Top 10 Reasons Patriots Win Super Bowl

10.  The Patriots have experience in the Super Bowl, winning 4 of 6 under Belichick with Brady at QB.

9. The Falcons are 0-2 in Super Bowls. Dan Quinn as a Head Coach and QB Matt Ryan have never participated in a Super Bowl.  As Defensive Coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, Quinn lost to the Patriots in the 2014 Super Bowl.

8. The Falcons have a mediocre defense, ranked 27th out of 32 teams in points against.  The Patriots have the 3rd ranked offense in the NFL.

7. The Patriots have a superior defense to combat the Falcons superior offense. Turnovers will be key. The Pats have forced 23 turnovers, 2 more than the Falcons.

6. The Patriots have home field advantage having won the Super Bowl in Houston in 2004. Plus, 7 players on the Pats’ roster played college ball in Texas, 2 for The University of Houston, including Tackle Sebastian Vollmer.

5. Belichick is 22-3 when facing a head coach for the first time. He will be facing Dan Quinn as a head coach for the first time.

4. In 21 playoff games, the Pats’ kicker Gostkowski is 29/31 in made field goals. Matt Bryant, the 41-year-old kicker for Atlanta has had very few pressure kicks in playoff games – only 10 field goal attempts in his career.

3. Belichick is regarded as the best coach in the history of the game; Brady, the best Quarterback in the history of the game.

2. Brady is out to prove something after DeflateGate.  His feud with the commissioner is personal.

1.  That Matt Ryan won the MVP over Brady should provide just the little extra motivation needed for Brady to perform herculean feats.  Pats over the Falcons 35-24.

Olympic Medals Made Of Chocolate

What if those medals all the Olympians win were made of chocolate?  The gold medal would be made of the highest quality chocolate from Switzerland.  The silver medal, perhaps, would be of Belgian extract, although the Italian’s might take issue.  The bronze, well, nobody wants a bronze and so it wold have to be made of a common American chocolate, something like a Hershey’s Kiss, you know, a kiss for a good try, or the unheralded and quite delicious Zero bar, which apparently it still being manufactured, though it’s hard to find where I live.

Were this to come to fruition in the 2020 Toyko games, athletes would no longer have to pretend to take a bite out of their medals; in fact, they could peel off the foil and eat their medals right on the podium stand.

Steeplechase Reimagined

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Here’s the thing – the Steeplechase race needs a modern twist.  Jumping over a hurdle into a pool of water is so not very challenging. It’s time for an overhaul of the event. So here are some suggestions for a new course that will surely make the steeplechase the hottest event at the summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Ok, jumping into a pool of water is pretty cool, I have to admit, but what if, right before the water pit, runners had to jump through a ring of fire?  The water would help them cool off. Now the running and hurdling are fine, but quite boring if I’m being honest, so why not have the runners also run backwards for 100 meters?  It’s harder than it looks, but fun, ask any runner. Now, the high hurdle is really not a very big deal, so why not up the stakes and require an actual high jump, followed by a triple jump and a broad jump along the way.  Of course, all the runners would be motivated to chase a gold-plated electronic steeple whizzing around the track, not unlike the bone greyhounds chase at the the races.

Are you with me?

Some “sports” are not Olympic

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The summer Olympics have begun in Rio where it is technically winter.  And as I watch the games, I am struck for the first time by all the sporting events that shouldn’t be in the Olympics in my judgement.  If you take issue with my commentary, know that it is somewhat tongue in check…somewhat.

  • Archery – pretty cool to watch.  It might have been one of the original Greek events, so it’s in.
  • Badminton – seriously?  It’s a picnic game!  If badminton is in, croquet should be too.
  • Basketball – of course. Too bad there’s no longer a U.S. U.S.S.R rivalry. I’d like to see Brazil do well.  Whatever happened to Oscar, or is it Oskar? He was like the Oscar Robertson of team Brasil back in the day.  And while I love watching basketball in the games, it somehow doesn’t seem fair for NBA and WNBA players to play.  I thought the Olympics were supposed to be for amateur athletes.
  • Beach Volleyball – definitely, especially in a place like Rio.
  • Boxing – hell yes. Those leather helmets are classic and keep the fighters’ head on straight…literally.
  • Canoe slalom and sprint- wtf?  Sailing, fine.  Rowing, ok.  Canoeing (is that how you spell it?) That’s something you do on a vacation.  Not a sport.
  • BMX and Mountain cycling – nope.  That’s for the Red Bull drinking X Games crowd.
  • Road and Track Cycling – ok.
  • Diving –  absolutely and as long as Cynthia Potter is the analyst.
  • Equestrian –  I love horses.  Actually, I’d like to see rodeo competition in the games. Bull riding and bull running would also be fun events, but I’m not a fan of bull fighting. I’m not.
  • Fencing – intense.  I’d also like to see deep water diving with those cast iron helmets.
  • Field Hockey – nope.  Too elite prep school for my taste.
  • Golf – nope.  They already have too many tournaments – and the thing takes all day.
  • Gymnastics – yep.  Lots of flips and stuff.  It’s always hit or miss.  High drama. Made for TV. But not the rhythmic thing.
  • Handball – never heard of it.  Isn’t that a penalty in soccer?
  • Judo and Taekwondo – yep.
  • Rugby Sevens – sounds like a card game, but it’s the next best thing to American football, so I say yes to the rough and tumble sport, mate.
  • Sailing – a Christopher Cross song, not a sport.  Nope.
  • Shooting – shooting what, the breeze? Not a sport.
  • Swimming – yes.  synchronized, no.  Might be good for a Disney show but not for the Olympics.
  • Table Tennis –  you mean Ping-Pong?  Sure, why not.
  • Tennis.  No. Same reason as Golf.
  • Track and Field – yes all day long.
  • Trampoline – no, beause with diving and gymnastics it’s redundant.
  • Triatholon – ok.
  • Volleyball – only beach volleyball.
  • Water Polo – NO. It’s just silly, like handball or dodgeball in the water.  They should use a nerf ball in my opinion.
  • Weightlifting – definitely. I especially like when they drop the dumbells in disgust.
  • Wrestling – ok, but I’d like to see some tag team championship wrestling.  And why isn’t grappling an event?

2015 NCAA Selection Committee Suffering From March Madness

Well the field of 68 has been whittled down to 66, with two games left in the first round, also called the First Four.  As I look at the brackets, I see something a bit odd.  Some of the second round games, which will be the first games for 60 of the teams, will be played in cities that are not located in the region they represent.  For example, some second round games for the West Region are held in Jacksonville, Florida, which, to my thinking is more South or East than West.  About the only place near the U.S. where one would have to travel West to get to Jacksonville would be the island nation of Bermuda.

Another example is Omaha, NE, which hosts a second round Sub Regional game in the West.  Ok, Nebraska is more Westerly than Jacksonville, but it feels more middle western to me.  Oddly, Omaha also hosts a Midwest Sub Regional game.  How is that fair?  When did Nebraska become a basketball mecca?  It doesn’t even have a team in the tournament.  No, Creighton (Barrel) did not make the cut this year.  Somebody in NE knows someone with powerful NCAA connections.

Looking at the South Regional, we have more of this March Madness shenanigans in play.  Seattle, WA and Portland, OR play host to South Sub Regional games.  I was not a Geography major in college, but from what I can remember, the only place that can call Seattle South is Canada.  I suppose Portland was approved because it is South of Seattle.

And because of these geographic fails on the part of the NCAA tournament logistics committee, some teams have a clear home court advantage in Sub Regionals that were not earned.  Let’s look at the “West” games being played in Jacksonville, Florida.   Wofford, out of Spartanburg, SC, the 12th seed, practically has a home game against 5th seeded Arkansas, and were they to win, would have a slight home court advantage over 3rd seeded UNC.  Wisconsin sent to the West Region got the least respect having to play in Omaha, a good 7 hour drive from Madison.  All the other 1 seeds get second round games in their home state and Villanova, plays just 30 minutes from campus in Philly.

A couple of Texas teams – Stephen F. Austin (12) and SMU (6) have smooth sailing back to Texas if they advance to Houston for virtual home court advantage – both Dallas and Nacogdoches are only a few hours from Houston.  And of course all of the Indiana teams (how did they get 5 in?) could advance to Indianapolis.  There must be some big wigs on the NCAA committee from the Hoosier state.  I mean really, how did Indiana even get an invitation with 13 losses?  And Valparaiso, isn’t that a city in Chile? Come on, and they didn’t play a single ranked team all year.  And if you think Butler has a chance of advancing very far, well I think you are delusional or put another way, suffering from an acute case of March madness.  And to demonstrate that I too may not be quite right in the head, here’s my prediction:  Cat v. Dog – Villanova Wildcats (1) v. Wofford Terriers (12) with the Wildcats winning it on a buzzer beater, 45-44.  You watch.

2015 NCAA First Four – Bird of Prey vs. Founding Father

Robert Morris

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The Robert Morris Colonials play the North Florida Ospreys in one of the first games of the NCAA tournament in what is known as the First Four Round. It’s a play-in essentially to the Second Round, with the winner of the game playing the top seeded team from the South, Duke. So who wins? A Colonial versus an Osprey.  A formidable bird of prey should have no problem with an colonial unless said colonial is armed with a hunting rifle.  But the colonial in question was not just any colonial, he, Robert Morris to be precise was a founding father and U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  A man who bears a striking resemblance to J.S. Bach, Morris was said to have largely financed the American Revolution but ironically landed in debtors prison some years later. Given the outcome, I would have thought he’d have gotten a more favorable return on his investment.

Morris lived in Philadelphia just a stone’s throw from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a wildlife preserve for birds of prey in Kempton, PA.   As a prolific dealer in land, and a Naval proponent, I have to believe that Mr. Morris had enormous respect for wildlife and birds.  As such, I do not believe he would have any animosity toward the Osprey.  Nor do I believe the Osprey have any particular qualms with Robert Morris or other humans as these particular hawk species only attack and eat fish.

What this all means in terms of the game is that both Robert Morris and North Florida will play defensively and try to control the pace, but not bloody the opponent.  It will be a low scoring game – say 56-55, North Florida winning in a squeaker, or squawker as it were or will be.

2015 March Madness – 68 of the not so great

Are you mad for March?  Are you ready for March Madness?  I am and so are 68 NCAA basketball teams.  Let’s have a look at who is in and see what we can see.  One quick note:  there are quite a few no and new shows.

    • First timers:  North Florida, UC Irvine, Buffalo.  No offense North Florida, but I didn’t even know you had a school, much less a team, but, nonetheless, welcome….and good luck!  Hey, Buffalo.  We don’t hear much about your college hoops team.  I don’t suppose you folks are the Buffalo Buffalos?  No?  Oh, the Buffalo Bulls, not to be confused with the bad news Buffalo Bills.  Interestingly, the team is coached by Bobby Hurley, of Duke fame, and has a roster of only one kid from the State of New York (Buffalo) who went to prep school in Virginia.
    • Thirty-three states and DC sent teams to the tournament.
    • Texas and Indiana have the most teams in the big dance with (5) – TX: TX Southern, UT, Baylor, SMU and SF Austin; IN: Purdue, Butler, Notre Dame, Valparaiso, Indiana.
    • The Big State of California where basketball does not reign supreme this year has only 3 teams representing: UCLA, UC Irvine and San Diego State.
    • Florida produced one team:  North Florida, the home of the Ospreys – not sure if the mascot is a bird or a helicopter.
    • Tennessee produced one team:  the Belmont Bruins from Nashville.
    • There could be an all Texas and or former SWC conference final: SMU vs. Texas or Ark vs. SMU – but it won’t happen.
    • Wofford has a fitting mascot:  the Terriers!

Let the madness begin!

Deflategate Overblown

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Are the New England Patriots guilty of deflating footballs to make them easier for Tom Brady to grip and throw and for the receivers to catch and to prevent fumbles? And if so, should they be penalized, even disqualified from the Super Bowl? In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Patriots fan, but since I did not grow up in New England I think I can be partial.

Before I address some of the facts, I want to go on record as saying that it is absolutely absurd that each team is required to supply 12 game fooballs.  In my view, the game should be played with footballs supplied by the NFL and that both teams play with the same football.  I mean really, how many footballs are needed to play a game?  The referees would be the keeper of the balls and one of them would have the responsibility of checking the footballs for psi say at the commercial breaks or at the change of quarters.

Now to the known facts.  The Patriot footballs were determined to be underinflated at half time, based on a complaint by a Colts defender who made an interception and noticed the ball didn’t feel right.  The footballs were then inflated to the proper psi for the second half.  Just how much of an advantage did the Patriots have?  Put it this way, the Pats scored 28 points in the second half, and held the Colts scoreless.  So even if you erased the 17 points the Pats scored in the first half, they still would have won the game 28-7.  Second, there is no direct evidence that a Patriots employee authorized or instructed someone to deflate the footballs, nor are there any eye witness accounts or video evidence catching a deflater in the act.  In fact, professors at Boston College and MIT say that footballs will deflate naturally if inflated at room temperature and then exposed to an extreme temperature drop, which was the case in Foxboro.  If the footballs were originally inflated to the minimum psi, they might have dropped to below that by halftime. But why weren’t the Colts footballs underinflated?  Well, the logical explanation was that they were inflated to the maximum psi and naturally deflated the same amount but were at the low end of the acceptable range by halftime or whenever their footballs were inspected, if in fact they ever were.  Third, with all the former quarterbacks talking about their preferences for football pressure and such, I can only conclude that football pressure customization is and always has been much more common than any of us are aware. I’m not saying Brady knew, but I am saying that if such practices are common, then no team really has an advantage.  And teams that don’t seek an advantage, won’t win.  But even if the Patriots were found guilty, the maximum punishment they should receive is a three game ban from spiking the football after they score a touchdown.  That’d be hard on Gronk, but a just penalty I think.

Deflate gate is overblown and is tailor made for social media.  Even some of the Colts players seem embarrassed by it all. The reality is that  Tom Brady haters secretly wish he were their teams’ quarterback and if being honest would admit that Bill Belichick is the best coach of all time.  11.5 psi can’t bring a dynasty down.

Why Boston should not host the Summer Olympics

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Dear Reader,

Boston was selected to compete to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, which I think is a really horrible idea for the following 5 reasons:

  1. Friendliness. Not that Boston couldn’t be a good host city.  It could and most likely would be, if people were on their best behavior.  However, Bostonians are not generally known for their friendliness, but neither are they, or I should say, we, as I live here, neither are we hostile.  At best we are indifferent to tourists, and sometimes, maybe quite frequently, mildly annoyed at them but otherwise reasonably tolerant.  International tourists will not find the sort of southern hospitality they might have encountered elsewhere, say in Atlanta during the 96 Olympics – you know, “how ya’ll doin?”, ya’ll doin aight?”, nor will you find the curiosity factor, “where ya’ll from?”. To Bostonians, unless you live in the neighborhood where you were born, you are an outsider and will be given the cold treatment, which is a survival mechanism, so don’t take offense. The best you can hope for is to get honked at to get the hell out of the way, or to receive a “you all set?” from your waiter.
  2. Food.  Boston has some good food, but does not compare to other major cities in the U.S. like NYC or Chicago and doesn’t really have a very attractive local culinary staple, unless you count Clam Chowder, and in my book soup doesn’t count.  And lobster, well, that’s Maine’s claim, not Boston’s.  Try finding a good barbecue, a brisket, a cheesesteak, or even a decent pizza – and sandwiches in the city, forget about it.  Make your own.
  3. Parking.  There is none. Period. And traffic is bad enough as it is, the Big Dig notwithstanding. Bostonians are notoriously bad and rude drivers and the roads here are little more than cow paths.  There’s no grid pattern for navigation purposes which renders even GPS useless.
  4. Accommodations.  I think most tourists would have to stay outside of Boston – way outside, like Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut because there just aren’t enough beds.
  5. Venues.  They’d have to be built, because there’s not much here besides the Reggie Lewis Track Center at Roxbury Community College, the basketball gym at the Garden, the Football stadium in Foxboro, out in the sticks – over an hour from Boston and the soccer field at Pagil Playground. Boston would have to build something like 4 stadiums costing upwards of a billion dollars, not to mention the added expense of all the security needed. Ultimately this will mean higher taxes for Bostonians. Look, Boston is so congested with buildings and narrow alleys that they’d have to tear old stuff down to build the new.  If Boston were selected, they should just build out on the Boston Harbor Islands,which, by the way, has good views of the shipping lanes, Logan Airport and the occasional whale.

I’d just be happy to host another World Series and leave the Summer Olympics to the Romans.

Respectfully,

Ribbie,

Boston, MA

Dismantled Brazil Could Still Finish 3rd

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Well, I didn’t predict the winner – I had Brazil.  But I did predict that the losing team would score 1 goal.  You see, I had Brazil beating Germany 2-1.  I never imagined that in a semi-final World Cup game a team would/could score 7 goals. 7 goals! Germany completely dismantled Brazil with seemingly little effort, scoring 3 goals in 3 minutes and 5 goals total in the first 29 minutes.

I happened to be watching the game in Rio in the comfort of a friend’s apartment drinking sangrias (fittingly so it turns out). And good thing, because if I had been down by the beach drinking caipirinhas watching the game on one of the Jumbotrons set up on Copacabana beach, just down the street, who knows what might have happened to me.  I’m not saying I would have been attacked or anything, but I do look more German than Brazilian and don’t speak Portuguese. And trust me, the vendors make a beeline for me at the beach, marking me as both a tourist and a probable gringo with dollars. No one has yet to ask me, “Alemao? or “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

The game was an embarrassment to watch and I am sure an embarrassment and shock to all in the soccer community, Brazilians and Germans alike.  A 6 goal differential is the largest defeat a host country has ever suffered in a World Cup game and 7 is the most goals ever scored in a semi-final game.  And it’s too bad it happened in the way that it did.  Brazil had two men down essentially – star Neymar and captain Silva…but they did have the home field advantage with the support of the entire soccer crazy nation.  Soccer is a religion here.  An addictive drug one could say that keeps the masses distracted from the many problems Brazilians face from wealth inequality to corruption.

Whether Brazilians will forgive their team for their pitiful performance remains to be seen.  Many left the stadium before the first half even ended.  After the game, some of the players and the coach apologized to the fans and the country.  Players were praying on the field as if asking god for forgiveness for their sporting sins. The Brazilian team can only hope for a victory against the loser of the Holland and Argentina match – certainly no small feat.  It would be a consolation prize that could help heal the damage that Germany inflicted and restore the people’s pride and faith in their national team.