Monday, December 29, 2008

Some football thoughts on a Monday morning

1) The purrfect season has come to an end, and with a 31-21 loss in Green Bay yesterday the 2008 Detroit Lions stamped themselves as an all-time horrible team, becoming the first NFL team to go 0-16. The last team to go through a season winless was the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who at least had the excuse of being an expansion team. Detroit was just inept, and that's the kindest way of putting it. I really didn't think it was possible for a team to do this--I mean, after all, the team was BOUND to get lucky one week, wasn't it?--but I was obviously wrong. And, the signs were there, too--last year's team lost seven of its last eight games. It will take a long time to right the ship in Detroit.

2) If there is one thing that can give Lions fans hope, it is the 2008 Miami Dolphins. Last year's Miami team went 1-15. This year, it's 11-5 and a division title, Miami's first in eight years. I'd like a show of hands on who saw this coming. I'll bet that the answer is no one. Sure, it was easy to predict that the team wouldn't go 1-15 again, and maybe some cockeyed optimists took a look at the easy schedule and even saw a possible 7-9 or 8-8 record. But 11-5? Not a chance.

3) I never imagined feeling badly for the New England Patriots, but when you go 11-5 after your MVP, Hall-of-Fame bound quarterback goes down in the first quarter of the first game of the season and STILL don't make the playoffs, you are entitled to some compassion. The Pats never quit, and they even found that their backup QB, Matt Cassel, can really play.

4) Is there a more gutless collection of wimps in the NFL than the Dallas Cowboys? We all know about the 'Boys struggles in December over the last ten years or so, but yesterday's performance in Philadelphia was abysmal even by Dallas standards. The Eagles ran roughshod over a Cowboys team that looked uninterested in being there. Here is the telling statistic: In the second and third quarters, the Cowboys turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions. FIVE. Tony Romo lived down to his reputation of coming up tiny in big games. Wade Phillips proved that Andy Reid may have competition as the worst game-day coach in the NFL. All in all, a disgraceful performance.

5) Still, the biggest choke act of the 2008 NFL season belongs to the Denver Broncos (I'll get to the grounded Jets of New York and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shortly). Three weeks ago, they were 8-5 and needed to win ONE of their final three games to clinch the division. They lost all three, including a home loss to the nothing-to-play-for, offensively-challenged Buffalo Bills last week. So, last night's 52-21 throttling at the hands of the San Diego Chargers really shouldn't have come as a surprise. Now, at 8-8, San Diego is the AFC West Division Champ. Four week ago, who would have predicted that?

6) Ah yes, the New York Jets. Five weeks ago they had just crushed the previously unbeaten Tennessee Titans 34-13 on the road and people (including me) were speculating on what the city of New York would do if the Jets and Giants had to host conference title games on the same day. Instead, the Jets flopped miserably down the stretch, losing four of the final five games to miss the playoffs, including yesterday's finale at home against the Miami Dolphins. To add insult to injury, the Dolphins' QB was Chad Pennington, who New York unceremoniously dumped as training camp ended so that it could install Brett Favre as its signal-caller. Pennington gave Miami the leadership it needed and played mistake-free football. Favre ended the year with as many interceptions (22) as touchdown passes, including three terrible picks in yesterday's game. That move worked out well for New York, didn't it?

7) Giving the Broncos and Jets a run for their money were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who four weeks ago were 9-3 and eying a first-round playoff bye. Instead, they lost their final four games of the year, including yesterday's inexplicable 31-24 loss at home to the awful Oakland Raiders, to miss the playoffs altogether. Still, I'm willing to cut the Bucs some slack, if only because I never thought that they would be any good and their 9-3 record was largely (in my mind) the product of some overachieving and good breaks.

8) So, the playoff matchups are as follows:
1) Philadelphia at Minnesota. The Iggles are favoured. Both teams feature strong defenses. The Vikes have NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson, who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. The Eagles have the more balanced offense and a better quarterback. I like them to come out of Minnesota with a narrow win, something along the lines of 20-17.
2) Atlanta at Arizona. Atlanta is another team that came out of nowhere to make the playoffs, and its coach, Mike Smith, will rightfully get consideration for the "Coach of the Year" Award. Arizona was the beneficiary of playing in the worst division in football. Atlanta wins this game, and rather easily, I think.
3) Baltimore at Miami. Two opportunistic teams meet in an improbable playoff match. I think that Baltimore's defense will shut down Miami's offense, and the Dolphins' cinderella story ends.
4) Indianapolis at San Diego. Two of the hottest teams in football meet, and while Indianapolis is the better team, in my mind, it has traditionally had a lot of problems with San Diego. I think that those problems continue and the Chargers win a bruising battle.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where will this go?

After more or less non-stop rocket attacks from Hamas up through the entire "ceasefire", and then a sharp increase after that non-existent "ceasefire" ended, Israel has apparently finally had enough:,2933,473408,00.html. Hundreds have died (the MSM won't tell you this, but most have been Hamas officials, soldiers, leaders, etc.). The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which can hardly be considered hawkish, believes that Israel had little choice and that Hamas badly miscalculated by continuing to push Israel:

So, the questions are, where do we go from here? Is Israel determined to really hammer Hamas this time? Is part of its goal the freeing of Gilad Shalit, who has been a prisoner for over two years? Will this spread beyond Gaza? Iran has already said that it is the "sacred duty" of every Muslim to defend Gaza. Libya's Moammar Khaddafy has screeched that the Arab response to the "Israeli aggression" has been cowardly. On the other hand, Hezbollah has said "Thanks, but no thanks" to requests that it open a northern front. Egypt has laid the blame for what is going on squarely at the feet of Hamas.

I'm not sure where this will end up, but I do know that the cowardly members of the U.N. Security Council, who have demanded that Israel call off the dogs, would never put up with a neighbour launching rockets at their cities, regardless of whether anyone died or not. But, when it comes to Israel, that seems perfectly acceptable to them. Then again, dead or injured Jews never bother anyone at the U.N., do they?

I truly hope that Israel finishes the job this time. How will we know that Israel has done so? When no more rockets fall on Sderot, Netivot, Ashdod, Ashkelon or any other Israeli town or city. We all know that Israel is going to be condemned no matter what it does, so it may as well do what it has to do to protect its own people. Nobody else is going to do it for them, and with the Obama Administration almost certain to adopt a more pro-Arab foreign policy, Israel had better get the job done now...........

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hockey Talk

Some hockey thoughts for a Tuesday morning:

1) Anyone else notice that Chicago Black Hawks are just five points back of Detroit for first place in the "Central" Division, with a game in hand? That team is maturing faster than many people thought it would.

2) At the risk of offending Ken, the Habs are the leas impressive 18-9-6 team in the league. After an 8-1-1 start, they have essentially treaded water. They're utterly incapable of putting together back to back good games, the power play is a joke now, the penalty killing is at best mediocre and there are very few players on the team with any heart at all. I can't believe that Bob Gainey, who examplified playing with heart, put this team together.

3) I haven't seen the San Jose Sharks play very often this season, but 26-4-3 speaks for itself. I have to wonder, though. If the 1976-77 Canadiens had played with shootouts and overtime, how much better would their record have been? They finished 60-8-12. Would they have ended up with 65 or 66 (or even more) wins?

4) The Philadelphia Flyers have a scary good offense. They are lights out on the power play, and their penalty killers are as much of a threat to score as the opposing teams' power play, and they're doing all of this without Danny Briere, who has been out most of the season with one injury after another. By season's end they will pass the NY Rangers, and I expect them to be no worse than the #2 seed in the Eastern (Prince of Wales!) Conference. They're deeper than Pittsburgh, and simply better than New Jersey, the loss to the Devils on Sunday notwithstanding.

5) A commentator on last night's Pittsburgh-Buffalo game remarked in passing on how this season's Boston Bruins remind him of the 2005-2006 Carolina Hurricanes--everyone kept waiting for them to fall flat on their faces and they never did. He might be right. 24-5-4 doesn't happen by accident. Boston is fast, talented and (unlike Montreal) plays with a ton of heart. What might hurt the Bruins is the loss of Patrice Bergeron to yet another concussion.

6) Very quietly, Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes have gotten themselves into the hunt of a playoff berth. Yeah, I know that there are still 45+ games left to be played, but I think that it would be great for him and his team of they somehow made it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Some miscellaneous thoughts for a Manic Monday

Some random thoughts from across the political and sporting world on a cold, windy Monday morning.

1) History is occurring in the Motor City, where the Detroit Lions, at 0-15, are just one loss at Green Bay away from completing the first 0-16 season in NFL history. Now, I was on the record last year as saying that I didn't think that a team could go 16-0, and the Patriots went out and proved me wrong. I've always thought that it's more difficult for a team to go winless than undefeated--at some point, the law of averages was going to kick in and a bad team was going to catch a nearly-as-bad team on day where the latter squad wasn't playing well. The Packers are hardly a powerhouse, but given the way Detroit rolled over and played dead yesterday at home in its 42-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints, it's hard to see the de-clawed Lions putting up much of a fight in the cold of Green Bay. So, let's all look forward to next Sunday, when Detroit (hopefully) makes football history!

2) So the feds are going to bail out the Big Three automakers after all. More of tax dollars go down the tubes. Yes, I understand the logic behind this--the ripple effect on the economy would be devastating if any of them failed (it wouldn't just be car manufacturer, after all; it would also be the dealerships, the parts suppliers and manufacturers, etc.), but the bailout provides no incentive to the Big Three to do anything to change their ways. They'll still be paying exorbitant wages to their union workers and the bailout doesn't provide for any wage rollback. How smart is that? Not very, I'd say. So, my guess is that in a few months, we'll be right back at this point, with them begging for more money.

3) Russia is selling advanced weapons to Iran, including the most advanced anti-missile weaponry the Russians have. As hard as it is to deal with Iran now, can you imagine how hard it will be to confront them after they have these weapons? Memo to President-Elect Obama: Cut the crap about Russia being our strategic partner. It isn't. It IS our enemy, and every one of its actions is designed to convey that fact to us.

4) If New York Yankees-haters such as myself weren't already dispirited enough by the Bronx Bombers' signings of A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, now NBC Sports is reporting that the Yankees may sign Manny Ramirez. Honestly, at what point does this end? I know that New York is by far the wealthiest franchise in Baseball (and probably the richest professional sports franchise in North America), but does this team REALLY need an All-Star at every position? I guess that Yankees fans will smugly respond with a "yes"................

5) Merry Christmas to all 0f my Christian readers and a Happy Hannukah to those who are Jewish. No generic "Season's Greetings" or "Holiday Wishes" to anyone. I hate that. I may be as Jewish as they come, but I am never offended by anyone who wishes me a Merry Christmas, because I know that the sentiment behind the expression, a wish that everyone have a wonderful holiday, is sincere and motivated by the best of intentions. So, feel free to wish me a Merry Christmas if you're so inclined!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just Checking In!

No, I haven't forgotten about the blog. I have been distracted by the impending move of my firm and the many activities of the little BHG's. are some thoughts on various issues in the world:

1) A strange way to start this, but I read in this week's Sports Illustrated that former UConn Huskies women's basketball star Sue Bird (who, to be honest, I've always thought was very cute--let's just get that on the table right now!) was Jewish. Curious, I googled her name and the term "Jewish". Several inane entries popped up, including a Wikipedia entry on her (apparently, her dad is Jewish). However, the fifth entry that popped up on the Google search page was a posting on the Stormfront webpage (no, I'm NOT going to link to it). For those of you who don't know, Stormfront is a neo-Nazi/White Supremacist website. It asked if she was really Jewish, made some comments about how Jewish women are unattractive, etc. I felt sick just reading it. The thing is, there are people out there who really believe this crap............

2) We are now two weeks after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Here's a note to Agence France Presse, the BBC, Associated Press, New York Times, etc.: The subhumans who did this were not GUNMEN. They were not MILITANTS. They were not ACTIVISTS. THEY WERE TERRORISTS. And, as an aside to the New York Times, you can stop speculating about how the Chabad House may have been "an unintended target". It's already come out that in the city of almost 20 million people, this one, tiny oasis of Jewish life was specifically targeted over a year before the terrorist attack. This was no coincidence, you morons at the Times.........

3) What's $243.5 million between friends? That's the price tag on the New York Yankees spending spree on two pitchers so far this off-season ($161 million over seven years for CC Sabathia, $82.5 over five for A.J. Burnett), and there is no sign that the Yankees are done. After, Derek Lowe, Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez are still out there, as is Ben Sheets. It's pretty clear that the Bronx Bombers will spend whatever it takes to return to the playoffs next year, and even if they stopped now, they're a virtual lock in my mind to get there. Apparently, missing the playoffs once ever fifteen years is unacceptable. I just don't see how other teams can compete with them from a financial standpoint. Right now, it's very depressing to be a fan of any other team in Baseball.

4) The on-again, off-again bailout of the Motown Three (GM, Chrysler and Ford) is off again, for now anyway. I have little doubt that it will be revived again in the very near future. The fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs (not just those employed by the Big Three, but all of the various businesses who service the auto industry) depending on the viability of the Detroit automakers. If they go under, much of the country's economy will go down with them. That said, I have opposed a bailout, if for no other reason than the exorbitant wages being paid those affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW). What's the point in pouring money into any automaker when it's simply going to end up in union hands, leaving GM, Chrysler or Ford to come begging for more money in a year, or two, or three, or whatever. Until union wages are scaled back, no bailout as far as I'm concerned.

5) The stench emanating out of the Governor's Mansion in Illinois just grows more powerful by the day. I know that Chicago politics have an unsavory reputation around the country, and there's a reason for that--the city is rife with corruption. But, even by Chicago standards, what Governor Rod Blagojevich tried to do (allegedly, I know), which was sell off the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat of President-Elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder while daring the FBI to catch him doing it, was obscene. The man had and has no shame; if he did, he would have resigned already. The question now, will this become somehow tied to Mr. Obama? I personally doubt it, because A) I truly don't think that Obama knew what Blagojevich was doing (the same may not be said for certain members of his transition team, however), and B) Even if he did, NOTHING sticks to the guy. He's going to the first teflon President.

6) Has anyone else watched the pandemonium in the Canadian government. First, we had the three opposition parties, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois, try to stage an informal coup by banding together to form a coalition which would oust the governing Conservative Party. That was followed by the leader of the Conservatives, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, tracking down the Governor General and getting her to suspend Parliament until January. Not to be outdone, the Liberals, who form the largest opposition party, promptly turfed out their only occasionally coherent leader, Stephane Dion, and are replacing him with Michael Ignatieff. Once Parliament is back in session, it is anticipated that the coalition maneuvering will resume. What fun! Who said that Canada is boring?