As kick-off approaches, things aren’t going swimmingly in the stadium either. The Americans in the crowd spring to their feet as the Star Spangled Banner is played, the English rise a little more slowly with a few groans, although in their defence it must be the first time in Wembley’s history that a foreign national anthem isn’t booed. God Save the Queen doesn’t get a much better reception, perhaps because the guest singer is Paul Potts, the bloke with bad teeth who won Britain’s Got Talent.
But slowly, the crowd is won over. Anybody who’s ever seen an episode of Jerry Springer will know Americans cheer anything – a wife-beater, a punch-up, even an advert break. Anybody who’s ever seen The Jeremy Kyle Show will know that English fans take a bit more convincing before they roar their approval – an actual murder on air, perhaps. But today, the mainly English crowd cheer everything – the cheerleaders, the first tackle of the game, the appearance of Lewis Hamilton and John Terry (okay, maybe not John Terry), even The Feeling are given a warm reception and they don’t even play Sewn.
It’s all a bit strange. English fans don’t usually like all this showy stuff. Sky tried it when they first began broadcasting the Premier League and it was a disaster. Sulky 14-year-old cheerleaders take to the field before the game and jog up and down the spot (usually to stop their legs dropping off with the cold) while Europe’s Final Countdown is played through a tinny PA system. Sky pulled the plug on the whole sorry business fairly quickly. But the NFL organisers whip up the fans brilliantly. The whole thing is just so damned professional. The cheerleaders are uniformly six-feet tall, with thousands of dollars worth of dentistry blazing out of their mouths and when the music pounds out of the speakers, the bass is powerful enough to send shivers down the spine.
It’s a shame then that the game is a bit of a stinker until the Dolphins stage a late rally that almost sees them sneak a win. The pitch cuts up early in the game and gets worse (England now have a ready-made excuse if they lose against Croatia next month) meaning the game turns into trench warfare – it’s a war the Giants win 13-10. Some Dolphins fans have complained that they’ve been deprived of a home game, but judging by their team’s inept performance, the NFL has done them a favour.
“It was a fantastic spectacle,” said one NFL virgin, Rachel Beard, as she left the ground. “I’d definitely come again. If only to see Paul Potts.”
So there you go, the evening ends with another small miracle: Paul Potts, the future of the NFL in Europe.
As for why Tony Romo spent the bye in Los Angeles eating cheeseburgers and knocking back Hypnotiq (presumably) with Britney Spears, I have no answers. I can only presume they did things like clip each other’s toenails then had a belching contest. I hardly expected him to be having pho with Camille Paglia and discussing China’s carbon output. But for fuck’s sake, if you’re going to spend your week off in a city that is the municipal equivalent of a titty bar in a strip mall near the airport please try your hardest to not end up getting a proverbial lap dance from the only stripper with both bullet and c-section scars.
Eagles 24, Cowboys 16
(that’s including the safety that will occur when Romo gets distracted by a blonde shooting Popeye’s coupons from a t-shirt cannon on the sidelines)
Could Ben Affleck’s beloved Red Sox be taking a bite out of the box office take for his directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” which pulled in a lackluster $3.9 million in its second weekend in theaters? The film – starring Casey Affleck and Amy Ryan – cost an estimated $19 million to make and box office numbers available yesterday show it’s brought in $11.3 million since opening on Oct. 19. One official from Miramax, which made the Boston-set “Gone,” told the Globe that because the film’s opening coincided with the Sox’s playoff run, that may have contributed to its low box office receipts. “Boston fans are not going to choose going to a Boston movie over watching their team,” the official said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the film. “There’s a real belief that people will catch up with it once the Sox are done playing.”
Makes sense to me, much the same way Scott Caan’s “The Dog Problem” failed to catch the imagination of movie-goers otherwise preoccupied with the Final Four, local elections, unusually nice weather and the growing popularity of the Nintendo Wii.
Much as I love the Steve Phillips bashing, I have a sneaking suspicion moving David Wright to first base (!) would work out almost as well as Todd Hundley in the outfield. From Gotham Baseball’s Mark Healey (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Steve Phillips (above) thinks that the Mets would be ill-advised to think about acquiring Rodriquez if he’s a free agent this offseason, telling the NY Daily News’ Adam Rubin that “the Mets have a face to their regional sports network, and it’s Jose Reyes and David Wright. They’ve got that guy. It doesn’t make sense from a business or baseball perspective in my mind.”
Yeah, having the best player in baseball ply his trade in the biggest media market the sport has, and put him on the roster of the team that always seems to be in the shadow of the Bronx makes no sense.
It’s a good thing for Phillips that ESPN holds him in such high regard, because nobody else does.
Consider this, all of you cost-conscious fans out there; this year’s free agent pitching crop is awful, and the Mets have so little depth in their farm system that to even think about dealing for Johan Santana is delusional. Secondly, the pitching staff has few holes to fill as it is, because the immovable contracts of Guillermo Mota, Scott Schoeneweiss, Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez make it that way.
Plus, if Steve “No One Will Hire Me” Phillips says it’s a bad idea, it is always a good one. They who takes credit for Reyes and Wright tried to trade both of them on a number of occasions. The guy who didn’t want to trade for Mike Piazza, thought he would replace Mike Hampton with Appier and who gave Roger Cedeno and Rey Ordonez four-year deals is the last guy anyone who roots for the Mets should be looking for an opinion from.
Give Rodriguez his tent, move Wright to first base, and pay him his gazillion dollars. The Mets fan loves David Wright, but the baseball fans will come from miles around to see A-Rod set records. People who would never even look at a Mets jersey will shell out 200 bucks for a Mets black uni with a “3″ on the back. A-Rod might be a primadonna, but he respects Willie Randolph and will play for him and represent the organization well.
On at least one occasion in 2005, I compared the batting struggles of then-Fish 3B Mike Lowell to the hitting prowess of Al Leiter. Unfavorably. Today, the former is your 2007 World Series MVP, his closest competition coming in the form of a rookie center fielder less than 4 months removed from his big league debut.
here’s a few (slightly) more sophisticated takes on the Red Sox ending their 2 year championship drought :
I agree that until late in the game last night the drama in this destruction of the Rockies was pretty much wrapped up in a pickoff throw. Like, was there ever a doubt after Jonathan Papelbon erased Matt Holliday in the eighth inning of Game 2 that the Red Sox were going to win the World Series? At that moment it had to dawn on the Rockies that not only were the Red Sox more talented, but they were also smarter. OK, richer, too, but we’re already tired of hearing about that. – Bob Ryan, Boston Globe
This was so bad, the Rockies would have been better served to have fallen gamely to Arizona in six or seven games of the NLCS than to reach the World Series and play dead. Nobody in Colorado wants to hear it, but a loss like this — for a team with no postseason legs to lean on — can have ugly ramifications down the road. The Rockies are only the second team to be swept in its World Series debut. The first was Houston in 2005. At the time, the Astros probably thought they’d broken through. Turns out they broke down. In the two years since, Houston has been a total of 14 games under .500 and fired manager Phil Garner. - Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports.com
The Rockies carried this dream for five weeks, nearly made it real. But at nearly 10 p.m. MST, the clock struck midnight and the valet brought back a pumpkin. While they became competitive – the final three games were winnable – the Rockies never got comfortable in the sport’s floodlights. – Troy E. Renck, Denver Post
Sheesh, I’ve seen pacifists with more fight in their souls. With a cumulative score of 25-7 through three games, this has a shot at being the most lopsided World Series in history.
And, I suppose, that’s fitting. Because, unless the Rockies win the next two games, this will be the worst stretch of World Series matchups in more than 100 years of competition. We are looking at a total of 17 World Series games out of a possible 28 in the past four years, an unprecedented stretch of ho-hum and blah.
We have seen a Red Sox sweep in 2004, followed by a White Sox sweep in ’05, the Cardinals winning in five in ’06, and now the Red Sox pitch-slapping the Rockies in ’07.
What happened to parity? What happened to baseball’s renaissance? What happened to Game 6?
Maybe this is the reason Major League Baseball is trying to hide the ninth inning after midnight. Maybe the commissioner is hoping folks on the East Coast hit the pillow before realizing how dull these games have been. – John Romano, St. Petersberg Times
Jason Varitek, shorty after the game, was asked about Red Sox fans. He said that we were the “extra guy.” Then, you could see it in his eyes. He’d just left out half of us. Very quickly, he ammended his statement, adding that we were also “the extra woman.” Great job, Jason. In a world where we use the male default (my 10-game plan at Fenway is called the “10th Man Plan”), I am proud to go the opposite way. We Sox fans truly are the 10th Woman! – Jere, Let’s Go Sox
Listen, I don’t want to talk about Mike Lowell’s impending free agency, and I don’t want to talk about the Code Red hurl-a-thon it would be to have Alex Rodriguez join the Red Sox.
Do we have to launch a picket? Ruffle some feathers at the duck boat party this weekend? Kidnap Theo Epstein and make him watch reruns of MASH until he comes to his senses and offers a three-year deal? I want answers, and I want them now, Bubba.
Honestly, only Scott Lucifer Boras would announce his prized player’s decision on the day the Red Sox were set to win the World Series. – Dan Lamothe, Red Sox Monster
Howzabout a little love for Terry Francona. I’ve happily lobbed hot coals at the guy’s nuts for four seasons now, but I appreciate everything he’s done to steer the ship and stick to the game plan. He’s 8-0 in managing World Series games, has very likely seen DeMarlo Hale without pants and lived to tell about it, and will be leading your American League All-Stars in 2008 at Yankee Stadium. At this point, if news got out that he was secretly banging Jessica Biel would you be surprised? ‘Cause I wouldn’t. – Red, Surviving Grady
NESN just showed footage of the ’04 celebration, and I swear on a holy stack of media guides, Royce Clayton was in the middle of that celebration too . . .I’ve said it before, and I’m guessing a lot more of you agree with me now: There’s no one else I’d rather have managing the Boston Red Sox than Terry Francona. He’s Joe Torre with a little bit of an edge and a knack for handling a bullpen. He’s the right man at the right time in the right town. That “Francoma” b.s. has always been born from the miniscule minds of morons. I hope he never has to hear it again. – Chad Finn, Touching All The Bases
Shortly after SI.com’s Jon Heyman spilled the beans that Alex Rodriguez would opt out of his final three years under contract to the Yankees, the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman hailed “the brazen magnificence” of A-Rod’s announcement (“Rodriguez was never able to convince some that he was bigger than Derek Jeter. Now he’s made himself bigger than baseball”)
During the World Series, no one, according to both formal and informal baseball law, is supposed to make any real news. The commissioner’s office in the past has exhorted teams to keep quiet about managerial hirings and firings and contract negotiations during the Series, so as to focus the attention of the world on the seven games that are supposed to represent the sport at its best. To announce such a thing during the last innings of a decisive World Series game, thus upstaging the crucial moment toward which the entire season builds, is a calculated affront to all the game’s proprieties and ideas of order.
Here, though, comes Alex Rodriguez to remind everyone that professional sports are about money and utter crass power. The pure cynicism of Rodriguez’s ploy does so much to expose the sham pieties of the men who promote baseball that it should be applauded for that alone. Being so forcibly reminded that baseball is about money and power doesn’t, after all, diminish our ability to appreciate it as a sport one bit. To go along with the pretense that it does, to pretend that Rodriguez’s contract isn’t at least as important as Aaron Cook’s noble defeat, would be absurd. Credit to Rodriguez for being shameless and showing baseball for what it really is.
…you’re more fortunate than whoever in your league started Chad Pennington. As New England continues to run up the score today against Washington (hey, you never know when a Joe Gibbs team might score 50 points in 5 minutes), I have to ask, is the Hooded Casanova the most insecure man in America? Is it not enough to have 3 rings, a 7-0 record to start the new season and his pick of New Jersey housewives (for the mere price of a Bon Jovi laminate)? To play Unpopular Psychologist for a moment, it would seem as though Bill Belichick has used Videogate — the biggest blow to his rep since Parcells made him wash the Escalade — as unneccessary/additional incentive. If the rest of the league and much of the media choose to label Belichick a classless boor, the Pats’ head coach seems hellbent on proving he’s an even bigger asshole than anyone suspected.
Of course, the quickest way to put a stop to such behavior might be for the opposition to keep New England’s offense off the field for a while. But full credit where due to the Redskins secondary — they held Randy Moss to a mere 3 catches (47 yards, 1 TD).
Tom Brady might be on pace to throw 60 TD’s, but I’d like to wait a few more weeks until there’s enough evidence to indicate he’s better than Drew Henson.
Signal To Noise recently made a public plea to ESPN to bring back “Dream Job” (“it needs to return right now, not because it was the most enjoyable of show or because the wanna-bes on it were highly compelling once they left the Box in Bristol – it was public evidence of how on your game you needed to be in order to do the analyst job.”), but not without asking “where is Zach Selwyn now?”
Thanks, S2N. You just had to make someone look for this.