Ramblings of a Sports Addict

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Here are the completely random sports-related thoughts from a passionate fan who has been bottling up his sporting thoughts, emotions, and feelings for a long time. Before making you read the entire 65,000 words on this post, here are the topics I would like you to comment on. (Come on, men, this one's for you. I have a lot of female readers, but this post definitely skews male).

1. Why it's so great to be a BYU fan right now.
2. Your Monday-morning quarterbacking of the Panthers or your favorite NFL team.
3. Who killed or saved your fantasy football season?
4. Why do BYU & U. of U. football stars hardly ever become good pros?
5. Quick - name a white CB in the NFL.
6. Wallowing in Wally and steroids in MLB.

*It's a great time to be a BYU fan. The football team has gone undefeated in the MWC for the second straight year and completely owns the conference. They also managed to rip the hearts out of Utah fans who had to watch the game slip out of their hands in the last minute for the second straight year. They are 10-2 and ranked #17 in the BCS and will destroy UCLA in their bowl game.

*BYU's basketball team is 8-2, just cracked the top-25, and owns the nations longest home winning streak at 36 in a row. I bet the atmosphere in Provo is a little peppier than the 1996-1997 season I had to endure as a student when they went 1-25.

*I absolutely love the NFL and have become a loyal Carolina Panthers fan since moving to NC in 2003. This year, however, the team is driving me completely insane. I have officially renamed the team the Carolina "Three and Outs". About 9 out of 10 drives go as follows: 1st down - Hand off to DeShawn Foster off tackle for a 2 yard gain. 2nd down - From the shotgun formation, hand off to DeAngelo Williams on a slow developing draw play for a 2 yard loss. 3rd and 11 - Whoever is starting in the Vinnie Testaverde/David Carr/Matt Moore brotherhood of stinkiness drops back to pass, scrambles out of a collapsing pocket, and throws the ball out of bounds to prevent a sack. That happens 9 out of every 10 series. The other 1 in 10 series they manage to fumble or throw an interception on second down. I really had high hopes for the Panthers this year but it is almost unbearably frustrating to watch them anymore. I was getting tired of Jake Delhomme's repeated drive killing interceptions in critical moments of the game last year, but I now have a whole new appreciation for Jake after watching this completely inept offense flounder without him. I'll give head coach John Fox a pass this year because he got the team to the Super Bowl a few years back and lost his QB, but the predictable, conservative playcalling and stupid defensive penalties will cost him his job if they don't make the playoffs next year.

*I get giddy for fantasy football every week. I'm playing with some co-workers and extended friends for the third straight year. My team this year has driven me insane, but I managed to sneak into the playoffs as the #8 (and final) seed in a 12-team league. I have been absolutely let down by my highest draft picks. Frank Gore was my first rounder, and he was utterly useless for the first twelve weeks of the season. I picked up Maurice Jones-Drew in the second round but Jack Del Rio refuses to give him more than 10 touches per game.

My QB is Donovan McNabb who has been as stable as Brittney Spears. McNabb has been so inconsistent that I have been starting David Garrard/Matt Shaub over him since week 8. I drafted Thomas Jones of the Jets early assuming he would be the feature back on a team on the rise that went to the playoffs the year before. It took Mr. Jones over 270 touches before his first touchdown. Ugh! My first receiver drafted was the Cowboy's Terry Glenn, who would have had a 1,000+ yard season with Tony Romo on fire this year, but Glenn has missed the entire season due to injury. My starting TE was Todd Heap, who is normally good for 75 catches, 800 yards, and 7 TD's, which is great for a TE. This year he went for 23-239-1 in six games before shutting it down for the season.

The only reason that my team nearly pulled a .500 record is because I worked the Free Agent and Waiver Wire better this year than I ever have before. I managed to steal Brandon Jacobs from FA early in the season after he returned from injury. I pulled the Packers Ryan Grant from FA in week 6 and have ridden that pony for huge points ever since. I snagged Seattle's Bobby Engram as a WR when Deion Branch went down and he has been a consistent 7 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown most weeks. I also got Roddy White from FA late in the season before his 14 catch breakout game. Our playoffs started tonight with the Broncos-Texans game. I'm going up against the 12-1 first place team in my league and it will be a shocker if I even come close to him. He had Brandon Marshall who went for 11-107 tonight, so I'm starting off in the hole already. I managed to play in the Super Bowl of my league last year and really hope I can pull the upset and advance for a few more weeks before having to endure another six months without fantasy football.

*Why do BYU and U. of U. football stars turn out to be such lousy to decent but rarely stellar pros? Alex Smith, the former U. of U. QB and #1 overall draft pick in 2005, has a career 63 passer rating, and only 19 TD's versus 31 interceptions in 30 career starts. BYU's Luke Staley won the 2001 Doak Walker award which goes to the best RB in the NCAA. The 2000 winner was LaDanian Tomlinson, the 2002 winner was Larry Johnson. While they are two of the top backs in the NFL, Luke was a 7th round pick and never played a down in the NFL, though much of that was due to injury. BYU's John Beck has looked terrible for the Dolphins in his rookie season, but in all fairness to John, even Tom Brady would have a hard time putting up decent stats for a cruddy team with absolutely no O-line, running game, or decent receivers. The jury is still out on Beck. Let's just hope he doesn't turn out to be a Loser ("....soy un perdedor, I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me? Gettin' crazy with the cheese whiz...."). Sorry for the lame Beck pun, but somebody had to do it.

There have been a lot of solid but few dominant players. BYU's Rob Morris had a couple of 100+ tackle seasons as a starter for the Colts before becoming a role player. Brett Keisel (DE-Steelers) and Brady Poppinga (LB-Packers) are both having solid seasons as well. John Tait has been a serviceable, though not spectacular, offensive lineman throughout his career after being a 1st round pick.

The U. of U. alum have also had some marginal success. There are three Utes playing for my beloved Panthers. Steve Smith is hands-down the best U. of U. or BYU pro since Steve Young, but his talent has gone completely to waste this year with the horrible QB situation. Carolina has reverted to direct snapping it to Smith a couple of times a game just to get him involved in the offense. The Panthers OT Jordan Gross is similar to John Tait - a decent player but not living up to a first round pick. Carolina also has DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who is good but far from an impact player. Eric Weddle, the Chargers rookie DB from Utah, has had a good season and I think he could be headed for the Pro Bowl down the road. RB Mike Anderson had a great rookie season in Denver, but has been relegated to role player ever since.

*Here's an NFL Jeopardy question for you - name the best white Corner Back in the NFL. No, seriously, just give me one name because I honestly can't think of a single white CB in the league. Whoever can research this and give me a name will be the winner of this week's post. You know how there has been a lot of criticism given to some of the major college football programs that recently hired white coaches without interviewing any minority candidates? I think there should be similar outrage for the lack of opportunity given to Caucasian players who aspire to play a skill position. Before signing any CB's, RB's, or WR's, teams have to at least put a white dude through a combine workout. What says "skill position" like a 4.65 forty?

*The Mitchell report just came out and I feel dirty for having rooted for Mark McGwire and for cheering Matt Williams when he helped lead my Diamondbacks to the World Series. The one name on the list that really disappointed me was BYU's Wally Joyner. I read in ESPN the Mag about a year ago that he tried one illegal/banned substance on one occasion, and then flushed the rest of the vial down the toilet and he has felt guilty ever since. The Mitchell report said his use was, "very minimal" and when you look at his physique you would not lump him in with the Bonds/McGwire/Sosa/Giambi ilk. But knowing that even upstanding LDS athletes succumbed to the pressure to take steroids in order to prolong their careers really shows how difficult it must be to stay clean and be successful in the MLB.

Okay, I have gotten everything sports-related off of my chest and I suddenly feel much lighter, less burdened. I'll have to do this again sometime, maybe after the Lakers trade for Jason Kidd and make a run to the Finals.......


Patrick said...

Dustin Fox, Buffalo Bills. Sure he doesn't play much...but he's on the roster.

6:41 AM
Anonymous said...

I think there's also some new rule that says all the non-white CBs in the league have to have dredlocks coming out their helmet long enough to cover their name and jersey number...

9:00 AM
Michael said...

Shelley directed me to your blog post, a delightful testosteronal reprieve from all the female-authored blogs I typically read, and said that I should take advantage of this rare opportunity and make some comments, so here goes:

I am having an amazing fantasy football season. I have two teams, one with my brother in law and all his slack-jawed yokels in UT, and another with Jeremy and all his boys from a past life. I have been methodically taking them all down. In fact, I am currently on a 15-week winning streak between the two leagues. I have won six straight in one league and nine straight in another. I am in the championship matchup this weekend in one league, and semifinals in another. Both are tough matchups, and I know that just for posting this comment I will be deemed prideful by some higher power and lose disgracefully in both leagues this weekend. With some coaches resting their top players for the playoffs, you never know what will happen anyway. That is one thing that has always bothered me about fantasy football. If you draft right, you have some top-tier players on playoff-bound teams. But the fantasy playoffs take place the last few weeks of the regular season, right in time for those superstars to play the first quarter, build a big lead against sub-par teams, and then go stand on the sideline while third-string quarterbacks who make you say, "Oh yeah, I remember him when he played in college...HE made it to the NFL?!?!" come in and get their first real game reps, which usually entails a bunch of fumbles and interceptions, while both you and the person you are matched up against both total about 55 fantasy points. You work all season to get a decent seed in the playoffs, just to watch your usual top scorers on the sideline in a team logo beanie. Now that I have that off my chest, I can share with you some of the lineups that have brought me to the top of my leagues this year:

In one league, I have Drew Brees (who I initially dropped after the first five games because he had one TD, nine INTs, and six fumbles—then picked back up right in time for his current tear) at QB, Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings at WR, Brian Westbrook and Rudi Johnson at RB, Jason Witten at TE, and Wes Welker as a W/R flex. Chicago's defense has lost its luster from last year, but when Devin Hester is running back kickoffs for TDs all the time, it all works out. In the other league I have Derek Anderson (one of the big pleasant surprises of 07) at QB, Marques Colston and Andre Johnson at WR, Marion Barber and Brandon Jacobs at RB, Kellen Winslow at TE, and Wes Welker in the flex position (he has also been a sweet pickup this year). I also have Brandon Marshall, with his 11 catches and 107 yards, but he’s on my bench. I had Larry Johnson as my first-round pick, but he is now injured after a disappointing season. He tried to kill my fantasy season, but I wouldn't let him. There are definitely going to be a lot of different picks in next year's draft... In the meantime, we'll see how things go this weekend; I better not get jinxed for announcing my winning streak!

As a side note, may I just confess to being a slightly obsessive FF player. I have made an average of 30 moves per league throughout the season. I am the first one adding surprising standouts and dropping lame-o duds after MNF. Some shrewd moves have certainly helped me along my way, including picking up Maurice Morris and Chester Taylor right before their two weeks of glory with Shaun Alexander and AP out with injury, and Kurt Warner the one week he decided to have a 4TD game. Not that being Ward Mission Leader allows a lot of time for all this, so I must plead guilty to making a few moves during my lunch hour at work.

May I also just echo that it is a good time to be a BYU fan. Since the Florida Gators are "re-building" (it's awesome when a down year includes a Heisman win), I have enjoyed watching one of my other teams be so successful. My three teams are Florida, BYU, and Wake Forest—in that order. Growing up in Orlando, I went to Gator games for years with my friend Brian. Then I headed out west for five delightful years in Utah (interrupted by two years in France), where I was a freshman during the aforementioned 1-25 basketball season. I considered walking on that year, but met a girl (several, actually) and thought better of it. I guess in retrospect I might have actually made the team, so I could say for the rest of my life that I played in college, but their top scorer that year was a pudgy, balding white guy who looked old enough to make Greg Oden actually look his age. But they picked up Steve Cleveland, who turned the program around, and Brother Rose of Phi Slamma Jamma glory has taken them from there. And it was great to go to Wake Forest during the Chris Paul days. Unfortunately they, like BYU, can never make it out of the first round of the NCAA tournament. Of course, its been great to be a Gator fan recently. Unprecedented consecutive football-basketball-football championships, baby! As much as I don’t like LSU, I’m excited to see Ohio State get embarrassed by a power team from the SEC again… Anyway, with these three teams, last football season was pretty sweet. Wake surprised everyone and won the ACC, BYU won the Mountain West and killed a good Pac-10 team in their bowl, and of course the Gators won the SEC and the crystal trophy.

On to the next topic: Monday morning quarterbacking. Well, I don’t have a ‘team’ in the NFL, I tend to follow players more who I liked in college. But can I just say that your synopsis of the Panthers was dead on. The funny thing was that the first two games of the season, Jake Delhomme had 6 TDs and no picks and Steve Smith looked as dangerous as ever, and once Jake goes out and David Carr proves his ineptitude, they go out and get a 45-year old who makes even Andrew look young and decide to run the ball every down. John Fox gets waaay too excited about getting a field goal out of a drive. I would love to be offensive coordinator for them for a game; I would call a few simple pass plays and look like a genius, get paid a ton of money to do one of the few things more exciting than marketing research about jeans.

Nothing more to add about BYU and UofU players, I think you said it all. Who would have thought that Rob Freight Train Morris and Brady Poppinga would be our claim to fame? Oh wait, I saw Brett Keisel get a sack two weeks ago… I have tried to convince myself that John Beck is the next Steve Young, who clamored in the bright orange comedy routine that the Tampa Bay Bucs used to be but then, given the right team with the right players and the right system, steps out and becomes a two-time Super Bowl MVP. The Dolphins definitely have the comedy routine thing down, though now that some dude named Cleo Lemon led them to their first win, poor Mr. Beck may sink back below Trent “Concussion Man” Green on the depth chart of one of the ugliest teams in NFL history. To ramble down another path, Luke Staley is an idiot; he should have redshirted a year at BYU with the ankle injury, come back and run all over the MWC for another Doak Walker award and maybe even the Heisman, and then taken his soaring draft stock and actually made a name for himself, rather than being picked as a cruel joke by the Lions (they must have thought he was a WR) and ruining his ankle for good in training camp. It really is sad about those Utah school athletes. The same is true in the NBA. Travis Hansen was one of two white boys picked in the first round, played two minutes for the lowly Hawks, and faded into obscurity. Rafael Araujo got a bunch more tattoos and then made a mockery of his top-10 draft selection. Andrew Bogut is being transitioned out by Yi the Chinese wonder, and that poor pudgy bald guy never even got a chance. Do we really have to go all the way back to Danny Ainge to find a BYU/Utah alum whose name is even mentioned in basketball circles anymore? Where is Greg Kite when you need him?

Well, if you haven’t already figured it out, I am on vacation this week and apparently have WAY too much time on my hands. But, like Andrew, I am feeling like I got a lot off my chest…oh wait, there’s one more thing: it will take a lot more than Jason Kidd to get the purple and gold back to the Finals!

1:30 PM
Ang said...

My contribution: I watched the last 10 minutes of the BYU/Utah game and found it a little bit entertaining. Not as entertaining as, say, my TiVoed "Project Runway" or the latest edition of the New Yorker . . . but I paid attention!!!

I honestly wish I was more interested in sports. I love having things to look forward to, and sports fills that hole for lots of people. But, unless watching the challenges on Survivor or my summertime addiction to So You Think You Can Dance count as sports viewing, I think the jury is in and your dear older sister officially doesn't like sports much. Oh! Unless it's the last 10 minutes of a really close game with someone I care about (like, say, the Jazz or Tiger Woods at the Master's . . . hmmm. . . cant' think of anyone else.)

Now I probably just ruined your blog with my femaleness AND my lack of even a rudimentary interest in football. And my favorite favorite part of this post was the fact that you demystified a lyric in a Beck song that had always tripped me up. I'd be singing along and hit the chorus and completely fumble. But it's Spanish, right?? Spanish for I'm a loser?? Thank you! Now I can sing that song in peace.

8:29 PM
Anonymous said...

It's Forrest. I read your blog the other night before going to bed and I had the following prophetic dream that I am sure was meant for you.
I was in Jonas's 1st grade classroom with my new friend, Peyton Manning. Peyton, based on our friendship, had come to speak to Jonas's class but it turns out I was off on the time and we were there at 6:30 am! We were sitting in the classroom by ourselves and if that wasn't bad enough we kept calling Peyton, "Colton". I think this was because Peyton plays for the Colts and because Jonas has a friend named Colton.
But guess what? Peyton was really cool about everything and wasn't even mad. Do you get it Drew?
Football is just a game played by men in tights and other men, not wearing tights, keep track of everything they do and add all those numbers together. But they're just numbers. Someone always wins and someone always loses. You should never get upset, or conversely super excited, when you see "21 of 32 for 190." Life's too short!
Now obviously I'm not holding myself up as some type of model of perfection. I've been known to use alcohol (while cooking), gamble (only socially), and womanize (only with my wife, of course, but still certain aspects would clearly fall into that category). But all my highs and lows are based in reality. Terra firma is the only place to be.
If you won't listen to me, listen to Colton. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders.
PS Mike, although we've never met, I think Peyton may be trying to tell you something as well. Who reads Andrew's blog on vacation? Don't you have internet access at work?
PSS Andrew, I know I'm late with the slogan contest but I saw a car in Sacramento this week that had the phrase, "Got Poo?" on it's side in very large letters. It was for a company called Dootieduty.com that is looking to make a buck by cleaning up after people's canines. I wonder how Peyton would feel about that?

8:12 PM
Dave said...
Anonymous said...

Dave said it all.

8:27 PM