We must be, because the calendar wouldn't lie to me, would it? So, on with this week's entry.
1) A hybrid sports/politics post. Rush Limbaugh was part of a group that was bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams franchise. Once word of this got out, it went "viral". The NFLPA organized a campaign against him. Several players openly commented that they wouldn't play for the Rams, and would advise friends against doing so.............all because of a series of comments that Limbaugh allegedly made, but which in reality were never said. Full disclosure here: I'm NOT a Limbaugh fan, and I don't listen to his show. That said, Limbaugh was effectively blackballed without doing anything. Ultimately, Dave Checketts, the front man for the group of which Limbaugh was a member, ultimately turfed out the radio show host. What struck me most about the whole situation was the blatant double-standard that was applied to Limbaugh. Is he occasionally controversial? Sure, but that's never stopped anyone from buying a professional sports franchise in the past. If the investors were, instead of Limbaugh, the race-baiting Reverend Al Sharpton or the the Reverend Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson, would the MSM have said a single negative word about them? Or, would it have piously opined how this was a positive step for the league. Methinks it would have been the latter, not the former.
2) It's an outdated story, but since I was in my "blogging hiatus", I never talked about the death of Michael Jackson. For anyone of my generation (mid-40s), Michael Jackson was THE seminal music figure of our youth, regardless of whether you liked his music or not. Particularly from 1983 to 1985, he was as dominant as a pop culture could be. Girls swooned over him. Yet, despite all that, I can't get out of my mind what we saw out of him in the 1990s--the accused pedophile who had to pay off one of his accusers, the wacko who (allegedly) slept in a hyperbaric chamber and who had all sorts of animals roaming his palatial estate, etc. In the end, I think that he was a pathetic, sad character. He may have made millions of dollars and had the world at his feet, but you couldn't have paid me enough money to get me to trade places with him.
3) So, President Obama vowed to "hit the reset button" on this country's relations with other countries around the world. I'll give him credit, he's done just that. Despite advocating a "freedom and human rights" agenda when he was running for office, he's shunned the Dalai Lama (wouldn't want to antagonize the despotic Chinese government, would we?), embarrassed the Czech and Polish governments by abruptly cancelling the missile shield plans (so that he could extricate concessions that never came from a dismissive Russian government), alienated Israel (by demanding that it make concessions to the Palestinians while literally asking for nothing from the Palestinians in return), aggravated the French with his dithering over Iran (it's a sad day when the French have a more muscular foreign policy than we do), ignored India (the only possible regional counterweight to China), allowed North Korea to launch missiles without even saying a word, joined the United Nations Human Rights Commission (which has as it's "raison d'etre" the vilification of Israel), ignored the ongoing genocide in Sudan, stayed largely silent when the protesters in Iran were protesting the fraudulent election results there, and most recently, blown off the celebrations commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (thereby insulting the Germans and giving lie to his claim that he supports human rights, given that the fall of the Berlin Wall was arguably one of the greatest symbols of the advancement of human rights in the 20th Century). All in all, his foreign policy--to the extent that he has one--has been a complete joke.
3) One of the latest news stories that's NOT really a news story is the "Balloon Boy" case. Last week, a boy named Falcone Heene allegedly was carried away in a balloon, causing a frantic police search and even the temporary closure of the Denver International Airport. Well, it turns out that parents Arthur and Mayumi Heene cooked up the whole story. Now, they are being investigated by the police and are likely facing criminal charges. To me, the bigger story is who these people are. The Heenes were "reality tv stars" from the show "Wife Swap", and apparently thought that this little plan of theirs would get them another reality show. Readers of this blog know of my loathing of "reality shows", and this story is the ultimate example of how these shows can on occasion become dangerous. They are at best mindless and at worst corrupting. It's frightening to me that they have such high viewership.
4) The Philadelphia Phillies are one game away from going back to the World Series for a second straight season after last night's thrilling 5-4, bottom of the ninth comeback win against the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fireballing closer, Jonathan Broxton. In a way, the Phillies are the "anti-Eagles"; in other words, they're a team filled with heart and determination. They're never out of any game. And as an aside, the play-by-play of last night' game showed me why Vin Scully is still the best announcer in Baseball. After he called Jimmy Rollins' game-winning hit, he didn't say anything. He just let the crowd, which was absolutely roaring, take it away. Sometimes, the art of being a great baseball announcer is knowing when not to say anything. Vin Scully proved last night that he still knows his job. In the American League, the Angels had a walkoff win of their own over the Evil Empire, a/k/a the New York Yankees. Still, I think that that's just a minor speed bump for the Yankees on their way to World Series title #27, much as it appalls me to write that. Los Angeles just doesn't have the lineup that New York does (no team does, for that matter), and even its normally stellar defense has deserted it in this series. It won't be a sweep, but I still expect New York to advance to the World Series in five or six games.
5) My first "Top 5s" (and "Bottom 5s, for the pros) of the year.
1) Alabama (7-0): This is the best team I have seen so far this year. Balanced offensively, and they just pound teams on defense.
2) Texas (6-0): The Longhorns weren't necessarily impressive against the Oklahoma Sooners this past weekend, but they got the job done and should cruise to the Big Twelve title game.
3) Cincinnati Bearcats (6-0): The Bearcats impressed in their win over a very tough South Florida team.
4) Florida Gators (6-0): That's right, I have the Gators ranked fourth! Based on performance, they don't deserve to be ranked any higher. They have one impressive win, and that's it.
5) Iowa Hawkeyes (7-0): They won't run the table, but the Hawkeyes look like the class of the Big Ten.
NFL Top Five and Bottom Five
1) New Orleans Saints (5-0): The Saints have a dynamic offense. If the defense can just be adequate, as it has been this season, this team will be awfully tough to beat.
2) Denver Broncos (6-0): Did ANYONE see this coming? The Broncos are giving up an average of 11 points a game, and even Kyle Orton has looked adequate.
3) Minnesota Vikings (6-0): Adrian Peterson is, well, Adrian Peterson, and the defense is always tough. If Brett Favre can keep doing his thing, the Vikes could be poised for a very deep playoff run.
4) New York Giants (5-1): Yeah, they got spanked by the Saints, but I still see the Giants as the team to beat in the NFC.
5) Indianapolis Colts (5-0): Honestly, I think that Peyton Manning is under appreciated. He will go down as the best quarterback of our generation, and maybe the best of all time.
1) Tennessee Titans (0-6): 59-0! How does a professional football team lose a game 59-0, as the Titans did against the Patriots last Sunday?! That's disgraceful.
2) St. Louis Rams (0-6): Maybe the NFL did Rush Limbaugh a favour when it balked at him buying a piece of this collection of dreck.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6): Next up for the Succaneers? The suddenly-clicking New England Patriots, this coming weekend in London. Can you say "BLOWOUT"? I sure can..........
4) Cleveland Browns (1-5): They'd have to improve just to be regressing.
5) TIE, Kansas City Chiefs (1-5), Washington Redskins (2-4), Detroit Lions (1-5), Oakland Raiders (2-4). I don't recall a year where there were this many truly awful teams.
NHL Top Five and Bottom Five
1) Pittsburgh Penguins (7-1): The defending Stanley Cup champions are off to a great start.
2) San Jose Sharks (5-3-1): We all know that the Sharks are talented, but can they do it in the playoffs? And, as an aside, it nauseates me as a hockey fan see Dany Heatley succeed anywhere.
3) Colorado Avalanche (6-1-1): Like their NFL city-mates, the Avalanche have come out of nowhere with their hot start. Will it last? Probably not, but at least there is hope for the future in Denver.
4) New York Rangers (7-2): Until getting thrashed 7-3 by the Sharks last night, the Rangers were white hot.
5) Washington Capitals (4-2-2): The Caps have Alexander Ovechkin, the most dynamic player in the league. What else do they need?
1) Toronto Maple Leafs (0-6-1): I know that Brian Burke is a great GM, seeing as he built a Cup-winner in Anaheim, but Maple Laughs fans cannot be happy with what he put together for them so far in Toronto.
2) Minnesota Wild (1-6): Even the Wild's hallmark of great defensive play hasn't been there so far this year.
3) New York Islanders (0-3-3): When you John Tavares on the ice for the team, you can see the future, and it isn't as dismal as the present.
4) Montreal Canadiens (2-5): Five straight losses, and their best defenseman, Andrei Markov, is out until at least February with a leg injury. It's going to be a LONG season in Montreal.........
5) Nashville Predators (2-4-1): They've scored 10 goals in 7 games. That's pathetic.