cracker and cinnamon crust, was filled with vanilla pudding, the good stuff, not instant and a meringue top which was encrusted with the graham cracker cinnamon mix.  Thankfully Judy had Aunt Viva, the last of the trio write down the recipe before she passed away and she has made it on occasion keeping this one family delicacy alive.  In addition to the Graham Cracker Pie there was Banana Crème and Chocolate Crème, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, Apple, Cherry as well as other pies that would make an occasional appearance.

Not Thanksgiving Day but close enough: Dinner with General Sabah in Ramadi

As I noted we have been away from family most of our married life and we have frequently spent Thanksgiving with friends, many times single people that we hosted other times people that would host us and those were always enjoyable. I have also spent a good number of Thanksgivings deployed and those have been special, especially 2007 when I was in Iraq and after a mission to the Syrian border when I helped to serve the troops at the dining facility.  Those times make you very thankful and not in a joking sense about all the blessings that we have in the United States.

As most readers know I am just a tad irreverent at times and nowhere was this more in evidence than Thanksgiving 1991 when we hosted a number of our single friends from work or church since none of us were very well off, I was still in seminary and money was not a great commodity. Judy asked me since I was going into ministry if I would pray for the food. That was not a good way to phrase the question because at times, well most of the time tend to find the dark humor in anything and this time was no exception. I think the prayer went something like this. I’m sure that it was longer than this because there are times when I get on a roll and can’t shut up, but this captures the spirit of that “prayer for the food.”

Dear Lord we ask you to be with the soul of this turkey and all of his or her relatives this Thanksgiving. Relieve them of their pain and comfort the survivors in Jesus name. Amen.

As I prayed I noticed Judy glaring daggers at me as our guests looked on in dismay.  To this day she always keeps a foot ready to kick me just in case I try something like this again. Likewise she is always careful in how she phrases what she wants me to pray for lest I become too literal in my prayer.

This year I have much to be thankful for, my wonderful wife Judy, friends, family and my little dog Molly who over the course of the past year has helped me become a functional part of human society again. Then there is Minnie, our new addition, a 10 month old Papillon puppy who is always happy to drink my beer or coffee should I leave it in her range.

The Giants won the World Series, the Orioles and A’s surprised everyone by rocking the playoffs the 49ers are doing well and UCLA defeated USC.

As  sit here with Molly at my feet and Minnie on Judy’s lap on this quiet and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Have a blessed day! Happy Thanksgiving friends.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Un-American Activities and Such…

Note: I always recommend that anyone who writes anything look at it before they go final. I took Molly for a walk after I wrote and i realized that this post is pretty much a throw away that decided to keep.  I meant to write something serious tonight but got sidetracked on the way to doing it. This is the result. 

I am engaged in un-American subversive behavior tonight. That’s right, I am not being a patriotic American. I am neither watching the NFL opener between the New York Non-Baseball Giants and the Dallas Cowboys nor the Democratic National Convention. No I was watching South Park. I won’t be watching most of the DNC for the same reasons that I didn’t watch the RNC last week, unless I decide to tune in to watch former President Bill Clinton.  However, even in non-election years I have a hard time watching football, while I observe the high holy days of the MLB pennant race. If that makes me un-American I will wear the label with pride but this does not make me a Commie.

Now I didn’t plan this, I simply forgot to switch the channel from John Stewart to the MLB channel and got sucked into a really funny South Park episode. It is the one where the South Park boys meet Jared Fogel of Subway Sandwich fame and that Stan makes the astute observation that “Yeah, it’s only in America that somebody can become famous just because they go from being a big fatass to not being a big fatass.”

Now as soon as the episode was over I switched to watch baseball on the MLB channel. Maybe later I will turn the channel to watch Bill Clinton speak at the DNC. People love my Clinton impersonation, and some find it scary.  During the 2000 election fiasco I tormented my battalion’s intelligence officer by doing my Clinton impersonation while we were deployed in Okinawa. Besides I could use some new Clinton material.

While I was stuck in traffic leaving work today I was doing my own Clinton DNC speech writing, except it was in my head because I had nothing to write with. I realized then that I need to become more sophisticated and learn to do You Tube comedy videos. However if I do the video thing I will have to get a Clinton wig since my bald scalp won’t do the trick.

That being said what Stan of South Park said is dead on right. Whether it is someone becoming famous because they were once a fatass and now are not a fatass, or because they are some other kind of uncouth reality TV slob with no redeeming qualities whatsoever there is no place like the good old USA. The South Park kids may be among the most foul on television but their satire of American culture is often more spot on than the perfidious political pundits, politicians and preachers that prostitute themselves for the big bucks by pontificating on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and countless “news” organizations. But I digress…

Back to the baseball games and my other un-American activities. But before I go I have to say that I am not a Commie and if your mommy is a Commie you’ve got a Commie mommy and you better turn your Commie mommy in.

That my friends is how one can take a throw away post and turn it into patriotic jibber-jabber. Don’t forget it. God bless America.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Blowing out the Candle(stick)…Power Goes out During Big 49ers – Steelers Game

I hesitate to call Candlestick Park old. It opened the year that I was born just across the bay.  I have never been to a 49er’s game but saw the Giants a number of times at the venerable yard. However even in the 1970s it was cold and dank, especially during the summer.  Monday night however the old stadium lost power twice the first time just before kickoff and the second during the second quarter of the game between the 49ers and Steelers.

The stadium has been the scene of some of the most memorable moments in sports history. One was “The Catch” when the 49ers defeated the highly favored Dallas Cowboys on January 10th 1982. Tight End Dwight Clark leaped to grab a pass from Joe Montana in the NFC Championship game, a game which ended the decade long Cowboys dominance of the conference.

It was also the site of the 1989 World Series.  The cross bay Oakland Athletics had taken the first too games in Oakland and the pre-game activities were in full swing when  a massive earthquake, the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck Northern California. Measuring 6.9 (7.1 surface wave) the quake hit at 5:04 PM on October 17th 1989 and was the first earthquake ever recorded on national television.  I was a seminary student and I remember sitting in front of my television in our run down East Fort Worth home, a neighborhood known for its frequent appearances on the TV show COPS.  Judy was in the kitchen getting something to drink if I recall and I watched the event occur. It was surreal and being from California I knew that it had to be a bad quake.

The Giants never won a World Series will playing at the “Stick” despite having some of the greatest players to ever play the game grace the field.  Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Bobbie and Barry Bonds, the Alou brother’s outfield, Felipe, Manny and Jesus who became the first “all brothers” outfield in 1963. Of course there were pitchers like Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry.  49ers greats Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Ronnie Lott all made their names in the cavernous confines of Candlestick.

 

The 49ers moved to the Stick in 1971 from Kezar Stadium while the Giants moved to the new Pac-Bell or AT&T Park in 2000.  The Beatles player their last full concert there on August 29th 1966.   The biggest event I ever saw at Candlestick was Giant’s pitcher Ed Halicki no-hitting the Mets back on August 24th 1975.

The power outage was called embarrassing by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the Pacific Gas and Electric had no immediate explanation for the outage. The fact that it happened on a nationwide broadcast of Monday Night Football gave it fare more attention than in might have received. Fortunately for the 49ers approval of a new stadium in Santa Clara are almost done and by 2015 the team should be in its new home so long as the ghosts and demons of the Stick don’t find their way south.

Blessings,

Padre Steve+

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The Myth of Excitement in the NFL: It’s Really about Violence and Meetings not Action

“Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” George Will 

I am always amazed when I hear football diehards knocking baseball for supposedly being “boring” or “slow.”  Allegedly according to the football enthusiasts that knock baseball football is fast paced and exciting.  Well for an average of 11 minutes in a typical three hour plus game it is, unless there are two teams that can’t move the football or score.  11 minutes, which is the average time, spent actually playing the game.  11 minutes out of almost three hours of a typical telecast.

So what happens to the rest of that three plus hours?

Can you believe that 17 minutes are spent on replays? Well unless you are watching ESPN where replays sometimes take up to 24 minutes of air time.  Of course commercials take up an hour or more and about 67 minutes is spent on shots of players milling about or hanging around the sidelines.

A typical play takes about four seconds to run and unless you are watching a top team with an outstanding offense going up against an outstanding defense many of those plays will frankly be pretty boring.  Since teams get 40 seconds to run a play and have 3 two minute timeouts a half the percentage of time the ball is in play is minuscule.

In football you can leave the room that you are watching the game and have a quickie with your significant other during the commercial breaks or during one of the two per half challenges that coaches can request.  Of course those can take an ungodly length of time to resolve which results more shots of players sucking oxygen on the sidelines or drinking Gatorade while talking about what they plan on doing after the game or what they plan on “tweeting” after the game.

NFL Football games on average are 17 minutes longer than Major League Baseball games, 3 hours and 7 minutes versus 2 hours 50 minutes for a baseball game, unless the Yankees and Red Sox are playing.  During a baseball game the ball is almost nearly always in play.

Of course there are games where there is real tension where the game goes down to the wire.  Despite the other delays the 11 minutes of action in those games can be amazing.   But for each of those games there are many more that are blowouts where a team plays so badly that only the most diehard fans of that team actually watch the second half.  Then there are the last five minutes of most games where the team that has the lead runs the clock out on the opposing team.  But in baseball it is much more common for a team to come back when things look hopeless because the other team still has to play without the comfort of being able to run out the clock.  Earl Weaver said it the best:

“You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.”

Now the NFL has been the king of sports marketing in the United States. While baseball may be America’s pastime, football has become its passion.  We have become a football nation.  This is in large part due to the way that the NFL has marketed itself.  First there is the NFL Films which has actually turned out more drama than the vast majority of NFL games.  Then there are the Fantasy Football Leagues which have become almost like a drug in their addictiveness by making people have more than a passing interest in the game.  Fantasy leagues get people personally invested in the game in ways that they never had been in previous years.  Then there are the ways that the NFL has packaged for television.  Why go to the game when you can get a better view at home? Football has also become closely matched with the entertainment industry with major musical acts and stars to open games and high tech shows that promote the game.   It really is quite amazing and to that end you have to hand it to the NFL they are the best at packaging and marketing their product.

So the real difference that I see between football and baseball is how football has managed to create a fiction that it is a game of action and excitement when in fact it is a ponderous game punctuated with a few exciting plays as well as some gratuitous violence.

But then maybe that’s what we like, the violence, to be transfixed as we watch a player have his femur bent in half, or laying on the field unable to move because he has suffered a head, neck or even spinal cord injury.  Maybe we just put it out of our minds that NFL players tend to die young and that many suffer from early onset dementia or that other former player can barely walk.  Then there is the fact that football players who have devoted themselves to the sport since childhood only have on the average a 3.2 year NFL career.  Many leave the game crippled and financially bankrupt within a few years of their “retirement.” To top it off it was only this year that the retired and disabled players that made the game what it now is were provided for in the collective bargaining agreement.  But heck, football is big money and now that we call can have a piece of the action in the Fantasy leagues why do we care what happens to players after their careers are over?

So if a person wants to mock baseball as boring as compared to football they need to look at the facts and also maybe just ask themselves exactly why they think that football is so exciting.  It certainly cannot be the pace of play, so maybe it is the violence.  Maybe that says something about us as individuals and a nation.  I wonder sometimes if the exponential rise of football as a form of entertainment can be correlated to the rise in violent crime and corporate greed.   I haven’t seen any studies about this but it seems to me that as football has risen in popularity so has violent crime, the incivility of our politics and media and the excesses of Wall Street and Corporate America.

You see my beef is not with the players who sacrifice their bodies and health for years just to get to the NFL, men that actually work incredibly hard to reach that pinnacle.  I have the highest admiration for them.  I went to high school with Derek Kennard who played for the then Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys.  I was a trainer on the high school team that he played on after I figured out my sophomore year that I was neither big enough nor fast enough to make it in football and should have stayed with baseball.  Many players are outstanding examples of leadership, determination and make their communities better, the players and especially those that have honed their skills to be the best I have nothing but the highest admiration and teams that perform at the highest levels year after year one can only admire.

No my issue is with the culture that has come to surround the game. It has almost become synonymous with the excess and violence that have come to characterize our American culture.  It’s not that one cannot learn good things from football, teamwork, hard work and leaving everything you have on the field to come out victorious, one can learn a lot of virtues by playing football.  However football is for most of us that are not playing or coaching the game is simply another form of violent entertainment where good men play out our fantasies on the battlefield called the gridiron, it has for some become a religion.

Now other sports can have a nearly religious following, after all I am a member of the Church of Baseball.  But baseball is different, there is a sense that we always have next year that permeates the life of a fan.  Maybe it is the ebb and flow of the 162 game season where even the best teams lose a third of their games that gives us a sense that life does not end when our team loses and the realization that the game is never over until it’s over.

Maybe it is the exaggerated level of importance and emotional investment that many people put into football that sets it apart from other sports.  The legendary sports broadcaster Howard Cosell made a comment that I think hits the nail on the head.

“The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible. After all, is football a game or a religion? The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand.”

Something to think about, don’t you think?

Peace

Padre Steve+

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