Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Spanning the Nation: Life is Cruel Edition

All the pieces were in place - Lambeau Field. A chill in the air. The Super Bowl on the line. And Brett Favre with the football, needing merely one drive to secure a third NFC Championship. Destiny was aligning once again in the corner of Favre and the Packers.

Except somebody forgot to tell the New York Giants. In deference to my own sanity, I'll skip recapping the game any further. Congratulations to the Big Blue and here's hoping for an equally taut contest two weeks from now in the slightly warmer temperatures of Glendale, AZ versus the Patriots.

So, what else is new?

Angelo Suozzi - Hometown: Pittsford, NY

I'm sure Angelo would agree on this one - when Buffalo snaps a streak, they REALLY snap a streak. Gives one hope that whenever the Bills make it back to the Super Bowl, they'll be the ones laying a 52-17 whipping on some unsuspecting chump from the other conference. Well, on second thought...nah. But the Sabres broke their horrendous losing skid in a big way, netting not one but two hat tricks over the course of a 10-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers. The orgy of goals snapped a 10-game winless streak, but the momentum didn't last. Lindy Ruff and the gang dropped the next two contests and are still looking at an uphill climb to the playoffs heading into the second half of the season. To cap things off with a positive however, the Sabres are no longer the worst team in their division, having successfully forged a tie with Toronto for that dubious honor.

Thomas McCall - Hometown: Lake Charles, LA

Les Miles would be the first to tell you, with our very own T-Mac close behind him: "There will be no questions! The LSU Tigers are national champions!" For a second straight season, the SEC took Ohio State out behind the woodshed, this time with the Bayou Bengals doing the dirty work down in the French Quarter by a score of 38-24. It wasn't even that close. No doubt this will keep all those Cajuns warm at night when they're left to think about how much of a colossal blunder the Saints season was. Right Thomas?

Pat Girouard/Joe Long - Hometown: Cretin Derham Hall, MN

The Wild have broken out to the lead in the Northwest Division and would be the West's #3 seed in the playoffs started today, but there's no time to rest on the laurels. Three teams remain in hot pursuit within the division - Colorado, Vancouver, Calgary, with the four times separated by just two points. Girouard could not be reached for comment, though it's safe to assume he approves. Broadway Joe continues to cheer on the All-Name Team, aka the #11 Wisconsin Badgers, who are steamrolling behind leading scorers Trevon Hughes & Brian Butch towards the showdown with #8 Indiana next Thursday. Come early, be loud, stay late, as they say in Mad-Town.

Brian Fallon - Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Brian summed up the 2008 start for the Red Wings thusly:
Currently the Wings are in the midst of a 3 game losing skid: to Minnesota (24-17-2; giving up a tying goal in the final minute and losing in a shootout in which neither Datsyuk nor Zetterberg score? Did this game really happen?), Ottawa (29-10-4; a battle of the league's best, unfortunate outcome), Atlanta (23-22-2; a pedestrian team whose star player in Marian Hossa decided to show up). We'll have to pick it up tonight against a Vancouver team who has something to play for: they're a game behind the Wild in the Northwest Division and, after dropping 3 of their last 4 to mediocre competition, are also trying to right the ship. I might have to find a bar.
No word on if Brian found a bar, but the Wings triumphed over the Canucks in a shootout and followed it up with a convincing victory over San Jose. The boys from the Joe are 35-10-4 with a comfortable 22-point lead on the next closest Central Division foe. Funny how a major slump for the Red Wings is a hot streak for just about any other franchise.

Kevin Braun - Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Now comes the long, cold winter for Philadelphia - no Eagles, sinking Flyers, putrid Sixers, and still a month until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, FL to begin spring training. What's Kev going to do with himself? Coach Texas youth basketball, that's what. Stay tuned for further self-evaluations on the Mike Brey Coaching Scale as the season moves forward.

George Heidkamp - Hometown: Hinsdale, IL

Sox signed Octavio Dotel. Big whoop. Bulls won a game. Then lost, then won. La-dee-freakin'-dah. Sports lost all meaning until sometime in April as of the events of overtime this past Sunday night.

Paul Jacobs - Hometown: St. Louis, MO

The long nightmare of St. Louis is over - Scott Rolen has been traded. Ozzie Smith, be praised. The Redbirds also re-upped with Yadier Molina, while Albert Pujols emerged from his winter vacation locked and loaded for the Mitchell Committee, since early "leaks" of the steroids report falsely included him and dozens of other marquee players as being "named". Albert forgives, but he doesn't forget. Just ask the Cubs.

Mike Devitt - Hometown: Marion, IN

Well, you can't win them all. Peyton Manning knew that already (I mean, he really knew it) but that didn't make losing to a Chargers team which had most of its key offensive players either hobbled or missing any less shocking. And to think it was not only a banged-up Charger team, it was banged-up Charger team coached by Norv Turner, who just one week later would demonstrate his stunning lack of coaching mojo by punting rather than go for it with under 10 minutes left in a game where his team needed two scores. Tony Dungy will return though, and early reports indicate Mike has already started talking trash in advance of next year's retribution tour.

Meanwhile, Back at Headquarters...

Maybe there can be some sort of arrangement made in which Notre Dame basketball agrees to forfeit their remaining road games in exchange for each one counting as only half of a loss. Trying to swing that can't be any harder than actually trying to execute on the road, where the Irish have been thumped consecutively by Marquette (92-66) and Georgetown (84-65). Underscoring how tough of a league the Big East is - and how home court advantage is king - the Irish have impressive home wins over Connecticut (who bitch-slapped Marquette in Storrs), Cincinnati (which has home victories over ranked teams Villanova and Pittsburgh), and West Virginia (who also thumped Marquette playing at home in Morgantown). So winning on the road is gonna be considered kind of a big deal in the 2008 Big East, which is why it would behoove the Irish to nail down a quality road win or two, not to mention maintain that home-court winning streak, which sits at 31 but is due for stiff challenges in February when DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, & Syracuse visit South Bend. The Irish have their next chance at a road victory this Saturday in Philly against Villanova before a home contest versus Providence on January 31. 

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