Category Archives: Sports

47 Thoughts

Happy 47

  1. Thank you to all who helped make my birthday as great as it could be under these circumstances. Loved the messages, calls, texts, sexts, cards, emojis, balloons and general fanfare. Special shout out to Mrs. IDROS, who went above and beyond as usual with an incredible surprise recreation of one of my favorite restaurants, menus and birthday dinners.
  2. As usual in America, our policy du jour is about making cents, rather than making sense.
  3. #WearAFuckingMask
  4. #BlackLivesMatter
  5. Who is overseeing the testing sites…I fear those centers lack the regulatory oversight to be effective, and worse, may be spreading the virus (you know…bringing hundreds of likely ill people together to fester in a parking lot petri dish…)?
  6. America is a Cancer…as we celebrate our nation’s birthday, it occurs to me that our American Zodiac sign might be…fitting?
  7. IDROS does not agree with the removal of “all” historical monuments that celebrate racists and miscreants from a bygone era…many absolutely should be removed, and many others should be updated with plaques and inscriptions that detail A) why the monument or statue was erected, and more importantly, B) why the man/men (yes, it is almost always men, not women) are a stain on society, and, if known, whether they were more (racist, misogynistic, generally awful) than was the standard during their time (take Woodrow Wilson for example….)
  8. What kind of reading and self-guided education have you been doing vis a vis racism in America? It’s never too late.
  9. It’s a good thing America has been made great again, because we are not going to be allowed to leave our country again for a while as more and more nations close their borders to our citizens.
  10. What instrument would you rank 5th all time for rock music (after guitar, bass, keyboards and drums)? IDROS goes harmonica.
  11. If you enjoy non-fiction reading, I recommend any of the 4 books by brothers Dan and Chip Heath. Similar to Malcolm Gladwell, they write fascinating, research-based books that dissect important phenomena that affect all of humanity. A lot of what they write can be channeled into self-help and can add value to all of humanity. Dan works at Duke University, and Chip works at Stanford, in case University prestige and affiliation moves the needle.
  12. IDROS is almost as embarrassed to live in Florida as he is to live in America right now…neck and neck really.
  13. Facebook, Twitter and all other social media platforms need to be regulated more fervently in terms of “free” speech. It’s nice that large companies like Unilever, Starbucks and Verizon are now throwing their hats into the ring, pulling ads and hitting FB in its e-wallet…but this again proves that corporate conglomerates have more power than people in America and in the world…and so our politicians will continue to do their bidding, often at the expense of humanity.
  14. Watched “Joker” this past weekend. Uncanny how much Leaf looks like Phil Dunphy…perhaps scarier than the themes in Joker.
  15. I think my favorite moment from last month (#PrideMonth) came when the conservative majority court that our president and his lackeys fraudulently stacked in their favor, ruled to uphold LGBTQ rights…at least this time.
  16. A few celebs that share my birthdate (June 29): Colin Hay, Kawhi Leonard, Nicole Scherzinger, Richard Lewis, Theo Fleury, Pepper Johnson (remember that block by Byars?), Dan Dierdorf, Fred “Gopher” Grandy, Bob Evans (the producer, not “Down on the Farm”)
  17. What’s a tougher watch…the first 20 minutes of “Up” or the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan?” Any other movies with a more difficult opening to watch?
  18. It is not easy to come up with a list of 47 (he says after only 18 entries).
  19. A Monday birthday is not optimal. A Coronavirus birthday isn’t anyone’s first choice either. But both of those scenarios are outside my control (IDROS mutters to self, “not helping”).
  20. Sad to not be celebrating this lap around our sun at the South Jersey shore.
  21. 40 years ago, all 4 Philly sports teams were elite. This year, who knows…but the Phillies lead the league in positive coronavirus cases, so there’s that
  22. Remember when the Flyers were the best team in the NHL just before Covid shut the world down? Good times.
  23. Recommend Philly-boy-turned-rapper Lil Dicky’s show “Dave” if you need a reco.
  24. Who else is completely skeeved out by paper (and coin) money right now?
  25. Dave Chappelle – 8:46 is pure genius. No doubt he belongs on the Mount Rushmore of comedy.
  26. Who are the 3 others? (Eddie, George and Richard are consensus, but Mel, Carol, Larry, Lucille, Rodney, Jerry, Joan and Carl are all worthy of consideration).
  27. Neil Young’s latest new release of old material “Homegrown” is very good…great in spots. My favorite song on the album is “We Don’t Smoke It No More,” a drunken barroom blues nugget that should be categorized among NY’s greatest blues efforts.
  28. Phish, and especially Trey, have been prolific during the pandemic thus far. I will definitely miss seeing them this summer at traditional venues, but for my money, I prefer Tuesdays with Phish (for DAAM) to those with Morrie (sorry Mitch).
  29.  The selfishness of the “anti-maskers” is mindboggling, and their ridiculous stance is emboldened from the top.
  30. Speaking of ludicrosity, our citrus fruit in chief needs to READ ICCULUS (if he can read)
  31. I think that lost in the 125,000+ deaths so far from Covid (many of which I believe are the direct fault of DJT and state governors like him…yes I mean you, DeSantis) are the countless survivors of the coronavirus, who will become part of the data set that make this seem like a more docile beast than it is, but whose lives have been forever negatively impacted by the disease (breathing issues, lung scarring, organ damage, etc.). We don’t know what we don’t know, and the fallout from this shitstorm is far from realized at this point.
  32. There haven’t been any school shootings on Covid’s watch thus far…so there is at least one silver lining
  33. I have no real problem with calling Covid “The Chinese Virus” or “The Chinese Flu” per se…after all, we still call plenty of illnesses, viruses and pandemics by their place of origin, or by a country name (Spanish Flu, West Nile Virus, Ebola, etc.). I only take issue because of the buffoon who feels it necessary to make it a racist put-down by doing so.
  34. Chuck E Cheese’s declaring bankruptcy, obvious as it may be in these crazy times, is devastating to my son.
  35. The past 3 ½ months have been surreal.
  36. Family Feud style, top 6 answers on the board: Can I get a(n) ______________?
  37. Are the mobs coming for the White House? Will it inevitably become the Multicolored House?
  38. There isn’t a litany of great famous athletes who have worn number 47 in history: Jack Morris, Tom Glavine, Mel Blount, Jerry Lucas, John Lynch are the best of the bunch.
  39. Does 7 qualify as late? Like, am I now in my late 40s?
  40. As a time of day, 7 never qualifies as late (I realize you might be running late for something at 7am or 7pm, or you may have overslept till 7, etc., but that doesn’t make 7 late…it makes YOU late).
  41. How lazy was Susan? Would one instantly know upon meeting her?
  42. 47 is a prime number
  43. RIP Carl Reiner, a true American treasure. My heart aches for Mel, Rob, the entire Reiner family and all Americans who knew and loved one of the greatest comedic minds of all time. In a time where we all can use as much laughter as possible, his void will be hard to fill.
  44. A few more celebs that share the IDROS birthday: Harmon Killebrew, Maria Conchita Alonso (“The Running Woman”), Bret (not Jemaine) Mckenzie, Charlamagne Tha God, and, of course, Gary Busey
  45. America is, and always has been, a work in progress. Our forefathers, some of whom were asshole slave-owners, racists, and misogynists, were remarkable in many ways, especially in their time. And our constitution was drafted to allow America the flexibility to evolve, and to get better over time. Never forget, on this Independence Day, that those who broke from their colonial rulers, did so at great personal and collective risk and against great odds, to create a new land of opportunity for “all” (read: originally, all white men…but slowly, more and more inclusive).
  46. It is incumbent upon all of us to make our country better. Somewhere along the way it seems to have been lost on many that we have a responsibility to continue what our Founding Fathers started. We are truly only as strong and great as our weakest link(s). All of us must strive to do better, to be kinder, to be more empathetic, to educate ourselves and our children, to call out injustice when we see it, to refuse to remain silent in the face of oppression, and to make our nation better for future generations.
  47. Thanks for reading, and Happy 4th. Stay safe everyone!


All the best,


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The Ultimate List

Funny_Fantasy-football-namesPumpkin spice surrounds us once again, and it is as inescapable as a crowded checkout line at Target. The kiddos are starting (or in the case of Florida, where IDROS lives, have already started) school. Halloween decorations, costumes and candies have flooded retail hubs across America. And so, by the transitive property, we can safely assume that FOOTBALL SEASON is upon us. And with it, Fantasy drafts have hijacked the productivity of at least 60% of society and have added stress and resentment to marriages across the land.  Polls and power rankings are honed and proliferated by pedigreed dart-throwers at major sports media outlets all over the nation.

Why? Because everyone loves lists. All things in life are better when boiled down to an ordered, unordered, random or deliberate list…especially when it’s ranked. Some of these rankings are serious, and help inform people’s choices for colleges, grad schools, private schools, mutual funds, new cars, doctors, lawyers, and a host of other products and professionals we are free to choose. Some are less serious, but nonetheless drive the music we listen to, the movies we see, the Fantasy players we draft, the “top” answers on a certain Game Show and more importantly, the relevancy regarding certain arcana such as the best songs from certain decades, the best movie roles for certain actors, the best quarterbacks of all time, etc.

IDROS enjoys a good list as much as anyone, and so what better way to “kick off” American football season (see what I did there?) than to proffer a very special list…the ultimate list.

Behold, the IDROS ULTIMATE LIST OF LISTS (top 25 answers on the board…revealed in descending order for the reader’s pleasure). As always, if you have any suggestions or additions, feel free to contribute in the comments:

25) To Do

24) Do Not Call

23) Endangered Species

22) Reading

21) Play

20) Wait

19) Christmas (Holiday)

18) Check

17) No Fly

16) Hit

15) Wish

14) Guest

13) Mailing/Contact

12) Most Wanted

11) Punch

10) A

9) Hurricane (Apocalypse) Prep

8) Shopping/Grocery

7) B

6) Sh*t

5) Wine

4) Bucket

3) Set

2) My (…of the best things in life…yes, the one your kiss is on)

1) Franz

Others receiving votes: Top 10, Phone/Contact, C, Short, Packing, Watch, Price, Honey-Do, Luke, Ingredients, UVA, Inventory, Results, Santa’s, D, Answer, Florida State, Drink, Song, Signature, Donor, Passenger, Thank You, Call/Emergency Call

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Escaping the Frustration of the upcoming Election With…More Frustration, From the NFL of All Places

So who’s frustrated?

America is suffering right now in more ways than anyone cares to admit. Unemployment is rampant, the housing market hasn’t rebounded in a meaningful way, it has been reported that nearly two thirds of mortgages are upside down, our national debt is skyrocketing out of control, entitlement programs are verging on bankruptcy, mass murders and hostage crises dominate our news every other day, we still live in a country where every citizen does not share the same rights as their fellow Americans, our young brothers and sisters are forced to continue to fight wars (by their hawkish politicians who somehow are not mandated to sacrifice their own progeny in these never-ending, meaningless and frustratingly ill-conceived bloodbaths) in remote corners of the globe with disturbing accounts of lost American lives seemingly every day, and perhaps most telling, some pudgy redneck child named Honey Boo Boo and her troglodyte mother have a frighteningly large following (and the phenomenon that is her rise to “fame” has surprisingly made its way to people like me, and I can tell you I am shaking my head this very second as I type this).

You would think that the fact this is an election year would be good news for millions of frustrated and struggling Americans. At last, the greatest benefit of living in a democratic society is within reach, appearing almost from nowhere, like a posh oasis in the middle of the scariest desert imaginable. Yay. We can vote out the scourge that got us into this mess, OR…Alright! We can keep this regime, which has nobly tried to help a horrible situation in the face of an unimaginably horrific starting point and starkly uncooperative opposition across the aisle.  Either way, unfortunately, our recourse at the polls in five weeks will inevitably reveal that oasis to be a mirage.

Why? Because the ridiculous emergence of a dominant farcical two-party system relegates every American to literally elect the worst party-influenced caricature imaginable into office every two, four and six years. I am not sure why we only ever have two realistic choices in any political race, and also why those two candidates have to represent both the best AND worst of their respective parties (I would rather cast my vote for an actual elephant or donkey than the human candidates). It ensures every voter has to make some awful choices come election time, basically subrogating rationality in order to choose what they hope will be “the lesser of two evils.” At least that’s how I envision educated people pulling their respective levers. And don’t get me started on the millions of…let’s just say educationally challenged…people.

Why can’t I walk into a voting booth and attempt to elect a candidate who is liberal socially but somewhat conservative fiscally? Why can’t I manage to find a candidate that has a non-hawkish outlook on foreign policy, and who guarantees good relations with Israel, America’s only true ally in the Middle East? Why can’t I ever find a candidate who swears to end America’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels…and MEANS IT?

The real issue boils down to money, as usual. And that is the essence of what really grinds my gears. Our political system has been hijacked by the highest bidders, and what’s worse, those bidders aren’t even allowed to vote. Why not? Because they are corporations, not people. And all of us (or at least the overwhelming majority), the voting public, suffer as a result. Perhaps worst of all is the brash manner in which billions of dollars are flushed down the toilet, mocking all of us – particularly those in need – as ridiculous party venom is spewed all over our homes and neighborhoods through every media outlet imaginable.

The democratic system, designed to help the common man shape (or at least have a say in) the world around him or her, has become a game dominated by mercenaries, where policy and policy makers are sold to the highest bidder(s), leaving all of us worse off.

We have no recourse as voters. And the politicians and the two parties know this. So they play the game that has emerged, benefitting from it however they can no matter what the consequences are for their constituents, as only opportunist politicians can. They all have us by the short hairs. But like lemmings, we all continue the charade that we actually have power, that we still live in a democratic society and that we can affect change through the polls. The thing is, until campaign finance reform is amended and until the two nausea-inducing parties are eliminated from a position of influence, we will all suffer increased polarization of our populace and leaders as well as the whims and fiscal agendas of the most powerful companies in the world.

Despite a crippled economy and growing political unrest, however, if you ask most men (and to be fair, some women too) in America right now what their biggest gripe is, and their answer might just surprise you – though after last night’s debacle, all bets are off. Unfortunately, I am referring to the current NFL lockout of its referees.  The mega-billion dollar monopolistic behemoth that is the National Football League, or “the shield” as it is referred to by its most loving fans, is playing hard ball right now with its crew of 120 well-trained officials over pension funds, back-up officials and a few other negotiable points, and insodoing, is jeopardizing the health and safety of its players as well as the integrity of the game that has become the de facto American pastime, with all due respect to baseball.

As frustrating as this is for fans, both die-hard and casual, to stomach, there is virtually nothing any of us can do about it. And the owners and commissioner of the league know this. They have us by the proverbial short hairs: television ratings are as strong as ever as is attendance at most stadia. And that despite the folly that unfolds on most fields with what amounts to replacement officials seemingly qualified for nothing more than middle school or peewee league football. Some of these replacements have been caught with Facebook pictures openly showcasing their NFL team allegiance, and at least one scab official was reported by an NFL player to have approached said player pleading for a good performance to “aid his fantasy team.” I couldn’t make this stuff up. Nobody could. Well maybe Orwell, but nobody else.

Our only recourse is to not watch and not go to games. But we love our football so much that this really isn’t an option, right? NFL brass knows this. And we all suffer. Hmmm. Sound familiar? Well it should. This exact scenario is playing out concurrently in our nation’s toxic political atmosphere.

Oh well. At least we live in America, right? Greatest nation on the planet…in many ways, I suppose. I am too young to be so frustrated. So I won’t be.

Plus, I (and most of you…actually, all of you. Who am I kidding?) don’t live in Green Bay. You know what goes really well with that sour taste you have in your mouth? Cheese. So at least you have that going for you.

Happy New Year everyone.



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A Few Final Thoughts on the Penn State Fiasco…

For my more thorough analysis, please refer to my post “Eight Year Olds, Dude,” which I wrote when the story first broke (albeit 13 years too late) back in November, 2011.

But with Joe Pa’s statue being removed and the NCAA penalties handed down today, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a few important notes, thoughts and relevant links after having time to reflect, vomit a few times, shake my head enough that I may have damaged a few vertebrae, digest Lucifer Satandusky’s trial and its analysis, digest the Freeh report and its analysis and fallout, vomit a few more times, nod my head with disdain and disgust because I knew back in November that evidence of a massive cover up was all but certainly forthcoming, and control my anger at the rhetoric of Joe Pa’s family members (who may be the only people on earth who are entitled to defend the man on any grounds, but still, in my opinion, have gone too far in confusing/confounding the issues with the facts)… and I continue to shake my head in utter disbelief as I type this….

1)      Joe Pa’s statue should have remained standing…not only for his achievements as a coach on the field and in the Penn State community, but more as a constant reminder of how he failed…failed his recruits, his fellow coaches, his beloved University, the NCAA and the entire sporting world, but most of all, how he failed those kids abused by Satandusky…all of them, those who had the courage to come forward and the countless others (and I am certain there are countless others) who have either not yet mustered that courage, never will, or are no longer around to be counted.

One huge caveat: The statue should be turned around to face the wall behind it, because as great as Joe Pa was as a football coach, he was clearly even better at LOOKING THE OTHER WAY!

2)      I am not entirely sure all of the players in this cover up have been identified at this point. In fact, I am fairly certain there are others, even if they aren’t ever identified or indicted for their involvement. For starters, please do yourselves a favor and read this well-written piece that questions the participation of Pennsylvania’s current Governor, Tom Corbett. Though his side of the story deserves to be told before eviscerating him, I am sure there are myriad State, County and City officials that played a role in the cover up, even if their action (or inaction) was just looking the other way, not following up on a lead or warning or failing to act in a noble way at some point when they otherwise might have.

There are also potential complicit parties throughout college football. Remember, Satandusky was widely regarded as one of if not the top defensive mind in all of college football, and the heir apparent to Joe Pa. So when Satandusky left PSU in 1999 to “spend more time with his charity, The Second Mile,” in the prime of a head coach’s career (55 years old is about the average age of all head coaches in football)…one serious question to ponder is why he wasn’t seriously pursued by other college programs. My bet is he was, and that somewhere along their vetting process, they caught wind of Satandusky’s proclivities and potential legal problems. So the large, unanswered questions are: which other college ADs knew, when did they know and why didn’t THEY follow up with this in any way?

3)      The punishment handed down today by Mark Emmert and the NCAA was swift and fair. Sure, it may have been based solely on the Freeh report and Satandusky verdict, without fully vetting the back-story and true extent of criminal activity, but at this point, it is clear there was an egregious and soulless series of crimes committed, and an even more egregious and soulless cover up that made it all the way up the PSU hierarchy to the highest levels. No matter how this all shakes out in the end, there was basis for levying the most severe punitive repercussions ever to PSU and their football program, and there was also an opportunity to preemptively warn all other schools and athletic programs overseen by the NCAA that institutional corruption of any kind will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly, severely and to the fullest extent of the powers entrusted to the NCAA. Cannon fire was blasted across the bows of all collegiate athletic programs today, and was done so appropriately, before the start of the 20012-13 athletic season, allowing innocent members of the PSU team to leave if they desire and ample time to land on their feet elsewhere.

Oh, and to all of those who believe the NCAA has no jurisdiction here, that PSU’s transgressions did not give the school or team a competitive advantage…I say in my best Jimmy Fallon/Amy Poehler voice, “REALLY?!?!” The cover up was orchestrated for one reason…so BIG FOOTBALL could continue unfettered in Happy Valley and the money machine could keep churning…which in turn, served to give PSU the greatest competitive advantage ever…had this story broke in 1998 or in 2001 without any cover up, the school would probably not have been given the de facto “Death Penalty,” or worse, as they were today. But they would certainly have suffered in reputation, lost recruits, and by being sued by the families of those victims, albeit fewer of them, who came forward at that time. I cannot calculate how much all of that would have diminished the strength of the football program or for how many years, but I can guarantee it would have…I can also guarantee Joe Pa would have had to retire earlier than he did, and that the program would have gone through a rebuilding era from the top down. So to argue no competitive advantage was gained by covering up the Satandusky affair and thus the NCAA had no jurisdiction to penalize PSU is akin to arguing that Tito was the most talented Jackson, or that the Godfather Part III was the best in the series.

4)      To all those who think the penalties were too harsh, particularly for the athletes who had nothing to do with this scandal: Football players had a choice to go to PSU over other schools, and due to the early ruling as well as unprecedented loophole allowing all players to transfer this year with no time lost AND any school who claims a PSU player to add a roster spot and scholarship beyond the NCAA cap to do so…they will all have a choice to leave if they so desire.


5)      There is a serious problem in our society today stemming from the stigma associated with certain crimes, most notably sexual abuse. Victims often remain silent from shame and personal guilt, allowing perpetrators free reign to victimize others. Furthermore, as evidenced by McQueary’s and the janitors’ cowardly reactions to what they witnessed, even those peripheral to the crimes, who weren’t victims themselves, are often so disgusted, shocked and confused by what they see that they fail to act in a way others would hope they should. Case in point: If a man sees another man kick or punch a child, I am certain that man would intervene. And if the aggressor was much larger than the witness, I am certain the witness would call the authorities and MAKE SURE the perpetrator was brought to justice and the child was out of harm’s way. But in the case of sexual abuse, more often than not, witnesses fail to act as they would for violent acts.  Sure, perhaps McQueary’s reaction (telling Joe Pa and his father) would have succeeded if it weren’t for the larger efforts to cover up Satandusky’s acts by McQueary’s boss and PSU’s “leadership.” But in the moment, when McQueary actually witnessed the abuse, I am almost certain his reaction would have been different had he seen Satandusky beating the child and not raping the child.

6)      It has been said that “the cover up is always worse than the crime.” In this case, I am not sure that is 100% true, but it is pretty friggin’ close. And the fact that the cover up allowed further abuse to occur…the innocence of additional children to be stripped from them…may just pull this cover up even with, in my opinion, the worst atrocity that can be committed by one human being against another in the annals of all sins, from envy all the way down to murder.

7)      No matter how awful things are at Penn State right now, and how horribly their football team and other athletic programs are affected as a result of these near crippling penalties; and no matter how much worse it gets when the civil cases begin and the Brinks trucks are backed into the driveways of all of the plaintiffs’ homes, THE VICTIMS ARE AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE OUR NUMBER ONE CONCERN…please, never lose sight of that fact.





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Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup)

Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup).

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Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup)


It seems like only yesterday that 2011 NHL playoff MVP and “noted” Republican Tim Thomas declined an invitation to visit the world’s most famous black man in his house in our nation’s capital where he was to be congratulated for winning the most coveted trophy in sports…on the grounds that Thomas “believes the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People

It was, in fact, yesterday that a relatively unknown black man who resides in our nation’s capital made the most of his invitation into Thomas’ house in Boston, and ensured that Mr. Holier Than Thou “Free Citizen” would not continue to drink from Lord Stanley’s sterling silver chalice for another year…on the grounds that TT’s ego has grown out of control, threatening his ability to limit rebounds and game winning goals by third string forwards on eighth-seeded teams, despite being the goalie of the defending champions, and the reigning winner of both the Vezina (league’s best goaltender) and Conn Smythe (MVP of the playoffs) Trophies.  

Oh, and P.S. – Way to keep it classy Boston – a barrage of racist comments, both verbal and written posts to social media sites followed last night’s spectacle

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Onions! And Other Musings on the Madness of March…

Most of us who work in an office love this time of year. Even if we didn’t attend a college with a competing interest in the NCAA tournament, we all have a favorite or two. And gambling makes sure this is true. Hard core fans (read: gamblers) suddenly come down with some rare strain of influenza or Montezuma’s revenge or laryngitis that renders them incapable of making it into the office for the first Thursday and Friday of the big dance, and they sit on their couches or head out to the local sports bar and medicate their “ailments” with beer and chips and wings as they devour twelve hours of hoops each day in absolute heaven.

OR, for those less fortunate (read: those who have too much responsibility to bail on work, those who frivolously used up their personal/vacation days in the first two months of the year, or those who fear getting fired in such a bad economy), millions of other fans of college hoops sit in their cubicles or offices, glued to their computer screens, toggling between their work and every sporting website their office firewall allows them to open, following the action as best they can, counting down the hours till five, when they too can join the throngs in front of the boob tube.

That time of year has arrived when productivity hits a wall, where focus is completely lost and a lack of effort likely erases whatever progress or momentum had been achieved in January and February. Even the most anti-sports and/or unknowledgeable or ambivalent about anything sports related has a fighting chance, or more accurately, is among the favorites to win their respective office pools. They pick based on uniform colors or school mascots, or let their six year old children fill out their brackets…and invariably, much to the testosterone-fueled sports nuts’ chagrin in every office across the USA, they win the pool. (Read this recent article about How to Intelligently Talk About March Madness – Even If You Sort of Don’t Care)

I remember during my time in a past life, working in a Wall Street office that loved to gamble on anything and everything. We had a pool for every sporting event, including golf. We had pools for office eating contests, including one horrific Friday where the brass bought like a thousand White Castle sliders and the winner of the bacchanalia (whoever ate the most) took half of the pot…the other half went to those who bet on the correct “victor.” We even had pools within pools, or allegorical pools as I fondly recall christening them.

One day, one of the elevators in our building got stuck during lunch time. Two of our staff were on board during the mishap. This was before cell phones, mind you. We got a call from the lobby that an elevator lost power between the 15th and 16th floors, and that they believed two of our employees were among the stranded (they got a call from the elevator phone relaying the info). Anyway, of course this bit of bad luck for the two on the elevator quickly morphed into opportunity for the rest of us. We started a pool for picking the precise time the elevator would be fixed and our colleagues would make it back into the office…Price Is Right rules, closest to the time either of our men stepped into the office without going over would win the pot. I did not win. They finally emerged, together, three hours and 23 minutes later, at 3:36pm. I had wagered on 2:50. Oh well.

(This article highlights some other humorous office pools some have participated in over the years)

But I digress. I love March Madness. It’s a great sporting event that truly mimics the entropy of real life. Anything can and does happen. Every year, millions root for one of many underdogs, and we all get rewarded. And every year we get amazing match ups with heart-stopping finishes. And we get to gamble…and lose…to a person we know in our office that has no business winning.

So, in honor of March Madness, please find my unofficial list of all things that evoke images of Madness from the annals (two “n”s for the sick-minded) of pop culture, sports, politics and general trivia. I wanted to make a bracket so you all could pick match ups and crown an eventual winner, but alas, I am a simple blogger with very little technical know-how. So I give you a list, ranked from least madness inspiring to most. Feel free to make your own brackets. Or print it out and use it as kindling. Or completely ignore it. As usual, the order of our entries is debatable, and I welcome friendly discourse:

26) Mad Cow Disease – A horrifying scourge worthy of the most pessimistic writers of Hollywood and fiction novels alike, it gave us quite a scare back in 2001 and still lurks in the darkest corners of civilization as some of the best fodder for the anti-carnivorous set and even companies like Chick-Fil-A.  So awful, in fact, that it couldn’t make the top 25 of this list;

25) Mad Dog – that awful vomit-inducing budget pseudo liquor some of us were unfortunately introduced to in our college days, and a staple of many a homeless drunk;

24) Reefer Madness – 1936 film which dramatized the evils of Mary Jane. But what about the evils of this film, or those hypocritical politicians who continue to hide behind the Constitution when it comes to guns, but fail to recognize that our forefathers, the same brilliant men who wrote and fought for that very document, also grew and smoked chronic themselves?

23) This blog article called Lent Madness from 2010 (you need to scroll down a little);

22) Or this one about My Little Pony Madness  – actually, some of the inventions captured here are pretty cool;

21) It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World – 1963 star-studded comedy not unlike the Cannonball Run/Gumball Rally movies about a race for a large sum of money – in this case, stolen money.  It features Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Buster Keaton, Peter Falk, Jimmy Durante, and many more;

20) Space Madness;

19) Mad Love – 1995 film starring Chris O’Donnell (fresh off his Scent of a Woman acclaim) and Drew Barrymore. Not a bad account of mental illness wrapped up in a love story if you are into that sort of thing.

18) Mad Dog and Glory – 1993 film starring Bill Murray, Robert DeNiro and Uma Thurman. Underrated, in my opinion, but still, not in the respective top five films of any of the principles.

17) Mad Money, now in its eighth season, is a finance television program featuring the frenetic histrionics of Jim Cramer. I am not a big fan, but realize some of you might be and thus this ranking is up for debate;

16) Madmortigan – Val Kilmer’s warrior in the notable George Lucas semi-flop Willow. Love hearing the eponymous dwarf’s genuine awestruck giddiness as he says, “Madmortigan, you are great!”

15) Mad About You – One of very few successful tunes a drugged out Belinda Carlisle was able to muster without her other Go-Go girls (from her first solo album, Belinda, released in 1986, and topping out at #3 on the Billboard charts).

Also, a moderately successful if over-hyped sit-com featuring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. I prefer Carlisle’s tune to this schlock, but judging from its 7-year run during NBC’s glory years, millions would probably disagree.

Finally, Mad About You is a lesser known track off of Sting’s album, The Soul Cages;

14) This blog entry on top movie descents into madness, even though it fails to mention Apocalypse Now, Barton Fink and Falling Down….so wrong. It’s a good list, but greatness eludes it for what it fails to recognize. Omitting those three films on a list of descents into madness is the very definition of madness;

13) Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John song from 1972 Honky Chateau, in which Bernie Taupin lyrically recalls his first visit to New York City, during which he hears a gun go off near his hotel window, and responds to a Ben E. King song called “Spanish Harlem” with a negative bent;

12) The oddity that is the Mad Martian Museum of Modern Madness;

11) Madness, the 1980s British band that brought us “Our House” (and fittingly, also had an album named Mad Not Mad);

10) This collection of journal entries, “March Mad-NESS,” from Funny or Die;

9) The Madness of King George, another of 1994’s incredibly rich stable of films, starring Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film also won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay;

8) M.A.D.D. – Big ups for mothers who care. Hard not to side with moms on this one. As a one-time member of S.A.D.D. myself, I debated putting this one higher on this list. So yes, this was a hard-eight;

7) Mad Max – Mel Gibson is a douche. But in 1979 we didn’t know that. So if you can take yourself back to that simpler time, pre-anti-Semitic meltdown, and marvel at the genius of the character, you have to admit Mad Max was a post-apocalyptic bad-ass;

6) Mad World – Perhaps my favorite Tears for Fears song, chillingly remade by Gary Jules for the movie Donny Darko, and also covered most recently by surprise phenomenon Susan Boyle;

5) Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Joe Cocker’s 1970 live album of mostly cover songs, including The Rolling Stones (Honky Tonk Women), Traffic (Feelin’ Alright), The Beatles (She Came in Through the Bathroom Window), Leonard Cohen, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding;

4) Mad scientists: Portrayed in hundreds of books, movies and television shows, from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll to Dr. Moreau to Jeff Goldblum’s Brundle in The Fly (check out this link…and this one);

3) Mad Men;

2) The Mad Hatter – One of Lewis Carroll’s most frighteningly awesome characters, Carroll never actually dubs The Hatter with the crazy modifier. Rather, both the Hatter and March Hare are referred to as “both mad” by the Cheshire Cat. Both characters first appear in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in the seventh chapter titled “A Mad Tea Party.” The phrase “mad as a hatter” pre-dates Carroll’s works; and,

1) MAD Magazine – Always a reminder of my care-free youth, this ad-free humor mag featuring Alfred E. Newman, Spy vs. Spy, celebrity lampooning at its infantile best AND…my first foray into centerfolds, takes me back to days at summer camp, when a care package filled with candy and a few issues of MAD proved just how lucky I was to have the best parents ever.

See you in April,



Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Music, Sports

Eight Year Olds Dude

That classic quote from the character that spawned my blog’s name is one of many lines of dialogue and images born in the hilarious and off-center minds of the Coen Brothers for their opus, The Big Lebowski. Somehow, they even found a way to make pedophilia and perversion funny by creating and perfectly humanizing a grotesque, slimy, purple jumpsuit and hair-net wearing caricature named Jesus Quintana. And we all know now that “nobody fucks with the Jesus.”

But let me be clear: John Turturro’s Oscar-worthy performance notwithstanding, THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT PEDOPHILIA, CHILD MOLESTATION AND CHILD ABUSE. EVER.

I feel a great number of awful adjectives today, and have ever since this story broke over the weekend. I am disgusted, disheartened, disappointed, frustrated, bewildered, angry and sad. But mostly I am sick. Fall to my knees, grab the sides of the bowl and turn my insides out sick about this whole tragedy currently gripping “Happy Valley,” and shocking the world around it.

I am not entirely sure where or how to begin, but for crying out loud, I know all of this should begin with the victims, however many there were, of this horrific and despicable crime and subsequent cover-up (and/or at the very least, lack of action and responsibility that allowed such heinous crimes to continue for nearly a decade and to affect and ruin the lives of countless other precious and innocent children and their families).

Imagine if you will the most shame and embarrassment you have ever felt (in a singular moment or for an extended period of time) in your entire life. Then do the same for the most frightened or fearful you have ever been. Then take those feelings and multiply their intensity by ten, or a hundred, or a million. Still, you have likely fallen short of the mark. I am not sure, if you have never been physically assaulted, violated nor had your innocence stolen from you at an early age (or any age, frankly), that you could possibly understand the intense shame, fear and self-loathing you would feel in the aftermath of such a traumatic event.

For some, that feeling might be able to be quashed, or at least tempered, gradually, with good therapy, loving friends and family, a strong foundation and sense of self and most importantly, with the passing of time. Those are the “lucky” few. For most, the nightmares will never ever end. The self-hatred, shame, fear and general depression will remain through the years, possibly even intensify, and certainly negatively affect their lives in every way imaginable, from performance in school and later work, to relationships with friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and possibly even their own progeny. Sexual abuse and trauma often creates or intensifies a number of mental health issues, including but not limited to depression, aggression, OCD, problems with authority, control issues (including eating, cutting and behavioral disorders), and certainly suicidal and even homicidal thoughts and tendencies.

Not only do we not know how many other young lives were affected and derailed by the perpetrator of these crimes (Mr. Sandusky), both before and after he was witnessed in the shower with a ten year old, but unfortunately we never will. Because one thing is for certain in situations such as this: For every brave child who comes forward, there are two, or three, or four or twenty, who can never muster the strength to do so. Furthermore, and this may be difficult to even process, but there may unfortunately be a few people who were abused and who are no longer with us today to come forward at all. These may have been the weakest of those victimized, and subsequently could not continue to live with the shame, guilt and fear. Their parents, god help them, probably wondered what could possibly have driven their precious children to such a horrible and “selfish” demise, not even realizing that a scenario as awful as this scandal may have stacked the deck unfairly against their children living a normal life, or living a life at all.  But also consider that Sandusky was 58 when he was “caught in the act” nine years ago. Predators of this nature rarely begin these deviant behaviors so late in life. It is certainly possible, and in fact, probable, that Sandusky was committing similar treacherous acts for decades prior to being seen in the showers in 2002. So it stands to reason that there may have been victims of his perversity who would be in their 50s today, or at least close to 50. Some of them, unfortunately, who lived with that kind of pain, shame and fear for so long, may simply have passed on rather “naturally” by now as well.

I realize that is awful to read about or even think about, but to me, the victims, all of them, at any age, whether dead or alive, must be remembered here and more to the point, measures need to be put into place to prevent similar predators from hurting more innocent children in the future. This is true in Athletic departments from little leagues all the way up through the NCAA system. It is also true in our religious organizations, our public and private schools, summer camps, scout troops and any other institution or organization where adults have unlimited and unsupervised access to children.

Casting blame here seems premature. There are an overwhelming number of people who deserve some serious blame and who have a great deal of explaining to do over the next few weeks. But there are a few things that cannot be said enough, and a few people involved, that really have no shot at coming up with an explanation that will satisfactorily remove any guilt from their defense nor blood from their hands.

We (and by we I mean society) must be careful in child abuse cases not to quickly come to judgment in favor of the children because lives can be ruined forever in the other direction by falsely accusing someone of such heinous crimes when in fact they were innocent. There have been cases of authoritative figures being unjustly accused simply because their students or parishioners or campers, et al, didn’t like them. There have also been plays and movies and books written on the subject: think Doubt. So there are dangerous and slippery slopes in both directions that must be navigated in these awful situations.

But this case is clearly not one of those “we can’t be sure if the allegations are true so we need to take our time” scenarios. An adult witnessed the accused of raping a minor in a shower. Furthermore, at least nine people, most of whom did not know one another at all, have come forward with additional accusations. I have no idea how or why charges were not brought against Sandusky nine years ago, and why he has not seen the inside of a jail cell yet to date. Something is clearly wrong with not only the people associated with the Penn State Football Program and University, but also with the process in general to bring child molesters to justice in the first place. Our children are not even safe once an offender is caught red handed, because of a number of factors, but the slow pace of our justice system certainly is among them.

Now let’s talk about Mike McQueary. Again, I do not want to rush to judgment until I have all of the facts. But from the facts that have leaked out thus far, it seems to me that we have a young man (28 at the time) who stumbled across a horrifying and gruesome scene in 2002, when he witnessed Sandusky anally violating a ten year old boy in a shower. There are very few of us who can honestly say for certain what we would do if we were ever in a similar circumstance. Sure, we would all like to believe we would act the hero, run into the showers and forcibly remove the perpetrator from the child, punch him out and say something macho like, “if I ever see you around here again, or even catch wind of you touching another child so help me god, I will kill you.”

The morally correct thing to do is to make sure of the safety of the child you witness being abused, whether by force or by vocally yelling for the criminal to leave. Then, any sensible and reasonable code of ethics mandates even further action, which is to do all you can to prevent such abuse of minors to take place ever again. That is to say, one should notify the police of what was just witnessed, and together with the victim you just rescued, a case should be made to ensure Sandusky or his likeness spends the remainder of his (or her) life behind bars.

It is not easy to do the right thing. That is why society respects heroes and do-gooders of all walks of life, and even celebrates them. Captain Sully, who despite all odds landed that plane in the Hudson and saved the lives of all of his passengers; those brave souls on United Flight 93, who prevented additional terrorist acts and saved the lives of countless people in Washington DC on 911; the first responders in New Orleans following Katrina, or in Haiti after the earthquake, or Indonesia after the tsunami; Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and countless others in the fight for civil rights; Oscar Schindler and myriad others who defied the Nazis (and other tyrannical leaders) to help those being terrorized and systematically killed; the students in Tiananmen Square who stoically stood before the oncoming tanks; and all of the fire and policemen who courageously charged into the towers of the World Trade Center on 911; and too many others to mention, but all of whom deserve high praise and gratitude.

Ironically, hero-worship and near deification is why Joe Pa, of all people, was so revered – it wasn’t just his 409 wins on the field, but rather everything he did and represented off the field that made the man such a legend in the once happy valley that is State College, PA, as well as all over the rest of our nation. I will come back to this point later.

Right now, I am focused on McQueary, who had a chance to be a hero and failed. Not all of us are cut out to be heroes. Most of us aren’t wired for it. It is impossible to say what we would do in situations like that McQueary found himself in nine years ago. And it is also impossible to say what the same man may have done in a totally different make or break scenario under different circumstances. Actions (or non-actions) make the man, so they say. None of us can choose the situations that may befall us in life, but all of us control how we react to them, and it is in those reactions that our true character shines through.

I can’t help but be reminded of the grim basement scene in Tarantino’s opus, Pulp Fiction, when Marsellus Wallace is being sodomized by Zed and Maynard while Butch is in the room next door, frantically trying to escape the ropes they had tied him up with and listening to the barbarism taking place through the wall. When Butch finally frees himself and gets away from the gimp, he charges upstairs and is seemingly liberated from the nightmare he had been part of. He was on his way out to rendezvous with his girlfriend and live the rest of his life in total happiness with the money he had scammed from Marsellus Wallace when his conscience grabs hold of him. He grabs a samurai sword off the wall and coaxes himself back downstairs into the horrifying basement rape scene that was still underway. Butch sliced and stabbed Maynard with the sword and eyed Zed, forcing him, at sword point, off of the large black man who had been Butch’s sworn enemy just minutes earlier. Then Butch teases Zed, almost begging him to make a move for the shotgun that leaned against the table beside them.

“Step aside Butch,” said Marsellus.

Marsellus blows a whole in Zed’s abdomen as Butch moves away.

After a long pause, Butch finally asks, “You okay?”

To which Marsellus replies, “Naw man. I’m pretty fuckin’ far from okay.”

And in that scene, Quentin Tarantino basically encapsulated our collective problem with Mike McQueary, by showing the exact opposite reaction to a similar scenario. Making matters worse, Butch hated Marsellus Wallace, and minutes earlier was trying to kill the man. But seeing and hearing these two perverts rape the man, Butch simply had to do the right thing, even for his sworn enemy, and so he reentered the house of horrors and freed Marsellus from his assailants.

When asked if he was okay, Marsellus’ brutally honest response seemed oddly tame, but we all knew exactly what he meant. And he was a 40 year old 250 pound crime boss who looked like he would win a fight with an entire football team. Imagine what a ten year old boy must feel like in a similar situation. And that is why we all demand more from McQueary here. I am not sure exactly what he did or said in the moment, but it obviously wasn’t correct or enough. Maybe he thought going to his boss and father with his troubling eyewitness account was enough. And maybe he was then misled by those who outranked him on the food chain to speak no further of the incident, and that it would be handled by others from here on in…either way, McQueary has some serious explaining to do and clearly dropped the ball, but perhaps other than his missed opportunity to do the right thing in the moment, we will come to see that while Mike was wrong, others may have prevented him ultimately from doing the right thing later, to protect themselves, their jobs, their program and their once esteemed University…we shall see.

Which brings us back to Joe Pa. And I will once again hold full judgment until I hear the entire explanation and course of action taken in 2002 following the incident as well as for all of the years since that date. But from everything I have read and heard so far Paterno really dropped the ball. He seemingly took the account of Sandusky to his “boss,” the AD, and left it at that. I have the following thoughts:

A)     Joe Pa has no boss at Penn State…he was the boss and final authority on everything in State College, PA, and not just for things concerning football…everything.

B)      I cannot say this for sure as I do not have all of the facts, but it does not sound like Joe Pa followed up with his AD or any other higher up at PSU after delivering his account to his AD in 2002.

C)      Based on his ridiculous message to those camped out on his lawn last night, where he referred to the victims as “victims or whatever they are” and then added this gem: “I think we ought to say a prayer for them because you know … tough life when people do certain things to you.” Tough life? That doesn’t even scratch the surface. And then he had the unmitigated temerity to start a pep rally chant. Seriously? How out of touch can a man get. Sure he is 84 years old, but he is ostensibly running a major college football program, right?

D)     I grew up a big-time Nittany Lions fan. My mother and many other family members and close friends went to PSU. I loved Joe Pa just like so many others out there. He was seemingly incredible on so many levels: a great coach, a great mentor, ran a clean program in an increasingly difficult environment to do so, placed education above all else, did so much for his community and those less fortunate. He is and has been a great man, and though a single moment or event can often define a man, I will do all I can to remember Joe Pa for the vast good he has done over a six decade career.

E)      But I cannot and will not ever forgive Joe Pa for this if it is confirmed that he found out anything untoward went on with Sandusky and a minor (graphic account or not) and all he did in the aftermath was deliver the news to his emasculated and un-empowered AD. Frankly, even if he did a little more than that (like maybe had a conversation with Sandusky, and even told him not to come around campus anymore, particularly with any children…which by the way, sickens me even more if Joe Pa knew enough to say something like that, which would mean he tacitly permitted such deviant behavior off campus). Joe Pa was deified on that campus and in that whole region of Pennsylvania. He was the law, the moral fiber and the pulse of that University. All eyes and ears were on him. For him to pass the buck, turn a blind eye and refuse to follow up to ensure appropriate action was taken in a situation like this with little children’s lives hanging in the balance is reprehensible, and frankly, almost as vile as the acts themselves. As a molder and shaper of young men, he had a moral and general responsibility to always do the right thing when it came to children, whether on his team or not.

F)      I can’t help but remember yet another classic movie relating to this ordeal, particularly the Joe Pa/Curley-Sandusky-McQueary dynamic which evokes the Jessup-Kendrick-Dawson/Downey hierarchy in A Few Good Men. (Again, I don’t yet know what, if anything Joe Pa said to Sandusky or McQueary following the incident in 2002, or whether he and/or Curley ordered McQueary to remain silent). But anyway, at the end of the movie, when Jessep is found guilty, young and naïve PFC Louden Downey asks why he and Dawson are being discharged when Jessep admitted to ordering the code red. Dawson’s response is chillingly fitting here: “We did nothing wrong,” said Downey. “Yeah, we did. We’re supposed to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. We’re supposed to fight for Willy.” I hope I don’t need to draw the parallel here for you.

G)     And that about sums it up in my mind.

My final thoughts center around this “scandal” as a far more profound, but generally similar statement on the current state of collegiate athletics in our country. While the rape and subsequent cover up of child molestation is far worse according to the moral code of society than many of the other scandals that have rocked college campuses in the past few years, they all highlight a troubling trend that is becoming increasingly prevalent on campuses throughout our nation. The fact is that as more and more money is thrown at collegiate athletics (particularly football and basketball), these programs become way too powerful to be properly managed and overseen by their schools in general. And the leaders of these programs, who often earn more money per year than all other college officials and professors put together, often become power-driven ego maniacs who care only about winning and are willing to sacrifice their entire moral code to that end. Whether it is trading tattoos for money and sports memorabilia, providing or turning a blind eye to extravagant yacht trips and strip club misadventures, allowing shady Ponzi-scheme operators to have training room and on field access to team members, overlooking petty crimes, drug use, and date rape scandals, arranging for sexual escorts during recruiting parties, ignoring or tacitly approving improper pay-for-play scenarios with boosters and countless additional improprieties that clearly occur on many if not all major college campuses with competitive division one athletic programs, college coaches and their programs are increasingly corrupted amid a failing system.

One thing is certain, a culture exists not just at Penn State, but at major division one Universities across our nation, that fosters an atmosphere where winning is more important than anything…including morality. And for this, we all suffer.

My hope is that something positive comes out of this tragedy. That serious money is donated not just by Penn State and the Big Ten, but by all of college athletics, to develop and strengthen the protection of our nation’s youth, through outreach programs, education and better systems for bringing deviants to justice…systems that make it easier for victims to come forward as well as to educate and motivate the families of those affected. I also hope the game on Sunday is cancelled altogether, because it just isn’t the right thing to do to play a game in the face of this awful scandal. This isn’t the aftermath of 911, where our nation is grieving and needs a distraction from what seemed to be the end of days. This is a contained tragedy that has plagued a community and shocked a nation, and while I realize that the players on Nebraska and Penn State are not to blame for this fiasco, and therefore should not be penalized when they work so hard all year to play football, we should all remember that LIFE IS NOT FAIR. It is one game. And playing football and cheering in that stadium is so wrong on so many different levels at this time.

Questions need to be answered. People need to be brought to justice. And the victims, those poor, brave tortured souls need time to air their grievances. Call off the game Penn State and the NCAA. For once, do the right thing here.

We all need time to digest this horrific turn of events. We all need time to heal. Eight year olds dude. They’re pretty fuckin’ far from ok. We need to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves.

God help those victims. God help their families. God help us all.


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Filed under Current Events, Sports

Open Letter to Jeff Lurie (Big Red Must Go)…

Dear Mr. Lurie:

Happy New Year. I write this letter about 4 years too late, but Andy Reid must go, and this isn’t a “let’s see how the season shapes up and we will make a move at the end based on the results.” No, this is a long overdue move that must be done as soon as possible, if not sooner.

I realize that I am reopening the door for potential dark ages to descend upon my beloved Birds, much like they did after Buddy Ryan was fired in 1990, ushering in unmentionable coaching stints that yielded losing season after unwatchable losing season, and even included laughably regrettable decisions like promoting Rich Kotite to head coach after Buddy left…sure, RK had winning seasons in each of his first two seasons, but after the incredible defense that Buddy and Bud Carson built in the late 1980s, it would have been difficult not to win. But I digress.

Andy Reid has been a good coach. He has been at the helm of a team that has won far more games than it lost under his watch, and maybe even overachieved a few seasons. Hell, Andy Reid resurrected a franchise that was dead in the water, a team that finished the 1998 season 3-13, the worst record the Eagles had posted since 1972 when they won only 2 games. But sometimes records do not tell the whole story, and this is definitely one of those instances.

The Eagles, since 2000, have actually UNDERACHIEVED more seasons than they overachieved. And while I grant critics that Donovan McNabb (and his occasional replacements at times of injury, such as AJ Feeley, Jeff Garcia and Kevin Kolb) was not the most accurate quarterback in the league (nor was he ever in the top 20 in that category…EVER), he was certainly competent and athletic enough during his prime to win a Super Bowl with the talent he had around him, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. During McNabb’s prime, he was better than Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer and possibly even Eli Manning.

During the past 13 seasons, Andy Reid has had 4 extremely awful attributes that worked against our team…

1)      He is stubborn as a mule, and not in a good way – he refuses to admit he is wrong and to make the necessary adjustments to win or close out a game;

2)      His clock management is the worst I have ever seen – this includes his incredible mismanagement of time-outs – and is vividly and repeatedly reflected in his field generals (QBs) having equally awful clock-management skills and awareness;

3)      His lack of understanding of and refusal to use the challenge flag, an important coaching tool that came to be during his coaching tenure and that often can decide games – this point is actually closely tied to point 2) above, and often affects the number of time outs the Eagles have at the end of games, and he clearly doesn’t realize that challenges can be used AS time outs, giving his team a breather and an opportunity to talk things over while the refs watch video and confer during crucial moments in games. Unsurprisingly, Andy has challenged fewer calls than any other coach in the NFL; and,

4)      His refusal to run the freaking ball, even and especially in games where our running backs (not QBs, who skew the ypc) average more than 4, and often more than 5 or 6 yards per carry – this is particularly vexing when we are winning games late and need to run the ball to eat clock

Even in seasons where we made the post-season (which I will concede was most seasons), Andy’s negative characteristics listed above cost us games during the regular season that created situations where we had to play post season games on the road (in 2006 and 2008, where we lost close games to the Saints and Cardinals respectively, that we might have won had they been played at home). And in 2009, ridiculous losses in Oakland to a hapless Raiders team and at home to the Cowgirls in a game the Eagles held a lead heading into the 4th quarter. Moreover, this was a team the Eagles had pounded into the ground, 44-6, in their previous meeting to end the 2008 season. It was infuriating to watch, and that loss and/or the mind-boggling gaffe in Oakland forced the Eagles to travel to DallAss, where they lost a wild card game.

But the thing most people will remember about the Andy Reid era was during the Eagles’ dominance over a very weak NFC in the early 2000s, the Eagles lost two pivotal HOME playoff games (both NFC Championships) against inferior opponents that the Eagles had MANHANDLED in each respective regular season (20-10 at home vs. the Bucs in 2002, and 25-16 IN CAROLINA in 2003), because Big Red was outcoached. Andy has been outcoached by Belichick and Vermeil, and for those I will give him a pass, because who hasn’t? But he has also been out-classed by Jim Fassel, overmatched by John “Chuckie” Gruden, out-foxed by John Fox (sorry for the much-too-easy and cheesy pun), punched in the mouth by Sean Peyton, bested by Ken Whisenhunt, shellacked by WADE PHILLIPS in the ONLY playoff game the son of a Bum and Tony Romo EVER won, and out-smarted by a injury-plagued but game Mike McCarthy.

Now I grant you that 6 of the 9 coaches mentioned above (the Reid-beaters) won at least one Super Bowl, and five of them won the whole thing the year they beat Fat Andy, with two more reaching the Super Bowl by virtue of knocking off the Eagles (obviously Wade is the odd man out here), but some of those Championships should have been ours. We were a better team for many of those match-ups and yet lost due to, well primarily the four attributes outlined above that renders Andy Reid a very good head coach, but never a great coach.

I am so sick and tired of hearing media members, sports radio hosts outside of Philadelphia (some nationally syndicated), sports writers and other self professed experts in all things football defend Andy Reid, constantly bringing up the fact that he has taken the Eagles to the playoffs in 9 of his 13 season (he has), that he took them to 6 NFC championship games and 5 in a row (he did), and led them to their first Super Bowl appearance in 23 seasons and second in franchise history (I concede this as well). They also love to discuss how Andy is perhaps the greatest quarterback coach of all time, pointing to McNabb’s struggles in his post-Eagles career as irrefutable evidence that Andy was the one who made Donovan the perennial pro-bowl field general that he was. They also all overhype the success the Eagles’ back-up quarterbacks had whenever McNabb was injured as further evidence to Andy’s systemic genius and incredible way with anyone and everyone who takes snaps crouching behind a center.

I buy some of these arguments, but I am guessing that like most of you, I am stewing in my seat, silently muttering foul language under my breath as I drive to and from work and listen to people I generally respect tarnish their reputations by ignorantly defending Andy Reid, espousing that Big Red can do no wrong in their eyes and that any problems the Eagles and the fans of Philadelphia have certainly have little or more often nothing to do with Fat Andy.

These national personalities, with no real team affiliation, neutral bias, or at least no connection to our Eagles, have no idea what it is like to bleed Kelly Green, how infuriating it is to watch Andy’s post-game pressers as a true Eagles fan or what it is like to watch an obese man with no real personality or likeability (at least to his fans), and who makes more money in one year than most members of his fan-base will make in their lifetime (and their entire family’s lifetimes put together) to make the same goddamn mistakes every fucking Sunday and Monday of every season. We fans even get pissed at the man when the Eagles win, knowing that many Sundays the team won IN SPITE of Andy, not because of him. But the losses always get us the most, and these talking heads just don’t get it.

What coach in pro sports lasts 13 seasons these days? Hell, the Red Sox just let Tito Francona walk this year and he led them to 2 championships in the past 7 seasons after that same team went 86 seasons with ZERO championships. It just doesn’t happen. And especially not in the highly critical, highly knowledgeable (at least as it relates to sports and its hometown teams) and highly volatile market that is Philadelphia.

Two weeks ago, after the late-game collapse at home against San Francisco, I read an article about what is wrong with the Eagles. After reading the article, my feelings regarding Big Red were confirmed and even strengthened. After halftime, when the Birds led 20-3, coaches called 6 running plays…total. That is inexcusable, but pretty typical for Andy Reid. More ludicrous: Alex Smith, over the course of his career, is the absolute WORST-RATED quarterback in the HISTORY OF THE NFL when blitzed. The numbers are as poor as they are astonishing. So you would think Andy Reid would know something like that and use it to his advantage. But the Eagles blitzed on only 6 of Alex Smith’s 36 drop-backs. Just fewer than 17% of all pass plays, for an entire game. Sure, the Eagles had a comfortable lead for much of the game, so calling off a blitz so as not to give up big plays may be a strategically sound tactic. Against any average quarterback against the blitz. BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE PLAYING THE WORST QUARTERBACK IN THE HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE WHEN HE IS BLITZED. One thing a head coach must know is that there are few leads that are safe in the pass happy, big-play, make-it-easy-on-the-offense NFL of today. And after guiding his team to what could only be described as a miraculous comeback victory against the GINAs (pronounced in the most disgusting way your mind permits) just last season, when the eagles erased two 21 point leads in the second half, on the road.

Now part of this might be the mind-boggling “genius” decision Andy made to promote his Offensive Line Coach to DEFENSIVE FRIGGIN’ COORDINATOR. Are you serious? And not only that, but based on the shitty offensive line the Eagles had last season, Juan Castillo wasn’t even a very good Offensive Line Coach. But any way you look at Castillo’s dubious and unmerited promotion, Andy’s decision making never seemed sound, and now has proven to be just as stupid as we all thought.

And the mental mistakes our players have made in four consecutive weeks all reflect their ass-clown laden coaching staff. Sure, I will grant everyone that the lack of a full pre-season as well as a myriad of new faces in the Birds’ locker room should deservedly warrant a grace period to allow a team to fully gel and learn some new roles, but for the money everyone makes on this team, the lengthy tenure of the man at the top and the expectations our fan-base has(d) for our beloved E-A-G-L-E-S, five weeks is far too long a grace period, especially at 1-4 and watching our playoff hopes fade into the horizon like the setting sun. And there is NEVER an excuse for Ronnie Brown’s inexplicable lateral at the goal line against San Francisco, nor Juqua Parker’s brain-fart offsides last week in Buffalo. These are mistakes poorly coached teams of rookies make, not well-polished veterans under the watch of a pedigreed and highly-praised 13-year coach like Andy Reid.

Sure, at the end of the day the players have to make plays, and our ridiculous 1-4 start this season when expectations were so high after what seemed like a free-agent bonanza unlike anything we Philadel-fans had ever seen has been chock full of player-fueled hubris (VY’s dubbing the team “the dream team”), simple first-year player succumbing to pressure (Henery missing two easy field goals in San Fran), non-mastery of a new system (Nnamde’s misplay of Cruz vs. the Ginas), and situational errors (Jason Kelce’s failure to block Bills LB Kelvin Sheppard mid-way through the second quarter in Buffalo, leading to Vick’s pick-6 gift to Nick Barnett and creating a 2-TD deficit on the road), and key-moment butterfingers (Jason Avant’s 2 key fumbles in Buffalo, and Jeremy Maclin’s final drive killing fumble in Atlanta).

But this team should not be 1-4, even with the mistakes highlighted above. At worst the Birds should be 3-2 right now, but more likely they should be 4-1 or even 5-0. And the NFC is not the league of ineptitude that it was when Andy Reid and the Birds dominated it a decade ago. Green Bay, Detroit and New Orleans are heavyweights and Super Bowl contenders. Washington and San Francisco are much improved. And DallAss and the Ginas are never push-overs, no matter how poorly their quarterbacks play. The Birds find themselves in a sizable hole, looking up at nearly every team in our conference for a change. Furthermore, they still must face DallAss twice, Washington twice, the Ginas in New York, The Patriots and the Jets. And I am guessing even the teams we all once thought would be cupcakes (like Miami, Seattle and Arizona), now seem ominous to both the fans and the Eagles coaching staff.

Bottom line, Andy needs to go, and he needs to go soon. Before this season really gets away from us. There is still time to salvage a winning record and even a playoff berth if a strategic hire is made to replace Andy that the players all respect and could rally around. So I believe I am speaking for the entire Eagles’ fan base when I beg of you, Jeff Lurie, to do the right thing and cut bait while there is still a faint trail of light visible in the crack of the rapidly closing door that is the Eagles 2011 season. Let Big Red go, hire someone like Bill Cowher or even John Gruden, and give us fans something to cheer about after being devastated by our Phillies last weekend and by our Eagles for the past month.

Thanks for listening and for restoring our once-proud franchise to glory.

Best regards,



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Don’t call it a comeback….

Last night’s devastating comeback in the Triple A by Dirk’s Mavs, in which the Heat snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, brings some other notable comebacks (or collapses/choke-jobs) in recent sports history to mind.   Sure, last night’s final 6 minutes of one-sided ball, on Miami’s home floor, in the friggin’ NBA Finals, showcased a monumental failure by one side and a glorious, defying-the-odds flurry of previously unseen offensive prowess by the other.  And so, the series-tying effort by Cuban’s true passion is the impetus for wracking my brain this morning, and coming up with a list of sorts…

This is not THE list, ranking all comebacks in the history of sports, nor even the top ten of all time.  No, this list involves only games or tournaments or matches in which I witnessed the comeback in its entirety, live, whether on television or at the event itself.  Emphasis will be given to those events that had greater meaning, such as a playoff or championship or major event versus a regular season game.

So here you go, a trip down my own personal memory lane of incredible (or incredibly depressing, I suppose, depending on perspective) sports finishes:

Football – Eagles vs. Giants, December, 2010. The Stakes: a playoff berth on the line, though not 100% win-and-you’re- in…there were a couple games left after this one for both teams.

I was watching this game in a sports bar.  A Philly sports bar.  Down 24-3 at the half, and 31-10 well into the 4th quarter and the Giants weren’t just winning…they were manhandling a bewildered and seemingly over-matched Eagles team.  People left the bar in disgust as the fourth quarter began.  A friend of mine, a big Eagle fan, said goodbye and told my father and I he had better things to do.  The game was over.

But a long touchdown pass to Brent Celek and a recovered onside kick at around the 6 minute mark changed the momentum of the game.  Mike Vick finally started to make some plays with his legs, which opened up the passing game as well, and the Eagles very dangerous offense, which had not yet reared its head, began to take flight.  A Vick walk-in, a defensive stop and a long drive which culminated in a pretty 5-yard Vick to Maclin TD finished the comeback, and tied the score at 31.

Still, the Gints had the ball with 1:15 left in the game.  Unable to get a first down against a now rejuvenated Eagles D, New York was forced to punt with 12 seconds left on the clock.  Awaiting the punt…DeSean Jackson.  Under strict instructions to keep the ball away from the Eagles’ game-breaker, punter Matt Dodge kicked a line drive directly to Jackson.  A few jukes and a blur later, the Birds pulled off another Miracle at the Meadowlands, would go on to make the playoffs and the Giants would narrowly miss the post-season.  Awesome movie-script ending for us Philly fans…pure misery, disbelief and heartbreak for the New Yawk set.

Golf – Jean Van de Velde – 1999 British Open at Carnoustie – The Stakes: a major championship, and the first open championship for a Frenchman since 1907 … One of the most amazing train wrecks I can remember watching, it literally was painful to witness this Frenchman butcher a hole he had birdied twice in the previous 3 rounds.  Taking the tee at 18 on the final day, Van de Velde held a 3 stroke lead, misfired his drive and forced the viewers to endure awful shot after awful shot en route to a triple bogey, a plummet into an improbably 3-way tie for the lead, and a loss to Paul Lawrie in the play-off.

Football – Monday Night October 16, 2006 – The Stakes: a big, early season upset to potentially turn the season around for a struggling Cardinals team, a perfect season for the Bears, and a Coach’s legacy and reputation.  What I will forever remember as the Dennis Green game pitted a lowly and uninspired 1-4 Arizona Cardinals team against an undefeated and prohibitive favorite in the Chicago Bears, who were a defensive minded team with a scintillating special teams unit, led by the seemingly unstoppable Devin Hester.  The Cards played smart football, held the non-existent Bears offense to a lone field goal and kept the ball away from Chicago’s only scoring threats, the Defense and Devin Hester, to take a shocking 23-3 lead into the 4th quarter.  And then it happened.  Momentum shifted as the Bears D finally wore down the Cards’ weary offensive line, which had been playing out of their minds.  One mistake led to another, compounding on each other to lead to 21 unanswered Bears points, which featured two defensive fumble recoveries and a beautiful 82-yard punt return by “Kick It Out of Bounds” incarnate.  As amazing as the comeback/collapse was, the best part of this game was the post-game presser by Cardinal’s Head Coach Dennis Green, whose now infamous “The Bears are who we thought they were! That’s why we took the damn field! Now, if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were, and we let them off the hook!”  Hours and days of laughter following what truly was an amazing football comeback.

NCAA Basketball – Duke- Maryland, 2001 – The Stakes: Bragging rights in the ACC, a trip to the National Title game.  In the National Semifinals, Duke erased a 22 point first half deficit against conference rival Terps to win going away, 95-84 in the Metrodome.  This was a monumental comeback/collapse by any standards, particularly in a game with so much at stake.  But it wasn’t even the most amazing Duke comeback against Maryland that season.  Just a few months earlier, in hostile College Park no less, Duke overcame a 10 point deficit with less than a minute remaining in the game, sent the game to overtime and prevailed 98-96.  I am sure the confidence the Blue Devils gained in completing the comeback on the Terps’ home floor allowed them to regroup and rally in the Final Four game a few months later. I was reminded of Duke’s sudden offensive barrage and Maryland’s futility that narrowed and erased the gap in the final 54 seconds in January 2001 when watching Dallas defeat Miami last night.  In those moments, it is like momentum actually increases the size of the trailing team’s basket ten-fold while shrinking the leading team’s basket to a size smaller than the ball.

Football – 1993 Wildcard Playoff Game.   The Stakes:  Advancing in the AFC playoffs.  The second Frank Reich Game. Yep.  Frank Reich led two historic comebacks in his day, one in college as the Maryland Terps upended the heavily favored Miami Hurricanes after falling behind big in the second half, and this one: Things couldn’t have been bleaker. The Oilers led 35-3 early in the second half. Bills QB Jim Kelly was injured. Linebacker Cornelius Bennett was injured. Thurman Thomas played sparingly. The only thing that could have made things more depressing would have been a plague of locusts descending from the sky. The blowout was that biblical. Then Reich drove the team for one touchdown. 35-10. Steve Christie recovered his own on-side kick and Reich hit Don Beebe for a TD. 35-17. The Bills D forced the Oilers to punt. Reich hit another TD pass, this one to Andre Reed. 35-24. And it was still the third quarter. No. Freaking. Way. Henry Jones picked off Warren Moon, setting up Reich at the Houston 23 yard line. Another TD pass to Reed. 35-31. The Oilers missed a FG and the Bills got another TD (again from Reich to Reed). The Bills were ahead for the first time. 38-35. The Oilers tied the game to send it to OT and won the coin toss. It looked like they might avert disaster, but Moon threw an errant pass setting up the Bills in FG range and Christie completed the most ridiculous, unlikely, unbelievable comeback in NFL history.

Basketball – Indiana Pacers vs. the New York Knicks, Game 1, 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Stakes: Advancing deep into the playoffs, potentially winning an NBA title, and for Miller and Ewing, possibly solidifying their position as one of the all time greats. Knicks fans hate Reggie Miller with the heat of a 1,000 suns. They hate him so much that ESPN made it the subject of one of their 30 for 30 documentaries. The bad blood wouldn’t be enough to warrant mention on this list, but Miller’s performance in Game 1 of the E.C. Semifinals does. Single-handedly, Miller led his team to a stunning 107-105 last second victory over the Knicks in the Garden. With 18.7 seconds left, the Knicks lead by six points. Miller kicked into action, hit a three point shot, stole the ensuing inbounds pass, dribbled back behind the three point line, and hit that three-pointer. Miller then hit both free-throws to put the Pacers ahead for the win and up 1-0 in the series.

Golf – 1996 Masters – The Stakes:  Winning the Augusta Major and its Green Jacket is perhaps the most coveted golf achievement among anyone who has ever swung a club.  For Greg Norman, who seemingly had a master’s in how to lose the Masters — from ahead to Tom Watson in ‘81, from behind to Jack Nicklaus in ‘86, from nowhere to Larry Mize in ‘87, from everywhere to Ben Crenshaw in ‘95 — this was a chance at redemption. There was even an idea by some media members, after Greg’s seemingly insurmountable 54-hole lead, to hold an 18-hole parade in his honor to “make up for all the broken hearts and second-place crystal he had lugged home over the years.” It would be his payback for having had to wait longer than any champion for his green jacket (16 years).

Greg Norman let a 6 stroke final round lead slip away to the hard charging South African, Nick Faldo.  “If he blows this,” ESPN’s Dan Patrick said on Sunday, “it will be the biggest collapse in modern golf history.”  But from the beginning on Sunday something in Norman’s swing made you squirm. He hooked his drive at 1 into the trees and made a bogey. There was a nasty par save on 3, a bogey on 4 and a god-awful pull on 8.

Faldo, meanwhile, was as steady as rent, making two-putt par after two-putt par. (He three-putted once all week.) He drilled a four-footer on the 6th for a birdie and a 20-footer on 8 to cut the lead to three. Then came the most catastrophic four golf holes in Norman’s life.

It was difficult to watch as Norman slowly and painfully unraveled in the middle of golf’s sanctuary.  The Shark’s meltdown in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and certainly the most hallowed in the golfing world showcased the fragility of the human mind for all the world to see.  His body language was the very portrait of a man struggling with some unknown inner demons.  He slumped as he walked the final few holes, and his descent from landslide victory to agonizing defeat provided one of the most horrifying sports images ever captured on television.

Hockey – 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Stakes: A trip to the Conference Finals and perhaps a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup; and for both teams, a shot at a first title in more than 3 decades. Though the Flyers and the B’s no longer play in the same division, the bad blood between the two goes back generations, at least to the Broad Street Bullies era. But the hard-luck losses the Flyers handed the Bruins throughout the 1970s couldn’t hurt Boston fans like this series probably did. This will haunt them for the rest of their lives and possibly well into the afterlife. It took a miracle OT win in Game 4 to get the Flyers comeback rolling. Then the Flyers lost netminder Brian Boucher in the Game 5 victory and back-up Michael Leighton stepped up in the Game 6 nail-biter. In a fit of melodrama, the Flyers came back from a score of 3-0 in Game 7, getting the game winner from Simon Gagne, who had come back early from injury (and also scored the OT winner in Game 4.) It is the stuff movies are made of. Bad movies. Unbelievable movies. The kind of movies that are so bad they go straight to video. Philly fans should never whine or complain about their hard luck ever again. And I’m a Philly fan.

And I watched the amazing game 7 comeback win to seal the stunning meltdown by the Bruins in a pub at 4am in Paris France.  The crowd there began the night scoffing at me between sips of wine and beer, preferring to watch soccer, if anything at all as I requested that management turn the hockey game on, even if just on one of their many flat screen televisions.  But as the game wore on, and the Flyers mounted their incredible comeback in this game 7, let alone in the series, the tenor of the crown eerily reminded me of the extras in a cheesy 1980s/1990s Sports movie (like Rocky 4, Happy Gilmore or The Longest Yard remake) where everyone once rooting for one side suddenly shifts, mid-game, match or bout and roots for the longshot/misfit/foreigner.

Baseball – 2004 American League Championship.

The Stakes: Flying pigs, hell freezing over, the continuation of an 80+ year old curse, and of course, a trip to the World Series

Speaking of the Boston sports fans, they also have a big victory on this list, and frankly, knowing Boston fans and the American sports fan in general, they care a hell of lot more about this one than they do the loss to the Fly Boys.  I am sure, since 2004, everybody is beyond their saturation point with the Sox stuff, Sweet Caroline, the Cask & Flagon, the Green Monster, Dan Shaunessy and the Dennis Leary truck ads. But these were New York Yankees we were talking about, a team that had tormented Boston fans for generations and generations, the team that always won in the end, no matter how heroic or beloved the Boston players. The inevitability of the Yankees victory was certain. The history of the match-up, and the fact that the 2004 Sox actually won the World Series, may just rank this comeback among the all-time greats – and for me, as a hater of all sports teams New York – it was a gem.

Don’t think I haven’t forgotten these, which I also saw:

The San Diego Padres collapse in 2010, overtaken by the San Francisco Giants on the final day of the season despite having had the best record in the entire National League at the end of August.

The Jets-Jets-Jets stormed back to stun the Dolphins in 2000, erasing a 23 point second half deficit to win in OT.

And one of my personal favorites, in 2007 as the New York Mets faded and the Phillies rose to win the NL East, avenging their futility in 1964 to make the Mets the biggest chokers in the sport’s history.

The Phillies rallied from seven games down on Sept. 12, matching the biggest September comeback in major league history. Philadelphia and the Mets went into the last day tied for the division lead.

No major league team failed to finish first after having at least a seven-game lead with 17 to play. The Phillies joined the 1934 Cardinals and 1938 Cubs as the only teams to overcome a seven-game deficit in the final month.

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