Friday, February 3, 2012

The Super Bowl Preview

"Funny you should ask Hatch.  I really
have no idea what I'm doing in a POW
camp.  I think I'm supposed to be British."
There used to be two topics that would cause my right hand to instantly shoot to the radio dial on my car stereo.  One was "steroids in baseball" and the other was "Brett Favre." The mere mention of either would have me scrambling to Channel 23 on my satellite radio faster than you could say, "left handed monkey wrench."  You can now add "Super Bowl XLVI" to that list.  For the first time in my life, I might do what my condescending British high school history teacher used to brag about doing and go to the movies instead of watching the Super Bowl.  

The only people less interested in Sunday's game than Ravens fans and 49er fans are Jets fans who must be looking at this match-up as the 1980 Russian hockey team versus the German national soccer team from Victory.  (I'm sorry if that offends Germans but you shouldn't have paid-off the refs and you shouldn't have roughed-up PelĂ©.  That's like hiring Jeff Gillooly to take out Tim Tebow.  Uncool man).  So let's put off the Super Bowl pick for a bit and spend one more session on Dr. Melfi's couch telling her about the ducks in the pool.

Oh my God.  We're becoming the Bills!
We'll start with a quick recap of possibly the worst six day span in Maryland sports history.  On Sunday, there was "the Game that Must Not be Named."  (We've covered that).  Monday was the day after the "Game that Must Not be Named" which was particularly brutal for Ravens fans because, as one person told me, "I keep thinking that Lee Evans is going to catch that pass."  (It wasn't as bad for 49er fans because most of them woke-up in San Francisco and most of us woke-up in Baltimore.  I love Charm City but we're a 13 point underdog to San Francisco on our best day).  On Tuesday, the sun came out, the weather turned warm and we started telling ourselves that everything was going to be ok until the picture of the Jayhawk fans hit everyone's inbox.  (Real funny Kansas. I'd return fire but what can you say about Kansas?  Your main tourist attraction is the largest stand of tallgrass prairie in North America.  One madman with a lawnmower or a herd of hungry goats and you're screwed.  Hey, is that a tornado?)

On Wednesday, the Colts hired Ravens' defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano. Apparently the first five times they called, the Ravens' receptionist said, "I'm sorry he's not in the building but Cam Cameron's available and, by available, I mean REALLY available." The Ravens returned the favor by hiring Jim Caldwell as their new quarterbacks coach which will lead to the first ever coach/player relationship where the two sides communicate only by blinking Morse code at each other.          

"That's him.  That's the Terp.
He fouled Plumlee.  We saw him!"
Later that evening, Duke beat Maryland on the night they dedicated the court to Gary Williams.  In honor of the event, the refs really took their love of the Blue Devils to the next level.  At one point, two of them looked at each other trying to decide whether to call a charge on the Terps or a block on Duke before looking to Krzyzewski for guidance and then making the "right" call.  Of course instead of just getting blown out like we all expected them to, the Terps had to make a game of it and then lose because they had no answer for Mason Plumlee which would be like losing a mixed martial arts fight because you couldn't stop the other guy's titty twister. 

On Thursday, Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers instead of the Orioles which was not unexpected unless you're one of the 17 delusional O's fans who still reads the Baltimore Sun for anything more than high school scores, horse racing schedules and the lunch specials at Night Shift.  Ultimately, this was just another case of Alec Baldwin telling Baltimore, "This is the best free agent.  This is Prince Fielder and to you he is gold, and you won't get him.  Why?  Because to give him to you would be throwing him away.  He plays for winners."  The next day, Brooks Robinson fell off a stage and broke his shoulder which can't be a good omen.  (I did not make that up.  Who puts old men in chairs on a stage?  Why not just put them on giant unicycles?)
   
"Great.  That's all I need.  Another
year of third and long draw plays."
By the time the 8th ranked Lady Terps were upset at home by Virginia Tech on Thursday night, we had become O.J. at the end of The Naked Gun.  We'd been shot, fallen off the top of a stadium and run over by a steamroller but we hadn't been trampled by the marching band yet so, on Friday, the Ravens announced that Cam Cameron will return as offensive coordinator . . . "Louie Louie, Oh No . . . ."  I don't know about the rest of the town, but I needed a hug.

Too much?
As I wrote of the Baltimore fan base back on November 3rd (go ahead and quote yourself), "the full extent of our rooting interest goes like this: (1) our kids' little league teams, (2) the Ravens, and (3) Michael Phelps.  That's it.  That's the list."  Well, thank God for No. 1 because on Saturday the healing began for me with a dose of little league basketball.  It started with a 17-8 win in my 10 year old son's game (the score is a little deceiving because, if we counted three pointers, it would have been 18-8).  That was immediately followed by my other son's 8 year old game where they don't officially keep score (we're undefeated) but, with one minute left, I thought it was close.  Fortunately, the kids keep score so with 30 seconds left I asked the bench where we stood and I was told it was either 12-12 or 22-22.  Either way, everyone in the gym thought it was tied so when my son drained a 15 footer with 0.3 seconds left and the "crowd" went nuts, I may have lost my composure just a little bit.   The bottom line is that I wouldn't trade that moment for the chance to be in the stands this Sunday watching John Harbaugh raise the Lombardi Trophy (at least that's what I keep telling myself).  Let's move on.        


The Super Bowl Pick


I can't find any reason to pick the Patriots to win this game.  The one position where they are deemed to have the biggest advantage is quarterback and I'm not even sure that's true, especially when you factor in the Giants' advantage at receiver (and yes, I'll take Nicks, Cruz and Manningham over Hernandez, Welker and a gimpy Gronkowski).  The defenses and the running games are mismatches in favor of the Giants.  The only way the Patriots win is if Brady goes for over 300 yards and 3+ touchdowns but the problem with that recipe is that the Ravens just proved that he can be shut down and the Giants just stymied a better passing attack in Green Bay.  What am I missing?  Special teams? Belichick over Coughlin?  The revenge factor from 2007?  That's all media driven subterfuge and I'm not buying it.  I like the Giants big and in the process Eli becomes the second quarterback in two weeks to make me look like a jackass (like I need the help).    


Giants - 31, Patriots - 17          


Playoff Record:  6-4    


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