Monthly Archives: January 2017

I hate being wrong

“When I’m wrong, I’m the first to admit it. The first to admit it. And the last one to know.”
— Paul Simon

The Packers got whupped. And I was wrong, wrong, wrong in picking them to win the NFC Championship.

I got a real bad feeling after Mason Crosby missed the field goal in the first quarter. But I knew the game was over when Aaron Ripkowski fumbled in the second quarter.

Crosby doesn’t miss, and Ripkowski doesn’t fumble. Except last Sunday.

Now we’re stuck with Matt Ryan and the Falcons. I just can’t root for a guy who looks like Neidermeyer from Animal House.

But I might pick him. The Falcons look great. Then again, so does Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Give me a week to think about this.

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My picks for AFC, NFC champs

So far, I’ve picked all but one team in the 2017 playoffs. My miss? Seattle.

My bad. Once again.

I just don’t know much about Atlanta, and I really don’t have all that much faith in Matt Ryan aka Matty Ice. He leaves me feeling — yeah, I’ll say it — cold. So I picked the Seahawks over the Falcons. But what I really picked was Russell Wilson over Ryan.

I was wrong. I was leaving-Vegas-in-a-barrel wrong.

The other seven times, though, I was right. So I’ll continue with my picks for the championship games. And I’ll continue with my methodology, which is patently simple: the team with the better quarterback wins.

That means I’m picking New England over Pittsburgh. Or more accurately, Tom Brady over Ben Roethlisberger. Two reasons. Brady is better at winning than Big Ben, and Brady’s got home-field advantage. You know what I’m talking about. Cushier balls.

I know. Low-hanging fruit. But if there’s a way to get home-field advantage, I have absolute faith in Brady and Bill Belichick to pull it off.

In the NFC, it’s more complicated. Green Bay has some banged-up receivers, all but one with the “questionable” label. Who knows who will catch the ball for the Packers this Sunday?

But last I looked, that stellar offensive line was still intact. Rodgers will have time to find someone healthy to throw too.

So once again I’m going with the better quarterback, Aaron Rodger, although because of the banged-up receivers and the great offensive line, I’m looking for Rodgers to run more than he has in any game ever.

Run, Rodgers, run.

He’s on a mission, believe it, and I will not pick against him. That, and I think he’s the greatest QB of all time — the true G.O.A.T.

Sorry, Joe Montana. You’re amazing, and you won four Super Bowls, but it’s a different era and he’s got mad skills. He can pass. He can run. He can think. And boy, can he lobby. Did you see him talking to the refs before last week’s win against the Dallas Cowboys? I did. And while I don’t have a recording of the conversation, I would bet good money he was reminding the refs of the rules. Such as look for 12 men on the field when the defense substitutes. And look for someone coming into the huddle, then leaving — and don’t forget, that’s a 15-yard penalty.

I pick New England (easily) and I pick Green Bay (razor-close game). Because of Brady and Rodgers.

We will soon see. About 14 hours from now.

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Did the Cubs really win?

My bad.

Call it distractions, call it day-to-day life, call it ennui if you must you yuppie swine, but I never got around to writing about the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.

So call this a make-up column.

Do I have any new insights on the games? No. Do I have any insights on the players? No. But I do have a keen memory of the fans I saw the night they wrapped up Game 7 (finally) for the win.

I saw Damian from Chicago bear-hugging Randy from Wisconsin, jumping up and down as if they were gathered at the pitcher’s mound in Cleveland on that rainy night at Progressive Field. A young black man celebrating with a middle-aged white man with only two things in common — a gig at one of the largest newspaper companies in the world and a shared love of a once-cursed baseball team that had just conquered the world.

Yes, I saw this in a newsroom, where there’s no cheering in the press box, where we’ve seen it all, heard it all, read it all. Where news of election results, car crashes, celebrity sightings, rapes, murders and, yes, sporting events are met with either gallows humor or a detached shrug.

But not in this case. The Cubs won the World Series, ending a 108-year drought. This win mattered, even to fans in the newsroom. And I’ve got proof.

Fifteen minutes after the Cubs sealed the deal, Randy emerged from the men’s room dressed in his Cubs hat and jersey. Why did he wait until after the game?

“The last time they were in the playoffs, I was wearing this while they were playing and they lost. Didn’t want to jinx them,” he says.

Jerseys and hats are for closers, so once the Cubs closed the series, the well-deserved swag came out of the duffel bag and onto the superstitious fan who knows best — you don’t mess with a win streak, not in Vegas, not in Cleveland.

Randy’s a Packers fan, so he knows what it’s like to have your team win the big one. But this is baseball, and there’s nothing like a World Series win. It’s a glow in the chest that keeps you warm until April when the sun comes out on the dawn of a new season.

It’s memories of game-winning RBIs from Little League when you pretended someday you’d hit the game-winner in the major leagues.

It’s a call to Dad, Mom, and maybe Grandpa, who also witnessed his first World Series win in his lifetime.

It’s a chance to talk to old friends and new acquaintances, even the ones who sometimes annoy you, they’re all right now, because they’re Cubs fans too and we won.

And it’s a time for pure baseball lovers to unite because we remember when our teams finally won, like my Giants in 2010, and how great it feels, and when we see our friends feeling the same thing, that glow in the chest comes rushing back into us too.

The Cubs won the World Series. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment. For everyone.

Except Cleveland fans, of course. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

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Three out of four ain’t bad

I only missed one. It was a huge swing-and-a-miss, though.

Who knew Atlanta was so good? I didn’t. They’re looking like the presumptive Super Bowl winner at this point. Seattle didn’t stand a chance, especially when all their defensive players kept getting banged up.

I did see Green Bay winning. Two words, Aaron Rodgers. He makes things happen, and I didn’t see a rookie-laden Cowboys team coming up with the answers, although they almost did. The Cowboys are impressive, and they will be back in the playoffs next year.

But rookies with a week off — not a good thing. It’s not like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took a trip to Florida or anything, but they definitely had too much time on their hands. Too much time to think. So that’s one reason I picked Green Bay.

But I mainly picked Green Bay because of Aaron Rodgers. I like the best quarterback to win.

Which is why I picked New England over the Houston Texans. I picked Tom Brady over Brock Osweiler, that wasn’t hard. And I picked Ben Roethlisberger over Alex Smith, too.

Unfortunately, I also picked Russell Wilson over Matt Ryan, and I was wrong. Way wrong. Ryan’s got game. More than I’m aware of, apparently. And the smart money is on New England vs. Atlanta in the Super Bowl.

But I’m picking Green Bay vs. New England anyway. And then I’ll pick Green Bay to win. And you know why.

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