Archive for January, 2012

Monday Medley

What we read while somehow rushing for 87 yards in the Pro Bowl…

  • Speaking of Obama, former NY Times war correspondent is suing him. Here’s why.

Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Exes, Week 1 Power Rankings

“I know she’s a great competitor, but then there’s also the fact that I hate her.” —Ty

 

“We do not talk. We are not Facebook friends. Nothing.” —Diem

 

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back!

MTV is back with another installment of The Challenge and this time, fresh off the success of the Rivals format, it’s embracing a similar concept: Battle of the Exes will pair players with partners who they hooked up with/dated/sloppily-made-out-with-while-drunk on previous challenges.

Of course, it should go without saying that I love this season’s format, but I feel the need to stress something: I love this season’s format. There’s the obvious drama factor—always-quotable Paula called this season “drama’s wet dream”*—but this season also addresses a lot of concerns I have about challenge format. First of all, I almost always prefer individual or paired competitions (like The Duel, Fresh Meat, Rivals) to team challenges (The Gauntlet, The Inferno, Cutthroat). They prevent players from skating by and force everyone to strategize. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while pondering the benefits of open marriage…

Prior to the Snap: Championship Sunday

Let’s dispense of the formalities and get right to it:

#2 BALTIMORE AT #1 NEW ENGLAND

You ready to get Gronked? That sounds disgusting.

What percentage of Patriots fans have worked the verb “Gronk” into their regular vocabulary? I haven’t heard it yet, but I assume 100. “Gronk,” interestingly enough, is almost always modified by the adverb “totally” and takes the direct object “workout.”

Now seriously, can the Ravens stop Rob Gronkowski? I wouldn’t frame the question that way. Stopping the Patriots isn’t about stopping any one of their wide receivers/tight ends (and like, what’s the difference; we can even throw running back into that slash line) so much as it is about stopping Tom Brady. How does one stop Tom Brady? You get pressure on him, obviously.

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Penn State, Child Abuse, and Moral Standards

“What’s the fascination with this story?” The question was asked to no one in particular, just the whole room, really. It wasn’t asked in any pointed way, but just out of sincere curiosity. “It’s about football, right?”

I got the sense that most of the people in the room were not big sports fans. Of course, it wasn’t just about football. It was about football at Penn State, which was, as someone else in the room tried to explain, a well-respected institution, known for its “Grand Experiment” of emphasizing a higher ethical standard.

“Like the Catholic church?” he deadpanned, to general laughter.

“But wait,” someone else said, “isn’t Penn State like a huge party school?” It can’t really be about moral hypocrisy, or high standards, or even child abuse. We brush away stories about child abuse all the time. Really, it must be about football.

I didn’t say anything, because I wasn’t sure what exactly I disagreed with. Penn State was a party school; we had seen this all before with the Catholic Church; even the culture of cover-ups at athletic departments was old news.

But at least one thing seemed wrong to me: It’s not about football. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while reading great cosmic significance into a Broncos game…

Prior to the Snap: Divisional Playoff Sunday

#3 HOUSTON AT #2 BALTIMORE

Does anybody care? Presumably the people in Baltimore and Houston.

And you are? Not there.

So let’s do this one quick: The Texans are the Ravens, just a little worse at everything (except running the ball, I suppose). Combine that with the home-field advantage for Baltimore, plus the fact that the Ravens have already beaten the Texans while playing a below-average game, and it all adds up to a Ravens win, right?

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Prior to the Snap: Divisional Playoff Saturday

Since Divisional Playoff weekend is far and away the best weekend of football every year, we’re splitting up my monstrously digressive predictions into two parts. Here’s my take on Saturday’s showdowns:

#3 NEW ORLEANS AT #2 SAN FRANCISCO

First off, what’s the best thing about this Divisional Playoff weekend? That the #1 seeds didn’t get screwed this year. As Pierre has mentioned before but probably won’t discuss at length this year for lack of relevant examples, the NFL’s second round has been hurt in recent years by improper seeding regulations. Now, as you know, the NFL rewards divisional winners with home games in the first round regardless of record (thus, 8-8 Denver hosting 12-4 Pittsburgh). I’m cool with this. The problem comes in the second round, when the NFL re-seeds (i.e. the top seed plays the worst remaining seed); however, the league does this based on seed instead of record, still for some reason rewarding division winners at the expense of top seeds. So most years, the #1 seed ends up playing a better team in the second round than the #2 seed. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while not Googling “Santorum”…

Prior to the Snap: Wild Card Weekend

Regular season? Like who does that anymore? It’s playoff time, and thus time to break out a digressively detailed look at this weekend’s four Wild Card matchups. Do Cincinnati fans have it worse than Houston fans? What car brand sponsorship do I refuse to acknowledge? What mistake has altered our perception of Victor Cruz more than any great play? And just how much does God love Tim Tebow?

#6 CINCINNATI AT #3 HOUSTON

Playoff time! As I’m fond of saying this time of year, the music’s changing…just like it used to in Tecmo Super Bowl.

Speaking of… Neither of these cities has seen a second-round playoff game since the year Tecmo Super Bowl came out, or 1991. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since a 1990 Wild Card Weekend win over—guess who—the Oilers. Houston hasn’t seen a playoff win since those Oilers won a year later on Wild Card Weekend against the Jets.

Those are long droughts: The longest in the league, along with Detroit (1991). Continue reading